Anybody Out There? Get Them Out of the Pews and Into Ministry

7/12/2018
By: Sherri Gragg   Volunteers are the lifeblood of the local church and according to studies conducted by the American Psychological Association, volunteering is good for the mental and physical health of individuals as well.   Even so, pastors regularly struggle to mobilize a strong volunteer force beyond the “faithful few.” One couple from First Palestine UMC, Danny and Dorenda Smith, are among those dedicated servants who show up week in and week out with a heart to serve.   “They are ...

Camp Mending Hearts: A Place for Grieving Kids

7/12/2018
By: Sherri Gragg   In 2015, Christ UMC College Station established Mending Hearts Grief Center, an off-site grief ministry. Over time, the ministry has blossomed into a multi-faceted service. Today, Mending Hearts Grief Center ministers to grieving men, women, and children from three different Texas counties. The center offers a wide range of grief ministries including divorce care, a children’s bereavement program, and Compassionate Friends, a ministry for parents who have suffered the loss of...

Speaking Out for Vulnerable Immigrant Kids: Write to Reunite

7/12/2018
In the wake of President Donald J. Trump’s “zero-tolerance” policy concerning the prosecution of illegal border crossings, the Texas UMC Bishops launched the Write to Reunite campaign. This letter writing initiative advocates for the reunification of migrant children and their parents. The Bishops cite their grave concerns for the trauma the children are suffering calling the separations a “humanitarian and moral crisis.”   “As United Methodists, this is historic time for us to come together ...

Table Talks with Bishop Scott Jones: Conversations on The Way Forward

7/12/2018
Bishop Scott Jones invites both clergy and laity to join the conversation on The Way Forward in “Table Talks with Bishop Scott Jones,” August 11-23, 2018.   “Table Talks with Bishop Scott Jones” will take place in all nine districts between August 11-23, 2018. Recently, we had the opportunity to sit down with the Bishop to hear more about what attendees should expect from the sessions.   Q: Bishop Jones, you are travelling to all nine districts to host “Table Talks.” Why is the conversation on ...

Ten Months After Harvey the “Faithful Ten” Get the Job Done

7/12/2018
By: Sherri Gragg The Magnitude of Harvey The statistics surrounding the damage left behind by Hurricane Harvey are almost impossible to comprehend. Within a two-day period, the city of Houston received a staggering 31.2 inches of rain. According to the National Hurricane Center, Harvey is the second most costly storm in history.   But perhaps the most tangible expression of Harvey’s magnitude is found in the tireless dedication of a group of ten retirees from Clear Lake UMC who are still ...

Why Camp?

7/12/2018
  By: Rev. Jeff Gage   I often talk to other pastors about going to camp and being a counselor. A CABIN COUNSELOR. Not the preacher for the week. Everybody wants that job. Not the musician. You are not that cool anymore. A counselor!   I am usually turned down with standard responses. “I’m too busy.” “I don’t want to go.” “My kids don’t go to Lakeview. They go to ______.” (Insert camp name. Could be Christian. Could be a sports camp. You name it.)   In response to these, I offer these thoughts....

Young, Gifted and Diverse: Summer Interns Make a Splash

7/12/2018
By: Sherri Gragg   The College Pastoral Internship Program (CPIP), established in 2007, assists young United Methodists in discerning God’s call to ministry and Christian service. According to the Rev. Elizabeth Duffin, Associate Director of the Center for Clergy Excellence, the program has been a vital tool in the recruitment of young, gifted, diverse clergy. Of the 81 interns who have taken part in the program since its founding, 14 are currently serving as either commissioned or ordained ...

Laos Mission Week: July 18-23

7/3/2018
The United Methodist Church of Laos includes 60 pastors and churches, some of these being house churches and most of them led by pastors who are farmers. I am pleased to serve as their bishop as well as yours.  The Texas Annual Conference does not have any official partnerships with international mission work. Instead, we encourage local churches to develop those partnerships and nurture them through prayer, mission trips, and financial support. I have invited four of our missionaries from ...

Texas Bishops Release Video Promoting the Write To Reunite Letter Writing Campaign

7/2/2018
The United Methodist Bishops of Texas are actively continuing their collective call for compassion and care for and the reuniting of immigrant children and their parents via a brief, easy-to-share video that introduces and promotes the #WriteToReunite letter writing campaign.   On June 20, the five episcopal leaders of the United Methodist conferences in Texas – Bishop Earl Bledsoe (Northwest Texas), Bishop Scott Jones (Texas), Bishop Mike Lowry (Central Texas), Bishop Mike McKee (North Texas)...

“We Love All of God’s Children”… According to John Wesley

6/28/2018
By: Sherri Gragg - En Español   John “Jackie” Wesley was born on June 17, 1703. Although Samuel and Susanna Wesley were blessed with 19 children within a 20-year period, only 10 of those children survived infancy. Jackie was the seventh of those who lived. One night when Jackie was 5-years-old, the family home caught fire. Samuel rushed his pregnant wife and children out of the home, but as the flames shot upward into the night sky, he realized young Jackie was still upstairs asleep in his bed....

Grant Applications Due Sept. 1 for Local Church Racial/Ethnic Ministries

6/28/2018
NASHVILLE, Tenn. Discipleship Ministries – Applications for grants up to $10,000 to help local United Methodist churches build ministries that strengthen and support racial and ethnic church concerns are due on Sept. 1.   Racial Ethnic Local Church Concerns (RELCC) grants from Discipleship Ministries will be available for each year of the current quadrennium. The purpose of the RELCC grants is to provide funding to strengthen the ethnic local church through leadership training, small groups, ...

Let the Music Play: One Young Man’s Incredible Gift

6/28/2018
By: Sherri Gragg   Colton Hill is many things. He is gifted intellectually, a technological wizard, and a musical prodigy. He is a good friend, a beloved brother, and a cherished son. He is all these things and more.   And oh yes, he just so happens to have been blind since birth.   “Colton has Leber Congenital Amaurosis, or LCA,” his mother, Brandy, said. “It is a rare genetic disorder that only affects about 30,000 people in the United States. There was a whole process to work through with ...

Liberated by the U.M. ARMY

6/28/2018
By: Sherri Gragg   For the past two years, Wonda Corcoran’s world has narrowed with each breath she has taken. Corcoran suffers from COPD, Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. Each day, COPD has stolen a little more of her breath, and another slice of her independence. As the disease progressed and Corcoran was no longer able to climb the steps to her front door, she became virtually homebound. Outings with friends gradually gave way to doctor’s appointments which demanded someone carry her ...

Meet Your Missionary- The Rev. Doug Childress

6/28/2018
By: Sherri Gragg - En Español   The Texas Annual Conference Center for Missional Excellence welcomed the Rev. Doug Childress and his wife, Kulli Toniste, UMC Global missionaries to Estonia, on Friday, June 15th with a reception at the Conference Mission Center in Conroe. Childress was also hosted by Chapelwood UMC June 15th-16th. As a missionary with UMC Global Missions, Childress serves in one of the most challenging mission fields in the world. “According to the BBC, Estonia is the least ...

Parkway UMC Kids Fill the Bookshelves of Harvey Victims

6/28/2018
Parkway UMC members purchase books from offerings raised by children in their church. By: Sherri Gragg   Each year, the children’s ministry of Parkway UMC designates their children’s worship offering to meet a missional need. The first offering of 2018 was donated to the “We Love All God’s Children” book fair. The purpose of the book fair is to replace children’s books destroyed by Hurricane Harvey.   The Power of Books According to Julie Baker-Fink, President of the Barbara Bush Houston ...

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