Monday, August 5, 2013

Instructions for novices to navigate the revised State of Texas website

(I wish I knew how to publish these links as "permalinks"--I think--but I don't!) 
In browser window, put  At that site, click The Official Website of the State of Texas.

Near the top of that screen, listed horizontally beneath a solid white line, are three headings: Services, Agencies, Info Near You. Click Agencies.

On the left of that screen, listed vertically, are the agencies; Executive, Legislative, Judicial. According to your search click the appropriate one. For our purposes here, click Legislative.

As your screen indicates, that brings up seven results, listed vertically and alphabetically. Choose either House of Representatives (second) or Senate (sixth).

For information re House of Representatives, click that link in bright blue. This link takes you to the House home page and offers many helpful links. (Particularly interesting are the items listed under Member Press Releases, written by the members themselves.)

Also listed, across the top of the screen in white block letters, are additional links. Click Members.

This brings you to alphabetized pictures of all the representatives and allows you to search for your representative. Click Find your rep and follow instructions to get the name of your representative

To send an e-mail, scan the page of pictures until you see your representative and click the picture. That takes you to the member’s home page where you see a blue oblong link for Email; click that link and follow instructions.

For information re Senate, go back to the Agency Finder screen where the three agencies are listed on the left. Click Legislative.

As your screen indicates, that brings up seven results, listed alphabetically. Scroll down the screen to Senate (sixth). Click the blue link for the Senate website.

Under the Senate seal on the left of the screen are numerous links. Click Senators and you get several options. For our purposes, choose Who Represents Me.

This brings up lists of the senators in alpha order, by district, and also a great deal of additional information, including the option to find your senator. Scroll to your senator’s name and click.

This takes you to the senator’s home page. Across the top of that screen (in deep blue background) under the senator’s full name is a line of links, including E-mail. Click that link and follow instructions.

The Beginning of the Wesley-Rankin Center in Dallas


In 1935, a middle-aged Dallas woman, a church worker, read a newspaper story about a hardened criminal who had been sentenced to die in the electric chair in a few days. His mother was visiting him for one last time at the penitentiary.  Although there was no doubt the man deserved justice, the church worker was moved to tears by his mother’s grief, and the hard realities of the poverty in West Dallas that would lead a man to pursue a life of crime. The woman got into her Model A Ford, and drove to West Dallas. 

The church worker was Miss Hattie Rankin.  The mother was Mrs. Steve Davis, and Ray Hamilton was Mrs. Davis’s son. Ray Hamilton had been a member of Bonnie and Clyde Barrow’s gang as well as a robber and murderer in his own right. He had finally been captured in April of 1935 and was sentenced to die.

Miss Hattie was no stranger to disadvantaged people. She'd just returned to her family home in Dallas after working for several years at the Methodist Mission in San Antonio where she had ministered to unwed mothers, alcoholics, and orphaned children.

According to a Dallas Morning News story written seven years later, Miss Hattie knocked on Mrs. Davis’s door and Mrs. Davis tried to turn her away. Miss Hattie persisted, saying, "My heart aches for you. I want to pray for you," and Mrs. Davis opened the door. During the days that followed, Miss Hattie comforted and ministered to the grief-stricken woman. She prayed with the family during the long night of Ray Hamilton's execution, and helped arrange his funeral.

Miss Hattie stayed in West Dallas and rented a small house across the street, and began to hold church services and Sunday school classes there.

She went door to door in the rough neighborhood, encouraging people to attend and send their kids. By the end of the summer, over 100 people were attending services at the Eagle Ford Mission, including Mrs. Henry Barrow, the mother of the deceased bandit Clyde Barrow, who promised to bring with her "a gang of people who never saw the inside of a church."

The mission flourished, and as Miss Hattie raised more funds, a new building was built and the Eagle Ford Mission was renamed Rankin Chapel in her honor.

Miss Hattie continued to minister to people whose lives were hard, and to those who were outcast by mainstream society. It wasn't enough for her to simply bring them to the Lord; she wanted to make sure they had something else in life besides crime. A missed opportunity that led to tragedy strengthened her efforts.

 Some of the neighborhood boys promised they'd come to Sunday school if the chapel sponsored a sports team. Miss Hattie did her best to raise money for equipment, but was unsuccessful. The team remained nothing more than a wish. A few weeks later, she opened her morning newspaper to see that four of the boys had gotten into trouble, brawling and beating an old man to death with a beer bottle. They were charged with murder.

As she wrote in a letter to the editor: "Folks wonder why so many West Dallas boys turn out to be criminals.... they haven't a dog's chance to be anything else. We have no parks, no playgrounds, no handy schools, no lights, no water, no gas. The dogs in Dallas are housed better than our boys and girls."

It was from this compassion, courage and commitment that what we now know as Wesley-Rankin was born.

Statement on Social Action from Social Principles of UMC

From time to time it may seem appropriate to remind your UMW members and women of your church of the reason UMW is so involved in social issues at home and around the world. The following information is a short passage taken from the UMC Discipline.

Statement on Social Action from Social Principles of the United Methodist Church 2009-2012)

As United Methodists, we have, from our beginning, understood the gospel to be both personal and social; further, we believe that there is no holiness apart from social holiness. Therefore, we consider it our responsibility to allow the light of the gospel to shine upon all parts of our society and to prayerfully consider, "What does God want me to do?"

John 10:10b reads, "I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly." Stewardship of health is the responsibility of each person to whom health has been entrusted. Creating the personal, environmental, and social conditions in which health can thrive is a joint responsibility--public and private. Providing the care needed to maintain health, prevent disease, and restore health after injury or illness is a responsibility each person owes others and government owes to all.

 In Ezekiel 34 we read: “You do not feed the sheep. You have not strengthened the weak, you have not healed the sick, you have not bound up the injured… but with force and harshness you have ruled them." As a result, all suffer. According to our denominational commitment as stated in our Social Principles, health care is a basic human right. "We believe it is a governmental responsibility to provide all citizens with health care."

As a church, we are called to support the poor and challenge the rich. To begin to alleviate poverty, we support such policies as: adequate income maintenance, quality education, decent housing, job training, meaningful employment opportunities, adequate medical and hospital care, humanization and radical revisions of welfare programs, work for peace in conflict areas and efforts to protect creation's integrity.

 We claim all economic systems to be under the judgment of God no less than other facets of the created order. Therefore, we recognize the responsibility of governments to develop and implement sound fiscal and monetary policies that provide for the economic life of individuals and corporate entities and that ensure full employment and adequate incomes with a minimum of inflation. We support measures that would reduce the concentration of wealth.

 We believe every person has the right to a job at a living wage. Where the private sector cannot or does not provide jobs for all who seek and need them, it is the responsibility of government to provide for the creation of such jobs.