News

Boreholes bring ‘sigh of relief’ in Uganda

published 11/4/2019
By Vivian Agaba Accessing clean water in some parts of Uganda is difficult, especially for girls and women who are usually responsible for walking long distances to fetch water, often from unsafe sources. The addition of five boreholes near United Methodist churches in the Uganda-South Sudan Conference will alleviate that problem for some. Members of Baxley First United Methodist Church in Baxley, Georgia, First United Methodist Church in Vidalia, Georgia, and Lynn Haven United Methodist ...

Forest Hills UMC’s Sanctuary Respite Ministry offers hope to those living with memory loss diagnosis

published 11/4/2019
By Kara Witherow, Editor Dianne Roberts had prayed the same prayer for nearly 10 years. “Church, do something.” Her husband of 52 years, Marvin, suffers from corticobasal degeneration, a progressive neurological disorder and cognitive illness similar to Alzheimer’s. A former certified public accountant, Marvin is no longer able to speak, and Roberts, a teacher, retired to care for him. “He is able to do a lot of things, but he does need some help,” she said. “I really prayed for a long time ...

Stand at the Wesley monument

published 11/4/2019
FROM THE BISHOP R. LAWSON BRYAN On a pilgrimage to the Holy Land I found myself seated beside a Jewish rabbi from Philadelphia. When he asked about my group’s itinerary, I explained that when we landed in Tel Aviv we would board a bus and head to Galilee. After several days we would travel south to Jericho, the Dead Sea, and Qumran. Then we would end with several more days exploring Jerusalem. The rabbi replied “That’s not how we do it.” He continued, “I work with Jewish college students who ...

The number one reason Methodism doesn’t grow

published 11/4/2019
JOHN WESLEY MOMENTS DAVE HANSON John Wesley believed those Methodist Societies which did not grow had neglected the main reason for their existence which was to spread scriptural holiness throughout the land. He believed that God raised up the Methodist Movement in order to proclaim God’s desire to make believers Christlike in perfect love. “Are you going on to perfection? Do you expect to be made perfect in love in this life?” John never claimed to be sanctified (perfect in love), but he ...

UMW gather, celebrate 150 years of missions, ministry

published 11/4/2019
By Kelly Roberson, Director of Communications It was a rainy day outside but inside was a beautiful day of celebration as the South Georgia Conference United Methodist Women gathered for their annual meeting Oct. 19, 2019, at Open Door Community House in Columbus, Ga. Carol Banks, South Georgia United Methodist Women president, expressed her appreciation for the year of blessings in United Methodist Women as they celebrated their 150-year milestone as a mission organization focused on missions...

2019 Advent Resources

published 10/25/2019
Advent/Christmas We hope the resources provided in this edition will help jumpstart your planning and give you new ideas for this "season." Advent will be here before you know it!    _________________________________________ N  U  R  T  U  R  E Take the Online Advent Quiz: (Download), print and share the Advent Quiz with your church, family & friends!  Chuck Knows Church: The Advent Wreath (Video 3 minutes) New Ways to Celebrate Advent With Kids Christmas Gifts That Won't Break: A ...

Centenary UMC partners with local group to combat “period poverty”

published 10/14/2019
By Kara Witherow, Editor When was the last time you had to choose between paying for a meal or a menstrual pad? For many women, the choice is all too real. Called “period poverty,” it’s the lack of access to sanitary products due to financial constraints, and it affects women and girls around the world. It’s a problem that affects more than those who are financially strapped or experiencing homelessness, though. According to a recent survey, nearly one in five American girls have either left ...

New Conference Center receives another $100,000 donation

published 10/14/2019
The South Georgia Conference’s effort to build a new Conference Center on the grounds of Wesleyan College in Macon has been given another boost with its second major gift in three months. At a recent New Conference Center Task Force meeting, held Oct. 2, Dr. Hal Brady, chair of the Conference Center Task Force, announced that a second anonymous donor has given a $100,000 gift towards building the new Conference Center. “We celebrate this gift and are grateful to the donor and the generosity ...

Sparks UMC’s activity mats help dementia patients

published 10/14/2019
By Kara Witherow, Editor When Pat Scrogham’s mother, Margery Resser, was living with dementia, Scrogham looked high and low for something to keep her mother’s hands busy. “Their hands need to be moving,” Scrogham said. She searched online but was unable to find exactly what she was looking for. “I had even gotten her a baby toy that she could twist and twist, and it made her happy.” Coming up empty at local stores and craft fairs and not satisfied with what she found online, Scrogham ...

But Grace said …

published 10/12/2019
PATHWAY TO HIS PRESENCE B.J. FUNK My friend and I sat across from one another eating pizza when the subject of tips came up. We both said we always give a 20 percent tip. We discussed how unfortunate it was to have a waiter or waitress work so hard for a table of fifteen or more and then just receive a two dollar tip. That’s their pay. Tips are not just some extra bonus for a hard-working waiter. That’s his pay. “Most people simply don’t realize that these waiters and waitresses count on the ...

Excel in the grace of giving

published 10/12/2019
OUR CONNECTION MATTERS NITA CRUMP​ At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. (2 Corinthians 8:14, NIV) In the eighth chapter of 2 Corinthians, Paul is writing about generosity and sacrificial giving. The Macedonians, who were described as being “in the midst of a very severe trial,” gave as much as they were able and even beyond their ability. Paul encourages the Corinthians to “excel in this grace of giving” so that ...

Rev. Scott Stanfill reflects on Hurricane Michael one year later: 'We saw church happen...'

published 10/10/2019
As we mark the one-year anniversary of the worst storm many in Northwest Florida and Southwest Georgia have lived through and as Colquitt United Methodist Church (CUMC) still navigates the effects of the storms, Rev. Scott Stanfill, senior pastor of CUMC, shares his reflections: The word for “patience” in the Bible can be translated “long-suffering.” Indeed, CUMC continues to live into our current reality of long-suffering while we eagerly anticipate returning to our building. The layers ...

Church isn't a building: southwest Georgia congregations continue to serve communities

published 9/30/2019
By Kara Witherow, Editor Nearly one year after Hurricane Michael destroyed parts of southwest Georgia, blue tarps still dot the landscape. Trees are scattered throughout backyards, and some residents are living in hotels instead of their homes. Even now, 12 months later, you can’t drive 100 yards without seeing one of the emergency roof coverings or some other sign of the storm. Full recovery will take years, locals say. At a time when it would be natural for residents to focus on their own ...

Open your hands!

published 9/30/2019
LEADERSHIP REALLY MATTERS ANNE BOSARGE REV. JAY HANSON One of my favorite things about children’s ministry is observing how children relate and interact with each other. This summer we held Art Camp at our church, and I watched as two young kids were in a tiff over who was going to hold the pool noodle for the next game. Each one had their hands clutched tightly around one end and the adult was trying to pry their hands away so they could actually play the game. They each wanted so desperately ...

South Georgia Advocate to continue using Standard Lesson Quarterly/Uniform Series for winter, future Sunday school lessons

published 9/30/2019
For years, the South Georgia Advocate has provided weekly Sunday school lessons as a resource to churches and Sunday school teachers. We are profoundly grateful for the gifted and Spirit-led writers – all South Georgia Conference laity and clergy – who have given of their time and talents to provide this much loved and well-used resource. This fall, Cokesbury departed from the Scope and Sequence of the Uniform Series for their Adult Bible Studies (the quarterly curriculum published by United ...

The strength of South Georgia

published 9/30/2019
FROM THE BISHOP R. LAWSON BRYAN One year ago, on October 10, Hurricane Michael came ashore as a Category 5 storm, devastating Mexico Beach and parts of Panama City, Fla. Then Michael moved northward into the South Georgia Conference. The Southwest District and surrounding region were especially hard hit. The storm was so strong that the World Meteorological Society has decided to retire the name Michael so that no future Atlantic hurricane can have that name. In South Georgia, we are well ...

UMs, UMCOR still helping southwest Georgia recover

published 9/30/2019
By Kara Witherow, Editor United Methodists are known for being “the last to leave,” and in southwest Georgia, where Hurricane Michael swept through the area Oct. 10, 2018, as a devastating Category 3 storm, they’re still there, working to restore what was lost. Rev. George Masciarelli was recently hired as a Disaster Recovery Coordinator for Hurricane Michael, working specifically in the Southwest District to coordinate long term recovery efforts for those impacted by Hurricane Michael. His ...

What John Wesley says about church growth, part 2

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

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

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

Lessons from Dorian: Communication and connection are critical

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

Trip explores partnership between South Georgia, North Katanga Annual Conferences

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

Unity has a purpose

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

A Positive Attitude

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

Responding to Hurricane Dorian: Prayers and Giving

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

Monitoring Hurricane Dorian - 9/3/19 Update

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

Confidence, Communication, Curiosity

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

Home is where the heart is

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

Monitoring Hurricane Dorian - 9/2/19 Update

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

Series of shocking stunts helps youth group raise mission trip money

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

2020 conference budget reduced, local churches continue to faithfully give

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

A Heavenly Visitor

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

Albany First UMC program helps feed kids, reduce waste

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

Let us work for shalom

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

Ministry weaves plastic bags into beds for homeless

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

A summer of hopeful conversations

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

John Wesley and the Mystics

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

New Conference Center receives $100,000 gift

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

Prepare now, respond when storms hit

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

Try on a new identity!

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

Wesley Foundations, campus ministries offer community, connection

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

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

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

Our Connection Matters: This is My Story!

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

Andrew College leads effort to revitalize downtown Cuthbert

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

Give us a chance

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

Savannah churches help build houses for homeless veterans

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

The Greatness of America

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

In praise of small steps

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

General Conference 2020 petition submission process opens

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

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

published 7/8/2019
This is the second in a two-part series that will introduce the new District Superintendents ADVOCATE: Tell us a little about yourself. Where did you grow up? Have you always lived in South Georgia? REV. PATTON: I was born and raised in Jesup, Georgia, and graduated from Wayne County High School. When I was in middle school we lived in Philadelphia for two years while my dad completed training as an orthodontist. I spent four years in Atlanta for college and three more in Kentucky for ...

Valdosta First UMC launches The Porch Community Church

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

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