Thursday evening social gathering for fellowship at Brewster Street Ice House.
What happened at the Rio Texas Annual Conference this Year?
Last week, hundreds of United Methodists participated in the Rio Texas Annual Conference in Corpus Christi. Travis Park Church was proudly represented by attendees *Pastor Cynthia Engstrom, Deaconess Sonia Cruz, Deaconess Cindy Andrade Johnson, Rev. George Bradley, **Beth Smith, David Stone, *Dr. Rachel Jennings, *Kevin Collins, Mary Jo Villalobos, Pastor Rosie Grattan and Kendall Waller.
*Travis Park Church Delegate
“It was a very authentic, raw, and spiritually rich annual conference where people were speaking from the heart.” – Rev. Cynthia Engstrom
Three Travis Park Church members/affiliates spoke from the stage. Kevin Collins opened the second plenary session in prayer. Pastor Cynthia Engstrom who serves as the chair of the Transformation Communities Vision Team, spoke about the mission and work of Shalom. Deaconess Cindy Andrade Johnson also spoke about the important migrant ministry work at the border and General Board of Church and Society (GBCS) in Rio Texas
Reconciling Ministries Network (RMN) was invited to speak from the podium regarding the petition supporting the Resolution to Remove Harmful Language from the Book of Discipline, which many of our congregation members signed. Deaconess Julie Smith represented RMN and spoke with great clarity and conviction in support of the petition. The petition was made available at the Annual Conference, totaling nearly 1100 signatures in support.
In this season of disaffiliation, delegates voted to give permission to an additional 35 congregations to leave the United Methodist denomination. A total of 67 congregations have departed officially from the Rio Texas Conference, with more planning to go. If disaffiliation is new to you, you can learn more about it here.
Thursday evening our own Kendall Waller organized a social gathering for fellowship at Brewster Street Ice House, which was walking distance from the conference center. Many delegates gathered to eat, laugh and share stories.
On Friday morning at the Mission Breakfast, the Transforming Communities Vision Team presented “Seeking Shalom at the Table and Beyond.” This event hosted 150 people at no charge because of the generosity of Methodist Healthcare Ministry underwriting the breakfast. The aim was to stimulate conversations to identify people’s passion and energy around mission and justice, and lifting of voices and undertold stories in our conference. Rev. Javier Leyva spoke of transformation in the lives of marginalized persons when they are received and welcomed into congregations. Carolyn Pittman talked about the literacy project in her community. Her team created a cultural shift in their community through better conversations; the town square named Confederate Square became Independence Square as a result. Velma Pavlasek spoke of her experience in the last year of having changed her heart and mind as it regards inclusion of LGBTQ persons for ordination and marriage in our churches. More than 100 feedback cards were received and will be new seeds planted for work in our conference in the upcoming year, toward greater compassion, courage and inclusion.