A Word from Teresa – 1/17/19

              Over the last couple of months I’ve had the great joy of connecting with many of the district clergy for conversation. To varying degrees, the approaching General Conference in February was one topic of conversation in some of our visits. It is understandable that the called session is heavy on the minds of some clergy and laity while others do not give it much thought. As we know, there are diverse opinions we hold about matters of LGBTQ inclusion and the hopes we have for the outcome of General Conference vary as well. However, a common sentiment I hear in all conversations is something like, “Regardless of what happens, something is going to change.” I think that is true.

                We’ve often heard the joke that we like change as long as we get to make the decision about the change! But on a serious note, how do we as leaders best lead during times of change. I’m currently reading a book entitled Managing Transitions: Making the Most of Change by William and Susan Bridges. (Thank you Wilson Pruitt for the suggestion!) Though I have not yet finished the book, it is already proving useful as I consider what changes might be ahead for us as a denomination, as a conference and district, and as local churches. For example, I am reminded by the authors, “It isn’t the changes that will do you in; it’s the transitions.” 

                Transition work is important work. It involves paying attention to the importance of ending one way of doing things and being attentive to how we begin doing some new well. I think of my dear friend who packed up a son and helped move him to college this summer. The change from having the son living at home as a high schooler to now living on a college campus as a university student is obvious. What my friend and her husband wanted to think through were the details that occurred during the transition. Discernment around little things made a big difference from the meaningful moments such as the intentionality about a farewell dinner to the more practical things like when my friend’s son would begin paying his own car insurance.

                While it is true we cannot predict the future, I want to do all I can to lead the best I can during any future change. One key area I have already been working on is our district committee structure. Some of you have been in these conversations as I’ve shared about the natural overlap between some of our district administrative committees such as District Trustees, Church Location and Building, Church Extension and District Strategy Team. I am grateful for a small group of district leaders who continue to meet with me in an effort to propose a more simplified structure that will position us to move forward with district initiatives in the future. My goal is to have a proposal ready for consideration and approval late this Spring at a District Conference. 

                I continue to be inspired and encouraged by the many vital churches and ministries in the Capital District. Thank you for all you do to share God’s love with a hurting world. I know the challenges we face are hard and can seem overwhelming at times, but God is with us. We are not alone! Thanks be to God!

                What a joy to be your DS!,


Rethink Leadership 2019

ReThink Leadership – Saturday, February 9, 2019 

Who We Are – Methodists

Dripping Springs UMC
28900 RR 12, Dripping Springs, TX

Please join us Saturday, February 9, 2019 from 9:30 am – 4:00 pm at Dripping Springs United Methodist Church, 28900 RR 12.  *Please note the site change*.  We will have a day filled with information and fellowship – a great way to start the New Year and learn important information concerning our church and community – The United Methodist Church.

We are honored to have Bishop Robert Schnase as the speaker for our opening worship and plenary.   Schedule for the day and list of workshops and presenters is as follows :


9:30     Gathering and fellowship

9:50     Plenary with Bishop Robert Schnase

11:10   1st Session of Workshops

12:10   Lunch (on your own)

1:30     2nd Session of Workshops (Safe Gatherings workshop will begin at this time*)

2:40     3rd Session of Workshops

Workshop Session I – 11:10 am – 12:10 pm  
Workshop Title Presenter
Courageous Leadership Rev. Laura Merrill
Finance Marvin Morgenroth & Jaime Mariscal
Free Store Rachel Wright
Fruitfulness in a Small Church Pastor Robert Waddle
General Conference 2019 Rev. Abby Herrera
Lay Servant/Lay Speakers Brian Dinsmoor
Neighbors at the Border Rev. Jason Morriss
New Church Initiatives Rev. Karen Horan
Plugging Your Church into Disaster Missions Jim Street & Ben Patterson
PPRC Rev. Teresa Welborn
Project Transformation Mitchel Lambert
Stewardship Rev. Lance Richards
Equipped to Lead, Create, and Improve; TMF as Missional Partner Tom Stanton
Trustees Rev. Kendall Waller
Young Adults (Millennials) and Their New Families Julianne Snape
Workshop Session II – 1:30 pm – 2:30 pm  
Workshop Title Presenter
Courageous Leadership Rev. Laura Merrill
Finance Marvin Morgenroth & Jaime Mariscal
Free Store Rachel Wright
Fruitfulness in a Small Church Pastor Robert Waddle
General Conference 2019 Jay Brim
Lay Servant/Lay Speakers Cary Boddeker
New Church Initiativies Rev. Karen Horan
Plugging Your Church into Disaster Missions Jim Street & Ben Patterson
Project Transformation Mitchel Lambert
Stewardship Rev. Lance Richards
Equipped to Lead, Create, and Improve; TMF as Missional Partner Tom Stanton
Trustees Rev. Kendall Waller
Young Adults (Millennials) and Their New Families Julianne Snape
Safe Gatherings ** 2 hour session Mark Mitchell
Workshop Session III – 2:40 pm – 3:40 pm  
Workshop Title Presenter
Fruitfulness in a Small Church Pastor Robert Waddle
General Conference 2019 Jay Brim
New Church Initiatives Rev. Karen Horan
Project Transformation Mitchel Lambert
Safe Gatherings ** (continued) Mark Mitchell


A Word from Teresa – 1/4/19

Happy New Year! I trust you all had a wonderful Christmas season.

          Over the holiday, my family traveled to Colorado to visit my brother, his wife, and their 3 month old son. Other members of my extended family joined us. We rented a house for several days and enjoyed visiting, playing games, and delighting in my baby nephew. One day we ventured out to a small town called Nederland. Located about an hour from Denver, Nederland is best known for the Carousel of Happiness. When my brother told me we were going to ride on this Carousel of Happiness, I thought it was a joke. But there we were. All thirteen of us; all three generations of us.

          The story of how this carousel came to be is quite extraordinary and it is rooted in events that are rather somber. Scott Harrison was a Marine who witnessed horrific events while serving in the Vietnam War. During his time of service, he carried with him a small music box that someone had given him. As the war raged on, he found brief moments of consolation whenever he listened to the music. As our tour guide told us, “He held [the music box] up to his ear to distract him from the horror of the war going on around him. The music brought him a peaceful image of a carousel in a mountain meadow”(carouselofhappiness.org). All these years later, the peaceful image he dreamt about became a reality. A few decades ago Scott was met with an opportunity to restore an old carousel and he took the opportunity, carving many of the ride’s animals himself by hand.

          As I consider the new year before us, I carry with me this memory of riding the Carousel of Happiness. I am on a longhorn and my parents are behind me on a horse and cheetah. My daughter on a deer and my husband on a zebra ahead of me. My siblings, niece and nephews scattered around on other animals including my youngest nephew in the arms of his mother who is seated on a bench. A memory like this can enable one to imagine and dream as playful events often do.

          In 2019, I want to embrace more fully opportunities that lead to play and joy. Yes, we take our work seriously. Yes, there are very real concerns we carry. And yes, there are horrific injustices we won’t ignore. But in the midst of it all, there are moments of levity and happiness. Such moments are gifts from God, given so we might be reminded that Christ came and comes still to give us life and life abundantly.

          What a joy to be your District Superintendent!



 I spent a lot of years trying to outrun or outsmart vulnerability by making things certain and definite, black and white, good and bad. My inability to lean into the discomfort of vulnerability limited the fullness of those important experiences that are wrought with uncertainty: Love, belonging, trust, joy, and creativity to name a few. – Brene Brown

Fresh Expressions


January 18, 2019 – Austin

9:00AM – 3:00PM

AUSTIN, TX 78704

A Vision Day is a one-day training event that provides an opportunity to discover what it means to be the Church in new and creative ways, hear from Fresh Expressions practitioners, learn how to renew existing congregations through fresh expressions of church, and discern what this could mean for your region, community, or neighborhood. There is active discussion as well as opportunity to build networks and relationships among those in your area.



$25/person Rio Texas Conference UMC Affiliates

$25/person General Admission

ticket includes lunch

A Word from Teresa – 12/7/18

We continue to follow the tragic news along our own Texas border. Our hearts break and our prayers continue.

The conference website continues to communication information on The United Methodist Response



As well, stories by Bishop Schnase and other conference leaders have been appearing in Ministry Matters. https://www.ministrymatters.com/all/topic/Border+crossing


The following prayer was shared at the November 29 District Professionals meeting:


God of Exile,

You were carried into Egypt

By people fleeing danger.

We pray for all in exile

That they, like you, can find home

And shelter and safety.

Because you were exiled

And you remain with the exiled.


From Daily Prayer with the Corrymeela Community by Padraig O Tuama

A word from DS Teresa Welborn – 10/19/18

I sometimes joke that the main reason I’m on Twitter is so I can get the daily updates on El Arroyo’s sign out front. El Arroyo is a restaurant in downtown Austin and their daily signs are usually a guaranteed laugh for me each day. Earlier this week it read: “The temperature went from 90 to 55 like it saw a state trooper.” It has been quite a change in weather! And of course along with the drop in temperatures came an abundance of rain. May we continue our prayers for all those affected by flood waters. May we also be thinking of what action steps we can do to assist. If you have been trained as an Emergency Response Team member, please be thinking about your availability. You can find more information here or feel free to contact our disaster relief coordinator Jim Street directly at jim@jimstreet.com. Additionally, donations  can be made by check to the Rio Texas Conference designated for Advance #2050, and mailed to Rio Texas Conference, 16400 Huebner Rd, San Antonio, TX 78248. Your giving will support the Rio Texas Annual Conference Disaster Response Fund for immediate and long-term response and is tax-deductible.


I look forward to visiting churches during the Fall Charge Conference season. By now clergy have received the date of their Charge Conference and they are joining the lay leadership in moving forward on completing reports. This year, we move to more group conferences. I have created a simple video to help explain what people can expect at Charge Conference. Feel free to share it with others such as church laity and staff. You can find that video here.    

As referenced in that video, I invite churches to consider using Bishop Schnase’s updated and revised Five Practices for Fruitful Congregations book as a resource. Delegates to the 2018 Annual Conference received a copy of the book. Rev. Dr. Douglas Powe, Director of The Lewis Center for Church Leadership, recently interviewed Bishop Schnase about the new Five Practices book. You can find the podcast here.   

Be encouraged!,


A Word from Teresa – 11/16/18

A word from DS Teresa Welborn  

We are excited to welcome Bishop Schnase to our next district professionals meeting. In the lectionary cycle, this meeting falls between Christ the King Sunday and the first Sunday in Advent. At this time of the year, we receive the invitation to consider the practices that help us place Christ at the center of our lives. And we also have the opportunity to consider how we might approach the busy holiday season. Rev. Sharon Vandegrift is life coach and member of the Eastern Pennsylvania conference. She writes:

“Most church pastors and staff members find themselves navigating a complicated maze of additional worship events, increased program activity, year-end reports and annual budget decisions. Of course, there are also family and personal commitments that emerge in unique ways at this time of year.”


It is probably unrealistic to suggest that we all just slow down so that we might truly tap into the full breadth of spiritual opportunity the season has to offer.  However, it is certainly possible for us to better pace ourselves. Intentionally putting off a few things until after the holidays; truly entrusting responsibilities to others; and scheduling a few hours each week to be out of the office and away from the hectic nature of daily activities are just a few ways we can pace ourselves for the long haul.


As you look towards the coming Advent season, how will you be intentional about practices that assist you in staying centered in Christ? How will you create space  that allows for reflection and waiting upon God? How will you pace yourself?


Stay encouraged!




“Most of us are living at a pace that is not only unsustainable; it’s also unbiblical.” 

~~ Craig Groeschel,

Austin Area Justice for our Neighbors

A Time of Sharing with Rev. Dr. Robert Lopez:  Reflections along the Border

Saturday October 27th

10AM – 12PM

Berkeley UMC – 2407 Berkeley Ave.

El Valle and Coastal Bend District Superintendent Robert Lopez continues to learn more about the crisis along the border. Some of you have read his reflections in the Conference newsletter Unidos. Now you are invited to a morning with Rev. Lopez for conversation and prayer as he shares how his experiences along the border continue to impact his ministry.

Find more reflections on Immigration Response at https://riotexas.org/immigrationresponse

A Word from Teresa – 10/4/18

Like most seminary students, I remember reading Karl Barth’s well-quoted words: “Take your Bible and take your newspaper, and read both. But interpret newspapers from your Bible.” (This Karl Barth quote was referred to in a sermon by University UMC pastors earlier this year. See link below.)

Perhaps we should edit the quote to read, “Take your Bible and take your newspaper, and radio, and television, and social media accounts…”

How does being a Christian impact our response to the news? How does being a Christian impact our responses on social media? The weight of the daily news cycle can be discouraging at best and soul-crushing at worst. Whether it’s news of the more than 800 lives lost in Indonesia following a tsunami or the report of children being detained in a tent city in south Texas, our hearts are heavy these days. I think of the poem by Warsan Shire that concludes:

                later that night

                i held an atlas in my lap

                ran my fingers across the whole world

                and whispered

                where does it hurt?

                 it answered





While it can be tempting to turn off the news and turn our heads away, we are called to have our hearts broken by the things that break God’s heart. We are called to pray and to care. We are called to speak out against injustice and to speak up for the oppressed. We are called to find ways to help others. We are called to live peacefully with one another. The Bible speaks to all these things.

I am surprised at how often the lectionary texts speak to current events. When I served in the local church, I didn’t always preach the lectionary. Sometimes I found sermon series a refreshing approach. Still, the three year cycle of assigned scripture readings for the week (known as the lectionary) can be both comforting and convicting.

The last Sunday of September came after the hearings for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and the testimony of Christine Blasey Ford. Many preachers looked to the lectionary readings and found in them a message from God for our times. Several referred to the story of Esther from the Old Testament and preached about the power of a woman who raised her voice in order to save her people. Others looked to the reading from James that speaks of the power of prayer, healing, and the forgiveness of sins (James 5:13-20). Still others centered their sermon on the Gospel reading where Jesus teaches many lessons including “don’t be a stumbling block for the weak” and “rid yourself of that which causes you to sin.” And finally, “Keep peace with each other”(Mark 9:38-50).

I am grateful for preachers and non-preachers alike who keep the scriptures nearby when reading the news. It takes courage.

Be encouraged,