An Account of the Ministry and Mission
of the South East District 

It Must be Pentecost

Pentecost came early for me this year.  Twelve days to be exact.  Like a lot of religious rites that are based on a calendar, it is the experience we crave.   For me, it occurred in recovery at Emory University Hospital, following a five-hour induced slumber from which I was groggily awakening.  My physician stood over me, his face still a blur, and said what every cancer patient longs to hear, “I got it all”. 

Fumbling with my words, I tried to thank him, but what could I say compared to that which had been done?  He stopped short my intended soliloquy by gently saying, “You are like my family”. 

Even under anesthesia, I heard, and was barely left with breath.  Dr. Nour is a world class physician doing pioneering work in oncology.  A native of Cairo, (not the one 70 miles south of the gnat line), he returns every summer to work at a children’s hospital in that teeming metropolis.  This day however, he had taken a needle, and with a laser, extinguished the quarter size lesion that had nestled all too comfortably in my liver.  And now he was calling me family. 

Was it Pentecost?  You remember that scene in Acts 2.   We sometimes focus on all the wrong things - the violent wind and tongues like fire.  However, as Fred Craddock once observed, there is a softer side to that experience of every tribe and nation gathered in Jerusalem for a festival.  Sometime, refer to an atlas of ancient cities, and you will recognize the places that are mentioned form a concentric circle of the then known world.  It is Luke’s way of saying people had come from everywhere.  Yet in this moment, separate citizens no longer heard in their own voice or held fast to their prior thoughts, for God invited them to participate in a new world order. 

I know, I know what you are already thinking.  Preacher don’t start with that polytheism gobbledygook; and I’m not.  For I am orthodox to the core and I take scripture to be true.  I just don’t know how you can read of creation in Genesis or remember the words of commission by Jesus and not understand that God’s realm always extends far past the perimeters of my own small thoughts.  

We make the mistake of categorizing ourselves by description, when it is our experiences that inform who we are.   If I could diagnosis the present social malaise, I would say it is this. We have preferred to see that which is peculiar in one another rather than what we hold in common. And that’s not Pentecost.  Pentecost begins as people gather from everywhere with divisions abounding, but it does not end there.    In our present day we wield our words to bludgeon opponents with blunt force trauma.  With so much vile spewed so regularly it is even difficult to identify Eden.  This is not Pentecost.  Pentecost is when people laid down their prior known identities and aligned themselves with God’s spirit.  And when they did, just look what happened.  What was realized could not have been imagined and instead became what God had intended. 

Lying on my gurney, I couldn’t say all that, of course.  I meekly tried to mumble gratitude too small for what I had been privileged to experience this day.  My Egyptian born doctor, who speaks in a neat English accent, not only removed a cancer, but recognized me as family.   He could have called me anything, but it must have been Pentecost, for he saw me as family.  

Pre-Conference Briefing Set for this Sunday, May 16

All members of the 2021 North Georgia Annual Conference are invited to an online Pre-Conference Briefing on Sunday, May 16, at 2 p.m. The briefing will be held via Zoom Webinar. 

The session will be recorded for those who cannot attend live. 

  • What: Pre-Annual Conference Briefing
  • Who: All members of the 2021 North Georgia Annual Conference
  • When: Sunday, May 16, 2 p.m.
  • Link: 
Pre-Annual Conference Briefing
Annual Conference 2021
All Annual Conference delegates are reminded of the timeline of events for the upcoming virtual Annual Conference. Delegates should make plans now to attend the Pre-Conference Briefing and register their attendance online.
  • May 16 to May 31 – Online Registration
  • June 3 - Online Clergy Executive Session
  • June 4 - Online Annual Conference Session
  • June 5 - Live Streamed Ordination Service, Live Streamed Memorial Service
Pastors, please make sure your church’s delegate information is complete and correct on the Lay Leadership Report in Data Services (Charge Conference Reports). Any updates should be made before May 15. An individual and unique email address is required for every lay member. Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson has named the North Georgia Conference Ministerial Education Fund as the Annual Conference Special Offering. This Fund provides scholarships to seminary and undergraduate students, course-of-study for local pastors, and license to preach school. Churches are invited to collect the offering any time before or after the 2021 Annual Conference.  Visit regularly for information. 

Conversation on Committee Structure:
Survey Results and Proposal

You're invited to listen in as Nate Abrams (Board of Discipleship and Advocacy), Rev. Cassie Rapko (Board of Church and Society Rep), Rev. Brian Tillman (Conference Committee on Religion and Race), and Rev. Dr. Steven Usry (Board of Church Development) share results from a recent survey on our Conference committee structure.

They discuss how your insight and feedback informed the proposed committee restructure that will be presented to the 2021 Annual Conference.

Watch the video conversation and find supporting resources, and most importantly a place to share your feedback, at 
Committee Structure

Conference Board of Pension to Cover Church Portion of Healthflex Insurance Premiums for Next Three Months

Beginning June 1, 2021, for a period of three months, (June, July, and August) the North Georgia Conference Board of Pension and Health Benefits will fund the church portion of HealthFlex health insurance premiums from the CBOPHB "Current Benefits Reserve" fund.  

"We recognize that many of our churches are continuing to adapt to new patterns of giving," said Charles Darden, chair of the Conference Board of Pension. "The Board of Pension is blessed to have adequate reserves that we can use to cover the health insurance premiums that would otherwise be paid by the churches for a period of three months, beginning June 1"

This action was approved by the Conference Board of Pension on Wednesday, March 17.

June billing from the Conference Benefits Office will reflect this decision. Churches will still be billed for pension and the participants' portion of the health insurance. 

This marks the second time that the CBOPHB has offered this holiday. They used reserves to cover the church portion of HealthFlex premiums for three months of 2020. 
The Athens College of Ministry (ACMin) is offering a Christian Leadership Institute beginning in July of this year. This 18-month cohort-based program will provide participants with an opportunity to be refreshed in their God-given calling and empowered to reach and disciple others in new, impactful ways.
The Institute is conveniently arranged around busy schedules and will result in 12 CEUs. Per Rev. Dr. Bernice Kirkland, Director of Clergy Excellence for the North Georgia Conference, the certificate earned as a result of participation in the Christian Leadership Institute qualifies in fulfillment of the UMC clergy CEU requirement.

Click Here for Flyer and Click Here for Details
Clergy Move Day Dates
Each summer a number of North Georgia Conference clergy pack their belongings and make the move to their next appointment. To make coordination easier, an official "move day" is set by the Conference. 

The last Sunday in June is the final Sunday of a moving pastor's current appointment. The following Tuesday is "Move Day." The first Sunday of July is a Sunday off. The first day at the new appointment will be the first business day after July 4. The clergyperson's first Sunday preaching will be the first Sunday after July 4.
Randy Hardy has written this book that expresses his perspective as a lay person with traditionalist mindset on what is happening in the United Methodist Church.  Copies are available for free in the district office.  Please stop by or contact Tina at to make arrangements to receive a copy. 
Substitute Pianist
Burns Memorial United Methodist Church is looking for a substitute pianist for  the 11 am Worship Service, Sunday, June 6, 2021.    If you are interested, please call or email Pastor John Donaldson at

Happy Birthday to our clergy born in May!

John Pike 5/1
Thurman Norville 5/11
Carol Davis 5/12
Randy Byrd 5/16
Kirk Sims 5/21
Ray Camp 5/23
Lindsey Solomon 5/23
Brett DeHart 5/24
Julia Crim 5/25
Scott Haris 5/28
Mark Outlaw 5/30

District Calendar
Clergy are strongly encouraged to check their email addresses directly through Gmail. However, some clergy prefer to forward their address to another account. Pastors who moved July 1 and forward their email should be sure to update the forwarding account. Access to your email is important for receiving district and conference communication as well as virtual Annual Conference credentials. 
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