Atlanta Emory District

 

As I write this, it is the day after heavy rains.  The pollen has been washed away (again), the air seems clean, the haze in the sky is diminished and the clear blue shows brightly.  Are there more birds singing and nesting this spring?  More chipmunks scurrying around?  Or have we just slowed down enough to really notice?  In the woods behind my house I hear owls every evening.  Not just one but several.  Maybe having so many of Mother Earth’s human children in quarantine really is a respite for the environment.

As much as we want to see each other face to face, be together, celebrate milestones like graduations, weddings, birthdays, confirmations and lives that have passed into heaven, we will likely be called on to wait a while longer.

People are still becoming infected with the COVID-19 and people continue to die.  Public health officials report that the numbers are beginning to go down.  We are looking for a steady 2-week decline, that has not yet happened.  Staying home, with only essential people working (praise and prayers for our frontline health care workers, first responders and essential business employees) is flattening the curve.  YOU are flattening the curve by doing the hard, adaptive, creative work of being the church online in worship and discipleship, in giving, in checking in on neighbors and family, and in volunteering where safe and beneficial to do so.  Thank you, Church, for loving one another and our wider communities enough not to be physically together.  Do not grow weary in this.  If God can overcome death itself, God can strengthen and encourage us now until it is safe to be together.

I saw a social media meme that read, “So far 2020 is like looking both ways before crossing the road and then getting hit by an airplane.”  Sometimes (usually) life does not go as we plan.  But we do know that God has a plan for us as written in Jeremiah 29:11:  “I know the plans I have in mind for you, declares the Lord; they are plans for peace, not disaster, to give you a future filled with hope.”  We continue to make plans, endeavoring always to be Christ-like with one another, seeking glimpses of God’s presence with and among us in this wondrous and sometimes scary creation.

With God’s gracious help, as we make our plans and hope for better days, may we continue to live into and trust God’s plans for us today and always.

Grace and peace,
Jane

Jane Newman Brooks
 

Message from Bishop and Cabinet

View this email in your browser

 

Dear Clergy,
 
As we consider President Trump’s plea to open churches soon, the Cabinet and I ask you all prayerfully to consider the question, “Are we prepared to open in a way that makes our church campus as safe as possible?” rather than “Are we going to open simply because we can?”
 
Set forth on the Conference website are the suggestions we gave you previously as steps that are necessary for a responsible opening. It is critically important that, before you gather, you have a plan in place, obtain the supplies you'll need, and train folks to enact the plan.
 
We do not see ourselves as those charged with issuing edicts about opening from on high. We see ourselves as pastors whose first obligation is to do no harm. We also are all too aware that church gatherings have resulted in some of the most severe spread of the disease. We do not want even one United Methodist to get sick, die, or infect others because they chose to go to church.
 
We have a task force of music directors and worship leaders at work to offer us their recommended guidelines next week. We anticipate that they will recommend that there be no choirs or congregational singing because singing groups are “super-spreaders” that greatly increase the spread of the COVID virus. That insight will be helpful to all of our planning.
 
We are also aware that there are several COVID hot spots within the boundaries of our North Georgia Conference, and that it is too early to ascertain if there will be a spike in cases caused by the re-opening of Georgia. We still think it prudent to wait until after June 22 to open so that we are more sure of the trends and the prevalence of the disease.
 
We recommend that even after June 22, those who are at high risk (underlying conditions, immunologically suppressed, and/or over 65yrs) avoid any public gathering and instead continue to worship online or at drive-in worship. We are also concerned about clergy who are at higher risk, and ask their parishioners to continue to worship in a way that does not put them at greater risk.
 
Finally, we know that, as followers of Christ, you are committed to doing what is best for the body of Christ. Sometimes watching out for the greater good means letting go of our own personal preferences. We trust that you will do what is necessary to best protect yourselves and others in your faith community. 
 
We pledge to continue to give you advice that balances safety with freedom to gather. We continue to consult with medical experts and will give you the best advice available to ensure health and safety. We appreciate your cooperation to date and ask that you remain in partnership with us as we navigate this uncharted territory.
 
Yours in Christ,
 
Bishop Sue and the North Georgia Conference Cabinet 

 

Re-launch Resources for NGUMC Churches

As we continue to face the COVID-19 pandemic, North Georgia United Methodists are rethinking ways of doing church and building community. We're considering how and when we might gather in person again. We are exploring and struggling. We are leaning into our connection. We are buoyed by our faith in Jesus Christ. 

Find helpful resources, information, and updates as we navigate this time together. 
https://www.ngumc.org/relaunch-resource-hub

 

North Georgia Annual Conference to Meet Virtually August 29, 2020
As Conference leaders navigate planning for Annual Conference 2020 as responsibly as they can, they have determined that we cannot meet the needed safety measures that would be necessary to host an in-person Annual Conference Session in August. 
 
The Annual Conference Planning Committee met June 9 and approved plans for the North Georgia Conference to instead hold a virtual Clergy Executive Session on July 16 and a virtual Annual Conference Session on August 29. The plan was also approved by the Conference Cabinet. 
 
The virtual sessions will utilize a trusted online meeting and voting platform that will allow members to securely participate using an internet-connected device. The platform will also allow guests to view the Annual Conference session. A condensed agenda is being developed and will include only items before the Annual Conference that are essential at this time so that the session can be conducted in one day.
 
Instructions for members, details of the session, and more information will be forthcoming in the weeks ahead. Find updates as they are available at www.ngumc.org/AC2020.
 
We are grateful for the flexibility of the members of the North Georgia Annual Conference as we seek to be “One with Christ, One with Each Other, and One in Ministry to All the World” in ever-changing circumstances.  

The 2020 North Georgia Annual Conference was originally scheduled for June and postponed until August 28-29, before today's decision to hold a virtual gathering. 

 

COVID-19 Related Employee Rights - Federal Notice

Employee Rights Paid Sick Leave and Expanded Family and Medical Leave Under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act
Click here for more information.

 

Federal Disaster Area Unemployment Benefits

President Trump declared Georgia a disaster area yesterday. As such, unemployment benefits are now available to folks who otherwise wouldn't receive them.
Click here for more information.

 

The CARES Act Includes Provisions for Non-Profits and Churches

On March 27, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was enacted into law. The $2 trillion economic stimulus is intended to provide immediate relief for individuals, nonprofits, businesses, and state and local governments. 

Please note that information is developing every day, but the details for implementation are still pending

A number of organizations are working to interpret the act as it relates to churches and non-profits. We will continue to update https://www.ngumc.org/covid-19-response-resources with useful links.

Some of the most helpful directives include:

 

Calendar

August 28-29, Annual Conference (Athens)
Please check the conference calendar and district calendar for cancellations/postponements.

 

Conference Board of Pensions to Cover Church Portion of HealthFlex Insurance Premiums for Next Three Months

Beginning April 1, for a period of three months, the North Georgia Conference Board of Pension will fund the church portion of HealthFlex health insurance premiums from the CBOP "Current Benefits Reserve" fund. 

"These are certainly unprecedented times," said Charles Darden, chair of the Conference Board of Pension. "It is for times like these that we have reserves. The Board of Pension will cover the health insurance premiums that would otherwise be paid by the churches for a period of three months, beginning April 1."

This action was approved by the Conference Board of Pension on Friday, March 20.

April billing from the Conference Benefits Office will reflect this decision. Waiving this expense for churches will not impact the benefits received by any participants. 

 

Murphy Harpst

With so many of us now practicing social distancing, I want to encourage you to begin engaging with us on our Murphy-Harpst’s Facebook page and to use the many online resources provided for our church partners. Check out 

 http://murphyharpst.org/churchpartners/

 

Claire Wood has done a fabulous job of setting up this resource page for churches, so that we can all keep vitally connected. You will find that she has even included Murphy Harpst coloring pages for children in our churches  to download at home! And she will continue to update this page in the weeks and months ahead.

 

Thanks so much for your steadfast love for the churches and for the children in our care. 

 

Grace and peace,

Scott


Igniting Faith Retreat - October 17, 2020
However, we do have another opportunity for you to join us for the Igniting Faith Retreat. On Saturday October 17, 2020 for the Igniting Faith Retreat at McEachern Memorial UMC in Powder Springs, GA; and we would love to see you there!
Until then, make sure that you are taking care of yourself physically and spiritually.

Grace and Peace,
Odell Horne
YoungER Men's Ministry Representative
North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Men
Office: 404-327-5826


Protocol of Reconciliation & Grace Through Separation



A diverse group of 16 United Methodist leaders from around the world has collaborated on a proposed path forward for The United Methodist Church that has the unanimous support of all the parties involved.  The agreement is the Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace Through Separation.

There are several places you are encouraged to turn for information and insight on this Protocol that can help as you articulate this work to your congregation and discuss with your colleagues.

The Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace Through Separation
Video of the Panel Interview of the Participants in the Mediation Process
Press Release
Frequently Asked Questions about the United Methodist Mediation Team
Podcast: At The Table With Bishop Sue - Episode 3 


Join Bishop Sue in Bible Reading in 2020
Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson invites all North Georgia United Methodists to read the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts in 2020, beginning with Luke 1 on January 1, 2020. Subscribe to receive a weekly reading prompt and reflection each Wednesday by choosing "Reading the Gospel of Luke" at www.ngumc.org/subscribe

Print the Schedule (PDF)
 

Disaster Response Ministry
Upcoming disaster response training offered at a number of locations around the conference. Details & registration are listed at https://www.ngumc.org/disasterresponseministry. This all day training is the entry point for churches to be part of the UMCOR and North GA network for disaster response. This also helps churches to be ready when needed for their community and district, as well as being available beyond the local community. 

 


ADDRESS FOR DISTRICT WORK FUND AND CONFERENCE APPORTIONMENT PAYMENTS
District Work Fund payments will be received and accounted for by the North Georgia Conference.  Include on the memo line: AMRY DWF.
 
Please provide the remittance address to the proper person at your local church.

North GA Conference Treasurer’s Office
United Methodist Church
P.O. Box 102417
Atlanta, GA 30368-2417

 


 

Lay Servant Ministries

Please complete form to register for lay servant ministries training.
Form

Upcoming online advanced Lay Servant course offerings through the

North GA Conference:

 

Leading Public Prayer  ||  May 4-June 1, 2020  ||  Kay Haugen, Facilitator

Pre-requisite -Lay Servant Basic Course   Deadline for Registration is May 4

 

Registration Link: https://na.eventscloud.com/427394  || Cost $62

Courses must be paid with credit or debit card.  Each course's duration is 5 weeks.  Your actual completion date is dependent upon your completion pace.   

 

 

 

 

District Superintendent

Rodrigo Cruz
(404) 335-0321

Administrative Assistant

Mozelle Mitchell

Contact Information

One Georgia Center
600 W. Peachtree Street NW, Suite 1500
Atlanta, GA 30308

(404) 335-0321 Phone
(404) 209-7794 (Fax)
 

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