2020 Virtual Annual Conference Session: Schedule, links to worship services, helpful documents & videos


What John Wesley says about church growth, part 2

published 9/30/2019
JOHN WESLEY MOMENTS DAVE HANSON John Wesley said one of the societies had not grown in more than a year. He attributed this lack of growth to one thing: the lack of visiting from house to house. If your congregation is not growing, perhaps you should consider the old fashioned practice which pastors vow to do at their ordination: “visit from house to house.” The Rev. Dave Hanson is a retired pastor and John Wesley scholar.

Register today for Encounter Youth Retreat, set for Nov. 22-24

published 9/26/2019
Youth groups from around the South Georgia Conference (and beyond!) will come together for a fall weekend retreat that offers passionate worship, relevant Bible study, and a meaningful time with other teens at Epworth By The Sea on St. Simons Island. Sponsored by the Office of Connectional Ministries, Encounter Youth Retreat, set for Nov. 22-24, 2019, is for all middle and high school students.  Encounter offers a chance for students to take a break from school, have fun in the beautiful ...

Lessons from Dorian: Communication and connection are critical

published 9/16/2019
By Kara Witherow, Editor Even though Hurricane Dorian didn’t impact Georgia’s coast as originally forecast, South Georgia United Methodist congregations and ministries responded before and after the storm to help those whose lives were affected. In the days leading up to Hurricane Dorian’s eventual East Coast landfall, no one was sure exactly where the storm would hit, but those in the Coastal District prepared for the worst. Coastal District Superintendent Rev. David Thompson lives in ...

Trip explores partnership between South Georgia, North Katanga Annual Conferences

published 9/16/2019
By Kara Witherow, Editor Joy. Passion. Radical hospitality. Relevance. That’s what six South Georgia United Methodists found earlier this month when they traveled to the North Katanga Annual Conference, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). There to explore a new mission partnership with the conference, the team met with Bishop Mande Muyombo and learned about his three main initiatives: church planting, the Kamisamba Farm and Training Centre, and an orphanage. The group toured the ...

Unity has a purpose

published 9/16/2019
OUR CONNECTION MATTERS NITA CRUMP​ 11 So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, 12 to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up 13 until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. (Ephesians 4:11-13, NIV) Unity. Unity is a word that’s been tossed around quite a lot over the last couple of years in ...

A Positive Attitude

published 9/15/2019
By Dr. Hal Brady A few days ago, my wife and I visited a minister friend and his wife in an Atlanta hospital. This minister friend and I have known each other for a number of years, as we served neighboring churches at the same time in the North Georgia mountains. Though we haven’t seen each other for some time, when I found out he was in the hospital in another city, I called him to see how he was doing. He told me that he had been in one hospital, transferred to another, was told he was to ...

Responding to Hurricane Dorian: Prayers and Giving

published 9/5/2019
Although we saw minimal impact on the coast of Georgia from Hurricane Dorian, we know other areas were not as fortunate. Our prayers continue for our neighbors in the Bahamas and others impacted by the storm. Bishop Bryan and Luis Morales, conference disaster response coordinator, have been in touch with surrounding annual conferences and UMCOR letting them know of our readiness to serve. UMCOR (United Methodist Committee On Relief) has awarded a solidarity grant to Bahamas Methodist Habitat, ...

Monitoring Hurricane Dorian - 9/3/19 Update

published 9/3/2019
Although Hurricane Dorian has weakened as it moved over Grand Bahama Island on Tuesday morning, it is still a powerful category 2 storm, according to the National Hurricane Center. The images we have seen of the destruction in the Bahamas caused by this Hurricane are devastating, and we continue to pray for our brothers and sisters who will feel the effects of this storm for a long time to come. The Conference Disaster Response committee remains vigilant as Hurricane Dorian now moves towards ...

Confidence, Communication, Curiosity

published 9/2/2019
FROM THE BISHOP R. LAWSON BRYAN How are we in South Georgia going to keep track of all the hopeful conversations going on around the global United Methodist connection? The Leadership Forum Task Force, that’s how!  When I formed this group last year we named it the “Foundations for the Future of South Georgia Task Force.” The members of the group represent the boards and agencies of our conference that oversee property matters, money, pensions and benefits, laity, the Cabinet, the General ...

Home is where the heart is

published 9/2/2019
GROWING IN GRACE BEN GOSDEN A love letter to South Georgia Methodism There hasn’t been a moment in my life when I haven’t been a South Georgia Methodist. It’s true. For nearly 37 years, the compass of my faith in Jesus Christ has pointed to South Georgia as the home of my faith journey. Where do I begin to express my gratitude for this conference – this spiritual space marked with country churches, oak trees that hang just low enough in the summer, beautiful fields lined with peaches and ...

Monitoring Hurricane Dorian - 9/2/19 Update

published 9/2/2019
We continue to pray for our brothers and sisters in the Bahamas and those in the path of Hurricane Dorian along the east coast. Based on the most recent forecasts from the National Weather Service, it looks like our conference will be heavily impacted by Hurricane Dorian. Gov. Brian Kemp has ordered residents in six Georgia counties east of I-95 - Bryan, Camden, Chatham, Glynn, Liberty and McIntosh Counties - to evacuate beginning today at noon. Bishop Bryan, Luis Morales (Conference Disaster ...

Series of shocking stunts helps youth group raise mission trip money

published 9/2/2019
By Kara Witherow, Editor Bake sales, pasta dinners, and cake walks are the bread and butter of church fundraisers, but one Brunswick church’s student ministry has taken food fundraising up a noxious notch or two. Wanting to raise several thousand dollars for 14 students and four chaperones to go on a mission trip to Jamaica this December, youth directors from The Chapel, a United Methodist congregation in Brunswick, this summer hatched a plan to raise $5,000 by performing a series of shocking ...

2020 conference budget reduced, local churches continue to faithfully give

published 9/1/2019
By Kara Witherow, Editor In a time when not much is certain, this is clear: the South Georgia Conference is connectional. Despite uncertainty in The United Methodist Church and concerns for the denomination’s future, South Georgia’s apportionment giving remains steady. As of the end of July, the Conference is on pace to pay local and regional apportionments at the same rate as were paid in 2018. The Conference also approved a 2020 budget of $9,326,184, a more than 7 percent decrease from the ...

A Heavenly Visitor

published 8/19/2019
PATHWAY TO HIS PRESENCE B.J. FUNK My sweet mother outlived almost all of her friends. At 94, signs of dementia were beginning to show. She was losing weight, and life was harder for her. But, she was made of strong stock. The kind of stock that survived the Depression. That’s a good kind of stock. She seldom complained about anything, but lived her life in gratitude to God that there was food for her family during those lean years. On Friday nights, after work, I drove the 45-minute drive ...

Albany First UMC program helps feed kids, reduce waste

published 8/19/2019
By Kara Witherow, Editor A program in Dougherty County, launched by Albany First United Methodist Church, helped save 25.5 tons of food from the landfill last year. But more importantly, it provided food for nearly 1,500 children during the weekends, a time when they don’t have the free breakfasts and lunches that schools offer. “Helping Hands Ending Hunger,” launched last September in Albany’s Morningside and Northside Elementary Schools, has now expanded to include all of Dougherty County’s...

Let us work for shalom

published 8/19/2019
OUR CONNECTION MATTERS NITA CRUMP​ On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” (John 20:19, NIV) As we read the story of the crucifixion and resurrection in the gospel of John, we find several times when Jesus came, stood among the disciples, and started the conversation with the words “Peace be with you.” The disciples had locked themselves ...

Ministry weaves plastic bags into beds for homeless

published 8/19/2019
By Kara Witherow, Editor You’ve heard of Charlie’s Angels, but do you know the Plarning Angels? A group of women, affectionately known as the “Plarning Angels,” are using plastic shopping bags to help people who are homeless. Park Avenue United Methodist Church’s Homeless Bedroll Ministry has, for the past year, been making bedrolls out of used plastic shopping bags, the kind nearly everyone has stuffed under their kitchen sink or tucked in their pantry. “Everyone has hundreds of these bags ...

UMW, Conference leader remembered for her legacy of faithfulness

published 8/9/2019
A word from Bishop Bryan: The South Georgia Conference joins the family of Charlene Black in celebrating her life, even as we grieve at the announcement of her death. This mixture of feelings is itself a powerful testimony to Charlene’s life. Our grief grows out of our awareness of her legacy of faithfulness as an educator, university official, community servant, and faithful leader in the United Methodist Women, the South Georgia Conference, and in The United Methodist Church.  Our sense of ...

A summer of hopeful conversations

published 8/5/2019
FROM THE BISHOP R. LAWSON BRYAN In addition to the high heat, summer is also a time for a break from school, sports of all kinds, and travel to the beach or other favorite vacation spots. This year we United Methodists can add “conversation” to our list of summer activities. Recent conversations among United Methodists stem from the special General Conference held last February. That conference passed the Traditional Plan, which retains current language in The Book of Discipline concerning ...

John Wesley and the Mystics

published 8/5/2019
JOHN WESLEY MOMENTS DAVE HANSON During John Wesley’s early years, and especially his time in Georgia, he read and studied many of the mystical writings of his day and of ancient Christian mystics. He was very interested in what they had to say about self-denial, solitude, works of charity, and the interior life. William Law was very influential in Wesley’s life at Oxford. Wesley later wrote Law a scorching letter criticizing him for leading him astray by not talking more about Jesus Christ ...

New Conference Center receives $100,000 gift

published 8/5/2019
By Dr. Hal Brady, chairman of the Conference Center Task Force The campaign to build a new Conference Center for the South Georgia Conference just received a massive boost with the generous gift of $100,000. The donor hopes that the gift will inspire others to step up their giving and finish the campaign toward providing the South Georgia Conference a much-needed home. As you know, the new Conference Center is to be built on the beautiful campus of Wesleyan College and will bring the Episcopal...

Prepare now, respond when storms hit

published 8/5/2019
By Kara Witherow, Editor Last fall, Hurricane Michael slammed into Southwest Georgia as a Category 3 hurricane after making landfall in the Florida Panhandle as a Category 5.  Michael brought 115 mph winds and downed trees and power lines throughout the region. Homes, churches, and businesses were damaged and destroyed. Cotton, peanut, and pecan crops, which were not yet fully harvested, were decimated. The damage - widespread and far-reaching - is still being felt. The 2019 Atlantic ...

Try on a new identity!

published 8/5/2019
LEADERSHIP REALLY MATTERS ANNE BOSARGE REV. JAY HANSON I love watching preschool graduations. Precious chubby-faced kids with caps and gowns typically take turns declaring to beaming parents and grandparents what they want to be when they grow up. “A fireman.” “A ballerina.” “A baseball player and an astronaut.” “A mommy.” “A zookeeper and a policeman.” Nothing is impossible or unattainable. Everything has potential. If you asked the same kids in a year, you’d often find they’re now considering...

Wesley Foundations, campus ministries offer community, connection

published 8/5/2019
By Kara Witherow, Editor Transformational. Inclusive. Loving. A home-away-from home. In a word, life changing. As a sophomore in college, away from home for the first time, Savannah Buice was looking for a community of believers. Invited to a worship service at Valdosta State University’s Wesley Foundation, she went and immediately felt welcomed and at home. “I feel like when you go to college you’re out on your own for the first time, and, for a lot of people, they look to join the first ...

Bishop Bryan: Listen, Pray, Speak the Gospel Truth about Violence

published 8/3/2019
The mass shootings this past week in El Paso, Texas, Dayton, Ohio and Gilroy, California have once again brought us face to face with the horrible violence of which human beings are capable. We are plunged into shock and collective grief. And we wonder. Who did this? What were the motives? Why these places in these particular cities?  What about the mental health of the shooters? These and a host of other questions can only be answered after thorough investigations have occurred. In the ...

Our Connection Matters: This is My Story!

published 7/24/2019
Our Connection Matters offers a toolkit which includes a wealth of resources focusing on a different theme to resource your local church in nurture, outreach, witness and advocacy ministries. Our new Annual Conference theme is "Alive Together In Witness." It is through our witness that we are truly Alive Together in Christ - in worship and in the world. These themes are so very interwoven!  Why is the word "evangelism" so intimidating for many and sharing our faith so scary for some? Is it fear...

Andrew College leads effort to revitalize downtown Cuthbert

published 7/22/2019
By Kara Witherow, Editor What’s true of many small, rural communities is also true of Cuthbert, a Southwest Georgia town of about 3,800 people. “There were more things to do here 50 years ago than there are now,” said Mary Jane Salter, a 1968 Andrew College graduate and longtime Randolph County resident. But times are changing in Cuthbert, for the better, thanks in large part to Andrew College’s efforts in the downtown area. The school, a private, liberal arts college related to The United ...

Give us a chance

published 7/22/2019
OUR CONNECTION MATTERS NITA CRUMP​ In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit upon all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy … (Acts 2:17a, NLT) And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy … (Acts 2:17a, KJV) One of the definitions of prophesy is “to speak as a mediator between God and humankind, or in God’s stead” (dictionary.com). One of the definitions of prophecy is “...

Savannah churches help build houses for homeless veterans

published 7/22/2019
By Kara Witherow, Editor On their way to church each Sunday, many members of Wesley Monumental United Methodist Church drive past the homeless camps near Interstate 16 and the Truman Parkway. One day, Nick Hitt, a member of the downtown Savannah church, decided that something needed to be done to help. “There’s no reason we should be driving by veterans sleeping under bridges as we come to church. They served; we need to do something about it,” he said to the congregation. Others agreed, and...

The Greatness of America

published 7/22/2019
By Dr. Hal Brady A number of people equate greatness with size. Not so! Greatness is never a matter of size. Take those huge reptiles which once dominated the earth, the dinosaurs. They were simply enormous. But with the exception of the movies, they have all become extinct. In spite of their size and seeming strength they are gone. Simply put, they could not adapt themselves to a changing world. Think of how many great empires have come and gone in spite of their largeness. Focus on the ...

In praise of small steps

published 7/15/2019
This week marks the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission to the moon. The launch was on July 16, 1969, the walk on the moon was July 20, and the crew returned to earth July 24. What a week for the three astronauts, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins. What a colossal achievement for the United States when you consider that it took 400,000 people working together to make that mission such a success. When he became the first person to set foot on the moon, Neil Armstrong said, “...

General Conference 2020 petition submission process opens

published 7/8/2019
Nashville, Tenn.: Petitions for consideration by the 2020 General Conference may be submitted to the Petitions Secretary now through September 18, 2019. According to church law, "Any organization, clergy member, or lay member of The United Methodist Church may petition the General Conference...". Detailed instructions for submitting a petition are available on the General Conference website at umc.org/gcpetition. Petitions must be typed and may be submitted through the General Conference ...

Q & A with Rev. Steve Patton, Northwest District Superintendent

published 7/8/2019
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. PATTON: I was born and raised in Jesup, Georgia, and graduated from Wayne County High School. When I was in middle school we lived in Philadelphia for two years while my dad completed training as an orthodontist. I spent four years in Atlanta for college and three more in Kentucky for ...

Valdosta First UMC launches The Porch Community Church

published 7/8/2019
By Kara Witherow, Editor Nearly 17 years ago, Valdosta First UMC began Solomon’s Porch as the church’s contemporary worship service. By 2019, attendance at Solomon’s Porch’s two services averaged more than 410, with growth exceeding 33 percent in the past few years. The congregation had maxed out its worship space, limiting further growth. Knowing something had to be done in order to continue growing, church leaders met to discuss options. They considered several, including moving to a bigger ...

July 4th and Laus Deo

published 7/6/2019
FROM THE BISHOP R. LAWSON BRYAN You may know that the Washington Monument commemorates the Commander of the Continental Army and first president of the United States, George Washington. And you may have stood beside the 55-foot wide base and lifted your eyes 555 feet to the top of the monument. But do you know what is inscribed on the very top? It is the Latin phrase, “Laus Deo,” which means “Praise be to God.” That’s not all. A Bible was among the items placed in the cornerstone when it was ...

Columbus churches partner to feed homeless

published 6/24/2019
By Kara Witherow, Editor Every Tuesday night, folks in Columbus’ Rose Hill neighborhood gather downstairs in the former Rose Hill United Methodist Church for a little bit of food and a whole lot of Jesus. For nearly a decade, volunteers from throughout the community have come together to help feed the city’s homeless. Begun by a former Rose Hill UMC pastor, the ministry is now run by Linda Laye, chaplain of the Fellowship at Rose Hill. Several Columbus-area United Methodist churches are part ...

Multiculturalism and Undocumented Neighbors Task Forces provide resources

published 6/24/2019
At the 2017 Annual Conference session, the South Georgia Conference approved two resolutions, statements that represent the position of the conference on a subject. The first, a “Resolution in support of a Coordinated Action on Behalf of Undocumented Neighbors,” called on the presiding bishop to form a task force to develop a strategy to educate clergy and laity about the history of immigration and human and civil rights concerning undocumented members of society and to encourage South Georgia ...

Q & A with Rev. Paula Lewis, South Central District Superintendent

published 6/23/2019
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. LEWIS: My family moved back here from Mississippi when I was in fourth grade. I lived in the Thomasville area from then until I took my first appointment. When we first moved to Thomasville, we lived in a split-house apartment with my grandfather. I spent a lot of time with him, whether it was ...

But Grace said

published 6/22/2019
PATHWAY TO HIS PRESENCE B.J. FUNK Before leaving for a lengthy trip I went to a crowded gas station. All pumps were filled, so I pulled my car to be second in line. Our two cars were facing head to head because my fuel tank was on the opposite side from hers. No problem. I’ll just wait a bit. A bit turned into several minutes, and I watched as the young woman continued looking down at her lap. She never looked up. “She’s probably waiting for the one in her passenger seat to return from ...

See how they love one another!

published 6/22/2019
OUR CONNECTION MATTERS NITA CRUMP 18-20 Jesus, undeterred, went right ahead and gave his charge: “God authorized and commanded me to commission you: Go out and train everyone you meet, far and near, in this way of life, marking them by baptism in the threefold name: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Then instruct them in the practice of all I have commanded you. I’ll be with you as you do this, day after day after day, right up to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20, The Message) The annual ...

Delegation endorses Rev. Beckum as episcopal nominee

published 6/14/2019
The South Georgia Conference delegation to the 2020 General and Jurisdictional Conferences has endorsed the Reverend Robert Beckum as its episcopal nominee (nominee to be elected as a bishop in The United Methodist Church). Rev. Beckum will join nominees from other conferences under consideration for the episcopacy at next summer’s Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference at Lake Junaluska, NC. Rev. Beckum is the senior pastor of St. Luke United Methodist Church in Columbus, appointed there in ...

Alive Moments highlight ways Conference is Alive Together in the World

published 6/10/2019
During the 2019 Annual Conference session, attendees heard five “Alive Together in the World” moments from Connectional Ministries. These “Alive Moments” highlighted the various ways South Georgia United Methodists are reaching out throughout the Conference and beyond. During the Monday, June 3 business session, Allison Lindsey, associate director of Connectional Ministries, interviewed Rev. Jay Hanson, Director of Congregational Ministries; Anne Bosarge, multi-campus director of The Chapel ...

Conference passes pension, amended disaffiliation policies

published 6/10/2019
Two policies that focus on churches that want to disaffiliate, or leave The South Georgia Conference and The United Methodist Church, were presented and passed during the 2019 South Georgia Annual Conference session.   A Disaffiliation Policy, created and presented by The Foundations For The Future Task Force and reviewed and approved by Leadership Forum, was passed with two amendments. The policy sets out a framework to be followed when at least two-thirds of a congregation vote to leave the ...

Oh for the continued spirit of the annual Methodist meeting

published 6/10/2019
By Rev. Creede Hinshaw, republished with permission from the Albany Herald I returned home from the yearly meeting of South Georgia United Methodists, held this year alongside the banks of the Chattahoochee River in Columbus. We Methodists have been meeting like this for centuries, a practice begun by our founder, John Wesley, who used the meeting to inspire his preachers, keep their doctrine pure, their preaching relevant and their behavior above reproach. We’re still doing this, but the way ...

Clarity in Direction

published 6/9/2019
LEADERSHIP REALLY MATTERS ANNE BOSARGE REV. JAY HANSON If you intend to go to Jacksonville, Fla. but take I-95 North from Brunswick, you’ll end up in Savannah, despite how much you want to go to Jacksonville. Your direction – not your intentions – determines your destination. At the church where Anne and I serve, we talk a lot about our spiritual life as a journey. We have people at all points on the path. Many of our people would say they haven’t decided to start their journey yet but are ...

John Wesley’s house at Frederica

published 6/9/2019
JOHN WESLEY MOMENTS DAVE HANSON John Wesley lived at Fort Frederica on St. Simons Island for several months. It is not clear just where he lived while on the island. He probably lived with one of the families, perhaps the Hirds. Several times in his diary he mentions work being done in building his house, but we do not know where this house was located or if the building was ever completed. We do know that he was anxious to have the building constructed. One morning he went to the construction ...

Let us be Alive Together in Witness this year

published 6/9/2019
FROM THE BISHOP R. LAWSON BRYAN Thanks to the United Methodists of the Columbus area who hosted Annual Conference with radical hospitality and extravagant generosity. The opening worship service, held in the The Columbus Convention & Trade Center overlooking the Chattahoochee River, was alive with spirited music and an inspiring message by Bishop Richard Looney.   In a year that has had more than its share of challenges, the South Georgia Conference demonstrated the spiritual maturity to stay ...

Alive Together in the World through mission, ministry & evangelism

published 6/7/2019
Churches throughout the conference continue to demonstrate the ways they are Alive Together in the World 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 ...

Celebrating Ministry Milestones and Achievements at Annual Conference

published 6/7/2019
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. Mira L. Barrett Rev. Thomas W. ...

Memorial Service 2019: ‘Though you may grieve, God is able’

published 6/7/2019
A Memorial Service for those faithful servants who served in the South Georgia Annual Conference was held Monday afternoon, June 3, at 2 p.m. as conference members gathered at St. Luke United Methodist Church in Columbus, Ga. Rev. Cleo Gilchrist, the outgoing pastor at Grace United Methodist Church in Brunswick who retired at this year’s Annual Conference session, reminded those gathered that although they may grieve, God is able. “When grief comes to your home, God’s grace will be sufficient,” ...

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