It’s with much excitement that I start a new chapter in our life and my ministry on August 1st, as the new Director of Student Ministries at Acworth UMC. I’ve taken this step with much thought, prayer, and consideration. And though I’m looking forward to the future, there is much grief in leaving this place and these people that I love so dearly. 

To the most treasured young hearts and their parents, to those who have allowed me to use my voice, to those who have given me a place to use my creative gifts, I wanted to say a mountainous thank you. 

Mt Zion was somewhere we thought we’d be for a short time to help a friend get a modern service started. Instead you gave us a place to rest, to heal, to root, to find community, to learn what discipleship meant again. During one of the hardest times we walked through as a family, you reminded us we weren’t alone. 

You helped shape my children. You gave them a second home. You saw them. You encouraged them. You loved them. You gave them halls to wander in bare feet with loud laughter and never made them feel that was anything but normal. They carry a little of each of you with them into the life they have ahead of them. 

What a privilege to love your kids, an honor to walk alongside them these years. They have humbled me with their tenacious hearts, their curious spirits, their resilience, and endless questions. Their love for each other. I have extra laugh lines, grey hairs, and crows feet…they’ve aged me in the best ways. There are places on the map that will always be dear to me because I experienced them with your rag tag group of weirdos (said with endearing sincerity). 

I’ll remember a violent tubing trip down the Taccoa with 6 middle school boys, my daughter, and a college helper; where just after we launched, the blue summer sky turned grey and opened up in a cold rain for the next 2 1/2 hours. We tied our tubes together in an attempt to garner warmth only to wind up in a rush of water we couldn’t get out of. It hurled us into what we called “the death tree”. It legitimately tried to kill us. Good times. Great youth ministry. No one was injured. 

I’ll remember a trip to the lake turned horror movie once we discovered it was infested with ticks. Worshipping with them in a dark chapel at Hinton, just lost in the loveliness of their raised voices and sincerity. After-sun hemp spray I’d brought to stave off sunburns that still haunts me to this day. Unloading pumpkins. The Yeti museum. The smell of a lock-in at 2 AM. Scraping middle schoolers off a public floor during a concert somewhere near Chattanooga.

Being a human pillow. 

But mostly, I’ll remember fearless hearts who served alongside me in the North Georgia mountains; feeding, teaching, loving, and leading by crawling on the ground and reading books about dragons and tacos. By delivering lunches in the driving rain. By loving and connecting.

I’ll remember the way they’ve led and taught and created when there were opportunities to serve in the congregation. To serve each other. 

They will love the world well, this group. They will change it with their informed perspectives. They will be Jesus to the cashier and the friend in need. They will forge new means of love and justice, in ways we’ve never thought of. 

Thank you for the opportunity to walk with them for this brief moment in their lives. Thank you for so many other things that I know I’ve forgotten. Mostly, thank you for loving us so well and giving us a home and a community to thrive in. We’re taking you with us, with grateful hearts. 

I want to spend time with you all on the 18th, 23rd, 25th, and 30th, so COME if you can!

The 25th will be my last Sunday. But we're going to tube and laugh 'til our stomachs hurt on the 30th!

One last time...remember whose you are and make wise choices, knowing you are dearly and deeply loved. -Danielle