By Joanne Hand
“You're a part of the work of God, getting better and better,” Bishop James King told the congregation at Hand Memorial United Methodist Church at a special 5 p.m. worship service Sunday, Feb. 12.
Many members of United Methodist churches in surrounding towns came to hear Bishop King preach, including Ft. Gains, Camilla, Cotton, Sale City, Newton, Meigs, Ochlocknee, Baconton, Bainbridge and Bethany.
“What a joy and privilege for Hand Memorial to host Bishop James King, Resident Bishop for the South Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church,” said Rev. Michael Finn, pastor of Hand Memorial UMC. “In addition to that honor, the message he brought on the topic of 'getting better' was timely and challenging.”
“Jesus would have me tell you,” Bishop King told the congregation in his sermon, “He knows your circumstances and what you're going through. Regardless of your circumstances, you can be better.”
Referring to the Gospel of Luke, Bishop King noted that Jesus was teaching by the Sea of Galilee and drew a crowd. “Jesus was loving them. People are drawn to love.”
Bishop King summed up the lesson Jesus was teaching: “You do not have to be perfect, just faithful. Regardless of your situation, every day comes from God with the fullness of God's plan for your life. It doesn't matter about your past, your shortcomings, your mistakes," he said, “but you do need to believe and act on your understanding.
“If in following God you seem not to be getting anyplace, remember you're getting closer and closer to the dreams God has given you. Never stop trying ... Put your best effort together ... Whatever you need, God will provide, and much, much more.
“God has put a dream in your heart ... to bless others, and others will help you. God will bring you everything you need if you realize you can't do it by yourself,” Bishop King said. “If you put Jesus in it, remembering that God loves you, things will get better,” he concluded.
Kathy Kerce from Burns Memorial UMC in Cotton read the “love chapter,” 1 Corinthians 13.
The invocation was given by Rev. Paula Lewis of the Sale City Charge.
Caleb Finn played a piano meditation, “Amazing Grace, My Chains Are Gone.”
The children of Hand Memorial UMC, God's Gang, sang the anthem, “Our God,” followed by the chancel choir singing, “Come As a Child.”
Rev. Garth Duke-Barton, of the Whigham-Springhill Charge, told about Oconee Outreach Opportunity which the offering would go to support. For the offertory the choir sang, “Love Comes from God.” Later in the service, the choir also sang, “Give Me Jesus.”
Prior to Bishop King's sermon, Vernon Twitty of Camilla United Methodist Church read Luke 5:1-6.
The benediction and blessing were given by Rev. Andy Frazier, pastor of the Meigs-Ochlocknee Charge.
When asked to comment on the service, Ben Gunter, Hand Memorial UMC music director said, “Two things come to mind when I think of the Bishop's visit: one, it was a stirring challenge to put faith to work – God can do anything!
“Two, it was a sterling chance to find out how God is working here and now – in believers in Bainbridge, Camilla, Cotton, Ochlocknee, Meigs, and Pelham, too!”
Several people remarked that the Bishop radiated love.
A reception, coordinated by Anne Allen and Nan McPherson, followed the service.