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As we begin making plans for Thanksgiving, I came across something I wrote last Thanksgiving in my blog. In this time of bitter debate and divisiveness it reminds me of the need to be open to opportunities for holy conversations. 

Prevenient Grace at the Hotel Breakfast Buffet
After helping to serve dinner at the Camden Neighborhood Center we drove to Columbus Ohio to visit my husband’s parents. While there, we spent several nights in a hotel that had a great breakfast buffet. Since my husband sleeps in—which means he sleeps past 6 am—I would go down to the breakfast area early to get some work done without disturbing him.

As I worked, I overheard fascinating conversations from other guests. One morning it was a woman with three young girls. The woman was very deliberately teaching the girls about manners. Another morning it was a sales force meeting planning out the day’s work. On another morning it went beyond simply observing and I was blessed to be a part of two amazing, holy conversations.

The first was with the overnight desk clerk. Our conversation was first about our experience at the hotel. But it quickly moved to matters of faith. She shared her experiences of Christianity, what it was like to grow up in a religion that did not tolerate her questions. By now she knew I was a United Methodist Pastor! Our conversation moved to talking about the place for questions and thinking in our faith journey. True story—we talked about the Wesleyan Quadrilateral at this point—how we are guided by Scripture, Tradition, Experience, and Reason! Then she shared with me her vision of a non-profit that would work with at risk women and their babies over a five year period.

My next conversation was with the breakfast buffet attendant. She shared with me how she had grown up going to church, spending hours each Sunday worshiping. Then, how she had fallen away from that practice. She got married and her sister-in-law brought her back to church. Then she shared how she was so thankful this had happened, because not too long after she had re-established her relationship with God, she went through a really rough period in her life. Prevenient grace—God at work in your life before you even know you need God.

I am grateful for these conversations. They have inspired me. More importantly they have reminded me of the need to be aware lest we miss those holy conversations that God is placing in our paths. May you find such space in your days!


Church Opportunities and Resources

Church Happenings

Click here to view all the church to church happenings on the Gateway South District! Church events and flyers are updated on a regular basis so you will never miss out. You can also visit the Southern Regional Informational page to view events that are going on throughout the region. If you would like your church event to be posted on the district events page please email  
NEW REVISED DATE: Southern Region Bishop's Day Laity Session
Date: Wednesday, December 14
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Location: United Methodist Church of Mantua, 201 Mantua Blvd. Mantua, NJ 08051
Southern Region Prayer Concerns
  • Please continue to keep Rev. Steve Elliott in prayer.
  • Prayers for Rev. Ramon Putman
Church Conference Paperwork
Click here to view the Gateway South District Church Conference schedule online. If you have not yet submitted your church conference reports, please contact Debbie Sidorakis.
Thanksgiving Food Collection
The Neighborhood Center in Camden is seeking food donations for this year's Thanksgiving meal serve which serves over 3,000 children and adults. Click here for a full list of their much needed food items that will help feed our neighbors this Thanksgiving. All donations must be dropped off by Monday, November 21st at the Neighborhood Center located at 278 Kaighn Avenue, Camden NJ. For more information on how your church congregation can get involved, please contact Val at (856) 356-1674 or email.
Korean Food & Culture Festival
Date: Saturday, October 22, 2016
Time: 11:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Location: First Korean UMC of Cherry Hill,1995 Rt. 70 E. Cherry Hill, NJ 08003
Click here for flyer and free coupon.
The profits from the food and festival will be used to support mission work, Imagine No Malaria and Hurricane Sandy victims.
42nd Anniversary Jazz Concert: "Jazz, Hymn and Liturgy" By Sam JC Lee Group
Date: Saturday, October 29
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Location: Korean UMC of South Jersey, 5340 White Horse Pike, Egg Harbor City, NJ 08215
Cost: $10
Click here for more information.
Watering the Seed: Grant-Writing to Start or Sustain a Local Ministry
Date: Saturday, November 5
Time: 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. (Breakfast served at 8:30 a.m.)
Location: Korean United Methodist Church, 1995 Marlton East Cherry Hill, NJ 08003
Click here to register. Learn the basics of effective grant writing in a fun and collaborative workshop. Click here to share event flyer.

Catalyst One Day Event
Sponsored by the Southern Region Team of GNJ

Date: Wednesday, November 9
Time: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. 
Location: Lancaster County Bible College, 2392 Mount Joy Rd. Manheim, PA 17545
Cost: 1-9 persons are $119 each and 10 or more persons are $99 each
For more information and to register: Click Here
Questions? Please contact Nicole Toast
Doxology: A Day of Learning
Keynote Speaker: Kurtis Parks
"If you always do what you've always done, you'll always be what you've always been"

Date: November 12
Time: 8:30 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Location: Calvary Korean UMC, 572 Ryders Ln., East Brunswick NJ 08816
Cost: $25 per individual registration or $100 for an entire group of four or more (lunch included).
For more information and to register, please click here.
Click here to watch a short video to learn more about Doxology.
Save the Date: Southern Region Year-End Statistical Report Training
Date: Thursday, December 8 
Session 1: 2:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Session 2: 7:00 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. 
Location: Trinity United Methodist Church, 284 Cedar Road, Mullica Hill NJ 08062
Save the Date: 2017 Bishop's Clergy Convocation
Date: January 23-25, 2017
Location: Ocean Place Resort, Long Branch NJ
Come for renewal, learning and fellowship. Registration will open November 1. 
Save the Date: "Lone Nut to Revolutionary Leader: unleashing generosity in your congregation"
A Clergy retreat led by Horizons Stewardship
Date: February 22-23, 2017
Location: Congress Hall, Cape May NJ
Registration will open next week.
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