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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 ...

Campus Crawl: A United Methodist College Tour for High School Students

published 1/17/2018
NEW! The Campus Crawl begins in a few short weeks. Space is limited to the first 50 students who register. Refer a friend and get a $10 Amazon gift card for each friend you bring along. Register before February 9 and get a Campus Crawl t-shirt. Reserve your seat on the bus today!   Campus Crawl is a bus tour designed to introduce 9th through 12th grade students to United Methodist campus ministries featuring our Georgia United Methodist Colleges and Universities.   In one weekend, high school ...

Clergy Compensation List now available online

published 1/16/2018
The 2018 Clergy Compensation List is now available online to view:

United Methodist bishops condemn President Trump’s “offensive” remarks against immigrants

published 1/12/2018
Bishop Bruce R. Ough, president of the United Methodist Council of Bishops, issued a statement today on behalf of the Council concerning remarks reported to have been made by President Donald Trump regarding immigrants. The statement follows: We are appalled by the offensive, disgusting words attributed to President Donald Trump who is said to have referred to immigrants from African countries and Haiti, and the countries themselves, in an insulting and derogative manner.  According to various ...

A New Year’s letter from Council President Bishop Bruce Ough

published 1/8/2018
2018 New Year’s Greetings To the People Called United Methodists: Grace and peace to you as we embrace the New Year. The joy of Christmas and the gift of Emmanuel – God with us – gives us the confidence to face the future with hope.  This hope is born of our faith in the Living God.  Thus, as we enter the New Year we affirm that God who started a good thing in us will see it to fruition. As United Methodists, we are at a precipitous moment, uncertain about our denomination’s future.  Yet, we...

Alive Together in Christ in 2018!

published 1/8/2018
FROM THE BISHOP  R. LAWSON BRYAN Happy New Year! I hope you are entering 2018 with a sense of refreshment. In one of his devotional books, Henri Nouwen offers this reading for January 1. It is entitled, “Expecting a Surprise.”   Each day holds a surprise. But only if we expect it can we see, hear, or feel it when it comes to us. Let’s not be afraid to receive each day’s surprise, whether it comes to us as sorrow or as joy. It will open a new place in our hearts, a place where we can welcome new...

Canoeing the Mountains: The Speed of Trust and Our Adaptive Challenge

published 1/8/2018
GROWING IN GRACE BEN GOSDEN I ended my last column with a phrase I first read in a book written by now-Bishop Bob Farr: “Adapt or die.” I believe what we face in our local churches, districts, annual conferences, and beyond is an adaptive challenge. Ron Heifetz distinguishes two types of challenges — technical and adaptive — and notes the difference as follows: “The technical is defined as those that can be solved by the knowledge of experts, whereas adaptive requires new learning.”  If we’re ...

Conference’s new partnership with seminary makes theological education accessible

published 1/8/2018
By Kara Witherow, Editor By day, Lance Bazemore fights pests and banishes bugs as an exterminator.  In the evenings the husband and father of two is a student and scholar, taking seminary classes to earn a Master's of Divinity degree. The South Georgia Conference’s new partnership with Asbury Theological Seminary makes it possible for Bazemore to do both: have a full-time job to support his family and pursue theological education as part of God’s call on his life. Launched this past ...

Porterfield Memorial UMC launches year-long prayer initiative to combat crime

published 1/8/2018
By Kara Witherow, Editor With a sharp uptick in violence and crime in Albany in the past year, one local United Methodist Church is praying for change and sending a message of hope and unity to the community.  There were more than 20 murders in Albany last year, more than double what the southwest Georgia city averaged in previous years. The city and its citizens have experienced a spike in crime, much of it drug related, said Rev. Robert Greene, senior pastor of Albany’s Porterfield Memorial ...

South Georgia’s Week of Prayer begins Jan. 14

published 1/8/2018
This coming Sunday marks the beginning of South Georgia’s Week of Prayer for The United Methodist Church’s “Praying Our Way Forward” initiative. During the Week Of Prayer, which runs Jan. 14 through Jan. 21, South Georgia United Methodists are being asked to commit to worshipping and praying daily using a guide written by the Conference’s deacons. A breath prayer is provided to help guide each day’s worship.  The “South Georgia Prays” daily prayer guide may be found online here. Prayers will ...

The John Wesley Covenant Renewal Service

published 1/8/2018
JOHN WESLEY MOMENTS DAVE HANSON John Wesley discovered a worship service which was used in the 1600s to encourage believers to renew their covenant with God. He revised the service and used it as a Watch Night Service in his London headquarters, the Foundry. He also used the service as he traveled to various Methodist Societies across England.  His journal indicates wonderful responses to these Covenant Renewal services. Some of them lasted for three or four hours! He often scheduled them for ...

2018 Annual Conference session schedule released

published 12/18/2017
Plans are coming together for the 2018 South Georgia Annual Conference session, set for June 3 through June 5 at the Jekyll Island Convention Center on Jekyll Island. Gathering under the theme of “Alive Together in Worship,” the annual conference session will celebrate the ways South Georgia churches have made efforts and gains over the past year in worship vitality. Towards the end of the conference session, Bishop Bryan will introduce next year’s emphasis.  The annual conference will also be...

Applications now available for the Carl and Ruth Looney Scholarship

published 12/18/2017
The Carl and Ruth Looney Scholarship was established by Bishop Richard C. Looney,  who was elected the first bishop of the South Georgia Annual Conference in 1988 and where he served for 12 years.  After retirement, he served as President of The Foundation for Evangelism and as the Episcopal Director of the Foundation. He continues to serve as Episcopal Director Emeritus for the Foundation since his retirement.  The scholarship funds, up to $1000 per application, are available to South Georgia ...

Be Hope, Peace, Joy, and Love in your community

published 12/18/2017
In the Heart of the Connection Rev. Dr. Matt Woodbery, Director of Connectional Ministries   “And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host, praising God and saying, ‘Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace among those whom he favors!’ “When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, ‘Let us go now to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which the Lord has made known to us.’ So they went with haste and ...

Conference leaders meet to discuss future of church, work of Commission

published 12/18/2017
Watch Bishop Bryan and Rev. Jorge Acevedo discuss what it means to be a missional church in a time of uncertainty in our denomination. Various clergy groups and lay leaders met with Bishop Lawson Bryan and Rev. Jorge Acevedo December 5 and Dec. 6 at Epworth By The Sea on St. Simons Island to talk about the work of the Commission on a Way Forward and what the journey ahead looks like for The United Methodist Church.  Rev. Acevedo, pastor of Grace Church in the Florida Conference and a member of...

Hilton UMC’s monthly lunches feed community, renew congregation’s purpose

published 12/18/2017
By Kara Witherow, Editor Hilton United Methodist Church, just three miles from the Alabama border, is a rural country church deep in Early County. A small congregation organized in the 1860s, the church regularly has eight people worshiping on Sunday mornings. Earlier this year, the congregation discussed ways to reach out into the community and serve their neighbors. They decided to do what United Methodists do so well - host a covered dish meal and feed others. What started as a small ...

John Wesley’s Christmas activity

published 12/18/2017
JOHN WESLEY MOMENTS DAVE HANSON On Christmas Day, 1738, just a few months after his Aldersgate Experience when he felt his heart strangely warmed and he trusted Christ and Christ alone for his salvation, John Wesley sat down to write his rules for groups who want to grow in grace together. These rules were designed to help groups who wanted to help members become more Christ-like. It was important that all members covenant together to keep these conversation in strictest confidence. Meet each...

South Georgians give generously to The Methodist Home to help ensure children have a merry Christmas

published 12/18/2017
By Kara Witherow, Editor Jeanie Hoffman is an avid crocheter and has kept busy in her 12 years of retirement by making prayer shawls, hats, and blankets.  When a local thrift store generously donated her a large supply of yarn, Hoffman considered what to create. She knew of The Methodist Home for Children and Youth and the ministry it provides to children and families across South Georgia, and decided to make hats for the 140 children served by The Home. “Something told me The Children’s ...

Wrapped in such an ordinary package

published 12/18/2017
PATHWAY TO HIS PRESENCE B.J. FUNK God came to earth wrapped in an ordinary package. His birthing room had a dirt floor, his crib contained remnants of dried animal feed, and instead of “Lullaby” being played over a hospital loud speaker at the birth of a child, there was a mixed chorus of animals braying loudly, possibly over the intrusion of this couple and their baby. Here is a simple illustration of how that happened. In that land called heaven, the Son, Jesus, stood up one day, gave the ...

Cordele church’s crops help grow congregation

published 12/4/2017
By Kara Witherow Midway United Methodist Church is in the heart of Cordele, the self-proclaimed Watermelon Capital of the World. With deep agricultural roots, it makes sense that the church’s congregation, pastored by a former farmer, would begin a food and gleaning ministry in the acre-and-a-half field that sits next to the church. What they didn’t necessarily expect, however, was how the small church would blossom right alongside the crops. What started as a pumpkin patch several years ago...

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