June 8, 2018
Dear Peachtree Road Family,
I hope you are doing well. Last week we celebrated Founder’s Day here at Peachtree Road. It was a good day as we gave thanks for 93 years of ministry and reminded ourselves to focus upon the basics of ministry – “keeping first things first” is how I worded it. At the close of my sermon, I offered some words about the future of the church that I want to share with you at the end of this note.
This week in worship we will be talking about family, and I hope you will join us here at Peachtree Road. Church and family are two very important, formational groups in our lives. Each consists of people who love us unconditionally but also are willing to tell us the truth and hold us accountable. They let us know when they think we are taking ourselves too seriously. They remind us of our shared values and help keep us on the right path. In our scripture reading for this week, Jesus redefines family, and I think you will be a little bit surprised and maybe heartened by his words. I look forward to talking with you about “A New, Extended Family” on Sunday. In preparation for the service, I encourage you to read Mark 3:31-35.
I realize many of you are into a summer routine now and remind you of your options for worship at Peachtree Road:
8:45 am – Traditional Worship in the Sanctuary
9:00 am – Communion Service in the Moore Chapel
11:15 am – Traditional Worship in the Sanctuary
11:15 am – The Road Contemporary Worship in Heritage Hall
5:00 pm – Sundays @ 5 Casual Worship in the Moore Chapel
I remind you that the 152nd Session of the North Georgia Annual Conference is set for next week at the Classic Center in Athens. Peachtree Road will be well-represented. Julie Schendel, Carolyn Stephens, Leslie Watkins, Julie Wright, and I will serve as clergy delegates from our church while Merritt Bond, Gloria Gilley, Susan Rinkowski, Grace Sanders, and Josh Stephens will serve as our lay delegates. Others present from Peachtree Road will include Tom Cook (Conference Chancellor emeritus), Katie Cook (administrative assistant for the Atlanta-Roswell District), and Clara Watkins (youth delegate from the Atlanta-College Park District). Also, Jamie Jenkins, Lindsay Geist, Mace Hall, and Darren Hensley, who are clergy members of the North Georgia Annual Conference whose charge conference affiliation is Peachtree Road, will be attending.
There are three important matters I commend to you for your prayers:
First, I invite you to pray for Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson as she presides over our Annual Conference. The theme for this year’s conference is “Moving Toward Perfection in Love” and our emphasis will be upon spiritual disciplines. Bishop Sue writes that she chose this theme and focus because “…the foundation of our lives individually and as a community must be grounded in prayer and disciplined spiritual practices. The Holy Spirit moves through us when we listen.” Please pray for her as she leads.
Second, on Wednesday, June 13, our Chancel Choir will offer the music for the Service of Remembrance. This is that time when we remember our honored dead – clergy, clergy spouses, and lay members of the Annual Conference. If you would like to watch online, the service will be broadcast on the Conference website at 2:00 pm.
Then, on Thursday afternoon, June 14, Bishop Haupert-Johnson will “fix” the appointments for ministers for the coming year. At that time, she will announce that Rev. Geoff Beakley and Rev. Elizabeth Byrd will become associate ministers appointed to Peachtree Road. I am excited to have Geoff and Elizabeth as a part of our ministerial team.
It promises to be a good week.
Finally, I promised to share a few words with you about the future of the church. As we come to the beginning of our 94th year as a church in Buckhead, I sense some anxiety – not so much here at Peachtree Road as in our denomination. For the last 45 years United Methodists have been wrestling with our stances on gay marriage and ordination. The debate became so intense two years ago that the General Conference asked the Council of Bishops to appoint members to a “Commission on the Way Forward” to seek a way to move beyond the conflict. The Commission has met and has offered its suggestions to the Council of Bishops; the Council of Bishops has met and has endorsed a proposal for consideration; and a called General Conference has been set for February 23-26, 2019, in St. Louis to receive and vote on the proposal. I sense that some people are anxious about the future of the United Methodist Church. What will the General Conference decide? Will the denomination experience schism? Will Peachtree Road be affected? I confess that I have no clue what will happen when delegates depart St. Louis on February 26. However, I do know what will happen at Peachtree Road on March 3, 2019, the first Sunday after the General Conference. We will gather here in our beautiful sanctuary for worship. We will baptize babies, welcome new members, teach the scriptures to our children and youth, and commit ourselves in outreach to be salt and light to the world. It’s who we are – the people of Peachtree Road. So, I encourage you: be at peace. The Holy Spirit is at work. Let us recommit ourselves to “keeping first things first” in our ministry – love God and love others. In the words of that old hymn:
We are not divided, all one body we,
One in hope and doctrine, one in charity.
Thank you for your commitment to Christ and the ministry of Peachtree Road. I am grateful for your prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness. Please call on me when you need me. See you in church Sunday!