Clergy Appreciation Month: Clergy Do That?
Clergy Do That?
October is Clergy Appreciation Month and the North Georgia Conference has approximately 1,300 reasons (and people) to celebrate. North Georgia clergy serve in local churches, as chaplains, as missionaries, as campus ministers, in hospitals, in our related agencies, and beyond. This month we will lift up a few who are doing something inspiring, have a unique talent, or who you might just want to get to know!
We asked some clergy to share their hobbies with us.
Tonya Lawrence is a Swimmer
Rev. Tonya Lawrence focuses on church vitality and call in her role as Associate Director of Connectional Ministries. She has also been a swimmer since she was a little girl.
When did you start swimming?
I started swimming when I was 3 years old. My dad was a lifeguard; he taught my brothers and me when we were really young. I loved swimming from the beginning. I remember looking at the older kids who were already advanced and swimming in the deep end of the pool and thinking “I can’t wait to do that!” I still thank parents for teaching me to swim because I love it so much.
What is your favorite part about it?
Swimming is sanctuary for me. It is my escape. The pool is where I go to work on a sermon, and collect my thoughts. It is where I commune with God.
Sometimes while I am in the pool, I get approached by people who ask if I would offer them swimming lessons. Even though I do not teach anymore, I still give tips to others while we are in the pool.
Does it help you in your ministry in anyway?
My dad loved to swim. He passed that on to me. I love it too. I learned to swim well, then became a lifeguard so that I could in turn teach others how to swim. Understanding how my father passed the love and knowledge onto me, helps me to understand how faith love for Jesus can be shared
Learning how to swim gives me a framework for how people develop and grow in their faith.
Carol Scroggs is a Twilight Twirler
Rev. Carol Scroggs is a retired elder serving Concord and Zebulon UMCs in the Griffin District. Many know her for her long service as an Associate Secretary of Annual Conference, where she lends her photography skills. But you might not know about her baton twirling!
How did you become a Twilight Twirler?
In December 2003, Children’s Healthcare was using the facilities at Atlanta First UMC to stage the Festival of Trees Christmas parade. I was designated as the staff representative to work with the parade officials. While I answered questions and gave directions, I met a group of energetic women from Marietta who were in the parade. These women were over 50 years of age and called themselves the Twilight Twirlers. As I inquired about the group, I discovered they were fulfilling a lifelong dream of becoming baton twirlers. They were retired teachers, grandmothers, mothers, teachers, counselors, and artists. The twirling experience of these women ranged from college to high school to never picking up a baton. They had marched in the WSB Salute to America parade, Children’s Healthcare Festival of Trees parade, local parades, and featured on Good Morning America.
Why does being a part of this group mean so much to you?
I had wanted to be in the marching band and a majorette at my high school. Now 40 years later my aspirations were to become a reality. Over the course of five years I would perfect my twirling skills, make new friends, march in parades in two states, hearing church members cheer me along the parades routes, appearing on television, and meeting celebrities.
Has being a part of the Twilight Twirlers effected your ministry?
The women have battled cancer, faced surgery, celebrated marriages and births, and suffered injuries over the years. They turned to me for pastoral care in these times. In fact, it was always a topic of conversation that a minister was a twilight twirler. My plans to become a part of this group didn’t involve taking on the role of a minister. I just wanted to pursue a dream.
Carol, a founding member, approached me about being the officiant at the wedding of her daughter. It was a beautiful ceremony and the twirlers were in attendance to celebrate in this joyous occasion. When Carol died from a brain tumor six months later, the family requested that I help plan and conduct her memorial service. A year later Mary Ann asked if I would officiate at her son’s interfaith wedding.
Herzen Andone is a Fisherman
Rev. Herzen Andone is the Director of Connectional Ministries. Many have heard him share his singing and guitar-playing talents, but did you know he is also a great fisherman?
When did you start fishing?
I have been fishing since age 6.
What do you enjoy most about it?
What I love about fishing is that regardless of whether I'm on a mountain stream, on a lake or on the ocean, I am reminded that creation reflects the very loving nature of God.
Has maintaining this hobby helped you in your ministry in any way?
Fishing invites me to breathe, to wait patiently with hope and expectation.
What are some of your favorite “fishing stories”?
When I was a senior in high school, living in Pensacola, Florida, we went out on the lagoon on a cold morning. I was with my dad and brother, as well as my dad’s friend and his son. We get in the boat and the start won’t catch. It was the perfect October day on the Gulf, and we’re sitting there about for 4 or 5 hours, cranking and cranking and it still won’t catch. Finally, a little after lunch, it starts. We sit there for a second and wonder if we should even go out at all, but we decide to out anyway. Soon, we see this big blob floating beneath the water, about the size of a football. We figure it has to be fish so we drop our lines in and in no time our reels start to bend, and you hear that exciting screeching sound of the real being stripped of its line. We quickly realize that we happened upon a school of huge, Bull Reds, 20-30 pounds each. Within 30 minutes the floor of the boat is covered with these giant fish.
That story has always stuck with me because there are always those moments as a fisherman when you wonder if it’s even worth it to go out, but you might be surprised by what you might catch. Grace works the same way.
More recently, I remember fishing with my dad and brother. We’re floating in a canoe, and at one point all three of us have a fish on the line. My brother and I are laughing, having a good time with our dad. When we get back to the house, my dad tells my mom that in that moment we were little kids again, laughing and fishing together in that boat.