Georgia Pastors' School Invites Clergy to Consider the 'Inside Out Church'

published 7/30/2018
Bishop's Panel at Georgia Pastors' School with Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson and Bishop Lawson Bryan. Moderated by Rev. Matt Nelson. (Photo courtesy of the South Georgia Annual Conference) By JESSICA BRADFORD For many years, hundreds of active and retired clergy have convened near the banks of historic Frederica River at Epworth By The Sea for the annual Georgia Pastors’ School. Pastors’ School provides inspiration, education, worship, fellowship, fun and relaxation for North and South Georgia ...

Connectional Ministries August Toolkit: Back to School

published 7/25/2018
Each month, the Office of Connectional Ministries offers a toolkit that focuses on a different theme to resource your local church in nurture, outreach, witness and advocacy ministries. Subscribe to receive future issues, click here. BACK TO SCHOOL  This month we are focusing on "Back to School." Where did this summer go? As your church looks ahead to a new school year, Connectional Ministries is here to help! Dive into the resource list below for new ideas and resources to strengthen ...

Being Neighborly

published 7/23/2018
Dr. Hal Brady You know the story. I once saw it mimed by a youth group in a worship service. The wounded person was stretched out on the floor in the chancel area. A figure representing the priest came up, took a look and turned his back. Next, another figure representing the Levite came up, took a look and turned his back. At this point in the worship service, all of us present confessed our sins of omission and commission in unison and received absolution (forgiveness). Then, the Samaritan ...

Bishop Bryan will visit each district to discuss Way Forward report

published 7/23/2018
Bishop Lawson Bryan will be in each of the Conference’s six districts to discuss the Way Forward report with clergy and laity. August 16 - Northwest District  6:30 pm - 8 pm at St. Luke UMC, Columbus August 20 - Northeast District  6:30 pm - 8 pm at Pittman Park UMC, Statesboro August 27 - South Central District  6:30 pm - 8 pm at Valdosta FUMC September 6 - Coastal District  6:30 pm - 8 pm at Hinesville FUMC September 9 - North Central District 6 pm - 7:30 pm at Riverside UMC, Macon ...

Q & A with Rev. David Thompson, Coastal District Superintendent

published 7/23/2018
This is the second in a two-part series that will introduce the new District Superintendents ADVOCATE: Tell us a little about yourself. Where did you grow up? Have you always lived in South Georgia? REV. THOMPSON: I was born in Augusta but my dad worked for Westinghouse, so that was the perfect preparation for being a Methodist pastor because I actually moved more with my dad than I have as a pastor. We moved all over. Westinghouse was headquartered in Pittsburgh and they had places all over ...

Together, it becomes enough

published 7/23/2018
OUR CONNECTION MATTERS NITA CRUMP “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, 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 28:19-20 (NIV) In late 2010 I went with a group to Barahona, Dominican Republic to work with the people who live in the batays and to take food to an orphanage in Haiti that had been badly affected by the ...

Truckers wanted at Port Wentworth UMC

published 7/23/2018
By Kara Witherow, Editor Hundreds of semi-trailer trucks drive past Port Wentworth United Methodist Church each day. They’re loud, they rattle the church windows, and the exhaust fills the air. The truckers’ presence is impossible to miss, church members and staff say. “We hear the clanging and banging of the trucks all day long and sometimes even on Sunday mornings during the church services,” said church secretary Laura Weatherford. But instead of being frustrated, the Port Wentworth UMC ...

Judicial Council releases October docket

published 7/17/2018
(UMNS) A request by the United Methodist Council of Bishops for a ruling on the constitutionality of three legislative plans heading to the 2019 special General Conference is among the docket items being considered this fall by the denomination’s top court. Judicial Council will meet Oct. 23-26 in Zurich, Switzerland. As part of the Judicial Council’s process, The Book of Discipline requires that requests for a declaratory decision, including relevant documents such as legislative petitions, be ...

Fraud Alert: Phishing emails being sent from fake address

published 7/13/2018
The conference office has been notified of a phishing email making the rounds to various South Georgia United Methodists appearing as a message from Bishop Bryan. We recommend that you don't open attachments or give your personal information to anyone unless you are sure about the email address. is NOT an email address affiliated with the South Georgia Conference. YAHOO has been alerted to the fake email address, but you can also submit/flag the email to your provider...

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

published 7/9/2018
To the clergy and laity of the South Georgia Conference: In the last couple of days two matters have arisen related to the special session of General Conference, set for February 23-26, 2019, in St. Louis, Missouri. In the interest of clarity and transparency I want to address each of them.   Anticipated Release of Way Forward Report The Council of Bishops originally estimated that the Way Forward report would be translated and released no later than July 8, 2018 -- 230 days before the opening...

Dr. Crump’s vision is for Connectional Ministries to be the glue that holds the connection together

published 7/9/2018
Identifying the needs of local churches and working to meet those needs is one of Dr. Nita Crump’s passions. As the new Director of Connectional Ministries, Dr. Crump has the opportunity to help resource, connect, and equip churches on a conference-wide scale. The Director of Connectional Ministries (DCM) is the steward of the vision of the annual conference; a leader of the process of transformation and renewal; responsible for alignment of resources, and overseer of the connectional ...

Q & A with Rev. Doreen Smalls, Southwest District Superintendent

published 7/9/2018
This is the first in a two-part series that will introduce the new District Superintendents ADVOCATE: Tell us a little about yourself. Where did you grow up? Have you always lived in South Georgia? REV. SMALLS: I grew up in small-town Ehrhardt, S.C. with my parents and siblings. Ehrhardt is a close-knit community where everyone knows everyone. I remained in South Carolina through college and for a few years after college. I moved to Columbus, Ga. upon the urging of one my older sisters who ...

Bishop Bryan announces new staff member

published 6/25/2018
The South Georgia Conference, under the leadership of Bishop Lawson Bryan, is pleased to announce that Barbara “Bobbi” Googe has been hired as the Administrative Assistant to Bishop Bryan. She will join the conference staff July 6, 2018. Googe currently works in administration at Navicent Medical Center in Macon. She is a lifelong United Methodist, having grown up in Ft. Valley UMC and currently serving as Lay Leader at Martha Bowman UMC in Macon. Googe is also an active member of United ...

Grace Gifts

published 6/25/2018
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 ...

Paving the way for female clergy

published 6/25/2018
By Kara Witherow, Editor When Rev. Marcia Cochran was first ordained in 1975, she had never heard a woman preach. In every appointment she served before retiring, she was that congregation’s first female pastor. At the 2018 Annual Conference session, the only ordinands were two females, both being ordained as deacons. A lot has changed in 43 years, Rev. Cochran said, but she has endured pain, hurt, and rejection along the way. That bumpy path, however, has helped pave the way for future ...

Wesleyan College, Candler partner to help students attend seminary

published 6/25/2018
By Kara Witherow, Editor A new partnership between Wesleyan College and Emory University’s Candler School of Theology will make it easier for students to pursue theological education and earn seminary degrees. The collaboration, which will see its first student begin classes at Candler this August, gives Wesleyan College students guaranteed admission and scholarship opportunities to Candler. To be eligible, students must have a 3.0 grade point average and have majored in ...

What does it mean to be connectional and unified?

published 6/25/2018
OUR CONNECTION MATTERS NITA CRUMP “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me. I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one – I in them and you in me – so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have ...

Bishop Bryan: A Prayer for Peace

published 6/13/2018
Bishop Bryan offers his prayers following the June 12 Summit of US and North Korean leaders in Singapore: I join all United Methodists in praying that this week’s summit between the leaders of North Korea and the United States will turn out to be a first step on the path to a more peaceful and secure future in the region. We pray for God’s unseen but ever present hand to guide those involved in negotiations so that their efforts may accomplish far more than they could ask or imagine.    Let us ...

Bishop Bryan: A Prayer on Moving Day

published 6/13/2018
As I pray for those pastors/churches receiving new appointments and for those who are continuing in their current appointment, I invite you to join me in meditating on this scripture and in praying the following prayer: Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6 God of Love, You are with us in every transition and change. As we enter into this new day with excitement and even some...

Bishop Bryan sets 2018-2019 pastoral appointments

published 6/11/2018
On Tuesday, June 5, Bishop R. Lawson Bryan fixed the 2018-2019 pastoral appointments for the South Georgia Conference of The United Methodist Church. Click here to download and view a list of appointments by district. 

Bishop Bryan to 2018 Annual Conference session: Stretch!

published 6/11/2018
Just outside the doors of the Jekyll Island Convention Center, the Atlantic Ocean stretched as far as the eye could see. Inside, the South Georgia Annual Conference gathered Sunday, June 3 through Tuesday, June 5 for its 152nd annual conference session. “Stretch,” Bishop Bryan said as he preached the conference’s opening worship service sermon and encouraged South Georgia United Methodists to respond to Jesus’ call to follow Him and love and serve others.  “Even John Wesley had to learn to ...

Conference members learn to plan, vision, create “Plan on a Page”

published 6/11/2018
During the 2018 Annual Conference session, church consultant and guest teacher Claire Bowen, a human resources specialist and Statesboro native, led clergy and laity to work together in teams to develop a plan for vitality and ministry. The teacher for the 2018 South Georgia Annual Conference Session, during the Tuesday, June 5 morning business session Bowen taught delegates how to put a "Plan on a Page" to bring new life and vision to their congregation.  “Whatever size we are, we need a plan...

Memorial Service 2018: Remembering those who have gone before us

published 6/11/2018
A Memorial Service for those faithful servants who served in the South Georgia Annual Conference was held Monday afternoon, June 4, at 2 p.m. as conference members gathered at the Jekyll Island Convention Center. Rev. Leigh Ann Raynor, retired South Georgia minister, gave a touching message as she remembered those who have gone before us.   Rev. Raynor reminded us of our calls to serve and to thank God for calling us all into ministry.   “Remembering our calls, shouldn’t we be saying thank you,...

Stretch out your hand to reach the world

published 6/11/2018
A message from Bishop Bryan: This year’s annual conference session truly found us Alive Together in Worship. In addition to our regular worship services - opening, memorial, ordination, and sending forth - we also experienced morning prayer, noon prayer, and compline (end of the day prayer). The entire annual conference was punctuated with vibrant worship and meaningful connection. Many have reported that they returned home feeling comforted and strengthened as a result of a clear emphasis on ...

Vital Signs highlight ways Conference is Alive Together in Worship

published 6/11/2018
During the 2018 Annual Conference session, delegates heard Vital Signs moments from the Office of Congregational Development and Connectional Ministries. These Vital Signs moments highlighted areas in the South Georgia Conference that are alive and vital and ways the conference is “Alive Together in Worship.” During the Monday, June 4 afternoon business session, Rev. Jay Hanson, director of Congregational Development, highlighted a couple of the Conference’s churches that are seeing increases ...

Cleaning the Cobwebs

published 6/10/2018
LEADERSHIP REALLY MATTERS ANNE BOSARGE REV. JAY HANSON   The other day I was sitting in bed reading a book when my son Jacob, a high school freshman, came in the room to talk to me about the busy schedule of the week ahead.   Before he started speaking, I noticed him standing in front of me looking up at the corner ceiling with a questioning look on his face. I turned to see the object of his attention and was confused – all I saw was the empty corner of my bedroom. He pointed up at the ceiling ...

Conference approves one resolution, refers another

published 6/10/2018
During the 2018 South Georgia Annual Conference session, delegates approved a resolution that called on the South Georgia Conference to “affirm the present standards of our Discipline” and referred a second, the “Christian Spirituality Task Force” resolution, to the Office of Connectional Ministries. During the Tuesday, June 5 business session, a resolution that called on the South Georgia Conference to “affirm the present standards of our Discipline” and also asked that the Secretary of the ...

Celebrating ministry milestones and achievements at Annual Conference

published 6/8/2018
Annual Conference is a special time to celebrate ministry milestones and achievements, from those just entering the ministry to those taking the next step of their journey into retirement. On Monday morning the South Georgia Annual Conference celebrated with those clergy who have served in ministry for 50 years and those who are entering into a retired relationship with the Annual Conference. Clergy recognized for having served 50 years in ministry include: Rev. James E. Hamlin Rev. W. Carl ...

Conference adopts arrearage policy to help stop health insurance and pension debt

published 6/8/2018
During the 2018 Annual Conference session, South Georgia delegates approved a conference arrearage policy to help stem the tide of clergy benefit debt. An arrearage is something unpaid or overdue. South Georgia congregations that are in arrears to the conference are, for the most part, in debt because they haven’t paid their clergy health insurance premiums or the church’s share of pension costs, said Dr. Derek McAleer, conference treasurer. An arrearage can occur, however, anytime a church or ...

Praying Our Way Forward: Take part in the next phase of prayer for God's guidance

published 6/8/2018
The Council of Bishops, in partnership with The Upper Room, is launching Phase 3 of Praying our Way Forward. Phase 1 involved 84 members of the Council of Bishops praying for The United Methodist Church’s way forward for 15 minutes daily, from August to December 2016. This was followed by Phase 2, which resulted in 18 continuous months of daily individual and corporate prayer by faithful members of annual conferences around the globe. South Georgia United Methodists held a week of prayer ...

South Georgia churches are Alive Together in Christ through mission, ministry and evangelism

published 6/7/2018
Churches throughout the conference continue to demonstrate the ways they are Alive Together in Christ 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 ...

Annual Conference Session: Recap of Day 3, June 5

published 6/5/2018
Business Session In the business session Tuesday  morning, the conference: were "energized" with a song and dance by the kids from BEACH camp and the College Summer Camp Leadership team. were led by Claire Bowen, human resource specialist and church consultant, in planning and vision work - “Plan on a Page.” This plan, which is a plan for being alive together in the world, helps churches create a vision of greatness and vitality. The process allows the church to dream, to innovate, to try...

Annual Conference Session: Recap of Day 2, June 4

published 6/4/2018
L to R: Alaina Harrison (full deacon), Shannon Baxter (provisional deacon), David Cott (provisional elder), Susan Beverly (provisional elder), Thomas Anderson (provisional elder) Debora Richards (provisional elder), Jamie Bone (provisional deacon), Grace Guyton (full deacon).  Morning Liturgy The morning liturgy was led by Revs. Anthony McPhail, Alaina Harrison, Greg Harrison, and Robert Wood. The first reading was from Psalm 103:1-18, and the second reading was from 1 Peter 2:21-5. Business ...

Annual Conference Session: Recap of Day 1, June 3

published 6/3/2018
Opening Worship Just outside the doors of the Jekyll Island Convention Center, the Atlantic Ocean stretches as far as the eye can see. Inside, the South Georgia Annual Conference gathered Sunday, June 3 for its opening worship service. “Stretch,” Bishop Bryan said as he preached a sermon encouraging South Georgia United Methodists to respond to Jesus’ call to follow Him and love and serve others. “Even John Wesley had to learn to stretch,” he said. “John Wesley stretched the church.” Bishop ...

2019 Conference budget reduced by nearly 6 percent

published 5/28/2018
The Council on Finance and Administration (CF&A) is proposing a 2019 budget that is a nearly 6 percent decrease from the 2018 budget of $10,662,813. The proposed 2019 budget, to be presented to and voted upon at the 2018 Annual Conference session, is $10,062,826. Most of the decrease is due to a reduction in the Pre-82 pension apportionment of $650,400. The proposed 2019 budget does include a salary increase for conference staff of 2.5 percent and a raise for Cabinet-level staff, along with ...

CBOP responds to 2017 motion about family health insurance

published 5/28/2018
In response to a motion made during the 2017 Annual Conference session which directed the South Georgia Conference Board of Pensions and Health Benefits (CBOP) to “revisit the subject of family health insurance policies specifically focused on finding options that will lower the premium,” the CBOP Insurance Subcommittee met regularly during the past year to study options to creatively lower insurance costs for clergy and their families. After thorough research which included a survey of 39 ...

Conference to consider, vote on two resolutions

published 5/28/2018
Two resolutions have been presented for consideration and vote by the 2018 South Georgia Annual Conference. Resolutions, once approved by the Annual Conference, are statements that represent the position of the conference on a subject. The first, the “Christian Spirituality Task Force” resolution, was written and submitted by four South Georgia pastors and one lay member of the annual conference. It calls on the presiding bishop to appoint a task force to study how the conference can more ...

Live stream of Annual Conference Session begins June 3

published 5/28/2018
Those who are not able to attend the 2018 South Georgia Annual Conference session may watch the conference in its entirety via live stream at The live stream link will be available through the Annual Conference session’s duration, beginning at 6:30 p.m. on Sunday, June 3 through the Fixing the Appointments/Sending Forth Service on Tuesday, June 5. Those with internet access can experience events, worship services, and plenary sessions as if they were attending in ...

South Georgia delegates to revote on proposed constitutional amendment

published 5/28/2018
Delegates to the 2018 South Georgia Annual Conference, meeting June 3-5 on Jekyll Island, will revote on a proposed amendment to the UMC constitution dealing with women’s equality. It was announced May 10 that an error had been made in the text of proposed Constitutional Amendment I as it was presented to annual conferences for voting. The amendment needed 66.7 percent of the votes to pass and only received 66.5. The amendment was among five constitutional amendments approved by the 2016 ...

Bishop Bryan Announces Projected June Appointments (updated 5/27)

published 5/27/2018
Bishop R. Lawson Bryan has announced projected appointment changes as of May 27, 2018. The appointments will be set at the South Georgia Annual Conference and will be effective in June. The appointment list and a note about the projected appointments can be found at 

Court OKs submission of other petitions for GC2019

published 5/25/2018
The United Methodist Church’s top court has ruled that other petitions — in addition to legislation from the Council of Bishops — can be submitted for the 2019 special session of General Conference. Any organization, as well as clergy members and lay members, can file a petition for the 2019 special session of General Conference, which is devoted to working through a longstanding impasse over homosexuality. Those petitions must be “in harmony with the purpose stated in the call” for the special...

Peace with Justice Sunday is May 27

published 5/21/2018
Peace With Justice Sunday, set for May 27, is one of the special Sundays of The United Methodist Church. This special offering makes it possible for our ongoing ministries of peace and reconciliation. Your gift can help bring awareness for peace and justice in a hurting world. Recently, Rev. Ashley Randall, a member of the Conference Advocacy team, traveled to the Board of Church and Society in Washington, DC where he met with Peace with Justice Coordinators from across the connection. He shares...

South Georgia pastor attends GCORR's Facing the Future conference

published 5/21/2018
Rev. Patricia A. Burns, pastor of Putney United Methodist Church, recently attended Facing the Future, a conference for pastors serving in cross-racial/cross-cultural appointments. Organized by The General Commission on Religion and Race (GCORR), it was held May 7-9 in Newark, New Jersey. Rev Burns attended the conference on behalf of the Conference Advocacy committee. Directed by GCORR General Secretary Erin Hawkins and the GCORR Design Team, the conference’s theme was "In the Midst of the ...

Hail and Farewell

published 5/14/2018
From the Heart of the Connection Rev. Dr. Matt Woodbery, Director of Connectional Ministries “I thank my God every time I mention you in my prayers. I’m thankful for all of you every time I pray, and it’s always a prayer full of joy. I’m glad because of the way you have been my partners in the ministry of the gospel from the time you first believed it until now. I’m sure about this: the one who started a good work in you will stay with you to complete the job by the day of Christ Jesus. I have ...

The Power of a Noble Dream

published 5/14/2018
By Dr. Hal Brady   In a certain classroom in New Hampshire, a youth was asked to give an oral report to his classmates. Each attempt ended in embarrassing failure. Recalling his experience, he confessed: “I could not speak before the school. Many a piece did I commit to memory, and recite and rehearse in my own room, over and over again, and yet, when the day came, when my name was called, and all eyes turned to my seat, I could not raise myself from it. When the occasion was over, I went home ...

Vineville UMC member teaches students to fix bikes at his Macon bike shop

published 5/14/2018
By Kara Witherow, Editor At 5 p.m. each Tuesday and Wednesday, a crowd of young boys and girls waits eagerly for the door to the Learn and Earn Bike Shop to open. When it does they rush to their work stations, grab their wrenches, and get to work. They’re there to earn bikes by putting in 10 hours of sweat equity into the Learn and Earn bicycle program, a youth training and mentoring program that’s a partnership between after-school program Campus Clubs and Nathan Watson, a member of Vineville...

Constitutional amendment to be revisited

published 5/10/2018
The Rev. Gary W. Graves, Secretary of the General Conference, announced today that an error was made in the text of a proposed Constitutional amendment as it was presented for voting, and which subsequently failed to pass. Amendment #1 of the five constitutional amendments that were approved by the 2016 General Conference - and which narrowly failed to be ratified - included a sentence which had been removed by the legislative body. Graves, who became secretary on December 1, 2016, said he was ...

Bishops announce results of five constitutional amendments

published 5/7/2018
The Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church has completed canvassing the votes of annual conferences on the five constitutional amendments that were approved by the 2016 General Conference.  Summary of Votes by Annual Conferences Amendment Total "Yes"  Votes Total "No" Votes % of Yes Votes Amendment I 31,304 15,753 66.5% Amendment II 29,049 18,317 61.3% Amendment III 42,639 4,578 90.3% Amendment IV 43,770 3,340 92.9% Amendment V 38,087 8,828 81.2% The five proposed...

United Methodist Bishops release recommendation to 2019 General Conference

published 5/4/2018
A Word from Bishop Bryan I have spent this past week at the Council of Bishops (COB) meeting in Chicago where we heard the final report from the Commission on a Way Forward and have prayerfully finalized our recommendation to the 2019 Special Session of the General Conference. A summary of the recommendation coming out of this meeting is now ready to be released (see press release below). I remind us to receive this summary as helpful information as we study the report, reflect on it, and ...

Stay Calm. Stay Connected. Stay the Course.

published 5/1/2018
FROM THE BISHOP R. LAWSON BRYAN Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, I flew to Chicago Saturday to meet with the Council of Bishops as we finalize our recommendations to the 2019 Special Session of the General Conference. As we are meeting, I want to thank you for your prayers as well as share what is on my heart. This season has been challenging yet full of hope, and I am thankful for the gracious and prayerful way we have walked through it. The faithful laity and clergy of the South Georgia...

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