The Endurance Journey
    On Sunday we will bring to a close our stewardship emphasis for the month of February. You may remember that one of our goals for 2021 is to finish the year with a balanced budget. As you can imagine the pandemic has created a great deal of uncertainty for our Finance Committee as it tries to project giving for this year. So much of our planning is based on historical trends, but we find ourselves in unchartered territory these days. Some of you are hurting financially and have seen your income drop significantly in the last year. We understand and want to support you every way we can. Please feel free to reach out to me or any of the other ministers on our staff.
    Grow Stronger in God’s Love
      Lent has begun, and I believe this will be a most meaningful season as we intentionally set out to remove the distractions of our lives and make time for spiritual growth in our relationship with Christ. Our theme for these forty days is “Suffer and Grow Strong.” During this season we will follow Christ’s journey to the cross and discover that not only can we live through days of suffering but we also can grow stronger. Each week, we will consider ways in which Jesus and those around him suffered and how their faith sustained them.
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      Join Us on This Faith Journey
        We continue to bask in the mountaintop experience of Youth Sundaylast week here at Peachtree Road. A representative group of our youth consisting of seniors and members of the Doxology Youth Choir led us well in worship. Their enthusiasm was contagious, and the eight seniors who shared faith testimonies inspired us all. A retired minister friend of mine who lives in another part of the state texted me right after the service to share this message: I chose to worship this Sunday with you at Peachtree Road and was disappointed when I saw you were not preaching. I stayed on anyway and was anything but disappointed! What a great group of youth you have!...Give them my appreciation.
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        Celebrate the Ministry of Our Youth
          I understand that one of the emerging trends in early 2021 is a yearning for “hybrid normalcy.” What that means is we are becoming anxious for some aspects of our lives to return to normal. We want to be able to get out and go to restaurants, movies, concerts, and sporting events with our friends and not worry about catching a deadly virus. We want to be able to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries and other special occasions with family members. And we want to be able gather in person for Sunday School and worship with our fellow believers. A return to “normal.” However, we also don’t want to lose some of the conveniences we have gained during the pandemic.
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          Love God and Love Neighbor
          I hope you are well, and I really mean that! We are seeing a surge in new COVID-19 cases like never before, and I hope you are staying safe and healthy. We here at Peachtree Road understand how important this community of faith can be to your spiritual and mental health and are doing our best to offer ministry opportunities in ways that mitigate the spread of the virus. Please do not let your guard down in these days as we wait for as many people as possible to be vaccinated.
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          It Will Be All of Us
            Today we come to the close of an extraordinary week. On Monday, we commemorated the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with a national holiday and day of service. At historic Ebenezer Baptist Church, Bishop T.D. Jakes of The Potter’s House church in Dallas, Texas offered the keynote address for the King Day festivities. He rhetorically asked, “Who will step forward to take the place of Dr. King and slay the giants of systemic racism, economic opportunity for all, homelessness, mental health struggles and anxiety, and a host of others that threaten our communities?” Then, answering his own question, he observed, “There will never be another Martin….It will not be one of us, but all of us!” And he’s right. 
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            God Has Prepared Us
              Today is the beginning of the holiday weekend marking the 92nd birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. As we prepare to celebrate MLK Day here in the city of his birth, I have found myself wondering what Dr. King might say to us as we survey the landscape of America in the early days of 2021. In my imagination, I can almost hear him groaning in observance of the hurt, pain, and suffering of so many – especially those of color who, even a half-century after his death, are experiencing the effects of systemic racism.
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              A Call to Prayer
                I hope you are safe, healthy, and well. Let me begin this week’s note by issuing a call to prayer. The sanctuary will be open today, Friday, January 8, between 10 am and 2 pm for you to join with others in praying for peace in our land. We are living through some extraordinary days, and I would like to mobilize our congregation to pray for our country – its leaders and all its citizens.
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                Begin with Prayer
                  Happy New Year! I hope this note finds you well. The past year was as difficult as any I have encountered in my 40 years as a pastor in the United Methodist Church. The challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic have been great, but your faithfulness has never wavered. I am grateful.
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                  Offer Christ’s Light
                    I hope this note finds you well. We are less than a week from Christmas Eve and our celebration of the birth of Christ. Normally, Christmas Eve at Peachtree Road is the grandest celebration of the year. The sanctuary is filled to overflowing with worshipers at five services; the room is alive with the energy of excited children dressed as angels, shepherds, and wise men; and the music is joyful as we sing our carols and then light our candles. As you can imagine, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s celebration will be more muted.
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                    Bringing the Light of Christ
                      I hope this note finds you well. I don’t know about you, but the pandemic has just about worn me out! For nine months we have been riding this healthcare roller coaster, watching the number of COVID-19 cases in our community rise and fall. Currently, the numbers are rising, and health officials fear that trend will continue throughout the holidays. So, they tell us to be diligent in wearing our masks, keeping our distance from one another, and avoiding gathering in large crowds. While we know they are right, we yearn for something else – a sense of normalcy. We long for our traditional Christmas services in the sanctuary, surrounded by fellow worshipers from throughout the city and singing our familiar carols.
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                      Our Advent Journey Has Begun
                        Our journey through Advent has begun and we are well on our way toward Christmas. As I mentioned in my sermon last Sunday, our celebration of the season is shaping up to be more muted this year. With the cancellation of special worship services and concerts as well as the observance of health protocols that require smaller gatherings and physical distancing, we just can’t safely do the things we have done in years past. At Peachtree Road, your safety and good health are our top priorities. Thank you for observing these important protocols.
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                        Happy Thanksgiving! 10 Suggestions
                          Happy Thanksgiving! I am writing you on this Thursday morning to wish you a wonderful holiday. This has been a challenging year in so many ways, but your faithful support of Peachtree Road’s ministry has made a difference. On this day of celebration, please protect your health by taking all the necessary precautions as you gather with loved ones.
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                          Thankful for All God’s Blessings
                            Thanksgiving is less than a week away, and I really am looking forward to worshiping with you as we celebrate Harvest Sunday here at Peachtree Road. It will be a special day as we sing, pray, welcome new members, and count our many blessings. Over the course of the next week, I hope you will take some time to make a gratitude list of things for which you are thankful from the last year. Today, in this most unprecedented time (and I’m about ready to live again in some “precedented” times!) and to prime the pump, let me share with you some things for which I am thankful. 
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                            Hope for the Future
                              Did you see the news earlier this week? Pfizer announced that initial Phase 3 clinical trial results show its potential COVID-19 vaccine is more than 90% effective, and the CDC has asked states to be ready to receive the vaccine later this month. That’s great news in the fight against the pandemic that has gripped our nation for the last 8 months, and it leads me to hope we can recover some sense of normalcy in our ministries of worship and fellowship sometime in 2021.
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                              Become Peacemakers
                                This has been an extraordinary week as we have waited for the results of Tuesday’s election. The tightness of all the races seems to demonstrate just how divided we are in this country. Regardless of when a candidate is certified the winner, now is the time for our church to look for ways to bridge the divides.
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                                Reflect His Light Upon Our World
                                  After one month of offering in-person worship on a limited basis, we are very pleased with the results. Folks were able to gather safely at 11:15 am during October to enjoy the music, fellowship, and beauty of our sanctuary first-hand. No, it’s not like it used to be pre-pandemic, but it is an enriching experience.
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                                  Politics and Peace
                                    As you read these words, Election Day in America is less than two weeks away. Are you struggling with anxiety about the election? Are you concerned about the divisions we experience in this nation on many fronts? What are your hopes and dreams for when you wake up on November 3?
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                                    Humble Obedience to God
                                      I hope this note finds you well. If you have not joined us yet for our limited number in-person worship in the sanctuary at 11:15 am, I hope you will consider registering to attend a service soon.
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                                      A Sense of Gratitude
                                        Last Sunday was a great day at Peachtree Road as we welcomed a limited number of worshipers in the sanctuary for the 11:15 am service. I am so grateful that we are able to share the service virtually each week by livestream, but you know as well as I that there is nothing like being in the sacred space in person – the music, the beauty of the sunlight shining through the stained glass windows, and the fellowship of being with others you know and love. It was an emotional day for me.
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                                        Listen Together to the Words of Jesus
                                          I can’t tell you how excited I am to be able to welcome folks back to in-person worship beginning this Sunday, October 4, at 11:15 am. To provide for proper physical distancing, attendance is limited to 220 in the sanctuary, and reservations are required.
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                                          Gratitude in the Moment
                                            At the close of worship last Sunday, I made the announcement that we are planning to make provision for in-person worship on a limited basis beginning Sunday, October 4. We have seen marked improvement in the number of new cases of COVID-19 in our community and have learned a great deal about how to mitigate the risks of being together in worship.
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                                            Center Your Life in Christ
                                              Do you remember where you were 19 years ago today? I don’t think any of us will ever forget the day our world was brought to a complete stop by the attacks of that fateful morning. We remember and give thanks for the lives of those who died that day and especially for those who died trying to help others. Our world is a different place because of that day.
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                                              Study, Enrichment, & Support
                                                As one member suggested in a note to me: “I hope you are staying positive and testing negative!” I want to begin this week’s message on a sad note by letting you know of the death of Karen Greer, the wife of Ron Greer who is the director of the Pastoral Counseling Center here at Peachtree Road. Karen was an extraordinary person who served as one of our church’s ambassadors each Sunday and was blessed with a double-portion of the spiritual fruit of loving-kindness. We will miss her light. Please remember Ron and family in your prayers.
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                                                Grateful for Your Prayers
                                                  I hope this note finds you safe and well. At the close of this note, I want to share several important updates from Monday evening’s Administrative Board meeting. First, I want you to know how much I am looking forward to worshiping with you on Sunday. We are bringing our series of messages entitled “Grace for Every Time of Need” to a close.
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                                                  Connected to God’s Grace
                                                    I hope you are well. I want to begin this week’s note by announcing the death of two of our finest members. Bob Hunter was a long-time member of Peachtree Road who served as the chair of the Administrative Board in 1977. He and his wife Barbara have been members for nearly 60 years and have been very faithful in their support of the church’s ministry. Randall Rollins also was a long-time member. He and his wife Peggy joined Peachtree Road over 40 years ago, and they have enthusiastically supported every good cause championed by this church ever since. I have no words to describe how much I will miss these two saints of the church. Please remember their families and dear friends in your prayers.
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                                                    Into the Household of God
                                                      I hope you are well. This has been a really good week around the church. For me it began last Sunday with the incorporation of the baptism of the daughter of Liz and JR Wright into our Sunday morning service. Though we have baptized a number of children during the days of the pandemic, this was the first in the midst of the online worship service since mid-March. I was delighted to baptize Elizabeth Holt and know that you all were there with us – affirming your faith along with the family and welcoming “Birdie” into the household of God. It just felt good…a sense of normalcy returning.
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                                                      Respond to God’s Grace
                                                        I hope you are well. Let me begin this week’s note by informing you of a change on our Youth staff. Grace Nadeau, one of our associate directors, has accepted a position with the Gwinnett County Public Schools as a high school Spanish teacher and will be leaving our staff. Grace grew up here at Peachtree Road, is a product our church’s youth ministry, and married her husband Zach in our sanctuary.
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                                                        Recognize the Presence of God
                                                          I hope this note finds you well. This Sunday, August 2, we will kick-off a new sermon series entitled “Grace For Every Time of Need.” You have heard me talk about a lesson I learned early in my ministry – there are things that we want and then there are things that we really want. For example, what we want is independence, good health, and safety and security for our loved ones. However, what we really want is God.
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                                                          Give Fully to God
                                                            I hope this note finds you well. Thank you for your faithfulness in so many ways. You have continued to stay connected to the ministry of Peachtree Road throughout the summer through worship, Zoom prayer groups, Bible studies, and outreach opportunities, and I am grateful for you.
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                                                            A Gift From God
                                                              I hope you are doing well on this hot summer day. I want to begin this week’s note by telling you how much I miss seeing you. Each Sunday morning I step into the pulpit to preach, look into the camera on the front wall of the balcony, and imagine seeing your faces on the other side of that lens.
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                                                              Christ is Our Solid Rock
                                                                I hope you have had a good week. I know the outside temperature, the humidity, and the calendar suggest this is July; however, in many ways it just doesn’t feel like summer. My life has a certain rhythm to it. Usually, I move from through the days of Lent to a glorious celebration of Easter to special times like Confirmation Sunday, seeing my mother on Mother’s Day, and watching the parade of veterans on Freedom Sunday.
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                                                                God Is at Work
                                                                  I hope this note finds you doing well. Tomorrow is the Fourth of July, and I hope you will have a wonderful day with loved ones. As we come to the 244th anniversary of the founding of our nation, I want you to know that I am more hopeful than ever before about our future.
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                                                                  Return to the Essentials of Our Faith
                                                                    I hope this note finds you well. This Sunday is our annual Celebration of Freedom Sunday. While we will not be gathering in-person for the service, we will have the opportunity to sing patriotic hymns, hear inspirational music from our choir, and give thanks for our veterans through segments taken from last year’s celebration.
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                                                                    Give Thanks and Rejoice
                                                                    I hope this note finds you well. As I mentioned in the sermon last Sunday, it almost feels like we are living in the midst of a perfect storm. Three months ago, we were hit by a hurricane of a health crisis. Then, another storm appeared on the horizon and headed toward us in the form of an unprecedented economic and unemployment crisis.
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                                                                    Adapting to Change
                                                                      I hope this note finds you well. Earlier this week it hit me. The new decade of the 20’s is less than six months old and already we have dealt with more crises and strife than we would hope to encounter over the next 10 years! As a result, our ability to adapt to change and deal with adversity has been challenged like no time in my 39 years as a pastor.
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                                                                      Offer Your Presence and Compassion
                                                                      I hope this note finds you well. Let me begin with an apology to all who tuned in to watch last Sunday’s service on livestream at 11:15 am. There was a network error that caused the system to crash, and I understand viewing was impossible. I am grateful to our dedicated AV team who did record the service, and it is available in its entirety here. This is a critical time in the life of our community, and I encourage you to set aside about fifty minutes this weekend to watch the service, hear the beautiful music, join in the liturgy and prayer, and consider the message of the day. By the way, the network problem has been repaired, and we are ready for Sunday!
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