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"Churches always think they are friendlier than they are.” I’ve consistently heard this my entire time in ministry. Seriously, how does a community of faith balance the joy of being together with the invitation to invite others into the togetherness? Have you ever felt that tension? You are in a conversation with someone at church but in the corner of your eye you notice someone new. Do you interrupt your conversation and introduce yourself? Maybe you decide that’s exactly what you’re going to do — as soon as the person you’re talking to pauses. But by the time the pause happens the new person has left.


It doesn’t seem to be as simple as it sounds.


I’ve led workshops concerning "radical hospitality," but even I get caught in the awkwardness of needing to listen to one person and reach out to another at the same moment. And yet, you — The People Called Gretna United Methodist Church -- have a way of welcoming everyone so authentically and naturally.


This is where we need the wisdom of the room: What is one thing folks like me can commit to doing (or not doing) so that every person who enters our doors feels welcomed and noticed? If you’ve ever walked into a church for the first time you know how meaningful a genuine welcome truly is.


“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did,

but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

--Maya Angelou


Pastor Jo

July 18, 2022


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Updated: Aug 3, 2022

This past week our home was filled with family and friends. We laughed, we played, we ate, and we talked. As I reflect on our time together it seems our only purpose for being together was to be together.


If this season in life is teaching us anything, it is teaching us that we cannot take one moment for granted. It is truly amazing how quickly moments become memories. The time we shared together has the power to impact us and shape us in ways we may never fully realize.


So, what about the brief encounters we have on a daily basis? Maybe it’s the person who serves us a meal in our favorite restaurant, the cashier at the local store, the panhandler we see at the same corner every morning. It could even be someone in our own home. How can we take a brief moment and transform it into a lasting memory? An unexpected compliment? A kind word? A word of encouragement?


This past Sunday we welcomed the French family into membership and baptized their younger son - a beautiful and holy moment… a special memory. The truth is that each time we gather together as a community of faith we are sharing moments that have the power to impact us and shape us in ways we may never fully imagine.


So, as a sister in Christ, I would like to say thank you. I am thankful for the moments we share and the memories we are creating!


Pastor Jo

July 7, 2022








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Someone once wrote, “We are not our thoughts. We have thoughts… but even if we are not our thoughts we must deal with them.” This thought gives me hope! But as I ponder this freedom I am also reminded of Jesus’ teaching of how thinking about doing something hurtful or inappropriate makes one as guilty as the person who follows through. In this tension I see two invitations. The first, to listen to what we tell ourselves about ourselves. Is the negativity exaggerated? Do we think of ourselves more highly than we ought? Are the thoughts extreme? Do they offer space for creativity and grace? How are we dealing with our thoughts — especially the negative ones that invite us to allow fear, anger, or hopelessness to fester? The second invitation I see is to listen to what we tell ourselves about others. Is the negativity exaggerated? Are the thoughts extreme? Do they offer space for creativity and grace? How are we dealing with our thoughts — especially the negative ones that invite us to allow our fear, anger, or hopelessness to fester? In both mindsets I see an invitation for pause and reflection — to refocus our thoughts.

St. Paul offers wonderful advice that we know so well. Dare we practice it? “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” --Philippians 4:8


Pastor Jo

June 14, 2022




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