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?"
"He was pretty blunt about that's what we got to do," Barnette said. "So who are we to argue with Jesus?"
“What is so heart-warming about this is that it isn’t ‘us' donating to ‘them’ we are all in this together. Some former food pantry clients donate items and some current food pantry clients volunteer on the day of,” Jenn Clauser, director of Communications said. "Congregation and committee members donate & volunteer too, knowing that if God ever called them into hard times there’s loving help right here."
“There is nothing like being present to make new friends. There is nothing like being present to see new possibilities. Being present sometimes means crossing borders, being present sometimes means being uncomfortable, being present sometimes means driving in a half air conditioned van. I plan to go back.”
On the weekend before Thanksgiving, the church went all out and provided a warm dinner with all the fixings.
This week, clients coming to the food pantry received Thanksgiving Day food items as well as the regular offerings. In addition to food items, lead pastor Rev. Russell Floyd and food pantry volunteers used the opportunity to extend hospitality in additional ways.
“To do this kind of work is expensive. There’s a high cost to invest in women’s and children’s lives. If that’s what it takes to make change for a woman to make it, so be it, that’s what we’re going to do.”
The Rio Texas Conference of the United Methodist Church hosted the first Texas Planters Gathering, where pastors from all parts of Texas learned what's possible in church planting.
Join us next year in Houston on October 25-26, 2019.
Through support funding from Methodist Healthcare Ministries of South Texas, Inc., The Mission Vitality Center / Outreach Vitality Office & Transforming Communities Vision Team announces the Transformational Communities of Praxis program.
Applications are now being received for the 2nd- year class of this program. The program is looking for church and community resident teams to participate in this program of learning processes in Asset-Based Community Development [ABCD]. Class size is limited to four teams.
By Teresa Keese, Laura Merrill, and Abel Vega
Sixteen members of the Rio Texas General and Jurisdictional Conference Delegation attended the South Central Jurisdictional General Conference Delegate Gathering held at St. Luke’s UMC in Oklahoma City on October 4-5. The gathering, hosted by the SCJ Mission Council, was held to inform the delegates of the three structure options to be presented at the 2019 Special Session of General Conference. The pension implications of each plan were also presented. Delegates from across the jurisdiction joined in a time of listening, learning, worship, prayer, sharing, and developing a sense of community and understanding across different backgrounds and beliefs. The event planners purposefully assigned seating to create a mixed group from different delegations and beliefs at each table, which allowed for a new depth of conversation surrounding the UMC and our mission and purpose. We discussed how that depth applies to the decisions to be made at the General Conference Special Session next February in St. Louis.
WASHINGTON, D.C. _ The Council of Bishops President Bishop Ken Carter, who is also the resident bishop of the Florida Area, has issued the following statement in the aftermath of the mass shooting today in Jacksonville, Florida, USA:
Join us from 9:00 am -4:30 pm on Saturday, September 15 at Coker United Methodist Church.
Are you wondering why so many people are talking about the Enneagram? What is that strangely-shaped star? Or maybe you have never heard of the Enneagram at all, but you seek to grow in your faith and well-being. While not an exclusively Christian tool, many Christians have used the Enneagram wisely and well to draw closer to God. Wherever you're starting from, you're invited to an introduction to this profound way of looking at who we are and our paths to spiritual growth.