Thursday, March 23, 2017

Called to be Peacemakers

“It is to peace that God has called us.” (1 Corinthians 7:15)

In today’s world of polarized politics and church-life, too often we are caught between people and groups that feel they have to take sides – that they are “right” and everyone else is “wrong.”

While there are certainly times that it’s important to stand up for “right” and fight the “wrong” in our world, these times actually occur less often than many of us think, and more often than not the things we feel we have to stand up and “fight” about are in the end relatively petty, selfish, and often self-centered issues that do not really matter one bit in big scheme of things.

In the 18th-century the founder of Methodism John Wesley once urged his Methodists “as to opinions that do not strike at the root of Christianity, we [should] think and let think (from Wesley’s tract The Character of A Methodist)… meaning that if something is not absolutely central to who we are and what we do as followers of Jesus, then we need to be “big enough” and mature enough to allow others to have opinions, beliefs, and practices that are different than us without us feeling threatened by those.

Jesus paralleled this attitude when he himself said “Blessed are the peacemakers” (Matthew 5:9).  And many years later, Saint Francis of Assisi offered this now famous prayer for us to become peacemakers:

         “Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace;
                        Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
                        Where there is injury, pardon;
                        Where there is doubt, faith;
                        Where there is despair, hope;
                        Where there is darkness, light;
                        and where there is sadness, joy.
            O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
                        To be consoled, as to console;
                        To be understood, as to understand;
                        To be loved, as to love;
                        For it is in giving that we receive,
                        It is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
                        And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.”               

            [–Saint Francis of Assisi, 1182-1226]

My prayer is that we would all learn from Jesus, Saint Francis, and John Wesley how to be makers of peace with all those around us! Always remember that God loves you and I do, too!

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Praying Our Way Forward

This past week, our North Georgia Conference Bishop, Sue Haupert-Johnson sent the following letter to each United Methodist Church in our Conference inviting us to be in prayer March 19-26 for the work of the "Commission on a Way Forward"...  


Dear brothers and sisters of the North Georgia Annual Conference,

We have been invited to enter into a week of prayer for the Commission on a Way Forward from March 19-26. The 32-member Commission on a Way Forward was appointed by the Council of Bishops following General Conference 2016 to study matters of human sexuality and to strengthen the unity of The United Methodist Church. It is our honor and privilege to be the part of our sacred connection that surrounds the Commission on a Way Forward with fervent prayer during this special week, and to continue to remember them in prayer daily in the months to come. We invite you to be part of our North Georgia prayer movement in the following ways:

1.  A special web page has been set up for you to post public prayers for all to use in their times of personal prayer at Please submit your prayers to ...

2.  The Council of Bishops has been praying for The Way Forward Commission for months, and each bishop has agreed to remember them in prayer at a certain time each day. I have been praying for them each night at 9 p.m. During the North Georgia week of prayer, I invite you to join me in prayer at 9 p.m. each night from March 19-26 so that we all are united in this sacred activity. I have been praying for each member individually, for God’s wisdom and direction, and for the group’s work together. 

Each day, as I travel throughout our annual conference, I have the joy of witnessing first-hand the life-changing work God is doing through our connection by the power of the Holy Spirit. Amazing ministry is going on in so many places! Our connection, while not perfect, is a precious gift from God to celebrate and preserve. I covet your prayers for The Commission on a Way Forward and our United Methodist Church.

Yours in Christ,
Bishop Sue


I pray that you will join me in praying for this endeavor as we lift up the work and mission of our church to God!  Always remember that God loves you and I do, too!

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

What Is Stephen Ministry?

“[God] consoles us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God.” (2 Corinthians 1:4)

Stephen Ministry is a newly reactivated lay caring ministry of our church that enables fellow members to care for one another in the way Paul describes above.  With over 1100 members, it’s impossible (and impractical) for myself and Pastor Blake to be able to take care of all the congregational care needs of our church.  So, our Stephen Ministry is therefore one of the vital complementary components of our overall Congregational Care Ministry. Find out more about this ministry HERE.

Stephen Ministers themselves are fellow church members who’ve gone through 60 hours of training to provide confidential, one-to-one Christian care for people who’re facing a crisis or simply going through a tough time (*see below). Whether it’s the loss of a loved one, loneliness, cancer, a layoff, relocation, divorce, a spiritual crisis, recuperation, single parenthood, or any of countless other life challenges or hurts, our Stephen Ministers are here to care for you!

Your Stephen Minister will meet once a week for around an hour to listen to you, care for you, pray with and for you, and provide emotional and spiritual encouragement.  Men are matched with male Stephen Ministers, and women are matched with female Stephen Ministers. The caring relationship is free, and lasts for as long as you need care – it’s a powerful way either to receive help yourself, or also a great way to help a friend, neighbor, co-worker, or relative who’s been struggling in any way.

To find out more about how you or someone you know can be matched with one of our church’s confidential Stephen Ministers, either email, speak in person with our Stephen Leader Miriam Kelly, or either to Pastors Blake or myself.
Our Stephen Ministers are here for YOU!  Always remember that God loves you and I do, too!

(*)  Stephen Ministers are not licensed counselors, therapists,  or mental health professionals.  They are trained and supervised Christian lay care-givers