June 2, 2023

Dear Peachtree Road Family,

I hope you are well. Let me begin this week’s note with the wonderful news that our associate minister Josh Miles and his wife Emily are the proud parents of a baby girl. Daisy Laine Miles was born on Monday, May 29, and both mother and daughter are well and are being well cared for by Josh. Please join me in offering a prayer of thanksgiving on behalf of the Miles family.

As you read these words, we are beginning day two of the 157th session of the North Georgia Annual Conference in Athens. Bishop Robin Dease will preside, and the theme for this year is “I Will Pour Out My Spirit on All.” 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!

No doubt you have read about a minority of churches disaffiliating from the United Methodist Church in recent days. We will be dealing with that issue during our business session, and I request that you pray for the North Georgia Annual Conference as we seek God’s wisdom on how best to move forward. My own take is that the current crisis in the church has been brought about by a lack of patience. Progressives and traditionalists alike in our denomination have acted outside the order of the church to get their way. The result is a division that is completely unnecessary. I continue to humbly reflect upon the thoughts of Bishop Francis Asbury who wrote these words in the 1792 Doctrines and Disciplines of the Methodist Episcopal Church:

“Let us be deeply sensible (from what we have known) of the evil of a division in principle, spirit, or practice, and the dreadful consequences to ourselves and others. If we are united, what can stand before us? If we divide, we shall destroy ourselves, the work of God, and the souls of our people.”

Those are some pretty strong words, and they give me courage in these days. According to the Apostle Paul, patience is one of the fruits of the Spirit, and we desperately need that particular fruit in these days. The good news is that the ministry of Peachtree Road UMC remains strong. Nothing has changed! We have not been distracted from our mission; we are not driven by a spirit of fear; and we continue to be directed by a calling from God that is so compelling that we are able to ignore the noise around us and live faithfully in a spirit of unity. Thank you for your prayers and support of our church’s ministry. I look forward to being with you in worship on Sunday.

Speaking of worship this week, Sunday is Founder’s Day here at Peachtree Road. Our church was founded in 1925 and held its first public worship service on June 7. I love history. I love the stories that come from our history, and I love the way the past informs both the present and the future. Our history reminds us of our identity and inspires us to be the people we have been called to be. On Sunday we worship with hearts filled with gratitude and remember those who founded our church. We give thanks for their faith, hope, and courage. The interesting thing about that first worship service 98 years ago is that the building had a roof and floor but no walls. Somehow, that seems appropriate to me. Even from our founding, Peachtree Road United Methodist Church has been a church without walls – a church that understands its primary mission is to be a light to the community and to share the love, mercy, and grace of God with all. 

As a part of the message on Sunday, I will share with you some values that have served our church well throughout its history in a message entitled “Staying True To Our Mission.” We will think about how the past informs our present and guides us into the future. We will sing some great hymns (“O God Our Help in Ages Past” and “Go, Make of All Disciples”), hear our choir offer an inspiring anthem entitled “O How Amiable” by Ralph Vaughn Williams, and hear a word of testimony from one of our most faithful members, Ed Hamlin. If you cannot join us in person, please stay connected to your church family by joining us online at 8:45 am, 10:00 am, or 11: 15 am through the church website here. look forward to celebrating Founder’s Day with you Sunday.

Upcoming Special Sundays:

  • Father’s Day (June 18) – as we have done in recent years, we will recognize the oldest father present and the newest father present at each service. I have been thinking about the “good men” (my dad, pastors, coaches, and teachers) who have been influential in my life. Join us for worship as we remember and give thanks.
  • Celebration of Freedom (June 25) – as is our tradition, we will sing patriotic hymns, honor our veterans, pray for our nation and world, and give thanks for God’s many blessings. And Timothy Miller will be with us to sing “God Bless America.” To cap off the morning’s celebration, we will join together for a picnic featuring fried chicken and all the fixings in Grace Hall. This is a Sunday you will not want to miss!

Have you ever considered being a part of the choir for Celebration of Freedom Sunday? Then consider this note as your invitation to don a robe and join the Chancel Choir on Sunday, June 25 to sing some of our favorite patriotic hymns from the choir loft. It is a great opportunity to raise your voice in praise to God and be a part of the joy of this day. There will be only one rehearsal (Wednesday, June 21 – come early for refreshments at 6:30 pm with the rehearsal from 7:00 – 9:00 pm). If you have questions or would like to sing in the chorus, contact Ruth Sommerville at 404.240.8212 or ruths@prumc.org. Come join our family of singers and lovers of music! 

Finally, you are invited to participate in the Anniston Civil Rights Trail experience on August 26. This is a joint venture being sponsored by Cascade UMC and Peachtree Road UMC. Members of our two churches will travel together on Saturday, August 26, to Anniston, Alabama to commemorate the events of the American Civil Rights Movement and receive an introduction to the cultural changes that have transformed Anniston into the city it is today. Participants will leave Atlanta at 10:00 am, travel together via charter bus, eat lunch together, learn together, and return by 5:00 pm. The cost is $20/per person, and you may register here. We already have one bus nearly filled and are looking at adding a second bus. Join in the experience.

I hope to see you Sunday as we seek to make a new beginning and live out our mission to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. 

Grace and peace,