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District | North East


Greetings North East District

September 2022

“I Believe”
          It has become a common question, spoken, whispered, assumed, “What do you believe?” And for some it’s loaded. It’s asked not to get to know us, or understand us, but to label us and segregate us.
          When I was a newly appointed inexperienced seminary graduate, I embraced my congregation and sought only to be their pastor and a pastor to the community. It was truly a baptism by fire. I stumbled, I fell, I stumbled, I fell, I stumbled, I fell. Much like today. But to my amazement, the congregation was forgiving, compassionate, and tolerant of my inexperience. They warmly welcomed me to be their pastor.
          Harry Wilson, a true saint took me under his wing and became my confidant, my mentor, and spiritual guide. We visited together, served together, and grew together. Harry enjoyed nothing more than introducing me to his family, friends, and sometimes strangers as his “pastor.”
          Harry was scheduled to have surgery. Nothing serious by today’s standards, but serious enough back then to have a room full of family, friends, and church members. We gathered around his bed before the surgery to pray, to share, and to laugh. Did I mention Harry had a wicked sense of humor? When they came to take Harry to surgery, he asked for a few more minutes, took my hand and announced, “Everyone, this is my pastor and he is going to pray for me.” I was planning on doing so anyway, but Harry had a way of always affirming and confirming my calling. I prayed as we all do in those intimate and frightening moments.
          I wasn’t the only pastor in the room that morning. Harry’s nephew, an ordained minister was also there. I don’t know if it was my prayer, or my presence, or maybe he wanted or expected to be the one called upon. But as Harry was taken away and the door closed, he turned to me and asked, “What exactly do you Methodist believe?” All eyes were on me. The room went quiet. How would the new, young, inexperienced pastor answer?
          I didn’t have to think long and hard. In fact, it flowed out of me as passionately and freely as it does most every Sunday,
 I believe in God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth;
 And in Jesus Christ his only Son, our Lord;
  who was conceived by the Holy Spirit,
  born of the Virgin Mary,
  suffered under Pontius Pilate,
  was crucified, dead, and buried;
  the third day he rose from the dead;
  he ascended into heaven,
  and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty;
  from thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
 I believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.
I’m not sure it’s what he expected, but it’s what I believe and continues to be believed by United Methodist. Regardless of what others might say.

So now you know just in case you were wondering.
Grace and More Grace,


District Superintendent

Douglas Gilreath
(770) 536-2586


Holley Butkovich
(770) 536-2586

Contact Information

404 Washington Street, #205  
Gainesville, GA 30501  

(770) 536-2586 Phone
(770) 536-7188 Fax

northeast@ngumc.net http://www.ngumc.org/northeast