Rev. Deborah Williams Haag
Peace on this House
Sometimes the world seems swept up in one moment of crisis to the next. It often feels like whenever I turn on the news my own anxiety rises into my chest in anticipation of what I’ll hear. What will I hear? A storm brewing, either political or natural, seems to always be on the horizon. When it all seems so loud we can get stuck thinking this is our reality. That is why when I read Luke 10:5 I feel like I can breath again. Jesus is giving his disciples instructions for their journey. He tells them to enter into a new community as a bearer of peace. He says, “Whatever house you enter, first say, ‘Peace to this house!’ And if anyone is there who shares in peace, your peace will rest on that person; but if not, it will return to you.”
I believe that God’s peace is available to us in all moments. However, I wonder how often I allow it to return to where it came from because I didn’t think it was possible? Because I thought that the chaos was more powerful than the peace that was offered. Peace to this house. This has become my new mantra. Too often my life lacks peace. Either from the very energetic toddler or trying to do too much, sometimes I feel at odds with the life I know God offers. I don’t think I am alone feeling this in the midst of the loudness and chaos of the world. But I believe there is another way, a better way.
What would it feel like to remember, with every step we take, “Peace to this house”? Would it calm our souls, our anxieties, our fears? Would it realign our priorities? Make us more aware of our surroundings and the people in them? Would it allow for us to be peace bringers in a world that is desperate for them?
Let’s give it a try and see what happens.
Peace & Joy,
This year’s Annual Conference was a new experience to me. The Athens gathering was one of the largest conference events in the city, although I am sure that excludes Bulldog home games. I was one of 900 delegates who gathered in the City’s large convention hall. Riki came with me but stayed away from the meetings.
The main activity for four days was voting. The job of the large group was to select 44 delegates to attend and vote at two other gatherings—22 for a Jurisdictional meeting (the SE Region) and 22 to the national meeting of the United Methodist Church. There had to be 22 clergy delegates and 22 lay delegates. The clergy at the Conference voted for the clergy delegates and the Lay members voted for the lay delegates. We spent most of the time filling out ballots until each delegate selected had a majority of the votes. Select the lay delegates took 15 ballots which was not completed until Friday at noon.
The Conference was divided sharply between the Inclusive Caucus and the Conservative Caucus. Most voters followed the recommendation of one or the other. All 22 clergy delegates selected came from the recommendation of the Inclusive Caucus. The Inclusive Caucus won 3 of the 11 lay seats to the national meeting and 6 out of the 11 lay seats at the Jurisdictional Conference. It is interesting to see the difference.
The division was over one issue: The role of LGBTQ people in the church. The voting process gave little room for a middle ground and little room for dialogue. I provoked a couple of conversations with the “other side” but the answer seems to be “we have been in this argument for too long” and can’t agree to compromise. This scale of deep division was new to me. It was even deeper than the urban/rural split that existed during my years in the Legislature. It might even be deeper than the Republican/Democratic split in our state politics.
In between ballots there were some interesting presentations. Methodist pastor Gary Mason presented his experience of being in the middle of the Protestant/Catholic civil war in Ireland. He had some good practical advise on how a dialogue could lower the intensity and bridge a deep divide. Everybody listened politely but it couldn’t change the process we were carrying out. In the frenzy of division over homosexuality there wasn’t much time to talk about the poor who Jesus came to minister to.
NORTH GEORGIA METHODIST CONFERENCE—Annual Meeting
The View of A Newbee, Paul Bolster
This year for Laity Sunday we will continue the focus on "Telling our Stories". Angela Odegard has done a wonderful job of recording Trinity UMC member stories in the Evangel, and as you read in the last edition of the Evangel as well as this one, story telling can assist us in learning more about each other to not only enrich our life together but also to open the way to dialogue, understanding and bridging the divides that undermine our communities.
LAITY SUNDAY, OCTOBER 21ST - 11AM
All Church Retreat
Please stay tuned for details about an All Church Retreat sometime the end of October. We are still trying to find a location but it most likely will be a day retreat in the Greater Atlanta area. If you know of a place that offers space for meetings or events please let Angela know by replying to this email or talking to her at church.
This year our Charge Conference will be held on November 14th at 7pm at Impact UMC. Hope you can join us!
Atlanta Pride is October 12th-13th this year and we will be having our Annual Demonstration of Love on Saturday, October 12th from 12pm to 6pm at the 14th Street and Piedmont Ave. entrance of Piedmont Park. We will have a sign-up sheet out the end of September for people to volunteer for one of 2 or 3 shifts. If you have friends or neighbors that you think might like to join us make sure to invite them.
On Saturday, November 2, Trinity will be hosting a Legislative Learning Session. It will be an informative session where we will learn about the upcoming Georgia state legislative agenda, talk about what issues you would like to see our lawmakers address and learn how we, as United Methodists, can advocate for our Social Principles right here in Georgia. A light lunch will be served. Come join us and bring a friend.
Legislative learning session
SATURDAY, OCTOBER 12TH, 12PM - 6PM
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 2ND, 10AM - 2PM
The HarbinAlls (Weny, Michael, David and Joanna) had the good fortune this summer to spend 10 days together on a cruise down the Danube River. We sailed with 176 other passengers on a Viking River Cruises longship beginning in Passau, Germany, and ending in Budapest, Hungary. Along the way, we visited three additional countries – Austria, the Czech Republic and Slovakia. The “excuse” for the trip was a celebration of Michael and Weny’s 40th wedding anniversary.
Although at times we sailed during the day allowing us to view the beautiful countryside along the river, most of the sailing was at night while we were sleeping. During the day we went on shore excursions to the cities and towns where we docked.
In Passau, we visited St Stephen’s Cathedral and enjoyed a concert played on the 17,000-pipe organ, considered Europe’s largest church organ. From Linz, Austria, we took an hour bus ride through the countryside of the Czech Republic to the charming Bohemian town of Cesky Krumlov. In Krems, Austria, we visited the Benedictine Abbey of Göttweig, a working monastery for more than 900 years. In Vienna, we spent much of the day seeing the sights and learning the history of this Austrian capital. That night we attended a wonderful orchestral performance of Mozart and Strauss compositions that included interludes with two opera singers and other interludes with two ballet dancers. In Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, we visited the historic Bratislava Castle and walked the streets of the pedestrian-only 18 th century Old Town. One of the uniquely interesting sites in Old Town is the bronze sculpture of a hard-hatted sewer worker emerging from a manhole!
Our last stop was Budapest where we spent two extra days. Joanna and David planned our itinerary here. With the previous eight days of structured activities, it was fun to have these two days of freedom to do as we pleased. Highlights were: Buda Castle and Matthias Church just outside our hotel on Buda Hill; a lovely evening dinner at a small, secluded restaurant on Buda Hill; peddling through Margaret Island - Budapest’s “Central Park” in the middle of the Danube River - in a 4-person surrey cycle; several hours enjoying the sun and fun of the outdoor Széchenyi Thermal Bath, the largest medicinal bath in Europe; and an evening sightseeing cruise with a magically illuminated view of the city’s sights.
In summary, this was a wonderful way for the four of us to spend 10 days together. If you are wondering where Joanna’s husband Dan was, unfortunate timing had him deep in studies for the Georgia Bar Exam!
Our members have been traveling all over the world this summer so we thought we would share some of their adventures with you.
Michael & Weny's 40th Wedding Anniversary on the Danube
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.
Our Trinity Stories
A Night of Conversations on Race
On Sunday, August 25, I sat down with 11 other folks to eat dinner and talk about race and equity. Our son, David, sat down with another 11 individuals in another location with the same agenda – dinner and conversation. We participated in an evening the organizers named Decatur Dinners: Conversations on Race and Equity. With a goal of hosting 1,000 individuals in 100 homes, this inaugural event turned out to be bigger than those organizers thought - 1,200 people signed up and there was a large waiting list! Owners of fifty homes volunteered to host dinners, fewer than the organizers hoped for but an impressive number nevertheless. To cover the shortfall, restaurants, churches, recreation centers, and other businesses volunteered their spaces. I tell you these numbers to emphasize the impressive and huge response to this opportunity to discuss community matters related to race.
My dinner was at a restaurant in Decatur, Kevin Gillespie’s Revival, which he shut down on this Sunday evening to support Decatur Dinners. The restaurant provided some basics and the attendees were asked to bring appetizers and desserts. I brought homemade zucchini bread. At the restaurant, there were five tables with twelve people at each table.
In preparation for the dinners, we were asked to read an essay by a high school girl - "I'm either too black or not black enough: one teenager's experience - and watch a video - "Neoslavery": Bill Moyers interview with Doug Blackmon . Doug Blackmon is the author of “Slavery By Another Name” which we recently read in Sunday School.
The evening started with a short one-woman play that introduced some of the themes for the evening’s conversations. After we ate, the conversation at our table was initiated by a moderator asking us to introduce ourselves and say a word about why we came. There were six African- Americans and six whites at my table with a good diversity of age and gender. After the introductions, we began an hour of dialog about our individual experiences and concerns - experiences from the past and from the present of racial prejudice, racial profiling, white privilege. There was discussion of slavery and its impact on modern-day America. There was dialog about what we saw for the future – our hopes and concerns. People were quite open in their sharing. By the end of the night, I felt like I knew most of the people at my table well.
So what did this night accomplish and what comes next? The night was valuable in that it was the beginning of important conversations that will likely continue in some form or another. It was uplifting that so many people wanted to have this conversation. I met people that I hope to sit down with again. And I had some delicious food! And what comes next? Other than scheduling September 15th with dinners for the wait list, that is undetermined as of now. But the organizers are passionately dedicated to ensuring that this is the beginning and participants are ready for more. So stay tuned.
BY MICHAEL HARBIN
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