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?"
"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 churches of the Rio Texas Annual Conference are working to create fresh expressions of church, taking the gospel to where the people are. El Divino Redentor, McAllen Pan de Vida ministry is a two-year old effort for residents in Mission who do not belong to a church.
Spring Creek United Methodist Church spent Advent reaching outside the walls, designating an offering to build homes, and taking Christmas Eve worship to Haven for Hope.
Each year, Spring Creek collects a Christ Child offering. This year, the goal of the offering was to raise $57,000 to build a house with Habitat for Humanity. The idea to construct a home was related to work at their own facility.
Hurricane Harvey made initial landfall on the Texas coast on August 26, 2017. While the initial response to those in need was overwhelming, the real work of restoration is only beginning.
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.
As Bee Creek United Methodist Church, Spicewood prepares for Holy Week and Easter, they are getting ready to spend more time outside than inside. For the first time, the church is offering more outdoor and community Holy Week services than services inside the church.
The Capital District Youth gathered over 120 youth from 12 churches at Camp Tejas on Feb. 23-25 for the Capital District Midwinter 2018. This year’s speaker was Rev. Hilary Marchbanks. She shared reflections on what it means to be created in the image of God.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – As the nation marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., United Methodists will unite with members of the National Council of Churches in Washington, D.C., April 3-5, for the Truth and Racial Justice Initiative.
Attention clergy, clergy spouses, and staff covered by the conference health plan:
In a couple of weeks, a new challenge will begin on Virgin Pulse, the Wespath Winter Sports Challenge. Teams can be organized with up to 10 people in them. One team, Rio Texas Ramblers, organized by Paul Harper, is already full. Assistant to the Bishop, Laura Merrill has started a team, Rápido Rio TX, and she invites others to do the same or to join teams with empty spots.