A Word from DS Laura Merrill

I write following four days of training in clergy sexual ethics the week before last, for clergy across the Rio Texas Conference. Each clergy member of the conference was required to attend one of the four days. Our trainer was Becky Posey Williams, director of — for the General Commission on the Status and Role…Read More »

A Word from DS Laura Merrill 04/26/2022

I’ve been so struck by Sunday’s news photos of this year’s Easter celebrations in Ukraine. The beautiful tradition of preparing eggs, bread, and other special foods for the Easter feast and bringing them to the church for a blessing, before sharing them with friends and family—this practice stirs my heart. I ponder what it means…Read More »

A Word from DS Laura Merrill 04/08/2022

I remember back when I was in actual church work, I often made the decision to pick up the “Passion” part of Palm/Passion Sunday. Reading the story of the crucifixion on the Sunday before Easter was an attempt to avoid jumping from the “Hosanna” parade one Sunday to the “Alleluia” celebration the next, knowing we…Read More »

A Word from DS Laura Merrill-03/24/22

A couple of weeks ago, Rio Texas clergy gathered at Mo-Ranch in Hunt for our annual Clergy Convocation. The camp setting was gorgeous, and the agenda was designed as a retreat, with a variety of optional activities available. One of those was a zipline, and I made sure to sign up. I’ve never been on…Read More »

A Word from DS Laura Merrill 03/10/22

Many of you know by now that the 2020 General Conference has been postponed again, this time to 2024. I am a member of the Commission on General Conference, the group that made this decision, and it’s a classic example of disappointing people on all parts of the spectrum. I too am disappointed. I won’t…Read More »

A Word from DS Laura Merrill 02/21/22

Several weeks ago, the writer of a New York Times op-ed piece argued that, as Covid numbers drop, churches should also drop online worship. The writer stated that, while meeting online was important when we were shut down, worship is an “embodied” act, and allowing people the option to stay home to view worship on…Read More »

A Word from DS Laura Merrill- 01/24/22

The first month of this new year is nearly gone, and here we still are. I know better than to make resolutions anymore, but we often still hope for something to shift as the calendar turns. I’m not sure that hopeful shift has happened exactly, with Covid deaths and teachers and healthcare folks worn past…Read More »

A Word from DS Laura Merrill- 01/07/22

I’m not sure why, but this season I’ve been dogged by the post-Magi, post-Epiphany story of Herod, known as the Slaughter of the Innocents (Matthew 2:16-18). The immensity of the evil that raised its head as soon as Jesus was born was a sign of all that was to come for him. It’s a sign…Read More »

A Word from DS Laura Merrill- 12.02.21

I’m not sure there’s a more multi-layered time than the cusp between November and December, especially for those of us in the church. The image of Christ as King overlaps with Thanksgiving, and I always see in my mind the image of a king in velvet robes and jeweled crown at the head of the…Read More »

A Word from DS Laura Merrill 10/28/21

As we approach our observance of All Saints’ Day, I cannot help but reflect on the memorial service held for Larry Howard at Laurel Heights UMC last Saturday. It was one of those occasions that was hard to line up and make happen in my calendar but was absolutely the right place to be. I…Read More »