At the Table: Celebrating Black History Month, Conversations with the Bishop, Connectional Ministries Book Club


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

published 11/16/2020
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 ...

Moore Methodist Museum celebrates the season with nativity collection

published 11/16/2020
By Anne Packard The Moore Methodist Museum, known for its extensive, international nativity collection usually on display Thanksgiving weekend through January, will this year celebrate the season with an even larger collection, thanks to the generous donation of more than 100 nativities by The Upper Room Museum in Nashville, Tenn., which closed in January, 2020. Anne Packard, curator, and Cindy Angelich, assistant curator, have been busy cataloging and photographing the new additions and are ...


published 11/16/2020
WHAT’S OLD IS NEW AGAIN ANNE PACKARD The word “Advent” is derived from the Latin word adventus, meaning “coming,” which is a translation of the Greek word parousia. Historians believe that from 300-500 AD, advent was a time to prepare new Christians with fasting, prayer, and penance for baptism which would take place during the feast of Epiphany in January. Later, Roman Christians used advent as a time to prepare for Christ’s arrival, but not his original arrival in a manger in Bethlehem. ...

Sacred Rhythms, Part 2: Being Sent

published 11/16/2020
OUR CONNECTION MATTERS ALLISON LINDSEY “The call of Jesus is a call to a two-beat rhythm of life: being with him and being sent from him.” – Sheridan Voysey Last month we began thinking about rhythms and how foundational they are within our everyday lives – as well as how easily they can be disrupted. Using the Voysey quote as a springboard, we explored the first part of the two-beat rhythm: “being with him,” discovering that developing intentional sacred rhythms (using spiritual practices) ...

That Different Spirit

published 11/16/2020
By Dr. Hal Brady Not long ago a man audited a doctoral seminar on leadership. One day the professor asked each of the 16 participants in his class to tell the one thing at which they excelled. The man said he dreaded questions like that because he still was not sure of what he did best. And besides, it sounded to him like bragging. But when his turn came all he could think to say was this, “I am best at not quitting.” Now, at first, that answer sounds a little strange, but when you consider ...

Crossroads UMC to serve as Conference’s disaster storehouse

published 11/2/2020
By Kara Witherow, Editor Constructed during the church building boom of the early 1990s, Crossroads United Methodist Church’s Family Activities Building – a sprawling 3,750 square foot building that once hosted community gatherings, large meals, youth events, and more – now sits virtually empty. Because of the coronavirus crisis, these large gatherings have, for now, ceased, but the church’s leadership didn’t want the building to go totally unused. So when they heard of the Conference’s need ...

Election inspires 21-day prayer effort

published 11/2/2020
By Kara Witherow, Editor In the pre-dawn hours of Monday morning, Oct. 19, 115 people poured into Park Avenue United Methodist Church’s sanctuary to pray. Another 160 or so watched via livestream, worshiping and praying from their homes. More came the next day. And the next. And every day since. They’re taking part in the church’s 21-day prayer initiative, “Talk. Listen. Move,” which began Oct. 19 and runs through Nov. 8. The timing was purposeful, said Rev. Jimmy Towson, senior pastor at ...

How to avoid using bad online metrics

published 11/2/2020
GROWING IN GRACE BEN GOSDEN There’s not a lot we can agree on in such a hectic year. But surely we can agree on the fact that COVID-19 has called into question lots of ways we’ve always understood how to be the church. From an over-emphasis on buildings to how we embody the gospel in socially distanced ways, this year has been a year where the learning curve has been high for pastors and lay people alike. Among the many things called into question is the validity or effectiveness of measuring ...

Let us help each other survive

published 11/2/2020
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 ...

A John Wesley Moment about voting

published 10/31/2020
JOHN WESLEY MOMENTS DAVE HANSON  On October 6, 1774, John Wesley wrote in his journal: “I met with those who had votes in the ensuing election, and advised them:  To vote without fee or reward, for the person they judged most worthy  To speak no evil of the person they voted against, and  To take care that their spirits were not sharpened against those who voted on the other side.” The Rev. Dave Hanson is a retired pastor and John Wesley scholar.  

2021 Annual Conference dates, Post-General Conference gathering announced

published 10/23/2020
The 2021 Annual Conference Session is set for June 6-8 at The Columbus Georgia Convention & Trade Center. The Annual Conference Session program committee met this week to discuss both the June session and other potential gatherings needed later in 2021. The 155th session of the South Georgia Annual Conference will meet in Columbus, Ga. beginning Sunday evening, June 6 and concluding on Tuesday, June 8. In addition to our time together in June, Bishop Lawson Bryan, in consultation with the ...

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

published 10/19/2020
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 ...

Christ UMC gives away hundreds of free pumpkins at reimagined fall event

published 10/19/2020
By Kara Witherow, Editor For 25 years, Christ United Methodist Church in Warner Robins has been known as “the Pumpkin Patch church.” The annual fall event has raised nearly $125,000 for local ministry groups and mission agencies like Wesley Glen Ministries, Habitat for Humanity, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, the local food pantry, and the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR). But this year, because of the global coronavirus pandemic, church leaders didn’t think it wise to host a community ...

Congregations honor law enforcement during Faith and Blue Weekend

published 10/19/2020
By Kara Witherow, Editor Across the South Georgia Conference, congregations recognized and thanked law enforcement officers for their service, prayed alongside police officers, and showed their support for those who protect and serve. During the inaugural 2020 National Faith & Blue Weekend, held Sept. 10-11, nearly 1,000 events aimed at helping promote dialogue between places of worship, community organizations, and law enforcement were held across the country. Here in South Georgia, several ...

From the Bishop & Cabinet: Church Matters

published 10/19/2020
Dear South Georgia Conference Family, The Cabinet and I write to you with gratitude and respect for the way you have navigated the past eight months. The global pandemic, reckoning with racial justice, and the rolling restart of local churches - any one of those alone would be a huge challenge. Yet, you have faced them all with a perseverance and passion that comes from Christ our Lord.  While we continue to pray for a successful vaccine, we also recognize that we must plan for several more ...

Sacred Rhythms

published 10/19/2020
OUR CONNECTION MATTERS ALLISON LINDSEY “The call of Jesus is a call to a two-beat rhythm of life: being with him and being sent from him.” - Sheridan Voysey Have you ever stopped for a moment to think about the rhythms God places into the fabric of our lives and throughout creation? I think about the ebb and flow of the tides, the phases of the moon, our sleep cycle, the need for sabbath, and our very heartbeat and breath. From sunrise to sunset we are surrounded by rhythm. Webster’s ...

Longest-serving Conference employee celebrates 30th anniversary

published 10/18/2020
By Kara Witherow, Editor This month we celebrate Eleanor Dickson’s 30th anniversary as part of the South Georgia Conference staff. We are grateful to Eleanor for her faithful service over the years and for the impact her ministry has had on our clergy, their families, our lay staff, and our entire Conference. While it’s impossible to encapsulate 30 years of ministry into one article, we want to celebrate Eleanor and thank her for her three decades of ministry and service. Capable. Highly ...

Fraud Alert: Spoofing texts & emails being sent from fake number/address

published 10/5/2020
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 ...

Getting ready for a creative COVID Christmas

published 10/5/2020
LEADERSHIP REALLY MATTERS ANNE BOSARGE REV. JAY HANSON Did you know there are only 81 days until Christmas? When you think of Christmas, what comes to mind first? Does your mind wander to small groups caroling in a nursing home, sing-alongs in church, Christmas cantatas, kids’ programs, buffets of cookies and carafes of hot chocolate with melting marshmallows? What if those beloved traditions aren’t accessible to us this year? What will we do to ensure our congregations are safe, yet still ...

Howard Chapel UMC stays connected with unlikely combination

published 10/5/2020
By Kara Witherow, Editor The unlikely combination of fruit and technology are helping one South Georgia pastor stay connected to her congregation in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. Like other churches, Howard Chapel United Methodist Church in Dublin suspended all in-person activities in March. But with a mostly older and vulnerable congregation, Rev. Cleo Gilchrist hasn’t yet felt comfortable re-starting in-person worship services. It’s been hard being away from one another for nearly ...

In midst of 2020 hurricane season, caseworkers wrap up Irma, Michael repairs

published 10/5/2020
By Kara Witherow, Editor When Hurricane Michael swept through southwest Georgia in October 2018, its strong winds toppled trees throughout the region. In Brinson, about 10 miles from hard-hit Donalsonville, a large Live Oak limb slammed into Gloria Singleton’s roof. A large Sweetgum tree hit the back of the house so hard it cracked the kitchen’s ceiling.           More than a year after the hurricane, Singleton was still living with tarps on her roof, waiting for repairs. Mold was starting to...

Lessons I’ve learned

published 10/5/2020
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 ...

October is Pastor Appreciation Month

published 10/5/2020
By J. F. Knapp, III, Conference Lay Leader Encourage one another and build up each other. (1 Thessalonians 5:11, NRSV) While our response to this pandemic has been hard on communities and congregations across the country, we cannot overlook the fact that this has been particularly difficult for our pastors. These are individuals whose calling is to minister to people, especially in times of difficulty. COVID-19’s Rules of Engagement have closed sanctuaries, and social distancing has prevented...

GSU Wesley Foundation spreads love – not germs – with COVID Care Packages

published 9/14/2020
By Kara Witherow, Editor These days, a knock on the door usually means one of about two things: dinner has arrived via DoorDash or Uber Eats or an Amazon package has been delivered. But in Statesboro, the knock may mean the Georgia Southern University Wesley Foundation has deposited a COVID Care Package on your doorstep. According to a report from the New York Times, Statesboro has become a COVID-19 hotspot. Several hundred students have been diagnosed with the virus or are quarantined ...

Hispanic Heritage Month

published 9/14/2020
OUR CONNECTION MATTERS ALLISON LINDSEY “Today is the day God embraces all hues of humanity Delights in diversity and difference, Favors solidarity transforming strangers into friends. And so shall we” (From a Companion Litany to our Social Creed)  I’m just three short months into this expanded role as Director of Connectional Ministries, and a new world has opened up before me. A world from which I am learning, asking questions, immersing myself in, building relationships, and embracing the ...

South Georgia UM churches help families, students, schools

published 9/14/2020
By Kara Witherow, Editor Rev. Chrissy Ruehl has never felt more like a deacon. Rev. Ruehl, Isle of Hope United Methodist Church’s Minister of Children and Families, is helping connect the church and the world in ways she never before imagined. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, schools across the country have scrambled to minimize the impact and spread of the disease while still providing instruction. Some began later than usual, others started virtually, and other districts offered hybrid ...

CLM training is invaluable preparation for ministry

published 8/31/2020
By Kara Witherow, Editor Joy Ware wears a lot of hats. A member of Pinkney Chapel United Methodist Church in Folkston, she preaches regularly, is active in her Sunday school class, and can often be found helping in the church’s kitchen. Wanting to further her leadership skills and learn how to better plan, prepare, and deliver a sermon, Ware enrolled in the Conference’s most recent Certified Lay Minister training session. An intense, five-day immersion course, the CLM training offers a ...

Liminal space

published 8/31/2020
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 ...

Resiliency: The by-product of 2020?

published 8/31/2020
GROWING IN GRACE BEN GOSDEN The other day I retrieved my journal where I recorded my New Year’s goals and resolutions and a weird thing struck me. In those pages were the hopes and dreams of a year that, at the time, was a blank slate. And, looking back, it felt like I was reading something I wrote years ago. So much has happened since that feeling of excitement over a new year: a global pandemic, upheaval over racial injustice, and political divisions that have reached new heights of vitriol ...

Rev. Magoni elected as Conference’s first female, deacon BOM chairperson

published 8/31/2020
By Kara Witherow, Editor Healthy. Fruitful. Effective. The fruit borne out in Rev. Fran Magoni’s ministry and life made her a clear choice to succeed Rev. Scott Tucker as chairperson of the South Georgia Conference’s Board of Ordained Ministry.  Rev. Magoni, pastor of discipleship and administration at Martha Bowman United Methodist Church in Macon, is the first deacon and first female to serve in this role. The historic nature of the role isn’t the first thing that came to her mind when she ...

Responding to Hurricane Laura

published 8/28/2020
Hurricane Laura made landfall near Cameron, La., about 35 miles east of the Texas border, early Thursday as a Category 4 storm, one of the most powerful to strike the Gulf Coast in decades.  When a part of our connection is impacted, we are impacted. Our connectional system is at its best when we come together to help those in need. Please continue to be in prayer for all those in the path of Hurricane Laura. We will continue to keep you informed as we are made aware of needs. Below are four ...

Bishop Bryan: Praying for those in Hurricane Laura’s Path

published 8/26/2020
As Hurricane Laura bears down on Louisiana and Texas, I have assured the bishops of those areas that their brothers and sisters in South Georgia are praying for them, their churches, and especially for their disaster response ministries. Remembering how many conferences have responded to our needs during the past four years, we will be alert to ways we can help wherever Hurricane Laura may strike.   In moments like this, we are reminded of the importance of our disaster response ministry. ...

2020 Annual Conference meets for historic virtual session

published 8/17/2020
Donning an episcopal purple face mask with the cross and flame emblem, Bishop R. Lawson Bryan welcomed nearly 750 delegates and guests to the 2020 Annual Conference session.  An historic session, this year’s gathering was virtual, and clergy and laity participated from their living rooms, home offices, and churches. Many traded their sport coats, ties, and dresses for more casual, comfortable attire.  Due to the coronavirus pandemic, a concern for the health and safety of conference members, ...

Alive Together in Witness through mission, ministry & evangelism

published 8/17/2020
Churches throughout the conference continue to demonstrate the ways they are Alive Together in Witness through mission, ministry, and evangelism.  Evangelistically Fruitful Congregations The mission of the church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ. A significant dimension of the disciple-making process is that of leading people to make a commitment to God through baptism and profession of faith in Jesus Christ. Reaching new persons with the gospel is at the very heart of every church’s ...

Apart but still together: conference worships virtually

published 8/17/2020
Apart but still together.  That was the unofficial theme of South Georgia’s 2020 Annual Conference session worship services as the conference celebrated virtually over the course of several days before culminating in the day-long Aug. 15 business session.  Virtual Commissioning Service The Conference gathered Saturday, Aug. 8 for the virtual Commissioning Service. Along with their families, those being commissioned gathered at Vineville United Methodist Church in Macon. Masks were worn and ...

Commit, Renew, Speak

published 8/17/2020
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 ...

Conference approves funding for North Katanga Conference

published 8/17/2020
The South Georgia Conference, during its 2020 Annual Conference session, approved a recommendation for the reallocation of designated reserve funds to support several ministries in the North Katanga Annual Conference in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).  The $60,000 in mission funds reallocated for use in the North Katanga Annual Conference was originally raised for the East Africa Annual Conference: Open Hands Partnership and Humble Place School. The East Africa partnership ceased in...

Crossing Over

published 8/17/2020
PATHWAY TO HIS PRESENCE B.J. FUNK If you are struggling with what is happening in our churches right now, it may be that you are allowing tradition to make your choices. While the security of tradition can move our days forward with a sameness that brings comfort, the trap of tradition can close our minds to the beauty of what else God might have in mind. We can be sure that He does have something in mind, and what He has in mind is good. He has not turned away. His love places a shield of love...

Knapp succeeds Morgan as Conference lay leader

published 8/17/2020
After serving seven years as the South Georgia Conference's lay leader, on Saturday, Aug. 15, during the 2020 virtual Annual Conference session, Gloria Morgan passed the torch to J. Knapp. “It’s been an honor to serve these past seven years,” said Morgan, a member of Pine Forest United Methodist Church in Dublin. “The people of South Georgia are really near and dear to my heart. This Conference is wonderful and my prayer is that everyone will continue to support our church.” South Georgia ...

Motion focused on racial justice approved

published 8/17/2020
During its 2020 Annual Conference session, South Georgia United Methodists took a stand against racism. Before the Conference broke for lunch, Rev. Lynn Meadows-White, associate pastor at Pierce Chapel United Methodist Church in Midland, made a motion for South Georgia United Methodist clergy and laity to commit to stand against racism, renew their commitment to live out their baptismal vows, and speak with a united voice against systemic racism in every United Methodist congregation. After ...

Plowden celebrated as longest tenured chancellor; passes gavel to Thompson

published 8/17/2020
After 30 years of serving as South Georgia’s Chancellor – the legal advisor to the Bishop and the Annual Conference – Warren Plowden is passing the gavel, so to speak. Cater C. Thompson, who has served since 2015 as Associate Chancellor, officially began serving as Chancellor at the conclusion of the 2020 Annual Conference session. Plowden is now serving as Chancellor Emeritus. “Warren is so effective and so highly respected in The United Methodist Church because he is both an outstanding ...

Seven South Georgia congregations disaffiliate from UMC

published 8/17/2020
Seven South Georgia congregations have disaffiliated from The United Methodist Church. In a 528-37 vote, Recommendation 6 passed, which allows the churches to disaffiliate from The UMC “for reasons of conscience regarding a change in the requirements and provisions of The Book of Discipline related to the practice of homosexuality or the ordination or marriage of self-avowed practicing homosexuals as resolved and adopted by the 2019 General Conference, or the actions or inactions of its annual ...

Watch the 2020 Virtual Annual Conference Session

published 8/14/2020
WATCH THE LIVE STREAM (beginning at 8:30 am) The 2020 Annual Conference session will be held online on Saturday, August 15 beginning at 8:30 am and concluding no later than 4:00 pm. The technologically-assisted Annual Conference session began Sunday, Aug. 2 with a clergy session. Special worship services spanned over the course of this past week.  Essential business of the Annual Conference will be conducted via Zoom webinar, and streamed online for non-voting members. Clergy and lay members to...

Annual Conference Worship Services

published 8/7/2020
Bishop Lawson Bryan wants the virtual Annual conference session to be a celebration of the ways South Georgia congregations have been Alive Together in Witness during this unprecedented time. Special services spanned over the course of several days with the business session scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 15. Here are links to watch the services: Saturday, Aug. 8: Virtual Commissioning Service begins at 2 pm with Bishop R. Lawson Bryan preaching (Watch now) Sunday, Aug. 9: Virtual Ordination ...

Camp Connect adapts, hosts sold-out day camps

published 8/3/2020
By Kara Witherow, Editor Even during a typical summer, Camp Connect leaders have to be prepared to deal with challenges, from homesickness to hurricanes to health issues. But this summer proved to be one of the most challenging in Camp Connect history. Because of the global coronavirus pandemic, in early May – after the summer staff had been hired, a theme had been set, and camp registration was in full swing – director Suzanne Akins made the difficult decision to cancel overnight camps. ...

Conference prepping for virtual Annual Conference session

published 8/3/2020
The 2020 Annual Conference session will be held online in just 11 days. In his Book of Recommendations and Reports welcome letter, Bishop R. Lawson Bryan noted that the words of Ephesians 2:5 have been fulfilled in the South Georgia Conference even during a global pandemic. And now he wants the virtual Annual conference session to be a celebration of the ways South Georgia congregations have been Alive Together in Witness during this unprecedented time. The technologically-assisted Annual ...

Lindsey uniquely gifted to serve as Director of Connectional Ministries

published 8/3/2020
By Kara Witherow, Editor Click here to watch a brief video interview with Allison Lindsey and Kara Witherow, editor of the South Georgia Advocate Allison Lindsey loves the local church. Serving, resourcing, and meeting others’ needs is her passion, which is one reason why she’s uniquely gifted to serve as Director of Connectional Ministries. The first lay person to serve as director, she steps into the role having served on the Connectional Ministries staff for eight years. Prior to that she...

Our Connection Matters: Back to School 2020

published 8/3/2020
Churches are pivoting and finding incredible, creative ways to be the church during such a unique time in our world. We are truly seeing that "Church Can Happen Anywhere," and I will take that one step further to say "Church Is Happening Everywhere." With returning to school right around the corner anxiety is running high for children and parents, as well as for teachers and administrators in our communities. How can the church offer love, hope, and peace and be a calming presence in our ...

Conscious Culture Building

published 8/2/2020
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 ...

Counting the Joy

published 8/2/2020
LEADERSHIP REALLY MATTERS ANNE BOSARGE REV. JAY HANSON What do you do when you don’t know what to do? How do you make decisions when you’re not sure where you want to end up? How do you lead with confidence when you’re just as uncertain as the people you’re leading? How do you stand firm when the traditions and methods you’ve used for years seem to be eroding? James 1:2-4 says, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith ...

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