Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Global Missions Exec Escapes Istanbul Terror Attack

Word was received via Facebook that Thomas Kemper, top executive of the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries, escaped injury during the terrorist attack on Istanbul's Ataturk Airport June 28.

Dr. Kemper, a United Methodist layman originally from Germany, sent the following message:

"I am at Istanbul Airport where I was changing planes. You saw the news about the suicide bombers. I was in the lounge when it happened. Many deaths and injured. Total panic. I was hiding in the back room of the lounge kitchen. Very very scary. I am safe now. Airport of course is closed. Terror coming so close lets me give thanks for my life, my family and calls us to fight hate and terror everywhere. And it leads us into deeper solidarity with all who experience terror and violence not just once but every day and every night. Thanks for your prayer. Thomas"

St. Stephen UMC joins in prayers for the victims of the terrorist attack, and for all those who live daily with the threat of terror around the world.

How to Serve a 'Post-Institutional' World

Respected church consultant, author and Episcopal priest Tom Ehrich thinks we live in a "post-institutional" world. That is, people no longer invest in or join institutions such as churches, being suspicious of all institutions and their leadership.

Ehrich contends that churches that will survive and grow in this new era are those that transform themselves into faith communities that look beyond their historic identities. What can this mean for St. Stephen UMC as we work toward our own future?

Click here to read Ehrich's article "Faith Communities in the Post-Institutional Era."

Monday, June 27, 2016

Summer Discussion: Where Do We Go from Here?

In light of the actions of the 2016 General Conference to retain the anti-LGBTQI language in the Book of Discipline (collection of United Methodist doctrines and policies), how will St. Stephen UMC minister to all God's children in the future?

That's the question we'll discuss over four opportunities. We're not seeking to come to conclusions yet; we want to share our stories first to get a clearer understanding of where we are individually and collectively in our relationships with LGBTQI people.

Scheduled dates are:

  • Wednesday, June 29, 7 PM
  • Wednesday, July 20, 7 PM
  • Sunday, July 24, 6 PM
  • Sunday, July 31 9:30 AM (Sunday school hour)

We're welcome to attend any or all of these sessions.

United Methodist Women Go Fishing!

United Methodist Women will gather for a luncheon meeting at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday, July 6 at Islamorada Restaurant at Bass Pro Shop. Please RSVP by June 29 to Tina Simpson. If you'd like to carpool to the restaurant, contact church secretary Paula Humphreys.

Elation's Joyous Homecoming!

The audience raved about Elation!'s tremendous homecoming performance of "Godspell" Sunday night at St. Stephen UMC. Congratulations to everyone involved with the 2016 tour, including cast, crew, counselors, accompanist Michael Carr, youth directors Alan Hobbs and Curt Benson, and stay-at-home prayer partners and parents.

Here's an evocative photo of Rob Jackson in his final performance as Jesus, courtesy of our friend and former Elation! music director Forrest Oliver.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Elation! Homecoming This Sunday

Our stupendous youth drama choir, Elation!, is on its way home after another successful tour with "Godspell." We will welcome them home on Sunday, June 26, with a potluck supper for the cast at 4:30 p.m., followed by this year's final performance at 6:30 p.m. Be sure to come early for the performance because the house is always packed to the walls!

Congratulations to the cast, crew, counselors and especially youth directors Alan Hobbs and Curt Benson and accompanist Michael Carr for the 2016 Tour. Let's give a tremendous homecoming to our young ambassadors for Christ who've brought the gospel message to so many people!

Photos from Elation! website.

Upsetting Rape Culture

St. Stephen UMC has a panel as part of the nationwide Monument Quilt in support of Native Americans' tribal sovereignty to prosecute rape cases that occur on tribal lands. Our panel has been included as block number 253 of The Monument Quilt. As of now, the sponsoring organization, FORCE, plans to display the Monument Quilt on the National Mall in late 2017. Here's the latest report on the tribal sovereignty case:
Share your thoughts and support for tribal sovereignty

Twitter: #SCOTUS will issue ruling in @DollarGeneral case any day now. Here is what's at stake.#ShameOnDollarGeneral

Facebook: Any day now #SCOTUS will rule on the Dollar General case, in what could be the most damaging case for the rights of Native Americans in half a century. Here is whats at stake. #ShameOnDollarGeneral
About the case: In 2003, a 13-year-old boy participated in a youth-opportunity job program. Through the program, the teenager was paid by his tribe, the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians, to work at a Dollar General store on Tribal Trust land. But something terrible happened: While on the job, the 13-year-old says he was sexually assaulted several times by the store’s manager. His parents brought an action against Dollar General in Tribal Court, seeking monetary compensation for pain and suffering and to cover the youth’s medical and trauma recovery expenses. The retailer retaliated with a lawsuit of its own, arguing that the Mississippi Band of Choctaws should not have jurisdiction over Dollar General, because the corporate giant is non-Indian. So far, two lower US courts have agreed that the tribe does in fact have civil jurisdiction over Dollar General. But now the case is facing the Supreme Court.

If ruled in Dollar General’s favor, the case could make the crisis of sexual violence in Indian country even worse. 

Read more about the case: Indian Country Media Today NetworkIndianz.comThe NationThink ProgressThe New York TimesBitch MediaEveryday FeminismFeministing

The Monument Quilt at the Baltimore Museum of Art

FORCE is a finalist for the 2016 Sondheim Artscape Prize. As finalists, we've installed an exhibition of the Monument Quilt at the Baltimore Museum of Art, on view now through July 31!

THIS SUNDAY, 12-2PM at the Baltimore Museum of Art, FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture and members of the newly formed survivor collective Gather Together will present a performance inspired by the Monument Quilt, followed by an opportunity to create a quilt square and participate in a healing ritual. The performance will feature statements and stories from survivors of rape, abuse and domestic violence.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Funeral Services for Jerry Martin

Funeral arrangements for our dear friend and long time member, Jerry Martin are:
Visitation will be from 6-8 p.m. on Monday, June 20 at Gonzalez Funeral Home, 1111 Military Parkway, Mesquite, TX.  During the visitation on Monday, June 20 we will pause for prayer at 7 p.m.
This will also be an opportunity to say a word or share a "Jerry" story at that time for those that may not be able to attend the service on Tuesday.
The funeral will be Tuesday morning, 10 a.m. at St Stephen. Child care will be provided. There will be a covered dish luncheon after the service. Click here to notify Member Care chair Tina Simpson of what you plan to bring.
Burial will be on Wednesday, 10 a.m. at DFW National Cemetery, 2000 Mountain Creek Parkway, Dallas.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

St. Stephen Denounces Orlando Shootings

St. Stephen United Methodist Church denounces the massacre at Pulse nightclub in Orlando. We weep with those who have lost loved ones in this heinous hate crime against an establishment that catered to LGBTQI customers. We categorically reject all theologies and philosophies that hold our LGBTQI sisters and brother to be less than the people of sacred worth which the United Methodist Church officially holds them to be. We will continue to stand openly and faithfully with the LGBTQI community, which includes our church members, their families and friends. We pledge to do our utmost to work for the protection of their civil rights and their lives.
ALL are welcome at St. Stephen UMC. NO EXCEPTIONS. Please share this commitment with your social media connections and with all you meet.