Sunday, April 26, 2009

Chaplains Comfort Families of Fallen

The night sky looked calm and tranquil from a gently soaring aircraft, miles above the Eastern Seaboard towns below. However, there was nothing tranquil or calm in the hearts of one family on board, traveling to Dover Air Force Base to witness the dignified transfer of their son's remains.

Their son, their Marine, their hero had paid the ultimate sacrifice in the mountains of Afghanistan only the day before. The staff at the Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations Center would carefully prepare his remains for transfer to his final resting place.

As the family arrived at the Dover flightline, the mother's tear chalice overflowed and her emotions began to stream from her eyes. Her husband quickly comforted her with his embrace as a Port Mortuary chaplain swiftly made his way over to console the grieving couple.

Later that night, an aircraft landed at Dover and an advance team boarded the jet to inspect and pre-position the transfer case. An honor guard of Marines reverently transported the fallen Marine from the aircraft to a specialized transfer vehicle waiting nearby. Among the few airmen and Marines respectfully performing their duties on the aircraft was a familiar face – another Port Mortuary chaplain, the counterpart of the chaplain who comforted the parents earlier that evening.

The Marine's remains are meticulously prepared for their escorted delivery and final interment in a family plot in his hometown. Once the remains are prepared, a fellow Marine arrives at Dover to escort his comrade on the journey home. Before departing on this solemn mission, the escort receives a briefing from his Marine liaison team with Port Mortuary chaplains present.

The Port Mortuary chaplain staff consists of Air Force Chaplains (retired Lt. Col.) David Sparks, (Lt. Col.) George Ortiz-Guzman, (Maj.) Klavens Noel, and Master Sgt. Timothy Polling, a chaplain's assistant. Throughout the dignified transfer process, they provide humble counsel to the family, Port Mortuary staff and escorts, and pray over the remains of the fallen hero. This process has been repeated thousands of times over the past several years, as the nation's fallen continue to make their way back home through the Port Mortuary at Dover.

"As a chaplain, comforting grieving families and watching over the remains of those heroes who keep me safe is the greatest calling I could answer," said Ortiz-Guzman, who added that he is humbled and honored to "serve those who serve."

Working at the Port Mortuary can be horrific and overwhelming. Constant exposure to the fallen takes a mental toll on the mortuary staff, as they know well that it could be them or their brother's or sister's remains waiting to go home. The chaplains work the same processing system as the rest of the staff, but must remain strong during those distraught times.

"Remaining strong and sane for the sake of the mission is a defense mechanism humans use to perform amongst all that horror," Ortiz-Guzman said. "But we try to be as real as we can with our troops. They know when you are 'snowballing' them. We cry with them and laugh with them. We are part of the team and they all know it."

Chaplains must continue to convey the rock, and that rock is beyond any chaplain – the rock is God, Ortiz-Guzman said. When a chaplain begins to have difficulty dealing with the situation and cannot show his emotions to the troops, he bounces his feelings off a fellow chaplain in private, and relies on his faith, keeps his spiritual focus and draws on the support of the 436th Airlift Wing chapel staff, he added.

Chaplains use these resources to keep themselves spiritually ready to help others.

"I have the greatest admiration for these loyal chaplains," Air Force Col. Bob Edmondson, commander of the Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations Center, said. "As a commander, I place the highest priority on the safety, health and well-being of all those in my charge. For this mission, our chaplains are the sensors, confidants, caregivers, and friends that keep us all safe and healthy and sane. Each member of the AFMAO team bears a very personal and unique responsibility; our mortuary staff and the families of the fallen depend on these dedicated chaplains for their mental and spiritual well-being."

Edmondson's team is responsible for all Air Force mortuary matters, from both current and past conflicts, and operates the nation's sole port mortuary, which serves the entire Defense Department. To succeed in their mission, his team must remain healthy – physically, mentally and spiritually. Sometimes staying healthy is a task in itself – a task that requires professional counselors.

"Port Mortuary troops have various, but certainly significant stress issues," said Sparks, who explained a chaplain must maintain absolute confidentiality with those troops and families he serves.

Sparks said he's awakened many nights by servicemembers and others who cannot sleep due to the stress they were enduring.

"We are where they are," is the overlying theme to Sparks' approach to his mission, he said. "I've been out at bars at midnight, drinking a Coke and talking things through with team members. This is the duty of a chaplain. We are there when they need us, not when it is convenient."

Many chaplains have served the Port Mortuary team, Sparks said, explaining that the mortuary keeps two long-term chaplains on staff and consistently rotates a third chaplain through on four-month cycles. They do this to ensure a chaplain can handle the stresses of the mortuary prior to taking them on long-term, he said.

Not every chaplain is suited for Port Mortuary duty, said Sparks, who has been on staff here for more than five years. Certainly, not every chaplain can sustain this duty for a year-long tour. Sparks said he believes a chaplain goes through three stages once he assumes Port Mortuary duty: the horror stage, the sadness stage and the focus stage.

"At first, a chaplain just reacts to the horror of mortuary duty," he said. "We see more of the destruction of war here than teams out in the field will ever see. For instance, let's say a team loses 20 soldiers, which weighs heavy on a team in the field. Here, we see those same 20 fallen warriors, plus all the fallen from every other team."

Many chaplains begin to feel a profound sadness – which can linger if they don't find a focus, Sparks said. To compensate, he explained, many of the mortuary staff members focus on the science of their job.

Since early April, when Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates approved a policy change allowing media filming of dignified transfer operations, more and more family members now attend the transfers. The increasing number of grieving families is another consideration the chapel staff must remain focused on.

"With the constant human toll in front of us, the mortuary staff feeling the stress of this work and an increase in the number of grieving families, a sustainable focus is the only way a person can function here," said Sparks, who added that he does not view this as a negative thing, but rather an opportunity to touch the lives of families in need.

Sparks and his fellow chaplains remain dedicated to those who need them most, Sparks said: their staff members and the families of the fallen.

As the fallen Marine's family flies home and the escort leaves Dover with the hero's remains, more transfer cases arrive on an aircraft from Ramstein Air Base, Germany. At this point, the Port Mortuary chaplains stand ready and step forward to comfort the next arriving family.

Somewhere in the grieving mother's mind and in the minds of the mortuary staff, a change was being made. Sparks prayed that he comforted them and changed their focus "from devastation to dignity, from horror to honor, from remains to respect and from fatalities to families."

By Air Force Tech. Sgt. Kevin Wallace
Special to American Forces Press Service
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Friday, April 17, 2009

New Children's Adventure Book Reveals Lessons About Armor of God

/PRNewswire/ -- Follow a brave little cricket named Kirby on his personal quest for truth in Jennifer Rhodes' new children's book, "Kirby - Big Warrior, Little Warrior: The Making of a King" (published by AuthorHouse), which teaches children the necessary skills of confession, accountability, courage to stand proud and faith in order to walk with God and earn redemption.

Kirby's quest begins when the miserable toad king and his army invade the island where the crickets live. With the frogs marching in from the forest of gloom, the crickets' only hope for survival is to send their smallest, Kirby, out to the spirit-filled forest in hopes of finding help. Frightened, Kirby calls out to his god, ADONAI, for help. And ADONAI guides him through the forests filled with seven holy spirits of the lord to gather the armor of God from the variety of animals that serve as watchmen of God.

What begins as a journey to collect the armor of God transforms into a personal quest as Kirby realizes that basic knowledge of God isn't enough. He must take his basic knowledge to a whole new level by understanding that God has a son who has already won the battle for him by wearing the armor, turning Kirby's quest into one for salvation. Kirby learns to use his five senses and instinct to find the steps to salvation. When speaking with one of the lord's watchmen, Kirby learns about listening and the many names and faces of God. Rhodes writes:

"Who is the Lord?" asked Kirby. ...

"Well, take the wind that blows over us. That is His breath, His kiss.
We just take it in. It is what gives us life. That's how we know He
is with us. Or you could look up in the sky and see His glory coming
from the clouds when the sun moves behind them, creating a radiant
light. You know the Son will split the sky and part the clouds one
day. He will separate His harvest for a season to come. His glory
will cause every tongue to confess and every knee to bow down."

"Wow! No one's ever told me that before!" said Kirby.

"Kirby, you need to talk to ADONAI more often. He will reveal Himself
to you through his son. You have to listen to Him and walk in the
ways He tells you to find him. You see, I was in the top of this tree
one day, talking to Him, when He gave me this scarf of lamb's wool
with a cord of blue. He said to wrap it around my waist and use it to
carry his food. He called it the Bread of Life, His truth."

Will Kirby gather the pieces of the armor of God and rescue his family? Find out in the inspirational pages of this timeless coming-of-age story, "Kirby - Big Warrior, Little Warrior," which delivers an important message that every being, big or small, can be a great warrior if they are faithful when tried.

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Sunday, April 12, 2009

Fayette: One Accord in Concert at NFUMC

The public is invited to attend North Fayette United Methodist Church on Sunday, April 19, as One Accord, a 12-member vocal ensemble auditioned from the Atlanta Christian College Concert Choir performs at the 8:45 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. worship services, and then again that day at 3:00 p.m. when the group performs in a special concert .

One Accord specializes in performing various styles of a cappella music. They have represented the Atlanta Christian College in many different settings, including church and civic groups, banquets, high schools, conventions, and services throughout the southeastern United States.

One Accord has appeared twice on Good Day Atlanta (WAGA-TV), sung the National Anthem and at half-time show for the Atlanta Falcons, sung the National Anthem for the Atlanta Braves, and performed for the Governor’s Prayer Caucus, Macy’s Christmas Concerts at Lenox Square Mall, and the Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast in East Point.

NFUMC is located at 847 New Hope Road. For more information about this event, or other events at NFUMC, call 770-461-2409, or visit
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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

New Spiritual Guide Shares Tenets of Godly Life

/PRNewswire/ -- In her debut spiritual guide, "Follow That Light: A Happy Journey" (published by AuthorHouse), Sheryl Patwardhan gives readers the keys to their spiritual well-being, showing them how to grow wise with God and gain salvation through knowledge of the Bible.

"We have three keys to success: church, prayer and faith," Patwardhan writes. "They help us to follow the Golden Rule. Be a fountain of life. Let your heart overflow with goodness towards others. We have choices to make throughout life and with the help and guidance of those around us, we can and will make the right choices and the right decisions."

Beginning with the story of creation, "Follow That Light" instructs readers on myriad subjects that will aid their journey toward salvation and help them to understand their inner selves. Patwardhan's advice is simple: to escape hell, you should avoid earthly manifestations of evil, and to reach heaven you should follow the path of the Lord. She writes:

"One cannot arrive in heaven by motor coach, spaceship, or rose covered carriage pulled by golden horses. The secret to reaching heaven is to know what is acceptable and what is not acceptable. Just as money, food, and clothing are real concerns on our sojourn through earthly life, heaven and hell are very real concerns as well. Food, money, and clothing do not appear as the dew on the morning grass. One has to work for these in an honest fashion. ...

Just as a horseman rides his horse with dignity and pride, live your life with dignity and pride. If you lead your life as the Lord wishes, you will have dignity, and you can sit tall in the saddle with pride. Be not afraid. Follow that light. It will guide you through life -- through all trials, evil, and strife."

Patwardhan also includes 20 definitions about daily subjects that affect all Christians, including charity, drinking alcohol, exercise, homosexuality and lawsuits. Information in "Follow That Light" is straightforward, revealing valuable knowledge about a good spirit versus an evil one, keeping your godly wealth and learning from mistakes in order to journey to God. A valuable resource for all people of faith, "Follow That Light" is sure to be enjoyed by young and old alike.

Sheryl Patwardhan grew up in southwest Iowa with 10 siblings. She worked in the insurance industry and in nursing before becoming a licensed practical nurse. She and her husband currently live in Savannah, Ga., where Patwardhan was active in the community as a member of the Historic Savannah Foundation, the Auxiliary to the Georgia Medical Society and the Savannah Symphony Guild.

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Monday, April 6, 2009

Experience Serenity at Stone Mountain Park’s Easter Sunrise Service

65th Non-Denominational service held at the mountain

As the sun rises over the city, Atlantans can celebrate the peace and tranquility of Easter with family and friends at the top or bottom of Stone Mountain.

What: 65th Annual Easter Sunrise Service

Who: The Stone Mountain Ministerial Association presents two simultaneous, non-denominational Easter services at the top and at the base of Stone Mountain on Memorial Lawn. Park gates and Summit Skyride open at 4a.m. Please allow an extra hour or more for large crowds.

When: Sunday, April 12; services begin at 6:15a.m.

Where: Stone Mountain Park; top of the mountain and laserlawn

Tickets: Vehicle entry to the park is $8 for a one-day permit or $35 for annual permit. Church vans and buses enter free. Round-trip Skyride fees are $9.00 for adults and $7.00 for children 3-11 and $5.50 one-way. There are no fees for the walk-up trail to the top of the mountain.

More info:
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N. Fayette UMC 5th Annual Spring Fling

North Fayette United Methodist Church, 847 New Hope Road, announces its 5th. Annual Spring Fling and Yard Sale on Saturday, April, 18, from 8 a.m. - 2 p.m. A huge yard sale will have something for everyone, including furniture, appliances, tools, books, toys, etc. Other activities include an inflatable Fun House for the children, and a baked goods sale. BBQ chicken lunches and Children's Hot dog Plate lunches (10 and under) will be on sale from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Prices for BBQ plates range from $ 5:00 - $ 7.50, and children's hot dog plates will be $ 2.50. For advance ticket purchases for BBQ and hot dog plates, or for further information on this and other events, please call 770-461-2409, or visit

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Celebrate Eastern Orthodox Easter and Holy Week April 12 - 19

St. Christopher Hellenic Orthodox Church of Peachtree City invites the community to join in celebrating Eastern Orthodox Easter and Holy Week services during the week of April 12-19th.

The reason for the different dates of Western (Catholic, Protestant, Episcopalian) Easter and Orthodox Easter (Pascha) is primarily because Orthodox Christians determine the date of Easter (Pascha) based on the Julian Calendar in use during the First Ecumenical Council of Nicea in 325 AD. Additionally, in keeping with the rule established by the Council of Nicea, the Orthodox Church holds to the tradition that Easter (Pascha) must always fall after the Jewish Passover, since the death, burial and Resurrection of Christ happened after the celebration of Passover.

This year, the 350 million Orthodox Christians worldwide celebrate Easter (Pascha) on Sunday, April 19, 2009.

The young mission of Peachtree City, Georgia, began on October 26, 2003 with its first Divine Liturgy celebrated at the Fayette Family YMCA in Fayetteville, Georgia. A planning group of about 15 families met with the Rev. Fr. George Tsahakis, and with the blessings of His Eminence Metropolitan Alexios of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Atlanta, began inviting families from the Clayton, Coweta, Fayette, Henry, Spalding and South Fulton areas to join together to form the new parish.

Within one year, more than 50 families had committed their support. A warehouse in the business/industrial park of Peachtree City was renovated through the hard-working efforts of parishioners, who provided most of the labor and materials needed for the heating, air conditioning, drywall, plumbing, cabinetry, interior painting and carpeting.

At present, the church seats more than 100 and offers Sunday and weekday church services, coffee fellowship, community luncheons and dinners, and a full offering of parish ministries that include religious education from nursery through adult education (year-round), classes for inquirers and converts, Hellenic language and dance, GOYA, JOY, community family nights, and outreach and evangelism to area residents and visitors. The very active Philoptochos Chapter (Friends of the Poor) was soon formed and parishioners are committed to serving its philanthropic efforts and the surrounding community’s service needs.

In December 2006, 10 acres of property in Fayette County were purchased (one mile outside of Peachtree City on Ebenezer Road) and they plan to pay off the mortgage in early 2010 and begin the building of the new educational and meeting facility shortly thereafter. That will enable them to worship and offer ministries on-site until the permanent sanctuary and church complex is completed.

For a complete schedule of services visit
Photo: Holy Friday “Lamentations” Service offering praise to Christ, officiated by Rev. Fr. George Tsahakis.
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Thursday, April 2, 2009

All Saints Anglican Rector Talks “Lent and Easter 101”

Reverend Michael Fry, Rector of All Saints Anglican Church in Peachtree City, sat down with Freddy Burdeshaw recently and fielded some basic questions about the Christian seasons.

1. Burdeshaw:A neighbor asked me to explain all the smutty looking foreheads a couple of Wednesdays back; what should I say?

Fry: The Christian tradition of marking worshipers foreheads with ashes dates back well over 1,000 years and symbolizes the penitence of the faithful as the season of Lent begins. You may have heard of the Biblical expression of repenting in “sackcloth and ashes.”

2. Burdeshaw: Okay, I understand the ashes are placed on foreheads as a sign of repentance. Where do the ashes come from? Will any ashes do? How are they placed?

Fry: Traditionally the ashes are the burned remains of palms that were used in the Palm Sunday service the year before, but any ashes will do. They are placed on the forehead in the form of a cross.

3. Burdeshaw: Well, since Ash Wednesday is the first day of Lent, where do the terms of Shrove Tuesday and Mardi Gras come into play?

Fry: “Shrove Tuesday” is the eve of Lent. The term comes from the old English word “shrive” meaning to forgive. There has historically been an emphasis on the importance of the faithful confessing their sins as the season begins.

“Mardi Gras” is a French term meaning “Fat Tuesday.” It comes from the tradition of abstaining from sweets and fat during Lent (in years past, fat was considered a good thing). So there was often quite a celebration on the eve of Lent as all the goodies were consumed from the pantry since they wouldn’t keep over the next seven weeks.

4. Burdeshaw: Would you explain the church season of Lent and its connection with Easter?

Fry: The term “lent” comes from an old English word meaning “spring” (similar to lengthen –as in the daylight hours are getting longer each day). In church language it refers to the forty weekdays before Easter: As Jesus fasted forty days in the wilderness before embarking on his ministry, so Christians have long undertook a forty-day preparation for the Easter celebration. The hope is that by observing the time-honored Christian traditions associated with the season that the Easter celebration will be more meaningful and we will all have grown spiritually through the process.

5. Burdeshaw: I know Lent involves fasting and I take that to mean not eating! Some of us fat boys can’t deal with that! Is this absolutely required?

Fry: Various churches have different practices—some more strict than others. In our church, Ash Wednesday and Good Friday are the only days where fasting is clearly proscribed. The manner of fasting varies according to individuals’ spiritual practices and health. This can range from an absolute fast (no food or water for a period of time) to simply a reduction in portion size and abstinence from certain foods.

6. Burdeshaw: Are there other activities Christians are supposed to observe during Lent besides fasting?

Fry: Definitely. A primary activity of the season is for Christians to undergo a period of self-examination—asking the Holy Spirit to reveal to us areas of our lives where we have fallen short of God’s perfect will. Fasting is actually an aid in this process.

Other activities associated with Lent include taking on additional acts of charity as well as added religious devotions. It is hoped that some new outreach or spiritual practice that we undertake for these seven weeks might become part of our regular routine even after Easter so that we emerge from the season as stronger Christians who have drawn nearer to our Lord.

7.Burdeshaw: It seems the number 40 has numerous Biblical connections, including the days preceding the crucifixion of Jesus. Did God plan for all of these “40 day events?”

Fry: While the reason behind it is not specified in the Bible, the time period of forty days or forty years occurs frequently. For example: In the time of Noah it rained forty days and forty nights; When Moses went up on to Mt. Sinai to receive the law he was there forty days and forty nights; The Israelites wandered in the desert for forty years after escaping Egypt and, as I mentioned earlier, Jesus fasted forty days and forty nights before beginning his public ministry. Since the figure has Biblical significance, we can presume it has spiritual significance as well.

8.Burdeshaw: Apparently Palm Sunday is an integral part of Holy Week. Does this commemorate some historical event related to the Passion of Christ?

Fry: Yes—The service and the day are a time when we remember Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem on the Sunday before his crucifixion. In the Bible we are told that crowds welcomed him by spreading their garments and cut branches on the road before him. John’s Gospel particularly mentions them being palms.

Many people don’t know this, but we have a first-hand historical account that the services we celebrate today for Holy Week were celebrated in Jerusalem as early as the 4th century A.D. (and probably earlier). If you Google “Travels of Egeria” you will find a pilgrim’s tale of her visit to the Holy Land and the Christian celebrations held there, including the reenactment of “Palm Sunday.”

9.Burdeshaw: I recently heard the term “Spy Wednesday” for the first time in connection to Judas. What is the meaning of that?

Fry: It’s not a term I’ve heard used a lot, but it refers to the day that Judas met with the religious authorities in Jerusalem and agreed to betray Jesus so that they could arrest and try him (two days before his death on the cross).

10. Burdeshaw: Thanks Father Michael for your patience in answering what I know are some dumb questions. One final question: What are the plans at All Saints for Holy Week?

Fry: You’re welcome, and they were very good questions. We will celebrate Palm Sunday on April 5th at our 10:30 AM service; On Thursday the 9th at 7:00 PM we will commemorate the last supper; Good Friday (April 10th) we will also hold our commemoration at 7:00 PM. Our first Easter service will actually be held on Saturday night after sundown (8:30 PM) and then we will have two on Sunday morning at 8:00 & 10:30 AM.
All Saints Anglican Church is located at 303 Kelly Drive in Peachtree City.

Palm Sunday (Apr 5 at 10:30)
Maundy Thursday (Apr 9 at 7 pm)
Good Friday (Apr 10 at 7 pm)
Easter Eve Morning Prayer (Apr 11 @ 8:30 am)
Easter Egg Hunt (Apr 11 @11 a.m.) (Call 770-486-5374 for directions)
Easter Vigil (Apr 11 @ 8:30 pm)
Easter Sunday (Apr 12 @ 8:00 am and 10:30 am)
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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Fayette: Free Southern Gospel Concert Coming to FFUMC

On Sunday, May 3, 2009, a FREE southern gospel concert will be provided in the main sanctuary of Fayetteville First United Methodist Church, 175 E. Lanier Avenue, Fayetteville, GA 30214. The approximate two hour concert will start at 6:30 PM. Doors will open at 6 PM.

This concert will feature a group that previously performed in Fayetteville a number of years ago, and have since produced a new CD – PEACHLAND QUARTET. Additionally, a relatively new group – GMC Trio – will also perform. Both of these groups will lift spirits in 2009!!

An offering will be taken to support the retirement of the current mortgage.

Please mark your calendars; invite and bring your friends and neighbors; and help us FILL THE SANCTUARY on the evening of May 3!

To learn and hear more of PEACHLAND QUARTET, visit:
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The Raleigh Ringers to Perform at PTCUMC May 2nd

The Raleigh Ringers, an internationally acclaimed, advanced community handbell choir based in Raleigh, NC, will perform in Peachtree City on Saturday, May 2, at 7:00 PM at Peachtree City United Methodist Church, 225 Robinson Rd.

Since its founding in 1990, The Raleigh Ringers has been dazzling concert audiences with unique interpretations of sacred, secular and popular music, including famous rock n' roll tunes arranged just for handbells.

The Raleigh Ringers performs on one of the most extensive collections of bells and bell-like instruments owned by any handbell ensemble in the world. The 16-member choir has performed in 34 states and in several cities in France, and has also performed live on several nationally syndicated radio and television shows. To see and hear video clips of The Raleigh Ringers visit their website at
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Tickets for the concert are $10 each and can be purchased in advance by contacting PTCUMC Handbell Director Jeanne Blood at 770.487.2962. A Spaghetti Supper will precede the concert from 5:00 – 6:00 PM, held at the PTCUMC Children and Youth Campus, 400 Windgate Rd. Dinners are $5 per person. Proceeds from this concert will benefit PTCUMC youth attending the North Georgia Youth Music Camp in June.

Shorter Students Plan, Organize Local ‘Up With The Son’ Run And Praise Event

Four Shorter College students have been busy over the last few weeks and not just with schoolwork and exams. Eric Jackson, Ward Bearden, Jeremy Kirby and Chris Poole have all volunteered their time in order to make the “Up With the Son Wildwood Run/Praise and Worship Rally” a complete success.

Sponsored by the Polk-Haralson Association Youth Missions and hosted by Collard Valley Church in Cedartown, the sixth-annual event is scheduled for April 4. In year’s past, more than 16 churches have participated in the event and as many as 200 people have attended.

According to Janice Stewart of Polk-Haralson Youth Missions, planning for the event began about two months ago, and it’s been going a fast pace ever since. “I think these Shorter students have found out in a hands-on way just how much prayer, planning, communication, and work goes into planning a youth event ... especially one involving multiple churches. Each has worked very hard to do his part, and I am sure that this year's event will be awesome.”

This will be the first time in the Wildwood Run and Rally’s history where college students have handled all aspect of planning the event, Stewart said. “Other colleges have helped lead the worship rally part of our program, but this is the first time that students have planned and led it.”

The Shorter students who organized the event are part of the college’s youth ministry class, led by Gordon Davidson. Students were responsible for the promotion of the event as well as booking praise and worship bands, coordinating the race, registration, door prizes and special speakers.

Shorter College’s Department of Religion and Philosophy Chair Dr. Alan Hix said that when it comes to preparing students to enter into the ministry, nothing beats real-life experience. “Having our students participate this activity reflects our philosophy of not only preparing students academically for ministry, but also giving them actual ministry opportunities under the guidance of an experienced minister,” Hix said. “All of our Christian ministry classes now have some type of field experience as a part of the course. It is the hands-on experience that helps the students flesh out the principles they have learned in the classroom. The result is a student-minister who knows not only the ‘how’ of ministry, but the ‘why’ of ministry as well.”

Registration for the run begins at 8:15 a.m. in Cedartown at Collard Valley Baptist Church. The youth-led worship rally kicks off at 10:30.

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