I called a friend and colleague this morning who serves in another Annual Conference. When he answered the phone, I told him that I was just calling to check and see how he was doing. The response I received was silence. It was a silence with which I was all too familiar. The kind that occurs where you can “hear” the weeping of another man’s soul. From a distance of 3,000 miles away, in the midst of a prolonged silence, I could hear the weeping – the wailing - of another man’s soul. I recognized it because my soul had been weeping and wailing. Tired. Tired in my own soul. I recognized tired in my brother’s soul. Wearied. . . worn. . . tired. This is where the events that have unfolded over the last few weeks have left me. I am angry! It is an anger born out of deep pain. It is born out of deep ache. It is not just my own ache, but it is a collective ache. It was in my father, my mother, my brothers...and now even my sons too bear this burden.

And yet, in spite of this terrible burden, I am who I am and would not want to be anyone else. I especially would not want to be white. THAT would be too much of a burden to bear indeed. For one’s sense of worth to be defined by maintaining a legacy of oppression against so many different people and in so many different ways, but especially against black people, is a burden that I have no desire to bear. To walk through the world so deeply insecure and afraid that power becomes an addiction that must be had at any and all costs, in order to maintain some semblance of stability in this world is no way to live. I see you. I see you pretending all the time. Walking through this world pretending to be confident and in control, but in reality, you are deeply afraid. All the things that you do and the ways that you go about being white, maintaining your whiteness. . . I still see you. All the ways that you grasp at power with no concern with compassion or justice. . . I still see you. Grow up! Grow up! Grow the hell up! ‘Cause I (we) ain’t goin’ nowhere.

You see I’m wearied, I’m worn, and I’m tired, but I also know who my Creator is. And because I know who my Creator is I also recognize those who are pretenders – those masking and charading, seeking to be all powerful but in reality they are imposters. I’m tired but I (we) ain’t goin’ nowhere because the echo of the psalmist can still be heard by Black people: The LORD is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life- of whom shall I be afraid? When evil men advance against me to devour my flesh (shoot me without cause), when my enemies and my foes attack me (placing their knee on my neck), they will stumble and fall. Though an army besiege against me (the National Guard), my heart will not fear; though war break out against me (presidential statement: “when the looting starts, the shooting starts.”), even then will I be confident. One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple. For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle and set me high upon a rock.” (Psalm 27:1-5)

I have no doubt that many white people will continue to operate out of a manual for white supremacy. But the message that I would remind us of is that we too stand within a legacy. It is a legacy of strength, resilience, and integrity. A legacy where we are bruised but not broken. A legacy where we are like water running over jagged rocks - the rocks will eventually get smoothed out. A legacy where I will continue to fight because the God with whom I am familiar, has a unique way of bringing creation out of chaos and beauty out of the mess that we make of this world. So, if you stand within this legacy be encouraged and do not lose hope. If you stand within a legacy of oppression, beware ‘cause I ain’t goin’ nowhere . Please feel free to distribute this to ANY of your friends.

Rev. Dr. Byron Eric Thomas
Senior Pastor
Ben Hill United Methodist Church
Let's Stay Connected
What to do if you cannot view the stream
Here are some helpful tips if you should encounter any issues with accessing Ben Hill's Live Stream:
  1. Try a different Web browser. Most browsers should work but if your web browser is not showing the stream, try a different one. 
  2. Try going to the Ben Hill UMC Facebook Page and view the Live Stream there.
  3. Try the phone app. If you do not have the Ben Hill app, download it from your app store and view the steam from there.
  4. Access StreamingFaith.com as another option to view the live stream.
On Sunday mornings, live chat is available on the Ben Hill website if you should encounter issues and need additional help.

Links to Connect on Sunday Mornings:

Complete the Return to Church Survey
Have you taken the Ben Hill UMC survey? Your feedback is important. This survey includes several questions about your current feelings regarding a return to regular church activities. This survey is  not an indication of when we will return  to gathering in-person but simply a method for our evaluation and strategic planning for the future. Please complete this survey and provide your honest feedback.
It's time for VBS! Join us this summer for a virtual vacation bible school beginning June 22nd through June 26th . We are excited to bring new activities geared towards families and children alike. We are looking for volunteers to help with teaching, demonstrating activities, and VBS packet distribution. If you are interested in volunteering, please click the link below.

Register TODAY to participate
We cannot wait to see you and try something new! Follow the link below for registration. Please e-mail Kristan Jones-Scales with questions at kjonesscales@benhillumc.org. Participation is free for all.
Are you looking for a way to deepen your understanding of the scriptures? This summer Ben Hill UMC is offering online Bible studies. If you are looking for a way to connect with others, learn something about scripture, and deepen your faith, sign up today! 
In an effort to support the growing need for food assistance during this difficult and unprecedented time, the Ben Hill Food Bank is reaching out to our church ministries. If your ministry budget permits, please consider purchasing items in the food donation list below.
  • Breakfast Food -- Cereal, Grits, Oatmeal 
  • Boxed or canned Milk 
  • Canned Vegetables
  • Canned Fruits 
  • Canned Meat
  • Rice
  • Pasta
  • Tomato Sauce
  • Loafs of Bread 
Ministries should bring the food items to the Food Bank Drive-Up on  Wed. (10:30am-12:30pm)  or  Saturday (10:30am-12:30pm) . Donating is simple: 1) Place the food in the trunk of your car.  2) When you arrive, call the Food Bank at (404) 344-0618 X 1115 or (404) 314-2241, and someone will meet you to take the food from your car.  All donations are touchless--keeping our donors and volunteers safe.


Also, we need (lots of ) plastic bags, the type used at grocery stores. 

In lieu of donating food items, please consider making a monetary donation by check or online as follows:

Make payable to Ben Hill UMC and specify "Food Bank" in note area. Mail to
Ben Hill UMC, ATTN: Food Bank, 2099 Fairburn Road SW, Atlanta, GA 30331

Make your contribution at  benhillumc.org/giving . Click "Food Bank" under the  Select a Fund  options.

Relatedly, we would like to thank the Wedding Ministry for their recent donation of $150 worth of groceries and the Red Hat Society for their recent donation of $100 worth of groceries. They both would like to challenge other ministries and church support groups to do the same or more, or whatever they can. ALL donations are greatly appreciated!

We are grateful for your generosity and steadfast support of the Food Bank and the families who depend on the essential services it provides. Please let us know if you are able to help by contacting Vicki Callaway at (404) 314-2241 or  vcallaway@aol.com .
Thank You to Our Volunteers
Do you want to recognize a special Ben Hill UMC volunteer or medical professional? We will feature those serving our communities on our social media pages each week. If you would like to highlight someone, please e-mail Kristan Jones-Scales at KJonesScales@benhillumc.org. Include a brief description of the volunteer and a photo.
Visit the Prayer Wall
God is sovereign and nothing comes as a surprise to Him. Whether we face fluctuating economics, health threats, unrest at home, or other troubling circumstances, our Heavenly Father is not caught unaware. Through prayer, we are able to tap into His wisdom, strength, protection, and peace. Follow us on social media to see a daily prayer focus to bring us together in prayer. You can also add your prayer requests to the the live prayer wall on the Ben Hill website. Pray God's glory across the earth.
Calling All Children and Youth
We want to send some cheer to the residents of  Arbor Terrace at Cascade . They have been impacted significantly by the virus and could use some of our kind words and artwork to spread some cheer. Please create art, write letters, or create a video that we can share with the residents. All pieces can be e-mailed to Kristan Jones-Scales at kjonesscales@benhillumc.org and will be hosted on our website. We can't wait to see your creations.
May our Lord bless and comfort you and your family during this time of grief.
Please accept our sincere condolences.
Lillian M. Holeman (M) on the loss of her sister
 Cathern Ann Mason Evans (R)
Health Resources and Community Events
Approximately 40 Election Day polling places will change for voters in Fulton County for the June 9 Presidential Preference Primary, General Primary, and Special Election. A full list of precinct changes is available for download here .

Fulton County is encouraging all voters to cast their ballots through absentee ballot by mail due to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak and social distancing rules. Some polling locations changed due to date conflicts after the Election Day changes.
Join the North Georgia Conference United Methodist Women and Project Transformation North Georgia for a FREE live webinar about how you can help children succeed by interrupting the school-to-prison pipeline on Saturday, June 6, 2020 from 10:00 - 11:15 AM EDT. To learn more and to register, click the link below.
Senior Food Assistance Program
Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms launched the City of Atlanta Senior Food Assistance Program to support seniors with food insecurity during COVID-19 by partnering with meal and grocery delivery organizations. Seniors who reside in the City of Atlanta and are struggling to receive access to food during this time may apply to be a part of this program by completing this survey found  here . You may also contact ATL311 for information or help with filling out the survey by dialing 311 within the city limits or (404) 546-0311.

Specific program eligibility requirements are listed below:
  • Reside in the City of Atlanta;
  • Age 60 or older;
  • Low income (household income at or below 80% of the AMI);
  • Not participating in any other senior food assistance program and meet one of the following criteria:
  • Unable to leave home;
  • Unable to prepare meals for themselves; or
  • Unable to procure or utilize commercial home delivery services.
* Completion of the survey does not guarantee acceptance into the program.

Wellness Wednesday
The Center for Black Women's Wellness and the Fulton-Dekalb Hospital Authority presents Wellness Wednesday. Register today to attend the educational health webinar on June 3, 2020 from 11:30-12:3opm.

Learn the basics of overall wellness for a healthier, happier you! Nutrition, physical fitness and health tips will be shared by certified personal trainer and health and wellness ambassador, Stephanie "Boom Shock" Jones.
Consider Donating Plasma
Convalescent plasma is the liquid part of blood that is collected from patients who have recovered from the novel coronavirus disease, COVID-19, caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2. If you have fully recovered from COVID-19, you may be able to help patients currently fighting the infection by donating your plasma.  

COVID-19 patients develop antibodies in the blood against the virus. Antibodies are proteins that might help fight the infection. Convalescent plasma is being  investigated  for the treatment of COVID-19 because there is no approved treatment for this disease. Further investigation is still necessary to determine if convalescent plasma might shorten the duration of illness, reduce morbidity, or prevent death associated with COVID-19.