Covid-19 Update from the Bishop & Cabinet: Watching carefully the rise in COVID infection rates


South Georgia ERTs needed in Louisiana

published 9/24/2021
In response to the devastation left by Hurricanes Ida and Nicholas, the Louisiana Conference of The United Methodist Church is now extending the invitation to South Georgia Conference early response teams (ERTs). This is a great opportunity to use your training! More information

Conference’s assistant disaster response coordinator lives faith through service

published 9/20/2021
By Kara Witherow, Editor Whether pressure washing sidewalks at Dooley Campground, setting up a collection and distribution warehouse after a catastrophic hurricane, or clearing limbs after a tornado, Bob Grieco is a helper. It’s just who he is, how he’s wired. “I want to help, so that’s what I do. I’m pretty good at organizing things and I feel like I’m helping people,” said Grieco, who serves as South Georgia’s assistant disaster response coordinator. That’s why Grieco, an Air Force and ...

New book by Bishop Looney shares humor, inspirational stories from his life and ministry

published 9/20/2021
By Kara Witherow, Editor Those who know Bishop Richard Looney know he doesn’t take himself seriously, but he is serious about Jesus. Well-known for his humor, Bishop Looney, who served the South Georgia Conference from 1998 until his retirement in 2000, has written a book of “holy hilarity” and inspirational stories. “The purpose is to bring a little joy in the midst of all this darkness we’re going through these days,” he said. “I’ve always thought a little humor is helpful.” All proceeds ...

“Here Endeth the First Lesson”

published 9/17/2021
By Dr. Hal Brady Cannon Dick Sheppard was the minister at St. Martin-in-the-Fields in the heart of London right after World War l. It is reported that when he died, quite suddenly, one of the morning newspapers printed a large photograph of his pulpit. There it was, the same as ever, but empty. However, the Bible on the pulpit was still open with a ray of light across it. Beneath the picture were these words: “Here endeth the first lesson.” The implication here, and rightly so, is that there ...

Universal Truths

published 9/16/2021
WHAT’S OLD IS NEW AGAIN ANNE PACKARD Primarily, Christian love is gentleness. In other words, it is self-restraint. It is the ability and the power to check or to hold under mastery those natural tendencies of self-assertion which come boiling up out of our hearts. It is keeping pride and fretfulness and malice down. It is fairness of judgement. It is a kindly allowance for the mistakes of the other man. It is consideration for the feelings of people. That is love. Bishop Arthur J. Moore The ...

Why the vision statement doesn’t get a rise

published 9/16/2021
By Dr. Derek McAleer, Director of Administrative Services Sometime in the early ‘90s I began to learn about how critical it was for a church to have a vision statement. Somewhere in the intersection of business, academia, and the practical administration of the church the idea of a compelling mission or vision statement surfaced in the minds of pastors and other church leaders. Our annual conference got behind the idea, and soon we were merrily discussing the difference between a mission ...

Reclaiming our childlikeness

published 9/6/2021
GROWING IN GRACE BEN GOSDEN When was the last time you splashed in a puddle? How about the last time you danced in the grocery aisle when your favorite song came on? When was the last time you laughed to the point of tears at something ridiculously silly?  If you’re scratching your head to answer these questions, you might be too “adultish.” I know what you’re thinking: “Ben, you’re just making words up now.” Yes, I am. But hang with me. Adultish is a term I’ve found that refers to our ...

A great adventure

published 9/3/2021
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.

Brunswick First UMC team focuses on creation care, conservation

published 9/3/2021
By Kara Witherow, Editor Wednesday Night Suppers are nearly as Methodist as the itineracy. But in many United Methodist churches, when the food comes out, so do piles of plastic and Styrofoam. Foam plates, plastic bowls, and foam cups. And it all ends up in the trashcan and then in a landfill. Looking around her church’s Wednesday Night Supper, Kathryn Schiliro wanted to do better. “I noticed that we were using a lot of Styrofoam. Everybody likes coffee and we use a lot of Styrofoam cups,” ...

South Georgia UMW stays connected virtually

published 9/3/2021
By Kara Witherow, Editor As women of deep faith who put their beliefs and love into action on behalf of others, the South Georgia Conference’s United Methodist Women weren’t going to let a global pandemic or a capsized cargo ship off the coast of St. Simons Island thwart their mission, fellowship, and spiritual growth efforts. But after nearly a year of cancelled meetings, mission studies, and retreats, they knew they had to pivot and think differently about how to gather. And now, meeting ...

Bishop’s Initiative for Children and Poverty grants available to local churches

published 9/2/2021
The South Georgia Conference, through the Office of Connectional Ministries and the Conference Outreach Team, is offering grants of up to $2,000 to local churches for ministries focused on children and poverty. The application deadline is October 15, 2021. Projects must be completed between December 2021 and July 2022. Ministries or projects may be ongoing or new. “It is exciting to think about funding these projects which can have such a helpful impact,” said Dr. Derek McAleer, Director of ...

New BOTH/AND webinar offers hybrid worship training

published 9/2/2021
After more than a year and a half of hybrid worship, many churches feel a mix of exhilaration and exhaustion when thinking about continuing to offer both online and in-person options for worship. Now more than ever, both are needed to reach people for Christ, church leaders say. Join Connectional Ministries and Jason Moore for a follow up to last year’s popular BOTH/AND webinar. BOTH/AND: To Be Continued will focus on why hybrid worship should carry on, how to continue to iterate, and will ...

Wesley gives advice on dealing with the public

published 9/2/2021
JOHN WESLEY MOMENTS DAVE HANSON In his sermon, “Visiting the Sick,” John Wesley gives some good advice on dealing with the public. He says that when preparing to go visit the sick we should first say our prayers and ask God to cleanse us from any pride and give us a spirit of meekness and gentleness, of patience and longsuffering, that we may never be angry or discouraged at whatever treatment, rough or smooth, kind or unkind, we may meet with. He reminds us not to be surprised at their ...

Q & A with Bishop David Graves

published 9/1/2021
Episcopal leader of the South Georgia Area As Bishop Graves began his service as the new episcopal leader of the South Georgia Conference in 2021, the Advocate asked him a series of questions to get to know him and his guiding principles. ADVOCATE: Welcome to South Georgia, Bishop Graves! We’ve watched you lead and serve our neighbors in the Alabama-West Florida Conference for the past five years. What are your plans and goals as you begin this new, unique season?  BISHOP GRAVES: I plan to ...

Hurricane Ida Update: Wait, Pray, Give, and Prepare

published 8/30/2021
We watched and prayed as the powerful Hurricane Ida made landfall Sunday. Our best response today is to pray, wait, actively communicate, and prepare. We'll have more news later from this developing situation as we coordinate with UMCOR & partners in the affected areas to add action to our prayers. Early Response Teams As always, don’t self deploy to a disaster area. Our agreement with our UMC conferences & UMCOR is to wait until we are invited as the locals coordinate their disaster response. ...

Prayer and Giving: UMCOR supports Afghans in need

published 8/26/2021
In collaboration with long-standing partners, UMCOR is providing humanitarian relief and is prepared to assist with refugee resettlement.  For more than 40 years Afghanistan has been wracked by wars, civil strife, invasion and massive amounts of arms shipped in from outside forces. It is one of the poorest countries in the world, with high infant and maternal mortality rates, and millions of Afghans have been displaced as refugees over these many years. Today the country is again at a point of ...

Earthquake in Haiti: UMCOR’s response and how you can help

published 8/24/2021
On Saturday, August 14, 2021, a 7.2 magnitude earthquake produced widespread destruction in the western region of Haiti. As of August 20, more than 2,200 are dead and 12,000 injured, while hundreds more are still missing. According to Haitian Civil Protection, more than 37,300 homes have been destroyed and 46,000 have sustained damages, leaving thousands homeless.  Several hospitals have been damaged or destroyed, while those still operating are completely overwhelmed, lacking sufficient ...

SEJ College of Bishops appoints Dr. Brad Brady as SEJ Conference secretary

published 8/19/2021
During their virtual meeting Thursday, Aug. 19, the Southeastern Jurisdiction’s College of Bishops appointed Dr. Brad Brady to serve as the Southeastern Jurisdiction Conference Secretary, effective upon current secretary Anne Travis’ retirement Sept. 1. This is not a new role for Dr. Brady, who retired in June as senior pastor of Perry United Methodist Church in the South Georgia Conference. In 2008, he was elected to serve as the 2009-2012 Jurisdictional Conference Secretary, with primary ...

Bishop Bryan retires after 46 years

published 8/16/2021
Next month, Bishop R. Lawson Bryan will retire after 46 years of ministry, the last five of which have been in the South Georgia Conference. As bishop, he has focused on helping all South Georgia United Methodists become Alive Together in Christ. We sat down with Bishop Bryan and talked with him about his ministry, his time in South Georgia, and what he looks forward to in retirement. It’s been said, “You can’t go home again,” but you have come home. Tell us about what it’s been like to come ...

Fifty years with Lawson: a blessing and a joy

published 8/16/2021
By Mrs. Sherrill Bryan 50 years ago, I slipped and almost fell in Cathedral Caverns. Fortunately for me, “he” was there to grab my hand. We have not let go of each other since that day. We married and immediately went to work together in ministry serving United Methodist churches and, in the end, the South Georgia Conference as bishop. Words are inadequate to express the loving hospitality, support, and fun we have had with these soulful people. Everywhere we served was a blessing and a joy. ...

Five words that are killing Methodism in South Georgia

published 8/16/2021
By Dr. Derek McAleer, Director of Administrative Services There are five little words that, when put together a certain way, are killing Methodism in South Georgia: We’re just a small church. These five words have acquired a certain power, and I am ready to see their influence taken away.  These five words can be used as a way to excuse, to defend, and to dismiss. But their real impact is felt when the words take the heart out of mission, evangelism, and worship. When given credibility, these...

Married States

published 8/16/2021
WHAT’S OLD IS NEW AGAIN ANNE PACKARD “On many accounts I should recommend to you marriage, rather than celibacy. You are of a social temper, and would find in a married state the difficulties of working out your salvation exceedingly lessened, and your helps as much increased.” These are some of the last words that General James Oglethorpe spoke to Rev. Charles Wesley prior to Wesley leaving the American colonies forever. Intentions to marry off a single minister? Whoever heard of such a ...

Sexual Ethics Workshop details announced for 2021-2022 conference year

published 8/16/2021
Every three years, according to the South Georgia Conference Sexual Ethics policy, any person serving under appointment by the bishop (clergy, local pastors, extension ministers, appointed lay speakers) are required to attend a Sexual Ethics Workshop. These workshops are hosted by the South Georgia Conference Pastoral Counselor.  There will be three workshops offered between now and Annual Conference 2022 (September, February, and April.) The new format involves a series of seven videos with a ...

St. Luke UMC opens Ranger Outreach Center to serve military, veterans, families

published 8/16/2021
By Kara Witherow, Editor St. Luke United Methodist Church in Columbus stands just 10 miles from the fifth-largest military base in the world. With more than 25,000 active duty military and a total population of nearly 110,000 people, Fort Benning is an integral part of the Columbus community. That’s why St. Luke’s new Ranger Outreach Center (ROC), opened last month, is a crucial ministry, said director Ret. Maj. Tony Mayne. A true outreach center, the ROC, through its partnerships with ...

The Heart of the Gospel

published 8/16/2021
PATHWAY TO HIS PRESENCE B.J. FUNK When I was a young girl, I stood by my mother at the kitchen sink and watched her as she separated stalks of celery, washing each piece before she gave it to us at supper. She taught me that there is a part of the celery stalk that has a sweeter taste than the rest of the stalks. When all of the stalks are pulled away, there lies within the celery a beautiful surprise. It’s called the heart of the celery, and it has a deeper, sweeter taste than the rest of the ...

Alive Together at the Table: A response to the survey sent before AC2021

published 8/15/2021
Earlier this year, prior to the 2021 Annual Conference session, the Conference conducted a survey to gather feedback regarding the life of the local church and the upcoming General Conference session. More than 300 responses were received from clergy and laity across South Georgia, and the responses were and are being used to make decisions for the future of the Conference, Bishop Bryan said in a pastoral letter. “Thanks to each of you who responded,” he said. “You provided a wealth of insight...

A message from Bishop Bryan: Kelly Roberson to assume interim role as Connectional Ministries Team Leader

published 8/6/2021
Last month, Allison Lindsey announced she will be stepping down from her role as director of Connectional Ministries effective Aug. 15. As a new grandmother, she now has the opportunity to provide daily care for her 10-week-old grandson, Mac.  While we rejoice in this new role for Allison, we will miss her leadership as Director of Connectional Ministries. Allison has served South Georgia so effectively, both as a member of the Connectional Ministries staff and as director of that ministry for ...

Farewell reception for Bishop and Mrs. Bryan set for Aug. 15

published 8/5/2021
On Sunday, Aug. 15, the South Georgia Conference will host a farewell reception for Bishop R. Lawson Bryan and Mrs. Sherrill Bryan. The drop-in reception will be held from 3 – 5 p.m. at Vineville United Methodist Church in Macon. The reception is a time for the Annual Conference to gather together to thank Bishop and Mrs. Bryan for their five years of service to the South Georgia Annual Conference, said Rev. Jimmy Cason, who for five years served as the chairman of the Conference Committee on ...

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

published 8/2/2021
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...

Registration open for fall children's and youth retreats

published 8/2/2021
Registration is now open for KidzQuest, the Conference's annual fall children’s retreat for students in third through sixth grades, and Encounter, the Conference's annual youth retreat for students in sixth through twelfth grades.  KidzQuest is scheduled for October 15-17, 2021, at Camp Jekyll 4-H Center on Jekyll Island, Georgia for 3rd-6th grade students and is limited to 250 participants. Information I Register Encounter Youth Retreat, for 6th-12th grade students, will take place November ...

Wesley UMC hosts school uniform drive

published 8/2/2021
By Kara Witherow, Editor Wesley United Methodist Church is showing the love of Christ by serving. Each month this year, the congregation has chosen a mission project as a way to give back to the Macon community. For July, Wesley UMC collected gently used or new school uniforms and hosted a free uniform giveaway July 30 and July 31. Families were lined up, waiting for the doors to open, said Natalie Nicholl, a Wesley UMC member who helped spearhead the event. One family of five drove about 30 ...

After a year off, South Georgia UM churches resume VBS

published 8/1/2021
VBS is back. A summertime staple, vacation Bible school has returned to South Georgia United Methodist Churches. Most congregations canceled VBS last summer because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but as restrictions ease and more are vaccinated, many churches felt they could safely return to in-person vacation Bible school this summer. Richmond Hill United Methodist Church’s VBS has long been a huge outreach effort with hundreds of children and volunteers participating. Last year, church leaders ...

August 15 lesson: A Patient, Persevering Faith

published 8/1/2021
Click here for a print-friendly version A Patient, Persevering Faith Summer Quarter: Confident Hope Unit 3: Faith Gives Us Hope Sunday school lesson for the week of August 15, 2021 By Dr. Jay Harris Lesson Scripture: Hebrews 10:23-36 Hope Sustains Our Faith and Growth In this third unit, we continue to spend time learning not only how faith gives us hope, but also learning what hope does to sustain our faith. How does hope sustain our faith and growth after we say “yes” to the relationship...

August 8 lesson: A Necessary Faith

published 8/1/2021
Click here for a print-friendly version A Necessary Faith Summer Quarter: Confident Hope Unit 3: Faith Gives Us Hope Sunday school lesson for the week of August 8, 2021 By Dr. Jay Harris Lesson Scripture: Hebrews 11:1-8, 13-16 Faith Gives Us Hope We are starting the third and final unit in this summer quarter. In many ways, the second unit helped us see how faith and salvation give us hope. In this third unit, we will spend the next four weeks learning not only how faith gives us hope, but...

Be a Bridge!

published 8/1/2021
LEADERSHIP REALLY MATTERS ANNE BOSARGE REV. JAY HANSON I am a bridge towering high up in the sky. Proudly I stand, spanning land to land. Although many may not know Without me progress would slow For across me travelers must go. I have a cause as noble as can be My purpose is to allow people to walk over me. Trampled underfoot by people rushing past Climbed by thrill seekers hoping to make a splash Driven over by large trucks Flown past by noisy planes Run through by foreign ships Pounded...

John Wesley and the American Revolution

published 8/1/2021
JOHN WESLEY MOMENTS DAVE HANSON John Wesley was initially opposed to the American Revolution for four basic reasons: He felt that the American colonists enjoyed many freedoms under British rule. Why should they “destroy ship-loads of tea when settlers of other British territories around the world did not have representation in the English Parliament?” Americans are “foaming with rage against England, the king, and their own neighbors who remain loyal to the motherland!” They stand ready to “...

Special session of the SEJ votes to unite the Memphis and Tennessee Annual Conferences

published 8/1/2021
Newly formed Tennessee-Western Kentucky Conference will launch in January By Sybil Davidson, adapted from a UMNS report by Heather Hahn At a special session on Wednesday, July 21, the delegates of the Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference worshiped, received video updates from across the jurisdiction, and approved realigning the boundaries of Memphis and Tennessee Annual Conferences to create the Tennessee-Western Kentucky Conference.  Bishop James Swanson of the Mississippi Conference ...

Fraud Alert: Spoofing emails being sent from fake address

published 7/20/2021
The conference office has been notified of a spoofing email as well as a text making the rounds to various South Georgia United Methodists appearing as a message from Bishop Bryan. This most recent email is from a fake, spoofed email account that has NO ties to Bishop Bryan.  Please know that the Bishop will never ask for a donation, gift cards, or any kind of transfer of money via email. We recommend that you don't open attachments or give your personal information to anyone unless you are ...

Epworth By The Sea will reopen to the public this fall

published 7/19/2021
Epworth By The Sea, which has been closed to the public since Sept. 22, 2020, plans to reopen to the public in late fall 2021. When Epworth By The Sea reopens, guests are invited to experience Epworth’s peace, connection, and beauty, said Executive Vice President Rev. Wayne Racz. The campus has undergone significant improvements including: cabins enlarged and upgraded with central heat and air, larger bathrooms, and tankless gas water heaters; lodge room interiors remodeled and updated; and ...

South Georgia UMs resume mission trips

published 7/19/2021
By Kara Witherow, Editor In March 2020, one day before 18 Valdosta State University Wesley Foundation students were to board a plane to fly to Jamaica, their Spring Break mission trip was abruptly cancelled. More than a year later, with a lot of planning and tests and protocols in place, 15 of the 18 original team members gratefully stepped off a plane in Jamaica. In Seville Heights in St. Ann’s Bay, Jamaica May 22 to May 28, they built a home, served others, and forged lasting friendships, ...

The BEST Yes

published 7/19/2021
OUR CONNECTION MATTERS ALLISON LINDSEY “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.” Proverbs 16:9 Did you know that research estimates the average adult makes 35,000 choices each day? When we are faced with two choices in which one is good and the other bad, the decision can be easy or clear cut. But it’s never easy to decide between things that are all good choices; to discern what is good, what is better, and then to choose the “best yes.”  As I reflect on my ministry ...

Focus on friendship, outreach help Brunswick’s Emanuel UMC grow

published 7/18/2021
By Kara Witherow, Editor A couple of weeks ago, Rev. Ken Sharpe stopped in Winn-Dixie to buy cheese straws. As he searched the aisles, a woman helped him look for the elusive snack. They struck up a conversation and the two ended up chatting for an hour. He never found the cheese straws, but he did invite his helpful new friend to church. She showed up the next Sunday, homemade cheese straws in hand. This isn’t an unusual story for Rev. Sharpe, pastor of Brunswick’s Emanuel United Methodist ...

Get a Grip on Life

published 7/18/2021
By Dr. Hal Brady Get a grip! Get a life! On just about everything it is crucial to get a proper grip. This is true whether we are climbing rocks, gripping a golf club, throwing a football or baseball, or simply shaking hands. I reiterate, on just about everything, it is crucial to get a proper grip, and this especially applies to life. Get a grip on life! Be content – that’s where Paul offers us great wisdom. He states, “I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances” (Philippians ...

In the future

published 7/18/2021
WHAT’S OLD IS NEW AGAIN ANNE PACKARD “One of the seemingly indestructible human delusions is that of supposing that back somewhere in the past there was a time when there were large numbers of men and women who were good and true and pious and loyal to God in a sense in which only an exceptional few are good and true and pious and loyal today.” Sunday School Magazine, January 1910 Many of the articles I write harken back to an easier time when camp meetings were the only form of social media ...

SEJ Called Session set for Wednesday; live stream link now available

published 7/18/2021
The College of Bishops of the Southeastern Jurisdiction of The United Methodist Church, in accordance with ¶521 of the 2016 Book of Discipline, will meet for a special session of the jurisdictional conference on July 21, 2021. The meeting will begin at 10 a.m. EST and will be held virtually. Delegates have been sent a link and a voter ID to participate in the Conference. Others who want to watch the special session can do so by going to and clicking the link on the home page. The...

Happy birthday, John Wesley!

published 7/6/2021
JOHN WESLEY MOMENTS DAVE HANSON It is June 17, 2021, as I sit down to write this John Wesley Moment – John Wesley’s 318th birthday. John was born in Epworth, England on June 17,1703 (the old, Julian calendar). You may notice that the present-day United Methodist official church calendar records Wesley’s birthday as June 28, which is the new/Gregorian calendar date. By most accounts, John was Susanna and Rev. Samuel Wesley’s 16th of 19 children. As a matter of fact, “our” John Wesley was the ...

Americus quilters make quilts for veterans, others

published 7/5/2021
By Kara Witherow, Editor A group of women in Americus are stitched together by their shared faith, a love of quilting, and the desire to serve their community. The Grateful Threads Quilting Guild has gathered weekly for the past several years to sew, stitch, and create as many quilts as possible to give away to others. The group, which meets in Lee Street United Methodist Church’s parsonage, started with a weekend quilting class taught by Valerie Duff, a member of Americus First United ...

Focus on children

published 7/5/2021
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 ...

Nashville UMC’s men’s group cooks up conversation, connection

published 7/5/2021
By Kara Witherow, Editor For five weeks in June, a group of men gathered in Nashville United Methodist Church’s kitchen. They huddled around the stove, chopping, dicing, sautéing, and stirring.  They were farmers, lawyers, and businessmen, and all were hungry. They were hungry for good food, of course, but they were also hungry for connection – with God and each other. The men’s small group was cooked up by self-described foodie and cooking enthusiast Rev. Mark Addington, who serves as ...

Patience is grace

published 7/5/2021
GROWING IN GRACE BEN GOSDEN It’s July, and I’m reminded of when I was a kid and I would complain about the summer heat. My mom would promptly tell me to “stop moving around so much and you’ll cool off.” Looking back, that seems to be as good an analogy for patience as I can think of. When life makes us anxious, we tend to move around, trying to make things better. Rather than moving around so much, sometimes the best thing we can do is slow down and be patient knowing that God will make a way ...

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PO Box 7227 - Macon, GA 31209

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3040 Riverside Dr., Suite A-2 - Macon, GA 31210

PO Box 7227 - Macon, GA 31209

478-738-0048 | 800-535-4224

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