an account of the ministry and mission
of the Augusta District UMC
Jesus and his disciples came to Bethsaida. Some people brought a blind man to Jesus and begged him to touch and heal him. Taking the blind man’s hand, Jesus led him out of the village. After spitting on his eyes and laying his hands on the man, he asked him, “Do you see anything?” The man looked up and said, “I see people. They look like trees, only they are walking around.” Then Jesus placed his hands on the man’s eyes again. He looked with his eyes wide open, his sight was restored, and he could see everything clearly. Then Jesus sent him home, saying, “Don’t go into the village!” - Mark 8:22-26
2020 was supposed to be the year of perfect vision. Only six months ago, we approached this new year as if we would have 20/20 insight now two decades into a new, modern millennium with our scientific and technological advancement and spiritual enlightenment of mindfulness. Then came a global pandemic necessitating lockdown that led to a faltering economy. Several months later, the pandemic has fully exposed our vulnerabilities and heightened our anxieties, revealing the festering underbelly of our collective sin of racism. Where have our hopes for this amazing 20/20 vision gone now?
This episode of healing from blindness has always been a curious one to me. Why include the humorously quirky detail about a first pass leading to vision that’s more cartoon than reality? Recalling this story now, I realize its truth about the way we humans experience vision of the immediate future. We want to believe that we are making progress with every scientific and spiritual advancement. But, often what we perceive is only a cartoon version of God’s eternal vision for beloved community.
Maybe what we can see now at the mid-point of this year of “perfect” vision is a step along the way, as this once blind beggar from Bethsaida experienced. Some things are beginning to come into focus: our mutual dependence upon one another and renewed appreciation for essential workers; the fragility of our economic system; the necessity for white people to recognize systemic racism and take action against it; the respite the environment has enjoyed revealing the reality of climate change; the precious gifts of community and Sabbath…
As Paul wrote to the Corinthians: For now we see in a mirror, dimly,[b] but then we will see face to face. Now I know only in part; then I will know fully, even as I have been fully known. Maybe this is not the year for perfect vision, but we are in the midst of being healed, seeing the reality of our human condition more clearly. With faith and hope in God’s perfect future, may we trust in Jesus to keeping placing his healing hands on our eyes until they are wide open. Holy Spirit, be thou our vision, leading us on to perfection in love.
At our best, we United Methodists are One Church in limitless expressions, locations, and mission fields. And in this incredibly difficult season, we are all learning to lean more heavily on the leading of the Holy Spirit.
We thank you, God, for the gift of your Spirit,
especially during such a time as this.
On Friday, June 26, at 8 p.m. worship leaders, prayer warriors, pastors, and church members are invited to join in worship—One Worship.
One Worship is a streamed 45-minute service meant to gather our North Georgia Conference together in digital worship. The service will feature familiar and original music, prayer, proclamation, special guests, and recognitions, and a gathering to the Table led by the 2020 Ordinands and Retirees.
As Conference leaders navigate planning for Annual Conference 2020 as responsibly as they can, they have determined that we cannot meet the needed safety measures that would be necessary to host an in-person Annual Conference Session in August.
The Annual Conference Planning Committee met June 9 and approved plans for the North Georgia Conference to instead hold a virtual Clergy Executive Session on July 16 and a virtual Annual Conference Session on August 29. The plan was also approved by the Conference Cabinet.
The virtual sessions will utilize a trusted online meeting and voting platform that will allow members to securely participate using an internet-connected device. The platform will also allow guests to view the Annual Conference session. A condensed agenda is being developed and will include only items before the Annual Conference that are essential at this time so that the session can be conducted in one day.
Instructions for members, details of the session, and more information will be forthcoming in the weeks ahead. Find updates as they are available at www.ngumc.org/AC2020.
We welcome these clergy who are moving into the Augusta District or taking a new appointment as of July 1:
Jennifer Cheely (to be licensed as a local pastor at Annual Conference) – Dunn’s Chapel
Linda Birchall – Marvin
Tommy Braswell – St. Paul, Lincolnton
Brett DeHart – Aldersgate
Steve Dodson – Thomson First (began in May)
Vincent Dominique - Transformation
Rick Gillian – Hopewell, Millegeville
Robert Lyons – Young Memorial
Sonny Mason – Woodlawn, Augusta
Sargent Nelson – St. Mark, Washington Road
Scott Parrish – Mann-Mize
Johnny Ray – Martinez
Melissa Reynolds – Little River Charge
Please join in prayer for these congregations, pastors, and families as they transition leadership in these unprecedented times.
We pray blessings on Danny Barton as he moves to St. John, Atlanta
and on those who are entering retirement:
Greg Hatfield Ted Miller Gary McWhorter Jan Oglesbee James Smith
In this unusual appointment season, we look forward to praying for and celebrating other transitions that will be effective September 1, with gratitude for those congregations and pastors’ flexibility.
United Methodists Stand Against Racism
The Council of Bishops, the General Commission on Religion and Race, the General Board of Church and Society and United Methodist Women invite you to join a Town Hall conversation here at UMC.org/EndRacism where we will take a deep dive into the true (and sometimes suppressed!) history of our nation and church.
Lay Servant Ministries Online Course Schedule for 2020-2021
Online courses are educational opportunities for lay servants to engage in learning opportunities in a virtual environment. The courses are delivered over the Internet using a selected software platform which means that you can take some of the advanced courses from your home, work, or at a time that is most convenient for you within a limited time frame. Online courses are 5 weeks in length, and the time for completing assignments will vary based on individual preparation, involvement and participation.
All online courses are open to your schedule with 24/7 access.
Conflict Resolution ----Summer July 13-August 17
Facilitator is Sharon White
Transforming Evangelism--Fall September 14-October 19
Facilitator is Ollie Manley
Heritage Winter January 18-February 22
Facilitator is Mary Williams
Lay Servants as Transformational Leaders-- Spring March 1- April 12
Facilitator is Marjorie Woods
Spiritual Gifts--- Spring – May 3-June 7
Facilitator is Kay Haugen
For more information on the specific classes,
visit the district website Lay Servant page.
To register for a course, go to: https://na.eventscloud.com/547556 Course Cost - $62.00 (This does not include books and other resources.) Courses must be paid for with credit or debit card. For Additional information, contact Ollie Manley firstname.lastname@example.org
Message from the Bishop and Cabinet
On Opening Church Buildings
As you consider regathering in your church in person, the Cabinet and I ask you all prayerfully to consider the question, “Are we prepared to open in a way that makes our church campus as safe as possible?” rather than “Are we going to open simply because we can?”
We still think it prudent to re-gather for in-person worship in the sanctuary on June 28 so that we are more sure of the trends and the prevalence of the disease.
We recommend that even on June 28 and beyond, those who are at high risk (underlying conditions, immunologically suppressed, and/or over 65yrs) avoid any public gathering and instead continue to worship online or at drive-in worship. We are also concerned about clergy who are at higher risk and ask their parishioners to continue to worship in a way that does not put them at greater risk.
Bishop Sue and the Cabinet continue to meet weekly in order to offer the most helpful information about ministry response, adjustment, and re-openings to the entire conference.
Recommendations from the Worship Leaders, Choral Directors & Music Ministers task force about singing in these days of COVID-19 can be found at the Relaunch Resource Hub under "Guidelines for Music".
The District Office is available to Course of Study students who would like to take an online course, but have unreliable internet service. Please contact Beth to make arrangements for access.
HealthFlex Participants: Quest to Offer At-Home Screening, Updates Deadlines
Wespath will be partnering with Quest to introduce an at-home screening option, called Qcard. We recognize that some individuals may not feel comfortable receiving their screening in person, even from their own physician. The Qcard allows participants to do a finger stick test at home and self-report their biometrics. The Qcard option will be available to all participants by July 1.
All Clergy in the North Georgia Conference are assigned a 'ngumc.net' email address and are expected to maintain and check this address for messages from the district and/or conference offices. You may roll this address into your church or personal email or check it independently through the gmail system.