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 ...

Simple ways to show you care on pastor appreciation day

10/8/2020
By Lindsay Peyton Being a pastor can be hard work at times. It’s not the type of job where you can clock in and clock out - or where calls can wait until business hours. Pastors preside over the most important moments of their congregation’s lives, baptisms, marriages and funerals. They help their church progress in mission, evangelism and discipleship. Add a pandemic to the equation, and clergy have even fuller schedules. They have spent most of 2020 caring for their flocks in the midst of ...

Black University responds to civil unrest and pandemic caring for students online

9/28/2020
By Lindsay Peyton   Safeguarding students during the coronavirus pandemic remains the top priority at Wiley College, a private university associated with the UMC, located in Marshall, Texas. President and CEO Dr. Herman J. Felton, Jr. announced plans to continue virtual instruction throughout the 2020 fall semester. The college is going the extra mile to ensure students are able to continue their studies remotely – as well as maintaining emotional counseling, Bible study and worship.   Felton ...

Church marks Hispanic Heritage Month with Grand Celebration for Immigrant Children

9/24/2020
By Lindsay Peyton - En Español   Servants of Christ, a United Methodist Church in Houston, opened its doors the evening of Monday, Sept. 14 and welcomed neighboring Latino children for an evening of fun and celebration. The event also heralded Hispanic Heritage Month, which starts Sept. 15 and continues through Oct. 15 each year.   The church was filled with games – basketball hoops, a Giant Connect Four and an area for rounds of musical chairs. Volunteers served up hot dogs and popcorn – and ...

Clergy couple’s love of social justice, diversity and community service strengthens marriage

9/24/2020
By Lindsay Peyton   Being a pastor can be hard work – but it’s a labor of love for the Rev. David Horton, Pastor at St. Luke’s UMC Gethsemane Campus and his wife, the Rev. Brandi Horton, Senior Associate Pastor at First Methodist Houston. They are an example of a clergy couple, completely committed to their churches and each other.   It’s tradition at the Horton house to stop what they’re doing, take time and gather around the kitchen table for dinner. They say a prayer before the meal -- and ...

Galveston church delivers 33,000 diapers to Hurricane Laura victims

9/24/2020
By Lindsay Peyton   Shortly after Hurricane Laura made landfall, Moody Methodist Church in Galveston sprang into action. The congregation began collecting supplies – like tarps, roofing nails, shovels, bottled water – and made a delivery to Orange, Texas. Included in the full truckload of donations were several cases of diapers, provided by the Galveston Diaper Bank. Little did the church realize that diaper delivery would soon multiply – turning into thousands of diapers.   Margarita Sims, ...

Showers, bikes and peacemeals a compassionate look at how one church is serving homeless people

9/24/2020
Galveston (Texas) Central Church opens its doors to community members, many of whom are experiencing homelessness. The United Methodist church provides a safe space and a variety of services, including internet access, meals, showers and laundry facilities. Photo by Mike DuBose, UM News.​   By Lindsay Peyton -  En Español   Galveston Central Church is so much more than a building with a steeple. This congregation transforms into a bustling kitchen, where members cook alongside the homeless and ...

Being a Clergy Couple takes Strong Roots and Leaning on Church Family for Help

9/10/2020
By Lindsay Peyton   Pastors are often married to their jobs, completely committed to their churches and their members. Being married to someone else in the field can help; husband and wife understand their scope of work and share a similar vision. Couples are both pastors often provide a sanctuary for each other, holding on to faith as they face stress as ministers. In this series, we visit with clergy couples, starting with pastor Rev. Christie Hale at Faith UMC Fannett and Rev. Josh Hale, ...

Black Pastor Appointed to Mostly White Church Creating a Multi-Cultural Church for Everyone

9/10/2020
By Lindsay Peyton   Leading a predominantly white church as a Black pastor comes with challenges and opportunities, explains Klein UMC’s Rev. Lawrence Young. In this season of dismantling racism, the congregation is forward-thinking and hopes to pave the way for a more inclusive future.   Young summons the Parable of the Sower in scripture when Jesus tells of the farmer who plants haphazardly. Some seeds are eaten by birds, while others fall on rocky dirt. Others land in a patch of thorns, and...

Houston Churches Become Sanctuaries of Learning for Students

9/10/2020
Bishop Scott Jones visits with 3rd grader Dondren Wilson on the first day of the Sanctuaries of Learning program at Trinity United Methodist Church in Houston. The program, started by the Texas Conference of The United Methodist Church, offers a safe space, internet access and other resources in area churches, allowing parents to return to work and their children to continue their education during the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo by Mike DuBose, UM News. By Lindsay Peyton   Texas Annual Conference...

Many Texas Conference Churches Give back to Louisiana after Hurricane Laura

9/10/2020
By Lindsay Peyton  - En Español   When Hurricane Harvey hit Houston, Louisiana sent countless volunteers and donations to help. After all, Houston had been there for New Orleans residents after Katrina. Now it’s Texas’s turn to help Louisiana. Hurricane Laura made landfall on the Louisiana coastline on the three-year anniversary of Harvey. Churches in the Texas Annual Conference quickly convened to let their neighbors to the east know that help was on the way.   “They were generous to us after...

Pastor to the Police Valuable Asset to Galveston Police Department

9/10/2020
By Lindsay Peyton - En Español   When police officers say, “I’ve got your six,” it means they are watching out for each other, they’ve got their friend’s back. Rev. Heather Gates, chaplain for the Galveston Police Department, wants to go a step further. She looks out for the officers’ hearts and minds. “That’s what I’m here for,” she said.   For instance, an officer can step into her office, say they are overwhelmed, and she will listen and do her best to help. Sometimes, she rides along with ...

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