Long-distance love letters

9/22/2022
By Ronnie Crocker Pam and Carl Lundberg honeymooned at Niagara Falls 24 summers ago. Pam had never been and Carl, a transplanted New Englander, wanted her to experience it.   “I remember the first moment I saw it, I was overcome with the majesty of it,” Pam said. “And I remember I said – we were standing right at the falls – and I said, ‘Oh, I love you.’ And he said, ‘I love you more.’”   “Love you more” became a watchword, a term of endearment repeated countless times over the following two ...

Bishop Jones calls Special Session

9/22/2022
By Lindsay Peyton   As part of a continuing effort to navigate the changing landscape of the UMC, Bishop Scott J. Jones called a Special Session for the Texas Annual Conference. The meeting begins at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 3 at Houston’s First Methodist Houston West located at 10570 Westpark Dr. in Houston.   Three presentations, not requiring Annual Conference action will be offered that address questions arising from disaffiliating churches. These presentations include: a tentative 2023 ...

Celebrating and honoring diversity in language and belief

9/22/2022
By Maleri McHam   Every year, from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, United Methodist Churches across the Texas Annual Conference honor the contributions of Hispanic ministries like Oasis, a ministry of Terrace United Methodist Church in Houston. The festive celebration honors the diversity, language, tradition and beliefs of Hispanic communities.   “Most people think that all Hispanics are alike, but nothing could be further from the truth,” said Rev. Artie Cadar. He explains that Hispanics come from many...

Bedtime story comes true for children without beds

9/22/2022
By Lindsay Peyton   Once upon a time, a fairy tale took the stage at FUMC Beaumont, with a magical cast dreamed up by chancel choir director Renee Kloes. As curtains rose for “Into the Woods,” the main prop shone in the spotlight – a bed, constructed by the local chapter of Sleep in Heavenly Peace (SHP). The national nonprofit’s mission is to provide beds for children who do not have their own.   The production had two shows on Aug. 20. Instead of buying tickets, guests were asked to consider ...

Pastors reflect, relate and relax

9/22/2022
By Lindsay Peyton   Rev. Heather Leyland of Millican UMC first heard of Refresh when she received an invite in her inbox. The annual retreat is offered by the Texas Annual Conference to clergy every five years after their ordination or licensing. Since Leyland, who has been a pastor for 15 years, is a transfer from the Louisiana Conference, she had never attended Refresh before. At the session, she discovered opportunities for fun, camaraderie, relaxation, worship and a deep dive into the ...

Backpacks and Blue bell and haircuts, oh my!

9/8/2022
By Ronnie Crocker   The Rev. Joel McKinnon remembers calling the staff at Angleton First United Methodist Church together one morning four Julys ago and telling them to get ready for a big new back-to-school festival that would include giveaways of backpacks, haircuts and dental care for kids in the fast-growing community.   With the academic year looming, they’d have to get ready quickly. And McKinnon, who’d arrived just a year earlier, with the church $750,000 in debt, was still trying to ...

New church plant focusing on underserved

9/8/2022
  By Ronnie Crocker   It used to be that when First United Methodist Church in downtown Texarkana, Texas, let out on Sundays, members of the youth fellowship would race to Bryce’s Cafeteria for lunch before heading over to the Paramount Theater to catch a movie.   “We’d have to rush to beat the Baptists,” Mary O’Farrell recalled the other day.   After the show, and later a snack at the drugstore inside the Grim Hotel, O’Farrell’s group returned to the church for evening services. It was, in her...

Doctors and laity treat 30K in Guatemala

9/8/2022
By Ronnie Crocker   The doctors and lay persons who make the weeklong trips to Guatemala with Faith In Practice – journeying by bus into remote villages, seeing patients in temporary clinics set up in schools or churches – embody Jesus’ admonition that, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”   But to hear them tell it, the volunteers receive plenty of blessings in return.   “It very much recentered me as a physician,” said John Riggs, an obstetrician and gynecologist who attends ...

Pastors journey to the UMC through drama

9/8/2022
By Maleri McHam   It was through a love of drama that Mindy and David Zwirn first found their way to the United Methodist Church.   Mindy, who was Catholic and distanced herself from the church in her 20s, and David, who had always been agnostic, today use their love for theater to spread ministry. Rev. Mindy Zwirn is the pastor at Chapelwood UMC in Nash, Texas and David is a lay pastor at Union Chapel UMC in Douglasville, Texas.   Before they joined the United Methodist Church, Mindy said she...

Church helps close pandemic learning gap

8/25/2022
  By Maleri McHam   The pandemic disrupted learning, particularly for low-income students. According to a recent article by NPR, students in high-poverty schools were more likely to not have a workspace, internet at home, or an adult to help with homework. Sunset UMC is trying to close the learning gap for students in their community with a new after school program called Grace Period.   “Grace Period” is an after-school program at Sunset UMC that gives children in the community a safe and ...

Good notes building the foundation for great sermons

8/25/2022
By Ronnie Crocker   Like the tip of the proverbial iceberg, the 15 to 20 minutes a preacher spends in the pulpit represents only a fraction of the time she has put into her sermon.    The Rev. Tabitha Mock-Rankin and the Rev. Ginny Griggs,  share several insights into how they craft their messages, the extent to which they depend on written notes during delivery, and how they balance reading from a script while addressing their audiences directly.   The women, both of whom have spent the better...

Houston church breaks ground on new community center

8/25/2022
by Maleri McHam St. Luke’s UMC, Gethsemane is part of an “aspirational project” in the Gulfton area of Houston – the creation of a new community center that will help serve all the people in their diverse community.   Ann Culver, St. Luke’s UMC Director of Advancement, said that in a revitalization study done about five years ago, it was shown that in Gulfton 80 countries of origin are represented; 88% of the population speaks a language other than english; and the area is five times denser ...

Using the ukulele to tiptoe through the hymnals

8/25/2022
By Ronnie Crocker   A crash course in ukulele paid off in good vibes this summer at FUMC Missouri City. On Aug. 7, a stage full of church members attired in floral prints and wearing leis around their necks, treated their fellow congregants to a mini-concert with the four-stringed instrument best known for soft Hawaiian melodies.   “The group had a blast,” said Justin Langham, director of traditional music at FUMC Missouri City. “The congregation had a blast. I got so much feedback, mostly, ‘...

Where faith and science find common ground

8/25/2022
By Ronnie Crocker   Marlan Scully is a distinguished professor of physics at Texas A&M. His curriculum vitae also includes a Ph.D. from Yale and past faculty appointments at Princeton, M.I.T. and the Max Planck Institute. He holds patents in laser physics and is known for his work in the field of “theoretical quantum optics.” In other words, he’s a man of science. Scully is also a man of faith, a United Methodist who has spent a lifetime pursuing both scientific and spiritual insight. He’s ...

Garage sale for God

8/11/2022
By Ronnie Crocker En Español   Diane Sullivan feels blessed to live in Deer Park, a leafy Houston suburb buoyed by a petrochemical industry that keeps the local schools, libraries, and other city services well-funded. Household income is above the state average, and the poverty rate is just 6.6 percent. “It’s an area where you’d want to live, especially if you have kids,” says Sullivan, who eight years ago moved back to the community of 35,000 with her husband, a Deer Park native.   She also ...

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