District News

Fearlessly Inspired

As we consider all that we experienced during this year’s Annual Conference, I hope that whether you were present in person, or were able to be with us online, that you were inspired by our time together. 

The theme of the Annual Conference was to Fearlessly Embrace Our Future.  Our Guest Speaker was Rev. Ginger Gaines-Cirelli, the Senior Pastor at Foundry UMC in Washington, D. C.  In her Keynote Address and sermon, she encouraged us to focus on what it means to be United Methodist, to be engaged in mission and ministry and to create new relationships, as well as deepen existing ones with one another and with our Lord. 

Rev. Dr. Jennifer Browne, the Assistant to the Bishop and Director of Connectional Ministries, spoke with laity and pastors who are engaged in innovative missions and ministries in their neighborhoods.  From basketball to creating a space for children who have immigrated to the greater Detroit area, we learned how faith communities are transforming neighbors and neighborhoods following the example of our Lord and Savior.

There was also a Mission Festival celebrating the ways United Methodists across the state are answering God’s call on their lives.  We opened worship on Thursday with the hymn: And Are We Yet Alive? Over the next few days we answered that question with a resounding yes! We are dedicated to wearing the mantle that the Lord has placed on us to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

May we continue to be in prayer and conversation with our Lord as we consider what’s next.  I invite each of us to consider how we can widen the circle of those who are with us today, creating space for those who are on the outside looking in, those who are on the doorstep, ready to cross the threshold and those who hunger and thirst to be spiritually filled, but don’t know how to take that first step. May we rejoice in all that we have done, as we continue to ask what more can we do. Know that God is with us every day in every way.  And Amen.

East Winds District Lenten Mission Project

February 14th thru March 31st
Lets find a way through this time of Lent to show our appreciation for the heroic jobs that they do day in and day out. (Firefighters, Paramedics, Law Enforcement (state & local), EMT’s, 911 & Police Dispatchers, Air Med Flight Crews, Chaplains)

Ways you can do this:

Honor Breakfast,  Honor Dinner,  Raise Funds,  Prayer Service, Provide Lunches, Gift Card Collection, Care Packages, Devotionals, Bibles, Send Thank You Cards

PDF Flyer For EW Lenten Mission Project 2024

Tips to Spot Scammers

Tips for spotting a scam

By Barry Trantham, East Winds District Finance Committee Chair


Pretends to be someone you know.

Scammers often pretend to be contacting you from the IRS or Social Security Administration, or from a company you’re familiar with like your bank.  They might make up a name that sounds official or say they’re calling on behalf of a loved one.

Recently our Treasurer received an email from an employee stating they have a new bank account and to please update their bank account information for deposit their payroll.


Presents you with a conditional prize or problem.

Scammers may say you’ve won a prize that’s too good to be true, and you have to pay a fee to receive it. They might say you’re in trouble with the government, or a family member is in trouble and needs money.


Pressures you to act immediately.

Scammers want you to act before you have time to think about it.  They may say a family member has an emergency or your computer has a virus.  Sometimes they threaten legal action, arrest, or freeze your bank account.


Ask you to pay in a specific manner

Scammers will often insist you pay by sending money through a payment app, wire transfer or by purchasing a gift card and then reading them the number on the back of the card.  Some will send you a fake check, ask you to deposit it, and then ask you to send them the money.


Actions to help protect yourself from scams


Block – filter unwanted emails to your spam folder and block unwanted calls and texts.

Resist – Don’t let anyone pressure or threaten you into giving them personal information or money.

Refuse – Even if it’s a business you recognize, don’t give them personal or financial information

Pause – If anyone says you must act immediately stop and ask yourself “Is this how a legitimate company would act?  If something seems off it probably is.

Validate – Instead of clicking links in emails and text messages or calling the numbers provided to you, use a company’s contact info from the official website.

Talk – If someone tells you to keep a secret or says something suspicious that makes you uncomfortable, stop and do a gut check with someone you trust.

Finally, the scammers are constantly using new tricks to get you money.  One of these new tricks is to use Artificial Intelligence to mimic the voice of a loved one and ask you to send money to post bail or pay a deductible for an emergency medical procedure.

The best way to defeat the scammers is to call the loved one on the number you know to be their number to verify the request.


Puzzler’s Corner: I Love It When A Plan Comes Together

Puzzler’s Corner                                                                                                       Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8

“I Love It When A Plan Comes Together.”

This famous quote is attributed to John Hannibal Smith, the leader of a fictional team of do-gooders who seek to wipe out injustice as they stay one step ahead of the law.  The t. v. show that coined the phrase had a 5 year run and later became a film.  The premise on which The A-Team was based was not new.

Many films have used an intricate plotline to tease the audience with a series of twists and turns until, in the final scene of the movie, all the breadcrumbs or pieces of the puzzle come together and make everything clear.  The reboot of the Ocean’s Eleven (Twelve, Thirteen and Eight) series is another example. We are merely observers as we follow how a team or group achieves success in their attempts to change a life, right a wrong or offer someone a chance to start their lives again.

Some groups are already established at the beginning of the film, while others must recruit members in order to anticipate and care for every contingency.  Once the task is accomplished, or the goal is met, the group sometimes separates, and we are left to wonder what happens next.

Our Lord has provided each of us and all of us the opportunity to be part of His eternal plan.  Each person is called to share the gifts they have received to help accomplish God’s purpose for all of creation. 

The words from Ecclesiastes remind us that for everything there is a season.  We may be involved in God’s plan for a moment, a month, a year or a lifetime.  We may have the same tasks before us and repeat them again and again.  Those persons who make prayer shawls or quilt blankets, for example, may follow a pattern that they have memorized because they’ve followed it so many times.    

We are also invited and encouraged to try new things as the world around us continues to change in ways we did not predict or foresee.  I don’t believe Zoom was familiar to most of us before the COVID pandemic affected how we relate to and interact with one another.  Like the A-Team, we are asked to adapt our gifts and skills to fit the situation, not for our sakes, but for the sake of the people our Lord has called us to help. During conversations in your Mission Zones and your faith communities, I ask you to prayerfully consider how we can continue God’s mission in and for the world.

We may never learn how the good we do today will affect the lives of the people we help, or those who they in turn help.  As Christians, we are continually being invited to be part of God’s team for the transformation of the world.  As we look forward to how we can make a difference in the lives of others in the coming weeks and months, may we explore how, together, we can bring God’s plan together for all of His children.  And Amen.

The Lord Be With You

“The Lord Be With You”


I learned late Tuesday afternoon that the jury reached a guilty verdict in the case of Jennifer Crumbley.  I struggle with trying to find the right words to comfort the families that have had to relive that day over the last several weeks. And it is possible that people will be asked to relive the events of that tragic day again, if Ethan’s father’s trial happens.

I ask for a time of prayer for the people of Oxford, Michigan and those who call the Oxford United Methodist Church their faith community.  May every person know that God is holding each of us and all of us in His loving embrace. 

I share the King James Version of the 23rd Psalm with you as I lift you up in prayer today and in the days to come. 

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.

He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

And Amen.

Readers to Leaders Invitation

As members of Christ’s family we are called to support our sisters and brothers in need, whether they are living in our community or are living in other nations.  At the 2022 Michigan Annual Conference, Rev. Jon Reynolds and Lisa Batten, Associate Director of Connectional Ministries, invited each faith community in the Conference to help with a new mission for children in Michigan and Liberia, one of our two covenant partner nations.

I am including the link to the Conference website, if you would like more information on how the Readers to Leaders program will help students in Michigan reach 3rd grade reading proficiency, along with sponsoring education for a student in Liberia.


Through this mission, we are planting seeds for the future, helping a generation of students here in America, and also in Liberia, reach academic success.

The Conference is nearing its goal of $350,000.  I am asking each church in the East Winds District to consider making a contribution to this mission by May 1, 2024.  Any amount is welcome, and all churches which make a donation will be listed at the Annual Conference. 

May God bless you in all you do in His name,

District Superintendent Rev. Dr. Margie R. Crawford

Puzzling Through: Just A Slice

               On Sunday November 5th, the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals met in their first NFL game following Damar Hamlin’s collapse on the field in January.  After what looked like a routine play by both teams, Damar stood up and then fell.  Medical personnel began caring for him immediately, and after he was stabilized, he was rushed to the hospital.  Players and coaches from both teams, as well as fans, knelt in prayer.  The good news is that Damar was able to receive the medical care he needed.  He has already played a few times this season.

               Before that night, I am not sure if anyone outside the team and the loyal Bills fan base knew who Damar Hamlin was.  At the time, like most NFL players, Damar had a charity to raise money for toys for children.  He set a goal of $2,500 for the year. After his collapse on the field, the fund received over $8 million, along with prayers and messages of support for Damar’s recovery.

               Over the Summer, Damar began to consider new ways to make a difference.  He now sponsors CPR training and awareness as a result of those generous donations.  The team’s ambulance displays his jersey.   He continues to find ways to raise awareness of essential medical support for athletes of all ages.

               I honestly can’t tell you much about Damar’s college or high school career or when he was drafted by the Bills.  Like most of the country, I only became aware of him when he collapsed on January 2, 2023.  But from those slices of his life, I am able to see how he has been inspired to make a difference in the lives of others.

               As Advent approaches, we will begin to share how our Lord became one of us in order to save us.  The four Gospels provide us with many details of Jesus life and how his ministry changed and continues to change the world.  And yet, these moments are just a slice of who our Savior is. 

               Parts of Jesus’ life are not included in any of the Gospels. What was his life like while his family lived in Egypt? What items did they take back to Nazareth with them when it was safe for them to return? What happened in Jesus’ life after his visit to the Temple? If he met with his cousin John prior to that moment in the Nile River, what did they talk about? Or more importantly, what didn’t they talk about? If he apprenticed with Joseph, was he a good carpenter?

               These are not the slices of our Savior’s life that we relive and remember through the Gospel narratives.  We have wondrous accounts of how Jesus transformed the world by who he was and what he did.  Through the authors of the four Gospels, we become witnesses to all that Jesus did as he walked among us.  Miracles of healing and feeding, calling persons from the margins to become his disciples and those he sent out to spread the Good News, parables that changed the letter of the law, while affirming the spirit of the law are only a few of the ways that Jesus brought a new light into the world and into our lives. 

               As we gather in our worship spaces, over the next several weeks, I invite and encourage each of us to tell the story of how our Savior is the greatest gift of all. Let’s take time to unwrap God’s amazing present of love and of love everlasting.  And Amen.

Puzzling Through, A Few More Thoughts

First, I want to thank everyone who was able to attend the District Conference on Saturday, November 4, 2023. Whether you were with us in person or in spirit, it was wonderful to spend some time in fellowship, sharing a meal and planting seeds for our future.

               I especially want to express my gratitude for our host church, Grand Blanc UMC, Pastor Brian, the United Women in Faith, and the support of all those who helped make our time together a blessing, including the tech support, music, clergy and laity who were part of the morning presentations, Worship Service and Business Session.

               As is usually the case with sharing a message, other thoughts come to mind just as we attempt to place one sermon to rest. During the Key Note Address, I shared that jigsaw puzzles were an analogy for the mystery of the Lord’s work.  I lifted up the story of Jacob and the ministry of Jesus as examples. 

               There are so many ways that God’s mystery is being revealed to us, changing our understanding of what it means to be Christians in today’s world.  I invite each of you to spend time exploring the way God’s presence with us unfolds in amazing and wondrous ways.

               Moses’ story begins with him being released into the Nile to escape Pharoah’s edict, and yet, when rescued by Pharoah’s daughter, he doesn’t become the next ruler of Egypt, but the Deliverer of Abraham’s descents. We are witnesses of his wilderness journey, and how God calls him to do more than watch over his father-in-law’s flock.

               Consider how David, Jesse’s youngest son and the one tasked to watch the sheep, is anointed king by Samuel. David’s story doesn’t begin in 1 Samuel 16, but in the Book of Ruth where we learn of his paternal great grandmothers. The way our Lord works is full of surprising and amazing turns that declare God is with us in all ways, at all times and in all things. 

               God’s greatest mystery isn’t that He sent His son to us for our salvation.  The greatest mystery isn’t that Jesus came to earth to be one of us, while sharing the Good News of what it means to be loved by God. The greatest mystery isn’t the parables our Savior shared, the miracles he performed or the sins he forgave. The greatest mystery isn’t the new covenant that our Savior brought to us during the Passover Meal. The greatest mystery isn’t that Jesus went to the cross so that you and I could be saved.

               All of these events and more lead us to the greatest mystery of the empty tomb, when our Lord declared that nothing would stop Him from His salvific acts for our lives.  We are called to share the significance of our Risen Savior and the ways that God has moved and is moving in our lives. 

               This is our task, our challenge, our duty and our call.  To spread the Good News of Jesus Christ our Lord, so that everyone will know why we are dedicated to being God’s instruments in and for one another as wee seek to accomplish all that the Lord requires of us.

               Persons received jigsaw pieces of a Michigan map puzzle made of Petosky stones, to remember our time together. I want each of the members of the East Winds District to know that the work we do for our Lord and Savior is holy work, marked by the stones we placing in our communities now and into the future.  May we all be blessed.  And Amen.

After The Storm

When disaster strikes who is there to help? We Are! Let us learn more about the new program birthed by the Michigan Annual Conference called: After the Storm.

We pray that a natural disaster will never happen to us and that it never happens to those we love. Yet, as we hear on the news natural disasters are happening more and more frequently. None of us will go through life without being affected by a natural disaster, directly or indirectly.

Response to a natural disaster comes in waves. We are all aware of the immediate response to any crisis. The clearing of trees from roads, tarping of roofs, and finding emergency shelter after a tornado are all examples of an immediate response. This is when the media is highly engaged, and concern is high. Government, Emergency Response, and Non-Governmental organizations such as the United Methodist Committee on Relief trained volunteers called ERT (Emergency Response Teams) to work together through a highly coordinated system to make sure that immediate needs are met.

Yet the need goes on, and on, and on. Believe it or not, this next step is where we as the Michigan Annual Conference have found a real strong affinity for the work that needs to be done. This work is called Disaster Case Management. This is the work that continues for months or even years after the initial disaster has taken place.

We have set up Disaster Case Management in communities impacted by flooding across the State of Michigan. Such as Northwest Detroit in 2014 and 2019, Midland County in 2017, Houghton & Hancock in 2018, and the Great Lakes Bay region in 2020. In each case we collaborated with community leaders, nonprofit organizations, and municipal, county, State, and FEMA officials. We are the only entity in Michigan providing this type of Disaster Case Management in Michigan. At that time all funding was through UMCOR and Community Foundation grants along with donations to the Michigan Disaster Response Fund.

Because of our good work and faithful work in these many communities, we have gotten the attention of the State of Michigan and FEMA. Because of this, the Michigan Conference was awarded a large grant to do the work of Case Management following the flooding in Southeastern Michigan in 2021. It was decided that a separate organization would be better to manage while keeping it connected to the Michigan Conference of the United Methodist Church. So in 2022 After the Storm was officially launched.

So why give to After the Storm? Because there are needs that are greater than any grant can provide. We have to be ready to respond and the only way to be ready is to be prepared. Your gift today helps us be and stay prepared to respond to the next disaster in Michigan.


East Winds District