Our pastors and lay delegates will gather with other United Methodists from all over south and west Texas, as well as from enclaves in Dallas, Waco, Houston, El Paso, and New Mexico, for the FIRST session of the Rio Texas Annual Conference in Corpus Christi, starting on Thursday, June 11th, and continuing through Sunday, June 14th. Bishop James Dorff will preside.
While all our pastors who are under appointment are in Corpus Christi, a former associate pastor, the Reverend Karen Vannoy will preach on Sunday, June 14th, at 9:00 and 11:00 a.m. Our pastors will be in daily communication with the church office and, if needed, will return to Austin for pastoral care situations.
In January of 2014, the Southwest Texas Conference, to which FUMC-Austin belonged, and the Rio Grande Conference, consisting of 85 historically Hispanic in the states of Texas and New Mexico, voted in joint sessions to merge into one new conference, the Rio Texas Conference, effective January 1, 2015. In July of 2014, the South Central Jurisdiction gave permission for this unification of the two conferences.
The time-honored practice of gathering for an annual conference goes back to John Wesley himself, founder of the Methodist movement in England. Every year, beginning in 1744, Mr. Wesley would call together his preachers (who, at that time, were mostly lay men) for a time of Christian “conferencing.” Gathered for a time of inspiration and on-the-job training intended to keep their preaching on the right track, they would discuss questions such as “What is it to be justified?” “Is faith a condition of justification?” “What is faith?” “What is it to be sanctified?” etc.
As United Methodists, we have come a long way since those early days. Then, annual conference was essentially a continuing education event for the leaders of a spiritual renewal movement within an already-established church. Now, it is the business session governing a regional unit within a world-wide church in its own right. Now, the preachers are joined by lay representatives from each congregation within the bounds of the Rio Texas Conference. This year, our lay delegates are Richard Bettis, Adama Brown, Teresa Edwards, Lara Greene, John Hathaway, Charlie Ray, and Sandy Wilder, with Penny Appleby, Marilyn Bettis, and Davis Covin as alternates.
Please pray for annual conference and our Bishop and district superintendents as we seek to live into the new Rio Texas Conference.