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