Easy Ways to Share Gratitude this Thanksgiving

11/24/2020
Thanksgiving Day elicits a bounty of wonderful memories for many people in the U.S. The crisp air. The smell of a turkey roasting and a pumpkin pie baking. The sound of a cheering crowd at a football game. All these can create warm feelings during this special time of year. While the Thanksgiving holiday is celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November in the U.S., thanking God for our blessings is a spiritual discipline that should not be limited to a single day.   Along with expanding our ...

Area churches preparing to serve neighbors in need for Thanksgiving

11/12/2020
Picture taken in past years prior to COVID-19 By Lindsay Peyton  En Español At Katy FUMC, 1,000 cans of cranberry sauce and 500 jars of turkey gravy stand ready. A few miles down I-10, St. Peter’s UMC is collecting 1,000 boxes of stuffing, and at nearby Holy Covenant UMC, a mountain of boxed mashed potatoes is rising. These three United Methodist churches are part of an ecumenical tradition – the Katy Thanksgiving Feast, which provides holiday meals to families in need. This November, ...

Small town NASA church member takes teens to robotics state championship

11/12/2020
By Lindsay Peyton    The first time, Martin’s Mill’s high school team headed to Dallas to compete at the BEST of Texas Robotics Championship, the teens were nervous. One of their mentors Marvin Shaw, a volunteer from Holly Springs UMC in Canton, drove the team – and at the time, they all fit in a Chevy Suburban. “They were extremely intimidated,” he recalled. “But they went from feeling intimidated to sticking out their chests and saying, ‘We’ve got this.’”   No one asks where Martin’s Mill, ...

Clergy couples’ shared interest in technology brings them together

11/12/2020
By Lindsay Peyton   Media ministry and using technology to share the message of the church, initially brought Revs. Johnnie and Lataya Simpson together. Little did they know that what started as a friendship over a shared interest in audio-visual communications would become an enduring love. They also became each other’s support system, as they pursued a new ministry on the pulpit. Now, Johnnie and Lataya are both pastors serving in the Texas Annual Conference.  “Johnnie is truly my partner in ...

Church offers free drive through health fair with flu shots, lab tests, blood pressure monitoring and more

11/12/2020
By Lindsay Peyton  En Español   Imagine a pit stop at NASCAR, where a crew stands ready to refuel, change tires and repair racing cars. Now, instead of race car experts, picture nurses with clipboards, prepared to give free flu vaccines and process lab work, with patients in the safety of their cars. That’s the vision that transformed the Mt. Pleasant Community Health Fair this year. The event, held Oct. 10, was hosted by Tennison Memorial UMC and Titus Regional Medical Center.   Tennison’s ...

The best way to connect with members is with a hug over the phone

11/12/2020
By Lindsay Peyton   Strawbridge UMC is giving “HUGS” to every member -- over the phone. While the ministry “His Unmeasurable Grace Saves” began prior to COVID-19, the need for connection seems so much more urgent now. Participants have found a “hug” from the church goes a long way.   The Rev. Beth Chenault, executive associate pastor, first discovered the ministry while attending a conference in Tennessee about eight years ago. The concept impressed her right away. “Calling and caring about ...

Pandemic painting mural offers community creative outlet to cry, contemplate, contribute and celebrate

10/22/2020
By Lindsay Peyton En Español   For everything there is a season, and a time for every purpose under heaven – including a time to paint. Houston’s Westminster UMC invites the community to pick up a brush and join in creative expression for its Pandemic Project. The final product, a mural in the front lawn of the church, will symbolize how creativity became essential during the pandemic. The artwork demonstrates that making something positive out of this dark time is still possible.   Senior ...

Churches get creative with trunk or treats, digital scavenger hunts and pumpkin patches

10/22/2020
By Lindsay Peyton - En Español   A number of churches in the Texas Annual Conference are making sure that the fun continues this fall and still hosting their traditional pumpkin patches and trunk-or-treats. These congregations realize that children look forward to the changing weather, decorating pumpkins and preparing their Halloween costumes.  They refuse to let COVID-19 hamper fall festivities -- and instead are offering opportunities for safe fellowship. These events also serve as a ...

Two pastors share how their churches are approaching in-person worship in 2020

10/22/2020
By Lindsay Peyton   While many churches are reopening across the Texas Annual Conference, some are remaining online and exploring best practices in preparation of returning to in-person worship. In this second part of our series on coming back to the building, we spoke to two pastors who started church plants that have now grown by leaps and bounds. The church still has a mission and ministry to do – and these pastors share their insight on communicating the gospel in this season.   Jason ...

Mennonites and Baptists join Methodists for hurricane recovery in Newton County

10/22/2020
By Lindsay Peyton   The Mennonites from Weaverland Disaster Response have been a fixture in Houston, helping with Hurricane Harvey recovery for the past three years. Their teams stay at Cypress UMC, and they have formed a long-term relationship with the church. Now, the Mennonites are joining United Methodist volunteers to help Newton County after Hurricane Laura, as well as crews from the nearby Baptist church. Together, these teams from all denominations are making a real difference – and ...

Clergy couple serving together at the same church align priorities

10/22/2020
By Lindsay Peyton   There are countless reasons that could have prevented Randy and Susan Hageman from meeting – but God was at work, putting everything in motion. Now this clergy couple has been married for 34 years, with two children Kathryn Holmes and William Hageman and one grandchild Charlotte Holmes. Randy serves as senior pastor for the Conference’ Gateway Community Church in Webster, where Susan also works as pastor of the women’s ministry. Whether at home or at the helm of the ...

Lament, Perseverance, Innovation and Purpose

10/8/2020
En Español Thank you for faithful, innovative ministry in a difficult year! I asked the editor to put that opening sentence in large type so you would be sure to get my message. I have been hearing so much about the pastors and local churches of our Conference doing such great ministry under highly stressful and unusual circumstances. I am grateful for what God is doing through you!   I want to share thoughts about four words based on the biblical stories about the exile.  The starting text is ...

Innovative church plant builds on home groups without a building

10/8/2020
Photos courtesy of Oikon United Methodist Church (shot before Covid-19) By Lindsay Peyton   Most church plants start with a front door and a worship service. Members are then encouraged to join a small group and become more of a part of the church community. At Oikon UMC, that order is reversed. The Rev. Mike Whang places the focus on small groups, which meet in house churches. The strong sense of community that resulted, as well as the strong presence of God, has been remarkable to witness.   ...

Churches return to in-person worship after restrictions lift

10/8/2020
First United Methodist Church, Atlanta, Texas gathers for worship with practicing social distancing and sitting families together.   By Lindsay Peyton - En Español   Churches across the Texas Annual Conference are celebrating the return to in-person services. Still, several are retaining their online presence, one of a number of lessons learned from COVID-19. Congregations of all sizes, now seven months into the pandemic, are pushing forward, with many reporting that attendance, giving and ...

Cuban clergy couple navigate new country and new language

10/8/2020
By Lindsay Peyton - En Español    When it comes to facing challenges, Pastors Frank and Elizabeth Acosta feel blessed to lean on each other. Because they know each other’s strength and how to balance duties, they are poised to divide and conquer almost any obstacle. Together, the Acostas have navigated moving to a new country, learning a new language and attending two different seminaries. They band together in marriage and parenting, as well as both pastoring at First Methodist Conroe for the ...

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