Continually Making An Impact Nets NTC A Major Honor

Texas Impact Award

North Texas members at Interfaith Advocacy Days: (from left) Phyllis Cummins, Karen Shuey, Rev. Holly Bandel, Rev. Mel Caraway, Rev. Andy Lewis (holding the award from Texas Impact), Cynthia Rives and Richard Spies.

Interfaith advocacy group honors conference for Courts and Ports efforts

The North Texas Annual Conference on Monday received the Judicatory Member of the Year award from Texas Impact for its leadership role in instituting and leading in the development of the Courts and Ports program on the Texas/Mexico border.

Rev. Andy Lewis, director of the North Texas Conference’s Center for Missional Outreach and Assistant to the Bishop, accepted the award on behalf of the conference. He said the advocacy of clergy and laity from the NTC on behalf of immigrants in the past year was remarkable.

“We have seen prayer vigils at the I.C.E. offices in Dallas, a massive response to partner with other people of faith to provide housing and respite for people in the legal process of seeking asylum in Dallas, and recently an Immigration Summit that was attended by more than 400 people,” Rev. Lewis said.

Award“This award belongs to the clergy and laity from North Texas who have stepped up and put their faith into action on behalf of our immigrant neighbors over the past couple of years. My hope is that we will build on our recent work and that our immigration-related ministry and advocacy will continue to grow in the years to come.”

More than 120 North Texas United Methodists have participated in the Courts and Ports program and are leaders in their local churches in educating others about the conditions facing prospective immigrants and advocating for fair treatment of those seeking asylum at our southern border.

The North Texas Conference has a longstanding commitment to advocacy work and ministry with its neighbors. So, too, is the conference known for its collaborative interfaith work alongside organizations such as Texas Impact.

“Texas Impact has been a part of the faith-based community’s witness in Austin to the Texas Legislature since 1973,” past president Mel Caraway said. “It was originally created by the Texas Conference of Churches, and the North Texas Conference has been a vital part of that witness from the beginning.”

Caraway has represented the North Texas Annual Conference on the Texas Impact board of directors for the last 18 years, including six years as president. Others from the North Texas Conference currently on the board include: Cynthia Rives of First UMC Denton and United Methodist Women, Rev. Mitchell Boone of White Rock UMC and Rev. J. D. Allen of Chapel Hill UMC.

For more than 30 years, Texas Impact has co-sponsored with the United Methodist Women of all the UMC conferences in Texas the annual UMW Legislative Event, a three-day advocacy training/issues forum/legislative engagement event. Several years ago, Lutheran members and later Episcopal members of Texas Impact requested a similar event. From that event emerged the idea for an Interfaith Advocacy Days event for Texas Impact’s increasingly diverse multi-faith membership.

This year, the first Interfaith Advocacy Days event took place in Austin at University Presbyterian Church with participants from multiple Christian denominations as well as members of the Jewish and Muslim faiths.

Other awards presented during Monday’s recognition luncheon include:

  • Advocate of the Year, awarded to an individual member of Texas Impact for outstanding commitment and service to the organization -- Rev. Jeff Thompson of the Southwestern Texas Synod of the ELCA.
  • Newcomer of the Year, awarded to someone who is a new member of Texas Impact and has made a significant contribution that year – Rev. Danielle Ayers of Friendship West Baptist Church in Dallas.
  • Partner of the Year, presented to an organization that partners with Texas Impact to make a significant contribution – Mike Seifert and the ACLU of Texas for their partnership with Texas Impact (and the North Texas Annual Conference) on the Courts and Ports program.
  • The Lin Team Founder’s Award, named after the founding Executive Director of Texas Impact and presented for long-term meritorious service to Texas Impact and the Texas faith community – Mohamed Elibiary, who in 2003 became the first Muslim member of the Texas Impact Board of Directors and has worked tirelessly to foster communications and cooperation between Muslims and other faith traditions in Texas and throughout the United States.

Published: Wednesday, February 19, 2020