Lenten Mission Project – February 9, 2021

Lenten Mission Project

This year for our Lenten Mission Project we have chosen three agencies in the Golden Triangle that serve children and adults: Contact Helpline, Safe Haven and Sally Kate Winters Family Services.

Contact Helpline serves the counties of Clay, Choctaw, Kemper, Lowndes, Oktibbeha and Winston as a 24 hour crisis intervention and referral service. Contact is also an initial point of contact for an entire range of community resources. Volunteers are trained to listen with their hearts to assist callers through personal crises. This non-profit provides three basic services: a 24 hour faith based phone service; a reassurance program that seeks to meet the special needs of the elderly or physically challenged who are living alone and Contact A Friend, which is a service for children and teenagers to provide them with a resource that they may use to discuss difficult issues they may be facing in their lives.

Safe Haven is a non-profit organization that provides emergency shelter and crisis intervention for women and children who are victims of domestic violence and/or sexual assault. Victims services range from temporary housing to professional crisis counseling. Save Haven also provides a 24 hour crisis hotline, children’s programs, community educational outreach and volunteer program referrals. Safe Haven serves the counties of Lowndes, Clay, Oktibbeha, Monroe, Attala, Calhoun, Chickasaw, Montgomery, Webster and Choctaw.

With a mission to empower children and families to seek and experience an improved quality of life, Sally Kate Winters Family Services is a non-profit organization that offers social services and support to children and families throughout North Mississippi. The shelter was established in 1990 as a safe haven for children who have been traumatized by child abuse and neglect. In the years since, the organization has expanded to offer services to runaways and the homeless youth population in Mississippi through it’s Child Advocacy Center. SKW Family Services now offers four programs – the Emergency Shelter Program, the Runaway and Homeless Youth Program, the Transitional Living Program and the Child Advocacy Center.

We have several fund-raisers planned during the Lenten season to help raise funds for these three important missions. We will start off with our Shrove Tuesday Pancake Supper To Go! Be sure to sign up for a pick up time.

Pastor’s Message – February 2, 2021

Preparing For Lent:
Ashes On The Go, A New Worship Series, and More To Come

It is hard to believe that the Lenten season begins in a little over two weeks. We may still be struggling to make long-range plans in the midst of a pandemic, but one thing that does not change is the Church year! This week and next, here in this newsletter space, we are sharing what we’re hoping to focus on during the Lenten season. Mark your calendars, and get ready for a wonderful season of growth as the body of Christ!

Ash Wednesday Service: Ash Wednesday is on February 17. For those who feel comfortable doing so, we will offer imposition of the ashes in a “drive thru” setting. Starting at 6PM, you may drive up to the church’s covered driveway, and we will impose the ashes on your forehead. You don’t even have to get out of the car! Masks will be worn.

Starting at 6:30PM, we will also offer a virtual Ash Wednesday service on Facebook and You Tube. Even if you come in person to receive ashes, be sure to tune into this service as well for prayer and reflection!

Lenten Worship Series: I am so looking forward to this series as I think you will find it relevant, uplifting, and comforting. It is titled, “The Good Kind of Grief,” and each week we will focus on different kinds of grief people in the Scriptures encountered and how they dealt with it. With so much loss experienced this past year, my hope is that you will especially feel the healing presence of Jesus as we walk through this Lenten season together.

More To Come: We have some exciting news about our Lenten Mission Project, Shrove Tuesday Pancake Kick-Off, and fundraisers for that special offering. Curious? Tune in to this space in next week’s newsletter for all the details.

all good things to each of you,
Dr. Darian

Pastor’s Message – January 26, 2021

What Brought Us Joy In January

Towards the end of every month, I enjoy sharing with you about my latest favorites in music, movies, TV shows, books, and podcasts. I used to title this monthly note as “what we’re watching, reading, etc.” I think a more appropriate title for this time of reflection is “what brought us joy.” One of my favorite questions to ask friends when we get together is, “What is bringing you joy lately?” I love hearing the variety of answers to this question! My hope is that in sharing what brought me joy will help you to reflect on what brought you joy.

The Repair Shop (TV show on Netflix): The premise of this show is likely to make a sermon appearance soon. In the British countryside is this real-life repair shop where people apply to bring treasured items that are broken. Watching the processes of restoration and the expressions on the owners’ faces when they see the finish product lift the spirit and warm the heart.

The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins (book): Sometimes I just need a good mystery and page turner. What makes this one even better is that it’s a modern retelling of Jane Eyre set in Birmingham, Alabama! Do know that it’s PG-13 at times, but it’s a great escape for those who love suspense.

Mission House (music): Musicians Taylor Leonhardt and Jess Ray joined forces a couple of years ago to lead home worship gatherings. The result is Mission House, and their self-titled debut has been on repeat in my office for a week. I especially love the song, “I Don’t Have Much.” There is something so special about worship music offered in small gatherings that brings me so much joy, and the songs are deep while also easy to sing.

all good things to each of you,
Dr. Darian

Pastor’s Message – January 12, 2021

Bright Spots on a Dark Day

Last Wednesday, on a day when the Church celebrates Christ’s eternal light with the Epiphany, we witnessed a lot of darkness at the U.S. Capitol. There are many layers to those events that will take time and effort for all of us to unpack, and I encourage you to stay well-educated and to “pray without ceasing” in the weeks to come.

In the midst of a dark day, I read a couple of articles that revealed true bright spots, of Epiphany light. I am sharing them here and encourage you to seek them out online at the publication sources. They are two among many.

“How House Chaplain calmed tense hours in besieged Capitol with prayers for ‘God’s covering’” (Religion News Service: religionnews.com): January 6 was only the third day of work for the House of Representatives’ new chaplain. Read how the power of prayer and Scripture brought comfort and strength to those huddled in fear.

“ ‘What Else Could I Do?’ NJ Rep. Kim helps clean up Capitol” (Associated Press, apnews.com): A photo of Andy Kim helping to clean up the Rotunda shed an important light on the faithful staff who showed up in the middle of the night to do their unseen, unappreciated jobs of literally picking up the pieces. When I read this article, I couldn’t help but think of Jesus kneeling down to wash the disciples’ feet, and how he views “success,” even in the grandest halls of the world.

And now, beloved friends, how will YOU shine Epiphany light this week?

all good things to each of you,
Dr. Darian

Pastor’s Message – January 5, 2021

The Season After Epiphany Worship Series:
A New Year of Spiritual Resolutions

A happy new year and blessed Epiphany to each of you. I hope these past couple of weeks have revealed the joy of Christmas to each of you. As I shared on Sunday, we have embarked on a new worship series all about resolutions/goals/intentions/(insert your word of choice) to help us grow closer to Jesus. In this first newsletter of the year, I’m providing you with upcoming Scriptures and sermon titles in the hope you will read those passages ahead of time in preparation for what the Spirit might teach us together. I’m also including a verse of poetry/song from the Bible for you to meditate upon or to sing. I look forward to growing with you as part of the wonderful body of Christ in this season of light!

January 10                             “Climbing Trees”                                            Psalm 29
January 17                             “Seeing the World”                                        John 1:43-51
January 24                             “Leaving Our Boats Behind”                       Mark 1:14-20
January 31                              “Celebrating What God Has Done”           Psalm 111
February 7                               “Preaching the Gospel”                               1 Corinthians 9:16-18

In honor of the Epiphany this week, let us sit with the prophet Isaiah. Take a moment to pause at the end of each line and re-read the line, letting its truth sink into your soul. Try adding your own melody to it and sing to the Lord, too.

Then you shall see and be radiant; your heart shall thrill and rejoice, because the abundance of the sea shall be brought to you, the wealth of the nations shall come to you. ~ Isaiah 60:5

all good things to each of you,

Dr. Darian

* Our church’s COVID-19 task force plans to meet the week of January 11 to reassess guidelines for our gatherings. Please continue to pray for these wonderful leaders as we listen to the Holy Spirit’s voice together.*

Pastor’s Message – December 22, 2020

My Favorite Things: 2020 Edition

For this last newsletter of 2020, I’d like to share briefly about the book, album, and movie that have resonated most with me this year. These are not necessarily “the best of the year,” but they have been “the best for me this year.” I hope this sharing will encourage you to reflect on where you’ve heard God’s voice, too.

The Unwinding of the Miracle: A Memoir of Life, Death, and Everything that Comes After by Julie Yip-Williams (book): I had intended to read this book when working on my doctoral thesis, but it was displaced by necessary academic reads. When I finally read it back in February, I was blown away by Yip-Williams’ story. She reflects on her life as a young woman dying of cancer, and she manages not to shy away from lament but also not to avoid humor. And what a life it is. I especially love the cameo appearance of how a local church enters the story in a powerful way towards the end.

Reunions by Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit: Every album Jason Isbell releases seems better than the one before. This one arrived in May, and though it was recorded before the pandemic, its messages resonated nonetheless. One of my favorite lyrics is, “It gets easier, but it never gets easy.” And when I heard, “Dreamsicle,” I immediately bought a box of dreamsicles to eat on my back porch in the hot summer months: a small but wonderful pleasure!

Little Women (movie): The last movie I saw in the theater was on January 3, and it was Greta Gerwig’s marvelous production of Little Women. Technically the movie came out in 2019, but I’m claiming seeing it with a friend in the theater as one of the best parts of 2020. Because so much of the story takes place at Christmas, I look forward to watching it again to close out 2020. The story is familiar, of course, but this is a whole new way of telling it: much like the Greatest Story we will hear this week, too!

all good things to each of you,
Dr. Darian

Pastor’s Message – December 15, 2020

“It Can’t Be”

Last week my parents sent me an article that embodied the hope, peace, joy, and love of this Advent season. The Washington Post article was about a dog named Abby who wandered away from her home in Dothan, Alabama. For three weeks, her pet parents searched for her and hoped that she would eventually come home-even though it was hard to “hope” as time passed.

Then on November 28, Abby’s pet parent, June, was working at her cashier’s station in Wal-Mart when a small commotion developed nearby. A dog had gotten in the store and was running loose. Employees followed it and tried to calm and safely catch the scared pup. June told The Washington Post that Abby came to her mind immediately. She said out loud, “It can’t be.”

A glimmer of hope grew in June’s heart as she called out Abby’s name-a shot in the dark. Within moments, the dog had come to her, and indeed, it was Abby. The dog that had been lost for three weeks had now been found by finding her way “home.”

There is something about the Advent season and Christmas that cause us to see miracles more clearly. It’s in the season that we recall that what to us “can’t be” actually did happen. Messiah has come, has made his home with us, so that we with Abby might find our way home to our Heavenly Parent.

As we inch closer and closer to that day when we celebrate the most miraculous celebration, may we embrace the knowledge that “can’t be” truly can. Let’s believe in miracles. Let’s turn that one candle of hope into a blazing Advent wreath of miracles!

all good things to each of you, Dr. Darian

Stewardship Message – The Gratitude Path – December 8, 2020

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.–James 1:24

Dr. Darian said to write about what I am grateful for in the year 2020. I have to admit that gratitude is probably not my first or natural reaction to this year. At the beginning of the year, it became apparent that my mother’s health was becoming more fragile, and I would need to be more vigilant in my care of her. Then the pandemic hit and I became somewhat housebound, due in part to my responsibility to care for her and in part due to my own status as a member of a vulnerable group (over 65, high blood pressure, high susceptibility to respiratory infections-I’ve had the flu 37 times!). And then in March, my son’s and daughter-in-law’s social networking business in Portland, OR, collapsed, and they had to let all their employees go. Yeah, gratitude for the year 2020 could be a hard one.

And yet I find myself very grateful indeed. We celebrated Mom’s 89th birthday this year (in a limited group, of course), and I have been reflecting a lot recently on how fortunate we are-4 children with spouses, 8 grandchildren with spouses, and 13 great-grandchildren-to have her in our lives for all this time. What a blessing for all of us!
Staying at home has meant less eating out, less fast food, more time for exercise, and more time for my own cooking. The result has been an improvement in my overall health and the loss of a few pounds. I am grateful for the opportunity to focus on my physical well-being.

My son and his wife, with more time on their hands, planted a huge garden in their yard this summer. My daughter-in-law, a talented cook, created a hot sauce made from their home-grown tomatoes and baked tomato pies, quiches and other culinary delights from their multitude of vegetables. My son then sold them at a pop-up market. They both reported having great fun doing something that they would never have gotten to do otherwise, and they shared their joy in doing it with me often in pictures.

Perhaps what I am most grateful for, though, is how the people of our church worked so hard to be sure that those of us who were homebound could continue to participate in the life of the church. I am so thankful every Sunday when I turn on my computer and participate in the worship service through Facebook, even when I am visiting my mother in Clinton, MS. What a privilege it is and how appreciative I am!

So, along with James, I am counting all of 2020 joyously, learning to be steadfast in the midst of trials, working on being perfect and complete in my faith in God and my appreciation for all His many blessings and abundant mercies in my life.

Gracy Taylor

Stewardship Message – The Gratitude Path

“Christ has no body on earth but yours; no hands but yours; no feet but yours. Yours are the eyes through which Christ’s compassion for the world is to look out. Yours are the feet with which He is to go about doing good; and yours are the hands with which He is to bless us now”. Saint Teresa of Avila

Millie Williams and George Purnell shared with us in our past two weekly newsletters snippets of their grateful hearts. It has been so refreshing to hear different people’s response to Dr. Darian’s challenge to share what we are grateful for.

As a relatively newcomer to West Point (3 years); I am so very grateful for this (my) church and it’s amazing outreach to various groups and community needs. From Rocky‘s and my first visit to FUMC, we were met with an outpouring of love and inclusiveness. This began when we walked into the church, after the service, an invitation to join a couple for lunch afterward, and a phone call the following day from a church staff member. We were overwhelmed with joy at the many opportunities to serve and be served by our church. You all immediately became our new family in a new land; as so many were literally the “hands and feet of Jesus” to us. I am truly grateful for the outpouring of love that I see exhibited to the “multitudes”; within our church walls and to various community needs, as well as, missions beyond our borders. In this strange time of social distancing; I am so very grateful and impressed with our COVID task force that have given so much time and planning to make the best of a strained time in the face of many mandates, both locally and statewide!!!! We have many talented members in our church family that have demonstrated their love and commitment in meeting the various needs of every age group by offering “ different “ ways to worship, both apart and collectively.

A very sincere thank you to all who work so diligently and often behind the scenes to keep our church family engaged and alive. Again, so many of our members are the “hands and feet of Jesus”; and I am supremely grateful. I challenge myself and each of you to use the individual talents that God has blessed us with to be His Light in our church, community, and the world. (Ref) Matthew 25: 37-40

Debbie Bond

Stewardship Message – The Gratitude Path – November 17, 2020

1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18 says “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”

As disciples we should be grateful people, people who are aware of all the wonderful things that God gives and does for us. I am GRATEFUL for music. Music is an important part of worship and praise to God.

I am thankful that Mrs. Rachel has provided me with an environment that is warm, encouraging, and full of new possibilities. I am GRATEFUL that voice and guitar have helped me to feel and be more confident. Music has not stopped here at FUMC. It has changed, but it has continued. I have done voice virtually, in a private home, and now back in the church. I know God can hear me wherever I sing.

Palms 95:1 says “Oh come, let us sing to the Lord! Let us shout joyfully to the Rock of our salvation.”

I pray that we all have hearts that can feel love, ears that can hear the music, and eyes that can see all our many blessings.

Millie Williams

Commitment Sunday will be Sunday, December 6th. Pledge cards will be mailed to members the week of November30th. You may bring your pledge card to church, mail it to P.O. Box 293, drop it by the church office or call Julie at 494-1658 to turn in your pledge. Thank you for your continued support of the FUMC ministries.