News and events from across the conference


  Saint Mark UMC: Sessions address addiction
    Saint Mark is pleased to announce the Feb. 7 launch of an eight-week learning institute on the topic of addiction and its impact on our community.  Dr. Brian Dew, coordinator of the Mental Health Counseling Program at Georgia State University and previous director of the Atlanta Meth Task Force, will conduct 90-minute discussions on such topics as addiction’s impact on the body, mind, and spirit, drug use trends in metropolitan Atlanta, the unique risks associated with methamphetamine, and issues facing an addict’s family members and loved ones. Sessions will be held 7:30 to 9 p.m. Mondays in Room 201. No charge. The church is located at 781 Peachtree Street NE, Atlanta GA 30308. Parking is available behind the church off 5th Street.
Cumming First UMC: Musical offering
     Pipe Organ and Double Brass Quintet concert 3 p.m. Feb. 13 at the church, 770 Canton Hwy. 770-887-2900.
Roswell UMC: Valentine dinner, “Cotton Patch Gospel”
     Bring your spouse and a framed wedding photograph to the Marriage Enrichment Dinner at Roswell United Methodist Church, 5-6:30 p.m. Feb. 13. The dinner includes a comedic host, an Andy Stanley sermon on marriage, and take-home discussion starters for you and your spouse. To register, e-mail or call 770-993-6218.
     The Cotton Patch Gospel will be performed at 5 p.m. Feb. 27 at Roswell United Methodist, as part of the Sounds of the Spirit Concert Series. Tickets $10 in advance, $15 at the door. Available at or at the church, 814 Mimosa Blvd. 770-594-0512.
      “Cotton Patch” Gospel is a colloquial translation of most of the New Testament by Baptist minister Clarence Jordan, whose goal was to communicate the New Testament in the idiom of the South so that “plain folks” could better understand it. To do this, Jordan, who worked from Greek texts, changed both the setting and the language of the New Testament.
     The script for the musical adaptation, written by Atlanta-based actor Tom Key and stage director Russell Treyz with music and lyrics by Harry Chapin, was based on Jordan’s version of the Gospels of Matthew and John. The musical delves even further into the southern vernacular than Jordan’s original. For example, Jesus’ mother, Mary, becomes Mary Hagle, daughter of a deacon at First Baptist Church of Clayton. Mary gives birth to Jesus in an abandoned trailer behind Dixie DeLite Motor Lodge as she and Joseph travel to Atlanta for an income-tax audit. The production’s country songs move the characters through the stages of Jesus’ earthly ministry, most of which occurs in Georgia. Like Jordan’s original, the musical is intended to offer people a fresh perspective on Jesus’ life and provide a modern twist on the Gospel message.
Harmony Grove UMC: Blood drive location
     The Lilburn church is hosting a blood drive 3-7 p.m. February 14 in Pollard Hall. The church’s address is 50 Harmony Grove Road. 770-921-7747.

Springs UMC member to sign books
     A book signing for “Haven's Heaven,” a Christian children's book written and illustrated by Braselton resident Katie Grant, is set for 1-3 p.m. Feb. 19 at the LifeWay Christian Stores at the Mall of Georgia. The book is based on questions the author’s children asked after children their age passed away. Half of the net proceeds from the book sales will benefit three Atlanta foundations chosen by the families who inspired the questions in the book: Atlanta Ronald McDonald House Charities; Brain Tumor Foundation for Children Atlanta, Inc., and the Carlos and Marguerite Mason Transplant Center at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.
LaGrange FUMC: Sweet to preach, lecture
     Leonard Sweet will be the guest preacher for the Ash Wednesday service, 7 p.m. March 9 at LaGrange First United Methodist Church. Sweet also will give a lecture at LaGrange College at 11:15 a.m. March 10. The public is invited.
     Sweet is the E. Stanley Jones Professor of Evangelism at Drew Theological School, in Madison, New Jersey; and a Visiting Distinguished Professor at George Fox University in Portland, Oregon. In 2007, he was voted One of the 50 Most Influential Christian Leaders in America (#8). In 2006, he received the same honor (#32).
      Before becoming the E. Stanley Jones Professor of Evangelism, Sweet had been Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of the Theological School at Drew from 1995 to 2000. Prior to his appointments at Drew University, he served as President and Professor of Church History at United Theological Seminary, Dayton, Ohio. His first academic administration position was as Provost and Associate Professor of Church History at Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School.
        Sweet is the author of more than forty books and hundreds of articles. He has more than 1,000 published sermons, and currently is the chief weekly contributor to the lectionary-based Sweet has weekly podcasting on iTunes entitled Napkin Scribbles.
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.
Dunwoody UMC: Professional singers perform    
     The Concert Series at Dunwoody United Methodist Church presents Coro Vocati at 4 p.m. Feb. 20, a “called” group of professional singers in a choral program of contemporary composers from North and South America that concludes with folk songs.  Suggested donation, $10. 1548 Mt. Vernon Road. 770-394-0675.  
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.
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
Hunger-relief ministry has Lent devotionals
     The Society of St. Andrew, a domestic hunger-relief ministry, is offering spiritual nourishment a Lent devotion called “We’ve a Story to Tell.” The daily devotions are written by writers from different denominations who share how their personal walk with Jesus has impacted their lives.
      Materials are available at no cost, but a donation of $47 ($1 a day during Lent) would help the society continue its mission of salvaging fresh produce for the hungry. Last year’s Lenten Devotions program funded more than 2 million servings of food to families in need in the U.S. An optional Good Friday Fast booklet also is available to use with the daily devotions or as a separate program.  
     The Society of St. Andrew is a national nonprofit program that rescues about 25 million pounds of excess produce each year that would otherwise go to waste. The salvaged food is distributed to critical feeding agencies across the country at no cost to the agencies or people served. For more information, visit
Seminar offers “Rx for a Healthy Church”
Ministers and church members of all denominations are invited to “Rx for a Healthy Church,” on Feb. 22, a continuing education seminar that explores how to transform churches into vibrant and healthy centers of faith. The seminar is being hosted by the Reinhardt University Ministerial Association on Reinhardt’s Waleska, Ga., campus. 
Jim Jernigan, Reinhardt’s coordinator of ministerial relations, is enthusiastic about the event. “Every year we look for a current topic that will help pastors. The seminar leaders -- Dr. Ron Flowers, Rev. Jim Hollis and Rev. Jim Burt -- will bring more than 100 years of effective ministry experience to this event. All have pastored growing churches and have a clear understanding of what it takes for a congregation to get healthy and grow significantly.”
Hollis is the founder and executive director of Proactive Ministries, a not-for-profit ministry organization that has led training with more than 900 congregations across 40 states and 42 Annual Conferences in America. He sees a critical need for this type of teaching. 
“Many of our pastors and congregations are frustrated over an absence of serious growth, both spiritually and numerically,” said Hollis. “Too often churches are not healthy and whole or prepared to grow. I’ve found that there are ministries, specifically prayer, worship, nominations and leader development, relational initiation of new friendships and strengthening stewardship, which should be major priorities, but in reality they end up as minimal priorities. We’ll address these five areas as baseline ministry priorities for church health and growth for all congregations.”
During the morning session, participants will review the five key ministries and how they fit together in a healthy church. After lunch, from 1 to 3 p.m., attendees will choose three ministries to explore in-depth. From 3:30 to 5:30 p.m., an optional bonus – a 30-minute individual consultation session with a seminar leader - is being offered free of charge for pastors. The slots will be filled on a first-come, first-serve basis as advanced reservations are received.
 The event will be held in the Falany Performing Arts Center from 9:30 a.m. to 3 or by phone at 770-720-5546. Box lunches and beverages are included in the $35 per person registration fee. Participants are encouraged to sign up by Feb. 18, but walk-in registrants are welcome. Register online at
Lake Junaluska plans family conference
     Registration is open for the Rekindling the Flame of the Laity Conference, set for June 30-July 3 at Lake Junaluska Assembly, Lake Junaluska, N.C. The theme is Christ’s Mission and Ours.
     Through preaching, Bible study, inspirational singing, special music and Christian fellowship of families in attendance, the conference provides an opportunity to experience Jesus Christ and grow in faith.
     Speakers will be: Dr. Eddie Fox,Director of World Evangelism for the
World Methodist Council; Dr. Reginald W. Ponder,former Executive Director
SEJ Council and LJA: Dr. Evelyn Laycock, Bible teacher, and Rev. Jan Brittian, pastor of Christ UMC in Greensboro, N.C.  
     Activities are planned for children, young adults and families. To register for the event, visit For details, contact Pam Naplen at 828-454-6656 or
Help update Mission Opportunities Map
    It is time to update the Mission Opportunities Map at If you are sending out short term mission teams locally or internationally, please go to detail/941 and submit your short term mission trip.
Special travel opportunities for clergy and laity
     In recent years the North Georgia Conference has offered special travel opportunities to clergy and laity. Bishop Mike Watson believes that “shared time with fellow servants from the conference exploring our biblical roots is an extremely valuable experience.” Bishop and Mrs. Watson invite you to join them on two additional travel opportunities in 2011: Wesley Heritage, June 19-28 and the Western Mediterranean cruise including Spain, Portugal, and Morocco October 16-27.