Pastor’s message 1/24/23

What’s Brought Me Joy in January?


Every month I like to set aside a week in the newsletter to share what I’ve been watching, reading, or listening to. My hope is that in sharing with you what brought me joy, that you will pay attention to what brings you joy as well. This month’s selection is quite diverse, and as always, keep in mind these are not for everyone!


Vengeance (movie): I love the work of B.J. Novak, who is best known for his work on The Office. He wrote and directed this dark comedy/satire about a party-loving podcaster who travels to west Texas to investigate a true crime mystery. The film sheds a lot of light on how we consume stories in our modern age and what is means to be truthful.


Live From the Prayer Room by Jeremy Riddle (music): On a totally different note, I listened to this worship album everyday for the first two weeks of the year, sometimes multiple times a day. The song on it that has become my primary prayer for this season is, “Jesus Have it All.”


Station 11 by Emily St. John Mandel: This book was published with much acclaim in 2014, and I have tried three times to read it. Once I got past the first 60 pages on the third try, I was hooked. It is set in a post-apocalyptic world and weaves the story of survivors with a fantasy in a place called Station 11. I am still reading it now and taking my time absorbing the beautiful language.


all good things to each of you,

Dr. Darian


Pastor’s message January 17, 2023

Growing and Building Trust in 2023

Four years ago, when I embarked on my doctoral research project, ten church members volunteered to participate in a Bible study and information sessions around the topics of grief, hospice, and end-of-life care. We studied the story of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, and we heard from hospice employees about what is expected at the end of life. At the beginning and end of the study, the group answered questions about what helped them the most.

Two outcomes intrigued me. One was that the sharing of direct information about hospice put many more at ease by dispelling misconceptions. Another was that the group felt they had bonded and built trust with one another because of the time spent together.

As we begin to unearth God’s vision for us as a congregation this year, I remembered these two insights from the study and realized how they apply to us as a church. In order for us to grow, we have to build trust with one another. To build trust, we have to get to know one another, spend time with one another, pray together, and study God’s Word. This is a priority for us as we explore God’s vision for us moving forward.

Last December, our Annual Conference treasurer, David Stotts, shared a lot of information with us about happenings in our denomination and the disaffiliation process at an Exploration meeting. Minutes from that meeting are available in the church office if you’d like a copy. If you couldn’t attend, I encourage you to talk to folks who did. More about this information will be shared and discussed as we move through this year.

We are working on some times of prayer, Bible study, and discussion that we’ll be sharing more with you in the week ahead. Please be sure that you are worshipping each Sunday as we listen for God’s unfolding vision. I’ll share more information in next week’s newsletter, in the worship services, and at Wednesday Night Supper. What a great year we have in store of growing closer to God and building trust with one another!

all good things to each of you,
Dr. Darian

Pastor’s message – January 10, 2023

The Eyes of Jesus: An Epiphany Worship Series

Jan. 15 – Feb. 19, 2023

2023 has dawned, and we have entered a new season on the church calendar. The season after Epiphany is a time where we bask in the light of Jesus, a time of spiritual growth as we stand between the wonder of Bethlehem’s star and the love of the cross.

Last November, we began talking about the topic of vision, and this month we will pick up on that theme. If we are to seek God’s vision for our lives and for our Church, we sometimes inadvertently skip an important step by offering a vital prayer:

Jesus, help me to see through your eyes.

If we are to seek Jesus’ vision, we have to pray that he would help us to see through his eyes. When I was a teenager, there was a contemporary Christian song titled, “Through His Eyes,” whose lyrics have held a place in my memory.

If we could see through his eyes, then we could dare to love the way God loves.

If we could see through his eyes, then we would understand the way God understands.

For his eyes see through the surface right down to our needs,

Far beyond where we are to where we can be

If we can only see through his eyes.

This is my heart’s prayer for us as we search God’s Word together in the weeks ahead. I look forward to the ways God will show us His vision for His church, and it begins with us praying earnestly. Will you join me in this prayer for the new year?

all good things to each of you,
Dr. Darian

Pastor’s Message – December 20, 2022

What Brought Us Joy in 2022

It’s hard to believe that 2022 is coming to a close. Next week we will not have a newsletter, so I wanted to take
a moment to share some of the things that have brought me joy. I hope as you enter the Christmas season and
prepare for a new year that you’ll take some time to reflect on this year.

Where did you experience joy?
When did you experience grief?
How did God reveal himself to you in those moments?

Lucy By the Sea by Elizabeth Strout (book): I love Strout’s novels, and this one was especially poignant
because it was set at the beginning of the covid-19 pandemic. There was such a balance of joy and grief as
friendships formed and deepened in the story, against a backdrop of loss.

Abbott Elementary (TV show): Told in the mock-umentary style of shows like The Office and Parks &
Recreation, this delightful show that airs on ABC follows the happenings of an elementary school in
Pennsylvania. It doesn’t shy away from the troubles of funding and resources but also carries an optimism you
can’t resist in the lead character of Janine. I look forward to it every week.

Blood Oranges in the Snow by Over the Rhine (music): Released in 2014, this is the album I listen to the last
few weeks of every year. It is more than a Christmas album, even though Christmas is a central character. The
last track, “New Year’s Song,” which includes, “Auld Lang Syne,” is perfect for the dawn of a new year.

all good things to each of you,
Dr Darian

FUMC Staff Announcement: The Staff Parish Committee is happy to share the hiring of Melanie Sanders as
office manager. Melanie will begin on January 1, 2023. Julie Gray will transition to the role of financial
secretary on the same date. As a reminder, the church office is open Monday-Thursday, 9AM-4PM, and Friday
8AM-12PM. Please congratulate Melanie and Julie on these new roles!

Holidays – The church office will be closed on Friday, December 23 and Monday, December 26 for Christmas.
The church office will also be closed on Friday, Decembe r30 and Monday, January 2, 2023 for New Years.
We will not have a newsletter the weeks on December 26 or January 2nd.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year from your FUMC Staff.

Pastor’s Message – December 13, 2022

A Heart Holding Love’s Weight

This is a shorter version of a weekly musing on my website,

“What heart could hold the weight of your love?”

This is the first line of a song titled, “Holy,” by Matt Redman, and when I hear it, all I can see is that baby named Jesus, even though it’s not technically an Advent or Christmas song. Think about how small a baby’s heart is. Intricate and miraculous like all hearts, yes, but still so small. This tiny heart came into the world to bear the weight of his Father’s love for us. What a heavy load for one so light to carry. Yet His heart was created for this very purpose.

A couple of weeks before Advent began this year, I was climbing into the passenger seat of a car and noticed a distinct red dot on the floorboard. I got closer to discover it was a tiny piece of wood painted red —and shaped into a heart.It is such a little thing; and yet it isn’t little. For in the grander story of Advent, the little wooden heart on the floor calls us back to the little heart of an infant, simply beating and pumping and growing as he becomes a man. His heart will break for the world’s sin and bleed for our healing and eventually stop so that death might be defeated.

But for this season—for this glorious, joyful, and deeply mysterious season, we remember what great things God does with what seems so small by the world’s standards.

Will you pause to sing, “Holy,” over the infant-king?
Will you receive the weight of love his heart brings to you today?

all good things to each of you,
Dr Darian

Pastor’s Message – December 6, 2022

A Full and Beauty-Filled Month

It’s the most wonderful time of the year for the Church — and one of the busiest as well. I wanted to take a moment to highlight what we’ve been doing, what we’re doing now, and what is coming up.

Exploration Meeting Follow Up: Thank you to everyone who came to the Exploration Meeting on Dec. 1. Lots of good and helpful information was shared by Annual Conference Treasurer David Stotts and our District Superintendent, Rev. Paulette Buford-James. After Mr. Stotts’ office sends us a summary of the presentation, we will compile information to share with you this week, especially for those who could not be present.

Adopt A Family: You’ve been reading and hearing about this important outreach for a few weeks now, and we need your help. Please check out the second page of this newsletter for more information, and let Stacy know how you can help. Psalm 72 called us yesterday to work for justice and peace for the poor, and we have an opportunity to obey the Scripture with Adopt a Family.

Third Sunday of Advent: We will have ONE worship service at 11a.m. this upcoming Sunday, December 11. Our choirs will lead us in worship, and we will live into our worship theme of offering lullabies to the infant King Jesus. Please make your plans to attend. All children are invited to participate in the March of Angels as well.

A phrase I am meditating on a lot this season is from the hymn, “Come Thou Long-Expected Jesus,” and it says: Joy of Every Longing Heart. What does your heart long for this season? Let us look to Jesus our Joy to satisfy each and every longing!

all good things to each of you,
Dr. Darian

Pastor’s Message – November 29, 2022

Lullabies for a King: An Advent Worship Series

Let every heart prepare him room …

This memorable line from the beloved Christmas hymn, “Joy to the World,” reminds us that the Advent season is a time of preparation for a birth. Think of all that goes into readying a room for the baby who will sleep there. We purchase and assemble furniture. We paint and decorate. We ensure that the baby will be safe in this newly sacred space.

As we prepare the rooms of our hearts for Jesus’ arrival, we are going to look more closely at something that our ancestors did to prepare for his birth: the writing of songs. The psalms are full of a variety of songs that range from praise to lament and everything in between. We know that the psalmists were all singing in anticipation about a Messiah who would come and save the world. Did they realize, however, that the Son of David they watched for would first be a baby, in need of lullabies to sing him to sleep?

As we spend time with the psalms during Advent, I invite you to envision Mary, the young, pregnant mother, humming these same psalms we hold in our Bibles. I invite you to imagine her gently rocking the newborn baby, singing to him the songs of praise her mother sang to her. These are likely the same songs, the same lullabies, he sang under his breath as he went to the cross. What a beautiful opportunity we have to sing over the King of Kings in this holy season, too.

all good things to each of you,
Dr Darian

Pastor’s Message – November 15, 2022

What’s Bringing Us Joy

It’s been a couple of months since I shared what I’ve been reading, watching, or listening to that has brought me joy over the past month. The hope is that in sharing what has lifted my spirit, you will take time to ask God what has lifted your spirit as well.

The Great British Bake Off (TV Show): When my family visited in October, every night my niece, sister, brother in law, and I watched an episode from the newest season of this pastry-filled competition. New episodes release on Fridays, so we were all caught up by the time Friday arrived! One thing that I like about this show, other than how delicious and beautiful the foods look, is that the bakers seem to form great friendships in the midst of “competing” against each other. Yes, it’s a reality show, but it was a lovely and light world for my family to enjoy together. Don’t watch if you’re hungry!

The Great Passion by James Runcie (book): I all-caps LOVED this piece of historical fiction by the same author who created the Granchester series. It is the story of a teenage boy whose choral teacher was J.S. Bach during the season that the famous musician composed his masterpiece about the passion of Jesus. It has some of the best insights on grief I’ve read in recent years. It’s a heavy read but so imaginative.

Too Blessed to Be Stressed by Paul Thorn: Singer-songwriter Paul Thorn from Tupelo released this album over eight years ago, but I’ve been re-enjoying it with its upbeat melodies and humorous lyrics. Be advised of some adult language in a few songs. Thorn grew up in a very religious household, and I am intrigued to hear singer-songwriters wrestle with what they believe in their songs.

What is bring you joy in this season? I’d love to hear from you!

all good things to each of you,
Dr Darian

Pastor’s Message – November 8, 2022

Mark Your Calendars: Exploration Meeting

Earlier this year we shared with you at Wednesday Night Supper and in Sunday school classes
about happenings in our denomination. We are pleased to follow up on those conversations by hearing from two wonderful leaders in our Annual Conference to First UMC.

On Thursday, December 1, at 7PM, we will welcome our district superintendent, Rev. Paulette Buford-James, and Conference Treasurer David Stotts to FUMC West Point for an exploration meeting in the fellowship hall. It is open to all members of the church. The purpose of this meeting
is for Rev. James and Mr. Stotts to share information about what is happening in our denomination, particularly in the area of disaffiliation.

There is a lot of information circulating about the disaffiliation process, and our hope is that this meeting will be fact-finding session that clarifies and answers questions.

Two weeks prior to the meeting, we will include an insert in the newsletter with meeting guidelines. Anyone who plans to attend must comply with these guidelines, and we ask that you read them carefully when they arrive.

We give thanks for this opportunity to gather with these trusted leaders and one another in the first week of Advent—a week representing hope, and how wonderful a hope we have in Christ Jesus
our Lord.

all good things to each of you,
Dr. Darian

Newly Appointed Bishop – Last week, the Southeastern Jurisdiction of The United Methodist Church announced that the new bishop of the Mississippi annual conference will be Reverend Sharma Lewis. Bishop Lewis currently serves as the bishop of the Virginia Annual Conference. Please be in prayer for our new episcopal leader during this time of transition. We will be sharing more information with you as she prepares to move to Mississippi.

Pastor’s Message – November 1, 2022

Staff Updates

On behalf of the Staff Parish Relations Committee, I’d like to share some upcoming changes with you.

Pianist – We give thanks for Jace Ferraez’s talent as part of our music ministry for the past few years. Due to changes in his primary line of work, he will no longer be able to serve as pianist, and his last Sunday with us will be November 6. If you wish to contribute to a love offering for him please earmark your check and submit it by November 4.

On Sunday, November 14, we will welcome Dr. Garrett Tobert as our pianist. He holds a Doctorate Degree in Music and is a voice instructor at Mississippi State University. We look forward to how God will use Dr. Tobert’s gifts in our worship services and music ministry.

Financial Secretary: Beginning January 1, 2023, Julie Gray will transition from her role as full-time Office Manager to part-time Financial Secretary. Julie will continue to oversee the bookkeeping responsibilities of the church and maintaining records of financial giving. We are thankful for Julie’s faithfulness to our church and look forward to her serving in this new role.

Office Manager: As Julie transitions to her part-time role, the SPRC would like to announce the opening of the office manager position. If you are interested in applying for this position, please contact SPRC chair Laura Tinsley ( or 662-275-0307) or Dr. Duckworth ( or 662-494-5133) before November 14, 2022.

Thank your for keeping our church, our staff and this season of transitions in your prayers! We truly live in the goodness of God.

all good things to each of you,
Dr Darian

DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME ENDS… Don’t forget to set your clock forward one hour on Saturday night for Daylight Savings Time. You don’t want to be early to church on Sunday.