At the Table: Celebrating Black History Month, Conversations with the Bishop, Connectional Ministries Book Club


Responding to the Texas Winter Storms 2021

published 2/26/2021
Residents across Texas endured 139 hours of temperatures below freezing, widespread electricity outages, burst water pipes and extensive property damage during the winter storm which blanketed the state. We continue to pray for families who have lost loved ones and for the communities that are now realizing the extent of damage as areas have thawed out. United Methodists throughout the connection are responding. Churches in these areas are finding creative ways to serve their communities. From ...

General Conference Postponed to 2022, Bishops call Special Session for May 8

published 2/25/2021
Meeting on February 20, the Commission on the General Conference made a decision to further postpone the 2020 General Conference until August 29 – September 6, 2022 in Minneapolis, Minn. as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect the safety of mass gatherings and travel. It is the Commission’s responsibility to select the site and set the dates of General Conference. Further, the Book of Discipline requires the Commission on the General Conference to "take necessary measures to assure full ...

Rev. Jimmy Cason to serve as Northeast District Superintendent

published 2/22/2021
Bishop Lawson Bryan has announced the projected appointment of Rev. Jimmy Cason as the Northeast District Superintendent, effective June 2021. Rev. Jimmy Cason, who retired at the 2020 Annual Conference session, will succeed Rev. Chris Ramsey, whose new appointment will be announced when local church appointments are released. In June, Rev. Ramsey will have served his full eight years as a District Superintendent.  Prior to retiring in 2020, Rev. Cason served 11 years as senior pastor of ...

A Word from the Bishop about the 2021 Appointment Making Process

published 2/15/2021
The Cabinet and I want to thank the Pastor Parish Relations/Staff Parish Relations Committees and clergy for the faithful work you completed during the month of January in order to return the appointment preference forms by Feb. 1. This information is important to the process of consultation regarding pastoral appointments to be fixed at Annual Conference in June. We are all working together as partners in the Gospel. Thank you! The Cabinet and I ask that you be our prayer partners during this ...

Apply today for Camp Connect Leadership Team!

published 2/15/2021
Applications are now being accepted for the 2021 Camp Connect Summer Leadership Team. Applications are open to college students who have completed at least one year of college. The Leadership Team will commit to nine weeks of camping ministry which will include serving at high school, middle school, and elementary camps. These camp counselors will minister to hundreds of youth and children throughout the summer while making Christian friendships with other staff members that last a lifetime. ...

At church but not in church

published 2/15/2021
PATHWAY TO HIS PRESENCE B.J. FUNK A couple of years ago, our church completed a wonderful study using Rob Renfroe’s book, “A Way Through the Wilderness. Growing in Faith When Life is Hard.” As we watched his videos and met for discussions, the participants agreed that their wilderness periods have often been so painful they thought they would never get through them in one piece. It never felt good. It always hurt. They cried. They felt broken. Often, their lives didn’t make sense. Through our ...

Connectional Ministries launches online book club

published 2/15/2021
By Kara Witherow, Editor The global coronavirus pandemic may have changed much about the way we socialize, attend worship services, shop, and live our lives, but one thing most everyone can do while staying home is read. Beginning March 2, Connectional Ministries invites South Georgia clergy and laity to join a virtual book club via Zoom. From the comfort of one’s home or office – anywhere, really – participants will discuss the week’s book, its important themes, and faith. “The blessing of ...

General Conference: What we know now

published 2/15/2021
By Bishop R. Lawson Bryan With our attention appropriately focused on our local South Georgia congregations and ministries during this pandemic, it has been a while since I’ve updated you on denominational matters and what is happening in the connectional system of The United Methodist Church.  I know this may be a longer article than you’re used to from me, but my hope is that it will keep us all on the same page and well informed about the important goings-on in our denomination. I want to ...

Join South Georgia’s Easter Virtual Choir!

published 2/15/2021
Easter is just a few weeks away, and what’s more uplifting and unifying than joining together in song? Be a part of the South Georgia United Methodist Easter Virtual Choir! By now you’ve probably seen and heard videos of choirs coming together (digitally) to sing choruses, hymns, and songs. Now is your chance to be a part of a virtual choir for Easter. Join with other South Georgia United Methodist voices to celebrate the Good News of Christ’s resurrection! It’s easy to participate. Just ...

South Georgia apportionment giving remains strong despite difficult year

published 2/15/2021
By Kara Witherow, Editor Despite 2020 being one of the most challenging years in recent memory, South Georgia United Methodists continued to faithfully give to mission and ministry through their apportionments.  Overall apportionment payments for 2020 stood at 84 percent, compared to 87 percent in 2019. The Northeast and Southwest Districts led in overall percentage of apportionments paid, paying 97.11 percent and 93.65 percent, respectively. And even though actual cash collected through ...

St. Mary’s Road UMC pastor mixes Bible, baking in online devotional series

published 2/15/2021
By Kara Witherow, Editor Last summer, Dr. Adriane Burgess baked her way through the pandemic. With butter, sugar, and flour by her side, Dr. Burgess – like thousands of others – found solace and comfort in the kitchen. “I was baking at home like everyone else,” Dr. Burgess laughed. “This is something I have always had a passion for.” She’s now combined her love of sweet treats and scripture in a regular Facebook video series named “Dessert. Devotion.” Part cooking show, part Bible study, Dr....

Albany First UMC’s new Alzheimer’s Outreach Center building expands longstanding ministry’s reach

published 2/1/2021
By Kara Witherow, Editor On the corner of North Jackson Street and Flint Avenue in Albany stands a ray of light in a sometimes dark and lonely world for those who feel lost or isolated because of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. The Margaret Jo Hogg Alzheimer’s Outreach Center is a brand new, 6,000 square-foot building that sits across the street from Albany First United Methodist Church. A ministry of the church, the Alzheimer’s Outreach Center serves those with dementia and Alzheimer’s and ...

Conference boards work to save churches money

published 2/1/2021
By Kara Witherow, Editor In these trying and uncertain times, the South Georgia Conference Council on Finance and Administration and Board of Pensions and Health Benefits have worked hard to save South Georgia local churches money and ease the burden of apportionments. Two ways they’ve been able to do that are by paying the pre-1982 pension obligations and by giving churches a rebate on March 2020 health insurance bills, in addition to the rebate already given by the Conference in April. ...

South Georgia delegation urges General Conference to consider Protocol first

published 2/1/2021
By Kara Witherow, Editor In a letter to the Commission on the General Conference, the South Georgia Annual Conference General and Jurisdictional Delegation asked that The “Protocol of Grace & Reconciliation Through Separation” be the first matter considered by the 2021 General Conference. Whether meeting in person or virtually, South Georgia’s delegation urged that The Protocol – a mediated proposal for the future of The United Methodist Church that allows each part of the Church to remain ...

Though we cannot think alike, may we not love alike?

published 2/1/2021
FROM THE BISHOP R. LAWSON BRYAN “That’s what we need to hear today.” That was the response of my administrative assistant, Bobbi Googe, to this quote from John Wesley: “Though we cannot think alike, may we not love alike?” Wesley does seem to be speaking directly to us today. And this is a popular Wesley quote. I like it, and I am challenged by it. But I also know that it is easily misunderstood apart from its context in Wesley’s sermon, “A Catholic Spirit.” John Wesley did not mean that ...

Becoming More Perceptive in 2021

published 1/31/2021
LEADERSHIP REALLY MATTERS ANNE BOSARGE REV. JAY HANSON “Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:18-19) Did 2020 seem like an untamed wilderness to you? Did it feel like a dry wasteland? How is 2021 so far? If you’re like me (Anne), it feels like more of the same! Isaiah 43:18-19 is my life verse – the one I come back to in seasons of...

John Wesley and the Germans, part 4

published 1/31/2021
JOHN WESLEY MOMENTS DAVE HANSON John Wesley was greatly impressed by the Moravian Germans who traveled with him to the New World on the ship Simmons in 1735- 1736. He had noticed how happy they were and how they did the menial tasks aboard the ship without complaining. He was even more impressed when he visited them during an awful storm which rocked the ship. Wesley was terrified! He struggled with a fear of death and when this storm hit, he was in a panic. When he looked in on the Moravians ...

Our Connection Matters: Lenten 2021 Resources

published 1/22/2021
This year Ash Wednesday is on February 17 and will usher us into the season of Lent as we begin the journey to the cross and then the celebration of the risen Christ. Lent is a season that calls Christians into simplicity, repentance, and reflection to grow closer to God. It is not a season to rush through to the excitement of Easter. Rather, Lent is a season to slow down and reflect as we strip away what might hinder us in our faith or pick up a practice that draws us nearer to God. Just a...

COVID-19 battle impact’s Pine Forest UMC pastor’s life, faith

published 1/18/2021
By Kara Witherow, Editor For more than 100 days, Rev. Wes Moye lay in a hospital room, surrounded by the countless nurses, doctors, and machines that worked to keep him alive. Now home after his harrowing battle with COVID-19, he’s surrounded by his wife, Jan, and the rest of their family as he continues to recover and rehabilitate. Throughout the four-month ordeal, Rev. Moye was surrounded by the love, prayers, and support of the Pine Forest UMC congregation, friends around the South Georgia...

Hazlehurst UMC turns shipping container into clinic

published 1/18/2021
By Kara Witherow, Editor A group of South Georgia United Methodists has turned a can into a clinic. Partnering with Rev. Bobby Gale and his Unto the Least of His ministry, Hazlehurst First United Methodist Church’s youth group has turned a shipping container into an obstetrics and gynecology clinic. By the end of the month, it will be completed, filled with more than $5 million in medical supplies and medicines, and shipped to Africa. The clinic, which will be placed in Ghana, will serve ...

Dr. King’s life shows us how uniquely equipped we are to provide what the world needs

published 1/17/2021
By Bishop R. Lawson Bryan We must not expect others to do that which we are uniquely equipped to do. What do I mean by that? The longer I live, the more I realize that the Christian faith addresses the hopes and fears of humanity in a very practical way. And the more passionately we embrace the life of Jesus the more He will equip us to live in ways that enact His will on earth. Though we usually do not recognize it, Christians have a whole set of “spiritual muscles” that we have developed over...

How Pure in Heart

published 1/17/2021
WHAT’S OLD IS NEW AGAIN ANNE PACKARD On Saturday, January 17, 1736, John Wesley wrote in his journal, “Many people were very impatient at the contrary wind. At seven in the evening they were quieted by a storm. It rose higher and higher till nine. About nine the sea broke over us from stem to stern; burst through the windows of the state cabin, where three or four of us were, and covered us all over, though a bureau sheltered me from the main shock. About eleven I lay down in the great cabin ...

Leaders: 7 Ancient Secrets

published 1/17/2021
OUR CONNECTION MATTERS ALLISON LINDSEY “All leaders are learners. The moment you stop learning, you stop leading. I learn as much as I can, from as many as I can, as often as I can.”  Rick Warren  The beginning of a new calendar year in the local church is often a time when new leaders are stepping into ministry roles, committees are making plans, and leaders are taking part in visioning and ministry mapping for the new year. It can be a very exciting time! Our context in 2021, however, is ...

What churches need to know about the new round of PPP loans

published 1/17/2021
When the recent $900 billion COVID relief bill was signed into law, the federal government also approved a second round of Paycheck Protection Plan (PPP) loans for small businesses – including churches and other non-profit organizations. This means some South Georgia United Methodist congregations are eligible for another round of PPP loans. This second round of PPP loans is similar to the first, but does have several important differences. Loans will be available to first-time qualified ...

Join Bishop Bryan for reflection and conversation this month - Jan. 19, 25

published 1/15/2021
Dear Brothers and Sisters of the South Georgia Conference,  “Come to the table!” Those are the words my grandmother used to alert us kids that food had been prepared and it was time to come together for a meal. That's the same invitation I extend to you as we gather for times of reflection and conversations starting at noon on Tuesday, Jan. 19. Come to the table! The goal is to continue living out this year’s conference theme, “Alive Together at the Table,” by having regular opportunities to ...

A message from Bishop Bryan: Remember your baptism

published 1/6/2021
Dear Brothers and Sisters of the South Georgia Conference,  As United Methodists and followers of the Prince of Peace, we deplore violence such as that of the mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol yesterday. How ironic that this act of darkness would occur on Epiphany - the day of light, commemorating the arrival of the Wise Men who traveled through darkness by the guidance of a star. What does it mean to respond rather than react to the shocking scenes we witnessed yesterday? This Sunday presents ...

2021 Leadership Opportunities: Maximizing Hybrid Worship, Local Church Trainings & Grants, Strengths Coaching

published 1/5/2021
Your South Georgia Conference staff is working hard this new year to bring even more helpful resources to you and your local church. Was 2020 a hard year? Yes! Did it provide opportunities for local churches to evaluate their local church ministries? Yes! The pandemic has presented an opportunity for innovation, exploration, and experimentation - in lots of areas. The following opportunities will help equip and empower pastors, church staff, and church leadership to learn and grow together as ...

2021: a look ahead with Bishop Bryan

published 1/4/2021
By Kara Witherow, Editor Hope. It’s the message of Christmas and the promise of a new year. But after a year like 2020, where can one find hope? As 2021 begins, Bishop R. Lawson Bryan is hopeful despite the uncertainties and unknowns. He looks to the Bible – Matthew 2, specifically – to guide him into 2021. The story he turns to often gets overlooked in the transition from Christmas to Epiphany, but it helps him remember there is hope, and sometimes just one thing needs to change for greater...

Annual Confirmation Retreat reimagined

published 1/4/2021
The 20th annual Confirmation Retreat may not look like it has the last 19 years, but the focus remains the same: to complement what a church is or will be doing for each Confirmation class and to bring a sense of connectedness to our churches. Since 2002, the South Georgia Conference has sponsored an annual Confirmation Retreat at Epworth By The Sea for students in the fifth grade and above. This event provides churches of all sizes an opportunity to connect with others through worship, study, ...

Bikers deliver gifts, cheer to Wesley Glen residents

published 1/4/2021
By Kara Witherow, Editor It was more rumbling and revving than prancing and pawing when a group of Macon-area bikers played Santa and delivered Christmas gifts to Wesley Glen Ministries’ residents. And instead of reindeer, the group rode in on Harley-Davidsons, Hondas, and Indian Motorcycles. “You could hear (the bikes) before you could see them!” said Dr. Tyler Plaxico, president and CEO of Wesley Glen Ministries. Located in Macon, Wesley Glen is an agency of the South Georgia Conference ...

Bishop Bryan: We need each other!

published 1/4/2021
FROM THE BISHOP R. LAWSON BRYAN As Bishop Bryan looks toward a new year with hope and optimism, we asked him what words of inspiration he has for the laity and clergy of South Georgia as we begin 2021. Watch this brief video and be encouraged!

A John Wesley Moment (More about the Germans)

published 1/3/2021
JOHN WESLEY MOMENTS DAVE HANSON The small group of Germans who traveled with John Wesley and General Oglethorpe to Georgia had a powerful influence on the young pastor. Wesley wrote in his diary, “There is something special about these Germans. They are so happy and they do the menial jobs on this ship without complaining. They say it helps them with their humility.” Have you noticed how we all sit up and pay attention to someone who rolls up their sleeves and pleasantly serves? My friend, ...

Welcome 2021: Better than normal

published 1/3/2021
GROWING IN GRACE BEN GOSDEN It’s hard to believe the decade known as the year 2020 is finally coming to an end. I was listening to all of the different ways people aired grievances for this year. “The year we all want to forget,” one commentator said. “Good riddance once and for all, 2020” another remarked. We can all relate. None of us imagined 2020 would turn out this way. We all have one thing or another, in varying degrees, to grieve at the end of this unforgettable year. Add to it all the...

Bishop Bryan: Recognizing our need for one another this Christmas

published 12/21/2020
Dear South Georgia Conference family, Sherrill and I are preparing to celebrate our fifth Christmas here in the South Georgia Conference, and we are thankful for the opportunity to serve Christ with you. This advent season I have been contemplating Mary’s visit to Elizabeth, which may be one of the most overlooked parts of the Christmas story. The angel Gabriel tells Mary of the son she will bear and then adds, “And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this...

What an important time to be the Church

published 12/18/2020
Dear Brothers and Sisters of the South Georgia Conference,  We write to thank you for being the Church in the difficult and disruptive time in which we are living. This is a heavy time to be the Church: a global pandemic, reckoning with race, and political division. And yet what an important time to be the Church. It was into a divided and fearful world that God sent His only Son. Christmas reveals the power of God’s vulnerable and invincible love. Thank you for the many ways you are expressing...

2020: a look back with Bishop Bryan

published 12/14/2020
By Kara Witherow, Editor 2020 usually refers to vision, clarity, and focus. We have unquestionably not had those things this year. But while 2020 hasn’t brought what was expected, it has created opportunities to grow, learn, and see God in fresh, new ways, said Bishop R. Lawson Bryan. As he reflected on a year marked by a global pandemic, racial unrest, economic woes, and more, Bishop Bryan said the word that comes to mind is “endurance.” “I’ve seen endurance on superhuman levels, a divine ...

Darien UMC’s food program feeds hundreds of at-risk neighbors

published 12/14/2020
By Kara Witherow, Editor Every two to three weeks, nearly 300 McIntosh County residents receive a knock on their door. When they open it, a bag full of food sits on the porch. Since March, Darien United Methodist Church has delivered bags of non-perishable food items to older and vulnerable residents of the community. It’s an effort to help keep those most at risk of contracting COVID-19 at home and out of grocery stores, said Ad Poppell, who heads Darien UMC’s Emergency Food Distribution ...

First South Georgia UM commissioned as an EarthKeeper

published 12/13/2020
By Kara Witherow, Editor During a virtual service held Tuesday, Dec. 9, Global Ministries commissioned 24 new EarthKeepers from 14 annual conferences and all five jurisdictions. The service affirmed the EarthKeepers in their call to the ministry of creation care and blessed their work in their communities. Pat Homer, a member of Pittman Park United Methodist Church in Statesboro, is the first South Georgia Conference member to complete the training and be commissioned. Growing up on a farm, ...

Advent 2020

published 12/11/2020
FROM THE BISHOP R. LAWSON BRYAN I admit it, I got carried away. It was the early 1980s. The new thing was pizza delivered to your door. Wow! Of course, we ordered one – family size. And it worked. The doorbell rang and there was our large pizza. Picture this: as I enjoyed that pepperoni pizza, I looked around the room and felt a rush of satisfaction. There was Sherrill, strikingly beautiful, and 5-year-old Philip, contentedly playing with his favorite toys. Overcome by the simple joy of family ...

God makes the impossible possible

published 12/11/2020
PATHWAY TO HIS PRESENCE B.J. FUNK When Gabriel told Mary about Elizabeth’s pregnancy, he said, “For with God nothing shall be impossible.” (Luke 1:36) Those words are also for you today. Whatever you are facing, God has an answer that seems impossible to you on earth, but in the heavenly realm God sees things another way. He sees your brokenness, your loneliness, your heartache, and your pain with great possibilities. God sees that out of the ashes of your hurt, new life will rise again. There...

Looking back and moving forward

published 12/11/2020
OUR CONNECTION MATTERS ALLISON LINDSEY “Year’s end is neither an end nor a beginning but a going on, with all the wisdom that experience can instill in us.” Hal Borland Recently I have heard people speak of putting 2020 behind us as if the striking of the clock at midnight on December 31 (for those who are able to stay awake to witness this) will somehow flip a switch and everything will be different, new, and better. If only it were that easy! We recognize our world is weary with all the ...

LaGrange College offers virtual Lessons and Carols to UMCs

published 12/9/2020
United Methodist-related LaGrange College is sharing the school's musical gifts with our South Georgia Conference connection. On December 6, LaGrange presented “Lessons & Carols” to the community. Following that performance, the school is digitally sharing the individual components of the 60-minute production for churches to use in virtual worship. Please note that you can use individual selections and/or the entire Lessons & Carols.  "It is our desire to help supply beautiful musical content ...

2020 Conference Journal now available for ordering, download

published 12/7/2020
Journal includes conference business, directories, reports, appointments, and statistical tables The 2020 Journal of the South Georgia Annual Conference is now available for purchase. Those wishing to purchase a Conference Journal will order their copy(ies) online directly from the printer. The cost of the Journal is $25 each plus tax and shipping. Click here to order your copy of the 2020 Journal of the South Georgia Annual Conference.*  The Journal is also available as a free PDF download ...

In midst of pandemic, Asbury UMC learns, adjusts, develops

published 11/30/2020
By Kara Witherow, Editor Asbury United Methodist Church has learned a lot this year. While 2020 has had its challenges, the downtown Savannah congregation has grown and developed during this unprecedented time. Like several other churches, Asbury UMC underwent a pastoral transition this summer, but unlike past years, the change was in the midst of a global pandemic. The church also celebrated its 151st anniversary. Through it all, the congregation has pushed themselves beyond what they ...

Virtual or in person, this year’s charge conferences look different

published 11/30/2020
By Kara Witherow, Editor In a year where nearly everything has had to be re-evaluated, reimagined, and revamped, not much is exempt. Not even the oh-so-Methodist of meetings, the charge conference. Charge conferences are annual meetings with church leaders and their district superintendent to review the business and mission of the local church. They review the previous year of ministry, complete essential church business, and affirm goals for the coming year. While essential business ...

How is Christ strengthening you?

published 11/29/2020
FROM THE BISHOP R. LAWSON BRYAN  With all the uncertainties and complications of this pandemic year, I am struck by the testimony of laity and clergy concerning how Philippians 4:11-13 is being fulfilled in their lives. Writing from prison, thanking the Philippians for the financial gift they have sent to him, the Apostle Paul says: Not that I am referring to being in need; for I have learned to be content with whatever I have. I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have ...

John Wesley and the Germans, part 2

published 11/29/2020
JOHN WESLEY MOMENTS DAVE HANSON When John Wesley boarded the “Simmons” at Gravesend Harbor in the port of London on November 14, 1735, for his move to Georgia, he met a group of Germans who strongly influenced his life and faith. There were two groups of Germans on the small vessel. One group, numbering “two and thirty,” were Moravians. The other group, numbering around 17, were Salzburgers, Lutheran Christians. Both groups were coming to Georgia as a part of General Oglethorpe’s colony in ...

What you believe shapes how you behave

published 11/29/2020
LEADERSHIP REALLY MATTERS ANNE BOSARGE REV. JAY HANSON People ask us how the church where we serve is different than other churches. They are usually looking for “the thing we do” that sets us apart. Rather than give them a list of activities we try to explain that what you believe shapes how you behave. In fact, the connection between belief and behavior is so strong, you can tell what someone really believes by looking at how they behave. You might even say behavior reveals our beliefs. Here ...

Virtual Thanksgiving Agape Meal planned for Nov. 22

published 11/21/2020
Bishop Lawson and Mrs. Sherrill Bryan invite the South Georgia Conference to join them in a virtual Thanksgiving Agape Meal at 6 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 22. Intended to be a time of Christian fellowship and an opportunity to gather together virtually, the Thanksgiving Agape Meal will include music, guided prayer, time for contemplation, and personal witness.  “We held a conference-wide Agape Meal last spring and I was thrilled at the overwhelming response of our annual conference,” Bishop Bryan ...

Brooklet UMC’s music ministry gets creative to encourage community

published 11/16/2020
By Kara Witherow, Editor If you drive through downtown Brooklet, you may catch an impromptu porch concert put on by Marjorie and John Frazier. In mid-October, John, playing guitar, and Marjorie, both members of Brooklet United Methodist Church, surprised neighbors and passers-by with a stirring and heartfelt rendition of “Precious Lord, Take My Hand.” The Fraziers, Brooklet UMC choir members, also filmed themselves and sent the video to music director Mandy Mitchell. Mitchell used the Frazier...

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