Southwest Texas Annual Conference 2012: ‘Love Your Neighbor’ Fellowship THANK YOU to Volunteers


June 13, 2012 – SWTX Love Your Neighbor Fellowship is a new coalition of Methodists in Austin and San Antonio who are concerned about the direction our denomination is taking on inclusivity and social justice issues.  Our goal for Annual Conference in Corpus Christi this year was to provide a witness and start a conversation about inclusivity in our Annual Conference.  The “Love Your Neighbor” Fellowship worked hand-in-hand with the Southwest Texas Methodist Federation for Social Action (MFSA) chapter and our local SWTX Reconciling Ministries Team.  It is amazing how well everything came together given time constraints, with only weeks to process and act between GC and AC.  We couldn’t have done it without our amazing helpers!!

THANK YOU to Rev John Elford for crafting the introduction and conclusion to the Hamilton-Slaughter amendment that was handed out at the delegate meetings on the first day of Annual Conference.

THANK YOU to Rev Linda Elford, Rev John Elford, Rev Rick Ricker and Rev Sid Hall for passing out the amendment to the clergy table.  Thank you to lay delegates Deana Henry and Kathy Hill for passing out the amendment to the lay table.  You helped gather almost 100 signatures!

THANK YOU to those who helped with the RMN and MFSA tables, including sending or bringing materials, and setting up the displays and swag.  Thank you to Travis Park UMC San Antonio members, Dick & Jimmie Sue Francis, Ann Teich, Dalila Cruz, Rev Richard Bates, Rowland & Janice Curry, Kenneth & Deana Henry, Devon Henry, Anne Mund, Joy Butler, Jan Dawes, and John Thomason.  The tables were groaning with the literature, books and goodies!

THANK YOU to Rev Richard Bates for facilitating the Shower of Stoles display.  The stole display as a whole was visually attractive, and the individual stories behind the stoles were emotionally moving.

THANK YOU to those who staffed the MFSA & RM Team tables, including Gloria Stevens, Kenneth Henry, Devon Henry, Mike Renquist, Rowland Curry, Janice Curry, Joy Butler, Pat Stewart, John Thomason, Jeanette Ball, Pat Stewart, and Jan Dawes.  Your smiling faces, open hearts and ready ears created a safe space for those in need in our friendly “compound”.

THANK YOU to Anne Mund for recruiting volunteers to staff the tables, and for selflessly covering shifts when needed.

THANK YOU to the delegates and visitors who stopped by the MFSA and RM Team tables and stayed long enough for a conversation.  You enriched us with your stories and your presence.

THANK YOU to those who created and provided Rainbow Stoles, because you enabled us to distribute over 150!  Thank you Janice Curry, Michael Harper, and thank you to members of Travis Park UMC in San Antonio and First UMC members in Austin.

THANK YOU to the delegates and visitors who wore Rainbow Stoles during AC.  By wearing your stole, you provided both a strong visual witness and an opportunity to start conversation about full inclusion.  Did your stole inspire a story-sharing moment?  Please share your moment with us if you feel so moved.

THANK YOU to those who provided sign boards for our tables and for our witness:  Travis Park UMC San Antonio, University UMC Austin, and Rowland Curry.

THANK YOU to all of the Peace & Justice Luncheon organizers, including Kerry Stevens, Deana Henry, Anne Mund, Rowland & Janice Curry, and Rev Richard Bates.  Almost 185 Methodists attended the luncheon, and heard the wise words of Jim Winkler.  We were living out being a connectional church during this luncheon, by starting relationships with new friends from across our conference.

THANK YOU to young adult Jarell Wilson, for tweeting and blogging about the Peace & Justice Luncheon:

THANK YOU to organizer Hilary Marchbanks and helper Sheri Jones for the Friday night dinner at Joe’s Crab Shack in “The Upper Room”.  The 47 of us enjoyed the food and lovely views from the windows.  We shared perspectives and stories from General Conference.  We prayed and sang.  It was an evening of healing and hope.

THANK YOU to Rev John Wright, Rev Georjean Blanton, Rev Paul Escamilla and Hilary Marchbanks for the Communion of Lament and Hope Saturday morning.  It was well-attended and provided a much needed space for solace and healing.

THANK YOU to Brian Heymans and Rev Sid Hall for organizing the candle liturgy on Saturday.  Thank you to Ann Teich and Robbie Ausley for your advice and support.  Did you know that the peace candles were not a planned feature of this year’s AC until they made inquiries of Annual Conference leadership about having a LGBT peace candle?  As a result, the lighting of peace candles opened every business session.  Brian wrote and presented a wonderful liturgy while Rev Hall lit the peace candle.

THANK YOU to alternate delegate Sarah Howell for her diplomatic words spoken from the AC stage during the Saturday afternoon business session.  Your words gently said what needed saying, without covering up the feelings of hurt and disappointment experienced by many of us.

THANK YOU to Jeff Sturgeon, delegate from Travis Park UMC San Antonio, for requesting a “personal point of privilege” per Robert’s rules of order Saturday at AC from the floor during business session.  Your speech was a powerful and cathartic moment at AC:

THANK YOU to Bishop Dorff for allowing Jeff 3 minutes from the floor, and for leading everyone in the hall in a prayer afterward.

THANK YOU to the almost 30 delegates who chose to “Stand with Jeff” during his point of privilege speech, including Rev Claus Rohlfs, Rev John Elford, and Rev Sid Hall.  We recognize your courage in doing so.

THANK YOU to Joy Butler for coordinating our witness action efforts.  Your organizational skills kept us all on task and moving forward.

THANK YOU to the volunteers who stood in the “Do No Harm” silent witness line during some, most, or all of the Saturday afternoon business session, behind the delegates at the back of the hall.  You were seen by hundreds of delegates, because most walked past you as they entered and exited the hall.  You held signs, you smiled at those walking past, and you were a positive presence representing love and full inclusion in our church.  Thank you Jeanette Ball, Dalila Cruz, Jan Dawes, Anne Mund, John Thomason, Mike Renquist, Arlene Zirkel, Patrick Kelly, Bridget Kelly, Joy Butler, Rev Richard Bates, Kenneth Henry, Devon Henry, Rowland Curry and Janice Curry.

THANK YOU to all the delegates who gave the “Do No Harm” silent witness volunteers a wave, a smile, a hug, and/or words of encouragement.  It meant more than you realize.

THANK YOU to everyone who had a hand in the planning and execution of our successful witness about full inclusion in our UMC and the harm done during GC.  We all worked together to create safe spaces, which allowed for healing, fostered hope, and brought us closer to being a more welcoming, a more inclusive, and a more vital,  Southwest Texas Conference.

BLESSINGS to you all!


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