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



published 7/21/2020
OUR CONNECTION MATTERS ALLISON LINDSEY  “Pivot: A change in strategy without a change in vision” – Eric Reis One of the most difficult decisions heading into the summer in Connectional Ministries involved Camp Connect, our summer camping program. For nearly 70 years, summer camps for children and youth have been a ministry of the South Georgia Conference at Epworth By The Sea. That legacy was in jeopardy due to COVID-19, and no one wanted to make the final call to cancel.  Back in early ...

Amid COVID pandemic, colleges prepare to welcome students back to campus

published 7/20/2020
By Kara Witherow, Editor This August, students across the state and around the country will converge on college campuses, ready to start a new school year. While much will look different – masks are required on all University System of Georgia campuses, social distancing will be enforced, and hand sanitizer will be used more than ever – a good deal will stay the same, say leaders at two South Georgia United Methodist-affiliated colleges. Keeping their 750 students safe and healthy is the top ...

Conference Pastoral Counselor and chaplains comfort, share messages of hope during pandemic

published 7/20/2020
By Kara Witherow, Editor We are not alone. That’s the message of South Georgia’s chaplains and its Conference Pastoral Counselor. Whether that message is communicated by a handmade pocket prayer shawl, a daily prayer heard over a hospital intercom, or in a personal conversation, it’s one that’s echoed across the Conference as chaplains and pastors care for those in their flock. As Rev. Columbus Burns makes his daily rounds at Savannah’s Candler Hospital, he notices the staff, sees the stress...

Faith, prayer help college freshmen prepare for new, uncertain school year

published 7/20/2020
By Kara Witherow, Editor On Lily Packard’s list of college essentials are the usual items: sheets, towels, pillows, hangers, a laundry hamper, storage bins. And there’s one more item she has to add this year: face masks. The start of classes this fall is full of uncertainty for students and university administrators, faculty, and staff. The coronavirus pandemic has altered the way classes are taught, how students can congregate, and even the way campus ministries meet. “I am a little nervous...

Q & A with Rev. Craig Hutto, North Central District Superintendent

published 7/20/2020
Click here to watch a brief video interview with Rev. Hutto and Kara Witherow, editor of the South Georgia Advocate ADVOCATE: Tell us a little about yourself. Where did you grow up? Have you always lived in South Georgia? REV. HUTTO: I grew up in Lithonia, a small suburb of Atlanta. I have always thought it was the best place to grow up: I enjoyed the simplicity of small-town life, but was 20 minutes away from the excitement of the big city! My father was a school teacher and my mother worked ...

Remembering John Lewis

published 7/20/2020
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 ...

Fraud Alert: Spoofing emails being sent from fake address

published 7/15/2020
The conference office has been notified of a spoofing email 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 ...

Thank you from Africa University

published 7/13/2020
Africa University says “Thank You” for the strong, ongoing support of the churches of the South Georgia Conference. Local churches throughout South Georgia have been consistently generous in helping Africa University equip and deploy leaders with the appropriate skills and outlook to transform communities.   AU formally closed its 2019/2020 academic year today (June 30th), with the University Senate meeting to receive and approve students’ academic results. The June graduation ceremony was ...

A Word from Bishop Bryan: COVID-19 update - Making decisions out of an abundance of caution

published 7/10/2020
To the South Georgia Conference: As you know, Governor Kemp’s most recent executive order extends the public health state of emergency into the month of August. The coronavirus infection rate is rising in some areas of our state and nation. I want to commend the clergy and the laity of our conference for the ways you are acting responsibly and with concern for the health of others during this pandemic. You are monitoring the rate of infection in your surrounding area in order to continue making...

Pastors use podcasts to share the gospel

published 7/6/2020
By Kara Witherow, Editor Whether with papyrus or the printing press, PowerPoint or iPhones, from the beginning, pastors have had to stay up-to-date with the latest forms of communication technology to spread the gospel. Reaching nearly 75 percent of households, podcasts are a powerful and growing medium, and several South Georgia United Methodist pastors have embraced the platform to spread their messages of hope, healing, and love. Basics of the faith Revs. Brett Maddocks, Allen Cason, and ...

Where do you see the Holy Spirit at work?

published 7/6/2020
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 ...

Join Bishop Bryan in a prayer for our land

published 7/2/2020
To the South Georgia Conference: Independence Day, a.k.a. the Fourth of July, is of great significance because it connects us to the founding of this nation. While the pandemic is causing alterations in how this day is observed, it cannot prevent us from looking back with gratitude for this country that was founded 244 years ago. I want us to unite in a specific prayer for our nation. But first, let me also remind us of Governor Kemp’s latest executive order. Issued last Monday, the order ...

South Georgia Annual Conference to Meet Virtually in August

published 6/30/2020
Bishop Lawson Bryan, in collaboration with the officers of the Annual Conference and the Cabinet, has announced that the 2020 South Georgia Annual Conference session will be held virtually. The clergy session is set for Sunday, August 2, 2020, from 3:00 pm - 5:00 pm, and the one-day annual conference session is set for Saturday, August 15, 2020, from 8:30 am - 4:00 pm.  In addition to the business sessions, two special online services are being planned. A Retiree Recognition Service will be ...

No joyful noise: Many South Georgia congregations will return to in-person worship without singing

published 6/15/2020
By Kara Witherow, Editor When Thomasville First United Methodist Church returns to in-person worship this Sunday morning, things will look – and sound – a lot different than they did when the congregation last met in person March 15. Instead of a full choir of hymn-singing choristers belting out well-known songs like “I’ll Fly Away,” “Amazing Grace,” or “Great Is Thy Faithfulness,” soloists or duets will likely sing more obscure, lesser-known hymns. It’s one way to help prevent congregational...

South Georgia United Methodists have presence at protests

published 6/15/2020
By Kara Witherow, Editor Several South Georgia United Methodists are living out their faith by taking to the streets, protesting for justice and change. Each weekend beginning June 7, Derian Wilson, a 20-year-old member of Martha Bowman United Methodist Church in Macon, has organized peaceful rallies at the roundabout outside Macon’s Tattnall Square Park. Wilson says he planned the rallies to protest racism and injustice. “I’m biracial, so I became aware of racism at a very early age.” he ...

Columbus woman welcomed into UMC as a deaconess

published 6/14/2020
Micah 6:8 resonates deeply with Linda Laye. “Do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.” It’s a fitting verse for Laye, who was welcomed as a deaconess into The United Methodist Church in a virtual ceremony Monday, May 11.  “When you are consecrated as a deaconess you commit to a lifetime of service,” said Laye, who serves as chaplain of the Fellowship at Rose Hill in Columbus. Laye was to have been consecrated as a deaconess during the 2020 General Conference in ...

Have I got a story for you!

published 6/14/2020
PATHWAY TO HIS PRESENCE B.J. FUNK It is 3 p.m. on Saturday, May 30, 2020, and I have been, as many of you, glued to the television over an outbreak of violence in many of our cities. The initial reason is the murder of an African American, George Floyd. However, that has now been overshadowed by the collective reason of perceived mistreatment toward black men and women by white police officers for years. And it’s even more than that. It’s anger that has been stuffed down in the souls of any ...

Bishop Bryan sets 2020-2021 pastoral appointments

published 6/12/2020
On Monday, June 8, while meeting with the Cabinet at Epworth By The Sea, Bishop R. Lawson Bryan fixed the 2020-2021 pastoral appointments for the South Georgia Conference of The United Methodist Church. 2020-2021 Appointments Click here to download and view the list of appointments by district. The Reading of the Appointments

Worship service with Bishop Bryan

published 6/7/2020
From March 22 - June 14, Bishop Bryan offered a live stream worship moment each Sunday at 10:00 am. Thank you to all the individuals and churches from all across the South Georgia Annual Conference who participated in different ways in the past three months as we have worshiped together weekly! It has truly been a connectional experience, and we are grateful for the gifts and talents given freely across South Georgia to reach people for Christ. WATCH THE SERVICE FROM SUNDAY, JUNE 14 WATCH THE ...

A Pastoral Letter to United Methodists of the Southeastern Jurisdiction

published 6/5/2020
June 5, 2020 Brothers and Sisters: As president of the Southeastern Jurisdiction College of Bishops my heart rejoices over the bold, courageous, and compassionate offering of confession, lament, and call to action by our white brothers and sisters of the SEJ College and the gracious acceptance of this act of truth telling as we journey toward the Beloved Community. It is our belief that such actions enhance our work and witness to a hurting community seeking moral leadership in this time of ...

Our Connection Matters: Racial Justice Resources

published 6/5/2020
What Does The Lord Require Of Us?  "He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God." Micah 6:8 ... And what does the Lord require of you (me, us)? Micah 6:8 gives us a very straight forward answer. When we look at all that is happening in our nation and world right now, how can we "be the change we want to see in the world" (Mahatma Gandhi)?  A change agent is a person who acts as a catalyst for...

Bringing down walls of hostility

published 6/1/2020
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,...

Churches extend helping hands to homeless

published 6/1/2020
By Kathy L. Gilbert, UM News From helping people file for the government’s coronavirus aid checks to turning a church parking lot into a tent camp, United Methodist churches are finding new and different ways to help those who are homeless or living in poverty during the COVID-19 pandemic. Centenary Community Ministries in Macon, Georgia, has been holding twice-weekly sessions since April 15 to help people apply for the $1,200 aid package offered by the U.S. government. “It is a shame that ...


published 6/1/2020
LEADERSHIP REALLY MATTERS ANNE BOSARGE REV. JAY HANSON Have people been asking you questions like these: “How bad will this get?” “How long will it last?” “When is the church going reopen?” “How many people will come back?” "Can we sing in church?” “Should we sing?” What if we changed the narrative by starting to ask a different question? When you ask a new question, you unlock different answers. Our questions direct our minds. They can keep our attention locked in the past or they can open us...

Retired pastor donates hundreds of flowers to Albany nurses

published 6/1/2020
By Kara Witherow, Editor Even though Rev. Larry Roberts lives nearly 350 miles from Albany, the south Georgia town is never far from his heart. Rev. Roberts retired and moved to Lake Junaluska, N.C. in 1999, but served throughout the South Georgia Conference for 40 years, including stints in Preston, Americus, Blakely, and Moultrie. His son, Ben, lives and works in Albany as director of public relations and communications for Phoebe Putney Health System. So when Rev. Roberts heard that Albany...

Bishop Bryan to continue serving South Georgia through 2021

published 5/27/2020
Bishop R. Lawson Bryan, who was set to retire in September, will continue to serve as the episcopal leader of the South Georgia Conference through 2021. This announcement comes from The Council of Bishops. In an unprecedented move, The Council of Bishops has extended the retirement of five bishops until the postponed Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference in November 2021. The five bishops extending their service are Bishop Bryan; Bishop Paul L. Leeland, episcopal leader of the Western North ...

Revised Dates Announced for 2021 General and Jurisdictional Conferences

published 5/26/2020
The Commission on the General Conference has announced new 2021 dates for General Conference following the postponement of the event due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The quadrennial legislative event will take place on August 29 - September 7, 2021, at the Minneapolis Convention Center in Minneapolis, Minn.  "We're grateful that we were able to secure new dates while keeping the site of General Conference in Minneapolis. Nearly seven years of pre-planning and preparations by the host team have ...

Coronavirus changes how life events are celebrated

published 5/18/2020
By Kara Witherow, Editor Instead of just one lavish wedding, newlyweds Rebecca and David Bell will, eventually, have two weddings to remember. Two weddings weren’t part of their original plan, but the coronavirus pandemic forced the couple to rethink and reschedule their dream wedding just weeks before the big day. Married April 25 in an intimate, outdoor “elopement” at Indian Springs State Park in Flovilla, the ceremony included only Rebecca, David, their parents, two officiants, and a ...

Oldest South Georgia Conference clergy member turns 100

published 5/18/2020
By Kara Witherow, Editor Rev. Henry Erwin’s Methodist roots run deep. He’s the 17th Methodist minister in a family that traces their faith heritage all the way back to Francis Asbury. “The first (pastor) in our family was ordained by Francis Asbury, the first Methodist bishop in the New World,” said Angela Mobley, one of Rev. Erwin’s daughters. Rev. Erwin’s father and uncle were both Methodist ministers, so it was no shock when, as a teenager, Rev. Erwin felt the call to ministry. “Daddy ...

A new sense of patriotism

published 5/17/2020
By Dr. Hal Brady The late Dr. John Claypool, noted minister, tells about going to make pastoral calls at a large hospital. He visited two women both approaching 90 and both with physical difficulties. When John entered the first woman’s room, he felt this incredible cloud of despair. The woman was quick to list all her complaints. Dr. Claypool said he tried to cheer her up but to no avail. Two floors down, he saw the other woman who was facing some serious physical ailments, but the ...

Carrying our sanctuary wherever we go

published 5/17/2020
OUR CONNECTION MATTERS ALLISON LINDSEY I must confess, I absolutely love a good quote! Quotes, scriptures, prayers, and profound nuggets of truth that I do not want to forget - or that I need more time to ponder - fill my journals. I often look through these journals and many times something jumps out at me in a new and relevant way. This week, for example, I stumbled upon this AW Tozer quote: “Worshipers never leave church … we carry our sanctuary with us wherever we go.” During this pandemic,...

Stay safe online, beware of scams

published 5/11/2020
(Wespath) During this pandemic, there are many examples of people coming together to help each other. This crisis is shining a bright light on front-line heroes—the medical workers and other essential workers caring for us, staffing our stores and delivering goods to those unable to leave their homes.  Unfortunately, there are also villains in our story—those who prey on others, using the pandemic to their advantage. Today, we are focused on things you can do to prevent being taken advantage of...

Bishop Bryan: Being agents of grace, mercy, love, peace, justice, and reconciliation

published 5/8/2020
As United Methodists, we value the sanctity of human life and deplore violence in our communities and acts of racism, hatred, and systems that perpetuate these and other injustices. We desire to be ambassadors of Christ who work to build bridges between people and overcome dividing walls of hostility. Because of these values and convictions, we express our grief over the death of Ahmaud Arbery, a young African American man who was shot in Brunswick in February. As stated in our United Methodist...

A Word from Bishop Bryan: COVID-19 update - Putting our focus on June

published 5/5/2020
To the South Georgia Conference: The Cabinet and I want to thank all of our clergy and congregations for the ways you have been responsible, stayed home, practiced social distancing, and taken other measures designed to slow the spread of the coronavirus. We know how hard this is and how much you want to be together with your congregation. It takes everyone doing their part, and you are certainly doing yours. Thank you. On Thursday, April 30, Governor Kemp issued a statement extending Georgia’...

Faith helps UMs care for others

published 5/4/2020
By Kara Witherow, Editor Psalm 23 runs on a continuous loop in Brandy Floyd’s head these days. “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me…” Floyd, a busy physician assistant in Blakely and member of Blakely First United Methodist Church, is concerned about her patients, her family, and her community. In the past two months, her family practice clinic, Pioneer Family Medical, has had to convert to telemedicine as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold of the ...

John Wesley’s sister Susana (“Sukey”)

published 5/4/2020
JOHN WESLEY MOMENTS DAVE HANSON John Wesley’s sister Susanna was eight years older than John. She was a good-natured young woman, happy and vivacious, with a delightful sense of humor. When a “ghost” seemed to haunt the Wesley parsonage, Sukey emphasized the humorous aspects of his “visitations.” Susanna lived for a while in London with her Uncle Annesley, her mother’s brother. He liked Sukie and promised her a generous gift. However, her hopes were dashed when he went off to India and ...

Leadership in a brave new world

published 5/4/2020
GROWING IN GRACE BEN GOSDEN Just 90 days ago we began a new year. 2020 seemed rich with possibility. This was going to be the year my congregation, Trinity United Methodist Church in downtown Savannah, launched a financial campaign to finally address the ongoing interior needs of the 172-year-old building. As a church, we had grown from the brink of financial despair to more health. And this was going to be the year we parlayed that growth and enthusiasm into leaving a mark on this historic ...

South Georgia United Methodists share fellowship, connection with Agape Meal

published 5/4/2020
In this time of crisis, social distancing, and uncertainty, the things people need most are prayer, support, and encouragement. But how are those things shared when we can’t be together? On the evening of Sunday, May 3, the South Georgia Conference gathered for a virtual Agape Meal, a time of fellowship and connection. Introduced to John Wesley by the Moravians, Agape Meals became a significant part of early Methodism. And at a time when the church is scattered because of the coronavirus ...

Wesley at Frederica members live out faith, make impact on community

published 5/4/2020
By Kara Witherow, Editor Nearly a year ago, Leslie and Mark Coptsias began building a four bedroom, three-and-a-half-bathroom home on St. Simons Island. Located in the Sea Palms neighborhood, the home boasts both lake and golf course views. But what can’t be seen is the impact it will make on the Glynn County community. When the sale closes at the end of this month, the proceeds of its sale will be donated to FaithWorks, a social services ministry affiliated with The United Methodist Church. ...

What’s on your pastor’s mind?

published 5/4/2020
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 Bishop Bryan May 3 for a conference-wide Agape Meal

published 5/3/2020
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 Together in Christ.  I would like to ...

Food Bank runs on volunteers

published 4/27/2020
Written for the Miller County Liberal Newspaper by Dr. Debra Jones How do you feed 500 families in one morning? Team work, that is how, and lots of preparation, sweat equity and community commitment. The process began two weeks ago when the food order was placed with Second Harvest for the Colquitt United Methodist Church Food Bank.  On Thursday, April 16, the semi-load of food was delivered. Trusties from the Miller County Jail under the supervision of jail administrator Dale Glover and ...

A Word from Bishop Bryan: COVID-19 update - Loving others and being socially responsible

published 4/21/2020
To the South Georgia Conference: As Methodists, we strive to align ourselves with John Wesley’s Three General Rules: Do No Harm, Do Good, Attend upon the ordinances of God. I believe that doing no harm and loving God also means loving others well and being socially responsible. During this time, loving others well means caring for them and their safety. To this end, the Cabinet and I have reflected upon Gov. Kemp’s most recent statement and offer the following guidelines in order to provide ...

Collins UMC serves community in a big way

published 4/20/2020
By Kara Witherow, Editor Collins United Methodist Church may be small, but it is mighty. In tiny Collins, the congregation, which has about 12 members, is a big force for good. The members feed nearly 200 people at each of two large community meals every year, one at Thanksgiving and typically one at Easter; pack and donate dozens of Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes every Christmas; and give generously to ministries that serve those who are homeless. Even in the midst of the coronavirus ...

Join me May 3 for a conference-wide Agape Meal

published 4/20/2020
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 ...

Pastors, laity use quarantine to nurture gifts, talents

published 4/20/2020
By Kara Witherow, Editor While folks are spending more time at home than ever before, people are tapping into talents they’d let go dormant, rediscovering skills they didn’t have time to nurture, and pursuing passions long abandoned. Rev. Grant Abernathy has always enjoyed doodling. In seminary, the pastime helped him stay focused and engaged as he listened to lectures, and the margins of his notes were usually littered with doodles and drawings. The pastor of Crossroads United Methodist ...

South Georgia relief teams help with tornado damage cleanup

published 4/20/2020
South Georgia Disaster Response Teams are committed to responding and helping their neighbors affected by disasters, even in the midst of a pandemic. While extra precautions are necessary, they have not kept early response teams from showing up and working hard.  Following the Easter storms, on April 13 South Georgia Disaster Response Coordinator Luis Morales and district disaster coordinators immediately sprang into action and assessed affected areas and began deploying teams. Kelly Crane, ...

South Georgia United Methodists celebrate Easter differently this year

published 4/20/2020
By Kara Witherow, Editor For most South Georgia United Methodists, Easter usually means packed sanctuaries, big Sunday dinners with family, smocked dresses, and super-sized hats. But this year, even though churches were empty and typical Easter traditions couldn’t happen, families still found ways to safely celebrate the holiday. Instead of her usual trip to Athens to celebrate Easter with her children, Karen Forester, a member of Bainbridge United Methodist Church, worshiped online, from ...

Yard flowers ignore the quarantine

published 4/19/2020
PATHWAY TO HIS PRESENCE B.J. FUNK Today, on my 28th day of voluntary self-quarantining (not sick… just doing as we’ve been asked), I ventured outside to go to the drive-through at the bank. As I drove out of my yard, I noticed the beginning buds on my Crepe Myrtle trees that line both sides of my long driveway. My son, Shawn, pruned them in the winter, and for all of these months, they have looked like a sad bunch of limbs sticking out of the ground. Not so today. New life called to me, “Drive...

Annual Conference postponed until August, Moving Day adjusted

published 4/15/2020
The 2020 Annual Conference session, scheduled for June 7-9 at The Columbus Georgia Convention & Trade Center, has been postponed due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). Annual Conference is now set for August 14-15 at the UGA Tifton Campus Conference Center in Tifton, Ga. "While we look forward to the day we can all be together, the reality is that the coronavirus has changed how we are all doing ministry and meetings at this time," Bishop Lawson Bryan said. "We have made the decision to not ...

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