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Director’s Message


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The beauty of complexity and diversity

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

I love the gentle, ancient mountains of North Georgia. I spent several days in July hiking the Appalachian Trail. Hiking in the beauty of Tesnatee Gap was once again restorative to my soul. I actually felt my tired, worn-out soul begin to unwind and simply embrace the beauty of the trail and God’s wondrous Creation.

There is nothing like a walk along a trail to lighten my load and renew my energy. The trail is home to towering trees, the call of songbirds, the soaring Red-tailed Hawk, the creeping Centipede, the slithering Eastern King Snake, a plethora of wildflowers, babbling streams and so much more! The complexity and the diversity of Creation produce boundless opportunities to pause, take a breath, and experience beauty and life.

When I am on the trail, I am reminded that the world is complex, that my life is complex, that my ministry is complex. Instead of working on the best ways to accomplish a task or developing strategies to make it through life’s demands and dilemmas, I am simply part of God’s handiwork. The diversity of Creation releases in me an authentic celebration of the diversity of the people and gifts that bring life to me and others.

I have been trying to hold the experience of the trail in my soul. I love ministry. It is a privilege to serve the church. I love the church. I have been changed by our beliefs, worship, practices, justice, witness and prayer. But there are moments in which I am simply overwhelmed with the work we are called to do and the ways in which we have missed the call of the gospel message to be witnesses to the life of Jesus (Acts 1:7–8).

The world is changing rapidly and is in desperate need of love, grace and a way into healing. And the church is that place of love, grace and healing. In the midst of radical change, declining membership and great division in this country, I hold on to this belief that the church is that place of love, grace and healing. And with the trail in my heart, I resist the temptation to make ministry less complex. I am more open to the wondrous diversity of people around me. I am learning to trust that the God of this beautiful, complex and diverse world is leading the way. I hope you experience the rest you need for this beautiful, complex and very diverse journey of faith.


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Ray G Jones III
Theology, Formation & Evangelism