Navigating this Next Season Together
FROM THE BISHOP DAVID GRAVES   Navigating this Next Season Together   At the conclusion of the Called Annual Conference Session on August 20 I recorded a video I want to now share ...
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From the Bishop

Navigating this Next Season Together

September 04, 2022
FROM THE BISHOP DAVID GRAVES   Navigating this Next Season Together   At the conclusion of the Called Annual Conference Session on August 20 I recorded a video I want to now share with you. I hope you will hear my heart and hear my commitment to churches committed to remaining at the table and navigating this next season together.  Watch the video  Despite all that is going on around us, I am excited about our focus on mission and ministry and the great work we will be doing in connection with ...

Bishop Graves Announces Diversity, Inclusion, and Vitality Task Force

Bishop Graves Announces Diversity, Inclusion, and Vitality Task Force

September 03, 2022
A Word from the Bishop   It has been one full year since I was assigned as the bishop of the South Georgia Annual Conference. As I began my tenure here in South Georgia, I watched the trial for those convicted of killing Ahmaud Arbery unfold. The video, the story surrounding Ahmaud’s murder, and the trial captured not just my attention but the nation’s attention.    As eyes were focused on Brunswick, Georgia one thing I am certain of amidst all of the heartache: the nation saw a faith community ...

Thank you, Kara

August 01, 2022
FROM THE BISHOP DAVID GRAVES It is with a sense of sadness and gratitude that we say farewell to our longtime Advocate editor, Mrs. Kara Witherow. After 13 years, Kara, today, publishes her last edition. I know you will join me in offering Kara our sincerest appreciation as she has faithfully shared the good news of our South Georgia United Methodist churches. She will be greatly missed.  Watch my video message here In Christ,  Bishop David Graves


July 05, 2022
FROM THE BISHOP DAVID GRAVES I received a lot of feedback from people about “labels” following my Episcopal Address at Annual Conference. I recently sat down with Rev. Abra Lattany-Reed, who is now officially on staff as the Director of Diversity and Justice Ministries for the South Georgia Annual Conference, to unpack how labels can be hurtful and distract us from our ministry. Watch this video of our conversation. I also want to say how excited I am to have Abra in this role and for the ...

District Gatherings with Bishop Graves set for September

May 31, 2022
To the clergy and laity of South Georgia: As you know by now, my passion is sharing Jesus, seeing the overlooked, joining God in transforming lives, and changing the world one person at a time. I’ve had the privilege of getting to know the great people of South Georgia over the past nine months, and I’ve seen firsthand that our local churches share in this passion. I continue to be amazed at the incredible ministry happening all across the South Georgia Conference. Many of you, clergy and ...

When God’s people show up

May 02, 2022
FROM THE BISHOP DAVID GRAVES In just a few short weeks, God’s people of the South Georgia Conference will show up in Columbus for Annual Conference as we celebrate “How Great is Your Faithfulness.” When we show up on June 5, it will have been three years since the conference last gathered in person. It has been a long journey. For four days, we will worship five times and we will see friends and make new ones. It will be a homecoming in some ways. Of course, we have church business to deal ...

Focus on Jesus, the local church

March 31, 2022
FROM THE BISHOP DAVID GRAVES My passion is sharing Jesus, seeing the overlooked, joining God in transforming lives, and changing the world one person at a time. That’s what I want the South Georgia Conference to focus on, too. I realize, however, that The United Methodist Church is in a season of life where questions are being raised and uncertainty and anxiousness are apparent throughout the system. In a spirit of transparency and forthrightness, I recently had a conversation with Kelly ...

Moving forward in the days to come

February 28, 2022
FROM THE BISHOP DAVID GRAVES In a new video message, Bishop David Graves spoke about three new conference staff positions. Watch it here. Read a story about the staff updates here. Read the full transcript of his video message:  It’s my great opportunity to introduce to the South Georgia Annual Conference three new positions that are going to really, I think, help impact this annual conference for the immediate future and for the future to come. I’m so thankful that, Kelly Roberson, who you ...

The appointment-making season

January 31, 2022
FROM THE BISHOP DAVID GRAVES Colleagues and friends,  Currently the Cabinet, pastors, staff-parish relations committees, and churches are working on the upcoming appointment year which runs July 2022 to June 2023. I have found that Cabinet transparency is vital in building trust. To inform you of our process, but most importantly to ask for your prayers, I want to share the following. The Cabinet, consisting of the six district superintendents, Dr. Jay Harris, and myself, will be working to ...

Christmas greetings from Bishop Graves

December 20, 2021
In a special Advent video, Bishop Graves offers Christmas greetings to the South Georgia Conference. Watch video

First 100 Days

December 06, 2021
FROM THE BISHOP DAVID GRAVES When the announcement came that I would be serving South Georgia, people asked me repeatedly what I thought about serving as bishop of two Annual Conferences. My response was, “It is going to be A Great Adventure!” After 91 days of serving both Alabama-West Florida and South Georgia, it truly has been an adventure. And, for the most part, it’s been a great one! When I began this great adventure on September 1, I spent the day helping move my parents from their ...

Bishop Graves: A call to prayer

Bishop Graves: A call to prayer

November 10, 2021
As the trial for the three men charged with murder in the February 23, 2020, shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery unfolds in Brunswick, there is concern and a lot of emotion regarding what will take place when a verdict is rendered. So many lives are and will be impacted by the events of the trial and an impending verdict. I am thankful for the pastoral and lay leadership of our Brunswick-area churches who are seeking to help people express themselves in a spirit of peace. I am reminded of Psalm 23 ...

Five hopes for the South Georgia Conference

November 01, 2021
FROM THE BISHOP DAVID GRAVES In a new “Five Faves with Bishop Graves” video message, Bishop David Graves spoke about his hopes for the South Georgia Conference. Watch it here. Read the full transcript of his video message: My five hopes for the South Georgia Conference, first of all, are partnering together for mission and ministry. It’s so important that we partner together and focus on our mission and ministry. And then secondly, continue to live into the future, remembering of our faithful...

Let justice roll down like waters

Let justice roll down like waters

October 18, 2021
To the South Georgia Conference, As jury selection and the trial for those accused of killing Ahmaud Arbery begins today, it brings up different emotions and feelings in all of us. The video and story surrounding Ahmaud’s murder captured the nation’s attention. During the trial, the nation and the world will be tuning in. Brunswick, Georgia will be the stage as the trial progresses and an eventual verdict is reached. So many lives have been affected. More will be as the trial unfolds, ...

Go beyond what is asked of you

October 04, 2021
FROM THE BISHOP DAVID GRAVES In a video message to the South Georgia Conference, Bishop David Graves spoke about the On Boarding process, how it has helped jump start his time in South Georgia, and how, even during these challenging times, South Georgia United Methodists can be witnesses for Christ each day. Watch it here.  Read the full transcript of his video message: Well, it’s just wonderful to be with the wonderful people of the South Georgia Conference. And I’m starting my second month ...

A great adventure

September 03, 2021
FROM THE BISHOP DAVID GRAVES In an introductory greeting to the South Georgia Conference, Bishop David Graves said he looks forward to serving with the clergy and laity of the conference. “Thank you for allowing us to come and be a part of you. We look forward to our adventure together; it should be a great adventure.” Watch his video greeting here.

Pay attention to the processes that keep us Alive Together in Christ

August 02, 2021
FROM THE BISHOP R. LAWSON BRYAN To borrow a phrase from Charles Wesley, Sherrill and I wish we had “a thousand tongues to sing” our thanksgiving to God and to each of you for the privilege of serving the South Georgia Conference over the past five years. Your radical hospitality welcomed and supported us every step of the way. Thank you for the many ways you have included us, ministered to us, and blessed us. When we think of the South Georgia Conference we often quote Psalm 16:6, “the boundary...

Focus on children

July 05, 2021
FROM THE BISHOP R. LAWSON BRYAN Recently, on our early morning walks, Sherrill and I have witnessed a beautiful sight: long lines of cars at local churches. That’s when we realized that in-person Vacation Bible School is happening all over South Georgia. We thank God as we watch adult and youth VBS workers arrive at the church an hour or two before the children get there. Having taught VBS for decades Sherrill and I know firsthand the educational benefit for children who have Bible stories ...

The call and cause of Christ

May 31, 2021
FROM THE BISHOP R. LAWSON BRYAN I recently had the opportunity to deliver the invocation for an event known as the “Gathering of Eagles,” an annual recognition of distinguished aviators from the Air Force, Navy, Marines, Army, and NASA. Those recognized are invited to share their personal experiences so future generations can listen to them and learn from them. The group includes jet and helicopter pilots, NASA astronauts, and members of The Tuskegee Airmen.   I was particularly intrigued by ...

A kingdom that cannot be shaken

May 02, 2021
FROM THE BISHOP R. LAWSON BRYAN  Reflecting on the past global pandemic year, psychologist James F. Schroeder begins one of his blog posts with these words:   Temperate, sunny days usually teach us little, except that we want more of them. But the harshness of an undesired season has a particular way of engendering lessons, which although begrudged and disdained, can stick with us for a long time – if we are open to them. We certainly have experienced the harshness of several undesired ...

Collaboration is Co-Labor

April 02, 2021
FROM THE BISHOP R. LAWSON BRYAN  Easter Sunday worship begins with the joyous affirmation, “Christ is Risen!” And the congregation responds, “Christ is risen, indeed!”  This signals the start of The Great Fifty Days—the period beginning with the Resurrection of Jesus and continuing through his appearances to his disciples, his ascension to heaven, and finally the birth of the Christian Church on Pentecost.   I want to draw attention to one practical outcome of the Resurrection. It changed how ...

We are uniquely equipped to provide help and hope

March 01, 2021
FROM THE BISHOP R. LAWSON BRYAN In the continuing effort to keep South Georgia updated on developments related to the postponed 2020 General and Jurisdictional Conferences, I share the following items for your study and reflection.  First, the new dates for the postponed 2020 General Conference have been announced: Aug. 29-Sept. 6, 2022, in Minneapolis, Minn. See full announcement here Second, the Council of Bishops is calling a Special Session of the General Conference to be held online on ...

Though we cannot think alike, may we not love alike?

February 01, 2021
FROM THE BISHOP R. LAWSON BRYAN “That’s what we need to hear today.” That was the response of my administrative assistant, Bobbi Googe, to this quote from John Wesley: “Though we cannot think alike, may we not love alike?” Wesley does seem to be speaking directly to us today. And this is a popular Wesley quote. I like it, and I am challenged by it. But I also know that it is easily misunderstood apart from its context in Wesley’s sermon, “A Catholic Spirit.” John Wesley did not mean that ...

Bishop Bryan: We need each other!

January 04, 2021
FROM THE BISHOP R. LAWSON BRYAN As Bishop Bryan looks toward a new year with hope and optimism, we asked him what words of inspiration he has for the laity and clergy of South Georgia as we begin 2021. Watch this brief video and be encouraged!

Advent 2020

December 11, 2020
FROM THE BISHOP R. LAWSON BRYAN I admit it, I got carried away. It was the early 1980s. The new thing was pizza delivered to your door. Wow! Of course, we ordered one – family size. And it worked. The doorbell rang and there was our large pizza. Picture this: as I enjoyed that pepperoni pizza, I looked around the room and felt a rush of satisfaction. There was Sherrill, strikingly beautiful, and 5-year-old Philip, contentedly playing with his favorite toys. Overcome by the simple joy of family ...

How is Christ strengthening you?

November 29, 2020
FROM THE BISHOP R. LAWSON BRYAN  With all the uncertainties and complications of this pandemic year, I am struck by the testimony of laity and clergy concerning how Philippians 4:11-13 is being fulfilled in their lives. Writing from prison, thanking the Philippians for the financial gift they have sent to him, the Apostle Paul says: Not that I am referring to being in need; for I have learned to be content with whatever I have. I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have ...

Join me this week for a virtual play and a virtual Agape Meal

November 16, 2020
FROM THE BISHOP R. LAWSON BRYAN I hope you will take advantage of two virtual opportunities this week. First, you can attend an excellent virtual play based on C. S. Lewis’ book, “The Great Divorce.” Second, I hope you will join me for a South Georgia Thanksgiving Agape Meal.     The Great Divorce The virtual play is presented by the Fellowship for Performing Arts, a non-profit New York-based company producing theater from a Christian worldview. They are offering free presentations of “The ...

Let us help each other survive

November 02, 2020
FROM THE BISHOP R. LAWSON BRYAN This is a good year to remember that Thanksgiving, at its core, is about helping others survive. At least that’s the example of the Native Americans in 1620 and 1621. When they came ashore in North America, the Pilgrims actually landed more than 200 miles north of their intended destination. The captain tried to get back on course, but the weather was so bad they had no choice but to come ashore. The harvest season was over so there was no way they could plant ...

Bishop Bryan: Vote - it’s our right and responsibility

Bishop Bryan: Vote - it’s our right and responsibility

October 19, 2020
With the November 3 Election Day only one week away, I encourage all eligible voters to cast their ballot either in person or by absentee ballot. Each time I vote in an election, I find myself remembering what Teddy Roosevelt said more than 100 years ago: “The Methodist Church is the most American of all denominations.”  He was not saying that we are more patriotic than others. Rather, he was referring to the fact that Methodism in America grew up alongside the developing nation. Our governing ...

Lessons I’ve learned

October 05, 2020
FROM THE BISHOP R. LAWSON BRYAN What lessons are you learning as we navigate through the global pandemic? I want to share three lessons I have learned from the witness of our laity and clergy. I do so with gratitude as I join you in celebrating Pastor Appreciation Month in October and Laity Sunday on October 18. First, we place a high value on “the connectional system.” Our members take seriously the New Testament pictures of the early church: sharing their resources (Acts 2:42-47), laying on ...

Liminal space

August 31, 2020
FROM THE BISHOP R. LAWSON BRYAN Thanks for the inspiring way that you, laity and clergy, participated in our historic virtual annual conference session. Your cards, letters, texts, and emails of affirmation are deeply appreciated. I have also heard from others beyond our conference. One told me, “My wife and I watched your annual conference, and we want you to know it was a spiritual experience for us. South Georgia did it right.” To God be the glory! So, now what? Now it is time to look for ...

Commit, Renew, Speak

August 17, 2020
FROM THE BISHOP R. LAWSON BRYAN  Julian Edward Roosevelt Lewis, a 60-year-old Black man, was shot and killed by a Georgia State Patrol officer on Aug. 7. The officer has been fired by the department, arrested, and charged with felony murder and aggravated assault. The Georgia Department of Public Safety and the GBI have said that “the investigation supports the charges.” With the firing of the officer and his subsequent arrest, the legal system will now pursue this case.  As United Methodist ...

Conscious Culture Building

August 02, 2020
FROM THE BISHOP R. LAWSON BRYAN Have you heard the saying, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast every day?” Culture refers to the habits and behaviors that characterize how we actually live each day. Strategy refers to the plans we make for our churches – like plans for church growth, youth ministry, and so on. As good and as needed as those plans may be, if the local church culture is not conducive to them, they will not succeed.  Strategy is what we say we want to do; culture is how we ...

Remembering John Lewis

July 20, 2020
FROM THE BISHOP R. LAWSON BRYAN    John Lewis, who died Friday, July 17, had connections to both Alabama and Georgia. He was born in Troy, Ala., and represented Georgia’s 5th district in the U. S. House of Representatives for more than 30 years. In the coming days, many will share much about this icon of the civil rights movement. I hope it will be remembered that he was a Christian who sought to be faithful to Christ by living out a commitment to non-violence in human relationships.  This is ...

Where do you see the Holy Spirit at work?

July 06, 2020
FROM THE BISHOP R. LAWSON BRYAN    I don’t know about you, but one of the ongoing challenges for me is to pay attention to where the Spirit is at work and then move in that direction. Jesus certainly got it right when he said in John 3:8: The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.    I may not know where it comes from or where it goes, but every now and then I do get ...

Bringing down walls of hostility

Bringing down walls of hostility

June 01, 2020
FROM THE BISHOP R. LAWSON BRYAN    On May 8, I released a statement concerning the death of a young African American, Ahmaud Arbery, in Brunswick. And now, just weeks later, we find our entire nation engulfed in a sense of shock, frustration, and anger over the death of another African American man, George Floyd, in Minneapolis. Tragically, you and I know that these deaths are only the latest in a long litany of such deaths that have occurred for generations among people of color. In response,...

What’s on your pastor’s mind?

May 04, 2020
FROM THE BISHOP R. LAWSON BRYAN Do you ever wonder what’s on your pastor’s mind these days? I am privileged to hear from and talk with South Georgia clergy every day. I’d love to share some things I have learned over the past six weeks through the conversations I am having.  YOU are on your pastor’s mind! Your pastor thinks of you constantly and prays for you and all the members of your church family - especially those who have lost jobs, those who are battling illness, and those who are ...

Join me May 3 for a conference-wide Agape Meal

April 20, 2020
FROM THE BISHOP R. LAWSON BRYAN To the South Georgia Conference: Thank you for the exemplary ways in which you are being adaptive, imaginative, and innovative. This pandemic has revealed in a fresh way the commitment you have to Jesus Christ and to your church and community.  I celebrate the power of relationships and connectedness I see going on within the South Georgia Conference in the midst of this pandemic. Laity and clergy are finding creative ways that enable us to remain Alive ...

Christ the Lord Has Risen Today: Let’s Sing Our Faith!

April 06, 2020
FROM THE BISHOP R. LAWSON BRYAN Easter marks the core of the Christian faith: the death on the cross and resurrection of Christ. As the sun rises Easter Sunday and ushers in the worldwide celebration of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, I can only imagine how Christians in all languages and continents, nations and people groups, will be celebrating. I am amazed to think of Christians all over the world singing the words given to us in 1739 by Charles Wesley, “Christ the Lord is Risen Today” ...

Voices in this Season of Conversations – Lent

March 01, 2020
FROM THE BISHOP R. LAWSON BRYAN In a recent article, I noted that the release of the Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace through Separation has led to an enhanced season of conversations throughout The United Methodist Church. Some are pleased with the Protocol. Others want to see it amended to make space for more people. Still others want more details about specific aspects of it. All seek to be faithful and desire to work together so General Conference 2020 will be fruitful for the global ...

Lean in

February 02, 2020
FROM THE BISHOP R. LAWSON BRYAN Traveling 6,465 miles together really gives you an opportunity to get to know your companions. That is the privilege I had in leading the recent Holy Land pilgrimage with 90 South Georgia laity and clergy. On this journey to the heart of our faith we never felt like tourists; we referred to ourselves as pilgrims. We began each day by singing, “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.” And at each place we visited we read scripture...

Let’s write our own story in 2020

January 06, 2020
FROM THE BISHOP R. LAWSON BRYAN The old year ends and the new year begins during the 12 days of Christmas (from Christmas Day to Epiphany Day on January 6). This seems particularly fitting since the coming of Jesus marks the culmination of the Old Testament and the beginning of the New Testament. Standing on the shoulders of our Hebrew heritage, we hold the Christ Child and, like Mary and Joseph, move forward into a new future. Certainly, we wonder about what this new year will hold for us. As...

The power of Christmas

December 01, 2019
FROM THE BISHOP R. LAWSON BRYAN As we enter Advent and journey toward Christmas, Sherrill and I want to express our gratitude for the privilege of being Alive Together in Christ with you in South Georgia. We wish you a very meaningful holiday season. I also want to remind us that more people come to church during the Advent and Christmas seasons than any other time of the year. This is a golden opportunity to open our doors, our hearts, and our ministries to our entire community. This year I ...

Stand at the Wesley monument

November 04, 2019
FROM THE BISHOP R. LAWSON BRYAN On a pilgrimage to the Holy Land I found myself seated beside a Jewish rabbi from Philadelphia. When he asked about my group’s itinerary, I explained that when we landed in Tel Aviv we would board a bus and head to Galilee. After several days we would travel south to Jericho, the Dead Sea, and Qumran. Then we would end with several more days exploring Jerusalem. The rabbi replied “That’s not how we do it.” He continued, “I work with Jewish college students who ...

The strength of South Georgia

September 30, 2019
FROM THE BISHOP R. LAWSON BRYAN One year ago, on October 10, Hurricane Michael came ashore as a Category 5 storm, devastating Mexico Beach and parts of Panama City, Fla. Then Michael moved northward into the South Georgia Conference. The Southwest District and surrounding region were especially hard hit. The storm was so strong that the World Meteorological Society has decided to retire the name Michael so that no future Atlantic hurricane can have that name. In South Georgia, we are well ...

Confidence, Communication, Curiosity

September 02, 2019
FROM THE BISHOP R. LAWSON BRYAN How are we in South Georgia going to keep track of all the hopeful conversations going on around the global United Methodist connection? The Leadership Forum Task Force, that’s how!  When I formed this group last year we named it the “Foundations for the Future of South Georgia Task Force.” The members of the group represent the boards and agencies of our conference that oversee property matters, money, pensions and benefits, laity, the Cabinet, the General ...

A summer of hopeful conversations

August 05, 2019
FROM THE BISHOP R. LAWSON BRYAN In addition to the high heat, summer is also a time for a break from school, sports of all kinds, and travel to the beach or other favorite vacation spots. This year we United Methodists can add “conversation” to our list of summer activities. Recent conversations among United Methodists stem from the special General Conference held last February. That conference passed the Traditional Plan, which retains current language in The Book of Discipline concerning ...

July 4th and Laus Deo

July 06, 2019
FROM THE BISHOP R. LAWSON BRYAN You may know that the Washington Monument commemorates the Commander of the Continental Army and first president of the United States, George Washington. And you may have stood beside the 55-foot wide base and lifted your eyes 555 feet to the top of the monument. But do you know what is inscribed on the very top? It is the Latin phrase, “Laus Deo,” which means “Praise be to God.” That’s not all. A Bible was among the items placed in the cornerstone when it was ...

Let us be Alive Together in Witness this year

June 09, 2019
FROM THE BISHOP R. LAWSON BRYAN Thanks to the United Methodists of the Columbus area who hosted Annual Conference with radical hospitality and extravagant generosity. The opening worship service, held in the The Columbus Convention & Trade Center overlooking the Chattahoochee River, was alive with spirited music and an inspiring message by Bishop Richard Looney.   In a year that has had more than its share of challenges, the South Georgia Conference demonstrated the spiritual maturity to stay ...

Gather in confidence, go forth and witness

May 06, 2019
FROM THE BISHOP R. LAWSON BRYAN How fortunate for us that Annual Conference falls between Ascension Day (May 30) and Pentecost (May 5). For Christians, that is an extremely important 10-day period. The Apostles’ Creed reminds us that after his resurrection Jesus “ascended into heaven, is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty, and will come again to judge the living and the dead.” Ten days after his ascension, on the Jewish festival of Pentecost, Jesus sent the promised Holy Spirit...

God is moving in South Georgia

April 01, 2019
FROM THE BISHOP R. LAWSON BRYAN Where are we Alive Together in Christ in South Georgia? Where is God moving?   I want to share with you several specific answers to those questions. God is moving in the lives of those who are sensing a call to ordained ministry and who are responding to that call. For example, at our Annual Conference session in June, 11 people will be ordained or commissioned. That is one of the largest classes to be ordained/commissioned in several years. God is moving in the...

What Defines Us

February 04, 2019
FROM THE BISHOP R. LAWSON BRYAN Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, Exhilarating! That describes the energy at Winter Conference as hundreds of pastors from four annual conferences filled Epworth By The Sea last week. Tod Bolsinger, author of “Canoeing The Mountains,” led us in deeply meaningful reflections on being Christian leaders in times of uncertainty. Another highlight for me was the hour and a half I got to spend with nearly 100 clergy from South Georgia. I had something I needed to ...

How can we bring hope to our communities this year?

January 07, 2019
FROM THE BISHOP R. LAWSON BRYAN My wife, Sherrill, uses the Notes app on her iPad to greater advantage than anyone I have ever seen. At last count she had accumulated more than 10,000 notes covering more topics that I can imagine. Those notes are a treasure house for me. The following note seems especially appropriate for us as we enter a new year. Even though I do not have the name of the author I am glad to be able to share this with the South Georgia Conference:  We, Christians steward the ...

A Christmas Message from Bishop Lawson and Mrs. Sherrill Bryan

A Christmas Message from Bishop Lawson and Mrs. Sherrill Bryan

December 17, 2018
“At Christmas, God renounces the darkness of evil by sending the light of the world. At Christmas, God renounces hatred by sending the Prince of Peace. At Christmas, God renounces violence by sending the Great Reconciler. And at Christmas, God renounces injustice and oppression by sending the Great Liberator. Christmas is a magnificent time to focus on casting away the works of darkness,” Bishop Bryan said. “This is our opportunity to join God … and embrace the new world that is made possible in...

Give the gift of time together this Christmas

December 03, 2018
FROM THE BISHOP R. LAWSON BRYAN What a privilege to represent the South Georgia Conference at the Georgia Farm Bureau annual convention this weekend. It didn’t hurt that it was held at the Jekyll Island Convention Center, where we’ve held our annual conference session the past two years. What a spectacular setting. I have enjoyed getting to know Gerald Long, the president of Georgia Farm Bureau. Their main office is in Macon, on Bass Road near the episcopal residence. President Long is a ...

Giving thanks in all circumstances: A Thanksgiving message from Bishop Bryan

November 19, 2018
Is it really possible to “give thanks in all circumstances…,” as St. Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 5:18? Ask the children who live in the Methodist Children’s Homes all over South Georgia. Recently Sherrill and I had the privilege of attending a Thanksgiving Banquet at the main campus in Macon. After a delicious meal the children shared their personal thanksgivings: for the love they receive from the staff, for those who are like parents to them on a daily basis, for God, for Jesus Christ, and ...

Alive Together in Relationships

November 05, 2018
FROM THE BISHOP R. LAWSON BRYAN Last Sunday I had the opportunity to preach at Lovely Lane Chapel on the grounds of Epworth By The Sea. What an beautiful, worshipful setting. The sermon was based on the Old Testament lectionary passage, Ruth 1:1-18. After the death of her husband and two sons, Naomi feels that God certainly has abandoned her. Yet, God is as close to her as her daughter-in-law, Ruth. In the midst of tragedy and death, Ruth, the Moabite, says to Naomi, the Hebrew, “Where you go, ...

A note from Bishop Bryan: Alive Together in Storm Recovery

October 15, 2018
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, Our church members and our pastors in the areas most affected by Hurricane Michael are hard at work checking on those in their churches and communities. Rev. Tammy Fincannon is a good example of what I am seeing: faithful pastors tending to the needs of their church and communities. Tammy serves as pastor of Reynolds Chapel UMC which is located at Lake Seminole in the area where Hurricane Michael first entered South Georgia. The wooded area around the lake ...

Alive Together in the World – including Africa!

October 01, 2018
FROM THE BISHOP R. LAWSON BRYAN Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, We truly are Alive Together in the World! I write that as I sit here in Zimbabwe, in southern Africa, having traveled here as a member of the General Commission on Religion and Race (GCORR). In addition to serving the conference to which we are assigned, bishops also have responsibilities for service in the larger church. Because it is a privilege to represent the South Georgia Conference and the Southeastern Jurisdiction, I...

As we journey toward General Conference, Stay Calm, Stay Connected, Stay the Course

September 04, 2018
FROM THE BISHOP R. LAWSON BRYAN Attendance at the Way Forward district meetings has been outstanding. With nearly 500 people present in Columbus, nearly 400 in Statesboro, and around 350 in Valdosta, the interest of our church members and pastors is certainly evident. Those present at each gathering have inspired me with their sincere devotion, their deep love for the Church, and their passionate desire to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.  The three remaining...

What I’m reading this summer

August 06, 2018
FROM THE BISHOP R. LAWSON BRYAN For years I have looked forward to summer as a time to read some of the books that have caught my attention during the year. While I read books all year long, the opportunity to read uninterruptedly is one of the ways I find renewal for my mind and spirit. Listed below are eight books I have read, or am still reading, this summer. Interestingly, each of these books was recommended to me by colleagues, both clergy and laity. I share them with the South Georgia ...

A word from Bishop Bryan: Judicial Council releases October docket; includes Way Forward report

July 23, 2018
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, On Thursday, July 12 the Council of Bishops asked the Judicial Council to rule on the constitutionality of the three legislative plans submitted by the Commission on a Way Forward to the 2019 Special Session of General Conference. (Read more here) The Judicial Council has posted the docket for their fall meeting, set for Oct. 23-26 in Zurich, Switzerland, and the request by the Council of Bishops is among the items to be considered.  Docket No. 1018-12 IN...

Anticipated release of Way Forward report; revised call for special session

July 09, 2018
To the clergy and laity of the South Georgia Conference: In the last couple of days two matters have arisen related to the special session of General Conference, set for February 23-26, 2019, in St. Louis, Missouri. In the interest of clarity and transparency I want to address each of them.   Anticipated Release of Way Forward Report The Council of Bishops originally estimated that the Way Forward report would be translated and released no later than July 8, 2018 -- 230 days before the opening...

Stretch out your hand to reach the world

Stretch out your hand to reach the world

June 11, 2018
A message from Bishop Bryan: This year’s annual conference session truly found us Alive Together in Worship. In addition to our regular worship services - opening, memorial, ordination, and sending forth - we also experienced morning prayer, noon prayer, and compline (end of the day prayer). The entire annual conference was punctuated with vibrant worship and meaningful connection. Many have reported that they returned home feeling comforted and strengthened as a result of a clear emphasis on ...

Stay Calm. Stay Connected. Stay the Course.

May 01, 2018
FROM THE BISHOP R. LAWSON BRYAN Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, I flew to Chicago Saturday to meet with the Council of Bishops as we finalize our recommendations to the 2019 Special Session of the General Conference. As we are meeting, I want to thank you for your prayers as well as share what is on my heart. This season has been challenging yet full of hope, and I am thankful for the gracious and prayerful way we have walked through it. The faithful laity and clergy of the South Georgia...

Bishop Bryan reflects on the Special Meeting of the Council of Bishops

March 06, 2018
I continue to hear about the great work you - the churches of the South Georgia Conference - are doing in your communities and out in the world. While you are working faithfully in your local setting, I have been working with fellow United Methodist bishops and members of the Commission on a Way Forward to discern what the way forward looks like. A special meeting of the Council of Bishops was held last week to receive an updated report from the Commission on a Way Forward. The meeting also ...

It’s working!

February 05, 2018
FROM THE BISHOP R. LAWSON BRYAN How are we doing with our emphasis on being Alive Together in Worship this year? I have good news to report and some specific examples to share: at least 75% of the churches in each district have identified their top 10 services in terms of worship attendance, and in some districts that number rises to 95%. our churches are recognizing attendance patterns and are using that knowledge to grow worship attendance. here are some examples of the significant increases...

Alive Together in Christ in 2018!

January 08, 2018
FROM THE BISHOP  R. LAWSON BRYAN Happy New Year! I hope you are entering 2018 with a sense of refreshment. In one of his devotional books, Henri Nouwen offers this reading for January 1. It is entitled, “Expecting a Surprise.”   Each day holds a surprise. But only if we expect it can we see, hear, or feel it when it comes to us. Let’s not be afraid to receive each day’s surprise, whether it comes to us as sorrow or as joy. It will open a new place in our hearts, a place where we can welcome new...

Prepare the way

December 04, 2017
FROM THE BISHOP  R. LAWSON BRYAN “Prepare the way of the Lord” is the great rallying cry of the Advent season. The prophet Isaiah gives a vivid description of that preparation: hills and valleys made level, crooked places made straight, and rough places made smooth so that the glory of the Lord may be revealed and all people see it together! Preparing the way is also a good description of the work of laity and clergy in the local churches and communities of South Georgia - we seek to focus ...

Alive Together in Christ is more than a slogan

November 20, 2017
FROM THE BISHOP R. LAWSON BRYAN Thanks to you I was able to make a special presentation during the Council of Bishops meeting two weeks ago at Lake Junaluska. I gave Bishop Hector Ortiz, our Methodist bishop in Puerto Rico, a check for $30,000 for disaster relief in Puerto Rico. The check was made out to the Methodist Church of Puerto Rico. My heart is full of gratitude to the churches of South Georgia for this—for giving not just the gift of money, but also the gift of hope.  The devastation ...

A Word from Bishop Bryan: Church Shooting

November 06, 2017
How can I experience anything other than shock, anger, and grief upon learning of the mass shooting at First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas? As I am representing the churches of the South Georgia Conference in a meeting of the Council of Bishops at Lake Junaluska, N.C. this week, I am constantly reminded of how much I love the local church. That is why I am so deeply saddened for such a tragedy at a local church. You and I know that local churches are the heart and soul of our ...

We become what we pay attention to

October 02, 2017
FROM THE BISHOP R. LAWSON BRYAN Our four-year theme is Alive Together in Christ, based on Ephesians 2:5. Each year we will focus on one specific area in which we want to live out this theme. The first of these is worship. This area is so important that in 2016 our annual conference enthusiastically approved a goal of increasing average worship attendance by 10 percent. At our 2017 annual conference session we launched the emphasis of “Alive Together in Worship” by reading Lovett Weems’ book "...

The human chain

September 05, 2017
FROM THE BISHOP R. LAWSON BRYAN The beginning of my second year in the South Georgia Conference coincides with the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Louisiana. That is interesting because during my first year we experienced three disasters of our own: Hurricane Matthew, the storms in Albany, and the tornadoes in the South Central and Southwest Districts. We are grateful for those who reached out to us in the past year and our conference is already at work to support relief efforts for ...

Bishop Bryan: The Eclipse of God

Bishop Bryan: The Eclipse of God

August 21, 2017
On Monday, Aug. 21, the moon will pass between the earth and the sun. For a time the sun’s light will be blocked by the moon. This is the solar eclipse about which we have heard so much. I have found myself remembering the book by 20th century Jewish theologian Martin Buber entitled, “The Eclipse of God.” Buber makes the point that just as the sun is still there even though temporarily its light is obstructed, so also there are times in our lives when God may appear to be absent. What is ...

What a year!

August 07, 2017
FROM THE BISHOP R. LAWSON BRYAN What? Has it really been a whole year since I received the good news of my assignment to serve in South Georgia? Yes, it has. Sherrill and I thank you for the radical hospitality we have received from the more than 600 churches and well over 100,000 members of our wonderful conference, laity and clergy. Thank you for going out of your way to make our first year together such a tremendous experience. Our quadrennial theme, Alive Together in Christ, is the best ...

Alive Together in Worship

July 10, 2017
FROM THE BISHOP R. LAWSON BRYAN Our annual conference theme, “Alive Together in Christ,” prepared us well for the theme that will guide us over the next 12 months, “Alive Together in Worship.” One of the primary ways of being alive together in Christ is through the experience of meaningful worship. These words from Alfred Tennyson’s poem, “Strong Son of God, Immortal Love,” always remind me of the reason worship is so important. Tennyson writes: Our little systems have their day;  They have ...

Alive Together in Worship

June 11, 2017
FROM THE BISHOP R. LAWSON BRYAN There is no way I can even begin to list all those who contributed to the 151st meeting of the South Georgia Annual Conference. But I must say thanks to the hundreds of individuals and groups whose combined efforts prepared the way for a spiritual jubilee experience on Jekyll Island. Thanks to the local arrangements committee, the annual conference planning committee, the worship team, the sound and light team, the communications team, the tellers, the journal ...

Celebrating life, freedom, and being alive together in Christ

May 30, 2017
FROM THE BISHOP R. LAWSON BRYAN Sherrill and I thank you for joining us in rejoicing over the birth of John Philip Bryan, Jr., our first grandchild. Philip, Brittany, and the baby are doing fine. Especially meaningful to me is the fact that the labor began on Aldersgate Day, the birth was on Ascension Day, and he came home from the hospital on Memorial Day weekend. On Memorial Day I remember my grandfather who helped raise me. John Algonas left school at the age of 16 to defend our country ...

God is at work in our community of faith

May 01, 2017
FROM THE BISHOP R. LAWSON BRYAN A fresh perspective on the possibilities of Annual Conference can be found in the early chapters of the Acts of the Apostles. The first five chapters are filled with one moving experience after another: the Ascension; the Holy Spirit on Pentecost; 3,000 people are saved; and the early Christians meet daily to worship, break bread in their homes, and share their possessions to meet the needs of fellow Christians. But then in chapter six a problem arises: “Now ...

Invite younger person to experience the joy of Annual Conference

April 03, 2017
FROM THE BISHOP R. LAWSON BRYAN As we prepare for the 2017 Annual Conference session I encourage each local church to identify a younger person in their congregation and invite that person to attend Annual Conference on either Monday, June 5 or Tuesday, June 6. This simple act will introduce others to the joy and energy that we will experience when we gather at Jekyll Island. It’s hard to describe until you see it for yourself. In addition to sending your official lay and clergy ...

OVERFLOW in worship

March 06, 2017
FROM THE BISHOP R. LAWSON BRYAN Even before moving to the South Georgia Conference I heard of a most inspiring moment at last year’s annual conference session. The delegates enthusiastically set a goal of increasing average worship attendance by 10 percent by 2018. How grateful I am to be part of an annual conference that can set such a goal! Much help toward achieving that goal is already being provided by leaders in our conference. For example, the “Praying For 5” booklets outline a way that...

Be agents of unity and healing

February 06, 2017
FROM THE BISHOP R. LAWSON BRYAN To the South Georgia Conference: Thanks to all who have given so graciously – financially, prayerfully, and in service – in response to the tornadoes that struck parts of our conference Jan. 2 and Jan. 21-22. The need continues; to contribute to this special appeal please send to the conference fiscal office and designate for Advance Special #6796. To read about how our Conference has responded to these winter storms, click here. As we continue to address the ...

What makes you come alive? Go do it.

January 09, 2017
A New Year's message from Bishop R. Lawson Bryan​ Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.   Those are the words of Howard Thurman, an influential African-American author, philosopher, theologian, educator, and civil rights leader. Thurman was devoted to prayer, and his personal practice of spiritual disciplines was the foundation of his fruitful life. In 1944 he was co-founder of the Church for the ...

Christmas brings us together

December 19, 2016
A Christmas message from Bishop R. Lawson Bryan Throughout the South Georgia Conference I have been lifting up the vision found in Ephesians 1:9-10: “God has made known to us his hidden purpose … that the universe, all in heaven and on earth, might be brought into a unity in Christ.” What a huge insight! While there are many things we cannot know, we can know God’s purpose. God’s purpose is to unite all things in heaven and on earth in Jesus Christ.  Once we recognize God’s purpose we can ...

Prepare the way of the Lord

December 05, 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 ...

Truly thankful

November 07, 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 ...

Seek peace and pursue it

October 03, 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 ...

Alive together in Christ

September 06, 2016
FROM THE BISHOP R. LAWSON BRYAN Thank you, South Georgia Conference, for the warm welcome you have given us. Sherrill and I will forever be grateful for the cards, letters, prayers, visits, and delicious food with which you have sustained us in this transition. From the laity and clergy in our local churches and extension ministries to the district superintendents and the conference staff, you have surrounded us with amazing grace and extravagant generosity.  As Paul said to the church in ...

We love you, South Georgia!!!

August 01, 2016
FROM THE BISHOP JAMES R. KING, JR. Hello, beautiful people of South Georgia! This is our last article for the Advocate. Some of you are old enough to remember the chorus sung at the end of the Mickey Mouse show. It began with these words: “Now it’s time to say goodbye to all our company.” Well, Rose and I are not saying goodbye, but we are at a time in our lives where we are turning to another page and so are you as you receive a new episcopal family. We will always have space in our hearts ...

More upon more

July 05, 2016
FROM THE BISHOP JAMES R. KING, JR. Hello, beautiful people of South Georgia! A big thanks to you, South Georgia, for the various ways you have shown your love to Rose and me. It was really special you identified a time during our conferencing to acknowledge our last eight years together. The celebration of our ministry with you was the icing on the cake and we are very grateful for your love, encouragement, and support. After receiving more than we could ask for you have given more than we ...

Summary of ministry in South Georgia

June 06, 2016
FROM THE BISHOP JAMES R. KING, JR. Hello, beautiful people of South Georgia!  Every four years each bishop in the Southeastern Jurisdiction of The United Methodist Church is asked to give a report to the Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference summarizing ministry in the area they served. Below is my report:   SOUTH GEORGIA AREA REPORT Bishop James R. King, Jr. Over the past eight years, I have had the blessing of working together with the Beautiful People of South Georgia. Our emphasis has ...

Who’s in control?

May 02, 2016
FROM THE BISHOP JAMES R. KING, JR. Hello, beautiful people of South Georgia!  We are in a season where it is difficult to find people who are not anxious about the future, angry about the status quo, or generally find it difficult to have a deep sense of peace and joy about life.  I believe the reason is because we are a society that is filled with change. It is challenging to have a sense of certainty in the world today. There are changes in the church and threats of more change. There are ...


March 07, 2016
FROM THE BISHOP JAMES R. KING, JR. Hello, beautiful people of South Georgia!  My hometown is Ashland, Ala., which is about 22 miles from Goodwater, Ala. I do not know why the town was named Goodwater, but Flint, Mich. is reminding the world family that water is not only essential for life, but good water is directly connected to good health and contaminated water to poor health and even death. Rev. Bobby Gale has recognized the importance of every person and every nation having access to good...


February 01, 2016
FROM THE BISHOP JAMES R. KING, JR. Hello, beautiful people of South Georgia!  When I read the positive financial report for this year I just said “WOW!!!”  IT’S BEEN EIGHT YEARS (2007) since our Conference giving has been at 90.53%. This accomplishment represents a special effort on the part of our pastors, congregations, and district superintendents. A gigantic THANKS is well deserved, for you have been intentionally generous and faithful. Our financial status is a significant indicator of ...

How to have a happy New Year

January 04, 2016
FROM THE BISHOP JAMES R. KING, JR. Hello, beautiful people of South Georgia!  What are some of the characteristics of a happy New Year? Often mentioned by many are good health, good relationships – especially with family and friends – a comfortable financial income, a deep sense of purpose, and participating in activities that help those in need. What would make up your list of characteristics for a happy New Year? Have you given thought about what would interfere or block you from having a ...


December 07, 2015
FROM THE BISHOP JAMES R. KING, JR. Hello, beautiful people of South Georgia!  Years ago, while serving as the director of a Wesley Foundation, I was blessed to work as the team chaplain of a college basketball team. I would often find myself reminding discouraged basketball players who did not get playing time in a game, “Listen, your time is coming. The light will turn green and your name will be called to go in the game and you need to make sure your attitude is right so you can play your ...


November 02, 2015
FROM THE BISHOP JAMES R. KING, JR. Hello, beautiful people of South Georgia!  As I listened to scripture during my devotion time, I was led to tweet this response:  God’s plan is to speak through you today. Listen as the Holy Spirit tells you what to say and do. 1 Cor. 6:19  During my time of prayer and reflection I was reminded of how difficult it is today to get the attention of people even if you are offering them the good news. Historically, as civilization has evolved, options have ...

Sex and Twitter

October 05, 2015
Hello, beautiful people of South Georgia!  Now that I have your attention, it is important for me to share words of care and encouragement as well as a new way of communicating my support for you through the scriptures. Let me begin with the subject of sex. As an annual conference, I believe we are getting stronger and stronger as we grow in our discipleship. We are becoming more Christlike as we love one another and invite others into a relationship with Jesus Christ.  From my first days ...

We the People

September 08, 2015
FROM THE BISHOP JAMES R. KING, JR. Hello, beautiful people of South Georgia!  As a new football season begins I am reminded that, as with many sports, a team effort is required. In order to win, many persons who have individual paths must commit to the same destination if they are to achieve success. Our annual conference theme for this year, “We’re Better Together,” captures our understanding that we must work together to satisfy the vision to Grow a Christlike World. The Lord’s Prayer ...

Good News!

July 06, 2015
FROM THE BISHOP JAMES R. KING, JR. Hello, beautiful people of South Georgia!  Each year we show a membership decline in the South Georgia Conference and this year is no different. But what is noticeably different in our report for 2014 is that our worship attendance is only down by 27. Compare our worship attendance being down in 2014 by 27 with these numbers: 2013: down by 588 2012: down by 1,046   2011: down by 758 2010: down by 834 This information tells me that we are not only moving in...

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