The fellowship of believers

published 4/17/2018
In the Heart of the Connection Rev. Dr. Matt Woodbery, Director of Connectional Ministries “We declare to you what was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life – this life was revealed, and we have seen it and testify to it, and declare to you the eternal life that was with the Father and was revealed to us – we declare to you what we have seen and heard so that you also may have ...

Whiners, blamers, and complainers

published 4/16/2018
PATHWAY TO HIS PRESENCE B.J. FUNK   I wonder if God ever thinks about adding a PS to His Ten Commandments, preceded by one simple explanation: “Since I already know you won’t obey these ten, try this one: P.S. Get over yourself!”   Some of the phrases that attach to that statement, like ribbons flying behind a kite, are “Me first,” “My way,” “Notice me,” “Hear me,” and “Why me?” Right now, before even reading further, you may already be thinking of someone – maybe more than one – whose shoulder ...

Bishops seek declaratory decision from Judicial Council on Special Session

published 4/10/2018
WASHINGTON – The Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church is asking the Judicial Council for a declaratory decision on what petitions can be submitted to the denomination’s Special Session of General Conference called for February 2019. In an electronic vote that affirmed the request made at their February 2018 meeting in Dallas, the bishops voted to seek a ruling from the highest court in the denomination on the meaning, application and effect of Paragraph 14 in relation to Paragraph ...

Cordele First UMC blesses community, church with unexpected candy donation

published 4/3/2018
By Kara Witherow, Editor What would you do with 48,000 pieces of candy? Cordele First United Methodist Church asked themselves that question when a semi-truck carrying 48 cases of candy, unable to deliver the order, donated its entire load to the church a few weeks ago. While several cases were given to the church’s food pantry, the timing turned out to be perfect to turn their small church-wide Easter egg hunt into a community outreach event, and church leaders quickly jumped on the idea. “...

Great insights from Henry Cloud

published 4/3/2018
LEADERSHIP REALLY MATTERS ANNE BOSARGE REV. JAY HANSON   The author of numerous incredible books, Henry Cloud has become one of my go-to authors and I try to read everything he writes. Recently I had the opportunity to sit down with him and take some notes as he shared with a small group of pastors. The following are a few of my notes from his sharing: 1. Stay Replenished.To stay in ministry you need to make sure your soul stays replenished. Your Tank Level       -           When pain and ...

Isle of Hope UMC ministry offers hope, support to those with dementia

published 4/3/2018
By Kara Witherow, Editor Five years ago, Beth and Chuck Maner’s lives changed when Chuck was diagnosed with Lewy body dementia. In the past two years, his health has declined to a point where he needs round-the-clock care and isn’t able to be alone. It’s been a difficult few years, Beth says – isolating and lonely. Because of the disease, Chuck, an outgoing and friendly man, had little to look forward to and nowhere where he felt normal. And unless she hired a caregiver Beth didn’t have time ...

John Wesley and the Bible

published 4/3/2018
JOHN WESLEY MOMENTS DAVE HANSON John Wesley claimed to be a man of “One Book,” the Bible. He knew that the Holy Scriptures were the foundation of our faith and our guide for living the Christian life. Yet, there was no one of his era who knew more about many books than John Wesley. He was widely read in the classic and in contemporary literature of his own day. For example, John Wesley read everything Ben Franklin wrote about electricity. In search of remedies, he studied the medical writings ...

The United Methodist Church celebrates 50th anniversary of historic merger

published 4/3/2018
Congregations across the connection are invited to celebrate the 50th anniversary commemorating the event on April 23, 1968, when leaders of the Evangelical United Brethren Church and The Methodist Church declared the creation of a new denomination, The United Methodist Church. With the words “Lord of the Church, we are united in Thee, in Thy Church and now in The United Methodist Church,” the new denomination was birthed at the constituting General Conference being held that year in Dallas. The...

A Holy Week message from Bishop Bryan: Lift high the cross

published 3/28/2018
This is the most unusual Holy Week I have ever experienced.  Last Saturday, the day before Palm Sunday, I attended the memorial service for my mentor and friend, Bishop Bev Jones. Serving on his staff while I was in seminary was an invaluable part of my training for ministry. I thank God for the sequence of events that made possible that opportunity. On Palm Sunday, Sherrill and I received word that her brother was hospitalized due to a sudden medical crisis related to his three-year battle ...

Annual Conference 2018: Announcements & Reminders

published 3/23/2018
2018 Annual Conference Session From the Bishop Dear Lay and Clergy Members of the Annual Conference, Conference and Agency Leaders, We launched “Alive Together in Worship” at the conclusion of the 2017 Annual Conference. When we meet again this June we will have much to celebrate for our churches have been diligently pursuing our goal of increasing average worship attendance by 10%. This year’s annual conference session will include stirring music, inspiring updates on our ministries over the ...

Commission members grateful to serve, complete work on final report

published 3/23/2018
Members of the Commission on a Way Forward expressed gratitude at the opportunity to be part of the Commission and they signaled hope for The United Methodist Church as they completed their meeting in Los Angeles on Thursday, March 22. The 32-member Commission has been meeting since January 2017 in various places throughout the global denomination to assist the bishops in their charge from the 2016 General Conference to lead the church forward amid the present impasse related to LGBTQ inclusion ...

Update on the Appointment Making Process - March 2018

published 3/21/2018
Moon to serve Methodist Children’s Home; Retirements Announced Bishop Bryan and the Appointive Cabinet are grateful to the laity and clergy of South Georgia for your ongoing prayer support during this time of discernment around appointment making for our churches and our clergy. Guidance for this process is found in The Book of Discipline 2016: “Appointments are to be made with consideration of the gifts and evidences of God’s grace of those appointed, to the needs, characteristics, and ...

After-school program fosters servant leadership in teenage boys

published 3/19/2018
By Kara Witherow, Editor   Andre Greene wants to be a lawyer. And a doctor.   The 13-year-old already has plans to finish high school early and start college before his peers.    His big dreams are being nurtured at the Robert Lamar Anderson Academy of Excellence, an after-school program serving at-risk minority students at Columbus’ Baker Middle School.   Begun in October, the RLA Academy provides an art and music-based curriculum that includes leadership training, fine and performing arts ...

Being who your dog thinks you are

published 3/19/2018
Dr. Hal Brady   The late Norman Vincent Peale, American minister and author, once said that there are three questions we should ask ourselves about any business transaction. Is it legal? Is it balanced? Will it make me feel good about myself? Here, Dr. Peale is talking about character.    I simply cannot over-estimate the importance of character. Character has been defined in many ways. Character is what you are in the dark. Character is who you are when no one else is looking. Character is who ...

Reynolds Chapel UMC member shares God’s love through bicycle ministry

published 3/19/2018
By Kara Witherow, Editor The joy on a father’s face, a simple promise, and a commitment to God set Jim Anderson on a path toward sobriety and launched a bicycle ministry that is now in its ninth year. When cleaning out their garage one afternoon Anderson and his wife, Debbie, found a bike their grandson had outgrown. Not wanting to sell it, they decided to give it to a child who might not otherwise have a bike. Anderson took it to the Seminole County Division of Family and Children Services ...

Still time to register for Elementary Camp!

published 3/19/2018
Don't miss out on the opportunity for your child to spend a week away from normal everyday life in the beauty of God’s creation with people who seek to share Christ in the everyday. Register today for Camp Connect Elementary Camp, the camping ministry of the South Georgia Conference.  With a “Blueprints” theme this summer, a week at Camp Connect will teach campers what God’s design for their life looks like. Diving into scripture and sharing life stories will show them they are created in God’s ...

Commission on a Way Forward to meet March 19-22 to prepare final report

published 3/14/2018
The 32-member Commission on a Way Forward will meet in Los Angeles on March 19-22 to prepare a final report to be submitted to the Council of the Bishops for consideration by the bishops at their April/May meeting. “The Commission is focused on suggesting a way forward that pays attention to our public mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world, especially with those who are not yet a part of our churches,” said Bishop Ken Carter, resident bishop of the ...

Fraud Alert: Phishing emails being sent from fake address

published 3/13/2018
It appears a phishing email is making the rounds to various South Georgia United Methodists asking for a cell phone number. 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. AOL has been alerted to the fake email address, but you can also submit/flag the email to your provider as a spam. Remember now and in the future ...

Advocacy: Toxic Charity

published 3/6/2018
Each year the Advocacy team selects an area of focus from among the four members' deepest cares and concerns. This year, the Advocacy team is focusing on ending extreme poverty worldwide. Over the next year we will share how we can engage with this issue from various perspectives.  By Rev. Stacey Harwell-Dye Just the words toxic charity may be enough to make you question the very premise of this article. After all, how can charity, which comes from a good place in our hearts, ever be toxic? ...

Bishop Bryan reflects on the Special Meeting of the Council of Bishops

published 3/6/2018
I continue to hear about the great work you - the churches of the South Georgia Conference - are doing in your communities and out in the world. While you are working faithfully in your local setting, I have been working with fellow United Methodist bishops and members of the Commission on a Way Forward to discern what the way forward looks like. A special meeting of the Council of Bishops was held last week to receive an updated report from the Commission on a Way Forward. The meeting also ...

Canoeing the Mountains: Daring to take your church “Off the Map”

published 3/6/2018
GROWING IN GRACE BEN GOSDEN Change. It might as well be a four-letter word because it strikes most of us as something ugly and profane. No one likes to change. As human beings we are biologically wired to enjoy something called homeostasis — the state of equilibrium and balance when all is well and nothing is changing. Change is especially difficult in the church. As the world around us rapidly changes, the church tends to be the one place where we can find refuge from the storm. The ...

John Wesley – a traveling preacher

published 3/6/2018
JOHN WESLEY MOMENTS DAVE HANSON John Wesley was a traveling preacher. He was always on the move sharing the Gospel of Christ wherever he went. It has been estimated that John Wesley spent one half of his waking hours traveling. He rode his horse more than 250,000 miles across England.  John Wesley spent 23 months in Georgia. It took him four months on the ship before he even arrived at the mouth of the Savannah River. While in Georgia he made 10 trips between Savannah and St. Simons Island. He...

Learning what works: Shadowing Program sends five Europeans to South Georgia to learn principles of growing congregations

published 3/6/2018
By Kara Witherow, Editor A group of five United Methodists from Estonia and Finland recently visited two South Georgia United Methodist churches to learn the principles of vital congregations. They visited Harvest Church in Byron and The Chapel Ministries in Brunswick and Effingham County. At each, they spent time with church staff and shadowed pastors to gain experience and insight into what makes an effective, growing church. “The idea was that we could learn from their experiences, to see ...

Northeast District partners with Discipleship Ministries to revitalize churches, make disciples

published 3/6/2018
By Kara Witherow, Editor The Northeast District of the South Georgia Conference is about to embark on a two-year program to revitalize churches and make disciples. A partnership between the district and Discipleship Ministries, the new initiative was birthed from a question District Superintendent Rev. Chris Ramsey asked in a meeting nearly a year and a half ago. How can general agencies resource local churches and districts? When he heard the question, Bishop Lawson Bryan responded ...

Ken Howle Elected Executive Director of Lake Junaluska

published 3/4/2018
The Lake Junaluska Board of Trustees has unanimously elected Ken Howle as the new executive director of Lake Junaluska. He will assume the role immediately. Howle has worked at Lake Junaluska for the last 14 years as director of advancement and as director of sales and marketing. He is a life-long United Methodist. He serves as a member of the church council at Long’s Chapel United Methodist Church in Waynesville, N.C. “We are fortunate to be able to build on Ken’s experience with Lake ...

Commission on a Way Forward clarifies values as it presents two sketches to bishops

published 3/1/2018
(Dallas) What is the Christ’s way forward for doing mission and ministry in the worldwide United Methodist Church? That is the question bishops pondered during their February meeting in Dallas this week as they received an updated report from the Commission on a Way Forward. In the report given to the Council this week, the Commission shared with the bishops two sketches that carry forward many of the values and principles of the three sketches that were presented to the bishops at their ...

Dr. John Stephens gives update on Harvey Recovery; work teams needed

published 2/26/2018
Dr. John Stephens, senior pastor of Chapelwood United Methodist Church in Houston, Texas, served in the South Georgia Conference before moving to Texas. Friends, Thank you again for your support of Houston after the horrific Hurricane Harvey. I wanted to share an update from Chapelwood UMC in Houston that you can share with those in your church and across South Georgia who supported us in Hurricane Harvey relief. It's been a busy time at Chapelwood and the Texas Conference. We have spent ...

2018 appointment-making season begins in the South Georgia Conference

published 2/19/2018
It’s appointment-making season in The United Methodist Church, and this week Bishop Bryan and the Appointive Cabinet are meeting for several days to pray, worship, and begin the decision-making process of appointments. The 2018-2019 appointment-making schedule is available here. “One of the primary ways you can see how alive we are is through the appointment-making process,” said Bishop Bryan in a video explaining South Georgia’s appointment-making process. “In that process, local churches, ...

Church uses Facebook Live to minister

published 2/19/2018
By Kara Witherow, Editor Ashburn, Ga. residents Sheila and Cliff Gibbs have been in Jacksonville since early November. Cliff Gibbs was at Mayo Clinic for nearly three and a half months before recently moving to a rehabilitation hospital. Even though they’ve been far from home for nearly four months, they haven’t felt too far away because they’ve been connected to their Ashburn First United Methodist Church congregation each Sunday via Facebook Live. They haven’t missed a Sunday morning worship...

New fund helps retired pastors in time of need

published 2/19/2018
By Kara Witherow, Editor Unexpected help from a new fund that helps retired pastors in their time of need has made Rev. Guy Mathis’ life a little easier these days. Suffering from coronary artery disease, Rev. Mathis has had open-heart surgery and retired from full-time pastoral duties in 2015. Serving Desoto United Methodist Church part time in retirement, upon his wife’s sudden death in October 2016 he became the primary caregiver for their three adopted grandchildren. So when he was told ...

Satan is a Powerless Wolf

published 2/19/2018
PATHWAY TO HIS PRESENCE B.J. FUNK Have you seen the TV commercial where a granddaddy is reading the story of the Three Little Pigs to his grandson? As the wolf approaches the pigs’ home of straw, he huffs and puffs to blow down the house. The child interrupts, “Kind of like you, Grandpa, when you huff and puff?” Grandpa explains, “That’s right. When you have COPD, it’s hard to get air in and air out.” The commercial continues as the wolf tries hard to blow down the house of straw, but he is ...

Transformation and success are not the same

published 2/19/2018
In the Heart of the Connection Rev. Dr. Matt Woodbery, Director of Connectional Ministries Who, being in very nature God,     did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing     by taking the very nature of a servant,     being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man,     he humbled himself     by becoming obedient to death—         even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place     and ...

Praying with our brothers and sisters in the Florida Conference

published 2/15/2018
A Word from Bishop Bryan The South Georgia Conference joins the nation in mourning those who were killed, and those who were injured, in the tragic shooting at a school yesterday in Parkland, FL. In solidarity with our brothers and sisters in the Florida Conference, I want to share this statement from Bishop Ken Carter, who grew up in the South Georgia Conference. Bishop Carter speaks often of his deep affection for South Georgia. Here is his statement: "On this Ash Wednesday, our services ...

Bishop announces appointment of Rev. David Thompson as Coastal District Superintendent

published 2/11/2018
Bishop Lawson Bryan announces the projected appointment of one new District Superintendent to the Cabinet, effective June 2018. Rev. David W. Thompson, currently serving as the senior pastor of Cordele First United Methodist Church, will be appointed to serve as superintendent of the Coastal District. He succeeds Dr. Wayne Moseley, who will retire at the 2018 Annual Conference session. “David is an effective, fruitful pastor who uses his mission-field experience in Latin America to strengthen ...

Fraud Alert: Phishing emails being sent from fake address

published 2/9/2018
It appears a phishing email is making the rounds to various South Georgia United Methodists. We recommend that you don't open attachments from any emails unless you are sure about the email address. is NOT an email coming from the South Georgia Conference. Remember now and in the future that the conference sends emails from official conference emails addresses only. Anytime you receive what seems to be a suspicious email, check the South Georgia ...

2018 Lenten Resources

published 2/8/2018
Lent 2018 Worship Planning Series, Discipleship Ministries The annual observance of the Lenten discipline among Christians is a time to seek restoration for our lives. It is a time to reflect, take stock of our spiritual condition, and realign our lives. There is much to mine from considering our Lenten journey this year within the frame of rehab, much to explore, much to learn. On each Sunday of this journey, the Scriptures provide the core guidance for the work of the week to come in our own ...

Conference apportionment giving tops 90 percent for third straight year

published 2/5/2018
For the third year year in a row, apportionment giving in the South Georgia Conference was above 90 percent. The total collected for 2017 was $12,104,503.09. Of this, $9,446,709.22 was collected on a $10,474,609 budget. The remainder collected was district apportionments and advance special giving.  Total giving was up $583,935.15 from 2016.  “This generosity is a real testimony to the heart of our congregations,” said Dr. Derek McAleer, Conference Treasurer. “There is so much that is fine and...

It’s working!

published 2/5/2018
FROM THE BISHOP R. LAWSON BRYAN How are we doing with our emphasis on being Alive Together in Worship this year? I have good news to report and some specific examples to share: at least 75% of the churches in each district have identified their top 10 services in terms of worship attendance, and in some districts that number rises to 95%. our churches are recognizing attendance patterns and are using that knowledge to grow worship attendance. here are some examples of the significant increases...

Quiet Trust

published 2/5/2018
LEADERSHIP REALLY MATTERS ANNE BOSARGE REV. JAY HANSON Isaiah 30:15 (CEV), “The holy Lord God of Israel had told all of you, ‘I will keep you safe if you turn back to me and calm down. I will make you strong if you quietly trust me.’”  I (Anne) am an evaluator and assessor by nature. I think it’s the teacher in me. I worked as an elementary classroom teacher for seven years, then went on to write curriculum for the Department of Education.  Assessment and evaluation are wired into my DNA. ...

Watch those grandmas

published 2/5/2018
JOHN WESLEY MOMENTS DAVE HANSON In his sermon on The Education of Children, John Wesley urges parents to make sure to never give children the things they cry for. He says that if you give children the things they cry for you will only teach them to cry for more. Wesley taught that parents must teach their children to obey them else they will never learn to obey God. He even went so far as to caution against praising your children lest you build their pride. Much of what he taught about ...

Wesley Monumental UMC celebrates 150th anniversary

published 2/5/2018
By Kara Witherow, Editor In the “Hostess City of the South,” Wesley Monumental United Methodist Church has carved out a niche by being a warm, welcoming, historic, traditional church in the heart of downtown Savannah.  The church, a Neo-Gothic beauty with historic stained glass windows, was dedicated in 1890. Situated on Abercorn Street across from Calhoun Square, it has been a fixture in the city’s Historic District since 1868. On Sunday, Jan. 19 Wesley Monumental UMC celebrated its 150th ...

Youth orchestra bolsters confidence, learning

published 2/5/2018
By Kara Witherow, Editor For 10 years Kim Jenkins had prayed that Open Door Community House would begin a music program. In the fall of 2016, that decade-long prayer was answered, but not exactly how Jenkins expected. Jenkins had long prayed for, and expected, that Open Door would have a gospel music program for the children who attend Mathews Promise Academy, the ministry’s after school and all day summer program. After all, the children love music and movement, so it seemed a likely fit.  ...

2020 General Conference delegate distribution by annual conference now available

published 1/29/2018
South Georgia numbers remain the same 2020 General Conference delegate distribution by annual conference now available In December 2017, the Secretary of the General Conference publicly released information about the number of delegates assigned to the annual conferences within each jurisdiction and central conference for the 2020 General Conference. As directed by The Book of Discipline 2016, delegate counts for individual annual conferences were sent to the bishop and annual conference ...

Beauty from the storm

published 1/22/2018
When storms ripped through the Southwest and South Central Districts last January, all members of Albany’s El Faro congregation were impacted by the storms in some way, with several families losing everything, including their homes and vehicles. But in the year since the tornadoes brought such devastation to the community, there is hope. The church, a Hispanic United Methodist congregation, is growing and vital, says Rev. David Diaz, who serves both El Faro and the Bainbridge Hispanic Mission. ...

Building Capacity: Where we are now

published 1/22/2018
By Allison Lindsey, Associate Director of Connectional Ministries Building capacity - described as the process of developing and strengthening the skills, instincts, abilities, processes, and resources needed to survive, adapt, and thrive - has been a key phrase among conference leaders this past year when it comes to disaster response.  Admittedly, disaster response becomes very challenging in that as you move out of a disaster event, the awareness and interest fades over time and the sense ...

Commission on a Way Forward prepares updated report to bishops

published 1/22/2018
DALLAS - The Commission on a Way Forward is nearing the completion of its task of making recommendations of possible ways forward for The United Methodist Church regarding the inclusion of LGBTQ persons in this global denomination. The 32-member Commission concluded its three-day meeting in Dallas, Texas, on Saturday after reworking sketches of possible models of the future of the denomination that will be part of the final report to the Council of Bishops in May. Bishop Sandra Steiner Ball, ...

Disaster Response: A year in review

published 1/22/2018
2017 was an unprecedented year for disasters. More than 25 million Americans - nearly 8 percent of the U.S. population - were affected by what FEMA has called a historic year. South Georgia wasn’t spared, with deadly tornadoes and straight-line winds hitting the Southwest and South Central Districts; Hurricane Irma striking the coast and continuing through the state; and many residents still dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew from the previous year. The Conference also supported ...

Morales serves as UMCOR consultant; helps Puerto Ricans recover

published 1/22/2018
Luis Morales, Disaster Coordinator for the South Georgia Conference, has traveled to his native Puerto Rico four times since Hurricane Maria devastated the island last September.  Serving as a consultant for the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) since October, Morales has helped the Methodist Church of Puerto Rico devise a relief strategy and recovery plan. To date, more than 11,000 bags of food and 48,960 bottles water have been distributed, helping more than 27,000 people. Five ...

Relief supplies, cleaning kits help after floods, hurricanes

published 1/22/2018
Revs. Alaina and Greg Harrison weren’t sure what to think when they arrived at Wesley United Methodist Church in Macon and saw hundreds of plastic five-gallon buckets stacked on the church’s fellowship hall stage. Eager to start their new appointment, they quickly learned the church was a drop-off location for UMCOR cleaning kits. Assembled kits had begun being dropped off pretty regularly after last January’s winter storms in the Southwest and South Central districts, and they decided to more ...

When Love is Authentic

published 1/22/2018
Dr. Hal Brady In our time, the word,”Love” and it’s meaning have come in for a number of cheap shots. There is a kind of lip service to the whole idea of love, but everybody knows you can’t take it seriously. How desperately in our world today, we need to be reminded again that for Jesus, love is not simply one virtue among many others. For him, love is actually the foundation, the basic yardstick, for all norms in how we are to behave and act toward one another. Authentic love, then, is not ...

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