Is It True? That Is the Great Question of Gospel. Is It True That I Can Trust My Life And

Is It True? That Is the Great Question of Gospel. Is It True That I Can Trust My Life And

Is it true? That is the great question of Gospel. Is it true that I can trust my life and the life of my loved ones to this God?

When I arrived as your interim/transitional pastor last February, you were asking, “Can we survive without Joe Slane?” You are not only surviving, but you are also thriving. Now some of you are asking, “Can we survive without Charlie Durham?” You can, and you will.

Pastors come and go, but the church of Jesus Christ remains built upon the solid foundations of faith. And another pastor will be coming soon. And you are ready.

Some churches simply languish in an interim/transitional period like a ship in the doldrums. Not Southminster! You have not missed a beat and have risen to the challenge of discipleship – to follow Jesus, to see him alone.

At the end of January, I will end my call to serve alongside you. No, I will not be taking on another interim. How could the Lord top this experience that he has granted Sandy and me, to be a part of this caring and faithful and forward-looking congregation? For the last three years since my “retirement” from FPC Tuscaloosa, I have been blessed to serve two different congregations in Huntsville, one in Anniston, and then Macon, Georgia, before being called here. That’s been a whole lot of traveling, but such an incredible experience to be with so many differing thriving congregations.

Jesus said, “Come unto me and I will give you rest…” not another interim! It is time for me to “rest” in the Lord back there in Tuscaloosa. In fact, this first Sunday in January I will be in worship there as our younger daughter is ordained an elder. I will rest secure in the knowledge that Southminster is firmly in the Lord’s everlasting arms and that the one being called will guide all of you in the way of Jesus Christ. I will keep each and every one of you in my heart.

Charlie Durham

The deadline for the FebruarySounds of Southminster and calendar is Thursday morning, January 25th … all in the effort to TRY and have the newsletter out and in your hands by the end of the month. Please send all articles you would like included in this edition of the newsletter to me by email, , or place them in my church mail box in the print room. Thanks in advance!


“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives.

Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.” – John 14:27

The words above are ones spoken by Jesus to his disciples as they gathered for the Passover meal; the same meal that preceded a journey to the garden and ultimately Jesus’ betrayal, arrest, trial, and crucifixion. (And resurrection—but we’ll get to that.)

As such, we look back on this passage as a bold word from our Lord, a word of comfort given in the middle of the night to scared and weary disciples, then and now. A word of truth these followers of Christ may not have fully grasped when he said to them, but were an anchor in uncertain times that followed. A word of hope that no matter how dark things may get, the light of peace is always present.

That peace is certainly a word our world needs in these days. The world seems divided, uncertain, fearful. There’s so much going on politically, economically, even personally, that may feel outside our control. So how do we respond? How do we use this gift of peace Jesus has given us to shine light that will cast away fear and doubt?

That’s a question we’ll explore in a special two-partWednesday Night Series on January 17th and 24th entitled “Practicing Peace.” The concept for this series was developed by Mark Hopkins, Kent Howard, and myself.

On January 17 we’ll have a representative from our denomination as a guest speaker to give us a Presbyterian perspective on peacemaking, including more information about the Peacemaking Offering we give to each year.

On January 24 we’ll have a roundtable discussion featuring religious and civic leaders from our community. Christian, Jewish and Islamic voices will be part of this discussion, as well as voices from local government.

Why these varied voices, especially those that, at first glance, might make us uncomfortable? Simple. If we’re going to follow Jesus’ command not to fear, we must be willing to engage with voices and people who might demand from us a spirit of greater love and courage.

Dinner in Grace Hall will precede these conversations each night, and discussions will happen in the Sanctuary, which has a greater seating capacity for other members of the community who may want to join us for this time together. We’ll also work on a way to record these conversations for those who are unable to attend.

Please let me know what questions, ideas, fears, and hopes these upcoming conversations prompt for you. We’ll face them all together as the disciples Christ calls us to be.

The Lord Bless and Keep You,


(In) Forming Faith


GBM TRIP AND THANKS! Thank you to all children, youth, and adults who helped get gifts from Southminster to GBM on December 16th. Your acts of service are deeply appreciated.

Thanks to all who donated items of clothing, food, and toys. GBM tells us that our gifts are essential to the ministrythey do. Know that your contribution is a tangible extension of God’s love and joy in Christ Jesus.


WEDNESDAY NIGHT PROGRAMS: When Wednesday Night Programs and Dinners resume on January 17, children’s activities will also be resuming, with a focus on preparing for “Bright Sunday” where children lead worship! Youth are also welcome to attend these sessions and help the children and adult leaders develop worship elements.

The following January schedule is planned:

January 17: Call to Worship

January 24: Passing Peace

January 31: Mission Wednesday – children invited to work with youth and

adults on a mission project!

PRESBY BYG RESUMES JANUARY 7TH: Our joint Sunday night youth group with other Birmingham Churches meets again on January 7, 5 to 7 pm. at Vestavia Bowl. Bring money for dinner!

NEW YEAR BRUNCH: See promo elsewhere in the Sounds regarding our second annual brunch honoring elders of Southminster and raising funds for our Montreat Conference summer trips for youth.

MONTREAT DEPOSITS ARE DUE! High School Youth – please get your $100 in ASAP to reserve your spot for Montreat July 9th– 16th, 2018! Middle Schoolers, if you’d like to go to Montreat Middle School Conference, contact Ben ASAP!

PEACEMAKING PROGRAM: On January 17th and 24th Southminster will be hosting a two-part series on the topic of “peacemaking.” In a hectic, polarizing, and at times bewildering world, we need reassurance and guidance on how to connect to and share God’s Spirit of Peace – within ourselves and with others in our community and world. See Ben’s column for more details.


Some dates to keep in mind as the new year begins1

Souper Bowl of Caring (February 4th): This special offering, typically collected by our children and youth, goes to support food ministries locally and abroad.

Mardi Gras Party! (February 7): Plan your recipes for this Cajun themed night of food and fellowship!

Lent Series: Theme: Lenten Perspectives; Dates: February 21, 28, March 14, 21

Holy Brokenness: A new study series for the Southminster Day School and Church community Ben is leading for Lent. See February newsletter and insert for more info.

A summary of the actions taken in the DecemberStated Session meeting is as follows:

  1. The Session approved the Generosity Ministry Unit recommendation to not hold a separate special offering for the Presbytery “The Larger Church” program.
  1. The Session approved the Generosity Ministry Unit recommendation of Jerry Currin, Al Dickinson, and Heather Land to fill vacancies on the Gifts and Memorials subcommittee.
  1. The Session approved the following dates for the first half of 2018 for the Celebration of Holy Communion and home or hospital communion visits by Pastors or Elders: February 4, March 4, March 29 (Maundy Thursday), April 1 (Easter Sunday), May 6, May 20 (Pentecost), June 3, July 1, and Wednesday nights in Lent on February 21, February 28, March 14, and March 21. These dates are in addition to January 14, previously approved.
  1. The Session approved the Personnel Committee recommendation thru the Administrative Ministry Unit for non-ordained staff salary increases for 2018.
  1. The Session approved recommending the proposed changes to the Associate Pastor’s Terms of Call to the congregation at the December 31 Congregational Meeting.
  1. The Session approved ministry unit appointmentsfor 2018. They are as follows:


Jim Prince, ModeratorGretchen Cloud, Moderator

Frank JamesPatrick Riley


Barbara Sansom, ModeratorSara Brown, Moderator

Christian JohnsonLinda Carey


Laura Bannon, ModeratorMike Horton, Moderator

Susannah ChristiansGeorge VanKirk


Mark Hopkins, ModeratorCarol Kinsaul, Moderator

Bill MurphyNatalie Reed

Curtis Eatman

If you would like to serve on one of these eight Ministry Units next year, please contact Betsy at the church office (822-1124).

  1. The Session approved the Administrative Ministry Unit recommendationto change the $3,050 tree removal expense to the Capital Fund.
  1. The Session approved the Administrative Ministry Unit recommendation to change the name of the Capital Fund to the Capital and Major Maintenance Fund.
  1. The Session approved the Administrative Minsitry Unit recommendation of Jim Prince, Ross Kinsaul, Rick Reed, and Heather Benoit as check signers for the church, continuing with the practice of two signatories on each check.
  1. The Session elected Rick Reed as Treasurer and Heather Benoit as Assistant Treasurer for 2018.
  1. The Session approved the 2018 operating budged as amended.
  1. The Session elected Bill Christians as Clerk and Mark Ezekiel as Assistant Clerk for 2018.
  1. The Session approved Mark Hopkins as the Foundation liaison for 2018.
  1. The Session authorized the Pastoral Transition Team to research Transitional Pastor options after January 31, 2018, and bring a recommendation to Session.
  1. The Session elected Curtis Eatman and David Stephens to three-year terms as Foundation Directors.
  1. The Session heard a charge from and expressed thanks for the work of the Session Class of 2017, whose members are completing their term of service. Members of the class are Heather Benoit, Greg Byrd, Belinda Dickinson, Nancy McIntosh, Kim Slay, and David Stephens.

Respectfully submitted,

Bill Christians

As we look forward to this New Year and new beginnings for Southminster, we are thankful for the many generous pledges we have received. Thank you for supporting our church! We have twelve pledgers from last year who have not yet pledged this year. If you are able to pledge and have not done so, please consider renewing your pledge this year.

Generosity Ministry Unit

The Presbyterian Women are collecting new or gently used clean coats, jackets or sweaters during the month of January for those in need. We all know cold it has been lately. Won’t you help someone stay warm? There is a box located outside of Grace Hall for your donations. Many thanks for your generosity!

Thanks to the choir, David Renaker, guest singers, instrumentalists, Cassie and Nelson Forbes, Dr. Durham, Ben, all the readers, and Betsy Murphy for all your work in making this year’s Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols such a blessing, especially for me. The choir worked diligently on some very challenging music, and sang it beautifully with the spirit of love and mystery of the season. I am among all men most blessed to be able to serve Jesus Christ at His church at Southminster.

Thank you also to the Session and membership for the generous Christmas gift. May the blessings of this season follow you throughout the new year and always!

Larry Hardin

Why not start 2018 off right by making Wednesday Night Fellowship Suppers a part of your routine? Come enjoy delicious meals and some exciting programs!

January 10th:

Menu: Pork Roast, Cabbage, Mashed Potatoes, Black-eyed Peas, Rolls, and Apple Crisp with Vanilla Ice Cream

Program: Ministry Unit Meetings

Supper starts at 6:30 p.m., following Ministry Unit Meetings, which meet at 5:30 p.m.

January 17th:

Menu: Chili and fixings, Slaw, Chocolate Cake

Program: A representative from General Assembly will speak to us about peacemaking

January 24th:

Menu: Sliced Ham, Broccoli with Cheese Sauce, Wild Rice, Dinner Rolls and Dessert

Program: We will continue our talks on peacemaking with some community leaders and other faith based representatives

January 31st:

Menu: Fried Chicken, Mashed Potatoes and Gravy, Green Beans, Rolls, Dessert

Program: Mission Wednesday

**Make Reservations by signing the Attendance Form on Sunday or calling the Church Office, 822-1124, by Noon on Mondays**

On December 31st, 1964, a person named Harold Goocher signed the guest register in the Narthex of Southminster Presbyterian Church. Apparently on his way to an audit somewhere in Mississippi, he decided to stop here and worship.

Time has a way of passing, as does life. Harold died in 1970, leaving behind his wife Pat, and three children, Joe, Lisa and John. Harold’s life went on with his Savior; Pat and the children were not quite through with life on earth, but it did change for them … drastically.

Pat remarried and moved with her new husband, her children, and eventually Joe’s two children, Jaye Ann and Clay, to Vestavia Hills, Alabama. They expected to visit several churches, but that didn’t turn out. Almost directly across US 31 from their house, the first church they visited was Southminster … and they’ve been there ever since. Most of you can fill in the details of their lives at Southminster.

So how did we wind up here? Was Harold paving the way all those many years ago? It’s just something we ponder about.

Thanks for reading the basic skeleton of our story. We love you, Southminster!

Submitted by Pat Ragan

Pat would like to thank Pat Goodman for discovering this entry in the record books of Southminster.

Join our Bunch for Lunch group on Tuesday, January 23rd in Grace Hall at 11:30 to play SkipBo and enjoy a time of fellowship. Bring a sandwich. Drinks and dessert will be provided! If you need more information, contact Evelyn Ellison at 822-9634.

Southminster needs volunteers to serve dinner at First Light on Sunday, January 14th. Please sign up on the list located on the Outreach bulletin board outside of the church office, or contact Heather Benoit at 821-6051. This is a great mission opportunity for a Sunday School class, Circle, or just a group of dear friends. Start off 2018 by helping our friends in need!

It’s the beginning of a new year and an excellent time to make plans for 2018 Charitable Giving. The Southminster Foundation for Ministry asks that you prayerfully consider the Foundation when you are making your plans.

The Foundation was formed March 8, 2009 when the estate of Annette Taylor graciously bequeathed a generous gift from her Estate to Southminster Presbyterian Church. At the direction of the session, the Southminster Foundation was incorporated with a mission to grow the funds and use some of the earned funds to enable organizations, with a Christian mission, to help those who are in less fortunate circumstances.

Some of the organizations the Foundation has been able to help include: Matthew Twenty-Eight, Inc., Presbyterian Church of the Congo, UKirk Birmingham, and Living River. These organizations, and others, have benefitted from the funds the Foundation has been able to generate through investments.

Gifts can be made in many ways, such as wills, direct gifts, trusts, et. Members of the Board are happy to furnish you with information you may need, or answer questions concerning the Foundation. For more information, please contact Gretchen Cloud, Foundation President, at 205/991-5607.

Missions at Southminster are getting off to a great start with Rise Against Hunger (formerly Stop Hunger Now) in January. We will begin with a Minute for Mission on January 21, followed by four Sundays of fundraising on

January 28th, February 4th, February 11th, and February 18th. Also, mark your calendars for a special Wednesday night supper on January 31st for participating in a “Hunger Meal.” We promise you won’t leave hungry!

Our fundraising theme will be “Feed with Five” again this year, as we encourage members to donate in increments of $5.00. Young children will be in the narthex to collect on all four Sundays. In 2017 we reached our goal in record time, and believe we can do that again in 2018! Our result was packing over 20,000 meals in less than two hours in our own Grace Hall. We will again be #SouthminsterStrong!

This year we will pack our meals at First Presbyterian in downtown Birmingham on March 10th. ALL Southminster members are encouraged to volunteer and join in the fun and excitement of this wonderful mission. You may sign up in SignUp Genius or on the list located on the Outreach bulletin board near the church office.