Wednesday, January 28, 2015

2015 UMW Legislative Event Agenda

 This piece is prepared for two columns, back-to-back. Copy the text, put it into narrow margins and two columns.


2015 United Methodist Women
Legislative Agenda

Almost 200 United Methodist Women from all over Texas gathered in Austin January 25-27. We studied, discussed and formulated positions on five of our most pressing issues. None of the issues are new, but all remain challenging. We prepared the following statement and hand-delivered a copy to every legislator at the Capitol.

Healthy Texas
We urge the Legislature to advance policies for affordable healthcare, including mental health and preventive health services, for the broadest possible number of Texans. This should include providing affordable insurance for working Texans, and expanding Medicaid and other existing low-income programs. We affirm our particular and historic concern for the health of women and children. We commend to lawmakers the role that social determinants, especially access to affordable, healthy food and family financial stability, play in health, and call on lawmakers to consider comprehensive health solutions.

Quality Education
The Legislature should affirm its constitutional obligation to provide high quality public education for the benefit of all children in our state. Critical legislative actions include restoring all cuts made in the last decade, providing state funding for enrollment growth, increasing teacher compensation to competitive levels, and providing full-day pre-kindergarten in all school districts. We strongly reaffirm our historic opposition to any movement toward allowing the flow of public money to private schools, including the establishment of any voucher programs.

Living Water
We urge lawmakers to prioritize our state’s water infrastructure investments around the primary principle of fair access to clean water for all Texans, and to take strong action to protect Texans from potential threats to the air, land and water that we rely on to live. We affirm the inherent worth of all creation and call on lawmakers to protect all of Texas’ natural resources.

Humane Immigration
We advocate for fair, humane policies toward immigrants in Texas, including access to necessary state permits (including drivers permits) and regulatory structures to live and work and be educated in our state. We insist that state officials respect the appropriate boundaries of federal and state responsibility concerning our national border security.

Criminal Justice
We call on legislators to guarantee fair treatment for all Texans caught up in the state’s criminal justice system, from arrest to re-entry. We have particular concerns about the grand jury process, and we urge lawmakers to lift restrictions on SNAP and other important benefits for former drug felons.

Thursday, January 1, 2015


This is another handout about the Legislative Event.... two-columns, back-to-back.

UMW Legislative Event 2015

January 24-27

“I want to be like you.”
Scary words. Regardless of whether someone actually says that to us, we need to remember that we are likely to be examples... role models, if you will. At some time. someone may look to us for guidance. And scripture tells us we are to be examples and witnesses.
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. Nor do men light a lamp and put it under a bushel, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Matt. 5:14-16
But we must be prepared. In line with being prepared, the UMW purpose says, among other things, that we are “to know God”….To know God we must study and pray. As we observe the world around us, we become aware of policies and laws that are not fair, that oppress the weakest among us. We study God’s word; then we study those social issues and problems and we learn ways to address them. Then, as John Wesley said, there is a burden in knowing, for knowing demands action. Therefore, we must witness!
Study and witness are what the Texas Legislative Event is all about. United Methodist Women from all over the State of Texas gather to be “inspired, informed and equipped” to share with our legislators our position on issues and then to share with our units in our local churches the information that we have learned.
In this one way, we are more nearly prepared to be examples.

United Methodist Women
Texas Legislative Event
January 24-27, 2015
Austin Holiday Inn-Midtown

Register online at
Check-in begins at noon Sunday, January 25th.  The event formally begins at 1 p.m. with several workshops that won’t be repeated and that are building blocks for the rest of the presentations.
 As always,  the Event will be packed with expert policy presentations, practical advocacy training, conversations with top Texas lawmakers and religious leaders—and time at the state Capitol with a special tour.

Texas Impact, the organizing group, has made a video about the Texas Legislative Event. You may see it on YouTube.


This handout is again prepared for two columns, on a letter-size sheet of paper, back-to-back. Of course, it will work with one column, back-to-back, but it takes more paper, obviously! You may get more information on both topics from GBGM website. Free, downloadable resource, perfect for bulletin inserts, study discussions: Faith & Facts Card: Human Trafficking available at GBGM website. Follow UMC efforts in text-cloud; click on “human trafficking.”

Human Relations provides offering envelopes and aids for publicizing the observance.



Jan. 18--Human Relations Day

A symposium on the role of religion and faith-based organizations in international affairs will be held Wednesday, Jan. 21, at the UMW’s Church Center for the United Nations. Inaugural theme of the one-day event is “Human Dignity & Human Rights.”
The purpose of the symposium is to have frank discussions on the theory and practice of human dignity and human rights, with a view to formulating concrete proposals as a contribution to the work of faith-based groups and U.N. and multilateral organizations.
The symposium will focus on the intersections of human dignity, human rights and religion in international affairs, including freedom of religion or belief. It will offer a venue for faith-based groups and international organizations to explore ways of working together in addressing new and emerging challenges.
The symposium will attempt to discern on critical issues relevant to the life of humanity, such as sustainable development, freedom, peace and security.
Study of critical issues now close and real directs our attention to the refugee situation in the U.S. While The United Methodist Church does not engage in partisan politics, we stand with immigrant families and the sojourners in our midst. This is a biblical mandate and a reflection of God’s hospitality and love for all of us.

Our United Methodist congregations can help in this manifestation of human need. We can assist immigrant families with the cost of the legal processes. We can support and accompany immigrants through the legal process so they are treated fairly. We can educate our congregations and continue to welcome immigrants to our communities and churches.


Jan. 11--Human Trafficking
Awareness Day

Human trafficking is a violation of human and civil rights that enslaves thousands of people across the globe.  The United States’ Trafficking Victims Protection Act defines “severe forms of trafficking in persons” as :
a. sex trafficking in which a commercial sex act is induced by force, fraud, or coercion, or in which the person induced to perform such an act has not attained 18 years of age; or
b. the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.
In 2012, the International Labor Organization (ILO) estimated that there could be 20.9 million victims worldwide in what the State Department defines as human trafficking.  In 2011, only 42,291 victims of human trafficking were identified worldwide. The ILO also estimated that women and girls make up 55% of forced labor victims, and 98% of sex trafficking victims.
(Trafficking in Persons Report June 2012, U.S. Department of State)
As United Methodists, * we proclaim faith in the God of freedom and condemn slavery as wrong and incompatible with Christ’s teachings. * We recognize that we are called to follow Christ in proclaiming release to the captives and setting the oppressed free (Luke 4:16-19). * We affirm that each person is of equal value in the sight of God and will work to create communities in which each person’s value is recognized, maintained, and strengthened. * We affirm God’s abundant grace for everyone and strive to embody this grace toward all involved, both those trafficked and those who are trafficking.