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

A devotion from Mission Specialist Beth Sanders
14 The people marched out from their tents to cross over the Jordan. The priests carrying the covenant chest were in front of the people. 15 When the priests who were carrying the chest came to the Jordan, their feet touched the edge of the water. The Jordan had overflowed its banks completely, the way it does during the entire harvest season. 16 But at that moment the water of the Jordan coming downstream stood still. It rose up as a single heap very far off, just below Adam, which is the city next to Zarethan. The water going down to the desert sea (that is, the Dead Sea) was cut off completely. The people crossed opposite Jericho. 17 So the priests carrying the Lord’s covenant chest stood firmly on dry land in the middle of the Jordan. Meanwhile, all Israel crossed over on dry land, until the entire nation finished crossing over the Jordan. (Joshua 3:14-17)

So much grief and travail has gone before the people of God as a whole generation passed through the desert.  And now, as the next generation looks across the Jordan to the Promised Land, weariness and dread could set in, anticipating all the work and struggle still to come, just as for their parents who faced the Red Sea and wanted to turn back.  In both those seasons of transition, God gave the people a moment of respite from the turbulent waters in which to take a deep breath, to bask in God’s provision, and to gather courage for the next step. 
I’m not a “Parrothead,” but last weekend I was compelled by a conversation with Jimmy Buffet that aired on CBS Sunday Morning in which he talked about his song, Slack Tide.  It intersects with the invitation to Sabbath that God has been offering my spirit the last few years and especially in recent times.  As you who enjoy fishing know, slack tide happens at the end of each rising and falling tide, when there is little or no current, and it lasts around three hours.  It’s a space just before the turning when the water is completely unstressed and the world seems to take a beat. Jimmy says, “There’s something about the natural process of the world and the universe that allows you the time to kind of take a breath.  It seems that a lot of people aren’t doing that now.  It’s not that you’ve got to solve every problem or like everything everybody else does, but everybody needs to take a little breath…I thought that’d be a good [song] for Sunday morning!” 
As the return of August’s high tide is before us with children returning to school (or not), individuals, families, congregations, and communities are stressed by what lies ahead in this very different terrain.  I hear the weariness in pastors’ voices and demeanor these days when it seems like there has not been an opportunity for the break this season typically provides. God is faithful to give us slack tide moments of Sabbath rest in the natural rhythm of late summer. Imagine the priests hiking up their robes, tucking them in their belts, wading barefoot into that cool river and standing there for those glorious hours of slack tide.  And how about the imagery of this verse from Jimmy Buffet’s song:
You can't hold back the tide
Can't stop the ebb or flow
The water will come and the water will go
It turns mountains to sand
Gave Noah his big ride
But then he dropped off his passengers
Down, at slack tide
… I wish the whole wide world could swim along, at slack tide
God created the rhythm that gives us slack tide where we receive the grace of sustenance and direction for the next step when the tide turns. May we trust in that promise and enjoy the blessing of slack tide.

                                                           A Contribution

A message from District Superintendent Greg Porterfield

The academic year begins in Columbia County on Monday, and, using a phrase I have been repeating a lot these days, “it will be an experience like none other.”  The first day of school is always anxious. Butterflies in your stomach, questions aching in your head, “Will my teachers like me?,” “Do I have all the correct supplies?” and most important of all “Am I dressed like everybody else?” The anxiety usually subsides by the time the bell rings at the close of the day. The new has worn off, a return to routine takes over and it’s back to business as usual - except not this year. Altered schedules for different ages and of course, that unseen and unknown aerosol circling everywhere, except nowhere for sure. How’s that for a conundrum? Still our schools are forging forward though, there are advocates for both sides of the decision, and the only thing all of us seem to agree on is that no one knows for sure.   

In response to this, a contribution from the church is certainly in order. But what kind of contribution? We at Wesley usually have a drive for backpacks filled with supplies. However, if students stay at home, pencil and paper may not be as necessary for online learning. At Wesley, we are waiting for school social workers to tell us what they need most so we can serve best – you may need to do so as well. So, what contribution right now? Should we supplement school lunches or have food drives for families at economic risk? Much of that will depend on whether meals are served in the cafeteria or at the kitchen table. What contribution then can we make?

As I was kicking the air and stomping my feet in utter futility, it occurred to me. There is after all a contribution our churches can offer. We can PRAY. For the greatest fear in any battle is to have to face your opponent alone. And when we pray we are not that. Sometimes prayer feels to us as ineffective. We ask questions “Does God hear me?,” or darker yet, “Does God not care?” Nothing wrong with feeling this way - we all have - except that if you ask the wrong question, it is inevitable that you will receive an incorrect answer. To pray is not to change the surreal experience we all find ourselves living in. Prayer is not the opponent of natural order, which falls under the province of God. To ask God to change everything but us is nothing more than whispered wishes. C.S. Lewis wrote, “I pray because I can’t help myself.  I pray because I’m helpless. It doesn’t change God. It changes me.”    

In these coming weeks, I encourage you to pray for teachers, students, administrators and families. And pray without ceasing – so said the Apostle Paul.  At Wesley, we are singling out an hour on Sunday evening where everyone, everywhere, in person or online, may stop what they are doing and pray. Maybe you will want to offer such a time for you, your church and our communities as well. It may be that you want to specifically and intentionally enlarge the time of silent prayer in your regular worship hour. Five minutes of dedicated and focused silence can exaggerate the importance of a moment as few things can. In whatever way you choose, seize this moment for this is when our communities need us most. We have a contribution to offer – will you?

August 3

Virtual Cabinet Meeting by Zoom, 9:30-10:30 a.m.

August 9

Virtual Pre-Conference Briefing 

August 10 & 11 - Cabinet Meets

August 10- 25 – Annual Conference Registration

August 26 – Registered members receive credentials for Annual Conference by email.

August 29              
Virtual Annual Conference Session

September 1-3 – Cabinet Meeting

September 7 – Labor Day – District Office Closed for the Holiday

September 13 - Virtual District Set-up Meeting 3:00 pm

September 12 & 19
Basic Lay Servants Class at Young Memorial UMC, 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

October 3 & 10       
Advanced Lay Servant Course on Prayer at Young Memorial, 9-4 p.m.

October 19-21 – Cabinet Meeting

December 1-3 – Cabinet Meeting


General Conference ~ August 29-September 7, 2021

2020 Annual Conference Sessions Annual Conference will take place “virtually” on Saturday, August 29. We will be providing detailed information on this meeting in the coming weeks, but please take note of the following dates and meetings related to Annual Conference. Do note that you will need an email address in order to participate (vote) at the sessions. Clergy must use their conference email address. Important dates for the virtual 2020 Annual Conference Sessions include:

August 7 – Laity must have a personal email address on record in Data Services
August 9 – Virtual Pre-Conference Briefing
August 10 and 25 – Annual Conference Registration
August 26 – Registered Members Receive Credentials for Annual Conference by Email
August 29 – Virtual Annual Conference Session

More information about online conference
The following Pastors have generously offered their churches as locations for internet access for the Pre-Annual Conference Briefing and Annual Conference.  Please contact them no later than Thursday, August 6 to reserve your spot and let them know your intentions to attend.  All churches plan to practice social distancing and follow safety guidelines.  We ask that you bring your own water.  Please call the District Office with any questions at 706-651-8621.

Elberton First UMC – Pastor Jim McCollough
Claire Young (for reservations)

Lincolnton UMC – Pastor Randy Kanipe
Milledgeville First UMC – Pastor Mac Enfinger or text 706-988-0310.
(If no email response assume it was not received)
Thomson First UMC – Pastor Steve Dodson
Katie Garcia (for reservations)

Kennesaw UMC Uses
Data for Phased Plan


Earlier this month Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson and Conference Cabinet recommended the website as a resource for churches because it offers a color-coded, county-level interpretation of COVID-19 risk levels. 

Kennesaw UMC has put the information to work. Rev. Alex Stroud and the church's reopening task force are using it as the basis of their phased plan for resuming in-person worship, gatherings, and church facility use. 

You can see their plan at

"We adopted this plan about two days after the cabinet shared the link and it's taken a lot of the guesswork out of reopening," shared Stroud. "It ties us directly to the welfare of our community and cuts down on the number of decision-making conversations we're having every day."

As we continue to face the COVID-19 pandemic, North Georgia United Methodists are rethinking ways of doing church and building community. We're considering how and when we might gather in person again. We are exploring and struggling. We are leaning into our connection. We are buoyed by our faith in Jesus Christ. 

Find helpful resources, information, and updates as we navigate this time together. 

Happy Birthday to our Clergy born in August!
Sharon Bowman 8/29
Janet Cavin 8/4
Glenn Cole 8/18
Vincent Dominique 8/14
Francis Ford 8/20
Anne Hansen 8/29
Sandy Heslop 8/13
Johnny Ray 8/24
Nicole Sims 8/16
Aldersgate UMC in Augusta ,Georgia, seeks a part-time (20 hours a week) Connections Director to lead care, discipleship, missions, and guests/new members. Attention will be given to creating systems and encouraging laity to be in ministry. A job description is attached. Contact Rev. Brett DeHart at if interested.

Fixing of the Appointments

Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson will pray for the churches, clergy, and communities of the North Georgia Conference and officially set the 2020-2021 appointments over Facebook Live at noon, Thursday, August 6. Visit on Thursday to watch the Fixing of the Appointments.
Click here to view the latest District Clergy Meeting
Please note you'll need to download Zoom to your computer to view it.

Bishop Names Ministerial Education Fund as the 2020 Annual Conference Offering

Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson has named the North Georgia Conference Ministerial Education Fund as the 2020 Annual Conference Special Offering.

The Ministerial Education Fund provides scholarships to seminary and undergraduate students, course-of-study for local pastors, and license to preach school. 

Aligning with the theme of the 2020 North Georgia Annual Conference, "One in Ministry to All the World," this fund is one way United Methodists can show our support to those called to serve as clergy. Together we can help minimize debt of North Georgia United Methodists beginning in ministry. 


Check out the Georgia UM Foundation’s Clergy Financial Literacy Academy

Feeling overwhelmed and underprepared?
Want better tools for solving financial challenges?
Need convenient, helpful, practical, learning, AND CEUs?

Check out the Georgia United Methodist Foundation’s Clergy Financial Literacy Academy!

How many people are watching your videos?

Scrolling Facebook’s news feed is a daily habit for millions of people.
User-posted videos are one reason why.

With more than 8 billion video views per day, Facebook is a juggernaut platform for getting your video before a massive audience and for inviting engagement. Make sure that time invested in video posting is productive by learning more about Facebook metrics.

Hint: Gauging a video’s success is more than checking the number of views under the video. Those numbers, at first glance, can be deceptively high.


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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