News

Deacons: Bringing the Church to the world

published 12/5/2016
Rev. Aimee Baxter, right, and her friend Kathryn, also an Adoption Recruiter, ate at Wendy's on Nov. 19, National Adoption Day, because the restaurant gave 15 percent of restaurant sales to the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption. 2016 marks the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the United Methodist clergy deacon in full membership. By Kara Witherow, Editor On any given day, Rev. Aimee Baxter could be counseling teenagers who are waiting to be adopted, working with families hoping to ...

Prepare the way of the Lord

published 12/5/2016
FROM THE BISHOP R. LAWSON BRYAN As we prepare for Christmas please don’t forget the central figure of the Advent season: John the Baptist. The Gospel according to Matthew says of John, This the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said, “The voice of one crying out in the wilderness; ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.’” John the Baptist and those who responded to his preaching remind us that in every time period God raises up Advent voices of hope and in every time ...

Savannah churches feed community on Christmas morning

published 12/5/2016
By Kara Witherow, Editor This Christmas, Savannah’s oldest and newest congregations will join forces to feed hundreds of hungry residents a warm, hearty breakfast. In its sixth year, this tradition will get a new spin for 2016 as Trinity United Methodist Church – more than 200 years old – and ConneXion Church – birthed this year – band together.  Trinity UMC first hosted this breakfast in 2011 after member Joseph Smith came up with the idea as a way to give back to the community that has ...

The Congregational Development Corner: Stop Expecting Uninvited Company

published 12/5/2016
The Congregational Development Corner: 10 for 10 (10 steps for 10 percent growth) During the 2016 Annual Conference session, action steps for congregational growth were shared during a Fruitfulness in Evangelism panel discussion, moderated by Rev. Jay Hanson, director of Congregational Development. Five clergy – Rev. Antonie Walker, Rev. Leigh Ann Raynor, Rev. Hale Bishop, Rev. Matt Hearn, and Rev. Jim Cowart – each shared two key tools for evangelism and growth and together gave clergy and lay ...

Bishop Bryan: An update on the Commission on a Way Forward

published 11/29/2016
To the South Georgia Conference: I want to personally give you an update on where we are as a denomination with the Commission on a Way Forward and the proposed called General Conference session. The Commission's mission is to "bring together persons deeply committed to the future(s) of The United Methodist Church, with an openness to developing new relationships with each other and exploring the potential future(s) of our denomination in light of General Conference and subsequent annual, ...

A Thanksgiving Message from Bishop Bryan

published 11/22/2016
We invite you to hear a thanksgiving message from Bishop R. Lawson Bryan. Click here to watch the video.  



#GivingTuesday starts Tuesday, Nov. 29

published 11/21/2016
United Methodists will once again come together on Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016, to support the work of Advance projects and missionaries on UMC #GivingTuesday. This year, consider supporting a project that is working in an area you care about, such as hunger and poverty, education or social justice. For a complete list of projects, visit The Advance. Should you have any questions about UMC #GivingTuesday, please contact advance@umcmission.org. Find UMC #GivingTuesday banners/ads, FAQs, impact ...



Celebrating Christ as King

published 11/21/2016
FOCUS ON THE VISION DENISE WALTON In honor of Christ the King Sunday, I invite you to reflect on Colossians 1:11-20 presented to us in the form of a hymn. There is a larger discussion which we will not engage related to the historical nature of the text and its implications for earthly and heavenly kingship. Instead, the focus is simply to consider this hymn of the early church as it speaks to the kingship of Christ. I have chosen to stay with this text over the next week as we embrace Advent....

Epworth By The Sea hosts annual Winter Conference Jan. 29-Feb. 1

published 11/21/2016
Witten and submitted by Ann T. Pierce, Epworth By The Sea An historic gathering of two Georgia United Methodist Bishops, along with leading Baptist, United Methodist and Community Church preachers and teachers, and one of the nation’s leading Bible scholars, will lead the second annual Winter Conference at Epworth By The Sea, Jan.29 – Feb. 1, 2017. The focus of the conference is on worship and spiritual formation, bridging barriers of separation to be a greater witness to the world. Throughout...

Lindsey elected to serve second quadrennium on Global Ministries’ board

published 11/21/2016
By Kara Witherow, Editor Allison Lindsey, an associate director for Connectional Ministries, was elected to serve on the General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM). Nominated and elected at Global Ministries’ first board meeting held at their new home in Atlanta Oct. 19-22, this will be Lindsey’s second quadrennium to serve on the general church agency board. The global mission agency of The United Methodist Church, its annual conferences, missionary conferences, and local congregations, Global...

Living Thankfully

published 11/21/2016
Dr. Hal Brady The real strength of Thanksgiving itself is not to be found in some kind of nostalgic look back at pre-colonial America. As important as that may seem, what are our needs for pilgrims tracking across the snow and Indians being included in a feast? Our need today is much more contemporary. Our urgent need in these days is for guidance or insight to know how to deal with the modern-day cynicism and despair that has gripped so many individual lives, communities, and our nation ...

Make thanksgiving an everyday habit

published 11/21/2016
Colquitt United Methodist Church's altar, designed by Peggy Chambers, is decorated for Thanksgiving.  By Kara Witherow, Editor Thanksgiving is a day to give thanks, express gratitude, and reflect on God’s blessings. One day, though, doesn’t seem enough for all God has bestowed upon His creation. While Thanksgiving is celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November in the United States, thanking God is a spiritual discipline that should not be limited to a single day. How, then, can believers ...

Preparations begin for Minneapolis General Conference in 2020

published 11/21/2016
A new Commission on General Conference met Nov. 7-9, 2016, in Jacksonville, Fla., to begin organization for the 2020 General Conference to be held in Minneapolis. The officers of the Commission on the General Conference for 2017-2020 are Duncan McMillan of the North Carolina Conference, chairperson; Marie-Jeanne Kashala Mujinga, vice-chairperson, South-West Katanga Conference; and Kim Simpson, Secretary, Central Texas Conference. The Commission voted that the Rev. Gary W. Graves, ...

Preparing our people

published 11/21/2016
HISPANIC NEWS ISAAC D. SALGADO On Saturday, Nov. 5, we conducted lay training for our brothers and sisters of the Hispanic ministries from our South Georgia Conference. We had two levels – intermediate and advanced. We had 12 women and 17 men. Here are the classes and the participants:   Level Intermediate Advanced Participants 20 9 Classes Doctrine I Preaching I Leadership Introduction to the Bible Doctrine II Preaching II Old Testament New Testament The course is an integral part ...

The Congregational Development Corner: Stop Communicating for Information

published 11/21/2016
The Congregational Development Corner: 10 for 10 (10 steps for 10 percent growth) During the 2016 Annual Conference session, action steps for congregational growth were shared during a Fruitfulness in Evangelism panel discussion, moderated by Rev. Jay Hanson, director of Congregational Development. Five clergy – Rev. Antonie Walker, Rev. Leigh Ann Raynor, Rev. Hale Bishop, Rev. Matt Hearn, and Rev. Jim Cowart – each shared two key tools for evangelism and growth and together gave clergy and lay...

UM congregations band together to reach young adults

published 11/21/2016
Kara Witherow, Editor The headlines are alarming: “Millennials leaving church in droves, study says,” “Can We Stop the 70 Percent of Young Adults Who Drop Out of Church?,” and “5 Possible Reasons Young Americans Are Leaving Church and Christianity Behind.” If believed, one might think that young adults rarely step foot inside a church or want anything to do with organized religion. What statistics do show, however, is that about 70 percent of young adults ages 18 to 22 stop attending church ...

Council president offers post-election congratulations and prayers

published 11/9/2016
A Word from Bishop R. Lawson Bryan:   One of the great traditions of The United Methodist Church is the presentation of a Bible to each newly elected president. This practice dates back to the very first president of the United States when Bishop Francis Asbury presented a Bible to President George Washington in 1789. The tradition has continued with each subsequent president. When the Council of Bishops met recently at Epworth By The Sea each bishop added his or her signature to a Bible that ...

South Georgia churches hold Election Day prayer services

published 11/8/2016
By Kara Witherow, Editor On a day when Americans are sharply divided, many South Georgia churches are trying to bridge that divide with prayer. Several churches are opening their sanctuaries to prayer, hosting Election Day prayer services, and using the day as an opportunity to bring unity to fractured communities. “There is such a sense of division, rancor, and anger within our nation and world,” said Rev. Cathy Green, pastor of Pinson Memorial United Methodist Church in Sylvester, which ...

Data can help congregations understand communities, shape programming

published 11/7/2016
By Kara WItherow, Editor *This is the second of a two-part series on the ways data can help local churches. Who lives near your church? Single, working mothers? Baby Boomers? Young families?  Do you know?  Knowing your community – your target audience – is important to being successful in your outreach efforts. But it isn’t always easy to access the information you need to get to know your neighbors. Since 2009, the South Georgia Conference has partnered with MissionInsite to provide ...

Encounter retreat will help youth break out of today’s culture and shine a light for Christ

published 11/7/2016
Encounter, the annual youth retreat sponsored by South Georgia’s Connectional Ministries, will “BREAK OUT” Nov. 18-20 at Epworth By The Sea on St. Simons Island. The theme will delve deeper into teaching sixth through twelfth grade students how to break out of today’s culture and shine a light for Christ.  Rev. Jonathan Smith, Director of the Wesley Foundation at Georgia Southern University, will be the speaker for Encounter. Jonathan’s ability to reach so many different ages with the truth of ...

Gratitude and the interconnectedness of life

published 11/7/2016
GROWING IN GRACE BEN GOSDEN By the time you read this column we will be about 36 hours away from the end of this presidential election cycle. And I’m sure I’m not the first (or only) one to say: thank God!  2016 has felt like a year filled with picking sides, waging wars of words on those with whom we don’t agree, and questioning the very things that hold us all together. Presidential election cycles have a magical way of sowing seeds of division. But for Methodists, General Conference 2016 ...

Jesup congregations join to serve community

published 11/7/2016
A sweet potato drop was the culmination of the Love Your Neighbor week’s events. More than 200 volunteers bagged and distributed more than 20,000 sweet potatoes. Photo courtesy of Rev. Melissa Traver By Kara Witherow, Editor In Matthew 28, Jesus issued the Great Commission to his disciples: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations …” Three congregations in Jesup acted on that command last month when they joined together to serve their community in a “Love Your Neighbor: A Week of ...

John Wesley: Musician (continued …)

published 11/7/2016
JOHN WESLEY MOMENTS DAVE HANSON John Wesley strongly believed that music was a vital part of the evangelistic movement he was leading. His brother, Charles, was the hymn writer, but John was a strong advocate for singing the gospel message in worship. He is credited with introducing hymn singing into the English- speaking church. Here are some more of John Wesley’s directions for singing which were in his preface to Sacred Melody, 1761: “V. Sing modestly. Do not bawl, so as to be heard above ...

The Congregational Development Corner: Preparing for guests

published 11/7/2016
The Congregational Development Corner: 10 for 10 (10 steps for 10 percent growth) During the 2016 Annual Conference session, action steps for congregational growth were shared during a Fruitfulness in Evangelism panel discussion, moderated by Rev. Jay Hanson, director of Congregational Development. Five clergy – Rev. Antonie Walker, Rev. Leigh Ann Raynor, Rev. Hale Bishop, Rev. Matt Hearn, and Rev. Jim Cowart – each shared two key tools for evangelism and growth and together gave clergy and lay...

Truly thankful

published 11/7/2016
FROM THE BISHOP R. LAWSON BRYAN Thanksgiving came early for Sherrill and me this year. You are the reason for that.  Thank you for your compassionate response to Sherrill’s accident. Her recovery from a fractured pelvis is on track and should be complete in six to eight weeks. Your prayers and other forms of encouragement are playing an important role in her healing. That is why I want you to know that we are thanking God for you. We have learned that the South Georgia Conference has a ...

Council of Bishops to call for 2019 General Conference

published 11/2/2016
Sets forth actions to involve the whole church in prayer and conversation St. Simons Island, Ga.: Through an affirmative vote at their fall meeting this week, the United Methodist Council of Bishops expressed their intent to call for a special session of the General Conference in either February or March of 2019 and asked the business manager of  the General Conference to move forward with exploring venues and a bid search. The Constitution of The United Methodist Church provides that the ...

Council of Bishops Names 32 Commission Members

published 10/24/2016
The United Methodist Council of Bishops has announced the membership of the Commission on a Way Forward. "After three months of diligent and prayerful discernment, we have selected 8 bishops, 11 laity, 12 elders and 1 deacon to serve on the Commission," said Bishop Bruce R. Ough, president of the Council of Bishops. "This group is representative of our theological diversity." Ough said the makeup of the 32-member commission is roughly comparable to U.S. and Central Conference membership.  All of...

Annual Conference 2017: Dates, Venue, Hotels

published 10/17/2016
The Annual Conference Planning Committee and the Local Arrangements Committee are preparing for the 2017 Annual Conference Session, set for Sunday, June 4, through Wednesday, June 7, at the Jekyll Island Convention Center on Jekyll Island. We are excited about meeting in our new venue and being led by our new Episcopal leader, Bishop R. Lawson Bryan. God has placed upon Bishop Bryan’s heart and mind a scriptural touchstone for leading us as an annual conference over the next four years. That ...

Dios respondió a nuestro clamor / God answered our cry

published 10/17/2016
HISPANIC NEWS FELIPE RICARDO This is the fourth in a series of monthly columns written by Revs. Felipe Ricardo and Daniel Medina, associate directors of Connectional Ministries for Hispanic Ministries. Las Iglesias Hispanas Metodistas en nuestra Conferencia ha medida que han ido creciendo se han visto, al mismo tiempo, obligadas, a entrenar a sus líderes laicos y pastores. En algún momento de nuestra historia, entendimos que necesitábamos alguna herramienta que nos ayudara a desarrollar en ...

Satan is a Powerless Wolf

published 10/17/2016
PATHWAY TO HIS PRESENCE B.J. FUNK Have you seen the TV commercial where a granddaddy is reading the story of the Three Little Pigs to his grandson? As the wolf approaches the pigs’ home of straw, he huffs and puffs to blow down the house. The child interrupts, “Kind of like you, Grandpa, when you huff and puff?” Grandpa explains, “That’s right. When you have COPD, it’s hard to get air in and air out.” The commercial continues as the wolf tries hard to blow down the house of straw, but he is ...

South Georgia United Methodists respond swiftly to help during Hurricane Matthew

published 10/17/2016
Epworth By The Sea on St. Simons Island was hit hard during Hurricane Matthew, but did not sustain any major damage. Photo courtesy of Brady Shierling By Kara Witherow, Editor Hurricane Matthew’s powerful winds and blinding rain struck Georgia’s coast during the late evening hours of Friday, Oct. 7 and lasted through the night into Saturday morning. Though the storm was not as powerful as first predicted and took a jog to the east before striking the coast, it brought torrential rain, ...

Sunday Advocate Bulletin Insert - 10/23/16

published 10/17/2016
Click on the link below to download the Sunday Advocate. Sunday, October 23 The Sunday Advocate is a weekly printable bulletin insert and supplement to the South Georgia Advocate online newspaper. Loaded with South Georgia Conference and UMC news, event information, tips and more, the Sunday Advocate is a printable PDF that can be printed and distributed through local church communication pieces. It will be published and available for download each Monday afternoon. The Sunday Advocate is ...

The Congregational Development Corner: Market It!

published 10/17/2016
The Congregational Development Corner: 10 for 10 (10 steps for 10 percent growth) During the 2016 Annual Conference session, action steps for congregational growth were shared during a Fruitfulness in Evangelism panel discussion, moderated by Rev. Jay Hanson, director of Congregational Development. Five clergy – Rev. Antonie Walker, Rev. Leigh Ann Raynor, Rev. Hale Bishop, Rev. Matt Hearn, and Rev. Jim Cowart – each shared two key tools for evangelism and growth and together gave clergy and lay...

Valdosta First UMC opens doors to hurricane evacuees and their pets

published 10/17/2016
Jill and Bill Todd evacuated their St. Augustine, Fla. home with their dog, Max, and found shelter at Valdosta First United Methodist Church. By Kara Witherow, Editor At one point during their evacuation from deadly Hurricane Matthew, Jill and Bill Todd thought they were going to have to spend a night in a 24-hour McDonald’s.  The couple, along with Max, their small mix-breed dog, evacuated their St. Augustine, Fla. home at noon on Thursday, Oct. 6. After finding that their hotel reservation...

United Methodist Church ads offer hope after hurricane

published 10/13/2016
Beginning this week, The United Methodist Church will run 30 second television ads in Georgia, Florida, South Carolina and North Carolina markets.  "Church happens as we respond in Haiti, The Bahamas, and the southeastern US to Hurricane Matthew's devastation," says a narrator. The ad explains that The United Methodist Church will go beyond helping neighbors rebuild and will stay until recovery is complete.  "The power of love can overcome the forces of nature," the message concludes. The ...

Disaster Response: Hurricane Matthew (Monday Update)

published 10/10/2016
The Conference Disaster Response Team is currently assessing how we as South Georgia United Methodists can be of assistance following the destruction left in the wake of Hurricane Matthew. At this time it appears that debris clean up is the primary need. As we continue to pray for those affected by the storm, here’s what you need to know now: Financial Donations: To aid with disasters within the South Georgia Annual Conference you can send financial gifts through the Conference Treasurer's ...

A Word from Bishop Bryan: God is our refuge and strength

published 10/7/2016
To the South Georgia Conference: As we follow closely the movement of Hurricane Matthew I want to thank all the South Georgia churches that are serving as shelters for evacuees and all others who are providing support and supplies as needed. I also appreciate those who are moving to safety themselves. My prayers are with you.  In a situation like this I am deeply grateful for the connectional system of The United Methodist Church. As our denomination responds to recovery needs in Haiti and other...

Commission on the Way Forward: Membership Selection Progresses

published 10/6/2016
Washington, D.C.: The Executive Committee of the Council of Bishops has narrowed the list of potential nominees for membership on the Commission on the Way Forward from over 300 persons to 29. The group includes 8 bishops, 13 clergy, and 8 laity who are representative of our global connection and theological diversity. Letters have been sent to those individuals informing them they have been nominated for membership on the Commission, sharing the mission, vision and scope of the work before ...

2016 Conference Journal ready for orders and download

published 10/3/2016
Journal includes conference business, directories, reports, appointments, and statistical tables The 2016 Journal of the South Georgia Annual Conference is now available for purchase. As was the process in 2015, those wishing to purchase a Conference Journal will order their copy(ies) online directly from the printer. The cost of the Journal is $20 each plus tax and shipping. Click here to order your copy of the 2016 Journal of the South Georgia Annual Conference.*  The Journal is also ...

Downloadable statistical tables help local churches use data

published 10/3/2016
*This is the first of a two-part story on the ways statistical data can help local churches. In an effort to help local churches more effectively use the data they’ve compiled and submitted through the Statistical Tables that they complete in February of each year, the Administrative Services Office has created and made available for download an Excel file with all 616 churches’ statistics in one large table, for sorting and analysis. The file also includes separate tabs for each district so ...

Harvest Church helps give written language, Bible to unreached people groups

published 10/3/2016
Millions of people around the world don’t have access to the Bible in their own language. In fact, more than 50 percent of world languages are still in need of completed Bible translations. A recent State of the Bible survey, which polled 2,000 Americans and was conducted by the Barna Group, found that 72 percent of Americans believe the Bible is available in all of the world’s languages. However, the report states that only 43 percent of languages actually have Bible translations available. ...

John Wesley: Musician

published 10/3/2016
JOHN WESLEY MOMENTS DAVE HANSON John Wesley introduced congregational singing to the English-speaking church. He published the following “Directions for Singing” in his “Sacred Melody” book of hymns: Learn these tunes before you learn any others; afterwards learn as many as you please. Sing them as they are printed here, without altering or mending them at all; and if you have learned to sing them otherwise, unlearn it as soon as you can. Sing all. See that you join with the congregation as ...

Seek peace and pursue it

published 10/3/2016
FROM THE BISHOP R. LAWSON BRYAN Thank you for your tremendous response to the laity and clergy gatherings we are holding in each district. Through these opportunities Sherrill and I are seeing firsthand how much the South Georgia Conference truly is Alive Together in Christ. After each laity or clergy meeting we find ourselves quoting Psalm 133: How very good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity! The energy and inspiration of our district meetings stands in stark contrast ...

Sunday Advocate Bulletin Insert - 10/9/16

published 10/3/2016
Click on the link below to download the Sunday Advocate. Sunday, October 9 The Sunday Advocate is a weekly printable bulletin insert and supplement to the South Georgia Advocate online newspaper. Loaded with South Georgia Conference and UMC news, event information, tips and more, the Sunday Advocate is a printable PDF that can be printed and distributed through local church communication pieces. It will be published and available for download each Monday afternoon. The Sunday Advocate is ...

The Congregational Development Corner: Plan for Success

published 10/3/2016
The Congregational Development Corner: 10 for 10 (10 steps for 10 percent growth) During the 2016 Annual Conference session, action steps for congregational growth were shared during a Fruitfulness in Evangelism panel discussion, moderated by Rev. Jay Hanson, director of Congregational Development. Five clergy – Rev. Antonie Walker, Rev. Leigh Ann Raynor, Rev. Hale Bishop, Rev. Matt Hearn, and Rev. Jim Cowart – each shared two key tools for evangelism and growth and together gave clergy and lay...

Tips for including church members in your service

published 10/3/2016
Laity Sunday is Oct. 16 By Darby Jones, United Methodist Communications The word laity is from the Greek word, laos, meaning “people of God.” It is used to describe members of a congregation or parish who are not a part of the clergy. By letting laity plan services and offer ideas for worship, the pastor and worship team members can get a little respite, and participating members may find a deeper connection within the church. Laity Sunday is a specific day to include church members in the ...

Youth will "Break Out" at Encounter youth retreat

published 10/3/2016
Encounter, set for Nov. 18-20 at Epworth By The Sea on St. Simons Island, is a three-day weekend retreat designed to help students in 6th-12th grades encounter God in their own individual ways. The retreat will offer passionate worship, relevant Bible study, and opportunities to strengthen bonds within church groups around the conference. Rev. Jonathan Smith, campus minister at Georgia Southern University’s Wesley Foundation, will be the retreat speaker. With the theme “Break Out,” Smith will ...

Bryan installed as bishop of South Georgia

published 9/19/2016
Photos Click here to view photos from the service taken by Cameron Bishop. Video of the Service By Kara Witherow, Editor In the oldest Methodist church in Georgia, on Sunday, Sept. 18, 2016, Bishop R. Lawson Bryan and his wife, Sherrill, were officially welcomed to the South Georgia Conference and Bishop Bryan was installed as resident bishop. Mulberry Street United Methodist Church’s historic sanctuary was filled with clergy and laity from around the conference who came to welcome the ...

It’s time for a strategy of investment

published 9/19/2016
The United Methodist Church is divided over the issue of human sexuality and the denomination seems to be at a crossroads. There is considerable disagreement among laity, clergy, and even bishops, so The South Georgia Advocate asked Bishop Lawson Bryan to address the concerns many have about the issue and to share where he thinks The UMC is headed and how the South Georgia Conference should respond or lead. By Bishop R. Lawson Bryan As I said in my statement on the SEJ website as part of the ...

Needed: Neighbor!

published 9/19/2016
Dr. Hal Brady While driving to a meeting not long ago, I passed a florist’s truck. I couldn't help but notice the advertisement on the side of the truck. The advertisement read: “Flowers whisper how you feel.” Undoubtedly, that’s true! Flowers do whisper how we feel. But perhaps even more, compassion whispers how we feel. In the familiar parable, the Good Samaritan, Jesus asked, “Which of these three do you think proved neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” The answerer replied, “...

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