Clergy from across the Rio Texas Annual Conference gathered at four churches last week for A Sacred Trust: Clergy Sexual Ethics Training. The training is required for all clergy serving within the bounds of Rio Texas and conference clergy serving elsewhere.
The 2018 Rio Texas Annual Conference will be held June 6-9 at the American Bank Center in Corpus Christi, Texas. This year's theme is "From Come & See to Go & Do: Rethinking the Five Practices." It has been ten years since the release of Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations by Robert Schnase, Bishop of the Rio Texas Conference. Much has changed in those ten years.
Austin New Church (ANC), a congregation in the process of becoming part of the Rio Texas Conference, celebrated their first Sunday worship service in their new location this week. ANC is now gathering on the former Faith UMC campus in South Austin.
While this was ANC's first Sunday service on the new campus, they previously celebrated Christmas Eve a day early at Faith UMC on December 23. The church began renovation on the sanctuary in early January to be ready for this Sunday's worship.
The freshly updated sanctuary welcomed a large crowd. "The seats are full," said Rev. Laura Merrill, Assistant to the Bishop of Rio Texas. "Youth even claimed the balcony–some things never change!"
By Heather Hahn
Jan. 23, 2018 | United Methodist News Service
As allegations of sexual misconduct rock the U.S. from the sets of Hollywood to the halls of Washington, United Methodist leaders acknowledge that the church also has seen such abuses of power.
In a joint statement released Jan. 23, the Council of Bishops and the Commission on the Status and Role of Women “strongly encourage and support the reporting of sexual misconduct, including sexual harassment allegations within the church.”
I am thankful for my church today. The United Methodist Church is not a perfect church, but it is my church. I am thankful for it today, and I celebrate it.
I celebrate with you that every church in the Coastal Bend district that suffered major damage fulfilled their connectional giving (apportionments). Connectional giving supports ministries throughout the conference and connection. I am not lifting this up to celebrate the paying of apportionments but rather to celebrate faithfulness and resilience even in the midst of Hurricane Harvey.
The new Rio Texas Conference Safety Certification Ministry, TRUSTed Confianza is off to an incredible start. In 2017 (August-December), 877 persons submitted an application with Safe Gatherings and 640 persons completed a TRUSTed Confianza online or in person training.
Districts and Churches have gathered for in-person trainings and participated in online training together. First UMC, Kerrville had 134 persons participate in their in-person training. First UMC, New Braunfels welcomed 74 to their in-person training. El Buen Pastor UMC. Edinburg recently gathered 42 of their staff and volunteers to attend an online training together.
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.
St Mark UMC; Servant UMC; and FUMC, Austin recently participated in the Cold Shelter Program in Austin. Front Steps and Austin Area Interreligious Ministries (AAIM) developed the Cold Weather Shelter Program several years ago. They coordinate local churches and community volunteers to provide shelter in church facilities on nights when the temperature drops to freezing.
After nearly 20 years, Chapel for God’s Country Ministries finally raised $1.8 million in private and corporate donations to build a chapel at the Torres Prison Unit in Hondo.
However, Tom Patterson, who serves on the prison ministry’s board, said $200,000 is still needed for stained glass windows and to furnish and equip the sanctuary that will hold 300 inmates of all faiths.
Story and Photos by Laura Bray
Two months since Harvey made landfall. Surely all the Early Response Team (ERT) work is done, right?
After six weeks in Victoria, teams have completed 106 chainsaw jobs, 29 cases of interior clean-up and tarped 49 roofs. Over 100 work orders remain open with more expected to come, which does not include work orders in the Coastal Bend area.
Sierra Vista United Methodist Church’s Children’s Ministries hosted its annual children’s camp at Butman Camp and Retreat Center in Merkel, TX on Aug. 6-10. Sixty-four children, six youth, and 15 adults enjoyed five days of fun, fellowship, and faith formation in the Big Country.
As a result of the generosity of campers’ families, Sierra Vista’s Finance Committee and congregation, and the West District; 43 from Sierra Vista; nine from Saint Luke UMC, San Angelo; seven from First UMC, San Angelo; one Miles UMC child; and five children from Saint Paul UMC, Kerrville were able to study and learn about the “spirit life.”
By Laura Merrill
The pastor and people of First United Methodist Church in Rockport are making their way toward the future one day at a time. In a town where many road signs are down, and directions can start with, “You know where the big crab used to be?” the sense of disorientation in their own town continues. But it’s starting to get better.
The grand re-opening of Hope reSTOREd took place on July 11. The store is an outreach ministry of Manor UMC. The Manor Chamber of Commerce and Rev. Jason Surdy participated in the ribbon cutting ceremony. The Store began in three classrooms of the church’s Education Building in July 2016 and quickly outgrew its first location.