Tuesday, December 31, 2013

TOC Devotion: Changed By Grace

“Changed by Grace”

Read Ephesians 2: 8-10

One highlight for me in ministry this year was in having a chance to preach a sermon series on one of my favorite words out of scripture--grace!  Then, I had the double opportunity to live and pour into this same community of people and in seeing lives changed.  For example, one day while meeting with a small group and studying the Word of God together, we began reflecting on our own, personal application.  Those in the group began to share how they had recently grown in their understanding and experience of grace.  One migrant shared about being rekindled and strengthened through focusing on God’s grace.  She talked some about her struggle in moving to secular Germany where it was easy to make choices that needed God’s forgiveness and grace.  Meanwhile, another person shared about experiencing an awakening to Christ through grace within this past year, describing it as if “moving into a different country” spiritually speaking.  Praise God for her birth into the grace of God!

Conversations like these make all the sweat and yes, sometimes tears worthwhile because of the reminder it brings that God is still in the life changing business!  I am so blessed to have such opportunities to teach about God's amazing grace and to get to watch as people grow under the move of God in their lives.

So thank you for your partnership with the Sims family that enables us to share about the grace found in Jesus Christ!

And how about you?  Have you had a life-changing encounter with the free gift of grace offered through Jesus Christ?  Or do you need some fresh fire in your bones?  Go to God, and be changed by grace.  Don't forget that your standing cannot be earned; it is a continuous grace gift!  

Nicole Sims
The Mission Society
Currently serving as pastor of Hamburg International United Methodist Church in Germany.

Monday, December 30, 2013

TOC Devotion: "Kingdom of God Needs You to Work"

During the next few weeks we'll share some devotions provided by church members and outreach partners.  This is an excellent way to get better informed, prepare yourself for the upcoming Trinity Outreach Celebration (TOC), and consider the ways God has gifted our church to be a witness by word and deed in the world.  You can find a complete listing of our mission partners for May 2013- April 2014 here.  These are evaluated annually by Trinity Outreach committees related to local, national, or international teams in accordance with our established policies and procedures.    

Our theme for the upcoming TOC 2014 is "The Kingdom is Near" with Luke 10:1-9 as our theme to consider as we think of our personal and church role in the mission of God.  "Partnering" with each other, as well as with missionaries and mission groups, is a powerful way to extend our usefulness for the Kingdom of God.  This also has significant implications locally as there is a "day in, day out" effort through each of us that creates a bridge between our life together as church and our individual life pursuits each day. 

Here's an example of what happens as we work together to share our witness in the community:

Read Matthew 5:16.
 “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven”.

Walking through the door of a homeless shelter was the hardest thing I have ever had to do. Knowing that as the husband, father, and leader of my family, that I could not provide for them. I thought I would walk into a cold, dark place with depressed people like me in this situation. Instead, I walked into a place that was filled with life, joy, peace, and comfort. My family and I were loved in ways I have never felt before. Complete strangers giving of their time, energy, money, patience, and love. It was because of the love and encouragement we received that we were able to complete the program and are now doing well on our own.
I appreciated all of these things while I was in the program but I never understood it until now, 2 years after leaving. I truly realize that my homelessness was a blessing from God. It taught me how to humble myself and continue to give and to serve even when I felt I was in my lowest place. I realized that the love of Christ is not something that has to be shouted or thrown into people’s faces, but rather acted out. The actions of the volunteers and staff of Family Promise simply shined the love of Jesus Christ. It does not take much to change someone’s life. I am thankful for the countless people I met through my stay in the program that have changed mine…simply by loving me and my family. May God bless all of them!

By a previous guest of Family Promise of Augusta/Interfaith Hospitality Network.

Trinity on the Hill UMC is a long time supporter of the local effort with homeless families.  Our church is hosting in January and currently doing "sign ups" every Sunday in the Gathering Area.  Keep this important ministry, the staff and volunteers, and the families served in your prayers.  And, as always, you can add your participation and funding to your prayers to multiply your impact. 

Pray for Family Promise and the homeless population of Augusta/CSRA. 

Friday, December 27, 2013

Personal Invitation to Trinity Outreach Celebration

As one year ends and another begins it usually offers a good time to reflect on what "has been" and what "could be."  Whether you like the resolutions and retrospectives or not, it is a good and healthy thing to occasionally do a personal examination and self assessment.   

When I think about myself there are a number of ways to tackle this.  First, let me confess that I'm still, very much, a work in progress with a long way to go.  A personality profile would tag me as an INTP, or a "mad scientist," or a solitary creative sort of personality.  So, no matter how you understand me, and as "my people" would often say of folk, I know I'm a "piece of work."

My life revolves around church and family.  I won't get into all the family goodness in this post.  Nor will I talk about hobby and great interest in heirloom gardening.  I'm thinking about my job, and my calling, as it "played out" last year and as I look forward to another year. 

For me, church provides a rhythm of life, a foundation and a challenge, a vehicle for loving God and loving neighbor.  The worship, pray, study, and service that I experience in the congregation and in the Church forms the basis for so much of my life.  Whether I'm in the church or community this is the core of who I am.  At this stage in the journey I know I can't solve all the big issues of the day; I've got my hands full with the few things I am entrusted with related to myself, my job, and my family. 

This past year we kept up so many of the good missions that are hallmarks for Trinity on the Hill.  We also added some new opportunities.  We had a phenomenal Trinity Outreach Celebration in early 2013 as we hosted leaders from the UMC's Global Ministries and mission leaders from The Mission Society in a historic meeting and training event.  Our church entered into some new missions as we got involved at Maxwell House Apartments and started tutoring once a week at Olmstead Homes.  I had new experiences with time in the Dominican Republic and in Moscow, Russia with outreach partners.  I also slipped on the conference coordinator hat for North Georgia annual conference with  United Methodist Volunteers In Mission and have met other mission leaders from our conference and the Southeastern Jurisdiction.  This has also gotten me more involved with the NGUMC Bridges as we seek to connect every North GA UM congregation with our Methodist brothers and sisters in other parts of the world.  All in all, day in and day out, it's been an exciting year.   

I'm reminded once again that the call of mission and outreach is NOT for a select few in a church or in a few churches that are large enough or have the passion or calling.  Rather, it is the call of any who would follow Christ.  There is great joy and challenge in meeting and getting to know Methodist Christians from other parts of the world.  There is tremendous opportunity and challenge in meeting our neighbors in our community who live in a different part of town and seem to live in a very different world than we call home. 

One of my greatest regrets, as I look back on the last year, is that I can't be satisfied with where we are in mission or with who we've currently got involved in mission.  I can celebrate what we have done and who we do have involved, but I want more.  I think the task is too great, there are too many relationships to build, and we don't have nearly enough of the gifts of our church involved yet to do what needs to be done.

I need more people than ever from Trinity on the Hill involved in mission.  I need more recruiters than ever helping more people into participation and into leadership.  I imagine a 2014 where we take some more meaningful steps, or is it leaps and bounds?, into the mission of God here, there, and everywhere. 

The Trinity Outreach Celebration will soon be upon us.  Please be in prayer for our annual emphasis on mission that is local, national, and international in flavor.  In particular, I'm looking for a bigger than normal turnout for our mission education component that will focus on community ministry.  This is a national level training event and I just can't stand the thought of any teenagers or adults who are active at Trinity on the Hill missing out on this historic event.   Find all the details and registration at the link for 2014 Mission Training.

Monday, December 23, 2013

December 23

This Scripture is most appropriate for Advent soon drawing to a close and this rainy Monday in Georgia before Christmas Eve:

"You heavens above, rain down righteousness; let the clouds shower it down.  Let the earth open wide, let salvation spring up, let righteousness grow with it; I, the Lord, have created it."

Isaiah 45:8

Friday, December 13, 2013

GA High School Football Finals, Community Reality, & Christmas Music

So much of our culture these days seems to individual and fragmented in ways that are so pervasive and the norm that it's often hard to imagine there could be another way.  For me this is heightened in an odd way at the end of high school football season.  We sure do put a lot of time, attention, energy, and funding behind our football in Georgia!  If you have a winning season, and make it to the final championship game at the GA Dome (being played today and tomorrow by the way) you can have an entire city/county/region rooting for you with great community pride.  Am I wrong thinking that in the past we often had this sort of community pride, involvement, and support as more of a daily and weekly lifestyle?  Maybe this is just the nostalgia of someone half a century old.

How do you get beyond yourself and inspire others to rally and sacrifice for the cause?  How do you move beyond your own plans and become part of a larger team?  And the tougher question is how do you turn around a struggling or failing program and set yourself on a championship course?  These are good football questions, and even better community question. 

Wednesday afternoon our church team was back at Olmstead Homes.  That link says, "Olmsted Homes was the first public housing development constructed in Georgia under the Housing Act of 1937. Today, the Augusta Housing Authority is the second largest Public Housing Authority in the State of Georgia and helps to provide housing for about 15,309 individuals." 

Our tutoring crew enjoys the time with the children from Garrett Elementary School that live at Olmstead Homes.  Typically the kids arrive on the bus close to 4:15PM.  Later in the afternoon we also have a few middle school kids arrive.  Our main cluster of kids are kindergarten and 1st grade and then a cluster of 3rd graders.  So, the time is spent reviewing homework which is usually reading and writing for the young crowd, and vocabulary and math for the older group.  Imagine 25-30 students and tutors in a large community center room, of all ages, many who have been in school all day, and you get the idea. 

But special things are happening week by week as a bunch of middle class and affluent white Methodists are venturing into the center of the block of Olmstead Homes to serve children in the projects.  The children are beginning to know us and we are beginning to know them.  We are not only learning their names and personalities, but their strengths and weaknesses, as well as some aspects of the world and culture they know as "home." 

Last Wednesday I was talking with Kelvin after he finished his homework.  At this point, he and the group of boys at his table, were working on a Christmas coloring sheet with tree, ornaments, and presents or the view of a nativity scene with Jesus and the cast of characters.  The youngest of the crowd of 4 at the table was a kindergartner and the oldest in 3rd grade.  As we talked I learned Kelvin's birthday was Tuesday and he'd gotten a balloon and some cookies to celebrate at home.  We continued chatting and I learned he likes to sing, mostly making up his own songs, but when I asked if he went to church and was part of a choir, he explained that his family doesn't go except they "did go to a church at Halloween and enjoyed the candy." 

As Kelvin colored he started singing "hallelujah" over and over again when we weren't talking.  He was in a chatty mood though as coloring the brightly colored page seemed to intensify the focus on Christmas.  "What will Christmas would be like at your home? I asked, and he named all the great presents he was hoping to get.  I was thinking if he only got cookies for birthday he might not get the bike and all the electronics and things he mentioned.  I was caught in the moment of coloring and singing, with all the background noise and excitement, wondering about these things and what his home life must be like.   

At this point a Christmas song came to him and Kelvin start singing.  He knew the chorus and kept singing it over and over.  With a childlike joy, in the community center of Olmstead Homes, Kelvin continued to color his Christmas sheet singing the chorus of "Go Tell It On the Mountain."   

Go, Tell It On The Mountain,
Over the hills and everywhere;
Go, Tell It On The Mountain
That Jesus Christ is born.





Wednesday, December 11, 2013

How About Mission Through Action Ministries?

Meet two of our local missioners who are active with Maxwell House Apartments:
Shari Fulmer has a masters degree in Professional Counseling from Richmont Graduate University (Atlanta) and holds an Associate License for Professional Counseling in the state of Georgia.  She is also a proud alumnus of LaGrange College.  Before Shari entered the field of counseling, she spent many years in youth ministry and coaching youth ministers within the United Methodist Church.   Shari now devotes her time at the Maxwell House (Augusta) to helping homeless individuals with disabilities enter and maintain stable housing.  Shari also coordinates and provides Supportive Services to the residents at the Maxwell House.  When not working, Shari enjoys spending time with her husband and her family and friends. 
 
 
Danielle Meyer is a graduate of Western Kentucky University and obtained her bachelor’s degree in sociology.  Danielle was a transitional housing case manager for three and half years with Action Ministries until accepting the position of Director of Augusta Housing Partnerships.  Before joining Action Ministries she worked with children and adolescents with behavioral and emotional disorders.   She married her high school sweetheart and loves creating family memories with their two small children.  In her downtime Danielle enjoys reading, couponing, and training for an upcoming 5K with her husband. 


Tuesday, December 10, 2013

What Is a Church and Community Worker?


Shirley Townsend-Jones is a native of Maxton, North Carolina and serving as a missionary with the General Board of Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church.   She began her service as a Church and Community Worker in 1981 in the North Carolina Conference and continues her service as a worker in the South Carolina Conference with the Bennettsville-Cheraw Area Cooperative Ministry, Bennettsville, South Carolina. Mrs. Townsend-Jones coordinates, implements, and supervises programs as a part of the Cooperative’s ministry to strengthen the nine member churches and communities in the areas of outreach, witness, service, Christian education and leadership development. Her many areas of responsibility include:  quarterly leadership trainings, Tea Time with Teens ( focusing on abstinence with 10-18 girls), Sacred Saturday (focusing on children & youth ages 5-11), VBS picnic and Back to School, health screenings, food distribution, summer enrichment camp, transportation and partnerships with various agencies.

Mrs. Townsend –Jones has served as a missionary for 32 years. She has served and continues to serve on various boards and agencies in the United Methodist Church in the South and North Carolina Conferences. Also, she supports her community by serving on various committees, coalitions and boards.

She received a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration from North Carolina A&T State University, Greensboro, North Carolina.

Mrs. Townsend- Jones is married to Vincent C. Jones and they have an adult son and daughter.

A servant from the heart, Shirley says, “God has called me to serve and I trust and believe I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.” Phillippians 4:13





Monday, December 9, 2013

What Is a Cooperative Ministry?

The Reverend Jeffrey Salley is the pastor of Trinity United Methodist Church, and the director of the Bennettsville-Cheraw Area Cooperative Ministries. Salley is actively involved as a clergy member of the South Carolina Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.  He has served as the District Registrar for the Walterboro Committee on Ordained Ministry. Currently, Reverend Salley serves as the chair of the Marion District Committee on Ordained Ministry as well as a member of  the Academy of Pastoral & Theological Enrichment Planning Committee, Marion District; chairperson, Scholarship Committee for the South Carolina Annual Conference Board of Ordained Ministry, a member of the Bible Study Committee, and a member of the Committee on Conference Relations. Reverend Salley also serves as a mentor to several clergy members and candidates for ministry.
 
Reverend Salley is an ordained Elder in the United Methodist Church who patterns his life based on John Wesley’s philosophy of life, “Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.” 


Sunday, December 8, 2013

Community Outreach to the Aging Population?


In addition to many clergy and missionaries joining us for the training we're honored to have a number of local experts.  Some of these folk are well known in Augusta and to our congregation including Lauren Spivey, Thurman Norville, Jason Moore, Sarah McDonald, and Natalie Paine.  This isn't the whole list as most sessions will feature a panel of experts who I've given the challenge of telling us the reality they encounter every day.  They'll cover a range of topics including poverty, housing, education, crime and law, families, and the aging population.     
Joining Lauren Spivey for the discussion on the tsunami of silver, or is that gray, haired folk will be Kathy Tuckey.  Kathy serves as the Program & Services Director for the Alzheimer’s Association, Georgia Chapter, Augusta Region.  As Program Director she is responsible for all advocacy, helpline and education programs for both professional and family caregivers in a seventeen county region.  She is a speaker on a variety of Alzheimer’s and related dementia topics.  She earned her BA and MA from Montclair State University (formerly College) in New Jersey.  Previous positions have included Executive Director of an assisted living community in Evans, Georgia and Director of Resident Relations of an assisted living community in Newport News, Virginia.  Kathy was recognized as the 2013 Columbia County Chamber Business Woman of the Year.  Her volunteer and civic activities include: Assistant Governor Rotary District 6920, 2012-15; Rotary District 6920 Chair, Coins for Alzheimer’s Research Trust, Leadership Augusta Executive Forum Alumni Class of 2002.  Kathy and her husband Thom reside in Martinez. 


Saturday, December 7, 2013

What About Addiction & Substance Abuse Ministries as Outreach?

Do you know of SPSARV?  I didn't think so!

That would be the acronym for the United Methodist Special Program on Substance Abuse and Related Violence.  We are delighted to be able to bring in their expertise to help us begin the conversation on a challenging topic that confronts every family, every community, and every church.  Our hope is that a more extensive training on this topic would be offered at a later date in the Augusta area.
 
Art Mellor is the Executive Director for SPSARV.  Art has nearly two decades of experience designing, implementing and supervising substance abuse treatment programs as well as family treatment programs for clients who were affected by the substance abuse of loved ones. Art has also designed substance abuse training programs for social services, probation departments and health care providers. Art’s credentials include: Ms. Ed., MSW and 18 years as a credentialed alcoholism counselor.


Friday, December 6, 2013

What is a Shalom Zone?


Rev. Julia Nielsen is an ordained deacon serving in West Ohio Annual Conference as the Executive Director of the Greater HilltopArea Shalom Zone.  The Zone is a collaborative collective of residents and faith-based organization operating in partnership with other non-profit entities, educational institutions, and government to revitalize and transform the lives of the residents of the Hilltop through asset-based community development. 

Julia simultaneously serves as lead minister of New Horizons, an urban United Methodist congregation in the same neighborhood. She has previously served in the non-profit sector as a community organizer, advocate, and direct-service provider in the areas of comprehensive health care reform and family and sexual violence prevention.  Rev. Nielsen believes deeply in God’s power to embrace, equip, and employ all of God’s children for the work of the Kingdom in whatever context they find themselves.


Thursday, December 5, 2013

How Can a Small, Rural Church be in Mission? Meet a NC Laity with Answers!


Gary has  been married to Panthia Locklear for 40 years. They have three children, Nakesha 37; Garrick 34; Autumn, 24 a daughter-in-law, Kimberly, son-in law, Chad, three grand sons and a grand daughter.

Gary was educated in Robeson County North Carolina and graduated from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke in 1970 with a bachelor of science degree. Gary taught in the Public School of Robeson County for three years. Gary spent the next twenty seven years in private industry in manufacturing management, Hunan Resources and Training and development. Gary retired from that post in 2000. Six months later Gary accepted a three year assignment as a 10-10-10 Missionary working with Native American Ministries in the North Carolina Conference. Since then Gary was commissioned a Church and Community Worker and a Home Missioner. Gary’s work remains in the Native American Congregations of the North Carolina Conference with the Rockingham District Native American Cooperative Ministry.

Gary  has been a member of the same United Methodist Church all his life where he has served in almost every leadership role: Sunday Teacher 40 years, Bible Study Leader, Conference Committee on Native American Ministries. Gary was the conference Lay recipient of the Harry Denman Award in 2006. Gary was elected to his first term as North Carolina Conference Lay Leader in 2012.
Gary was elected to General Conference in 2004, 2008 and 2012. Gary’s passion for the small membership church and its preservation, particularly in the Native American Community. Gary says ,” I would like to use my experience and skills to work with others on issues and concerns that affect the life of the church today and in the future. My background is in the small rural church. I have given much of my life the understanding and working with many rural churches across our conference and the General Church”.


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

How Can Family Ministry Be Outreach?


Rev. Shannon Karafanda is an Ordained Deacon in the United Methodist Church with a focus on family ministries. She grew up in Morrow, Georgia, went to school at Georgia Tech, and worked as a computer programmer before pursuing her call to ministry in 1999. Oddly enough, she’s discovered that programming and ministry are very similar. They both deal with people looking for answers, for new users the design is often just as important at the content, and change is difficult in either situation.

She went to Candler School of Theology and has worked in Family Ministries at Brooks UMC, Turin UMC, Lighthouse UMC, Sacred Tapestry, The Church at the Well, and Hopewell UMC. She is currently serving at Cornerstone UMC in Newnan, Georgia and is the author of "The Synergy Shift" available on amazon.com.

Shannon lives with he-who-shall-not-be-named-in-sermons (her husband), her three children and overly affectionate black lab in Peachtree City, GA. When she's not working, she spends most of her days ignoring the mess her kids have made, deciding if she should put on actual clothes vs her pjs, and checking facebook constantly just to prove to herself that most people aren’t that exciting either.

When she’s not on Facebook, you can find her on Linked In, blogging, reading books that no one would expect a minister to read, and running (usually not all at the same time).


Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Meet a Community Builder!


Stacey Harwell is the Minister of Community Building at Centenary United Methodist Church and a deacon in the South Georgia Annual Conference.  She graduated from Mercer University with degrees in journalism, Christianity, and photography; then went on to do her Masters of Divinity work at Candler School of Theology at Emory University.  Her concentration while at Candler was on Church and Community Leadership which includes an emphasis on Asset Based Community Development. 

 As a college freshmen, she found Centenary and started to plant her roots there because the community was so warm and welcoming. When the position became available, Stacey jumped at the opportunity to be part of this community again. 

Stacey came to Georgia as a senior in high school as the daughter of an Air Force pilot and never left.  She's lived many places around the world, including England, Arizona, Texas, Virginia, and South Carolina. Besides traveling, Stacey enjoys a good book as well as playing guitar, piano and singing.  She also loves playing gardener in her amateur patio garden and drinking coffee or hot tea.
Meet Rev. Stacey Harwell:

 

 

Monday, December 2, 2013

2013 CNN Hero Sharing the Story at Trinity on the Hill UMC

Rev. Lisa Fitzpatrick is a United Methodist pastor, and she leads a youth center in New Orleans, Louisiana. 

She is also a 2013 CNN Hero

Oh, and Lisa will be leading a couple of sessions at our Saturday, February 1 mission training day as she shares about the best practices and principles of a youth community center.

Learn more at Trinity on the Hill Mission Training as we encourage one another to take another step following Christ in outreach and mission!


Upcoming Mission Event

Each year Trinity on the Hill UMC hosts a mission celebration.  We share the stories of the last year in mission and give thanks to God for the good that has occurred through our prayers, funding, and participation.  We get involved in a variety of mission projects on our work day.  We also hear the challenge of the coming year of mission as we continue to be involved locally, nationally, and internationally as we follow the way of Christ and seek to love God and our neighbor. 

We've found it best to get word out just after Thanksgiving so folk won't lose us in all the holiday excitement of Christmas and New Years.  During the next few weeks I'll share some of the incredible cast of facilitators that will guide us in the Saturday training event which will focus on community ministry.  We'll enjoy local expertise who know Augusta & the CSRA well.  We'll also have missionaries and clergy from Georgia, the southeast and beyond who will share best practices and models of ministry that every church and community might consider.

Our theme for the Trinity Outreach Celebration is "The Kingdom is Near!" with focus on Luke 10:1-9 as our general theme.  We'll offer a variety of opportunities throughout the 10 days, but the primary events include:

Saturday, January 25, 8:30AM-12Noon- Servant Day- where we serve in a variety of settings ranging from visiting people, assembling food packs, doing clean-up or construction, and opportunities ranging from the church to places throughout our community.  Registration is necessary and will be enabled after Christmas.   

Saturday, February 1, 8:30AM-2:00PM- Training Day- offers an equipping element so that anyone form a missions novice to an outreach veteran can benefit with skill building, ideas of mission models and best practices, and networking with mission leaders and participants from throughout Georgia and South Carolina.  This event features outstanding trainers who I'll introduce you to each day in the following weeks.  This event is free though lunch/snacks cost $10 & registration is necessary in order for us to manage the class sizes.  Find out more about the Church & Community Ministry Summit and be sure to bring a group of 4-6 from your class or church as you will find great benefit in covering as many sessions as possible.     

Sunday, February 2, 8:30AM-12Noon- Challenge Day - includes Sunday School with special sessions featuring missionaries and updates on outreach, and worship services with focus on how each of us will take our next step of faith in Christ in the next year in mission as we pray, participate, and fund the vital work of the Kingdom of God.

I hope Trinity on the Hill members will continue to support the "work day" in late January, but make a double effort to participate in and recruit for the mission training element on February 1.  We'll have a wonderful variety of other UM's from Augusta and throughout the region and you'll find MUCH in the conversation and relationships which will nurture your life in Christ. 

Look for more information in the coming days as I introduce our mission teachers as we consider "The Kingdom is Near!"

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Hotbed, Deathbed, or Seedbed

It's been a very busy fall in ministry with work in the local church and the larger Church.  Recently I spent time in Moscow, Russia as part of a North Georgia Annual Conference UMC delegation establishing a 10 year partnership with the Eurasia area of the UMC with focus on the Moscow seminary and the area UMC congregations.  What a challenge to think of Methodist Christian principles that will work in that context!  I followed the UMC Council of Bishops during their week long meeting at Lake Junaluska.  What a challenge as they lead a global church even while struggling hot topics found in some national/regional issues! 

All of this is percolating in my mind today in a curious way as I'm in a reflective mood working on Thanksgiving.  #COB2013 reinforced for me that the UMC family has incredibly different agendas in various regions, different expectations, values and ways of interpreting/communicating Scripture & faith, and seem to be defining "vital church" in all sorts of ways.  We seem to be in quite a mess that's been well blogged, opined, and reported upon.  Are we a divided house, a dysfunctional family, or just a big family reunion that's very diverse with a lot of history?!

This ruminating has me wondering where United Methodism is currently doing well, where we are in ICU or dying, and where new life is springing forth.   

My sense is that most of us don't self evaluate and communicate the truth on these matters too well.  We don't do well with that regarding ourselves, anyone, or any group we love.  Who wants to admit they are dying?!  Is the script we operate on rooted in reality?  Even in our interactions with one another we'll typically think/know we are right, think we know what's right to say and do, and are the exemplars of Methodist Christian faith.  It seems to me there should be someone, some agency, that would clearly and definitively say one conference or region is dying, one is thriving, and another is a seedbed that is birthing a new church or experiencing a resurrection of an old church.    

In personal interactions the dialogue and communication is different with someone early in life, someone growing rapidly, and someone who is dying.  Shouldn't communication among various churches in these different states/regions also be appropriately nuance?  Wouldn't we of necessity have different agendas, different concerns, and perhaps markedly different ideas on what the priorities are?  Or maybe this is the way we think about one another when we are tweeting or on our soap box as we assume our superiority of knowledge and that if the other will just listen and do as I say we'll make progress. 

In my mind I confess I tend to think the UMC is vibrant in some places in the southeastern US, declining in the US northeast and west, and being birthed and in the early years in a number of international settings.  But I wonder if that's dated information and merely my bias!  What if the picture is really that the UMC is declining in the US, vibrant in some of the existing forms in Africa, South America and Asia, and being born in some of the countries or regions of those vibrant conferences?!  Perhaps you have the same trouble.    

Today I find I'm even more curious about the state of Methodism, and in particular United Methodism, across the globe.  By that, I'm wondering where we are being birthed, where we are thriving, and where we are dying.  Now, I'm looking for more than anecdote or rhetoric, but reasonable facts, figures, in addition to the narrative of a UMC conference and churches that represent the Wesleyan doctrine and practice.  Wouldn't this be a compelling and a clear view of quantity and quality that could assist us in knowing how we are doing?  It might also help us to know in our communication with one another in a different region or in a global setting how we might better understand each other.         

Related to this, I'm also curious what sorts of folk we need elected as delegates to GC2016.  More than ever I think I'll be looking for people who have a global view, solid Wesleyan perspective, able to communicate well with a global church (meaning they listen more than they talk), and are more future driven in their thinking and decision making.  So, if you want my vote know that I'll want to see that you help us build a church for the next 40 years- in North GA, the US, and the world- that you can communicate well with people whether you are sharing the story in Augusta, Georgia, USA or in Moscow, Russia. 

If you are comfortable in a seedbed we're thinking in similar ways.

Friday, November 22, 2013

The Global UMC As a 100 Member Congregation: Only Questions


So, what would the global UMC look like if boiled down to a 100 member congregation?

While we can struggle to understand the dynamics of a large, global denomination, most of us have experience with congregational dynamics.  Even a group of 100 can get messy as you work with past/present/future, deal with varied expectations, work on communication, and seek to follow God AND stick together for the work of Christ today. 

I think I've seen this somewhere approach- either narrative style or infographic style- or was that related to another topic and I've merely overlaid it on the UMC?  Maybe it was just a dream after this wild week of UMC news.  I hope to get my hands on current numbers to quantify some of this, but for now, it's an interesting exercise.  Here are a few of my questions that most of us are asking:

We are multi-ethnic, diverse ages, & mixed in all the "ologies"- theologically, socially, politically, economically, etc.  Is this a strength or weakness?  What holds us together?  Can we continue to find strength in the diversity or will the fracture lines give way to separation or divorce?

We have a mix of feelings in the congregation of some who are optimistic about the future, some who are deeply troubled as they feel their particular issues are not playing out the way they desire, and some who are realistic yet concerned.  Most will be passionate and opinionated!  What will the Church look like?  Does doctrine or theology hold us together?  Polity?  Money?  Or something else?  How do we best try to encourage and challenge each other in healthy ways that aren't escalating conflict?  Or is it best to push the battle and let it all "play out" as we stand for God and what is right? 

As a congregation we might have a sense of loss of numbers from one part of town, but growth from another part of town.  Some who help leadership in the past have a diminishing voice.  Some who are newer to the church are exerting their influence and thought as their numbers grow.  We have people, but will we continue to have funding?  What ministries are essential to all in the church?  What missions and ministries are most effective to reach our neighborhoods?  Are there issues that are important to "one part of town," yet either unimportant or divisive in another area?  Is there a practical way to have input from the small groups who might then come together as an executive committee? 

In our church, which is getting larger and more complex even while dealing with conflict, how do we help folk to communicate in healthy ways?  Is this even possible with the size and complexity of the church now?  It's likely that blogging, tweeting, and some forms of talk only add to the entrenchment of camps, the demonizing of one another, and the continued escalation of hostility.  How do we break apart our "soap boxes" in order to get beyond small groups fighting?  Or, if we accept that ongoing conflict is part of our body, are these birth or death pangs or something else?

In a form of church that doesn't have "a" leader, but functions more by committee, how do we push forward during times of change, times of conflict, and times that require we pull together as a team or some form of unity that helps us get beyond an impasse.  How do we do that in our large church where no one is going to get everything they want or expect?  Is there a consultant or leader that all would follow?  Are we held in the impasse by the committees?  What is the best way beyond political gridlock and onto action and living in the Kingdom of God?  Does our polity, at this point, best reflect the doctrine and practical needs of the various "neighborhoods?"

How are we following Jesus today in ways that are vital, alive, and true to the Gospel and the Wesleyan way?  Are we handing off a denomination to the next generation that they can continue to sustain and grow? 

If we don't arrive at some shared, common answers to these questions GC2016, and the committees, COB meetings, and events leading up to it will merely follow the pattern we've been stuck in.  Let's avoid "more of the same" and the build-up/let down of GC2012.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Revive

Here's a reminder that bigger isn't always better.  Sometimes it's just bigger.

What if we want complex, flavorful, colorful, or historic?

Check out the story if you want to know what it takes to revive something almost lost.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Church & Community Ministry Summit

We have a very exciting mission event scheduled Saturday, February 1, from 9AM-2PM, at Trinity on the Hill UMC in Augusta, Georgia!

What are the realities– the challenges & opportunities- in a community?

How might your church develop ministries that meet the needs in your community?

What does the Kingdom of God look like in your community? And how are you & your church part of that Way of Christ?
 

Featuring community experts sharing the reality & opportunity including:

Mrs. Sarah McDonald, Director of Interfaith Hospitality Network of Augusta/ Family Promise.

Mr. Travis McNeal, Executive Director of Golden Harvest Food Bank.

Dr. Jason Moore, Principal, Cross Creek High School.

Mr. Thurman Norville, Director of United Methodist Children’s Home of Augusta.

Mrs. Natalie Paine, Assistant District Attorney, & others from law enforcement.


Mrs. Lauren Spivey, Elder Rights Program Manager with the CSRA Regional Commission Area Agency on Aging & Mrs. Kathy Tuckey, Program Director, Augusta Region, Alzheimer's Association of Georgia.

Mrs. Angela Feeser, LPC, Clinical Director, Serenity Behavioral Health Systems, plus Shannon Stephens, Ann Watts, Brian James will discuss Mental Health, Substance Abuse, Addictions, & Life Skills.
 

Featuring ministry experts sharing principles, best practices, & models:

Rev. Terry Fleming, District Superintendent, Augusta District of The North Georgia Conference of The United Methodist Church.

Rev. Stacey Harwell, Minister of Community Building at Centenary UMC/Macon, ABCD & Community Development.

Mrs. Marsha Jones, Director of Outreach/Music, St. Luke UMC, Mrs. Gloria Norwood & friends, Harrisburg ministries.

Rev. Shannon Karafanda, Associate Pastor at Cornerstone UMC, Family Ministry as community outreach.

Mr. Gary Locklear, Church & Community Worker, & North Carolina UM Conference Lay Leader.

Mr. Art Mellor, SPSARV Executive Director, & Mrs. Juliana Mecera, Executive Secretary for SPSARV on Addiction/substance abuse ministry.

Mrs. Julia Nielsen, Executive Director at Greater Hilltop Area Shalom Zone and Minister at New Horizons United Methodist Church, Columbus, OH, Shalom Zone & cooperative ministry.

Rev. Carolyn Poling, Associate Pastor, youth ministry & multi ethnic ministry, Impact Church, Atlanta GA.

Rev. Jeffrey Salley, Director, of the Bennettsville-Cheraw Area Cooperative Ministry, & Shirley Townsend Jones, Church & Community Worker.

Rev. Allen Stewart, Senior Pastor, Hartwell FUMC, life style & community outreach/ Wesleyan evangelism in word and deed.

Rev. Virginia Tinsley & friends, Executive Director of the North Georgia Housing and Homeless Council, housing/homeless & prison ministry.

The Church & Community Summit is part of the Trinity Outreach Celebration, our annual mission emphasis, yet has intentional focus on sharing the best mission practices which will apply in any church or community. This allows us to offer great teachers & preachers to inspire and inform laity and clergy from GA & SC in mission which makes a transformational difference. Most churches benefit from having a team of people who may attend a number of the sessions for the greatest impact in your own setting. Please register for the sessions & for lunch later this fall. This event is free with the only participant cost being for lunch & snacks.


Registration Available at www.trinityonthehill.net November 4– January 27. For more information contact Rev. Scott Parrish at Trinity on the Hill UMC at sparrish@trinityonthehill.net.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Growing Your Church... in the Augusta GA area

This is a special invitation to my Trinity on the Hill friends to attend an Augusta District training event called “Growing Your Church.”

Date:  September 8 and 9, 2013

Location:  Washington First UMC

Times:  Sunday afternoon, 2:30-5:00pm for Clergy and Laity; Monday, 9:00am-4:00pm for Clergy (but laity are welcome if able!)

About Our Presenter:  Rev. Bob Farr is the Director of the Center for Congregational Excellence of the Missouri Annual Conference.  He planted the Grace UM Church in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, and later led Church of the Shepherd in St. Charles through a relocation.  He developed their conference’s Pastor Leadership Development program, and works around in his own conference and around the nation helping churches with matters of relocation, mergers and new church starts.

For the Sunday afternoon clergy and laity session, Rev. Farr will present material from his newest book, Get Their Name:  Grow Your Church by Building New Relationships.  The theme is personal evangelism; how can we share our faith without feeling weird about it?

On Monday, Bob will teach the ten principles from his book Renovate or Die: Ten Ways to Focus Your Church on Mission.  It is strongly encouraged that clergy read this book prior to the event.  We will have a limited number of both books on site for you to purchase in September.
 
Registration:  Please contact the District Office (706 651 8621) no later than Monday, September 2nd

Thursday, June 13, 2013

North GA Annual Conference 2013

We've just completed the three day North Georgia Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.  You can find details, including official daily summaries, here.  I enjoy the worship, the hallway conversations, & the displays and opportunities to learn more about all the ways to "do good."  After more than a decade of attending conference it's more like a family reunion for me than a mandatory meeting.

One of my favorite discussions this week was with Dr. Ted Runyon, and his wife Cindy, when they stopped by the Russian United Methodist table to learn how the seminary in Moscow was doing.  Runyon is Professor Emeritus of Systematic Theology at Candler School of Theology.  He taught a short term class in Moscow a number of years ago and was eager to hear the current status of the seminary and how the United Methodist Church was doing in Russia.  Dr. Sergei Nikolaev, President of the Moscow Theological Seminary of The United Methodist Church and E. Stanley Jones Professor of Evangelism, updated Dr. Runyon in that personal discussion, and renewed the conversation later Wednesday night during the seminar on the "Bridge" partnership.

This is one of my favorite photos of the last few days as the Runyons continue their Methodist Christian journey with enthusiasm.


 

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Watch out Athens!

The Annual Conference (AC) of the North Georgia Conference of The United Methodist Church will be meeting in Athens next week.  Y'all watch out for the traffic downtown and all the extra hungry folk in local restaurants!  We anticipate another incredible gathering with the typical mix of worship, business, and sense of a family reunion.  See Annual Conference to catch the story in the Athens Banner Herald.  You can also follow the AC on Twitter at #ngac13 or go to http://ngumc.org/ to follow the news or watch by livestream.

Friday, June 7, 2013

UMC Annual Conference Clergy Executive Sessions

I noticed a UMC clergy Facebook friend post that their executive session was about to begin.  She expects it to to 4 1/4 hours!  I know that it's an essential beginning to an Annual Conference meeting with a lot of business to work through, but that's twice as long as our North GA clergy session.  It made me wonder what "normal" might be in most annual conferences.  What conference are you in and how long does your session go?  Is there something in particular, in addition to Board of Ordained Ministry report and the necessary voting, that makes up your clergy session?

Thursday, June 6, 2013

News!

It's Annual Conference season!  Look for more activity from me next week as we have the North Georgia UMC gathering in Athens.  We're hosting Methodist partners from across the globe, so you may notice more wide ranging photos and stories.  The Bridges will be an exciting element of conference as partners from Russia, Portugal, Philippines, El Salvador, Bahamas, and others.  Find more info about #ngac13 at North GA Annual Conference or watch Twitter or maybe you'll enjoy an online live streaming view if you can't attend.

Speaking of news, while sad that the United Methodist Reporter died I'm thankful that independent United Methodist news that is being resurrected.  Follow and encourage the efforts of Harrison, Voorhees, Richardson and others after you see the press release.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Friday, April 26, 2013

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Time is short!

Check out the caterpillar on our fennel. What are you doing with your short time?

Sunday, April 14, 2013

"Receive the Holy Spirit. If you forgive anyone his sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven."
"Go spread your trophies at his feet, and crown him Lord of all."

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Back on Track

The busy days of Lent have given way to Easter season in Augusta, and that is a GREAT thing!  The last few weeks have included our huge spring Children's Consignment Sale, serving on the North Georgia Conference of the UMC Board of Ordained Ministry, and then the active days of Holy Week and celebration of Easter. 

At home my hobbies have cranked up as we hit the active late winter/ early spring season of starting heirloom garden seeds, hatching out quail and chicken eggs in the incubator, adding a few rabbits to the backyard menagerie, and all the prep work needed for the garden beds and the coops & hutches. 

Of course, in Augusta, Georgia, the first full week of April is Masters Week and Spring Break!  Everything turns to golf as the world rolls into the Augusta area.  The history, traditions, expectation, and focus of the town & world create a powerful environment here.  While the media and CBS broadcast will do a great job of showing a lot of aspects of the Masters it is the sort of spectacle that you must experience for yourself to really appreciate.  For Augusta locals we enjoy hosting the world, and love the stories from this year that will add to the tradition.  See Masters to get a flavor of this championship tournament.  But know that the excitement and azaleas are even more awesome in person! 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Lent: Settle @umrethinkchurch @TOTH_Augusta

The theme word today confronts me with settling with my usual ways versus the ways of God.  That took me to Micah 4:1-3 & I like the way Eugene Peterson shared the text in "The Message."  The work of God and our response, my response, is powerful imagery for Lent.
 
"But when all is said and done, God's Temple on the mountain, firmly fixed, will dominate all mountains, towering above surrounding hills. People will stream to it and many nations set out for it, Saying, 'Come, let's climb God's mountain. Let's go to the Temple of Jacob's God. He will teach us how to live. We'll know how to live God's way.' True teaching will issue from Zion, God's revelation from Jerusalem.  He'll establish justice in the rabble of nations and settle disputes in faraway places. They'll trade in their swords for shovels, their spears for rakes and hoes. Nations will quit fighting each other, quit learning how to kill one another."
 
 

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Rethink Lent: Day 4- Injustice

How do you think about the injustices of the world?  What is justice from God's perspective?  If you are like me, that's a tough question any day, but especially on a Saturday.  Flip through the Bible, & your life, and the answer picks up some clarity.  I'm amazed as I go through this process that I often label injustice as something of interest to me or that offends me.  There is some truth to my perspectives, though I wonder if there are some bigger issues that I just overlook or miss because of my selectivity.  After all, we all tend to have a soap box or two.  Is my anger, or emotion about some U.S. issues, really a focus on an injustice when I think about the word in terms of the larger world? 

When our mission team was recently in the Dominican Republic we visited a sugar cane village.  Batey 7 is the "company" village for the sugar cane workers who work acres upon acres of the stalk that produces sugar for the world.  In many respects Batey Siete has made great strides in recent years and is a model of what the other cane villages might become.  In the batey they can't own the homes, can't have gardens, have few of the basics, make very little salary, and many are undocumented Haitians.  Think of deep poverty, lack of water, education, and many, many children.  We found ourselves at the intersection of consumerism, company workers and their lives and lifestyle, and the modern hunger and consumption of sugar in this village of poorly paid workers.  But they were not without joy or hope, and they were very hard working.

We also met the lead construction man for the long term UMVIM missionaries who were hosting us.  The man was being forced out of his house & was quickly building a new place for himself and his family.  He had all the construction skills, but didn't have any funds.  His request of the missionary was for an advance on the cost of the tin.  He was hastily making a "stick built" home of available local materials.  If he could get a roof on it his family would at least have protection from the rain and elements.  They would be living on a dirt floor and with no water or bathroom in the house.


It would make much more sense for me to ask one of my neighbors in the sugar cane village called a batey what #injustice means.  

@umrethinkchurch @TOTH_Augusta #rethinkchurch #40days

Friday, February 15, 2013

Rethinking Lent: Day 3- See

I'm taking the "Photo a Day Challenge" thrown down by @umrethinkchurch.  It's already proving to be a good addition to my day as I start on the journey of Lent toward Easter, and think do the personal reflection that involves Scripture, daily life, and who I really am.  Go to Lenten-photo-day-challenge if you want more info or frequent social media and want the list.  You can merely post your photo on your favorite site, or add some information to explain yourself.  If you are on Twitter include @umrethinkchurch (and @TOTH_Augusta if you are a member of my church) with #rethinkchurch and #40days tagged on your photo.  The beauty is there are no wrong or right answers.  It's a personal spiritual journey shared with others who are also on the path.  I'm already finding it is helpful to me to get more in touch with God, focus my thoughts through the day, and take the time for some honest assessment. 

The word for Day 3 is "see."  Like many of the words it's easy enough.  And I can quickly think of many ways to explain that to someone.  But how do I see... or not see?!

I'm still struggling to get back to "normal" after our recent Dominican Republic trip.  After all, how do you integrate what God is doing, what needs to be done, and our life here with a life "over there?"  My mind and emotions are here, there, and everywhere.  So, I left sunny weather with so many opportunities to serve and returned to cold, yucky weather.  Fitting, huh?  I don't know if I'm tired, or getting sick, or just dealing with enough that my soul hasn't quite caught up with where I am & where I need to be in life and faith.  At any rate, I'm into a "winter funk" and eager for spring!

Here's my photo from the Dominican visit last week:



Too often I don't see clearly.
Too often I'm out of focus.
Or worse yet, I'm looking at all the wrong things!
Maybe I'm looking at everything all wrong.
And I can't tell if my vision is a thing of beauty or a monster.
Too often I've got my priorities all wrong,
my expectations all wrong,
my vision distracted and too busy trying to do too much.
Lord, help me to see!


Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Following Christ... in the Dominican Republic

It's Ash Wednesday today.  And it's a rainy day in Augusta, Georgia.  I'm in a funky mood as I'm trying to get back into a routine AND trying to get into the mood for Lent.  Ready or not, here it is!

After our huge mission event I had a day to clean up for our celebration, a half day of regular church meetings to push forward in ministry, and then had to pack for a mission trip to the Dominican Republic.  I'd never been to the DR before, and was looking forward to touring the mission work of our partners John & Donna Bearden.  They are long term UMVIM missionaries from Waynesboro, GA, and my congregation has supported their efforts to transition from working in the DR on mission teams for a decade to more of a full time presence coordinating short term teams.  Our "vision team" was looking to see how we could be better partners to the Beardens & to think through the best resources our church could offer as well as the necessary contacts & logistics of our teams working in the DR.

Here's our veteran team of missioner scouts at the Batey 7 medical clinic outside of Barahona, DR.  A batey is a small village set in the middle of acres upon acres of sugar cane fields.  One description is that a batey is a "place of suffering."  The villagers don't own anything that belongs to the company & in comparison to our lives are in a very, very meager situation.  This location in southwestern DR had many Haitian families mixed in with Dominicans.  In many respects this place reminded me of west Africa.  Thanks to the work and ongoing support of mission teams and support churches & organizations they've made improvements in Batey 7 over the years, so that this is something of a model they hope to replicate in other bateys.      

We saw sugar cane in all stages of growth and harvesting.    


We met one of the local men who is often a crew leader for the Bearden's projects around Batey 7.  He was losing his home and had to quickly construct a new home.  He had limited funds, but lots of construction knowledge and drive, as he had to provide for his family.  This is the stick home he is building out of local material.   





Here are some of the children the oldest member of our team, who is a "young" 83 and fluent in Spanish, met in Bani, DR.



We have much to consider as we saw many needs and opportunities in the Dominican Republic to follow Christ, and to help our brothers and sisters in the DR. 





   

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Our Place in Building Bridges

Read and reflect again on 2 Corinthians 5:17-20.  Pray for Trinity Outreach Celebration 2013 speakers and leaders.  Pray for our congregation and every member as we respond to the opportunities to follow Christ this year, and as we make commitments of praying, funding, and participating in the mission of God locally, nationally, and internationally.  Pray for our community and world as we listen for the needs that are opportunities for us to be messengers from God by our words and deeds.

Our preachers will be Dr. Kemper and Rev. McClain and we are pleased to welcome them and all of the presenters to Augusta and to Trinity on the Hill.

TOC 2013 Leaders:

Dr. Thomas Kemper, General Secretary, GBGM

Rev. Dick McClain, President & CEO, The Mission Society

Rev. Patrick Friday, Director of In Mission Together, GBGM

Rev. Nora Martinez, Assistant General Secretary of Mission and Evangelism, GBGM

Rev. Mande Muyombo, Executive Secretary for Africa in Mission and Evangelism GBGM

Mr. Stan Self, Senior Director of Church Ministry, The Mission Society

Rev. Mike Selleck, Director of the Office of Connectional Ministries, NGUMC

Rev. Jasmine Smothers, Associate Director in the Office of Connectional Ministries, NGUMC

Mrs. Kim Torres, Church and Community Worker, South Florida Urban Ministries

Rev. Debra Tyree,  Executive Secretary for Global Praise, GBGM

Dr. Winston Worrell, Director, World Methodist Evangelism Institute

Listen quietly to God's call and direction in your life.  Pray for yourself and be completely prepared for what you will find as you enjoy the mission seminar on Saturday and the outreach challenge on Sunday!

 

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Blessed IF You Do Them

Read John 13:1-17.

Not much needs to be said about these Bible verses.  The challenge comes in the doing.  The blessing comes in following the example of Jesus, and in the action of faith.

It is true that the mission of God is relational, and challenging, and often times a messy business. 

But, it’s also redemptive, transformational, and the way God has shown us to live and act. 

“If you know these things you are blessed if you do them.”

Pray for Wesley Woods & the Lydia Project.  Since 1954 North GA Methodists have served older adults through housing, healthcare, education and research ministries through Wesley Woods.  While most of the efforts are in Atlanta this has local expression at St. John’s Towers.  The Lydia Project serves women facing cancer by providing hand-crafted tote bags, prayer and ongoing support.cing
 cancer by providin

Use your extra devotion time today to be in prayer for the Saturday mission seminars and the Sunday worship emphasis on mission.  The impact of our praying, participating, and funding of our outreach partners in the coming year is vital!  There is an urgency to our work locally, nationally, and internationally that should not be lost upon us.  This is your last chance to register for a Saturday workshop!  Go to http://trinityonthehill.net/common/content.asp?PAGE=576 and get ready to learn more so you will be more effective for Christ!

Meet the presenter:  Rev. Debra Tyree works with GBGM's Global Praise in Nashville.  We are pleased her 16 year old son Jonathon will join her to lead a workshop!