an account of the ministry and mission
of the Augusta District UMC

A devotional from District Mission Specialist Beth Sanders

Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here and see my hands; and put out your hand and put it in my side" . . . Thomas answered him, "My Lord and my God!" - John 20:19-31

When the sun shines to warm the air, green the grass, and bring flowers to blossom, those outward signs of spring signal to Easter people God’s promise of new life and renewed hope. The Christian church has many symbols for Resurrection—lilies, eggs, butterflies. Robins supposedly have their red breast because a gray robin once flew to Christ’s crown of thorns to pluck one out. When it did, a drop of Jesus’ blood fell on the bird’s chest, leaving that characteristic red on its breast feathers. The forsythia shrub’s flowering branches seem to sway in the breeze as if arms waving in praise anticipating the joy of resurrection.  This year more than most, we long for resurrection to be so apparent as the earth’s spring season and to come soon!

Other things might be better Easter symbols for us in this historic time of alarm and urgency…like a sock, plastic tubing, and duct tape.   Two days into Apollo 13’s journey to the moon, an explosion tore the spaceship in half, leaving only a tiny lunar module as the astronauts’ only hope for survival. As they crawled in and tried to steer it back to earth, they discovered the blast had damaged the cabin’s air filter and compromised the oxygen supply, leaving little time to prevent carbon dioxide poisoning. 

While most in the lunar module and the control station back home were panicking, one of the scientists gathered up everything he knew was available to the astronauts. He dumped the materials on a table and invited his colleagues to figure out how to use only those things to make an air filter. They took a hose from a space suit, bits of plastic, wire, and a sock and created a makeshift filter, held together with duct tape.  It saved the astronauts’ lives.

A sock, a hose, wire, and duct tape – an unlikely but wonderful image of Easter’s resurrection by the grace of God who gathers up the fragments of our lives and creates new possibilities. It’s as real an image of a resurrection shaped life as Thomas.  He had no lilies, butterflies, or robin red breasts, only fears, doubts, and wounds. But like the NASA scientists with their socks, hoses, and duct tape, the Risen Christ gathered all those fragments of Thomas' life and created something new – a life shaped by resurrection. And Thomas answered, "My Lord and my God!"

This Easter of 2020, we can be assured that resurrection is happening, symbolized by the things we least expect. Maybe it’s the test tube or petri dish where a scientist discovers a vaccine for COVID-19.  Maybe it’s a bottle of hand sanitizer, a face mask, a piece of blue tape on the floor marking a distance of six feet.  Maybe it’s simply those outward signs of spring …the greening of the earth, the clearing of the sky, the flourishing of creatures… once again and with renewed vigor signaling God’s sure Easter promise, “I am with you. I love you. Trust Me.”  And all God’s Easter people answer, “My Lord and my God!”



As we do our best to do no harm, Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson and the Conference Cabinet continue to urge churches not to gather through May 13, 2020.

On Monday, April 27, the bishop and cabinet will offer more guidelines on how to evaluate and plan for re-opening our church facilities when the time comes that we can safely do so. 

For now, know that you are appreciated and have been prayed for by your bishop and cabinet.

"Back to our Buildings" Resources

This article provides a thoughtful checklist for consideration before re-opening the doors:

We should ALL shift our mindset now from the idea of "going back to normal" to "ReLaunching". This can be a moment of great increase if we use what we learned during this time of sheltering for a true ReLaunch of our churches--with an eye toward doing only what is effective for our mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. This tool, created by UMC Discipleship Ministries, provides guided sessions with church leadership, including helpful videos and a study guide.

As churches explore more digital ministry options, GCFA has developed some guidance on reporting and counting the number of viewers of your online worship and Bible study attendance understanding virtual reporting.

Free Upper Room Resources

Since churches are unable to meet and gather safely in their buildings during the coronavirus pandemic, The Upper Room is offering the May/June 2020 issue, both in English and Spanish, as a free, downloadable PDF. The Upper Room also has created a web page featuring resources to help create and maintain spiritual wellness during anxious times.

Upper Room Download

Other Upper Room Resources

Annual Conference 2020 is Rescheduled
for August 28-30

Conference Board of Pension and Health Benefits Votes to Pass CPP Premium Holiday on to Churches

The North Georgia Conference received communication from Wespath informing us that they have approved a 90 day holiday from CPP (Comprehensive Protection Plan) premiums. These premiums are billed to churches by the conference much like the HealthFlex insurance premiums.

The Conference Board of Pension and Health Benefits, under the leadership of Charles Darden, Board Chair, has voted that for MAY, JUNE, and JULY, this holiday from CPP premiums will be passed on to churches. 

The Comprehensive Protection Plan provides death, long-term disability and other survivor benefits for clergy. The plan is administered by Wespath. 

The savings will be reflected in the billing from the Conference Benefits Office. Waiving this expense will not impact the benefits received. 

This is the second opportunity the CBOPHB has taken to offer a payment holiday to local churches. The Board previously voted to cover the church portion of HealthFlex Insurance Premiums for the months of APRIL, MAY, and JUNE with reserve funds.  Read the entire article here:
Copyright © 2020 The North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church, All rights reserved.

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