Covenantal Conversation

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1 Message From The Bishop Michael McKee Perfect love casts out fear Listening over the last several weeks to the different voices in our communities and across our nation, I have heard many expressions of fear and pain. Recent grand jury decisions highlight the fear and pain of many of our African-American brothers and sisters concerning the criminal justice system. Likewise, there is fear and pain in the Anglo community. And there is fear among families who have members serving as police. Fear seems to be the dominant emotion. The scriptures teach us that Perfect love casts out all fear. (I John 4:18) I believe that with God s power, we can cast out the fears we are experiencing. Our witness to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus uniquely qualifies us to make this world a better place. May we be and act as the people of the Christ who seek to be ones who love in a way that begins to cast out fear. Some clergy in the North Texas Conference have begun working with community See PERFECT, Page 8 NTC clergy begin Covenantal Conversation Sheron C. Patterson By SHERON C. PATTERSON North Texas Connection Editor More than 270 NTC clergy attended Covenant Day on Jan. 22 at Stonebridge UMC in McKinney. Bishop Michael McKee gathers the clergy annually for prayer, communion and fellowship to begin the new year. The 2015 Covenant Day was devoted to practicing covenantal conversation, which are conversations grounded in covenantal love and guided by the Holy Spirit. The topic was a difficult one: human sexuality. The discussions were an outcome of the Just Resolution of negotiations with the late Rev. Dr. William McElvaney. A complaint was filed against Dr. McElvaney for violating the Book of Discipline by performing a same-gender wedding. A Just Resolution, or agreement, was reached before his death Aug. 24. See NORTH TEXAS, Page 8 Directions for the clergy s Covenant Day conversation were nestled between the chalice and the bowl used in the sacrament of baptism on tables across the room at Stonebridge UMC. Alexandra Robinson of Walnut Hill UMC and Brian Bosworth of First UMC Decatur were among the record number who attended. LENT BEGINS FEB. 18 Peter McNabb imposed ashes at the Hampton Road DART stop in Dallas last year. Tell us how you plan to observe Lent and send high-res (large) photos to ntcumc.org. LAITY DAYS WITH BISHOP MCKEE East District 10 a.m., Feb. 21 First UMC Sulphur Springs Metro District 2 p.m., Feb. 21 Warren UMC, Dallas North Central District 10 a.m., Feb. 28 First UMC Frisco Northwest District 2 p.m., Feb. 28 Whaley UMC, Gainesville BISHOP S RALLY WITH YOUTH Join Bishop Michael McKee and hundreds of youth from across the North Texas Conference for worship, fellowship, pizza and mission. It s 2-5:30 p.m. Feb. 15 at First UMC Plano. INSIDE More than 400 people, enough to fi ll almost every seat at Northaven UMC, attended a hastily arranged service in support of Muslim neighbors. Page 8

2 NTC 2 Foundation for Evangelism honors Casad for leadership Mary Brooke Casad was recognized during the Foundation for Evangelism s annual Donor Appreciation Banquet, where she announced that she has completed her term as chair of the Board of Trustees. Casad has served since 2007 as a board member of the foundation, which seeks to raise up generations of leaders with a passion for evangelism through partnerships with seminaries, agencies and program innovators. She became chair in 2011 and now is immediate past board chair. Dr. Larry Klemann is the new chairman. Jane Boatwright Wood, foundation president, said Casad provided strong, decisive leadership. She kept us on mission and always sought God s guidance in Hello North Texas: Voices of NTC Laity UMW is there in Angel Trees, prison summits, legislation Ruth Robinson of Hamilton Park UMC is the NTC representative to the Program Advisory Group of United Methodist Women. Engaging in the mission and ministry of the United Methodist Women has provided me the opportunity to be in ministry and service in a variety of settings. First, it has been exciting and heartwarming to participate in the successful return of Dallas Bethlehem Center as it once again brings vital and meaningful child and family services to ZIP code in South Dallas. DBC s rich history began with the UMW in 1946, and it served then as now as a pivotal resource to empower South Dallas residents with a voice and access to community resources. God has wonderfully blessed these recent revitalization efforts through the work and commitment of the visionary leaders and planners who faithfully worked to restore the ministry. I have told the DBC story to another community of women, Church Women United of Dallas, for which I serve as first vice president. Through the programming of this ecumenical group of Christian women, word is spreading about the services provided to children, youth and families by the Dallas Bethlehem Center. Church Women all we did, and we are stronger for it, Wood said. Casad, author of the Bluebonnet the Armadillo children s book series, has served The United Methodist Church in numerous capacities, including as the first full-time executive secretary of the Connectional Table from She has been a delegate to United Methodist General and Jurisdictional Conferences for multiple years. Casad and her husband, the Rev. Victor Casad, live in Sulphur Springs, where he is East District superintendent. It s been a great honor to serve as chair of the Board of Trustees of the Foundation for Evangelism. My involvement with FFE came about primarily through United is including DBC in the program calendar for 2015 and will be the focus of the group s Community Day celebration. CWU members have already begun their support of DBC by purchasing Dallas Bethlehem Center STARS during the holiday season, donating children s books and responding to the center s online giving. The United Methodist Women of Hamilton Park played a key role in the recent Mass Incarceration Summit that the congregation hosted with the SBC21 national office in November. UMW local President Cynthia Harry and I were the late John Marshall, a member of Lake Highlands UMC, Dallas, who also served as board chair and was trustee emeritus at the time of his death last year. I will forever be grateful to John for his support and encouragement, she said. Like every institution of our day, the FFE has undergone extensive review regarding our mission and sustainability. This has refined our focus and purpose, Casad said. Our mission continues to be to lead the church in a conversation about responsible evangelism in the 21st century and provide resources for raising up a generation of leaders with a passion for evangelism. The E. Stanley Jones Professors of Evangelism, endowed by FFE is poised to asked to coordinate the registration process for the event. Being a member of the local planning team for this event opened my eyes and my heart to the needs for increased ministry to a marginalized population, the formerly incarcerated, who are all too often overlooked or ignored. God s call on our lives to share our blessings and serve one another is full of rich opportunities to show the love of Christ to a hurting world. Challenge yourself this year to engage in ministry beyond your sphere of comfort. Advocate for children, get involved in legislation make a significant impact on God s church and world, especially as we expand our work globally, she said. Founded in 1949 by the late Dr. Harry Denman, the foundation provides resources to enable The United Methodist Church to bring Ruth Robinson, left, sold Christmas stars in a fundraiser for Dallas Bethlehem Center, one of the agencies and programs that UMW supports. North Texas Conference Connection Communications Team Sheron C. Patterson, editor Linda Johnson, associate editor Duane VanGiesen, assistant editor The North Texas Conference of The United Methodist Church 500 Maplelawn Drive, Plano, Tx Mary Brooke Casad served as chair of the Foundation for Evangelism and now becomes immediate past chair. The foundation seeks to forge a passion for evangelism through partnerships with seminaries, agencies and program innovators. people into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Grants include the REFRESH Campus Ministry Gathering and the Culture of the Call Church Award. To learn more about the Foundation for Evangelism visit, foundationforevangelism.org. backed by the UMW of Texas, host an Angel Tree for families of the incarcerated, engage in reentry ministries for prisoners with attention to those in your ZIP code, and undergird all ministry efforts with a strong prayer life. Let us remain open to growing in ministry and sharing the good news of the gospel with joy and conviction not only in easy or pleasing settings but also in settings beyond our current involvement. Linda Parks, North Texas Conference lay leader, coordinates the column. Contact her at or ntcumc.org Published Monthly Subscriptions: $18 a year Submissions to The Connection are welcome. Send contact name and or phone along with ideas to or

3 NTC 3 ZIP Code Connection expands outreach with hires The ZIP Code Connection is making new connections. Thanks to generous donations made to the Bishop s Lenten Fund in 2014 and to grants from the Texas Methodist Foundation and the Lennox Family Foundation in Red River County, the ZIP Code Connection has added two staff members. The Rev. George Battle III, in ZIP code 75215, and Melinda Watters, in 75426, will enable us to deepen the commitment to be in ministry with the two communities where the NTC seeks to eliminate poverty by Rev. Battle has moved from Dallas Bethlehem Center to become the Connections director for the South Dallas/Fair Park area, which includes Watters, along with her husband Ryan and new baby Eva, is serving as the Connections director in Red River County, which includes Rev. Battle has a background in social service. He holds a master of divinity degree and is working on a master s degree in city and regional planning as well as completing his ordination process in The United Methodist Church. He lives in South Dallas and is already deeply involved in the community there and respected as a valuable contributor. He recently participated with First UMC Dallas on its civil rights freedom ride, and he notes that the people, schools, churches, and neighborhoods formerly divided by race are now divided by poverty. This trip has me more convinced than ever that the ZIP Code Connection is not just important for our conference but our general connection as a whole. I am humbled to be a part of such a great community as South Dallas/Fair Park as we seek to connect with our neighbors, reverse the effects of those divisions of race and poverty, and restore its historic vibrancy and iconic significance to Dallas and the North Texas Conference of The United Methodist Church. Watters worked for Campus Crusade for Christ for almost 10 years. During that time, she and her husband launched a ministry in a low-income neighborhood in East Austin. They lived among the people they served and initiated practices similar to the Missional Wisdom project headed in Dallas by Elaine Heath. The Watterses are completing master s degrees from the University of Colorado, she in fine arts and he in clinical mental health counseling. Watters said that in the last year she and her husband have been praying about a community that they could invest in for an extended time. Clarksville seems to be an answer to those prayers. Red River County is a precious place to me as my family has had a presence here for seven generations. My work with ZIP CODE CONNECTION CONTACTS George Battle at or Melinda Watters at (cell), (home), or Lynn Parsons at or Find out more about the work at the ZIP Code Connection is a custom-fit opportunity to cultivate hope, using the gifts and skills that I have developed over the past 20 years living out of the area. I am grateful to God for a calling that can keep me up at night brainstorming ideas and praying for a town s reconciliation, renewal and flourishing, she said. With Battles and Watters in place, ZIP Code Connection Director Lynn Parsons will shift more attention to helping the 300 congregations across the North Texas Conference find pathways to deeper connections with people not only in and but also in communities served by churches across the 20-county region. Wesley understood holiness to be both personal and social, and Methodists George Battle Melissa Watters have always been committed to developing systems that provide health care, education, justice, and disaster relief, Parsons said. These large initiatives are made possible by our church s emphasis on connectionalism, the idea that by sharing leaders and financial resources we can support larger missions than we could support on our own. The ZIP Code Connection is already working with church and community organizations and in ministry with our neighbors to help them become vibrant, thriving communities that will be good places to live, work, do business, raise children, and worship, Parsons said. The deep, long-term commitment of the North Texas Conference to this goal would make Wesley proud. Holmes to shine light at Bethlehem Center concert The Rev. Dr. Zan Wesley Holmes Jr., pastor emeritus of St. Luke Community UMC, Dallas, has been named inaugural honorary chair for the Feb. 20 Starbright, A Gathering of Light concert benefiting the Dallas Bethlehem Center. The event will begin at 8 p.m. at the Eisemann Center in Richardson. Zan Holmes The festive evening will also feature the Voices for Bethlehem Choir, directed by Russ Rieger and composed of singers and choir members from North Texas Conference churches. It will also showcase Dallas Bethlehem Center s young performers, including the DBC Dance Troupe, directed by Nelvula Mathis; African Drum Stories, directed by Baba Kwasi; and vocal selections, directed by Tiffany Freeman. It will also include Star Power moments from recognized professionals of Dallas, DBC and South Dallas Success Stories. The stories will tell the center s stories of collaboration, volunteers and, most important, personal change. Representatives of area congregations, including Trietsch Memorial UMC, Flower Mound UMC and University Park UMC, will speak about their collaborative events with the center, which offers child care, early childhood education and family services. Dallas Bethlehem Center builds its program around the STAR Spiritually Transforming Acts of Renewal philosophy. It has served the South Dallas area for 68 years providing early education on the path to literacy, food security in an area African Drum Stories, directed by Baba Kwasi, will perform at the Dallas Bethlehem Center fundraiser. with no nearby full-service supermarkets, and community empowerment, building ownership through neighborhood participation and leadership. Dr. Holmes will add a special presence to the event. He is a longtime agent of change in Dallas who served as St. Luke senior pastor for 28 years and as adjunct professor of preaching at the Perkins School of Theology at Southern Methodist University. He is also widely known for his role as narrator and host of the original Disciple I Bible Study video series. He was a member of the Texas House of Representatives from and involved in numerous civic roles. He is the author of several books, including Reaching for Renewal, Encountering Jesus and When Trouble Comes. In 2012, the Dallas Independent School District honored him at dedication ceremonies for the new Zan Wesley Holmes Jr. Middle School. Tickets, which range from $10 to $50, can be purchased through the website. The Eisemann Center, phone , is just east of Central Expressway at 2352 Performance Drive.

4 NTC 4 EAST DISTRICT Training Day lesson: Don t shun conflict Healthy churches face it and grow from it, Anna Hosemann-Butler says Our expectations of Christian community far exceed those we hold for other communities to which we belong. Peter Steinke, author and expert on church conflict By JOE DAN BOYD Special Contributor When most of us saw Healthy Conflict in Churches as the keynote topic for East District Training Day on Jan. 24, first impressions ranged from shocked surprise to outright deception or even false advertising. How can anything positive come from conflict in churches? Aren t Christians supposed to turn the other cheek, swallow hard and move on? Turns out, says the Rev. Dr. Anna Hosemann-Butler, senior pastor at Oak Lawn UMC in Dallas, it s about cultivating skills to manage anxiety, which, if left unchecked, can indeed cause grief and harm to church family systems and to individual Christians. Every system has its own balance, Hosemann-Butler explained. And when you get enough humanity together in a large church family, significant potential exists for shaking up the balance. That may lead to an increase in the anxiety level and, eventually, real conflict. A church blessed with productive, healthy leadership (calm churches have calm leaders) may actually welcome conflict, Hosemann-Butler said, because it can be an occasion for growth, as modeled in the New Testament by Jesus, who always named and Presenters offer ideas on developing leaders The Rev. Becky Walker Hensley and the Rev. Jason Redick talked about the NTC s Luke 4 Initiative. NEW OUTLOOK ON CONFLICT Why not just avoid conflict? When churches face conflict openly, the congregations grow stronger in the process, says Anna Hosemann-Butler. But whenever they have hidden from conflict, it has emerged when the congregations were weakest and least prepared. She suggests a new covenant for today s church and world: Conflict is part of life. It doesn t mean we love each other less. Expect it. Plan for it. Welcome it. Contain it. faced conflict while still loving those who invited the conflict. He did that, she said, by always speaking the truth in love. Reconciliation is not a New Testament option: It is mandated, said Hosemann- Butler, who suggests studying Paul s Epistles, which tell us to first go directly to an individual to discuss any conflict. Often, we fail to do that, instead talking to a third party, creating triangular conflict that escalates the anxiety level, she said. No matter how mad we may get at someone, we can still love them because Jesus loves us, she said. Even when Jesus During the East District Training Day, the Rev. Becky Walker Hensley of the NTC Center for Leadership Development and the Rev. Jason Redick of Holy Covenant UMC in Carrollton led a session on How to Lead for Community Transformation. The presenters main emphasis was the leadership center s Luke 4 Initiative, in which every participating team decides for itself on a local call to action, an urgent need in its community (such as food justice, housing, relationship-building, etc.) and a reflection of Christ. Leadership deficit is a major challenge, said Rev. Walker Hensley, associate director of the leadership center. We must form leaders more strategically and witness to the community more powerfully. As leadership team members, they will receive extensive professional leadership training and coaching through the NTC Center for Leadership Development. said to turn the other cheek, he did not mean to roll over and play dead. Rather, Jesus message was that even if you hit me again, I am not going away and I will not stop loving you. Perhaps the best way to understand what Jesus meant by turning the other cheek is to think of it in modern terminology: passive resistance. What any of us see is not the real world, Hosemann-Butler said. Rather, Jesus modeled how to call out and face conflict while still loving those who started it, says the Rev. Anna Hosemann-Butler, Training Day leader from Oak Lawn UMC. Photos by Joe Dan Boyd what we see is the world as created by all of our individual past experiences, which helps explain why perception is reality for most of us. But we can seek common ground through our common faith and common humanity, listen carefully to the other side, find ways to soften our own heart to get rid of our mad, then step back, step up and step out in the long view, which is always God s view, Hosemann-Butler concluded. East District Superintendent Victor Casad says the Luke 4 program teaches finding the passion in your own story and your own heart, then turning it into real ministry.

5 NTC 5 METRO Joy greets Wheatland Bible study host at 95 Gene Hudson, a member of Wheatland UMC and Bible study leader, celebrated his 95th birthday in January surrounded by friends, family, church members and television cameras. Channel 33 was there not only to celebrate but also to capture the Navy veteran s memories of World War II. I joined the Navy in 1940, no war. I was going to see the world, which I did, Hudson said. The only problem I was getting shot at. He was stationed at Pearl Harbor. Fortunately, we were not out there that day. It was a different time, a different world; I was just fortunate to have lived through all of that and still be able to talk about it, he said. I have thoroughly enjoyed the years the good Lord has given me. The Rev. Peter McNabb, his pastor, said, Gene has served his country, his community and his church all his adult life. He is the patriarch of a multiracial, four-generation family that Plymouth Park to lead Irving Great Days of Service By JOAN LA BA RR Special Contributor Top: Gene Hudson was stationed at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, but his ship was not at the port that day. Above: Today he is the patriarch of four generations. he has guided in faith and still hosts a Wednesday night continues to inspire. Bible study in his home, called He truly lives the Route 66 for the 66 books of Wesleyan life and to this day the Bible. Plymouth Park UMC will be host church for the 2015 Irving Great Days of Service, a longtime mission outreach with its origins in the North Texas Conference. On April and 24-25, faith communities, civic groups and businesses will team up to repair and refurbish homes for owners who need financial and physical help to maintain their properties. Irving GDS partners with the City Code Enforcement Department to identify properties needing attention. Other referrals come from faith communities, friends and the larger Irving area. This is the 13th year for Irving GDS, which continues to grow and involve new and diverse partners. Plymouth Park member Carl Brown is chairing the 2015 GDS. He and the leadership team have been planning and laying groundwork since early fall. Brown and his wife, Sharon, came to Irving from Macon, Ga., where he was a board member for the nonprofit organization Rebuilding Macon and team captain of the Riverside UMC work team. He retired Carl Brown brings construction experience and years of volunteer service to his role as GDS chairman. from the Air Force with 26 years of service and continued his career working in the construction industry. It has been several years since Plymouth Park hosted GDS. Brown and the leadership team are confident that planning and strong partnerships, old and new, will be key to another successful outcome in He says there will be jobs for volunteers with varying levels of skills, as well as hospitality opportunities organizing and delivering food and other support functions. More details on the event and how to volunteer are at NTC LAITY, CLERGY OBSERVE MLK DAY Lay and clergy North Texas United Methodists took part at the Martin Luther King Jr. Day worship service held Jan. 19 at Concord Baptist Church in Dallas. The African American Clergy Coalition sponsored the event. Among the United Methodist clergy who attended were (pictured) Dr. Ouida Lee, Dr. Ron Henderson, Bishop Michael McKee, the Rev. Richie Butler, the Rev. Dianna Masters and Dr. Henry Masters, and the Rev. Michael Bowie. Sheron C. Patterson

6 NTC 6 NORTH CENTRAL Christ UMC Plano honored for fitness Magazine names it one of the top 20 in Texas Christ UMC in Plano was recently recognized as one of the Top 20 Fittest Churches in Texas by Health Fitness Revolution. Fitness trainer Samir Becic said the magazine researched over 250 churches and their facilities and programs for what they offer their members. Spiritual awareness is one of the key components of healthy lifestyle that impacts the whole body and rejuvenates the spirit. Physical fitness and healthy nutrition allows that spirit to flourish to new dimensions, and many people experience a closer relationship to God, said Becic. Pastor Don Underwood said Christ UMC felt honored to be recognized. Our Christian Life Center has become a magnet for all sorts of Christian fellowship and activity, he said. It helps convey the clear message that being a follower of Jesus includes our physical lives as well as spiritual and also that Christians have fun! The church was saluted for its The Christ UMC fitness program isn t just gym equipment and classes, says Angie Walker, director of sports and recreation ministry. It s an easy place to bring friends, relatives, work associates or neighbors who are hard to church or not ready to attend worship. extensive physical fitness program. The Christian Life Center features six basketball goals, an indoor track and a full-size weight room. Its programs include yoga for all levels, boot camps, active adults, karate, cheerleading, Zumba, tap dance, body sculpting, as well as basketball and volleyball leagues. St. Luke s UMC in Lubbock was the only other United Methodist Church on the list. Angie Walker, director of Christ UMC s sports and recreation ministry, pointed out the important role that the Christian Life Center serves. This is an easy place to bring friends, relatives, work associates or neighbors who are hard to church or not ready to attend worship, she said. We invite them to the CLC to work out or to register their children in the sports leagues or just to walk the track. You never know when or how God will touch them. It s a fun, safe and warm environment. NORTHWEST Healthy Church Initiative is showing results By MARVIN GUIER Northwest District Superintendent It seems like everywhere we ve been in the Northwest District this new year, a common theme has resounded: the benefits of participating in the Healthy Church Initiative. Two Sundays ago Kathy and I worshipped at a church experiencing an unanticipated pastoral change. In spite of that, their lay team had participated in a Lay Leadership Development group the day before and were excited about it. Then, the next evening when I met with the SPRC from that church about their future pastoral needs, one of their concerns was whether they could continue in HCI with a new pastor. I was glad to be able to encourage them to do so. A couple of days later, our district had Checkout Days and I had the opportunity to speak briefly with each of our pastors. I noticed an obvious contrast: By and large, those pastors who just couldn t wait to share By and large, those pastors who just couldn t wait to share something with me were those whose churches are participating in HCI or SCI. Unlike some of their colleagues who were pretty much same old, same old and more focused on survival, they were more hopeful and their conversations looking outward to their mission field. something with me were those whose churches are participating in HCI or SCI (Small Church Initiative, the version of HCI for smaller churches). Unlike some of their colleagues who were pretty much same old, same old and more focused on survival, they were more hopeful and their conversations looking outward to their mission field. One pastor was especially grateful that I had encouraged him and his church to participate in HCI even though it was his first year in a new appointment. Others were quick to say they were seeing positive benefits from it in the life of their churches. When I got back to the office and was catching up on , I had received the Mystery Guest report on one of our HCI churches and an invitation to attend the consultation workshop that is occurring at that church this coming Saturday. I look forward to spending the day with them. Finally, this past Sunday we worshipped at a church that is participating in SCI. Their team was meeting immediately following worship and it was evident that SCI was important to them and that good things are happening in their church. I am grateful to Dr. Jim Ozier, the Rev. Gloria Fowler, Liliana Pena, and all of the volunteer leaders who are leading HCI/SCI. It s clear that HCI/SCI is not just another program. It is not a quick fix for what ails us. It is not for churches that need to be closed. But it is beginning to make a difference in several of the churches of the Northwest District. As Dr. Ozier said recently, there is absolutely no finer tool than the HCI for churches wanting and willing to get healthier and more fruitful. I look forward to encouraging more churches to participate in HCI/SCI in the future and to seeing more healthy, vital congregations effectively reaching out to their mission fields and making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

7 NTC 7 The Esperanza 5K and 1-Mile Eggs-peranza Family Fun Run/Walk will be held March 28 at Custer Road UMC. The race supports Juntos Servimos, which serves the poverty-stricken across the border in Matamoros and Ciudad Juarez. Custer Road UMC hosting Esperanza 5K Fun Run/Walk also planned to benefit mission in Northern Mexico The Esperanza 5K and 1-Mile Eggsperanza Family Fun Run/Walk event, coming up March 28 at Custer Road UMC, supports Juntos Servimos (Together We Serve) and is the biggest fundraising event for this incredible mission. Juntos Servimos, along with the efforts of Dr. Nancy Rodriguez and Larry Cox, responds compassionately to those struggling with extreme poverty in Northern Mexico. Since 2000, they have worked in Matamoros. With the help of volunteers from Custer Road UMC in Plano and other churches, a healing community has been built that helps hundreds of people each year overcome barriers to physical and spiritual wholeness. Now Juntos Servimos is expanding its efforts to Ciudad Juarez, across the border from El Paso. The focus will be the same: health care, education, shelter and faith. Although the group will still serve Matamoros, violence has made trips there too dangerous. But Juarez has returned to a level of peace that allows for mission teams to visit. The first steps to expand to Juarez took place in mid-january, when a mission team including Jennifer Wagner of Custer Road UMC and members from First UMC Allen and First UMC Mansfield joined Dr. Nancy and Cox in their work. The mission team dug the foundation for a building that will include three classrooms. The building will serve children from preschool through elementary school age, supporting their education through tutoring and a learning readiness program. The programs, like the Las Estrellitas programs at Casa Bugambilia, will also provide education support for children with learning disabilities. Casa Bugambilia goes to the homes of their families to listen to them to better understand their needs. The Matamoros mission team took a similar approach with Juana, a woman living with cerebral palsy and mental challenges. She cannot walk, and the wheelchair she was using did not fit her. In collaboration with First UMC Mansfield and Joni and Friends, over 1,000 wheelchairs were delivered in Matamoros, including one that the mission team delivered to Juana at her home. While there, Dr. Nancy noticed that Juana could not easily digest the food that was available to her and was in desperate need of a new mattress. Dr. Nancy and the mission team provided her the appropriate food and a new mattress, helping to improve her life greatly. The Sixth Annual Esperanza 5K brings the community together in the spirit of health, fellowship and family. A new addition this year is the Eggsperanza 1-Mile Fun Run/Walk, where Easter eggs can be collected and kids can visit with the Easter Bunny. The 5K begins at 8 a.m. and is open to everyone regardless of age or athletic ability. The 1-mile Eggsperanza Family Fun Run/Walk starts at 9 a.m. This will include an Easter egg hunt concluding with a cascarones (confetti eggs) celebration. Children can visit the Easter Bunny and have fun with bounce houses, face painting and more. The first 450 of the 5K finishers and 150 of the 1-mile finishers will receive one-ofkind, hand-painted ceramic medals. These medals were highlighted in the 2012 issue of Runner s World magazine. All registration and donation funds go to Juntos Servimos. See com to register or find out more. A child exchanged highfives during last year s race. This year, the event is adding the 1-mile Eggsperanza Famly Fun Run/Walk. It will include an Easter egg hunt, confetti eggs and the Easter Bunny.

8 NTC 8 The crowd attending the Northaven UMC event stand for the reading of the Interfaith Unity Statement. Many had been outraged by angry anti-muslim protesters in the area the week before and rallied for Separation of Church and Hate. More than 400 people joined clergy and religious leaders enough to fill nearly every seat in Northaven UMC for a gathering Jan. 25 to support peaceful Muslim citizens of Dallas. The event was organized in the wake of angry protests outside an Islamic meeting in Garland the previous week. Clergy, including NTC Bishop Michael McKee and several dozen United Methodist pastors, joined rabbis, imams and Buddhist leaders in expressing support for Muslim friends in Dallas. The Northaven event came together in a matter of days, with word of the event spread primarily by social media. The Rev. Eric Folkerth, Northaven senior pastor, also gave credit to the church s 2nd Community, a multi-faith group that hosts discussions and events to promote understanding and peace. During the Northaven gathering, the clergy issued an Interfaith Unity Statement. And there were some delightful surprises, said Rev. Folkerth, including This Land Here is an excerpt from the Interfaith Unity Statement read at Northaven UMC. Read the full statement at wheneftalks. com/2015/01/26/an-interfaith-statementof-support-for-muslims-in-dallas: Today, we choose to make this united stand, in love, peace, mutual support, and respect. We reject all forms of animosity or discrimination against any of our faith communities here in the DFW area. Our common message today is to stand united as neighbors and citizens, and to bear witness to the values of this nation, values that make no room for bigotry based on race and religion. We recall that many of the founders of this nation came here to avoid religious persecution. They founded a nation where all faiths would be free to worship and serve their God freely. More than 400 turn out to support Muslims Hastily arranged event draws interfaith group at Northaven Is Your Land played on Middle Eastern instruments. At the end of the afternoon, many of the Muslims who attended expressed their gratitude that so many people of differing faiths had come together to support them as neighbors and friends. I lost count it was dozens of how many Muslim men and women shook my hand vigorously and told me with great INTERFAITH UNITY STATEMENT emotion, just how important the day was for them, Rev. Folkerth said. You could tell that they had been genuinely afraid after last week, and I was reminded of the fears they no doubt live with all the time, he said. They were also pleased to see the United Methodist support for the peaceful coexistence of all neighbors here in North Texas. Resolutions passed by General Conference call for United Methodists to support American Muslims against threats of violence and intimidation. The Bishop Perfect love casts out fear Continued from Page 1 leaders to seek ways in which the fear of many can be cast out. That work is challenging, but together we can build trust among all God s children. Together, we can address the high rates of incarceration in communities of color. Together, we can create communities where fear no longer dominates how people live or how we see each other, no matter the color of their skin. BISHOP S BIBLE STUDY Go to northtexasumc. org/bishop The coming of a Savior 2,000 years ago was God s declaration that all lives matter. I pray that the Methodist people celebrate God s gift of a Savior by living and working for that truth. May we see as God sees: each person as a beloved child of God. May you continue to live as people who live and work in the name of Christ so that fear may be cast out. A version of this statement was issued on December 18, 2014, and has been modified slightly and reprinted in this issue of the newspaper. North Texas clergy members begin practice of covenantal conversation Continued from Page 1 Covenant Day 2015 provided a safe environment for clergy to discuss this very challenging topic. The Center on Leadership Development coordinated the event and took measures to ensure that covenantal conversations could be held without arguing or taking sides. The clergy could not sit with their friends; they were seated in pre-selected groups of eight around tables and given guidelines on holy conversation. Also, all social media were banned to preserve the confidential matters being discussed. The pastors were also asked no make no tweets, Facebook posts or write blogs about what they heard or said around their tables. The five-hour event immersed the pastors conversations in the holy sacraments of baptism and communion. The Rev. Bob Holloway, a district superintendent from the Central Texas Annual Conference, led the clergy in guided conversation throughout the day. They sang hymns, prayed and took moments of silence. This is an issue that is impacting clergy, laity and churches in the North Texas Conference, Bishop Michael McKee said. I believe that we started a very healthy and helpful means of addressing the topic of human sexuality. Rather than talk about another s experiences, it is better to hear someone talk about their experiences or viewpoints. We want to model how to have difficult conversations, no matter the issue. The 2016 General Conference will give much attention to this, he said. We are preparing ourselves to discuss it in a covenantal spirit.

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