As worship services wrapped up Sunday morning, churchgoers across the conference began to hear the terrible news out of Sutherland Springs. The tiny town about 40 miles east of San Antonio was rocked this morning when a gunman opened fire inside First Baptist Church, killing at least 26 and injuring 20 more.
Rev. Peter Aguilar, pastor of Floresville United Methodist Church and a chaplain for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, was the first chaplain on the scene. He was taken by the first responders, "who worked with diligence and attention while maintaining their humanity." He also noted "the bravery of faith communities in the midst of extreme horror."
Aguilar said the small community of 400 had come together at the community center within an hour, bringing food, water, and support.
Robert Schnase, Bishop of the Rio Texas Annual Conference, called Aguilar upon hearing the news to offer the support of the conference. Schnase said, "This was an outrageous, senseless, and tragic act. We pray God's blessings on families, friends, and the entire community. We pray for those who will face rebuilding their lives after such deep loss. We pray for those who were injured, that God's healing grace may be upon them."
"Each death by violence diminishes each one of us," Schnase continued.
This tragedy ripples through this entire area. Many of the victims were family members of Floresville UMC members. The church was also in ministry together with First Baptist. When Floresville UMC started a food pantry, First Baptist members were the first to jump in and help.
The Floresville church held a prayer service Sunday evening at 6:00.
"We had to respond," said Aguilar. "Where else can you try to find strength and meaning in times of chaos?"
By Fritzi Simon
Churches throughout the Crossroads District came together to celebrate on Saturday, April 21. The District was honored to welcome Bishop and Mrs. Schnase and Rev. Diana Phillips and her husband Mark as special guests.
"We believe it was the beacon of life for God’s love in community..."
Fifteen college students and supporters from San Antonio Wesley and Texas State United Campus Ministry went on a mission trip to Costa Rica over Spring Break 2018. Students spent the week helping a local Costa Rica Methodist Church in Rio Cuarto as it prepared to expand its reach into the local community.
I just attended the first annual CMN conference in Dallas this past week and I got a word from God! CMN [Church Multiplication Network] is the Assembly of God church planting network. Since 2008, CMN has helped launch 3400 plus churches and trained over 7500 planters. The worship was intense and the speakers were inspirational!
The bishops of the five Annual Conferences in Texas today issued a joint statement commending President Trump for signing an executive order ending his administration’s policy of separating families on the border. Furthermore, the bishops urged readers to contact their congressional representative and senators to continue expressing concerns for the separated children and calling for legislation to keep families together.
Churches large and small continue to protect our children by working to ensure their leaders are Trusted con Confianza (trusted with confidence).
Following Annual Conference 2017 and the adoption of the new Rio Texas Child, Youth, and Vulnerable Adult safety policy, the Rio Texas Conference Safety Task Force launched Trusted con Confianza – inviting churches and organizations across the connection to participate in this certification ministry.
Churches large and small have said “yes” to safe ministry– working on policies and inviting leaders to go through the certification process.
The tradition continues with our very own Clergy Choir (Plus) providing music for our Annual Conference Ordination Service on Friday evening June 8. Other musically inclined delegates and spouses or youth are also invited to participate.
You’ve probably have heard of mall walking—now Rio Texas is going to be “conference walking”! In the interest of physical, mental, and spiritual wellness, the new Rio Texas Wellness Team is inviting Annual Conference attendees to track the number of steps they walk during our gathering this year in Corpus Christi, June 6-9.
El Valle District Ministry Center is a vision of the district which involved repurposing a closed church and building ministry partners. The building was redesigned to support its new purposes. We envision partnering with other groups to educate and promote healthy eating and healthy choices. We aim to help lower childhood obesity rates in the Rio Grande Valley.
Robert Schnase, Bishop of the Rio Texas Annual Conference, announced the appointment of Rev. Andy Smith as the new District Superintendent of the Hill Country District. Smith will replace retiring District Superintendent John Wright. Smith is currently the superintendent of the West District and will continue to serve the West in addition to Hill Country.
“There is strength we can present as one unified voice..."
While thousands flocked to United Methodists Churches in Rio Texas for the remembrance of Holy Week and celebration of Easter, many were able to worship in new ways and in new places.