Thursday, March 26, 2009

Chik-Fil-A & SafeHomes

Chick-Fil-A & Safe Homes
Are Teaming up to Sponsor a Spirit Night

When placing your order PLEASE say you’d like to
help SafeHomes and a portion of the proceeds will directly benefit
the women and children SafeHomes serves.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009
5:00 pm - 8:00 pm

At the following locations:
Augusta Exchange
202 Robert C Daniel Jr Pkwy
Augusta, GA 30909
(706) 738-9163
Mullins Crossing
3066 Washington Road
Augusta, GA 30907
(706) 860-7140

SafeHomes is the only Department of Human Resources certified domestic violence intervention center in the CSRA. SafeHomes provides services to the following counties: Richmond, Columbia, Burke, Jefferson, Wilkes, Tailiaferro, McDuffie, Warren, Glascock, and Lincoln. To find out more information about services provided by SafeHomes or to find out how you can help SafeHomes serve our community, please call 706-736-2499.

& remember to…Eat Mor Chikin

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

India Christian Persecution

An incredible ongoing story is found in India

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Missions Cookbook Needs Recipes

I got a note about a group collecting favorite recipes from national and international mission settings. I hope you have (and will share!) some great recipes you might share as it'll help raise money for mission, gather people at the table, and could also be fun.

I'd LOVE to learn about your favorite recipes. It could be what you were served growing up or while on a mission team, or maybe something that you fixed for a mission group that was a favorite. Share the recipe/s with me as I might "double dip" and keep a version and also send it on to these colleagues. Be sure to include your name, your home church, and if it's an international recipe the country of origin. And if you want to do something similar in your church I'll even share my collection with you!

Here's the original note:
Recipes are needed for an upcoming Missions Cookbook. In addition to the regular categories, the cookbook committee is including "Recipes from Mission Trips" and "Cooking for the Multitudes". The group plans to donate 10% of the profits to UMVIM, SEJ, 10% to SCVIM and 10% to Anderson District VIM.

Send to me through Facebook or at

Thanks for sharing your great food,

Monday, March 23, 2009

Scott Returns After His Run in March Madness

Sorry to be MIA, but March has been an incredible ride at about 90 mph!

The first of the month had our annual Spring Children's Consignment Sale at the church. I confess I was not trained at such things in seminary or through most of my church career. The fact is it's a huge event with 40% of the proceeds going to church mission projects and partners. So, I've come to love this hectic week which involves over 200 volunteers, finds 60-70,000 items in our fellowship hall, and brings in a tremendous number of the community into the church. It's well worth the effort as the church gains about $30,000 for mission!

Then I enjoyed a few days of "regular" church work. This included re-reading all the material I was to have covered for the North Georgia United Methodist Conference Board of Ordained Ministry. That's the group that is charged with oversight of everyone desiring to become clergy members of the conference. The candidate has typically completed (or almost completed) seminary, submits reams of material including background check, psychological exam, reference letters, as well as submitting information in theology and doctrine, called and disciplined life, and practice of ministry. This 2 1/1 day "retreat" saw around 50 candidates come before the BOM. It's an exhausting, exhilarating, emotional time for everyone involved as some are accepted and some are deferred (we didn't have anyone denied this time though that complete "no" is also an option).

I arrived back at church on Wednesday in time to prepare for this past weekend's Trinity Outreach Celebration. That is our annual event with emphasis on mission in worship, in study, and in service. It's also a time we receive pledges for the coming year for service participation and mission funding. Of course, we anticipated with the current economy that the funding might be down. Many of my colleagues who use this approach reported funding down, one saying she'd seen her pledges drop in half from last year. I can honestly say I have NEVER had so many obstacles thrown at an event as we experienced in the past 2 months at this highlight of my work year:
*We lost our main speaker 2 weeks before TOC due to health problems,
*my laptop crashed twice and I completely lost videos and photo folders of our last year in mission and the 5 year photo story of outreach
*my committee chair for the event had some significant family issues which seriously distracted her
*& in this last week my son was diagnosed with mono.

But the clergy and laity of the church pulled together. My clergy friend at Roswell UMC shared the name of a missionary they'd experienced in their celebration and he made himself available to us. Jamie Winship did an incredible job for us, and I'll tell you more about him in a later blog. Danny Key, our music minister, did his usual superb work with the band and with the youth choir for the weekend. And, all in all, many people seem to be energized in expressing their faith in practical ways. While our funding is down a little, the energy and enthusiasm for mission by ALL ages, and the level of participation in mission and ministry will take an upswing.

So, this week I do some cleanup. I eat, and rest, and find a normal rhythm again in life and ministry. And then this weekend I go to a conference for campus ministry at Daytona Beach!!

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Recycle and Reuse

Another news item from Sunday night, and a man after my own heart. He salvages what others have thrown away.

Dumpster Diving

Monday, March 9, 2009

Multigenerational Homes

Did you catch the NBC nightly News Sunday evening? Turns out that multigenerational homes are making a comeback in this economy. They save on the expenses of home owndership, plus lots of practical savings and mutual support with grandparents, extended family, parents, and children in one home. The news said their are 2.8 million multigenerational homes now which is the most in 3 decades.


Friday, March 6, 2009

A Sorry Apology

Notice how often people seem to be in the media saying they are "sorry" though you get the sense it's really just a PR move? And even in religious services too many of us have lost the "confession of sin" and the "assurance of forgiveness" as part of worship.

Recent apologies in the news came from Yankees superstar Alex Rodriguez, who apologized for using steroids; Olympic gold-medalist swimmer Michael Phelps, who apologized for smoking marijuana; The New York Post, which apologized for but defended a cartoon with racist images; and former U.S. Senator Tom Daschle, who apologized for not paying taxes that he owed.

“When apologies are deeply rooted in confession, contrition, a recognition of the damage that one has done and one’s implication in the hurt of others-- in the context of genuine repentance and confession with a goal of restoration of integrity, restoration of relationships and restitution for damage done, then apologies have depth,” Carder declared.

Really Sorry

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Made to Order Babies?

There's been a lot of press recently about a recent claim that a company can give you the baby of your dreams even down to the hair and eye color. They say this can be a reality in 6 months. The process, called PGD, has been used for some time to identify potential genetic disease in an embryo. But is this possible?

I'm not one to accept a blanket approval of science OR religion. By that, I mean that I believe each has strengths which can benefit the other. I don't mean to indicate one should dictate or rule the other. Instead, I recognize they deal with different issues, ask very different questions, yet are stronger if there is some relationship between the two. Otherwise, if we accept a total divorce, it seems to me we somehow try to create a world where we separate head and heart, or merely allow each business to run itself without the benefit of interaction.

But, back to my ability to pay someone to create a blue eyed, blonde haired baby for me. I've seen a number of experts express that this is NOT a current possibility, but a publicity stunt perhaps related to the press the OctoMom is receiving. See Can Babies Be Made to Order? to get into the interesting details.

My faith tradition believes "The responsibility of humankind to God's creation challenges us to deal carefully with the possibilities of genetic research and technology. We welcome the use of genetic technology for meeting fundamental human needs for health, a safe environment, and an adequate food supply." (The Book of Discipline of the united Methodist Church 2008, paragraph 162, O) Genetic Technology).

There are other elements of this thought in the paragraph, some of it more technical, but it's also worth noting:

"Because of the effects of genetic technologies on all life, we call for effective guidelines and public accountability to safeguard against any action that might lead to abuse of these technologies, including political or military ends. We recognize that cautious, well intended use of genetic technologies may sometimes lead to unanticipated harmful consequences" (emphasis mine on last sentence).

It's a discussion well worth having in the lab, in the faith community, and in the community at large. We do want a world that is healthy and sustainable. But we must beware creating a bigger mess than we've already created! Otherwise it may be like us unleashing kudzu with one well meaning intent, and in reality restructuring this world in a way we can't retreat from or undo.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Hispanic Scouting Emphasis & Resources

Have you heard about the Scouts reaching out more intentionally to ethnic communities? See the Scout link for resources which may be a help to your work with children and teens who may be African American, or Hispanic, or Asian.


Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Children's Spring Consignment Sale

Children's Spring Consignment Sale
60-70,000 items for babies, children, and teenagers!
Find high quality items including a gym full of clothes and
a large dining room full of toys, strollers, furniture, books, electronics, etc.

Friday, March 6th 9:00 am - 7:00 pm
Saturday, March 7th 8:00 am - 2:00 pm
(50% off selected items on Saturday)
Trinity on the Hill United Methodist Church
1330 Monte Sano Ave.
Augusta GA 30904
Located near Augusta State University
The sale will be in TOTH's Wesley Hall.
60% of proceeds go to the seller,
and 40% of proceeds go to the church for mission work locally, nationally, and internationally.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Katie's Pool

This is a 2 part story which reflects the life and faith of one young women, and her profound impact on many people who were blessed to know her. The story is still being written but I thought you might like to know about it.

Our church in Augusta has had powerful youth ministries for a number of years. I'm continually amazed by the vitality and maturity of the teenagers who are such a vital part of Trinity on the Hill UMC.

Just a few years ago Katie York was one such teen. In 2005, at age 17 Katie was struck by viral encephalitis. Over night the personable teen and state record swimmer began a difficult chapter of her life which would change everything except for her sweet spirit and fighting spirit. Katie spent one month in a medically induced coma, and then 3 more months undergoing intensive therapy. With the constant support of family, the encouragement of many friends from school and church, Katie rallied to the point of finishing high school and eventually even taking university classes. She took special delight in working with special needs children in the water therapy program at the Local Y where she could help others. But the seizures returned, and Katie died last May 2008.

In the first week after her death many people who were blessed to know her began a campaign for an adapted therapy pool and facility which would serve children, adults, and even wounded military personnel who are in the Augusta area for long term rehabilitation.

Enter a current Trinity on the Hill teenager who is doing her senior project. I could share numbers of stories of those who do senior projects with focus on local, national, or international mission. Lara did a fundraiser for drilling a well in Kenya. Will did an emphasis on local mission to learn more about why some people give so much time in area ministries. Allie chose to do hers as a fundraiser for the Family Y for Katie's Pool.

To quote the local story which still brings tears to my eyes:

"Allie Howard, 17, wrote her senior paper on the effects of encephalitis, and her research reintroduced her to Miss York's inspirational story. Katie York was a friend of Allie's older brother, Ben, and a fellow member of Trinity on the Hill United Methodist Church.
Wanting to do more than just turn in a project for a grade, Allie decided to follow Miss York's example.

"'If someone with a disease can put on a smiling face and help others, then why can't I?' Allie said. 'I wanted to do something that would have a lasting impact.'"

"Allie organized a fundraising dinner at her church Jan. 29, inviting family, friends and fellow members to the $40-a-plate affair. The response went beyond those who attended, and she raised $5,700. She presented the donation check for Katie's Pool to the Family Y on Friday."

"'It's indescribable that this small project is going to help so many people,' Allie said. 'Looking at that building will remind me that even small people can play a part in something big.'"

"It is a fitting tribute to Miss York, who was determined to help make the pool a reality to serve the autistic children and other special-needs swimmers to whom she was devoted before her death at age 20."

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Of Zombie Banks and Zombie Clergy & Churches

Have you heard about the zombie banks?

Me either, until tonight.

I don't usually use Wikipedia though I liked this thought about zombie banks. "A Zombie Bank refers to a bank with a net worth which is less than zero, but which continues to operate because of implicit or explicit government guarantee."

It turns out the zombie banks are a huge problem for our economy. Maybe you've heard about those banks that are insolvent which we are keeping alive with outside, intravenous capital. With the "old rules" such an entity could "survive" by feeding off of others. The losses are sustainable only as they have been spread over the larger market, and the collapse now is very much related to the approach and the lack of regulation. The risk is now much riskier and unlikely sustainable as we've gone through this meltdown. A little too little, too late changes are coming as scrutiny tightens and restructuring will eliminate this drain.

"A 'zombie bank' keeps draining bailout capital from the government but doesn't respond with any meaningful lending that helps the economy recover. The prevalence of zombie banks made the long Japanese recession of the 1990s especially painful."

Of course, there could be any number of zombies running around. It makes me wonder about "zombie churches" and "zombie clergy." Think of those organizations and individuals that aren't living on their own, those who never move beyond feeding off of others, those who are sustained by others.

On this first Sunday of Lent the text is in Mark 1 including verses 13-15 speaking of Jesus.
13He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him. 14Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, 15and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.”

Perhaps it is time for all to spend some time in the wilderness. Zombie churches, clergy, agencies, and denominations that aren't brought to life should be offered our prayers and a fitting memorial service. Everyone else needs to follow Jesus and be launched "immediately" (to use one of Mark's favorite words about Jesus) into the mission because in these challenging days the time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God is upon us and we certainly need every available resource for the task at hand!