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12-01-20 FUMC Updates

It’s ADVENT!!  ‘Tis the season of preparation for the birth of Christ which comes no matter what’s going on in our lives or what’s going on in our communities!  Jesus is the HOPE in uncertain times, and He is the peace that gives us comfort when life is painful and difficult!  We need Christmas now more than ever and because it is a season of the HEART!

We are all watching the State of Texas and Northeast Texas Department of Health reports on COVID cases in our hospitals and communities and the leadership team will be deciding tomorrow, Wednesday 12/2, as to what our reopening plans are.  I’m sure you’re watching the NetHealth positives and the hospitalizations, as well as the State Department of Health numbers, so LET US ALL PRAY the numbers go down as we wait for the vaccines!

In the meantime, we are planning with anticipation and many thanks to Julie Lewis and Elaina Ragsdale for the beautiful Advent altarscape – it’s just wonderful!  We also have a small team of volunteers who will be completing the decorations in the church tomorrow, Wednesday morning at 9 am.  If you want to be part of that, contact SHIELA HAYNES.

I am also grateful to Pastor Sue for stepping into the drive-through yesterday!  While I am still in quarantine and feeling fine with no symptoms of coronavirus, I know that the virus can be present asymptomatically, so I am being faithful to the CDC guidelines to remain away from people until Saturday.  Thanks to all of you who came by and got your M&M tubes and/or brought them back, filled with quarters (or cash or checks!) for the Backpack Food Ministry.

UPCOMING LIFE CELEBRATIONS:  We continue to be flexible in the ways we serve these families and in the arrangements being made to honor the people we loved and will miss!  Memorial funds have been set-up for WAYNE HORTON and DANIEL DAVIS at the request of their families.  CLICK HERE and choose which FUND you’re giving to – we will thank the family on your behalf.

Wayne Horton:  Saturday, 12/5, NOON, Graveside service at Old City Cemetery (by the Church), then following the service, (pending the church re-opening, we’ll inform everyone tomorrow), a Celebration of Life will follow at the Church at about 12:30.

Daniel Davis:  Sunday, 12/13, 2:00 pm, Beaty Funeral Home. CLICK HERE for details.

ADVENT ZOOM BIBLE STUDY STARTS TOMORROW, WEDNESDAYS 12/2,9 and 16, 10 am or 6:30 PM … I’m very excited about our 3 week Advent Study, THE PURPOSE OF CHRISTMAS, that will be on ZOOM on Wednesdays at 10 am and 6:30 pm … no reservations necessary and your friends are welcome – you can find the sign-in on the posts on our homepage OR the calendar on the website … you just need a phone, tablet, laptop or desktop preferably with a camera and you can join us!  A daily Advent prayer journal is available on the Christmas webpage also … there is one for each week for the next 3 weeks.  Here is the link for ALL these ZOOM studies … CLICK HERE.  NEW TO ZOOM?  Give it a try!  Go to their website here.

M&M’s FOR OUR BACKPACK FOOD MINISTRY:  this wonderful ministry, part of the Community Resource Center (Food Pantry), sends food home with students who may not have enough to eat while the schools are closed for Christmas … we’d love to have all donations back by December 13th please so if you didn’t get to the drive-through the last 2 weeks, you can decide what to do … 1st, we DO have MINI M&M tubes for you!  I will put some in the red tub by the office door if you’d like to pick one up but the whole point is this … we’re collecting money for the Backpack Food Ministry so after you eat your M&M’s you can fill the tubes with $12-$13 worth of quarters!  You can drop off your filled tubes at the mail slot or bring them when the church reopens (cash or checks fit too!) OR you can give online HERE.

MEET SARAH SPARKS OUR NEW SOCIAL MEDIA COORDINATOR:  Sarah was raised here in Winnsboro, (she graduated with Ken Ragsdale!) and has a regular full-time job but she has done website and social media work for several churches and non-profits and she is passionate about using her skills for Christ!  Sarah will be working only 10 hours a week and will help me keep Facebook and the website updated, help me with the slide presentations in worship and she has even already started posting the message on YouTube for those who do not have Facebook!  She has also connected our Instagram account so if you prefer that.  Let your non-FB friends know they can watch the sermon on our YouTube channel which should be posted by Tuesdays.  If you have suggestions, thoughts, or comments you can email Sarah HERE.  (Remember she only works 10 hours a week, evenings, and weekends so you may not hear back instantly!)

Sermons and Devotionals will now be available on YouTube:  Sarah will now be downloading sermons and devotionals from Facebook and uploading them to YouTube … this is predominantly for the few of you who do not have Facebook.  When you open the page, save it as a favorite so you can find it.  CLICK HERE for YouTube main page or the most recent devotional and sermon here:

YouTube or Facebook Devotional

YouTube or Facebook Sunday Message

Audio sermons are on the website, HERE

THIS SUNDAY our Advent worship series, UNDER WRAPS continues with a look at Great Expectations! Luke 1:39-45.  It is Communion Sunday so if we are not open (check tomorrow!) or you are watching from home, please have your sacred space and simple elements ready so we can be “together” no matter what!

Grace and peace!
Pastor Debbie


11-23-20 FUMC Updates

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!! With our church buildings closed again, at least through November 30th, it was fun being in the drive through again … thanks to all of you who came by! I will also post devotionals on Facebook again (click here to watch it or you can listen on the website here.) It is also attached if you want to read it. My thoughts are of you all this Thanksgiving!

M&M’s for our BACKPACK MINISTRY … with so many kids in our own community who will not have access to school breakfasts and lunches during Christmas, we’re very excited to share a gift of mini-M&M’s with you and give YOU the joy of returning it with quarters ($10-$12) for the BACKPACK Ministry!  Come drive through on Monday and I’ll give everyone in your family their M&M’s, and then just return the container with your quarters, cash, or check, make checks payable to FUMC. Please return your donations by December 13th!

A PURPOSE DRIVEN CHRISTMAS … OUR ADVENT BIBLE STUDY STARTS WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 2nd, 10 AM and 6:30 PM… please plan to join our 3 week ADVENT Bible study at either 10 am or 6:30 pm on Wednesdays, December 2, 9, & 16 via ZOOM … here is the link to join but it is also on the website calendar each day.  This 3-week class will focus on the purpose of Christmas: a time for celebration, a time for salvation, and a time for reconciliation and I’m really looking forward to this very interactive conversation!

HOW CAN WE GET THROUGH THE NEXT PHASE OF COVID? Please take this ANONYMOUS 4 quick question survey and help know your thoughts in moving forward. CLICK HERE

PRAYING FOR OUR COMMITMENTS TO THE LORD in 2021 … 2020 has been a blur and I’m sure we’re ALL looking forward to a wonderful NEW year!  If I didn’t see you in the drive through yesterday, we mailed your cards today so please give some intentional thought to how YOU want to grow in your faith in the new year.

This Sunday we begin ADVENT … Advent is the beginning of the Church Year for most churches in the Western tradition. It begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas Day, which is the Sunday nearest November 30, and ends on Christmas Eve (December 24th). The word Advent means “coming” or “arrival” and the focus of the entire season is preparation to celebrate the birth of Jesus the Christ in His first coming, AND the anticipation of the return of Christ the King in His second Advent. Advent typically reflects an emphasis on the second Advent, including themes of accountability for faithfulness at His coming, judgment on sin, and the hope of eternal life.

Now more than EVER we need Advent, a season marked by a spirit of expectation, of anticipation, of preparation, of longing. Yes, we have a yearning for the coronavirus to be GONE and for our lives to return to “normal” but let’s turn this yearning into a deeper desire for JESUS!  The spirit of that expectation should be captured with a joyous sense of expectancy and we should celebrate with joy and happiness as we await the coming of the King!!

Join us on FACEBOOK LIVE this Sunday at 10:50 and let’s sing some Christmas songs and praise the newborn King!  Please let us know you’re there so as I read your names, we’ll know we’re together! 

Come, O Come, Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel!

Pastor Debbie



As I’m sure you’re all aware, the cases of coronavirus in our East Texas communities are rising, our hospitalizations are increasing and infections within the schools are spreading. (CLICK HERE to go to the Net Health statistics page.) We have been extremely diligent in our church to maintain 6′ distancing, sanitize hands and, require mask-wearing in and out, and I am not aware of ANY reported cases of people in our church. We had 2 church members in nursing homes test positive but were asymptomatic and both recovered quickly, thank God!

However, the spike that is creating hot spots all around the world has prompted our Bishop, Mike McKee, to send a very direct mandate to all the churches in the North Texas Conference requiring masks to be worn in ALL spaces at all times. SEE ATTACHED LETTER.  So, out of an abundance of caution and with the Thanksgiving holiday right around the corner, we will be pausing all church worship, Sunday school classes and, activities for 2-week. All buildings will be closed beginning today through Sunday, November 29th. Worship will be online ONLY on 11/22 and 11/29 and, the church leaders will monitor the situation closely hoping to be back for worship on December 6th.  When we do return, masks will be required to remain on through the service and in all gatherings.

The Church Council has not made this decision lightly but we are aware of covid outbreaks in some of our neighboring churches who have also had to make these same difficult decisions, so we are all working together in these difficult decisions.

UNTIL WE KNOW MORE … please take this ANONYMOUS 4 quick question survey and help know your thoughts in moving forward. CLICK HERE

Let us pray for spiritual endurance and continue to care for one another and check in on our neighbors!

“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.” ROMANS 5:3-4

Pastor Debbie


CDC COVID 19 Symptoms and Testing: CLICK HERE

First United Methodist Church Winnsboro

301 Church Street, Winnsboro, TX. 75494

CLICK HERE for our Facebook

CLICK HERE for our website

(903) 342-6172  (PASTOR EMERGENCY or TEXT 972-896-5254)



11-17-20 FUMC Updates

I have found myself being very reflective this week about the Thanksgiving scriptures from our sermons this month – giving thanks is easy to talk about but the action that is required isn’t quite as easy! Giving thanks requires time – and as you’ve heard me often say, the best expression of LOVE is TIME and this applies to all of our relationships, and certainly our relationship with Christ! Giving thanks requires commitment – it’s easy to SAY we’re thankful but have we made a commitment to show it?  Giving thanks also requires sacrifice because sometimes it’s not easy to prioritize things that are IMPORTANT away from things that may seem more enjoyable. 

This week, we will be giving or sending most of you a personal faith commitment card for 2021, asking that you prayerfully consider how you want to grow in your faith in the new year.  You’ll be thinking about the action you take in your prayer life, your worship attendance (either in-person or online), your financially giving, your service to God and His people, and how you share the love of Jesus Christ with others. If you are a member or you have been coming for more than a few months, you’ll also receive a commitment card.  (I want to thank Mary Tom McLemore for filling in the blanks!)  

Please complete your card and either send it back SEALED to the church or bring it and leave it in the collection plate at church, SEALED.  NO ONE WILL OPEN OR SEE THOSE CARDS BUT YOU! Before sealing your envelope, write down your 2021 faith goals – put them somewhere they will encourage you to grow in your faith every, single day! Next November, we will give you BACK your cards, sealed, so you can reflect on how your faith changed in the year ahead.

Last year we had 38 families/individuals return those cards – this year, I’d love to see more!! Remember – we will not LOOK at them … this commitment is between you and your Lord!

JOINING SUNDAY, 11/29, 10:50 AM … speaking of your commitment with God, many of you who have been visiting already consider FUMC your church home, and WE consider you part of our church family!  But if you’d like to make a covenant with God by joining the church, either virtually or in person, please let me know before the 29th. Our website explains our joining process but I’d love to talk with you if you’re interested.

NEXT MONDAY, A SPECIAL ONE DAY DRIVE THROUGH, 11/23, 9 am – 11 am … I have not seen many of you who are staying safe at home but we can connect at the drive-through because I have some things to give you!  A few weeks ago we gave everyone the Wesley Prayer coin that I want you all to have … and THIS Sunday we’ll be giving out another surprise that I ALSO want you to have! (You have to wait for Sunday to know what it is though!)  Please mark your calendar to come through!

A PURPOSE DRIVEN CHRISTMAS … OUR ADVENT BIBLE STUDY STARTS WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 2nd, 10 AM … we will continue to do our Monday MORNING study on ZOOM (here is the link to join) but if you would like to attend a class in-person, PLEASE EMAIL ME and let me know!  Using Wesley Hall and following social guidelines, I will also hold the class on Wednesday evenings if you’re interested in getting out!  Because the seating must be limited, please reply and let me know if you want to come!  This 4-week class will focus on the purpose of Christmas: a time for celebration, a time for salvation, and a time for reconciliation … I’m really looking forward to this very interactive conversation!

Last Sunday I mentioned the 10 lepers who Jesus healed and only ONE returned to thank Him!  That stuck with me and I found myself digging into that story more – I can’t wait to share it with you this Sunday!  You might want to read ahead … Luke 17:12-19


Pastor Debbie

CDC COVID 19 Symptoms andTesting: CLICK HERE

First United Methodist Church Winnsboro

301 Church Street, Winnsboro, TX. 75494

CLICK HERE for our Facebook

CLICK HERE for our website

(903) 342-6172  (PASTOR EMERGENCY or TEXT 972-896-5254)



11-2-20 FUMC Update

What a wonderful and amazing week I had last week! I spent a few days hidden away at a friend’s house working on the outline for our Advent Christmas series, then I had an absolutely heartwarming time with my older daughter and her family up in Arkansas! Thanks so much to Brother Henry for preaching on Sunday and for Clint, Ken, Danny, Shiela, and everyone who helps make sure worship goes so well every Sunday, with or without me! I am blessed and grateful!

I left Arkansas at 5 am this morning on a crisp, cloudless perfect fall morning and came a new way home, trusting in my GPS to take me a different direction, one I had never in all these years ever driven before!  Not only was it FASTER, but I was overcome by the beauty of the spectacular hills and changing leaves of the Ouachita National Forest in Oklahoma, then south through Broken Bow and down into north Texas!

Fall always comes! Thanksgiving and Christmas always come! No matter how the COVID cases increase and no matter who wins the election, there will ALWAYS be light at the end of it all because Jesus IS still Jesus and He always makes things NEW!  

Remembering this is why I was so excited to read about an amazing discovery in Israel recently. Several years ago, a team of ETHNOBOTANISTS (“those who study a region’s plants and their practical uses through the traditional knowledge of local culture and people”) from the  Natural Medicine Research Center at the Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem embarked on the horticultural adventure in search of ancient plants with medicinal properties. They were delighted to find a strain of honey-golden succulent dates grown from seeds that had been dormant for 1,800-2,200 years! (Apparently, carbon dating tests are quite accurate!)  

Throughout the Bible, we have seen how date palms were prized for the shade, nutrition, beauty, and health benefits they provided. Their images were used on coins and to decorate Solomon’s temple (1 Kings 6:31-35) and synagogues, the Israelites used palm branches in the construction of temporary shelters to celebrate the harvest Festival of Tabernacles to remind them of their hasty escape from slavery in Egypt (Leviticus 23:33-44; Nehemiah 8:14-16) and Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem days before his arrest and execution was celebrated with palm branches (John 12:13). 

But by the Middle Ages, disrupted by wars and other factors, date palm plantations in Israel had disappeared until, in the 1960s, remnants were discovered. During archaeological digs in the ruins of the desert fortress of Masada, on a rock plateau overlooking the Dead Sea in southern Israel where Jewish zealots committed mass suicide rather than surrender to Roman attackers in A.D. 73, some date-palm seeds were found. Other viable ancient seeds were found in the Qumran Caves, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were unearthed, and more were found in an ancient burial cave near Jericho. 

After some “horticultural tricks” to bring the seeds to full germination, six of the seeds sprouted into date palm seedlings. Then, this March, after growing for six years, one of those six flowered which means dates related to plants almost 2000 years old could grow once again! Quite amazing!  

Isaiah 11 tells us a great Biblical story of horticultural rebirth! Jesse’s family tree had been chopped down until only a stump remained. It was symbolic of King David’s royal dynasty dying out as God’s judgment on the nation of Israel because of their sin. Yet even in its most hopeless state, there was still life in the stump of the nation of Israel! It would NOT, however, come from all the trappings of palace life to which David and his sons had grown accustomed. It would emerge from his father Jesse’s humble peasant origins! 

Isn’t THIS how Jesus, the Messiah, emerges? Birthed by a poor girl in a lowly stable, far from the comforts and privileges of wealth and power! Without the pomp and circumstance of the angels, the birth of Christ would probably have gone virtually unnoticed by most people! But that tender shoot of Jesse would grow to become a mighty tree because this new King, Jesus, would become even greater than King David, and even wiser than David’s son Solomon! He would provide justice for the poor and equity for the meek and in so doing, He would usher in a global reign of peace and harmony in which predator and prey would no longer enemies but live together without violence!  (Isaiah 11:3-11) Obviously, Isaiah’s vision has yet to be fulfilled but we BELIEVE it is coming!

The season of Thanksgiving and Christmas encourages us to reflect on this new kingdom of peace and justice and how WE can be the face of Christ no matter WHAT is happening around us! After all, if seeds from a 2000-year-old palm date tree can be restored, surely, we believe that God does and WILL make all things new! Let’s SHARE that good news with others this week as elections results are tabulated … let’s be the voice of HOPE for all people!

THIS SUNDAY, November 8, IS ALL SAINTS DAY ~  If you have a family member you would like us to light a candle for, please let me know as we will remember all the saints who have gone before including those close to us who have gone to heaven in the last 12 months:

Lon Erwin, Jerry Erwin’s brother

Tim Hyman, Erika Martin’s brother

Bobbie Henson, Billie Henson’s wife

Mary Sharrai

Tillman Turner, Virginia Tillman’s husband

Katie Park, Michael and Judy Park’s daughter

Dennis Morey, Brenda Morey’s husband

Madeline McCrary, Terry Matthew’s mother

SUNDAY, November 8, IS ALSO COMMUNION SUNDAY ~ Those of you who will be joining us at home, please prepare your sacred space and have simple elements, bread/crackers, and water/juice ready so we can consecrate the items together. In the sanctuary, please pick up your communion cup as you enter. Remember, as we share the “bread,” you will remove the table layer of foil to remove the wafer and we will all eat together. Then, as we share the “cup” you’ll remove the second layer of foil so we can all drink together. (See attached video – I won’t show this again on Sunday.)

THIS SUNDAY I’LL BE RETURNING YOUR 2020 COMMITMENTS CARDS ~ Last November, we provided you an opportunity to pray about your commitment to God in the areas of your prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness. Thirty-eight families completed the cards and as promised, they have remained sealed for your eyes only. We will be sending another card for 2021 with your year-to-date giving through October within the week, but you may want to start praying about how this year impacted your personal covenant with the Lord. Yes, we’ve all had to do things differently, but I have seen such remarkable examples of FAITH in these last seven months and I’m sure those of you who have remained committed have seen God’s droplets of grace bless you in many, many ways! I pray God guides you as you look forward to an even BETTER new year in 2021!

NO CHILDREN’S CHURCH THIS SUNDAY ~ Although I did send a text to all the parents last week that we would switch last Sunday with this Sunday because I was out of town, I just want to remind everyone that we will all worship together this Sunday.

GRATEFUL THANKS FOR THOSE WHO HAVE HELPED BRINGS AN ACCESSIBLE BATHROOM TO OUR SANCTUARY ~ Construction will begin soon thanks to the generous contributions we have received and everyone will benefit from your generosity! A big thanks to Danny Moss and J.A. Newton who will be overseeing the project. We are so lucky to have such knowledgeable people serving their church!

CARTER BLOODCARE NEEDS OUR HELP, November 12, 10 am – 3 pm ~ The bloodmobile will be in Winnsboro on Thursday, November 12, at First Baptist on Broadway.  Please make an appointment to give at www.carterbloodcare.org.

I am very excited to start our THANKSGIVING series this Sunday! I hope to see you then, online or in-person!

Praying for a peaceful election,

Pastor Debbie