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Updated: 22 min 19 sec ago

Third-Annual Pastoral Luncheon

Wed, 07/26/2017 - 00:00
St. Luke's UMC, Houston will be hosting their third-annual pastoral lunch on October 26, 2017.

When congregation members struggle with issues related to children in their care, they often turn to their pastors for support and guidance. It can be difficult when pastors are expected to have all the answers. This panel discussion equips pastors with ideas for what to do and where to turn when member needs are beyond the pastor’s scope. (Panelist details are in the attached.)
Previous feedback:
“The luncheon was very informative! I learned some very valuable information that will assist me in fulfilling my duties at my local church. The speakers revealed some very significant points about mental illness. The speakers were very knowledgeable, and gave considerable insight into this area of mental illness. Dr. Pace and the other members of St. Luke's are doing an awesome job!”
“All panelists had such heart! [My takeaway is] a lot of respect for the person suffering loss/grief. Gentleness, kindness was palpable, not "clinic mode.”
Format: interactive Q&A
Cost: $15
Attendees receive: Lunch, answers to questions, resource information and a completion certificate (not CEUs) offered to attendees at no additional charge
Register to attend at FinneganCounseling.org/pastorlunch beginning August 1st

Lay Ministry Opportunity: Houston Methodist Hospital

Wed, 07/26/2017 - 00:00

The Department of Spiritual Care and Education at Houston Methodist Hospital will offer a five session training course for new lay ministers in October 2017. Lay Ministers are gifted men and women from many different faith communities in the metropolitan area who commit to serve a minimum of one day a week for 2-4hrs on a consistent basis. If you are interested in volunteering alongside a professional chaplain to address the spiritual needs of our patients, primarily through empathic listening, please consider this opportunity. 

For more information and/or an application, please contact Chaplain Candice Richey-Womack at 713-441-1987 or clricheywomack@houstonmethodist.org.  Applications due August 31, 2017.

Sermons Around the Conference

Wed, 07/19/2017 - 00:00
The following links to sermons were selected at random. They are listed in no particular order.
Love Is…
First UMC, Bryan - Rev. Jennifer Webber
Why did Jesus Tell Confusing Stories?
Cedar Bayou Grace UMC, Beaumont - Rev. John Newsom
Family Reunion
Upper Room Chapelwood, Houston - Rev. Christian Washington
Marvin UMC, Tyler – Rev. David Dorn
Summer Smoothie: Faithfulness
Memorial Drive UMC, Houston – Dr. John Robbins
Want more? See a listing to links of video, audio and text sermons from around the conference at: http://www.txcumc.org/sermonarchives

Cross Connection Update

Mon, 07/17/2017 - 00:00

The Texas Annual Conference Cross Connection has received a face lift. If you noticed in your latest issue of our bi-weekly publication, we're sporting a new look! The layout is cleaner and allows for larger images as well as more options for content.

Check out the July 13 issue at http://www.txcumc.org/crossconnection.
Subscribe or update your e-mail address.

Impacting Human Trafficking

Thu, 07/13/2017 - 00:00
Surprisingly, victims of human trafficking span all geographic and demographic markers. According to the University of Texas at Austin School of Social Work, there are more than 300,000 victims of human trafficking in Texas, including almost 79,000 minors and youth victims of sex trafficking and nearly 234,000 adult victims of labor trafficking.  Awareness about this epidemic has inspired many United Methodists in the Texas Conference to take action in recent months to support the yearlong fundraising campaign led by the TAC Center for Missional Excellence.
Racing for a Reason
Earlier this year the Southwest District raised over $68k to land a big punch to this alarming and oppressive trend. The district is awarding these funds to the work of Harvest House and Agape International.

In the Northwest District, Tammy Woodard at Bullard UMC and Martie Belt at the district office joined Rev. Joseph Thomas, Mount Vernon UMC/Pert and Neches UMC to raise funds via the Eat Fresh Fun Fresh event in Tyler and sent donations to the Conference office. “After 10 years in public education, I have a heavy heart for kids to know Jesus and to know him in an environment that is positive and uplifting,” shares Pastor Joseph. “If this race helped even one child get out of trafficking because of our efforts, then that is a victory for the Kingdom.”

This April, Lakewood UMC Houston raised $1,270 through Rusty's 5K Run 2017 to fight human trafficking. Over 100 women, men and children participated in this annual run in memory of their beloved pastor, Rev. Rusty Watkins. This year's proceeds went to benefit Redeemed Ministries. Lakewood has raised thousands of dollars for Redeemed Ministries through various fundraisers, and from the sale of drink coasters made by women rescued from human trafficking. Desirie Dougall, Operations Director for Redeemed Ministries says, "We are very grateful for this donation which helps us care for survivors who reside in the safe house as they receive counseling, art therapy, and equine therapy.” Additionally, Lakewood’s UMW Board also voted to send $500 from their garage sale profit to Houston’s Free the Captives organization. 

Pastors, such as Rev. Leah Hanks at Carthage UMC - are leading by example. “Human trafficking is an issue that has been on my heart for several years,” shares Leah, “so I participated in the Trail Run in our district because it seemed like something tangible I could do! I look forward to being involved in other events of this type.” 
Get Educated, Get Engaged

St. Paul's UMC Houston is teaming up with South Main Baptist Church for a Human Trafficking Awareness Van Tour on Sunday, September 10, 1:30-4:30 pm. Participants will be in 15-passenger vans driving around Houston, including a stop at Elijah Rising's modern-day slavery museum. Elijah Rising’s mandate in Houston includes driving the reality of modern-day slavery into the consciousness of our society via van tours of high-probability trafficking areas in Houston, Cypress and Katy. Each tour features visuals, testimonies from Elijah Rising’s knowledgeable staff, relevant statistics, and the urgent need for prayer. Details: http://www.elijahrising.org/van-tour-faqs/

FUMC in Nacogdoches invited Rev. Diane McGehee as our guest pastor for UMW Sunday and requested that she focus her sermon on human trafficking -- how it affects not only large metro areas but also towns the size of ours, and what resources we have to create awareness,” shares church member Colleen Abernathy. Diane and Rev. Jeff McDonald discussed ways the church could leverage a local charity run to raise awareness and funds for human trafficking. Their UMW chapter is donating bake sale funds of $800 towards Refuge of Light located in Tyler.
​UMW leaders of St. Luke’s UMC in Kilgore are recruiting other UMW groups in the North District to join them in helping Rahab’s Retreat and Ranch to minister to women freed from sex trafficking. Pat Rudy of the United Methodist Women thanked her associates, saying, “Your response to contribute over $2,000 to help fill Rahab’s Pantry was overwhelmingly generous. This made it possible for us to fill three large grocery carts and have funds left over to give to the Retreat.”  Adds Pat, “Watching the staff receive this food was like watching children opening Christmas gifts! This was a modern day miracle because you are following the example of Christ.” Additionally, a group from UM ARMY helped replace a roof and do some cleaning at Rehab’s Retreat, and “The Menders” group from Marvin UMC worked a week helping with painting and other projects. Rehab founder Teresa Richenberger adds, “We have so many Methodists helping our girls, it is just tremendous. Some groups provide monthly support, some have adopted a room and accessorize it, and some ladies even taught a crochet class for our girls. It was a great way to interact and love on them in a special way.” Teresa is happy to speak to groups anywhere, and excited to have Rahab’s Retreat.  

What Can You Do?
Regardless of age or residence, everyone can impact this issue.
Spread the word (raise awareness through conversations with children, and comments on social media)
Invest time or money
Pray for victims and organizations helping them
Provide pro bono legal work or help with aftercare
Sign up for a race in your area and fundraise with your church or district 

Award-Winning Volunteer

Thu, 07/13/2017 - 00:00
Communication professional Tracy Torma tends to volunteer wherever her membership roots are planted. “I’ve helped my last three churches with their website,” she says, “and I’m excited to learn that my latest project with FUMC Palestine landed an Award of Excellence in digital communication from the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) Houston chapter.”

A team of church volunteers helped develop the new website last year with the assistance of Mustard Seed Studio, a graphic design firm in Houston specializing in affordable church website development. Tracy appreciates the input of her communication teammates: Jennifer Kimble, Joe Kimble, Barry Mace, Melinda Orsak, Amy Rigsby, Lisa Tang, Vibrant Church Initiative Coach Marilyn Wadkins and Monroe Walker who are thankful their contributions contributed to this honor.
Tracy, the founder of the consulting firm Torma Communications, has been an active member of IABC Houston for multiple decades and knows the significance of this award, particularly for a church. “This is a really prestigious honor, since major companies in town enter this contest, including Shell, ExxonMobil, University of Houston and all the major hospitals in the Texas Medical Center,” she adds. The Houston chapter of IABC is part of a global network of communication professionals with members in more than 70 countries.
Sharing her skill set comes naturally for Tracy, in spite of a busy schedule as a longtime entrepreneur and relatively new grandparent. Notes Tracy, “As Christians, we are called to use our talents. Mine happens to be in the area of communications and it is something I can share with my church to advance our mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” 
 Her pastor, Rev. Alex Lupo says, “First UMC Palestine is going through Vibrant Church Initiative (VCI), which has provided us an opportunity to look at our church with fresh eyes. Our new website is the result of a careful examination of who we are and how we can help others in our community know more about Christ and this church.  I am very proud of our communications team that continues to work so hard on this effort.”
Turning Opportunities into Strengths
 “When a VCI team of consultants took a comprehensive look at our congregation’s image, leadership and programs, they noted that our digital presence did not represent the welcoming culture of the congregation,” she explains. “Our static website had a number of outdated events, was difficult to navigate and was not member- or guest-friendly, so the consultant report recommended revamping it.”
The key objectives for the project included:
1. Improve navigation and organization of the website. The new site features a simple design with easy-to-find information.
2. Increase traffic to the site by providing timely content. The new site has simple content management system that allows the church secretary to regularly refresh the site with new activities and photos. 
3. The website features sections targeted to the two key audiences: current members and prospective members. The main navigation bar at the top of the website features a First Time tab targeting newcomers. Additionally, current members are particularly excited about the new Outlook calendar of church events and activities, as well as an events section, and ministry highlights.
The Price is Right
According to Tracy, the volunteer team selected Mustard Seed Studio for website design and development, primarily for its simple, attractive design concepts and editing software, which enables a layperson to update website copy and photos easily. Members of the website team also helped populate the site with copy and photography which was donated, bringing the total cost to under $900.
"Too often churches don’t put enough emphasis on effective communication,” she says, “forgetting that a website is often the first impression a visitor has of your congregation. I encourage church leaders to evaluate their websites often from the eyes of a visitor who is seeking a dynamic congregation that’s making a difference. As a member of the congregation and a communications professional, I was very happy that the VCI team recommended a new website for FUMC Palestine. I believe it represents the life of our church and makes a great first impression on visitors who we hope will visit our church and become active members."
Tracy’s Top Five Tips: 
1. Build a volunteer team with some communications experience. Our team included a corporate writer, a local newspaper reporter and a nonfiction author, as well as several volunteers with no communications experience.
2. Select a digital communication firm to provide support. Our team narrowed our selections by looking at website portfolios and calling references to discuss quality of work. The most important factor to our selection was the ease of updating the content. 
3. Develop an outline that fits your congregation’s needs. We wanted a main navigation bar for first-time visitors that provided critical information, including a map to the church and a guided tour of our facilities. Because we wanted to promote our Preschool Program, we gave this a separate tab in our main navigation bar as well.
4. Populate the site with engaging information. Ask church leaders to provide information about their specific programs, but if possible seek a professional communicator to edit the information to ensure readability and consistency. Hire a professional photographer to come to the church one Sunday to take compelling photos of your church in action. Find a photography student at a local college or hire the news photographer at your local paper to get good photos at a more economical price, or, get a church member to donate the photographer’s fee.
5. Update the site regularly. Nothing is worse than going to a website and seeing outdated information. Update with photos and church activities on a weekly, if not daily, basis.

Meet Denisse Peña

Thu, 07/13/2017 - 00:00
Denisse Peña is one of nine students involved in the 2017 TAC College Pastoral Internship Project.
Some 15 years ago, The Texas Annual Conference committed to cultivating vibrant, growing churches while investing in a younger generation. An exciting vision was born through the Emerging Leaders Initiative with the goal of recruiting pastors for the future of the denomination. One of the four programs focused on this goal is the College Pastoral Internship Project that allows university students to experience the life of a pastor for 10 weeks in the summer. They shadow an experienced pastor in every aspect of ministry to truly understand church leadership.
Rev. Peter Cammerano, Chapelwood UMC Lake Jackson, is Denisse Peña’s mentor this summer and an avid supporter of the internship program for personal reasons. “I remember the kind faces each summer as I came back from seminary and attended Annual Conference.  I remember the time they took to learn my name, and to ask me about what ministry I had been involved in over the last 12 months. Those who invested in me as a seminary student made all the difference to me as I was deciding where I would serve in the United Methodist Church. I have found that the College Pastoral Intern Project has allowed me to return the favor of investing in new leaders.”
Peter explains that the College Pastoral Intern Project is a powerful way for the Annual Conference to invest in the young as they discern their call of ministry that starts at baptism and matures into a life of service in adulthood.
Q. How did your internship develop?
A. A native of Cd. Juarez, Chihuahua, Mexico, I graduated from Lydia Patterson Institute, the Methodist preparatory college in El Paso, TX in 2016. Then I was blessed to be an intern at Cypress UMC for several summers through the Lay Ministry Program. My friendship with Dr. Jerome Brimmage has been major factor in my internship this summer. I’m now attending Wiley College in Marshall, TX where my chaplain, Rev. Tabitha Rankin has encouraged me to pursue my call to ministry.
Q. What activities are you doing this summer?
A. I have been shadowing the pastors on pastoral care visits to hospitals, nursing homes, or residential homes. I’m also the coordinating activities with the youth and children at Lakeview, and helping with UM ARMY, Faith in Action, and local activities like True to Life Ministries in Lake Jackson. Finally, I have the chance to preach a chapel service at the conference office and at my host church -- to really experience being a pastor.
Q. What is your favorite aspect of the internship?
A. I love doing missions and hanging out with new people, so Lakeview and UM ARMY have been the best two weeks so far. I’ve done both of these as a camper when I was the intern at Cypress UMC, but I’m getting such a different experience being an “adult” and I’ve loved every second of it.
Q. What is the most challenging part of an internship?
A. Having a pastoral role in a funeral the very first week of my internship was a challenge. Also, I’m finding the pastoral care hospice visits to be learning experiences but heartbreaking, at the same time.
Q. Do you spend very much time with the pastor?
A. I attend meetings with Pastor Peter throughout the week and work on worship planning. We’ve also set a time for a one-on-one pastor to intern talk to help me process everything that has been going on, and to learn and grow in my faith. We stay in touch even when I am out of the office.
Q. How is this experience helping you discern your call to ministry?
A. I am trying to figure out a way to combine my calling to ministry and a career in nursing.
Q. Can you share a story of where you see God at work?
I see and feel God more than ever during Lakeview camp and UM ARMY. During camp, I could see my 6th and 7th graders pouring out their hearts to God in worship. It was a privilege to see such young girls being so passionate about their faith. I also see God every day at Chapelwood in all the staff members and volunteers who are dedicated to sharing God’s love and grace with others.
Q. When this internship concludes, what’s your next step?
A. In the fall, I will be getting ready to begin my sophomore year at Wiley College. My goal is to get more involved at First UMC Marshall and help build their college student ministry.
Q. How many times over this summer will you preach?
A. Preaching the chapel service at the Texas Annual Conference Office on June 13th was my first experience with preaching, but afterwards Pastor Peter and I worked on ways to improve and I’m really excited and looking forward to preaching at Chapelwood July 30th as part of the summer sermon series.
Q. Have you met any other role models?
A. Lisa Michelle Wilson, children’s and youth pastor is a role model because of her strength and passion as a woman dedicated to ministry.
Pastor’s Perspective
Rev. Cammerano says, “Denisse is the third intern to serve at Chapelwood UMC, one of the other interns was a church member. “I was thrilled to learn that Chapelwood member Paul Meiller, after shadowing me for 12 weeks last year, is now completing his first year at Perkins and is a candidate for ordained ministry in our conference. I have enjoyed spending the summer showing each intern the joy in pastoral work, the places where they can stretch, and the difference the church can make in other’s lives.”
Peter enjoys watching their careers and spiritual journeys unfold. He adds, “The best part for me is to help them celebrate as they choose a path towards ministry and to walk with them as they seek ordination, graduate from seminary and take their own appointment in the connection. The College Pastoral Intern Project is a powerful way for the Annual Conference to invest in the young.”

Second Chance Ministry

Thu, 07/13/2017 - 00:00
Atascocita UMC, Humble is helping rebuild lives and homes through a special mission called the Jubilee Project, which brings houses and former prisoners back to life. Run through the United Methodist Church in Cincinnati, Ohio, the program gives former prisoners a second chance through employment and encouragement. Years ago, local UMC Pastor Thomas Hargis, a seminary friend of Atascocita UMC Associate Pastor Cameron Supak, started the Jubilee Project by taking a house that nobody wanted, hiring people in the community deemed "un-hirable," and turning the house into a job training lab. Rev. Supak takes a team to Ohio as often as possible.
This summer, the Atascocita crew worked alongside former prison inmates to install wiring, flooring and whatever the project manager needed. “Their real life stories were sometimes heart-wrenching,” shares Carol Bodin, Mission Chairperson for Atascocita UMC, “yet they still faced life -- with hope -- because of their faith in God.”
She adds, “This mission model of doing with instead of doing for, is front and center when it comes to showing love to our neighbors. The Jubilee Project even started Jubilee Farms this year to assist residents with access to fresh vegetables and fruit. In communities where grocery stores are lacking, diets can become laden with fast food, so this provides an opportunity to teach them how to work in a garden which is so much more empowering than just handing someone money or a bag of groceries. It sets people up for success.”
Carol’s heart was particularly touched by the stories shared by the Jubilee employees.  “When one Ohio man struggling with personal challenges had a bad day on our worksite and he was ready to walk off the job site. Pastor Thomas Hargis and the job foreman spoke to him, calmed him down and found him a new assignment on another worksite. No one called this man out for his actions, instead there was kindness and a genuine desire to help him succeed.”
Returning year after year gives several of the team members a feeling of continuity and accomplishment. Mission crewmember Diann Fulmer shares, “It was wonderful to see the home we worked on last year in its finished state, and participate in its dedication.” The team also put their hammers down on occasion to ‘do life together.’ As Dick Fulmer adds, “Dick Fulmer adds, “God was at work during our trip through our trip. We did Bible study together every day with Pastor Thomas and folks we worked along-side with had such deep knowledge and faith. It was inspiring to all of us.”
Atascocita UMC member Rick Cade says that his favorite part was working alongside the people in Jubilee as they work to get their lives back. “I worked with a Syrian refugee that did not speak English. He had just arrived in America with a wife and six kids and no one was interested in hiring him. Yet Project Jubilee did. He taught me how to tape and float sheet rock like an artist.”

Training Communities

Thu, 07/13/2017 - 00:00
What does shalom look like in friendships? What does shalom look like in cities where there are significant barriers to racial reconciliation? Executive Director Matt Russell, Ph.D. ProjectCURATE, a social incubator founded by St. Paul’s UMC Houston is excited about his latest grassroots opportunity. “This is not another workshop or seminar on race relations,” he shares. “We are partnering with community organizations, Houston thought leaders, and UMC churches this fall to try something bold. “We want to see if it’s possible to nurture specific relationships within a group of multiethnic leaders and learners in this city. Our goal is to dismantle racial barriers while reconciling our Christian ideals.”
Through the upcoming Race & the Christian Imagination curriculum and cohort, participants collectively discerning how to respond to the harmful cultural norms with a gospel narrative that is rooted in improbable friendships.
The learning experience is designed to equip participants in core competencies for effective social engagement and collaboration such as:
  • Critical and Generative Dialogue
  • Reflective Action & Presence
  • Breaking the Cycle of Violence
  • Resolving Interpersonal Conflict
  • Developing Cultural Intelligence
Calling all Methodists
“We invite our UMCs across the conference to consider enrolling leaders in our Fall 2017 curriculum,” shares Matt. “Ideally, 7-10 leaders of your church could receive the training they need to expand their cultural intelligence, biblical discipleship and evangelism efforts, and their ability to engage their communities for the sake of the gospel of reconciliation.”
What is Involved?
  • Attend a monthly training and teaching from September –December.
  • Tuition cost is $100 per semester and $25 for materials per semester for those that can afford this amount. Scholarships are available via application, leaving just the $25 per person to offset the printing of materials.
  • Since attendance is crucial to the learning process, it is important that participants refrain from missing more than one meeting during the semester.
  • A workbook will be given to each participant as a point of reference for review and preparation between meetings. This workbook includes practices for reflection and empathy, as well as learning activities, such as journaling. In addition, videos will be available online for learning and interaction with other cohort members. The integration of the material into each individual’s life will depend on how much work they put into their time between meetings.
  • The September Dinner is yet to be confirmed, however all other sessions will take place from 9am – noon on September 16, October 21, November 18 and December 16
  • Register online before August 31st at http://www.projectcurate.org/join-for-2017.
The Woodlands UMC Hosts Conversations on Race and the Church
Rev. Michelle Manuel, The Woodlands UMC (TWUMC) Associate Pastor of The Loft worship community shares, “In the last few months I have felt pressed to just begin hosting conversations surrounding race in America and the church. With encouragement from Bishop Bob Hayes, this spring I hosted a small group book study on Divided by Faith by Emerson and Smith. The group was open to learning about their own privilege and learning from others.”
Energized to do more, the group birthed the “Can We Talk” summer series, which is open to the community. Over 70 people attended the first series in June to share a meal, watch and discuss a TED Talk.  “On July 27, Matt Russell and Cleve Tinsley will share about their experience with race and ministry, and field questions from the audience,” Michelle adds.
Michelle and her husband plan to be trained as facilitators to grow in their own understanding of privilege and race, and facilitate continued conversations and relationship building at TWUMC.
Matt welcomes additional speaking opportunities around this relevant topic. He adds, “We pray this cohort training, topic of conversation and method of facilitating improbable friendships will have the potential to transform and redemptively disrupt our cities and culture.”

Bubbles, Seeds and Heroes

Thu, 07/13/2017 - 00:00
Thanks to Westbury UMC, there is a unique neighborhood in southwest Houston that is fostering trust building and friendships that cross boundaries of race, ethnicity, economics, and residential housing for the purpose of personal wholeness and systemic change. Under the tender loving care and passion of Rev. Hannah Terry, associate pastor of Westbury UMC and executive director of FAM, Fondren Apartment Ministry -- with 2,000+ low-income residents -- has grown from an experimental outreach to more of an intentional community and family. After five years of relationship building amidst languages including English, French, Kinyarwanda. Kiswahili, Nepali, and Spanish, it is reaching 501©3 status this year and expanding through new partnerships with other UMCs and an assortment of volunteers.
“All you have to do is drop over during one of our Community Nights and you will see firsthand that FAM teaches Houstonians a new way of living — relationally, communally, and consciously,” shares Hannah. Westminster UMC sponsored the June event by providing pizza, bubble pools, and a lesson from Plant it Forward Farms on planting watermelon seeds on the apartment grounds.
 Invited to photograph the most recent event, Sydnie Mares, social media manager for the Texas Annual Conference was a bit surprised by FAM’s unique family atmosphere initially. “When I arrived to volunteer, the children immediately greeted me in a way that was different than working in children’s ministries at my home church,” notes Sydnie. “This group truly felt like family -- even for a newcomer. One young girl was so comfortable that she even asked me if she could take a picture with my camera, so I showed her how. Other girls were blowing bubbles on their friends on the count of three to help me get the perfect shot.”
The children welcome new relationships. Ten-year-old Suzanne says, "The best part about community night is the fact that we have fun with each other, and we share, and we love each other like family!"
Sydnie encourages individuals and groups to get involved with FAM, saying, “So often when we talk about refugees, immigrants, and lower income families, we forget that the conversation isn’t hypothetical. The people affected are real. The children are beautiful, they like playing with bubbles and eating pizza, and they deserve all of the love that we can give them.”
St. Luke’s UMC and Memorial Drive UMC (MDUMC) are also among the list of loyal partners with FAM. Associate Pastor Ginny Tincher, MDUMC, is planning a one-night VBS type event with a Super Hero theme for August 2. “We are grateful to FAM for this opportunity to connect,” shares Ginny. “It’s easy for churches to become siloes and think we need to reinvent the wheel for all types of ministry, especially when it comes to outreach and the wider community. What MDUMC hopes to do in this season is open up our eyes to the beautiful ministry already happening throughout Houston, and to see how organizations and churches can better serve the kingdom by working in partnership rather than alone. I’m grateful for Hannah and the chance for our communities to build friendships and learn from one another.”
According to Outreach Director Alice King, the St. Luke’s members and friends from other faiths were blessed as Community Night volunteers. “None of our group had ever been to a place similar to Los Arcos,” shares Alice. “They were amazed at how much the children loved the activity of teaching their names to our group members. We learned that it is universal to want to know and be known. “
Hannah has observed the Los Arcos environment enriching individuals’ spiritual vitality by putting them in a place to discern their calling to a similar ministry. “As FAM works for justice by building empowered community through hospitality, mutuality, storytelling and inclusivity,” adds Hannah, “it is exciting to see visitors join us and realize they can virtually go on a mission trip right in their own city by watching what God is doing at the Los Arcos Apartments. What a joy to see our partners often experience Jesus Christ in a place they were not expecting to.”
Next Steps
Board members from St. Mark’s UMC and St. Paul’s UMC have worked over a year to secure the nonprofit status knowing that will boost FAM’s sustainability almost immediately. “We have had partners say they would love to donate to FAM and have their companies match those funds,” explains Hannah, “but their hands were tied in that respect when the ministry was through a church. This nonprofit, although it is a fresh expression of a traditional church, can now tap into new avenues of fundraising and grant writing particularly for the economic empowerment initiatives we offer through IEDA Relief & Literacy Advance of Houston.
“From the moment I walked into the property at Los Arcos Apartment Community, I was taken back to experiences of great love found through relationships I built in Guatemala and Kenya,” says Kristy Elmore, Director of Holy Friendships for FAM. “Our friends at Los Arcos have deep faith and a soulful peace that draws me in and makes me feel closer to God just being in their presence.”
“During FAM community nights we learn from each other and connect with each other by showing up and sharing love. Sometimes I start to over think plans for the evening, and I remind myself that it is God's night.  We try to stay open to the surprises and plans that unfold. To slow down and be present to God's work is a great gift and we welcome others to join us.”
To volunteer or partner with this unique ministry, contact kristy@westburyumc.org. Be sure to follow the FAM Facebook page to get involved with this awesome community.


Students Develop Perseverance

Thu, 07/13/2017 - 00:00
When leaders find a need, they lead. Texas A&M and Blinn College student leaders with the A&M Wesley Foundation have persevered -- through rain delays and other obstacles in recent months – to finish a service project at Lee Chapel UMC, Bryan.
Students started refurbishing Lee Chapel UMC, a small African-American congregation last November, with the help of the Open Arms Sunday School class from A&M UMC. “As we worked to repair siding and paint the church,” recalls Ben Sinclair, Wesley Foundation program assistant. “It began to rain, so we had to leave it unfinished. Over the next few months, we planned two more workdays to finish up the work, both of which got rained out!” Summer school student leaders had better luck finishing the project in June.
“The most difficult part of the project was the 40-foot steeple, which needed some work.  We had a few brave souls get up there and make it look much better,” says Ben.
Rachel Tindall, Texas A&M Class of 2020 really enjoyed getting to learn about construction work while helping fellow Methodists. She says, “I got to use scaffolding for the first time during this project, which was a bit scary but also rewarding. Projects like this are a good way to push my boundaries and find versatile ways to give and serve. “
Colby McCahah, Texas A&M Class of 2019 explained that his biggest challenges were getting up early and working in the sun all day. Emma Kate Batchelor, Texas A&M Class of 2020, shared that she loves doing mission work in her own backyard. “There are plenty of people who need help right in our community,” she says. “It was fun to bond with other students from Wesley as we worked and sweated together.” Jessica Watson, Texas A&M Class of 2020, adds, “Working for six hours in the Texas summer heat is always a challenge, but seeing improvements made the project well worth the hard work.”
Ben witnessed leadership development at work. “Groups of students would take on part of the building and take charge of getting it finished,” he says. “The A&M Wesley group has a lot of natural leaders.  Our students are quick to respond to needs they see in our community. Most young people would not give up their Saturday to go paint a church, but our students looked forward to the opportunity to work.  They see the many ways they have been blessed by God and they are eager to bless their neighbors in a tangible way.”

In the Shadows – Human Trafficking Panel Discussion

Mon, 07/10/2017 - 00:00
A panel discussion entitled “In the Shadows ... Human Sex Trafficking and Child Slavery", will be held on Saturday, September 30, 2017 in Houston. The event will be presented by AOC Global Marketing.  
Event Location:
Houston Community College
West Loop South Center
5106 West Loop South
Registration: 8:30 am - 9:45 am
Event Time: 10 am – 1 pm
For registration information or additional questions, e-mail aocglobalmarketing@gmail.com  or call 713-489-7262 ext. 700. 

Third Sunday Native American Worship July 16:  James Stephenson

Mon, 07/10/2017 - 00:00
We welcome you at St. Mark's UMC, Houston (Patterson) on July 16 at 4 pm to listen to James Stephenson preach and sing about God's love.  He will be talking about a topic we all need to hear about - "Blessed Hope."  If you have ever heard James sing, you know that you want to be there. If you haven't, you won't want to miss this chance.  We will also be blessed to hear Chance Landry sing her new Veteran's Song that she sang on Memorial Day this last month for the first time.  
After that, please stay with us for potluck.  
DATE:  July 16 2017
TIME: 4:00pm
St. Marks United Methodist Church
1615 Patterson St., Houston, Tx.
(One block south of I-10 & west of I-45
Close to I-10 and Shepherd Dr.)
Potluck and fellowship follow the service
Third Sunday Speakers – 2017
  • August 20 - Pastor Bryan Jacobs (Seminole, Creek)
  • September 17 - Jim Cochran, Christian Lay Minister (Cherokee)
  • October 15 - Pastor Melody Jacobs, Christian Speaker (Mescalero Apache)
  • November 19 - Sayani, NAMA Award Winning Music Ministry(Cherokee/Creek/Choctaw)
  • December 17 - Rev. David Wilson, Supt of OK Indian Missionary Conference (Choctaw)

Nominations Open For 2017 Perkins Distinguished Alumnus/A Award

Fri, 07/07/2017 - 00:00
Perkins School of Theology is accepting nominations for its 2017 Distinguished Alumnus/a Award through Aug. 1, 2017.
Each year, Perkins School of Theology recognizes Perkins graduates who have demonstrated effectiveness and integrity in service to the church, continuing support and involvement in the goals of Perkins School of Theology and SMU, distinguished service in the wider community and exemplary character.
The 2016 DAA recipients were Rev. John McKellar (M.Div. ’90), Pastor of White’s Chapel United Methodist Church in Southlake, Texas, and Rev. Linda Roby (M.R.E. ’00), Associate Minister of Local and Global Missions at First United Methodist Church Dallas. Previous recipients include Rev. Ted J. Dotts Jr. and Dr. James V. Lyles (2015), Rev. Karen Greenwaldt, General Secretary of the United Methodist General Board of Discipleship from 2001-2013 (2014), Dr. Roberto Escamilla and Dr. William K. McElvaney (2013), Dr. Mouzon Biggs Jr. (2012) and Bishop Minerva Carcaño (2011). See complete list of former recipients here.
Nominations must be made in writing, with a letter detailing the nominee's career highlights and other accomplishments. Letters or statements from at least two additional persons must be submitted in support of the nomination as well. 
The award will be presented during the Distinguished Alumnus/a Award Banquet on Monday, Nov. 13, 2017, in the Great Hall of Elizabeth Perkins Prothro Hall.
The person submitting the nomination should compile all materials and mail as one package to:
Office of Public Affairs and Alumni/ae Relations
Perkins School of Theology 
PO Box 750133
Dallas, TX 75275-0133
Alternatively, letters may be sent together as attachments via e-mail to:
Rev. Connie L. Nelson, clnelson@smu.edu
Director of Public Affairs and Alumni/ae Relations

More Information about Distinguished Alumnus/a Award Criteria (PDF)
Read about the 2016 Distinguished Alumnus Award Recipients
List of all Perkins School of Theology Distinguished Alumnus/a Award Recipients 
Perkins School of Theology, founded in 1911, is one of five official University-related schools of theology of The United Methodist Church. Degree programs include the Master of Divinity, Master of Sacred Music, Master of Theological Studies, Master of Arts in Ministry, Master of Theology, Doctor of Ministry, and Doctor of Pastoral Music as well as the Ph.D., in cooperation with The Graduate Program in Religious Studies at SMU’s Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences.

Being One: A Marriage Seminar for Engaged and Newly-Wed Couples

Fri, 07/07/2017 - 00:00
St. Paul’s, UMC, Houston will be hosting Being One: A Marriage Seminar for Engaged and Newly-Wed Couples on Saturday, August 5, 2017 from 9 am–2 pm
The focus will be on equipping couples with skills for married life.

There is a $100 fee. Register at www.stpaulshouston.org/being-one

St. Paul’s, UMC
5501 Main Street 
Houston, TX 77004

July 2017 Singles Events

Wed, 07/05/2017 - 00:00
There are several churches around the conference with ministries focused on single adults. See what's going on this month or learn how to add your events at: http://www.txcumc.org/singlesevents