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Working Together as Teams

Working Together as Teams

By Rev. Matt Ashley, South District Missional Strategist & Superintendent Is there an equivalent to the Staff-Parish Relations Committee for the South District Superintendent? What are the first steps for a person experiencing a call into ministry? If my church...
Summer Fun at Mingus Mountain Camp

Summer Fun at Mingus Mountain Camp

by Rev. Matt Ashley, South District Missional Strategist and Superintendent Late one night at camp I walked to the outdoor chapel for a little quiet time. After a hectic day all the campers were in their cabins, and it was time to catch my breath and enjoy God’s...
When Life is Untidy and Complicated

When Life is Untidy and Complicated

March Madness! I’ve got my brackets printed off, ready to decide which men’s and women’s college basketball teams I think will win in this year’s NCAA Tournaments. My interest is renewed this year with the resurgence of my hometown Arizona Wildcats. Last year University of Arizona’s women’s team went all the way to the championship game. This year the men’s team is rated #2 in the country and was just awarded the #1 seed in the South Regional. Bear Down, Arizona! 68 teams in the men’s NCAA Tournament. 67 games spread over three weeks. 67 teams will lose their final game and be eliminated. One team will win all their games and be the champions – a storybook ending to someone’s dream season. It’s so nice and tidy, the NCAA Tournament. 68 teams know their task – win all their games. No doubt, no wondering what the goal is, no lack of clarity – just win.

Strength, Encouragement and Courage in Hardship

Strength, Encouragement and Courage in Hardship

Swing low, sweet chariot, coming for to carry me home; 
Swing low, sweet chariot, coming for to carry me home. 

Imagine how these words sounded when enslaved people working the cotton fields in the Old South poured out their hearts in song. Black spirituals developed organically as heartfelt expressions of pain, longing, and hope in the face of intolerable cruelty and torture. They are among the many treasures we celebrate during Black History Month. 

“Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” is found in the 1989 United Methodist Hymnal (#703).  The hymnal lists its scripture reference as 2 Kings 2:11. The passage describes the final conversation the prophet Elijah has with his protégé Elisha, before “a chariot of fire and horses of fire separated the two of them, and Elijah ascended in a whirlwind into heaven.”  

Gifts of Christmas

Gifts of Christmas

by Rev. Matt Ashley, South District Missional Strategist & Superintendent “On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure-chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense,...

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