News & Announcements

A Message from Bishop W. Earl Bledsoe Regarding the El Paso Shooting

Psalm 34:18: “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

As a country, we have experienced yet another crisis involving gun violence. This time it happened in one of our beloved cities in the New Mexico Conference. A young man bent on hatred and bigotry, walked into a local Walmart store to enact murder and bloodshed upon innocent victims. What do we do with the remaining grief, anger, and feelings of vulnerability in which so many other communities in our country have had to reconcile? How do we make sense of our loved ones ripped from this world by senseless violence? As a bishop of the church, as well as a husband and father, I struggle with this, too. I am heartbroken and grief stricken by these senseless acts.

For many years now, the El Paso area has been besieged by the controversy over immigration, and yet our faith communities have worked together to respond to the needs of those seeking asylum and a better way of life for their families. I want to thank all our churches that have given of their time, resources, prayers and love. Many of you have been the hands and feet of Jesus for “The Stranger” among us. I’m sure that many have heard stories from people who have faced intolerable circumstances in their home countries, and you have responded with grace and love. The irony of how mercy on one hand is met with hatred and violence on the other is very painful to bear. Now, we ask what can we do to ease the suffering? What can we do to lift “crushed spirits”?

In the coming days, family members will bury their loved ones and care for the injured. At last count, approximately 25 people will heal from wounds that can be seen, but the community of El Paso will need to move forward with wounds and scars that cannot be seen. My fervent hope is that you can tangibly feel the passionate, heartfelt prayers of so many lifted to God for the many families and friends caught up as victims in this senseless act. I pray that God grant strength and renewed hope to get through the immense grief and uncertainty. I also encourage all of us to get involved in helping to bring about peace and racial reconciliation for the sake of community. Remember, the Spirit of Christ always stands with those who are hurting and grieving loss, reminding us that we are never alone in our grief nor are we forsaken during times of tragedy.

May God bless each and all!
Bishop W. Earl Bledsoe

 

NMAC Asylum Seeker Assistance Update

Thank you, those of you who have given more than $2,000 since the close of annual conference to the ministry of assisting asylum seekers. We are so grateful for the continued support.

You may have heard that the number of asylum seekers coming across the border and leaving detention centers has decreased recently. With this decrease, El Calvario UMC to has been serving 70 people per week for the past few weeks.

The decrease that we are seeing is related in part to the Remain in Mexico policy, more formerly known as the Migrant Protection Protocols (MPP). With this policy, many asylum seekers are being returned to Mexico to await their court dates associated with their asylum cases. In Juarez alone, 8,000 migrants have been enrolled in the Remain in Mexico program waiting for their asylum court dates in El Paso. The shelter of our sister denomination, the Methodist Church, is housing 130 people in a space designed to shelter less than 50. The need in Mexico is great, and we are working to establish relationship with the Methodist shelter in Juarez to learn how we can best support them. We will share this information with you as we receive it.

The construction of an ICE detention center facility in Estancia, NM, will present another opportunity to serve, so stay tuned for more information.

The work to repurpose Houchen Community Center into the Borderland Hospitality House continues, as does the creation of a local Justice for our Neighbors (JFON) site. Part of the work of JFON is to provide accurate legal advice for clients and communities about immigration. As we work toward establishing a JFON, we also would like to offer educational opportunities to the conference, such as an Immigration 101 webinar. Check back in future the newsletters for more information on this opportunity.

If you are interested in supporting our emerging immigration ministries, please contact Rev. Nicole Crouch at deacon.ncrouch@gmail.com.

Bishop Bledsoe Responds to GC19

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, this about these things.” (Phillipians 4:8)

Dear Members and friends of the New Mexico and Northwest Texas Conference Churches,

Greetings in the Name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

This letter is in follow up to my video just after the Special Called Session of the 2019 General Conference. In the video, I shared the outcome of the General Conference as well as my hopes of continuing to uphold our Book of Discipline, acknowledging the human pain that the struggle continues to cause many.

I want to encourage all our church pastors and laity to live out our calling with compassion and love as United Methodists in the various mission fields we are each called to serve. As in the days of Christ, the cultural context varies from place to place and from region to region. We must continue to serve Christ and share the love of Christ with all persons. Although the 2019 General Conference retained the current language prohibiting the ordination and conducting of same sex marriages by clergy, the action does not preclude churches from serving and ministering to LGBTQI+ communities and families in their local context. The church of Jesus Christ is open to all persons, and no church is free to discriminate or exclude others from the love of God through Jesus Christ.

As your bishop, I have learned a valuable lesson while serving the churches of the New Mexico and Northwest Texas Conferences. New Mexico and Northwest Texas are two very different conferences, theologically and politically. However, you have demonstrated a love for one another through Jesus Christ without denigrating or humiliating the other for their differences. Thanks to Bishop Max Whitfield, I inherited a cabinet that meets and works together in the assigning of pastors to local churches. I witnessed firsthand the respect and love they both have for their various mission fields and the pastors and churches that serve them. My prayer is that the general church would learn this lesson of how to get along despite our differences as fellow followers of the Lord Jesus Christ.

What are the next steps? There are several petitions that require a judicial council decision on the Traditional Plan. This should be decided by April of this year. The actions of the 2019 GC will not become effective until January 1, 2020. We will have a report of the delegations at this year’s annual conference session and will provide an opportunity for each conference member to ask questions and voice concerns going forward. I plan to itinerate again this Fall across all the areas of each conference to hear any concerns as well as share an update on our ministry together as a conference. As promised, I will “go where invited, eat what you eat and sleep where you sleep.” I also promised, I will walk with you through this journey after the special session and will continue to pray and seek the unity of the Church through the power of the Holy Spirit. I thank God for your Christian witness!!

In Christ’s Name,
Bishop W. Earl Bledsoe

TX Bishops Launch “Write to Reunite” Campaign

June 20, 2018

We are heartened to see President Trump sign an executive order today ending his administration’s policy of separating families at the border. Furthermore, we commend him for taking this action and putting the needs of these children at the forefront.

The humanitarian and moral crisis that has escalated over the past several weeks along our southern border has been difficult to fathom. Approximately 2,000 children have been separated from their parents attempting to apply for asylum or seeking safety from the violence in their countries. Acknowledging the differences many persons have on matters of immigration and refugees, we call upon United Methodists to be public witnesses regarding the plight and conditions of these children.

The forced separation of children from their parents produced consequences in the children’s emotional and mental development. We do not know what these children have experienced in their home countries or in their journey to the United States. The trauma some children have experienced can affect their well-being for years. Howard Markel, a noted American physician and medical historian, has said, “How much our society values its children can be measured by how well they are treated and protected.”

We recognize the need for proper border security; however, separating the children from their parents was never the answer. The partisan bickering on this issue is beneath us as a people, who are ourselves (with the exception of our Native American brothers and sisters) immigrants.

We stand united with our Christian sisters and brothers from across the nation in calling for continued compassion and care for the children affected by their unwarranted detainment and separation. As followers of Christ, let us keep asking the pressing questions about what Christ expects of us concerning the separated children and what God desires for them.

We urge you, as a faithful Christian, to contact your congressional representative and senators to continue expressing your concerns for the separated children and calling for legislation to keep families together: http://www.writetoreunite.org

Thank you for your witness for Christ on behalf of the children. May God’s peace be yours today.

Bishop Michael McKee, North TX Conference

Bishop Scott J. Jones, TX Conference

Bishop Robert Schnase, Rio TX Conference

Bishop Michael Lowry, Central TX Conference

Bishop Earl Bledsoe, Northwest TX & NM Conferences

 

Bishops uphold values of mission, unity, space, contextuality in interim report on Way Forward work

LAKE JUNALUSKA, N.C. – Placing emphasis on the values of unity, space and contextuality – all for the sake of mission – the Council of Bishops (COB) is exploring sketches of three models as possible directions for a way forward for The United Methodist Church over LGBTQ inclusion.

With the mission of God through the risen Christ at the core, the bishops this week received an interim report from the Commission on a Way Forward that offered three sketches of models that would help ease the impasse in the church, noting that the power of the Holy Spirit trumps and guides all the church’s activities. The Commission serves the COB, helping prepare the COB to fulfill its mandate to make a recommendation for a way forward to the General Conference.

Just as the Commission did not express a preference for any of the models in its interim report to the COB in order for the bishops to fully do their work, the COB is also not now expressing a preference for any model, while engaging deeply with them and the implications for their church and their leadership. This will provide the space bishops need to teach and engage leaders in their episcopal areas.

After receiving the interim report of the sketches of the three possible models, the bishops engaged in prayerful discerning and offered substantial feedback to the Commission, but did not take any vote on any of the sketches.

Read the full article.