Please enjoy this digital edition of The Commissioner, our biweekly newsletter. While our Director of Publications, Doug Gill, is on leave, we are suspending our print version.

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Has anyone ever asked you, “When were you saved?” It’s an interesting question, and the asker usually means “when did you consciously give your heart to God?” or “when did you recognize a stirring inside of you that felt holy and when did you say yes to it?” These are beautiful stories to share and to hear. 

And yet, “when were you saved?” is also a tough question. It indicates that you were saved that one time. That you said yes to God that one time, and then you and God went off, holding hands into the sunset, never to turn back. 

But, if you have spent any time with God, if you have tried to follow after Jesus, you probably know that one and done is not really how it works. You probably know that our relationship with God, our faithfulness to the call of Jesus, our connection to the Holy Spirit–all of these things can ebb and flow. Our experience of God, and commitment to God, is circuitous at best. As the hymn “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing” so expertly names: “prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love.” 

When I first began to learn about Wesleyan theology, or the way we understand the work of God in the United Methodist Church, I learned about the via salutis, or the way of salvation. It teaches that our relationship with God is a journey, marked by grace. This grace draws us in, convinces us that we are loved, and moves through us to lead us toward greater holiness. When my professor taught about the via salutis, he drew a spiral. As grace draws us in, we move closer to the center of the spiral, where we perfectly love God and our neighbor. And yet, inevitably, we backslide–we get bored, busy, tired, tempted, distracted–and move away from the center of the spiral. We wander. It’s human. This is why God gives us the season of Lent. A season to turn back, and to take small steps, through the grace of God, back toward the heart of love. Lent is the season that reminds us that we are always being saved, that God is always reaching out, waiting patiently for our return. 

And during this season of Lent, we will let the stories of one particular disciple help us understand our wandering hearts and our steadfast God more deeply. Simon Peter was a faithful and fickle disciple, whose life was a testament to wandering and turning back, wandering and turning back. Through the lens of his life, we will walk toward the cross, and back toward the heart of love. We hope you will join us!

Lenten blessings,

Pastor Laura

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Join us in reflecting on Sunday's Scripture through original artwork, poems, journal prompts, and prayers. Click here for this week's Lenten devotions. No pressure, no score-keeping--just an invitation to sit with God in silence for a few moments, and receive these words.

As always, we are invited to traditional worship on Sunday in the sanctuary at 8:30 (including communion) or 11:00, or contemporary worship in Holroyd Hall at 9:00. Livestream available here for the 9 and 11 services. Childcare provided from 8:45-noon for infants to four-year-olds: register here. Sunday School for all ages at 10.

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The earth is the Lord’s and all it contains, the world, and all who dwell in it. - Psalm 24:1

As part of the UMC Green Church Initiative, HBUMC has committed to composting food waste. But why is this important?

Did you know that about 40% of all food in the U.S. is thrown out? That food ends up in landfills, where it emits methane, a greenhouse gas 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide! By turning our food waste into compost, we can add it back to the soil. There are many benefits:

1. Soil structure is improved, preventing erosion.

2. Water retention is improved, decreasing the need for irrigation.

3. Carbon-storing ability is increased, helping climate change.

4. Nutrient levels increase, producing more nutritious vegetables.

5. Energy-intensive and polluting fertilizer is no longer needed.

Look for the labels on bins around the church and join us in this important stewardship of the earth!

We are a congregation who prays with and for one another! To add a name to the Prayer Concerns bookmark published each week in the bulletin, please email [email protected]. If your prayer concern is confidential, and you want only to share with the pastors, please indicate so in your email. We will keep names on the prayer bookmark for one month, unless otherwise requested.


Hayes Barton UMC’s Stephen Ministry group invites you to a learning opportunity on Tuesday, March 12. Lisa Levine, Senior Director of Programs for Dementia Alliance of North Carolina, will share how we can recognize signs of dementia, as well as information on how we care for caregivers. This gathering will take place in the Fellowship Hall, Tuesday, March 12, from 7-8 p.m. No need to register for the in-person event, but if you prefer to participate through Zoom, please sign up here.

Lisa is responsible for educational outreach and the implementation and evaluation of DANC’s programs and services. She collaborates with government agencies, colleges, other non-profits, faith-based and service-related organizations, to implement the mission of Dementia Alliance of North Carolina: provide support, services, and resource information to North Carolinians with dementia, their families, and the community.

After graduating college, Lisa began working in skilled nursing facilities as an activity director. It was there she learned how passionate she is about assisting people with dementia and their families. To this day she continues to work toward improving the quality of life for people living with cognitive impairment and dementia.

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