More Than Words

Bringing Life to Our Words

June 12, 2022


James 1:15-17

[15]Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.
[16]Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. [17]Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.


1 John 2:3-6

[3]We know that we have come to know him if we keep his commands. [4]Whoever says, “I know him,” but does not do what he commands is a liar, and the truth is not in that person. [5]But if anyone obeys his word, love for God is truly made complete in them. This is how we know we are in him: [6]Whoever claims to live in him must live as Jesus did.

John 13:15-17

[15]I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. [16]Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. [17]Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.

Welcome to Sylvania First UMC!

(912) 564-2747

This Week’s Announcements

New Church Signage

New Church Signage

We're excited about the new signage that's been placed in and around the church. The lit sign in the front of the church has taken the place of the original sign, which will be later relocated on the church property. The Student Ministry Building can now be easily...

Church Information Sheet

Church Information Sheet

In early July, we started collecting information to input into a new database to help us better communicate with you, to more efficiently maintain our membership records, and to record giving. Our hope is that each person will complete the data sheet at their earliest...

Highlighted Missionary

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Prayer Requests

Mark Your Calendar for the Next Club 55 Outing

The next Club 55 outing has been planned for Friday, February 3rd. All that would like to attend are asked to meet at the church at 6PM to take the church bus to Metter to eat at The Pond House. Please notify Maria Bashlor by Wednesday, February 1st if you plan to go. Her contact information is:

Call/Text: (912) 222-2965


Membership Class

Whether you’re new at our church or you’ve been around for a while and you’re interested in making Sylvania First your church home, your next step is attending one of our Expect More sessions. We’ll be hosting anyone who’s interested in joining our church or would just like more information on February 5th or February 19th from 5PM-6:15PM. You don’t have to attend both sessions–just pick one! We hope you’ll prayerfully consider joining our community of believers!

Complete the form below to RSVP or call the church office at (912) 564-2747.

Click Here to RSVP


Winter Blast 2023

Winter Blast 2023 is in the books, and I think it’s safe to say a great time was had by all!

A huge thank you to our congregation and the parents who helped make this trip possible. This trip was a memorable one–the best group of young people, the greatest chaperones, and the #1 bus driver. God has mighty plan for this youth group! We will tell our story at Wednesday Night Supper on February 1st at 6:30PM in the Fellowship Hall.

-Billie Anne



A Word from the Bishop–Part 1

Dear Friends of the South Georgia Conference,

Happy New Year! As we begin a new year, I pray God will reveal to you a sense of peace and clarity in 2023.

In early November, the Commission on the General Conference announced that the 2024 United Methodist General Conference will be held April 23 – May 3, 2024, at the Charlotte Convention Center in Charlotte, North Carolina. This much-anticipated gathering will be an important time for the future of The United Methodist Church. I would ask that you begin to pray for this important event in the life of Methodism.

As I have shared on many occasions, I am asking churches in the South Georgia Conference to consider postponing any vote regarding separation from The United Methodist Church until after the 2024 General Conference. In these times of misinformation, assumptions, and fear mongering, we will have factual information following the 2024 General Conference to make prayerful and strategic decisions.

Knowing that the disaffiliation procedure outlined in paragraph 2553 of The Book of Discipline sunsets on December 31, 2023, the leadership of our annual conference worked diligently to provide an exit option that extends beyond this deadline.

As a reminder, I share the following information with you as we move forward together in a new year of mission and ministry:

  • At the 2022 Annual Conference Session, members approved a report from the Conference Trustees in which a process was affirmed that extends the terms of South Georgia’s current disaffiliation policy through December 31, 2024. {Read more}
  • The Conference Trustees’ resolution and action is based on ¶2549. ¶2549 is the paragraph the Conference Trustees used before the disaffiliation process in paragraph 2553 was enacted by General Conference. The term we will use after December 31, 2023, is “departure.”
  • The timeline related to matters of disaffiliations/departures set forth by myself, the Cabinet, the Board of Trustees, and the Conference Chancellor can be found here:
  • Regardless of what decisions other Annual Conferences make, the policy written for and approved by South Georgia stands firm.

Also, I want you to know that conference leadership is exploring further prudent additions to our timeline:

  • The Cabinet and I are currently looking at a date in August 2024 for a special Called Annual Conference to consider any possible decision that could be afforded or required of us following the 2024 General Conference.
  • This date is in addition to the special Called Annual Conference we have already announced for November 2024 to ratify final local church departures under the trustees provision.
  • An updated timeline will be posted in the weeks ahead.

We have found that people are affected by disaffiliation in many different ways. Some need a period of time to grieve the loss of community and their “spiritual home.” Others may be excited by this opportunity to do something new and may feel God calling them to take on the leadership to be part of something new. Still others might want to transition into an existing UMC church in their area.  If you find yourself in any of these spaces you can go to the conference website to learn more:

We are also working on some exciting developments in the area of congregational development. We are looking at ideas such as: planting new United Methodist Churches or Fresh Expressions in areas where there are no longer UMC churches, strengthening churches nearest to those areas, and inviting all churches to experience revival and renewal in Jesus Christ.

While all of this information may sound deeply detailed, I hope the spirit of our work is clear: we are seeking to do all we can to allow churches to remain a part of The United Methodist Church until after the work of the 2024 General Conference is complete. I would ask that you join me in prayer that decisions made at the 2024 General Conference will provide us opportunities that will unify our work and give options for all of us to make conference decisions that glorify and magnify God’s work in this corner of the world called the South Georgia Conference. Again, I believe that congregations can only make their best decisions when all the information is on the table. We are seeking to do all we can to give everyone this opportunity.

I am grateful to each of you for the many ways you live into our mission of making disciples. Our Kingdom work can be difficult, at times, but through our United Methodist connection we can rely on one another to bring light in the darkness.

During these days, I would ask you to join me in praying what the early church prayed in Acts 4: 29-31: “And now, O Lord, hear their threats, and give us your servants, great boldness in preaching your word. Stretch out your hand with healing power, may miraculous signs and wonders be done through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”

I am encouraged by verse 31: “After this prayer, the meeting place shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. Then they preached the word of God with boldness.”

When was the last time you prayed for boldness in the name of Jesus? For it is possible following the 2024 General Conference that the South Georgia Conference will be unified in ways that we have not seen in our lifetime. I see a vision of The United Methodist Church flourishing in ways that will make some churches that previously disaffiliated want to rejoin us. We will gladly welcome them back.

Please join me as we live into a season of intentional prayer. May God bless you and your ministry in 2023.

In Christ,

Bishop David Graves

A Word from the Bishop–Part 2

January 12, 2023

Dear Friends of the South Georgia Conference,

Happy New Year! Thank you for allowing myself and the Cabinet the opportunity to pause from disaffiliation conversations in the month of December. As I’ve had time to reflect on the current state of these conversations, God has laid several things on my heart I want to share with you. I am writing a four-part series of articles; two of these just happen to come in the same week. I included the first article in Tuesday’s Advocate. You can read it here.

The second article I want to share with you is below. I hope that in these words you hear my heart and know how much I value the clergy and the laity of the South Georgia Conference. The kingdom impact you make in your local church and community every single day is not going unnoticed.

I’m praying bold prayers for you!

In Christ,

Bishop David Graves


This is NOT a Business Deal!

Earlier this week, I wrote an article reminding you about our process and timeline around disaffiliation and departures. The decisions and policies our Conference leadership and Trustees have made are meant to help those who wish to wait and see what happens at General Conference 2024. If you have not reviewed that information, please do so here. In that spirit, I would like to elaborate on some personal reflections about why churches in the South Georgia Conference should, in fact, wait until 2024 before making any final decisions.

Over the last several months, I have heard it said time and time again that a local United Methodist Church needs to disaffiliate from The United Methodist denomination because it is a good business deal. In fact, someone recently shared a social media post written by a person who said their local UM church decision was purely business and that because of the property value it made good business sense and would provide control and autonomy. In the post, the person went on to say that they did not know about the trust clause. They got one thing correct, this business dealing is about power, money, and control. These comments are not Methodist. Methodism is about a movement inspired by the Holy Spirit.

Regarding the trust clause, our founder John Wesley instituted the trust clause in the mid-18th century when he secured property for meeting spaces and ministry sites for Methodist Societies. Wesley had several lawyers work on the trust clause, and it has been an important part of our polity helping to preserve our historic faith since our beginning 238 years ago. We are not a congregational church and have never been. The trust clause reminds us that we are a connectional church. As United Methodists, we ask first what is best for the whole, not what is best for me and my local church. As Christians and as Methodists, we are in the faith business; we are not in the business of making deals.

If this is a business deal for you, then I ask you to please do some soul searching and reflect on your motivations. I have taken a lot of criticism for allowing previous churches in the South Georgia Conference to disaffiliate under paragraph 2553 in The Book of Discipline. Paragraph 2553 is about human sexuality, and many are trying to use it to say it is about liberal theology, abortion, or the erroneous notion that Bishops want to change the Bible, and the list goes on. Now, people want to misuse paragraph 2553 for their own business deal.

There has been traditional and liberal theology since the beginning of time. No one is rewriting the Bible. People will interpret the Bible in their own way and have since it came into written form.

On the issue of abortion, we have a wonderful statement on abortion in our Book of Discipline. Our social principles have spoken to the issue of abortion since 1972 and in the General Conferences that followed. Our stance has only become more focused on making decisions that value life.

Only the General Conference of The United Methodist Church can change the Book of Disciplineor speak for The United Methodist Church. Many will give their opinions and that is simply it: their opinion. With any divisive topic there are leaders, including a few bishops in The United Methodist Church, that have expressed opinions or actions with which I disagree or find hurtful to the body of the Church. To be honest, there have been things I have said and actions I have done that have been hurtful to others as well. Bishops do not all think alike, any more than clergy or members of a local church think alike. We are connected to people who think differently than we do, which strengthens us more rather than hurts us.

Are we going to throw away the very connection – the South Georgia Annual Conference – that has given every clergy and laity in the annual conference the opportunities you enjoy today? You may have heard me say that I have remained a United Methodist bishop to be a part of the solution. The Gospel message of Jesus calls us to be in the middle of all people’s lives and not those who are just like us.

People use this business deal mindset to place fear mongering into the system. The church and our institutions have been filled with so much fear around financial sustainability and vitality. Those encouraging disaffiliation emphasize that the clock is ticking regarding the use of paragraph 2553 for disaffiliation, which sunsets on December 31, 2023. This December 31, 2023, date reminds me of the panic around Y2K. Will the computers handle the roll over from the 1990’s to 2000? Some predicted that our world would be spun into turmoil. Some even prepared for and used words like Armageddon. I see some similarities in the Y2K panic and The United Methodist Church. We are people of faith, not fear!

Several churches have faithfully discerned that disaffiliation is what God was leading them to do. For their faithful discernment, I give thanks. However, if this is primarily a business deal for you, you need to prayerfully discern how you can continue to push your church towards disaffiliation in good conscience. How can any church request to disaffiliate under the disguise of these actions? I have said since the day that I began my assignment in the Alabama-West Florida Conference and now the South Georgia Conference that I will follow the leading of God’s Word, the Holy Spirit, and the Book of Discipline as I faithfully serve these areas.

What has disheartened me in recent weeks is that I asked this annual conference to not have disaffiliation discussions from November 20th through the rest of 2022. I asked everyone to focus on Advent and sharing the Good News of the Christ Child. This was an ask, not a mandate. Our world, our communities, and, frankly, all of us need good news and, simply put, we need a word of hope. Many of you did just that, and I thank you for your efforts in sharing Jesus. Yet others held disaffiliation meetings in groups or in the church; others had official leadership board meetings or congregational meetings; and some congregations circulated petitions or made phone calls urging people to support a particular position. Just think what might have happened if those efforts were focused on sharing Jesus. As I had one church member tell me recently, “The only contact that I have gotten from my church in years was a phone call asking would I sign a petition about disaffiliation.” What if people had instead made phone calls to invite people to Advent and Christmas services? As my former Bishop, Bishop Ray Chamberlain, said to me one time, “David, as much as your heart hurts over this, you can’t even imagine how the heart of God hurts.” That was 25 years ago, but I have been reminded of this time and time again as I have encountered hurtful times in my life and ministry.

I have repeatedly asked all our churches to wait until after the 2024 General Conference, which will take place April 23-May 3, 2024, to discern next steps for their local church. After General Conference, we will have more accurate information so that our Annual Conference and our local churches can make strategic, Holy Spirit-led decisions and not business deals.

I know that I open myself to criticism with this article. I have been given many labels as a bishop and some have even questioned my salvation. I am not alone in what I endure on a daily basis. Unfortunately, this just helps me empathize with so many of our United Methodist clergy and laity who have experienced overwhelming verbal and emotional abuse. That should not happen in our churches. Jesus was characterized as a radical, and church people back in the day cut a business deal with the Roman Government to put Jesus to death. Over my 40 years of ministry, I have seen a lot of church business deals. It pains me to even think about many of them.

For me, I am going to keep preaching Jesus and hope you will join me in our 2023 year of prayer. At our upcoming June 2023 Annual Conference, this scripture will guide our time together:

“And now, O Lord, hear their threats, and give us your word. Stretch out your hand with healing power; may miraculous signs and wonders be done through the name of your holy servant Jesus. After this prayer, the meeting place shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. Then they preached the word of God with boldness.” -Acts 4:29-31

When was the last time you prayed for boldness?


New Edition of South Georgia Advocate

Through the Advocate, we tell the good news of what God is doing in and through South Georgia United Methodists and our UM churches. We hope to encourage, inspire, and challenge readers to continue to live out their callings as disciples of Jesus Christ and to make new disciples.

Click Here to Read

2022 Giving Statements

Giving statements for 2022 will be sent out via email within the next few weeks. If you completed the data sheet that was posted to our website in Summer 2022 or received and turned back in a hard copy via the church office, we have your current email address, unless it’s changed since then. If you did not compete the data sheet, we may or may not have your current email address, if at all. If you are unsure, you may email Ashley at to verify. If you have not completed the data sheet but would like to do so, click the link below.

Click Here to Complete Adult Data Sheet

If you do not have an email address, you may opt to receive a mailed copy via USPS to your home address. Please call the church office to request a copy of your giving statement. Be sure to leave a message if no answer with your current mailing address or a phone number in which you can be reached.

Church Calendar Link

The church-wide calendar is filling up for 2023 with meetings and events. You can find the calendar under the News & Events tab on the home page. You can complete the Request An Announcement form, located on our website homepage, to add something to the Church Calendar. If you need to book the fellowship hall for an event, you can complete the Facility Rental form located on our website homepage.

SFUMC Music Ministry: Recent News & Things to Come

OCTOBER 6, 2022
As Candy Sheppard said, “What a wonderful day for our church!” We received a new organ after our last one was damaged from a lightning strike.

OCTOBER 11, 2022
A FEW GOOD MEN sang five songs for the Farmdale Baptist Church Revival on Tuesday, October 11, 2022. The men sounded great and it really meant a lot to all who attended the revival. It was the first time Cade Burke was featured in a large solo with the group. And, especially sweet was the fact that Cleve Freeman dedicated Midnight Cry to Mrs.
Betty Mock who was in the hospital at the time. We learned the next day that she passed on to Glory.

OCTOBER 16, 2022
A FEW GOOD MEN sang at the Effingham County Fair! (Cleve Freeman, Rick Freeman, William Moats, Cade Burke, Michael Roemer, Ray Reynolds, Bob Reno, Ken Chan at piano and Ben Reaves on sound). They performed from 3:00 – 4:30 p.m. and were absolutely fantastic! After the program, several audience members came up to the group.  One said that he was a music major and directed the choirs at Southeast Bulloch High School for years. He said this was the best concert he had ever been to.  He said it really moved him and he was fighting back the tears. Another woman came up and said that she knew we were packing up, but she really had to talk to us.  She said her husband suffers from Alzheimer’s and is basically non-responsive at this time.  She brought him to the concert today.  She said for the first
time in months he was singing along with us and crying.  She said that she knew the Lord’s Grace was with us today and thanked us for giving her such a blessing.

We will have an AMAZING Advent Season of Concerts. This is a time for the community to pause at the end of their busy weeks and prepare their hearts for the coming of our Lord during Advent. Concerts will begin at 6:00 p.m. and will only last about 45 minutes.

Friday, December 2nd, we will feature our men’s performing ensemble, A Few Good Men.

Friday, December 9th , we will feature our handbell choir.

Friday, December 16th , we will feature our pianist, Ken Chan, and members of our choir as soloists.

And, Friday, December 23rd , we will feature our pianist, Ken Chan, and our organist, Candy Sheppard, in concert.

Our Advent Concert Series are open to everyone! They are a wonderful way to turn your eyes, ears and hearts towards our Lord Jesus Christ during the Advent Season.

Continuing our Music Ministry during the Advent Season, our choir will perform a beautiful Christmas Cantata complete with a full orchestra on Sunday, December 11th , 2022. The cantata will be dedicated to a long supporter of our program who passed this year, Mrs. Anna Boyd.

On Thursday, December 22nd , the Music Department will join forces with the Statesboro High School National Honors Society in an elaborate afternoon of Christmas Caroling to our community shut-ins followed by a reception and fellowship. The National Honor Society will make cookies for the reception, hand-made Christmas cards to give to all those we visit and devise a fun route (with the help of Pastor Dorsia)! ALL are welcome to join us in, what promises to be, an afternoon full of fun, singing of God’s love!

Finally, the Music Department plans to offer special music for Christmas Eve again this year for our candlelight service on Saturday, December 24th . We are blessed to have many church families and community members coming together to hear the story of God’s Love for us.

~Drafted by Dr. Tamara Harper~

The Wait is Over!

After much anticipation and excitement, it’s finally here! Our new, beautiful Viscount organ has arrived and now lives in the Sanctuary of our church. Last Sunday, November 6th, 2022, for the All Saints Day Service, marked the very first church service that the new organ was played. Organist Candy Sheppard played at the 11AM service. If you were unable to attend, you can view the service at the link below and witness for yourself the sounds that are produced from the majestic instrument.

Click the link here: