June 14, 2024

Dear Peachtree Road Family,

I hope you are well. As you read these words, we are beginning day two of the 158th session of the North Georgia Annual Conference in Athens. Bishop Robin Dease is presiding, and the theme for this year is “Becoming an Acts Church.” I have always loved Annual Conference. I learned early in my ministry that it is like a family reunion. This spirit is captured in the historic Charles Wesley hymn that is sung at the opening session every year:

And are we yet alive, and see each other’s face?

Glory and thanks to Jesus give for his almighty grace!

It is good to see friends and join together in what John Wesley called “holy conferencing.” One of the highlights of this year’s conference is the service of commissioning and ordination set for tonight at 7:30 pm. Our own associate minister, Josh Miles, will be ordained as an elder in full connection at the service. You are invited to support Josh as he celebrates this milestone in his ministry by attending the service at the Classic Center in Athens or through the livestream of the service linked here. It will be an exciting time. 

We will be celebrating Father’s Day this Sunday in our worship services. Like many of you, I have been thinking about my dad this week. He died nearly 19 years ago, and I miss him every day. I miss his wise sayings (“Into each life, a little rain must fall”) and his calm encouragement. He didn’t live to see his grandchildren marry and have children of their own, but he is present every day in our memories. I have been thinking about other “good men” also (former pastors, coaches, and teachers) who have been influential in my life. On Sunday, we will take time to remember and give thanks to God for their faith and the example they set for us. 

Sunday’s message is entitled “Fathers, Fear, and Faith,” and I encourage you to read Mark 4:35-41 in advance. We will be singing two familiar hymns for the day (“This Is My Father’s World” and “Rise Up, O Men of God”), and the Chancel Choir will be offering “I Was Glad When They Said Unto Me,” an arrangement of Psalm 122 by Hubert Parry. We are honored to have James O’Donnell as our guest conductor for the day. He also will be playing a concert on Sunday evening at 7:30 pm in the sanctuary. O’Donnell is currently a professor in the practice of organ and sacred music at the Yale School of Music. For 23 years, he was the organist and master of the choristers at Westminster Abbey. While in that position, he was responsible for the music at royal, state, and national occasions, including the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and, most recently, the state funeral of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. I really am looking forward to Sunday’s services and hope you will join us at 8:45 am, 10:00 am, or 11:15 am. If you will be away from the city, worship with us online at www.prumc.org

Would you like to hear some of the best young organists in the world perform? Then come to the sanctuary next week to hear the finalist recitals for the second Elizabeth B. Stephens International Organ Competition. This biennial competition will feature 6 gifted organists who have come to play our sanctuary’s grand Mander organ. The finalist recitals will be performed on Betty Stephens’ 100th birthday (Wednesday afternoon, June 19) at 1:00 pm, 2:00 pm, 3:00 pm, 6:00 pm, 7:00 pm, and 8:00 pm. The announcement of the winners and a reception will take place at the church later that evening. The event is free and open to the public, and we invite you will join us in person or by livestream. We are grateful to the Stephens family for this generous gift.

Please mark your calendar for our annual Celebration of Freedom on Sunday, June 23. We will sing patriotic hymns, honor our veterans, pray for our nation and world, and give thanks for God’s many blessings. At the close of the services, William Green will lead us in singing “God Bless America.” (If you would like to join the volunteer choir for that day, a one-time rehearsal is being held Thursday evening June 20. To join the choir for this special Sunday, please contact Ruth Somerville at ruths@prumc.org). To cap off the day of celebration, we will join together for a fellowship luncheon featuring fried chicken and all the fixings in Grace Hall. This is a Sunday you will not want to miss!

Have you heard about the “Doves of Peachtree Road UMC” exhibit? As a part of our year-long celebration of our 100th anniversary, we will install a magnificent work of art in the sanctuary that will capture the spirit of our people and our centennial. Watch the video linked here and visit www.prumc.org/doves to learn more about the project and how you can become a sponsor. 

Finally, are you interested in becoming a member of Peachtree Road UMC? We will offer a special joining day on Sunday, June 25, at the morning worship services. If you think you may be ready to make this church your home, please reach out to Brittany Charron (brittanyc@prumc.org) for more information. 

I am grateful for all you do to help our church be a beacon of light to the community. If I can help you in any way, please do not hesitate to call me.

Grace and peace,