Friday, September 26, 2008

Three Days of Lunch Adventures

Too often I end up eating a sandwich at my office desk while I try to catch up on some work.

Funny how the highlights of the week seem to be when I get away from the desk and gather with others for some nourishment.

Every Tuesday I start the day with a staff meeting and then a clergy meeting at the church. Like most organizations, that also involves the hallway discussions which I call "premeetings" and "postmeetings."

I leave the church meetings and walk over to the main campus of Augusta State University just across Arsenal Avenue. I direct the ASU Wesley Foundation, a United Methodist sponsored campus ministry, and our big meeting each week is a Tuesday lunch in the student activity center. When I arrived back in Augusta in summer 2007, and began working with the ASU WF which had gone dormant for 6 months, I found I had no student leaders and no students!

Rather than compete with the existing religious groups on the 7500 member commuter campus who have a track record and students we chose to do something different. The existing groups build their program around a weeknight big worship event. We chose to work the day time crowd and offer food, conversation, and a coffeehouse approach emphasizing music and relationship building.

It has been tremendous fun, and usually the highlight of my week as 75-100 students of different backgrounds, majors, races, & religions gather. I can't adequately convey how wonderfully diverse the group is! The lunch gathering has awakened me to how the church ought to be everyday out in community, with emphasis on relationships, eager to engage people in conversation and life, and not so quick to emphasize the points that can easily separate people. I always enjoy the lunch because of the conversation and encouragement that is shared.

On Wednesday I gathered with my friends at the Salvation Army. We are working together on creating more of a partnership here in Augusta in the Harrisburg community. The church is ready for ministry which is more than band aids on old problems, and more than throwing a little money at someone who is requesting financial assistance for this months bill. So, we talked, and toured, and then sat down for lunch. It turns out they serve 3 meals a day, including 2 which are open to the public. Imagine a small cafeteria with some of the SA workers, 3 church visitors, and then many men and women who currently call the SA home. It totally changes a conversation ABOUT someone when THOSE people you are talking about are sitting next to you.

Then to top of my three days of lunch adventures I stumbled upon lunch.

Since we are starting a Hispanic ministry I figured I'd catch a little fast food somewhere and drive around south Augusta and then toward Grovetown to look and think about the project. As I took a cut through road I noticed some cars at the Korean Methodist Church. That made me think about our Korean Methodist friends in Togo who were such a help to the ministries this summer. It also reminded me that though we are neighbors in the same town, and share the same faith, we really don't know each other.

I turned the car around and went in to see if we couldn't take some first steps in developing a relationship.

As I walked into the building I smelled food, and as I turned the corner found six people eating lunch. I apologized for interrupting their meal, and after making my introduction and handing over my card said I'd come back at a more convenient time. But they'd have none of that and had me sit down to join them! What a delicious treat with different food, tastes, and textures than I'm accustomed to each day. It sure beat a boring old sandwich as I wrapped meat, rice, and vegetables in a leaf. It was a better lunch than I'd imagined I'd have, the best Korean food I've eaten since our guests in Togo fed us, and I think the conversation is the beginning of something new and exciting!!

Life sure is exciting when you venture away from the desk, enjoy some good food, and enjoy living and learning from others.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Hispanic Ministry Training Welcomes Rev. Nora Martinez

What a challenge and opportunity to create something from nothing.

Currently I'm helping facilitate Carmen Welch getting established in local Hispanic ministry. Carmen was a Methodist pastor in Mexico, and has lived in the U.S. for seven years after marrying a native of Georgia. We're getting into discussions and trying to build the necessary partnerships to establish Carmen in ministry in Augusta by next summer.

We've got a half dozen local UM churches involved at this point, and a key meeting this weekend. We'll have Rev. Nora Martinez an associate director of the Church Development Office of the North Georgia United Methodist Church visiting Augusta. Rev. Martinez leads Hispanic/Latino Ministries for the conference which includes work in Atlanta, Gainesville, and Athens. Nora will be featured at our Hispanic Ministry Training event Sunday, September 28, 5:00-6:30 PM at Trinity on the Hill United Methodist Church in Room A004. Area churches and individuals interested in this session are invited to attend. For more information please contact Rev. Scott Parrish at 706-738-8822, ext. 18. That meeting room is most easily found by going into the parking lot between Trinity and St. Mary's Catholic Church (corner of Monte Sano & McDowell) & if you go into the end door of the Main Building and into the basement you'll find us in that large room.

We've already got an exciting assortment of skills and interests in education, social work, parenting, recreation, worship, and language skills as well! Carmen will have some traditional food and drink available for us Sunday evening so RSVP a number if you can attend.

Rev. Scott Parrish
Minister of Outreach and Missions
Trinity on the Hill UMC

Augusta State University Wesley Foundation Director

Monday, September 22, 2008

Children's Consignment Sale Update

Ever seen 60,000 items?

We had that number of items for our Children's Consignment Sale last weekend. Think of a fellowship dining hall and a gym and a hallway full of clothes and toys. Quite the vision!

Add to the picture:
214 volunteers working all week for a Friday & Saturday sale.

Add 5 computers with scanners to read the bar code on each item.

Mix in 20,772 items sold.

The end result is a record breaking weekend for us with total sales of $77,292.75. The thing I enjoy (non shopper that I am there isn't much about this that's enjoyable!) is that 40% of the proceeds go to church mission work locally, nationally, and internationally. That's a tremendous impact from "stuff" that was hiding in closets and garages!

Special thanks goes to some exceptional leaders who make this all possible as Kathryn, Nancy, Tracy, and Trish go "above & beyond" putting in 12 hour days for 6 days.

The fellowship of the redeemed changes the world once again!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Augusta Hispanic Ministry

The invitation is open to everyone interested for Hispanic Ministry meetings taking place Sundays, September 21 through October 19, 5:00- 6:30 PM at Trinity on the Hill UMC. We currently have a half dozen UM churches represented in the discussion as the conference and district churches have interest in establishing Carmen Welch in ministry in our district. Carmen is married to David Welch (son of retired clergy Don Welch) and is a native of Mexico, a graduate of John Wesley Seminary in Monterrey, and has been an Augusta resident and active at Trinity on the Hill for the last few years. Attendance at all the meetings is not necessary. We are especially hopeful that mission committees and laity will be active participants in this process. We will use the meeting time to grow a coalition between interested churches and individuals. In addition to the conversation and planning which will take place we will enjoy various Hispanic food and music (think authentic from Mexico, Puerto Rico, & Nicaragua!), have Rev. Nora Martinez from the conference office visit Sept. 28, and share where God is leading us and what area churches need from this opportunity. RSVP or ask questions of Rev. Scott Parrish by e-mail ( or phone (706-738-8822).

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Some "How To on Mission" Articles

If you don't know about the GBGM "New World Outlook" magazine you may want to give a peek at This issue offers some "how to" advice. It's most specifically for United Methodist churches though others may find some helpful hints as well. I also found some of the theology helpful as too often that's a missing element with mission activity & action. One critique I have with this issue is that it's a little heavy on selling the various GBGM agency initiatives. I wish they would have spent a little more time on the action of mission in a local congregation. Yet, as you read through this you can piece that together. Certainly an article or two ought to inspire the Christian or the Church to greater witness for Christ in meeting the needs of the world through mission activities.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Monday, September 15, 2008

World View in 2025

I caught an intriguing lecture last Friday at Augusta State University. The Hull College of Business presented global trends strategist Eric Peterson as the first speaker in its Russell A. Blanchard Lecture Series. Mr. Peterson is senior vice president of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), where he is the William W. Schreyer Chair in Global Analysis and director of the CSIS Global Strategy Institute. Peterson presented 7 "structural drivers of change."

I'll be most curious about the view my church friends and mission colleagues will have on this material. It's worthy of close examination despite the fact that most church leadership doesn't do this sort of thing too well.

Peterson started the presentation with 2 great quotes and then led the large group on a thrilling adventure including an excellent video presentation.

Darwin wrote, “It's not the strongest species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most responsive to change.”

"No problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it. " Albert Einstein

While none of it was particularly unexpected, the presentation was well done with LOTS of information, and for me the most powerful thing was the cumulative effect of the 7 revolutions. Peterson's bottom line for leaders is that we will be in a time of hyper promise and hyper peril. I did like his lines at the end warning about "leaders devolving into managers," and shortly after he warned of "strategy succumbing to tactics." Even if, like me, you might want to argue some points this does seem to sharpen a leader's consideration about the not-so-distant future and the steps we are taking today to be prepared for 2025.

  1. Population- The world population hit 6 Billion in 2006, & will TRIPLE in the next 60 years. The highest growth will be in the poorest countries while many developed countries will continue to experience marked depopulation. Migration will continue to be an issue. Urbanization will continue with a projected 5 Billion in urban areas by 2030. Challenges- there will soon be a day when there are more slum dwellers in Mumbai than the whole population of Norway. Peterson also discussed the traditional pyramid graph of population which has a large base of the younger and a narrowing tip of the older population. This is changing as people are living longer so the new graphs look like a rectangle for some countries, and for those nations with lower birth rates an inverted pyramid best captures the scenario.
  2. Resource management- the "carrying capacity" of the word for this large population is an issue related to agricultural land availability, land degradation, water availability, and global warming are key elements. Available energy sources and the environment, plus the long term sustainability of all these factors are worth consideration.
  3. Technology - deep computing, pervasive computing, robotics, biotechnology, nanotechnology are the issues continuing to change the world in this revolution.
  4. Information- the gap between the knowledge proficient and knowledge deprived will continue to grow. Now a person anywhere in the world can innovate and not emigrate. The world chooses its truth, e.g. CNN vs. Al Jezeera on middle East news. Reduced decision times. Growth of the BRIC's (Brazil, Russia, India, China) over G6. Changes in center of balance and consumption.
  5. Conflict- asymmetric warfare- terrorism, bio terrorism, info terrorism, conflict within nations, and greater complexity of these issues, e.g. Iraq & Afghanistan as norms in this category.
  6. Governance- beyond nation/states, continued growth of world economy and NGO's, interesting comparison of top national GDP's & added Corporation GDP's which fell in top 50, re. Kissinger quote- we "must bridge gap between thinking re. economic model and nation/state model, Kissinger- must find "system of linkages," Peterson- must find "new balance"
You can explore the seven revolutions in more detail and find printable pdf's at

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Global Food Crisis Threatens Us All

As I'm eating lunch at my desk (earlier in the week on Wednesday I think) I'm catching up on some e-mail, then taking a break from the computer and looking over a magazine. Strange how seldom I read that stack on the desk like I should! As I thumb through them I notice an article in the Fall 2008 "Service" published by Church World Service.

That article that almost makes me drop my sandwich is "Food Crisis Threatens a Generation."

Strong words!

I immediately check my memory to see if I'd heard anything about this on TV news or read anything in popular newspapers. Hmm, seems like everything has been about Olympics, politics, college football, and the weather.

While I have recently whined about rising gas prices, the worldwide effects have doubled food costs for even basic staples. Of course, the working poor and those who barely survive each day throughout the world are most profoundly impacted. Experts are calling this the worst food crisis in 30 years. Rising food prices could push an addition 100 million people into poverty.

I quite eating with some quotes from UNICEF & the World Food Program:
  • a child dies of hunger every five seconds
  • one in four children in developing countries is underweight
Learn more about the crisis and about ways to take action at

Saturday, September 13, 2008

HUGE Children's Consignment Sale in Augusta Sept. 19-20

Do you know about our upcoming Children's Consignment Sale? Here are some specifics on the event if you have opportunity to share it. We'd also invite you to be with us that day if you have the opportunity.

The CCS is next weekend, Friday, September 19, 9:00 AM until 7:00 PM, and Saturday, September 20, 8:00 AM until 2:00 PM (half price) at Trinity on the Hill UMC located at 1330 Monte Sano Ave., Augusta. We're next to Augusta State University between Walton Way & Wrightsboro Road. We typically have over 50,000 items for sale, and we usually have around 200 consignors. We now have 292 consignors registered for this year! In addition to name brand clothes for babies through teens we also have cribs, strollers, changing tables, comforter sets, nursery decor, bicycles, books, dvd, computer games, outside riding toys, and maternity clothes. 60% of the proceeds go to the consignor & 40% of the proceeds benefit Trinity on the Hill church missions. Some of the local partners who benefit from this sale include:

· Feeding people- Golden Harvest Food Bank, Masters Table
· Caring for homeless men, women and children- Augusta Rescue Mission, Interfaith Hospitality Network of Augusta, Garden City Rescue Mission
· Building local wheelchair ramps
· Rebuilding homes and lives- FROGS roofing and sheetrock work in homes and with many nonprofit groups including Augusta Urban Ministries,
· Caring for women battling cancer- Lydia Project
· Sewing special pillowcases for hospital patients
· Providing outings for special needs adults- Super Saturday & JOY club
· Supporting campus group at ASU
· Supporting renewal in Harrisburg with after school tutoring and enrichment activities, neighborhood clean up, community girls choir, & more
· Supporting several church teams to hurricane damaged homes in MS & LA
· Supporting the re-roofing of homes in Wrens damaged by spring tornadoes & storms.
· Supporting church youth team to Memphis for reconstruction of homes in declining neighborhood
· Supporting projects with children, the elderly, and the disadvantaged of GA
· Supporting church medical and construction teams to Honduras and Togo.

Thanks for any help you can give in sharing this story, helping us move some name brand items at great prices, and helping so many people with your purchases.

with thanks,Scott

Scott Parrish
Minister of Outreach and Missions
Trinity on the Hill UMC
Augusta, Georgia

Wesley Foundation
Augusta State University

Friday, September 12, 2008

The Power of Retired Adults

There is a true power in the types of relationships that retirees can forge with children and teenagers which is too often untapped. We see it in our community work time and time again. In our fragmented society children too often don't know grandparents. Far too many children don't have any consistent adult role model in their life. See out what a couple of retirees started in a church and community with many similarities to our own neighborhood.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Tips for Panhandlers You Should Know

So, you've always suspected there must be a secret society where panhandlers get their information. Check out this intriguing blog so you'll be in the know as well.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Updates & College Career Night

Wow, it's fall and EVERYTHING is happening at once! In addition to my "day job" in mission, I'm helping two nonprofits start locally, getting ready for the HUGE Children's Consignment Sale next week (& battling LOTS of technical issues as our technology isn't cooperating this week as we prep for the 50,000 items we have at the sale), starting a Hispanic ministry, into campus ministry, plus the normal meetings a day brings. Where are those lazy days of summer?!

Much of my work is about helping people of all ages to be alive to what is happening in these moments of life- how we can grow in who we are and who we are called to be, and how we can awaken to the needs of the world. My work with teens and college students reminds me how many of those BIG life decisions revolve around career, college, and the friends/network you create based on those decisions. Locally the Savannah River Site (SRS) hosts an extraordinary event featuring 150 colleges, people who can help with career exploration and discernment, financial aid guides, and more in our local Civic Center (the James Brown Arena for those of you in the know about Augusta).

See for the full story.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Methodism and Mission in Cuba

Imagine large crowds in church & a vibrant faith despite many obstacles. Think of more opportunity than a group has money or resources. Consider Cuba and you may find these exciting ingredients for Methodist Christianity. See the full story at

Monday, September 8, 2008

Beyond These Walls Mission Conference, Atlanta, October 2-4

Reigster today for THE missions conference featuring Rev. Mike Slaughter, Dr. John Ed Mathison, Dr. Eddie Fox, Rev. Scott Parrish, and many more!! :)

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Young Clergy Connections

As you might be able to see from my stories, photos, and adventures I love my life in ministry. I've been involved in church work since 1985 and have served in all sorts of capacities in ministry in 3 different states. Now, to be honest, it's taken me time to know myself, know the church, and find my own way. And like any job there are routine, mundane days and aspects of the work. I won't even get into some of my thoughts about meetings! Yet, after all these years, I still find a joy and adventure in the work that energizes me, transforms me, and changes those around me. But that's all from an "old crow." Check out this link to learn more from young clergy, to network, and to hear in their words their thoughts about life in the professional ministry. See

Saturday, September 6, 2008

Fall Children's Consignment Sale in Augusta GA

Augusta offers a MASSIVE Children's Consignment Sale in March and September each year. Look for our fall version Friday, September 19 & Saturday, September 20 at 1330 Monte Sano Avenue. See more info at the link below for interested consignors or for anyone curious about this huge affair. We even have many people who drive in from Atlanta to get better deals than they can find in their metro area!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Opportunities to Serve

There are so many opportunities every day to share some love, life, and laughter! Too often people think we must attain perfection or some level of sainthood first. Or, that certain skills must be perfected. I guess most of us find it easier to offer excuses for why we can't step up to share our blessings with the hurts and hopes of the world. But the call is still there for us to follow Christ in practical, everyday ways, in the real world! So, my church and I try to offer every personality, every age, every skill level and interest possible ways to be a blessing. Check out some of our options, but know this is an every growing list as we continue to encourage folks to dream and to follow.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

French Language Hymnal for Misson & Ministry

As many of us know there are VERY exciting movements of God taking place throughout the world. Africa is one continent which is experiencing a proclamation and response to Good News which isn't measured in hundreds, but in thousands and even millions! Of course, there is a power to music which is a perfect vehicle for sharing the love of God in Christ, for aiding worship in our own language, and for shaping our theology which is expressed in our lives and in our actions.

Yet so much of the curriculum and approach of the Church has tended to be geared toward western or U.S. practice, language, and situation. I'd been searching for a couple of months pondering how we might find the tools to advance some of our humanitarian efforts in Togo. With United Methodist work in Cameroon, and now with Cote d'Ivoire Methodists joining United Methodism, there has been more need for French language resources including the need for a hymnal.

Enter the General Board of Global Ministries Global Praise Division and the Rev. John Thornburg. Their joint efforts in Africa are producing a bilingual hymnal with an African beat and a Wesleyan heart to be published in 2009. This product should have dramatic impact in the partnership, the future of a worldwide Methodism and new approach to ministry, and to the worship and theology in locations all across the continent.

To learn more about this exciting ministry or the available resources go to

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Solar Powered Radio/ Projector/ CD Player

I've traveled to a few remote locations with mission teams. These villages are so far back in the bush, or up the mountain, or away from any cities that they seldom see visitors, don't have electricity, and therefore have few of the basics which we count on in the West. This sometimes makes it a challenge to know what our team might best do. And then you get into questions of what to leave to help the lives of those we've spent some time with. We sometimes dig wells, establish medical clinics, and look for ways to enhance the education of children & teens in the schools. We've also found another option thanks to a friend in our church in Augusta.

His organization offers solar powered products including FM radio, audio Bible which uses solar but also has a hand crank generator recharge, an "all in one" unit, and they continue to develop items of use to missionaries, mission agencies, and those that are served in remote areas around the world.

See Bob's work at

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Three Things I Want in a Church

This comes from "Monday Morning in North Georgia" which is sent to United Methodist clergy each week. It's usually an encouragement, idea, or upcoming event from our bishop or from the conference office. This week offers an excerpt from a brochure by Dr. James W. Moore for United Methodist Communications. It matches me pretty well, and I wonder what you think.

Three Things I Want in a Church

Number One - I want a church that touches my heart and stretches my mind.
I want a church that brings together the head and the heart. There are some churches that emphasize the heart to the neglect of the head, while others emphasize the head to the neglect of the heart. We believe that God is powerfully at work right here and right now through His amazing grace, touching lives, inspiring people, causing our hearts (like Wesley’s) to be “strangely warmed.” But I am also pleased that we have a faith of the head. That’s why we spend so much time on and give so much effort and energy to Christian education. We believe that a call to discipleship is a call to learn. We believe that theology is simply loving God with our minds. There are no shortcuts to knowledge or skill. It just takes a lot of dedication and hard work, a lot of commitment and discipline and prayer and study. The same thing is true with faith, with theology. You have to stretch your mind. I want a church that touches my heart and stretches my mind.

Number Two – I want a church that accepts me as I am and yet challenges me to be better. It’s easy to become discouraged. We face many pressures, stresses, deadlines, burdens, problems, and disappointments. Life can be complicated and demanding. The truth is that we all need encouragement. The good news of our Christian faith is that our Lord is a god of acceptance and encouragement. When the world threatens to rip our hearts out, God is there to encourage us, to put the heart back into us, to relight the spark, to give us new life. The director of an orphanage saw a little orphan girl climbing a tree beside the wall. One of the limbs extended over the wall and the little girl shinnied out on the limb and placed a note on the tree limb. She obviously wanted someone to find the note. Becoming curious, the orphanage director went out and pulled the note down. Here is what it said: “To whoever finds this, I love you.” That’s what I want our church to say to people. To whoever finds this, you are accepted here, and you are loved here, and we want you to help us be the instrument of God’s love to other people.

Number Three – I want a church that gathers to worship and then scatters to serve. We see this so powerfully expressed in the transfiguration story in the gospels. Jesus took his closest followers up on a mountain; there some strange and wonderful spiritual experiences happened that words could never describe. Simon Peter was so impressed by it all that in effect he said to Jesus, “Let’s stay here in the glow of this forever.” Meanwhile, the other disciples were down in the valley trying to heal an epileptic boy, but they couldn’t do it. They had no power because they hadn’t been up on the mountain. Jesus put the pietists and the social activists together. He went upon the mountain to worship, and then, empowered by that experience, he came down into the valley to serve, to help, and to heal. That’s the kind of church I want – a church that gathers us together in the spirit of Christ to worship, and then, empowered by that inspiration, we depart to be the church in the world.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Of Gustav Visiting NOLA & Flooding in India

It's Labor Day in the U.S. & many people are enjoying a holiday. Yet, it's amazing how many locations around the world are struggling with natural disasters.

In recent days flooding in India has at least 1.2 million people homeless & a 1/2 million stranded in the state of Bihar. Read more at Another good website to know what is going on is the Relief Web and can be found at

Having served on the Gulf coast in reconstruction efforts for the last 3 years in Gulfport and in New Orleans it's hard to imagine the area getting pummeled again. The path & intensity of the hurricane and time will tell if all the work since Katrina will hold up. Our prayers are with those neighbors in the eye of the storm.

UMCOR will reveal updates regarding any volunteer needs soon after the storm.