February 2, 2024

Dear Peachtree Road Family,

I hope you are well. It is hard to believe that the first month of the new year has ended and we already are into the month of February. That means “end of the year reports,” and I will share some of our statistics from last year at the close of this note. Spoiler alert: it was an outstanding year!

On Sunday we will conclude our series on mental wellness with a message entitled “Finding Comfort in the Midst of Grief.” At some time in life, each of us encounters grief: the loss of a job, the end of a relationship, or the death of a loved one. How do you cope when grief sets into your life? That’s the question with which I want us to wrestle on Sunday. In preparation for the message, I encourage you to read Jeremiah’s words to the people of Israel as they grieved the loss of their homeland and exile in Babylon – Jeremiah 29:1, 4-7. We will sing two great hymns of the church (“All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name” and “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms”), and the Chancel Choir’s anthem will be Carlton Young’s arrangement of “I Will Not Leave You Comfortless” which is based upon Jesus’ words in John 14. I hope you will join us at 8:45 am, 10:00 am, or 11:15 am. If you cannot make it in person, please worship online at www.prumc.org

I am grateful for the One Lamb Initiative for Mental Wellness team here at Peachtree Road UMC. They have been front and center during our emphasis on mental wellness during these first weeks of a new year and will continue to offer hope and help to those who are struggling in the days to come. They have many resources available and are ready to support you. If you are in need of financial assistance to get the mental health you need, please visit www.1lamb.org and click on the “Giving and Gifts” menu tab to see the scholarship application that you can submit online. 

Here are two upcoming opportunities being offered by the One Lamb team:

  • Sadness, Loss, Depression: A Medical Perspective – Sunday, February 4, 10:00 am in Heritage Hall. Do you or someone you know exhibit the signs of depression? Fortunately, depression is highly treatable. You are invited to this workshop led by Dr. Ben Hunter, Chief Medical Officer at Skyland Trail, as he shares his insights. 
  • Family-to-Family – a core part of One Lamb’s programming is a semi-annual offering of the NAMI Family-to-Family course, which is designed to educate and support family members of those living with a mental health diagnosis. The educational value of the course is as important as the bonds built among the participants from shared experiences. For more information or to participate in a future class, contact Susan Thigpen at thigpensusan@gmail.com or visit www.namiga.org.  

For more information about these and other offerings by the One Lamb Initiative for Mental Wellness, please visit their website at www.1lamb.org

Speaking of resources, I want to invite you to an educational forum on the current conflict in the Middle East on Wednesday, February 28, at 6:30 pm in Grace Hall. The Deep Waters Class is sponsoring this forum which will feature experts in the field. You will hear about the history of the people living in that land, the events that have led to the current conflict, and the status of past peace initiatives. I am pleased to announce that Rabbi Peter Berg, from the Temple here in Atlanta, and Dr. Deanna Ferree Womack, Assistant Professor of Religions and Multifaith Relations at Candler School of Theology at Emory University, will be with us. I am hopeful that this conversation will inform us as we pray for peace in our world and for the people of this region. There is no charge, and online registration will be available in the coming week.

I also want to invite you to join me later this year on a Wesley Heritage tour of England as we explore the roots of Methodism. You will have an opportunity to visit: Epworth, where the Wesleys were baptized and grew up under the guidance of their mother Susannah; Christ Church College at Oxford University, where John and Charles Wesley were educated and ordained and where the “Holy Club” which led to the birth of Methodism was founded; Bristol and “The New Room” where John Wesley preached about the unconditional grace of God to thousands and taught class leaders how to lead covenant groups; and London where the home of John Wesley is located. In addition, you will visit the birthplace of William Shakespeare in Stratford-on-Avon, spend a relaxing afternoon in Jane Austin’s village of Bath, and maybe enjoy tea at Buckingham Palace. Does this sound like something you would like to do? Then sign up to join us October 22-31, 2024, and learn more about your spiritual roots as a Methodist. To download a brochure, please click here or contact Jamie Jenkins at jamiej@prumc.org.

One important note about our clergy staff: at last Monday night’s Administrative Board meeting, our associate minister Julie Wright announced her retirement. Julie has served as our director for senior adult ministries for the last ten years, and under her leadership, this ministry has flourished. Her retirement becomes official at the close of the Conference year (June 30, 2024), and we will have an opportunity to express our appreciation for her in the days to come. In the meantime, I encourage you to pray for Julie and her family as she prepares for the next chapter of her life. 

Finally, as promised, let me share a few year-end statistics with you:

  • Membership – 8,540 (+137)
  • Average Worship Attendance – 1929 (1309 in person, 620 online)
  • Number of Persons Who Joined –239
  • Number of Persons Who Joined on Profession of Faith – 88
  • Giving to the Ministry Budget – $7.76 million 
  • Giving to Lenten Offering Local Outreach – $192k
  • Giving to Christmas Eve Global Outreach – $190k

These numbers represent countless lives that have been touched through the vital ministries of this congregation. I am grateful for your faithfulness to Christ and for your love of Peachtree Road UMC. We came out of 2023 with great momentum, and it has continued through the first month of 2024. Thank you!

I hope to see you Sunday as we worship, pray, fellowship, and listen for the Lord’s voice speaking words of comfort to us.

Grace and peace,