News, notes and anecdotes from across the conference


 LaGrange College hosts vocation conference

     More than 45 participants from 10 states gathered for a Network for Vocation in Undergraduate Education conference at LaGrange College on April 12–13. “Inspiring the Soul: A Call to Live with Integrity and Moral Courage” brought representatives from 12 church-related colleges and universities in Georgia, Texas, Oklahoma, Arizona, South Carolina, Alabama, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia and Tennessee.
     Dr. Sharon Daloz Parks, Associate Director of the Whidbey Institute in Clinton, Wash., was the keynote speaker. She also serves on the faculty of the Executive Leadership Program at Seattle University and is the author of “Big Questions, Worthy Dreams: Mentoring Young Adults in Their Search for Meaning, Purpose, and Faith.” She serves nationally as a lecturer and consultant for higher education and other professional groups and organizations.
     The Rev. Dr. Quincy Brown, Vice President for Spiritual Life and Church Relations, and Provost David Garrison worked together to develop the conference’s theme and the workshop concepts before applying for a NetVUE grant that partly funded the event.
     “It was a great pleasure to work with other higher-education professionals who value the importance of vocation and meaning in the lives of students,” Dr. Brown said. “This conference served as a model for other small, private liberal arts church-related colleges to begin the conversation about vocation, leadership and a meaningful life.”
      NetVUE is an association of almost 170 colleges and universities committed to fostering the intellectual and theological exploration of vocation in their campus communities. All of the schools in attendance are members of NetVUE. 
 Camp Glisson: Another step toward summer  
     The summer staff commissioning ceremony will take place May 26 at Camp Glisson. This is a chance for anyone impacted by the Glisson ministry, including parents of current and former campers, former staffers and all friends of Glisson, to be part of the passing of the torch of leadership from the former staff to the next one. 
 Bethlehem First UMC: Taking car donations
     The church’s GO Team (Global Outreach) and M. I. A. (Mechanics in Action Ministry) are looking for donated vehicles to be refurbished and given to worthy recipients.  All donations are tax deductible.Please direct all inquires to Stephen Smith at 678-227-3318. Bethlehem FUMC is located in Bethlehem at 709 Christmas Ave. (Hwy. 11).  770-867-3727.
 June retreat planned for Hinton Center
     “Pathways through Loss” featuring the Rev. Harold (Hal) W. Bruen is set for June 8-10 at the Hinton Rural Life Center in Hayesville, N.C.  The retreat is open to pastors, laity, or anyone who would like to study the experience of loss. For more information, visit
 Georgia Preachers Golf Association Tournament
      The Golf Tournament is planned for Aug. 27-29 at Callaway Gardens.  For more information, call the Rev. Don Martin, senior pastor at Alpharetta First UMC, at 770-475-4476.
 Students spend Alternative Spring Break serving others
     Spring break in Miami can conjure up visions of days on the beach and nights on the town, but six students from LaGrange College saw a different side of the city during their Alternative Spring Break (ASB) trip April 1–6.
     Accompanied by Blair Tolbert, Director of Student Ministries, and Kendal Wallace, Head Men’s Basketball Coach, the group spent the week volunteering with the Discovering Opportunities for Outreach and Reflection Network, a faith-based initiative offering urban service-learning programs.
     “This year’s ASB allowed students a service learning opportunity in an urban setting,” said Tolbert. “We were able to work with children, older adults, men, women and even spent some time on a farm with goats, chickens and crops of all kinds. DOOR Miami enabled us to interact and work alongside the many diverse communities of Miami, including Little Haiti and Little Havana.”
     The LaGrange volunteers worked with housing and homeless ministries to prepare and serve food; with children, helping with reading, writing and Easter projects; and with memory care clients doing memory activities, exercises, music and crafts.
     Coach Wallace said he wanted to be involved in the trip for several reasons.
    “I looked at it as professional growth, as well as spiritual growth … . This trip gave me the opportunity to meet and bond with students outside of basketball,” he said.
     Students on the trip were juniors Stephanie Rojas and Anna McCurry, sophomore Blake Shuler and first-years Nicole Cato, Megan McDonald and Rebekah Meadows.
     “I’ve wanted to go since I was a little kid,” said Stephanie. “When I saw the opportunity to go to Miami, my heart smiled. Having the opportunity to help others and enjoy my spring break in my dream place was amazing.”
   This was Anna’s second Alternative Spring Trip. She traveled to El Salvador last year, and said there were some similarities. The visit to the Missionaries of Charity made an impression on both Anna and Stephanie.
     “Right before we served lunch at the soup kitchen there, I looked around the room at 300 homeless people and saw so many different kinds of people,” Anna said. “Even though everyone was so different and came from different backgrounds, we were all brought together in that one place to serve and be served. It was very powerful.”
     Stephanie recalled a special moment that made a lasting impression..
      “I was at the dessert section and one man came up to me and said, ‘Dios te bendiga,’ ” she said. “That translates to ‘God bless you.’ Those words will stay in my heart for a long time. Choosing to spend my spring break to serve others has been the best life-changing experience of my life.”
 Beyond These Walls mission conference Oct. 11-13
      Looking for means to transform your congregation and equip them for effective, life-transforming ministry? Moving people from self-centered to Christ-centered is often the result of an effective missions program and this is the purpose of the Beyond These Walls 2012 Mission Conference, Oct 11-13 in Powder Springs. “Best of the best” missions teaching and training will help you and your leadership mobilize, revitalize, and equip your congregation so that they can fulfill their divine calling – making disciples of all the nations.
     Keynote speakers will be Dr. Mark Beeson, Founding Pastor at Granger Community Church (5,500 attending congregation in Indiana), and Dr. Reggie McNeal, author and Missional Leadership Specialist for Leadership Network of Dallas, Texas. As before, you will have the opportunity to tailor your learning time by selecting for multiple workshops. The growing list of offerings, along with other conference details, can be found at Registration opens June 1.
     Attendees requiring overnight accommodations should contact the Holiday Inn & Suites-Austell, 770 349-8000. Be sure to identify yourself as being with BTW.
   Harmony Grove UMC: A busy summer
      Vacation Bible School June 18-22 and Kids Camps for preschoolers will fill the summer weeks. VBS theme is “Operation Overboard: Dive In!” 9:30 a.m.-1 p.m. with art and crafts, snacks, assemblies, recreation and Bible stories. $10 per child.
     Camp themes are: June 11-15, Family Camping; June 25-29, Fables and Folktales; July 9-13, Going GREEN; July 16-29, The Circus. Sessions are 9:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Tuition $100 per child. Camp Explore is set for 9:30 a.m.-3 p.m. June 25-29, $150 per child, featuring Art/Photography, Fun with Food, Music, Fencing and Recreation. Campers rotate among the sessions.
     Theater Camp is 9:30 a.m.-3 p.m. July 9-20 for ages 5-15. The two-week camp will help each camper reach performing goals. Campers participate both on and off-stage aspects of theater, and will audition, rehearse and perform for parents an special guests on the final day of camp. Tuition $175 per child. 
     The church’s preschool is accepting registrations. Open daily 9:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Online registration at For more info on the preschool, or call 770-564-0135. For camps, email or call 770-921-7747. The church is in Lilburn at 50 Harmony Grove Rd. 770-921-7747.
 District flood bucket project planned for summer
     Peachtree City UMC will conduct its annual cleaning bucket drive this summer, June 1-July 12, and invite other churches within the LaGrange District to participate.  Along with the buckets, they will be collecting UMCOR Relief Supply Kits, such as health kits, layette kits, and school kits.  You can donate any of the UMCOR kits or just the buckets or any combination thereof.  To ease the logistical requirements involved, volunteers will deliver the empty buckets to participating churches, and pick up the filled buckets and UMCOR kits at the end of the drive.  A 5-gallon empty bucket (with lid) will cost $1.75 and participating churches will need to submit an order and payment by June 1.  The supplies to fill a cleaning bucket cost approximately $55.  The approximate costs for the other kits are:  health kits - $12; layette kits - $35; school kits - $11; birthing kits - $8; sewing kits - $18.  For details on the lists and how to order them, visit
 New network to gather data from churches
     VitalSigns is a new weekly dashboard ministry of the United Methodist Church, designed to keep track of the following information about UM congregations: total worship attendance; number of new members and baptisms; how many persons actively engaged in small groups; local, national and international missions and outreach; numbers of people served by your congregation; amount given to other charities, and total offerings.
     Each Sunday, churches in the conference will receive invitations to answer these questions. to your email contacts to prevent the emails from going to a Spam folder.
     Churches are encouraged to create a ministry team to contribute to the VitalSigns network. When you fully participate in the second quarter (April-July), your District superintendent will remove the requirement for your church’s second quarter Evangelism report.
     For more information, contact your district office or the Rev. Jasmine Smothers in the Office of Connectional Ministries ( or 678-533-1387) if you have questions or need assistance.