Augusta District

 

Augusta District Newsletter, 5-1-18

1.  District Pre-Conference Briefing

3pm, May 20th, Macedonia UMC (Interstate 20, exit 165, one mile north)

2.  Annual Conference News and Notes – June 12-14

*Registration for Annual Conference is now live online: https://www.ngumc.org/eventdetail/annual-conference-2018-5433127

*Ordination Service, June 13th, 7pm, in the theater:

From Dr. Dana Everhart -

“It is our desire to have all the clergy of North Georgia surround these new sisters and brothers not only with our love but also our presence. Please pass the word that all clergy, licensed, commissioned, and ordained are invited to gather on Wednesday evening at 6:45 in the Pre-Function area overlooking the Atrium. We are asking all clergy to dress in robes if they wear robes, albs if they wear albs, other clergy vestments that they might wear on Sunday morning, any color is acceptable,  and those who don’t wear robes to come as you would on Sunday morning. All ordained clergy need to have on a red stole.  We will process with those to be honored and with the bishop this year. We will also sit right behind those to be licensed, commissioned, and ordained. We will surround them with love and support.   There is no registration for this.”

*The Wesleyan Renewal Movement invites all to a coffee gathering on Tuesday, June 12 at 7:30 am at the Classic Center for fellowship and a program including our guest speaker, Cara Nicklas. Cara is an accomplished attorney in Oklahoma City and she is an active UMC laywoman, lay leader of the Oklahoma Conference, and involved in many initiatives globally for our great church. Cara is a captivating and inspiring speaker and we would invite all to come and join us. There is no cost to attend this gathering and a love offering we be taken simply to defray the costs of the room and coffee. More details can be accessed at the Wesleyan Renewal Movement website and facebook page.

*The United Methodist Connectional Credit Union will be happy to meet everyone attending the North Georgia Annual Conference in June at the display tables in the Foundry building.  We want to say hi to our current members and bring awareness those not yet familiar with the UMC FCU’s connection with the United Methodist Church. Be sure to stop by and meet our courteous staff.  Please visit us online www.umcfcu.com

*The North Georgia United Methodist Ministers Fellowship is pleased to announce that our Annual Clark College Gammon Theological Seminary and Paine College (Clark Gammon Paine) Banquet will be held on Tuesday, June 12, 2018 at 5:00 pm (immediately after the close of the afternoon session) at the Classic Center in Athens, Georgia. 

The cost is $35.00 per person/$350 per table.

The Rev. Dr. Ken Walden, President/Dean of the Gammon Theological Seminary will be our guest speaker. 

Please purchase your tickets in advance to guarantee your seat.  Tickets are going fast. 

For tickets, call or contact:

Rev. Donald Reed                     770-471-7200

Rev. Emile Dennis                    404-519-4042

Rev. Michael Stinson               404-579-5277

Rev. Arundel Hope                   404-386-8007

3.  From Owen Skinner at Tucker First UMC:

Dear Faith Leader:

We are reaching out to members of faith communities in Georgia either working on or hoping to work on social justice issues.

As part of this initiative, we are hosting a Summit on May 25th in Atlanta at the Civil and Human Rights Museum.  This event is especially designed to engage our Faith-based Leaders, as we know that many community members come to you when they encounter legal issues. We want to hear from you and learn how we can better assist communities.  Please see the link below:

http://afptc.georgiacourts.gov/content/georgia-reflections-access-and-fairness-courts-summit-engaging-faith-community

4.  FYI - Housing Allowance Litigation Update

Nashville, TN / Glenview, IL—The Church Alliance filed an amicus curiae brief in the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals (Chicago) in the case challenging the constitutionality of the cash housing allowance exclusion for clergy. Wespath Benefits and Investments (Wespath) is a member of the Church Alliance, and the General Council on Finance and Administration (GCFA) joined the brief as an additional amicus.

The clergy housing allowance, commonly called “clergy housing exclusion,” stems from Internal Revenue Code Section §107(2). This Code Section excludes the value of clergy-owned housing from income taxation. 

In the case Annie Laurie Gaylor, Freedom From Religion Foundation et al v. Steve Mnuchin et al., the federal district court for the Western District of Wisconsin declared the tax-free housing allowance for clergy under Code §107(2) unconstitutional. On December 13, 2017, the district court entered its final order in the case, which directs the government to cease enforcing Code §107(2). However, the district court delayed the effect of the order until 180 days after the conclusion of all appeals. The government appealed to the Seventh Circuit in February.

“Wespath is committed to protecting the benefits of our participants. That’s why we are working with the Church Alliance, GCFA and other religious organizations to protect the compensation, retirement and housing of clergy across denominations,” said Barbara Boigegrain, chief executive of Wespath Benefits and Investments and chair of the Church Alliance. “If the clergy housing exclusion is ruled unconstitutional, clergy will find their financial well-being at risk, ultimately jeopardizing their retirement security.” 

The brief adds a perspective that is not duplicated in the government’s brief, focusing on the jurisprudential history of permitted legislative accommodations of religion. The brief argues that Code §107(2) is a constitutionally permitted accommodation of religion when viewed in the context of Code §107(1) (the exclusion for in-kind clergy housing, e.g., parsonage or manse) and Code §119, which excludes employer-provided housing from employees’ incomes in numerous secular circumstances.  In addition, the Church Alliance brief brings to the court’s attention the particularly strong reliance interests that would render a change in the law on this point inappropriate and unjust.

Moses Kumar, chief executive of the General Council on Finance and Administration, said, “One of GCFA’s primary responsibilities is to protect the legal rights and interests of The United Methodist Church, inclusive of its clergy.  The rights and interests of United Methodist clergy are of critical importance if, together, we ‘make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.’”

The Church Alliance is a coalition of the chief executive officers of 38 denominational benefit programs. It includes mainline and evangelical Protestant denominations, two branches of Judaism and Catholic dioceses, schools and institutions. The benefit programs provide retirement and health benefits to more than 1 million clergy, lay workers, and their family members. In addition to the 38 members of the Church Alliance and GCFA, a broad ecumenical array of other religious organizations joined the brief, including the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, the Salvation Army, the Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, and numerous organizations affiliated with the Jewish Conservative Movement or the Jewish Reform Movement. 

5. Attachments:  MissionU, Pastor’s School, District Calendar

6.  ACE2

ACE2 is a two year self-selected group for clergy to bond together, learn together, and to grow together.  Each group will design a customary plan to refresh self, church, and community through sharing best practices, gaining new tools, and exploring adaptive adventures for making new disciples. 

The groups would be any combination of 6-8 clergy in the following categories – full connection elders, full connection deacons, full time local pastors who have completed course of study, or clergy appointed to extension ministry.

To learn more, there will be informational meetings in May:

May 7 – Madison First UMC

May 8 – Sam Jones UMC

May 9 – Andrews Chapel UMC

May 10 – Buford First UMC

Registration at www.ngumc.org/ACE

$10 fee includes lunch.

Meetings are from 10am to 12:45pm each day. 

7.  Reminder - Blueprint for Wellness 

Now is the time for HealthFlex participants to complete their Blueprint for Wellness diagnostic screening. Schedule an appointment at a Quest Diagnostic facility between April 1 and July 31 or register for an on-site appointment during Annual Conference in Athens. 

By taking part in the Blueprint for Wellness, clergy and staff learn about their health, earn $100 PulseCash, and up to 120 Wellness Points (depending on your screening results) on your path to 150 Points (and $150 more in PulseCash). Participants will also receive personalized data on 30 health factors.

Screenings will be available at Annual Conference . Advance registration is strongly recommended for the on-site event and required for screening at Quest Diagnostics facility to avoid out-of-pocket costs.

Phone: 1-855-623-9355
Employer group: HealthFlex or United Methodist Church
Online: wespath.org > HealthFlex/WebMD > “Quest Blueprint for Wellness”  

8.  From the DS – 

I heard this old preacher story years ago; Max Lucado (In “The Eye of The Storm”) claims it first appeared in U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings (the magazine of the Naval Institute), told by Frank Koch. 

“Two battleships assigned to a training squadron that had been at sea on maneuvers in heavy weather for several days. I was serving on the lead battleship and was on watch on the bridge as night fell. The visibility was poor with patchy fog, so the captain remained on the bridge keeping an eye on all activities. 

Shortly after dark, the lookout on the wing reported, “Light, bearing on the starboard bow.”

“Is it steady or moving astern?” the captain called out.

The lookout replied, “Steady, Captain,” which meant we were on a dangerous collision course with that ship.

The captain then called to the signalman, “Signal that ship: ‘We are on a collision course, advise you to change course twenty degrees.'”

Back came the signal, “Advisable for you to change course twenty degrees”

The captain said, “Send: “I’m a captain, change course twenty degrees.'”

“I’m a seaman second-class,” came the reply. “You had better change course twenty degrees.”

By that time the captain was furious. He spat out, “Send: ‘I’m a battleship. Change course twenty degrees.'” 

Back came the flashing light, “I’m a lighthouse.” 

We changed course.” 

Authority means that we accept someone’s definition of reality…or we deny it.  Either way, we face the consequences.  If the lighthouse sends a message of danger, you can receive it as authoritative and change your course, or you can say, “I will run the risk that this message is wrong.”  Sometimes, you can steer on through and no one is harmed.  The authority was wrong!  But sometimes, the authority was right and you crash into hard reality.  Reality bites, you know.  

John Wesley was a solid Protestant of his day.  Wesley believed in the full authority of the Bible.  If they had T Shirts in John Wesley’s day, he would have had one with this slogan emblazoned on it: 

“To the Law and to the Testimony!” 

That phrase is taken from Isaiah 8:20, and Wesley purely loved that verse. 

Here are three instances of Wesley using it: 

From “A Plain Account of Christian Perfection:”

"I say yet again, beware of enthusiasm. Such is, the imagining you have the gift of prophesying, or of discerning of spirits, which I do not believe one of you has; no, nor ever had yet. Beware of judging people to be either right or wrong by your own feelings. This is no Scriptural way of judging. O keep close to `the law and to the testimony!'  

To a letter to Charles Wesley in 1747:

“To the law and to the testimony!” All men may err: but the word of the Lord shall stand forever. 

And from “A Letter to a Quaker:”

“Here there is a difference. The Scriptures are the touchstone whereby Christians examine all (real or supposed) revelations. In all cases they appeal to the law and to the testimony, and try every spirit thereby…. From these revelations of the Spirit of God to the saints, have proceeded the Scriptures of truth…” 

I wanted to place that phrase in its context, so I studied Isaiah 8.  Here it is from the New Living Translation: 

“The Lord has given me a strong warning not to think like everyone else does. He said, “Don’t call everything a conspiracy, like they do, and don’t live in dread of what frightens them. Make the Lord of Heaven’s Armies holy in your life. He is the one you should fear. He is the one who should make you tremble.  He will keep you safe. Preserve the teaching of God; entrust his instructions to those who follow me….Look to God’s instructions and teachings (KJV - “to the law and the testimony “)!  People who contradict His word are completely in the dark (NIV – “they have no light of dawn”).  They will go from one place to another, weary and hungry. And because they are hungry, they will rage and curse their king and their God. They will look up to heaven and down at the earth, but wherever they look, there will be trouble and anguish and dark despair. They will be thrown out into the darkness.” 

John Oswalt, in his magisterial commentary in Isaiah, wrote this:  “For apart from the recorded Word of God any light Christianity has is but darkness.  So this was a favorite phrase of John Wesley’s as he sought to implement his dictum that every teaching must be tested by Scripture.  This is still true.  Unless the Christian church can agree that the Bible, as it stands, is the very Word of God, it is without consensus, authority, or light….if there is such a Word, then to refuse to live by it is to condemn oneself to a night from which there is no morning.” 

Yours for the Kingdom, 

Terry Fleming

Augusta District Superintendent

PO Box 204600
Augusta, GA  30907

Office:  706-651-8621

Fax:  706-651-8622

Cell:  678-447-6034 

"Jesus is not coming back for the buildings." - Anon.

 

 

District Superintendent


Terry Fleming
(706) 651-8621
terry.fleming@ngumc.net
View Bio

Administrative Assistant

Tina Lancaster
(706) 651-8621
agst@ngumc.net

Contact Information

Office Address:
3332 West Cliffe Court
Augusta, GA 30907

Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 204600
Augusta, GA 30917

(706) 651-8621 Phone
(706) 651-8622 Fax

agst@ngumc.net
http://www.ngumc.org/agst