Vacation Bible School for Children with special needs and their siblings

July 21st – July 25th, 5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m Held at Epiphany Lutheran Church, 2375 Georgia Highway 20 SE, Conyers, GA

Please Register before Sunday, June 23rd for guaranteed T-Shirt. Dinner included for the whole family.   Cost is $15/child or $25.00/family maximum –limited scholarships are available.

For Sign up & Volunteer forms contact:  Mary Armstrong-Reiner at pastormaryar@gmail.com

Vacation Bible School for Children with special needs and their siblings

July 21st – July 25th, 5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m Held at Epiphany Lutheran Church, 2375 Georgia Highway 20 SE, Conyers, GA

Please Register before Sunday, June 23rd for guaranteed T-Shirt. Dinner included for the whole family.   Cost is $15/child or $25.00/family maximum –limited scholarships are available.

For Sign up & Volunteer forms contact:  Mary Armstrong-Reiner at pastormaryar@gmail.com

Vacation Bible School for Children with Special Needs and Their Siblings

July 21st – July 25th, 5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m Held at Epiphany Lutheran Church, 2375 Georgia Highway 20 SE, Conyers, GA

Please Register before Sunday, June 23rd for guaranteed T-Shirt. Dinner included for the whole family.   Cost is $15/child or $25.00/family maximum –limited scholarships are available.

For Sign up & Volunteer forms contact:  Mary Armstrong-Reiner at pastormaryar@gmail.com

Vacation Bible School for Children with Special Needs and Their Siblings

July 21st – July 25th, 5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m Held at Epiphany Lutheran Church, 2375 Georgia Highway 20 SE, Conyers, GA

Please Register before Sunday, June 23rd for guaranteed T-Shirt. Dinner included for the whole family.   Cost is $15/child or $25.00/family maximum –limited scholarships are available.

For Sign up & Volunteer forms contact:  Mary Armstrong-Reiner at pastormaryar@gmail.com

Vacation Bible School for Children with special needs and their siblings

July 21st – July 25th, 5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m Held at Epiphany Lutheran Church, 2375 Georgia Highway 20 SE, Conyers, GA

Please Register before Sunday, June 23rd for guaranteed T-Shirt. Dinner included for the whole family.   Cost is $15/child or $25.00/family maximum –limited scholarships are available.

For Sign up & Volunteer forms contact:  Mary Armstrong-Reiner at pastormaryar@gmail.com

 

The Salem groups for both peers and family members will be facilitated THIS Thursday, July 11, 7:00 pm at Salem United Methodist Church. Read below about some of our other great upcoming events!

July 13: Multicultural Mental Health Fair, 10:00 am to 2:00 pm, hosted by NAMI DeKalb at Milam Park, Clarkston, GA. RSVP HERE! NAMI DeKalb and partner agencies will share information about available mental health resources and how to identify indicators of mental illness. This event will align attendees with mental health service providers and help eliminate stigmas surrounding mental health conditions. There will be guest speakers and connections to mental health community resources. Resources include: crisis care service providers, coordination of care programming, and continual care options. Attendees will also learn about social determinants of health and youth suicide prevention. Health screenings and mental health assessments will be provided onsite.

Partners and Sponsors include The Fulton-DeKalb Hospital Authority, DeKalb Community Service Board , American Family Insurance – Thele Moore Agency, NAMI Georgia, Millennium 2000 Realty and City of Clarkston Councilwoman YT Bell.

Food, vendors, fun, youth and adult activities (i.e., face painting, playground games) will also be available for the entire family. RSVP HERE! 

August 26: Community Action Meeting on “Special Needs Trusts & Financial Planning” with the French Law Group. Thank you to United Way of Rockdale County for their generous sponsorship of this meeting. RSVP HERE!

  • Do you wonder how to care for your dependent loved one after you die?
  • Do you have questions about seeking guardianship?
  • Do you worry about protecting your loved ones’ government benefits in the case of an inheritance?

If you care for a loved one with any disability, this meeting is for you.

Laura French, founder of the French Law Group, LLC, is a counselor and cheerleader of clients, combining her experiences and insights as a mom and lawyer to serve you, provide solutions, and support your family and business throughout the cycles of life. Laura works with her clients from the perspectives of lawyer, wife, mother, and entrepreneur.

Laura graduated with honors from Auburn University, obtained her juris doctor from the Georgia State University College of Law, and her LL.M. (masters of law) in Taxation from the University of Alabama. A tax attorney, Laura focuses her practice on all aspects of legacy, life and estate planning from wills to probate, guardianship and conservatorships, as well as corporate and business matters.

FREE and open to the public.  Dinner will be provided. RSVP HERE!

Interested in being a speaker or sponsor? Email me HERE if you would like to be a speaker or panelist. We are also seeking sponsors for each of our Community Action Meetings. For $150, we can provide dinner for participants and give you a chance to advertise your services at the meeting and our weekly emails.

Upcoming Events for Rockdale & Newton

(Links below will lead you to directions.)

July 11 (Note Change!): Salem NAMI Connection (Peer) and Family Support Groups, 7:00 pm at Salem United Methodist Church.

July 13: Multicultural Mental Health Fair, 10:00 am to 2:00 pm, hosted by NAMI DeKalb at Milam Park, Clarkston, GA. RSVP HERE!

July 15: Covington NAMI Connection (Peer) and Family Support Groups, 7:00 pm at First Presbyterian Church.

August 5: Conyers Family Support Group, 7:00 pm at Epiphany Lutheran Church.

August 8: Salem NAMI Connection (Peer) and Family Support Groups, 7:00 pm at Salem United Methodist Church.

August 12: Board Meeting, 6:30 pm at Epiphany Lutheran Church.

August 19: Covington NAMI Connection (Peer) and Family Support Groups, 7:00 pm at First Presbyterian Church.

August 26: Community Action Meeting on “Special Needs Trusts & Financial Planning” with the French Law Group. RSVP HERE!

Save the Date! October 5: NAMIWalks Georgia, Clark Atlanta University Panther Stadium, Atlanta, GA. SUPPORT OUR TEAM HERE!

I have been thinking lately …

… about tradition.

We in the church often get stuck in debates about worship styles and music.

We hear the cry from one side that holds on tightly to “traditional” music, decrying the entertainment and shallowness of much of contemporary music. One church insisted on this so strongly that they proclaimed in a billboard: “The Church That Has Not Changed: Our Music. Our Worship. Our Bible.” Yet, when pressed about why they insist on traditional music, it often comes back to how they were raised and what makes them “feel good.” In other words, they insist on traditional music because it entertains them.

Meanwhile, we hear the cry from the other side that insists on only “contemporary” music, saying that the old styles do not appeal and do not reach the younger generation. Yet, often the songs that are written appeal only to an individual and emotional level. I worry that for too many of these songs, I could replace the name of Jesus with the name of a boyfriend or girlfriend, and it would make little difference. While loving the style of music, I long for the spiritual and community depths of the best of our traditional music.

The problem has been that we have pitted these two sides against one another, so that we must make a choice between traditional music or contemporary music. When it becomes an “us vs. them” battle, both sides are left wounded and scarred. Then, our witness suffers.

Jesus offers us another path: “Therefore every scribe who has been trained for the kingdom of heaven is like the master of a household who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old.” (Matthew 13:52)

We need both the old and the new together to show us God’s kingdom. We need both the traditional and the contemporary to draw us together to worship our one God.

The church historian Jaroslav Pelikan said, “Tradition is the living faith of the dead, traditionalism is the dead faith of the living. And, I suppose I should add, it is traditionalism that gives tradition such a bad name.” Those that have insisted only on traditional music or worship have fallen into the trap of traditionalism. They have lost sight that our hymns were all written in the “contemporary” music of their day in order to communicate what our faith means. When we say that God can only speak in one way, we have made an idol out of the form and the music. We have lost sight of the God to which the music points.

On the other hand, those that have insisted only on contemporary music have lost sight of the depth and power and insight that the tradition offers. We learn from those who have gone before us. By their witness, they encourage our witness in this present age. And, interestingly enough, the same critique I wrote about previously applies here: when we insist that God can only speak in this one way, we make an idol out of the form and music. We lose light of the God to which the music point.

In response, let us follow the words of Jesus. Let us look for and express the God to which all our music and worship points. Let us bring out the treasures both old and new to understand and express our faith. Let us move beyond taking sides and unify ourselves together to witness to the love and grace of God in Jesus.

The Rev. David Armstrong-Reiner is pastor at Epiphany Lutheran Church, 2375 Ga. Highway 20 in Conyers. Contact him at pastor.david@conyerselc.org.

By David Armstrong-Reiner

June 29, 2019

I have been thinking lately …

… about patriotism.

This coming week we will celebrate again the birth of our country. We will fly our flags. We will watch and set off fireworks. We will remind one another of the great gift of freedom we have in living in these United States of America.

We will hear once again of the importance of patriotism.

But what does patriotism mean? The simple definition is perhaps the best one: “love of country.” We are called to love our country.

But what does it mean to love our country?

The difficulty is that we often twist the terms “patriotic” and “love of country” in such a way that justifies when we as a country have gotten it wrong. For some it seems that “patriotic” means that our country and our government are above any critique or criticism.

And nothing could be further from the truth.

Loving my country means that I want the best for my country. Loving my country means that I want my country to live up to the hope and freedom that it proclaims. Loving my country means that I will hold my country accountable when I see it go astray. Loving my country means that I will see what I and my fellow citizens can do to live up to our country’s potential.

Consider this: In the document that we celebrate this day — our Declaration of Independence — Thomas Jefferson wrote, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” Yet, the reality is that this country has had to grow into this understanding.

When this country was first established, only male landowners had the right to vote. It was not until 1828 that non-property-owning citizens could vote.

When this country was first established, African-Americans were enslaved and even constitutionally considered less than a person. It took a civil war to free them, and another hundred years of struggle before they possessed full rights as citizens.

When this country was first established, Jefferson’s words effectively left out half the population by not even considering women. It took the efforts of a growing suffrage movement that protested and fought for women’s rights before women claimed the right to vote in 1920. And for some unknown reason, over the last 50 years we still cannot codify this language through the Equal Rights Amendment.

These are all examples of patriotism. Abolitionists were patriots. Civil rights protesters were patriots. Suffragists were patriots.

The movements of patriotism continue to this day, whether it be the Me Too movement or the Black Lives Matter protesters. Those that fight for LGBT rights are showing their love of country. Those that bring to light the plight of undocumented children are showing that same love. Those who work to alleviate poverty, undo the violence in our streets, and struggle for peace in our world, all are participating in the work of patriotism.

Whenever we see the gap between the freedom we proclaim and the injustices we allow to continue, the patriotic response is to name the gap and do all that we can to rectify it.

Patriotism is not “Our Country — Right or Wrong!” Patriotism is “Our Country — Help Us Right our Wrongs!”

If we want guidance in this process, let us turn to the vision that Paul laid before us centuries before our country came into being: “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28)

My prayer is that we may live into the oneness and freedom we find in Jesus so that it might guide the oneness and freedom we desire as a nation.

Only then can we truly claim the mantle of patriotism.

Epiphany Lutheran Church, 2375 GA Highway SE, Conyers, GA 30013 is seeking a part-time Church Secretary/Administrator. Must be proficient in Microsoft Word and experience with Publisher, Excel and Data Entry a plus. Must have strong organizational and communication skills and able to work independently without supervision. Please direct inquiries to Pastor David Armstrong-Reiner at staff@conyerselc.org.

Pastor David Armstrong-Reiner

June 21, 2019

Back in 1978, Elvis Costello sang lyrics that resonate over 40 years later: “As I walk through/ This wicked world/ Searchin’ for light in the darkness of insanity/ I ask myself/ Is all hope lost?/ Is there only pain and hatred, and misery?/ And each time I feel like this inside/ There’s one thing I wanna know:

“What’s so funny ‘bout peace, love and understanding?”

We have been entrusted with this incredible message of God’s all-embracing, transformative love for this world and all its people. Jesus embodied that love and reached out to those that the religious establishment excluded: adulterers, lepers, tax collectors, prostitutes, Samaritans, foreigners. Jesus lived out a message of peace, love and understanding.

And what have we done with that message? We have somehow perverted it into a weapon of judgment against those who do not look like us, act like us, believe like us. We have so twisted that message around that too many people identify the church with judgment, hatred and exclusion.

What’s so funny ‘bout peace, love and understanding?

Isaiah proclaims this vision: “The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them.” (Isaiah 11:6) When these words are repeated later, the prophet emphasizes that this is not a vision for some far-off future, but rather, “be glad and rejoice forever in what I [God] am creating.” (Isaiah 65:18) Isaiah envisions a world of peace, love and understanding.

John speaks of a vision of the tree of life that grows along the springs of the water of life that — even now — flows out of the city of God. About that tree, John says that “the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.” (Revelation 22:2) God wants to bring about healing, wholeness, and restoration, not simply for individuals but for communities and nations. John dreams of a world filled with peace, love and understanding.

And where do we find this dream? Where do we find this vision? Jesus tells us: “The kingdom of God is not coming with things that can be observed; nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There it is!’ For, in fact the kingdom of God is among — or within — you.” (Luke 17:20-21) This dream, this vision, this kingdom, longs to be realized right now. It is within our grasp.

Why then are we so divided? Why then have we used religion as a means to justify bigotry, violence and oppression?

What’s so funny ‘bout peace, love, and understanding?

When I hear news reports of so-called pastors that actually promote violence against my LGBT brothers and sisters, I want to ask, “What’s so funny about peace, love and understanding?”

When I hear talk about building walls on our borders, I want to ask, “What’s so funny about peace, love, and understanding?”

When I hear about another shooting taking place at a school, workplace, concert, or nightclub, I want to ask, “What’s so funny about peace, love, and understanding?”

In response, Brian McLaren invites us to change how we look at our lives and our world by asking two questions: “1. If you were to live for another 50 years, what kind of person would you like to become — and how will you become that kind of person? and 2. If Jesus doesn’t return for 10,000 or 10 million years, what kind of world do we want to create?”

So if you feel similar frustrations about the church as I do, I invite you to join in imagining together a life and a world that God intended. A life and a world where it is no longer funny to speak and live peace, love and understanding.

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