HOUSTON – Many in the world have never heard the story of Christ’s birth and His offering of hope. That was true for a group of 250 Bhutanese refugees living in Houston until Dec. 15. Full Story »

House Interim Charges

When not in session, the work of the Texas Legislature continues. Though they convene at the capitol in Austin to pass laws for only five months in odd numbered years, interim charges help committees to continue their work. Each committee in both the House and Senate are assigned a set of questions to study prior to the next session. The questions are assigned by the Speaker of the House and the Lieutenant Governor and are often read as a good indication of what issues they feel are most important and should be addressed the next session. The committees convene, often outside of Austin, hear testimony from experts and the public and then publish reports of their findings.

The current interim charges for the House were released by Speaker Straus in November.  Several charges address issues of interest for the CLC, a few of which are set out below. The CLC staff will use this opportunity to interact with lawmakers and their staff and educate them about our policy positions.

:: Entire List of Charges (pdf)

Watch upcoming newsletters for a link to the Senate charges when they are released.

Human Trafficking
House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence

  • Study the human and sex trafficking problem in Texas. Make recommendations on best practices in the areas of investigation, prosecution, and tracking of the victims of these crimes. Study whether victims of these crimes are allowed to adequately recover from their attackers in a civil cause of action. Joint Interim Charge with House Committee on Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence

House Committee on Environmental Regulation

  • Monitor federal legislative and regulatory initiatives as they pertain to climate change. Consider Texas’ responses to proposals and make recommendations as to any further preparations.

House Committee on Energy Resources

  • Examine the state’s portfolio of electric generation resources, including traditional sources, emerging renewable technologies, and energy efficiency. Determine whether the existing state regulatory programs and incentives are adequate to meet the energy needs of the future. Consider factors relating to reliability, requirements for additional transmission, or auxiliary services. Joint Interim Charge with House Committee on State Affairs.

House Committee on Human Services

  • Monitor the Health and Human Services Commission’s progress toward improving the timeliness of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program eligibility determinations. Evaluate the impact of corrective measures already taken by the commission.

Health Care
House Committee on Insurance

  • Monitor implementation of the Healthy Texas insurance program established by SB 78 (81R).

Hunger Summit
On November 19, the Baylor University – Texas at The Table Hunger Summit was held in Waco. The summit was a huge success with hundreds of advocates from across the state accepting the challenge to work together to end food insecurity in Texas by 2015. The Texas Hunger Initiative, a joint project of the CLC and the Baylor School of Social Work, hosted and help organize the event. In 2010 the work of the Hunger Initiative will focus on organizing local efforts in 7 Texas counties to combat hunger. The CLC will help convene advocates in Austin to establish a Food Policy Roundtable to address any policy changes necessary to meet our goals.

:: Baptist Standard report on the event

The BGCT Annual meeting had a slightly younger look this year as 200+ Texas Baptists under-35 gathered for STREAM. The group was comprised of both young ministers and lay members many of whom were registered messengers. STREAM was a series of parallel activities designed with the younger generation in mind. CLC Austin staff members were involved in the planning and recruitment efforts for the event. The conference began with a purely social gathering hosted at the Union Station rooftop at Minute Maid Park, home of the Houston Astros.  The group also met for two general sessions and held several workshops. The workshops concentrated on social justice issues all addressed by the Christian Life Commission including Hunger, Human Trafficking and the Environment. A group of over 45 young people also spend one afternoon at the Houston Food Bank where they packaged for delivery over 20,000 pounds of food.

:: Baptist Standard article about the event

Stop Predatory Gambling Conference
In early November the national anti-predatory gambling organization, Stop Predatory Gambling, held their annual conference in San Antonio. The conference brought together advocates, experts and legislative staff members from across the country. If you are passionate about this issue, you should certainly check out their website and join together with advocates to prevent expansion and turn back the progress of predatory gambling establishments.

:: Resources from Conference

“ACCEPTIVA” – this popped up (labeled as spam) in my email inbox about April 2009. It shows up every month and now instead of dreaded spam, it is my favorite recurring email. ACCEPTIVA is good news in the gospel sense. It is the e-version of a receipt for my recurring online gift to the Hunger Offering.

Frankly, I love recurring giving… but, come to think of it, I may love it for all the wrong reasons.  First off, a recurring gift makes me appear much more generous than I normally am.  Admittedly,  I might put the cost of the meal in my Texas Hunger Bank every month, but I am pretty sure I wouldn’t actually be turning in the collected cash to the offering every month. The offering might have to wait 6 months to get my collected gifts. Also, I so rarely write checks anymore for monthly expenses, I know I wouldn’t be writing a monthly check.  So by committing to an online a recurring gift, the offering is getting money on a regular basis and I am basically on automatic pilot going about the rest of my life, but actually being more generous than normal.

Try as I may, guilty as-all-get-out, I have never been able to live up to all the admonishments of scripture and impassioned special offering appeals to be consistently intentional, sacrificial and joyful in giving. I try, honestly, to be intentional, sacrificial and joyful but the pace and demands of my life seem to work against consistency …of many kinds, it seems….but especially when it comes to money. So my second reason that I love recurring giving is that it actually allows me to act consistently, even if it is not a conscious habit every month. The consistent gifts become intentional and they can approach sacrificial, at least a sacrifice of one meal.

On my worst day when I feel like I have done nothing even remotely worthy of Jesus’ name, there is an added bonus. My gifts to the ministries of the Hunger Offering are multiplying for goodness around Texas and the world.  This actually feels like grace and reminds me that God is the true generous giver.

The third reason I love recurring giving is because of the joy of junkmail. I know it is probably not at all what scripture meant when it says “God loves a cheerful giver.” But when I see that ACCEPTIVA pop up every month, I am truly happy. ACCEPTIVA is my favorite email. It reminds me that even though I may be forgetful and slow, inconsistent and negligent, hungry people are being fed in Jesus name. In spite of my shortcomings, the offering is supporting water wells in Peru and Asia, children in Africa, hungry in the colonias of the Texas border, families in Brownwood, gypsy outcasts in India, farming and local vegetables for healthy eating…etc. etc. until through 125 projects my gifts are adding at least a bit to the $740,000 of ministry across the world.
So it turns out I AM a cheerful giver – smiling at my favorite junkmail. The sight of “ACCEPTIVA”,  reminds me of another scripture…”where your treasure is, your heart is also.” That is a pretty good benefit of recurring giving – my heart begins to a take trip following this treasure, to the mission and ministry of changing the world, one bite at a time in Jesus name.

The  slogan of the Hunger Offering is “Give Texas Something to Say Grace Over,”  giving the cost of one meal once a month to the hunger offering as a part of the Prayer, Care Share strategy of Christian discipline and generosity. Small gift, significant impact. Great idea.

But HOW?? How do I give the cost of one meal once a month?  Any person or church can go to  www.BGCT.org , scroll down, click GIVE ONLINE and choose the World Hunger Offering from a menu of choices. The recurring gift option allows me to give any amount every month. Back in April, I set up a recurring gift, calculating the cost of a family meal and now every month, ACCEPTIVA pops up to thank me for my gift to World Hunger.

As far as I am concerned, it was a great experiment to develop online giving for the World Hunger offering. Many of you have become Hunger Advocates and made miracles happen. Join me in learning to love your junk mail. Get your own “ACCEPTIVA”.

PERRYTON – This Christmas season, three Perryton Baptist churches are sharing hope with Ochiltree County as they pray for needs in the community and go door-to-door giving neighbors a bag filled with homemade bread or cookies, information about the churches and a Texas Hope 2010 evangelistic multimedia compact disc containing Scripture, gospel testimonies and links to the New Testament in more than 400 languages. Full Story »

COMMERCE – First Baptist Church is looking to provide a hot meal and hope for 700 people this Christmas. Full Story »

BOGOTA, Colombia – The gospel is traveling around the globe like no other time in history, but 6,000 of the 16,000 people groups on earth – more than one-fourth of the world’s population – still remain without a native church. Full Story »

DALLAS – Due to a change in associational strategy and approach, Bluebonnet Baptist Association and Corpus Christi Baptist Association are changing the funding structure for the Baptist Student Ministries at Texas A&M University at Corpus Christi/ Del Mar College and Texas State University beginning in 2010. Full Story »