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  • Bill Leslie Carolyn Singing

July 21, 2017

Dear Peachtree Road Family,

I hope you have had a good week.

Sunday promises to be another great day in worship as we continue our “Summer in the City” services. Julie Schendel will be preaching this week as we continue to focus upon “Summer Psalms.” This Sunday we turn our attention to one of the most-beloved biblical passages of all time — Psalm 100. No doubt you have quoted this psalm of praise on numerous occasions:

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness; come into his presence with singing.

The psalmist encourages us to sing praises to God. Did you know that science has discovered a connection between singing and better health and well-being? Seriously, neurological studies have shown that when you sing, your brain releases endorphins and oxytocins, hormones that work together to relax your brain and relieve stress and anxiety. And here’s the best part: you don’t even have to be a good singer to reap the rewards! Just make a joyful “noise!” Amazing. So, one of the best things you can do for your own mental health is to show up at Peachtree Road on Sunday mornings, pick up a hymnal or put on a choir robe, and sing praises to God! It’s certainly worth considering.

Speaking of singing, not only will you have the opportunity to sing some of my favorite hymns (To God Be the Glory, ‘Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus, and Revive Us Again) and hear the Chancel Choir, but we also will be blessed by the singing of our own Amy Little as a soloist. Do you need something to encourage you and get you seeing life from a new perspective? Then join us as we “come into His presence with singing” this Sunday.

Let me take this opportunity to thank you for your generous giving to Wesley Woods as a part of the Mother’s Day Offering. To date, your offering of $25,685 represents the largest amount contributed by one church in our Annual Conference, and I am grateful. If you were in the sanctuary that Sunday, you heard incredibly moving testimonies of how Wesley Woods makes a difference in the lives of older adults living in our communities (even some from our own church). They spoke of how Wesley Woods has given them a sense of belonging that helps to overcome the loneliness so many experience at this stage of life and provides meaning to their lives. If you have not had an opportunity to contribute yet, you may do so through the month of August by giving online.

Finally, I am pleased to announce the addition of two new persons to our church staff:

Bob Brinson, who joined Peachtree Road on Palm Sunday one year ago, is our new preferred caterer. If you have not had a chance to sample Chef Bob’s cooking the last two weeks, I invite you to drop by Grace Hall on a Sunday morning and enjoy the delicious breakfast he has prepared.

Deb Knott is our new events coordinator. She started last week and is the one you will want to talk with about scheduling the use of our church space.

I look forward to having you meet these two. We welcome them to the Peachtree Road family.

As you travel in these last days of summer, I encourage you to stay connected to your church family by worshiping online or viewing the service later in the week. Thank you for your support in so many ways.

See you Sunday as we worship together and make a joyful noise!

Bill

Bible Study is one of the greatest ways we grow in our discipleship with Christ and in our relationships with one another. This year there is something for everyone! I’ve often heard, “I can’t go to Bible study, I don’t know enough about the Bible.” Fear not…whether you’ve never really read the Bible or you’ve been taking classes for years, spending time studying God’s word can be transformative: increase your knowledge, develop the discipline of a daily or weekly routine, and learn more about God and one another. Sign up today for a short-term study to get your feet wet, or for a 36-week disciple class to dive right in! – Julie Schendel

Register Here

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Disciple Courses

Disciple Sunday School
Remember Who You Are

Sundays, starting September 10, 10:00 am, B118

Lynn Henkel

This study intensive Sunday School class works through Disciple 3—Remember Who You Are. Class is ongoing but newcomers are welcome at the start of each new study.

Click here to register.

Disciple 1
Becoming Disciples Through Bible Study

Sundays, starting August 27, 6:00 pm, C104
Jeff Upshaw & Les Watters

Mondays, starting August 28, 6:30 pm, C106
Troy Nottingham & Jo Hodges

Whether you’ve never read the Bible or have studied it often and want to dive deeper, this 36 week class is a great way to develop the discipline of studying the Bible and using that knowledge to help you grow in your faith journey.

Click here to register.

Disciple 1
Fast Track

Sundays, starting August 27, 6:00 pm, B118

Mack Barnes & Shawn Perkins

For those whose schedules won’t quite allow 36 weeks of study in a row, try the Fast Track version for an abbreviated study with 12 weeks in the Fall for the Old Testament, a break for the winter holidays, and 12 weeks beginning in January for the New Testament. This is a great way to get your feet wet with Disciple.

Click here to register.

Disciple 2
Into the Word, Into the World

Mondays, starting August 28, 6:30 pm, C102
Gary Schneeberg & Leigh Beakley

Tuesdays, starting September 5, 6:30 pm, C102
Ross Daniel & Lynn Banks

33 weeks focusing on Genesis, Exodus, Luke, and Acts, Disciple 2 teaches participants the transforming power of scripture and Bible study skills that take students deeper into the Word. Disciple 1 is a prerequisite to help you get the most out of this course.

Click here to register.

Disciple 3
Remember Who You Are

Sundays, starting August 27, 6:00 pm, C101

Alex Barfield, Sloan Dobrin, & Ben Saylor

Study the major and minor Old Testament Prophets and the New Testament Letters of Paul. This 32-week course will allow participants to discover the connection between memory and identity as the people of God. Disciple 1 is a prerequisite for the course, but Disciple 2 is not required.

Click here to register.

Jesus in the Gospels

Sundays, starting August 27, 6:00 pm, C106

Ed Hamlin

A 36 week Disciple favorite that connects the teachings of Jesus with the Judaic texts of the Old Testament. Discover Jesus in a new light by learning more about his roots in Judaism and how it all connects with Christianity. Participants must have completed Disciple 1 previously to get the most out of class.

Click here to register.

Invitation to the New Testament

Wednesdays, starting September 13, 6:00 pm, C104

Geoff Beakley

This 8-week short-term Disciple study looks at how the early church took ownership of and was shaped by the story of Jesus. Participants will discover how to develop as disciples and create communities of faith just like they did in the early church.

Click here to register.

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Topical Courses

Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace

Sundays, starting September 24, 6:00 pm, C208

Bill O’Shields, CPA and Chris Blackman, CPA & CFP

A 9-week, money-management course taught on DVD by America’s most trusted financial guru, Dave Ramsey. Dave and his teaching team will walk you through the basics of budgeting, dumping debt, planning for the future and much more.

***  Sign up and order your class materials HERE.

GriefShare

Tuesdays, starting September 19, 6:30 pm, C105

Carol Thurman & Lindley Small

If you’ve lost a spouse, child, family member, or friend, it may be hard for you to feel optimistic about the future right now. You’ve probably found there are not many people who understand the deep hurt you feel. This can be a confusing time when you feel isolated and have many questions about things you’ve never faced before. Grief Share meets weekly to help you face these challenges and move toward rebuilding your life.

Click here to register.

Journey Together
Exploring the Psalms

Wednesdays, starting September 6, 10:30 am, C104

Julie Wright

Throughout the Psalms, we encounter a beautiful spectrum of words used by the writers to demonstrate how God’s word impacts everything around us. The word of God is not merely something tied to some ephemeral spiritual realm. Rather, its purpose is to transform our daily lives and the ways in which we interact in the real world.

Click here to register.

Deep Waters
Knowing Our Neighbors: Building Bridges in a Volatile World

Wednesdays, starting September 13, 6:30 pm, C208

Julie Schendel

Join Deep Waters this fall for a forum series aimed at gaining a better understanding around how/what contemporary issues and movements are affecting those of other faiths. Drawing upon the expertise and experiences of Jewish and Muslim speakers, Candler and Emory faculty, and other experts in the field, the course will provide members with insights to analyze current events and issues as they relate to other religions and sociopolitical issues. We’ll explore ways we as Christians can promote tolerance, understanding, and peace, as well as inter-faith dialogue with our neighbors in the Atlanta community.

Click here to register.

Marriage Enrichment

Wednesdays, starting November 1, 6:30 pm, C207

Bill Britt

A 3-week marriage enrichment class helping couples grow (not fall) in love, make the relationship a priority, and avoid the pitfalls that rob the relationship of joy. Open to engaged couples, newlyweds, and long-term married couples.

Click here to register.

What is the Bible?

Thursdays, starting September 7, 9:00 am, C104

Julie Schendel

A study on Rob Bell’s newest book “What is the Bible? How an Ancient Library of Poems, Letters, and Stories Can Transform the Way You Think and Feel About Everything.” Take a deeper look at the Bible you know and love, and discover how it’s more revealing, revolutionary, and relevant than we ever imagined.

Click here to register.

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Short Term

Celebration of Discipline

Mondays, starting September 11, 8:30 am, C106

Carolyn Stephens

This 12-week study focuses on Richard Foster’s classic book “Celebration of Discipline.” Discover ways to become a stronger disciple of Christ through the inward, outward, and corporate disciplines such as fasting, simplicity, and celebration.

Click here to register.

The Religion Next Door
Exploring the Role of Christianity in the South

Mondays, starting September 11, 6:30 pm, C104

Darren Hensley

How can people of shared faith express such different and sometimes opposing outlooks on the issues of the day?  How does religion inform these views?  Using the Letters of Paul and insights from Southern literary figures, this five-week study will consider how religion affects everything from our social interactions, political views, and values to our perceptions, self-understanding, and identity.  Recalling our traditions and experiences, and through intentional self-reflection and discernment, we will examine ways to engage some of our most difficult cultural questions while claiming meaningful, faithful responses to them.

Click here to register.

The Road Back to You

Mondays, starting September 25, 9:30 am, C204

Leslie Watkins

A dynamic 5-week study on the ancient personality test, the Enneagram. Working through Ian Morgan Cron’s book “The Road Back to You” and the accompanying workbook, discover more about yourself and others as you learn about personality traits, driving factors, and how to reach your healthiest self.

Click here to register.

Margin
Relieving Overload

Tuesdays, starting September 12, 6:15 pm, C104

Ken Yarbrough

A 6-week study on the book by Richard Swenson. “Margin” is a class for people who buy a book on how to handle stress, then don’t have time to read it.  It is a practical guide and discussion of how to add reserves to your life and family.  Emotional reserves.  Physical reserves.  Financial reserves. Time reserves.  And most importantly, spiritual reserves.  If you yearn for relief from the pain and pressure of overload, “Margin” will teach you how to find relief.

Click here to register.

Wesley and the Early Methodists

Thursdays, starting September 7, 6:30 pm, B118

Jamie Jenkins

This 4-week study focuses on John Wesley, the founder of Methodism. Discussion will revolve around the early Methodist Movement in England, as well as the historical sights that helped shape John Wesley and the birth of our denomination.

Click here to register.

Moses

Thursdays, starting September 21, 7:00 pm, C104

Deidra Harrell

This 6-week study focuses on Adam Hamilton’s newest book “Moses.” It doesn’t get much more dramatic: rescued baby, parting the Red Sea, leading his people out of Egypt…Moses’ life was one challenge after the next, but although he resisted God’s calling, by the end of his life he successfully fulfilled the role he was given. We’ll take a look at historical information, archaeological data, and biblical text, all while gaining a better understanding of Moses’ significance in our lives today and how we, too, can turn our reluctance into boldness.

Click here to register.

Falling Upward

Fridays, starting October 13, 10:00 am, C104

Claire Bowen

This 3-week study focuses on Richard Rohr’s book “Falling Upward: A Spirituality for the Two Halves of Life.” In the first half of life, we are naturally and rightly preoccupied with establishing our identity. But, those concerns will not serve us as we grow older and begin to embark on a further journey.  Rohr offers a new paradigm for understanding one of the most profound of life’s mysteries: how our failings can be the foundation for our ongoing spiritual growth.

Click here to register.

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Women

More Than Sparrows

Wednesdays, starting August 30, 9:30 am, H105-106

Sarah Crossman Sullivan

We are surrounded by love, kindness, compassion, opportunity, and hope. Yet in these blessings, fear, worry, doubt, and neglect seep in. Join us as we study scripture on how to cloak ourselves and each other in God’s love. We’ll study the Gospel of John.

Click here to register.

Morning Light
Conversations with God

Wednesdays, starting September 20, 10:00 am, B118

Gloria Gilley

Join this group to respond to biblical passages through though provoking questions as you experience a closer walk with Christ.

Click here to register.

Morning Light
All Things New

Wednesdays, starting September 20, 10:00 am, C208

Nancy Bell

Learn more about Paul’s letter to the church in Corinth and how God’s church can thrive in any and every circumstance.

Click here to register.

Morning Light
The Armor of God

Wednesdays, starting September 20, 10:00 am, C205

Bonnie Copeland

Join this class to use scripture to create an action plan to put on God’s armor to protect against daily battles we all face.

Click here to register.

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Bill and Friend

Summer in the City Series
Blessed Assurance: Psalm 121

Worship Bulletin PDF
11:15 am Live Webcast

8:45 am
Traditional Worship  |  Carolyn Stephens

9:00 am
Chapel Communion  |  Diane Hary

11:15 am
Traditional Worship  |  Carolyn Stephens

5:00 pm
Sundays @ 5  |  Carolyn Stephens

 

Bill Confession of Faith

Wesleyan Series
Prevenient Grace: The Power to Begin

Worship Bulletin PDF
11:15 am Live Webcast

8:45 am
Traditional Worship  |  Bill Britt

11:15 am
Traditional Worship  |  Bill Britt

5:00 pm
Sundays @ 5  |  Bill Britt

On this day
Communion will be celebrated in the sanctuary during our traditional worship services.

Communion

Wesleyan Series
Justifying Grace: The Turning Point

Worship Bulletin PDF
11:15 am Live Webcast

8:45 am
Traditional Worship  |  Bill Britt

9:00 am
Chapel Communion  |  Carolyn Stephens

11:15 am
Traditional Worship  |  Bill Britt

5:00 pm
Sundays @ 5  |  Carolyn Stephens

Leslie Baptismal

Wesleyan Series
Sanctifying Grace: The Heart of It All

Worship Bulletin PDF
11:15 am Live Webcast

8:45 am
Traditional Worship  |  Bill Britt

9:00 am
Chapel Communion  |  Geoff Beakley

11:15 am
Traditional Worship  |  Bill Britt

5:00 pm
Sundays @ 5  |  Bill Britt

Elizabeth Byrd, Chapel Communion

Wesleyan Series
Heaven: The Beginning of Eternity

Worship Bulletin PDF
11:15 am Live Webcast

8:45 am
Traditional Worship  |  Bill Britt

9:00 am
Chapel Communion  |  Leslie Watkins

11:15 am
Traditional Worship  |  Bill Britt

5:00 pm
Sundays @ 5  |  Carolyn Stephens

On this day:
Sunday Funday, complimentary BBQ lunch, Fall program fair, Disciple registration, choir registration, fall brochures available.

Grace and Ashley

Get Behind Me

Worship Bulletin PDF
11:15 am Live Webcast

8:45 am
Traditional Worship  |  Julie Schendel

11:15 am
Traditional Worship  |  Julie Schendel

On this day
Communion will be celebrated in the sanctuary during our traditional worship services.
We will not hold our Sundays @ 5 evening service.

Diaper & Formula Drive Begins
Sock & Underwear Drive Begins

Church closes at 2:00 pm for Labor Day holiday.

Sanctuary Ribbons

The Good Life Sermon Series
Integrity:  Know Who You Are

Worship Bulletin PDF
11:15 am Live Webcast

8:45 am
Traditional Worship  |  Bill Britt

9:00 am
Chapel Communion  |  Leslie Watkns

11:15 am
Traditional Worship  |  Bill Britt

5:00 pm
Sundays @ 5  |  Bill Britt

On this day
Special Joining Day
Jamie Barton in Worship
Ron Greer in Worship

 

Bill Preaching

The Good Life Sermon Series
Finding Peace in Your Finances

Worship Bulletin PDF
11:15 am Live Webcast

8:45 am
Traditional Worship  |  Bill Britt

9:00 am
Chapel Communion  |  Leslie Watkins

11:15 am
Traditional Worship  |  Bill Britt

5:00 pm
Sundays @ 5  |  Julie Schendel

On this day
3rd Grade Bible Presentation
Dogwood Opens
Financial Peace Forum
2nd Sunday Snapshot

 

Bill Preaching

The Good Life Sermon Series
Alcohol:  Playing with Fire

Worship Bulletin PDF
11:15 am Live Webcast

8:45 am
Traditional Worship  |  Bill Britt

9:00 am
Chapel Communion  |  Darren Hensley

11:15 am
Traditional Worship  |  Bill Britt

5:00 pm
Sundays @ 5  |  Julie Schendel

On this day
Addiction Forum

 

Leslie Hugging

The Good Life Sermon Series
Divine Intimacy

Worship Bulletin PDF
11:15 am Live Webcast

8:45 am
Traditional Worship  |  Bill Britt

11:15 am
Traditional Worship  |  Bill Britt

5:00 pm
The Blessing of the Animals

On this day
World Communion will be celebrated in the sanctuary during our traditional worship services.
Food Drive for BCM Begins
Campus Tour

Blessing of the Animals
Sunday, October 1, 5:00 pm, Sanctuary

 

Sweet Moment

The Good Life Sermon Series
Aging and Changing Roles

Worship Bulletin PDF
11:15 am Live Webcast

8:45 am
Traditional Worship  |  Bill Britt

9:00 am
Chapel Communion  |  Lindsay Geist

11:15 am
Traditional Worship  |  Bill Britt

5:00 pm
Sundays @ 5  |  Julie Schendel

On this day
Senior Adult Sunday

 

The Good Life Sermon Series
Dealing with Depression

Worship Bulletin PDF
11:15 am Live Webcast

8:45 am
Traditional Worship  |  Bill Britt

9:00 am
Chapel Communion  |  Leslie Watkins

11:15 am
Traditional Worship  |  Bill Britt

5:00 pm
Sundays @ 5  |  Julie Schendel

On this day
Jamie Jenkins in Worship
Coro Vocati concert

 

Jamie High Five

The Good Life Sermon Series
A Life Worth Living

Worship Bulletin PDF
11:15 am Live Webcast

8:45 am
Traditional Worship  |  Bill Britt

9:00 am
Chapel Communion  |  Geoff Beakley

11:15 am
Traditional Worship  |  Bill Britt

5:00 pm
Sundays @ 5  |  Julie Schendel

On this day
Seraphic Fire Music season opener
Same Kind of Different as Me movie theater takeover

 

Hugging

The Greatest Commandment

Worship Bulletin PDF
11:15 am Live Webcast

8:45 am
Traditional Worship  |  Carolyn Stephens

9:00 am
Chapel Communion  |  TBA

11:15 am
Traditional Worship  |  Carolyn Stephens

5:00 pm
Sundays @ 5  |  Geoff Beakley

On this day
Turkey Drive
Reformation Weekend
Hoffmann Lecture Series

 

Bill Preaching

We Are Thankful Sermon Series
For All the Saints

Worship Bulletin PDF
11:15 am Live Webcast

8:45 am
Traditional Worship  |  Bill Britt

9:00 am
Chapel Communion  |  TBA

11:15 am
Traditional Worship  |  Bill Britt

5:00 pm
Choral Evensong for the Feast of All Saints

On this day
Feast of All Saints
Finance Panel Discussion
Choral Evensong

 

Sanctuary Friends

We Are Thankful Sermon Series
For the Church

Worship Bulletin PDF
11:15 am Live Webcast

8:45 am
Traditional Worship  |  Bill Britt

9:00 am
Chapel Communion  |  TBA

11:15 am
Traditional Worship  |  Bill Britt

5:00 pm
Sundays @ 5  |  Carolyn Stephens

On this day
Missions Market
2nd Sunday Snapshot

 

Bill and Baby

We Are Thankful Sermon Series
For All God’s Blessings

Worship Bulletin PDF
11:15 am Live Webcast

8:45 am
Traditional Worship  |  Bill Britt

9:00 am
Chapel Communion  |  TBA

11:15 am
Traditional Worship  |  Bill Britt

5:00 pm
Sundays @ 5  |  Carolyn Stephens

On this day
Harvest Sunday
Special Joining Day
Commitment Day
Congregational Lunchoen
Advent Workshop

 

Your Content Goes Here

Date
Sermon Title

Worship Bulletin PDF
Worship Service Video

Sunday Photo Gallery

Sermon Podcast
Sermon Video

Worship Notes
Text here

 

Your Content Goes Here

Title

Worship Bulletin PDF
11:15 am Live Webcast

8:45 am
Traditional Worship  |  Name

9:00 am
Chapel Communion  |  Name

11:15 am
Traditional Worship  |  Name

5:00 pm
Sudays @ 5  |  Name

On this day
Happenings

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Catch great moments from Sunday's worship here!

Worship Bulletin PDF
Worship Service Video

Sunday Photo Gallery

Sermon Podcast – Coming Soon
Sermon Video

Sermon Notes
Coming Soon

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Sunday, July 2, 2017

Catch great moments from Sunday's worship here!

Worship Bulletin PDF
Worship Service Video

Sunday Photo Gallery

Sermon Podcast – Coming Soon
Sermon Video

Sermon Notes
The Lord is my Shepherd
Rev. Bill Britt

The reading of the 23rd Psalm is one of the most beloved passages in the entire Bible. I believe its power comes from the hope and comfort it communicates to us as we walk through life’s valleys.
Two observations:

  • “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…”The psalmist understood that the valleys of life are a given. Life isn’t just enjoying yourself in green pastures, sitting at a feast at the family table, or overflowing cups of blessings. The valleys in life are inevitable.
  • The psalmist understood that the valley is not a destination. Rather, it is a passageway that we walk through.
    The interesting difference between “though” and “through” is the letter “r,” which in American Sign Language is represented by crossing your fingers. Of course, this sign predates ASL by many centuries. Early Christians used the sign in times of persecution to identify themselves as people of the cross – followers of Christ. We are invited to remember that it is Christ who is with us as we venture into life’s valleys, and it is Christ who enables us to move through them.

You probably know someone who is struggling in a valley this week. Look for a way to offer them an encouraging word. They are not alone. Christ is with them. That word might make all the difference to them.

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Sunday, June 25, 2017

Catch great moments from Sunday's worship here!

Worship Bulletin PDF
Worship Service Video

Sunday Photo Gallery

Sermon Podcast – Coming Soon
Sermon Video

Sermon Notes
Coming Soon

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Sunday, June 18, 2017

Catch great moments from Sunday's worship here!

Father’s Day

Worship Bulletin PDF
Worship Service Video

Sunday Photo Gallery

Sermon Podcast – Coming Soon
Sermon Video

Sermon Notes
Coming Soon

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Sunday, June 11, 2017

Catch great moments from Sunday's worship here!

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Sunday, June 4, 2017

Pentecost

Worship Bulletin PDF
Worship Service Video

Sunday Photo Gallery

Sermon Podcast
Sermon Video

Sermon Notes
Rivers of Living Water
Rev. Bill Britt

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Sunday, May 28, 2017

Worship Bulletin PDF
Worship Service Video

Sunday Photo Gallery

Sermon Podcast
Sermon Video

Sermon Notes
See A Witness, Hear A Witness, Be A Witness
Rev. Julie Schendel

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Sunday, May 21, 2017

Graduate Sunday

Worship Bulletin PDF
Worship Service Video

Sunday Photo Gallery

Sermon Podcast
Sermon Video

Sermon Notes
We Have an Advocate
Rev. Bill Britt

We are in the season of transitions – graduations, weddings, confirmations, etc.  With each of these, the old passes away and something new begins. And that can be a source of anxiety for many, and Jesus understood that. While preparing his disciples for his own departure, Jesus said: “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever…” (John 14:16)

  • The Advocate the Father sends is one who walks alongside us as a counselor. Do you have someone like that in your life?
  • Jesus doesn’t just send us an Advocate. He sends us the Advocate – the Holy Spirit who brings to us an abundant life.
  • There is nothing you can say or do to prevent God from loving you.

This week, look for ways to declutter your life and create more room for the Holy Spirit to fill your soul. Exercise your spiritual muscles through worship, prayer, study, and service. You have an Advocate!

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Sunday, May 14, 2017

Mother’s Day

Worship Bulletin PDF
Worship Service Video

Sunday Photo Gallery

Sermon Podcast
Sermon Video

Sermon Notes
You Never Walk Alone
Rev. Bill Britt

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Sunday, May 7, 2017

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Sunday, April 30, 2017

Worship Bulletin PDF
Worship Service Video – Coming soon

Sunday Photo Gallery

Sermon Podcast – Coming soon
Sermon Video – Coming soon

Sermon Notes

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Sunday, April 23, 2017

Doxology Sunday

Worship Bulletin PDF
Worship Service Video

Sunday Photo Gallery

Sermon Notes
Celebrate Life

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Sunday, April 16, 2017

Easter Day

Worship Bulletin PDF
Worship Service Video

Sunday Photo Gallery

Sermon Podcast
Sermon Video

Sermon Notes
Fear and Great Joy
Rev. Bill Britt

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Sunday, April 9, 2017

Palm Sunday

Worship Bulletin PDF
Worship Service Video

Sunday Photo Gallery

Sermon Podcast
Sermon Video

Sermon Notes
When Death Draws Near… Breathe
Rev. Bill Britt

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Sunday, April 2, 2017

Worship Bulletin PDF
Worship Service Video

Sunday Photo Gallery

Sermon Podcast
Sermon Video

Sermon Notes
When You’re Caught in a Nightmare… Breathe
Rev. Bill Britt

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Sunday, March 26, 2017

Worship Bulletin PDF
Worship Service Video

Sunday Photo Gallery

Sermon Podcast
Sermon Video

Sermon Notes
When You’re Haunted by Your Past… Breathe
Rev. Bill Britt

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Sunday, March 19, 2017

Worship Bulletin PDF
Worship Service Video

Sunday Photo Gallery

Sermon Podcast
Sermon Video

Sermon Notes
When Life Doesn’t Turn Out As You Had Hoped… Breathe
Rev. Bill Britt

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Sunday, March 12, 2017

Worship Bulletin PDF
Worship Service Video

Sunday Photo Gallery

Sermon Podcast
Sermon Video

Sermon Notes
When You Don’t Know What To Do Next… Breathe
Rev. Bill Britt

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Sunday, March 5, 2017

Worship Bulletin PDF
Worship Service Video

Sunday Photo Gallery

Sermon Podcast
Sermon Video

Sermon Notes
When Temptation Comes Your Way… Breathe
Rev. Bill Britt

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Sunday, February 26, 2017

Worship Bulletin PDF
Worship Service Video

Sunday Photo Gallery

Sermon Podcast
Sermon Video

Sermon Notes
Do You Hear What I Hear?
Rev. Bill Britt

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Sunday, February 19, 2017

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Sunday, February 12, 2017

Worship Bulletin PDF
Worship Service Video

Sunday Photo Gallery

Sermon Podcast
Sermon Video

Sermon Notes
Working Together As The Church
Rev. Bill Britt

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Sunday, February 5, 2017

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Sunday, January 29, 2017

Worship Bulletin PDF
Worship Service Video

Sunday Photo Gallery

Sermon Podcast
Sermon Video

Sermon Notes
Reset Your Life – Develop A Holy Attitude
Rev. Bill Britt

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Sunday, January 22, 2017

Worship Bulletin PDF
Worship Service Video

Sunday Photo Gallery

Sermon Podcast
Sermon Video

Sermon Notes
Reset Your Life – Following Jesus
Rev. Bill Britt

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Sunday, January 15, 2017

Worship Bulletin PDF
Worship Service Video

Sunday Photo Gallery

Sermon Podcast
Sermon Video

Sermon Notes
Reset Your Life – Find Your Life’s Purpose
Rev. Bill Britt

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Sunday, Janaury 8, 2017

Baptism of the Lord

Worship Bulletin PDF
Worship Service Video

Sunday Photo Gallery

Sermon Podcast
Sermon Video

Sermon Notes
Plug in to the Spirit
Rev. Bill Britt

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Sunday, January 1, 2017

Epiphany Sunday

Worship Bulletin PDF
Worship Service Video

Sunday Photo Gallery

Sermon Podcast
Sermon Video

Sermon Notes
Long for the Right Things
Rev. Julie Schendel

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Christmas Eve, 2016

Worship Bulletin PDF
Worship Service Video

Sunday Photo Gallery

Sermon Podcast
Sermon Video

Sermon Notes
Rewind

  • Bill in Sanctuary

July 14, 2017

Dear Peachtree Road Family,

I hope you have had a good week. Let me begin this note by sharing with you the news that Dr. Spencer Brewer died at home earlier this week. Spencer joined Peachtree Road as a member of the Confirmation Class in 1936, and has been a faithful member for over 80 years. He was a gifted doctor, a vital member of the Timothy Sunday School Class where he led the singing each Sunday, and was one of the most joyful men I have ever known. A memorial service for Spencer will be held this Saturday, July 15, at 11:00 am in the Moore Chapel. Please remember his wife Nancy and their family in your prayers.

Sunday promises to be another great day in worship as we continue “Summer in the City.” Carolyn Stephens will be preaching for the first time as our new associate minister, and I hope you will make a special effort to come and hear her and get to know her and her passion for the church. We will continue our sermon series “Summer Psalms.” This week Carolyn will be encouraging us with words from Psalm 32, which is about the joy of forgiveness. :

Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.
Blessed are those to whom the Lord imputes no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

Carolyn’s message is entitled “Blessed Is the One…” You and I know how the burden of a broken relationship can weigh us down. The psalmist reminds us that there is forgiveness in the Lord:

“Therefore let all who are faithful offer prayer to you; at a time of distress the rush of mighty waters shall not reach them. You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with glad cries of deliverance.” (Psalm 32:6-7)

These words are good news we all need to hear. I hope to see you Sunday as we sing, pray, and reflect together.

As we move through the summer months, I want to solicit your help. Now is the time that I begin my planning for sermons in the coming year. We are blessed when we gather at Peachtree Road for worship with space that is designed to remind us that we are in the presence of God. Just entering the sanctuary or chapel fills us with a sense of awe and reverence. And the music we hear stirs our souls and draws us together. We also want the messages you hear to be helpful and relevant to your life. Therefore, I want to request that you take a moment to let me know your answers to the following questions:

What are you searching for most in life?
What is your greatest fear?
What are you struggling with right now – relationships, finances, or a health concern?
What is your most important faith question?

If you could take some time in the next couple of weeks to answer these and send the answers to the email address prumc@prumc.org, I would be grateful. I have set aside a few days around Labor Day to work on worship themes for 2018. Thank you in advance for your help.

Speaking of the future, let me encourage you to “save the date” for an upcoming event here at Peachtree Road. For the last twenty years, we have been blessed to have Dr. Manfred Hoffmann as our “Theologian in Residence.” Manfred taught us, cultivated a desire to learn in us, and inspired us to grow in our faith. His death has touched us deeply. To honor his memory, we have created a lecture series in his name. The first lecture is occurring this fall on Sunday, October 29, 2017, at 6:00 pm for dinner and the lecture. I am pleased to announce that Manfred’s successor on the Candler School of Theology faculty, Dr. Jonathan Strom, will be delivering the address. We believe it is especially appropriate to hold this first lecture the week of the 500th anniversary of Luther’s nailing of the 95 theses to the church door in Wittenberg. And, as a Lutheran scholar, Dr. Strom is the perfect person to deliver this inaugural lecture, and I hope you will mark the date on your calendar and make your plans to join us as we honor Manfred Hoffmann and grow in our faith.

I know many of you are traveling this summer. In fact, Wendie and I have just returned from four days at the beach! If you are unable to worship in person at Peachtree Road, I encourage you to stay connected to your church family by worshiping online or viewing the service later in the week through the church’s website. Thank you for your support in so many ways.

See you Sunday for Summer in the City!

Bill

Elizabeth Byrd, Chapel Communion

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My Stronghold
Rev. Julie Schendel

 

 

 

“Life is a shipwreck, but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats.” Voltaire’s quote seems to perfectly sum up Psalm 27 as we’re reminded that even in the midst of our enemies, we can sing praises to God.  Instead of turning to weapons, or walls, or words to protect us, let us remember to turn to the Lord as our light and our salvation.  Throughout our lives we will have both darkness and light within us, often at the same time. Yet it is the one we give strength to that eventually wins.  So let us spend some time in the Psalms, letting their words become familiar to us, so that we may recall them in times of need, crying out to the Lord in fear or in praise.  And let us choose light over dark, love over anger, and Christ over everything else.

  • Bill in Sanctuary

July 7, 2017

Dear Peachtree Road Family,

The days of the summer are here, and I know many of you are enjoying time away with loved ones. While you may be away enjoying cooler climates on the weekends, I do want to keep you up with what is taking place at your church.

First, let me take a moment to look ahead. I really am looking forward to Sunday’s worship service. Of course, July means “Summer in the City” here at Peachtree Road. During this month, you are encouraged to dress “comfortably” for worship. Our services are more casual, and lemonade and cookies are served each week in front of the church at the close of worship. We also sing more during these services. In the bulletin we label them “Hymns We Love to Sing.” Now, I cannot deny it – I picked out the hymns we’re singing this week, and, yes, they are some of my favorites: “Love, Mercy, and Grace” (which was #153 in the old Cokesbury Hymnal) and “There’s Within My Heart a Melody.” I’m not planning on needing a hymnal this week! Our soloist for Sunday is Will Green and he will be singing “They Holy City” by Michael Maybrick.

Julie Schendel will be preaching this week as we continue our sermon series “Summer Psalms.” This week we will consider words from Psalm 27. I like the way the psalmist begins this song of triumph:

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

And I love the way it ends:

I believe that I shall see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!

Julie’s message is entitled “My Stronghold.” I believe this message could be just the tonic many of us need this week as we face trials and tribulations in our lives. In preparation for Sunday, I would encourage you to read the words over, let them sink into your spirit, and memorize several of the lines that really speak to you.

At the close of the 11:15 am service, we will commission the team members who are leaving for Nicaragua next week on the Family Mission Trip. I am grateful for these who have heard the call of the Lord, “Who will go for me and whom shall I send?” They have responded, “Here I am, Lord. Send me!” It will be a joy to send them off with God’s blessing on Sunday. I hope to see you Sunday as we sing, pray, and reflect together.

Next, looking back, last Tuesday we held our annual Party on Peachtree in front of the church. A good number of our members gathered from 7:00 am until 9:30 am to cheer on the 55,000 runners who ran in the Peachtree Road Race. I am grateful for those who helped organize this event. It was warm out there, but the heat and humidity did not dampen the enthusiasm of our members as they handed out bottles of water, cheered, and offered encouragement to race participants. I heard many of the runners express appreciation for the presence of our congregation out front, and you provided a good witness for the spirit of generosity of this church. Thank you for your participation. It was a good morning.

Finally, I want to encourage you to begin thinking about the fall and opportunities to engage in Bible study, prayer, and fellowship with others at Peachtree Road. We will be offering a number of classes (both short-term and long-term) beginning in September (including Disciple Fast Track – a shorter version of the popular Disciple Bible Study series for folks who already have a very busy schedule). Look for more details in the very near future.

I know many of you are traveling this summer. If you are unable to worship in person at Peachtree Road, I encourage you to stay connected to your church family by worshiping online at 11:15 am or watching the service later in the week.

See you Sunday for Summer in the City!

Bill

Mimi Brunson

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The Lord is my Shepherd
Rev. Bill Britt

The reading of the 23rd Psalm is one of the most beloved passages in the entire Bible. I believe its power comes from the hope and comfort it communicates to us as we walk through life’s valleys.
Two observations:

  • “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death…”The psalmist understood that the valleys of life are a given. Life isn’t just enjoying yourself in green pastures, sitting at a feast at the family table, or overflowing cups of blessings. The valleys in life are inevitable.
  • The psalmist understood that the valley is not a destination. Rather, it is a passageway that we walk through.
    The interesting difference between “though” and “through” is the letter “r,” which in American Sign Language is represented by crossing your fingers. Of course, this sign predates ASL by many centuries. Early Christians used the sign in times of persecution to identify themselves as people of the cross – followers of Christ. We are invited to remember that it is Christ who is with us as we venture into life’s valleys, and it is Christ who enables us to move through them.

You probably know someone who is struggling in a valley this week. Look for a way to offer them an encouraging word. They are not alone. Christ is with them. That word might make all the difference to them.

  • Bill and Carolyn

June 30, 2017

Dear Peachtree Road Family,

Last Sunday was a remarkable day here at Peachtree Road, and I am so grateful to all who had a hand in its planning and coordination. The annual “Celebration of Freedom” service is a favorite of many in our congregation, but I thought this year’s was especially meaningful.

I am grateful to Nicole Marane, the Atlanta Brassworks, and the members of the volunteer choir for the wonderful music offered on Sunday. We were delighted to welcome an outstanding number of new members to Peachtree Road, and I hope you will make an effort to get to know them. We also were delighted to welcome our new associate minister Rev. Carolyn Stephens to our church family, and I am confident she will have a great impact on our ministry. And, once again, we were blessed to have Timothy Miller close our services by leading us in singing a prayer for our nation: “God Bless America.”

For many, the most emotional moment came when our veterans marched into the sanctuary during the singing of “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” We are grateful for their service to our country, and the tribute you offered them Sunday was most appropriate. Each year I am moved by the fact that there are persons who no longer are with us for this tribute. I really missed seeing some of our veterans who have been a significant part of the parade in years past — including Nolan Bell in his dress uniform, leading the procession. We are grateful for each of these men and women. I appreciate the leadership provided in the service by our members Jennifer Evans (US Navy E6) and Ken Carroll (US Navy Lt. Colonel). It was a good day at Peachtree Road.

This Sunday promises to be a good day as well as we kick-off our Summer in the City sermon series. This year’s theme is “Summer Psalms.” We will be focusing upon a different psalm each week as we join together in singing some of our favorite, familiar hymns. You are encouraged to come casually dressed and enjoy lemonade and cookies out front immediately following the services.

July 2  |  Psalm 23  |  The Lord is my shepherd  |  Bill Britt
July 9  |  Psalm 27  |  The Lord is my light and my salvation…  |   Julie Schendel
July 16  |  Psalm 32  |  Blessed is the one...  |  Carolyn Stephens
July 23  |  Psalm 100 |  Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth  |  Julie Schendel
July 30  |  Psalm 121  |  I lift up my eyes to the mountains…  |  Carolyn Stephens

Also, this Sunday we will be introducing Rev. Geoff Beakley as our student pastor here at Peachtree Road. Many of you already know Geoff and his wife Leigh. Geoff is currently a full-time student at Candler School of Theology and will be serving with us part-time working in the ministry areas of worship, pastoral care, men’s discipleship, and scouting. I hope you will be present Sunday to welcome him formally to our ministerial staff.

Finally, let me remind you about our “Party on Peachtree” Tuesday morning, July 4. Please join us in front of the church from 7:00 a.m. until 9:00 a.m. as we cheer on the 70,000 participants in this year’s Peachtree Road Race. If you are running the race, swing by and let us greet you and encourage you. This is a fun event and all are invited to be a part of it.

Thank you for your prayerful support of Peachtree Road and its ministry in this community. These are exciting times as we continue to grow into the dream God has for us. I am grateful for the opportunity to serve with you!

Bill

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During this time of the year, we pause to give thanks to God for the blessings of life, honor our veterans, and pray for our nation. As we pray for America, we are encouraged to pray for the heart of our nation to be consistent with the heart of Moses:

  • Moses was a man of deep humility and compassion (Numbers 12:3). Our time is a time for humility and compassion. The waters ahead are deep and uncharted. We do not need arrogance or pride. We need quiet humility. May America’s heart be filled with humility and compassion.
  • Moses never gave up. In spite of opposition to his leadership and discouragement (Numbers 11:10-16), he persevered – standing up for righteousness, standing up for truth, and resting in the assurance that God was at his side. Our Lord is looking for people who will not grow weary in doing good.In the words of Winston Churchill, I feel we are walking with destiny. All of our past experiences have been preparing us for this hour and this time. God is with us. God encourages us. God leads us. With this in mind, we are ready to pray for our nation and world.

June 16, 2017

Dear Peachtree Road Family,

I hope this note finds you doing well. The North Georgia Conference came to a close yesterday afternoon, and it was a good week of renewing acquaintances with friends and colleagues, worshiping with United Methodists from across the state, and conducting the business of the church. Our church was well represented, and I once again came to the realization of just how blessed we are here at Peachtree Road. The highlight of the Annual Conference was the ordination of Leslie Watkins on Wednesday night. The length and depth and breadth of our ministry set the pace for churches in North Georgia and beyond. I am grateful for you!

This Sunday, I will be preaching a message asking the question: “Is Anything Too Wonderful for the Lord?” Those words are a quote from Genesis 18 and were asked following the proclamation to Abraham and Sarah that they would have a child in their old age – they both were in their 90’s! At the announcement, Sarah laughed. There are times when you and I, too, break into laughter at the suggestion of something that seems ridiculously far-fetched. Well, as Abraham and Sarah learned, there is nothing that is too wonderful for the Lord. And that’s what I want us to think about this Sunday in worship.

Speaking of Sunday, I am sure you are aware it is Father’s Day. Did you know that the roots of Father’s Day have ties to the Methodist Church? In 1908, a Methodist church in West Virginia sponsored the nation’s first event in honor of fathers. The next year in Spokane, Washington, Sonora Smart Dodd (who was raised with five siblings by her widower dad) heard a sermon honoring mothers and wanted to do something similar for fathers. Dodd worked tirelessly to inspire Spokane to observe its first citywide Father’s Day in 1910. The observance spread nationwide, and the celebration continues this Sunday, June 19. I look forward to joining with you as we give thanks for the men in our lives who have inspired our faith.

Thank you for helping us send Matt Nelson off well. He preached a marvelous sermon last Sunday. (If you were unable to be in the sanctuary, I hope you will follow the link and listen to his thoughtful message inviting us to a “divine dance.”) I do encourage you to pray for Matt, Anne, Caleb, and Sarah as they prepare for their work at Hickory Flat UMC. We will miss them! We do look forward to welcoming our new associate ministers Carolyn Stephens and Geoff Beakley on June 25. They will be introduced at the morning worship services.

Of course, next Sunday (June 25) is our annual Celebration of Freedom Sunday. This is one of the most anticipated services of the year, and once again we will be singing patriotic hymns, honoring our veterans, and praying for our nation. I will be preaching on the topic “The Heart of America,” and we will reflect upon values found in the life of Moses that are at the core of who we are called to be as a nation. The service will conclude with Timothy Miller leading us in singing “God Bless America.” I hope you are planning to be present and encourage you to invite someone to come with you!

Finally, on a personal note, Wendie and I are grateful to be appointed to serve with you here at Peachtree Road for a tenth year. As I wrote earlier, this is an outstanding church, and we count it a privilege to serve with such wonderful staff and laity in this community. Thank you for your support in so many ways – prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness! We are blessed.

See you Sunday!

Bill

  • Bill in Sanctuary

June 9, 2017

Dear Peachtree Road Family,

I hope you are doing well. I want to begin this week’s note by letting you know about the death of one of our oldest members – Georgia Harris. Had she lived one more month, Georgia would have been 102! This saint of the church has finished her race; she has kept the faith; and we are grateful for what she has meant to Peachtree Road. May Georgia rest in peace and rise in glory!

This Sunday, our associate minister Matt Nelson will preach his final sermon here at Peachtree Road at the 8:45 a.m. and 11:15 a.m. services. He, his wife Anne, and their children Caleb and Sarah are preparing to move after Annual Conference to Hickory Flat UMC in Canton where Matt will be the senior minister. We are grateful for the tie that has bound us together with the Nelsons the last two years. A reception will be held immediately following both services, and I hope you will take the opportunity to personally speak to them and wish them well. It will be a good Sunday.

Speaking of Annual Conference, the 151st Session of the North Georgia Annual Conference is set for next week at the Classic Center in Athens. Peachtree Road will be well-represented. Matt Nelson, Julie Schendel, Leslie Watkins, Julie Wright, and I will serve as clergy delegates from our church while Merritt Bond, Claire Bowen, Susan Rinkowski, Grace Sanders, and Josh Stephens will serve as our lay delegates. Others present from Peachtree Road will include Tom Cook (Conference Chancellor), Katie Cook (Administrative Assistant for the Atlanta-Roswell District), Caleb Nelson and Clara Watkins (youth delegates at-large), 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.

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 for the first time. She has expressed her hope that this week delegates will catch a glimpse of what Bishop Robert Schnase describes in his book Seven Levers: “Imagine gathering lay and clergy from all the congregations together in one place to reconfirm who we are, what we do, and why it matters. Imagine high-quality worship, preaching, teaching, and service that clarify our common mission, connect us with one another, stimulate best practices, renew our spirits, and help us rededicate ourselves to Christ and to the people God calls us to serve.” Please pray for her as she leads.

Second, on Wednesday, June 14, Leslie Watkins will be ordained as a full-connection Deacon at the Service of Ordination and Commissioning. Leslie is our associate minister and provides leadership with our young adults and creation care team. The ordination service is a high and holy moment in the life of the Annual Conference. If you would like to watch online, the service will be broadcast on the Conference website at 7:30 p.m. I encourage you to offer a prayer for Leslie and her family on that special day.

Then, on Thursday, June 15, at 4:00 p.m., Bishop Haupert-Johnson will fix the appointments for ministers for the coming year. At that time, she will announce that Rev. Carolyn Stephens and Rev. Geoff Beakley will be coming to Peachtree Road as our new associate ministers. We look forward to welcoming Carolyn and Geoff on June 25 at the morning services.

It promises to be a good week.

Finally, I hope by now you have received the “Financial Update” newsletter that was mailed out earlier this week. It is a very informative piece, and I am grateful for all who had a hand in putting it together. Our Finance Committee wants to keep you informed concerning these important matters and to clearly communicate our plans for funding all of the vital ministries of the church. Please read it over and let us know if you have any questions or suggestions to improve our support for the ministry of Peachtree Road.

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.

Bill

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The Dance
Rev. Matt Nelson

 

 

Richard Rohr describes the mystery of Trinity as The Divine Dance between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, creating new life and transforming the world. God as Trinity is evidence of God’s character and nature as relational community. Being made in God’s image, we are called to be in relationship, we are called to dance, with God and others in life for transformation.

A few key ideas to remember:

  • “Mystery isn’t something that you cannot understand – it is something you can endlessly understand! There is no point at which you can say ‘I’ve got it.’ Always and forever, mystery gets you!” – The Divine Dance
  • Our tendency is to avoid or protect for the purpose of safety and protection. This indicates a root of fear & brokenness as threat. At the root of God’s being is love, grace, and goodness. Remember those relationships that have changed you.
  • Allow the Trinity to be a way of life rather than an idea or just theology – move from information to transformation.

As we go into the world this week, be in relationship. Courageously engage others looking for where God is at work. In the name of the Father, the Son, and Holy Spirit, let’s dance!

Pentecost

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Rivers of Living Water
Rev. Bill Britt

 

 

The work of the Holy Spirit is more inward than outward – the Spirit transforms us from within so we can thrive in the midst of outward struggles. Jesus suggests the Holy Spirit flows out of the believer’s heart like “rivers of living water.”  John 7:37-39

Two observations about the work of the Holy Spirit within us:

  • The Spirit helps us remember we are the children of God. Sometimes we become distracted or busy and forget, but the Spirit is there to remind us.
  • The Spirit inspires us not just to remember but also to act. Humble people, inspired by the Holy Spirit, and full of courage can do great things.

Homework: reflect upon the gifts and abilities God has given you and look for ways to make a difference in the lives of others this week – the life of a child, a youth, a co-worker, a family member, or someone struggling in his or her life. May God bless you as you serve.

  • Bill Confirmation of Faith

June 2, 2017

Dear Peachtree Road Family,

I hope this note finds you well as we begin the month of June. Wendie and I have just returned from several days at the beach. It was good to be away, but I really am looking forward to worshiping with you this Sunday. This week we are celebrating both Pentecost and Founder’s Day, and that means that our history as a faith and church will be front and center on Sunday.

According to the author of the book of Acts, Jesus’ disciples and other followers were together in an upper room in Jerusalem, waiting. The Holy Spirit descended upon them, and it looked like tongues of fire lighting upon each of them. Then, they went out into the streets of Jerusalem to tell everyone they encountered about Jesus. The people heard the good news about Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, and 3,000 believed. They were never the same again, and the church was born. Pentecost is many things – fire, wind, ecstasy, and renewal. But, most of all, it is our celebration of the coming of the Holy Spirit whose gift is that of understanding (a gift I would suggest is severely under-used in today’s world!). That’s one aspect of our celebration this Sunday. We will pray that what transformed them may transform us, and with us the world for God and Christ. Prayerfully wait for the Spirit this weekend, and then join us on Sunday to breathe it in.

The second aspect of our celebration this week centers upon something that happened about 1900 years later. On June 7, 1925, the first public worship service of Peachtree Road Methodist Church was held in a partially completed chapel that had a roof and floor but no walls. (Even from its founding, Peachtree Road has been a church without walls, reaching out into the community to share the love, mercy, and grace of God with others.) And our church was born. I love history. I love the stories that come from our history. They remind us of our identity and inspire us to be the people we have been called to be. History is a great teacher, and I look forward to celebrating our history with you on Sunday. The color for the day is red, so please wear something red to worship. The message is entitled “Rivers of Living Water.” I hope you are planning to be with us.

I want to encourage you to join me in prayer this weekend:

  • Last week 29 Coptic Christians were on a pilgrimage to the Monastery of Saint Samuel the Confessor in Egypt when their bus was stopped by armed members of ISIS. When the pilgrims refused to renounce their faith in Christ, they were executed. Please pray for persecuted Christians everywhere and for God’s peace to reign on earth.
  • Our mission team to the nation of Georgia arrived safely earlier this week and is busy sharing God’s love and grace with hundreds of children supported by our church. Please pray for these missionaries of our church.
  • Doxology, our youth choir under the direction of Kathy Fletcher, is on tour in Tennessee. They are singing and leading worship in numerous settings. Pray for traveling mercies and for God’s grace to flow through them.

Finally, as we begin the summer months, let me share with you a lighthearted parable written years ago by a church treasurer:

Now it came to pass that as the time of vacation drew near, a certain member of the church bethought him of cool streams where fish were abundant, and his children thought of sandy beaches by the sea, and his wife thought of the mountains. And this church member lifted up his eyes unto the hills and spoke, saying, “Lo, the hot days come and even now are at hand. My work lieth heavy upon me. Come, let us depart to the North Country, where fishes do bite and cool winds bring refreshment and pleasant scenes await.” His wife responded, “Thou speakest wisely. Yet three, nay even four things we must do ‘ere we go.” The husband said, “Three things I can think of: that we ask our neighbor to minister to our flowers and mail, our dog be boarded, and our porch light timer set; but no other thing cometh to mind.” He wife responded, “The fourth is like unto the other three, but greater than them all. Even this: that thou dig into thy purse and pay the church pledge in order that the Lord’s work be not hindered, the good name of the congregation preserved, and the hearts of the treasurer and finance committee be made glad, and that it may be well with thee. For verily I say unto thee: thou hast more money now than thou shalt have when thou wilt return.” The husband replied, “Verily, thou art noble and wise among all people.” He did pay his pledge for the summer, and he seemed to enjoy his vacation all the more. And the church treasurer and its finance committee rejoiced exceedingly, saying, “Of a truth, there are those who care for the good of the church. Praise the Lord!” And it was so.

Thank you for your faithfulness in so many ways to the ministry of Peachtree Road. See you Sunday and remember to wear red!

Bill

The Many Moods of Christmas

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See A Witness, Hear A Witness, Be A Witness
Rev. Julie Schendel

 

 

As Jesus ascended into heaven, he reminded his disciples that they had witnessed the scripture being fulfilled in his death and resurrection. Now that we have heard the story, let us be witnesses of these thing as well.

  • Everyone loves a good story, and the story of Jesus’ life and resurrection is one of the greatest ever lived.
  • We are the next generation of disciples, and it is our task to share the message of Christ with others so that the story may continue.

This week, grow in your discipleship by being a witness of the greatest story ever lived: share with a friend why you love PRUMC, invite someone to worship with you, or express the love of God to all you meet.

  • Bill Shaking Hands

May 26, 2017

Dear Peachtree Road Family,

I hope this note finds you well as we approach Memorial Day weekend. In keeping with the reason for this holiday, during Sunday’s worship services, our congregation will pause to remember those who have given their lives in service to our country by placing a wreath at the altar in their memory. Wendie and I will be away this weekend, and Julie Schendel will be preaching at the services on Sunday. I hope you are planning to be present.

Of course, Memorial Day weekend is the unofficial beginning of summer, and many of you use this holiday as vacation time. If you are unable to be at church Sunday, I encourage you to do as we will do and participate in the service online at 11:15 a.m. You also may “make up” by worshiping later in the week when the service is available on the church’s website. Either way, I hope you will keep worship at the forefront of your spiritual life during the summer season and stay connected to your friends at Peachtree Road.

Speaking of worship, let me remind you of some special upcoming services:

Founder’s Day (June 4) – On June 7, 1925, at 11:00 a.m., the first public worship service of Peachtree Road Methodist Church was held in a partially completed chapel that had a roof and floor but no walls. (That’s a pretty good metaphor for what Peachtree Road has always been – “a church without walls!”) Bishop UVW Darlington was the preacher for the service. The church had organized in May with 19 founding members and on June 7, 20 new members joined, more than doubling the membership to 39. From those humble beginnings our church has grown to become one of the largest in Methodism with an influence felt around the world. We will take the time to celebrate on that day (which also happens to be Pentecost, the birthday of the Church), and I hope you will make your plans to be with us.

Farewell to the Nelsons (June 11) – At the close of Annual Conference this year, Bishop Haupert-Johnson officially will announce what we already know: our associate minister Matt Nelson will become the senior minister of Hickory Flat UMC in Canton, Georgia. Sunday, June 11, will be his last Sunday with us, and I have asked Matt to preach at the morning services in the sanctuary. For the last two years, he has given good leadership to our church. I hope that you will be present on this Sunday as we honor Matt, Ann, Caleb, and Sarah and express our love and appreciation for Matt’s ministry with us. A reception will be held in Grace Hall at the conclusion of each service.

Welcome to Carolyn Stephens and Geoff Beakley (June 25) – As is always the case, when one minister leaves, another is appointed in her or his place. It’s the Methodist way. I am looking forward to having Carolyn Stephens and Geoff Beakley join our ministerial team on June 25. Carolyn and Geoff will be welcome additions to our church, and you will enjoy getting to know them through their preaching, teaching, pastoral care, and leadership. I encourage you to be present as we officially welcome them to Peachtree Road.

Celebration of Freedom (June 25) – Many of you tell me each year as you leave worship that this is one of your favorite Sundays of the year. As usual, we will join together for a wonderful celebration of God and country as we sing patriotic hymns, honor our veterans, pray for our nation and world, and give thanks for God’s many blessings. And, yes, Timothy Miller will be with us again this year to sing “God Bless America.” This is a Sunday you will not want to miss.

Finally, I would like to enlist your prayers on behalf of some who are traveling during these days:

Mission Team to nation of Georgia – many of you know of our vital mission with hundreds of children living in the country of Georgia (many thanks to Lynn Banks for her passion for this ministry). Earlier this year, a record number of you signed up for our “Sponsor a Child” opportunity that directly impacts this ministry, and we are grateful. Last Sunday we commissioned a team that will be in Georgia May 26 through June 11.

High School Mission Trip to Nicaragua – one of the comments we hear year in and year out on Youth Sunday is the difference the summer mission trips make in the spiritual formation of our students. 51 of our high school students are leaving this June 11 for Nicaragua where they will be working for one week in construction and meeting families with whom we have been partnering for a number of years. I am grateful to Chris Mucha, our director of youth and their families, and all who will help make this year’s mission a success.

Thank you for keeping these in your prayers.

As we move into the days of summer, we find many reasons to remember, give thanks, and celebrate. I hope that when you are in town you will be in your place in worship. When you are traveling, worship online and stay connected to your church family. And, please, do not hesitate to call me if you need me.

Bill

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We Have an Advocate
Rev. Bill Britt

 

 

We are in the season of transitions – graduations, weddings, confirmations, etc.  With each of these, the old passes away and something new begins. And that can be a source of anxiety for many, and Jesus understood that. While preparing his disciples for his own departure, Jesus said: “I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever…” (John 14:16)

  • The Advocate the Father sends is one who walks alongside us as a counselor. Do you have someone like that in your life?
  • Jesus doesn’t just send us an Advocate. He sends us the Advocate – the Holy Spirit who brings to us an abundant life.
  • There is nothing you can say or do to prevent God from loving you.

This week, look for ways to declutter your life and create more room for the Holy Spirit to fill your soul. Exercise your spiritual muscles through worship, prayer, study, and service. You have an Advocate!

  • Wesley Woods Speaker

May 19, 2017

Dear Peachtree Road Family,

I hope you are doing well. I want to begin this week’s note by letting you know about the deaths of two of our oldest members – Dan Yates and Ruth Hoover. Dan was 99 and Ruth may have been our oldest member at 102. These saints of the church have finished the race; they have kept the faith; and we are grateful for what they have meant to Peachtree Road. May they rest in peace and rise in glory!

Many of you were present last Sunday for our Mother’s Day worship services. If you were here, you heard Rev. and Mrs. Lewis Davis and Mr. Joe Giordano, residents of the Wesley Woods retirement community, share how Wesley Woods plays a vital role in the quality of their lives. Then, we received a special offering to benefit the benevolent fund of this ministry as they provide financial assistance to some who have outlived their resources. (I invite you to follow this link to see the Channel 46 news report from Sunday.) Also, if you have not had an opportunity to give toward the special offering, I invite you to contribute online. I am grateful for your generosity.

This upcoming Sunday promises to be a great day here at Peachtree Road as we celebrate Senior Recognition Day. At the 11:15 a.m. service in the sanctuary, our high school graduates and their families will be our special guests as we celebrate with them this significant milestone in their lives. It is always a joy when the seniors come to the pulpit, introduce themselves, and tell us what their plans are for the next year. Their parents, grandparents, and loved ones beam with pride, and we as a congregation rejoice with them. The message for the day is entitled “We Have an Advocate,” and we will reflect upon Jesus’s words from John 14 concerning the presence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. In essence, Jesus says to his disciples, “I’ve got your back!” We’ll spend a few minutes talking about what that means and the impact of those words on our lives. I hope you will be with us for worship this week.

Last Monday our Administrative Board met, and I wanted to give you a quick recap from the meeting:

In financial news, Brad Milsaps, chair of the Finance Committee, gave a year-to-date report on the church’s budget. John Ethridge, Lay Leader, and Raymond Reynolds, Chief Operations Officer, reported that roughly half of the funds needed for this year’s outreach budget have been given already or will come in through special giving by the end of the year. We believe we are in very good shape for 2017. Four goals are guiding the Finance Committee’s work for this year:

  • As stewards of the church’s resources, we want to create a church budget that is both strategic in fulfilling our mission and sustainable
  • We want to be transparent in communicating the causes we support and the partnerships in the community that we value
  • We want to clearly communicate the impact of our church through the ministries of worship, congregational care and development, outreach, and witness into the community
  • We want to address possible donor fatigue among our members by reducing the number of special offerings throughout the year

As a result, a detailed financial report is being prepared to go out to all members by the first of June, and the number of special giving requests for the rest of the year has been cut to four. In addition, the church has designed a roadmap that will enable Peachtree Road to be completely debt-free no later than the end of 2018. They also offered a preview of an effort entitled “All the Good…All the Ways…” that is envisioned to be a year-round stewardship emphasis that will fully fund our church’s ministry in 2018 and beyond. They promise to share more details with us in the coming weeks.

In other reports…

  • Matt Nelson and Julie Schendel reported the findings of the Worship Task Force and announced the New Traditions contemporary service will be suspended for the season of summer with the goal of bringing it back as a new and stronger service in the fall
  • Chris Mucha, Director of our Ministry with Youth and their Families, reported on last weekend’s well-attended Youth Ministry Summit
  • Raymond Reynolds reported on the sale of the church right-of-way in front of the parking lot on the corner Peachtree Road and West Shadowlawn. The sale has enabled the church to purchase a new sound system for the sanctuary and chapel and complete funding for the new parsonage to be known as the “Murray Cottage”
  • Adam Pannell recognized Matt Nelson, Associate Minister, as he prepares to leave Peachtree Road and become the senior pastor of Hickory Flat UMC in June

It was a helpful and very informative meeting, and I am grateful for the leadership of our Administrative Board members.

Finally, I am pleased to announce that Elizabeth Byrd will be joining us again this summer as our Candler School of Theology intern. Elizabeth worked with us last summer, and we are excited to welcome her back. Elizabeth begins this weekend and will be sharing her gifts in the areas of preaching, leading worship, teaching, pastoral care, and outreach. In addition, she will be working with our youth ministry team on their mission trips to Appalachia and Nicaragua. We look forward to welcoming Elizabeth back to Peachtree Road.

Thank you for your faith in Christ and your support of Peachtree Road – your daily prayers for her ministry, regular presence in worship, generous giving, and acts of kindness and service in her name are deeply appreciated.

See you Sunday!

Bill

  • Mother & Daughter

May 12, 2017

Dear Peachtree Road Family,

I hope this note finds you well. Of course, this Sunday is Mother’s Day. I understand that 20.7 billion dollars will be spent honoring mothers this holiday weekend – gifts, flowers, cards, and meals. It’s amazing what this day of recognition has become, especially when you consider how it all started.

Ann Reeves Jarvis was a member of Andrews Methodist Church in Grafton, West Virginia. She taught Sunday School, organized other women in her church to work for better sanitation in her community, volunteered at the local hospital, and worked to support young mothers. After the Civil War, she helped organize something she called “Mothers Friendship Day” picnics. These were designed to bring people together from both the Union and the Confederacy for a meal. Ann Jarvis died in 1905, and three years later, her daughter, Anna Jarvis, organized a day at the church to honor her mother and other women who had done so much for the community. She ordered white carnations (her mother’s favorite flower) for every woman in the church. The event was so well-received that she began to work to establish a holiday to honor mothers everywhere. Then, in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson did just that – he signed a proclamation making the second Sunday in May Mother’s Day in America. It all began a little over 100 years ago in a small Methodist Church in West Virginia. And now you know the rest of the story! I like the fact Mother’s Day started in a Methodist Church. And, I like the fact that it started as a way of honoring a woman who made a difference in the lives of others. I hope you’ll join us at one of our worship services in the sanctuary as we honor all women who have made a difference in our lives.

As has become our tradition, we will receive the Wesley Woods Mother’s Day Offering this Sunday as well. Wesley Woods is a ministry started by Methodists in the North Georgia Conference to provide for the needs of the elderly in our communities through residential services as well as health care, rehabilitation, nursing home care, and specialized care for persons suffering from Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. People certainly are living longer than ever before, and many are outliving their financial resources. Sunday morning we will hear a word of testimony from some residents of Wesley Woods as they share with us the difference this ministry makes in their lives and their fellow residents. I hope you will join me in welcoming them to Peachtree Road.

Through the years, Peachtree Road has given more than any other church to this ministry. I hope you will help us to continue to lead the way by giving generously when the offering plate is passed. You may make your check payable to Peachtree Road UMC and mark it for Wesley Woods, place your cash offering in the envelope provided in your worship bulletin, or give online through the church’s website. Thank you in advance for your generosity toward this offering.

I did want to share good news with you today that two of our members graduated earlier this week from Candler School of Theology at Emory University. Andrea DeWalt, associate director of the Pastoral Counseling Service here at Peachtree Road, received her Master of Religion and Public Life degree. We have been blessed through the years to have access to gifted pastoral theologians like Larry Adams and Ron Greer, and I am so grateful that Andrea has added a solid theological foundation to enable her to help us even more effectively. Also, Grace Southworth, our assistant director of student ministries, received her Master of Divinity degree. She is a very important part of our youth staff team, and her enthusiasm for this ministry is contagious. When you see Andrea or Grace on campus, congratulate them on their achievements!

Finally, I wanted to encourage you to invite others to come and be a part of Peachtree Road. Every week I run into new people at church who have recently moved to town or are going through a difficult time. They are here because someone invited them and encouraged them to come. This is a particularly good time for newcomers to come to Peachtree Road because we are offering a Second Sunday Snapshot opportunity this Sunday, May 14, at 10:00 am in the Hospitality Suite. All who are looking for ways to connect with others and grow deeper in their faith are invited. A light breakfast will be served. For more information, please contact Mimi Brunson.

Peachtree Road is an amazing community in which to worship, grow, serve, and share. I look forward to worshiping with you on Sunday and then serving with you throughout the upcoming days.

Bill

  • Bill Promotion Sunday

May 5, 2017

Dear Peachtree Road Family,

I hope you are doing well. I also hope you realize just how blessed we are here at Peachtree Road. This past Sunday, we celebrated as members of this year’s Confirmation Class came forward to profess their faith in Christ and join the church. We confirmed 88 students last Sunday – that’s a lot of sixth-graders! Please join me in offering a prayer for these youth as they take the next step in their faith journey.

You and I know the presence of children and youth is one important indicator of a vital congregation. Another indicator is a church filled with people who are dedicated to helping children and youth grow spiritually. Many of the members of this year’s class were baptized at the altar of this sanctuary, received their Bibles as third graders at that same altar, and were mentored by a host of adults from their time in the nursery through preschool, Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, as well as the Confirmation Class. Sunday not only was a day on which we confirmed the faith of these sixth graders but also a time we reaffirmed our own faith and rededicated ourselves to making disciples of Jesus Christ. We indeed are blessed!

Earlier this week we welcomed Chris Mucha, our new Youth Director. Chris is an exceptional leader, loves Christ, and is committed to helping youth and their families grow as Christian disciples. He hit the ground running and is an outstanding addition to our staff team. He and his wife Ashley have a ten-year-old son Dayton, and I look forward to you meeting them on Sunday. Please pray for the Muchas as they begin this new chapter of their lives here at Peachtree Road.

I really am looking forward to this Sunday’s worship services in the sanctuary. They are designed to help us celebrate Music and Arts here at Peachtree Road. Our preacher for the services will be Rev. Barbara Day Miller, Associate Dean Emerita of Worship and Music and Associate Professor Emerita in the Practice of Liturgy and Music at Candler School of Theology. I have known Barbara for many years and served with her in the planning of worship at Annual Conference for several years. She has helped us design a service of worship this Sunday at Peachtree Road that will incorporate music and praise from our children, youth, and adult choirs as well as congregational singing that will make you think you’re already in heaven. Breakfast will be served from 9:00 am until 11:00 am in Grace Hall. Many of the professional artists in our congregation will be displaying their works, and you are invited to spend some time with them. In addition, you are invited to participate in a silent auction of Mary Carpenter’s “live” Easter paintings in Grace Hall with the proceeds benefiting Atlanta Habitat for Humanity. I hope you will join us this Sunday.

Finally, Wendie and I invite you to travel to England with us in the summer of 2018 to explore our Methodist heritage – July 24-August 2. Our Chancel Choir has the honor of being the Choir in Residence at Westminster Abbey the first week in August next year, and this tour will coincide with their time in London. So, in addition to visiting the sites of significance to our history, we will have the opportunity to hear our church’s choir sing in a cathedral that is steeped in more than a thousand years of history and has been called the “parish church of the world.” We hope you will consider joining us and other members of our church family on this pilgrimage to the land of Wesley. For more information, please contact Jamie Jenkins.

I am excited about the impact our church’s ministry continues to have in our community and around the world. Come, be a part of the ministry and invite others to come with you. Thank you for all you do in the name of Christ. I look forward to seeing you Sunday as we sing and celebrate!

Bill

  • Bill Preaching

April 28, 2017

Dear Peachtree Road Family,

I hope this note finds you well. This Sunday promises to be a special day at Peachtree Road as we celebrate Confirmation Sunday. Over the course of the last nine months, over 80 sixth graders have participated in this spiritual formation class. They attended a retreat at Camp Glisson in the early fall, have been meeting weekly since then, and have developed friendships that will last a lifetime. I am grateful to Mia Dunkel, Mary Fletcher Higdon, Daris McCullough, Ellen Marbut, and Scott and Tasha Whitehead for their leadership with this outstanding group.

In recent weeks, each member of the class and their parents have been meeting with me and other members of our clergy and youth staff to talk about confirmation and their spiritual growth. On Sunday morning during the sanctuary worship services, we will celebrate with them as they make a profession of faith in Christ and join the church. I hope you will join us.

The title for this Sunday’s message is “Remember Who You Are,” and I will be preaching on those familiar words from I Peter:

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. – I Peter 2:9

This letter was written to encourage new Christians to claim their identity and live into that identity. I look forward to reflecting upon the impact of this passage on our church with you.

In recent weeks, a number of folks have relayed to me how much the teaching of Dr. Manfred Hoffmann meant to them. For nearly 20 years, Manfred was our “Theologian in Residence” here at Peachtree Road, and his courses on the Bible, theology, and Christian history helped many of us grow in our faith. I am pleased to announce that Peachtree Road is establishing a lecture series in his memory. The inaugural Manfred E. Hoffmann Lecture is set for Sunday evening, October 29, 2017, here at the church. The date is especially significant. It is Reformation Sunday and commemorates the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther nailing the 95 theses to the church door in Wittenburg, Germany. I especially am delighted that Dr. Jonathan Strom, Professor of Church History and Associate Dean of the Faculty and Academic Affairs at Candler School of Theology, has accepted our invitation to offer the inaugural lecture. Dr. Strom is a Lutheran scholar and fills the position Dr. Hoffmann held for many years on the Candler faculty. If you would like to make a contribution to support the annual lecture series, please make your check payable to Peachtree Road and mark it in memory of Manfred Hoffmann or give through the church website.

I am grateful for your support of Peachtree Road in so many ways and look forward to seeing you Sunday. If I may be of help to you in any way, please do not hesitate to call on me.

Bill
  • Easter Worship

April 21, 2017

Dear Peachtree Road Family,

I hope you are having a great week. We now are living in the season of the year known as Easter. That’s right. Our celebration in the church of the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ continues for 50 days.

Last Sunday was one of those mountaintop days here at Peachtree Road. When I got home from the Easter morning services, Wendie had a feast prepared for extended family (I think close to 30 people were in the house at one time!). After Sunday dinner, I sat down in a comfortable chair and fell asleep – right there in front of company! I was tired, but it was a good kind of tired. In fact, it is the kind of tired I hope every one of you get to experience. In the Bible, this kind of tired is referred to as “joy.” Do you know anybody who needs to experience joy? Invite them to Peachtree Road!

Speaking of inviting people to Peachtree Road, I do want to encourage you to attend worship this Sunday. It’s going to be a little different than our usual services – the Doxology Youth Choir is leading us in worship through their presentation of “Celebrate Life!” Through the talented youth of our church, at both the 8:45 am and 11:15 am services in the sanctuary, we will be led through a musical presentation of Jesus’ life, culminating in his resurrection from the dead. They have worked hard to prepare, and I am looking forward to this experience in worship.

In closing, thank you for your generous contributions to last Sunday’s special offering for Habitat for Humanity. We were honored to have Uriel Daniel and her children (the recipients of this year’s house) with us for the 11:15 am Easter celebration. The house is now complete, and I am grateful for your gifts totaling over $33,700 toward the project. If you did not have an opportunity to give last Sunday, it is not too late. You may contribute by clicking here.

Daniels

You may note that the above photo of the Daniels is taken in front of “The New Jerusalem” window in our sanctuary. This window is significant to us here at Peachtree Road because it depicts the vision from the book of Revelation of the city of God with the New Jerusalem, the Tree of Life, the rainbow and the people of God, and the cityscape of Atlanta. If you look closely, below the recognizable skyline of Atlanta, you will see the church building of Peachtree Road and, to its left, homes our church has built in cooperation with Atlanta Habitat for Humanity. Therefore, the mission of our church to reach out to those in need is always present in the sanctuary as we worship.

Thank you for your participation in a wonderful Easter celebration and for your support of this great church’s ministry!

Bill

  • Breathe Devotional Image

Saturday, April 15 | Marcia Gaddis | John 18:1-19,42; Hebrews 10:1-25

The Breath of Anticipation

Saturday was the Sabbath. Jesus had been placed in the tomb on Friday night before sundown. Interestingly, the ones who came to care for his body after death were two men who respected Jesus, but kept their distance while he was alive. One was Joseph of Arimathea who went to Pilate to ask for the body. He secretly was a disciple of Jesus, but he feared the Jews. He was accompanied by Nicodemus who had earlier visited Jesus at night and went away disappointed because Jesus’ response was not what he wanted to hear. Both men could not quite embrace this Jesus during his life, but were the first to respond after his death. I wonder why? Perhaps the miraculous events of the previous day were the tipping point. Perhaps after all that had happened, they anticipated something more. Perhaps they truly believed Jesus was who he claimed to be for the first time. Whatever the reason, there was a new boldness to identify with Jesus.

The question was asked in an earlier reading, “Will death diminish us or enlarge us?” For many of the disciples, they went back to their jobs, probably grieving their loss in the way many people grieve today. Go back to work. Diminished. For Mary, Jesus’ mother, the excruciating death of her son must have played over and over in her mind. Her grief had to be inconsolable. Death was final and this was a day of mourning, a day of quiet, a day of simply trying to breathe. Diminished, for sure. But Joseph and Nicodemus encourage me. They found something to do in the midst of their grief and sorrow. They brought the burial supplies. They persevered to do the next thing.

And we, too, are called to persevere in the midst of death. And when we persevere—and we all do it differently—something miraculous happens. Death begins to enlarge us. The gifts we bring to each other in our sorrow and suffering become a sweet fragrance of hope and love. As we find something to do in the darkest hours, there begins to shine a glimmer of promise for things to come.

Jesus gave us only two commandments; “You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself (Luke 10:27). Nowhere is it written that he added, “Except, of course, when you’re suffering.”

Prayerfully read the call to persevere in Hebrews 10.

  • Breathe Devotional Image

Friday, April 14 | Marcia Gaddis | John 3:16; John 18-19

Breath for Me

I will probably never understand how the crucifixion of Jesus took away all my sins. I do not possess the mental capacity to comprehend God and his love for me, a fallen creature. But I have learned to trust the words of John 3:16 which say “For God so loved the world (me) that he gave his only begotten son (Jesus) that whoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life.” That in its simplest form helps me to understand why Jesus had to die. Simply put, God made the decision. He gives me the choice as to what I will do with His cross.

Will I embrace it or will I deny it? Will Jesus’ death bring death or breath for me? It is a question we must answer every day. The words to the song Embrace the Cross offer up possibilities for meditation and prayer today as you ponder your own response to the one who died on the cross.

Embrace the cross
Where Jesus suffered
Though it will cost
All you claim as yours
Your sacrifice will seem small
Beside the treasure
Eternity can’t measure
What Jesus holds in store

Embrace the love
The cross requires
Cling to the one
Whose heart knew every pain
Receive from Jesus
Fountains of compassion
Only He can fashion
Your heart to move as His

Oh, wondrous cross our desires rest in you
Lord Jesus make us bolder
To face with courage the shame and disgrace
You bore upon Your shoulder

Embrace the life
That comes from dying
Come trace the steps
The Savior walked for you
An empty tomb
Concludes Golgotha’s sorrow
Endure then till tomorrow
Your cross of suffering
Embrace the cross, embrace the cross, the cross of Jesus.

Prayer: Lord, today I pray that I retrace every step you took and still hold fast to you. Amen.

  • Bill Confession of Faith

April 14, 2017

Dear Peachtree Road Family,

I hope you are having a meaningful Holy Week. We made a good beginning last Sunday with our Palm Sunday celebration. As I mentioned at the start of the sermon, I love everything about Palm Sunday – the sanctuary decorated with palm branches, the pageantry of the grand procession (led by our favorite donkey “Jerusalem”), and the inspirational music. The combined children’s choirs accompanied by a string quartet, the Chancel Choir, and Doxology Youth Choir thrilled our hearts as they sang “Hosanna to the Son!”

We also were delighted to welcome 32 new members to Peachtree Road, and it was a holy moment to receive 9 of them on profession of faith. I believe these new members will make a significant impact on our ministry in the days to come and hope you will join me in welcoming them and helping them get connected with others. Sunday really set the tone for this week.

You are invited to join us today at 12 noon for the Community Good Friday Service at Peachtree Presbyterian. We will gather with members from Second-Ponce de Leon Baptist, Cathedral of Christ the King Roman Catholic, and Wieuca Road Baptist as well Peachtree Presbyterian and our church for a special time of worship. I will be preaching at the service and hope to see you there.

Of course, Sunday is Easter, and we will offer four opportunities to worship the Risen Christ:
  • Sunrise service – This special service begins at 6:30 a.m. in the columbarium (the courtyard area between the sanctuary and the Rollins building where the niches are located) shortly before daybreak. For me, this service really captures the spirit of that first Easter long ago. We gather in what amounts to our cemetery here at Peachtree Road, hear the message of the angels, light candles in the darkness, and process to the chapel to celebrate the good news. If you have not attended this service before, I invite you to give it a try. We would love to see you early this Easter Day.
  • Sanctuary services – Please note the special times for our festival worship in the sanctuary:  8:15 a.m., 9:45 a.m., and 11:15 a.m. With the aroma of Easter lilies in the air, we will gather in unrestrained celebration. Each service will begin with the congregation singing Charles Wesley’s majestic hymn “Christ the Lord Is Risen Today” and close with the Chancel Choir offering the “Hallelujah” chorus from Handel’s Messiah, accompanied by the Atlanta Brassworks.
In the message this Sunday, I want us to reflect upon the Gospel of Matthew’s account of the Resurrection and two emotions associated with Easter: Fear and Joy. I can’t wait to celebrate with you!

We will receive a special offering this Sunday for Habitat for Humanity. During the Lenten season, volunteers from our church have been building a house for Uriel Daniel and her family. This house represents the 46th home we have built in cooperation with Habitat for Humanity. I encourage you to give generously to help the Daniels’ dream come true. You may make your check payable to Peachtree Road, mark it for Lenten Offering/Habitat, and place it in the offering plate this Sunday, or you may give online. Thank you for your support. Together, we are changing lives!

I encourage you to invite others who may not have a church home to experience Easter at Peachtree Road. We are pretty good at recommending restaurants, movies, and books to others, but what about church? Think about someone who might need to hear the good news of Easter and encourage them to attend Peachtree Road.

Finally, let me offer two notes about Sunday’s logistics:
  • We will be running golf cart shuttles from our lots to the sanctuary throughout the morning, but parking may be difficult as we expect over 4,000 people for the morning services. One way you can help is by attending one of the early services (sunrise or 8:15 a.m.). Interestingly, in recent years, the largest attendance has been at the 9:45 a.m. service, and we certainly are pinched for parking between that service and the 11:15 a.m. service. In keeping with our theme this Lent, I encourage you to breathe and to be patient as you look for parking. Remember, as the lots turn over from one service to another, parking spaces do become available.
  • Overflow space will be available in both the Moore Chapel and Grace Hall throughout the morning. A live feed from the sanctuary will be available in each.
  • Also, our regular Sunday morning breakfast by Joy Cafe will be available from 7:00 – 9:00 a.m. in Grace Hall. Join us between the sunrise service and our first festival worship service.
I look forward to seeing you Sunday as we celebrate the presence of the Risen Christ!

Bill

PS – For those who have children (or grandchildren!) aged 1 year old through 5th grade, you are invited to join us for an Egg Hunt from 10:00 a.m. until 12 noon at Bob and Becky Hill’s house at 4950 Jett Road. The schedule is as follows:

10:30 a.m. – ages 1-2
11:00 a.m. – ages 3-5
11:15 a.m. – ages 6-8
11:15 a.m. – ages 9-11 Scavenger Hunt

In addition to the egg hunts, the event features a number of other fun family opportunities. Come join us on Saturday morning!
  • Breathe Devotional Image

Thursday, April 13 | Marcia Gaddis | Luke 21:34-22:63

The Breath of a New Covenant

Some of Jesus’ final teaching words from Luke 21:34 say, “But be on your guard. Don’t let the sharp edge of your expectation get dulled by parties and drinking and shopping. Otherwise, that Day is going to take you by complete surprise, spring on you suddenly like a trap, for it’s going to come on everyone, everywhere, at once. So, whatever you do, don’t go to sleep at the switch. Pray constantly that you will have the strength and wits to make it through everything that’s coming and end up on your feet before the Son of Man” (The Message).

And it was around this same time, Judas conspires with the authorities to turn Jesus over to them. But this is the day of Passover and Jesus, who knows all things, presses on and sends the disciples to prepare the room. Does the story remind you of earlier when Jesus sent ahead for the donkey? This time, a man carrying water is approached and when asked, takes the disciples to the upper room, all furnished and ready for Jesus.

In this intimate scene in the upper room we see prayer and action. Jesus gives thanks and then shares the cup. Jesus gives thanks and then shares the bread. And he tells them both times they will not have this action again until the kingdom of God comes. The future is promised and hope is handed out in love at this last meal. Finally, he takes the cup again and tells them his own blood is the new covenant and in the same breath states the knowledge of his betrayer. He ventures into one more teaching opportunity where Peter questions and Jesus breaks his heart by telling Peter of his own denial. Finally, after the bickering and questioning by his own, Jesus has had it, and simply states in Luke, “That is enough.” The forthcoming arrest, the trials through the night, the praying in the garden with weary and weak followers—it just all seems too much to face. Jesus cries out to God to take the cup from him, asking if there was any other way. The human side of Jesus draws us close and we cry out to God the same thing in our own trials. Why, God? But this is not about us—it is about Jesus. Because he obeyed God, not his own will, he chose to go to his death as a sacrifice so that our own deaths would have another outcome—the breath of new life in Christ. We are given hope at great cost to God. If you need some comfort this day, take some time to read John 14-17 in one sitting. Underline the word “love” every time you read it and let Jesus remind you of his promises to overcome your troubles. It is a struggle, this life. As our church gathers on this night to share the Lord’s Passover meal, it will be prepared like the upper room—lovingly with bread and wine, somber music, and dimmed lights. I never feel more humbled than when I, too, desert the quiet, darkened room—walking away like everyone else.

Prayer: If I allowed it, oh Lord, this could be a miserable day as I read of your rejection by so many, even me on many occasions. Give me strength to stand firm with you as my example. Amen.

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Wednesday, April 12 | Marcia Gaddis | John 12:35-42

Breathe on Me, Breath of God

“When Jesus had said these things, he departed and hid himself from them.” (John 12:36)

Some things you just have to do alone. Jesus had said just about all he had to say. He must have been exhausted from talking to people who misunderstood or denied and ridiculed his teaching. Scripture tells us many of the Jewish leaders believed Jesus, but they would not confess their faith because they were afraid they would be put out of the temple. “They loved praise from men more than praise from God” (John 12:42).

And so Jesus left and probably spent this day in prayer and fellowship with those closest to him. A silent retreat, if you will, in the midst of Holy Week. It’s probably what we all need here at the end of Lent. What does time alone with Jesus look like to you? Have you found a way to “hide” from the schedules and commitments to simply be alone with Jesus? Would you consider a few hours with your closest family and Christian friends to consider Jesus and the cross? I’m not talking about a planned church service, but a time of prayer and devotion to each other. In Jesus’ case, it was a time to say good-bye.

You see, there is a time before death when things get very quiet. We instinctively withdraw to our supportive community. Visits are tender and reflective. Words aren’t necessary. Every moment is a heightened awareness of all the senses where maybe a song is sung, or a special prayer recited. We remember the former, good times, trusting in a forever future together. We cling together in love and hope. We, in essence, are fortifying ourselves for what we know is to come.

I like to think this was a day of worship and fellowship for Jesus before his final act of love. Henri Nouwen in his excellent Lenten book Show Me The Way sums it up:

I now see clearly why action without prayer is so fruitless. It is only in and through prayer that we can become intimately connected with Jesus and find the strength to join him on his way. Prayer and action, therefore can never be seen as contradictory or mutually exclusive. Prayer without action grows into powerless pietism, and action without prayer degenerates into questionable manipulation. If prayer leads us into a deeper unity with the compassionate Christ, it will always give rise to concrete acts of service. And if concrete acts of service lead us to a deeper solidarity with the poor, the hungry, the sick, the dying, and the oppressed, they will always give rise to prayer. In prayer we meet Christ, and in him all human suffering. In service we meet people, and in them the suffering Christ.

Use some time this day to rest from our Lenten Journey. Find a quiet spot alone or with those you love and pray, reflect and worship together. And if words fail you, the song by Hillsong says it all:

Breathe on me, breath of God
Love and life that makes me free
Breathe on me, breath of God
Fan the flame within me

Teach my heart, heal my soul
Speak the mind that in Christ we know
Take me to Your sanctuary
Breathe on me

Speak to me, voice of God
Soft and still, inside my heart
Speak to me, word of God
Comfort, heal, restore with light

Prayer: Dear Lord, show me how to keep a balance of prayer and service. This day, I draw close to you for worship, meditation, reading your word, and prayer. There will be a time for service later. Amen.

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Tuesday, April 11 | Marcia Gaddis | Matthew 21:23-26

Breathe Deeply

“By what authority are you doing these things? Who gave you this authority?” (Matthew 21:23)

If it had been me, I would not have even returned to the temple. Jesus, however, had rested for the night back in Bethany and headed to the temple steps again. I can learn from his determination and fortitude. This day he was met with more opposition and questions. Who of us wants more opposition? Jesus, our Lord, was ready, and he spends the day teaching and answering and asking tough questions.

David Packer, author of A Journey to the Cross, puts it this way:

Tuesday of Christ’s last week was a day marked with challenges to His authority. The Herodians asked him about paying tribute to Caesar. The Sadducees asked Him about the resurrection. The Pharisees queried Him about the greatest commandment. Each came with a mock-enquirer, not a genuine searching for truth, and each formed their question around their own perspectives, biases, and concerns. The crowds observed a match of wits and of understanding. They could not trap Jesus in their silly arguments. He rose above all three and asked His own questions of them. We would expect nothing less of God Incarnate.

During Lent, we must ask ourselves if we are genuinely searching for truth. We must ask ourselves if we form our questions for God and others based on our own perspectives, biases, and concerns. We might be able to trap those around us—especially those who are closest to us. But we can never trap Jesus. And when we realize we cannot trap our Lord, it’s as though we can finally take a really deep breath and for once acknowledge the truth. A retreat leader calls it “inhabiting our hollow places.” She says we have to spend some time in those dark hollow places in our lives to begin the discovery of truth. Yes, I am sorry. No, I was not honest with you. Forgive my selfishness.

Once we take the first deep breath of truth, we begin to grow in the attitude of Christ. Philippians 2:5-11 (The Message) teaches us:

Think of yourselves the way Christ Jesus thought of himself. He had equal status with God but didn’t think so much of himself that he had to cling to the advantages of that status no matter what. Not at all. When the time came, he set aside the privileges of deity and took on the status of a slave, became human! Having become human, he stayed human. It was an incredibly humbling process. He didn’t claim special privileges. Instead, he lived a selfless, obedient life and then died a selfless, obedient death—and the worst kind of death at that—a crucifixion. Because of that obedience, God lifted him high and honored him far beyond anyone or anything, ever, so that all created beings in heaven and on earth—even those long ago dead and buried—will bow in worship before this Jesus Christ, and call out in praise that he is the Master of all, to the glorious honor of God the Father.

Prayer: Dear Lord, show me the way to truth. Point me in the way that leads to understanding. Amen.

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Monday, April 10 | Marcia Gaddis | Matthew 21:12-17

Catching my Breath

Jesus clearing the crowded temple is a stark contrast to the humility of riding on a donkey into Jerusalem. But Matthew says that the “whole city was stirred.” There was excitement and increasing tension. As homes were bulging with families gathered for Passover, there were probably long conversations into the night about Jesus and the events of the day. What would happen next? Jesus comes into the temple, angry at what he sees going on, and demonstrates authority in his actions. He turns over tables and chases out moneychangers, saying, “It is written, my house will be called a house of prayer, but you are making it a den of robbers.” What a contrast in the next verse to read that he then turns to heal the lame and give sight to the blind.

We must remind ourselves every day that this is Jesus’ final week. It is a week of grief and despair. Jesus knows that death is drawing near. His mission is nearing its end—and beginning. In his final attempts to prove his deity, we see his frustration, sadness, and anger at what was taking place in his holy house. And then within moments, we watch him look around, catch his breath, and choose to turn back to his ministry of love and healing and restoring.

Do we not say in our own anger at our personal life events, “This is not supposed to be happening in my world”? We watch as failed marriages, prodigal children, illnesses, violence, and a myriad of tragedies wreak havoc and despair in our own lives. Turning over tables suits our mood. And we get angry, weeping out our hurt and raging at our fate. But we too must learn to catch our breath.

Whether in a temple of marble and stone, or our own temple of flesh, as Christians we battle with an urgency to get things right —a prompting by the Holy Spirit who reminds us that “he makes all things new.” And as we are prompted, we begin to learn to catch our breath. We begin to look for ways to respond, always asking if our response will enlarge us or diminish us. It is a reminder for us to be confident in our faith, to face our battles, and to make Godly choices in our response. Just as the Jews celebrated the remembrance of the Passover and what God had done with the blood on the doorposts, they were required to take action and move. Once we catch our breath, we too can take action and move toward transformational change.

Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for setting the example for me. I, too, want to rage at the injustices I see. Show me how to stand for justice and be merciful at the same time. Amen.

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Sunday, April 9 | Marcia Gaddis | Matthew 21:1-11

Breathing the Breath of Trust

For some of us, as we enter our final week to the Cross, we are ready to be relieved of our sacrifices, small as they are in God’s economy. For others, there is excitement as resurrection reveals signs of life all around us through creation. But for some, this is a hard week. For those who know Jesus personally and have walked with him again through these passages, it is a week of finality and despair and death. We must ask ourselves, “Will despair and death enlarge us or diminish us?”

As I read today’s passage of Jesus and the donkey, of course childhood stories evoke the waving of the palm branches, the humble little donkey, and the hosannas surrounding Jesus on the road to Jerusalem. But as an adult, I know this was a difficult, final journey for Jesus. He had taught, healed, prayed, loved, warned, spoke frequently of the future, and forgiven. His life on earth was nearly complete. He must have been exhausted, yet his hardest work was still ahead of him.

They approach Jerusalem and Jesus tells two of his disciples to go and untie a donkey, a symbol of peace during those times. Several times Matthew says, “untie.” The donkey had been tied down and was waiting to be untied for this very time in history according to Zechariah.

“Rejoice greatly, O daughter Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter Jerusalem! Lo, your king comes to you, triumphant and victorious is he; humble and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey” (Zechariah 9:9).

Do you feel tied down? Like the donkey, are you ever in a holding time, just waiting to be of use to Jesus, the Messiah?

We will never be of use to the Messiah if we remain “tied down” to this life and that which owns us. It is when we let go, we can live a life of faith free from the pressure of trying to hold things together. It is then we can breathe the breath of trust. When we are free, we can carry the burden with the help of Jesus. It is a spirit of relinquishment, of letting go of that which keeps us tied down. And when we do, the burden becomes bearable. Like the donkey, we become a symbol of peace to be used for something greater than ourselves.

Prayer: Dear Lord, in this final week of Lent, help me to “untie” myself to all the things that keep me from loving and serving you in the way you desire. Help me to carry your burden to the cross. Amen.

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Saturday, April 8 | Rev. Lindsay Geist | John 11:1-45

Breathing is integral to our survival. Without breath, we have no life. It’s one of the first things that emergency personnel check when they come to the scene—for our heartbeat and for our breathing. Not only does it give us physical life, but God used breath in the very beginning to give our souls life. It was in creation that the Holy Spirit was breathed into us and made us human. The very breath of God in our souls and in our lungs gave us life and meaning.

Have you ever had moments where you are short of breath? Where you might be so full of anxiety, dread, grief, or sadness that you can’t get a good deep breath? That moment can be terrifying.

I wonder if it’s the same way with our spiritual lives at times. That we feel short of God, short of the Holy Spirit. That we can’t quite get enough of God and we are taking shallow breaths only. Sometimes our breathing is only for physical life but not giving our souls life. As we prepare to enter Holy Week, the week that reminds us of God’s greatest miracles, remember to take deep soul breaths. Lean into God; take in the life-giving breath that the Holy Spirit provides but we often ignore instead of our shallow, survival mode breathing.

Action Challenge: Breathe deeply in the Holy Spirit each and every day of the upcoming week.

  • Bill Preaching

April 7, 2017

Dear Peachtree Road Family,

I hope this note finds you and your loved ones well. As I write these words, we are merely hours away from Palm Sunday and the beginning of Holy Week. This is one of our favorite Sundays of the year here at Peachtree Road. The children entering the sanctuary waving their palm branches, the beautiful music offered by the choirs, and, yes, having our favorite donkey “Jerusalem” leading the procession at the 11:15 am service make the day extra special. I love the passage we will read at the beginning of worship:

The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!” When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, “Who is this?” the crowds were saying, “This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.” (Matthew 21:9-11)

With this triumphant passage setting the initial tone for the day, the service invites us to consider, “To whom do we shout, ‘Hosanna!’ and who do we say Jesus is?” We will bring our series of messages under the theme of “Breathe” to a close as we consider how to live when death draws near. I believe you will find this service to be helpful.

We are offering something new this year on Palm Sunday – a congregational breakfast being served in Grace Hall from 9:00 am until 11:00 am. I hope you will come and join your friends at Peachtree Road for a delicious meal and good fellowship as we begin this holiest of weeks together.

You also are invited to join us for our midday services Monday through Thursday during Holy Week in the Moore Chapel. These services begin at 12:05 pm and are followed by a fellowship luncheon in Grace Hall. The schedule for the week is as follows:

Monday | Julie Wright (preacher) and Will Green (soloist)
Tuesday | Leslie Watkins (preacher) and Clarke Harris (soloist)
Wednesday | Jamie Jenkins (preacher) and Peter Mackenzie (soloist)
Thursday | Darren Hensley (preacher) and Nancy MizeGonzalez (soloist)

Our Holy Thursday service will be held in the sanctuary on Thursday, April 13, at 7:00 pm with Julie Schendel preaching. This service features the celebration of the Sacrament of Holy Communion as we remember Jesus’ last supper with his disciples and the stripping of the altar, signifying the abandonment of Jesus by his disciples and his prayers of anguish in the Garden of Gethsemane. We will leave the sanctuary in somber reflection to close one of the most moving services of the year.

Finally, we will bring the season of Lent to a close by joining with other Christians from throughout Buckhead for a special Community Good Friday Service on Friday, April 14, at noon at Peachtree Presbyterian Church. We will join members from Wieuca Road Baptist, Peachtree Presbyterian, the Cathedral of Christ the King Roman Catholic, and Second Ponce de Leon Baptist for the service. I will be the preacher for the service and hope you will join us for these particularly meaningful times of worship as we reflect upon Christ’s love for us.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank those who contributed toward this year’s Lenten devotional guide. This devotional piece, centered upon the theme “Breathe,” has been both helpful and inspirational. I am grateful to Jamie Jenkins, Darren Hensley, Ed Hamlin, Deidra Harrell, Lindsay Geist, and Marcia Gaddis for their willingness to offer daily reflections that have challenged us to think deeply about our relationships with Christ and one another. We are blessed to have such gifted writers in our congregation. I also am grateful to Leslie Watkins for suggesting the creative idea of offering the guide as an adult coloring book filled with “mandalas” to encourage relaxation and an opportunity for deeper meditation upon the themes of this season. While I admit I did not do any coloring in my book, I have heard from a number in our congregation who did and found the practice spiritually energizing. Thank you to all for this wonderful gift during the season of Lent.

Finally, let me thank you for the support you provided last week for our “Sponsor a Child” emphasis. We were blessed to have Tamuna Grigolia, the program director for the children’s ministry we support in the country of Georgia, with us last week. She directs a program that changes the lives of nearly 350 children, providing them with love, support, and hope for living. Your gift of $330 supports one child in Georgia for an entire year. Please drop by Grace Hall this Sunday, meet Tamuna, and make your gift to sponsor a child for the coming year. Local and global outreach are at the heart of who we are at Peachtree Road, and our commitment to support these life-changing ministries will not waver. Thank you for your support.

Please call on me if you need me. I look forward to seeing you Sunday as we begin Holy Week together!

Bill

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Friday, April 7 | Rev. Lindsay Geist | John 11:1-45

When what appears in our nightmares comes true in reality, our hearts can feel lost. We may feel as though we are wandering. We often weep tears of sadness in our grief. I have heard people tell me (and others) to “Pull yourself up by your bootstraps” and get it together. Tears are often shed in quiet, in secret, full of shame. We try to hold ourselves together and pretend that the nightmare never happened.

In times of distress, I remind myself of the shortest verse in the Bible: “Jesus wept.” It is a verse that sticks with us—not only because it’s the shortest but also because it’s memorable that Jesus was crying. And not just crying, but weeping, the intense tears brought on by grief, disappointment, and loss. Jesus, too, experienced a nightmare becoming reality. One of his dear friends, Lazarus, has died and Jesus arrived too late. Lazarus had been dead four days; there was no chance of revival.

Jesus wept for the memories that he had with Lazarus and the future memories that would not be created. Instead of reminding ourselves that Jesus felt the grief too, we quickly gloss over the verse. We are not alone when we experience sadness and our own personal nightmares. Whatever scale they are, they are real and intense to us. Jesus was not ashamed of his own tears but let them flow freely. As we face our own nightmares, may we remember that tears can be healing and a way to release the heartache from our souls.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for the reminder that your son felt our human emotions too. It is part of our nature to feel sadness and important to express it. We do not need to be ashamed of our own tears and grief. Help the tears to flow freely as we release the burden from our hearts. Amen.

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Thursday, April 6 | Rev. Lindsay Geist | Psalm 130

When we are lost in our nightmares of life, we focus on what we want God to do for us or what God hasn’t done yet. We cry out to God about our pains and our desires. We desperately want God to listen to and fulfill our pleading desires. Often we forget what God has already done for us or what God can do in those moments.

Psalm 130 reminds us of that very concept. We forget what God has done and instead remember our misfortunes more easily. But God does not, thankfully. If God were to mark all of our transgressions and keep those at the forefront, how would any of us survive? In God there is forgiveness for our own mistakes, bad choices, and even our own complaints toward God. God offers much more grace than we can fathom. God reaches out to us even in the midst of our complaints. And in that we are reminded of God’s steadfast love.

There is power in God’s redemption of even our darkest nightmares. God has the power to change anything into good. God does not cause the nightmare to happen, but God can redeem even the worst moments and create good out of them. In the nightmare, may we remember to wait, that our souls may wait and hope for the morning promises that God has offered.

Journal Exercise: Look back on your past year since Easter 2016. Write a list of all of the ways that God HAS shown up in your life and done something wonderful. It can be big or little. But use this time as a reflection on the miracles of God that are often harder to remember than what God hasn’t done for us.

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Wednesday, April 5 | Rev. Lindsay Geist | Ezekiel 37:1-14

As Ezekiel wandered around the valley, all he could see were the dry bones. The Lord asked Ezekiel if it was possible for the bones to live. The lifeless bones that were scattered about were dry and displayed no signs of life. I wonder if parts of your own life feel that way—dried up and dead. Parts of your hopes and dreams feel as though they can no longer exist. Maybe this includes children, marriage, a career, friends, or housing. Many characters throughout the Bible story felt this very way—Sarah and Elizabeth each past childbearing years, Moses wondering if he was talented enough, the Samaritan woman feeling outcast. There are so many dried up bones of hopes.

It is only through the Lord that dry bones can find life. God has made the impossible happen before and the only way that it would ever happen again would be through God. The Lord responds and tells Ezekiel to prophesy over the bones that the Lord will breathe into them and give them life again. And through that, the Lord breathed into the bones and they groaned and rattled and came together.

Have you ever prophesied over your own life, crying out for the Lord to breathe into the dry bones and God did? Have you had an impossible moment in your life come together when God breathed life into it? It may not be something as obviously miraculous as having a child well past childbearing years, or raising someone from the dead such as Lazarus, but it might be a minor dream that was resurrected. Something that you believed had passed by in your life but God still breathed into that hope and dream and brought it to life. Or maybe you’re still waiting for this impossible moment of God breathing into something lifeless to restore it. Whether you have seen God’s breath of life in action or are still dreaming of it, let this passage serve as a reminder that even in the darkest moments of impossibility, life can appear.

Prayer: Loving God, sometimes we feel as though we are in a valley of dry bones already—dried up hopes and dreams long since dead. Please remind us of the past miracles we have witnessed in our own lives or the lives of others, including this scripture text. That you can breathe into anything dried and dead and bring about life. All we need to do is ask and turn to you. In your name we pray, Amen. (more…)

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Tuesday, April 4 | Rev. Lindsay Geist | John 11:1-45; Ezekiel 37:1-14; Psalm 130; Romans 8:6-11

Nightmares come in all forms. For each person it can be different. In my calling, each day I sit with someone who may be facing a nightmare of their own: divorce, depression, death of a loved one, struggling to pay bills, anxiety, domestic violence, miscarriage, loss of job, sexual abuse, or homelessness. These are some of the many nightmares we all may face ourselves. In each of these moments it may feel like it’s never going to end. We’re never going to get past it. For each person the details may be different, but they still feel very tangible and real to you at the moment.

Nightmares exist in real life. They don’t just come to us in our dreams or come to “other people.” They happen to us. We have all probably had a moment in our lives where we feel like we’re struggling for air, slowly drowning in our own nightmare. And often this happens silently, where no one hears us gasping to breathe because we won’t cry out for help. We are silently drowning.

If this is you, please seek out someone who can throw you that life preserver we all so desperately need at times in our lives. Find someone who can help you breathe in the midst of the nightmare—a friend, a family member, a therapist, or a pastor. Someone with whom you can be honest and transparent for the times that we have forgotten how to swim and are beginning to drown. Let that moment not be one of silent agony but be a cry for help to someone to be present and assist you in the crisis.

Action Challenge: Seek out someone as a support for you in the midst of the nightmares of life—either for your current crisis or in preparation for the future. This can be a friend, family member, therapist, or pastor—someone safe to talk about the joys of life as well as the challenges. If you would like names or contact information for local therapists, please reach out to church staff.

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Monday, April 3 | Rev. Lindsay Geist | John 11:1-45

Mary and Martha are caught in what feels like a nightmare—their brother has fallen ill and they called for Jesus to come quickly, but Jesus appears to take his time traveling to them. By the time Jesus arrives, Lazarus is dead. Mary and Martha are distraught. They have lost their close family member and are full of lament. Mary cries out to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” She expresses what we so often feel in the midst of our own grief: anger and blame toward God. Why didn’t God heal that person? Why didn’t God stop the nightmare from happening?

Many of us have lost people we loved in our lives—some due to older age but many due to horrible illnesses and accidents. It is natural for us to cry out to God in anger. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross includes it in her stages of grief and loss: isolation and denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Psychology has found that it is in our very nature to go through that stage when we have experienced some sort of loss. Scripture confirms this through the laments found throughout Psalms and this very raw and honest interaction between Martha and Jesus. It is in our very nature and happens to even the most faithful of people.

However, in the midst of the anger, Martha also remembers how mighty God is. In the same breath of being angry with God she acknowledges his omnipotence. She says, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.” She believes in Jesus’ ultimate power and reign even when she is in her darkest moment.

When you find yourself in your own nightmares, remember that anger is okay. But in the same breath, remember that Jesus still reigns. This provides hope in our darkness.

Prayer: Almighty God, thank you for listening to our cries of anger and sadness. You have heard it before and love us nonetheless. You know we are hurting and lashing out. Help us to remember amidst our anger that you are greater than all of our hurt and fear. That you will reign even in our darkest moments. In your Son’s name we pray, Amen.

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Sunday, April 2 | Rev. Lindsay Geist | John 11:1-45; Ezekiel 37:1-14; Psalm 130; Romans 8:6-11

When I think of my nightmares as a child, I remember bits and pieces vividly but often struggle to recall many of the details. However, I can tell you that they all share a similar theme: someone close to me is seriously hurt or dies. While I can’t remember each of the exact nightmares, I remember the feeling more than anything: that feeling of panic, helplessness, and terror. I remember waking up in cold sweats calling out for my parents, seeking reassurance that I wasn’t alone and for them to tell me it was only a bad dream, a nightmare.

As an adult, I still have nightmares sometimes. Again, I don’t always remember the details but I share the same feelings from when I was young. I wake up with my heart racing, in a cold sweat, wanting to cling to anything real that reminds me it was only a bad dream. As an adult I try to soothe myself the way that my parents did when I was young. I have to give myself a pep talk about how it’s not real and practice some grounding techniques. I make sure I feel the bed beneath me, reminding myself of exactly where I am. I look at the clock to remind myself what time it is and that I was only sleeping. Sometimes I even find a book to read a few pages or check my phone to focus my mind elsewhere. But most of all, I remind myself to breathe. Breathing can be a form of prayer. Reminding myself of the air that the Holy Spirit breathed into me and exhaling out all of the bad thoughts. Reminding myself that God is with me, in the midst of my fear and terror.

Nightmares can plague us both as children and adults. The details may change but the fear remains the same. Next time you wake up from a nightmare, remember to breathe.

Journal Exercise: When you experience a nightmare, what’s the first thing you do?

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Saturday, April 1 | Deidra Harrell | Eph. 5:8-15

You groped your way through that murk once, but no longer. You’re out in the open now. The bright light of Christ makes your way plain. So no more stumbling around. Get on with it! The good, the right, the true—these are the actions appropriate for daylight hours. Figure out what will please Christ, and then do it.

Don’t waste your time on useless work, mere busywork, the barren pursuits of darkness. Expose these things for the sham they are. It’s a scandal when people waste their lives on things they must do in the darkness where no one will see. Rip the cover off those frauds and see how attractive they look in the light of Christ.

Wake up from your sleep,
Climb out of your coffins;
Christ will show you the light!

So watch your step. Use your head. (Ephesians 5:8-15 The Message)

Leave it to Paul, author of Ephesians, to tell it like it is, and Eugene Peterson, author of The Message translation, to make sure Paul’s point is delivered in plain terms! Every living person has fallen short and failed to live as God intended. At some point though, it becomes necessary to move on past the regrets, fears, guilt, or self-doubt that hold back true spiritual growth and renewal. Accepting God’s grace, allowing it to be transformative, and starting anew enables life to be lived differently, where understanding and undertaking God’s desires are foremost. Failure will most certainly come again, but this time, earnest pursuit of a Christ-centered life enables growth and learning—these missteps in a faith walk are stumbles forward.

Each January, resolutions are made to undergo desired personal changes over the coming year. For many, those resolutions are set aside before the month is over. For Christians, the season of Lent offers a new opportunity to make resolutions—this time to undergo a spiritual change over a 40-day period. Heraclitus, a Greek poet and philosopher, once said:

The soul is dyed the color of its thoughts. Think only on those things that are in line with your principles and can bear the full light of day. The content of your character is your choice. Day by day, what you choose, what you think, and what you do is who you become. Your integrity is your destiny… it is the light that guides your way.

As Christians, Christ is the destiny and the light that guides the way. Thoughts and actions in line with his principles are needed to shape character. Take this season of Lent to not just make a resolution to give up something or take on something new but make a new covenant that goes beyond this period: let the past go; put aside emotional baggage; and live in the light. Use that precious gift of time wisely—now is the moment to begin.

A Covenant Prayer in the Wesleyan Tradition – Contemporary Version
I am no longer my own, but yours.
Put me to what you will, place me with whom you will.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be put to work for you or set aside for you, praised for you or criticized for you.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and fully surrender all things to your glory and service.
And now, O wonderful and holy God, Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer, you are mine, and I am yours.
So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth, Let it also be made in heaven. Amen.

March 31, 2017

Dear Peachtree Road Family,

I hope this note finds you well and enjoying the springtime weather. Sunday promises to be a good day here at Peachtree Road.

  • In worship, we will continue with our series of messages around the theme “Breathe.” Many of you have gotten that distressing phone call that has sent you to the hospital to be with a loved one. I have heard the hours following a tragedy described in this way: “I feel like I am in a bad dream and just want to wake up so it can be over.” This week’s message focuses upon the death of Jesus’ friend Lazarus (John 11:1-45) and Jesus’ response. I hope you will be present Sunday morning as we ponder what it means to “breathe…when you’re caught in a nightmare.”
  • Sunday also is the day we kick-off our “Sponsor a Child” mission emphasis. You may know of our ministry with children in the country of Georgia. Tamuna Grigolia is the one who coordinates our efforts to provide love and support for 350 children in five orphanages in the country of Georgia. She will be present with us Sunday to share a word of appreciation with you for your loving kindness and support. When you sign up to “Sponsor a Child” in Georgia, you will be providing for the needs of a child for an entire year. Thank you in advance for your generosity toward this ministry. Our mission team volunteers will be available in Grace Hall this Sunday morning to share stories and help with your sponsorship, or you may give online.
  • Also, on Sunday evening you are invited to a special Lenten service in the sanctuary at 7:00 pm. The Passion of the Christ: the Musical Stations of the Cross is designed to help us remember and reflect upon the death of Christ on the cross. You are invited to participate in this very meaningful Lenten service.

Earlier this week, Beth Spencer and I had an opportunity to attend the international convention for Habitat for Humanity that took place here in Atlanta. We were guests for the keynote speech delivered by Jonathan Reckford, the CEO of Habitat. I was astounded by one statistic he shared: every 50 seconds work is started somewhere in the world on a new house built in cooperation with Habitat for Humanity. This ministry, started a little over 40 years ago, is making a difference in our world, addressing the housing needs of the world one family at a time. It is a joy to partner with this outstanding organization. This is on my mind today because Peachtree Road is in the finishing stages of a house being built for Uriel Daniel and her family – the 46th house this church has built in partnership with Habitat for Humanity! On Easter Sunday we will receive a special offering to help pay for this house. I hope you will join Wendie and me in giving generously toward this very worthwhile project. I appreciate your help.

I do not want to miss the opportunity to offer a word of appreciation for all who participated in last Saturday’s Great Day of Service. I am grateful to Beth Spencer, our director of local outreach, Susie Hubbard and Jo Hodges, the co-directors for this year’s event, and their team of volunteers who helped lead the 25th edition of the Great Day. I especially appreciate the efforts of the members of the steering committee and project captains who got us organized and heading out to the projects throughout the city. It was a wonderful day of service and fellowship. As a lover of good barbeque, I am grateful for Jef Wallace and his crew for the delicious barbeque pork they prepared on site! If you missed out on being a part of the Great Day this year, make your plans to be a part of it next year.

Finally, do you know someone who is looking for a church home? Peachtree Road is a wonderful place, and our gatherings on Sunday morning very much have the feel of a family reunion. Maybe you know someone who is in need of an extended family of faith to help support them, nurture them, and help them know the fullness of God’s love and grace. Why not invite them to join you here at Peachtree Road? Please contact Mimi Brunson to learn more about becoming a member and getting connected.

I look forward to seeing you Sunday!

Bill

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Friday, March 31 | Deidra Harrell | Psalm 23

Throughout the course of the devotional, the directive to breathe is a constant; throughout the whole of scripture, the theme of grace is a constant. These two go hand-in-hand, for it is when we pause and breathe that we give ourselves enough time to recognize, accept, and experience grace. In this fast-paced world in which we live, it is too easy to become distracted with information overload and requests on us for our time. It is often our quiet, meditative time with God that is set aside and soon, when His presence is needed most, we may not have the time to seek him or feel we know how to begin. For these situations, breath prayers can be just the answer needed.

Breath prayers are just what the name indicates—prayers that are said in one breath. Simple. Easy. Short. In that breath, we are reminded to breathe in God’s grace. “Lord, have mercy” (Psalm 123:3). “Here I am” (Isaiah 6:8). “Not my will, but yours” (Luke 22:42). “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3:9). There’s no limit to how many and how often breath prayers are used.

Psalm 23 offers several options for breath prayers, such as:

  • “The Lord is my shepherd”
  • “I fear no evil; for you are with me”
  • “I shall dwell in the house of the Lord”

Try incorporating one of these breath prayers into your routine today as a reminder that no matter what you’ve done in the past and no matter what you face right now, the Lord is right there with you always. Breathe…“The Lord is my shepherd…” and receive His grace.

  • Bill Smiling with Baptism Baby

March 24, 2017

Dear Peachtree Road Family,

I hope this note finds you well. I would like to begin this week’s note with some exciting news. At last Monday night’s Administrative Board meeting, Chris Mucha was introduced as Peachtree Road’s new Director for Youth and Their Families! Chris currently is the youth director at Fayetteville First UMC in Fayetteville, Georgia where he has served for the last 10+ years. He is an exceptional leader, loves Christ, and is committed to helping youth and their families grow as Christian disciples. Chris and his wife Ashley have a ten-year-old son Dayton, and they are looking forward to joining our church family. He will begin his work here on May 1. I am most grateful to the search team, chaired by Daris McCullough, for their diligent work over the last six months. We learned a great deal through this process about growing a vital ministry with youth and their families, and we are confident that Chris will bring outstanding leadership to our staff team. We look forward to welcoming Chris and his family to Peachtree Road very soon. Please pray for the Muchas as they make this transition to Atlanta.

Also, at Monday’s Board meeting, we adopted a budget for the year of $6.85 million. The staff worked hard to create “zero-balance” budgets, but the Finance Committee determined further cuts were necessary in order to avoid another year of an operating budget deficit. As the committee wrestled with this reality, a new model was envisioned – the development of two budgets: one for the operations of the church and the other consisting of our goals for local and global outreach. In recent years, our support outside the operating budget for outreach has exceeded that which was designated within the budget. For example, last year Peachtree Road invested over $1.3 million in outreach, but less than $500,000 came from the operating budget. The difference came from the generous second mile gifts of our congregation to efforts such as Christmas Kindness, the Dogwood Gift Shop, the Christmas Eve Offering for water filters, etc. Outreach is at the heart of what we do here at Peachtree Road, and we are changing lives here in our own community as well as faraway places in Kenya, Georgia, and Nicaragua. Our Finance Committee believes this new model will help us accomplish all of our goals in a strategic and sustainable way. I am grateful to Beth Spencer and Anne French for all they do to keep outreach at the forefront of our ministry, and I am grateful to the Finance Committee for helping us make our efforts sustainable over the long haul.

In an effort to make sure that our support for outreach does not slip in any way, I am establishing a church-wide outreach initiative in which every area of the church will be challenged to help us fulfill our goal to transform lives in the name of Jesus Christ and leverage every member of our congregation in the process. I have asked our new Chief Operating Officer, Raymond Reynolds, to make it a priority of his time in the next three months to work with a group to help us fully develop this plan and the needed resources. Some of you may know that Raymond has extensive experience in the area of development, most recently as the Vice-President for Major and Legacy Giving at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. We are blessed to have him on our team! I have been encouraged by several conversations in recent days and believe this new model will enable us to grow our investment in outreach toward that $2 million goal we have set for ourselves in the future. I will give you details of the plan as it develops. Please know how grateful we are for your tithes, offerings, and second mile gifts.

I am looking forward to Sunday as we continue with our Lenten series of messages entitled “Breathe!” This week we will consider the encounter between Jesus and a man who was born blind (John 9:1-41). In my study this week, I have really been struck by the question the disciples asked Jesus: “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” That question is borne out of a mindset that everything happens for a reason. Does it? That’s a question I want us to ponder together this week. See you in church!

Speaking of Sunday, this week is “Baby Recognition Day” at Peachtree Road. Each year we take time to celebrate the birth of the children who have been born to members of our church within the last year. I am grateful to the United Methodist Women who organize this recognition. The parents will attend a brunch at 10:00 am in Grace Hall, and then, during the 11:15 am service in the sanctuary, the names of our newborns will be called; they will be presented with a certificate from the United Methodist Women; and we will offer a prayer of blessing upon them. Over 60 children were born in our church last year, and we should never take for granted how blessed we are!

Also, this Sunday marks the opening of the Dogwood Gift Shop for the spring season. The shop has been restocked with new merchandise, including gifts for babies, weddings, birthdays, moms, dads, and grads. As always, 100% of the proceeds will go to support the global outreach of Peachtree Road. (Last year, those proceeds amounted to over $100,000 and helped us make a difference in faraway places such as Kenya, the nation of Georgia, and Nicaragua.) I hope you will drop by the Dogwood this week and support our global outreach ministry.

Finally, today marks the final countdown to tomorrow’s Great Day of Service. This is the 25th year Peachtree Road has hosted a day of service, and I hope you are signed up and ready to participate. If not, it’s not too late! We have a wonderful group of project captains who are ready to work with you as we go out into the community to demonstrate our love for God and neighbor in life-changing ways. I look forward to seeing you tomorrow.

Thank you for all that you are doing in the name of Christ through Peachtree Road. I look forward to seeing you Saturday at the Great Day of Service and in worship on Sunday.

Bill

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Friday March 24 | Ed Hamlin | John 4:25-26

Breathe and Contemplate: Slaveholder Thomas Jefferson said that when he considered God was “righteous” he “trembled.”

Consider: With Jesus, nothing happens as we expect. We would have expected the King of Kings to be born in a palace surrounded by dignitaries, not a damp cave amongst the livestock. We would have expected his baby bed to be exquisite, not a slobbery feedbox. The Jews expected a Messiah in the tradition of King David, riding gallantly into Jerusalem on a white horse, kicking Rome out the door in the process. But not this Messiah. He rode in on a lowly donkey, while loving his enemy.

The Samaritans expected a different kind of Messiah called the Taheb, a kind of restorer. They believed this Messiah would be like Moses and would usher in the golden age. He would be so much like God that anyone who believed in God would believe in the Taheb.

The woman at the well knew her version of scripture. Jesus, however, told her the truth. He was fulfilling not only Jewish messianic expectations, but also those of the Samaritan. Our Jesus is not a jack-in-the-box we wind up when we are in trouble. No, this Jesus cares only about one thing, our heart.

Call to Action: If we truly believe that Jesus took our place and willingly took the punishment we deserved (justice) while we were still enemies, what should we be doing differently in our life today?

Prayer: Lord, wipe the sleep from my eyes so I can see you more clearly, humble me with all that I do not know, and make what I do a fitting example of your love and grace. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

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Thursday, March 23 | Ed Hamlin | John 4:16-18

Breathe and Contemplate: “You don’t realize Jesus is all you need until Jesus is all you have.”―Timothy J. Keller, Counterfeit Gods

Consider: None of us deserve the love and forgiveness we receive from Jesus. That is why it is called grace. All of us have events that we would prefer that our grandmothers never knew. The woman at the well certainly did. She had been married five times and was living with a man who was not her husband. Jesus knew that and broke it to her softly. He let her know that it was not her past that he was concerned with; rather it was her heart.

The text does not tell us why she has had so many failed marriages. During that time men could easily divorce a woman, but a woman could not divorce a man. She could have been divorced for her inability to provide a son. What we do know is she put her trust in men and that proved to be a bad choice every time.

But is she any different than most of us? Many of us are guilty of trying to gain meaning in our lives by placing our trust in the other gods like beauty, power, money, a perfect family, and achievement. When we love those good things God has made above anything else, we become addicted. We turn those good things into the ultimate thing. Tim Keller, famous author and Senior Pastor at Redeemer Presbyterian Church in NYC, calls the human heart an “idol factory.” Whatever controls us is our lord.

You can imagine that the woman at the well, after each failed relationship, had to have thought, “If I can just get this next man, my life will have meaning, then I’ll know I have value, then I will be secure.” But she has proved over and over, that is not how it works for any of us. When we place our trust in anything other than Jesus Christ, we will be disappointed.

Call to Action: List some of the “other gods” in your life. What do you need to do to keep God first?

Prayer: Precious God, forgive me when I try and turn gifts you have provided into things that dictate my happiness. Help me know that it is through you and you alone where I will find peace. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

What a Way to Celebrate World Water Day!

Thanks to your generosity, Start with One Kenya, and the efforts of our most recent Kenya mission team, three islands on Lake Victoria – Sifu, Ndeda, and Oyamo – are now 100% COVERED with UZima clean water filters! That means that every man, woman, and child on three islands has access to clean water and the opportunity to live in good health. These communities have seen the love of Christ in action and received tangible reminders of that love. Their children can now attend school. Their parents can now work and spend earnings on items other than waterborne illness mediations. These communities will grow. And they will flourish.

But, we are not done! The funds you helped raise over Christmas will allow us to provide clean water to one more island on Lake Victoria. Lives will continue to be transformed and we are so grateful to you, Start with One Kenya, and our incredible PRUMC mission teams. Thank you. Thank you for all you do as the hands and feet of Christ.

Want to do more to provide #cleanwater and #Uzima water filters on #WorldWaterDay and throughout the year?

  • Spread the word about UZima filters to your friends and family. Visit www.uzimafilters.org or www.prumc.org for details.
  • Give toward these clean water initiatives.
  • Sign up to be part of a Kenya mission trip through Peachtree Road.
  • Pray for the communities in Kenya and around the world in desperate need of clean water.
  • Help raise water awareness on social media. Highlight #WorldWaterDay and #UzimaFilters today!
Kids on Omayo Island excited to have clean water!

Kids on Omayo Island excited to have clean water!

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Wednesday, March 22 | Ed Hamlin | John 4:9-15

Breathe and Contemplate: “If you judge people, you have no time to love them.”―Mother Teresa

Consider: Water is vital to all living things. In some living organisms water makes up to 90% of their weight. For humans it is approximately 60%. Consider the places in John where water is a key instrument in Jesus’ ministry: turning water to wine in Cana (2:11-12); Nicodemus being told he must be born of water and the Spirit (3:5); and the woman at the well.

When you are thirsty, the instinctive thing to do is to find water, to ask for a drink. Why is it that something so fundamental to living turns into such a big deal? Who decided it was against the rules to be polite and try to talk to just anybody? Was safety the only reason? Why is it that when I was a boy in Macon, GA, a black person had to go to a separate water fountain and could be put in jail for drinking at the wrong fountain? Why is it that 11:00 am on Sunday is the most racially segregated hour in the United States? Has the church forgotten its call to be radical for Jesus? Are we afraid that if we are, we might not be accepted in our community? How do we break these written and unwritten rules?

The woman’s life did not turn out as she had hoped. She was a lonely outcast looking for love in all the wrong places. I love to tell the stories of broken dreams that have an amazing twist like this one and stories of women desperately wanting children like Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel, Hannah, and Elizabeth. With each story I try to paint a picture of how our world struggles to accept the augmented dream that eventually comes true.

The “well rules” dictated that anyone outside the norm was judged to be not welcome. Have you ever been an outsider and can relate? Where do you fit?

Call to Action: Think about how Jesus is not the God you expected. He welcomed you when you were a stranger. This week look inside and outside your community for those that don’t quite fit the mainstream and do something to make them feel welcome in your circle.

Prayer: Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; where there is sadness, joy. Amen.

“O, Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console; to be understood as to understand; to be loved as to love; for it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.”―St. Francis

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Tuesday, March 21 | Ed Hamlin | John 4:7-9, 16-18, 27

Breathe and Contemplate: The church is God’s social policy.

Consider: We don’t know her name or her age. The rich and powerful have names, but the invisible do not. Isn’t it interesting that the unnamed woman in today’s passage outshines Nicodemus, leader of the Jews? Nicodemus came to Jesus under the cover of darkness, but this unnamed Samaritan woman has the longest one-on-one conversation recorded with Jesus in a public place in broad daylight.

The setting for the woman at the well story, the city of Sychar, was the site of Jacob’s well. Jacob first drank from this well shortly after he had his stairway dream, which took a lifetime to unfold. That is a lesson in itself. Our tendency is to want microwavable results. More times than not, a good life takes time to cure.

At the time of Jacob, the Samaritans and Jews were still one people. They shared a common faith, a common heritage, and a common devotion to God. This was before the Assyrians, before the Babylonian exile, before so many changes. The results were finger pointing, racial slurs, and accusing other members of each group of being infidels. Sound familiar?

Jesus, like Jacob, came to this well at the hottest part of the day with a proposal. Jacob came with a marriage proposal for Rachel, but Jesus’ proposal was all about the reconciliation of all human beings to God. Pious Jews weren’t supposed to speak to Samaritans. Men weren’t permitted to address women without their husbands present. And any good rabbi had no business speaking to shady ladies such as this one. Jesus was about to change this woman’s world by changing society’s rules.

The past two years have been very difficult years for many. The lesson of Jesus ignoring gender, religious, racial, and societal bias to find the lost should give each of us hope as well as a template for how we embrace our neighbor.

Call to Action: Our church is called to be a sanctuary for all people. What can you do this week to welcome the stranger, the foreigner, the “other” into our community?

Prayer: Father, I pray that exclusivity is a word I no longer tolerate. Take from my eye the log that prevents me from loving my neighbor as myself. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

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Monday, March 20 | Ed Hamlin | John 4:3-6

Breathe and Contemplate: Amish Grace

Consider: Jesus spent his whole life confined to a geographical space that was only about 120 miles long from north to south. But within that territory were three distinct divisions. In the north was Galilee. In the south was Judea and in between the two was the dreaded Samaria, the area of Israel that we refer to today as the West Bank.

Today’s text occurs after Jesus had been very busy preaching the Good News in Judea when he decided to go north to Galilee. Jesus’ popularity had become difficult to manage and his visibility to those in power had increased to the point that he decided a trip to Galilee was a good way to avoid controversy. Jesus knew his hour had not yet come. Pay special attention to verse 4 when Jesus says “he HAD to go through Samaria.”

So what is the big deal about having to go through Samaria? It would seem to be the best route, a straight shot of about 70 miles, a two and a half days’ walk. But a Jew with nationalistic pride, especially one who considered himself to be pious, would never go through Samaria even though the other option would take six days and was a much more difficult trip.

The disdain between Samaritans and Jews is the ancient version of the fight between the Hatfields and McCoys. The Jews considered Samaritans to be traitors, idol-worshiping people, and racially impure. You can only imagine the second-guessing Jesus must have received from his traveling companions when they figured out which route Jesus had chosen. I can hear Peter asking, “You mean we are going there? But why, Jesus?” But since Jesus was concerned only with his Father’s business, he would not be deterred by social convention. He had a job to do and that meant going straight to Samaria, not around it.

We Christians are called to be a unique people, set apart. We are to live life differently in a world that wants uniformity. Jesus never promised us a life without challenges. He did promise us peace and his constant presence with us.

As a unique people we are often called to offer forgiveness when hate seems the most logical reaction. Do you recall when, in 2006, a thirty-two-year-old gunman entered a one-room Amish school in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania? The killer shot 10 girls, killing five and leaving the others critically wounded. He then shot himself as police tried in vain to stop the rampage.

Even while the horrors of that sad day were still being pieced together, members of the Amish community, many of whom had lost loved ones, left their grief behind and went to the family of the gunman to deliver their gift of forgiveness. They even established a fund for the gunman’s children to ensure they would be taken care of in the absence of their father.

More recently we watched another horrific killing spree unfold followed by unimaginable acts of forgiveness when the members of Mother Emanuel in Charleston went to the family of the killer and offered their forgiveness. How did they do it? Could you? In both cases, their response was: “It was our only choice.” They would not or could not let hate destroy what life they had left.

Call to Action: Today, think about who the Samaritans are in your life and what you can do to build bridges, open conversation, and create fellowship. Are there olive branches that you need to share?

Prayer: Father God, help me to see when my own pride stands in the way of forgiveness. Teach me to understand that forgiveness does not mean that I excuse the behavior of the perpetrator, but rather I forgive so I can let go and live. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

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Sunday, March 19 | Ed Hamlin | John 4:3-42

Breathe and Contemplate: God Loves Us Anyway

Consider: If all goes according to plan, you will be reading this as I arrive home from a trip to Kenya with the rest of the PRUMC team. Our primary objective for the trip is to deliver the gift of clean water. This week when we study the “woman at the well,” we will learn how Jesus offers each of us a different kind of water from the water we delivered to our Kenyan neighbors, superior to that, the blessed living water. In this story Jesus completely turns upside down our tendency to define our self-worth through the eyes and claims of society. Jesus shows us that those claims are simply not true. Our worth is not defined by our society unless we allow it. It is defined by Jesus who says we were worth dying for.

We often dream about what our life will look like when we are a certain age; but more often than not, our life does not mimic our dreams. This new reality can make us feel inadequate; we can feel like a failure, and we can feel that we totally missed the life we deserve. When things don’t go as planned, and when life gets hard, it is easy to get bitter and angry. Turn to the woman at the well who is about as close to rock bottom as one could possibly get. She is not only a victim of racial, gender, political, and social bias, she has made her own mistakes by consistently putting her trust in men who have failed her time after time. Jesus and this unnamed woman have some very important lessons for us.

Each day this week we will dissect a small part of this story and attempt to glean something that we can use to help us draw closer to Jesus and our neighbor. On this initial day I want you to consider this truth: It often takes time to become the best version of ourselves.

Call to Action: Read the lyrics below from Garth Brooks and then write down a couple of unanswered prayers in your life.

Unanswered Prayers
Just the other night at a hometown football game
My wife and I ran into my old high school flame
And as I introduced them the past came back to me
And I couldn’t help but think of the way things used to be

She was the one that I’d wanted for all times
And each night I’d spend prayin’ that God would make her mine
And if he’d only grant me this wish I wished back then
I’d never ask for anything again

Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers
Remember when you’re talkin’ to the man upstairs
That just because he doesn’t answer doesn’t mean he don’t care
Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers

She wasn’t quite the angel that I remembered in my dreams
And I could tell that time had changed me in her eyes too it seemed
We tried to talk about the old days. There wasn’t much we could recall
I guess the Lord knows what he’s doin’ after all

And as she walked away and I looked at my wife
And then and there I thanked the good Lord
For the gifts in my life

Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers
Remember when you’re talkin’ to the man upstairs
That just because he may not answer doesn’t mean he don’t care
Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered

Some of God’s greatest gifts are all too often unanswered…
Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers

Prayer: Father, I am so thankful for the gift of time, Your grace, and unanswered prayers. I know that in my busyness, I am often blind to Your presence. Please help me to slow down, to pay attention, and to breathe in Your love. I offer this prayer in the name of the One who did what no other could or would do, Jesus the Christ. Amen.

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Saturday, March 18 | Rev. Darren Hensley | Psalm 121

Sojourners
In the Psalter, we find perhaps some of the most beloved psalms of joy and confidence in the Graduals or Songs of Ascent, and among these, Psalm 121 stands as a most eloquent profession of trust in God’s providence and care. It is certainly a favorite of mine. For centuries, pilgrims recited this psalm on their way up to Jerusalem, and its words are well-known by persons everywhere needing assurance and protection amidst the trials of life. Indeed, this psalm may have originated as a farewell liturgy, and so is most appropriate as a psalm of our journey—whether in life or to the heavenly Jerusalem.

Its verses carry us on our path as we lift our eyes to the hills, a place of destination or also possible danger. Seen as the symbol of divine assistance, this description affirms the sovereign power and might of God who can and will keep and deliver us in every circumstance. Yet, the psalmist claims God’s tender and personal concern for our well-being, just as the Lord accompanied the Israelites on the exodus from Egypt. This promise does not mean everything will always work out the way we want it or that there are not consequences. Yet, even in the brokenness of life—the mistakes, setbacks, and difficult choices we sometimes have to make—we can trust God is working with us, even, and especially, when we might not perceive it.

The Psalms teach us to make room so that we may discern the paths to which God is calling us, and through the power of their words, grant us permission to be honest with God. And so, as a psalm for sojourners, this psalm is an appeal to live our lives fully in the present grounded in a promise. Like Abraham and Sarah, we, too, are called to be a people “always on the way.” The orientation presented here, however, is not a summons to rush forward in an other-worldly escapism. Rather, it speaks to a sense of unsettledness where structures of social privilege and power meet divine judgment. As sojourners, we must be aware of the ways we can participate in such work. For Jesus, such confrontation led to a cross, but the good news is that God was ever there keeping his life even as God will keep ours, while we seek to follow Jesus and decide what to do next.

Prayer: God of Presence, on life’s journey, may we never lose sight of the beauty of the world around us and the gifts of family and friendship. Though we may not know what lies around the corner, we do know that You go with us. Strengthen us in Your promise. Whoever we meet, whatever tasks we encounter, show us opportunities to be faithful unto You. May we be ever grateful for those who offer us sustenance and comfort along the way. At the crossroads we face, grant us discernment, guidance, and wisdom and keep us on Your path. O Lord, grant us traveling mercies. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

  • Bill in Prayer

March 17, 2017

Dear Peachtree Road Family,

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! I hope this note finds you well. To those of you who have been out of town for spring break the last two weekends, welcome back! We missed you and look forward to seeing you soon.

I want to begin this week’s note by letting you know that Manfred Hoffmann died on Tuesday night. Manfred has been our church’s “Theologian-in-Residence” since his retirement from Candler School of Theology at Emory University twenty years ago. I was fortunate enough to have him as my professor of Christian Thought when I was a student at Candler, and many of you have benefited from his teaching, prayers, and friendship here at Peachtree Road. Of course, his wife Betsy was one of our beloved associate ministers until her retirement a few years ago, and this is a special and dear family to our church. His memorial service will be held Sunday, March 19, at 2:00 pm in the sanctuary. Please keep Betsy and the rest of his family in your prayers in the coming days.

Most of the time I use this forum to let you know about upcoming opportunities in the life of our church, but please allow me a moment to reflect upon last Sunday evening’s prayer service. I am so grateful to Scott Atchison and all who helped plan the Community Service of Prayer and Hope. It featured some of the most beautiful music I have ever heard. Our Chancel Choir, accompanied by members of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, offered music from Dan Forrest’s “Requiem for the Living.” As I listened to the music, reflected upon the scripture and litanies, and pondered General Secretary Thomas Kemper’s first-hand account of living through a terrorist attack last year in Istanbul, I gained a new insight into what the Apostle Paul meant when he wrote:

“Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words.” – Romans 8:26

“…sighs too deep for words.” That’s what I sensed Sunday evening. I felt the Spirit stirring and praying through the congregation. If you were not able to attend the prayer service, you may view it here. Prepare to be moved deep in your soul.

On Sunday we will continue our Lenten series entitled “Breathe.” This week we will reflect upon the encounter between Jesus and the Woman at the Well. One of the details about this woman’s life is that she had been married five times and was currently dependent upon a man who was not her husband. We are not told if she had been divorced five times or had outlived five husbands, but I can imagine this woman lived through more than enough heartache. So, what do you do when life doesn’t turn out as you had hoped? I look forward to pondering that question with you this week in worship.

On Saturday evening, March 18, you are invited to the children’s musical “Moses and the Freedom Fanatics” at 6:00 pm in the Harp Center. This promises to be a fun night featuring some of the most talented children anywhere. Invite a friend to come with you and support the children of Peachtree Road.

I do remind you that the 25th annual Great Day of Service is a little over one week away. I am grateful for each person who has registered for this year’s Great Day (we are approaching 1000 volunteers!) and to Susie Hubbard and Jo Hodges who have served as this year’s co-chairs. It is shaping up to be an extraordinary day as lives will be changed forever. Outreach is at the heart of Peachtree Road’s ministry. Week-in and week-out we come together for worship, study, and fellowship, and then scatter out into the community to serve in the name of Christ. As we offer a helping hand to others, it is hard to tell who is more blessed – those who are helped or those who engage in the helping. One of the thrilling parts of the day for me is to see the number of children and youth who participate. We attempt to teach our children early in life that those who serve best live a life that truly matters. If you have not registered for a project, it’s not too late. Beth Spencer, our director of local outreach, tells me there is a place for you and your family on the Great Day. Come join us! You may register online here.

Finally, let me pass along a prayer opportunity. Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson invites us to enter into a week of prayer especially for our denomination from March 19-26. I have a real sense of hope about the future and believe God is at work to bring renewal to the United Methodist Church. John Wesley once wrote:

“Give me one hundred preachers who fear nothing by sin and desire nothing but God, and I care not a straw whether they be clergy or lay; such alone will shake the gates of hell and set up the kingdom of heaven on earth. God does nothing but in answer to prayer.”

I hope that you will continue to pray for our church’s ministry and one another as we seek to offer God’s light to all who feel like they are walking in darkness. Thank you for all you do in the name of Christ. I look forward to seeing you soon. Please call on me if you need me.

Bill

  • Breathe Devotional Image

Friday, March 17 | Rev. Darren Hensley | John 3:1-2

Darkness
As Barbara Brown Taylor reminds us, Lent is a time when we put aside comforts we deem essential and allow ourselves to experience what life is like with only God as our comfort. We can expertly comfort ourselves in many guises—habits, blaming others, never being still or alone, or trying to care for everyone. Instead of fixing the empty place inside us or filling it, Taylor suggests we sit with the yearning we feel and see what we learn, for this is God’s space within us.

Like Nicodemus, we are challenged to confront dark, hidden places in our lives. Places informed by bad decisions, regret, or difficult choices we do not want to face. Darkness can refer to our “lostness,” yet paradoxically, it can also show us the way. In her book, Learning to Walk in the Dark, Taylor asks what would happen if instead of asking God to deliver us, we trust our feelings and so “follow one of [our] great fears all the way out to the edge of the abyss, take a breath, and keep going?” Christian mystics have referred to such times of loss or struggle as “the dark night of the soul.” It can feel as though God is not there, but the only way out is to go through it. Instead of seeking interpretation from others, we must take back our own listening, sometimes learning to live in the darkness.

Jesus responds to Nicodemus’ questions not with answers, but with the necessity of unknowing. Sitting with our losses or hurts, we may not immediately find comfort. But, we may just find that as we let go of our need to control—and lose ourselves—we experience deeper awareness and transformation through the Spirit. So, too, we can sit with others in their difficult decisions, not to offer solutions but presence. Here, we may discover solidarity, for God is so close as to have lived through the same things we face. Once we stop seeking God so intensely we may find it is we who are sought. The idols constructed from our own thoughts or illusions have no breath in them. Can we, in faith, offer our engaged response to the sacred reality that is present—the true source of all things that gives enduring hope?

Prayer: God of all, You are the One we trust, even in the darkness. Help us know the emptiness of silence can be the place where Your Word is poured into us. In moments when we become wearied with asking, seeking, lamenting, or questioning, let us receive Your breath and be shaped by You as the God we love. In the name of Your Son, who is ever with us, Amen.

  • Breathe Devotional Image

Thursday, March 16  |  Rev. Darren Hensley  |  John 3:1-17

Doubt and the New Birth
Like Nicodemus, we find acceptance difficult when we are confronted by the truth. It is easier to turn away and tighten our grasp on the familiar, known things not ultimately best for us. We struggle with disbelief. What will happen by letting go? When do we hold too eagerly to human certitudes effectively wanting in the breath of the Spirit?

Nicodemus faced similar challenges when confronted by Jesus. Have you ever noticed that Nicodemus comes to Jesus by night? Perhaps he is wary of being seen by others or he feels overcome by intellectual and emotional obscurity. The darkness reflects the pervasive darkness of Nicodemus’ world and the established religion he practices. In light of Jesus’ signs among the people, Nicodemus cautiously approaches in curiosity and humility when Jesus says he must be born again.

Spiritually speaking, Nicodemus had already been born into the holiness and ritual purity of the Pharisees and teachers of the Law. Now Jesus tells him he must be “born from above” in Jesus, in whom God is made known. New birth breaks the restraining, judgmental bonds of unbelief, freeing us into life abundant. Like physical birth, leaving the past behind can be painful. Rebirth can take longer than expected and may come without warning. Like a laboring mother, we also have to breathe. Initiated in God’s grace, new birth requires labor on our part, acceptance, and belief—not in acceding to a system of theological truths, but in giving our very hearts to God.

Some suggest that for all his effort, Nicodemus never quite manages to undergo this new birth—that in spiritual terms, he lingers in mid-labor. Maybe he feels trapped in his current state of beliefs and cannot find the courage to step beyond his old way of living to claim it. It can seem overwhelming to let go of what we know, even if it is hurting us, and become transformed by entering into the new life, renewed in God’s image. Through grace, faith is given as it is practiced.

Prayer: Lord God, help us as we seek to fully claim our own new birth in You as offered in Your Son. Through Your Spirit, empower us as we seek to break free of the things and ways that hold us back, and enter into the new life You have in store for each of us. May our hearts be set upon You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

  • Breathe Devotional Image

Wednesday, March 15 | Rev. Darren Hensley | Romans 4:1-5, 13-17

Faith
When we do not know what to do next, it is easy to succumb to a sense of hopelessness. Just where is God? Today’s passage affirms the certainty of God’s presence with us in all circumstances. According to Paul, the God of Abraham is the one God of all peoples, who initiates and pursues us in love, and who offers us the most precious gift of all—God’s presence living in our hearts through Christ. Dwelling in us, God’s love evokes our response as it commands us to love others. Sometimes God’s presence is literally all we have. God has experienced any situation we may face and God will never leave us alone.

Holding fast to this promise, God is found in the midst of life’s toughest decisions. If we are consumed by anger or resentment from an injury wrongfully sustained and do not know where to turn, God can break the immobilizing grip of the past as we release hard feelings. While we must live with the past, we do not have to live in it. Repentance speaks to our capacity to change and forgiveness says we refuse to be trapped by hate. Sometimes, too, we must ask for forgiveness and even allow it for ourselves. If we live in fear of failure, God sustains us in our willingness to take risks and grow, as otherwise we fail to live. Life is more than a checklist of achievements, and only the self-knowledge gained by emerging from setbacks will show us our resilience. If we despair, God enables us to get outside ourselves by doing something for others. By enlarging our perspective beyond our own discontent, we can locate the resolve to manage it. Authentic connection with the sadness, pain, or needs of the people around us can show that everyday, mundane things and simple acts of kindness are points of God’s arrival.

Of course, to do any of the foregoing is not always easy. But, it is the only way to move into the future God wants for us because God works for life in all its fullness—and God is with us, supporting and guiding us. Anytime we are tempted to reduce God to the size of our problems or to doubt the extent of God’s generosity or surprising ability, this amazing claim from Romans teaches that the God we worship is both great and good. Whenever our human failings make it seem new beginnings cannot happen, like Abraham, may we ever believe that whatever God promises, God will accomplish.

Prayer: God of possibilities, You have loved us into existence. Whatever we may face, You breathe into us the promise and hope of new life. In our finitude and shortcomings, we often lose sight of our value to You. Open our hearts to the truth that Your love is powerful enough to overcome our unloveliness, and that we are, each and every one of us, precious in Your sight. In the name of the One by whose faith we share in the eternal blessings promised Abraham we pray, Amen.

  • Breathe Devotional Image

Tuesday, March 14 | Rev. Darren Hensley | Genesis 12:1-4a

Meeting the Other
We are called to interact with persons of different understandings of God, different faiths, and even no faith. Sometimes, too, people violently defend their views. In an age of seemingly increasing confrontation, how do we relate to others with integrity? In Genesis 12, Abraham’s adventure continues as he is called not only to trust in God, but also to love those persons who are different.

As Rabbi Jonathan Sacks observes in his book Not In God’s Name, the Hebrew Bible (our Old Testament) “combines the two fundamentally different elements of the moral/ethical life”—justice, which is universal and impartial, and love, which is personal and “utterly particular.” To be loved within family or friendship, after all, is to be known in our individuality. After giving humanity the covenant of justice through Noah (Genesis 9), God then calls Abraham to go and live as an outsider, instructing him and his descendants “to be a living example of what it is to love and be loved by God.” Here, the Bible affirms that “our common humanity precedes our religious differences,” for we cannot truly love God unless we first honor “the universal dignity of humanity as the image and likeness of the universal God.”

As Rabbi Sacks puts it, “to be a child of Abraham is to be open to the divine presence wherever it reveals itself,” and that is a truth we need to hear again today. The call to love is always meant to be in service to God and so to every other person, who also bears a trace of the divine. Seeing God’s likeness in everyone, we must be open to give and to receive.

Prayer: God of relationships, You love each one of us for who we are and bless us with individual gifts. O God, our very lives, indeed all we are, is the breath You breathed into us. Beyond the will to control or to possess, teach us to accept unconditionally so that all may live at last as brothers and sisters. In the name of the One who brings life abundant, we pray, Amen.

  • Breathe Devotional Image

Monday, March 13 | Rev. Darren Hensley | Genesis 12:1-4a

Trust
What do we do when we reach a crossroads in life? How do we decide which path to take? God thrusts such an occasion upon Abraham giving him an incredibly demanding task. God tells him to leave his native land for that of another—to leave his kin with the wrenching experience of departing from his loved ones, cutting ties with the people who have taught and nurtured him, to go to a new place without knowing where it is, how to find it, how long the journey will take, and what dangers he might encounter. And yet, he goes. Of course, Abraham does not go alone. God sends him forth with promises, though somewhat vague, and a blessing. Have you ever felt called to go on such a journey in faith?

With his doubts and questions, Abraham goes forth. God uses Abraham’s life to offer a blessing directly unto all peoples, and Abraham’s example will enable the people he encounters to bless themselves. Abraham may never witness the influence of his living. He faces hard and sometimes adverse circumstances, but God’s purpose is more than he can ask or imagine.

During my own experience of discernment regarding ordained ministry, one of my Candler professors gave me this advice: Do not wait until you feel 100% about your choice. More often, you may feel confident about only 51%, but that is enough. Setting out on a path requires a deep breath and openness to God’s continuing guidance, for God is with you. Deciding what to do next sometimes involves working in and through others in unexpected ways producing unknown fruits.

Prayer: God of new beginnings, in You, all things have their source and so can be used in praise and service. Your Goodness is so vast that it embraces the variety of goals we might pursue. As we seek to choose among the various paths set before us, lead us to be fully available to Your living Spirit so that the tasks we undertake may be endowed with a value and purpose beyond themselves. In the name of the One who placed his will at Your disposal and is the point on our horizon, Amen.

  • Breathe Devotional Image

Sunday, March 12 | Rev. Darren Hensley | John 3:1-17 (esp. vv. 7-8, 17)

The Life of the Spirit
Everyone encounters difficult times—the loss of a job, a dream, or a loved one. Times when a door has closed, a disappointment occurs, or a prayer seems unanswered. Times of unexpected or unwelcome news. We may ask: Why me? Where do I go from here? What should I do now? How do I make sense of an ever-changing world? Where can guidance be found?

The Lectionary Readings this week claim aid, direction, comfort, and reassurance in God’s surprising, free-blowing Holy Spirit—God’s presence among us. As we journey with Abraham, Nicodemus, and the Psalmist, the breath of our prayers can become channels for grace. Open to the blowing of the Spirit, we become freed to see that God loves the whole world—every little corner of it, including each of us—with such extravagance, and has promised that no matter what we may face, we are never alone.

Taking a moment to breathe creates the space for perspective and an opportunity to regain equilibrium. It offers time to move beyond anxiety and hyperventilation to make room for the Holy Spirit to do its work. It allows us to stop and ask these questions as we decide what to do next: What do I know and what do I need to know more about? What does my heart tell me? To whom can I turn for support or trusted advice? And, most importantly: How is God leading me in and through this situation?

Prayer: Gracious and Loving God, thank You for the gift of the Holy Spirit and the comfort, encouragement, and inspiration of Your Holy Presence in our lives. Faced with important decisions, help us to breathe out the constricting, anxious absorption with ourselves and our problems, and breathe in the peace of Christ. So decentered, may we then become centered in You—the ultimate source of our confidence. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

  • Breathe Devotional Image

Saturday, March 11 | Rev. Julie Wright | Psalm 32

Today’s poem or song by David indicates that while he knew he had sinned, he didn’t want to admit it, which caused him physical and emotional anguish. When he finally confessed and repented, his burdens were released and he felt God’s forgiveness, giving him much joy.

When you feel the burden of temptation and sin, talk to God about it. Remember that through Christ, you can withstand the mighty storms as well as the quiet temptations that creep in unnoticed. Just call upon the One who became flesh and, as The Message says, “moved into the neighborhood”…and breathe.

Prayer: Almighty God, we are grateful for your presence through the temptations we face. Help us to turn away from what causes us to sin and turn toward you, every moment in every day. Amen.

  • Bill in Sanctuary

March 10, 2017

Dear Peachtree Road Family,

I hope this note finds you well. This week I want to begin by sharing some good news with you. On Monday afternoon, our associate minister Leslie Watkins met with the Board of Ordained Ministry of the North Georgia Annual Conference for her interview and passed with flying colors! She has been approved by the Board for ordination as a deacon in full connection at the meeting of the Annual Conference in June. This marks a major step in Leslie’s journey into the ministry, and we are so proud of her. I knew you would want to know so you could share in her joy.

On Sunday we will continue our Lenten series entitled “Breathe.” This week we will reflect upon the nighttime encounter between Nicodemus and Jesus as recounted in the third chapter of John’s Gospel. Years ago, I went to hear my preaching professor Dr. Fred Craddock speak at a conference. As usual, his message was both inspiring and thought provoking. It also stirred some questions in me. Afterward, I waited until everyone had greeted him and left, and then I pulled him aside and asked my questions. In my imagination, I think that’s the way it was with Nicodemus. He heard Jesus teach, was impressed, and then went to him privately to ask his questions. To whom do you go when you have important questions to ask? And what would you ask? We’ll consider those questions this Sunday morning in our services.

On Sunday evening, the music ministry of Peachtree Road will present A Requiem for the Living – a worship experience dedicated to all who have suffered due to worldwide terrorism. This service of hope and remembrance is set for 7:00 pm in our sanctuary, and participants will be treated to the inspirational music of composer Dan Forrest. Participants also will have the opportunity to reflect upon words of comfort and assurance from the scriptures, offer prayers of intercession on behalf of all who suffer, and light candles of hope at the close of the service. In addition, we will hear a testimony from Thomas Kemper, General Secretary of the General Board of Global Ministries of the United Methodist Church, who witnessed a terrorist attack last year in an airport in Istanbul, Turkey. This promises to be a remarkable service, and I hope to see you here on Sunday evening.

Of course, Peachtree Road’s 25th Annual Great Day of Service is fast approaching. The date is set for Saturday, March 25, and over 700 persons already have signed up for the day of outreach. (I am signed up to work at Covenant House!) We will begin the morning with a time of worship in the Student Center, and then we’ll be sent out into the community to work side-by-side as we share our faith, hope, and love in tangible ways. Later, we are invited back to the church for an old-fashioned barbeque lunch. This is a fun and important part of our Lenten journey each year, and I am grateful to all who already have signed up. If you have not already done so, please register today and join us.

Two items for your prayers this week:

  • The Kenya Mission Team left yesterday morning for the islands of Lake Victoria in Kenya and will return on March 19. While there, they will work with Start with One Kenya to deliver the water filters purchased with the money you gave last Christmas Eve. Thanks to your generosity, clean water will be provided to thousands of households living on the islands of Lake Victoria. Please pray for the team members: Greg Adams, Edith Barnes, Mack Barnes, Jeanna Brannon, Kelsey Bilthouse, Ed Bilthouse, Jan Bilthouse, Aubrey Clayton, Julia Clayton, Norman Findley, Anne French, Robert French, Guy Fulwieler, Louis Fulwieler, Ed Hamlin, Catherine Inabnit, Kyle Jenks, Workman Meeks, Bob Nelson, Campbell Schnebly, Clint Smith, and Jeff Upshaw.
  • The Youth Search Process is nearing the completion of its work. We are in the final stage and hope to make an offer in the very near future to one of the outstanding candidates the search team has identified. It has been an exciting process, and I am grateful to the search team: Daris McCullough (chairperson), Matt Nelson, Adam Pannell, Katherine Reed, Erica Ross, Billie Summerour, and Scott Whitehead and our youth staff team of Luke Massee, Grace Southworth, and Ashely Zimmerman. They have led us well during this time of transition. Please pray especially for this process in the next two weeks.

Finally, let me close by reminding you that Daylight Savings Time begins this Sunday. Set your clock forward one hour in order to arrive for worship and Sunday School on time.

Thank you for all you are doing as disciples of Jesus Christ. See you at church Sunday!

Bill

  • Breathe Devotional Image

Friday, March 10 | Rev. Julie Wright | Romans 5:12-17

Coming from a Roman Catholic background, I had never heard the word “grace” in relation to God. When I heard that grace is God’s unconditional love, free to all who love God and repent, I was astounded, and then eventually, I felt forgiveness through God’s grace. That was the beginning of a great spiritual journey for me.

Despite the disobedience and sin of Adam and Eve, and our subsequent sin, which leads to death, Jesus Christ’s sacrifice allows all who believe in him to experience the gift of God’s forgiveness. When we repent—when we’re truly sorry for our sin so we will not do it again—we are forgiven! Hallelujah and praise the Lord! And breathe.

Prayer: God, we are grateful for your grace through Christ. Help us to be ever mindful of the sacrifice of your son for us. Amen.

  • Great Day Video Blog

Before you read any further, treat yourself to our new Great Day of Service Video.

The Great Day of Service is PRUMC’s annual community volunteer day.  At this favorite outreach event all ages put their faith in action as they serve those in need across Atlanta.  Each year during Lent nearly 1,000 church members and friends take this Saturday to make helping others a priority.  It is truly a great day of sharing our time and talents with the charitable agencies Peachtree Road supports.  We hope you can join us this year!

The Great Day of Service
Saturday, March 25, 2017, Atlanta
8:00 am  Gathering and Breakfast
8:30 am  Holy Communion with Ron Greer
9:00 am  Small groups head out to service projects
11:00 am to 2:00 pm  Meet back at the church for an Old Fashioned BBQ

Do all the good you can, By all the means you can, In all the ways you can, In all the places you can, At all the times you can, To all the people you can…  As long as you ever can.

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Register Here
  • Breathe Devotional Image

Saturday, March 4 | Rev. Jamie Jenkins | Psalm 51

The biblical story of David is certainly one of success. The young shepherd became king. He defeated giants, lions, and bears. He was the envy of every man. Then he reached a low point in his life.

He slept with another man’s wife while her husband was away at war. When he discovered she was pregnant, David devised a scheme to hide the truth. After this effort failed, David had Uriah killed and took Bathsheba to be his wife.

Nathan the prophet came to David and told him a story (II Samuel 12:1-7) that enabled David to see himself and his sin. From that encounter with Nathan, David penned the words of the 51st Psalm. The verses of this poem demonstrate David’s awareness that knowing God’s favor is far more important than everything else. This Psalm takes on a very personal tone if we believe the Apostle Paul, that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” We don’t have to wait for an “emergency session” with God to learn and apply the principles of his experience.

When David was confronted with his sinfulness, he:

  • Responded by calling on God for mercy and forgiveness (vv. 1-2)
  • Acknowledged his wrong doing, confessed his “bent to sinning,” and trusted God’s forgiveness (vv. 4-9)
  • Looked to the future and sought God’s help to be a different person (vv. 10-12)

Prayer: O Lord, help me to know where I have sinned and give me the grace to follow David’s example so that I can be right with You and do right by others. Amen.

  • Bill at Front Doors

March 3, 2017

Dear Peachtree Road Family,

I hope this note finds you doing well. Last Wednesday, we held our Ash Wednesday services and began the forty-day season of Lent. This Sunday we begin a new sermon series entitled “Breathe!” During this series we will be spending time with the biblical characters as presented to us by the Gospels and learning how they learned to “breathe” in the midst of trying times. The dates, texts, and messages are as follows:

March 5 | Matthew 4:1-11 | When Temptation Comes Your Way
March 12 | John 3:1-17 | When You Don’t Know What to Do Next
March 19 | John 4:5-42 | When Life Doesn’t Turn Out as You Hoped
March 26 | John 9:1-41 | When You’re Haunted By Your Past
April 2 | John 11:1-45 | When You’re Caught in a Nightmare
April 9 | Matthew 27:45-54 | When Death Draws Near

We begin this Sunday with Jesus facing temptation in the wilderness. I imagine most of us tend to think of temptation as the impulse to do something we really want to do but know we shouldn’t. However, the deepest temptation is not the urge to misbehave; rather, it is the enticement to compromise our identity and to forget whose we are. We’ll talk about that on Sunday and learn how to “breathe” deeply in the Spirit even when confronted by temptation.

There are a couple of elements in our Lenten services each Sunday that will be a little unusual for us. These have deep meaning to our faith.

Immediately following the processional hymn, we will participate in a prayer of confession. This prayer is in keeping with the penitential mood of the season. As we approach God in worship, we acknowledge our sins, ask for forgiveness, and accept God’s grace.

Following the pastoral prayer, we will be led by the choir in singing “Kyrie Eleison.” This is an ancient hymn dating back to the early days of the church, and the words are a transliteration of the Greek words “Lord, have mercy.” Christians throughout the centuries have sung these words in the original language as a prayer of penitence.

In addition to weekly worship, I do invite you to consider practicing several spiritual disciplines during the season of Lent:

Study and Mediation – during last Sunday’s message, I invited us to “listen to Jesus.” The best way to do this is to pay attention to the words he spoke to his disciples as recorded in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. You may read through the Gospels by Easter by reading two chapters each day. I like to read from a “red-letter” edition of the Bible and focus especially upon the red-letter words, the words of Jesus. Let the words sink in, meditate upon them, and live them to the best of your ability. You may also find the daily devotional guide published by the church entitled “Breathe” to be helpful. You may access a digital version here.

Fast – I will be practicing the Wesley Fast during this season by fasting at least one day each week. My goal is to not eat solid food from supper one day until supper the next day. John Wesley advocated fasting to the early Methodists as a way of making prayer more powerful and helping them to hear Christ’s voice more clearly. You also may have seen earlier this week that Pope Francis is encouraging Christians everywhere to fast – not just from food but also from “indifference to others.” I certainly encourage you to consider fasting this season.

Serve – many people “give something up” for Lent. But, what about “taking something on?” What if you added something to your regular week this season and intentionally looked for ways to do something for others? Certainly, one way to serve is to join your friends at Peachtree Road for the 25th Annual Great Day of Service. You may sign up here to be a part of this time of outreach with others.

Pray – The season of Lent especially is a season of prayer. I encourage you to set aside regular time each day for prayer. I am beginning each day by praying “Wesley’s Covenant Prayer” early each morning:

I am no longer my own but yours.
Put me to what you will; rank me with whom you will.
Put me to doing; put me to suffering.
Let me be employed by you or laid aside by you;
Exalted for you or brought low for you.
Let me be full. Let me be empty.
Let me have all things. Let me have nothing.
I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things to your pleasure and disposal.
And now, O blessed and glorious God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
You are mine and I am yours. So be it.
Let this covenant made on earth be ratified in heaven. Amen.

Or, you may just want to keep it simple and remember the words of the children’s song:

Whisper a prayer in the morning. Whisper a prayer at noon.
Whisper a prayer in the evening. ‘Twill keep you heart in tune.

I look forward to seeing you Sunday as we begin to tune out the noise of the world, tune into the voice of the Lord, and “breathe” in the Spirit together.

Bill

  • Breathe Devotional Image

Friday, March 3 | Rev. Jamie Jenkins | Psalm 139:23-24

I had my annual wellness exam recently. 110/70—not bad blood pressure for an out of shape old man like me. The numbers were all pretty good even without the help of medications that many people take routinely.

Annual physical checkups provide good information to help us monitor our health and be proactive about good practices. Periodic times of reflection and introspection can keep us aware of the condition of the spiritual self in much the same way as the wellness exam does for the physical part of us. The season of Lent provides opportunities to examine ourselves, to be introspective, to intentionally search our souls and nurture our spirits.

Prayer: O Lord, during these days of Lent show me what preventive measures I can take to maintain good health—mental, physical, and spiritual. Amen.

  • Breathe Devotional Image

Thursday, March 2 | Rev. Jamie Jenkins | Isaiah 40:27-31

In the preface to his book Celebration of Discipline, Richard Foster tells about his first appointment as pastor to a small church in a thriving section of Southern California. He saw this as his chance to show the denominational leadership and the whole world just what he could do. He imagined that this church would become “a shining light set on a hill. The people would literally flood in.”

He writes, “After three months or so I had given that tiny congregation everything I knew, and then some, and it had done them no good. I had nothing left to give. I was spiritually bankrupt and I knew it. My problem was more than having something to say from Sunday to Sunday. My problem was that what I did have to say had no power to help people. I had no substance, no depth. The people were starving for a word from God and I had nothing to give them. Nothing.”

It is easy for us to be busy, even doing the work of the Lord, but forget to nurture our own spirits and care for our own souls. One of the pitfalls of modern living is the tendency to channel all our time and energy into our “work” and neglect our “walk.” Without attention to our spiritual well-being, the results are likely to be like Foster’s experience. We find ourselves empty and exhausted. Or we can easily succumb to the seduction of success rather than surrender ourselves to lives of significance.

Prayer: Dear God, help me not to get so caught up in my work, whether it be for You or for my own self interests. Enable me to realize that my “doing” must not take precedence over my “being.” During these days of Lent, help me to realize that my strength and purpose come from my relationship with You.

  • Breathe Devotional Image

Ash Wednesday, March 1  |  Rev. Jamie Jenkins  |  Psalm 25:4-6

You’ve probably heard it said, “Take a deep breath and count to 10.” That is good advice when you are tempted to react to something unpleasant or you are presented with an opportunity that might involve compromising your character.

The admonition to stop and “breathe” can prevent you from doing or saying something that you will regret. There are times when it is good to pause to “breathe” so you can reflect on the past and learn from it. That moment can prompt feelings of gratitude and perhaps even decisions to make changes going forward.

The season of Lent begins on Ash Wednesday (today), forty days before Easter, excluding Sundays. It is a time to focus on simple living, prayer, and fasting as disciplines that help us draw closer to God. The 40 days of Lent are a reminder of Jesus Christ’s sacrifice and withdrawal into the desert for 40 days.

Many people attend Ash Wednesday services where a minister or priest marks the sign of the cross on their forehead with ashes. As the ashes are applied the minister or priest will say, “Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return” or “Repent, and believe in the Gospel.” The ashes and the spoken words remind us of our mortality and the need for repentance. This initiates the period of self-examination and reflection that helps to refocus our lives so that we might be more like Jesus.

Prayer: Lord, help me make time to reflect on my life. Help me to see how I can become more like you. Amen.

New Members

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New Members are welcomed into the congregation during our Sunday morning worship services at 8:45 or 11:15 am.  You may transfer from another Methodist church, transfer from another denomination or join for the first time on Profession of Faith.  For more information please contact Mimi Brunson at 404.240.8221 or mimib@prumc.org

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Thank you to all those who went through the “Surviving Syria – Virtual Reality Experience”. There were a total of 314 visitors of all different ages;  7 people gave financially to stand with World Vision to become Refugee Responders.

The Syria Crisis Makes Me Feel….

  • That more in the world needs to assist in the refugee crisis. This is not a Syrian problem; it’s a global problem that needs and requires God’s Love, Faith, and healing.
  • Heartbroken. We have more than enough resources to help. I don’t know why so many people are so greedy.
  • That everyone needs to see this! It is hard to even imagine how they survive these conditions – only with God’s help. I pray for these precious families.
  • Sad that kids my age have to go through more than I will ever have to go through in my life. In the video the boy was 13 and had to work and he only made $4.00 on a GOOD day. No one should ever have to see so much violence in their life. I hope the war ends soon or now.  (age 10)
  • I pray that we would all open our hearts to refugees from Syria and any situation of terror and oppression. May we be open to all in need and grateful for and generous with all that we have.

My prayer for refugees…

  • Dear gracious and loving God. I ask that you reign down your blessings and protection over Syria and the refugees who have had to flee their beloved country. Provide for them, protect them, and help bring Syria to peace so that they can one day return to their homeland. I pray that you provide them with a place to live, grow, and flourish. I pray that they know that they know that they are not forgotten.
  • Dear God, What can I do? I cannot believe the life these people are living. But for the grace of God… how can people survive in these conditions? How do you cope as a parent, a child…. There is such need- a daunting endeavor.

Get Involved!

 

 

 

  • Ash Wednesday 2017

Lent 2017

Our theme for Lent this year is Breathe.  This season, take a moment to breathe as you read our 2017 Lenten Devotional. Written by both clergy and laity, these devotionals have been carefully crafted to coordinate with the weekly sermon series, reminding us to breathe in the midst of difficulty, uncertainty, and disappointment.

As you read the devotional, you will be reminded to breathe and remain focused on God.  As a further reminder, this devotional doubles as a meditative coloring book.  Just as Lent begins stark and bare, with Jesus fasting in the wilderness, our devotional begins in black and white, stark and bare.  Among the writings are mandalas, intricately patterned circles that represent completeness.  As you begin coloring each mandala, more and more life will come to those pages, representing a devotional with growing color and hope that leads us to the hope and new life of Jesus’ Resurrection.

Copies of the 2017 Lenten devotional will be available throughout the church on and after Ash Wednesday, March 1.
You may also view and download a pdf by clicking here.

Ash Wednesday Services
Wednesday, March 1

With breath and life, every ending is yet another beginning.  Be reminded of this and prepare your heart for Lent by receiving ashes at one of our services on Ash Wednesday, March 1.

Imposition of Ashes
7:00 – 9:00 am, Moore Chapel

Imposition of Ashes
7:00 – 9:00 am, Starbucks @ 1203 West Paces Ferry Road, 30327

Imposition of Ashes
11:00 am – 1:00 pm, Moore Chapel

Ash Wednesday Family Service
5:00 pm, Moore Chapel, Matt Nelson

Ash Wednesday Evening Service
7:00 pm, Sanctuary, Matt Nelson

Passion of the Christ  |  Musical Stations of the Cross
Sunday, April 2, 7:00 pm, Sanctuary
Make a pilgrimage through the Stations of the Cross, pausing to contemplate, pray and reflect upon each moment.  This sensory experience is heightened with dramatic images, music and candlelight.

Palm Sunday Festival Worship
Sunday, April 9, 8:45 & 11:15 am
Special music and procession.

Coro Vocati:  The Full, Final Sacrifice
Sunday, April 9, 3:00 pm, The Moore Chapel
Enrich your Lenten journey with music, including Martynov’s The beatitudes, MacMillan’s Miserere, Henson’s My flight for heaven and Finzi’s Lo, the full final sacrifice.

Holy Week Midday Services
April 10 – April 13, 12:05 pm, Moore Chapel
Mon    Julie Wright, preaching  |  Will Green, soloist
Tue     Leslie Watkins, preaching  |  Clarke Harris, soloist
Wed    Jamie Jenkins, preaching  |  Peter Mackenzie, soloist
Thu    Darren Hensley, preaching  |  Nancy Mize ,Gonzales soloist

Maundy Thursday Evening Service
Thursday, April 13, 7:00 pm, Sanctuary
On this evening we begin three days of remembering the significant events preceding the death of Jesus Christ.  Julie Schendel preaching.

Good Friday Midday Service
Friday, April 14, 12:00 pm, Peachtree Presbyterian Church
On this day, Jesus willingly sacrificed himself for our sins.  We commemorate this crucial tenet of Christianity in worship with our faith community.  Bill Britt preaching.

Journey Together
Wednesdays, starting March 1, 10:30 am, C104
Join us to discuss the book With Jesus in the Upper Room by Maxie Dunnam.  $15 for book.  RSVP to Julie Wright at 404.240.8203 or juliew@prumc.org.

Faith & Art:  The Broken Way
Thursdays, starting March 2, 11:00 am, Harp Center
Discuss the book, The Broken Way by Ann Voskamp, then express and explore through art play.  $25 for art materials.  Sign up here.  Books at amazon.com.

Invitation to the New Testament
Thursdays, starting March 2, 7:00 pm, B152
Explore the story of Jesus through the books of the New Testament.  Led by Deidra Harrell.  Sign up here.

An Irish Lenten Journey
Mondays, starting March 6, 6:30 pm, C105
Examine the rich history of Celtic spirituality through prayers, readings, and Scripture.  Led by Janet Joiner and Darren Hensley.  Sign up here.

Lenten Book Club
Tuesdays, March 7, 21, April 4, 7:00 pm, C104
Join Julie Schendel to read and discuss What Did Jesus Ask?  Christian Leaders Reflect on his Questions of Faith.  Come to one session, or all three.   Sign up here.

March Fill the Pantry Food Drive
Bring needed grocery items to stock BCM’s community food pantry.  Lists in kiosks or online here.

Spring Habitat Build
Saturdays, Now – Apr 8, 8:00 am, Westside Atlanta
Everyone can build a Habitat home!  House leaders guide volunteers of all skill levels.  Click here for details and to sign up.

Sponsor-a-Child, Change a Life
April 2 – 9, Grace Hall
Make a significant and lasting change in a child’s life.  Visit Grace Hall to see the impact this program has had in the nation of Georgia and learn how to be a part.  $330 provides a year’s worth of essentials including food, clothing, healthcare and education.  Visit www.georgiamissions.org.

The Great Day of Service
Saturday, March 25
8:00 am    Breakfast
8:30 am    Holy Communion
9:00 am    Service Projects
On March 25 PRUMC will celebrate our 25th Great Day of Service!  Be a part of a day filled with good works and great friends.  We have projects for all ages, abilities and time commitments.  After a day of service around Atlanta, we’ll share stories and BBQ back at the church.  Details and registration at our tables each Sunday and online here.

  • Ash Wednesday 2017

Ash Wednesday  |  March 1, 2017

Imposition of Ashes
7:00 – 9:00 am and 11:00 am – 1:00 pm, Chapel

Ash Wednesday Family Service
5:00 pm, Moore Chapel, Matt Nelson preaching

Ash Wednesday Evening Service
7:00 pm, Sanctuary, Matt Nelson preaching

Lenten Devotionals
The 2017 Lenten devotionals will be available online and throughout the church on Ash Wednesday, March 1.

  • Bill and New Members

January 27, 2017

Dear Peachtree Road Family,

I hope this note finds you well. Sunday will mark the conclusion of our January series of messages entitled “Reset Your Life.” As I mentioned at the beginning of my sermon last Sunday, I recently turned on the television and discovered half my channels were missing. When I called my television provider’s service center, the technician asked if I had tried unplugging the television. I had not. He said he would stay on hold while I unplugged it, waited thirty seconds, and then plugged it back in. Of course, when I did, all of my channels miraculously reappeared. The technician said, “Every now and then, you need to reset your television.” And, every now and then, you and I need to reset our lives.

That is what we have been doing these last few weeks here at Peachtree Road. We have been resetting our lives as we remember some of the basics of our faith and make a new beginning following Christ. This week we will reflect upon Jesus’ teaching known as the “Beatitudes.” I want us to see this introductory lesson to Jesus’ “Sermon on the Mount” as an invitation to develop a holy attitude. Do you think your attitude sometimes brings you down or holds you back? Then, Sunday’s message is for you!

Sunday also will be the day we install the 2017 Administrative Board. This is the decision-making body of our church, and this year’s chairperson is Chuck Waters. At the close of the worship services on Sunday, I will invite members of the Board to come to the altar rail, and we will offer a blessing upon them as they begin a new year leading our church. Their first meeting is set for Monday evening, and a list of Board members is available here.

I also wanted to let you know today that Susan Marshall is retiring at the end of this month as a Peachtree Road staff member. Susan’s 27-year ministry in this church is legendary – I remember coming to visit with her when I was the pastor of another church to learn how Peachtree Road welcomes new members and assimilates them into the life of the church. I remember how impressed I was with her then, and it has been an honor to work with her here. The good news is that, though Susan is retiring as a staff member, she is not retiring from the ministry of Peachtree Road. Susan has expressed a desire to continue her work in the areas she feels most passionate about – women’s ministries, intercessory prayer, and spiritual initiatives. She will become one of our most effective volunteers. When you see Susan, be sure and express your appreciation for all she has done as a Peachtree Road staff member.

On Monday, Raymond Reynolds is set to begin his work as our new Chief Operations Officer. Raymond and his wife Bobbie Ann have been Peachtree Road members since 1995, and he brings to this new role a wealth of experience as a wise leader and excellent communicator. I am confident that he will make a significant difference in the life of our church in the coming years and can’t wait for him to get started. I hope that you will keep him and our staff team in your prayers as we seek to offer effective leadership to this great church.

Finally, I am sure many of you have been praying for those in South Georgia devastated by last week’s tornadoes. Disaster relief teams from the United Methodist Church are on site, and, if you would like to donate to help through the United Methodist Council on Relief, please give to our special offering this Sunday or online. Thank you in advance for your help.

I am grateful for your wonderful support in so many ways. Please call on me if I can be of help to you in any way. See you at church Sunday!

Bill

  • Deshuan Watson

Habitat for Humanity
Saturdays, February 18 – April 8
“Once I moved into that Habitat house, my life changed.” -National Championship Clemson Quarterback Deshaun Watson
Help continue our work on the Westside and be a part of building hope and home for the next generation. Join your church family in our 46th Habitat build. No building experience is necessary, just a willing spirit! Register here or visit www.prumc.org/habitat for details.

  • Experience Syria

Syrian Refugee Virtual Reality Experience
Sunday, February 19, 9:30 am – 1:00 pm, Grace Hall
“Surviving Syria” is the 360-degree virtual reality short film of a young boy named Ali. He and his family were forced to flee their country and now live as refugees. Experience life through Ali’s eyes at this World Vision exhibit.

The space can hold up to 24 people at a time and it takes approximately 7- 12 minutes to complete the entire experience. We will also have World Vision representatives here to answer any questions and give you more information about what they are doing to respond to the great need. Registration is free and available here. If you are interested in volunteering to help with this event, please contact Tammy Hortman at tammyh@prumc.org.

  • Bill Britt Preaching

January 20, 2017

Dear Peachtree Road Family,

I hope this note finds you well. Today is “Inauguration Day” here in America, and once again we watch in awe at the peaceful transfer of political authority from one Presidential administration to another. I hope you will join me in a prayer for our nation this day – our new President, his advisors, Congress, and our fellow Americans as we seek that “more perfect union” sought by our founders so long ago. Please join me in looking to the future with hope as we place our faith in God who is good and seeks to make us holy.

I hope you are looking forward to this Sunday as much as I am. This week we will continue our series of messages entitled “Reset Your Life.” Each Sunday during the month of January, we have been considering the steps we need to take to make a good beginning spiritually to the year. This week’s message is entitled “Follow Jesus,” and we will consider the Gospel of Matthew’s account of the inauguration of Jesus’ ministry and the calling of his first disciples. Do you sense that you have a calling in your life? That’s a question with which I want us to wrestle this week.

And, yes, I know. There’s a big football game being played later that day here in Atlanta. The Falcons will host the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship game at the Georgia Dome with kick-off set for 3:05 pm. I would like to point out that there will be plenty of time between church services and the start of the game for you to do both; however, for those of you going to the game and telling me you have to be there really early to tailgate and get ready, let me remind you that we have an 8:45 am service. And, just one more item to let you know I really would like to see you Sunday – feel free to wear your game-day Falcon attire to church. That’s right. You don’t have to dress up in your “Sunday clothes” if that will help you get to church. The whole city seems to be buzzing with excitement about the game, and this is a fun time to live in Atlanta. I hope you will “Rise Up” and get to church early this Sunday.

Finally, I want to offer a prayer request. On Saturday morning, the Committee of 100 will meet in Grace Hall from 9:00 am until 1:00 pm to prayerfully envision the future of Peachtree Road. The “Committee of 100” consists of 100 laypersons in our church who have been invited to meet once a year to consider Peachtree Road’s progress in ministry over the last year, offer a critical look to our goals for the coming two years, and recommend new initiatives for the third year out. This way, we always have a dynamic three-year plan in place. We have set several goals for ourselves to be achieved by the year 2025, when we will celebrate our 100th anniversary as a church:

a) Average Worship Attendance of 2500
b) Annual Giving to Outreach of $2 million
c) No Indebtedness
d) Develop an Endowment of $10 million
e) Expanded Ministries with Children and Youth
f) Expanded Space for Recreation
g) Send 30 Young Adults into Full-time Ministry in the United Methodist Church

Obviously, these are ambitious goals, but they reveal a church with a firm belief that its best days are still ahead of us, and these estimates represent where we believe Christ calls us to be. The Committee of 100 will meet to develop a roadmap to help us reach the destination we have envisioned. Please pray for them as they work on Saturday. I look forward to sharing the results with you at a later time.

Thank you for your faith, hope, and love lived out in so many ways. I look forward to seeing you Sunday – “Rise Up” and join us!

Bill

  • Bill Britt in Prayer

January 13, 2017

Dear Peachtree Road Family,

I hope this note finds you well. I realize some of you have planned to be out of town for the upcoming holiday weekend, but I wanted to give you an update on what is happening at your church.

On Sunday, we will continue our series of messages designed to help us make a good start to the New Year. The series is entitled “Reset Your Life.” This week we will consider the testimony of John the Baptist about Jesus and the calling of the first disciples from the perspective of John’s Gospel. The message is entitled “Finding Your Life’s Purpose.” In this passage, Jesus asks the men who are watching him, “What are you looking for?” That question invited them to consider what they wanted in life, what they really wanted. It also is a good question for us to consider as we begin the year and look for ways to press the “reset” button on our lives. I look forward to exploring Jesus’ question with you on Sunday.

Monday is a day set aside for the celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday. Some of you are aware that our own Bishop Woodie White is nationally known for writing an annual “Birthday Letter to Dr. King.” As a young pastor in the early 1960’s, Bishop White was active in the Civil Rights movement. In fact, he once was arrested in Jackson, Mississippi and fined $1,000 for trying to worship at St. Luke’s Methodist Church. Nearly 30 years later he was invited to be a guest preacher in that church. Though we have made progress, the Dream still remains unrealized. I believe it is especially important for us to hear this dear friend and leader in our church on this weekend. Therefore, I have included his letter to Dr. King here for you to read. I hope you will find it as inspirational as I did.

Speaking of inspiration, I want to make you aware of the opportunity to travel with some of your Peachtree Road friends on a “Journeys of Paul” cruise this summer (June 29-July 12). Wendie and I traveled last year with 30 Peachtree Road members to the Holy Land, and it was one of the most inspirational and rewarding experiences of our lives. We are excited about this opportunity to spend time with another group of church members on this two week trip aboard the Brilliance of the Seas ocean liner as we travel from Barcelona to Florence, Rome, Athens, Corinth, and Ephesus. We would love to have you join us. Jamie Jenkins is coordinating our trip, and I hope you will give some consideration to this opportunity. The deadline to register is the end of this month, and Jamie is hosting an informational meeting this Sunday, January 15, at 12:30 p.m. and on Tuesday, January 17, at 6:30 p.m. in room C-208 of the education building. I hope you will consider joining us as we learn more about this exciting opportunity. You may contact him by phone (404-771-7031) or by email at JamieJ@prumc.org. Please do not hesitate to call me if you would like to discuss further.

Finally, over the course of the next two weeks, our leadership teams are meeting to set goals for 2017. We are excited about the possibilities that lie before us, but some of our goals cannot be met unless we have everyone’s help. We need your prayers, your presence, and your service. We also need your financial support. The Finance Committee will meet next week to begin the process of recommending a budget for 2017, and we are pleased with the pledges we have received. However, we have yet to hear from a number of families who have pledged in the past. If we could hear from everyone, it would help us make our plans and move with confidence to meet our goals in 2017.

If you have made your pledge, thank you! If you have yet to make a pledge or think you made one and have not received a confirmation letter from us, please double-check to make sure your pledge is in. For convenience, you can make your pledge online at www.prumc.org/give. I am grateful for your support – your prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness! Please let me know if I can help you in any way.

By the way, there is a big football game taking place in town on Saturday afternoon. I am sure some of you will be in attendance at the Georgia Dome and most of us will be watching on television. Let’s “Rise Up!” Peachtree Road!

See you at church Sunday!

Bill

Worship Media Archives

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Sermon Notes
Plug in to the Spirit
Rev. Bill Britt

 

 

This Sunday, our message was “Plug into the Spirit” as we focused on the baptism of Jesus and the importance of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  At the close of worship, we approached the font, touched the water, and remembered our baptisms.  Each year, this service helps us create a wonderful new beginning.

  • PRUMC Presents Dave Ramsey's Financial Peace University

Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University
Sundays, starting January 8, 6:00 pm, C208

This life-changing class taught by Bill O’Shields will help you achieve your financial goals by showing you how to eliminate debt, save for the future, and give like never before. You will be challenged and motivated to make a plan for your money and change your family tree forever.  $95 per family.

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Register Here
  • PRUMC Presents An Evening with Bob Goff author of Love Does

An Evening with Bob Goff

An Evening with Bob Goff
Thursday, February 9, 7:00 pm, Sanctuary

PRUMC’s Men of IMPACT proudly present Bob Goff, philanthropist, speaker, human rights advocate, and best-selling author of Love Does.  His nonprofit organization (also called Love Does) operates in Uganda, India, Nepal, Iraq and Somalia.

Bob is a sought after speaker for leadership, church and university events, inspiring current and future influencers to get to the ”do” part of life.  Bob connects to audiences in a powerfully inspirational, yet down to earth manner.

Learn about a life of love in action and be inspired!  The first 500 tickets include reception and book signing.

To download a flyer to share, click here.  This pdf contains a link to registration and can be printed or shared digitally.

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Tickets Here

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  • Bill Britt and Chat Coble

January 6, 2017

Dear Peachtree Road Family,

I hope this note finds you well as we prepare for the possibility of a winter storm overnight. The campus will be closing at 5:00 pm today. At the present time, we are planning to offer all services this Sunday:

8:45 a.m. and 11:15 a.m. Sanctuary worship
9:00 a.m. Chapel Communion
11:15 a.m. New Traditions in the Harp Center
5:00 p.m. Sundays @ 5 in the chapel

Updated information will be available through the church’s website. Also, if you are unable to make a service on Sunday, you may worship with us online by following this link.

Peachtree Road is a very busy place these days as we make the transition from the Christmas season to a new year that is filled with promise. We already are off to a great start, and I am excited to share with you some very good news.

First, I am proud to let you know that our Christmas Eve offering totaled over $228,000! Our offering will be added to the efforts of other churches in our country partnering with Start with One Kenya to help provide water filters for the people living on the islands of Lake Victoria in Kenya. The total need for this region is $480,000, and the goal we set for Peachtree Road was $200,000. You more than surpassed our hopes and dreams! Including our gift, to date Start with One has received over $380,000 toward the project. Thank you for your faith, hope, and love. Your generous gifts will change lives in Kenya, and you have provided the opportunity for a miracle to occur in that country. Thank you for letting the light of Christ shine through you.

I also want to thank you for your giving to Christmas Kindness this past month. Your generous giving enabled us to help hundreds of local families share the joy of Christmas with their children through the opportunity you provided for them to shop for winter coats, toys, and small appliances through our Christmas Kindness store in December. We were able to completely underwrite the costs of this ministry that brought Christmas joy to so many.

One more bit of very good news. I am pleased to announce the hiring of Peachtree Road’s new Chief Operations Officer – Raymond Reynolds. Raymond currently is the Vice President for Major and Legacy Giving at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta. He and his wife Bobbie Ann and sons Graham and Matthew have been members of Peachtree Road for 21 years. They are active in Sunday School, and Raymond currently is participating in a men’s CLC accountability group at the church. He is graduate of Georgia Tech with a degree in Industrial Engineering and has a Masters in Business Administration from Emory University. He is a respected leader with extensive experience in strategic planning, talent management, and fund development. Our search team was impressed with Raymond’s track record as a relational team builder. Most importantly, he is a person of deep faith, and I am convinced he will be a tremendous asset to Peachtree Road. I am excited to welcome him to our leadership team. Please pray for Raymond and his family as he makes this transition onto our staff.

By way of update, the search for a new youth director is continuing. I received good news earlier this week that the search process has entered the interview stage with several strong candidates. Over 170 persons from around the country have applied for the position, and the search committee has screened each one, conducted phone interviews with the most promising candidates, and is now moving forward with on-site interviews with a few. We are excited about the opportunity to add another strong leader to our ministry team, and I will keep you updated.

In worship this Sunday we are continuing our series of messages on “Reset Your Life.” This week we will focus upon the baptism of Jesus and discuss the importance of the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives. The message is entitled “Plug into the Spirit.” At the close of worship you will have the opportunity to approach the font, touch the water, and remember your baptism. This is one of my favorite services of the year and helps me make a good new beginning in worship.

Finally, at the close of this week’s services, after touching the water and remembering your baptism, you will have an opportunity to turn in your Every Member in Ministry commitment card (the online version is linked here). When you sign up for an area of service, you will receive a gift from your church. Thank you in advance for your support of Peachtree Road’s ministry in 2017.

This year holds great promise for our ministry at Peachtree Road. I pray that you will experience the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit as we walk this journey together. See you Sunday!

Bill

  • Christmas Eve Candlelight

December 23, 2016

Dear Peachtree Road Family,

Merry Christmas! As I write these words, we are merely hours away from our first Christmas Eve celebration. The church is buzzing with excitement as members of the flower guild, altar guild, usher teams, hospitality volunteers, children’s choir moms, and pageant helpers all have been making their final preparations for the big day. The church is at its most beautiful and I am grateful to all who have helped. There is nothing like the Christmas season at Peachtree Road!

I am looking forward to worshiping with you Saturday and Sunday as we welcome anew Christ into our lives. The services are as follows:

Christmas Eve

12:00 noon – The First Communion of Christmas
4:00 p.m. – Family Candlelight and Pageant
6:00 p.m. – Family Candlelight and Pageant
8:00 p.m. – Festival of Lessons and Carols
10:30 p.m. – Festival Choral Eucharist

Christmas Day

11:15 a.m. – Christmas Day Service in the Sanctuary

Each service is distinctive, and we hope you will select the time that is most helpful to you and join us for the celebration. The largest crowds attend the Family Candlelight and Pageant services at 4:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m., and it is best to arrive early to find a seat for one of them. I would encourage you to consider worshiping at the 10:30 p.m. Christmas Eve service. This service includes beautiful music, the celebration of the Sacrament of Holy Communion, candle lighting, and offers the added feature of walking out of the sanctuary to the bells peeling at midnight on Christmas morning. There’s just something wonderful about that experience!

More guests attend Peachtree Road on Christmas Eve than any other service in the year. They come in search of God’s precious gifts of hope, peace, love, and joy – blessings we experience here on a regular basis. I encourage you to seek out new faces at the service you attend, greet them, warmly welcome them, and encourage them to come back in the future. Remember that person who welcomed you to Peachtree Road and pass the blessing along to others.

I do remind you that if you are not able to worship at Peachtree Road in person this weekend, our services will be available online. Let others know of this opportunity to experience the pageantry of this our favorite festival as we celebrate God with us.

Water for Kenya

Again this year, our Christmas Eve Offering is designated for our effort to provide clean water in Kenya. Last year our offering went toward the purchase of water filters for every household in the Lanet region of Kenya. You helped give the gift of clean water to approximately 10,000 families! You changed their lives! (Please see this article from the Atlanta Journal Constitution about the miracle that occurred last year.) This Christmas Eve we have the opportunity to do it again. This year’s special offering will be used to purchase water filters for families living on the islands of Lake Victoria in Kenya. The Kenyan government has let us know that this is the area most devastated by waterborne disease. The water is plentiful, but it is not clean. Children are dying at an alarming rate, and their parents cannot do anything about it. But you can do something. You can provide them with a life-giving water filter!

We are partnering with Start with One Kenya to raise enough money to buy a water filter for all 12,000 households on the islands. The price of each filter (which has a life expectancy of 10 years) is $40, so we are participating in an effort to raise $480,000. Our goal for this effort is $200,000. I believe this is possible! If every person worshiping at one of our five services gives enough to purchase at least one water filter, we will reach that goal! I can think of no better way to honor Christ on this holy night than to give the gift of life.

Said the little lamb to the shepherd boy, “Do you hear what I hear? A song, a song high above the trees with a voice as big as the sea, with a voice as big as the sea.”

Be the voice of hope this Christmas and give life.

You may give in one of several ways: make your check payable to Peachtree Road and mark it for “Water for Kenya.” You also may place your cash or check in the envelope found in the bulletin, give online through the church’s website www.prumc.org/cleanwater, text FILTER to 91999, or visit one of our volunteers in the narthex after each service to give by credit card. Thank you in advance for your gift.

I look forward to seeing you this weekend as we light candles in the midst of a dark sanctuary and remember the promise: “Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness does not overcome it.” That is our hope, and that is the source of our joy.

Merry Christmas!

Bill

  • Christmas Eve Webcast

  • Christmas Tree and Candles

December 16, 2016

Dear Peachtree Road Family,

I hope this week’s note finds you well. As I write these words, our journey through Advent is coming to a close, and Christmas is very near. I really am looking forward to Sunday as we conclude our season of preparation by focusing upon Joseph and his role in the birth of Jesus.

Maybe you have heard of the historic Loretto Chapel in Santa Fe, New Mexico. It is an old Gothic chapel built on the Sante Fe Trail in 1873. When the chapel was built, the architect forgot to include a way for the nuns to reach the choir loft 20 feet above the nave. Now, according to legend, the sisters weighed their options, but all were equally undesirable. They could build a conventional staircase, but that would take up too much room. They could rebuild the balcony, but that would be too expensive. They could climb a dangerous ladder up and down, but that would be an accident waiting to happen. So the nuns did what they often did when faced with a difficult dilemma — they prayed.

One night while the sisters were praying, a white bearded stranger appeared at the door of the convent asking for work. A toolbox was strapped to his donkey, and he told the sisters he was a carpenter. When they explained their problem, he offered to build a spiral staircase. His spiral staircase was an engineering feat for its time, containing thirty-three steps and two complete turns of 360 degrees with no center support. The carpenter used wooden pegs instead of nails, and his only tools were a saw, a T-square, and a hammer. As soon as the staircase was finished, the unknown craftsman disappeared without asking to be paid. Many believe the carpenter was indeed St. Joseph. And, yes, maybe it is just a legend. But, I like to think that maybe Joseph the Carpenter is out there this season, toolbox in hand, ready to offer a hopeful example to hopeless dilemmas. We’ll talk about that this Sunday morning in worship.

I do want to remind you of other worship opportunities this upcoming week:

Longest Night (Sunday, December 18, 5:30 pm in the chapel) — Jamie Jenkins will offer a hope-filled message at the “Longest Night” service. I find it helpful that during the week in which the nights literally are the longest of the year, we have an opportunity to worship God, to remember who we are, and to claim the hope that is offered to us through Christ. I invite you to attend this service, light a candle in the midst of the darkness, and realize that you are not alone – you are never alone!

Christmas Eve (Saturday, December 24, at noon, 4 pm, 6 pm, 8 pm, and 10:30 pm in the sanctuary) — What makes this day so special? Maybe it’s the children, dressed as angels, shepherds, sheep, and other stable animals, singing “Away in a Manger.” Maybe it’s that moment when we light the Christ Candle, signifying the presence of our Lord with us. Most certainly it’s the passing of the light in a dark sanctuary during the singing of “Silent Night” and the sight of lifted candles as we affirm together “He rules the world!” And maybe it’s all of these. Christmas Eve is the best night of the year!

We will offer five distinct services on Christmas Eve in our sanctuary:

12:00 noon – The First Communion of Christmas
4:00 p.m. – Family Candlelight Service and Christmas Pageant
6:00 p.m. – Family Candlelight Service and Christmas Pageant
8:00 p.m. – Festival of Lessons and Carols
10:30 p.m. – Festival Choral Eucharist

On Christmas Eve we will light candles in the midst of a dark sanctuary and remember the promise: “Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness does not overcome it.” That is our hope, and that is the source of our joy. I look forward to celebrating that good news with you!

Finally, let me offer a word of encouragement about our giving. Last week I reported in my weekly note that we need to receive $1.3 million to during the month of December to finish the year on budget and achieve all our ministry goals for the year. We have made good progress toward that goal two weeks into the month, and I hope you can help us finish well. Wendie and I are planning to make an extra gift to the operating budget this year above and beyond our pledge to help in the effort, and I hope you will consider doing the same.

For your convenience, you may give through the church’s website. However, there may be a better way for you to give in this season. I was talking with a member earlier this week who didn’t realize the church could receive a stock transfer. There can be significant tax advantages to making gifts of appreciated securities to the church. Stocks, bonds, or other publicly traded securities are gratefully received. Did you know you can transfer them directly to Peachtree Road UMC and receive a charitable deduction for the full fair market value of the gift, including all the appreciation? Also, neither you nor the church will have to pay capital gains tax on the gift. I hope this is an avenue of giving you will consider. If you need help, please contact your broker or the church business office.

Thank you for your attention to these important matters of the church. I look forward to worshiping with you and serving with you in the spirit of Joseph the Carpenter this week!

Bill

  • Bill Preaching in front of Chrismon Tree

December 9, 2016

Dear Peachtree Road Family,

I hope you are doing well. Christmas Eve is a little over two weeks away, and our preparations here at the church are nearly complete. I do want to take a moment to thank you for your prayers on behalf of Wendie’s family during the last week. Many of you know that her brother Jim Ham was killed in a car wreck last Friday afternoon down in Monroe County. These have been difficult days, but your loving support and prayers have sustained us.

As I mentioned last Sunday at the close of my sermon, our hearts are broken. However, through our tears we have been able to see some things very clearly. Life is a fragile gift and it is to be treasured…every day. So, hold close your loved ones and enjoy them… every day. Mostly, what we have been able to see is how blessed we are with family and friends and community. We are so grateful.

The season of Advent is designed to help all of us to see clearly how blessed we are – to wake us up and help us reorient our lives spiritually. I hope you are finding time during these busy days for quiet reflection as well as expressions of gratitude for the blessings of your life. Please pray for us as we pray for you in this days.

Speaking of expressions of gratitude, let me offer a word of appreciation for those who participated in our ministry of “Christmas Kindness” this year. Three hundred volunteers from our church helped hundreds of persons from our community shop for new warm coats, small home appliances, and toys for their children. This ministry started ten years ago, and I am grateful to Beth Spencer and her team who worked to make this the best “Christmas Kindness” ever! We have helped over 730 families. You may have seen the coverage we received from Channel 11.

Let me share with you a quick story from the week. One of our volunteers gave me permission to share excerpts from a note she wrote to Beth Spencer:

Beth,

Thank you and congratulations on all the wonderful work you’re doing with “Christmas Kindness.” I thoroughly enjoyed volunteering again this year and have a wonderful story to share.

I was there on Monday shopping with a woman named Gwendolyn from Eden House. She chose her coat and toiletries and then (maybe contrary to the rules — sorry!) I asked if she’d like us to wrap her coat. She immediately responded, “Yes.” So we went to the wrapping station. We gave her a gift tag and she wrote:

To: Gwendolyn
From: Christ the Lord

I would’ve told you on Monday but I was so choked up that I didn’t want to make a scene. Peachtree Road is making a real difference in Gwendolyn’s life, but she knows exactly who to thank! How wonderful and refreshing!

So, thank you again for the opportunities you give the clients and volunteers at Christmas Kindness. Merry Christmas!

I just wanted you to have a sense of the difference you make through the life of this church. Through you others see Christ and experience the joy of the Lord. Thank you for sharing your time, talents, and gifts through the life of Peachtree Road.

Finally, let me offer a word of encouragement concerning year-end giving. Our Finance Committee met earlier this week, and it was reported that we need to receive $1.3 million during the month of December to finish the year on budget. While that sounds like a daunting task (and it is!), we can make it! The good news is that if every person meets his or her pledge by year-end, we should make it. Wendie and I just checked our giving statement and will make our final operating budget gift this week to meet our pledge for the year. I encourage you to make every effort to do the same, and, if you are able, please give an extra gift at year-end. The most convenient way to give may be through the church’s website.

Also, as we come to the end of the year, I hope you will remember the matching-gift opportunity offered to Peachtree Road to retire our indebtedness. We have been challenged to raise $2 million by December 31, 2017, and every gift will be matched dollar for dollar. I have been told that 2016 might be a better year than next year for charitable giving from a tax stand-point and would encourage you to consider making a gift above and beyond your pledge to the “Imagine” campaign to help us accomplish our goal. Gifts of stock or cash, check, or credit card will be received gladly. Please contact the business office this week to receive more information. Thank you for your help in reaching this important goal.

Thank you for all you do to make Peachtree Road a great place to worship, learn, and serve. I look forward to seeing you Sunday as we anticipate the coming of Christ!

Bill

  • Advent Music

The Many Moods of Christmas
Sunday, December 11, 2016, 7:00 pm, Sanctuary

Scott H. Atchison, conductor

6:30 pm  Georgia Boy Choir Caroling in the Rotunda
7:30 pm   The Many Moods of Christmas Concert in the Sanctuary
Dessert reception following the concert

The PRUMC Chancel Choir, soloists, orchestra and the Georgia Boy Choir present their Christmas classic filled with the sounds of the season.  From traditional Christmas hymns to moving new settings of familiar carols, this music will open your hearts and souls to the miraculous story of Jesus’ birth.

Tickets are complimentary but necessary to ensure seating.  Remaining tickets are available:
Friday, December 9, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, Music Office/Rollins Center
Sunday, December 11, 9:30 am to 1:00 pm, Dogwood Shop

PRUMC Christmas Music Many Moods of Christmas

Christmas with the Georgia Boy Choir
Friday & Saturday, December 16 & 17, 2016, 7:00 pm, Sanctuary

David R. White, conductor
www.georgiaboychoir.org

Christmas with the Georgia Boy Choir has become one of Atlanta’s favorite family traditions.  This concert in the magnificent Sanctuary of Peachtree Road United Methodist Church will feature all five levels of the Georgia Boy Choir, along with a professional orchestra, performing your favorite carols and songs to celebrate the true meaning of Christmas.  This concert will also feature Atlanta’s largest performance of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” with the audience invited to join in the fun and singing.

Celebrate this holiday season with an evening of beauty you won’t forget!  Tickets at www.georgiaboychoir.org.

Christmas with the Georgia Boy Choir

  • Christmas at Peachtree Road United Methodist Church

Come celebrate this glorious night with us!  Our beautiful services will offer meaningful messages and magnificent music.  Complimentary childcare for ages 3 and under for the 4:00 & 6:00 pm service.  All services will be webcast live here.

12:00 pm  |  The First Communion of Christmas
A celebration of the Eucharist, with our annual Christmas Volunteer Choir.

4:00 pm  |  Family Candlelight & Pageant
Children’s Choirs and Christmas Pageant with nativity characters.

6:00 pm  |  Family Candlelight & Pageant
Children’s Choirs and Christmas Pageant with nativity characters.

8:00 pm  |  Festival of Lessons & Carols
Combined adult choirs and Brass herald in this most Holy Night.

10:30 pm  |  Festival Choral Eucharist
Combined adult choirs and Brass with a celebration of the Eucharist.

 

Christmas Eve Offering:  Water for Kenya
This year our Christmas Eve offering will be gifted to the people of the Lake Victoria islands of Kenya.  This remote group of islands is surrounded by water, but none of it is safe by even the lowest standard.  Water, water everywhere…but not a drop to drink.  But they do drink it.  And with each sip comes the possibility  of illness and death.  We can bring health and hope to the people of Lake Victoria.  Each filter we provide brings life and longevity to the families there.  $40 will provide one filter.

Click here to make a donation.
Click here for more information.

  • Water for Kenya PRUMC Christmas Eve Offering

Christmas Eve Offering
December 24

Learn more or give at prumc.org/cleanwater.

Last Christmas we made a miracle happen.  Together, we brought the gift of life to an entire region of Kenya by providing a water filter for every home in Lanet.  We did it once.  We can do it again.  This year we will make a miracle for the people of the Lake Victoria islands.

Of all Kenyans affected by the lack of clean water, these are the most devastated.  This is the tragedy of Lake Victoria – water, water everywhere…but not a drop to drink.  Thousands of villagers are surrounded by a life-giving force, but not one drop is safe.  Each month, parents watch more children die from waterborne disease, desperate to save them but helpless to do so.  And still they consume the water because they have no other choice.  But there is hope.  There is you.

You can clean this water.  You can save these children.  You can bring this region back to life.  Join us as we partner with “Start with One” and launch a massive water filter initiative on these islands.  One filter costs $40 and we need 12,000 to do the job.  If we meet our goal by December 31, we can begin mobilization in January, and distribution in March.

If you believe in miracles, in the power of one, or in the power of many, come be a part.  “Said the little lamb to the shepherd boy, ‘Do you hear what I hear?  A song, a song high above the trees with a voice as big as the sea, with a voice as big as the sea.’”  Be the voice of hope this Christmas and give life.

Text FILTER to 91999, click the donate button below, give using the card in the December 18, 24 or 25 bulletins, or visit our volunteers in the Narthex after each service of those services.  Join us in making another miracle!  Thank you.

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Water for Kenya PRUMC
Donate Here

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$40 = 1 family
$80 = 2 families
$200 = 5 families
$480 = 12 families
$1000 = 25 families

All donations are tax deductible.  Online donations will be processed directly through Start With One and will not be reflected on PRUMC contribution statements.  Thank you!
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Donate Here
  • Bill Britt Preaching

December 2, 2016

Dear Peachtree Road Friends,

I hope you have had a good beginning to this holiday season. Here at the church, things are beginning to look a lot like Advent. The Chrismon trees are up, the sanctuary decorations are in place, and the choirs are busy rehearsing for their special presentations. This is the best time of the year! I really am looking forward to Sunday as we continue our series “What I Really Want for Christmas.” An often asked question during this season is, “What do you want for Christmas?” Well, as I mentioned at the beginning of last week’s message, I learned a long time ago there are things that we want, and then there are things that we really want. During these Sundays of Advent, we are allowing each week’s Gospel lesson to remind us what we really want, and this week we will talk about the gift of “peace.”

One of my professors in school would listen to our frustrations and tales of woe and then quietly say to us: “Be at peace.” The words were said gently, almost as a whisper. They were words of grace. The way he said them calmed your spirit and enabled you to slow down and breathe. Do you feel like you could use a little bit of that this season? Come Sunday and experience God’s gift of peace.

Also, on Sunday evening we’ll have the opportunity to gather in the sanctuary at 5:30 p.m. for “Carols by Candlelight.” I hope you will join us as we experience the retelling of the Christmas story at a joyous event for all ages. This service will be led by the Parish Choir and Peachtree Carillon under the direction of Nicole Marane and will feature readings by students from this year’s Confirmation Class. The service closes with the lighting of candles as we celebrate the light of Christ that shines in our dark world and brings us peace.

And, speaking of a light shining in the darkness, I remind you that this Saturday marks the beginning of “Christmas Kindness” week here at Peachtree Road. For the tenth year, our church is offering an opportunity for hundreds of families who are in need to come to Peachtree Road to “shop” for winter coats, small appliances, and children’s toys for Christmas. This ministry empowers families to provide for their needs and to discover the hope, peace, love, and joy of this season. I certainly encourage you to attend the open house in the Harp Center this Sunday between 9:00 a.m. and 1:00 p.m. to see for yourself what Christmas Kindness is all about. I join with Beth Spencer, our director of local outreach, in expressing gratitude to all who have volunteered their time, offered their prayerful support, or have contributed generously to make this ministry a reality. If you would like to offer a financial gift to support Christmas Kindness, it is not too late. Come and be a part of this joyful ministry as we celebrate peace on earth and good will to all people.

In addition, please remember that the church’s gift shop, The Dogwood, is open this Sunday and will feature a trunk show by Debra Hewitt, a favorite artist of many in our congregation. Of course, all proceeds from sales through The Dogwood benefit global missions and make a difference in those ministries with whom we partner in Kenya, the country of Georgia, and Nicaragua. Please keep The Dogwood Gift Shop in mind when you are doing your Christmas shopping.

Several of you have asked me for recommendations concerning devotional reading for this season. There are several options that I would invite you to consider. Two can be purchased in The Dogwood Gift Shop – Partners in Prayer (with contributions by several local authors including several United Methodist ministers) and Watch for the Light (offering reflections on the season through the eyes of famous theologians including Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Thomas Aquinas, and Henri Nouwen). In addition, I would like to recommend daily reflections on the season from our very own Marcia Gaddis. Marcia has a strong faith and is a gifted writer, and I commend her writing to you here.

I did want to let you know that Emily Crum, our oldest member, died earlier this week at the age of 102. As we celebrated her life yesterday at a funeral in the sanctuary, I remembered my first visit to Emily and her husband Remer nearly 9 years ago. She was a talented cross-stitcher and presented me with a bookmark she had made with the name “Jesus” stitched onto it. As I reflected upon Emily’s life, it dawned on me that she wanted everyone to see Jesus in everything she did. That’s a pretty good thought for us to have during these days especially.

Finally, let me encourage you in the area of stewardship. Our business office is mailing out contribution statements this next week, and I encourage you to take note of your progress toward meeting your pledge. I have not received the November financial report yet, but it looks like we are running behind in our projected giving. That’s the bad news. The good news is that if everyone fulfills his or her pledge to the church by year-end, we should meet our budget. If you are planning to make an extra contribution to the church this year, I do encourage you to mark it for the operating budget. For convenience, you may make your gift online here. Thank you in advance for your generosity.

I am grateful for you and look forward to seeing Sunday you as we worship Christ who is the Prince of Peace.

Bill

#GivingTuesday is a global day of giving. Today we have the opportunity to turn our hearts and minds to focus on how we can give back and help others.
We are blessed to be a part of a church with so many opportunities to give back.

Here are two great initiatives you can get involved in:

CLEAN WATER FOR KENYA
Last Christmas we made a miracle happen. We brought the gift of life to an entire region of Kenya. With your help, we can give health and life to ALL the people of Africa. This Christmas season, we’ll strive to make another miracle. This year our goal will be to provide an Uzima Filter for every household to the people of the Lake Victoria islands of Kenya. This remote group of islands is surrounded by water, but none of it is safe by even the lowest standard. Water, water everywhere… but not a drop to drink. But they do drink it. And with each sip comes the possibility of illness and death.
Imagine if 3 children from our church congregation died every month because of the water we gave them…. THAT is the harsh reality in Kenya on just 1 of these islands!
We MUST do something!

We can bring health and hope to the people of Lake Victoria. Each filter we provide brings life and longevity to the families there. $40 will provide one filter.

Take Action: GIVE HERE TO SAVE A LIFE.

 

 

CHRISTMAS KINDNESS
Christmas Kindness is an annual PRUMC Local Outreach ministry that offers a dignified way for Atlantans in need to share the joy of Christmas with their families.  Every December PRUMC volunteers serve more than 2,000 people from Atlanta-area ministries and agencies during the five-day Christmas Kindness event.

The PRUMC Local Outreach team works with our community partners to identify Christmas Kindness clients who would otherwise not have a material Christmas, and who are not receiving assistance from another holiday outreach program.  At the Christmas Kindness Shop, PRUMC volunteers welcome clients into the hospitality suite and treat them with the dignity of a personal shopping client in a department store.  Parents choose from a selection of new coats for each family member, as well as a new appliance for their family to share and new toys to give to each of their children, thereby reinforcing the parent-child relationship. Individuals from area shelters and housing agencies shop for basic necessities such as coats and toiletries for their own use.  PRUMC volunteers are present to take prayer requests and to pray with clients if needed.

Take Action: GIVE HERE  TO SPREAD JOY

 

 

 

  • Bill at Advent

November 25, 2016

Dear Peachtree Road Friends,

I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving Day with loved ones. The holiday season now is in full swing, and our church’s focus has turned toward the season of Advent and our preparations for the celebration of Christmas. This is a wonderful time of the year.

Last week our District Superintendent Dr. Bernice Kirkland was with us for our annual church conference. As a part of the conference, Jill Irvin, chair of the Administrative Board, shared with us an encouraging report concerning our progress in ministry. For example, we already have surpassed our goals for the year in three important areas: number of new members (254), persons received on profession of faith (112), and members involved in ministry (950+). In addition, we have shown a 3.6% increase in our average worship attendance over last year and have deployed over 350 persons through our global outreach efforts. We have made excellent progress.

As a part of my report, I had an opportunity to announce three initiatives for the future:

  1. The establishment of a “Committee of 100” that will meet annually to offer counsel concerning the future ministry of Peachtree Road
  2. The creation of a task force to study the best practices of other churches in the area of stewardship in the 21st century and to suggest the best strategy for our church
  3. The goal to eliminate our church’s indebtedness by the end of 2017

At the close of the worship services last Sunday, I announced that we have been challenged to move forward with retiring our debt sooner rather than later. A family that loves our church very much has challenged the congregation to raise $2 million toward debt retirement by the end of next year, December of 2017, and will match that giving dollar-for-dollar. In addition, any gifts beyond the $2 million by the congregation also will be matched, up to $2 million. In short, this wonderful challenge offers us an opportunity to secure the church’s financial future by eliminating our debt. This is exciting news!

We now have a path toward being debt free! The Finance Committee currently projects our indebtedness at the end of the “Imagine” capital funds campaign next year to be $6 million. (Please know that we will welcome pledges and gifts now, but, in order to receive the match, gifts must be received by December 31, 2017.) It is ambitious, but I believe we can meet this challenge and conclude next year debt free! As I was greeting worshipers at the close of the service on Sunday, a family that joined Peachtree Road within the year came up to me, expressed excitement about the matching gift, and handed me a check for $5,000. It was a welcome affirmation — we can do this!

Now, I don’t want that wonderful news to distract you from that which is most important right now – finishing the year well by fulfilling our pledges to the 2016 operating budget and turning in a pledge card toward the 2017 operating budget. If you already have met your pledge for this year and made a pledge for next year, thank you! You are both faithful and generous, and I am grateful. If you have not handled this yet, please take the time to do that this week here. The Finance Committee is set to meet on December 7, and I would like for them to have as much information as possible as they make decisions about funding our ministries in the coming days. I am filled with hope and am excited about our future!

Speaking of hope, I hope you are planning to join us for worship this Sunday as we kick-off the Advent season with a series of messages based upon the theme “What We Really Want for Christmas.” I learned a long time ago there are things that we want, and then there are things that we really want. What is it that you really want for Christmas? This Sunday we will think for a few minutes about one of God’s best gifts to us – hope.

Thank you for your faith, hope, and love. I look forward to seeing you Sunday as we begin our journey to Christmas together.

Bill

PS – Please don’t forget about our evening opportunities during the season of Advent each Sunday. This week our children will be leading us in the “Great Tree Lighting Service.” See you there!

UMW Southern Summer Sampler

UMW Southern Summer Sampler
Saturday, July 22, 7:00 pm, Wild Heaven, 135 Maple Street #B, Decatur, GA
The United Methodist Women are excited to for our annual fundraiser – the Southern Summer Sampler! This time the guys are invited! We will have a pig roast, low country boil, southern sides and desserts as well as some fun beverages. Live music and a fantastic auction will round out the evening. All proceeds will benefit a Children’s Library in Nakuru Kenya, with our partners Start with One Kenya and Christmas Kindness. Ticket range from $45-$150 with discounts available for 1 hour volunteers. We hope to see you there!

Register Here

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Sunday Fun Day

New! Sunday Fun Day!
August 27, 11:00 am – 1:00 pm, PRUMC Campus

Join your church family on a BIG day!  We’ll enjoy great fellowship, a fall program fair and a complimentary “dine-in” BBQ lunch to wrap up a wonderful summer and welcome a great fall!  Plan on meeting in Grace Hall to discover new ways to connect and be enriched in the upcoming season.

Volunteers are needed to add to the fun! If you are available and interested, please contact Mimi Brunson.

Christmas Kindness Open House
Sunday, December 4, 9:00 am – 1:00 pm, Harp Center
Come view the Christmas experience of dignity and love created for Atlanta’s working poor families.    Take a “sleigh ride” from Grace Hall and tour the wonderful toy, coat and household item rooms.

Learn more about this great outreach program by watching the video below!

Christmas Kindness

Each year at Peachtree Road, we share the joy of Christmas with Atlantans who do not have resources to give gifts to their families.  We call this ministry Christmas Kindness.

Beyond providing material items, this program gives an experience of dignity, love and independence to patrons who are known as “working poor.”  Many live in area shelters, and all are in need.

Christmas Kindness patrons are warmly welcomed into our church and guided to places where they select their own gifts for children and family.  All items are new, and whether our patrons go home with a toy, a toaster or a warm winter coat, they all leave with the feeling that they matter.

Christmas Kindness is not about giving a gift.  And it’s not just about giving Christmas.  It’s about living Christmas.

If you are looking to live out Christmas this year and give of your heart, join us!  In our ten years of ministry, Christmas Kindness has made Christmas bright for over 20,000 patrons.  It takes many hands and a generous spirit to bring this program to life.

We are funded 90% by your donations!  To give today, please click the donate button below or contact Beth Spencer at 404.240.8234 or beths@prumc.org.

Your donation will provide:
$15 –  a child’s gift
$30 –  a child’s gift
$50 –  a small appliance
$100 –  four coats
$240 –  Christmas for one family of four
$1,000 – Christmas Kindness Ambassador

Click here to donate

  • Bill Shaking Hands

November 18, 2016

Dear Peachtree Road Family,

I hope you are doing well. I really am looking forward to the services Sunday as we kick-off a week of thanksgiving in our church and nation with Harvest Sunday worship. We will gather as a church family in the sanctuary (no New Traditions this week) to sing our hymns of praise (Come, Ye Thankful People, Come; We Gather Together, and Now Thank We All Our God), offer our prayers of thanksgiving for the blessings we enjoy, and pause to remember that it is vital to our spiritual health to pause and say, “Thank you!” Following the services, we will enjoy a delicious church family meal in Grace Hall. Sunday promises to be a great day at Peachtree Road.

Do you encounter folks who aren’t experiencing much joy in their lives? They seem to be moping around waiting for something good to happen to them that is going to suddenly fill them with joy, and then they just know they will burst forth in thanksgiving. However, I tell you these folks are missing out on all of their joy. There is a direct relationship between joy and thanksgiving, but it doesn’t work the way we think. Thanksgiving precedes the joy! In other words, if you want to have more joy in your life, then you need to spend more time in thanksgiving. Maybe it would help to put into practice that little song we learned in Sunday School as children:

Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings and see what God has done!

At some point during this upcoming week, I encourage you to take a moment and make a list of those blessings from the last year for which you are thankful. And, to prime the pump, allow me to share part of my list with you.

I am thankful…

…for those days when my tee shots are landing in the fairway and my putts are dropping
…for the courageous faith of my mother, who is the life of the party at her assisted living facility
…for an inspiring trip to the Holy Land and the folks who traveled with us and made it fun
…for a Christmas miracle: you gave over $175k to provide clean water to a whole region in Kenya
…for the privilege of officiating at weddings and baptizing babies
…for the 35 “saints” we remembered recently on All Saints Sunday
…for an altar overflowing with youth on Confirmation Sunday
…for lighted candles in a dark sanctuary on Christmas Eve
…for joyous singing in a sunlit sanctuary on Easter morning
…for Annual Conference gatherings that feel more like family reunions to me
…for 231 new members this year, 109 of whom have joined on profession of faith
…for three ministerial students from our church who are attending Candler School of Theology
…for the honor of hosting our new bishop’s installation service – a service we’ll always remember!
…for members who already have made their pledge for next year and for all who give generously
…for church choirs who inspire us with “heavenly music”
…for a Great Day of Service, Habitat volunteers, and those working on “Our Westside Story”
…for mission teams that go where the need is great, offering clean water, shelter, and God’s love
…for the powerful voice of Timothy Miller singing “God Bless America” on Freedom Sunday
…for Disciple Bible Study groups and those who lead them
…for the talented church staff members who lead our congregation’s vital ministries
…for the Blessing of the Animals service and dogs that let me pet them
…for the “Prayers, Politics, and Peace” series that helped us through a difficult election season
…for sunrises at the beach and a cool ocean breeze on a hot summer day
…for the sound of our granddaughter Lidia greeting me, “B’s here!”
…for the birth of our grandson Lucas on January 4 – the best start to a New Year ever!
…for time spent with our children Will and Sara and son-in-law Diogo
…for my wife Wendie, who has the ability to see the good in others and bring out the best in me
…for the daily opportunities to worship and serve with you at Peachtree Road UMC

For these and many other blessings, I am thankful!

I hope that will inspire you to make your own list. And while we’re on the subject of being thankful, let me ask for your help in one particular area. One of the important ways we express our gratitude to God is through our giving to the church’s ministry. We have had a remarkable year here at Peachtree Road. Now, as we come to the last few weeks of the year, let us heed the advice of the Apostle Paul:

“So, let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up.” – Galatians 6:9

Please help us finish the year well. As we began the month of November, we needed a little over $2.1 million to achieve our budget for 2016. (This is very much within the reach of this great congregation!)

Through the end of October, we were $367,000 behind in our giving. The good news is that if each of us fulfills his or her pledge, we will make our budget. This will enable us to achieve all of our ministry and outreach goals for the year. Statements will be going out soon, and I hope you will check your giving against your pledge. Certainly, if you have been especially blessed this year and would like to give an extra financial gift as an expression of thanksgiving, your church would be grateful.

Thanksgiving leads to joy and I pray that your joy may be full in this season. See you Sunday!

Bill

  • All Saints Day

November 4, 2016

Dear Peachtree Road Family,

As we begin the month of November, I hope you are doing well. Last week we made a good beginning to our three-week emphasis entitled “Prayers, Politics, and Peace.” Earlier this month, the American Psychological Association reported that 52% of American adults surveyed, regardless of political party, are either “very” or “somewhat significantly” stressed by the 2016 election. Are you in that number? As I said Sunday in my sermon, I am really ready for this election to be over!

You may be interested to know that the survey also discovered that both Republicans and Democrats are equally experiencing anxiety and stress. In other words, there are no political party lines when it comes to being affected by uncertainty and negativity. We are human beings, and the arguing, accusations, name-calling, and images bombarding us through social media 24 hours-a-day, 7 days-a-week are triggering anxiety and feelings of anger and helplessness. The APA is reporting therapists are even seeing an increase in the number of couples growing more irritable with each other, and divisions cropping up at work, among family members, and between friends are on the rise. Maybe you also are experiencing this “election stress.”

If you are, I hope you will take advantage of the resources your church is making available during these three weeks. The daily devotional guide published just for this time offers some wonderful reading on three important values of our faith: guidance, respect, and unity. I am grateful to Ron Greer, Leslie Watkins, and Jamie Jenkins for taking the time to contribute their thoughts for reflection. If you have not picked up your guide, you may download it here.

In addition, I am inviting you to a time of prayer this weekend. Members of our church will be participating in a prayer vigil from today (Friday, November 4) at noon, until Sunday evening, (November 6) at 11:00 p.m. I encourage you to pray for an hour during the vigil by signing up online. Know that others will be praying as you are praying. I encourage you to pray for our country, our church, and our future together during these days. A prayer guide is available online if you would like to make use of it.

On Sunday, as we prepare to vote, we will focus upon the importance of “respect.” I think a part of the lack of civil discourse in our nation these days comes from a sense of arrogance — a sense of superiority over others. And the antidote for that arrogance is humility. I look forward to worshiping with you Sunday as we discover how a humble attitude can lead toward mutual respect.

Speaking of respect, this Sunday is All Saints Sunday, and we will be paying our respects to members of Peachtree Road who have preceded us into death within the last year. We will call their names, ring a bell, light candles, and stand in memory of these saints of the church:

Ruth Arnold
Stan Arnold
Betty Barge
Rick Beacham
Noland Bell
Elizabeth Bennett
Marc Cannon
Josie Carlyle
Anne Clarke
Mark Curlee
Roy Drukenmiller
John Greer
Gin Griffith
Greg Guthrie
Barbara Henkel
Walter Hughes
Benjie Jones
Jim Magbee
Teresa McGregor
Manly McWilliams
Bill Mitchell
Carolyn Mitchell
Bob Nelson
Eleanor Paris
Wade Pepper
Carolyn Pettyjohn
Charlotte Ramage
Virginia Robb
Jennifer Rybert
Mary Salley
Eunice Scarborough
Pat Smallwood
Margaret Sudderth
Ellen Weatherly
Warner Wilson

This service is one of the most special of the year. In addition, we will have an opportunity to gather at the Lord’s Table to celebrate the Sacrament of Holy Communion. And, as you come to the altar, you will be encouraged to remember persons who are special to you. Know this: when we partake of the bread and cup, we are celebrating our connection with all the saints through Jesus Christ.

I do want to thank those who have turned in their pledge toward the operating budget for 2017. We have gotten off to a good start. After two weeks, we have received 362 pledges for $2,161,882 – an average pledge of $5,972. As I mentioned last Sunday in the sermon, I am very hopeful about our future, and the generous pledges of so many members of our church is heartening. If you have not turned in your pledge yet, please do so as soon as possible. The Finance Committee will meet on December 7 to begin developing next year’s budget. You may pledge online today here. Thank you for your faithfulness to Peachtree Road.

Finally, I remind you that this Sunday marks the return of Eastern Standard Time. In other words, you will get an extra hour of sleep on Saturday evening. Please set your clocks back one hour before you go to bed and then join us Sunday for a day of remembering and paying our respects.

I’ll see you Sunday!

Bill

  • Prayers, Politics, Peace

October 28, 2016

Dear Peachtree Road Friends,

I hope you are doing well. As you read these words, Election Day in America is less than two weeks away. Recently I read some words composed by Christian writer Max Lucado that seem to capture the anxiety I have heard from many in this season:

“We are really ready for this presidential election to be over. We’re ready for an end to the rancor and tackiness. Voters on both sides feel frustrated, even embarrassed by it all. There is a visceral fear, an angst about the result. What if so and so wins? When we wake up to November 9, post-election, when the confetti is swept away and the election is finally over, what will we see?” (“My Prediction for November 9” – MaxLucado.com)

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 9?

Several months ago, a group including Susan Marshall, Larry Adams, Ron Greer, and I met to discuss ways our church could help our community prepare for the election and the days that will follow. The result is a three-week emphasis that starts this Sunday entitled “Prayers, Politics, and Peace.” The overarching verse for this emphasis is Philippians 4:5-7:

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

I remember Leonard Sweet suggesting that passage can be a model for the way we should live our lives:

  1. Worry about nothing
  2. Pray about everything
  3. Be thankful in anything
  4. Then, the peace…

That’s what I want us to do during these weeks. Here are five action steps to take:

First, attend worship each Sunday. During these three weeks, we will examine a different value that Christians especially have embraced in times of struggle:

October 30 | Romans 12:1-2 | Guidance
November 6 | James 1:19 | Respect
November 13 | Ephesians 2:14 | Unity

I encourage you to worship each Sunday at Peachtree Road as we gather in God’s presence to seek His will.

Second, commit yourself to daily devotional reading. We have published a devotional guide designed to help you hear God’s voice in these days. Ron Greer will inspire us through the first week as we reflect upon what it means to turn to God for guidance. During week two, Leslie Watkins will lead us as we consider our responsibility to respect one another. And during week three, Jamie Jenkins will encourage us to turn to God to enable us to find unity in the midst of our diversity. I encourage you to pick up your devotional guide today at the church and invite someone you know to read and reflect upon these words of hope, reassurance, and strength.

Third, participate in our church-wide prayer vigil. Beginning on Friday, November 4, at 3:00 pm and running until Sunday, November 6, at 11:00 pm, members of our church will be praying for wisdom as we individually make decisions about our vote, praying for the future of our country, and praying for the unity of our people going forward. I invite you to participate in the vigil by signing up to pray for one hour in your home during this vigil. An online guided meditation will be provided for you once you sign up here, or by contacting Sonya Curtis-Tshuma at sonyac@prumc.org, or by calling 404.240.8226. I believe in the power of prayer to make a difference in our lives and in the world.

Fourth, vote on Tuesday, November 8. I would never suggest how you should vote, but I will not shrink from reminding you that one of the great privileges of being a citizen of this great country is the opportunity to vote and have a say in who will represent us in government. Don’t forsake this sacred right.

Finally, in the days after the election, commit yourself to working with your fellow Peachtree Road members to make this a better world. Earlier, I quoted from Paul’s letter to the church in Philippi. Here is the conclusion to that passage:

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy — think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me — put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:8-9)

We are called to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world. In the days to come, do all in your power to be salt and light, and the peace of Christ be with you.

Before I close, let me mention the three best things I experienced last week:

The Westside Leaders Forum last Sunday in the sanctuary
Ed Hamlin’s stewardship invitation in worship last Sunday (watch it here)
The Halloween Extravaganza Carnival and Trunk -or-Treat last Wednesday evening (photos here)

We are blessed with outstanding leaders and members, and I am grateful for the efforts of so many. Thank you to all who turned in a pledge card last Sunday. We are off to a good start. If you have not turned in your pledge yet, please do so today (the most convenient way is here online). Thank you for your support.

In the days to come, may you know God’s peace which surpasses all understanding.

Bill

  • Bill Preaching

November 11, 2016

Dear Peachtree Road Friends,

I hope you are doing well. This has been an extraordinary week as we have witnessed the election of Donald Trump as the 45th President of the United States. Now, we look for ways to move forward after a divisive political campaign. As Secretary Hillary Clinton graciously said in her concession speech: “Donald Trump is going to be our president. We owe him an open mind and the chance to lead.” As I mentioned in my sermon a couple of weeks ago, I am very hopeful about our future. Certainly, President-elect Trump will need our prayers.

Maybe you are feeling some sense of relief now that the election is over. Or, maybe you are feeling pleased with the results of Tuesday’s elections of public officials at the national, state, and local levels. Or, maybe you are feeling even more anxious about the future. We live in a time of great uncertainty. Where do we go from here?

As we wrestle with that question here at Peachtree Road, I want to offer three observations:

First, this is a time for us to recommit ourselves to prayer. Years ago when I was the youth director at the Forsyth United Methodist Church, we had a vesper service on Sunday evening. At the close of the service, an invitation was extended for folks to come to the altar for prayer. I can still remember the way the invitation was worded in the worship bulletin: “Altar Prayers that Alter Lives.” We are a people of prayer, and we believe in the transforming power of Christ to work in us and through us when we pray. I encourage you to pray daily for our nation, Donald Trump and those elected to serve in our government, our church and its ministry, and yourself as you seek to grow into the likeness of Christ. (Our Council of Bishops has written a letter to the President-elect that you can read here.)

Second, this is a time for us to focus upon that which unites us. As President Obama said in his remarks following the election earlier this week, “…we have to remember that we’re actually all on one team. This is an intramural scrimmage. We’re not Democrats first. We’re not Republicans first. We are Americans first.” Now is the time for us to come together to work to solve the issues of our day. I really am looking forward to Sunday as we come to the final message in our series “Prayers, Politics, and Peace.” During the last three weeks we have spent time in prayer and meditation as we have sought God’s guidance and focused upon what it means to respect one another. This Sunday our topic is “unity.” I know. It’s probably a bit ambitious at this point, but we’re Methodists. We’re striving for perfection! God’s sanctifying grace is at work in us! The work of building community can be difficult, but we can do this!

Finally, this is a time to commit ourselves to working together to make this a better world. One of the best articles I have read recently about the best way to move forward appeared in a recent issue of The Atlantic. Eric Liu made several helpful suggestions – one of which was “doing stuff together.” His idea is that if we can reach across the lines of race, class, and politics and work together, we become less fearful of one another and discover our common humanity.

In an effort to do just that, our staff has prepared a menu of opportunities for you to reach out to others. For example, if you are concerned about education, you could sign up to be a volunteer at the Action Ministries Children’s Program, the Agape Youth and Family Center, Feed My Lambs, or the Hollis Innovation Academy. If you are concerned about poverty in the world, you can volunteer to help with a meal-packing party in January or go on an international mission trip. The menu will be available this Sunday in your worship bulletin (You also may access it online here.)

Finally, let me offer three quick reminders:

  1. The Missions Market is this Sunday, November 13, in Grace Hall
  2. We continue with our stewardship emphasis “I Believe” – you may renew your pledge to the 2017 operating budget of the church here.
  3. Peachtree Road’s Annual Charge Conference is set for next Thursday, November 17, at 7:00 pm.

Thank you for your support of Peachtree Road through your prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness. I believe God has called us to be the church for just such a time as this. Let’s be the church. May Christ’s light shine through us…and know this: his light shines in the darkness and the darkness does not overcome it!

Bill

  • Bill Talking to Twins

October 7, 2016

Dear Peachtree Road Family,

I hope you have gotten as much out of our fall theme of “I Believe…” as I have. Each week I have been challenged in my study in preparation for the Sunday message as we have considered central aspects of our faith. These foundational aspects of our creed reconnect us to God and one another.

A few weeks ago as we talked about the goodness of God, I shared the story of a man who went to confession. The man asked his priest, “Can God really forgive me?” The priest answered. “When your coat develops a tear, do you throw it away?” The man said, “No. I mend it.” The priest nodded and said, “And God, who loves you infinitely more than you love your coat, would not throw you away. God is in the mending business.” This Sunday we will reflect more upon God’s gracious love for us as we focus upon “I Believe…in Forgiveness.” I hope to see you in church.

Counting Sunday, there are three more services in our fall series, and then we will offer a short series of messages as we approach the national election entitled “Prayers, Politics, and Peace.” Without a doubt, this election cycle has produced more angst than any I can remember in my lifetime. Several months ago, a group of us met to consider proactive ways our church could offer spiritual support and help our community channel its energies in constructive ways. As a result, we are going to offer an opportunity for prayer and reflection as we seek to live out our key verse that offers an overarching theme to the series:

“Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7

Each Sunday, we will focus upon a different biblical text and key word:

October 30 | Romans 12:1-2 | Guidance
November 6 | James 1:19 | Respect
November 13 | Ephesians 2:14 | Unity

I will share more about this upcoming series with you at a later time, but I wanted to let you know so you could mark these dates on your calendar.

A few weeks ago we announced that the church is sponsoring a trip to explore the lands of Paul’s missionary journeys. Wendie and I along with Jamie Jenkins will be leading a group on a fourteen-day trip retracing the steps of Paul. We will leave Atlanta on June 29, 2017, for Barcelona, Spain where will travel by cruise ship to Cannes, Florence, Pisa, Rome, Athens, Corinth, Ephesus, Santorini, Valetta, Malta, and back to Barcelona. If you are interested in finding out more about the trip, please come to one of two information sessions we will be offering next week: Sunday, October 9, at 12:30 p.m. and Monday, October 10, at 6:30 p.m. (both meetings will be held in A-101 of the Rollins Building). In addition, brochures are available at the church, and you can contact Jamie Jenkins directly. This would be the trip of a lifetime, and we would love to have you join us for it.

I do want to remind you of a wonderful fellowship opportunity coming up this next week – The Peachtree Road Chancel Choir is presenting “Celebrating Broadway’s Best.” Next Thursday, members of our talented music ministry and the Joe Gransden Sextet will be presenting selections from some of your favorite Broadway musicals including Ragtime, Sweeney Todd, West Side Story, and Wicked. Tickets are available today, and I encourage you to support some of the most dedicated volunteers in our church as they share their musical gifts with us – October 13, 7:00 p.m., in the Harp Student Center.

On another note, the Finance Committee met earlier this week. I promised to keep you updated on our financial goals as we head toward the end of the year. As of the beginning of October, we need $2.04 million to meet our budget by year-end. Your generosity during the month of September enabled us to close our gap significantly, and all of our ministry goals for the year are now within reach! Please continue to stay current with your giving as we enter the final quarter of the year. Thank you for your faithfulness in so many ways to the ministry of Peachtree Road.

Finally, I remind you this is stewardship time at Peachtree Road, and each of us is invited to consider our own place in the ministry of this great church. You may have received a brochure from the church in the last few days asking you to pledge toward next year’s operating budget. Here is how you can help:

  • If you have pledged in the past, thank you. Please consider a “step up” in your pledge toward next year’s budget.
  • If you have not pledged in the past but do give to the church, please know we are grateful for you gifts. I hope you will consider making a pledge to help our Finance Committee set a budget that reflects the hopes and dreams of Peachtree Road.
  • If you neither pledge nor give, please consider giving something (really, any gift would be helpful – even $10 per week!) next year. I want you to experience the joy of knowing you helped make a difference.

Certainly, the most convenient way for you to participate is by pledging and giving through the church website. Again, thank you for your support of the ministry of this great church.

I am grateful for your prayers, presence, gifts, service, and the good words you spread to others through Peachtree Road. Your participation enables us to be a vital church through which the Spirit of Christ transforms the lives of others.

I look forward to worshiping with you Sunday!

Bill

  • PRUMC Prayers, Politics & Peace: Guidance

Saturday, November 5, 2016  |  Ron Greer

“… learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart…” Matthew 11:29

Jesuit priest Anthony de Mello of India once said, “In your land it is regarded as a miracle if God does someone’s will.  In our country it is regarded as a miracle if someone does the will of God.”  In this spirit, we humble ourselves to a greater call, for a greater good.  With a humble spirit, we focus our priority on the finest values of our faith, like loving-kindness, as we have discussed this week.  Humility keeps us grounded in what we believe.

The word humble comes from the Latin “humus,” meaning ground or earth.  Feet firmly planted.  “Down to earth,” as they say.  Humility impedes any inflation of ego or pride that lifts us off that grounding.  It resists distractions into vanity or self-absorption.  There is less need to claim the stage for ourselves, to make it about us.  With humility, we can be there for others with compassion.  Saint Catherine of Siena expressed it in a way that translates across the centuries, “No virtue can have life in it except from charity, and charity is nursed and mothered by humility.”

Peter encouraged in his epistle, “… clothe yourselves with humility in your dealings with one another…” (I Peter 5:5)  In the same spirit, the word ministry comes from the Latin “minor” which literally translates lessor.  Anyone who engaged in a personal ministry, ordained or not, is one who serves another.  Ministry, in all its areas, is a humble form of service.

In the field of advertising it is understood that everyone listens to one radio station: WII-FM.  What’s in it for me?  The attitude of humility, in contrast, is what’s in it for you?  Those who are humble know who they are, feel solid about it, and have no need for the moment to be about them.  “… learn from me,” Jesus said, “for I am gentle and humble in heart…” (Matthew 11:29)

I am reminded of that tense scene from the scriptures, when a heated discussion broke out among the disciples over the future seating arrangements on the dais in the Kingdom of Heaven.  The other disciples were unhappy after the request had been made that perhaps James and John could be seated at Jesus’ right and at his left.  Can’t you just see Jesus’ expression?  I picture him looking down, his head slowly shaking.  How badly they didn’t get it.  It was in that moment Jesus redefined what greatness really means.  “… whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave.” (Matthew 20:28)

Jesus’ kind of greatness requires humility.  Humility is about submitting to a greater cause – and thus connecting us to our deepest selves.

Prayer:  Create a humble heart in me, O Lord, seeking first your will for my life.  In Christ name.  Amen.

.

.

PRUMC Prayers, Politics & Peace Election Devotional

To view or download a pdf of the complete Prayers, Politics & Peace devotional, click here.

Election Prayer Vigil
Friday, November 4 – Sunday, November 6
You are invited to prayer at home at a designated hour for our upcoming decisions, and the unity of our country.  An online guided meditation will be provided.  Select your hour HERE or contact Sonya Curtis-Tshuma at 404.240.8226 or sonyac@prumc.org.

Congregational  Prayer
Tuesday, November 8
On this day we will join together in prayer for our nation.  Look for a special email from Bill guiding us in invocation.  Copies will be available in the church kiosks on November 6.

Service of Unity & Peace
Sunday, November 13, 8:45 & 11:15 am
Together, we will light a candle for hope in the future, peace in our hearts and God’s unifying presence in our lives.

  • PRUMC Prayers, Politics & Peace: Guidance

Friday, November 4, 2016  |  Ron Greer

“But we appeal to you, brothers and sisters, to respect those who labor among you…” I Thessalonians 5:12
Years ago a homeless woman stayed for several months somewhere near our church.  Her name is Rosemary.  We would see her periodically as she would slip in to freshen up in one of our restrooms.  She was a private person, especially because she didn’t know if she was welcome.  When any of us saw her, we would speak and greet her by name.  One day, not long before she left, she stopped and spoke with one of our church staff in a rare conversation.  She just wanted to say “Thank you” – thank you for speaking kindly, and especially for “calling me by my name.”

Respect.

Respect is to relate with others with thoughtfulness and with regard for their feelings.  Respect is to treat them with dignity and consideration.  We stand side by side as sisters and brothers together.  As peers.  No one better than anyone else.  Respect.  Mutual respect.

Racism, sexism, elitism of any kind has its foundation in an absence of respect.  The world can have a way of diminishing those who are perceived as different.  They are put down – sometimes demonized – and given slang nicknames to depersonalize them.  This lack of respect, this dehumanizing, usually springs from insecurity.  If I am not grounded in who I am, then I feel anxious and insecure.  If I don’t feel worthy, however subconsciously, I may be tempted to diminish you.  I lash out to make you lesser – so I don’t feel so badly about myself.

The natural outcome of this lack of respect is to be polarized and adversarial.  It is as though, If I am right, then you have to be wrong.  This competitiveness and rigidity aborts any meaningful conversation.  There is no mutual search for the truth.  Disrespect does not allow either of us to see the value and validity of the other’s perspective, thus cheating us both from being enriched.

I can respect others and disagree with their views at the same time.  If we find ourselves in genuine conversation instead of polarized as adversaries, we may gain value and insight from perspectives with which we do not ultimately agree.  We all may be enriched by having moved out of our rigid, narrow worlds and viewing life from other vantages.

We need one another.  None of us has a corner on the truth.  True communication requires an openness to hear, which takes respect.

Respect for all.  For all of God’s children.  Respect for all as God’s children.

Prayer: O Lord, may respect be shown in our spirit and in our manner.  In Christ name.  Amen.

.

.

Prayers, Politics & Peace

To view or download a pdf of the complete Prayers, Politics & Peace devotional, click here.

Election Prayer Vigil
Friday, November 4 – Sunday, November 6
You are invited to prayer at home at a designated hour for our upcoming decisions, and the unity of our country.  An online guided meditation will be provided.  Select your hour HERE or contact Sonya Curtis-Tshuma at 404.240.8226 or sonyac@prumc.org.

Congregational  Prayer
Tuesday, November 8
On this day we will join together in prayer for our nation.  Look for a special email from Bill guiding us in invocation.  Copies will be available in the church kiosks on November 6.

Service of Unity & Peace
Sunday, November 13, 8:45 & 11:15 am
Together, we will light a candle for hope in the future, peace in our hearts and God’s unifying presence in our lives.

  • PRUMC Prayers, Politics & Peace: Guidance

Thursday, November 3, 2016  |  Ron Greer

“… speaking the truth in love…” Ephesians 4:15

The scriptures couldn’t have spoken more directly to the issue of honesty:  “Let your ‘Yes’ be yes and your ‘No’ be no.” (James 5:12)  Contrary to periodic comments on the campaign trail, the Christian value of honesty is pretty simple: we don’t lie.  The words we speak are to be counted on to be the truth.  There is no place for dishonesty or deceit in a life of moral integrity.  This is a cornerstone to the faith.

Isn’t it incredible that we need to remind ourselves about the importance of truthfulness in the context of listening to those who would be our leaders?  Honesty is a fundamental lesson of childhood – as basic as it gets.  Yet regularly we hear the “pants on fire” ratings of candidates from both parties to determine which statements are true, half-true, and which are blatant lies.

Dishonesty is, first, a violation of our character.  And it also is toxic in developing meaningful relationships.  It destroys credibility, and the loss of credibility destroys the trust.  Trust, of course, is relationally foundational.  Lying may be more expedient or profitable – or even get some votes – but it cannot be done with integrity.

There is a phrase in Ephesians that has always stood out to me.  With a beautiful simplicity, Paul begins a teaching with the words, “But speaking the truth in love…” (Ephesians 4:15)  Speak the truth in love – what a perfect balance.  What is to be spoken is the truth.  How it is spoken is with love – with thoughtfulness, sensitivity, and respect.

The word true has its origin in an Old English term which meant loyalty and fidelity.  The German origin adds the concept of “faithful.”  Loyalty – fidelity – faithfulness.  We speak the truth with a loyalty to the relationship.  We speak with a fidelity to honesty that builds trust.  We speak with a faithfulness to the truth we honor.

As it has been said, our word is our bond.  We say what we believe.  We can be counted on and trusted.  Pretty simple.  Like something we learned back in childhood – and would do well to uphold the rest of our lives.

Prayer:  O Lord, may our words be true and our tone be kind.  In Christ name.  Amen.

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Prayers, Politics & Peace devotional

To view or download a pdf of the complete Prayers, Politics & Peace devotional, click here.

Election Prayer Vigil
Friday, November 4 – Sunday, November 6
You are invited to prayer at home at a designated hour for our upcoming decisions, and the unity of our country.  An online guided meditation will be provided.  Select your hour HERE or contact Sonya Curtis-Tshuma at 404.240.8226 or sonyac@prumc.org.

Congregational  Prayer
Tuesday, November 8
On this day we will join together in prayer for our nation.  Look for a special email from Bill guiding us in invocation.  Copies will be available in the church kiosks on November 6.

Service of Unity & Peace
Sunday, November 13, 8:45 & 11:15 am
Together, we will light a candle for hope in the future, peace in our hearts and God’s unifying presence in our lives.

  • PRUMC Prayers, Politics & Peace: Guidance

Wednesday, November 2, 2016  |  Ron Greer

“… love is kind.” I Corinthians 13:4

Kindness is love in action.  The motivation is love.  The result is a life of kindness.  “Love is kind,” as Paul so succinctly wrote.  Kindness is not something you do as much as someone you become.  It’s a way of living in the world, a way of relating wherever you are, with whoever you are.  Kindness is to relate out of a spirit of grace.

“Kindness” is linguistically related to the word kin.  Kin refers to the natural feeling we all have for the welfare of our families.  Then there are “kindred spirits” with whom we feel a special affinity or kinship.  But kindness, as in loving-kindness, expands the focus.  It points to our wish for the best and our willingness to do what we can for the sake of anyone in the family of humankind.  Kindness belongs with kin and kinship, for we are all related.  Remember how Jesus put it, “… just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.” (Matthew 25:40 NRSV)

Kindness is a gentle spirit.  It’s a tough world out there.  The challenges, the battles are real.  It is a world filled with those who deserve a word spoken with kindness.  All it takes to touch a lonely or struggling heart is an act of kindness.  Ironically, the only phrase from a presidential convention acceptance speech I can quote from memory is from the early nineties when a nominee urged us as a nation to be “kinder and gentler.”  Words of wisdom.  A simple moment of kindness reminds us we are all in this together.  We are all kin.  Kindness can encourage and connect.  Kindness can transform.

Mary Oliver put it this way, as I pick up in mid-poem:
“I know what everyone wants
is a miracle.
This wasn’t a miracle.
Unless, of course, kindness –
as now and again
some rare person has suggested –
is a miracle.
As surely it is.”

Prayer:  We pray, O Lord, for kindness of spirit with everyone we meet on this day.  In Christ name.  Amen.

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Prayers, Politics & Peace devotional

To view or download a pdf of the complete Prayers, Politics & Peace devotional, click here.

Election Prayer Vigil
Friday, November 4 – Sunday, November 6
You are invited to prayer at home at a designated hour for our upcoming decisions, and the unity of our country.  An online guided meditation will be provided.  Select your hour HERE or contact Sonya Curtis-Tshuma at 404.240.8226 or sonyac@prumc.org.

Congregational  Prayer
Tuesday, November 8
On this day we will join together in prayer for our nation.  Look for a special email from Bill guiding us in invocation.  Copies will be available in the church kiosks on November 6.

Service of Unity & Peace
Sunday, November 13, 8:45 & 11:15 am
Together, we will light a candle for hope in the future, peace in our hearts and God’s unifying presence in our lives.

  • Prayers, Politics, Peace, Unity

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Almighty God, on this Election Day we begin by offering unto you our gratitude. We are grateful for the gift of life and those with whom you give us to share that gift. We are grateful for your love, the grace that you offer us through Jesus Christ, and the presence of your Holy Spirit in our midst. We especially are grateful that we live in the United States of America. We are blessed and do understand that with that blessing comes responsibility.

As we go to the polls to vote this day, we humbly seek your guidance. We are reminded that we not only are American citizens but also citizens of the Kingdom of God. Please allow our thoughts, words, and deeds to be guided by your Holy Spirit.

We pray for our nation and its people, that we may work together to form the more perfect union envisioned by our founders. We ask for eyes that are free from blindness and prejudice so that we might see each other as brothers and sisters, offering mutual respect and dignity to all. We ask for ears to hear the cries of those who are in need, especially the children, elderly, and those who are most vulnerable. And we ask for open minds and hearts that we may know each other’s concerns, hopes, dreams, aspirations, and fears. Draw us closer to you and one another.

O Lord, on this day, we pray for all who are offering themselves for public office. Grant unto them your good gifts of hope, wisdom, and peace. Most of all, we pray that in the days after this election you will give us the wisdom, courage, and strength to be peacemakers. Help us truly to be the church – placing our full confidence in your grace and offering your light to the world. Make us one with Christ, one with each other, and one in ministry to all the world until Christ comes in final victory and we feast at his heavenly banquet. And grant us your peace. We offer this prayer in the strong name of your Son Jesus Christ. Amen.

  • PRUMC Prayers, Politics & Peace: Guidance

Tuesday, November 1, 2016  |  Ron Greer

“… the greatest of these is love.” I Corinthians 13:13

Christian values begin with love.  It is that simple.  As Christians, the manner with which we relate with God, with neighbor, and all of humankind – every faith, every race, every nationality – begins with love.  This is Jesus’ perspective as he speaks of the Samaritan kneeling at the side of the wounded Jew and doing all he can to help – as Jesus himself reached over and put his hands on the leper, whom no one else would touch – as he called the most despised man in town out of the tree so he could have dinner with him.

Agape.  I care about you simply because you are a fellow child of God.  A sister, a brother.  How does that line go from our hymn America the Beautiful, “America! America!  God shed his grace on thee, and crown thy good with brotherhood from sea to shining sea.”

In Jesus’ beautiful economy of words, he summarized the heart of his message.  “You shall love the Lord your God… (and) love your neighbor as yourself.”  Out of our love of God we look into our neighbor’s eyes and want their lives to be filled with the same joy we seek for ourselves.  Those are the fundamentals.  This is what we are about as followers of his – responding to my neighbor as instinctively and lovingly as I would to myself.

But Jesus’ teaching didn’t stop there.  He then gives this message his grand finale as he adds, “On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”  There is the exclamation point!  This final statement puts love of God and neighbor in its proper place – at the center of our faith.

All of the law, all of the teachings, all of our values are to be seen through the lenses of love of God and neighbor.  Loving-kindness, then, is at the heart of living out a Christian life.  Love of God and neighbor – meaning all of humankind – come first.  Everything… everything in the law and the prophets hangs on these two directives.  Love is the primary value and priority on which our lives are to be based.  Love is where we begin and end.  The Alpha and Omega.

Love begins the listing of the “fruit of the spirit,” and Paul underscores the same lesson in writing to the church in Corinth:  “And now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; and the greatest of these is love.” (I Corinthians 13:13)  Love can’t get elevated any higher than that.  Faith and hope are some impressive company.  But the most important of the three is love.  Love is what our lives are, first, to be about.  It is to be my foundational intent.  Every other value – no matter how honorable – has to take a back seat to loving compassion.  Everything hangs on these two commandments.

Prayer:  O Lord, may our hearts join with you in putting love at the center of our lives.  In Christ name.  Amen.

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Prayers, Politics & Peace devotional

To view or download a pdf of the complete Prayers, Politics & Peace devotional, click here.

Election Prayer Vigil
Friday, November 4 – Sunday, November 6
You are invited to prayer at home at a designated hour for our upcoming decisions, and the unity of our country.  An online guided meditation will be provided.  Select your hour HERE or contact Sonya Curtis-Tshuma at 404.240.8226 or sonyac@prumc.org.

Congregational  Prayer
Tuesday, November 8
On this day we will join together in prayer for our nation.  Look for a special email from Bill guiding us in invocation.  Copies will be available in the church kiosks on November 6.

Service of Unity & Peace
Sunday, November 13, 8:45 & 11:15 am
Together, we will light a candle for hope in the future, peace in our hearts and God’s unifying presence in our lives.

Halloween also known as All Hallows’ Eve, or All Saints’ Eve, is a celebration observed on October 31, the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Hallows’ Day. It begins the three-day observance during the liturgical year dedicated to remembering the dead, including saints, martyrs, and all the faithful departed.

Ghost stories have figured prominently in the tradition of Halloween in many cultures around the world.  It is said that Christian believers were once taught to pray out loud as they walked outside in order that the souls of the dead might find comfort.  And if they are inside?  What better place to find comfort than within the church?

Do you believe in ghosts?  Check out the security footage of our own Narthex in the videos below and you be the judge.  Is it a trick or a treat?  Happy Halloween!

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Do you believe in ghosts? Check out the bottom of the to view an unexplained figure in the PRUMC Narthex this Halloween!

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Do you believe in ghosts? Check out the bottom of the to view an unexplained figure in the PRUMC Narthex this Halloween!

  • PRUMC Prayers, Politics & Peace: Guidance

Monday, October 31, 2016  |  Ron Greer

“… to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God.” Micah 6:8

The tone of belittling, ridiculing, and dishonesty to which we have been exposed this year finds no home in the moral values of the Christian faith.  In fact, this tone is the antithesis of the principles by which a Christian is called to be in relationship.  The scriptures guide us clearly in our values.  There are many passages on which we could focus as we set our moral bar, but there are two that stand out to me.  One is from the Old Testament, the other from the New.  Both are familiar.  From the book of Micah:  “… what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” (6:8)

And from the writing of Paul is that inspiring, guiding list of virtues:  “By contrast, the fruit of the spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” Galatians 5:22-23

These two passages contain the criteria of the Christian life as it is to be lived out.  This is where the moral bar is to be set in relating with others.  This is who we are to become.  For the remainder of this week, let’s think together about the values to which we are called to aspire.  If we are to relate as Christians:

  • We are to be loving.
  • We are to be kind.
  • We are to be honest.
  • We are to be respectful.
  • We are to be humble.
  • We are about the business of reclaiming these values in a season that sometimes turns them upside down.

The book of Isaiah expresses the words of the Lord saying, “My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways.” (55:8)  This week, as we will focus on these values, may we remember and reclaim what are ultimately God’s thoughts and ways.

Prayer:  Guide us, O Lord, that your thoughts become our thoughts and your ways become our path.  In Christ name.  Amen.

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 Prayers, Politics & Peace devotional

To view or download a pdf of the complete Prayers, Politics & Peace devotional, click here.

Election Prayer Vigil
Friday, November 4 – Sunday, November 6
You are invited to prayer at home at a designated hour for our upcoming decisions, and the unity of our country.  An online guided meditation will be provided.  Select your hour HERE or contact Sonya Curtis-Tshuma at 404.240.8226 or sonyac@prumc.org.

Congregational  Prayer
Tuesday, November 8
On this day we will join together in prayer for our nation.  Look for a special email from Bill guiding us in invocation.  Copies will be available in the church kiosks on November 6.

Service of Unity & Peace
Sunday, November 13, 8:45 & 11:15 am
Together, we will light a candle for hope in the future, peace in our hearts and God’s unifying presence in our lives.

  • PRUMC Prayers, Politics & Peace: Guidance

Sunday, October 30, 2016  |  Ron Greer

Christian values are the ideals from our faith to which we aspire in our living and relating.  We seek to make these idealized values into our personal virtues – molding what we believe into what we live.  In contrast, many of us have been dismayed at the tone of the presidential campaign, as the values we believe to be Christian have often been replaced by disrespect, dishonesty, and divisiveness.

This concern has nothing to do with political positions, but everything to do with how those positions are expressed.  I am writing from the same voice I used in my thinking on integrity, urging us to embrace the relational values and morals of our faith.  For over a year we have been exposed to verbal attacks, hostility, and deceptiveness.  Yet we know people can disagree without being dismissive or mean-spirited.  Debating an issue does not require insulting one’s opponent.  Or, at least, it shouldn’t.

In this writing I am neither red nor blue.  I am echoing the message of Jesus as he minced no words in his warning against “whoever insults his brother” and “whoever says, ‘you fool!’” (Matthew 5:22)  I am writing from the same perspective as the founder of Methodism, John Wesley, when he wrote that his followers should “speak no evil of the person they voted against.”
As this political ride has played out before us, my concern is that our society could come to accept this lowered moral bar as the “new normal” – that we become acclimated to it and intuitively reset our default position.  Just as dress or attire has become increasingly casual, which is fine, moral behavior could become equally casual, which is not fine.

The disrespect to which our children have been exposed in this past year violates the earliest lessons they learned from us.  We taught them not to be rude or bullying or hurtful.  I can only imagine how difficult it is for parents to insist on far better behavior from their children than they see on the evening news.

The words of the scriptures come back to us, “Do not be conformed to this world… but be transformed by the renewal of your minds.”  Transformation is at the heart of our faith.  “Do not be conformed to this world,” is our reminder to reclaim and live out our moral lives at their finest.

In our reflections this fall, may we intentionally decide not to be conformed to the diluted values of this world – but rather be transformed by the faithful renewal of our minds to the true values and ideals embodied in our Christian faith.
Prayer:  Lord, help us to remember who we are.  In Christ name.  Amen.

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Prayers, Politics & Peace devotional

To view or download a pdf of the complete Prayers, Politics & Peace devotional, click here.

  • PRUMC Prayers, Politics & Peace Election Devotional

Click here for a PDF of our Election Devotional

Prayers, Politics & Peace
Embracing Christian Values in Times of Struggle
Devotional and Sermon Series
Oct 30 – Nov 5  |  Guidance
Nov 6 – Nov 12  |  Respect
Nov 13 – Nov 19  |  Unity
During the next three weeks we will explore the importance of discernment, respect for others and a unified spirit – before and after our presidential election.  Bill Britt will begin a timely sermon series in worship today.  Additionally, a special devotional written for this critical time will be available throughout the church.  Authors include Ron Greer, Leslie Watkins and Jamie Jenkins.  Please take a copy home with you today.  A pdf of the guide is available online HERE.

Election Prayer Vigil
Friday, November 4 – Sunday, November 6
You are invited to prayer at home at a designated hour for our upcoming decisions, and the unity of our country.  An online guided meditation will be provided.  Select your hour HERE or contact Sonya Curtis-Tshuma at 404.240.8226 or sonyac@prumc.org.

Congregational  Prayer
Tuesday, November 8
On this day we will join together in prayer for our nation.  Look for a special email from Bill guiding us in invocation.  Copies will be available in the church kiosks on November 6.

Service of Unity & Peace
Sunday, November 13, 8:45 & 11:15 am
Together, we will light a candle for hope in the future, peace in our hearts and God’s unifying presence in our lives.

  • Believe Graphic

October 21, 2016

Dear Peachtree Road Family,

I hope you are enjoying the cooler weather we awakened to this morning. It certainly is a welcome respite from the record high temperatures of the past week. On Sunday, we will bring our fall series entitled “I Believe…” to a close. Each week we have focused upon a central aspect of our faith found in the Apostles’ Creed. We will conclude with the affirmation “I Believe…the Best is Yet to Be!” I hope you will be present as we share the hope-filled and joyous news that God is guiding us into a bright future.

Speaking of a bright future, I encourage you to come and learn more about “Our Westside Story” at a forum this Sunday at 10:00 a.m. in the sanctuary. We are honored to welcome Frank Fernandez (Vice-President of Development for the Arthur Blank Foundation), Rodney Bullard (Executive Director of the Chick-fil-a Foundation), and Dr. Diamond Jack (Principal of the Hollis STEM Academy) as they tell us about our community’s efforts to revitalize the Westside neighborhood of our city. I am grateful to Susan Marshall, Beth Spencer, John Stephenson, and Matt Westmoreland for arranging this informative opportunity. Join us as we welcome and hear from these change-makers.

Of course, Sunday also is Commitment Sunday here at Peachtree Road. This year our theme is “I Believe…” and we will focus not only on our financial stewardship, but also those spiritual disciplines that enable us to grow as disciples of Jesus Christ. I want to challenge each member to take a step out toward the altar of the church at the close of worship Sunday and a step up as we seek to deepen our commitment to Christ. What would happen if you made the commitment to participate in worship at Peachtree Road more regularly (participated in worship at least 40 times next year or 75% of the Sundays)? What would happen if you did one additional thing to grow in your faith next year (joined a Bible study group, increase your scripture reading, practice fasting one day a week, or spend more time in prayer)? What would happen if you stepped up your service (participated in the Great Day of Service, volunteered on a local mission project, or participated in a global mission trip)? What would happen if you stepped up your witness (shared your faith with at least three persons in the coming year and invite them to Peachtree Road)? What would happen if you stepped up your giving to the operating budget of the church (made a pledge of 1%, 2%, or 3% more than the previous year)? What difference would that make? I believe it would make a tremendous difference in the number of lives we could affect for Christ.

As a part of our Commitment Sunday emphasis, we are asking each Peachtree Road family to consider making these three steps this week:

  1. Return a commitment card this week regardless of the amount
  2. If you are a regular giver, but you are not yet pledging, we’d ask you take a step in that direction and make a pledge
  3. If you currently are not giving to support the ministry of Peachtree Road, commit to giving something regularly, regardless of the amount

Your giving is a tangible sign of your faith in Christ, your hope for the future, and your love for the ministry of this great church. As a result of your giving, our church is used by God to transform lives in Atlanta and beyond. Sunday promises to be an exciting day at Peachtree Road.

Let me also update you concerning our youth ministry: Last week, the Administrative Board unanimously approved a motion to invite Youth Ministry Architects to come alongside our current youth staff and volunteer leaders to help support this vital ministry of the church for the coming two years. This move will ensure that our staff team can continue to focus upon building strong relationships with students while the administrative tasks of the program also receive the attention they need. Our newly formed Youth Search Advisory Council is excited about this step and we covet your prayers during this critical time.

We also need your help in the search process for a new youth director. Youth Ministry Architects also is helping us with a national search for the new director, and that process is going well. We have learned that the most valuable resource available to us is our own church members’ relational networks. You may know someone who knows someone who knows an excellent student ministry leader who might be a perfect fit for Peachtree Road. Please consider the following note from our posting:

The ideal candidate will have at least 5 years of proven experience in youth ministry and be committed to and well-versed in United Methodist theology and practice. He or she will be an excellent communicator and be at ease and effective working with youth, parents, and adult leadership. The ideal candidate will bring a grounded faith, have at least a bachelor’s degree, and be enthusiastic about working as a part of a large church ministry staff. He or she will have the ability not only to engage students as participants in the church’s programs, but also to equip and deploy them as partners in mission and ministry in the church and the community.

If you know of someone who fits that description, please feel free to encourage that person to visit our web site for more information: https://www.prumc.org/youthdirector/

Finally, let me thank you for your giving to help those affected by Hurricane Matthew. Your generous offering has enabled us to send 110 water filters with buckets to people living in Haiti. Here is an excerpt from a letter our director of global outreach Anne French received earlier this week from Allison Norris, Administrator of Give Hope Global:

Dear Anne,

Words cannot begin to thank you and Peachtree Road UMC enough for your extreme generosity to Give Hope in our time of need. We currently have a team of 20 people in SW Haiti helping to clean up debris and repair the extensive damage caused by Hurricane Matthew. As you can imagine, water cleanliness was a BIG issue. As a result of your assistance, Give Hope has been able to establish water purification solutions both at the orphanage and in the community…This could not have happened without the generosity and kindness of PRUMC in helping to make it possible for us to get the required water filters. Please thank those that donated to help make this a reality. Many lives are being saved as a result of your support. Again, we are so incredibly thankful for your kindheartedness and generosity.

As you can read, your gifts are making a tremendous difference. If you have not yet had an opportunity to give to help those in need, you may give today.

It has been a good fall at Peachtree Road, and I am grateful for the opportunity to serve alongside you. I look forward to Sunday as we worship, learn, and recommit our lives to Christ, in whom we believe!

Bill

  • Bill at Sanctuary Doors

October 14, 2016

Dear Peachtree Road Family,

I hope you are enjoying these beautiful, cool fall days. This week marks the next to last Sunday of our fall series entitled “I Believe…” Each week we have been focusing upon an essential aspect of our faith that unites us as Christians. This Sunday we will be affirming “I Believe…in Heaven” and focusing upon these comforting words from John’s Gospel:

“Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, you may be also.” – John 14:1-3

I often am asked to read that passage at funerals. It speaks of that place that has been prepared for us by our Lord – a place of hope and perfect peace. I look forward to talking with you about what we believe about heaven this Sunday.

On the next Sunday, October 23, we will host a special forum at 10:00 a.m. in the sanctuary. We are excited to welcome Dr. Diamond Jack, principal of the Hollis STEM Academy, Rodney Bullard, executive director of the Chick-Fil-A Foundation, and Frank Fernandez, vice-president of development for the Arthur Blank Foundation, to Peachtree Road to talk about plans to revitalize the Westside neighborhood of Atlanta. You know of our church’s involvement in this project through our support of the Hollis Academy, Habitat for Humanity, and other partners. I do invite and encourage you to be present for this informative presentation.

That Sunday also is Commitment Sunday here at Peachtree Road. At the close of the worship services, you will be invited to make a pledge to the church’s 2017 operating budget, bring your pledge to the altar, and kneel for a moment of consecration. Our pledge is a tangible sign of our gratitude to God for the many blessings of life and our commitment to the ministry of Peachtree Road. These pledges also help the Finance Committee develop a plan to support the church’s ministry in the coming year. For your convenience, pledge cards will be available at church, or you can use the online form.

Also, as we move through the final quarter of 2016, I encourage you to help us finish the year well. You may support the church in the following ways:

  • Pray daily for the ministry of Peachtree Road – its members, ministries, and outreach
  • Be present in worship each Sunday – join us as we worship God and grow in the Spirit
  • Support Peachtree Road with your gifts – please help us by fulfilling your pledge to the operating budget and the Imagine capital campaign
  • Find at least one ministry area in which to serve – help us make a difference in the lives of others
  • Be a witness for Christ – speak a positive word concerning what the Lord is doing through Peachtree Road

Prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness – these are the marks of an active member. I do want to let you know that as we entered the final quarter of the year, we were about $220,000 behind in our projected budgeted income. Nearly all of that is attributable to one category – pledged giving. We are running behind in giving by approximately $210,000. That’s the bad news. The good news is that if everyone meets his or her pledge by the end of the year, we will make our budget and accomplish all we set out to do in 2016. Please help us finish well, and, if you have had a good year financially and could give more, it would be greatly appreciated. Thank you for your generosity.

Speaking of giving, many of you have asked how you can assist persons affected by Hurricane Matthew, especially those living in Haiti. Last Sunday we received a special offering for the United Methodist Council on Relief (UMCOR). This is the best way to provide assistance, and 100% of your dollar will reach those in need. It is not too late to give to this special offering – make your check payable to Peachtree Road and mark it for UMCOR, give online through our church’s website, or text your gift (your gift of $10 will appear on your next phone bill). Thank you for your prayer-filled gifts.

Let me conclude this week’s note with the announcement that our executive director Louisa Mouchet has resigned her position here at Peachtree Road, effective the end of the year. She offered her resignation at Monday’s Administrative Board meeting and her statement follows:

It is with mixed emotions that I announce my resignation from employment here at PRUMC as of the end of this year. It has been my honor and privilege to serve God and this congregation over these past 25 years. I am proud of the accomplishments of this church and the role I have played. This wonderful congregation and magnificent church will always hold a special place in my heart and I am eternally grateful. I look forward to this next chapter of my life and appreciate your prayers. So between now and year end, it will be business as usual for me and please call if you need me! Louisa

I am grateful for Louisa’s many years of service, and we will express our appreciation for her in the coming weeks.

As always, I am grateful for you the members of this great church. Thank you for your support in so many ways. You are the light of the world! I pray that you will continue to let you light shine.

See you Sunday!

Bill

  • Missions Market

PRUMC Missions Market
Local Artisans, Global Gifts, Sustainable Shopping
Sunday, November 13, 9:00 am – 1:00 pm, Grace Hall

Shop for incredible items from around the world at this favorite holiday tradition.  New vendors and unique gifts this year.  Don’t forget to pick up gourmet food items from our own PRUMC chefs!

On Sunday morning we will assemble a wondrous array of goods and goodies from near and far in Grace Hall.  All items are made with great care for the product and community they will benefit.  In addition to bringing back Georgian, Kenyan and Nicaraguan treasures, we’ll offer incredible items from new partners from near and far.  Our guests also believe in the promise of sustainable change.  You can select unique hand-crafted gifts knowing that all proceeds will benefit our outreach and mission efforts.

It’s not just giving Christmas, it’s living Christmas when you shop to help those in need here and around the world.  When you purchase from PRUMC’s Missions Market you are not only giving a gift, you are changing the life of the person who made it.

prumc_missionsmarket_2016v3

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Music McElroy:  A Celebration of Friends & Harmony
Sunday, November 13, 2016, 7:00 pm, Moore Chapel

PRUMC Assistant Organist Jeremy McElroy and colleagues are excited to present a mosaic of musical offerings, commemorating his 10 years of artistry in Atlanta.  Jeremy’s collaborative presentations will celebrate the talents of, and his friendships with gifted & accomplished music makers from our community.

Journey through the evening with works from several musical eras including Baroque, Romantic, & Contemporary. Experience all styles of acoustic keyboarded instruments from PRUMC, featuring the recently refurbished Schantz pipe organ, the Schimmel grand piano and the Glenn Giuttari hand built harpsichord.  Diverse displays of musical fashion will be highlighted through the expressions of string instruments, wind instruments, multiple hands on multiple keyboards, and the human voice, including yours!

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For a PDF of the evening’s program, click here.
  • PRUMC continues clean water intiative with Uzima filters.

PRUMC’s Clean Water Initiative in Africa

In December of 2016 we accomplished an extraordinary goal – we brought the gift of life to 10,000 families in the Lanet region of Kenya through UZima water filters.  This is the first region in which every household has access to clean water.  Lanet was just the beginning.  With your help, we can give health and life to ALL the people of Africa…

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Water filters delivered to Lanet homes in 2016.
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Our goal for Lake Victoria islands in 2017.
Donate Here! – UZima filters cost $40 each and can last up to 10 years!

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$40 = 1 family
$400 = 10 families
$4000 = 100 families
$480,000 = All families of the Lake Victoria Islands

All donations are tax deductible.  Online donations will be processed directly through Start With One and will not be reflected on PRUMC contribution statements.  Thank you!
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  • Broadway's Best at PRUMC October 13, 2016

Celebrating Broadway’s Best!

IT’S ALMOST SHOWTIME!
Celebrate Broadway’s Best is Thursday, October 13, 7 pm!
It is packed with talent:
• The PRUMC Chancel Choir, Scott Atchison, Music Director, Clarke Harris, Executive Producer
• The Joe Gransden Sextet with Sam Skelton, Wes Funderburk, Geoff Haydon, Neil Starkey, Marlon Patton
• New musical arrangements
• Emcee, John Lemley, host of City Café on AM1690
• Themed refreshments by C.Parks Catering and Events
• Set List – Top Secret!
• VIP Experience – Hors D’oeuvre Reception following the show; meet the stars
• $35 General Admission/$50 VIP, GET TICKETS NOW! www.prumc.org/broadway

  • Believe: PRUMC's Pledge Campaign 2016

BELIEVE  |  BE PRESENT  |  BECOME

“All things are possible to those who believe.”  Mark 9:23

This fall, the theme for Peachtree Road worship and study is “I Believe…”  Belief is what brought a faithful group of people together over 91 years ago to establish this church, and it is what continues to inspire us each Sunday to worship, study, serve and share.

We strive to bring others to Christ is all ways – from thought-provoking studies, fun-filled events, service that makes a difference, and being there for others when their faith may be shaken.  Though all these require our presence, solid funding allows us do better and go further in ministry each year.  In order for us to fulfill our mission we need every member’s help.  Believe that your pledge makes things happen, and we truly become what we believe.

Believe: PRUMC's Pledge Campaign 2016

We ask that you join us in giving together on Commitment Sunday, October 23, 2016.  If you are unable to be in worship on that day, you may mail in your pledge, or pledge online at prumc.org/give by November 1, 2016.  When making your pledge online, first you will complete this form, and then visit our online giving page to set up your payment schedule.

Thank you for believing in the work and ministries of Peachtree Road United Methodist Church.  As we’ve seen in almost a century of growth and good works, we truly become what we believe!  With your support, we can do better work and go further in ministry.

“‘Behold, the dwelling place of God is with mortals. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.’”  Revelation 21:3

Believe: PRUMC's Pledge Campaign 2016

  • Bill Preaching

September 30, 2016

Dear Peachtree Road Family,

As the temperatures begin to dip and the days grow shorter, I hope you are doing well. I really am looking forward to Sunday’s worship services here at Peachtree Road. Our fall emphasis “I Believe…” will continue this weekend as we consider “I Believe…in the Church.” In our text for this week we find these words spoken by Jesus:

“And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not prevail against it.” – Matthew 16:18

In the message, I will place the accent upon Jesus’ description of the power of the church – the gates to Hades will not withstand. In other words, the church has the power of Christ to overcome both sin and death. That’s the church I want us to envision and believe in this week.

Sunday also is World Communion Sunday. Christians from around the world will gather at the Lord’s Table to celebrate the Sacrament of Holy Communion. I think this is one of the best expressions of our belief in the Holy Catholic Church. The word “catholic” means “universal.” Therefore, when we recite the Apostles’ Creed and affirm our faith in the “holy catholic church,” we are embracing our connection with all people throughout the universe who have accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. Think about that for just a moment. As we extend our hands to receive the bread and drink from the cup, we are joining with Christians from around the world in partaking of the grace of God on this day. We here in Atlanta become a link in a chain that circles the globe. I hope you will make a special effort to be present as we feast at the Lord’s Table.

Of course, as has become our tradition on the first Sunday in October, we will offer a “Blessing of the Animals” service at 5:00 p.m. You are invited to bring your pets to the church for a fun time of worship. This service celebrates the Feast of St. Francis, the patron saint of animals. We will gather in the sanctuary, sing praises to God, and approach the altar with our pets for an individual blessing of each animal. In the past, participants have brought their dogs, cats, rabbits, hamsters, fish, and birds to receive a blessing. You also may choose to bring photos of your pets if it is difficult for the animal to attend the service (it’s pretty difficult to load up a horse and bring it to church!). I hope you’ll take advantage of this community-wide service. And why not invite a friend to join in the fun?

I do want to give you an update concerning the water filter project our offering last Christmas Eve helped fund. Last December, you gave over $155,000 to help purchase water filters for every household in the Lanet region of Kenya. Today, in large part due to your generosity, 10,000 households now have access to clean water. As a result, people in that region are living healthier and more productive lives. But, don’t just read my words, listen to the people of Lanet in this new video. Thank you for what you have done. I already am looking forward to another miracle this Christmas Eve!

Finally, let me remind you that the fall is stewardship season here at Peachtree Road. As a part of our “I Believe…” emphasis, I encourage you to make a pledge to the 2017 operating budget of the church. Your giving sustains our ministries of worship, nurture, outreach, and witness, and helps us care for our facilities. And your pledge is essential to our planning process for creating a budget for these. You will be receiving some information about the ministry of Peachtree Road very soon, and I hope you will make the commitment to support your church with your prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness for the next year. Commitment Sunday is October 23. I am grateful for your continued support. If you would like to make your pledge today, you may do so through the church website. Thank you for your support of our church in so many ways.

Please call on me if I can be of help to you. See you Sunday!

Bill

  • Bishop Communion

September 23, 2016

Dear Peachtree Road Family,

I hope this note finds you well. Let me begin by expressing my thanks to all in our church who helped make Sunday’s installation service of our new bishop “memorable.” (Maybe you heard that the fire alarm went off in the middle of Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson’s sermon! More on that later.) This was an historical occasion as we installed the first female bishop of the North Georgia Conference. I want you to know that the beauty of our church was matched only by the warmth and hospitality of our people. I was proud of my church!

Nearly 1,000 people attended the service, and they were welcomed by a smiling team of ambassadors and ushers. Our property management crew, administrative support staff, flower guild, altar guild, acolytes, choirs, nursery workers, and security team of deputy sheriffs outdid themselves in preparing for this event and offering hospitality and support. They especially were helpful in keeping people calm and safe as firemen and emergency crews came into our building. We have a tendency to take the work of these folks for granted here at Peachtree Road, but Sunday evening I saw their work through new eyes. Thank you to all who served!

When we got the “all clear” and were able to return to our seats, Scott led us in singing “How Firm a Foundation.” Then Bishop Sue stepped back into the pulpit to continue her sermon. She commented that in her college days at the University of Florida, they had a saying: “It’s not a party until the police arrive!” Well, Sunday was a party in many ways. Sunday we learned that we have a sharp new bishop who inspires with her preaching, maintains her composure in the midst of chaos, and is ready to lead in an encouraging and effective way. It was a great day and I am proud of my church!

I am looking forward to worship this Sunday as we continue our fall series: “I Believe…” This week we will focus upon our common belief that “God’s Spirit is at work!” Maybe that’s something you’re wondering about right about now. Once again our national attention has been drawn to a deadly confrontation between police and a black man, this time in Charlotte. Protesters have taken to the streets, and a state of emergency was declared by the Governor. We seem to be caught in a tragic cycle that is repeated again and again. I hope you will join me in worship Sunday as we look for evidence that the Holy Spirit is at work in our midst.

Sunday also is a day on which we will receive a special offering to benefit the United Methodist Children’s Home. By now, you have received a letter outlining the need for this ministry that was started 145 years ago by the Methodist people of the North Georgia Conference. You may be aware that our associate minister Julie Schendel is a foster parent trained by the Children’s Home, and she will share with us how foster parents are making a difference in the lives of so many children. I hope you will join Wendie and me in giving toward this important cause. You may make your check payable to Peachtree Road and marked for “Children’s Home” or you may give cash in the envelopes provided in the worship bulletin or give online here . Thank you for your generous support.

Last Sunday, members of Youth Ministry Architects out of Nashville were on our campus to conduct an assessment of our youth ministry. The good news is they found a ministry that is strong and vibrant. At the end of their time with us, they presented a plan with new possibilities to grow the ministry even stronger, and I am including it here for you. The plan will be reviewed by a youth advisory committee and presented to the Administrative Board as we decide “next steps.” I am so pleased with the leadership of Ashley Zimmerman, Luke Massee, Grace Southworth, and all of the adult volunteers who are working with our students. Please look for ways to thank them and encourage them.

I also want to make you aware of the Fall Orientation Classes for newcomers that are taking place. If you know of someone who is new to the community or is looking for a new church home, encourage them to attend the orientation sessions being offered the next two Sundays, September 25 and October 2, at 10:00 a.m. in the Hospitality Suite. If you are interested in learning more about these, please do not hesitate to contact Mimi Brunson at the church. This is an excellent way for newcomers to learn about the ministry of this great church.

Finally, let me remind you that the fall is stewardship season here at Peachtree Road. As a part of our “I Believe…” emphasis, I encourage you to make a pledge to the 2017 operating budget of the church. Your giving sustains our ministries of worship, nurture, outreach, and witness, and helps us care for our facilities, and your pledge is essential to our planning process for creating a budget for these. You will be receiving a letter from me in the very near future, and I hope you will make the commitment to support your church with your prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness for the next year. Please know that I am grateful for your continued support. (Certainly, you may pledge now by going to the church website.) Thank you for your attention to this important spiritual matter.

As you can see, these are busy times at Peachtree Road. Thank you for your service to Christ through this great church. If I may be of help to you, please do not hesitate to reach out to me.

See you Sunday!

Bill

  • Senior Students Recognition Sunday

Last Sunday, members of Youth Ministry Architects out of Nashville were on our campus to conduct an assessment of our youth ministry. The good news is they found a ministry that is strong and vibrant! At the end of their time with us, they presented a plan with new possibilities to grow the ministry even stronger, and I am including it here for you: PRUMC Assessment Report Final. The plan will be reviewed by a youth advisory committee and presented to the Administrative Board as we decide “next steps.” I am so pleased with the leadership of Ashley Zimmerman, Luke Massee, Grace Southworth, and all of the adult volunteers who are working with our students. Please look for ways to thank them and encourage them. – Bill Britt

  • New! The Loft for PRUMC 3rd - 5th graders!

The Loft
Our new space on the 3rd floor of the Rollins Building for 3rd – 5th graders has been created to be a cool and inviting space for our kids to grow their faith! During our gathering time from 9:45-10:00 am, the Prayer Wall invites kids to connect with God.

Large group time sets the tone for the day, and our small group breakouts invite further discussion and activities about our theme.

After Sunday School, the Game Room is open during the transition time between Sunday School and worship with pool, air hockey, foosball, and gaming stations.

Our  Worship and Praise service at 11:15 offers an opportunity for a true worship experience designed especially for these older elementary children with prayer time, an energetic live band, powerful message and a large dose of fun!  Join us on Sunday mornings!

New! The Loft for PRUMC 3rd - 5th graders!

New! The Loft for PRUMC 3rd - 5th graders!

New! The Loft for PRUMC 3rd - 5th graders!

New! The Loft for PRUMC 3rd - 5th graders!

  • Bill Britt Shaking Hands

September 16, 2016

Dear Peachtree Road Family,

I hope this note finds you doing well. The new season got off to a great start last Sunday as we presented Bibles to about 70 third-graders (it was thrilling to hear Gabrielle Sullivan read the Old Testament lesson in worship from her new Bible!), welcomed 17 new members into the life of the church, and began a new series entitled “I Believe…” Last week, as we remembered the events of September 11, 2001, we affirmed our faith that “God is great and God is good.” Several of you asked about the book I cited at the close of the sermon Sunday. It is The Red Bandana by Tom Rinaldi, and the link to ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” feature Rinaldi did on Welles Crowther is here.

After I wrote my sermon for Sunday, I noticed that Peggy Noonan also cited The Red Bandana in her weekly article in the Wall Street Journal. I love the way Noonan explains Crowther’s courage: “The way I see it, courage comes from love. There’s a big unseen current of love that hums through the world, and some plug into it more than others, more deeply and surely, and they get more power from it. And it fills them with courage. It makes everything possible.” And I believe that “big unseen current of love that hums through the world” is a pretty good description of God who is Love. Last week we left church with this charge: “Be like your heavenly Father who is great and good. Do great things and be good.” Certainly, that is what our world needs.

On Sunday, we will continue with our series with the message “I Believe…Jesus Christ is Lord.” We will consider those words from the second chapter of Philippians that have inspired songwriters through the years:

He is Lord! He is Lord! He is risen from the dead and he is Lord!
Every knee shall bow, every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.

I hope you will be present Sunday morning as we reflect upon the lordship of Jesus Christ in our lives.

On Sunday afternoon, we have the honor and privilege of hosting the installation service for our new episcopal leader here in the North Georgia Conference. Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson will be installed as our bishop this Sunday at 4:00 p.m. She served as the district superintendent of the North Central District of the Florida Annual Conference for the last three years prior to her election as a bishop in July. The service in our sanctuary will be a grand celebration and will feature music from the combined choirs of Peachtree Road, Cascade United Methodist Church, the Candler Singers, and the Georgia Boy Choir. You are invited to attend the service and the reception which will follow in Grace Hall. I encourage you to join us as we welcome Bishop Haupert-Johnson and her family to Atlanta and Peachtree Road.

And, yes, repairs have been made to the sound system this week! I understand that many who were at the 8:45 a.m. service last Sunday had a very difficult time hearing. Well, it wasn’t you. It was our system, which is ancient by technology standards, and we need to upgrade. Replacement parts are difficult to come by, but I am told we should be in good shape by Sunday. Our Board of Trustees will be looking at new possibilities for the future and getting an estimate for a new system soon. I will keep you posted.

In other news, earlier this week the Endowment Committee met. You may be aware that our church has an endowment that creates income each year, and our policy allows that group to make annual bequests totaling no more than 5% of the corpus toward outreach, capital needs, or seed money for new ministries. On Wednesday evening, the committee considered a number of requests and decided to grant $50,000 for the completion of a music suite in the Student Center for the Doxology Choir and $15,000 toward Agape’s capital campaign. You may be aware that Agape is one of our significant partners in ministry through which we help serve more than 2,000 children in the Bolton Road corridor of Fulton County. Agape provides in-school and after-school academic support and family services for children in the community, alongside senior day services. It is a fantastic ministry that is helping families trapped in a cycle of dependency and hopelessness to find a way out and a way up to a future with hope. Your participation in the John Wesley Society through your gifts now and through your estate will make a difference in the lives of thousands for years to come. If you are interested in learning more about contributing to Peachtree Road’s endowment, please contact Louisa Mouchet in the business office.

I also want to call to your attention that the church is planning a workday at the Murphy-Harpst Children’s Center in Cedartown on Saturday, October 8, from 10:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. Peachtree Road members will work together with the children and staff of Murphy-Harpst Children’s Center to improve their campus by painting, landscaping, cleaning and organizing. Everyone will enjoy a great cookout and recreational time and learn more about the critical services Murphy-Harpst provides to rebuild and affirm the lives of once-abused children. You may register at the sign-up tables at church this Sunday or here, through the church website. For more information about the work day contact Beth Spencer here at the church, John Ethridge, or Bruce Boehnlein.

Finally, I do want to remind you that the Dogwood Gift Shop is opening for the season this Sunday. All of the proceeds from sales go toward Global Missions, and I am so grateful to Anne French and her team of volunteers led by Jan Bilthouse for helping us make a difference in faraway places like Kenya, the nation of Georgia, and Nicaragua. You are invited to drop by the Dogwood Sunday and see all the new items available for purchase. Hours of operation are 9:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.

Thank you for your support of Peachtree Road’s ministry. Your prayers on her behalf, your presence in worship, your generous gifts, and the offering of your time in service make all the difference in the world. I look forward to seeing you Sunday morning and Sunday afternoon!

Bill

  • Sanctuary

September 9, 2016

Dear Peachtree Road Family,

Years ago, Emo Philips told what has become one of the most critically acclaimed jokes of all time. Here it is:

“Once I saw this guy on a bridge about to jump. I said, “Don’t do it!” He said, “Nobody loves me.” I said, “God loves you. Do you believe in God?” He said, “Yes.” I said, “Are you a Christian or a Jew?” He said, “A Christian.” I said, “Me, too! Protestant or Catholic?” He said, “Protestant.” I said, “Me, too! What franchise?” He said, “Baptist.” I said, “Me, too! Northern Baptist or Southern Baptist?” He said, “Northern Baptist.” I said, “Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist or Northern Liberal Baptist?” He said, “Northern Conservative Baptist.” I said, “Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region, or Northern Conservative Baptist Eastern Region?” He said, “Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region.” I said, “Me, too! Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1879, or Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912?” He said, “Northern Conservative Baptist Great Lakes Region Council of 1912.” I said, “Die, heretic!” And I pushed him over.

Unfortunately, I fear there is more truth in that parable than we in the church would like to admit. More often than not, we fixate on the few things that divide us and tend to ignore the many things that unite us. As I mentioned in a sermon a couple of weeks ago, Richard Rohr calls this tendency to divide, separate, and conclude what’s up or down, in or out, with me or against me, right or wrong “dualistic thinking” and suggests this is spiritually immature. The Pharisees were constantly trying to entrap Jesus with their “either/or” questions, but Jesus’ answers invited people to experience conversion and to see life through new eyes. He encouraged people to love God with “all their heart and all their soul and all their mind” (not a divided mind, but a whole mind).

What if we could apply that to our lives? What if we could incorporate his teaching into our lives? “Whoever is not against us is for us.” What if we could learn to give one another the benefit of the doubt, look for the best in each other, and emphasize what we hold in common that unites us instead of fixating upon our disagreements and that which divides us? I want to invite us to do just that during the fall here at Peachtree Road.

On Sunday, we are beginning a new series of messages under the theme “I Believe…” Each week, we will focus upon a different tenant that is central to the Christian faith:

September 11 | Luke 4:1-11 | God Is Great and God Is Good

September 18 | Philippians 2:3-11 | Jesus Christ Is Lord

September 25 | Acts 2:43-47 | God’s Spirit Is At Work

October 2 | Matthew 16:13-18 | In the Church

October 9 | I John 1:5-9 | In Forgiveness

October 16 | John 14:1-3 | In Heaven

October 23 | Revelation 21:1-5 | The Best Is Yet to Be

We begin this Sunday with the topic “I believe…God is great and God is good.” This is our “Fall Kick-off Sunday.” We will enjoy special music that will stir your spirit and fellowship that will warm your soul. At the 8:45 a.m. service, we will present Bibles to our third graders. This is always a highlight each year as we make this presentation and offer a blessing upon them as they begin exploring the scriptures and how they guide our lives. At the 11:15 a.m. service, we will welcome a group of new members to the church as a part of a special joining day. Then, immediately following the morning services, you are invited to Grace Hall for a luncheon with your church family. Of course, Sunday marks the 15th anniversary of 9/11, and we will take time to pause, remember, and pray for our nation and world and we seek God’s peace on earth. I am looking forward to seeing you.

I did want to give you an update on our search for a new director of our ministry with youth and their families. The search team had its first meeting this week and got off to a great start. I would invite you to pray for members of the team as they begin this important process. Please follow this link for more information and to view the name of each team member.

Also, with our fall kick-off, we are beginning a new season of  Wednesday Night Suppers at the church. This year we are embarking on an exciting new model. On Wednesdays we’ll Take a Break and Tailgate together with our church family. Dinner will be available for purchase from various food trucks from 5-7 pm.

Finally, I promised to keep you updated on our financial goals as we head toward the end of the year. As of the beginning of September, we need $3.35 million to meet our budget by year-end. This is doable, and I hope you will stay current with your giving as we prepare to enter the final quarter of the year. Thank you for your faithfulness in so many ways to the ministry of Peachtree Road. We are set for a wonderful fall season and I hope you will find your place with us!

See you Sunday!

Bill

  • PRUMC Students

I would like to give you an update on our search for a new director of our ministry with youth and their families. The search team had its first meeting this week and got off to a great start. I would invite you to pray for members of the team as they begin this important process:

Daris McCullough, chair Matt Nelson
Adam Pannell
Katherine Reed
Erica Ross
Billie Summerour
Scott Whitehead

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I also have established a Search Advisory Council to help during this time:

Chris Balish
Mary Benton
Brittany Charron
Jim Chasteen
Margaret Coats
Gina Coker
Cia Cummings
Carter DeHaven
Amy Dickie
Kris Dickson
Frank Doherty
Mia Dunkel
Carlton Gansereit
Cal Halliburton
Dawn Hawkins
Sonny Hires
Stephanie Husk
Robert Kennedy
Jordan Kiel
Brian Lusink
Becky Maas
John Mori
Jeff Nicholson
Brad Pope
Holly Proctor
John Stembridge
Sarah Sullivan
Rosa Sumter
Katherine Wahl
Chuck Waters

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These two groups will be assisted in their nation-wide search for the very best candidate for Peachtree Road by Youth Ministry Architects, a company that has an extraordinary record of helping churches in this area of ministry.  To that end, a team from Youth Ministry Architects will be on campus next week (September 18-20) to conduct listening sessions and to offer recommendations for the future at this important time in our church’s ministry.

We value the youth of our church and are committed to building a sustainable youth ministry that is going to have a deep impact in our community.  YMA will spend the majority of their time with us listening to a variety of groups within the church (students, adult volunteers, parents, youth staff members, and people who just love our youth) through focused listening groups.  At the close of the three day assessment, YMA team members will offer a report sharing with us what they’ve heard about our youth ministry – assets, challenges, and how we compare with other youth ministries around the country.  And they will share suggestions concerning where God might be taking us next.  On Tuesday, September 20, at 5:00 pm, the report will be presented to the congregation in the Student Center. If you would like to be part of this process and have your voice heard, I would encourage you to contact Luke Massee (LukeM@prumc.org) and sign up for one of the listening sessions.  Please keep all of those listed above and this search process in your prayers.

Bill

  • Welcome Ushers

September 2, 2016

Dear Peachtree Road Family,

As we head into the Labor Day weekend, I hope you are doing well. This holiday traditionally marks the end of summer and the beginning of the fall routine at Peachtree Road. I am aware that some of you may be reading these words as you make your tailgate preparations as you attend your favorite school’s opening football game. And still others of you are away this weekend in the mountains or at the beach enjoying one more weekend away from the city. Please know we look forward to seeing you back in your place here at Peachtree Road very soon.

One of my closest friends in the ministry, Rev. Mark Westmoreland of Hamilton Mill UMC, penned a wonderful end-of-summer parable entitled “Come Home, Lassie.” Mark wrote it a number of years to encourage his congregation, and he has given me permission to share it with you (by the way, if you do not recognize the congregants, feel free to Google them):

Summertime is always great. You get a comfortable short haircut; you can chase cars well up to 9 p.m. or so; and it’s so warm you can sit and howl at the moon all night. There’s no denying it’s a great time of year. But as the good watchdogs among you have probably noticed, it does mean our attendance here at St. Benji United Canine Church drops a bit.

At one time or another, it seems most of us have tucked tail and taken off for at least a weekend or so. And that’s OK, of course-every dog has its day-but, personally, I’ll be glad when all of you are back here on the same Sunday howling in harmony to some great hymn.

So, “Where is everyone?” you ask. Well, it seems Tramp’s been spending a lot of time at the lake with those three boys of his, and Bullet — he made like one and got out of town with Dale and Roy and that horse. Scooby has been cruising the country in his van. Clifford the Big Red Dog is away from Birdwell Island and is up to something, well, big; Pluto is at Disneyworld; and I don’t have a clue where Blue is. Spuds MacKenzie, we’re glad to say, finally faced his problem and is finishing up some time in rehab; and Snoopy, as you probably know, had that unfortunate bout with mange and almost ended up being put down by Mr. Brown.

Even Lassie, one of our most faithful members, has been gone quite a bit. I know you’ve missed her and that familiar up-raised paw of hers, so you’ll be glad to know we received a postcard from her just this morning:

“Dear friends,” she writes. “Arrived at beach yesterday. Timmy immediately got sucked down by the undertow and I, of course, had to jump in and save him. After some scary moments of muzzle to mouth resuscitation, he came to and wandered off, only to get lost in a cave. But did June Lockhart go looking for him? Noooo! Good ol’ Lassie had to go in and haul the little twit out. Can’t wait to get home! L.”

It’s been a great summer for St. Benji Church, but frankly, I’m glad fall is almost here. It brings all of your cold noses back to church, and, to the custodian’s great relief, the congregation finally stops shedding all over the upholstery.

Yo!

The Rev. Rin T. Tin

We do miss you when you’re not here, and I can’t wait to see you all again.

This Sunday we are set to conclude our late summer sermon series entitled “The Marks of a Methodist.” In 1742, John Wesley outlined the character of a Christian disciple in a short pamphlet. It has been our guide in recent weeks as we have remembered that a Methodist: 1) loves God, 2) rejoices in the Lord, 3) gives thanks, and 4) prays constantly. This week we add a fifth mark to our series: a Methodist loves others. Julie Schendel will be preaching in the sanctuary services, and I hope you will be present as we bring the summer to a close.

I do want to let you know about an opportunity next year to travel with some of your fellow members of Peachtree Road. Wendie and I along with Jamie Jenkins will be leading a group on a fourteen-day journey retracing the steps of Paul. We will leave Atlanta on June 29 for Barcelona, Spain where will travel by cruise ship to Cannes, Florence, Pisa, Rome, Athens, Corinth, Ephesus, Santorini, Valetta, Malta, and back to Barcelona. If you are interested in finding out more about the trip, brochures are available at the church or you can contact Jamie Jenkins. This would be the trip of a lifetime, and we would love to have you join us for it.

Finally, let me remind you that next Sunday, September 11, will be a special joining day. If you are new to Peachtree Road or even if you have been attending for a long time and have not joined yet, next Sunday would be a good day to formalize your relationship with the church and get involved. Please contact Mimi Brunson about this opportunity. This is an exciting time to be a part of this great church.

Please keep the ministry of Peachtree Road in your prayers in the coming days and call on me if you need me.

Bill

  • Bill Blessing

August 26, 2016

Dear Peachtree Road Family,

I hope this note finds you well. I am looking forward to worship this Sunday as we continue our series on the “Marks of a Methodist.” In 1742, John Wesley published a pamphlet entitled “The Character of a Methodist” to help folks grow as disciples of Jesus Christ. We already have considered the first three marks:

A Methodist loves God – Deuteronomy 6:5

A Methodist rejoices in the Lord – Philippians 4:4

A Methodist gives thanks – Psalm 107:1

As I studied and prepared for these messages, I was struck by the connection between the first three marks – love, joy, and gratitude. However, it doesn’t work the way we think it does. We tend to think that the more blessed with love and joy we have in our lives, the more we will be moved to give thanks. However, our faith teaches us that it actually works the other way around. The more grateful we are, the more love and joy we will experience in our lives. Another way of putting it is this: gratitude is the seed we plant in our souls that becomes the fruit of the Spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. So, if you want your life to be more fruitful, then practice gratitude on a regular basis. I encourage you to test that out and let me know if it works that way for you, too.

On Sunday, we will continue our series by focusing on a fourth mark: A Methodist prays constantly. Our key verse for this week is Paul’s encouragement to the early church: “Pray without ceasing.” (I Thessalonians 5:17) We will talk about allowing our prayer life to move from words we say to a life we pray.

And speaking of Sunday, “Promotion Sunday” will be celebrated here at Peachtree Road from 10:00 a.m. until 11:00 a.m. This is the day when our children and youth move up to the next grade level for Sunday School. Our elementary children are in for a treat as they move into the new and improved space called “The Loft” on the third floor of the Rollins Building. The space is designed especially for the different ways our children learn about God’s love. I am grateful to Martha Christopher, Amy Dickey, and their team who have worked to make this a wonderful place for our children to learn and grow in faith and fellowship.

Also, Sunday will be an especially poignant day at the Student Center as Jon Jones steps down as our Director of Student Ministries. Jon inherited a program 13 years ago that was floundering and has given his whole heart, soul, and mind to establishing a student ministry that is strong, vibrant, and positively impacts hundreds of lives for Christ. I greatly respect the work Jon has done, and Peachtree Road is grateful for his dedicated service. We will have an opportunity to wish him well on Sunday as he begins a new adventure called “Walking Together.” Jon will be honored during the “Open House” event to welcome all students into their new classes for the school year and also at the close of the 11:15 a.m. service in the sanctuary. I hope you will join me in expressing appreciation for Jon’s ministry.

I want you to know how grateful I am for Ashley Zimmerman, Luke Massee, and Grace Southworth for their continued leadership as associate directors of our student ministry. They, along with Doxology Choir director Kathy Fletcher, will help provide stability and continuity during this time of transition. I do encourage you to lift them up in your prayers in the coming days.

Earlier this week our Administrative Board met, and the meeting was highlighted by two exciting ministry reports:

  • Our Westside Story: Under the leadership of Beth Spencer, Peachtree Road is a key partner in the revitalization of Atlanta’s Westside. As a part of our phase I efforts, Peachtree Road is partnering with Atlanta Public Schools to provide support for the administrators, teachers, and students of the Hollis Innovation Academy. Beth introduced Dr. Diamond Jack, principal of Hollis Innovation Academy, and she shared her exciting vision for the school. If you are interested in getting involved in this critical local mission, please contact Beth Spencer.
  • Kingdom Journey: Scott Alexander shared his vision for a new venture in spiritual development that unites high school students with their parents in a two-year program called Kingdom Journey. It features weekly Bible study, outreach into the community through mission projects, and field trips such as a visit to the antiquities museum in LaGrange. To culminate this faith journey, the group is planning a trip to the Holy Land. In addition to Scott, Matt Nelson, Anne Nelson, and Sara Louise Carpenter are providing the leadership to the group. We are excited that 17 students have signed up and the group consists of nearly 40 persons. Please pray for these students and their families as they begin their journey this fall.

Finally, let me thank those who responded last week to our “Every Member in Ministry” emphasis. As we learned Sunday, John Wesley expressed his gratitude in two powerful ways – prayers of thanksgiving offered each Saturday and a life of service lived during the week. That’s a good model for us to follow, and I am grateful for the 350+ who turned in a commitment card last Sunday. If you would like to be a part of this fall’s emphasis, please use the online link here and sign up. Think of it this way — if every one of us served in at least one ministry area, there is no end to what Christ could accomplish through this church.

Please call on me if I can be of help to you in any way. See you Sunday!

Bill

Car Charging Station at PRUMC

Car Charging Station at PRUMC
Rollins Center Red 1 Parking Lot

Thanks to a generous donation from one of our church members, PRUMC is proud to announce the installation of two parking spaces to charge electric vehicles! The charging spaces are located in the Rollins Center/Shadowlawn Red 1 parking lot, next to the generator. We are excited to be the first church in Atlanta to offer this to our congregation and community.

Our goal is to offer a convenience as well as a good example as we strive to lower our carbon footprint. From the Department of Energy: “Direct emissions include smog-forming pollutants (such as nitrogen oxides), other pollutants harmful to human health, and greenhouse gases (GHGs), primarily carbon dioxide. All-electric vehicles produce zero direct emissions, which specifically helps improve air quality in urban areas.”

For more information, contact Leslie Watkins at lesliew@prumc.org.

Applications Accepted for 2017-2018 School Year

Applications Accepted for 2017-2018 School Year
Become a member of The Preschool family!  If you missed one of our Prospective Parent meetings in October, please contact us to visit or to learn more about our program.  The Preschool will accept applications for the 2017-2018 school year with postmarks beginning November 10, 2016.  Applications are available at thepreschool.org.  For more information, please contact Kathy Schoen, Director of Admissions at 404.240.8204 or kathys@prumc.org.

The Preschool at PRUMC

The Preschool at PRUMC

The Preschool at Peachtree Road United Methodist Church offers the community a program which encompasses the highest standards in early childhood education within a Christian environment of love and support.  The school is an outreach ministry of the church and is housed in a comfortable, safe and well equipped facility designed specifically for the special needs of preschoolers.

The Preschool offers classes for various ages and stages of childhood development with limited class sizes providing maximum attention for each child.  We operate from September through May from 9:00 am to 12:15 pm. We are located in the Evelyn Gordy Rankin Building on the campus of Peachtree Road UMC.

For complete information on our classes, philosophy, teaching methods and staff, please visit our website at www.thepreschool.org.

Important Dates

2016

December 17 – January 3
Christmas Holidays

2017

January 16
Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday

February 20
Presidents’ Day Holiday

March 6-10
Spring Holidays

April 3-7
April Holidays

May 24
Last Day of School

June 12 – June 16
Camp Patches

June 19 – June 23
Camp Patches

For more information about The Preschool, please call Kathy Schoen at 404-240-8204.

  • Great Day of Service 2016

August 19, 2016

Dear Peachtree Road Family,

It’s that time of the year again. School has started, folks are back in town, and families are settling into a regular routine. It has been forty years since I graduated from high school, but I can still remember vividly those first days of college – meeting new friends, moving into a new world of freedom and responsibility, and being introduced to something called a syllabus. Yes, the course syllabus was just the best thing I had ever seen. On the first day of class, the professor presented you with a course outline that contained the class meeting schedule, reading and resource list, dates for exams and required projects, and even the minimum requirements to make an A, B, or C in the course. I loved knowing what was required.

And I guess I have brought that same mindset to my faith. I love reading the scriptures and studying our Wesleyan theology to discover what the Lord’s expectations are for his disciples. In recent months we have considered several of those:

“He has told you, O mortal, what is good; and what does the Lord require but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” – Micah 6:8

“Hear, O Israel: the Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.” – Deuteronomy 6:4-5

“I give you a new commandment, that you love one another, Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another, By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another,” – John 13:34-35

“Do no harm. Do good. Attend to the ordinances of God.” – the General Rules as outlined by John Wesley

These are the teachings found in the syllabus of every Christian. And during our services leading up to Labor Day, we are considering the marks of a Methodist. These come from John Wesley’s pamphlet entitled “The Character of a Methodist” which was written in 1742. We have already considered two of the five marks: 1) a Methodist loves God, and 2) a Methodist rejoices in the Lord. This week we will consider the third mark: a Methodist gives thanks. I look forward to seeing you this Sunday in worship as we continue to learn what it means to be a Christian disciple.

Speaking of learning, each year at this time, my mind returns to an old parable that appeared in a book I was given when I graduated from high school. I share it with you as a reminder of the value of an education and an encouragement to students:

According to legend, one night three horsemen were riding across the desert. They were traveling across the dry bed of a river when they heard a voice that came out of the darkness: “Halt!” The men obeyed the command of the hidden voice. The voice then said, “You have done as I have commanded. Now get off your horses, pick up a handful of pebbles, put the pebbles in your pockets, remount your horses, and continue on your journey.” Then the voice added, “Since you have done as I commanded, tomorrow at sunup you will be both glad and sorry that you obeyed me.” Mystified, the three horsemen rode on through the night. When the sun arose, the horsemen reached into their pockets and found that a miracle had occurred. The pebbles in their pockets had been transformed into magnificent diamonds, rubies, and other precious stones. They remembered the warning that they would be both glad and sorry, and they understood the meaning of the words. They were glad that they had taken some pebbles and sorry that they had not taken more.

Education is much like those pebbles. It becomes the treasure that enriches our lives, and, at the end of the day, we are both glad and sorry. We are glad and rejoice in what we have learned, but we are sad and regret that we did not take the opportunity to learn more. This Sunday we will take time in our worship services to offer a blessing upon all students and teachers. If you are a teacher or student, please be present so we can pray for you.

At the close of worship on Sunday, each of us will have an opportunity to become a part of our “Every Member in Ministry” emphasis. One of the ways we live out our faith here at Peachtree Road is by engaging in at least one area of ministry. And, as the title states, our goal is to have “every member in ministry.” There are a variety of opportunities for involvement from teaching to joining our hospitality team to helping with local projects to being a part of our Westside initiative or signing up for a global mission trip. There literally is opportunity for each and every member of the church to find a place to serve. You will have an opportunity to sign up this Sunday and present your commitment card as you leave worship. If you will not be present on Sunday, you may go online today and sign up to be one of our servant-leaders.

While we’re on the theme of growing as a disciple this fall, I do encourage you to be a part of Disciple Bible Study at Peachtree Road. Even if you already have been a part of this transformational study, consider signing up for a refresher course. It will help you to grow in your knowledge of the Bible, in your relationship with Christ, and in your connection to other church members participating in the course. Registration is available through our website, and I encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity.

Finally, several of you have asked me about what we can do to help those who are suffering from the severe, historic flooding in Louisiana. The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) is already at work with the Louisiana Conference responding to the needs. The region is still in emergency mode, and, if you would like to give toward the relief efforts, we will receive a special offering this Sunday. Make your check payable to Peachtree Road and mark it for “Flood Relief.” Every dollar given through UMCOR goes to help those who are in need. You also may give online or by text.

Thank you for your prayers for the ministry of Peachtree Road, your presence in worship, your generous gifts through the offering plate, and your service in the name of Christ. See you Sunday!

Bill

Habari from Kenya!

This trip to Kenya has been incredible and so humbling. My heart is over flowing with a joy and a peace that surpasses understanding. Yesterday we drove through Lanet, which is the area covered in Uzima filters with a huge help from PRUMC’s Christmas eve offering. As we drove through, I saw a community thriving. I saw a healthy community. I saw Uzima filters everywhere we turned. I saw happiness. It brought tears to my eyes just knowing that EVERY house we passed had clean water… knowing that these families are healthier… and knowing that these families have been impacted by OUR church family… Knowing that 6,000 of these households were impacted by PRUMC alone… THAT was a powerful moment. I was overwhelmed by God’s indescribable love. I was reminded of our gracious and loving God. I was reminded that regardless where we are in this world that we are called to love our neighbors as ourselves.

I have first hand witnessed the effect of your love… Your love that you generously gave on ONE day. Pause and try to soak in the impact you made in one day! The impact you have made on this community is more powerful than words could describe. Your love and commitment to this project has been beautiful. Uzima is transforming families and Knowing and seeing what a difference our congregation made is so humbling!

We met with Chief Francis and heard first hand the impact the Uzima filter has made in the community. We met four amazing women and three amazing men who told their story on how their lives have improved so so much! Story after story, my heart was overwhelmed with joy.

I’m so personally thankful to Bill Britt for his efforts and leadership to help make this happen.  This year is a new challenge and I know we can do more and more. I’m thankful for the Start With One Kenya crew and all of their hard work and their commitment to serving God and following the call on their lives. This was just one community, I know that we can impact so many more! 

God bless you! 

Blessings, Tammy Hortman

  • Clergy Singing Hymns

August 12, 2016

Dear Peachtree Road Family,

I am looking forward to worship this Sunday as we continue our series on the “Marks of a Methodist.” Last week we considered John Wesley’s first mark: loving God with “all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” (Deuteronomy 6:5) In other words, Wesley encouraged the people called Methodist to be “all in” for Christ.

This week we turn our attention to a second mark: “A Methodist Rejoices in the Lord.” The text we will consider is my personal favorite Bible verse:

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice.” – Philippians 4:4

Honestly, this is a message I need right now. Many of you are aware that we have held six funerals at Peachtree Road in the last two weeks and already have another set for next week. We all are a bit weary as we have walked with the grieving families of several of our older saints as well as younger saints who died tragically and much too soon. I am grateful to members of our Funeral Guild who faithfully have been present to greet, welcome, and assist those who have come to our church to worship and mourn. I