Looking to the Year Ahead

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While there are parts of our United Methodist Book of Discipline that we and fellow UMs are working hard to change, other passages are surprisingly powerful, even beautiful.  For instance, par. 201 defines the local church this way: “Under the discipline of the Holy Spirit, the church exists for the maintenance of worship, the edification of believers, and the redemption of the world.”

As purpose statements go, that’s pretty powerful stuff.

And from par. 202: “The function of the local church, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, is to help people to accept and confess Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and to live their daily lives in light of their relationship with God.  Therefore, the local church is to minister to persons in the community where the church is located, to provide appropriate training and nurture to all, to cooperate in ministry with other local churches, to defend God’s creation and live as an ecologically responsible community, and to participate in the worldwide mission of the church, as minimal expectations of an authentic church.”

And those are “MINIMAL expectations.”

Over our 100 years, Glenn Memorial has faithfully sought to live out this vision of the church, being sensitive always to shifting challenges facing our community and church members.

Over the months ahead, it is imperative that we continue our vital and ongoing ministries of outreach and service in the community and, through our UM connection, around the world.  At the same time, our staff has discerned four areas of ministry for enhancement and expansion in 2019-20:


Young Adults

Under the direction of the Rev. Blair Setnor, and with the cooperation of our Annual Conference and our Georgia Commission on Higher Education and Campus Ministries, we are building a new ministry for 20-somethings in our neighborhoods and in the graduate and professional schools of Emory University.  This is no small task, but one that can offer to young adults, at a critical moment in their lives, a loving relationship with Jesus Christ and a community of support and care where they can grow in faith and service.

(Blair will also relate to our area of outreach and missions.)


Spiritual Formation

It’s interesting that in the words from the Book of Discipline above, the “edification of all believers” and the “redemption of the world” sit side by side.  That is an important part of our Wesleyan heritage: Our inward relationship with Christ and our outward relationship with our neighbors can’t be separated.  We reach out with love to others while tending God’s love in our own lives.

So, how are things with your soul these days?

Over the year ahead, we will work to expand opportunities to connect with other Christians in Bible study, prayer, and mutual support.  Sunday School is a part of this, as are short- and long-term groups that will meet at the church or in homes in the community.  The Rev. Brent Huckaby will lead us in this realm of spiritual formation (also continuing his work with The Gathering).



The word for “hospitality” has its roots in the Latin hospes, which means “host,” except that hospes also means “guest.”  Confusing?  Well, that’s OK.  I’ve heard it said that when hospitality is properly practiced, you really can’t tell the difference between host and guest.

Over the coming months, we will work to improve our welcome and inclusion of all who come to worship in this place.  Under the direction of the Rev. Connor Bell and Communications Director Jessica Bradford, and with vital help from intern Kevin Lazarus, we will improve our online and community presence, build a network of ambassadors ready to welcome and assist each new worshiper, and enhance our system of follow-up and inclusion.

(Connor, of course, is also our minister to youth and their families.)



Finally, we want to be sure people around us know who we are and what we’re about.  That means intentional outreach and invitation via all avenues available to us, but, above all, it means words of personal invitation spoken friend to friend, neighbor to neighbor, co-worker to co-worker.  We are a loving and embracing church, but it means little to welcome everyone if we invite no one.  This might be our simplest goal and maybe the most challenging—invite—and it’s the one we can all start working on right now.


So, there you have it, some goals for 2019-20—hardly earth-shaking stuff, but pretty big nonetheless, and important.  Again, we are not diminishing the importance of our many established and ongoing ministries; we are building on the foundation of what we have.

I thank God for the privilege of being in ministry with you here at Glenn, and I can’t wait to watch the Holy Spirit work through this church in the year ahead.


In Christ,

Mark Westmoreland

'Twas the Week Before School Starts

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'Twas the week before school starts and all through the house,
all the children were checked for the dreaded stray louse.
But these are the side effects of sweet friends who hug,
and all the fun had as they rolled around on the summer camp rug!  
Parents look for deals on markers, pens, & folders, 
And try not to cry thinking how our kids so quickly grow older.
New teachers and schools; sports and scouts; we'll be busy soon, without a doubt.
But before we fill our schedules and our carpools scatter,
Let's take a moment to prioritize what really matters.
Reading, writing, science, and math;
But we also hope our kids learn kindness and how to share a laugh.
Bible stories learned as valued part of history,
Though how faith develops remains a mystery.
So we come together as a church family and show them grace and love, 
With our own prayers that they will know God's presence from above.
Just as Jesus as a child taught the synagogue leaders,
We remember that children can be our best teachers. 
So post all the back to school photos and tag #GlennChurch,
As we are the Body of Christ and your friends may very well be on a church home search!

Grace & Peace,

Rev. Susan Pinson

Join us for Back to School Sunday! Sunday, August 11!

Blessing of the Backpacks

Sunday, August 11
8:30 a.m. -
Worship in the Little Chapel with Blessing of the Backpacks
9:45 a.m. –
Sunday School Celebration
Hosted by Ms. Carol Napier on the Playground
For all children, youth, and families as we celebrate the end of summer, the new playground & new school year, and give thanks for the DECADES of Sunday School stories & treats of Ms. Carol as she “retires” from Glenn Sunday School!
Lift Every Voice Summer Lecture Series with Dr. Mindy McGarrah Sharp in Ward Hall on Sustaining Resistance: Pastoral Care for the Ongoing Work of Racial Justice
11:00 a.m.- Worship in the Sanctuary with Blessing of the Backpacks
3:00 p.m. - Playground Dedication and Back to School Splash
5:00 p.m. Blessing of the Backpacks
at The Gathering

Playground Dedication & Back to School SPLASH!

Sunday, August 11, 3:00 p.m.

Join us on the new playground for our Playground Dedication, treats, & water play!  WEAR SWIMWEAR, SUNSCREEN, AND WATER SHOES!  Bring a towel & feel free to then head inside for worship at The Gathering at 5:00 p.m. in the Ward Fellowship Hall for a Blessing of the Backpacks if you missed it at 8:30 a.m. or 11:00 a.m. worship! FREE - bring a canned good to donate to the Intown Collaborative Ministries Food Pantry.

On Human Beings and Being Human

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Sometimes when I read the Bible, I am amazed I can read it at all, considering the distance and differences between that world and our own.  But just as the distance seems greatest, I recognize across the centuries, in the stories and personalities, something startlingly familiar.  When the millennia, and all the advances the ages have brought, are peeled away, what is it the kinship that remains?

What is it to be human?

Go to Gaza or the West Bank, to the strife-torn regions of Africa, to Ireland, to the Balkans or to any other place of well-dug-in conflict—shoot, maybe the church—and find two enemies.  Any two enemies will do.  Now, look into the concerns that fill their days.  Dig down just past their conflict.  You will find a love for their children and families, a strange hope and dread for the future, a longing for place and purpose and respect.  You will see the humanity they would deny in each other.  For that matter, look into the depths of their rage and hatred, and there, too, you will find their kinship, for it is not only the light in our souls that make us human, but also the secret shadows of our hearts.

Scan the radio dial—from country to classical, hip-hop to alternative rock—and listen to the heart of the music.  You will find through all the rhythms and melodies remarkably similar messages of anger and brokenness, of longing and love.  You will find in all of the different styles the wondrous human gift for singing our pain and hope.  You will hear what it is to be human.

Peel away all that separates us, and look into the depths.  And when you reach sin’s darkest scars, keep going still.  Keep digging, and you will find it—that being that is human, that essence that sets us just a little lower than the angels.  Imago Dei, they used to call it—the image of God.  Every Sunday it is from that place that we seek God, and every Sunday it is to that place that God’s Word comes with healing and grace.

This Sunday we will talk about that familiar story of the Samaritan who was good and gracious, and we will consider a bit more what it is to be human, truly human.  I hope you’ll be here.

In Christ, Rev. Mark Westmoreland

Beauty in Boston

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I’m in Boston as I write this, tagging along with the youth choir, Michael Dauterman, Misha Stefanuk, and some great chaperones.  But after four days, I’ll be honest: I don’t know how much more I can take.

It all started Saturday when we arrived in Boston and, having barely settled in, launched into a scavenger hunt designed to introduce us to the city.  I joined the high school boys as ballast.  Actually, the boys divided into two groups so they could tackle  the tasks at hand more efficiently.  I was part of “Bravo Team,” which should give you an idea of how the guys approached the contest.

Apparently somehow, the first stop for Bravo team was Bunker Hill.  Check one sight off the list.  But wait!  There are bonus points if you climb to the top of the memorial tower, or as I now call it, the Obelisk of Doom—294 steps from ground to top. “You don’t have to do it,” Connor Bell, chaperone for Bravo Team, told me with genuine concern in his eyes.  “Oh, no, I want to,” I said.  “Oh no you don’t!” my body screamed.  And it’s been screaming ever since.  Somewhere around step 200 I told Connor, who had laid back with me as the guys raced on, “Go!  Leave me!  Tell Kathy I love her!”  And he left me!  They don’t do that in the movies. 

Anyway, after lying on the grass outside the tower for about 30 minutes, I was ready to continue.  Those high schoolers were exceptionally patient with me, which impressed me, AND they won the hunt, proving that good guys can indeed finish first.

Now, I could elaborate on my near-death experience and the fire still burning in  my legs three days later, but I think I’ll talk about beauty instead.  Interesting concept, beauty.  It’s in the eye of the beholder, they say, or maybe it’s in the ear, or maybe the heart.  Yes, that’s it—the heart.  Or, at least that’s where beauty finally finds home after its journey of light and sound. 

Sunday morning we were in Boston University’s Marsh Chapel for worship, and I sat in a place that felt a little strange to me—a pew.  I watched and listened as the Rev. Dr. Robert Franklin (yes, Emory’s own, who has spoken at Glenn twice in the past year) preached powerfully on moral leadership. 

Then I watched and listened as our choir sang.

The music was lovely and the singers delightful, middle schoolers and high schoolers in their rows, boys, girls, faces alight, voices blending, God glorified.  Sound and sight made their way to the heart of this beholder. The music was beautiful.  They were beautiful. 

I beheld  it again Monday as the group worked at an urban farm—hard work, easy camaraderie, and four-part laughter—beauty.  Tuesday they sang in an historic church in Truro, and I imagined almost 200 years of singers in that place and every voice beautiful, none more than these.

Today they sang at a memory care facility here in Boston, with concerts on two different floors.  I had the job of fiddle-holder or, if you prefer, violin attendant, tending the instrument until Marian Waller moved from singer to accompanist.  I did well, thank you, but I prefer my true calling of listening and watching.  In that place today, I listened as young sang to old, and I saw with sorrow the wounds time brings. Still, there was a balm in the songs and conversations, and in the moment shared was grace.

I write these words as Wednesday ends, which means I have two more days with these kids.  I’ll be honest: I don’t know how much more I can take.

I mean, how much beauty can one heart hold?

Rev. Mark Westmoreland, Senior Pastor

A Glimpse into Vacation Bible School


Our heartfelt thanks to all the volunteers and parents/guardians who helped make Vacation Bible School last week possible. Through Bible stories, songs, crafts, snacks, laughter, and prayer, over 150 children, youth, & adults have explored where God’s power can take us through faith, boldness, kindness, thankfulness, and the hope of Jesus.  Vacation Bible School is an experience hard to capture in words, so here are a few quotes from our little “Voyagers” (participants) and “Star Guides” (volunteers) to give us a glimpse into the stellar week:
The Director’s Kids on the first day:
Elle (6): “Mom, I don't really know the dance for VBS.”
Victoria (4): “Don't worry Elle! I totally know it! I'll teach you!”
From the Bible Story Drama Room:
“It's a joy to work with the kids in drama!  They are imagining what it might have felt like to sit in the lion's den or to walk the Jericho road, and in this way, their understanding of the bible grows.  Between the games and activities at VBS there is empathy and imagination, and our young Christians are growing in the faith.” –Emily
A Longtime Volunteer:
“I love VBS because it always marks the beginning of summer for me. The Bible stories make me recall my own childhood in church (and my seminary years!). The kids' excitement over VBS is contagious. Bottom line- there's no better place to celebrate your birthday than Glenn VBS!” – Laura
1st Time VBS Parent:
“VBS was so much fun!!! It’s the first time we have been able to come and volunteer.  I know Grace loved being with Miss Laura and Grant loved being with Martha and Alice in the nursery.  They both slept very well during nap time last week.  I had a great time helping with crafts! It was so nice to meet some of the (older) kids at Glenn. And bless all of the teenage volunteers! They were wonderful and I was so thankful they were really into helping the little kiddos make slime! 😂”  - Robin
A Future Philanthropist:
“Mae was carrying her bag of money she gathered for VBS this morning when we dropped off her sister at her school. She told Elle's teachers why she had the money that she was raising money for solar ovens in a different country  - AND THEY GAVE HER MORE MONEY! She turned $3 into $6!  Another teacher also asked where we went to church and thought that was really great that's what they were doing at VBS. You're doing a good job getting the message through!!”  - Shelby

Glory to God, who is able to do far beyond all that we could ask or imagine by his power at work within us! -Ephesians 3:20
Grace & Peace,

Special thanks to our local sponsors of our VBS Volunteer Meals: 

Doc Chey’s Dragon Bowl

Saba – Emory Village

City Barbeque – Decatur

Romeo’s New York Pizza – Emory Village

Glenn Church members & staff

An Announcement from SPRC

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Dear Friends,
The Staff-Parish Relations Committee, working with Mark Westmoreland, has identified a timely need for a new ministry to young adults in our community—both young working folks and graduate students.  Given Glenn’s central location to several institutions of higher education and the demographics of young adults living in neighborhoods near the church, we recognize this as an exciting and unrealized opportunity to offer spiritual growth and Christian community for this age group.  At a critical moment in their lives, we can provide for these 20-somethings a Christian foundation of love, grace, and service that they can carry with them through the years to come.
Assessing the needs for this new effort, SPRC developed a new full-time position to lead the way.  The Rev. Blair Setnor became an obvious candidate for this position because of her longstanding presence in the community, her strong existing relationships with young adults already connected to Glenn, and her enthusiastic and caring spirit.  So, we are excited to announce that Blair has accepted the call to this new ministry, effective July 1, and will be transitioning into that role from her current ministry with Youth.  SPRC expresses a tremendous debt of gratitude to Blair for the 10 years she has given to the Youth Ministry at Glenn.  More significant and appropriate opportunities to show our appreciation for Blair’s work with the Youth will be forthcoming.
So, what about our Ministry with Youth and their families?

We are also excited to announce that Connor Bell has accepted the position of Minister for Youth, also effective July 1.  Connor is a familiar face to youth and parents at Glenn, having just completed two years as a Glenn intern working with the Youth Group.  Connor graduated in May from Candler School of Theology and is attending the Mississippi Annual Conference this week, where he will be commissioned as an elder in the UMC.  He will serve three years of probationary ministry in a supervised setting before being ordained as an elder in his home conference, and we are excited that he has accepted the opportunity to serve those three years with Glenn UMC youth.  Connor brings many gifts for ministry that will be a tremendous benefit to our church, and we welcome him to this full-time role as an associate pastor. His existing strong relationships with the youth and their families will make for a smooth transition in leadership for Glenn’s Youth Ministry.
We are excited about the new possibilities before us with young adults and the opportunity to build upon our strong ministry with Youth.  Please be in prayer for Blair as she begins her new work and for Connor as he steps into his new ministry among us.
In Christ,
The Staff-Parish Relations Committee
Glenn Memorial United Methodist Church
Members of the Staff-Parish Relations Committee:
Jeff Henry, chair
Mary Lou Boice
Lynn Hart
Carolyn Knight
Reid Mallard
Dan MacFarlane
Tommy McGarrah Sharp
Mike Mountcastle
Andy Rogers
Emily Washburn (lay leader)
John Wiley (lay leader)
Mark Westmoreland (senior pastor)

An Update from Our Service Team

The three areas of service opportunity at Glenn are divided into local, global, and environmental areas.  Please check Glenn’s website and look under “Service at Glenn” to find ways that you might get involved.  We need your help!  See what the committees have been up to recently:

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Glenn’s local service efforts are focused on the guiding principles found in the gospel of Matthew:

“I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me. — Matthew 25:35-36

One recent event was held on March 24, when members of our congregation served at Trinity Table, a Sunday soup kitchen that feeds over 300 homeless people at Trinity UMC in downtown Atlanta. Per Diane Bryant, “it was a joy to serve with the 14 volunteers from Glenn who were willing to jump in and do whatever was asked of them.  And then they asked what more could they do. I am always stuck by what wonderful folks the members of Glenn are: young, old, men, women, families, seasoned volunteers and enthusiastic newbies. Everyone jumps in to make it happen. We started at 10:30 and were cleaned up and out of there by 1:30.”  Other Glenn members not in attendance contributed food and money. 



Missions at Glenn acts as the Hands and Feet outside our local area.

A painting and cleanup day was held on MLK Day in Clarkston. This is part of a new partnership with Memorial Drive Ministries, an organization dedicated to serving the refugee population in Georgia.

Glenn also hosted our missionary partners from Cambodia.  We had a chance to learn about their work with students overseas and see the ways Glenn is supporting them.



We look to raise awareness of the connection between our faith as Christians and our responsibility to care for creation and to help save God’s world.  We strive to set examples for new behaviors and be good stewards for today and tomorrow’s world.

On a chilly March day, a morning of service for the Environmental Committee was spent cleaning up a garden plot at the New Roots Community Garden, which is affiliated with the International Rescue Committee (IRC).  The garden is located between North DeKalb Mall and the Subaru dealership.  The IRC provides opportunities for refugees and other immigrants to thrive in America. https://www.rescue.org/united-states/atlanta-ga  Glenn has participated in this cleanup effort for several years. It is a fun morning for young and old alike!  We hope you will join us next year.  


Sharing Space, Sharing Christ

There’s a tent outside our church.  Did I miss something?  Has a traveling evangelist come to town?  Is May Circus Month here at Glenn?

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And then I remember: graduation.

Of course.  Ours is a shared space.  Lots of folks—parents, grandparents, kin and friends—will descend upon campus Monday, and a lot of them will gather at some point in the Glenn Auditorium.  That’s the Glenn Sanctuary to us, and while they might not name it, it will be a place of sanctuary for them, too.  For a little while over the next few days, parents and graduates alike will wax nostalgic and dare to dream.  Graduation is one of those moments when all that is past meets all that is yet to be.  In my eyes, that’s a holy moment and worthy of the magnificence of our sanctuary.

Ours is a shared space.  In fact, it’s the sharing that defines it.  Our sanctuary becomes holy when we gather together in praise and thanksgiving.  And this holy space becomes sanctuary when we welcome the next person who walks through the doors.

When was the last time you blessed this sanctuary by sharing it with someone you know?  When was the last time you said, “Hey, good stuff happens at Glenn.  Why don’t you join me?”  Sharing what we’ve found—that’s called evangelism—and it is at the heart of this life we, well, share.  And, at its best, evangelism comes down to three simple words, “Come and see.”

Look to the Gospel of John, and you’ll find the power of those words.  Philip told Nathanael that he had found the one “whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, “Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth,” to which Nathanael famously replied, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?”  Did Philip debate the point?  No, he simply said, “Come and see.”  Remember the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4)?  Her invitation to her fellow villagers was hardly the stuff of altar calls: “Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done!  He cannot be the Messiah, can he?”  And amazing things happened.

An invitation in words simple and sincere is all that is required to share your faith.  With your neighbors or co-workers or friends, share what you know; share what you’ve found.  Then, once they decide to share some time with us, we have to be ready to welcome them with joy.

This shared space is holy space.  Beauty?  It’s shared here.  Compassion—shared here.  Truth is shared here; love is shared here.

Jesus the Christ is shared here.  Life in all its joy, sorrow, and abundance is shared right here, every day, every week, all year round.

In Christ, Rev. Mark Westmoreland

Sleepless Nights

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My toddler is in one of those terrible sleeping patterns recently where he is wide awake at 2 a.m.  He literally hands me my glasses from the bedside table and tries to pull my feet to the ground while he demands "we-weal" (cereal) or "bubbas!" (bubbles) or "shocka!" (soccer).  Please note I am not soliciting sleep-training advice and anyone who has heard my past sleep deprivation woes knows that I am well aware of all the methods that supposedly make some children miraculously sleep 12 hours nonstop.  Y'all enjoy. 

As for me, I will continue to calmly explain to the sweet little guy that it is time to go back to bed and that the bubbles and soccer ball are "night-night."  I usually give in on a middle-of-the-night snack only to keep the rest of the household asleep when the wailing begins in the outrage that said bubbles and soccer ball are "night night."  Yes, I know I am implicit in the pattern making. 

But, to get to my point...in those wee hours of the morning as I try to not engage too much with him, but instead offer snuggles in the dark pre-dawn hours, I often find myself thinking and praying for YOU and your children, and all of our Glenn Church family. 

I am praying for the other parents who are undoubtedly up with children - due to illness, or a bad dream, or some Glenn Nursery conspiracy to blow bubbles and play soccer all night long.  I am praying for those I know are restless as they worry about their marriages, their jobs, their teen or young adult children facing challenges. 

I find myself thinking about how can we as a church family support one another -- how can we continue to let our members and the community know that we are safe space for all of our LGBTQ+ church family and community members?  How can we end the stigma of talking openly about mental health and how can we inspire one another to keep showing up at church to worship, to teach our children Bible stories, to learn Bible stories ourselves, to volunteer to pack bags for Snack in a Backpack, to visit homebound older adults, to give of our time and money to support all the wonderful work we do as a Glenn Church community? 

In my helplessness to force my child to go back to sleep, I feel a similar helplessness as a minister to force people to "be" the Church.  And just as I know there are tons of successful models for both sleep-training for children and church-growth for congregations, honestly even the proven methods in both endeavors don't seem to fit just right for my family or our church family. 

So you'll find me at 3 a.m. most mornings snuggling my little one back to sleep with a full belly and a lullaby being softly sung in his ear.  Some days I might be more cranky than others, but I hope my children know I will always be here for them.  And you'll find me (and countless others) here on Sundays (and many other days/times) with ministries as varied as cereal, bubbles, and soccer.  Some days we may be more cranky than others, but I hope we'll know for ourselves and proclaim for others, that God's unconditional love, support, and proverbial snuggles and lullabies when needed are found here in the Body of Christ, the Church. 

Grace and Peace,
Rev. Susan Pinson, Minister for Children and Older Adults

A Convergence of Grief

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The fire in the Cathedral of Notre-Dame, a place I have never visited, had a surprising emotional impact on me.  I am a lover of all things historical, certainly, and I’m always moved by beautiful art and holy architecture, so I have good reason to mourn, as do we all.  We have lost treasures of culture and faith.

Human history is written in constructions shaped by vision and hands.  Some of those creations fall to the earth to resurface millennia later, fragments; others rise from the earth as grand and lasting structures, a constant presence of the past among us.  There in the heart of Paris, the Cathedral of Notre-Dame stands a glorious monument to faith and human aspiration.

As I said, I’ve never been there, but today I’m recalling a visit Kathy and I made to a cathedral of similar age and significance in Canterbury, England.  In that historic place, I marveled at the ruts carved—or rubbed or polished—by the footsteps of countless pilgrims into stone floors—STONE FLOORS.  We walked with them that day, souls among souls.  So, I know the fire in Paris has obliterated the fingerprints of craftspeople and turned to ashes wood smoothed by the gliding hands of centuries’ worshipers.  We’ve lost timeless and beautiful stories.  And I grieve.

But, still, as I consider my emotions right now, I know there is more to my hurt than the destruction of a splendid sanctuary.  Call this moment a convergence of grief.  My heart breaks for another loss—or, more accurately, a loss in process.  In this case, it isn’t a building that lies in wreckage, but a kinship, a family, a “connection” (in the grand Methodist glory of the word).  There are no flames, but there’s destruction.

Human history is written in constructs of the mind, in visionary structures built of words and ideas, in partnerships forged of shared faith.  The Methodist movement comes up a several centuries short of the cathedral, but in our quarter of a millennium, we have built something beautiful.  Spread across the globe, the United Methodist Church moves and loves, a glorious monument to faith and aspiration.

Emerging from the family tree we share with Notre-Dame, our little Methodist branch has borne good fruit.  Our history is written of people moving outward, always outward, with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Our history is written with grace and the fleshy human stuff of care and justice.  Our history is written with the feet, hands, and hearts of countless pilgrims walking faithfully from church to world and back again.

At the heart of that pilgrim journey has been the decision and commitment to walk together, though we walk a million roads.  And it is that connection I grieve.  Now I hear words about divorce or, a bit more palatable to the ear, of adult children going their separate ways.  But there is history being lost, and something beautiful is being abandoned.  Allow me my grief, please, before celebrating the new.

I heard a good preacher story once in a church I served.  A pastor some years before me had broken his arms while pruning a tree near the parsonage.  That much I’m sure was true.  But the teller of the tale didn’t leave it at that.  As he told it, the preacher was sitting on the limb when he sawed it off.  Ridiculous, of course.

Yet, here I sit with you and others on our little branch of the Christian tree, and the only discussion left for us is who will do the sawing.

As I look upon the cross this holy week, I will grieve the loss of beauty created by us human beings—in Paris and closer to home.  And I will wait for Easter.

I know that my Redeemer lives.

I know that an end isn’t the end.

I know that Easter is true and real, even now.

But for a little while longer, in this place where losses converge, I will grieve.

-Rev. Mark Westmoreland

Climate Justice: A Call to Hope and Action - Chapter 6

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In 2016 the United Methodist Women commissioned the publication of the book Climate Justice: A Call to Hope and Action, an illuminating and wide-ranging look at an issue they had been studying for several years.

Rosalie was a seven-year old girl who lived on Rapu-Rapu, a remote island in the Bicol region of the Philippines.  She was the beloved middle child of seven brothers and sisters.  There her family and neighbors lived in simplicity by farming and fishing.  But Rosalie was struck down running home from school, fatally sickened by the poisoned earth and water around her home.

The land, both below and above, and surrounding sea were so rich in natural resources that the commercial potential of the island was recognized by Lafayette Mining Corporation of Australia.  In 1998, the Philippine government permitted the corporation to operate without limits to extract the extraordinary riches of Rapu-Rapu, particularly at a polymetallic mining site with copper, gold, zinc, and silver reserves.   Because of permit disputes, mining did not begin until April 2005.  Six months later, two heavy cyanide-laden spills into bodies of water caused the ecological death of rivers and large fish kills.  The livelihoods of the native people--farming and fishing-- were destroyed.  Hunger, sickness, and widespread suffering have since traumatized the community. Rapu-Rapu, once an ocean island paradise, became a wasteland.

This chapter was written by Norma Dollaga, a United Methodist deaconess, community worker, and general secretary of KASIMBAYAN, a national ecumenical organization in the Philippines.  She states forcefully that “the world where we live is not our private property . . . the land, sea, air, and sun are not ours to control . . . it belongs to the Creator (Genesis 1 and 2, Leviticus 25) . . . it should not be owned by multinational corporations, by colonial masters, or big landlords. We are stewards of God’s creation.”

She reminds us of a Native American proverb:  “Treat the earth well:  it was not given to you by your parents, it was loaned to you by your children.  We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors, we borrow it from our children.

As she reports the horrors of two recent typhoons in the Philippines, she writes that even after natural catastrophes, it is the poor who pay the highest price for environmental devastation, even though they are not the primary violators of ecological laws.  Those who have contributed least to climate change are those most harmed.  She asserts that it is the very poor “who are exposed to multiple layers of vulnerabilities.”  Those who stand with the poor, taking the side of climate justice, also face the anger of government and corporations whose controlling motivation is greed.

Dollaga contends that although individual stewardship of the environment is important, private lifestyle changes are not enough. We must join global efforts to challenge the economic, political, and cultural structures that allow for the destruction of our environment and the devastation of the world's poorest populations. Our environment suffers.  We are witnesses to its dying, and we hold hope for resurrection by bearing our responsibility for stewardship and justice now.

Visit https://www.unitedmethodistwomen.org/ for information about the work of the UMW throughout the world.  If you are interested in reading this book, please let us know.  Copies are available.

Jan Lichtenwalter, Glenn Environmental Committee

A Week Called Holy

Life is life is life.  Joys and sorrows, routines and tasks.  Spring arrives, and longer days mean more play, more chores.  Villagers scurry; Jerusalem stirs.

And a man, once blind, marvels at the intricacies of leaves and clouds.

Somewhere, a soldier stands guard over locals, who maintain their own bitter watch over the soldier.  A governor files reports and hopes for promotion.  A high priest frets over the future of his people.

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And a woman remembers a mob and the voice that set her free.

A farmer scans the sky for signs of rain.  A merchant scans the crowd for signs of customers.  A gardener tends the grounds near an old family tomb.

And in a home in Bethany, Mary and Martha share dinner with their brother, Lazarus.

Families prepare for the Passover.  The Temple welcomes pilgrims.  A money changer picks up the pieces of a ransacked business.  A friend arranges a place for a special dinner.

And somewhere in the corner of Judas’ heart, a dark thought stirs.

Now, twenty-one centuries later, life is still life.  Work calls; tasks await; obligations demand.  The routine drones.

And in the midst of it all, a people gather who have been touched by the grace of God and transformed into a community like no other. 

In the week ahead, we will consciously break the routine of normality, beginning this Sunday with palm branches and children.  Then on Thursday, we’ll gather with Jesus at his table.  Friday will bring word and song as we ponder the grim news of the cross and the good news of just how far love will go for the beloved.  On Saturday, we will hear the first announcement of Easter, then on Sunday, a grand and glorious celebration!  Christ lives!

In the retelling of the whole amazing story, we’ll open our lives again to the Christ who lived, died, and lives for us and the world.  As it turns out, 21 centuries are nothing, and the grace of God, found in a holy moment, is everything.

- Rev. Mark Westmoreland, Senior Pastor

Climate Justice: A Call to Hope and Action - Chapter 5

As we journey through Lent towards Easter and Earth Day we hope that these words may enlighten or speak to you in some way. This column will be presented weekly.

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In 2016 the United Methodist Women commissioned the publication of the book Climate Justice: A Call to Hope and Action, an illuminating and wide-ranging look at an issue they had been studying for several years.

In Chapter 5, “Climate Injustice: Earth Consequences”, author Rev. Dottie Yunger discusses some rules to live by.  Yunger is a marine biologist and minister.  While working on an island in the Belize Barrier Reef as a marine biologist in 2003, the island had some basic rules: 1. Check your pants for scorpions each morning. 2. Catch only the fish you want to eat. 3. Turn off the porch lights so as not to distract the sea turtles. 4. Take short showers.  Yunger states that these also make good rules for how to live on our larger island – planet earth.  Luckily we don’t have to do the morning scorpion check in Atlanta!

Other rules, as identified by theologian Sallie McFague, are described as God’s Rules.  If creation is God’s house, then we should abide by God’s rules which she describes as: 1. Take only your share. 2. Clean up after yourself. 3. Keep the house in good repair for future housemates.  These three simple rules can also be aligned with John Wesley’s rules which fall into three categories says Yunger.  1. Do no harm. 2. Do good. 3. Attend upon the ordinance of God.  She reminds us that we must avoid participating in systems that harm others, as well as avoiding harming other people. The rules are an invitation to live with creation and with God.

Yunger relates that Rev. Dean Synder, a UMC pastor in Washington, D.C., preached a sermon series on Wesley’s rules and concluded that it was almost impossible to do no harm if we live in this country.  Perhaps we should focus on the harm to creation that we do and try to do less of it he says.  Yunger uses water to explore how we might work on doing less harm.  One example she uses is the ongoing acidification of the ocean’s coral reefs.  The amount of energy that we use at home from fossil fuel burning plants has an impact on these reefs as the ocean absorbs carbon dioxide emitted from the plants.  Another example she shares is this country’s obsession with bottled water which costs 3,000 times the price of tap water.  She believes that only those “who view water as a commodity would pay that kind of markup for what used to be viewed as the source and essence of life.”

From another perspective in the chapter come words of wisdom from Gus Speth, former dean of Yale School of Forestry.  We need a spiritual and cultural transformation to overcome pride, apathy, and greed, which are the greatest problems that need to be solved in the environmental crisis he believes.  Where might this come from? From remembering that we are created in God’s image.

Please visit https://www.unitedmethodistwomen.org/ for more information about the work of the UMW throughout the world.  If you are interested in reading this book, please let us know.  Copies are available.

Lynn Speno, Glenn Environmental Committee

Climate Justice: A Call to Hope and Action - Chapter 4

As we journey through Lent towards Easter and Earth Day, we hope that these words may enlighten or speak to you in some way. This column will be presented weekly.

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In 2016 the United Methodist Women commissioned the publication of the book Climate Justice: A Call to Hope and Action, an illuminating and wide-ranging look at an issue they had been studying for several years.
For the past three weeks, the focus of this column has been Climate Justice. This will be the first of three columns that will address Climate Injustice. Justice is defined as just behavior or treatment, the quality of being just, impartial, or fair.  Injustice is the opposite: the absence of justice: the violation of right or of the rights of another (in this case, earth).
Jacqueline Patterson, the author of Chapter 4 “Climate Injustice: How Did We Get Here?” is the director of the NAACP Climate Gap Initiative, and she states “we find ourselves in an unfettered slide toward catastrophic climate change, a predicament that is rooted in our commodification of labor and natural resources that amasses wealth for a powerful few.” Patterson cites the colonization of the New World and the industrial period of the West. All of this came at the expense of exploitation of land and natural resources that continues to the present day. This was built upon the reliance on cheap labor and the oppression of the rights of people, especially people of color and indigenous people in particular. Patterson adds that while the church has too often been asleep at the switch, “the methods of the ruling classes (brute force and extraction) and the mono-focus on building wealth with no concern for human rights or the well-being of the earth persists even today. We no longer call these actions colonization, but development.”

“Most relevant to the issue of climate change are the subsidization of the fossil fuel industry and the lack of regulations governing its practices, which are destroying the environment and violating human rights. Fossil fuel companies reap $500 billion per year in subsidies. On average, oil, coal, and gas received more than four times the $120 billion paid out in incentives for renewables including wind and solar” she states.  So we are confronted with the question - Where is the justice in that? Who are the beneficiaries of that inequity?There are many examples of climate injustice but I will share one example that encapsulates the significant issues. “Coal combustion is not only the top emitter of carbon dioxide but it also impacts the health and well-being of communities that are host to coal plants due to the emission of co-pollutants including mercury, arsenic, lead, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, and more! These toxins are tied to respiratory illnesses, birth defects . . . and even learning problems.” So, again, the question, where is the justice in all of this? And there is the raping and degradation of the earth!
Finally, let me quote Archbishop Desmond Tutu regarding John 3:16, “so when I discovered that the Greek word for ‘world’ was ‘kosmos’ it stopped me in my tracks. I realized I’d only heard John 3:16 as saying ‘For God so loved the people…’, yet there was a word that suggested God loved the whole cosmos and sent Jesus because he loved the whole cosmos, not just people.”
Please visit https://www.unitedmethodistwomen.org/ for more information about the work of the UMW throughout the world. If you are interested in reading this book, please let us know. Copies are available.
David Speno, Glenn Environmental Committee


Journey is a word we use a lot when we talk about Lent.  We are on a Lenten journey, a pilgrimage of the soul as we travel toward the cross and Easter beyond.  It’s a good word, journey.  But while we are considering words that speak to the essence of Lent, let’s not neglect one that is just as important—stillness.

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Life is all about movement and action.  Even our Christian faith, robbed of action is meaningless.  “Faith without works is dead,” James tells us (2:17).  But Lent is a time also to pause and ponder the source of all good acts.  Lent is a time to examine the center of our lives and see what’s there.

During the three weeks of Lent that remains, when you have taken off your wandering shoes and settled, however briefly, into a moment of stillness, ask yourself some questions.  What do you really believe?  What is important to you?  What do you hope, when you allow yourself to hope?  Dissect your life for a moment and look at its parts.  And yes, look at those experiences or fears that make you feel less than whole.  What is it that makes you who you are?

When the silence of night finally envelops you, what do you hear?    Don’t be afraid to ponder the truth beyond words.  Be still, and know the presence of God that is closer even than the darkness around you and more profound than the silence of the night.

That presence is the source of all that is, the ground of all being, the hope of the world.  That presence is the God of all grace and mercy.  In the quiet of that rare silent moment, hear the words again.  “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”  “Come to me all who labor and are heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.”  “And remember I am with you always, to the end of the age.”  In that moment of rest, when there is nothing to be done, no action to take, no journey to continue, no busyness to fill your mind, remember that all that must be done for your salvation and wholeness has been done.

“Be still, and know that I am God!  I am exalted among the nations.  I am exalted in the earth.”  The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.

Psalm 46:10-11

Climate Justice: A Call to Hope and Action - Chapter 3

As we journey through Lent towards Easter and Earth Day, we hope that these words may enlighten or speak to you in some way. This column will be presented weekly.

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In 2016 the United Methodist Women commissioned the publication of the book Climate Justice: A Call to Hope and Action, an illuminating and wide-ranging look at an issue they had been studying for several years.

“And God saw everything that God had made, and indeed, it was very good.”   - Genesis 1:31a

When a young man set sail from the coast of Virginia as a seaman in the United States Navy, he watched the shoreline fade and the horizon dominated by the Atlantic expand, as his ship headed to the Mediterranean Sea.  He realized that size and depth of the ocean and earth were beyond his comprehension.  He had begun his journey toward understanding the interconnectedness of all species living in water and on land.

That sailor, I. Malik Saafir, author of Chapter 3, “What is Climate Justice?  Why is it a Religious Issue?” helps us think through the reasons why climate justice is a religious issue.  (Malik Saafir is president of the Janus Institute for Justice, a director of the Arkansas Interfaith Power and Light, and Green Faith.)

“As a sailor, I also witnessed how we shared the sea with other animals and marine organisms, as well as our continued destruction of the ocean’s ecosystem from pollution.  Each day at sea, I saw plastic and other non-biodegradable trash floating in the ocean . . . My professional responsibilities on board the ship granted me the unique opportunity to daily witness life out at sea.  The recurring theme of beauty, complexity, and awe became an integral part of my experiences as a watch and helmsman on board the ship.”

After his naval career, Saafir lived in Virginia Beach, where he was troubled by the commercial industries that lined the beach, and the trash and waste that accumulated.  He began to understand linkages between consumer choices and environmental toxins released in communities located near fossil fuel, chemical, and manufacturing plants locally and globally.  “. . . I became overwhelmed by my moral responsibility to care for the poor.  I joined the climate justice movement to work with the poor to end the unprecedented impacts of pollution and natural disasters on vulnerable communities throughout the world.” He reminds us that we are planting seeds of climate justice when we serve the poor and those that are most vulnerable to the effects of climate change (Matthew 25:31-46). 

“The United States has 5 percent of the world’s population but is the second largest contributor of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions after China.”  The result is that those who contribute the least amount to the emission problem, are those that suffer the most, especially in disadvantaged countries, with women bearing a disproportionate cost. 

This chapter gives us rich new interpretations of the Biblical allegories and parables of Jesus we know well, and may come to value even more, as we strive to become a healthy, worldwide community. 

Please visit https://www.unitedmethodistwomen.org/ for more information about the work of the UMW throughout the world.  If you are interested in reading this book, please let us know.  Copies are available.


Jan Lichtenwalter, Glenn Environmental Committee

Climate Justice: A Call to Hope and Action - Chapter 2

As we journey through Lent towards Easter and Earth Day we hope that these words may enlighten or speak to you in some way. This column will be presented weekly.

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In 2016 the United Methodist Women commissioned the publication of the book Climate Justice: A Call to Hope and Action, an illuminating and wide-ranging look at an issue they had been studying for several years.

Chapter 2, “A Biblical Model of Climate Justice” was written by Bishop Rosemarie Wenner of Germany.  In this chapter Wenner approaches the issue of climate justice through four verses of scripture.  First, we look toward the creation story in Genesis which remind us that we are created as part of the whole.  We are to balance the two tasks of tilling the earth and keeping the earth (Genesis 2:15) and copy the care and love of our Creator in doing so.

Secondly, Wenner refers to Psalm 104, a psalm of praise for creation.  “If we see Christ in all that is created and if we understand ourselves as part of the family of nature, it will impact our worldview, our spiritual practice, the worship life of our congregations, and our lifestyle.”  In 2009 the Council of Bishops wrote “God’s Renewed Creation: Call to Hope and Action” as a pastoral letter to the churches in response to the creation crisis.  “God’s creation is in crisis. We, the Bishops of The United Methodist Church, cannot remain silent while God’s people and God’s planet suffer. This beautiful natural world is a loving gift from God, the Creator of all things seen and unseen. God has entrusted its care to all of us, but we have turned our backs on God and on our responsibilities. Our neglect, selfishness, and pride have fostered pandemic poverty and disease, environmental degradation, and the proliferation of weapons and violence.”

Thirdly, Wenner looks at Revelation 21 and asks us to read this as a wake-up call to rethink our lifestyles. The aim of God is new life, not devastation.  We are to be God’s coworkers by taking action with our lives towards peace, justice, and reconciliation.  In the 2009 letter the council reminded us that as we respond to God’s call to action, the Holy Spirit will guide us.

Fourth, we are to be “good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (1 Peter 4:10).  We are not the owners of the world, but rather stewards. John Wesley, in Sermon 51, describes this stewardship – “… A steward is not at liberty to use what is lodged in his hand as he pleases but as his master pleases …”  The lifestyle of humbleness is hard in today’s world where we  constantly hear about economic growth and less about the practice of having enough.

So where do we go from here?  How has the church universal responded to the pastoral letter from 10 years ago?  Have we built coalitions for political and economic change? Change is not impossible and we must develop healthier and more sustainable options as we till and keep the earth.

“Many little people, in many little places, taking many little steps, can change the face of the world.” - African proverb

Please visit https://www.unitedmethodistwomen.org/ for more information about the work of the UMW throughout the world.  If you are interested in reading this book, please let us know.  Copies are available.

Lynn Speno, Glenn Environmental Committee

A Trip to Montgomery: Awakening to the Past and Present of Racial Inequality

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Last summer, a group of about 25 members of Glenn Memorial UMC took a trip to Montgomery, Alabama to visit the National Memorial for Peace and Justice and The Legacy Museum. The trip was organized as part of Glenn’s ongoing conversations around racial justice, white privilege, and the role we as individual followers of Christ and we as members of Glenn Memorial should take to fight for equal justice for all.

I went into the trip hoping to listen, learn, and discuss ways in which we can fix the systemic racism and inequality in our country. I left Montgomery sick to my stomach, with more questions than answers. How could a nation founded on equal rights for all get to such a place over the last 240+ years? How could we as a Church sit on the sidelines for so long as our brothers and sisters in Christ suffer?

The Memorial and Museum are part of a non-profit called the Equal Justice Initiative (EJI). EJI was founded in 1989 by Alabama based Attorney and social justice activist Bryan Stevenson. What started as an organization to provide death row inmates legal representation in Alabama (due to the elimination of federal funding for such support) has blossomed into a movement to tell the story of our Nation’s ugly past and the very slow march toward equal justice for all.

We started our journey at The Legacy Museum. Housed in a former slave warehouse and a block from one of the largest slave auctions in the United States, the cramped rectangular building lays out a very clear, linear, deliberate march from the massive economic engine created by chattel slavery to present day mass incarceration. Slavery, to the Civil War, to race-based domestic terrorism (i.e. lynching),  to separate but equal and Jim Crow, to mass incarceration. It’s all laid out in clear, factual detail; a nation founded on race-based power that has yet to completely heal itself. I left wondering how anyone could argue that white privilege doesn’t exist in our country then and now. I also left wondering how millions of brothers and sisters of color could keep hope in such an environment.

Our group then walked the mile up the hill to The National Memorial for Peace and Justice, a.k.a. the Lynching Memorial, passing through a rundown section of Montgomery that was likely once a bustling neighborhood before the suburban flight. This breathtaking and solemn outdoor memorial pays homage to the more than 4,400 lynchings of black people that occurred in the United States between 1877 and 1950. You enter the museum at the top of a short-crested hill, staring at rusted columns that list the names and dates of known lynchings organized by state and county.  As you continue to walk in awe, the ground slowly slopes to reveal the rusted columns are actually hanging from the structure above.

I entered the Georgia section of columns. There it was, laid bare, 592 KNOWN lynchings across almost every country in our state. DeKalb County. Fulton County. Columbia County where my wife grew up. We walked further, slowly down the slope, I entered North Carolina where I lived for a few years, then Virginia, where I spent most of my childhood. Haunting. Gut-wrenching. There are no words to describe the experience. Finally, at the end, there is a quote etched in stone above a calming waterfall:

For the hanged and beaten.

For the shot, drowned, and burned.

For the tortured, tormented, and terrorized.

For those abandoned by the rule of law.

We will remember.

With hope because hopelessness is the enemy of justice.

With courage because peace requires bravery.

With persistence because justice is a constant struggle.

With faith because we shall overcome.


And then this poem from Toni Morrison.

Back at the top of the hill lay duplicate columns for each county. In a brilliant strategy of reckoning and reconciliation, the EJI is requesting each County to personally claim their column, cover the cost of transport back to their location, and display the historical marker it in a public place. DeKalb County is set to unveil its column this September. The duplicate columns left in Montgomery will provide a clear marker of progress.

Our group slowly congregated near the exit, all quiet, in shock, in reflection. We closed our eyes, joined hands in a circle, and recited this invocation:

Litany after visiting Memorial to Peace and Justice

Today has been an opportunity for learning truths and reflecting on them.

Thy kingdom come.

We have seen the names of these children of God and we have read their stories. We lament the silence that has surrounded them for far too long.

Thy kingdom come.

As people of faith for whom the greatest commandment is to love our neighbor, we commit ourselves to shining the light of truth on our country’s history, confessing the role that that history played in creating the systems of oppression that still exist today, and working towards justice and reconciliation.

Thy kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. Amen.


As we loaded into the bus and drove home, the sunset over the southeastern Alabama landscape. For miles, it was an environment of deep reflection. Then slowly but surely, we all started to open up. What should we do next? The centuries of systemic oppression seemed so hard to solve. Our country felt like two completely different ones with different rules depending on the color of your skin.

But perhaps the solution is simple.

Listen. Understand. Pray. Show Up. Stand Up. Speak Out. Always with Christ’s love.

With God’s Grace, and Peace

Aaron Hurst

**To sign-up for this year’s day trip to Montgomery, AL to experience The National Memorial for Peace and Justice, go to tinyurl.com/montgomerytrip to register and pay. Tickets are $11/adult and $7.70/seniors and students. If you have any questions, please contact Carol Allums.

Climate Justice: A Call to Hope and Action - Chapter 1

As we journey through Lent towards Easter and Earth Day, we hope that these words may enlighten or speak to you in some way. This column will be presented weekly.

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In 2016 the United Methodist Women commissioned the publication of the book Climate Justice: A Call to Hope and Action, an illuminating and wide-ranging look at an issue they had been studying for several years.

The first chapter of the book, entitled "A Biblical Theology of Creation Care," was written by Pat Watkins, retired General Board of Global Ministries missionary and implementer of the board’s Creation Care ministry.  The chapter focuses on many of the biblical stories of God's people and how these stories help us to see the threefold relationship of God, each other, and the earth.

As the author recounts, "In the Garden of Eden, Adam was created out of the dust of the earth." In the Genesis story, we humans and all living creatures were created from the same "stuff."  You might say the earth is part of our DNA!

From Genesis to Revelation, the earth - the land - is central to biblical history.  In the Old Testament, our relationships with God, with each other, and with the earth are intimately intertwined; the three need each other for true fulfillment.  The stories of Adam and Eve and of Cain and Abel show how disobedience and self-centeredness interfered with this relationship and the need to "serve and keep" the garden.  It is noteworthy that the Noah story ends with a covenant God makes not just with Noah but with every living thing of all future generations, and with the earth itself!  The right relationships have been restored.

Biblical history is filled with stories of making these relationships right again.  Those relationships are wrong when human beings believe the creation exists only for them.  The eighth-century prophets Amos and Hosea provide wonderful examples of passionate proclamations against the abuse of the land and exploitation of the poor in order to benefit the rich.  These words ring true today!

In the New Testament, Jesus drew on the imagery of the earth in most of his parables.  The people who heard him were connected to the land and understood his stories about sowing seed in good soil, about shepherding, working the fields, and fishing.  And they understood his drawing on the natural world to describe himself as a shepherd or as a vine.  Working with the earth was an integral part of people's lives.

But, just as the prophets had preached, human greed and selfishness gave rise to exploitation of the resources of creation, and too often it was the poor who suffered - and injustice prevailed.  Today we see the growing threats of pollution, global warming, toxic dumps and numerous other environmental dangers.  Our author calls us once again to see the centrality of relationships, to understand that the way we relate to God, to each other, and to the earth is of one piece - we are interdependent and interconnected.  Thus creation care is at the heart of how we live out our lives as Christian disciples.

Please visit https://www.unitedmethodistwomen.org/ for more information about the work of the UMW throughout the world.  If you are interested in reading this book, please let us know.  Copies are available.

Jean Luker, Glenn UMW President and Environmental Committee member

General Conference: Some First Thoughts

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The General Conference has ended, but it isn’t over.  While we know that the Traditional Plan passed, with its goals of strengthening the ban on same-sex marriage and tightening the rules against the ordination of LGBTQ+ persons, we still don’t know until April how the Judicial Council will rule on the legality of the plan.

Below, I am sharing with you several links to information on the conference and its actions.  The truth is I’m still sorting through the details of it all myself.  Also, this Sunday, March 3, Mathew Pinson, who headed up our annual conference delegation, will share with us a bit in worship.

Now, we find ourselves in a time of flux, grief, uncertainty, and waiting.  And the truth is we’re all tired of waiting.  We’re wary of uncertainty and tired of watching folks we love excluded from the church’s rites and rights.  Today I also hurt for our wonderful seminary students and candidates for ministry, some of whom don’t know if they will be welcomed by the church they feel so deeply called to serve, and none of whom really know what will remain of our denomination when they are ready to take their places in pastoral ministry.  Please pray for them as well.

Emotions are jumbled, mixed, and raw.  So, what do we do?
We stay informed.
We support the cause of inclusion and love with our voices and our work (and explore possibilities for that work together).
We see to it that good and faithful folks represent us next year at General Conference and support them in their challenging work.
We watch and listen to see how the Holy Spirit will work through attentive and faithful servants and churches across our conference and denomination and how we can best be a part of it all. And, fundamentally, essentially, joyously, we continue to be the church God has called us to be.

Though the nations rage and the denomination quakes, we who are Glenn Memorial will do what we are called to do.  We’ll gather in worship and offer praises to the God of all that is, finding refreshment for our spirits.  We’ll invite our neighbors to worship with us and to study with us and to grow with us in the Spirit and truth of Jesus Christ.  And we will love with the here-and-now-Incarnate-nitty-gritty love of Christ, with the love that never ends, with the love that makes all things new, with the love that saves and heals.  We will love one another; we’ll love those who feel unloved by our denomination; and, yes, we’ll love our enemies.  It’s who we are.

If the people who are the church haven’t destroyed the church by now, this latest heartbreak won’t either.  God will work through faithful souls to bring the change God desires.  Jesus stands with those excluded and extends his nail-scarred hands to those who exclude.  The one who died on the cross rather than turn away from sinful humanity, the one raised by God—at whose name every knee will bow—that suffering servant will triumph over all foes (and sometimes even we are among those foes).

I wish all of us United Methodists (how ironic our name seems now) could simply be quiet for a moment and gather at the cross because at the cross there are no labels, no conservatives or progressives or moderates.  At the cross, no one is out and all are in.  At the cross, you’ll find only children, wayward and found, wondrously created and fully loved by God.  All are gathered in and all creation meets.  At the cross we are judged and forgiven; we die to be raised.  Kneeling there in as much humility as we can muster, I wish we would all confess our brokenness, our fear, our sins toward God and one another, and dive once more into God’s grace and mercy.  I wish we could start again.

Wishing doesn’t make it so, of course, but I know I need to go there, and I don’t believe I’ll be alone.

God is not done.  Christ lives and reigns.  And the Holy Spirit is working overtime.  Don’t quit.  The Good News is still good news.

In Christ,
Mark Westmoreland

Helpful General Conference 2019 Links:
For a summary of the plans presented at General Conference click HERE

For our North Georgia Annual Conference reports on General Conference click HERE

A message from Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson at the close of General Conference click HERE

For other reports from our United Methodist News Service click HERE

A statement from The Reconciling Ministries Network click HERE

For some secular reports on General Conference:
From the AJC
From NPR
From ABC News
From NBC News
From Fox News
From NY Times