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Vital Congregations

KidQuest: Bremen First Offers a Weekly 'Mini-VBS' to More than 100 Kids

By Rev. David Blackwood I have been appointed to Bremen First UMC since July of 2021. Bremen, a small town of about 7,000 people, is seeing growth as the Atlanta suburbs move west and Carrollton expands north. We know from MissionInsite that the majority of people moving to Bremen are young families drawn to the area for the school system and housing. The church is working to welcome these new families to our community and to help them find a place of community and connection.   KidQuest gives ...

Leaning Into Our Community Connections

Pictured: A card written by a young volunteer from Mt. Bethel UMC's new ministry, The Buddy System! We are continually inspired by stories of United Methodist churches engaging in ministry with their members and their communities. You have heeded the call to "do good" while we "do no harm." Here are just a few inspiring examples from across North Georgia.   Working Together to Serve the Community  First UMC of Lawrenceville and Rev. Adam Hilderbrandt have been involved in a community-wide, ...

Small Membership, Great Witness

Photo: Even the local fire department takes part in Fields Chapel UMC's Community Thanksgiving. Some North Georgia Conference churches are proving that church size is not the only factor in how alive a congregation is to its community. Bowman UMC Dinner Church Bowman UMC in the Athens-Elberton District has just 4 members. When part-time local pastor Rev. Tim Savelle began serving the church last January, he jumped right into the mission work already happening. These 4 members, all women, ...

Preview of New Church Leadership and Innovation Academy Inspires Clergy and Lay Participants

Clergy, ministry staff, and laypeople interested in innovation and leading a new startup ministry, gathered in November for a preview of the upcoming New Church Leadership and Innovation Academy. The diverse participants came from large and small churches, from a variety of settings, from Rome to Griffin and many places in between. They learned from each other, from their host, and from workshop leaders.  The preview session was held at Eastside UMC in Atlanta and began with a conversation with...

Surely God is in These Places: Third Year, Third Campus

By REBECCA WALLACE About five years ago, Rev. Rodrigo Cruz was one of the pastors of a white, upper-middle-class congregation in Roswell that was reaching out to the Hispanic community. It was in that role that he began to discover a disconnect. The ministry was important but felt segregated. His children were schooling and playing sports with various groups of kids, but they worshipped with only one group of kids – either white or Hispanic. “It was at that moment, I asked myself, if the ...

Travelers Christmas Eve: A Service at 'Home' Before the Holiday

There's No Place Like Your Church Home for Christmas Eve Eastside UMC in the Atlanta-Decatur-Oxford District noticed several years ago that some of its members had taken the journey through Advent, but weren't in town for Christmas Eve Worship. The members were disappointed to miss Christmas Eve with their church family.  "Due to the stage of life and demographics of Atlanta, many of our members were heading out of town to be with family," said Rev. Tim Lloyd, pastor of Eastside. "So a few ...

Conference Invests in Pastors, Churches Through On Boarding

By KARA WITHEROW Transition is tough, whether it’s getting a new appointment and moving to a new town or receiving a new pastor. Getting a jump start to help further the process can be an invaluable tool for all involved. With this in mind, the North Georgia Conference has embraced Onboarding, a corporate technique for getting a fast start in executive leadership through early, candid dialogue, assisted by an outside consultant. This corporate strategy has been adapted for ministry settings by...

ACE2 Launches Clergy Peer Groups

By REV. LEIGH MARTIN This summer ACE2 rallied more than 90 clergy in the North Georgia Annual Conference into 13 peer learning groups.   The Academy of Clergy Excellence, known as ACE Squared, is an alternate continuing education program for clergy.  Each group comprises of six to eight clergy who commit to a two-year covenantal learning process. After its announcement in late spring, interest in ACE2 far exceeded expectation. When asked why this program generated such enthusiasm, ...

Kingswood UMC Celebrates 50 Years of Ministry

Kingswood United Methodist Church celebrated 50 years of ministry Sunday with a special worship service, including former pastors and charter members. Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson, leader of the North Georgia Annual Conference, officiated and preached during the service. The church held its first worship service on September 8, 1968, in a classroom in what was then Peachtree High School. The congregation was chartered with 76 members, 8 of whom attended Sunday’s service. Before moving to its ...

North Decatur UMC Invites Community and Church into Conversation

By JESSICA BRADFORD   Once a month, North Decatur UMC and the Greater Decatur churches gather to present a moderated panel discussion of experts on topics of concern to the community. These topics have included homelessness, racial reconciliation, mental health and creation care.   The idea came about a few months ago when North Decatur’s Outreach Chair and other staff members met to discuss the overlapping passions of the church and the community around them. They realized that the community ...

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