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Hurricane Florence Update: Online Giving, Cleaning Kits, A Word from the Bishop

published 9/14/2018
Hurricane Florence has made landfall along the east coast and is predicted to move slowly through the Carolinas and Southeast throughout this weekend causing inland rainfall flooding, life-threatening storm surge and possible mudslides. Parts of South Georgia can expect some rain and windy conditions. You should stay tuned to your local weather source for updated information for your area. The Disaster Response Team will continue to monitor this storm and the updates very closely as the storm ...

3 practices to prepare for YOUR District Conversation

published 9/4/2018
GROWING IN GRACE BEN GOSDEN Bishop Bryan is busy traveling the Conference speaking with members of each district of South Georgia about General Conference 2019 and the work of the Commission on a Way Forward. As we prepare for the conversations in our respective districts, I want to share three important practices I think we all should engage in as we enter into potentially difficult conversations. (I realize that three districts will have already had their event by the time you read this ...

As we journey toward General Conference, Stay Calm, Stay Connected, Stay the Course

published 9/4/2018
FROM THE BISHOP R. LAWSON BRYAN Attendance at the Way Forward district meetings has been outstanding. With nearly 500 people present in Columbus, nearly 400 in Statesboro, and around 350 in Valdosta, the interest of our church members and pastors is certainly evident. Those present at each gathering have inspired me with their sincere devotion, their deep love for the Church, and their passionate desire to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.  The three remaining...

Conference to offer Certified Lay Minister Training

published 9/4/2018
Laity have long been an integral part of Methodist ministry. Lay leaders, lay speakers, and lay missioners have served the church almost since its inception. Certified Lay Ministers (CLMs) typically provide ministry in part-time or volunteer roles in a variety of formats including conducting public worship, caring for the congregation, assisting in program leadership, developing new and existing faith communities, preaching the Word, leading small groups, and establishing community outreach ...

Delegation to host listening sessions

published 9/4/2018
South Georgia’s General Conference delegation will host three listening post sessions to provide South Georgia clergy and laity the opportunity to share their thoughts and take part in the Way Forward conversation. Three listening sessions will be held, and several delegation members will be present at each meeting. Thursday, October 11             The Chapel, Brunswick          10 a.m. – noon Wednesday, October 17         Centenary UMC, Macon        10 a.m. – noon Thursday, October 25        ...

John Wesley’s marriage

published 9/4/2018
JOHN WESLEY MOMENTS DAVE HANSON John Wesley had discussed with a friend whether or not it would be a good thing for him to marry, and on February 2, 1751, he decided to do so. He was 47 years old and his bride, Molly Vazelle, was a wealthy widow with four children. She was 41 years old. Her merchant husband had died four years previously. It is interesting that this marriage occurred just days after John had urged Methodist ministers not to marry unless there were exceptional reasons to do so....

KidzQuest - "This Wild Life" - set for Sept. 21-23

published 9/4/2018
KidzQuest, an annual children’s retreat sponsored by South Georgia’s Connectional Ministries, will be held September 21-23 at Epworth By The Sea on St. Simons Island. The theme, “This Wild Life,” will be the foundation of the weekend and will help show kids just how wild their faith journey can be! As Joshua 1:9 commands us to be strong, brave, and not afraid, kids will learn that “I [God] will be there to help you wherever you go.” What a promise!  Designed for students in third through sixth ...

Letter calls for hope, kindness, unity

published 9/4/2018
By Kara Witherow, Editor In a season when The United Methodist Church is fraught with discord, distrust, and dissension, more than 250 South Georgia clergy and laity have signed an online petition to demonstrate their commitment to unity. The “Hope Through Unity” open letter was published last month and has gained attention around the Conference and the connection. The writers hope to build a coalition of people on both sides of the human sexuality debate who support unity. “Our hope is ...

Three appointments announced, effective Oct. 1

published 9/2/2018
Bishop Lawson Bryan has announced appointments for three local church positions effective October 1. Dr. Tony Caldwell, currently serving as pastor of Montezuma United Methodist Church, will be appointed to Hinesville First United Methodist Church. Rev. Jonathan Beckum, currently serving at Ellaville United Methodist Church and Corinth United Methodist Church, has been appointed to Montezuma UMC. Haynes Martin, a certified candidate currently serving as assistant pastor at Martha Bowman United ...

Fraud Alert: Spoofing emails being sent from fake address

published 8/31/2018
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. We recommend that you don't open attachments or give your personal information to anyone unless you are sure about the email address.  We ask that you submit/flag the email to your provider as a spam. Remember now and in the future that the conference sends emails from official conference emails addresses only. Anytime you receive ...

God makes the seed grow

published 8/21/2018
OUR CONNECTION MATTERS NITA CRUMP “It’s not important who does the planting, or who does the watering. What’s important is that God makes the seed grow. The one who plants and the one who waters work together with the same purpose. And both will be rewarded for their own hard work. For we are both God’s workers….” 1 Corinthians 3:7-9a (NLT) In my early years in ministry I served as the associate pastor. Let me say thank you to the person who was handed the responsibility of serving as my ...

When did garbage become entertainment?

published 8/21/2018
PATHWAY TO HIS PRESENCE B.J. FUNK When I was growing up, my daddy emptied our garbage cans every other day. If he didn’t, the cans would fill to overflowing. If the garbage was in the kitchen, he took it out more often so that leftover food would not begin to smell. If you had asked me what I knew about garbage, I would have considered that a weird question. I wasn’t supposed to know anything about garbage. It belonged out of our house, and daddy saw to that. Around 40 years ago, the late ...

Financial Literacy Academy gives clergy tools, teaching needed for financial literacy

published 8/20/2018
By Kara Witherow, Editor Fresh out of seminary or License to Preach school most pastors enter into vocational ministry feeling pretty well prepared to preach, teach Bible studies, lead theological discussions, and make disciples. But too often they receive their first or second appointment and are thrust into a situation for which they feel completely unprepared – a finance committee meeting. There are no financial classes taught at seminary, and precious few hours are spent on preparing ...

Telfair County churches unite to provide biblical education

published 8/20/2018
By Kara Witherow, Editor This semester, nearly 75 of Telfair County’s public-school students are receiving biblical, Christ-centered education during the school day. They’re not just learning about the Bible as an influential piece of literature or about Christianity in the context of a world religion class, but instead they’re learning about creation-based science, apologetics, and stewardship. This is thanks to a new partnership between several Telfair County churches that led to the ...

A note from Bishop Bryan: How to prepare for District Way Forward Meetings

published 8/7/2018
Now that the full report of the Commission on a Way Forward has been released to the public, I am looking forward to discussing it with laity and clergy of each district. Here is the schedule for the six district meetings:  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 ...

Blessing Boxes benefit communities

published 8/7/2018
Clay Brown, a member of Whigham UMC​, stands outside the church next to the Little Free Pantry he built and installed as his Boy Scout Eagle Scout project. By Kara Witherow, Editor Broxton United Methodist Church may be a small church in a small town, but the congregation’s generosity knows no bounds. Broxton UMC is just one of a handful of South Georgia United Methodist Churches who have embraced a grassroots movement to address food insecurity by installing Blessing Boxes, tiny pantries ...

What is Jesus asking you?

published 8/7/2018
LEADERSHIP REALLY MATTERS ANNE BOSARGE REV. JAY HANSON How would you define “a consuming intimacy with God?” How long has it been since you were hungry and thirsty for a deeper relationship with Him? Those questions and many like it have filled my thoughts lately and have caused my heart to deeply desire living in a constant state of intimacy with God. But how do we achieve that level of intimacy? Recently my practice has been to read a passage of scripture several times while imagining myself...

Better Together

published 8/6/2018
JOHN WESLEY MOMENTS DAVE HANSON Wesley told his followers that they should support their local Church of England and go there for worship and Holy Communion. Some asked him, “But what should we do if the pastor teaches doctrines we do not believe, like predestination? Or if he says there can be no Christian perfection this side of heaven? Or preaches against enthusiasm?” Wesley would reply to them and to us today, “In that case you should simply and quietly get up and leave the sanctuary. Do ...

North Central District churches partner to share resources, expand ministries, host Connectional VBS

published 8/6/2018
Children at the Connectional VBS, hosted by Piney Mount UMC in Tennille, participated in two mission projects. For one, they divided into teams and competed to see who could donate the most canned goods.  By Kara Witherow, Editor   Four small, rural churches in the North Central District came alive this summer as they partnered to do more together than they could individually. Piney Mount United Methodist in Tennille, Tennille First United Methodist Church, Davisboro United Methodist Church, ...

What I’m reading this summer

published 8/6/2018
FROM THE BISHOP R. LAWSON BRYAN For years I have looked forward to summer as a time to read some of the books that have caught my attention during the year. While I read books all year long, the opportunity to read uninterruptedly is one of the ways I find renewal for my mind and spirit. Listed below are eight books I have read, or am still reading, this summer. Interestingly, each of these books was recommended to me by colleagues, both clergy and laity. I share them with the South Georgia ...

Way Forward report released in all four official languages of General Conference

published 7/31/2018
The final report of the Commission on a Way Forward has been released in all four official languages of the General Conference: English, French, Portuguese and Swahili. The report will be presented to the 2019 Special Session of General Conference. Subject to final copy editing, the report will be printed in the Advance Daily Christian Advocate (ADCA) in November. Here is a statement from the moderators of the Commission and the President of the Council of Bishops on the release of the report: ...

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 ...

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