Member establishes impressive attendance mark at Getwell Road


While most people were just waking up on Nov.13 to another ordinary Sunday, Don Johnson was preparing for a record-breaking morning. When he stepped into the sanctuary of Getwell Road United Methodist Church in Southaven that morning, it was for the 1,000th consecutive time.

Johnson and his wife, Billie, are among the handful of people who helped start Getwell Road UMC in September 1986. But being a founding member is one thing. Never missing a single Sunday since then is another.

“I challenged myself back then to go a whole year without missing church,” Johnson says. But after that year the challenge kept going … and going, and going, and going.

In all the time since, Johnson has attended Getwell Road UMC every Sunday. He never even visited another church. Vacations didn’t even keep him away.

“Mr. Don,” as Johnson is known, said he once came close to missing a Sunday service. “We were with extended family on a trip to Gulf Shores, and I looked around for somewhere there to attend. But as it happened, my daughter-in-law needed to come home on Saturday, so I came back too,” he said.

Besides being one of Getwell’s newest claims to fame, Mr. Don is also going on nearly as many Sundays serving as Sunday school superintendent. “I don’t really remember when they asked me to serve, but it was right in the beginning,” he says.

Johnson’s isn’t the only one in the family whose smiling face is an icon at Getwell Road. Billie, his wife, just recently retired after serving 10 years taking care of the babies that have come and “grown.” 

Clergy event gets new name, date

The Mississippi Conference’s annual ministerial continuing education event held in January has new dates and a new name.

The 2006 Clergy Leadership Conference, formerly known as Ministers’ Week, is scheduled for Feb. 6-8 at Alta Woods United Methodist Church in Jackson.

The theme for this year’s event is “A Time to Heal…”

A team of faculty from Duke Divinity School will lead the discussion. Faculty members include Dr.  Pamela Hawkins, associate director of Pulpit & Pew at the Duke Center for Excellence in Ministry; Dr. Keith Meador, professor of the Practice of Pastoral Theology and Medicine and director of the Theology and Medicine program; Dr. William Turner, associate professor of the Practice of Homiletics; and former Mississippi Conference Bishop Kenneth Carder, professor of the Practice of Pastoral Formation and director of Pulpit & Pew.

Registration fee if received by Jan. 13 is $75 and $90 after Jan. 13.

Registration will be available on-line at after Dec. 11.  A brochure with full information will be mailed in mid-December.

Clergy in communities impacted by Katrina may contact their district superintendent for special registration arrangements.


Picayune Trinity UMW holds end-of-the-year celebration

Trinity United Methodist Women of Picayune ended their year “Through The Eyes of a Child” with the announcement of the 2006-07 officers and unit recognitions. 

Donna Cooper, vice president, congratulated members and study leaders for earning Award of Excellence of all three studies:

  • The Rev. Curtis Moffat  for “Concerning Prayer”
  • Susan Spiers for “Public Education”
  • Diane Cooper for “Cuba.” 

Cooper announced that the Trinity unit had received a certificate for Mission Today Unit.

Trinity has a four generations of involvement (Beulah Walker, Sandra Barker, Angela Gjertsen and Laura Frances Gjertsen). In recognition, Baker was presented a pearl pin.

For their leadership, Donna and Lorraine Sower were each presented a sapphire pin.

Sower, treasurer and chair of Program Resources, said that the unit had received the Five-Star Giving Certificate. She presented certificates to those who earned the Plan 1 Reading certificate and stated that memorial gifts had been made in names of Lillian Bechtel, Dorothy Blackstone, Helen Corken, Hal Province and Patricia Whittington. Gifts to mission honored Monica Ann Hill, Hazel Pipkin’s great-granddaughter.

Mission Minute recognitions were presented to Abigail Cooper, William Farrar, Anders Gjertsen and Amanda Moseley. Tod Smith was recognized upon graduation as a Mission Minute student. Circle recognitions included Carmen Probst by the Dell Moffat Circle, Missy Rayburn by the Lydia Circle and Edith Taylor by the Serenity Circle.

New Albany UMW holds luncheon to benenfit hurricane recovery

United Methodist Women at New Albany First United Methodist Church recently held a luncheon to aid Hurricane Katrina-damaged Moore Community House in Biloxi.

An overflow crowd took part in the Oct. 23 event.

In only three weeks more than 50 active UMW members from four circles worked to plan and execute the benefit. Members sold luncheon tickets, collected children’s books, New Testaments, designed and printed a UMW brochure, secured musicians, decorated the Christian Life Center and then hosted the luncheon.

Two cooks, Warner Creekmore and Anita Alef, prepared the food. A menu of chicken and rice casserole, flavored green beans, tossed green salad, rolls and chocolate and lemon bars were served to each guest by a UMW member.

Upon entering Wesley Hall and the Christian Life Center, guests were welcomed by UMW members and then were seated at festively decorated tables. Children’s books and New Testaments served as decorative centerpieces and were situated on crisp white tablecloths as well as colorful coordinating toppers.

Amid the fellowship, talented gospel singers provided uplifting entertainment. Alan and Shirley Cousar, Pat Hancock and Sandra Durrett of New Albany and Mitch Stone of Potts Camp performed gospel songs.

The event raised $3,200 raised for the project. The books that were donated by area bookstores, author Charlsie Parks and the UMW will be presented to the Moore Community House.

Methodist Hospital doctor takes part in Hong Kong symposium

Kevin Foley, M.D., neurosurgeon at Methodist University Hospital and Semmes-Murphey Neurologic and Spine Institute, and professor at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, recently traveled to Hong Kong for the 15th International Surgical Symposium and Minimal Access Spinal Technologies Hands-On Workshop.

Foley was the guest of honor for the opening ceremony of the minimally invasive surgical skills centre (MIS Centre) at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. He was also the keynote speaker at the symposium where he presented two lectures. In addition, Foley demonstrated minimally invasive surgical techniques using the Microdiscectomy/X-Tube/Mast and Sextant surgical techniques during a hands-on workshop and performed two live minimally invasive surgical cases.

The department of surgery at the Chinese University of Hong Kong hosted this symposium in conjunction with the opening of its MIS Centre.  The theme of the symposium was “From Innovation to Revolution” and focused on the latest advances in research and application of new technologies.

Methodist Healthcare joins study examining brain tumor treatment

A new brain tumor study is under way at Methodist Healthcare in Memphis under the supervision of principal investigator Dr. Allen Sills.

Sills is assistant professor in the Department of Neurosurgery at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center and a neurosurgeon with Semmes-Murphey Clinic.

The study focuses on a new way to treat newly diagnosed cases of a particular type of brain tumor called glioblastoma multiforme, a malignant brain tumor that is often difficult to treat.

“What’s different about this study is that we will be giving a higher dose of radiation than in previous studies and temozolomide, a chemotherapy drug, will be administered at particular intervals,” said Sills.

During the study, Sills will try to determine radiation directly to the surrounding brain tissue after surgical placement any treatment related toxicity associated with the treatment, which will involve a combination of drug and radiation therapy. Gliasite is a device that delivers in the brain.

Once a tumor has been removed, a Gliasite balloon catheter is inserted into the remaining cavity. The catheter stays in the cavity for several days until the patient has recovered from surgery. It is then slowly filled with a solution of liquid radiation called Iotrex.

Holiday closing

The headquarters building of the Mississippi Conference will be closed Dec. 22-Jan. 2. The office will re-open at 8 a.m. Jan. 3. In addition, Treasurer David Stotts has designated Jan. 11 as the date 2005 apportionment payment must be in his office.