A Word from Dr. Doug

November 25th, 2020

Dear Friends,
I hope everyone has a Happy Thanksgiving! Whether we are celebrating alone, on Zoom, or with family and friends, I pray that this will be a day of thankfulness to God for His love and blessings.

Sunday in my sermon I shared the idea of an Alphabet of Thanksgiving – recording at least one thing you are thankful for, using each letter of the alphabet. At our last Staff meeting, the Staff wrote their own Alphabet of Thanksgiving. I told them I would share it with you this week.

A – Alleluias!
B – Bible, beauty
C – Christ, children, Children’s Ministry
D – dogs, digital learning, Dads
E – Eating (we’re Methodists after all), exercise
F – Friends, family
G – God, goodness, grace
H – help, Heaven, Holy Spirit, Higher Ground Worship
I – Isaac (family name), invitation
J – Jesus
K – Kindness
L – Love, laughter
M – memories, McEachern, music, Music Ministry, Missions
O – opportunity
P – Pumpkin pie, Peace, our Pastors
Q – Quiet
R – Remembrance
S – Sanctuary, singing, Salvation, Staff
T – Truth, thankfulness
U – Unity
W – wonder, wisdom, Worship in the Sanctuary
X – Xylophone (X is always hard)
Y – You, Y’all, Youth Ministry
Z – Zoom, ZZZZ’s

On behalf of the Staff, we love you and love being in ministry with you. Have a blessed Thanksgiving!

I love you all,
Dr. Doug

November 18th, 2020

Dear Friends, 

This Sunday we will be celebrating a Thanksgiving Sunday. As I got to thinking about this, I  decided to do a little research into what people in America say they are most thankful for.  

Here’s the list: 

  •  – Family (84%) 

  •  – Health (69%) 

  •  – Friends (63%) 

  •  – Memories (63%) 

  •  – Freedom (53%) 

  •  – Safety and Security (47%) 

  •  – Opportunity (45%) 

  •  – Fun Experiences (42%) 

  •  – Achievements (33%) 

  •  – Wealth (21%) 

I am not surprised to see Family, Friends, and Health at the top of the list. All three of these have been made even more precious this year as we have lived with COVID-19. I still remember the first hugs from my grandchildren after the lockdown in March and April.  

However, I must admit that I am surprised that Faith in God is not listed as one of the things that people are most thankful for. When President Abraham Lincoln issued his proclamation in  October 1863, establishing the 4th Thursday in November as a day of Thanksgiving, he did so while the nation was still engaged in the Civil War. In that proclamation, Lincoln designated the day as a day of “Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in Heaven.” Lincoln called upon the people of the United States to give thanks for all the ways that God had blessed everyone and to also repent for those things that had been done that were not in accordance with God’s will. 

This Sunday we will gather together to offer our thanks to God. Whether you attend in person or online, I look forward to celebrating with you. 


I love you all,
Doug

November 11th, 2020

Dear Friends,
It was great to hear today that a vaccine for COVID-19 is looking very good. I pray that it works and that we might return to living without constantly considering the impact of the virus. I applaud all of you for the way that you are practicing wearing masks in worship, social distancing, and following safety for us to gather every week to worship God. Thank you for your cooperation.
I want you to know of a couple of schedule changes that will happen beginning December 6th. Higher Ground will move its Worship time to 11 am. They will meet both inside and outside at Higher Ground. Also, we will begin again the 9:30 am Worship Service in addition to the 11 am Worship Service in the Sanctuary. To keep adequate social distancing and with increasing numbers in worship, it is necessary to start this service back. We will continue to be online for all our Worship Services as well.
I also want to share that your prayers for the church are being felt. The Spirit in the Sanctuary and at Higher Ground is evident to me. Thank you for your continued prayers and know that I am praying for you.
I love you all,
Doug

November 4th, 2020

Dear Friends,
So, this article is a “Heads Up” article as I share with you some things that will be happening in
the next couple of months. Starting with Communion this Sunday. If you are joining us from home, please have your sacraments prepared. 

First, this month we will celebrate Thanksgiving to God on the fourth Sunday of November. In some ways, I am reminded of the first Thanksgiving after a year that saw a large number of the Pilgrim community die due to exposure to the cold and hunger. That next year they celebrated the fall harvest with a great feast remembering God who provided for them and was with them through that first difficult year. We have had quite a year dealing with COVID-19. This year Thanksgiving might be different, but it will certainly be meaningful.

We begin the celebration of Advent on November 29th. Our Sermon Series for Advent is “The Wise Men Rules.” The focus is on rules we learn for living from the story of the Wise Men we find in the Gospel of Matthew. I hope you will plan on being a part. By the way, Tanya has hatched a plan for the annual Christmas Concert performed by the Choir. It will be on the evening of December 12th and you will be able to attend either in person or virtually.

Christmas Eve Services will be on the 24th at 3pm and 6pm in the Sanctuary. If you attend in person, we will socially distance and may need to use overflow spaces. We are also planning a Family Friendly Christmas Eve Service at 4:30pm which will be online, however, there will be a Watch Party in the Christian Life Center for folks who want to attend.

In January we will focus on Stewardship and you will have the opportunity to make commitments to serve in various ministries as well as a commitment to support the Church’s ministry financially.

We are looking at a busy next few months and I look forward to sharing these times with you!

I love you all,
Doug

October 28th, 2020

Dear Friends, 

This Sunday we will be celebrating All Saints’ Day with a time in our Worship to remember those of our congregation who have died in the past year. I find that I react to these times of  remembrance with both sadness and thanksgiving for the life that was lived. I hope you will come and be a part of this special service. 

I have now been here for four months. The time has flown! I have never lived through a crazier season of ministry than what we are experiencing now due to COVID-19. But, I do want to say how thankful I am that I am going through this season with you. McEachern is a caring, committed church that truly is seeking to love God and love people. I have personally experienced this through the encouraging words that you all have graciously shared with me. I pray for COVID-19 to be behind us. But, until that time, we will work together to sow seeds of the love and the grace of Jesus with a hurting world.  

May God bless you and be with you! I look forward to worshipping with you Sunday either in-person or online. 

I love you all, 

Doug

October 21st, 2020

Dear Friends, 

This Sunday you will have the unique opportunity to hear from all four of McEachern’s Pastors, together, as we share a dialogue sermon on Discipleship. This is the last Sunday of our “Seeds for the Sower” series and we will speak about Sowing with Faith. I hope you will join us either online or in-person worship.  

I also want to applaud you for following the guidelines while worshiping in-person. Thank you for wearing masks,  sitting 6 feet apart, and refraining from extended conversations in the Sanctuary. I know that all this is awkward, and, if you’re like me, you’d really like to hug somebody. That time will come eventually.  

One little reminder about the guidelines,  everyone please exit the church building after worship and once you are outside then you can visit with one another. I notice people want to hang out in the Sanctuary and the Narthex to visit. Let the visiting continue, but please let’s move it outside to keep safe. 

I am proud to be a part of McEachern UMC. It is a joy meeting folks and getting to know people.  I’m excited about Sunday and our dialogue sermon at 9:30 am and 11 am. 

I love you all, 

Doug

October 14th, 2020

Dear Friends, 

I just came from our staff meeting. I hope you all realize just how gifted and committed the Staff here at McEachern is. I am constantly amazed at the creativity and perseverance. Please make sure and express appreciation to them. 

Reading the Bible for my devotion the other day, I came across these verses, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your  hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7) 

We live in an anxious time. Part of the anxiety comes from encountering a disease unlike any we have seen in our lifetime. Part of the anxiety is from the changes in our daily living: wearing masks, social distancing, washing our hands frequently, not touching one another (I really miss handshakes and hugs!). Yet another part of is fearfulness for our safety and security. I’m sure you have your own reasons for feeling anxious. 

But, Paul writes that we should not be anxious about anything. He tells us to take our concerns to Jesus in prayer and petition. I did a study once that required me to keep a prayer journal. The study was “The Workbook of Living Prayer.” Several years later, I led the study again in another church and used my original workbook with my notes and prayer requests. As I went through, I  discovered that every prayer request that I had written down had been answered.  

God listens to our prayers and answers everyone. His answers may not be exactly what we want or exactly in the time frame that we want, but I know that God answers prayer.  

Paul tells us when we pray to God that He will give us His peace. What that means is that any time you are feeling anxious, let that be a call to prayer knowing that God will answer your prayer. And soon, you will notice the peace of God coming over you. 

The old saying is true, “No God, No Peace …Know God, Know Peace.” 

I love you all, 

Doug

October 7th, 2020

Dear Friends, 

When I was 16, I went to Camp Glisson for the first time on a Conference Youth Retreat. I had an encounter with God that weekend that changed my life. The next time I went to Glisson, I was elected to the North Georgia Conference Youth Council. For the next two years, I spent a lot of time helping plan and lead retreats there. 

I served as a Camp Counselor the summer after I graduated from High School. By this time, it was clear that God had called me into ministry and that summer was one of my favorites of all time. I learned things as a Counselor that I use in ministry today. I kept song sheets and my Counselor manual from the summer of 1972. 

Glisson has been an important part of my life and, in many ways, I consider it to be my spiritual home. When my children started going as campers when they were old enough. Every year, the week at Glisson was scheduled before we even thought about vacation plans. Both of them were greatly affected by their time at Glisson; they grew spiritually. Brianne and Jordan eventually served as Camp Counselors for several years, and Jordan even met his future wife, Meredith, there. 

Over time, I have served on the Board for Camp Glisson, worked as a T.I.R. (preacher of the week), and attended many retreats and conferences. I have sought to give back to Glisson with my time and monetary gifts. I figure the ministry of Glisson has sown into me and I want to help the ministry sow into others. 

Now, my grandchildren are Glisson campers. They love the Camp and they have grown spiritually as a result. 

I share this because it is a tale of sowing and reaping. Just as participating in the church and giving to the church is a tale of sowing and reaping. When we sow, we do not know what exactly the harvest will be or who will be affected. Whoever sowed into Glisson had little idea that in 1970 a 16-year-old boy would meet God in a way that would change his life forever. 

That boy is now serving as Senior Pastor here. When we sow into the church, we do not know who will meet Jesus and be changed. Thousands have over the history of McEachern. Who knows how many more will come to God. 

 

I love you all, 

Doug 

September 30th, 2020

Dear Friends, 

First, let me say how much I enjoyed Rev. Bomi Kim’s sermon this past Sunday. If you missed it, you’ll find the link in the Wednesday Word to watch or watch it again. 

Now, I want everyone to know that McEachern will be celebrating World Communion Sunday with Holy Communion at both our morning services. If you are watching online, make sure that you have bread and grape juice and let us all celebrate together! It has been months since I received Holy Communion and I am really looking forward to the holy meal. 

Also this Sunday, we will be beginning a new sermon series called “Seeds for the Sower.” each week we will be looking at how God sows into us and how we sow into others. This Sunday the sermon will be based on Galatians 6:7-9 and titled “Seeds for the Sower: The Irrefutable Law of Sowing and Reaping.” 

Lastly, little mention has been made concerning the finances of the church. The finances are in pretty good shape right now due largely to the government’s PPP plan. But, if we were to look simply at the offerings that we have received as compared to our budgeted expenses, we are about $50,000 behind our budget. This is about where the church was this time last year and I understand that the church made a big push at the end of the year and caught up. 

This month, part of the teaching concerning sowing and reaping will be related to personal stewardship of time, talents, gifts, service, and witness. I want to ask everyone to pray this month concerning your own personal stewardship of God’s gifts to you. On Sunday, October 25th we will be making personal commitments of the financial portion of this stewardship. Be praying, I will be as well. 

 

I look forward to worship on  Sunday! 

I love you all, 

Doug 

September 23rd, 2020

Dear Friends

Dear Friends, 

We are continuing our three-part worship series on John Wesley’s Three Simple Rules. This Sunday the focus will be on “Stay in love with God.” I’m excited that Rev. Bomi Kim will be preaching at both the 9:30 and 11 am worship services. I’m looking forward to her sermon. 

So, I got to thinking about “Staying in love with God” and decided to do some research on the subject of ‘Staying in love” by talking with my wife, Debbie, to see what she might say after being married a long time—but not long enough! 

Here are some of our thoughts about staying in love. 

We spend time together. We share our lives with each other. 

We don’t take each other for granted. We support one another. 

We tell each other we love each other regularly. We laugh together. 

We are loyal to one another. We do nice things for each other. 

In other words, we focus on our relationship in several ways every day. 

And…to stay in love with God, it takes the same kind of effort and conscientiousness.  I look forward to Sunday! 

I love you all, 

Doug 

September 16th, 2020

Dear Friends, 

Two passages have captured my attention; one from the Old Testament and one from the New Testament. The OT passage is Genesis 2:7, “the Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” (NIV) The NT passage is John 20:22, “And with that, he (Jesus) breathed on them and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’” (NIV) 

While studying these two passages together, I discovered that the Greek word used in the NT passage is used nowhere else in the NT, but is the same word used by the Septuagint translators of Genesis 2:7. (Thanks to my handy Blue Letter Bible app.) 

God breathed into a human. Jesus breathed into the Disciples. Humans were created. Disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit, born anew, and, in fact, recreated. 

Hear the words of the old hymn: 

“Breathe on me, Breath of God, fill me with life anew, that I may love what thou dost love, and do what thou wouldst do.” (v.1) 

“Breathe on me, Breath of God, till I am wholly thine, Till all this earthly part of me glows with thy fire divine.” (v.3) 

May God breathe on us all! 

I love you all, 

Doug

September 9th, 2020

Dear Friends, 

It was wonderful journeying through the Psalms over the last six weeks. My prayer is that by reading and by worshiping and praying that every one of us has heard God’s amazing message of grace and love and of how God watches over us all the time. 

This Sunday, people will have the option of participating in online worship at 11 am, worshiping outdoors at Higher Ground at 9:30 am, or worshiping in the Sanctuary at 11 am. Everyone will still need to social distance and wear masks while participating in worship in person. 

It may seem like we have a lot of rules to live by right now. Both of my children said the same thing when each came home from the first day of kindergarten, “There sure are a lot of rules at school!” There are a lot right now, but it isn’t the first time that there were a lot of rules. (Read Leviticus to learn a lot about rules!) 

Over the next three weeks, the sermons will be about rules—specifically, John Wesley’s rules for Methodist Societies. In the 1700s as the Methodist movement was beginning, Wesley formed people into small accountability groups called Societies and he gave them three simple rules to govern all their actions. We will be looking at the Three Simple Rules and see how they apply to us today. 

I am looking forward to seeing you in the days to come. Please pray for me and pray for our church as we continue to live faithfully in the midst of our current circumstances. 

I love you all, 

 Doug 

September 2nd, 2020

Dear Friends, 

Recently, Debbie and I watched the musical Hamilton for the first time. (My grandkids love it and know all the words!) We really enjoyed it! One of my favorite songs was “I wanna be in the room where it happens …” This was sung by different characters, but always about being in the place where decisions were being made and where the power was in the creation of and governing of the United States of America. 

So, I began thinking about that idea—of wanting to be in the room where it happens—from the perspective of the ministry of the church. And what occurred to me was that the church is different. Yes, there are decisions that are made that affect the church. In the United Methodist Church, Pastoral Appointment is one of those decisions that can really affect the life and health of a church. 

But, for the majority of the work of the church, it’s not about being in a room where it happens because where ministry happens is not in a room. Ministry happens because of our relationship with Christ and ministry happens in relationship with others. Ministry happens in conversation. Ministry happens on the phone. Ministry happens when people give their time to teach Sunday School or work with Youth or take care of babies in the nursery. Ministry happens when we feed the hungry and share the Good News of Christ with the oppressed. Ministry, for the most part, does not happen in a room, it happens in our hearts. 

How is Christ touching your heart? For the past several weeks we have been reading and preaching from Psalms. This week is our last week focusing on them, and we will be looking at Psalm 139. It will also be our last week of Camp Meeting Worship at Higher Ground. On the 13th we will return to the Sanctuary for in-person worship at 11am. 

Throughout these weeks I have been struck by how much the Psalms touch our hearts. I pray Christ is touching your heart and transforming your heart into one that sings a song of praise for the opportunity to get out of the room where it happens and into a relationship with God and Christ that inspires us all to reach out for Him. 

I love you all, 

Doug 

August 26th, 2020

Dear Friends, 

Many years ago, Rabbi Harold Kushner wrote what I consider one of the best books ever written, entitled, “When Bad Things Happen to Good People.” He wrote out of his personal experience of grief. His son was born with a rare condition called progeria, which causes rapid aging. Essentially, his son died of old age in his twenties. Rabbi Kushner, like so many of us, found himself face to face with the question “Why did this happen, God?” 

I believe many of us are facing that question right now. COVID-19 has disrupted the way that we live our lives. I certainly don’t like not being able to hug people or shake hands or see them smile. I would rather not wear a mask when out in public or meeting with others. I would like to be able to eat out where and when I want, attend worship when I want, go to ball games, etc. 

Rabbi Kushner faced the question, “Why do Bad Things Happen to Good People?” and so must we. I recommend you read the book, but here are some of the thoughts that I remember from reading it over and over. 

God loves us no matter what happens. God chooses to give us free will. There is evil in the world and sometimes people choose to do evil to us. Accidents happen. God chooses not to control everything in the world in order for us to have free will. 

And the most important thing I remember about the book is this question: “Now that this has happened, what will I do about it?” 

Right now, we can choose to use the restrictions we are facing because of COVID-19 to help us grow closer to God and spend more time with Him in prayer and study. We can choose to help others who have lost jobs and need food and other things. We can choose to help kids who are trying to learn virtually. We can choose to worship virtually or with restrictions in-person. We can choose to wear masks in order to protect others. We can choose to listen to the recommendations of people who have studied this disease and how it is transmitted. 

We can choose God and we can choose life. 

I love you all, 

Doug 

August 19th, 2020

Dear Friends, 

I remember sitting in a hospital waiting room with a church member while her husband was undergoing surgery. We were talking about many things and somehow got on the subject of favorite Scriptures. 

She said to me, “You know what my absolute favorite Scripture is? ‘It came to pass…’.” 

I said, “That’s quite unusual. Why is that your favorite Scripture?”

 She replied, “Because ‘It came to pass,’ it didn’t come to stay.” 

I remember that conversation often. I remember it when a person is facing an illness. I remember it when the church is faced with some sort of challenge. I remember it when money seems to be running short. I remember it when I read the headlines that seem to declare the end of the world over and over again. Anytime I am facing a crisis, I remember that conversation. 

I’m remembering it right now as we all are facing COVID-19 and how that disease is challenging everything from work to school to athletics to how we worship and how we serve and how we stay connected to Christ and the church in this difficult time. 

 

And I will say to you—it came to pass, it didn’t come to stay! 

In the meantime, read the Psalms with me. Worship however you can—either online or in-person. Stay safe. Zoom or meet in small groups with proper precautions. Continue giving to support the various ministries of the church including feeding hundreds of families each week, worship in various settings, coordinating groups meeting, pastoral care, and many other ways. 

COVID-19 came to pass—it didn’t come to stay. But you know what has come to stay? The grace, love, and presence of God. Jesus said, “I will be with you always.” Count on it! 

I love you all, 

Doug 

 

August 12th, 2020

Dear Friends, 

The hardest thing about starting as Senior Pastor at McEachern has been the separation that has been forced upon us by the Coronavirus pandemic. Previously when I had gone to new churches in my ministry, I was able to spend the first few months meeting and getting to know the congregation. Presently, I am really handicapped by the inability to meet most of you in person—and when I do meet you, it’s behind a mask and I am unable to shake your hand or give you a hug due to health precautions. I have to tell you, this has been frustrating for us all! 

What I have been doing is focusing on meeting and getting to know the staff and the leadership of the church. McEachern has an excellent staff and every person I have met has been warm and welcoming. 

What I would like to do in the next couple of months is meet with as many Sunday School classes and small groups as I possibly can. Whether this is through technology or in-person observing social distancing doesn’t matter. I’d just like to start making connections with the people of the church and also to see who is staying connected to the congregation and who is currently disconnected. 

With my Pastor’s heart, I truly desire to see everyone who has been a part of the church in the past get connected to Christ and one another somehow. I also desire to help people who are disconnected or who have never been connected to get connected to Christ and others. 

I know that I won’t be able to do this without your help. So, will you help me? 

I love you all, 

Doug 

August 5th, 2020

Dear Friends, 

The word “pastor” comes from a Latin word that means “herdsman” or “shepherd.” In my sermon last Sunday, I spoke about God as our chief shepherd who watches over us and is with us through all the circumstances of life and will be with us always. 

I, along with Cindy Blocksidge and Tony Phillips and very soon Bomi Kim, serve as the Pastor of McEachern. We seek to teach and preach the Word of God, provide pastoral care, and work with the leadership of the church to envision the call that God is placing upon McEachern and then to provide leadership towards achieving that vision. 

As Pastors, we also function as shepherds who watch over the congregation in all sorts of situations. With the coronavirus, we are currently facing a situation that I have not seen in all my years of ministry. It is a very dangerous virus and is also a very contagious virus. It has affected how all of us live our lives and it has affected how we function as a church. 

Elsewhere in the Wednesday Word, you will find a chart that the church staff has developed to clarify how we are seeking to deal with the coronavirus situation. We will be using this as a point of reference in making decisions about how we do ministry here at McEachern. To determine what phase we are in we are using data from the Georgia Department of Health and also from the Cobb County Department of Health. Based on this data regarding COVID-19 infections, we see ourselves right now in Phase 2 on our chart. 

With that in mind, and also after listening to the Lay Leadership of the church who overwhelmingly affirmed offering the option of in-person worship, on August 16th we will provide an in-person worship option outside located at Higher Ground at 9:30am each Sunday for the next several weeks. This will be Camp Meeting style and everyone should bring their own lawn chair. We will hold an in-person worship service in the Sanctuary at 11 AM this Sunday, August 9th, but will stop holding this in-person option after this Sunday until we move to Phase 3. We will continue to offer the Traditional Worship at 11 AM in the Sanctuary and also Higher Ground Contemporary Worship via Livestream. 

I am looking forward to Camp Meeting time with you as we continue to focus on “Living Right Side Up in an Upside Down World.” 

I love you all, 

Dr. Doug 

July 28th, 2020

 

Dear Friends, 

Welcome to our newest way of reaching out and seeking to connect to our church community. “The Wednesday Word” will be emailed to you each Wednesday with: A Word from the Pastor, the weekly prayer list, and links to previous Sunday Worship Services, Bulletin, and Scripture lessons. 

This coming Sunday, August 2, we will begin a new sermon series entitled. “Right Side Up Living in an Upside Down World.” The series will relate the Book of Psalms to our current day crises. This Sunday the sermon will be based on Psalm 23. 

In addition, I am asking you to read the Psalms with me and the entire staff. We will furnish you each week with a reading guide. Each day, you will read the designated Psalms and then meditate on the question of the day. Over six weeks we will read the entire Book of Psalms together. 

I am excited about this new way to reach out as well as excited about Worship here at McEachern. Please know that I keep you in my prayers always. 

I love you all, 

Doug

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