News, notes, and events from across North Georgia:


Faith UMC: Family fun night
A family fun night of bingo and a chili dinner is planned for 5:30 p.m. Jan. 22 at Faith UMC in Smyrna at 4336 King Springs Road. 770-435-9722.
Mt. Pisgah UMC: Renewal movement meets
      Steve Wende, pastor of Houston (TX) First UMC, will be guest speaker at the Wesleyan Renewal Movement Open Meeting, set for 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Jan. 8 at the John’s Creek church. Wende will discuss important issues facing the upcoming General Conference. A continental breakfast will be provided. A love offering for the event will be accepted. The church is at 2750 Old Alabama Road. RSVP to
Sacred Praise UMC: Sharing God’s love
     Pastor Bert Neal and his church’s launch team took part in an outreach in the Lovejoy community recently. After meeting for prayer in a grocery store parking lot, members disbursed to hand out 100 $10 gift cards to people entering grocery stores on Tara Boulevard.
     Church members handed out cups filled with church information, candy, and a $10 gift card, to shoppers ranging from parents with small children, the elderly, underprivileged and “those who thought they were in too big of a hurry to receive God’s love.”
     Responses ranged from requests to pray for family members to comments from new residents looking for a church home. “The most endearing responses were the looks of surprise. ‘What!’ ‘A gift?’ ‘No strings attached?’ said church launch team member Harriett Holley.
County Line UMC: Honoring veterans
       Kids in Mission and parishioners from County Line UMC in Acworth placed more than 4,000 wreaths on the graves at the Georgia National Cemetery in Canton.  Volunteers raised money for the wreaths, and hosted a noon ceremony at the cemetery. Simultaneous wreath-laying ceremonies were held at more than 286 locations around the world.
Austell First UMC: Hosted community nights
     Church members blessed the community with two "Dinner & Santa" nights in December. The church invited Austell Primary School's choirs to perform. A total of 300 people attended and enjoyed pizza, chips and homemade cookies. Santa visited with 180 kids, who each received toy and a stocking of goodies from the church. Each family was given a New Testament.
Emory professor given literature award
      Emory University professor Frances Smith Foster has been honored with a lifetime achievement award for significantly advancing the study of American literature. Foster, the Charles Howard Candler Professor of English and Women’s Studies, will receive the 2010 Hubbell Medal in January from the American Literature Section of the Modern Language Association (MLA) during the MLA’s annual meeting.
     Foster is the first African American woman to receive the award. The Jay B. Hubbell Medal, awarded since 1964, is named for one of the pioneers of American literary scholarship. The medal has been awarded to some of the most distinguished practitioners of the discipline.
     “The committee is most pleased to recognize Frances Smith Foster, the premier historian of African American women’s writing in literary and cultural studies today,” said William L. Andrews, the E. Maynard Adams Professor of English at UNC-Chapel Hill and part of the five-member committee that selected this year’s medalist.
        “Each of her books has been pioneering in several respects: the engagement with not only the canonical but the non-canonical, the thorough research into African American periodicals, the serious appreciation of the influence of black Christianity and religious literature on African American writing, the insights into what motivated women writers, and the sensitivity to what their modes of expression signified to female as well as male readers.”
       Foster’s specialties include African American family life and American and African-American literature. She has edited or written more than a dozen books, including her most recent: “’Til Death or Distance Do Us Part: Love and Marriage in African America.” The critically acclaimed book, a study of slave marriages that uncovers a rich legacy of love, struggle and commitment in the antebellum  era, demolishes stereotypes of African Americans during an era when they were treated as chattel. Foster also is an editor of “The Norton Anthology of African American Literature.”
       She was the recipient of Emory’s top faculty honor in 2006, the University Scholar-Teacher Award. Foster served as chair of Emory's English department from 2005-2008 and is the former director of the Emory Institute of Women's Studies. She currently is a fellow of Emory’s Center for the Study of Law and Religion. Foster received the Association of Departments of English "Francis Andrew March Award" for exceptional service to the profession of English last year.
      For more information on the Hubbell Medal, see
Tucker UMC: Start new year with David study
        Registration is open for an 11-week Beth Moore study on “David: Seeking the Heart of God,” set to begin Jan. 12. The message is suited for those who’ve experienced doubts, temptations, losses, family problems or personal inconsistencies. Morning and evening sessions will be offered. Cost is $16. The church is at 5095 LaVista Road. 770-938-3030.
Athens FUMC: Bestselling author to speak 
     Bruce Feiler (“Walking the Bible,” “Abraham,” “Where God Was Born”) will be at the Athens church at 4:30 p.m. March 27, 2011, to bring a message of hope amidst cancer survival, and the value of family. Online tickets will be available at in January. Seating will be limited, general admission. Feiler will sign books after he speaks. The church is at 327 North Lumpkin Street.
Lake Junaluska site of Caring for Creation
       Participate in informative workshops, visit a sustainable community, worship and share green ideas with others at the 2011 Caring for Creation experience March 31-April 3, 2011, at the Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center.
       The conference will feature more than 38 guest speakers, including a special appearance from One More Generation (OMG) founders Carter Ries, 9, and sister Olivia, 8, who will present “All God’s Critters Got a Place in the Choir.”
       Other speakers include: the Rev. Sally Bingham, founder of Regeneration Project; Jonathan Merritt, author of “Green Like God: Unlocking the Divine Plan for Our Planet;”John Hill, the Director of Economic and Environmental Justice from the General Board of Church and Society; Rev. Dr. Katy Hinman, formerly Director of Georgia Interfaith Power and Light; Michael McClain from NCC Eco-Justice; Ralph Hutchinson from Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance from Knoxville, TN, and many others.
       Incentives are available for early registration before January 1, 2011. Ethnic scholarships are available online soon. For registration, workshops, and more information visit or call 828-454-6656.
Women’s conference to start new year
    A New Year, A New You … Embracing God’s Heart is the theme for a women’s event at Gainesville FUMC, set for 6:30-8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 28 and 8:45 a.m.-2 p.m. Sat., Jan. 29. Featuring Paula Rinehart author of “Strong Women, Soft Hearts & Better Than My Dreams”
 $30 includes registration, meals and childcare. For more information, call Rebeccah Damon at 770-536-2341 or e-mail
Spring break alternative that helps others
      Harvest of Hope, a program offered by End Hunger, is offering a hunger relief mission opportunity March 6-12 in Orlando. Cost is $150, not including travel. During this year’s spring break, the college students participating saved and distributed 18,000 pounds of fresh produce, and boxed and shipped 34,000 pounds of canned goods. For more information, call 800-333-4597, e-mail or visit