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Updated: 2 hours 11 min ago

Bishop Assures Church After Hurricane

Tue, 09/05/2017 - 00:00
Bishop Scott Jones traveled the flood damaged areas of the Texas Conference, worshipping and speaking at a Sunday service at Matagorda First United Methodist Church on September 3. With phrases like “We love you” and “Thank you,” Bishop Jones encouraged his members to stay strong and work together to offer relief after the disaster. “I am proud of the way our United Methodist Churches across the conference are serving in the community to muck and gut houses and churches, and show compassion to people affected,” he said.
The United Methodist News Service offers this exclusive look at Bishop Scott Jones' September 3 message along with images of how United Methodists are working together to offer relief after the disaster.

Bishop Scott Jones, Texas Annual Conference: “I am grateful to be worshipping with you all this morning. And I want you to know on behalf of all of the churches in the Texas Annual Conference, to know that we love you, that we are praying for you and that we are going to continue praying for you.

The United Methodist Church is a connection of many, many churches all over the country, and all over the world, and as your bishop, part of my job is to hear where the needs are and where the resources are, and try to bring all those together. And I’m also just excited that you all have already been the hands and feet of Christ in this community. To see what’s going on in your fellowship hall, to hear about providing help to families through a food pantry, I want to say thank you for what you’ve been doing, and to recognize that this recovery from Hurricane Harvey is not going to be a quick fix.

We know when you have a devastation factor to this effect, it just gets huge, and it goes on for a long time. So we’re committed to being the hands and feet of Christ wherever we’re needed.

A pastor of Chapelwood United Methodist Church launched the Chapelwood Navy. And in his community the streets were flooded, people were marooned, 911 was overwhelmed, and so The United Methodist Church got some boats together and went out and rescued people with the pastor, John Stephens, leading the group. We went to see the neighborhood where he and others had been wading in sometimes chest-deep water to get to homes and rescue people.

Those stories have been happening all over south Texas. Mary Lou and I were in Beaumont yesterday. They’ve not had drinking water in parts there and so there was a church in west Houston, Memorial Drive United Methodist Church, that had more bottled water than they needed. So we drove to Beaumont and Nederland to deliver water and supplies there. Then I found that one church had too many flood buckets and they needed them in Winnie, Texas, yesterday so that was our last run yesterday.
I’m playing a very small part in this. You all are the hands and feet of Christ in this community, and I just want to say thank you. And to make the pledge that in fact we’re going to be in this for the long haul.”

The United Methodist Committee on Relief is responding to the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.

Donations can be made at www.umcor.org for U.S. Disaster Response, #901670.
This video was produced by the United Methodist News Service based at United Methodist Communications. Special thanks to Producer Andrew Jensen, Production assistant Caleb Watson and Texas Annual Conference communications Director Shannon Martin. Media contact is Tim Tanton, United Methodist News Service, at 615-742-5470.
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2017 Clergy Gathering

Mon, 09/04/2017 - 00:00

The Clergy Gathering is a special time for renewal, relaxation and conversation with your peers. All clergy persons are invited to attend—this includes provisional and ordained elders, provisional and ordained deacons, associate members, and part or full time local pastors. 
For 2017, The Gathering will be Monday – Tuesday, September 18 – 19 at Lakeview (only one night).

See registration and additional information 


Texas Congregation Dries Out Flood-Damaged Church

Mon, 09/04/2017 - 00:00
A little over a week ago, as Hurricane Harvey bore down on Texas, senior pastor Jack Matkin canceled Sunday services, fearing the coming calamity. His assessment was correct. When Harvey arrived in this southeastern Houston suburb of nearly 20,000, the rains fell torrentially and the bayou rose precipitously. Floodwaters rushed into the church and poured into the main sanctuary. When the sun finally came out again, the colored light coming through the stained glass shone down on a pool of brown water several feet deep. For several days, dozens of volunteers from Dickinson and all over Texas went to work. 

See full story by The Los Angeles Times

Teladoc Medical Services - Hurricane Harvey

Sun, 09/03/2017 - 00:00
Teladoc® Medical Services – Hurricane Harvey: In response to the dire situation being created by Hurricane Harvey, Teladoc® is offering access to general medical care at no charge for residents of the evacuation zones in Texas and Louisiana. This service extends beyond current Teladoc eligibility, and is available to any individual impacted during this time. To receive care, affected individuals should call the designated hotline – 855-220-4585 – or visit teladoc.com/harvey.
Participants in the TAC Group Health Plan will continue to access Teladoc services as they normally would. 
Teladoc® provides 24/7/365 access to a board certified Internal Medicine, Pediatric or Family Practice physician through the convenience of a phone consultation (video consult is not currently available in Texas). Teladoc® doctors can treat many medical conditions such as cold and flu symptoms, allergies, bronchitis, skin problems, respiratory infections, and sinus problems among others, and can prescribe medications for short-term conditions.  

Thank You from Bishop Jones

Sat, 09/02/2017 - 00:00

Bishop Scott Jones expresses a heart-felt thank you to all who have stepped up and offered assistance to those in need. This recovery is going to take a lot of time and effort and there will be many opportunities to help our neighbors in the future. 

Water for Life: Beaumont in Need

Fri, 09/01/2017 - 00:00
When Hurricane Harvey hit last week, a good friend of mine in Abilene called and said he wanted to help. His name is E.C Ice. He is a United Methodist licensed local pastor in Hamlin, TX with deep roots in Conroe. He is also a volunteer firefighter and the mayor of Hamlin. He originally said he wanted to load a 16 foot trailer with water and bring it to me. I thought it would be good to have some on hand to send out with our volunteer teams, so I told E.C. to bring the water. He called me Wednesday and said that his water drive had gotten out of hand, and he now needed an 18-wheeler to deliver the water. Not wanting to discourage him, I told him to bring the truck. Thursday afternoon he brought in a truck with 20 pallets of water (roughly 700 cases, 50,000 pounds). That same afternoon, an entire troop of Boy Scouts showed up at the Mission Center to volunteer. We had no idea they were coming. We didn't even know how they knew who or where we were. But, never ones to turn away good help, we put them to work. The kids verified hygiene kits while some of the adults helped unload the water.
This is where the story starts to turn past coincidence into an, "Oh. This is one of those God moments." I fretted all Thursday night wondering what I would do with 20 pallets of water taking up space in the warehouse. I decided that Beaumont would be a good place for it, as I had not received any requests in the Houston area. Then, Friday morning, I see Alicia's emails about the water system in Beaumont being down and 115,000 people being without drinking water. Then it looked like the water was back on. Then I talked to Jon Stouffer and the water was NOT on. So I knew we HAD to get this water to Beaumont.
A not-so-quick glance at the TXDOT website showed there was no easy way into Beaumont from Houston. I-10 was shut down. 90 was shut down in several places. So, with Morris' help we mapped a circuitous route from Conroe to Beaumont. Morris volunteered to drive a truck if I could find one. So, I frantically searched for a rental truck large enough to handle enough water to actually make a difference. No luck. Not a large rental truck to be had in a reasonable distance.
Then, I thought I'd hire a commercial trucking company to haul the load. After all, it got to me on an 18-wheeler. It could leave the warehouse on one, too, right? Again, no luck. No commercial shipper would even consider taking the load because the major highways were shut down and no one wanted to be stranded and have to sit on an unpaid load waiting for water to go down.
About this time I learn that FEMA had promised a delivery of water to Beaumont. The city had announced a water distribution location and time, but then had to cancel it because the FEMA trucks couldn't get into Beaumont.
The only conceivable way now is to fly it in on a helicopter. But, where am I, a lowly Methodist pastor going to get a helicopter?
As I reached the end of my water-borne sanity, who should walk into the Mission Center but the Boy Scout leader from Thursday. He politely asks if we still have the pallets of water. I ask him if he knows anyone that needs it, to which he replies, "well, we are working at the Catholic Church today and they're in a tight spot. See, they have been asked to find water to put on Blackhawk helicopters to fly into Beaumont. You think they could have some of yours?" As soon as I quit screaming and hugging him (not a pleasant proposition given my morning's warehouse activities) I tell him they can certainly have it. Do they have someone with a truck that can come get it. He says he's not sure, but he'll find out.
One quick phone call and 30 minutes later a flatbed 18-wheeler comes rolling into the Mission Center being driven by a local Justice of the Peace. Guido (that's my forklift) and I load 14 of the pallets of water onto the judge's truck, which he (ever so cautiously) drives down the street to the North Houston Regional Airport in Conroe. The water gets loaded onto Army Reserve Blackhawk helicopters and airlifted into Beaumont.
So, let's do the ecumenical math.
Phantom Boy Scouts working at a Catholic Church who know of United Methodists with water connect the 2 organizations. A Justice of the Peace drives a truck that is loaded by a school board member to take to a public airport to be loaded onto military aircraft to fly to a different city to support a civilian governmental agency.
God is good.
In Christ,
Rev. Scott Moore
Center for Missional Excellence
Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church

Floods Force Pastor, Flock to Higher Ground

Thu, 08/31/2017 - 00:00
By Sam Hodges, August 31, 2017 |DALLAS (UMNS)

A small town United Methodist church that became a Tropical Storm Harvey shelter had to call for rescue itself as flood waters poured in, forcing the pastor, volunteers and flood victims up to a loft.

The Rev. Sharon Sabom and others gathered at Mauriceville (Texas) United Methodist Church for six hours on August 30 before the Cajun Navy from Louisiana arrived by boat to get them to safety, said the Rev. Alicia Coltzer, superintendent of the Texas Conference’s southeast district.

“They handled the restrooms by using a sheet and a potty chair, because they couldn’t go downstairs,” Coltzer said.
United Methodists are among millions of Houston and southeast Texas residents grappling with the after-effects of a historically ruinous storm that struck at hurricane force on August 25, then lingered for days, bringing 50 inches of rain to some areas.

One major hardship spot is Beaumont, Texas, where the city water system isn’t expected to be back up for days.

“People don’t do well when they don’t have water,” said Coltzer, whose district includes Beaumont. “They need water. It’s August. And drinking water is a huge issue in a city that has a high population of people in need.”

The ongoing threat extends to the Texas, Louisiana border where civil engineers are dealing with a surging Sabine River.

“The secondary disaster is the release of the water from the Toledo Dam coming down the Sabine River,” said the Rev. Laraine Waughtal, disaster response coordinator for the Louisiana Conference. “That’s going to create flooding for homes, maybe even 500 to 600 to a thousand homes, depending on the volume.”

At Brazoria United Methodist Church, the Rev. Don Brown has come through OK thus far. His church building and parsonage remain dry.

But Brown has church members scattered around Texas by earlier flooding, as well the ongoing threat of flooding from the nearby Brazos and San Bernard Rivers.
“It’s really a sort of slow-motion train wreck,” he said of the wait for those rivers to crest. “You know the trains are going to arrive. You just don’t know when.”

Brown, a Houston native and hurricane veteran, is still coming to terms with Harvey.

“This has been Noah-like rainfall, and it’s extraordinary and terrifying,” he said. “I don’t know how you prepare for an 800-year storm.”

Houston Methodist Hospital has continued to operate but has canceled many elective surgeries. Perkins School of Theology, a United Methodist seminary based at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, has had to cancel classes in its Houston-Galveston program.

The Rio Texas Conference took the first hit from Harvey, when it arrived on the Texas Gulf Coast at hurricane force. But it has been spared most of the flooding.
United Methodist emergency response workers are on the scene, helping to clear debris and muck out houses.

“We had chainsaw teams into Refugio (Texas) from the Grace United Methodist Church in Corpus Christi, beginning on Monday,” said the Rev. Beth Tatum, the conference’s Coastal Bend District disaster response coordinator. “We are organizing and deploying more early response teams now.”

The First United Methodist Church in Corpus Christi has become a hub for emergency teams, and the church also held a special community workshop service August 30.
Tatum is doing relief work while also serving as pastor of the First United Methodist Church in Sinton, Texas, which is still recovering from Harvey’s hurricane-force winds.
“I am leaning heavily on my colleagues for prayer and encouragement and trying to remember to stop and breathe and take in the Holy Spirit’s peace and strength throughout the day,” she said.

The Rev. Peter Miller, pastor of St. Mark’s United Methodist Church in Baytown, has put out the word locally that his church came through the storm OK and will be glad to be a worship space for churches that got flooded.

“We’re doing our best to pull together and give people a place to worship,” he said. “For many it’s going be closest they’ve got to a sense of normality.”

For drama, it would be hard to top what happened at the Mauriceville United Methodist Church. Sabom, the pastor, is resting after the ordeal, but details were shared by Coltzer, who kept in touch with her by text.

Coltzer said the church took in more than 40 people flooded out by Harvey, using the family life center. Sabom texted her about 4 a.m. on August 30 to say flood water was threatening the church.

By 10 a.m., they were forced to climb to the building’s loft.

“They moved everybody upstairs,” Coltzer said. “They had a man in a wheelchair they had to carry upstairs. And there was no electricity.”
Sabom and her crew were among many waiting for rescue, and the Louisiana volunteers got there about 4 p.m., Coltzer said.
“Sharon, because she’s a conscientious pastor, wouldn’t let them evacuate until they told her where they were taking them,” Coltzer added. The Mauriceville group was moved to the Buna United Methodist church, which also had become a shelter.

The episode ended happily enough. But for Sabom, who also leads the Deweyville United Methodist Church, the hard times continue.
“She’s emotionally wiped out, physically exhausted and is going to just rest for about three days,” Coltzer said. “Her home flooded too. They (Sabom and her husband, David) lost both cars. … It’s pretty traumatic.”

Sam Hodges, a writer for United Methodist News Service writer, lives in Dallas. Contact him at (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org

Video: Volunteering After a Flood

Thu, 08/31/2017 - 00:00

Bellaire United Methodist Church - Finding Joy in Sorrow

Thu, 08/31/2017 - 00:00
The members of Bellaire United Methodist Church have been devastated by the floodwaters of Hurricane Harvey, but that has not stopped them from doing all they can to comfort and help each other.
A Flood Like No Other
Associate Pastor Jim Love has lived in Houston for twenty years, and he has seen his share of flooding in Bellaire. Just three years ago his parsonage flooded, so when Hurricane Harvey roared toward Houston, Pastor Love put all of his furniture up on six-inch blocks. He was sure it would be more than enough to keep his furnishings from getting wet.
As he fled his home on Saturday night with a few precious keepsakes in his arms, the last thing he stopped to do was measure the water line. The flood waters in his home were twenty-five inches deep.
“Usually storms only hit isolated sections of the city,” Pastor Love said. “This one hit the entire city and sat on top. People are trying to get in to help us, but they can’t because the river is on one side and the reservoirs are overflowing on the other side.”
Saturday evening, as Pastor Love and his family sheltered at their next-door neighbor’s house, which had been built to withstand a thousand-year flood, he observed the eerie devastation all around him. Everywhere he looked, he saw water. Insects began climbing up the trees to safety. Next door, a stray cat was cuddled asleep under the gables of the roof of his home. All creatures were moving to higher ground.
Loving and Serving Each Other
The members of Bellaire UMC have been busy assisting each other and their community however they can as they wait for the waters to recede. Wherever possible, they are venturing out to help each other begin cleaning out their homes. They are comforting each other. Putting on a pot of coffee.
Lead Pastor Sean Duffin has created online sign-up sheets where members can either request help, or offer to give it. Members of the church who own Airbnb rentals have offered them to shelter those who are displaced. The larger shelters in Houston are calling upon Bellaire’s International Congregation to help supply translators.
This Sunday, Bellaire will open their doors to the community for a service of prayer and healing. As soon as possible, those doors will stay open so that weary neighbors who have lost everything can have a place to relax, access the internet, have a cup of coffee, or simply sit in the air conditioning.
Joy in Sorrow
Pastor Love finds tremendous comfort in the way his church has come together in love and selfless service in the most difficult of circumstances. He shares the story of one member of his church family, a man who reached out to offer what little he had with those in need.
“This guy was incarcerated for a long time. Now he is getting his life back on track. Bellaire, where the church is and where most of our members live, is an upscale area. This gentleman lives in a boarding house across town. When he heard about the flood, he contacted us. He said, ‘Come. It is dry here. I talked to my landlady. She said she wanted to house any of you who needed it.’
“And it fills my heart with joy,” Pastor Love said. “because God’s love knows no bounds.”

St. Luke’s United Methodist Church Offering Houston Flood Relief

Thu, 08/31/2017 - 00:00
HOUSTON, Texas – Beginning Wednesday, both St. Luke’s United Methodist Church Westheimer, 3471 Westheimerand Gethsemane, 6856 Bellaire Blvd. campuses will offer several means of support for those recently affected by Hurricane and Tropical Storm Harvey. At St. Luke’s, we continue to pray for victims of this storm and strive to do whatever we can to be of help and support. 
The first priority is  to equip current shelters and community partners with the materials and volunteers needed.
St. Luke’s  is collecting diapers, baby wipes, formula, feminine hygiene products, bottled water, and box fans. Donations may be brought to the Blanton Building at the West Alabama entrance to St. Luke’sbetween Edloe and Buffalo SpeedwayMonday through Saturday from 10a.m.-4:00pm.or use the Amazon wish list and have items shipped to the church. That link ishttp://a.co/dJlHD23
Wednesday and Thursday, August 30-31 12-3 p.m.Hot meals, restrooms, wifi and a hospitality teamwill be provided at St. Luke’s Gethsemane campus, 6856 Bellaire Blvd
As the needs of the Houston community are identified in the weeks ahead, St. Luke’s team of volunteers will help muck out houses, do laundry for displaced persons,  provide support for work teams coming to town, and provide hospitality and numerous additional assistance. Sign up to volunteer at  www.stlukesmethodist.org/houston-flood-relief
Monetary donations for Houston Flood Reliefcan be given by text$ flood to 832-263-6762or simply write “Houston Flood Relief” in a check memo made payable to St. Luke’s.One hundred percent of the gift will go toward flood relief efforts in Houston.You can also give online athttps://public.serviceu.com
St. Luke’s is aware thatthe real recovery work is in the long days ahead after the experts get things organized and resources directed in the right locations. We have a long road of restoration ahead of us, and the church is ready to serve.
Those desiring more information, or want to volunteer,go to  www.stlukesmethodist.org/houston-flood-relief
St. Luke’s United Methodist Church
3471 Westheimer Rd.
Houston, TX 77027

Bear Creek United Methodist Church - A Lily Pad of Refuge in the Harvey’s Flood

Wed, 08/30/2017 - 00:00
As flood waters covered the Bear Creek community, intentionally diverse Bear Creek United Methodist Church became a “lily pad” of shelter and hope for their neighbors in need.
A Foundation of Diversity and Unity, Bear Creek United Methodist Church was established in 1977, and quickly became one of the fastest growing churches in the Houston area. The church soon reached an average weekly attendance of over 1,100 people.
But in the early 2000’s, growth began slowing dramatically. At the same time, the Bear Creek neighborhood demographic was undergoing huge changes as the once predominantly white community gave way to far greater diversity. When Rev. Leo Tyler arrived at the church in July of this past year, he found that Bear Creek did not reflect the ethnic or generational diversity of the community just outside its doors. It was important to Rev. Tyler to change that, and the church was ready.
Today, Bear Creek UMC has thrown open their doors in welcome to their diverse neighborhood, and merged with the Spanish speaking church that was previously sharing their facility.
“I tell my congregation that we are going to show people how to live in unity. We worship and serve together. We love each other. If you attend our church, you will have people of all ages and color praying for you and serving you communion,” said Rev. Tyler.


Appeal for Funds For Hurricane Harvey Response

Tue, 08/29/2017 - 00:00
Dear friends,
The southern part of the Texas Annual Conference has suffered one of the most catastrophic floods in our nation’s history. Harris County has averaged 33 inches of rain between Friday and Tuesday morning and the rain has not yet stopped. More than 30,000 persons have been evacuated from their homes. 8 persons have been confirmed dead. It is too early to calculate how much damage has been done, but already predictions are being made that this ranks as one of the worst natural disasters in US history.
Christians should respond by loving our neighbors in the name of Christ. We United Methodists are ready and able to do so. During the flooding, courageous clergy and laity have been at work. Now we are looking at the recovery. The Texas Annual Conference recently dedicated a disaster response depot in Conroe which will help us respond. We have been involved in disaster relief before, both locally and around the country and once again we are getting ready to serve.
But we cannot do this alone—we need your help. The first need is for prayer for the rain to end and for all those affected. We are grateful for all the support and prayers we have received so far. Keep them coming!
Second, we need financial support. You can send money to the United Methodist Committee on Relief at www.umcor.org. Designate your gift to U.S. Disaster Response, Advance #901670.
As another option, you can donate to the Texas Annual Conference athttp://www.txcumc.org/floodrelief. You can give online, by text, or by mailing a check to the Conference at 5215 Main, Houston, 77002.Please put “Harvey Response” in the memo line. We also know that the Rio Texas Conference needs help, too.
There will come a time when volunteers will be welcome. Our past experience says this recovery will take years instead of months. When such efforts are useful, we will invite and host teams. With God’s help, we can be a part of putting people’s lives back together. That’s what we do.
      Grace and peace,

     Scott Jones

See PDF - English

Un llamado a la Recaudación de Fondos como respuesta al Huracán Harvey.
Amados amigos y amigas,
El lado sur de la Conferencia Anual de Texas ha sufrido una de la inundaciones más catastróficas de la historia de nuestra nación. El Condado Harris ha promediado 33 pulgadas de lluvia entre el Viernes y la mañana del Martes; las lluvias no han cesado. Más de 30,000 personas han sido evacuadas de sus casas. Ocho personas han muerto. Es muy temprano para calcular cuánto daño hemos experimentado, pero ya las predicciones han sido hechas de que éste ha sido uno de los peores desastres naturales en la historia de Estados Unidos. 
Los Cristianos debemos responder amando a nuestro prójimo en el nombre de Cristo. Nosotros los Metodistas Unidos, estamos listos para hacerlo. En medio de todas las inundaciones, pastores y laicos valientes han estado trabajando. Ahora tenemos que mirar hacia la tarea de recuperación. La Conferencia Anual de Texas recientemente estrenó una localidad que sirve como depósito de recuperación en Conroe que nos ayudará a responder debidamente. Tanto localmente, como a nivel nacional, el estar involucrados en la tarea de recuperación no es algo nuevo para nosotros. Por ende, nos estamos preparando una vez más para servir.
Sin embargo, no podemos hacer ésto solos. Necesitamos su ayuda. La primera necesidad es la de orar para que deje de llover y orar por los que han sido afectados. Estamos agradecidos por todo el apoyo y las oraciones que hemos recibido hasta el momento. ¡Sigan apoyando y orando!
En segundo lugar, necesitamos apoyo financiero. Usted puede enviar su contribución al Comité Metodista Unido de Asistencia (United Methodist Committee on Relief ) dirigiéndose a la página web www.umcor.org. Etiquete su donación con las siguientes palabras: “U.S. Disaster Response, Advance #901670.”
Otra opción para hacer su donación es haciéndola directamente al Texas Annual Conference, en la páginahttp://www.txcumc.org/floodrelief.Con esta opción, usted podrá hacer su donación en línea, por envío de texto o a vuelta de correos a la dirección 5215 Main, Houston, 77002.Por favor, escriba“Harvey Response” en la línea de “memo” de su cheque. Reconocemos que la Conferencia Río Texas también necesita ayuda.
El tiempo llegará para darle la bienvenida avoluntarios. Nuestras experiencias pasadas nos enseñan que la labor de recuperación, llevará años, en vez de meses. Cuándo el esfuerzo lo requiera y sea útil, invitaremos a que se presenten voluntarios y formaremos equipos de trabajo. Con la ayuda de Dios, podemos ser parte de la labor de reconstruir las vidas de las personas afectadas. Esto es lo que nosotros hacemos.
       Gracia y paz,

     Obispo Scott Jones

PDF - Español

Message from Bishop Scott J. Jones

Tue, 08/29/2017 - 00:00

Dear sisters and brothers,

We have truly been through a most difficult time over the last four days and it is not over. I am grateful for the many ways in which you have served Christ and the people of our area. District Superintendents and others have shared stories of how you have cared for people, opened your churches as shelters, rescued people and been involved in serving others. Thank you! I am proud to be a United Methodist clergy serving Christ in these difficult times.

Many of you have been flooded out or evacuated and yet have done what you can to make a difference. Please keep yourselves and your families safe.

This afternoon I hope to publish a letter about how people can contribute money. There will come a time when volunteers can help the clean up effort. As usual, the UMC will be involved in the recovery for the long haul. I am sure this will take years rather than months. But we are called to be the hands and feet of Christ in the midst of disaster. That is who we are as United Methodist Christians. I am honored to be in this with you.

May the Lord bless you and keep you so you can bless others!


Hurricane Harvey Reveals the Heart of Ecumenical Cooperation in Mont Belvieu

Mon, 08/28/2017 - 00:00
In the past 10 years, Mont Belvieu, has experienced a 171% surge in population, leaping from 2,630 residents in 2007 to 7,313 in 2017. Mont Belvieu Emergency Services has been struggling to expand quickly enough to keep pace with the city’s rapid growth. Now, as entire subdivisions are submerged under water in the wake of Hurricane Harvey, Mont Belvieu will depend on a strong local ecumenical effort to help provide relief.
Rev. Melody Kraus of First United Methodist Church of Mont Belvieu meets regularly with a group of other local pastors. Together, these leaders seek to love and serve their community across denominational lines. It is clear that these ecumenical efforts have created a deep bond of friendship between the churches. When Rev. Kraus arrived to inspect FUMC for damage on the Monday morning after Hurricane Harvey, she found Rev. Hilnote of Old River Baptist Church already there. He had come to check on the church for her.
Now these local churches will join hands and resources to serve their neighbors during their time of greatest need. Volunteers are hard at work setting up a shelter at Eagle Heights Fellowship where all participating churches will work together to be the hands and feet of Jesus to a community in crisis.
Serving God by partnering with neighboring congregations is nothing new for FUMC. The church, which will celebrate its 140-year anniversary this October, has a long history of opening its arms to the local Catholic parish, Holy Trinity. When Holy Trinity was established in the early 1990’s, FUMC hosted the new congregation for several years until they were able to build their own facility. Today, both congregations have grown with their community and Holy Trinity is in need once more. Recently Holy Trinity’s priest, Fr. Kahn, approached Rev. Kraus to ask if FUMC would be willing to share their space again while Holy Trinity underwent a building expansion.
“When I approached my congregation with HolyTrinity’s need,” Rev. Kraus said, “their response was, ‘Of course! It never occurred to them to refuse.”
Service times and meeting spaces were shifted to accommodate both congregations. Holy Trinity will begin sharing worship space with FUMC this September. During the ten months both churches meet in the FUMC building, they will participate in joint activities including feeding the hungry through the food pantry ministry, Methodist West. Holy Trinity will also join FUMC in hosting the community in their fall pumpkin patch. The two congregations will worship separately, but look forward to coming together for special Advent and Lenten services.
It is clear that FUMC and its faith partners in Mont Belvieu are passionate about God’s call to work across denominational lines in service to their community. This strong foundation of ecumenical cooperation will sure to be vital to not only shelter those displaced by the flooding, but to help them during the recovery process as well. FUMC is eager to be part of the effort.
“All you have to do is turn on the news to see that our entire nation is focused on our differences. It is really wonderful that this town is focused instead on what strengthens our community. It is an honor to be a part of it,” said Rev. Kraus.

United Methodist Churches Offer Shelters

Mon, 08/28/2017 - 00:00
As the flood waters rise across the Houston area, Houston United Methodist Churches are assembling supplies to begin cleanup and are opening up their doors as shelters.
The following churches have opened shelters:
Wildwood United Methodist Church 8911 FM 1488, Magnolia, TX 77354
Faithbridge United Methodist Church 18000 Stuebner Airline Rd., Klein, Texas 77379
Westbury United Methodist Church 5200 Willowbend Blvd., Houston, TX 77096
Windsor Village United Methodist Church 6011 W. Orem Dr., Houston, TX. 77085
First United Methodist Church Sugar Land 431 Eldridge Rd.,  Sugar Land, TX 77478
Christ United Methodist Church Sugar Land 3300 Austin Parkway, Sugar Land, TX 77479
Cypress Trails UMC 22801 Aldine Westfield Rd., Spring, TX 77373
Lakeview Methodist Conference Center 400 Private Road 6036, Palestine, TX 75801
Mauriceville United Methodist Church 11929 Hwy 12, Orange, TX 77632
First United Methodist Church Liberty 539 Main Street, Liberty, TX 77575
First United Methodist Church Vidor 501 N Main St., Vidor, TX 77662

Central United Methodist Church Galveston  3308 Avenue 0 1/2 Galveston, TX 77550
For more information, contact The United Methodist Church Texas Conference Communication office:
Shannon Martin at 832-444-3475.

Churches Wanting to Assist as Shelters

Sun, 08/27/2017 - 00:00

Civil officials have called for publicly accessible buildings (such as churches) to open as temporary shelters. The purpose of these shelters is to provide temporary respite to survivors fleeing their homes, sometimes on foot.  We encourage churches to open their doors and to be a beacon of light and island of safety in their communities. You do not have to open as an official Red Cross shelter or as an overnight shelter if you are not equipped to do so. You can open as a temporary safe space to allow survivors to get in out of the weather and to simply take a deep breath. 

This is one of the most important Ministries of Presence that a church can provide in a disaster situation. If you choose to do this, please consult with your church trustees about policy / legal / insurance implications. We would also remind you that these survivors are considered a vulnerable population and you need to maintain church Safe Sanctuary policy operating procedures. If you do receive evacuees, please contact your local Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management and let them know how many survivors you have. 

If you are in the Houston-Metro area you can call 3-1-1 to report this.  We are not sure of the availability of 3-1-1 outside the Houston area at this time.  Civil officials can help direct the survivors to the nearest overnight shelter, and, in some cases, help arrange transport to those facilities providing longer term care. Thank you for all that you are doing in these difficult times. 

In Christ,
Rev. Scott Moore
Director, Center for Missional Excellence
Texas Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church

Houston Measuring Rain in Feet Not Inches

Sun, 08/27/2017 - 00:00
Houston area United Methodists are braced for clean-up once the flood waters recede after what is being described as one of the worst disasters in US history. Three people have been reportedly killed in flood waters and thousands of people have been rescued in the flood waters.

Dr. Greg Postel, meteorologist and hurricane specialist for The Weather Channel, said the flooding unfolding in the Houston area “could be the worst flooding disaster in U.S. history;” and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, appearing on Fox News Sunday, said: “We're measuring rain these days not in inches but in feet.”

Most Houston area United Methodist Churches worshipped online today because people were either stranded in their homes or pastors wanted to keep folks off the roads, says Texas Conference Bishop Scott Jones. “The flooding is widespread in the Houston area. There is not one area that has not been affected. I am praying for all involved,” he says.

Andrew Wolfe, Associate Pastor at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, Houston is one pastor that has lost his home and both cars. “We are really close to Bray’s Bayou and the water rose very quickly. The rain and flood waters have not let up. Everything is our area is flooded from front-door to front-door.” Wolfe just moved into his home weeks ago,and did purchase flood insurance, but with the 30-day waiting period he is not sure if his home will be covered.“Our family is safe and that is the most important thing,” he says.

Scott Moore, Texas Conference Disaster Response Director says this is the first time the National Weather Service has ever issued a Flash Flood Emergency for Catastrophic Life Threatening Flooding. Moore expects long term clean up to take years and needs all hands on-deck as soon as it is safe to begin clean up. “This is a great time for everyone to be the hands and feet of Christ,” Moore says. He says churches across the nation can help by sending donations directly to United Methodist Committee on Relief Domestic Disaster Response Advance #901670.

“We are currently looking for local churches in every area of Houston to be day and evening shelters and for volunteers to go and muck and gut homes,” he says. For more information on this, contact your local church.

Mayor Turner has asked local churches to open-up their doors as shelters to get people out of the rain. It does not have to be an overnight situation, just a place to get dry and take a deep breath. “If you need cots for overnight shelter, the Mission Center in Conroe, Texas has 300 cots available to transform your church into an overnight shelter,” Moore says.

The Texas Conference is asking every United Methodist to help. There are so many areas in the Texas Conference as well as the Rio Texas Conference and that have been affected, says Moore. “We need a hub church in every area that has flood damage to step up and help.We have so much damage this disaster is going to take everyone working together.”


Prayer from Bishop Jones

Sun, 08/27/2017 - 00:00

Prayer During Hurricane Harvey
From Bishop Scott Jones
Texas Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church

Oh God, we need your help. We need the rain to end, the floodwaters to recede, the damaging winds to stop. We need fortitude to cope with this disaster. We need love to share with our neighbors. We need strength to endure. Lord, we know that storms come in our world, and we are asking for your help in getting through it, repairing the damage and rebuilding our lives. We pray for ourselves, our friends and all those affected by Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath. Give us the willingness and strength to be your agents in responding to this disaster.

Bishop Scott Jones

Churches Posting Videos for Worship in Lieu of Services Cancelled Due to Harvey

Sun, 08/27/2017 - 00:00
Because of Hurricane Harvey, many churches in the Houston area have cancelled Sunday services for August 27th. Many have opted to schedule live-streams or post videos of services to watch on demand instead.

Below is a list we are aware of. Please stay safe and pray for those currently in the path of the storm and floodwaters.
Chapelwood UMC, Houston
Faithbridge UMC
FUMC Houston
FUMC Missouri City

Other recent sermons are available from many churches around the Texas Conference online as well at http://www.txcumc.org/sermonarchives
If your church is cancelling services and posting videos of worship instead and would like information about your church's service added to this page, please e-mail bmills@txcumc.org. It will be updated as possible.