“A scholarship in their honor helps make sure the legacy and foundation they laid are passed along to the next generation of individuals committed to seeing God's justice and kindness realized in our pews."
“Our congregations need to be on the frontlines, because we see passages [like Micah 6:8] that say ‘do justice, love mercy.’”
By Girien Salazar
One of the top bipartisan legislative priorities, this session, has been improving the Texas public school system by increasing funding. As we approach the end of the session, Texas public schools are on track to receive a major financial investment. While both parties agree on the need to increase school funding, there are still many differences to work out between what the House and Senate want to see in the school finance bill.
Currently, HB 3 is in conference committee where select members will work together to hash out the differences between the House and Senate version of the bill. Texas voters still have the opportunity to encourage their elected officials to support an equitable school finance system.
More than 90 percent of Texas school children will attend Texas public schools. Increasing quality and funding for public schools is critical to having a highly skilled workforce and building a healthy Texas economy.
HB 3 would increase the basic per-pupil allotment for all school districts (from $5,140 to $5,880), which will inject $9 billion dollars into the school finance system. Texas needs a school finance system that propels students out of poverty and helps all students reach their full potential.
The end of the legislative session is in sight and while there is still time, the days are getting longer and the chances of getting bills out of committee are getting smaller. This is an update on some of the CLC priority bills, where they are in the process and how you can help get them over the finish line.
CRIMINAL JUSTICE ...
PRO-LIFE LEGISLATION ...
PAYDAY LENDING ...
You can help.
Above all else, please pray for the CLC and our lobby team that we would be wise, gentle, reasonable, and unwavering in our work to pursue the common good while representing a biblical worldview in accordance to James 3:16-17.
By Abby Hopkins
In Slovakia, the Roma are a minority known for living in poverty. Education barriers create challenges for individuals to finish school and break the cycles of poverty.
Roma Health & Hunger, a Texas Baptist Hunger Offering partner, is meeting this need by providing resources within the education system. From mothers to their children, the work of this ministry is helping Roma families succeed and thrive.
Hunger Offering funds are specifically used for higher education scholarship funds as well as for lunches and snacks for a preschool program. This ministry unites the body of Christ to meet the needs of Roma people and display the glory of God.
It’s with excitement and sadness that I inform you of some news. After four years of having the true privilege of serving as the hunger and care ministries specialist at the CLC, I will be transitioning to a new position as a crisis counselor in Marble Falls.
Words do not feel adequate for how grateful I am for every person whom I’ve had the honor to know and work alongside in this ministry. Thank you doesn’t seem to suffice.
I will serve as an adult outreach counselor at Highland Lakes Family Crisis Center, close in proximity to our church, First Baptist Church of Marble Falls. I will be working with individuals dealing with trauma while pursuing my credentials as a licensed clinical social worker. I hope to gain a better understanding of trauma-informed care and learn to walk with people on their healing journeys. I covet your prayers in this new chapter of my life.
The change is very bittersweet. These past four years have changed my life. I love and believe in the Texas Baptist Hunger Offering, the CLC, and the Texas Baptist family. I hold dear so many beautiful memories across Texas and around the world. I have learned a great deal from numerous churches and ministries impacting their communities with beauty, justice, and restoration.
I can’t help but think of Paul’s words to the church of Philippi: “I give thanks to my God for every remembrance of you, always praying with joy for all of you in my every prayer, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now” (Philippians 1:3-5, CSB).
Thank you, Dr. Reyes, Dr. Foster, and Dr. Hardage for giving this Tennessean a chance. Shout out to Marilyn, Kathryn, Rebecca, and everyone else who are more than coworkers, they are family.
Thank you, colleagues and friends, for your encouragement to me personally, and more importantly, your desire to pursue the call to justice, mercy, and equality.
Donna Burney is not your typical advocate, after serving as an English professor and then with Woman's Missionary Union, she retired. But, a few years ago, Donna became aware of the uncertainty facing women just released from prison.
The Lord gave Donna a heart for these women and a few years ago, she began “Light in the Gap” ministry. Volunteers literally meet women in the gap of time between their old lives as prisoners and their new lives in their communities.
Since its founding only a few years ago, Light in the Gap volunteers have met some 4,000 recently release women at the bus stops in their towns. They bring cookies and bags filled with toiletries and a devotional. During the winter they bring coats. But mostly, they bring Christ’s love and hope to women who feel forgotten and a deep sense of shame about their pasts.
Donna saw through her ministry an injustice, one that the hugs and prayers, while powerful, could not correct.
She reached out to the Christian Life Commission and asked for our help. The women Donna was ministering to needed an advocate to stand in the gap for them. The women needed their elected officials to step in and get the government agency responsible to change its policy. Donna met me in Austin, and we went to meet the men and women with the power to change the policy.
Before our first meeting, we prayed for God, our advocate, to stand in the gap for us, to give our words power and to give us favor with those we were to meet. And He did!
Abuse is evil. The Houston Chronicle’s recent series of articles about sexual abuse in the Southern Baptist Convention sheds some light on this pervasive problem in churches.
This is a watershed moment, and it is also an opportunity for Southern Baptists to step up and walk the narrow path of repentance and change.
I am inspired by survivors like Debbie Vasquez and David Pittman, their stories were featured in the article, who courageously share with the world about their traumatic experiences. They speak truth to prevent the same thing from happening to others.
Their stories are heart-wrenching and infuriating, and unfortunately, they are nothing new to the church. I know multiple women and men who were sexually assaulted by church leaders as children. While healing is possible, the trauma of abuse ravages people physically, mentally, and emotionally for years and decades.
This is our opportunity to listen to survivors and mourn together.
Stories like Heather Schneider’s are haunting. Churches have the opportunity to listen to her mom, Gwen Casados, about her abuse and suicide and hear from survivors in our communities. Survivors are everywhere, including our churches. In the broader U.S. culture, one in three women and one in six menhave experienced sexual abuse in their lifetime.
We can step up, listen, and learn from survivors; their voices and stories matter the most.
Two events on two successive weekends have encouraged me. In mid-January, I witnessed busloads of people streaming into Washington, D.C., for the annual March for Life. One week later, I listened to thousands of people cheer during Austin’s Rally for Life.
Both events attracted large numbers of students and young adults. There’s an enormous concern evidenced by the thousands of students lifting up the importance and value of life.
A message can be gleaned from this -- pro-life supporters are not going away. And more and more pro-lifers understand that it is not just about abortion; we want to promote the value of human life from conception to natural death.
Children before birth are among the most vulnerable among us, but many women who are carrying these children are in vulnerable positions, as well. We need broad cultural understanding, support systems, and legal frameworks within which we promote the health of all children and their mothers.
In speaking at the Austin event, I noted that Texas Baptists believe every person is created in the image of God and, therefore, deserves our respect and honor from conception.
After reading Psalms 139:13-16 in both English and Spanish, I called for all Texans to work together in . . .
In his acceptance speech for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964, Martin Luther King Jr. declared:
I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture for their minds, and dignity, equality and freedom for their spirits. I believe that what self-centered men have torn down men other-centered can build up.
Merriam Webster’s Thesaurus lists shameless boldness as the best synonym for the word audacity.
Dr. King embodied righteous audacity as he proclaimed that every person regardless of race, country, or creed has the right to a full and healthy life despite the realities of oppression in the world.
Is this not the very essence of faith in Christ? Despite darkness, light wins. Despite oppression, freedom prevails. Despite hunger, people eat in abundance. The first shall be last. This audacious faith seems fitting for people who believe the God of the Universe became human in order to save the entire world from sin and evil.
In Texas, one in four children struggle with hunger. Our state ranks last -- 51st (50 states plus the District of Columbia) -- in terms of health care coverage. Thirty-one percent of Texans under 65 do not have health insurance and have barriers to adequate healthcare.