Loan Enables North Georgia Camp & Retreat Ministries to Acquire Adjacent Land
The Georgia United Methodist Foundation's Loan Program, funded through investments in the Certificate Program, is designed to assist Methodist churches and organizations throughout Georgia.
In 2022, 10 acres of land adjacent to Camp Glisson, a program of North Georgia Camp & Retreat Ministries (NGCRM), became available for purchase. It had been the desire of leadership for many years to acquire the land if it were offered for sale. However, it was essential to place the property under contract before it was listed. The Foundation expedited the loan process and closing, and NGCRM successfully acquired the land.
NGCRM's loan closing was attended by, from left to right, Jim Pope, Foundation senior advisor to the president and director of lending, C. Russell Davis, NGCRM executive director, Mathew A. Pinson, Foundation president and CEO, and David Belle Isle, partner of Hipes & Belle Isle.
Bishop Dease's Journey to North Georgia: 'Where He Leads, I Will Follow'
Bishop Robin Dease began serving as the bishop of the North Georgia Annual Conference and as an ex-officio member of the Georgia United Methodist Foundation's Board of Trustees on January 1, 2023. The following article is written by Sybil Davidson, North Georgia Conference communicator. Photo provided by Matt Brodie.
Bishop Robin Dease’s assignment to the North Georgia Annual Conference was a full-circle moment. It was right here in North Georgia that she first fell in love with The United Methodist Church.
Brooklyn, NY to Atlanta
Though Bishop Dease had 12 brothers and sisters, in many ways she has always been set apart.
“I was the only one in my family to go to college,” she shared. “My parents were from South Carolina and moved to New York for job opportunities. When they retired and decided to move back, I was entering my last year in high school. I was encouraged by my school to apply to college.”
She followed that advice and moved to Atlanta to attend Bauder Fashion College.
“I lived here with my sister those two years,” she said, “And that's how I got involved in The United Methodist Church.”
Her sister and brother-in-law were attending Kelley Chapel UMC in Decatur, so she joined them.
“I loved being there,” Bishop Dease remembered. “I loved the order of worship and The Apostles Creed. I embrace structure, and I fell in love with that style of worship.”
She graduated from Bauder with an associate degree and, after two years in Atlanta, she yearned to go back to New York to get a job in the fashion industry.
“My whole goal was to get back. I was looking for jobs in the garment industry,” she said. “My godparents, who happened to also be United Methodists, told me, ‘you aren't going to get a job in New York City with an associate degree. Go and get a bachelor's degree.’”
Atlanta to South Carolina
They encouraged her and paved the way for her to enroll in United Methodist-related Claflin University in Orangeburg, SC. They were both graduates of United Methodist institutions, and they had a love and a heart for The United Methodist Church.
“I majored in Elementary Education,” said Bishop Dease. “That's what my mother wanted. She wanted a teacher. And that was the model for African American women. When I had the opportunity to graduate early, my advisor told me, ‘Don't leave; graduate with your friends. Have you ever thought about taking religion and philosophy courses?’”
She hadn’t, so she enrolled in New Testament and Philosophy courses.
“I fell in love with New Testament and Philosophy of Religion,” she said. “A United Methodist pastor was teaching the course.”
That semester someone invited her to teach a bible study on Wednesday nights to college students.
“Soon I was teaching bible study to my classmates, teaching what I was learning in my classes,” she said.
She had the opportunity to do “field ed” work at Trinity UMC in Orangeburg.
“I had already joined St. Michael UMC in Bennettsville,” she said. “Being part of the religious life at Claflin, my professors would say, God is calling you to ministry. One day, I felt it. I reached out to some guy friends in class with me. Some said women can't be in ministry, but others said, ‘yes, I see it.'”
“I had never seen a woman in ministry, not a woman pastoring a church,” she said. “One friend in particular helped me discern and I started the candidacy process through the Marion District of the South Carolina Conference. I was assigned a supervising pastor and the rest is history.”
South Carolina to Washington, DC
At the urging of a classmate she applied and was accepted to Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, DC.
“My first week at Wesley, they were looking for a cook. I had years of food service experience, so I applied for the job and got it,” she said.
Before long she was head cook at Wesley.
The seminary’s food service was operated by Marriott, which dominated the DC-area food industry. She moved up in the company, later taking on her own account, George Washington University.
Marriott offered her the opportunity to attend the Culinary Institute of America, which she accepted.
She was a part-time seminary student and Marriott employee for 7 years.
Fittingly, her boss was United Methodist.
“He knew I was in ministry and as the time approached for me to graduate, I finally said, it’s time to answer the call. I was running from the call,” said Bishop Dease.
Where He Leads, I Will Follow: DC to South Carolina to North Georgia
There’s a guiding principle Bishop Dease has leaned on for many years, a powerful message from Mother Theresa.
In her last interview Mother Theresa was asked, “Why do you do the work you do?” She answered, “Where He leads me I will follow.”
Where He has led, Bishop Dease, too, has followed.
While she had wonderful experiences in the Baltimore-Washington Conference during her years at Wesley Theological Seminary, including serving as a student intern on Capitol Hill, when the time came she returned to South Carolina. Her parents were aging and she wanted to be available to help the family.
There she received her first appointment, went through the ordination process, and has served as a pastor and a District Superintendent.
There’s much more to her story, but on November 3, 2022, Rev. Dr. Robin Dease was elected by her peers to be a bishop in The United Methodist Church. And on November 4 she was consecrated by the Southeastern Jurisdiction of The United Methodist Church at Lake Junaluska.
And now, as God leads her back to the North Georgia Conference of The United Methodist Church, she will follow.
“My goal is to love and care for the church and the people,” said Bishop Dease. “There is much division. I don't want to participate in that. I want to do the right thing, the just thing, and point people to Jesus—that old carpenter from Galilee.”
“Everything I do is based on scripture. I preach from the scriptures. I rely on the scriptures,” she continued. “He said, ‘I come that you might have life and have it abundantly.’ Let’s get to work to bring that to fruition.”
And she is ready to work.
“I feel hopeful and inspired in this season,” said Bishop Dease. “Old, young, Black, White, Hispanic, Asian. I am ready for the church to show up in full force, supporting one another. Let's be about building God's kingdom here on earth. Let’s get roofs over heads, clothes on backs, and food on tables. No more us and them.”
Bishop Dease begins her assignment as bishop of the North Georgia Conference on January 1, 2023. All are invited to attend in person or watch online as we celebrate her assignment with a service of installation on Sunday, January 8, 2023 at 4 p.m. at Oak Grove UMC in Decatur.
Bio: Bishop Dease's Bio
Installation: Service of Installation for Bishop Dease
Video: Message from Bishop Dease
Article: Bishop Robin Dease Assigned to North Georgia
Suzanne Jones Named New Conference Director of Administration
The South Georgia Conference of The UMC recently shared this important news regarding Suzanne Jones. She began serving as conference treasurer and as an ex-officio member of the Georgia United Methodist Foundation's Board of Trustees on January 1, 2023.
The South Georgia Conference Council on Finance & Administration is pleased to announce the new Director of Administration and Treasurer for the South Georgia Annual Conference. Mrs. Suzanne Jones will begin her service to the conference on January 1, 2023.
Jones is currently the Director of Administration and Treasurer for the Alabama-West Florida Conference. She will continue working for Alabama-West Florida while also giving financial leadership to the South Georgia Conference as part of a contractual agreement.
The Rev. Dr. Shane Green, chair of South Georgia’s Conference Council on Finance & Administration, is excited about the possibilities of contracting with Alabama-West Florida.
“Suzanne is very competent and already familiar with the finances of an annual conference and what operational measures are needed,” said Dr. Green. “She is well respected by those in Alabama-West Florida because of her work effectiveness and non-anxious spirit, which will be welcomed by South Georgia.”
With the retirement of Dr. Derek McAleer, current Director of Administrative Services, for South Georgia, on Dec. 31, 2022, this new direction in financial leadership allows South Georgia to be proactive about its future in cost controls and budget reductions.
“We are all thankful for Derek’s service to South Georgia, and I know that the great working relationship he and Suzanne already have established will be critical during this time of transition,” said Dr. Green.
Bishop David Graves, episcopal leader of both the South Georgia Conference and the Alabama-West Florida Conference, has worked with Jones since she was hired in Alabama West-Florida in 2018.
“I am thrilled Suzanne will be joining our team here in South Georgia,” said Bishop David Graves. “I have worked closely with Suzanne since 2018. I immediately recognized her gifts and graces, and she will continue to use those gifts and graces to serve us well in South Georgia. I highly value her expertise and am thankful she will provide much needed stability in this time.”
Jones will have offices in both Montgomery, AL and Macon, GA.
Jones received her undergraduate degree from Auburn University and her MBA from Rollins College in Winter Park, FL. Prior to her work for The United Methodist Church, Jones worked in various corporate leadership positions where she managed finance, human resources, and other administrative staff located across multiple locations in the US and Mexico. She brings with her experience in mergers and acquisitions and corporate restructuring. Jones is married to Bubba. She has two adult daughters from a former marriage, a stepson who is a freshman at Auburn University, and three wonderful and nearly perfect grandchildren. In her downtime, Jones enjoys camping, playing the piano, and spending time with family. She is a member of Wetumpka First United Methodist Church.
The South Georgia Conference’s Director of Administration is responsible for all financial responsibilities in accordance with the appropriate sections of the Book of Discipline of The UMC. In addition to overseeing the financial and benefit functions of the Conference, the Director also supports the overall administrative office functions of the Conference and manages the administrative office staff. The Director relates to the Council on Finance and Administration, Board of Pension and Health Benefits, Board of Trustees, Personnel Committee, and Equitable Compensation Commission. The Director serves on the Extended Cabinet, as the Conference Statistician, and on other conference teams and committees when appointed or requested to do so.
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By Mathew A. Pinson, Georgia United Methodist Foundation President and CEO
The Georgia United Methodist Foundation is adding to the digital resources offered through gumf.org. We are enhancing our monthly e-newsletters and weekly planned giving e-newsletters and adding additional resources to the website. Digital publishing provides greater flexibility, allows us to connect with our readers instantly, and enables the Foundation to maximize resources in support of our purpose and mission. Please know that we will continue printing and mailing our Annual Report and select Faith & Money newsletters during the year. Below you will find five reasons why you should sign up to receive the Foundation’s digital resources. Sign-up is easy. Visit gumf.org/stay-connected, e-mail email@example.com, or call 770-449-6726.
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Create or Update Your Will
"Abraham left everything he owned to Isaac." - Genesis 25:5
Did you know that the concept of a “Last Will and Testament” dates back to biblical times when Abraham left everything he owned to his son Isaac? Regardless of your age or net worth, the new year is the perfect time to create or update your will and powers of attorney.
Maybe you have gotten married, been blessed with the birth or adoption of a child or grandchild, or moved to a new address. The Georgia United Methodist Foundation offers several online resources such as a free Estate Planning Guide to help you provide for your family and the causes you care about. For more information, contact the Foundation at 770-449-6726 or firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our planned giving website here.