SouthWest News and Updates                                                         View this email in your browser

SouthWest District Welcomes New Pastors

We are delighted to welcome the following newly appointed pastors to the SouthWest District:

Ann Mann - Barnesville First
Brian Germano - Cornerstone                                                                   
Yeojin Kwak - Hopewell
Ben Strength - Monticello First
Connor Bell - Newnan First, Associate
Matt Stone - Peachtree City
Brent Ward - Providence
Julie Schendel - Senoia

The following pastors are moving to new appointments within the District:

Tommy Holder - Andrews Chapel & Mt. Carmel
Tim Dees - Caney Head/Roopville/Welcome
Alpheia Murray - Faith
John Norman - Highland
Frank Dean - John Wesley
Michael Jackson - Jones Hill (& Heard Wesley)
Kimberly Dugger - Merrill Chapel
Yolanda Jones-Colton - Mt. Olive
Ron Hill - Mountville/Big Springs
Andrew Chappell - Newnan First, Senior Pastor
John Tompkins - Smith Chapel, Pine Mountain
Danny Tomlinson - Turin
A friendly reminder to all clergy, active and retired, in a season of moves and disaffiliations:

We honor our covenant relationship with one another and value each other’s ministry. We uphold this covenant by not being in contact with another pastor’s parishioners regarding church matters unless we are invited by the pastor and/or with the express permission of the district superintendent. Thank you for upholding these boundaries, making it possible for pastors to lead and shepherd their flocks without outside interference.

If you need any support around this, feel free to contact one or all of us.

Peace of Christ,

          Rev. Lindsay Geist
          Chair of the Order of Deacons

          Rev. YoLanda Jones-Colton
          Chair of the Fellowship of Local Pastors and Associate Members

          Rev. Leon Matthews
          Chair of the Order of Elders


Fearless Dialogues - Diving Deeper
A Conversation on Racial Justice and Healing

Saturday, August 6, 2022
Clergy Photo9:30 am - 2:00 pm
Fayetteville First UMC
In this third session, Rev. Brian Tillman, Conference Director of Inclusion and Advocacy, will lead participants in considering concrete steps as we lead our congregations and communities toward racial healing and reconciliation.  You do not have to have participated in the first 2 sessions to take part in this event.

Register by calling or emailing the SouthWest District Office (770-227-1074 or, by August 3.


Disaffiliation Update

Dear Friends in the SouthWest District,
In these days of June following our 2022 Annual Conference, I am praying for each of you and your congregations. I am also praying for the 70 congregations in our conference that have recently disaffiliated.
Because the subject of disaffiliation is still on the table, many congregations are asking what it might mean for them. Since the disaffiliation process (and implementation of the same) was new to all of us, and because there weren't many details to undergird section 2553, we have learned a lot that we didn’t know this time last year. Now, based on our experience, we feel that additional information and guidelines can be offered IF your congregation is seeking to learn more about the subject and/or process of disaffiliation.  
However, before you go through the additional information we are providing below; we encourage you to read (or re-read) Paragraph 2553 of our Discipline and the actual Disaffiliation Agreement with the North Georgia Conference — both of which are found at There`s no question that the first and best step to answering people’s questions is to understand the process, including timelines, expectations and other details.  
Additional Information and Guidelines
1.     No church is required to vote or required to consider a vote to disaffiliate from The United Methodist Church. For reference, the vast majority of our 700+ churches in the North Georgia Conference have indicated to us that they will not take a vote to disaffiliate. Additionally, the vast majority of the pastors in the North Georgia Conference have confirmed that they will remain in the UMC.
2.     There is no hurry or need to rush the process of discernment if your church is considering disaffiliation. Disaffiliation requests won't be received by the District Office any earlier than January 1, 2023, and will be accepted through February 28, 2023. No DS will prioritize churches that are “first in line” based on the timing of their submission regarding disaffiliation. Please know that no church will be assigned a church conference date prior to February 28. The schedule will be set to ensure completion and efficiency (not based on when a request is made). There is no advantage or disadvantage to requesting earlier or later in the window. So, encourage congregations to use the full amount of time between now and February to pray/discern about any decisions being considered.
3.     We are still working on a checklist of education and types of events that we expect churches to facilitate in the process of discernment, but until those specifics are released in coming weeks, please encourage your congregation to pray, be kind to one another, and do no harm in any way to the Body of their church, District, Conference and the UMC. We have great information at this link: 
4.     There are to be NO secret meetings of any type about disaffiliation; everyone in the congregation must be aware of what`s being discussed – everyone in your congregation should be invited to any/all meeting(s) involving disaffiliation. These meetings should be well publicized with at least two weeks of advance notice. And please notify me of any church-wide sessions you conduct so that I can choose to be present or send someone to be present as it’s helpful.
5.     As UMC pastors who have agreed to clergy covenants, pastors are responsible for making sure there is no misinformation, untruths, skewed facts and/or intentional omission of information allowed in the church as your congregation discerns its future. Remember that assigned pastors to your church have agreed to be the Pastor to ALL who attend and/or seek to be followers of Jesus. Regardless of which perspective a congregant takes, we are called to love them all.
6.     Consider the use of the word “perspective” instead of “side” when alternate or conflicting viewpoints are being presented in the church and/or otherwise. Sometimes just a word change allows us to be a better witness to the world.

If churches have questions or need help with any of this information, have your pastor contact the District Office.
With you in the Love of Christ,

The SouthWest District Set Up meeting will be held on Sunday, August 28 at 3:00pm at the Griffin First United Methodist Church (1401 Maple Street).  All appointed clergy are expected to attend this meeting where we will be distributing important information including the district calendar, charge conference details, apportionment notices, and much more.  Mark your calendars now, and be on the lookout for more details coming by email very soon!

Safe Sanctuary Training

The SouthWest District is offering 2 upcoming opportunities for Safe Sanctuary Training.  Please remember that all churches must have a Safe Sanctuary policy and all staff and volunteers working with children, youth, and vulnerable adults must receive training.  

Tuesday, July 19, 6-8pm at Griffin First - led by Rev. Debby Stikes; a light supper will be provided.

Sunday, July 24, 4-6pm at Pine Mountain First - led by Mimi Sanders

Please register for either workshop through the District Office (770-227-1074 or  Deadline for registration is 3 days prior to each meeting.

Letter from Bishop and Scouting Coordinator:
New United Methodist/BSA Affiliation Agreement

Dear North Georgia United Methodists & Friends of Scouting, 
We would like to provide an update on the long-awaited announcement of a new relationship agreement between The United Methodist Church and the Boy Scouts of America. ... A new “Affiliation Agreement” has been developed and approved by the UMC Leadership Committee, BSA, and the General Commission on United Methodist Men. 
The agreement fulfills two important priorities for us: that Scouting ministry continues uninterrupted and that Scouting programs are offered with excellence. 
District Calendar:
July 14 - District Strategic Growth & Church Location Committee Training (Zoom), 6:00-7:30 pm
July 16 - Lay Servant Ministry Committee meets at District Office, 9:00am-12 noon
July 19 - Safe Sanctuary Training, Griffin First UMC, 6:00-8:00 pm
July 24 - Safe Sanctuary Training, Pine Mountain First UMC, 4:00-6:00pm
July 28 - District Strategic Growth & Church Location Committee meets (Zoom), 3:00pm
August 6 - Fearless Dialogues, Deeper Dive, Fayetteville First, 9:30am-2:30pm
August 10 - DCOM Training, Zoom, 10:00 am- 12 noon
Happy Birthday to the following appointed pastors in the SouthWest District celebrating birthdays in July:
3  -  Nicholas Grainger             Happy Birthday Wishes Images - Home | Facebook
7  -  Clarence Thrower
24 - Andy Postell
28 - John Norman

Our contact information:
SouthWest District
P. O. Box 13
430 W. Poplar Street
Griffin, GA 30224

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