Walking Through Forgiveness

Emily Penfield Featured

Most people who’ve ever forgiven someone know that forgiveness is a process.  It’s hardly ever instant.  My dad and I had a tough relationship during my teens and early 20s.  Soon after my wedding, my dad announced that he was divorcing my step-mother (the source of our trouble) and he wanted to come see me.  Matthew and I were living in Atlanta and going to seminary. My dad was coming in for a business meeting, but had a few hours to meet me.  It was a nice spring day and he suggested we go for a walk as we talked. …

UMC Conference News

Emily Penfield Uncategorized

WUMC friends – This week at the UMC General Conference in St. Louis, the One Church Plan which most reconciling UMCs hoped would move our church toward more inclusivity, did not get the majority.  And the Traditionalist Plan, offering a continued prohibition on same gender weddings and ordination of LGBTQ persons, was passed .  This plan does not only hold the status quo, it is more punitive and exclusionary.  For me, and for many of you, this is a devastating outcome.  Personally, I feel like the ground below me has shifted considerably and I’m trying to find my foothold on …

This Month’s General Conference

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February 23-26 are the dates of the long-awaited called General Conference for United Methodists.  The meeting will happen in St. Louis, MO, but because of technology, we’ll be able to stream the sessions and find updates and summaries through our own United Methodist Communications.  Many of are anxious about the outcomes, yet our faith is in God reminds us to trust in the Holy Spirit’s movement.  As the time nears, let us continue to pray all the delegates will be open to the Spirit. We’ve had some congregational discussions about the options, plans and hopes.  These are too many to …

Prepare

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Prepare is NOT my favorite word of Advent and Christmas.  I like Light, Joy and Hope better.  Yet Prepare comes up every year, in the scriptures (Prepare the way of the Lord), in our homes (Prepare the holiday meal) and on the streets (Prepare for large crowds and traffic in the malls).   I groan at this because I’m one who likes to just jump in, rather than getting my ducks are in a row.  Just let it happen already! But experience tells me that I’m better off when I slow down, get organized, and most importantly get my attitude, mind …

Loving Wholly

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It’s a part of our church’s vision statement – where we say our ministry points us – to love wholly.  Sometimes I get stuck on this.  Are we loving the whole of another person?  Or are we to love with our whole-selves?   Humans are multifaceted; and together as families, communities, a nation, and a world we are certainly complex.  So either way, just these two words are quite a mission for our ministry. One way to think about the parts of a person and a community made of up of people is body (physical), mind (mental), heart (emotional) and soul …

The Future of the UMC

Emily Penfield Uncategorized

For decades the people who make up the United Methodist Church have not agreed on how to include people who identify as gay, transgendered, bi-sexual or queer, in the church. (And there are other things we don’t agree on, but the conversation is focused on this.)  It is a difference of perspective, especially around scriptural interpretation and theology.  Many people want the church discipline to stay as it is.  Other would like for us to be open to marrying same-gender loving couples and ordaining LGBTQ people.  And still others would like for the consequences of these steps and our language …

The Power We Are Given

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This summer, I have preached on the first few chapters of Mark’s Gospel.  We’ll continue this into the fall.  One of the recurring themes I’ve seen in these stories is the power of Jesus to heal, to forgive, to include and listen to outsiders, to speak a fresh new word of God’s love into harsh circumstances.  I’ve also noticed how this power is available to us – in fact I’ve mentioned that a few times in my sermons.  And that is something I believe whole-heartily.  We are not just to be observers or receivers of God’s powerful love, but agents …

Our New Pastor

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Once again, our church is receiving a gift of extra staff from the North Alabama Annual Conference.  For the next year, we will share an associate pastor with East Lake UMC.  The Rev. Melissa Self Patrick joins us beginning this month.  At Woodlawn, Melissa will have responsibilities in worship leadership, small group development, congregational care and community engagement. Melissa is second-career clergy, with a background in social-justice and non-profit work in Birmingham.  For the past three years, she was the pastor at Lester’s Chapel UMC.  Melissa is originally from Decatur and grew up at Central UMC.  She and her husband …

See Yourself As Church

Emily Penfield Uncategorized

As usual, worship attendance has dropped since Easter.  It does in many churches.  A few weeks ago, I sat in the chair behind the pulpit on a Sunday and grimaced at the empty spots in the pews.  In my head I wondered how these few people could afford to keep this church going, both financially and physically.  Monday morning I was still feeling droopy about it, when Jan reminded me, we at Woodlawn UMC are better at being church than our worship attendance sometimes reflects. I needed this reminder – because all the other markers tell a story of an …

What’s In A Name?

Emily Penfield Uncategorized

This year, as last, we are partnering with the NAMES Project to display the AIDS Memorial Quilt.  The NAMES Project is the caretaker of the quilt; and their mission is to keep alive the stories of all those who have died from the HIV-AIDS epidemic.  The quilt, too large to be displayed in one piece now, consists of blocks with 8 panels.  Each panel is a remembrance of someone who died from AIDS.  The panels are designed and decorated by family and friends and each is as unique as the person it gives witness to.  Having the name of the …