Congratulations to three of our Lynchburg District Churches that were featured in the Lynchburg News and Advance on Christmas Day. Here are a few highlights from each of the articles in case you missed them.


1.    Peakland UMC – For the past 9 years, the story of Christmas has been an interactive experience for Caitlyn Johnson, thanks to Peakland United Methodist Church. That’s when the Rivermont Avenue church began hosting a drive-through nativity, where Johnson, an 18-year-old Jefferson Forest High School senior, and her sister, 16-year-old Madison, play the parts of Mary and an angel in the second scene. “It’s fun to talk to the people who come by,” Madison says. “Especially the kids, seeing how they react.” This year, the nativity attracted more than 250 cars over two nights in early December.  “It’s an outreach … to connect with the community and share with them,” says Barbara Nelson, who works at the church. “I think that this time of year, people are wanting to be touched with the spirit of Christmas.” (News and Advance – 12/25)


2.    Emmanuel UMC – (Emmanuel is a primary organizer) A program to provide weekend food for hungry Amherst County students has more than doubled the number of children served since it began last year. Now called Amherst Cares, it has expanded to serve Monelison Middle School and will begin serving at Central Elementary and Amherst Elementary schools next year, said Beth Gamble, an Amherst County School Board member and one of the key volunteers. Amherst Cares, begun by teacher Elizabeth Schupp and now-retired counselor Karen Cecil, has grown from serving about 68 students at Amherst Middle to providing weekend food to 154. (News and Advance – 12/25)


3.    Timberlake UMC – More than a year ago, Hayley Mullins, a Campbell County special education teacher, joined Timberlake United Methodist. Newly married, she and her husband Hank had been church shopping when one of her students’ parents recommended it. By Mothers Day, Mullins was teaching the Friendship Class – a group of students, including Molly, whose abilities vary as dramatically as their ages. The youngest is just 9, while the oldest are in their 40s. With help from Michele and Brian Parlier, two volunteers who don’t have children in the class, she teaches five special-needs students about God, thankfulness and kindness. Timberlake started the class about six years ago at the request of parents. “You don’t go where you don’t feel welcome, and we certainly feel welcome here,” says Davis, who now regularly attends church with Molly and wife, Virginia.  (News and Advance 12/25)


Congratulations to all three churches for their ministry throughout the Lynchburg District.

Also this week, Darrel Laurant included one of our pastors in his list of memorable people for 2011: The Rev. Alex Duncan. We tend to think of clergymen as having trod a straight and narrow path to the clerical collar. Duncan, the pastor at Jackson Street United Methodist Church, got there after two separate hitches in the Army, a divorce, and a dark period of being homeless. (News and Advance 12/29)