Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Busy, Busy, Busy

It's a shame when everything is fast paced action, and there's no time for sharing with friends, swapping a story, or catching your breath. But, in some ways, that's exactly what I've been doing the last few days at the national meeting of the Christian Educators Fellowship (CEF)/ Preaching from the Center conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico. http://www.cef2008.org/

I've been involved with CEF http://www.cefumc.org/ for a number of years due to my earlier years of work in the church. I've stayed connected with that group through the years even though my job has transitioned. I still find that group to have innovative, creative thinkers who look for practical ways to share the love of God with the world. This time I even facilitated a workshop on "Missions as Discipleship" and had fun sharing our Augusta story as I encouraged others to experiment with ways of being the church in community rather than retreating behind the walls of our buildings.

I get to stay at home and at work for a few days, and then will be in the Bahamas for a few days next week as we prepare for the North GA conference youth mission camp. We'll be in Nassau, Bahamas June 2009 with many youth from our north Georgia area http://www.missionencounter.com/location_nassau.htm More info later after our November "scout trip" to meet with the ME leaders.

For the moment I'm just GLAD to be home! I am still basking in the glow of Hispanic dancers with machetes, Native American drumming & dancing, all the beauty of the New Mexico area, and the incredible arts and crafts of that region. What a wonderful place to meet old friends and find new friends, to learn some more about sharing God's love today and how others throughout the country are experimenting with that, and to sit at a table with some great food and wonderful conversation. Thank you CEF friends for a very inspiring, renewing experience!

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Hispanic Ministry in Augusta

See the local newspaper article on our efforts to establish a Hispanic ministry in the Augusta/CSRA. We'll soon be doing surveys with larger groups within the Hispanic community and have already identified the need of establishing English as a Second Language (ESL) courses.


Monday, October 13, 2008

URGENT Local Mission Needs in Augusta

There are a number of "hands on" local needs that I'm aware of today that you, your family, or your group might help out. I spent an hour this morning with an assistant principal at the Academy of Richmond County. The school website and officials would say something like:

"ARC, chartered in 1783, is the oldest educational institution in the State of Georgia and one of the oldest in the nation. It officially opened in 1785 as a private school then became a military school after the Civil War. ARC is now a public school with a student population of over 1500."

ARC is located near our church and in a midtown location of Augusta just off of Walton Way.

We're creating a partnership to help the school, the students, and the community and I need your help!

TUTORS- are needed for 9th grade students in basic, core classes. Many students are coming into 9th grade without the necessary skills to succeed so we are working together with more one-on-one attention to help them succeed. Tutors may work with a student anytime during school hours or after school Wednesday or Thursday. College students, retirees, and/or anyone who might be interested in working with a student each week would be welcomed and in a relationship which might be life changing!

For more information contact Rev. Scott Parrish at Trinity on the Hill UMC or Mrs. Renee Kelly at ARC.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Depends Which Seat You Are In

It's amazing how often humanity falls for easy answers, or perhaps better said, easy scapegoats to blame our problems on. Often we blame those neighbors we don't know. Of course, all this heats up when life gets more challenging or sides are taken. In a contested election year we all see what is going on, but what a challenge to live a stable, normal life!

As a mission pastor and campus minister I'm fortunate in that I spend time each day and week with a great variety of people. I'm reminded everyday that we tend to think and talk based rather exclusively on our limited experiences from our particular seat on the plane. And we just as quickly cast blame on someone else, who we don't know but have suspicions about, who are not like us.

With that in mind, check out a Methodist campus minister who is of middle eastern heritage. You may find Omar has more in common with you than you expect!


Saturday, October 11, 2008

Native American Heritage

I knew my great grandmother when she was in her mid '90's and I was a teenager. Our families had been separated for years as she lived in Pennsylvania, and after all the years apart wanted to spend time with us down in the south. She'd grown up in the Dothan AL area near Webb and Pansey. Of course, Gram had LOTS of stories that astounded me and my younger brothers. She said she was 1/4 Choctaw which was amazing to me as I'd always had a special love for southeastern Native American people and culture. I haven't really found much in the family tree that substantiates that though I did meet a women from the tribe in Philadelphia, MS at Lake Junaluska a number of years ago that shared the family name.

I'm also fortunate that the United Methodist Church has a lengthy heritage of ministry with Native Americans. See the following link for a slide show:


Friday, October 10, 2008

College Students Serving as Augusta Summer Missionaries?

Here's a great story about summer college interns who lived together in a house for 8 weeks and did community ministry. That's my dream for the Augusta area that a few others share. We're taking steps toward that. I wonder if you might have a role in helping that become a reality?

Check out the Detroit version of such a ministry courtesy of musician and servant minister Carl:


Thursday, October 9, 2008

Community Outreach

The local partnership between St. Luke UMC, Trinity on the Hill UMC, and Augusta State University Students continues in the Harrisburg community. Check out the faces of those who serve and those who are being served.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

My Greensboro FUMC Friends Working in Dulac, LA

A team from Greensboro First United Methodist Church (in Georgia over near Lake Oconee & Reynolds Plantation- on I-20 midway between Augusta and Atlanta) is working in Dulac, LA doing hurricane relief work. Here are the updates from their associate pastor Gary Nicholas.

Sent: Monday, October 06, 2008 9:18 PM Subject: Dulac Mission Trip
Greetings from Dulac, Louisiana. Greensboro First UMC mission team arrived safe and eager Sunday evening. Our tasks today were all at the Dulac Community Center. We emptied a nasty storage container filled with construction supplies which had been submerged in water. We had to inventory the items in hopes of getting reimbursed for flood damaged items. The picture of Richard in the storage container does not do just to the slime and smell. We also worked cleaning up the preschool building. We had to move out furniture, books, toys, etc and then remove the floor tile and about 24 inches of drywall and insulation that was submerged in water. We hope to finish that task tomorrow. Needless to say there is no power in the building so it too, was a hot and smelly task. Patt and Lynn are removing floor tiles in the picture. Just when we thought we were done a semi trailer pulled in with a truckload of supplies for the local residents which we helped unload in the gymnasium (aka emergency supply center). It was a long, hot, but productive day of mission. Norma and Jackie treated us to a great spaghetti supper. Now a little relaxation before we all turn in early for a well deserved night’s rest. We are all healthy and well, though a bit sore, after day 1. Please continue to keep us in your prayers this week.

Sent: Tuesday, October 07, 2008 8:49 PM Subject: Updates from Dulac
Greetings from your mission team at Dulac. Had another great day. Was very hot, around 90 degrees. Today we continued working on the preschool, pressure washed chairs to put back in the gym, worked on the church and sent a team to work on a house. This resident has been living in a FEMA trailer next to her home since Katrina. Her house was recently finished and new appliances and a few other things were put in the house just before Ike came. Today we removed all these new items and placed them at the road for garbage pick up. Tomorrow we return to remove water damaged walls and insulation. FEMA locked up her trailer with her personal possessions, denying her access, because it too was damaged. Her hotel money ran out today and now she has no place to live. Just one of the many tragic stories of this community.

Today’s pictures include our cooks, Norma and Jackie, Paul repairing the electrical box on the church and Gary returning to the preschool for another load of wet stuff to put on the ever growing pile by the road.

Another great meal – fried chicken, by Norma.

God’s blessings to all. Please continue to pray for our work, the people of the Dulac community, and others along the coast trying to put their lives back together.


Sunday, October 5, 2008

World Communion Sunday & Thinking of India

It's World Communion Sunday! On this day, during almost every hour of the day, Christians throughout the world will celebrate the Lord's Supper or Eucharist. Let your mind wander from country to country as the daylight hits the land and the people awaken to worship and you get an idea of the day. Imagine the various people, the clothing, and customs, and music in each country. And then imagine the shared faith and the shared communion! I've always loved this day because it makes me aware of the wonderful variety of people who follow Christ in so many different places, yet the emphasis is on the work of God and all the things that unite us as we respond to God.

Yet we all know this doesn't mean the world is suddenly heaven or that peace reigns everywhere.

I'm especially mindful today of attacks against Christians and other people of religious faith in India. This has been an ongoing issue for a number of years now. Instead of using words to discuss opinions, or using their lives to change the world, too many are resorting to physical attacks which maim and kill. Sadly this sort of irreligious behavior seems to be escalating in a number of states with little intervention from the government. See the full story at http://gbgm-umc.org/global_news/pr.cfm?articleid=5164

As I take communion today in a safe and secure sanctuary, with no fear of anyone attacking me, I'll be thinking of all those who will take communion with their eyes wide open and ears listening for would be attackers. While they know the Prince of Peace and may experience an inner calm, we'll pray for the day that they might worship in peace with no fear of attack or retribution.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Lydia Project

I don't know about you, but the fall is beating me up! I feel like a college football player midway through the season. I've been through some games, feeling a little tired and bruised, yet know there's a lot more to do to make it to the end.

On top of the normal day to day activities it's funny the other work that fills a day. I attended a missions conference in ATL yesterday and had a good time hearing about other outreach work and networking with old friends and meeting new friends. I was also honored to lead a late afternoon workshop. That is a challenge both for a presenter as well as the listeners since they'd already been through about 6 1/2 hours of sitting and listening with only a lunch break! But I enjoyed the diverse group assembled in my seminar and hope they got something useful out of the time. I'm reminded again of the challenges of saying what you know, leading people in new ways that impact their situation, and helping create new partnerships. Thankfully I did have a number of people hang around and talk with me afterwards, and trust the mission dialogue will continue for some of us beyond the 90 minutes we spent together.

The local mission group I share with you today sprung out of our church and is housed in one of our buildings on our campus. The Lydia Project shares resources with women who are cancer survivors and has a profound impact on people near and far. See this story in our local paper, meet some of my friends, and go to the LP link to learn more:


Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Augusta Churches Needing Part Time Workers

I know of a number of local churches needing part time help with youth or nursery care. Want to know more? Contact Scott Parrish & I'll share more details with you.