Monday, August 31, 2009

UMC Clergy Education

Have you caught Sky McCracken's blog asking "Do We Need to Reconsider Seminary Trained Clergy?" She opens a number of good questions to discussion including whether we are pricing ourselves out of the market with the high cost of graduate education and the low salary that most clergy find themselves at. Read it, think about the Church we need to become and the clergy we need, and weigh in with your thoughts.

Clergy Education

Thursday, August 27, 2009

"Indigo Girl helps prison choir make CD"

Check out a fascinating story of prisoners, redemption, music, and ministry as Emily Saliers and a Georgia prison choir team up for Voices of Hope.

Full Story

CD Info Here

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Augusta State University Wesley Foundation

Welcome to the ASU Wesley Foundation. We're sponsored by The United Methodist Church and open to ALL ASU students. I hope that beyond classes and work you'll take time and create some college experiences which will grow your relationships with God and with those around you. We offer a variety of opportunities to be a blessing to you during your college days in hopes you'll be a blessing to others!

See Rev. Scott Parrish for more information—in person, on Facebook, or, or @ Trinity on the Hill UMC, 1330 Monte Sano Ave.

Find below a variety of options for you. If you have a particular interest we are always glad to create new events and opportunities! Experience one event or all...

Tuesday Lunch- $3 every Tuesday during a semester & usually at Trinity on the Hill dining room 12:15-1:30. Open to all ASU students- Great food at a reduced price.

After Lunch Discussion Group- 11-12 minute video and then discussion on a topic related to real life and faith. Tuesday 1:30- 2:15 or so. Topics include:
• What does it mean to live how God created you to live?
• Does God love people with different beliefs than you?
• Do you think it’s possible to keep something secret and never get busted for it?
• What’s up with the word LOVE? (NOTE: This will be a dangerous conversation dealing with EVERY aspect of love!)
• How can God stand by and watch us suffer?

Wednesday Night Supper- $6 @ Trinity on the Hill dining room—5:00-6:00 PM. Make reservations by Tuesday 1 PM at or by calling the church office at 706-738-8822.

Wednesday Night College and Career Group, 6:00-7:00 PM, “Your Spiritual Gifts” or “Living Beyond Yourself” discussion. Find Scott & group in dining room.

Serious Volleyball League- Wednesday Night 7 PM Trinity gym. Augusta/CSRA teams formed with some of best talent in the region.

Sunday Morning- If you don’t have a church or group and are looking for a place come experience our Young Adult class & then stay and enjoy worship!

Service & Mission Projects- we always have a number of options for weekday or weekend to serve local people in need. Options range from student mentoring, to construction, to neighborhood clean-up, to feeding hungry people. We also offer national (FL, MS, LA) and international (Togo, Honduras, Jamaica, Bahamas, etc.) missions! See Scott for current details.

Upcoming BIG Events
Children’s Consignment Sale—Friday, September 18, 9AM-7PM, & Saturday 8AM-2PM @ Trinity gym. 70,000 items!! Consignors register until Sept. 7 @

What are you doing winter break?? Need some adventure??! Dream up a plan with Scott!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

An International Strategy of Fighting Poverty Through Helping Women

New York Times offers a disturbing story about the plight of women and female children. I guess it's most troublesome to me because it rings true with what I have seen in my limited travels. Find below a few excerpts of the lengthy article which is well worth your time and attention.

The powerful opening to the story says:

"IN THE 19TH CENTURY, the paramount moral challenge was slavery. In the 20th century, it was totalitarianism. In this century, it is the brutality inflicted on so many women and girls around the globe: sex trafficking, acid attacks, bride burnings and mass rape."

"Yet if the injustices that women in poor countries suffer are of paramount importance, in an economic and geopolitical sense the opportunity they represent is even greater. “Women hold up half the sky,” in the words of a Chinese saying, yet that’s mostly an aspiration: in a large slice of the world, girls are uneducated and women marginalized, and it’s not an accident that those same countries are disproportionately mired in poverty and riven by fundamentalism and chaos. There’s a growing recognition among everyone from the World Bank to the U.S. military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff to aid organizations like CARE that focusing on women and girls is the most effective way to fight global poverty and extremism. That’s why foreign aid is increasingly directed to women. The world is awakening to a powerful truth: Women and girls aren’t the problem; they’re the solution."

Later in the story you will find this sobering thought:
"The global statistics on the abuse of girls are numbing. It appears that more girls and women are now missing from the planet, precisely because they are female, than men were killed on the battlefield in all the wars of the 20th century. The number of victims of this routine “gendercide” far exceeds the number of people who were slaughtered in all the genocides of the 20th century."

And later...
"WHY DO MICROFINANCE organizations usually focus their assistance on women? And why does everyone benefit when women enter the work force and bring home regular pay checks? One reason involves the dirty little secret of global poverty: some of the most wretched suffering is caused not just by low incomes but also by unwise spending by the poor — especially by men. Surprisingly frequently, we’ve come across a mother mourning a child who has just died of malaria for want of a $5 mosquito bed net; the mother says that the family couldn’t afford a bed net and she means it, but then we find the father at a nearby bar. He goes three evenings a week to the bar, spending $5 each week."

"Our interviews and perusal of the data available suggest that the poorest families in the world spend approximately 10 times as much (20 percent of their incomes on average) on a combination of alcohol, prostitution, candy, sugary drinks and lavish feasts as they do on educating their children (2 percent). If poor families spent only as much on educating their children as they do on beer and prostitutes, there would be a breakthrough in the prospects of poor countries. Girls, since they are the ones kept home from school now, would be the biggest beneficiaries. Moreover, one way to reallocate family expenditures in this way is to put more money in the hands of women. A series of studies has found that when women hold assets or gain incomes, family money is more likely to be spent on nutrition, medicine and housing, and consequently children are healthier."

On page 5:
"In general, aid appears to work best when it is focused on health, education and microfinance (although microfinance has been somewhat less successful in Africa than in Asia). And in each case, crucially, aid has often been most effective when aimed at women and girls; when policy wonks do the math, they often find that these investments have a net economic return. Only a small proportion of aid specifically targets women or girls, but increasingly donors are recognizing that that is where they often get the most bang for the buck."

"SO WHAT WOULD an agenda for fighting poverty through helping women look like? You might begin with the education of girls — which doesn’t just mean building schools. There are other innovative means at our disposal. A study in Kenya by Michael Kremer, a Harvard economist, examined six different approaches to improving educational performance, from providing free textbooks to child-sponsorship programs. The approach that raised student test scores the most was to offer girls who had scored in the top 15 percent of their class on sixth-grade tests a $19 scholarship for seventh and eighth grade (and the glory of recognition at an assembly). Boys also performed better, apparently because they were pushed by the girls or didn’t want to endure the embarrassment of being left behind."

The full article is at Women's Crusade

"Nicholas D. Kristof is a New York Times Op-Ed columnist and Sheryl WuDunn is a former Times correspondent who works in finance and philanthropy. This essay is adapted from their book “Half the Sky: Turning Oppression Into Opportunity for Women Worldwide,” which will be published next month by Alfred A. Knopf. You can learn more about “Half the Sky” at"

Friday, August 21, 2009

Another Clergy Call Story-- But Now a Female Perspective!

What does a female do when you experience God's work in your life and feel called to professional church service? Yesterday I shared the story of an Atlanta colleague called to ministry which expresses a male perspective. Today, enjoy a female perspective of call to ministry and service in the church. I understand this isn't view shared by every church or denomination, but it is part of who we are as United Methodists.

The United Methodist Church is very affirming of women who are called to ministry. Women have had full clergy rights in the UMC since 1956. Galatians 3:28 expresses a foundational rationale which is consistent with Scripture, experience of the working of God, and "There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus. While we are still growing as a church in this understanding and application, the fact is that we have many female pastors, church leaders, district superintendents, and bishops.

Enjoy the call story of a campus minister

Thursday, August 20, 2009

A Pastor Called to Ministry

I've always enjoyed hearing people's stories. Sometimes we have an idea God will speak to us in some big way that will change everything. It's been my experience, and I'm often reminded, that there is a consistent work of God in our lives and a certain divine flow. So, we often see God best when we look back and reflect. Enjoy Dave's story of his call and think about your own call from God.

A Pastor's Call Story

Monday, August 17, 2009

Though You Are Weak and Weary

If you like a little inspiration in your music, and like a guitar and solo voice, try out some Cameron Jones. This reminder of God's love got my attention.

Carry You

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Back to School, Camp Meeting Fervor, and a Prayer

These busy days of "back to the routine" with the start of school and the return of the regular church schedule offer more opportunity to work than time allows! There is a LOT going on for almost everyone this time of the year. Overlap some of the anxiety, tension, anger, and uncertainty in the world and the emotion on top of the busyness creates a strange dynamic.

With all this I am finding even more reason to enjoy time in a community of faith, and in particular in worship which inspires, renews, and challenges.

August is our time for summer camp meeting during our Sunday morning services at the church. That usually means we dress more casually, & enjoy the old standard hymns and very upbeat music. Today the congregation sang "I Stand Amazed in the Presence," "Leaning on the Everlasting Arms," and "I Need Thee Every Hour." An African American soloist got our attention with "His Eye is on the Sparrow" and then with the sanctuary choir joining her reminded us that "He Never Failed Me Yet." The preacher then tackled James 1:22-25 with an emphasis on "Doing Faith." All in all, a memorable day!

I offered the morning prayer in both worship services. I generally look over the worship service the night before, think about the direction of sermon and music, consider the needs of people on the prayer list, and jot down a few thoughts. And that scrap of paper gets scribbled on a good bit Sunday morning before and even during worship. Of course, in the moment I ad lib rather freely so I can seldom duplicate verbatim what I say in either service! With the preacher's sermon in James today I was praying about active, everyday faith. Here 's part of the prayer that I offer as we all launch into new endeavors here in late summer/early fall:

Holy God We seek You on this day. We need You God- we need Your grace, Your mercy, Your forgiveness. We need Your presence in our world today more desperately than ever before.

God we need You! We can not do what we most need. We try to create but it looks and sounds like Babylon all over again, like Sodom and Gomorrah.

We confess we are a guilty people- guilty of seeking our own self pleasure, guilty of disobedience, guilty of putting ourselves before You and Your will and way, guilty of idolatry as we center our lives around so many things & relationships other than You. Guilty of trying to hold onto everything in the world even as we try to hold on to You!

But deep in our heart we know there is more. Deep in our soul we know we have need of something more. The heart sickness, the faint whisper, the unfulfilled dreams, the holy yearning is still there. We have run to the pigsty, and now bankrupt, and with little hope, a distant memory of You awakens us again to the truth.

We recall that You know us in the deepest ways. We remember that You know every detail of who we are… and who we are called to be. And we remember that You are waiting for us, anticipating our return, eager to run and meet us and welcome us back into your embrace.

In these moments we are reminded of our need for You, our yearning for You. We are empty—please fill us! We offer ourselves to You once again at Your altar. We are inspired to live a life beyond the ordinary and routine. We are not content with what has been and eager for what You will do. We hear the call again to follow the Living Christ- we hear the message of loving our neighbor as ourselves, and to care for widows, and orphans, and strangers. We remember the sick and the grieving, the prisoner, and those without hope.

Unleash Your Holy Spirit in our lives, in our families, in our church, in our community and world. Move us forward in perfection so we reveal a real holiness, a true redemption, a deep and abiding faith that changes everything. We ask this so the Living Christ would be honored, and we would be conformed to His image. Amen.

Friday, August 7, 2009

70,000 Item Children's Consignment Sale

The Trinity on the Hill Children’s Consignment Sale (TOTH CCS) is held twice a year in the spring and fall on the church property located at 1330 Monte Sano Avenue in Augusta, Georgia. Proceeds from the sale are divided between the seller (60%) and the TOTH CCS (40%). The net proceeds retained by the church are used to support the local, national and international missions of Trinity Outreach Ministries. In addition, at the discretion of the consignor, any unsold items may be donated to TOTH CCS to be used in various missions projects.

The Fall 2009 sale dates are September 18-19.

Consignor Registration is NOW through August 3 - September 7

Barcode Ordering August 3 - September 13

Scheduled Drop-Off September 14 - 16

Go to Children's Consignment Sale to register and for more information.

Mission Partners
Strategic mission partnerships are developed locally, nationally and internationally between Trinity and these friends in ministry. These partnerships are evaluated annually in light of helping to advance the mission of Trinity on the Hill UMC.

Local Missions
Augusta Jail-Bibles
Augusta Rescue Mission
Augusta Urban Ministries
Bon Air Breakfast
Compassion Fund
Discretionary Fund/New Missions
Garden City Rescue Mission
Golden Harvest Food Bank
Harrisburg Ministries
HANDS and Day of Service
Heart to Hope (Asbury UMC Food Pantry)
Hispanic Ministries
Interfaith Hospitality Network of Augusta - Trinity hosting weeks
Interfaith Hospitality Network of Augusta- Operating budget
JOY Club
Lydia Project
New Bethlehem Community Center
Super Saturday
Wesley Foundation ASU

Conference/National Partners
Action Ministries
Anchor House
Camp Glisson
Discretionary Fund
Homeless Offering
Red Bird Mission
SOS Memphis Youth Mission Trip
Trinity on the Hill Disaster Relief Teams
United Methodist Children's Home
Wesley Woods

International Missions
The Dickerson Family- Kenya, Africa
The Kipuke Family - Togo, Africa
The Sims Family - Ghana, Africa
The Singh Family - India
Youth International Mission Trip - Jamaica

Thursday, August 6, 2009

A New Chicken House

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Our chicks, which were purchased in the spring just after they were hatched, had grown to a size that means they needed to upgrade their apartment. My small dog house converted to chick house, and attached to a small chicken run, no longer offers enough room for the quickly maturing chickens.

The other part of the equation consists of numerous pallets left at the church after Vacation Bible School. I’m not sure what our children’s ministry director did with all those things, though they always decorate the rooms and hallways in 3 buildings and always have many props left over post VBS. It seemed everywhere I looked there were pallets which needed to discarded. The thought crossed my mind that the pallets could be dismantled and provide lots of interesting hardwood to create a rustic suburban henhouse.

Inspired lightbulb moment… or not?!

Have you ever taken a pallet apart?

If you’ve moved one by hand you might know they are solid, and made of unfinished, rough cut hardwood. If you’ve ever taken one apart you might have had the same experience I did. The thin cross pieces are typically twisted, gnarled things that take a nail well, but don’t want to release any nail in its grip! I found the skeleton of the pallet- 3 long boards about an inch thick and 3 inches wide- were the most useful, but again tended to be made of wonderfully twisted oak. Perfect material for a pallet because it is hard as rock and it doesn’t matter if the wood is straight or not. Most often the pieces had as many curves as a river, and were as crooked as a dog’s leg! FYI- I learned that a pallet could be deconstructed most easily using other lumber to pry it apart, or for small pieces need for my creation to merely cut out what I required with my circular saw.

Along the way, as I dismantled 7 pallets & imagined what it would take to piece together a decent chicken coop, I realized I couldn’t use only pallet lumber. To make anything square out of this mess would require time and tools I didn’t have! How do you refit something made for one use into a presentable, useful item for an entirely different application? As I mulled this over, sweat pouring out of me during these “dog days” of summer, I easily decided to broaden the plan to include everything from old lumber and wire from previous projects to the wood and hardware I would need to purchase from a store. The “piecemeal” chicken coop was beginning to come together during this “learn as you go” outdoor carpentry!

My mind jumped to other creations I find myself part of:
-the ongoing transformation & work of God in my own life
- campus ministry
-the work of the local church
-the work of the larger Church, and in particular I thought of the challenges of adding younger clergy with older clergy.

Consider how often you are working with the available tools and materials wishing you had more options! Piecemeal ministry is a common experience to all of us.

Consider how often you aren’t working with a full plan, and even if you are the changes that are thrown into it by the developing situation and the numbers of other people involved, so that “learn as you go” is a critical skill to develop.

Somewhere an oak tree gave itself up to be fashioned into a few strips of twisted lumber which became a pallet. But was that all it was destined to be? In this day of creation, often using old wineskins and adding new wine (careful here if you think of that Jesus story), we all have a need to be refit and refashioned into something useful to the Creator.