More news, notes and anecdotes from across the conference


Johns Creek UMC: New sanctuary in the works
    Johns Creek United Methodist Church officially broke ground on a 44,000-square-foot dedicated sanctuary Nov. 6.  The sanctuary will seat more than 1,700 worshippers and is scheduled to be completed in December 2012.
     Plans for the addition have been in the works more than four years; however, the recent economic climate delayed the project.  The church has nearly 3,600 members and the new sanctuary will more than double seating capacity for Sunday worship services. 
     In addition to the new sanctuary, Johns Creek UMC will also expand their athletic fields along Bell Road, enabling its recreation program to increase soccer and other events.
    Theologian to speak at Oxford College  
      Prominent theology professor and award-winning author E. Brooks Holifield will speak at Meridian Herald’s 18th Southern Folk Advent Service at 4 p.m. Dec. 3 at Old Church on the Oxford College campus in Oxford, Georgia. Admission is free.
      Holifield is Charles Howard Candler Professor of American Church History Emeritus in the Candler School of Theology and the Graduate Division of Religion at Emory University. He has written numerous books and articles related to religious history, the history of Christian thought in American, and early colonial American religion.  This year, he was named a fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.
      The service also will feature folk, Gospel, and bluegrass music by The Meridian Chorale, the Sonny Houston Band, and noted musical director and composer Dr. Steven Darsey.  Congregational singing of folk hymns is an integral part of the Advent service.
 Mountain View UMC: Community event in 20th year
      Mountain View UMC is presenting Bethlehem Walk for the 20th year. The event, a re-creation of the City of Bethlehem on the night of Jesus’ birth, offers visitors a chance to see shopkeepers peddle their wares, artisans work their trades, and hear dramatic Old Testament stories.
     Performances take place 7-9 p.m. Dec. 3-4, 9-10. A special performance is set for 9:30 a.m.-noon Dec. 9 for groups from day care and senior centers. No admission charge. For more information, call 770-928-0050 or visit
 Rock Springs UMC: Concert, live nativity    
      A Christmas concert is planned for 6 p.m. Dec. 4. A Walk Thru Bethlehem event, 7-9 p.m. Dec. 9, 6-8 p.m. Dec. 10, features a Roman soldier guiding groups around Bethlehem to see a live nativity, marketplace, and live animals. The church is in Lawrenceville at 1100 Rock Springs Road. 770-945-7329.
 Dunwoody UMC: Chancel Choir presents O Magnum Mysterium,
     The Chancel Choir at Dunwoody United Methodist Church presents O Magnum Mysterium, a Christmas concert at 4 p.m. Dec. 4, featuring works of Rutter, Vaughan Williams, Lauridsen, Berlioz, Rachmaninoff, Victoria and others. Orchestra, soloists and Musica Gloria, DUMC's Chamber Choir, will join in the musical festivities. The church is at 1548 Mt. Vernon Rd. Dunwoody, GA 30338. 770-394-0675 ext. 106.
 Stop Hunger Now event a success
      Rome First UMC and 14-15 other churches in Rome and Floyd County worked together on a Stop Hunger Now project at Berry College. The result: 60,300 meals were packed for the effort to end hunger. Chris Barbieri of Rome FUMC said the churches involved already are asking about doing the event again in 2012.
 Big Springs UMC: Nativity comes alive
      The Christmas story will be presented in a drive-through live nativity set for 6-8 p.m. Dec. 9-11 at Big Springs UMC, 2066 Sugar Pike Rd., Woodstock 30188. Cookies and hot apple cider will be served.
 Athens First UMC: 160 for Girls' Night Out and $750 to Our Daily Bread.
       Athens First UMC hosted a Girls’ Night Out for 160 women, who also enjoyed a holiday cooking demonstration by church member and Southern Living contributor Rebecca Lang. The event raised $750 for Action Ministries’ Our Daily Bread, a local soup kitchen housed in Oconee Street UMC.
St. Andrew UMC: Seasonal music and praise    
     Children through adults are offering special holiday musical performances at the Marietta church. A children’s Christmas program at 3 p.m. Dec. 11 will be followed by a reception. The adult choir concert takes place at 7 p.m. Dec. 16, followed by a reception. And a youth music program is planned for the 9:30 a.m. worship service Dec. 18. 
     The church is at 3455 Canton Rd.,  Marietta, GA 30066. 770- 926-3488
Retirees Christmas luncheon in Chamblee
       A special luncheon for retirees is planned for noon Dec. 8 at Chamblee First UMC. To make a reservation, please contact Val Bligh via e-mail at, call 678-533-1391 or call Beth Barnwell at 678-533-1372.
 Johns Creek UMC: Broadway caliber production set
        The Forgotten Carols, a Christmas stage musical performed by Broadway actors along with Johns Creek United Methodist Church Choir and Simpsonwood United Methodist Church Choir, is coming to the John’s Creek church at 7 p.m. Dec. 11-12. 
      This is a new, heartwarming family musical about the hope and promise of Christmas, which has been playing to sold-out audiences on the West Coast for the past 20 years. This stage play will soon be made into a movie.
     Tickets are $22 and can be purchased at or as well as Johns Creek United Methodist Church, 11180 Medlock Bridge Road, Johns Creek, 770-497-8215. 
 McEachern UMC: Co-Author to Present to Community
          Unite/Cobb and McEachern Memorial UMC will join to host award-winning co-author Dr. Brian Fikkert as he presents from his book When Helping Hurts - How to Alleviate Poverty without Hurting the Poor . . . and Yourself on January 24, 2012.
      The book combines sound theology, solid research, foundational principles and proved strategies for transformational ministry among the poor, both locally and abroad. When Helping Hurts addresses the assumption that ministry strategies may cause considerable harm to poor people as they try to help and offers principles and strategies for poverty alleviation, including the distinction between relief, rehabilitation, and development, the difference between asset-based and needs-based strategies, and the advantages of participatory over blueprint approaches.
          The event is open to the community and includes a luncheon for pastors, church and ministry leaders. It will be held at McEachern Memorial UMC. Registration is open For more information, contact Renee Abernathy at (770) 943-3008 ext 6044 or by e-mail at  
 Lithia Springs UMC: Interactive nativity planned
     A drive-through Nativity will be presented 7-9 p.m. Dec. 2-4. The church is at 3711 Temple St. across the tracks in downtown Lithia Springs. From the comfort of your car, drive through 11 beautifully painted scenes with hundreds of actors in period costumes, music and live animals depicting from the annunciation to the birth of Christ.
      For more information or to participate, call Margaret Arnold at 770-943-3820 or e-mail
 Emory Clergy Care director takes new position
      Dr. Fred Smoot, director of Emory Clergy Care, is leaving to take another position as Manager of Clinical Pastoral Education at Methodist Hospital of Southern California. The change will be effective January 5, 2012.
      “My wife Carol and I are excited to reconnect with her family and friends at this right time in our lives,” said Smoot. “Emory Clergy Care will continue to serve ministers, their families and other clients as it has for the past 25 years.”
       A transition plan has been developed so that all services will continue uninterrupted. Continuing programs include all the psychological testing, pastoral counseling, Emory Healthcare access (including Stiles Bradley Fund administration) and clinical pastoral education services currently in place.
      Clergy and their families can make their appointments with the Emory Clergy Care office as usual by calling 678-924-9260 or 866-394-9330.  Information on Emory Clergy Care can be found at    
 Harmony Grove UMC: Nativity, breakfast with Santa
    Breakfast with Santa is planned for 9-11 a.m. Dec. 10 at the Lilburn church. Includes visit with Santa, making crafts and enjoying pancakes. Breakfast is free for children, $5 for adults.
    A drive-through nativity will take place 6-8 p.m. Dec. 16-17. The trip through their rendition of Bethlehem will include angels, shepherds, village people, soldiers, and kings. Hot chocolate, coffee and cookies will be available. Free. Donations accepted.
    The church is in Lilburn at 50 Harmony Grove Road. 770-921-7747.
 Mount Pisgah UMC: Christmas festival returns 
      The North Atlanta Christmas Festival (NACF), which will be presented Dec. 9-11, was created six years ago to bring an unparalleled Christmas experience to members of the North Atlanta community and their families.  
      The full-scale musical tribute incorporates Broadway style music and theater to bring the best of Christmas songs together with a dramatic presentation of the birth of Jesus. 
        More than 400 people will participate in this year’s event, including the renowned 150-voice Mount Pisgah Worship Choir and a magnificent 40-piece orchestra. Set to a brand new musical score and sprinkled with stunning special effects, the 2011 North Atlanta Christmas Festival is truly a holiday treat for the entire family and people of all ages.
      Show times are 7 p.m. Dec. 9-11. Ticket costs are $5 to $10, depending on seating. To get the best seats, order early at The performance will take place at the Mount Pisgah United Methodist Church North Campus location, 2850 Old Alabama Road in Johns Creek.
 Seminars required for pastors seeking reappointment
      Over the next 18 months, the North Georgia Conference will be offering a number of Sexual Ethics Seminars to be held in each of the 12 districts.  Every clergy person in North Georgia, full time and part time, must complete one of these seminars in order to be reappointed. 
      The date for the LaGrange District seminar is August 23, 2012.  However, you do not have to attend the seminar in your district. Below is a list of dates and locations where seminars are being held. Unless otherwise indicated, each date and location will have two sessions, 9:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. – 8 p.m.  Choose the one that is most convenient for you.  Cost is $10 and includes a meal.  All registration is done online through the conference website.  Clergy should check this list and be sure to register for one of the seminars.
·        January 26, 2012- Rome Carrolton- Moore’s Chapel UMC, 120 North Park Street, Carrollton
·        March 1, 2012- Athens Elberton- Bogart UMC, 1201 Atlanta Highway, Bogart
·        March 15, 2012- Atlanta College Park- East Point First Mallalieu UMC, 2651 Church Street,  East Point
·        July 23, 2012- Epworth by the Sea before Pastors’ School- (9:30-2:30 only)
·        August 23, 2012- LaGrange- Cornerstone UMC-Newnan, 2956 Highway 154, Newnan
·        October 2, 2012- Atlanta Marietta and Northwest- Sam Jones Memorial, 100 West Church Street, Cartersville
·        October 18, 2012- Augusta- Wesley UMC Evans, 825 North Belair Rd, Evans
·        November 1, 2012- Atlanta Emory and Atlanta Decatur Oxford- Oak Grove UMC Decatur,  1722 Oak Grove Rd, NE, Decatur
·        January 24, 2013- Gainesville – Gainesville First UMC, 2780 Thompson Bridge Rd, Gainesville
·        March 9, 2013 (Saturday) – Atlanta Roswell, place, address TBA – (9:30-2:30 only)
 Dunwoody UMC: Dickens holiday classic is back 
      “A Christmas Carol” with Scrooge and all the other characters, will be performed at 7 p.m. Dec. 3 in the Fellowship Hall by the church’s drama group. Donations will support the CAC Christmas Fund. The church is at 1548 Mt. Vernon Road.
 Scholarships, loans available for college students
      The Office of Loans and Scholarships awarded more than 2,600 students a total of $5.3 million in award money for 2011. Of those awarded nearly 2,300 were under the age of 35, and more than 500 are enrolled in seminary pursuing a Masters of Divinitydegree. Thank you for your support in recognizing United Methodist Student Day, World Communion Sunday ,and Native American Sunday, which help fund a portion of our loans and scholarships. The remaining funds for these awards come from gifts, annuities and endowments General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM) has invested and administered for