FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, June 16, 2015
First Inaugural Rio Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church held at American Bank Center in Corpus Christi
SAN ANTONIO (Tuesday, June 16, 2015) – The Rio Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church held its first annual meeting at the American Bank Center in Corpus Christi from June 11-14. Over $13,000 was raised for the Spring floods that devastated victims in San Marcos, Wimberley, Blanco, and others across the conference.
Approximately 1500 United Methodist delegates plus friends, family and other Methodists gathered to participate and witness the historic gathering. This is the first conference since the Southwest Texas Annual Conference and the Rio Grande Annual Conference voted to become the Rio Texas Annual Conference in June of 2014. The Southwest Texas Conference and Rio Grande Annual Conference became the Rio Texas Conference on January 1, 2015.
San Antonio Episcopal Area Bishop James E. Dorff presided over the four-day meeting.
“The work of United Methodists has been alive and well in this region for well over 150 years. The names, the forms, the languages, the missional outposts (or churches as we now call them) and the annual conferences have all been in transition during these many years,” said Bishop Dorff. “This transitioning continues through the Rio Texas Annual Conference. In the midst of these transitions and this newness of life, one thing has held steady: our purpose. We have been here all these years to live out the Biblical mandate to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. As we gather for session number one, our task is the same. May we never lose sight of our calling. It is what has brought us this far, by God’s grace.”
He was joined by seven bishops for several worship services held at the Selena Auditorium in Corpus Christi. They all have strong ties to the former Rio Grande and Southwest Texas Conferences.
Bishop Robert C. Schnase of the Missouri Conference of the United Methodist Church (former pastor of First United Methodist Church, McAllen) encouraged United Methodists to take action while acting as the new Rio Texas Conference.
“You’ve had the courage to take this step; now lead us. In this fast-growing part of the country, become leaders in starting new congregations,” said Bishop Schnase. “Become leaders in multi-cultural and bi-cultural ministry. Become the leaders in reaching young people. Become the leaders in social justice. We need you to do that for us.”
Worship was at the heart of the gathering. Bishop Minerva Carcaño of the California-Pacific Conference of the United Methodist Church (former pastor in the Rio Grande Conference) preached at the traditional Memorial Service and Bishop J. Michael Lowry of the Central Texas Conference (former pastor of University United Methodist Church, San Antonio) shared the word at the service of Baptismal Renewal.
Bishop Joel Martinez of the former Rio Grande and Southwest Texas Conferences joined Bishop Dorff in presiding over the ordination of the first deacons and elders ordained in the Rio Texas Conference.
The Rio Texas Annual Conference aims to reach out to people of South and Central Texas. Some of our churches are located in some of the fastest-growing areas of the country. Others are located in areas where people are struggling with issues of poverty, lack of affordable housing, and a loss of hope. We are committed to providing vital missions, vital congregations, and strong leaders to connect our churches to the people. Our churches are in large cities and small towns from Austin to McAllen, from San Angelo to Victoria in vibrant cities, historic small towns and struggling communities. Our churches and congregations meet annually during the month of June to conduct the business of the conference and gather for worship in Corpus Christi at the American Bank Center. Our Bishop is Bishop James E. Dorff, who has presided as Bishop of the former Southwest Conference and the Rio Grande Conference (now Rio Texas) since 2008. For more information about the conference or our bishop, please visit http://riotexas.org and follow us on Twitter @RioTxAC.
Rev. Will Rice
16400 Huebner Road
San Antonio, Texas 78248
correction: the last paragraph was corrected to add "deacons." The bishops presided over the ordination of deacons and elders.