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

Still

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

 Children’s Sabbath is...

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From Bethany Eyrich - who WAS a kid @ Glenn and now is the proud parent of two kids @ Glenn:  Children’s Sabbath is...

Children’s Sabbath is scary. Scary because it can be intimidating to stand in front of hundreds of people to sing or read scripture. Scary because, even though we practice, we never quite know what the children will say or do in the moment. Scary because when you’ve worked on a sermon or a joke, you never know how it will go over until the delivery.
 
Children’s Sabbath is a lot of work. Years of teaching Bible stories, weeks of learning songs and practicing instruments, hours of planning and writing a sermon, a children’s sermon, a prayer. Careful preparations to figure out the flow of each element of the worship service and where and when bodies move.
 
Children’s Sabbath is lively. Parades (or the more proper “processions”) through the sanctuary with pompoms. Balloons decorating the sanctuary. Lots of movement of bodies large and small – often bouncing or skipping rather than just walking. Laughter accompanying jokes as the kids express their delight at being in charge.
 
Children’s Sabbath is refreshing. Beaming faces remind us of the joy it is to participate in worship by singing, collecting offering, reading scripture, serving communion, welcoming people, and even smiling and waving goodbye as people go out into the world filled with the messages calling them to love in word and action.
 
Children’s Sabbath is tradition. We teach our children our traditions. We teach them the stories and the creeds and the songs that are familiar to us and they join in, sensing the magic and peace that can come from traditions. Young and old, side by side they serve communion as it has been done for thousands of years, speaking the same words Jesus taught us. We also give them room to put their own spin on traditions to make their own.
 
Children’s Sabbath is a testament. Children share the message of love they have been taught through Sunday School, choir, and participating in worship with their families. Children read sacred words for us to hear. Children think deeply about the scripture and share their insights, giving us fresh ways to think about our actions and words.
 
Children’s Sabbath is important. It is important to remind ourselves that our children are watching what we do and say. It is important for them to know that their mistakes or imperfect words are received with love, not ridicule. It is important to give them a foundation on which to build their faith. It is important to give them a voice to express their own faith and questions. It is important to give them a chance to lead us and that we trust them to lead us.
 
Children’s Sabbath is filled with joy, laughter, song, reverence, and love.

If you missed it - or want to watch again - check out the photos and videos on our Glenn UMC Facebook!

Wrath Turned Away

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An interesting thing happened on Twitter last week.[1]

I’ve followed the actor/comedian Patton Oswalt for a few months now and, while I personally[2] think he could tone down his profanity, I also find him amusing and quite insightful.  Following one of Oswalt’s posts insulting President Trump (rather profanely), a man named Michael Beatty, a Trump supporter, replied by insulting Oswalt.  In a familiar social-media pattern, Oswalt responded with another joke, and a lot of Oswalt’s fans then piled on earnestly and angrily.  Such is life on social media.

Then it all took a strange[3] turn.

Oswalt could have moved along.  I mean it’s social media, where one expects to be trolled and where the life expectancy of any conversation is less than three-score and ten characters.[4]  But Oswalt didn’t move on.  He lingered and, looking back through some of Beatty’s earlier tweets, learned that the Vietnam veteran had recently been hospitalized for diabetes-related sepsis.  Faced with a $5,000 healthcare debt, Beatty had set up a GoFundMe page.  Again, Oswalt could have moved on, and no one would have been the wiser, but, again, gloriously, he didn’t.

Oswalt immediately made a $2,000 donation for Beatty and invited others to do the same.  Beatty has been “dealt some [bad] cards — let's deal him some good ones. Click and donate — just like I'm about to," Oswalt tweeted. Within 24 hours, donations stood at $35,000,[5] and currently the fund is at more than $47,000.[6]

The dollars are great, but the actual human interaction is even better.  Beatty responded to Oswalt’s tweet and gift with another tweet of his own: "Patton. You have humbled me to the point where I can barely compose my words. You have caused me to take pause and reflect on how harmful words from my mouth could result in such an outpouring."[7]

What Oswalt did was big, really big, biblically big, even.  There’s something divine and miraculous in it.  Oswalt chose a path that stretches back through millennia and miles, through Jerusalem and Galilee.  It’s been around pretty much forever, but it’s always surprising.

It’s grace.  And it’s a strange and powerful force.

It’s also a choice.  Sure, snark[8] begets snarkiness, but grace also begets graciousness.[9]  We can volley our cleverness back and forth and never engage the human being across the way, or we can “pause and reflect” and discern in the other the image of God.  Patton Oswalt paused, reflected, AND acted.  He made a beautiful choice and set loose the grace that can transform and heal.  I’m going to guess that sometime today, or maybe tomorrow, you and I will have a chance to do the same.[10]

In Christ, Rev. Mark Westmoreland


[1] OK, just how often something interesting happens on Twitter is a matter of debate, but this, in my humble opinion (and my opinion is all that really matters on social media, right?), was definitely interesting and even, dare I say, hopeful.

[2] See footnote 1 for my very perceptive comment about what really matters on social media.

[3] By social-media standards

[4] See Psalm 90:10 (KJV) for the source of my very clever biblical allusion.  See footnote 1 again for why I can call it very clever.

[5] From CBS News (https://www.cbsnews.com/news/patton-oswalt-twitter-troll-gofundme-30000-blade-trinity-michael-beatty/)

[6] https://www.gofundme.com/help-after-sepsis-and-hospital-plus-recovery

[7] Did you notice the words?  “You have caused me to take pause and reflect,” Beatty wrote.  Wow.  Pausing is good; reflecting is even better; but put the two together and you’ve got something beautiful.

[8] On “snark”: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/snark

[9] “Grace begets graciousness” are words I first heard from Dr. Fred Craddock.  You’ve already heard them from me here a couple of times, and I promise you will hear them many more times.

[10] For an even 10 footnotes: I invite you to take a moment and enjoy Patton Oswalt at his best, improvising a few years ago during a guest appearance on “Parks and Recreation.”  He plays a citizen filibustering during a city council meeting.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JYNDssdsVnM

 

'Twas the Week After Christmas

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‘Twas the week after Christmas, and all through the land

I guess some were still joyful, but my life was quite bland.

Weeks and weeks to get ready, then in one it’s all done.

No wonder so many think the season’s no fun.

 

I hung decorations all around with great care,

but what goes up must come down and be taken somewhere.

And though I am careful, and really quite able,

evergreen needles will be found till late April.

 

I received lots of cards, but the prettiest by far

came from the gouging old guy who fixes my car.

It has a flag and a manger and Santa there kneeling.

“It’s time for an oil change,” the old elf says with feeling.

 

The card from my grandmother stirred a few sniffles,

but my old college friend wrote six pages of drivel.

(Her daughter’s a genius, her son strong and tall;

her family’s so perfect, I get sick from it all.)

 

Maybe it was me or maybe the season,

but I was feeling quite blue, whatever the reason.

The bills will come in before the tree’s even out!

Something was missing; of that there’s no doubt.

 

But wait!  What’s this?  One more card in the pile—

I was about to add it to the circular file.

But this one caught my eye on this day.

It stopped me and told me it had something to say.

 

The words leapt from the page and gave me a start.

They flew ‘round the room, then straight to my heart.

“Hope,” “joy,” “good will,” “peace,” “love” and “God’s Grace”--

For the first time all week I found a smile on my face.

 

The words gathered themselves and told me a story.

As I read, they sang of God’s wonder and glory.

They told of young Mary and her new baby boy;

they sang of shepherds and angels and good news of great joy.

 

Then there in the refuse of a Christmas just passed,

I discovered the heart of the season at last.

Emmanuel, they call him—“God with us,” it means—

at New Year and Christmas and times in-between.

 

And wonder is found when we share that good news,

whether at work or at play or on Sunday in pews.

God’s love comes to all in Mary’s young boy,

and his love is our hope, and his hope is our joy.

 

And that joy is reason to love and to share,

to notice a neighbor and show that we care,

to offer the gift not bought in a store.

When we get it and give it, we get even more.

 

So, my wishes for you through bad gifts and good,

through all the bills and the stuff underfoot,

through all the ads and the cheesy best wishes,

through all the heartburn and reheated dishes:

 

A Merry Christmas today, Merry Christmas tomorrow.

Merry Christmas in joy, in laughter, in sorrow.

Love is the good news and kindness the song.

Sing it and share it the whole year long.

 

 

In Christ,
Mark Westmoreland

Have A Green, Green Christmas

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By BETTY BENTLEY WATSON for the Glenn Environmental Committee

Making those Lists…..

‘Tis the season of Lists! List-making begins for me at Thanksgiving, with a mental tally of what I’ll say as we each share what we are especially thankful for this year, my favorite ritual of the family Thanksgiving table. Every year, the seasons surprise me, and I marvel at nature’s colors – and this year, breathe an earnest thanks that global warming has not (yet?) destroyed the seasons.

So, as a member of the Glenn Environmental Committee, my next list must be “How to Have a Green Christmas!” Here’s a start:

• Swap out old Christmas tree lights for LED light strings, use candles or solar powered decorations where possible

• Feast on a more plant-based diet and eat less meat (especially, cut out or cut down on beef consumption)

• Compost food waste through Compost Now or otherwise

• Consider electronic holiday cards instead of paper; make sure that actual cards are from recycled paper and are further recyclable

• Use natural decorations indoors and out (less electricity, more recyclables)

• Decorate a living Christmas tree – and then plant it

• When giving lotions and potions, go organic and natural, avoid troublesome ingredients (Here's a list)

• Buy the most earth-friendly version of gifts available – consider materials, ingredients, packaging, whether it can be re-used or recycled, whether it’s made locally

• Give presents in reusable fabric bags instead of using wrapping paper or paper bags

• Recycle all shipping boxes, packaging materials, and gift wrap

• Recycle the Christmas tree AND wreath! Florists love to get used wire wreath frames!

And what about those gifts?? Here’s a list of Green gift ideas:

• A month ($29 to $35) or more of composting service from Compost Now

• Vegetarian or vegan cookbooks

• Vegetarian restaurant gift cards

• Snazzy stainless steel or glass water bottles and food containers (avoid plastic!)

• Sheets, towels, wooden products - anything made with bamboo (it gobbles carbon!)

• Organic and unbleached cotton products

• A gift that takes the lucky recipient outdoors

• A clothes drying rack

• Home Depot/Lowe’s gift card for LED light bulbs (not just for the holidays)

• Plant a tree! Check out the options at Trees Atlanta

• A home energy audit

• A selection from the Glenn Alternative Giving Catalog

• Mechanical or other timers for lights; motion-based light switches or controls

• An experience, adventure, or class, instead of more “stuff”

• Stainless steel or glass straws

• Low-flow showerheads or faucets

• The gift of time – pledge to do errands, cook meals, or just spend time with your friend or loved one

• A rain barrel

• “Upcycled” clothing, jewelry, etc., made from re-purposed materials

• Reusable and washable fabric tote bags/grocery bags (Trader Joe’s has great prices)

• A smart thermostat for your home or office

• An electric or regular bicycle or scooter

• A vacation by train or boat (instead of by plane)

• An electric plug-in vehicle or a hybrid electric/gas car (give this one to yourself!)

• Something made by YOU!

The ultimate gift of love in the person and the life of Jesus was the simplest and most powerful gift. As we love God and our neighbors, friends, and family this season, we remember that giving of ourselves is the most treasured and needed gift of all.

So what’s the point of a Green Christmas? The Earth is here for all of us, and when we reduce our carbon footprint on Earth, we share its bounties with others in a more fair and equitable way. The news tells us that climate change is coming on stronger and sooner, with disastrous consequences for many, many people. We can love all people by being kinder to the Earth. Even small efforts and practices add up to reverse global warming, by your actions and your example to others. Check out www.drawdown.org and see.

Now for that New Year’s Resolution List. Why not join the Glenn Environmental Committee for a greener 2019? We have a lot of fun and we are broadening our creation care impact considerably - join us, for your own sake and for others’! Contact Lynn Speno and we’ll see you in January.

Annual Thanksgiving Audit

As you prepare for this time of Thanksgiving, please complete the following information in full. Read the full directions below before beginning.

"I hope you have a very Happy Thanksgiving. Reflect on your blessings and give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love." -Rev. Mark Westmoreland

Name
Name
The last name is important. It expresses your heritage. There are history and identity in that name. First and middle names are important. When you were baptized, those names were spoken. Were you named for someone? Is there a legacy attached to your name? What does your name say about you?
Where do you live? How are you shaped by the place you call home? Where else have you lived? List here all the places you are glad you've lived and the places you're glad you've left behind. Also add: "the embrace of a loving God." That's a pretty good place to live.
Not your phone number, but the people you are glad you can phone. Who are the ones you count on? Who are the ones you NEED to call before this year ends or maybe even before this day ends?
We'll answer this one for you, first write down "present." You live in the present age, not yesterday, not tomorrow, but now. Also write here the number of years you have been on the earth. Multiply that by the moments of awe and revelation, of beauty and love, of heartbreak, lessons, and joy. Multiply the years by your experiences of God's grace.
The people who make you who you are, the ones you live with either in your home or your heart. With some you share DNA; with others, you share memories, trust, and love.
God has chosen to affiliate with you in Jesus Christ, who shares your humanity, joy, and pain. Look into the depths of your soul and find the image of God. Consider the lightness of forgiveness, the weight of communion and the power of the Spirit to create you anew. Your church, by the way, should have been listed on line 5.
Using no numbers or dollar signs, record those things of value to you. Ex: smiling faces, your garden, a box of old photos, a joke a friend told you last week, the touch of a small hand in yours, etc.
How do you employ your time? With what do you fill your days? What gives your joy? How can you allow God to employ you for His kingdom?
From whom do all blessings flow? Also, who in your life has given you knowledge, joy, support, care or an ability you cherish?
Look at line 9. All those debts can only be repaid by sharing yourself with someone else, by giving of yourself from the one from whom all blessings flow.

The Hidden Costs of Cheap Clothes

Green Notes from the Environmental Committee

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From fast food to “fast fashion,” we Americans are addicted to cheap prices and throw-away goods.

Apparel is the second largest consumer sector, after food, and according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average family spends $1700, or 3.5% of annual household income on clothes.  Costs have fallen, and consumer buying continues upward--we buy about 70 pounds of clothing a year, or the equivalent of 200 men’s T-shirts (and 94% are imported). Then, on average, we discard nearly 70 pounds of clothing and other textiles each year, according to the EPA.

Ten million tons of discarded clothes and textiles tossed in U.S. landfills every year damage the environment. Even more serious harm is done in fiber production, dyeing, and manufacturing processes.  Cotton growing in particular, uses astounding amounts of water, weed killer, and pesticides.

Cheap prices we pay for clothes do not reflect environmental costs of textile and apparel manufacturing, or health costs to workers in other countries. Groundwater for farming and drinking water are being polluted in many towns in southern India.  Significantly higher than normal occurrences of certain cancers in China appear to be caused by the harmful “micro-environments” ( factories) in which Chinese workers produce millions of cheap items Americans buy.

Unintended consequences

It’s hard for us as consumers to understand what harm we are doing when we take advantage of super buys from retailers in our country.  Most of us would not intentionally harm others. Yet the prices we pay for new cheap clothes do not provide a living wage for workers, many of whom are children, who labor long hours, in unsafe conditions.  The prices we pay do not provide for environmental clean-up of waters and soils polluted by textile production processes. Most importantly, the prices we pay do not provide for healthcare of overseas workers who get sick from unhealthy factory conditions and drinking water tainted by textile dyes from factories near their homes.

Global competition in the garment industry engenders poor working conditions for many laborers in developing nations.  In Bangladesh, a child laborer works for 10 hours a day to earn the equivalent of one U.S. dollar. Some Chinese workers make as little as 12-18 cents per hour.

What can we do?

Thrift stores are good for recycling clothing, but they represent a tiny fraction of total sales--less than five percent of the market for new goods.  Most donated clothes eventually are baled, shipped, and sold to impoverished countries. On Good Neighbor Day, we learned that stained and torn textiles can be taken to CHaRM, the Center for Hard-to-Recycle Materials (http://livethrive.org/charm/items-accepted)

By some estimates, 60% of the energy used in the life cycle of a cotton T-shirt is consumed in our homes--washing and drying at high temperatures.  As consumers, we can “go green” by using detergents that work well at lower temperatures, air-drying instead of machine-drying, extending the usable life of clothes, buying fewer and more durable garments, and recycling into the used clothing market.

There are many organizations striving to improve conditions of workers and protect the environment.  Here are just a few:

  • The Clean Clothes Campaign

  • The Ecumenical Council for Corporate Responsibility

  • The Ethical Trading Initiative

  • The United Methodist Church: Social Principles, Rights of Workers, Para. 163B, C


This is an update to an article which appeared in The Change Agent, an adult education journal, Sept. 2010.  -Jan Lichtenwalter

What a Difference a Day Makes

Does it really matter? When we take a look at injustice, poverty, loneliness, homelessness, oppression, hunger, and other problems it can seem that they are insurmountable; that it would take too much time and more work than we are capable of to solve these problems. The idea of something like Good Neighbor Day, Glenn’s annual day of service, can seem like a raindrop on a forest fire. What difference can one day of service possibly make in the midst of such gargantuan issues?

The truth is — a lot!

At Action Ministries, 257 families will receive needed food boxes because of the work of children, youth and adults. An efficient assembly line of service kept things moving as volunteers from Glenn worked hard to make sure these boxes were filled and ready!

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At Habitat for Humanity, a home was finished and one family will now have a secure place to live thanks to the time and effort of people from Glenn (as well as three other churches). Glenn has now been a part of creating a home for 28 families in Atlanta, making a difference in their lives for years to come.

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The work of the environmental committee, scouts, and others at Peavine Creek made a difference in the health and usability of this beautiful area. By cleaning and working to restore the bank of the creek, they are making a difference in the ecosystem and the community.

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At Intown Collaborative Ministries, a group of volunteers worked in the food pantry to sort food and serve those in need. Because of their work, ICM will be able to give assistance and hope to more people in our community.

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At Clairmont Place, people ranging in age from 9 months into their 90s sang songs and brought joy into each others’ lives. They reminded each other of the important role all of us play and that we need each other to fully be the church.

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Volunteers at the Women’s Community Kitchen cleaned ovens, scrubbed sinks, organized closets, and did the kind of behind-the-scenes work that is seldom recognized, but is crucial to the success of that ministry. Hundreds of women receive food and hope each week through the WCK, and the volunteers and staff showed up on Monday to a cleaner, easier-to-use facility as they continue the great work they are doing!

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And last, but not least, Glenn members and Grady High School students brought joy and a little bit of competition to the bingo games at Branan Towers assisted living facility. They joined the residents to laugh, play, and learn from each other.

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I don’t know if the world was changed on a global scale last Saturday, but I do know that people’s lives were changed, and organizations were better equipped to continue their work, because of the people of Glenn Church.

So a great big “THANKS” goes out to everyone who participated in Good Neighbor Day. And if you missed it, don’t worry, there’s still plenty of work to do!

Rev. Brent Huckaby
Minister for Worship and Missions

Good Neighbor Day 2018

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It’s almost here!!! For quite a few years the first Saturday after Labor Day has been a special day at Glenn. While we are a church that seeks to serve our community year around, on this day, we make a concerted effort as a community to go outside the walls of Glenn to show love and care to people all over Atlanta. 

We call it Good Neighbor Day!                       

This year we have a number of opportunities to serve. No matter your skill level, ability, or talents, you can come and be a blessing to someone in our community. There are opportunities in the morning and afternoon, for kids and adults, from a one-hour commitment to all day! There’s only one thing missing: you!

Below are some detailed descriptions of each project. Find the one (or ones!) that fit you and your family best and sign up. Then invite friends to join you as we take God’s love into our community together.

This Year’s Projects:

7:00 a.m. - Habitat for Humanity Build

Join us on the last Saturday of our annual Habitat for Humanity Build. We’ll put finishing touches on the house and have a dedication ceremony around noon. Meet at Youth & Activities Bldg to ride church bus. This group will return late afternoon. Lunch provided. Age 16 & up. 

Leader: Jennifer Scott-Ward

9:00 a.m. - Peavine Creek Restoration (Helping clear and prepare bank for restoration)

Join Glenn Church's Good Neighbor Day volunteers as we inventory the native trees and bushes along Peavine Creek in Emory Village. Saturday, September 8, 2018 9 a.m. to noon, Panera Parking Lot. Please park in Emory lots or the Glenn Church YAAB on North Decatur Road. This long-neglected creek at the foot of the hill leading to Emory Village and Glenn Memorial United Methodist Church is overdue for some public love. The effort by Glenn's Environmental Committee, Emory Village Alliance, Druid Hills neighbors, elected officials and the South Fork Conservancy will begin to save the native trees and remove invasive vines smothering access to the creek. Bring gloves (clippers optional); wear closed-toe shoes that can get wet. Cub & Boy Scouts families encouraged. No age minimum. 

Leader: Michael Black

9:00 a.m. - BreakThru House Residential Recovery Program

As the first long-term residential recovery program for women in Georgia, Breakthru House is specially designed to meet the unique needs of women struggling with drug and alcohol addiction. Since its founding in 1969, Breakthru House’s founding principle has remained constant: Physical, emotional and spiritual healing through recovery is possible when each woman’s treatment program is designed to meet her individual needs. Projects include painting and administrative tasks. Meet at BreakThru House (866 Eastfield St. Decatur, GA 30032). 

Leader: Nancy Reinhold

9:30 a.m. - Food Boxes packing at Action Ministries with SPARK Kids

Come to Action Ministries with us as we pack food boxes to be distributed to those in need. This is a great way to learn about food insecurity and help eradicate hunger in our area. Meet at Youth & Activities Bldg to carpool/ride church bus. Will return by 12:30pm. SPARK Kids (4th & 5th graders) and parents encouraged for this project but all are invited. Age 6 & up. 

Leader: Kevin Lazarus

10:00 a.m. - Field Day at The Lakes at Indian Creek

An annual tradition for our youth! This year we’ll be traveling to the Lakes at Indian Creek in Clarkston (an apartment complex we previously visited during Intown Mission Week). We’ll have a morning of fun with games, face paint, and snacks with the residents then head back to the YAAB for lunch. Meet at YAAB at 10 a.m. and come ready to have fun. 

Leader: Blair Setnor

10:00 a.m. - Intown Collaborative Ministries Food Pantry

ICM provides assistance in a variety of ways to those who are homeless or struggling to make ends meet. Glenn partners with their food pantry and in other ways throughout the year. On GND we’ll be helping with the weekly food pantry distribution. Meet at the ICM Food Pantry (Druid Hills Presbyterian Church, 1026 Ponce de Leon Ave, Atlanta). Ages 10 & up. Will finish by 1:30 p.m. 

Leader: Shelby Roberts

10:45 a.m. - Sing-a-long at Clairmont Place Retirement Community

Always a fun time of fellowship and music with the residents of Clairmont Place. Meet at Clairmont Place (2100 Clairmont Lake, Decatur) and we will finish by 12 p.m. Babies/children with adults most welcome! 

Leader: John Wiley

12:45-3:15 p.m. - Women's Community Kitchen

There are teams from Glenn that serve at the Women’s Community Kitchen throughout the year. This is a ministry that offers hot meals to those who need them throughout the week. On GND we will be helping to clean and organize the kitchen to help them better serve the 100’s of women each week. Meet at the YAAB to carpool and/or take church buses to Action Ministries.

Leader: Diane Bryant

1:30-3:30 p.m. - Crafts and Games at Branan Towers Retirement Community

Bring board games or decks of cards to engage and play with the residents of Branan Towers. We’ll be making crafts as well! Youth who want to meet at the church at 1pm (following field day) can rid the bus to Branan Towers and will return by 4 p.m. Everyone else meet at Branan Towers Retirement Community, 1200 Glenwood Ave, SE, Atlanta, GA 30316. No age minimum. 

Leader: Mary Carter Van Atta

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Glenn Basketball

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In 2010, I tentatively stepped onto the old, uneven floor of Glenn’s Youth and Activities Building. It was my first day coaching, and I was terrified. At the seasoned age of 29, I feared I was too old to relate; I’d be found an imposter. I was moments from judgment by the fiercest predators on the Earth: a group of sarcastic high school boys.

Thankfully, they showed me mercy and let me coach without much harassment. They’ve only (openly) laughed at me twice that I recall. Once for my out-of-date basketball shoes and the other for a sleeveless t-shirt that was now much too small as I was in denial about my post-college weight gain. 

I couldn’t have been happier with that group of young men. Now, eight years later, I’ve coached 12 teams both of middle school and high school players. I have coached both young men who were great at basketball and young men who just wanted to run up and down the court with their friends, cracking jokes. I have enjoyed all of it, and each year, I am amazed that they would again welcome me as their coach and let me share the game of basketball with them.

Some people see church family at worship services in the sanctuary -- I see God’s love in the perfectly executed outlet pass arcing through the air, the result of an unselfish decision from a teenager. I see church family in the community these players form and in their celebration and encouragement of one another. I see God’s love in the hard work they put in together. I see the church family in their learning, their respect for the referees, in their perseverance, and in their love of one another and the game.

I love coaching at Glenn because I get to work with some absolutely wonderful and talented youth who are kind enough to let me teach them about basketball. I love coaching at Glenn because I get to watch these young people mature into fine adults. I love coaching at Glenn because it is here where I see and experience God’s love.

Also, winning four championships in the past six years is pretty nice.

Are you interested in coaching Glenn basketball this year? If so, contact Rev. Blair Setnor. Registration for Glenn Hoops opens for Glenn members this coming Monday, August 28th. Community registration opens September 3rd! 

Shane Setnor
A Glenn Basketball Coach

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