Annual Conference of the North Georgia Annual Conference is often described as a family reunion. In some ways, it’s true. It is an opportunity to catch up with others, both laity and clergy, across our connection. I connected with people that I had not seen since our pilgrimage to the Holy Land. I ran into old classmates from Candler School of Theology. I even had dinner with the dean one evening. It was good.
But as many of us know, there are members of the family that we aren’t always that excited to see, relatives with whom we disagree, and those with whom we just don’t click. That’s what Annual Conference is always like, because we are working towards perfection in love. We haven’t actually achieved it yet. For over 40 years, United Methodists have disagreed on our language and practices of ministry, hospitality, and pastoral care with our LGBTQ siblings. There are people at the North Georgia Annual Conference who disagree on our language and practices. Polling done at Annual Conference shows that we are divided on the issue of language and practices of inclusion. Many of us disagree with the hurtful language currently in our Book of Discipline, myself included. I also disagree with the Book of Discipline’s current prohibitions against ordaining LGBTQ individuals and against clergy performing same-sex wedding ceremonies. My disagreement has come from study of scripture, the words and actions of Jesus, reason, and experience (three parts of the Wesleyan Quadrilateral). I know many in our church, both lay and clergy who share my heartache, anger, and disappointment at our current policies. I also know many who want things to remain the same. We are not of one mind.
After reaching an impasse at the 2016 General Conference in Portland, our bishops created a Commission on the Way Forward and charged it with producing a plan to move us forward. The Commission has been working diligently and prayerfully for the past two years and recently submitted its recommendations. The bishops then through diligent work and prayer have recommended the One Church Model, which would allow more freedom to practice more contextualized ministry at the conference and local church level. (For more info, see this link: http://www.umc.org/news-
Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson spent some time at Annual Conference discussing this recommendation. In her sermon in opening worship, she cited a study of millennials’ views of the church. The three words most commonly used to describe the church are judgmental, homophobic, and irrelevant. If we cannot find a way to be more inclusive, more loving, and more grace-filled then I believe we will, unfortunately, live up (or down) to the expectations of millennials for Christians and the church.
Sometimes others say what needs to be said in more poignant and effective ways. That’s why I offer this video of what Bishop Sue said at Annual Conference on The Way Forward. You can watch it above. We are fortunate to have Bishop Sue as our episcopal leader during this time. I invite you to pray for her and all the bishops. And I invite you to pray for our church, not just Trinity UMC, but for The United Methodist Church. We have so much to offer the world, a message of grace and love and a witness to social holiness. And yet there are those who want to make us judgmental, homophobic, and irrelevant. Let us pray that the Holy Spirit will guide discussions and decisions, that the Holy Spirit will invade hearts with compassion and understanding, that the Holy Spirit will lead us to a place of grace, inclusion, and relevance. Our mission as The United Methodist Church is to make disciples for the transformation of the world. That transformation means that the world reflects the Kingdom of God, the world as God intended. If we are true to that mission, we must include all of God’s children. May it be so!
Peace, Pastor Dana
Bishop Sue Speaks About the Way Forward - AC2018
It’s a long time from Easter to Christmas, and sometimes it feels like nothing exciting happens in between. We may get bored and complacent. We may forget just how GOOD the Good News is. Join us for a Christmas in July service on July 15th for a refresher on the Good News of Jesus’ birth. Come hear the Christmas story, sing your favorite carols, and maybe imagine that it’s a little bit cooler outside. It’s also a perfect time to invite anyone who might need a little cheer.
NEW members Chad & enoch
August Hymn Sing
Brunch Church returns!
Trinity is so excited to welcome new members Enoch and Chad. Enoch grew up in the church but had never been baptized, so he was baptized by Pastor Dana a few Sunday's ago while Chad transferred his membership from a Baptist Church.
Enoch grew up in South Georgia before moving to Atlanta in 2000. He teaches High School Spanish at Grady High School.
Chad is also from South Georgia. He was a swim coach for Swim Atlanta for 14 years and now spends his time volunteering with Action Ministries which is actually how they found their way to Trinity.
Chad and Enoch have been together for 11 years. Welcome Chad and Enoch to Trinity!
Christmas In July
Trinity Brunch Church returns on Sunday, July 29th. We’ll gather around 10:30 to begin serving scrumptious brunch items. Once everyone has a plate, we’ll begin very casual worship at 11:00. We’ll eat, sing, hear stories from the bible, and learn from a short message. And of course, there will be plenty of time for seconds and fellowship. It’s a great time to invite folks to worship. Bring your appetite, bring your friends and please, if you are able, bring a potluck brunch dish to share.
Summer worship news!
Do you ever feel like they never sing your favorite song at church? Well, here is your chance to make that happen! In the month of August, Trinity will have its annual summer hymn sing. Every hymn we sing in August will be requested by members of the community. You will have a chance to request your favorite hymn on Facebook or by filling out a request form during worship in June and July.
North Georgia Annual Conference 2018
by Betsy crawford, lay leader
Our kids have been hard at work finishing up their school year, so we thought we'd brag on them a little bit. And while we're at it, some of our adult members have been doing big things too. We are so proud of all of them!
When I was asked to write an article on my experience at Annual Conference this year (I had never been before), my first thoughts were I don’t even know where I’m going, exactly how to get there or how to navigate my way around the Classic Center (which I had been told was huge), let alone what I might decide to write about. I had also been told by some that conference was a fairly unpleasant experience and by others that it was quite interesting. I was curious to see what I would think.
I arrived in Athens Monday afternoon and after a bit of a hitch at registration (I was first given a badge that read “Becky Crawford, Sandy Springs UMC” before finding the right one listed under my middle name), I decided to wander around the Foundry building behind the Classic Center, which also contained various exhibits, room for communion worship each morning, the Cokesbury resource center, a place to give blood and the prayer room which also held a labyrinth. I then made my way to the Classic Center and poked around enough to realize it shouldn’t pose much difficulty finding my way to the correct places. Relieved of some anxiety I found my way to the hotel and looked through some of the packet materials.
I decided the best way to begin each day was through the daily offering of worship and communion. It turned out to be calming, centering and a good vehicle to connect with God before the day got into high gear. It was a great way to begin the day for someone who doesn’t love being in crowds all day long. Also, the artwork on the altar table was simple and exquisite. Music is the art that speaks most directly to my heart, but I found myself really drawn to visual arts at conference (more on that later).
I then had some free time prior to the first session, so decided to visit the Cokesbury resource center. I did not realize how much I missed just browsing through that bookstore (it’s just not the same online). Kudos to them for the variety of literature they provide – Sunday school curriculum for all ages, worship resources, spirituality, prayer and devotions, leadership, theology and much more. I was particularly drawn to a new category of literature they are offering called “Faultlines” which features a number of books on the topic of human sexuality. A quick glance indicated they were attempting to address multiple concerns related to the topic. I find myself asking, If we as United Methodists have discovered that, yes, women and persons of color from all nationalities have MUCH to offer in leadership roles, including ordination; if we openly celebrate programs that embrace the gifts of seniors, children and youth, and those with disabilities, then why are we still encountering stumbling blocks with regard to the LGBTQ community? Come, Holy Spirit, come.
One of my favorite parts of the sessions in the (yes, huge) Grand Hall was the singing and worship services. Particularly moving was the service of remembrance where clergy who had deceased during the year were remembered, along with spouses and conference staff that had passed away.
We are blessed with a number of very gifted clergy that bring the word effectively, passionately and with great hope for broken places in our denomination and in the world. As a singer, how fun it was to hear that large crowd belting out favorite hymns. I sat next to a gentleman one day that sang bass on every hymn, so I added the alto line. I have a suggestion for next year: why not designate a section of the floor or bleacher area for those who know and love to sing parts on hymns? That would have been the icing on the cake for me!
While waiting for another session to start, I ventured into the prayer room and was really captivated by some of the artwork that had been donated from various churches for the Stations of the Cross exhibit. One depicted Jesus’ betrayal in the garden and had a number of silver coins next to a rough canvas pouch lying on the table, along with the written biblical account. Another featured Peter’s denial of Jesus.
Artistry can truly capture things that are utterly beyond words to describe, and I found myself much more drawn into the story than previous depictions that were solely paintings. I also marveled at a piece of art that was literally created before our eyes. I’m sorry I don’t remember her name, but a young lady drew a picture in pencil, lined portions in dark ink and painted the entire thing during the course of conference. It depicted many circles that represent our connectedness, as well as expressions of God’s love and inclusion for all.
I also enjoyed “praying the labyrinth”. A booklet we received on the spiritual disciplines states “the labyrinth is an ancient prayer tool…a sacred path…a holy place, like waiting in God’s heart.” There are many ways to “pray” the labyrinth and I selected one where you concentrate on emptying yourself of worldly thoughts as you make your way toward the center. Once arriving there, imagine you are alone with God and either share your concerns or await God’s voice in your heart (or both!). While exiting, focus on how you might retain the closeness of God’s presence as you reenter the world. As the exhibits were all along the hallway outside the room and there was always much conversation there, I marveled at how the “din” seemed farther away as I neared the center of the labyrinth.
I enjoyed very much the speakers who conducted talks on various types of spiritual disciplines: finding your spiritual type, life with others (neighboring, care of the earth, hospitality), opening to God (the Examen, fasting and fixed hour of prayer), Lectio Divina, Visio Divina and spoken word poetry. Besides being a refreshing break from many business reports, the speakers were very charismatic, well-versed in their topics and brought great energy to the topic of different avenues to worship and life with God.
Final thoughts on my experience: 1) there are MANY wonderful people in our denomination that love God and neighbor and want to see the UMC not only survive our current struggles but THRIVE as people of God; 2) there are a number of extremely talented and faithful persons overseeing conference finances and programs, and I am grateful for their service and dedication; 3) it is good to have a time apart and I felt the information on spiritual disciplines was helpful in hitting a “reset” button on the treadmill of life and inviting us all to a deeper understanding of ourselves, God and worship. I do have a better appreciation for our connectional system after listening to faithful servants representing a variety of ministries share their work. It was a privilege to represent the members of Trinity at this year's annual conference.
Look at what We've been up to!
For several months beginning in May, the adult Sunday school class has been working its way through Nadia Bolz-Weber's "Accidental Saints,” or "Finding God in All the Wrong People." Nadia is pastor of the House of All Sinners and Saints, a Lutheran congregation in the Denver area. Prior to entering seminary, she had to overcome addiction and a number of other things that came along with it; she sports an interesting selection of tattoos as a result of that era in her life.
Her take on church, community and Christianity is very personal and immediate, adapting (sometimes very well, sometimes poorly) to the needs of her congregation and her own sense of inadequacy. Her language is often more common to that of a waterfront bar than a house of worship. Some of us find that uncomfortable, others of us are bemused to read a clergyperson write like we sometimes think -- OK, maybe talk -- but it makes reading aloud from the book adventurous.
Well written and sometimes painfully human, her responses to life's circumstances -- both her own and her parishioners -- are alternately funny, sad, inspiring, a bit absurd and yet bring Christian faith to bear in often unexpected ways.
adult sunday school
by jim crawford
You may remember that in our January/February Trinity Evangel we highlighted the new stained glass window that was donated by the Hutchison family in honor of Guy Hutchison. On May 27, we were delighted to have the Hutchison Family in church with us to help dedicate the window and see its new home in the choir room all while sharing their fond memories of Trinity. Whit Hutchison shared how this was his dad's first stained glass project and that he made it for their mom, Joyce. The Hutchison family were members of Trinity back in the 70s, 80s, 90s.
Dedication of Stained Glass Window
Geri Harris was recently appointed as District Director of Missions for the Atlanta College Park District of the North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church.
Geri is very excited about this appointment and is in the process of developing a "Plan of Action", for approval of the District Superintendent.
Stay Tuned for more information as this Project develops.
Cheryl McAfee was one of the key speakers in favor of a Resolution that the Atalanta Chapter introduced at one of the business sessions of the American Institute of Architects annual conference in New York City last week. Because women of color architects have historically been left out of leadership positions in the AIA, the Resolution called for the AIA to undertake a program to identify women of color architects and help mentor them to assume leadership roles in the AIA. After defeating numerous amendments, the Resolution was adopted by a vote of 4,266 Yes Votes; 204 No Votes; and 87 Abstentions. Cheryl was the first female President of the National Organization of Minority Architects (“NOMA”), so she was a natural to be one of the key speakers in favor of the Resolution.
Sometimes we just like to brag about all the amazing things that the people who attend Trinity do -- Take a look!
On June 30, a few Trinity members and Pastor Dana joined other United Methodists from across North Georgia for the Families Belong Together March in Downtown Atlanta
265 Washington St. SW
*We stream our sermon every Sunday at 11:15am on Facebook. Come Join Us!
Trinity United Methodist Church
Atlanta, GA 30303