The North Georgia Conference
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Each month we will bring you new resources to provide support around your wellbeing now and in the future. Be sure to bookmark or print these resources for easy reference.

Meaningful Moment  |  A Blessing 
Just Checking In  | Ways to Seek Renewal
What We’re Talking About  |  Training Opportunities
Conference Resources  |  Share your resources with us
"Not Alone" Podcast  |  New podcast recommendations

Meaningful Moment

A blessing by Dr. Kate Bowler // @katecbowler

Sometimes I am paper
thinning at every touch.

Responsibilities and duties and errands
are wearing me down.
There is not enough time or energy
or finances or imagination.

I hardly recognize myself.

I can’t keep going, but I can’t rest.
God, can You help me slow down?

I just need a little shelter and a long breath.

Give me space to curl up for a while.
Hold me until I can feel my shoulders drop,
and I am freed from what can’t happen right now.

Let me think only about what is gentle and lovely,
what is bountiful and unencumbered on this too-heavy day.

God, scoop me up into life as it is.
Stop me from running ahead,
so I can be here,
in this space,
for the moment.
And breathe.


Just Checking In


During the early months of COVID, it was hard to be able to tell days apart. There weren’t any typical social markers that helped us differentiate time – like weddings, family vacations, or big sporting events. We found ourselves always in a bit of a calendar fog and really had to be present in each day because there wasn’t much to signify one day from another. 


Part of me hated the foggy ambiguity of the days. I couldn’t figure out what made one day different from the next and was always lost in my calendar. At the same time, I found myself more present than ever before – really soaking up each day for what it was. I didn’t worry too much about the future (well, yes, the large existential future I worried about…) when I knew I could only control a small fraction of time in the current day and the subsequent few days. There was something both odd about this ambiguity and freeing.


I realized the last couple of weeks that I have once again found myself a bit lost in the calendar. But this time feels different. It’s no longer because there aren’t any markers to differentiate time. It’s because the markers are flying by so fast it feels like I’m in warp speed. I returned to – and maybe even sped up – from the pace I was maintaining pre-pandemic. It’s as though I’m trying to make up for lost time. I’ve found myself feeling like I’m trying to make out details while it seems like I’m driving 150 mph down the road.


I don’t know why I’m acting as though I need to make up for lost time or even go faster than before. One of the biggest things we learned during the early pandemic is that most of us had been maintaining a pace that was not sustainable or healthy. The early pandemic caused us to pause some (and yes – also pivot and take on a few new things). But we were truly cut off from some of the outside personal demands we previously had like extracurriculars and spending time in traffic to get across town for any sort of meeting. 


Have you found yourself feeling lost in the blur of the calendar recently and running on fumes again? 


Summer is well underway, and we are quickly careening towards kicking off the school year and “welcome back” events all over again. The calendar is already a blur. 


So how are you finding ways to care for yourself and build in margin for rest? There are a few ways to seek renewal. 

  1. Join our newest short-term 4-month ACE cohort called Sabbath Life! Sabbath Life is an invitation for clergy to practice the rhythms of Sabbath, stepping away from our daily lives to delight in God, creation, and each other. This unique format offers a holistic approach to good health and clergy renewal, which in turn leads to flourishing congregations and communities. It meets one day a month from August – November 2022 at a farm located just outside of Cumming. Deacons & Elders in Full Connection, Provisional Deacons & Elders, and Local Pastors are all invited to apply. Retired pastors may also apply. Click the link above to learn more and complete an application. 

  2. Connect with a therapist and/or spiritual director. This is a safe space for you to focus on you – not worry or care for anyone else. You can explore together your symptoms of anxiety or depression, the feelings of overwhelm or attempting to balance everything, or where and how God is engaging you in this season of life. As a reminder, your health insurance through the conference has two great mental health components for counseling (note, it doesn’t cover spiritual direction). First, both in-network and out-of-network therapists are reimbursed equally. Second, we have access to 8 free EAP counseling sessions. Reach out to Amy King ( if you have specific questions about your policy and EAP. If you need any support finding a therapist, reach out to Lindsay ( 

  3. Attend a pre-planned retreat. We always are in charge and leading things – simply ATTEND something! There are a few great upcoming retreats at Hinton Rural Life Center. There are also several upcoming retreats (fall & spring) being hosted by Chrysalis Consulting Center, based in New Mexico, that focus on clergy rest and renewal. 

    September 12-14: Rural Clergy Renewal Retreat at Hinton Rural Life Center for UMC clergy
    This renewal retreat for United Methodist clergy serving rural appointments offers opportunities to breathe deep, exhale, commune with nature, rest, and take in scenic views of Lake Chatuge and the Appalachian Mountains that will restore your soul. Options for this lightly-scheduled retreat include morning and evening devotions, conversations with seasoned pros on rural ministry topics (for those who want some content!), delicious meals with your rural ministry colleagues, campus amenities, and area activities. (You may also extend your stay by contacting Cost: $300 -- Includes 2-nights lodging, 5 meals, resource leaders, and Hinton amenities. Registration deadline is September 1.

    October 3-5: Life in the Garden Retreat at Hinton Rural Life Center for clergy, laity, UMC, and non-UMC

    This retreat is for anyone who experiences, or longs to experience, the Power of Pause. Highlights include indoor and outdoor workshops, exploring "sanctuary" trails and gardens, and time for walks, prayer, rocking chairs, and reflection.

  1. Build your own retreat. There are lots of UMC-related retreat centers around the country that clergy have access to at reduced rates. Explore somewhere new while you rest and renew your soul. Check out this link for recommended retreat centers.

  2. Take Sabbath regularly. Do not work 7 days a week. Model healthy boundaries and make sure you are taking minimum 1 day off a week off – preferably two days off a week (only working 5 days!)

  3. Use your vacation. Since new appointment years just started on 7/1, this is a perfect time to remember that you are entitled to vacation AND Sabbath each week. Here is a reminder of general vacation policy, remembering that vacation is calculated based on the conference year, July 1-June 30:

    Credited Years of Service Vacation Recommendation
    1 to 5 years – 3 weeks (including 3 Sundays)
    6 to 10 years – 4 weeks (including 4 Sundays)
    11 plus years – 5 weeks (including 5 Sundays)

  1. Explore your options for Professional Formation Leave as well as Spiritual Growth & Renewal Leave in ¶350 in the Book of Discipline. Compliant with ¶350.2, “A clergy member’s continuing education and spiritual growth program shall include professional formation leaves at least one week each year and may include at least one month during one year of every quadrennium.” In accordance with ¶350.3, a clergy person who has served at least six years in full-time appointments may request a formational and spiritual growth leave of up to six months while continuing to hold an appointment in the local church.


Also, there is an important new resource for everyone to know about. There is a new direct number to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – dial 9-8-8. It goes live on July 16th! 

9-8-8 is a direct line to trained National Suicide Prevention Lifeline counselors. It will open the door for millions of Americans to seek the help they need while sending the message to the country that healing, hope, and help are happening every day. Some of 9-8-8’s key features include: Connecting a person in a mental health crisis to a trained counselor, who can address their immediate needs and help connect them to ongoing care; Reducing healthcare spending with more cost-effective early intervention; Reducing the use of law enforcement, public health, and other safety resources; Meeting the growing need for crisis intervention; Helping end stigma toward those seeking mental healthcare. If you have questions, contact 


I hope you can think through ways to make sure you are caring for yourself, honoring your capacity, and resting during the fast speed we find ourselves in once again.


Grateful for you,

What We're Talking About – Recommendation of the Month!

Each month we will share some of our favorite wellbeing resources.

Upcoming Community Training Opportunities:

Suicide 101: What Clergy Need to Know – Join Joanne L. Harpel, president of Coping After Suicide, to explore what the clergy’s role is and isn’t in respect to suicide prevention and in the aftermath of suicide. July 26, 10:40 a.m., Suicide rates continue to rise in the State of Georgia, and nationally. How can the faith community can help reduce risk factors and increase protective factors? This discussion will be followed by a free one-hour live video call. Registrants are encouraged to research what their faith tradition teaches about suicide prior to the session. Register here by July 22, 2022.


We 4C Healing Faith Leaders Behavioral Health Luncheon 2022 on August 5th – The Georgia Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities (DBHDD), Office of Behavioral Health, invites you join us on the journey to wellness. This event will highlight how the intentional utilization of Compassion, Connection, Collaboration, and Conversation can positively impact how the faith community responds to behavioral health challenges in their midst. Faith leaders will be informed through dialogue from an interfaith panel sharing from their respective faith traditions. Attendees will hear from persons in the behavioral health field and from persons with lived experience.  Additionally, they will be provided space in which to share with one another how they might see using the 4C’s in their communities. Registration information here

New Resources

WE WANT YOU! Do you have a great resource we need to know about? We are compiling resource lists of virtual/in-person grief groups, therapists, spiritual directors, and clergy coaches. Also, we are building lists of recovery resource groups in each district, so if you know of great active AA/NA/CA/Celebrate Recovery groups (or any others) in your area, please share them with us

Previously Released Conference Resources

All resources can be found at any time on the NGUMC Wellbeing website.

What’s the Difference? Spiritual Director, Coach, and Therapist
Alternative Holiday Conversation Starters (Part 2)
BIPOC Mental Health Resources
Key Mental Health Websites
Ambiguous Loss Rituals
"A Weary World Rejoices" worship resources to help you take a Sunday off
Holiday Conversation Starters
Stages of Grief resource
Tips to Manage through the Holiday Season
A Walking Meditation guide 
Rest & Renewal Plan
Reflection Guide for Rest and Renewal
100 Self-Care Ideas 
A Moment of Reflection journal template 
Letter to SPRC Chairs (October 2021)
Crisis Hotline Numbers
How to Find a Therapist video
How to Find a Therapist guide
Recommended Podcasts

“Not Alone: Conversations on Faith and Wellbeing” Podcast


We are currently on summer break – so catch up on episodes from Season 3 as we prepare for Season 4 kicking off this fall! Join Rev. Michael McCord, Executive Director of UMCommission, Evan DeYoung, Director of New Initiatives at UMComission, and Rev. Lindsay Geist, a licensed clinical social worker, as they walk together through a life of faith and wellbeing. Find “Not Alone: Conversations on Faith and Wellbeing” on your favorite podcast platform.

Podcast Webpage 

Apple Podcasts


While “Not Alone: Conversations on Faith & Wellbeing” is on summer hiatus, check out a few other podcasts where Lindsay served as a guest to explore self-care, specifically clergy self-care. 

Active Faith Podcast is hosted by Rev. Andrew Ware, an ordained elder in the Virginia Conference. This is more than just going for a run or a bike ride, but this is finding ways to take the initiative to care for ourselves in whatever feels best for us. This is more than about an active lifestyle but join us as we unpack an active self-care practice and how we connect it to our faith. These are conversations with others as we seek to build a theology of self-care together; exploring how we actively care for ourselves in whatever way feels best for us as we seek to live out our faith and vocations. Lindsay is featured on Episode 23 and most recently Episode 32!
Pastoring in the Digital Parish offers training resources, growth ideas and connection for ministry leaders growing digital communities: It’s the digital ministry class we weren’t offered in seminary. In each episode, Ryan Dunn talks with a digital community expert in search of answers to questions about digital discipleship, online engagement, content creation, and the future of ministry in a digital-native culture. Check out the November 10th episode.

Key Contact Numbers

For a printable list of Mental Health and Substance Use crisis numbers, click here.

Additionally, the Georgia COVID-19 Emotional Support Line (866-399-8938) assists callers needing emotional support or resource information as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Emotional Support Line is staffed by volunteers, including mental health professionals and others who have received training in crisis counseling.
Rev. Lindsay Geist, MDiv, MSW, LCSW
Church Transition & Clinical Resource Specialist
North Georgia Conference of The United Methodist Church
Copyright © 2022 The North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church, All rights reserved.

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