Monday, March 28, 2016

Prayers for General Conference

Beginning March 31, The United Methodist Church across the world will embark on 60 Days of Prayer for the 2016 General Conference, scheduled May 10-20 in Portland, Ore.

General Conference is the global legislative assembly of the denomination, and is the only body with the authority to speak for the entire church. Its primary task is to review and revise the United Methodist Book of Discipline, our covenant of policies and doctrine.

60 Days of Prayer has been organized by the Upper Room's Prayer Ministry in cooperation with the United Methodist Council of Bishops, partnering organizations such as JustPeace, and other church-wide boards and agencies.

Each United Methodist bishop has designated a day for each congregation in his or her area to pray for General Conference. Dallas Area Bishop Mike McKee has assigned May 6 to St. Stephen UMC. On this day we will pray individually and during a vigil for the delegates, bishops and other leaders going to General Conference. More details on St. Stephen's prayer vigil will be posted in the near future.

In addition, the General Conference Prayer Team invites us to participate through a study guide, prayer wall and creating prayer bead strands for delegates. Details about these offerings are available at

An Encouraging Word

As the 2016 General Conference approaches May 10-20 in Portland, Ore., St. Stephen UMC once again focuses on the policies in the United Methodist Book of Discipline, our covenant of church policy and doctrine, that continue to stigmatize LGBTQ people. General Conference is the only body that can speak for the entire worldwide United Methodist Church. It is the only body that can change the global Book of Discipline.

This year there is increasing encouragement from United Methodists across the denomination for General Conference to alter or remove the harsh language in the Discipline that holds "homosexual practice" to be "incompatible with Christian teaching." On his blog, Oboedire, the Rev. Dr. Steve Harper gives the most concise summation of the theological, scientific and sociological reasons why 2016  General Conference delegates should change the the church's stance.

"The point is, on multiple fronts, the church has 43+ years of knowledge from a variety of disciplines to legitimize new conversations about human sexuality.  To keep language in our Book of Discipline as it currently is, or to further tighten the meaning of current language, is to engage in obscurantism, rather than to practice Christian conferencing with new information on the table."

Read his full blog post, "UMC: Revisiting Human Sexuality."

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

South Central Jurisdiction Reconciling Ministries Update

We're 10 weeks into 2016 and amazing things are happening in the South Central Jurisdiction. Check this out! 
  • New individual Reconciling United Methodists (RUMs) = 114
  • New Reconciling Congregations/Communities (RCs) = 8 
  • Current number of churches/communities in process = 16
We're 55 days from General Conference and your participation has been fantastic!  
  • Current number of individual letters to delegates = 112
  • Current number of signatures on the open letter to SCJ delegations = 1,401
  • Current number of personal stories shared = 10
Here's where we need more attention:
  • New Mexico
  • Oklahoma
  • Texas - all 5 conferences
Keep the signatures, letters, stories, and screenings coming. Your voice matters!   #ItsTime

Laura Young, South Central Jurisdiction Coordinating
Reconciling Ministries Network

Friday, March 4, 2016

Early Byrds Have Carried Many a Tune

The Early Byrds musical group includes (from left) Lowell Sargent, Tina Simpson,
John Caton, Sandra King and Pete Dickson.

The Early Byrds began in the early 1990s when Rev. Cathy Bingman wanted some informal music for the 8:30 a. m. service and approached some members that she knew played guitar to form a group. We now provide music for worship on a quarterly basis or when the choir needs a break.
The Early Byrds play an eclectic blend of acoustic guitar based music with influences from blues, jazz, folk, country, blue grass and gospel.  Our current lineup includes founding members Pete Dickson, John Caton and Lowell Sargeant along with Sandra King and Tina Simpson.
We are always open to new members and guest performers who share our enthusiasm for music.