October 25, 2019
Dear Peachtree Road Family,
I hope this week’s letter finds you well. The Administrative Board met earlier this week, and I will share with you an announcement made at the meeting at end of this note. Let me begin with an encouragement to be in worship this week as we bring our fall series entitled “Blessed!” to a close. Each week we have been considering the Beatitudes from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, and this week we will reflect the eighth beatitude:
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” – Matthew 5:10
As I have prepared for this message on the persecution of followers of Christ, I thought of the recent comments of John MacArthur, a well-known pastor in the Reformed Baptist tradition, that have made the rounds on social media. MacArthur was asked to share the first words that come into his mind when he hears the name Beth Moore, an evangelist, author, and Bible teacher living in Houston, Texas. MacArthur responded:
“Go home…There is no case that can be made biblically for a woman preacher. Period. Paragraph end. No discussion.”
His comments brought two immediate thoughts to mind:
- First, two people can read the same Bible, pray for the same Holy Spirit to guide them in their study, and come to very different conclusions concerning the truth the scriptures present. Dr. MacArthur has done many wonderful things in his life, but I wholeheartedly disagree with him on the subject of women preachers (and other aspects of biblical interpretation, for that matter) and wish he would be more open to theological conversation instead of “Period. Paragraph end. No discussion.” Spiritual arrogance can stifle one’s ability to see the truth the Holy Spirit wants to show us.
- Second, his words led me to offer a prayer of gratitude to God for the wonderful clergywomen on our staff with whom I have the privilege to serve every day. Elizabeth Byrd, Carolyn Stephens, Leslie Watkins, and Julie Wright are exceptional pastors whom I am convinced God has called and blessed, and they faithfully live out their calling to take authority in the church to “preach the Word of God and to serve all the people.” I am grateful for them and know “theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” I hope you will join me in appreciating our clergywomen.
- Peachtree Road’s Halloween Extravaganza is set for Wednesday, October 30, from 5:30 pm until 7:30 in front of the Harp Student Center. We have invited the surrounding community to join us for this free, family-friendly event. So, let your children break in their Halloween costume a day early and come for the festivities – tons of candy at our Trunk-or-Treat, a festive carnival with games, a bouncy house, DJ, and photo booth. Kid-friendly food will be available for purchase at the event. Please RSVP here.
- On Sunday, October 27, we will receive a special offering for ourTurkey Drive. Your gift will provide a Thanksgiving meal to the families served by Buckhead Christian Ministry and Hollis Innovation Academy. Your gift of $40 will provide a full turkey dinner for an entire family. You may give on Sunday by making your check payable to Peachtree Road UMC and marked for “Turkey Drive” or give through the church app or website.
- As we began the fourth quarter of the year, we needed $2.75 million to meet our budget. Please help us achieve our goal by staying current in your pledged giving and, if possible, consider making an extra gift to your church. I am confident that, if every one of us gives an extra gift in this last quarter, we will reach all our goals by year-end.
- Also, now is the time we renew our covenant with Christ through the ministry of Peachtree Road by making a financial pledge toward the operating budget. We solicited the support of our leaders during the month of September, and I am pleased that they are nearing 100% participation and have pledged over $1.3 million (which represents an increase of nearly 9%). Now it is your turn. Please consider the blessings of life you have received and, as a gesture of gratitude to God, make your pledge to the 2020 operating budget. For convenience, you may pledge through the church app or online.
- After 15 years as our director of Global Outreach, Anne French is stepping away from our church staff. As Anne said to me when we first talked about this, “God has something for me to do outside the walls of this church, and I am so busy doing this work that I haven’t had the opportunity to be still and discern just what it is.” I am grateful for the leadership Anne has provided to both our church in raising awareness of the transformational nature of outreach (those who are served as well as those who serve) and on our staff team. We will miss her and her entrepreneurial spirit.
- I am pleased to announce that Dawn Hawkins has accepted our invitation to join the staff team as our director of global outreach. She and her husband Chip and their three children Grace, Caroline, and Sam are active members of Peachtree Road, and Dawn is well prepared for this role. I hope you will join me in welcoming her to our staff.
These are exciting days. You are making a difference both here in Atlanta and around the world. Thank you for all you are doing! I look forward to seeing you Sunday.