Monday, December 26, 2011
This year, it happened at the Living Nativity at the church I serve. This was my maiden voyage with a Living Nativity. I was learning how to be the backstage manager, running lights and directing the cast into their places. A recording of the Christmas story played over the radio as the people came in drive-in theater style.
The youth and the children did a great job. It was one of the adults that gave me trouble! One was recruited to help out as a wise man. He got to the entrance door behind the manger, and suddenly looked at me in surprise. "I don't have a gift!" He asked if I had it. We joked that he came to the party empty handed. I explained that the gold, frankincense, and myrrh were back in the dressing room in the church building. "I'll go get it", he said.
"Um, I'm afraid you go in about 20 seconds from now, so there's no time." He puzzled for a moment and then his face lit up. He reached into his pocket and pulled out an iPhone. That would have to do. I said "hold it up like this," lifting my hands as if holding something quite precious.
So he went into the manger holding up his iPhone in reverence, knowing that its weight in gold would have been a valuable gift. When it came time to lay the gifts before the baby Jesus, he laid it down beautifully.
That's how Jesus got an iPhone for Christmas.
Christmas isn't about giving the "right" gift. It's not about "getting it right" at all. It's about doing what we can, as human as we are, and giving what we have anyway. It's about the little drummer boy.
We'll never "get it right." Thank God that Christmas is not about giving the right gift at all ... it's about God's GIFT of salvation.
If it were up to us, we could never fix the broken world. We tried to save ourselves for generations and it never worked. All of our great ideas to fix things just end up making a bigger mess. So a great miracle happened.
God didn't just "come up with a good idea". God CAME. He dwelt among us and the simplest things became sacred. The incarnation makes all the difference.
It's funny how an iPhone in the manger scene reminded me of the power of the incarnation.
Sunday, December 11, 2011
To read it in the Upper Room, see the Upper Room Devotional Website.
A couple of weeks before her last Christmas, my mother announced during prayer time in worship, "Even though I have been diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer and the prognosis is not very good, I want everybody to know that nothing can take away the joy of my Christmas!" Her courageous words are etched in my memory.
Reading Mary's Magnificat each year reminds me that no matter what happens, our lives are part of a bigger picture. Pregnant and unmarried, Mary would have to make a long, uncomfortable trek to Bethlehem on a donkey's back and finally give birth to her son in a barn. Yet after the angel's words, Mary sang--because she knew God was doing something. In spite of her situation, she realized that she was privileged to be part of a larger movement of God's mercy from generation to generation.
Claiming Mary's spirituality as well as my mom's would mean that no matter what happens to us, we can sing. When we keep our eyes on God, nothing can steal the joy of Christmas.
Stephen P. West (Alabama, USA)
Prayer: Gracious Lord, even when we are aware of life's struggles during the holidays, may we find that they are indeed holy days. Let nothing distract us from the joy that the Incarnation brings. In Jesus' name. Amen.
Prayer focus: Those living with cancer
Thursday, December 8, 2011
|Altar at "Candlelight" at a recent Walk to Emmaus at Sumatanga. The candlelight tradition of welcoming pilgrims by the communion of saints always feels like a glimpse of heaven to me. May the light of Christ touch each of you during this holy season.|
Thursday, December 1, 2011
Longing and waiting are difficult concepts for us in our culture. We are used to fast food, fast cars, and fast answers. We are accustomed to having a world of information at our fingertips with laptops and smart phones. We expect pills that will immediately take the pain away. Simply put, we don’t like to wait.
I love Advent for all sorts of reasons, and I’m thoroughly enjoying my first Advent at my new church. I love the music, I love the missions, and I love the families that work and play together as we prepare to celebrate the coming of Christ!
But one of the main reasons I love Advent is that it puts us in touch with a deep spiritual reality that we too often neglect. The things of the Holy Spirit take time. Feasting on the Word is not a fast food meal but an experience to be savored. Prayer is not a quick fix but an invitation to be changed from within over time. Forgiveness doesn’t happen overnight but can be quite a journey. Feeling at home in a local church takes “making a home” there, building relationships that last. A deeper relationship with God is not something we can download instantaneously.
During Advent, we become people who get in touch with that part of ourselves that is empty for God. In a way, Advent is counter-cultural in a time when we expect instant results. I pray that this year, we prepare a manger of the heart for Christ to be born anew.
That’s the spirituality of longing. It can change your life.
Saturday, November 26, 2011
Friday, November 18, 2011
1) The trail is not hard. It's the rocks, roots, limbs, logs, sand, and trees that are hard.
2) You never know what's under those leaves, but you're gonna find out.
4) I will fall. This is not an option, so I might as well be ready. That's how I learn my limits.
5) There is no such thing as a comfortable seat. It hurts the first few times, but later you don't even notice.
6) Gear is important, especially the helmet. But gloves and padded shorts sure feel like a close second.
7) There's no shame in stopping or walking. I need wind and water. Rest is part of the adventure.
8) When you meet other travelers on the trail, greet them and make room.
Saturday, November 12, 2011
What a serendipity that they found this online, called me, and wanted to highlight this in their magazine. I'm honored and hope others find it helpful. You can read the article by clicking Children Enjoy Blessing of the Toys .
You can also download the liturgy for use in your congregation by clicking the Blessing of the Toys Liturgy .
Thursday, November 3, 2011
Thursday, October 27, 2011
The Academy experience is a program of the Upper Room for the renewal of the church. For laity and clergy alike, it is a holistic journey of deep spiritual growth that involves a daily rhythm of worship that frames the day, academic presentations exploring the depths of Christian spirituality, assigned times of silent reflection and prayer, the celebration of Eucharist, and evening covenant group. For me, attending my Academy was a life changing experience of immersing myself in the spiritual flow of many centuries of Christian faith. I am glad to give back to others in the hope that they, too, will nourish deep roots in God.
For more information and what the Academy can mean for your journey with God, check out the Academy for Spiritual Formation website. It has a nice video, information on upcoming Academies, registration information, and articles on topics such as what a typical day at the Academy is like.
Saturday, October 15, 2011
You can find When Our Founders Built a Legacy published on the GBOD website.
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
What you call me toward is creativity. To be creative is to express the beauty and glory of God using the gifts I've been given ...
- to create blessing where there is cursing
- to create beauty where there is ugliness
- to create healthy atmosphere where there are unhealthy dynamics
- to create conversation where there is jockeying and positioning
- to create music where there is silence
- to create silence where there is noise
- to create appreciation where there is assumption
- to create reconciliation where there is resentment
- to create acceptance where there is no opportunity for reconciliation
Lord, I can't do it all, please everyone, or fix everything. But I can try to make the world a more beautiful place. I can't do everything, but I can do something. Forgive me for the sin of thinking I'm responsible for everything. That's your job. Forgive me for withdrawing and doing nothing, when you have given me a small candle to carry in the darkness with joy.
May I be overwhelmed with the joy of offering something, if only one stroke of the paintbrush on the massive canvas of what you are creating.
Monday, September 26, 2011
Monday, September 19, 2011
In celebration of the occasion, I composed a hymn text which we will sing in worship to the familiar tune BEACH SPRING. I thought it might be worth sharing with others.
“When Our Founders Built a Legacy”
Monday, September 12, 2011
I have shared in previous posts this summer some musings about my spirituality. This has been a wonderful discipline for my personal enrichment, even as I write in order to get to know my new congregation. This week, I pick up where I left off a few weeks ago.
After sharing some of my faith story, I reflected on the dynamic tension between my spirituality of “retreat” and “creativity,” and then between my spirituality of “risk” and “roots.”
Today I’d like to share about one of the two deep mysteries of Christian faith, one which I have embraced as a central part of my walk with God. It’s the incarnation. This is the great mystery that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, that God crossed over the great divide and the divine became human in Christ. I like to call our journey of living into this mystery our “incarnational spirituality.”
What that means for me is that whenever we gather in Christ’s name, Jesus is here. And he’s real. This is a promise he made that is not just about worship, and we sell ourselves short when we assume that it is. It’s true when we are feeding the hungry, caring for the elderly, counseling the hurting, loving the poor, or teaching God’s children. It’s also true when we hold meetings, tend to the business of the church, or sort out our differences with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Christ is pervasively present and I’m passionate about that.
For me, Christianity is about practicing the presence of God. It’s true in all things, not just some things. There is no divorcing the divine from the human. If we pay attention, we will notice the ways and places God is at work beneath the surface. When I live into that vision, it transforms everything!
Sunday, September 4, 2011
I preached today on the lectionary reading from Matthew. Jesus' promise that where two or three are gathered in his name "there will I be" is not just warm and fuzzy words about his presence in worship. These words are in a section of instructions about how to deal with inevitable church conflict in a healthy manner. They were actually about his presence when we gather ... in disagreement.
Building community out of controversy.
1 John 3:14-15; 1 Corinthians 13
In this interview, Bill Hybels, pastor of Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Illinois, discusses biblical ways to handle church conflict.
Given the assortment of people and ministries at Willow Creek, how does the church stay united?
Bill Hybels: Unity isn't the word we use to describe relationships at Willow Creek. The popular concept of unity is a fantasyland where disagreements never surface and contrary opinions are never stated with force. We expect disagreement, forceful disagreement. So instead of unity, we use the word community.
The mark of community—true biblical unity—is not the absence of conflict. It's the presence of a reconciling spirit.
How do you teach people to fight fair?
First, we acknowledge that conflict is inevitable. Then we go the next step and say, "When your nose does get bent out of joint—not if but when—you have a biblical responsibility to take the high road of conflict resolution."
That means going directly to the person with whom you're having this conflict rather than building a guerrilla team to ambush this person later.
We also reach a kind of reverse accountability. In staff meetings or in front of the congregation, we say, "If someone whose nose is bent out of joint comes to you for a 'Won't you join my cause?' conversation, you have a biblical responsibility to interrupt mid-sentence and say, 'I think you're talking to the wrong person. Please go to the individual with whom you're having this conflict and seek to resolve it in a God-glorifying way.'"
By expecting people to fight, and teaching them how, have you created more conflict in the church?
Yes. But most of it stays above ground. Conflict that goes underground poisons the soil and hurts everyone eventually. We would rather have conflict within community than a mask of unity.
What are the issues for which the leadership of Willow Creek will go to the wall?
Second, we insist on the enforcement of Scripture, the "living out" of the teachings of Christ. We'll not only defend the inerrancy and authority of Scripture, but also the indisputable importance of applying biblical teaching to our daily lives in practical ways.
Third, we expect lay and staff leaders at our church to be on board with the basic vision of Willow Creek.
The last nonnegotiable is verbal discipline. In confrontation too often our verbal discipline goes out the window. People make always and never statements. They exaggerate the truth or get careless with facts. Volume levels increase. And then we wonder why we're unsuccessful in finding resolution.
Are certain types of people more prone to create conflict?
People who are unhealthy emotionally. In contrast, healthy people are less likely to internalize difference of opinion and less likely to assume the worst. For that reason, we are committed to placing healthy people into key leadership roles, both on staff and lay level.
How can you be sure you're looking at a healthy person?
You can't be 100 percent sure. But a person who has never wrestled with how his upbringing impacts his adult relationship is a sure bet for a barrel of conflict.
In our interviewing process, we often ask, "Were you raised in a perfect family?" Most often, of course, the answer is no. Then we probe deeper: "How did your parents let you down? Have you worked through that?"
People on the journey toward health generally can answer yes to two important questions: (1) Will you admit that you have baggage from your past? And (2) Will you do honest work on it so it doesn't distort your relationships and work around here?
How does an unhealthy person create unnecessary conflict?
Often, an unhealthy person will say yes when he should say no. For example, we look for people who, when asked to do additional work, have the emotional health to say, "I'm swamped right now. I won't be able to get that assignment done by the due date. Can we discuss how the assignment can get done another way?"
Another tip-off is when a person cannot subject himself or herself to loving, constructive evaluation. If people are terrified of the evaluation process or hostile to it, there's usually an underlying issue that needs to be explored and understood.
What are some standard precautions to head off unnecessary conflict?
Around Willow Creek we talk about having "check-ins." If we sense tension with someone, we sit down and say, "I just need to check in with you. Is everything okay between us?"
Once a month, we also have a question-and-answer time with the staff, and in addition, we have regular talk-back sessions with those who work in the sub-ministries.
The more interactive we are, the more we preempt serious conflict, because we get people talking before conflict goes underground.
Monday, August 29, 2011
Whether we face tragedy on a small or large scale, God can make us whole again. The ministry of healing prayer opens us to the grace of God. It bridges alienation, breaks the power of suffering, and opens discouraged human spirits. Services of healing aren’t about magical cures. Rather they "provide an atmosphere in which healing can happen." (The United Methodist Book of Worship)
When people are hurting and there is an invitation to share our pain, it is an act of hope in God. The ritual of healing prayer in our tradition does not embarrass or expose people. United Methodist healing services use a simple sacramental approach that expresses compassion, hope, grace, and a quiet confidence in God. We can bring our insufficiencies to the all-sufficient Christ, who understands our need for wholeness for our souls, our families, our communities, our nation, and our world.
I hope you will come on 9/11 or go to worship at your home church.
Saturday, August 20, 2011
I have been sharing about my spirituality recently. Today you may notice there’s a method to my meanderings. There is a dynamic tension between my first two, the spirituality of “retreat” and of “creativity” (one is restful and reflective and the other active and productive). Last week’s spirituality of “risk” likewise contrasts what I share this week.
My spirituality is also a spirituality of “roots.” In order to take risks and step out in faith out of passion for Christ, it’s important to be deeply rooted in God.
For me, this spirituality plays out in several ways. My morning prayer and study time is a way of rooting my day, giving God the first fruits of my time as well as centering my soul. I’m also interested in genealogy which gives me a personal sense of context in the midst of history. I enjoy visiting holy spaces, whether out in the woods or at places such as the monastery in
We live in a time of great rootlessness. People are always moving, changing jobs, and making new relationships. We are uprooted time and again in ways that make us more and more disconnected from our past and from familiar surroundings. Mobility is not a bad thing, but it leaves us with a compelling desire to let the anchor down. I invite you to join me in a quest to become more deeply rooted in God!
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Sunday, August 14, 2011
Sunday, August 7, 2011
This week, I would like to share about what I call the “spirituality of creativity.” I believe that God gives each of us unique and marvelous gifts for the building up of the body of Christ. When we try to serve in ways that are not in our “gift mix”, we tend to be frustrated or unhappy. But when we serve according to our God-given design, we experience joy and fulfillment even when it’s challenging. I am convinced that people who don’t serve actively in the Church probably just haven’t yet found their “sweet spot.”
Personally, I confess that I am the right-brained artist type. As a musician and writer, I have found great joy in offering gifts within and beyond the local church I serve. I love to blog, write devotionals and columns, and create hymn texts. I also love to sing and play.
I have always admired people who had entirely different creative gifts, whether it is cooking, dance, textiles, crafts, art, or worship visuals. I also admire people who had creative gifts such as woodwork, construction, project planning, and architecture. I remember the scripture in which the Spirit of God rested on craftsmen who helped create the tabernacle. Even in the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit was bestowing gifts.
Claiming a spirituality of creativity means living in a way that is always discovering where the needs of the world and my gifts cross. And a local church is most vibrant when we recognize that all God’s gifts are unique, wonderful, and equally important.
Sunday, July 31, 2011
One of the things you will learn about me is my love for spiritual formation. I believe God’s people are called to a growing, experiential relationship with Jesus that shapes us over time into the image of Christ for the sake of others. Being a Christian is more than assent to a set of beliefs and it’s more than doing good things. It’s ultimately about the heart, about being changed “from one degree of glory to another” as Paul said it. One of the most wonderful gifts God has given us for inner change is the gift of retreat.
Monday, July 25, 2011
This summer, I've been introducing myself to my new congregation in the weekly newsletter. Last week, I began sharing about my spiritual journey. I thought this might be helpful to share portions of these articles on my blog as well.
I grew up in a pastor’s home and sometimes being a “preacher’s kid” was difficult emotionally. The other kids teased me and I didn’t always like that. I did the things that kids do growing up, and I’m not proud of all of them. But at the same time, I had this ever-present sense that God loved me. Only later did I know that this was what I’d call the experience of prevenient grace. There was never a moment when I didn’t know God loved me. Even when I felt miserable.
I have already shared with you an experience but I would like to say more about it this week. When I was ten years old, my daddy was leading a youth retreat for our church at Camp Lee in Anniston, Alabama. He was the pastor, so I got to go because I was his kid (I was not old enough for youth group yet). I remember getting to sit in the laps of the teenage girls. But most of all, I remember that these youth talked about their relationship with God in their own language. It did more than impress me … it touched me.
Little did I know at the time I would become a preacher. I’m glad God didn’t reveal that to me yet … I might have run the other way! It has been a great adventure.
Friday, July 15, 2011
Monday, July 11, 2011
In a recent post, I reflected on the central symbols of the beautiful windows in my new study. Today I offer some musings about having an office that is "built into" the original sanctuary. I know that for some, this is a simple utilitarian decision about good use of space. But it means something more to me. I work and enjoy people every day in space that was, and is, holy ground.
I remember a story from our ancient spiritual heritage about a well-known "anchorite" named Julian of Norwich. Anchorites were those whose cell (or living area) was built into a sanctuary and enclosed. They were quite literally "anchored" to their sanctuaries, unlike hermits, who went into the wilderness. Pictured is the hatch remaining from an anchorite's cell through which they would receive communion as well as food and water, speak to visitors seeking counsel, and hear church services.
What does it mean to me that my office is built into a sanctuary space? I love our offices because they are a hub of activity. I'm an extrovert so I love the buzz of people and faces and stories and fun. But all this joyful activity is built upon holy ground. I hope and pray I always have a sense that all that we do in our fellowship and work and play together is holy and full of God.
Monday, July 4, 2011
Faithful Christians in Alabama differ in their political opinions. One of the things I love about being Methodist is that diversity is appreciated. I encourage each congregation I serve to practice their personal faith in their political life and to take responsibility to vote, but always recognize that we will have healthy disagreements. Accepting and valuing our God-given diversity is part of the essential nature of being in Christian community.
The recent immigration law in Alabama has been controversial. Our bishop and some of our pastors heavily involved in evangelism and missionary efforts drafted an open letter. The article presenting it calls this law an embarrassment to our state that does not reflect the spirit of hospitality in our churches and calls it the meanest immigration law in the nation. An interesting online debate followed that reflects our diversity, and I encourage interested readers to check out the Open Letter with Responses.
Wednesday, June 22, 2011
They feature two of the most common and ancient symbols of Christian faith. One is the IHS monogram, the abbreviated name of Jesus featuring the first three Greek letters of his name. The other is the lamb of God often associated with Easter, the "Agnus Dei". It's the symbol of Christ's resurrection victory through his sacrificial love.
These two symbols anchor my day and get me in touch with ancient Christianity. One is a reminder of the human character and story of Jesus in all his humility. The other is a christological statement of faith in Christ who is exalted in victory.
My prayer today is that these symbols also anchor my ministry. Every day, I can be reminded that it's all about Jesus and it's all about Christ. This work I am privileged to be doing is not about me at all!
I am feeling very much at home.
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Saturday, June 4, 2011
Sunday, May 29, 2011
Sunday, May 22, 2011
Friday, May 13, 2011
On April 25, I posted an online memorial for Rev. Levi Garrison. He was my 4th great grandfather and early American Methodist circuit rider in South Carolina. I mentioned a letter he wrote in 1831 concerning his views on the episcopacy (organizing our bishops) that is in the archives at Wofford College.
December 30. 1831. To the Members of the Southcarolina Conference to be held at Darlington the 26 of January 1832.
Dear Brethren, I have been an Old Souldier among you. I joined the Traveling Connection in 1800. I traveled seven years, located in 1807. I have watched the movements of the Methodists ever since. I am still unmoved in my faith and ettachment to our doctrines and economy, but it does appear to me that as it relates to the Episcopacy that the cause may yet be improved. So as to eliviate, both the Traveling and Local Body in some way like the following: to elect & ordain at least one Bishop for every three Conferences, and for the Bishops to change; in there districts, alternately, as do the Presiding Elders. Then in all cases of ordination, all could be attended to in the year, and also it would effectually secure the Episcopal ethority in all cases of death. The reason of my suggesting to your honorable body the above thoughts is that some of your delegates to the general Conference that is coming on may consult other preachers and make some improvement to the above plan and try to have something done in that way. There is also one other thing I will mention. Our book business has become an establishment of such worth and magnitude, that the Connection could well afford to make such a rule; that all preachers that have traveled, “we will say,” so many years, and have married in honour to the cause of Methodism, and stand firm in the old plan fully effected towards us, the old body, shall be furnished gratice, with a libery of the best theological books that we have to prepare them to maintain our ground and doctrines. I would say more, but this is enough to impress your mind with my views and to help some of you to improvement. I am your humble and loving brother in Christ, Levi Garrison
To the Bishops, and
Members of the
Saturday, May 7, 2011
Tomorrow is Mother's Day and I'm remembering my wonderful mother, who died on the Sunday after Easter in 2003.
Here's a link to the online memorial that I manage and sponsor:
Thursday, May 5, 2011
Monday, May 2, 2011
This is the front door of the old chapel at Ford's Chapel UMC, 10 minutes from my church. The narthex stood up with 4 stained glass windows intact and a chandelier that was too stubborn to break ... a testament to hope.
This is a potent picture of Rev. Dorothy Ann standing in the narthex looking into what was the historic chapel at Ford's Chapel UMC. She is the pastor and we went up on Thursday to spend time with her as soon as we heard. They had some damage to the entire facility, but the worst part hit was their historic chapel which was leveled.
This is the one remaining pew in the chapel of Ford's Chapel UMC, 10 minutes from my church. The building was built in 1870 (and bricked later). It laid above a foundation (notice the dark hand-hewn wood shown exposed here) from 1830's era. The congregation is the oldest congregation in the North Alabama Conference and was organized in 1808 by James Gwinn, the first circuit rider in the Tennessee Valley.
This is the steeple of Ford's Chapel UMC, a congregation just 10 minutes from Grace UMC where I serve. My friend Dorothy Ann Webster is the pastor. We went up on Thursday to spend time with her as soon as we heard that the F4 tornado tore through the Harvest, Alabama area.
Friday, April 29, 2011
My family is fine and our house had only minor damage. Our power will be out for possibly another week and I'm getting poor mobile phone reception so texting and talking is very spotty. So here's my chance to give everyone an update.
As far as church, Grace UMC will indeed hold worship this Sunday at 8:30 and 10:45 and pray for Ford's Chapel and many others affected by the tornadoes. We will not have nursery or Sunday School (since there are no windows for light in some rooms). Youth Sunday will be rescheduled for later. We will not have power but the water is fine and the building was undamaged. Bring flashlights for the bathroom! Simple and warm worship of prayer and singing. We need to gather. Come as you are.
Thankfully, as far as I know no one at Grace UMC was hurt and no one lost their home. Pray for the Blackwells, the Hardins, the McMullins, and the Pizitz's who I know have had significant damage to their homes. Also pray for Emily Parker, one of our students in Tuscaloosa who I've heard from. She's fine, but she lost a sorority sister and another friend and roommates to death.
My family spent part of yesterday with our friend Rev. Dorothy Ann Webster viewing Ford's Chapel UMC's destruction and visiting families in Anderson Hills neighborhood. They are only about 15 minutes from my church. Their historic chapel built in 1870 was destroyed when a tornado ripped through Harvest, Alabama. But the other buildings can be repaired. Many of the homes in that area near Sparkman High School were destroyed and there were a few deaths. Praying for their ministry there in the community during this difficult time.
The church office will reopen when power is restored. My mobile phone is not getting much reception so I can't talk, text, email, etc. If you need something please feel free to come by the church or the house. Let's all help others get through this.
Monday, April 25, 2011
Levi was ordained by Francis Asbury and was a circuit riding Methodist preacher from 1800-1807. Refusing to stay in an appointment because of a yellow fever epidemic, he was "located" and served for several decades as a local pastor in Anderson, SC. The vote at Annual Conference to reduce his status from elder to local pastor as a result of his refusal to itenerate was 15-14. Yet he did not stop doing what God was calling him to do. Historical records show that in subsequent years as a local pastor, he dedicated the buildings of three churches in the Anderson area: Smith's Chapel, Ruhama (originally Methodist but now Baptist), and Old Providence Methodist Churches.
There is a letter in the archives at Wofford College that he wrote to members of the South Carolina Conference concerning his views on the episcopacy in 1831. He refers to himself as and "old souldier among you" recounting his ministry history. The archives also hold a beautifully written obituary he wrote concerning his son Osborn.
He married Martha Patsy Meaders of the Mt. Pleasant community. Their children were Elizabeth B. Garrison, Osborn B. Garrison, Matilda A. Garrison, Margaret Garrison, Nancy N. Garrison, Foster Washington Garrison, T. Garrison, Henry W. Garrison, David Hughes Garrison, Jesse Clark Garrison, Levi B. Garrison, and Melssa Garrison. Elizabeth married Simpson Hagood of South Carolina and they moved to Alpharetta, GA (I am descended from them).
Interestingly, Levi's brother, David, was also a Methodist preacher and served in Georgia. Records show he was ordained by Francis Asbury. As strange as it may sound, they had a younger set of cousins, also brothers named Levi and David Garrison, who were Methodist preachers. This set of brothers served churches in South Alabama and are buried there in Covington County. These pastors are related to several others in the Garrison and Meaders lines who were Methodist clergy in early America. Levi and David were common names in several lines of the family. The Garrison legacy in early frontier Methodism is great.
Historical records show that Levi Garrison was buried in the Old Providence Methodist Church graveyard. However, if so his grave is unmarked. Pictured is the most prominent of the several unmarked graves. The grave of his daughter Matilda is found in the graveyard, clearly marked. Providence is still a well-kept, active United Methodist Church in a resort community (it meets during the summer months).
To see the original memorial, go to Findagrave.com
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
This morning I walked the Grace UMC prayer trail and meditated on the stations of the cross. I love doing this, especially during Holy Week.
Sunday, April 17, 2011
Sunday, April 10, 2011
I can’t believe it has been 7 years. Grace is a marvelous church and I felt the Spirit at work when I got the opportunity to come here 7 years ago. Several years prior to my arrival, the previous pastor, Fred, asked me to be the speaker for the annual church retreat at Sumatanga … and I have been in love with Grace UMC ever since. I began to keep track of Grace and longed to perhaps serve here one day. When it actually transpired, I just couldn’t believe it. My family was so very excited about coming to such a wonderful church.
In the same way, becoming senior pastor of Saint Mark UMC in Birmingham is an extraordinary opportunity. Like Grace, Saint Mark is a church that I have had spiritual nudges about serving someday … though I was surprised that “someday” is today.
As my family prepares for the transition of moving to Birmingham, and Grace UMC prepares for the transition of receiving the Sissons in June, we can all know that God is good.
Monday, April 4, 2011
"As a youth I went with my father to visit his uncle, Harrison Wills. One of the stories I remember Uncle Harrison telling was that when he, in his retirement years, decided to sell of his chicken houses and much of his land, he advertised the sale in the Atlanta papers. A group of business men came to look at the property and purchase it. One of them said, 'Where did you acquire all of this? Did you inherit it?' He replied, 'Let me show you where I got my inheritance.' He drove them down to the little church in which he had been raised, took the key from his pocket, and ushered them inside. Pointing to the altar rail at the front of the church, he said, 'This is where my inheritance came from. I can remember that my father brought me here as a child, knelt at the altar with me, put his hands on my head, and prayed that I would be the person God wanted me to be.' He concluded, 'I can still feel the hands of my father on my head'."