Our Connection Matters: Holy Week & Easter

published 3/20/2019
Our Connection Matters offers a toolkit which includes a wealth of resources focusing on a different theme to resource your local church in nurture, outreach, witness and advocacy ministries. This edition we are taking up our cross and walking through Holy Week and Easter! Holy Week is the week leading up to Easter Sunday, beginning with Palm Sunday, that offers many worship experiences for churches to gather to reflect and remember.  Easter for Christians is not just one day, but rather a ...

70 years after first visit, Epworth By The Sea still a sacred place

published 3/18/2019
By Kara Witherow, Editor Holy ground. That’s how Wallace Twiggs describes Epworth By The Sea. A teenager in the late 1940s, Twiggs was one of the first youth to visit the future site of South Georgia’s conference and retreat center, which was purchased on Oct. 29, 1949. One Saturday afternoon that fall, Twiggs, then a member of Brunswick First United Methodist Church, and several other youth went with their counselor to what is now Epworth. Stomping through waist-high grass, they chased ...

Bishop announces two Cabinet appointments

published 3/18/2019
Bishop Lawson Bryan has announced the projected appointments of two new District Superintendents to the Cabinet, effective June 2019. Rev. Steve Patton will be appointed to serve as superintendent of the Northwest District and Rev. Paula Lewis will serve as superintendent of the South Central District. Rev. Patton will succeed Dr. Buddy Cooper, who will retire at the 2019 Annual Conference session. Dr. Cooper has served on the South Georgia Cabinet for seven years. Rev. Henry Bass, current ...

Conference gathers to learn about General Conference, future of South Georgia Conference

published 3/18/2019
By Kara Witherow, Editor Nearly 1,000 South Georgia United Methodists gathered Saturday, March 9 at the UGA Tifton Campus Conference Center in Tifton to learn more about the 2019 General Conference session and the future of the South Georgia Conference. The meeting began with worship and prayer and both were woven into the day. Prayer was a focal point and scripture was incorporated throughout the two-hour session. Ben Drennan, Minister of Music and Worship Arts at Cordele First United ...

We still have work to do

published 3/18/2019
OUR CONNECTION MATTERS NITA CRUMP 8 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20, NIV                                                Have you ever noticed that sometimes we get ...

What about our legacy?

published 3/18/2019
By Dr. Hal Brady How are we going to live? How will we be remembered? What legacy will we leave behind? Sometimes we can tell about the legacy a person leaves behind simply by walking through the cemetery. View several of these epitaphs and see what they tell us about the person who died. On a tombstone in Cambridge, England, these words were written about an Anglican priest: “Here lies Father William who served as vicar of this church for more than 30 years without the slightest bit of ...

Rev. Paula Lewis to be appointed South Central District Superintendent

published 3/17/2019
Following last week’s announcement of Rev. Steve Patton as superintendent of the Northwest District, Bishop Lawson Bryan announces the projected appointment of Rev. Paula Lewis as superintendent of the South Central District, effective June 2019. Rev. Lewis, currently serving as senior pastor of Hawkinsville First United Methodist Church, will succeed Rev. Henry Bass, who will retire at the 2019 Annual Conference session. Rev. Bass has served on the South Georgia Cabinet for eight years and ...

Prayer Guide leads South Georgia towards Annual Conference

published 3/13/2019
During the special session of General Conference, Bishop Bryan said, “Prayer is the work of the people.” With that in mind, a prayer book has been created to serve as a guide to prayer in the 12 weeks between now and the June 3-5 Annual Conference session. “We are the people and prayer is our work,” said Rev. Teresa Edwards, who helped write the prayer book, along with Revs. Meg Procopio and Josh Bizzell. Margaret Mathews, a member of Trinity United Methodist Church in Warner Robins, provided ...

Rev. Steve Patton to be appointed Northwest District Superintendent

published 3/11/2019
Bishop Lawson Bryan announces the projected appointment of one new District Superintendent to the Cabinet, effective June 2019. Rev. Steve Patton, currently serving as senior pastor of Wesley United Methodist Church at Frederica on St. Simons Island, will be appointed to serve as superintendent of the Northwest District. He succeeds Dr. Buddy Cooper, who will retire at the 2019 Annual Conference session. Dr. Cooper has served on the South Georgia Cabinet for seven years. Rev. Patton has been a ...

Disaster Response: One Week Later

published 3/10/2019
Last week's severe storms Areas across the Southeast woke up March 3 to the devastation caused by severe storms and tornadoes. The Weather Service logged at least three dozen tornado reports Sunday as twisters swept across Alabama, Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina, but none were as severe as those in Lee County, Ala., where at least 24 persons were killed. "Our hearts hurt, and we grieve with those affected," said Bishop Lawson Bryan. "I have contacted Bishop David Graves, of the ...

Sherry Buresh joins staff as Hurricane Michael Recovery Coordinator

published 3/7/2019
The South Georgia Conference welcomes Sherry Buresh to the staff in the Office of Connectional Ministries. Sherry joins the staff in the role of Disaster Recovery Coordinator: Hurricane Michael. She will be working specifically in the Southwest District coordinating long term recovery efforts for those impacted by Hurricane Michael. This position is a one year recovery project and is funded through the connection by an UMCOR grant. She brings more than 15 years of disaster response experience ...

2019 General Conference passes Traditional Plan

published 3/5/2019
The special called session of General Conference began with prayer and ended with protest. After three years of preparation, planning, and prayer, the 864 clergy and lay delegates who gathered Feb. 23-26 at The Dome at America’s Center in St. Louis, Mo. passed an amended Traditional Plan 438 to 384. The Traditional Plan keeps the church’s current language around sexuality and increases accountability by streamlining the processes to enforce penalties for violations of The Book of Discipline ...

10 ideas for a more meaningful Ash Wednesday

published 3/4/2019
A feature by Joe Iovino* Ash Wednesday is an important day in the church calendar. It marks the beginning of Lent, a season of preparation for the celebration of Easter. This holy day is not a holiday from work, school, or most other obligations, so if we are not intentional in our observance it is likely to resemble any ordinary Wednesday. To help us find ways to remember the holy in the midst of our routines—something we should strive for every day—we offer some ideas to consider. ...

A Love Letter to The Methodist Movement

published 3/4/2019
GROWING IN GRACE BEN GOSDEN Dear Methodist Movement, How are you? It’s been a pretty rough week for you. Truth is, it’s been a pretty rough last 40 years. I’m writing because I don’t think I stop enough to tell you thank you. I owe you a lot. On a cold December Sunday in 1982, I was baptized into the church by Rev. Dick Reese. From that moment, through cold water and the mystery of God’s grace, my life course was to be impacted by the Methodist Movement. Sunday after Sunday I went to church ...

Cantore comes to town for Conference Disaster Response event

published 3/4/2019
By Kara Witherow, Editor A popular meme states, “It’s never a good sign when Jim Cantore comes to town.” Cantore, a meteorologist and on-air personality for The Weather Channel, is a famous figure in hurricane reporting and is well-known for being in the middle of the worst weather. But on April 27, South Georgia residents have nothing to fear from Cantore. Instead of reporting from the eye of a hurricane he’ll be the keynote speaker at the Conference Discipleship Teams’ “Witnessing Through ...

Disaster Response: State of Emergency declared for three South GA counties

published 3/4/2019
Areas across the Southeast woke up Monday morning to the devastation caused by severe storms and tornadoes. The Weather Service logged at least three dozen tornado reports Sunday as twisters swept across Alabama, Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina, but none were as severe as those in Lee County, Ala., where at least 24 persons were killed. "Our hearts hurt, and we grieve with those affected," said Bishop Lawson Bryan. "I have contacted Bishop David Graves, of the Alabama-West Florida ...

GC2019 Update: Tuesday, Feb. 26

published 2/26/2019
Tuesday, February 26 Highlights VIDEO HIGHLIGHTS: Bishop Lawson Bryan and Dr. Scott Hagan, pastor of Bonaire UMC and a reserve delegate, talk about the final day at General Conference.  General Conference concludes, adopts Traditional Plan On a day when “time is our only enemy” and three years’ worth of decisions had to be made by the 6:30 p.m. deadline in order for a Monster Truck Rally to be set up in The Dome at America's Center in St. Louis, Mo., time was still made for prayer, worship, ...

GC2019 Update: Monday, Feb. 25

published 2/25/2019
Monday, February 25 Highlights VIDEO HIGHLIGHT: Bishop Lawson Bryan and Dr. Scott Hagan, pastor of Bonaire UMC and a reserve delegate, talk about Day 3 at General Conference.  Legislative Process Continues The third day of the special called session of General Conference began with delegates in legislative committee, determining what the General Conference, in plenary session, will take up tomorrow. All petitions were reviewed by today’s legislative committee to determine which petitions will ...

GC2019 Update: Sunday, Feb. 24

published 2/24/2019
VIDEO HIGHLIGHT: Bishop Lawson Bryan and Dr. Scott Hagan, pastor of Bonaire UMC and a reserve delegate, talk about Day 2 at General Conference. Legislative Process Begins After a day of prayer and worship, day two of the special called session of General Conference focused on the business side of things. The morning began with the 864 delegates hearing a report from the Commission on a Way Forward, and the afternoon was spent prioritizing and organizing the business of the conference. While...

GC2019 Update: Saturday, Feb. 23

published 2/23/2019
The United Methodist Church’s top legislative body is meeting in St. Louis, Missouri, February 23-26, 2019. Eight voting delegates from South Georgia - half clergy and half lay - are among the 864 delegates from around the world. General Conference is the top policy-making body of The United Methodist Church, typically meeting every four years. At the request of General Conference 2016, the Council of Bishops set a plan for addressing the overwhelming number of proposals related to same-sex ...

2019 appointment-making season begins in the South Georgia Conference

published 2/18/2019
It’s appointment-making season in The United Methodist Church, and last week Bishop Bryan and the Appointive Cabinet met for several days to pray, worship, and begin the decision-making process of appointments. The 2019-2020 appointment-making schedule is available here. “Each year as we approach the appointment-making season, I always do it with a sense of freshness, because every year it is fresh and a bit different … but we are all in this together,” said Bishop Bryan in a video. “I want to ...


published 2/18/2019
OUR CONNECTION MATTERS NITA CRUMP 27for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. (Galatians 3:27-29, NIV) Our third annual multicultural luncheon was held last Saturday in Cordele. People from across the conference gathered to celebrate unity...

Following General Conference 2019

published 2/18/2019
WATCH THE LIVE STREAM TRACK LEGISLATION GC AGENDA (reminder: all times listed on this agenda are CST) ADCA (contains all of the legislation submitted for consideration by the delegates.) DCA (the official journal of the General Conference of The United Methodist Church. It serves as the record of those who have been elected to serve as delegate, the legislation submitted, and the decisions made by the General Conference. RECAP FROM SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 23 | VIDEO RECAP FROM SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 24 | ...

GSU Wesley Foundation student serves Statesboro children, families

published 2/18/2019
By Kara Witherow, Editor Listen to God. Do what he says. That’s what Georgia Southern University senior Konner Smith did two years ago when she and her roommate bought a few bags of food and drove around Statesboro until they ended up at Butler Homes. They saw a friendly looking apartment – one with frog stickers on the door – and knocked. Since then, a beautiful friendship has blossomed and a ministry has been born. Smith and the woman who opened the door, Grace, have become great friends. ...

Local ministry builds wheelchair ramps for those in need

published 2/18/2019
By Kara Witherow, Editor Thanks to help from a local ministry, Agnes Futch can now enjoy sunshine, birds, and fresh air again. In January, Fitzgerald’s Imagine Ministries built Futch a new wheelchair ramp. Her old one was dangerous, too steep, and caused her to careen out of control and break her ankle in three places. “I’m so grateful,” said Futch, who had polio twice and relies on her wheelchair to get around. “I’m not scared to go down or come up anymore. It opens up entire worlds, and I ...

Delegation prepares for General Conference, requests prayers

published 2/14/2019
The South Georgia Conference’s delegation to the 2019 Special Session of General Conference has been meeting and preparing for the Feb. 23-26 meeting for more than a year. As they pack and plan to leave for St. Louis next week, they ask that South Georgia United Methodists join them in prayer. “It’s been a real wonderful experience to serve as a leader of this delegation,” said Bill Hatcher, a member of Statesboro First United Methodist Church. “You can be very proud and know that this ...

Apportionment, mission giving are ways Conference is Alive Together in the World

published 2/4/2019
By Kara Witherow, Editor The numbers are in, and South Georgia’s United Methodist churches paid 89.5 percent of their apportionment giving for 2018. Given the devastation many in the conference experienced from Hurricane Michael and the tenor of the times, conference leaders are pleased. “To have people come through like this, especially considering what’s going on in their personal lives, is astounding,” said Dr. Derek McAleer, Director of Administrative Services. “The Southwest District ...

Bishop Bryan: I am thankful for the ministry of the laity in South Georgia

published 2/4/2019
I recently had the opportunity to meet with the Conference Board of Laity for a very well organized and meaningful meeting led by our Conference Lay Leader, Gloria Morgan. Along with Gloria, the Board consists of our six district lay leaders – Robert Anderson (NW), Jeff Barker (CO), Jeff Hanson (NC), J Knapp (SW), Jimmy Outlaw (SC), and John Ray (NE) – the presidents of United Methodist Women and United Methodist Men – Carol Banks and Donald Rhodes – Rev. Henry Bass, Cabinet representative, and ...

Clarity in the Chaos

published 2/4/2019
LEADERSHIP REALLY MATTERS ANNE BOSARGE REV. JAY HANSON We have just recently been working through repainting several rooms in our house. While I love the finished product and look of fresh paint, I really dislike the chaos created during the renovation. Art comes down off the walls to reveal nail holes, furniture is moved giving way to dust bunnies, and closets are turned inside out. Rooms I thought were clean and orderly reveal clutter and wear. Renovations get messy before they get better.  ...

Congregations meeting to discuss Way Forward report, General Conference

published 2/4/2019
By Kara Witherow, Edior Although the start of the 2019 Special Session of the General Conference is more than two weeks away, South Georgia pastors and laity have been meeting to discuss the Way Forward report, its three legislative plans, and possible outcomes of the General Conference session. At Mulberry Street United Methodist Church in Macon, senior pastor Dr. Matt Woodbery in January began a weekly series with his congregation to discuss the 2019 General Conference session and the Way ...

Listen Up!

published 2/4/2019
JOHN WESLEY MOMENTS DAVE HANSON On May 28, 1778, John Wesley wrote, “O, when will even Methodists learn not to exaggerate?  After all the pompous accounts I had of the vast increases of the Society, it is not increased at all; nay, it is a little smaller than it was three years ago…” Some things seem to never change. Rev. Dave Hanson is a retired pastor and John Wesley scholar.  

Respite ministries are fresh expressions, vital outreach ministries

published 2/4/2019
By Kara Witherow, Editor What ministry are you building for the future? Are you laying bricks or are you building a church? Those are the questions Daphne Johnston posed to Winter Conference attendees as she passionately led a presentation of respite care ministries, focusing on Montgomery (Ala.) First United Methodist Church’s Respite Ministry, which she has led since its 2012 inception. “What ministry do you have to give people purpose?” she asked the crowd as she explained that at Respite ...

What Defines Us

published 2/4/2019
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 ...

Connectional Ministries Toolkit: Journey Through Lent

published 1/22/2019
Our Connection Matters offers a toolkit which includes a wealth of resources focusing on a different theme to resource your local church in nurture, outreach, witness and advocacy ministries.     This edition we are looking at all things Lent! Lent is a season of forty days, not counting Sundays, which begins on Ash Wednesday (March 6, 2019) and ends on Holy Saturday (April 20, 2019). Lent comes from the Anglo Saxon word lencten, which means "spring." The forty days represents the time Jesus...

FaithWorks' Open Doors program provides jobs, homes, hope

published 1/21/2019
By Kara Witherow, Editor Shawn Smith has had a home of his own for a little more than a year, and his pride comes through in his voice. As he steps down off a ladder, removes his work gloves, and wipes the plaster dust off his face, he looks around at the job he’s done. There’s still a lot of work left to do – sanding floors, scraping the popcorn ceiling, replacing windows, repairing plaster, and more – but it’ll get done. Smith and two other men, Thomas and Buddy, are helping renovate a ...


published 1/21/2019
Dr. Hal Brady In one of his columns, the late Lewis Grizzard described standing outside the church in his hometown of Moreland, Georgia on a cold day. It had been at least 10 years since he had been inside, but his roots were there. As he reminisced about the youth group that met on Sunday nights, he recalled how two rowdy boys in town broke into a store and were required to attend the youth group for six months as punishment. The first night they attended, Grizzard recalled, they beat up two ...

Put faith into action on #ServeSouthGA Day

published 1/21/2019
What would South Georgia look like if every local United Methodist church spent an entire day serving its community? Hungry people would be fed. Lonely people would find friends. Schools could be beautified. Rivers could be cleaned. Homes could be repaired. And so much more. The Conference’s Discipleship Teams are hoping that the Annual Conference’s inaugural #ServeSouthGA volunteer day inspires congregations throughout South Georgia to move outside the church building and into their ...

Have faith: God is in control

published 1/20/2019
OUR CONNECTION MATTERS NITA CRUMP I know what I’m doing. I have it all planned out – plans to take care of you, not abandon you, plans to give you the future you hope for. (Jeremiah 29:11, The Message) Faith, mighty faith, the promise sees, and looks to God alone; laughs at impossibilities, and cries, “It shall be done.” - Charles Wesley The time we are in as a church can seem very stressful. There is a called General Conference quickly approaching at which we, as a church, will try to ...

Task force prepares for possible outcomes of General Conference

published 1/15/2019
The special session of General Conference will be held in less than six weeks, and while things are still undecided and uncertain, South Georgia is making plans for the future of the Conference. For nearly two months, 16 lay and clergy members of the South Georgia Conference have been meeting to discern ways the conference might respond to the decisions that may be made at General Conference.  “While we will take seriously the work of the General Conference, we also know that we have a say in ...

2020 Delegate Election Process

published 1/14/2019
The South Georgia Conference will elect its delegation to the 2020 General and Jurisdictional Conferences during the 2019 Annual Conference Session in Columbus June 2-5. The South Georgia Conference will elect four (4) clergy and four (4) lay delegates to General Conference. An additional four (4) clergy and four (4) lay delegates will be chosen to complete the Jurisdictional Conference delegation. Alternates will also be elected. The General Conference is the global gathering of The United ...

Clergy Compensation List now online

published 1/14/2019
The 2019 Clergy Compensation List is now available online to view:

Post-General Conference Information Session planned for March 9

published 1/8/2019
South Georgia United Methodists are invited and encouraged to attend a post-General Conference information session Saturday, March 9 from 1-4 p.m. at the UGA Tifton Campus Conference Center in Tifton. An informational meeting – not a special session of the annual conference – the gathering is open to everyone in the South Georgia Conference of The United Methodist Church.  “I encourage everyone to come, and I especially encourage every local church to send a delegation of persons to represent ...

Cleanup, recovery still happening in southwest Georgia

published 1/7/2019
A few weeks ago, Allison Lindsey, associate director of connectional ministries, was among a team of conference leaders who traveled to southwest Georgia to assess the ongoing Hurricane Michael recovery efforts and welcome North Georgia bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson and a North Georgia Conference work team plus a South Georgia Conference work team, to the area. “There’s so much that has been done, but there’s still so much left to do,” she said in a disaster response video update. “The work doesn’...

Delegates pray, prepare for special called General Conference session

published 1/7/2019
Eight people will represent the South Georgia Conference at a special called session of General Conference, which will be held Feb. 23-26 in St. Louis. The South Georgia delegation, elected during the 2015 Annual Conference session, will join other elected delegates to act on a report from the Council of Bishops based on the recommendations of the Commission on a Way Forward. The 32-member Commission was appointed to examine paragraphs in The Book of Discipline concerning human sexuality and ...

How can we bring hope to our communities this year?

published 1/7/2019
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 ...

Tod Bolsinger to headline Epworth’s Winter Conference, Jan. 29 – Feb. 1

published 1/7/2019
Dr. Tod Bolsinger, author of “Canoeing the Mountains, Christian Leadership in Uncharted Territory,” will headline this year’s Winter Conference at Epworth By The Sea, Jan. 29 – Feb. 1, 2019. Bishops Sue Haupert-Johnson (North Georgia), Ken Carter (Florida), James Swanson (Mississippi), and Lawson Bryan (South Georgia) will lead the gathering and Dr. Bolsinger, who also serves as Vice President for Vocation and Formation and Assistant Professor of Practical Theology at Fuller Theological ...

A Message from Bishop Bryan: Alive Together in Christ in the New Year

published 1/2/2019
Happy New Year, South Georgia Conference! As we anticipate a year together being Alive Together in Christ, what might it look like to have a truly New Year, and one that brings great joy to all people? Howard Thurman said, "Do not ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and then go do that, because what the world needs is people who have come alive." All around the South Georgia Conference I see individuals and local churches who are Alive Together in Christ and Alive Together ...

2018 Conference Journal ready for orders and download

published 12/17/2018
Journal includes conference business, directories, reports, appointments, and statistical tables The 2018 Journal of the South Georgia Annual Conference is now available for purchase. As has been our process in recent years, 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 2018 Journal of the South Georgia Annual Conference.*  The Journal ...

A Christmas Message from Bishop Lawson and Mrs. Sherrill Bryan

published 12/17/2018
“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...

Apply today for Camp Connect Leadership Team!

published 12/17/2018
Applications are still being accepted for the 2019 Camp Connect Summer Leadership Team at Epworth By The Sea. Applications are open to college students who have completed at least one year of college. The Leadership Team will commit to nine weeks of camping ministry which will include serving at high school, middle school, and elementary camps. These Camp Counselors will minister to hundreds of youth and children throughout the summer while making Christian friendships with other staff members ...

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