Saturday, August 19, 2017

Join in Our 'Visible Witness'

Today, Aug. 19, is a big day of "visible witness" for St. Stephen UMC folks. We will gather at 5 p.m. at the church to carpool to the Combined Reconciling Churches dinner at Greenland Hills UMC starting at 5:30 p.m. At 6:30 p.m., some will depart Greenland Hills for the "In Solidarity" rally at Dallas City Hall scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m.
Some notes on today's events:
If you have a St. Stephen T-shirt, please wear it so we'll be visible, whether or not you're going to the rally.
The Combined Reconciling Churches dinner is a time for us to get to know the folks from the other six LGBTQ-affirming congregations around Dallas. It's a typical Methodist potluck, so bring a dish to share and your biggest smiles.
Keep in mind that the heat index is forecast to be 101 degrees at 7 p.m. today. As much as you may wish to attend the rally, please take care of yourself FIRST if you have any health concerns regarding extreme heat. St. Stephen will be well represented at the downtown Dallas event, and you can still support the rally with your prayers.
At all times, remember our vision: To share God's unconditional love with the world.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Racism, White Supremacy Are Not of God

Interfaith clergy marched in Charlottesville, Va., as a counter-protest to
white supremacy demonstrations Aug. 11 and 12.
Meme Courtesy of a Facebook friend

By Cynthia Astle
St. Stephen UMC Communications Chair

The racially motivated violence that occurred Aug. 11-13 in Charlottesville, Va., poses a new challenge for the people of St. Stephen United Methodist Church. We are proud to say that our influence sparked the desegregation of the Mesquite Independent School District in the 1960s, but in the decades since our visible witness against America's history of slavery and oppression, specifically of African Americans, has slackened.

During the Aug. 13 Council meeting's open forum, those of us in leadership discussed the events of Charlottesville and what St. Stephen's response could be. In the brief time we had, we reaffirmed our commitment to resist the evil of racism (as we promised Sunday during the reception of new members), but we were not able to come to a plan of specific actions.

In hopes of informing and energizing more discussion in the near future, and in a spirit of prayer, I'd like to offer the following suggestions for our consideration. They come from an article written by the Rev. Dr. Frederick W. Schmidt. Dr. Schmidt serves as the Rueben Job Professor of Spirituality at United Methodist-related Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary in Evanston, Ill., and directs the Job Center for Spiritual Direction. An Episcopal priest, Fred is a friend and mentor of mine and the author of several excellent books, including "What God Wants for Your Life" and "The Dave Test: A Raw Look at Real Faith in Hard Times."

From Dr. Fred Schmidt via Facebook:

"Plainly and without question, both the hatred and prejudice expressed last night (Aug. 11) and the attack on counter-protesters today (Aug. 12) are murderous acts. Neither the words nor the actions of these self-styled supremacists are protected by the Constitution. Nor is there any way in which to justify behavior of this kind as even remotely 'Christian.' Indeed, the religious and patriotic patina wrapped around the rhetoric of this group is reminiscent of the entirely cynical manipulation of the Gospel by Adolf Hitler and his inner circle.
  • We need to condemn actions of this kind without qualification.
  • Do what we can to foster a climate in which such actions face collective resistance and condemnation.
  • Build on the progress we have made in race relations.
  • Recognize the places where healing has yet to take root and strive to do what we can to foster progress.
  • Practice personal vigilance that opens our lives to the work of the Holy Spirit in places where our own attitudes and prejudices remain unredeemed.
  • Stand alongside our brothers and sisters who are the victims of groups like this.
  • Contradict, at every turn, the efforts of those groups to wrap their behavior in the mantle of the Church or the Constitution.
  • And support the lawful prosecution of anyone who incites violence or commits murder in the name of any creed.

"As much as I appreciate the feelings that prompted the visceral reaction of Virginia's governor when he told the protesters in Charlottesville to "go home," in truth, this behavior should have no home among us."

In addition to Fred's suggestion, as Communications Chair I think it's important for St. Stephen folks to know that our resident bishop, Bishop Michael McKee, issued an episcopal letter over the weekend urging North Texas pastors and churches to stand up to the sin of white supremacy. You can read his letter here.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

School Supplies Due Sunday, Aug. 13


The Outreach committee is requesting school supplies. Our food distribution families will choose their supplies and the remainder will be taken to Florence and Shands Elementary schools.

This year we ask that you donate ONLY the items listed below.  We have chosen these items because they are the most requested and the ones that sometimes are needed because of cost.

  • KLEENEX (100 COUNT)HAND SANITIZER (INDIVIDUAL SIZE)
  • QUART OR GALLON ZIP-LOCK BAGS
  • WIDE-RULE NOTEBOOK PAPER
  • GLUE STICKS
  • BLACK MARBLE COMP BOOK
  • #2 PENCILS (12 PACK)
  • BLACK OR BLUE BALLPOINT PENS
  • EAR BUDS FOR I-PADS
  • EXPO DRY ERASE MARKERS (BLACK OR 4 COLOR SET CHISEL TIP)

Please bring all supplies to the church Aug.13.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

A 4-Minute Video with Lots of Heart

Tom Council recommended this animated short video that was recently profiled on KRLD Radio. As a Reconciling Congregation, we feel it's important for us to understand what LGBTQ teens go through when forming their first relationships (as if adolescence wasn't hard enough!).