March 22, 2019

Dear Peachtree Road Church Family,

I hope this note finds you doing well. There is so much happening at the church in the next few days that I want you to know about, but let me begin this week’s note by updating you on one of our major initiatives for the year.

We here at Peachtree Road are known for our warm, Southern hospitality. First-time worshipers regularly comment to me that they can’t get over how warmly they were greeted and welcomed. Oftentimes they will mention the name of someone who accompanied them to the nursery or led them to the front of the church to where their family was gathering for a baptism or walked with them to a Sunday School class. They seem almost amazed that a large church like Peachtree Road can be warm and friendly. However, there is room for us to improve this strength of our church. I also hear from folks who tell me they were warmly greeted at Peachtree Road, but they never got connected – the welcome only went so far. They tried to get into a Sunday School class or Bible study and just never felt they belonged. Sometimes folks tell me they lost their job or went through a divorce or someone said something inappropriate to them and, as a result, they no longer felt like they belonged here. I always feel a pang of guilt when I hear those stories and think to myself, “We can do better.” We say everyone is welcome here, but is that true? How well do we welcome persons who are of another ethnicity or nationality? How welcoming are we to persons who have gone through divorce? How welcoming are we to persons who have a same sex orientation? How welcoming are we to persons who are young adults or underemployed or senior adults with mobility issues? If this is a place where we experience love and grace and forgiveness and reconciliation, how well are we welcoming people to that table?

This idea that we do hospitality well but believe we also can do it better is behind this year’s hospitality initiative here at Peachtree Road. We are striving to be a more welcoming church for all people. Therefore, to help us with this initiative, I announced at last Monday night’s Administrative Board meeting that we are hosting six listening sessions during this Lenten season to give persons an opportunity to share their suggestions on how we can strengthen this important ministry. We are calling these “Open Table Listening Sessions” and they will meet on the following dates at 6:00 pm (appropriately enough) in the Hospitality Suite at the church.

  • Sunday, March 31
  • Wednesday, April 3
  • Sunday, April 7
  • Tuesday, April 9
  • Wednesday, April 10
  • Wednesday, April 17

We have room for 50 persons each night, and I really want to hear from you. This is your opportunity to share your story (about your own experience or the experience of someone you care about). We want to know your expectations when you first came to Peachtree Road and your suggestions concerning how we can further strengthen this aspect of our ministry. Mainly, these listening sessions are about hope, and hope is our theme for this year at Peachtree Road. Please use this link to sign up today, and thank you for your love of Christ and participation in our ministry.

Now, let me remind you of several opportunities coming up in the next few days:

• The 27th annual Great Day of Service is set for tomorrow. Serving is at the heart of what we do here at Peachtree Road, and I can’t wait to see nearly 1,000 of you as we worship together and prepare to go out to serve. Please do us a favor – when you post your pictures on social media, please add the hashtag #prumcgreatday so we can capture them and put them in an album. I look forward to seeing you bright and early Saturday morning.
• On Sunday morning, we will dedicate the Murray Cottage, our new associate minister parsonage located at 3201 West Shadowlawn Avenue which is adjacent to the church parking lot. An open house will be held from 9:00 am until 1:00 pm, and the dedication ceremony will occur at 10:00 am. We are grateful for the naming gift by the Murray Foundation as well as a very generous gift by the Dobbs Foundation that helped make this new parsonage a reality. Come and celebrate with us before Rev. Elizabeth Byrd and her husband Phillip move in!
• On Sunday evening, Rev. Dr. Robert M. Franklin, Jr. of Candler School of Theology will be the featured speaker at this year’s Manfred Hoffman Lecture. His lecture is entitled “Moral Leadership for Moving Forward on Race, Justice, and Healing,” and I believe it fits nicely with our ongoing initiative to build bridges toward racial reconciliation. While no more tickets are available for the dinner, you are welcome to attend the lecture in Grace Hall at 7:00 pm. Please join us as we remember and give thanks for Manfred’s ministry in our midst.
• I hope you are planning to participate in this year’s Lenten Offering. During this season we set aside funds to support our partners in ministry throughout Atlanta. Last week we heard about the Atlanta Mission and the difference it makes in making homelessness rare, brief, and non-recurring. Each of us is challenged to take the money we would have spent on that which you have “given up for Lent” and give it toward the Lenten offering. If every member of Peachtree Road gives at least $1.50 a day for 40 days ($60 total) toward the offering, we will reach our goal. Your sacrifice will change your life for the better, and your gift will change Atlanta for the better! You may start giving now through the church app or online at www.prumc.org/give.
• On Thursday, March 27, you are invited to spend an evening with Katherine and Jay Wolf in Grace Hall. In 2008, at the age of 26, Katherine nearly died from a catastrophic brain stem stroke. Her survival and recovery, not to mention that of her marriage and family, have been nothing short of miraculous. Katherine and Jay are in full-time ministry together through “Hope Heals,” and they are leveraging their story to encourage those with broken bodies, broken brains, and broken hearts. They seek to bridge the gap between those disabled on the outside and those disabled on the inside with the hope that Jesus brings healing to the deepest pains we all carry. Come prepared to be inspired. You may register here.

Thank you for all you are doing. I look forward to seeing you tomorrow at the Great Day of Service and on Sunday in worship. Please call on me if you need me.

Bill