Tuesday, February 28, 2012

What is in a name?

What is in a name? Sometimes it is obvious but sometimes it is hard to tell.

I have always been interested and am often amused at the names of churches. One survey of 95,000 churches shows that there are 11,852 “first” churches. 20,219 are named after “saints” (St. James, St. Paul). 6,749 carry names of various mountains and hills that include many biblical sites (Mt. Nebo, Mt. Bethel) and some are probably derived from the city or some other geographic designation (Pleasant Hill, Sugar Hill).

The name serves a practical purpose for many, such as Second Avenue and Tenth Street United Methodist Churches, in identifying the location. Then you have the churches whose name indicates some biblical or theological principle or concept. These include grace, faith, messiah, covenant, harmony, prince of peace, good shepherd, and others.

Most of the church names listed above are very ordinary and common place. There are others that catch my attention and pique my interest. For instance, I wonder if the Baby Farms Baptist Church is memorializing a particular infant or is it located where babies are produced in quantity.

There are many Methodist churches named after their founder, John Wesley. But I am curious about the theology of the John Wesley Baptist Church.

What about the Original Church of God #2? How do you duplicate originality?

Attempts to be creative and contemporary give rise to names like Church of The Way, Quest, The Well, The Bridge, The Vine, and Connection, just to name a few. Their names hope to project an image that will draw folks who might not ever venture into First Church. The Scum of The Earth Church (I am not making this up) presents itself as the “Church of the Right Brained and the Left Out” and invites you to “Come see the crazy bathroom and stay for a sermon.”

Every time I go to an Atlanta Braves game at Turner Field I pass The Perfect Church at the corner of James P. Brawley Drive and McDaniel Street. Their website proclaims that “Christians are perfect.” I have a feeling I would not be comfortable there and they might not want an imperfect person like me. I more easily identify with what is called a “Christian Under Construction.”

Whatever the name of the church I hope that the Gospel is proclaimed and people are empowered to more closely conform to the lifestyle that Jesus left as an example. If the mission of the church is to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world, the name is not a real concern to me.

Mr. Jamie Jenkins, jjenkins@ngumc.org, North Georgia Annual Conference

God Is Still In Control!

Miss Lladale Carey

Web Content Producer

What's in a name? - Romans 16:16

Monday, February 20, 2012

'Connectionalism is one of Methodism's greatest assests'

I was born and raised in Martin, TN, son of a college professor and member of Martin First UMC.

In 1983 I graduated from Westview High School, and in 1988 I received a Bachelor of Science degree in psychology and criminal justice from the University of Tennessee-Martin.

During my last year at UT-Martin, I also served the Lynnville-Poyner's Chapel charge in Graves County, KY.

Upon graduating from college, I attended the Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta, GA, and served as a student pastor in the North Georgia Conference, receiving a Master of Divinity degree in 1991.

I have served churches in Tennessee, Georgia and Kentucky, being licensed for ministry in 1987, ordained a deacon in 1990 and an elder in 1993.

I have served in the General Church as a jurisdictional delegate and on the General Board of Discipleship as a representative from the order of St. Luke (a religious order in The United Methodist Church).

These experiences, along with my service in parish ministry, convince me that one of Methodism's greatest assets is our connectionalism, and one of my goals as superintendent of the Paducah District is to strengthen our connectional ties.

We are living in difficult times - for Methodism, as well as for Christianity in general. Yet I believe Methodism and the Wesleyan tradition have all of the tools necessary to be effective in being and making discples. We simply have to reclaim it and live into it, being willing to be formed and transformed by God.

That means that church pastors must be more than just congregational managers and CEOs; they must be spiritual guides and leaders.

I pray that I can teach and lead the clergy and laity in the Paducah District into being the disciples and disciple-makers that Jesus Christ calls us to be.

--excerpt of an article by Sky McCracken in the Memphis Conference UM Reporter

God Is Still In Control!

Miss Lladale Carey
Web Content Producer

Monday, February 13, 2012

Civility is key amid differing perspectives

Want my unbiased opinion? Well, most often I don't have one. As much as one might try to be objective there are so many Influencing factors that effect every decision. Biases can be harmful but they may also be helpful.

There are some things I like better than others. There are positions that resonate with the way I think and view life.

Before we get too far along, I need to be clear that I am referring to preference rather than prejudice. Opinion rather than undeniable truth. I suspect that there is a fine line of difference and it is often difficult to discern.

Just because I lean one way does not mean that anyone who leans the opposite direction is wrong.

It is alright if you disagree with me but I hope you will not be belligerent about it. I don’t mind if you conclude that I am not “well informed” but please don’t write me off. Cut me some slack even as you make a good case that the opposite of my opinions is valid.

I hope that on all issues, great and small, we will be tolerant and accepting. Even when we believe another person is wrong, we need to acknowledge them as persons of worth and dignity. There is a real need for civility as we interact with persons with different attitudes and perspectives.

It has been said that "love makes the world go around." If that is true, it is because love allows for different positions and opinions. It is alright to disagree and we do not have to demonize persons who do not share our opinion.

There are times when I wish that more folks would think like I do. Occasionally I wonder if it would be better if The United Methodist Church was more homogenous. Perhaps we should be more narrow in our approach to ministry and our response to current social realities. But when I think more clearly I am grateful that the doors are open as wide as they are or there might not be a place for me.

--excerpt from an email by Jamie Jenkins, NGA Ann Conf, jjenkins@ngumc.org

God Is Still In Control!

Miss Lladale Carey

Web Content Producer

Monday, February 6, 2012

A Story of Two Seas

There are two seas in the Land of Israel. One is fresh and fish are in it. Splashes of green adorn its banks. Trees spread their branches over it, and stretch out their thirsty roots to sip of its healing waters. Children play along its shores.

The River Jordan makes this sea with sparkling water from the hills. So it laughs in the sunshine. And people build their homes near to it, birds their nests; and every kind of life is happier because it is here.

The River Jordan flows on south into another sea. Here there is no splash of fish, no fluttering leaf, no song of birds, and no children’s laughter. The air hangs heavy above its waters and neither people nor animals will drink here.

What makes this mighty difference in these seas? Not the River Jordan. It empties the same good water into both. Not the soil in which they lie; not the country “round about.”

This is the difference:

The Sea of Galilee receives but does not keep the Jordan. For every drop that flows into it another drop flows out. The giving and receiving go on in equal measure.

The other sea is shrewder, hoarding its income jealously. It will not be tempted into any generous impulse. Every drop it gets, it keeps.

The Sea of Galilee gives and lives.
This other sea cannot sustain life. It is named the Dead Sea.

There are two seas in the Land of Israel.
There are two kinds of people in the world.

--From ”The New Mahzor " for Rash Hashanah and Yom Kippur, WI Ann Conf Newsletter

God Is Still In Control!

Miss Lladale Carey

Web Content Producer