he day after Christmas stores started making way for the next holiday. The cards and heart-shaped boxes of Valentine’s Day replaced the tinsel and lights of Christmas. Valentine’s Day is a tricky day for a lot of people. It can intensify feelings of loneliness in folks who are un-coupled or just generally isolated. And, of course, like so many of our other holidays, it has been commercialized and exploited for companies, like florists, candy makers, and Hallmark, to make money. I have my own issues with Valentine’s Day for several reasons, big ones and little ones. I lost a very good friend on Valentine’s Day eight years ago, and we all know anniversaries are hard. I also get aggravated by the choices of boxed valentines for kids. A couple of years ago, I was trying to get valentines cards for kids in a Sunday School class, and they were all gendered. You could either get ones that were pink with princesses on it or ones that were red with trucks on it. Nothing gender neutral at all.
Maybe you have reasons to love and hate the holiday, but I can rarely spend a Valentine’s Day without thinking of a lesson I learned in elementary school. It was first grade, I think, and we were planning for our class Valentine’s Day party. There would be candy and punch and games. And there would be valentines for every student. We were required to get the small valentines for everybody in the class. I remember vividly that I was uncomfortable with that. Part of it was that I was still at the age where I thought boys had cooties. A big part of it was that I didn’t want to give a card to one particular boy. This was the kid in class that always acted out. Not only was he disruptive, he also did really gross things…like eat paste and chalk. We probably all remember that kid. And maybe, some of us were that kid.
I was reluctant to give him a card. But I remember my mom telling me that I had to give everyone in the class one…that I couldn’t leave anyone out. So every Valentine’s Day, even as I struggle with my own grief and rail against the commercialism, I remember that lesson.
I couldn’t leave anyone out.
As I’ve grown and learned more about Jesus, I realize that was a lesson in discipleship. It obviously stuck with me through the years. I still remember the boy’s name. I still remember what he looked like. And even if I was uncomfortable with him, I couldn’t leave him out. Jesus didn’t leave anybody out.
As another Valentine’s Day approaches, I reflect on who is left out. No one is left out in God’s eyes, but our world doesn’t always look like the world as God intended. We fall short, and we leave lots of people out. I think about the ways that the church leaves people out. We do it in small and large ways. In small ways, we don’t always extend a warm welcome to guests who do come through our doors. In large ways, the church leaves whole groups of people out, because some lobbying group decided that the way God made them disqualified them from church service. Our denomination is on the verge of splitting over the issue of leaving people out. (We will be talking about this more on our q&a session on the Special General Conference and the report from the Commission on the Way Forward after church on February 10th.)
Looking back at that kid from my first grade class, I now realize that he probably had some issues that I didn’t have. I don’t know what his family situation was, but now I think they probably didn’t have a lot of money. His behavior made him the object of teasing and alienation. I have a feeling the kids were laughing at him, not with him. I can’t imagine what life was like for him, but I think if there was anybody that needed to be included and get a Valentine, it was this kid.
What are you doing to make those that are left out feel included? What can the church do to make those that are left out feel included?
The scripture teaches us that God’s love is for everyone; no one is left out. It’s available to all of us. I pray that we are living into that love and making sure that no one is left out. And I ask you to pray as well. I ask that you pray for our called Special General Conference that our church, the Body of Christ, have open hearts to the movement of the Spirit and ensure that everyone, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, is included in our church. Pray that our church won’t leave anyone out. Because God doesn’t leave anyone out.
Peace, Pastor Dana
The vacant land behind Trinity and across from City Hall is under consideration for an affordable housing project. Capitol HIll Neighborhood Development Corporation (CHNDC) suggested this use to Planning Commissioner Tim Kane and he has asked developers to share their ideas. The project would likely include 100 units. CHNDC has put together a development team and responded with ideas that include specialized knowledge of the parking lot which could be integrated into the project. There were seven other organizations which responded with ideas.
The city has said we should soon expect a Request For Proposals. Interested organizations will respond with a full proposal including design and financial plans. There is currently no time line for the project but the interest level seems high and the Mayor has prioritized the creation of more affordable or workforce housing in the city.
District Leadership Training
by Betsy crawford, lay leader
CHNDC - Affordable Housing Project
by Paul Bolster
We at Trinity are delighted to celebrate the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and to recognize his leadership and contribution to Spiritual and American life.
Dr. Martin King, Jr.(born Michael King, Jr. ) was an American Baptist minister and activist, who became the most visible spokesperson and leader in the civil rights movement. He is best known for his role in the advancement of civil rights, using tactics of nonviolence and civil disobedience based on his Christian beliefs and inspired by Mahatma Gandhi.
Dr. King became a civil rights activist early in his career. He led the Montgomery boycott and help found the Southern Christian Leadership Conference(SCLC) in 1957, serving as its first president. With the SCLC, Dr. King led an unsuccessful struggle against segregation in Albany, Georgia and helped organize the 1963 nonviolent protests in Birmingham, Alabama. Dr. King, also, helped to organize the 1963 March on Washington, where he delivered his famous “ I have a Dream” speech.
On October 14, 1964, Dr. King received the Nobel Peace Prize for combating racial inequality through nonviolent resistance. In 1965, he helped organize the Selma Montgomery marches. The following year, he and the SCLC took the movement to Chicago to work on segregated housing. In the final years of his life, Dr. King expanded his focus to include opposition towards poverty and the Vietnam War, alienating many of his liberal allies with a 1967 speech titled “Beyond Vietnam”.
In 1968, Dr. King was planning a national occupation of Washington, D.C. to be called the “Poor Peoples Campaign”, when he was assassinated by James Earl Ray in Memphis, Tennessee. His death was followed by riots in many U.S. cities. Ray, who fled the country, was arrested 2 months later at London Heathrow Airport. Ray died in 1998 from hepatitis while serving a 99 year prison term for Dr. King’s murder.
Dr. King was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day was established in 1969 and, as a federal holiday in 1983 by President Ronald Reagan. Hundreds of streets have been named in his honor, and a county in Washington State was also named for him. The Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. was dedicated in 2011.
“For there is still a vision for the appointed time; it speaks of the end, and does not lie. If it seem to tarry, wait for it; it will surely come. It will not delay. (Habakkuka2:3)
The Atlanta College Park District of the North Georgia Conference held its annual Lay Leadership Training on January 12, 2019. The topics offered change annually and this year included: Intentional Discipleship Systems, Missions/Disaster Response (our own Geri Harris assisted with this workshop), SPRC (led by our DS, Reverend Dr. Bernice Kirkland), Fresh Expressions, Youth and Young Adults, Leading Worship and Preaching, Courageous Conversatons, One Board Model (which I attended as Trinity will be moving forward in 2019 with this governance structure), Power Packed Stewardship, Children's Ministries, Reaching Younger Men and Adventures in Aging. The sessions are well attended and each time I have attended I have been impressed by the spirit of the laity in wanting to serve their churches more fully and gain additional training to do so. There is opportunity to network with other laity as we all try to become better equipped in our respective lay ministries.
February 10, 2019
A called special General Conference of The United Methodist Church will take place in St. Louis February 23rd - 26th. The sole purpose of this conference is to take up recommendations from the Commission on the Way Forward, whose work focused on moving forward on our debate around human sexuality. Three plans on inclusion (or exclusion) of all God’s people, including LGBTQI people, are being presented for delegates from around the world to consider and vote on. After church on February 10th (during Fellowship time), Dana will hold an information and q&a session on the upcoming conference and the plans.
Trinity UMC Q&A Session on Called Special General Conference
Our story is one of the most important things we can share with each other. For it is through our stories that we can share our joys and our pains, our triumphs, our struggles and our humanity. In this series we wanted to explore the different paths our members took in coming to Trinity, what inspired them to stay, what they love about the church and what frustrates them about the church. We will be sharing our stories in the next few months -- maybe you'll find a bit of your story too.
Lent, a season of repentance, preparation, and reflection before Easter, begins on Wednesday, March 6th. This day is known as Ash Wednesday for the ritual of smudging ash in the sign of the cross on believers’ foreheads. Lent lasts for 40 days, reflective of Jesus’ time in the desert before beginning his public ministry. Trinity UMC will again offer different ways for people to observe this holy season. Our Ash Wednesday service will be held on Wednesday, March 6th at 7pm. We will have a special Lenten study on Sunday nights. Stay tuned for details on this study. We will also have special services during Holy Week (April 14th – April 20th). Check out next month’s newsletter, our website, and our Facebook page to stay updated.
the Next Brunch Church is March 31, 2019
Our Trinity Stories
265 Washington St. SW
Our Sunday sermon is streamed on Facebook at 11:15am and can also be found as a podcast on Apple podcasts and Google Play.
Trinity United Methodist Church
Atlanta, GA 30303