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 Scott Atchison, Nicole Marane, the Atlanta Brassworks, and the members of the choir for the wonderful music offered on Sunday.  And your singing as a congregation would have made the Wesley brothers very proud!  Mimi Brunson, our director of evangelism, led us as we welcomed an outstanding number of new members to the Peachtree Road Church family, and I hope you will make an effort to get to know them.  I believe they will make a significant mark in the life of our congregation.  Leslie Watkins’ prayer for our nation was both hopeful and encouraging.  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.”

Timothy Miller 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.  Earlier in the service Sunday we stood and rang the church bell in memory of John Greer.  He served in the Navy during World War II and was an usher in this church for 41 years. We had his memorial service yesterday in the chapel.  I really missed seeing John and others in the procession Sunday, but we are grateful for each of these men and women.  I appreciate the leadership provided in the service by our members Spencer Brewer (US Navy during World War II) and Pat Epps (US Air Force from 1957-1963).  It was a good day at Peachtree Road.

Since Sunday, we have experienced more tragedy in our world.  We have witnessed another terrorist attack, this time in Istanbul where suicide bombers killed 42 innocent people and wounded over 200 more.  A few weeks ago I had lunch with Thomas Kemper, the General Secretary of the General Board of Global Ministries for the United Methodist Church.  Thomas was sitting in the Turkish Airlines lounge in Istanbul when he heard the explosion and gunfire.  People started running and the lounge emptied in seconds as chaos reigned.  Kemper said he experienced a wide range of emotions from fear (Am I going to die?) to confusion (Why are these people so intent on taking innocent lives?) to resolve (Evil will not have the final word!).

Earlier this week I remembered the words of Presbyterian minister and television personality Fred Rogers who once said, “When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers.  You will always find people who are helping.’  To this day, especially in times of ‘disaster,’ I remember my mother’s words and I am always comforted by realizing that there are still so many helpers – so many caring people in this world.”  In the wake of terrorist attacks, natural disasters, and personal tragedies, let us take Fred Rogers’ advice and not be afraid.  Look for the helpers…and resolve to be the helpers… and remember Jesus’ words, “…I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)

Here at the church, this has been the week for Vacation Bible School.  Over 220 children were in attendance every day to enjoy a fun time of singing, learning, making crafts, and growing in their faith.  This year’s theme was “Surf Shack: Catching the Wave of God’s Amazing Love” and I am grateful to Martha Christopher, Jordan Black, and their amazing team that helped make this a great week for these elementary-aged children.

880_VBS_Ollie

The children brought school supplies for the Atlanta Public School we are partnering with this year, and I wanted you to know what they contributed:

1544 pencils
403 coloring pencils
929 erasers
312 sharpeners
580 pairs of socks
93 polo school shirts
250 books

This will help the school year get off to a great start in the fall.  Thank you to all of the parents who loaned us your children for the week. Stats:

Finally, I wanted to let you know that this Sunday will be another good day at Peachtree Road.  Rev. Julie Schendel will be preaching at the morning services in the sanctuary at 8:45 a.m. and 11:15 a.m., and I hope you will be present to support her and hear her first message from our pulpit.  I know.  It’s a holiday weekend and some of you will be out of town to celebrate the 4th of July.  If you are away, be sure and worship with us online (www.prumc.org) to hear her message entitled “Gospel Hospitality.”   There will be no “New Traditions” or “Sundays @ 5” this week, so come join us on Sunday morning in the sanctuary.

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

PS – Don’t forget the “Party on Peachtree” Monday morning, July 4.  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.  See you there!

Party on Peachtree