Time® Magazine Theologian of the Year,
Revisits His North Texas Roots and Discusses His Newest Book,
A New Vision, A New Voice ~ The North Texas Conference
Revisits His North Texas Roots and Discusses His Newest Book,
Dr. Ellen Palmer will leave for Haiti on Oct. 22. The veteran nurse educator has been making this trip for close to 35 years and long ago lost count of how many flights she has made to serve a people she has come to love and respect.
Dr. Palmer, a former missionary to Bolivia, went for more than 20 years as part of a volunteer medical team sponsored by Highland Park UMC. Then, in 1980, with some time to kill, she walked over to the grounds of Grace Children’s Hospital in Port au Prince, Haiti’s capital city, and was captivated by what she saw.
The hospital serves thousands of children who are among the world’s most at risk, living in a poor country with high infant and child mortality rates in the Western Hemisphere. Dr. Palmer soon found herself making frequent trips to teach and to work in clinical settings. Over the years, she has recruited friends and colleagues to join her efforts. She is now president of the board of Grace’s governing body, International Child Care.
Dr. Palmer was at the hospital Jan. 12, 2010, then left for the airport in neighboring Dominican Republic. It was there she heard the terrible news of the earthquake that left Port au Prince and her beloved hospital in ruins.
Her heart breaks when she thinks of the friends lost and the 90 nursing students who died when their school collapsed. More than 80 percent of Grace’s buildings were damaged beyond repair.
“People don’t realize how strong the Haitians are. The hospital employees rushed back, even though many of their homes were destroyed,” she said. Nurses, doctors and other staff set up makeshift spaces and started treating a seemingly endless flow of patients.
Of the 2 million residents of Port au Prince, 230,000 died, 300,000 were injured and more than 1 million were left homeless. When Dr. Palmer returned in March, much of the work involved treating stumps from amputated limbs.
Just after the quake, Grace operated primarily out of tents. Soon, the hospital began building transitional structures.
Over the years, Dr. Palmer has recruited other United Methodist medical professionals to join her in the work at Grace.
Drs. Jeannine Hatt, a Denison pediatrician, and her husband, Dr. Charles “Chuck” Phelps, a radiologist, have been committed members of the team for several years.
Dr. Hatt is vice president of the Grace board of directors, and Dr. Phelps is spearheading the effort to acquire up-to-date radiology equipment and training for Haitian doctors.
Through the efforts of the American College of Radiology, a portable machine will go into service this month.
Dr. Phelps says there is a serious shortage of radiologists in Haiti, primarily because they have so little technology to work with. He hopes that bringing in technology will attract students to the field.
Drs. Hatt and Phelps get backing in numerous ways from fellow members of Waples UMC in Denison, including supporting the Race for Grace Hotter’N Hell bicycle team and sewing handmade quilts for young patients.
It takes heroic effort to keep the mission going at Grace.
Among the heavily used services are pediatric and adult TB clinics, general pediatric and adult medical clinics, HIV counseling and treatment (20 percent of the patients are infected with HIV), a nutrition clinic and reproductive health services. As a teaching facility, Grace helps train 115 medical and 300 nursing students each year.
The hospital also helps serve rural outposts, such as the recently built Jolitrou facility, which now needs staffing and equipment, a top priority for Dr. Palmer.
Charitable organizations and fair-trade retailers will offer a unique holiday shopping experience.
A variety of charitable gifts will also be available. For more information, contact the church at 214-826-2060 or visit the church website.
The Rev. Dr. Sheron Patterson’s eighth book, The Blessings & Bling, How Faith and Fashion Helped Me Survive Breast Cancer, has been released just in time for October Breast Cancer Awareness month.
In lively, frank prose, Dr. Patterson, communications officer for the North Texas Conference, reflects on her own breast cancer journey and how her faith in God and joy in fashion – bling – brought her through difficult times after her diagnosis in 2006.
Her goal is to share these insights with others facing difficulties:
The whole theme of this book has been blessings and bling. Many may wonder why I chose to focus on bling – on fashion and looking good – while dealing with such a serious matter. I hope after reading this book you understand the reason for it, but I will reiterate it here briefly. Looking good can help you feel good. There were many days when I did not feel great when I woke up, but once I got dressed in a beautiful outfit, I felt a little bit better. In a cancer fight, we take every advantage we can, and if some nice clothes – some bling – will help, we certainly will take that, too. Find the thing that works for you.
But don’t think that the focus is high-dollar high fashion. Dr. Patterson is quick to point out that fashion can come in culturally different contexts. She describes the “global glamor” she saw at the International Delegation of Breast Cancer Survivors and among breast cancer nurses from the Middle East and North Africa. Though standards of beauty might be dramatically different, the women were glamorous in their own ways, she says. This reality was apparent amid the beauty of the women meeting and sharing stories of overcoming cancer, especially in cultures where the disease is still considered a shameful secret.
Dr. Patterson says her breast cancer journey changed her from the inside out and devotes much of the book to faith. She ends the book with her own “Blessings and Bling Cancer Survival Guide,” with tips that helped her overcome her illness and space for the reader to note personal thoughts.
The Rev. Dr. Patterson is known to the NTC as a longtime ordained clergyperson currently appointed as conference communications officer. In addition to serving local UM congregations and authoring books, she has 20 years of experience as a radio and television host. She is a graduate of Spelman College in Atlanta and Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University.
The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace will be presented at 7 p.m. Oct. 23 at First UMC Coppell. It will feature the choirs of both First UMC Coppell and Preston Hollow UMC, as well as members of Preston Hollow Presbyterian and the FUMC First Church Brass and Percussion.
The work is composed by Karl Jenkins of Wales and is an anti-war piece that charts the descent into war but ends with the hope of peace.
It includes words not only from the Bible, but also from other religious sources, such as the Islamic Call to Prayer.
It premiered April 25, 2000, in London’s Albert Hall. For more information, contact First UMC Coppell at 972-462-0471.
The church is located at 420 S. Heartz Road, Coppell.
Many North Texas United Methodists support Vision Africa, which has grown from a concept outlined in Bishop Onuoha’s dissertation at Perkins School of Theology, Southern Methodist University, into a movement that has spread the gospel to more than 1 million people, assisted more than 500,000 through medical missions, taught thousands leadership and Bible instruction, and cared for nearly 9,000 Nigerians living with HIV/AIDS through a U.S. government grant.
In 2009, a council of Christian and Muslim faith leaders in Nigeria chose Bishop Onuoha to lead an interfaith effort to stop malaria in Nigeria, where about 800 children under age 5 die from the disease each day. This year, Bishop Onuoha was named a World Champion of Malaria, with his picture unveiled in the United Nations Building in New York City. Cost for the dinner is $35 per person. Make reservations online at www.visionafrica.org. For more information, email email@example.com or call 214-828- 9232.
Northaven UMC, at 11211 Preston Road, and the Dallas Area Christian Progressive Alliance will present the Fall 2011 Faith Voices on Justice speaker at 7 p.m. Nov. 1 at Northaven. Former UM pastor and author Jimmy Creech will speak on “The Church on Trial: Lesbian and Gay Witnesses.” The session will include a question-and-answer time and the opportunity to network and share ideas. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org. There is no charge for all events in this series.
The date and location for the 2012 Clergy Spouse retreat have changed. “Simplify Your Life” will be from 5 p.m. Feb. 3 to 5 p.m. Feb. 4 at Camp Copass in Denton. Cost is $80 for a room with double occupancy and $120 for a room with single occupancy. For more information, contact Megan Stoker, 940-565-9402, or via email at email@example.com.
“I want you to get out there and walk — better yet, run!
— on the road God called you to travel. I don’t want any of
you sitting around on your hands. I don’t want anyone strolling
off, down some path that goes nowhere. And mark that
you do this with humility and discipline — not in fits and
starts, but steadily pouring yourselves out for each other in
acts of love, alert at noticing differences and quick at mending
The scripture above anchored the program for United Methodist Women of the East District, who gathered for their annual meeting, Sept. 17 at Wesley UMC Greenville. The speaker was the East UMW’s own Mary Campbell, Chair of District Mission Education and Interpretation, who worships at First UMC Bonham.
“As Christians, we are called to a lifelong journey of love, reconciliation, tolerance, forgiveness, acceptance and worship,” Campbell said in a multilayered presentation on “Restoring Relationships.”
“Among the most important of the teachings of Jesus is his command to eliminate negativity from our lives, especially strife, isolation and hostility, although no one is perfect, perhaps not even grandchildren,” she added, flashing a knowing smile.
Campbell advised a personal relationship philosophy of, “I’m going to make this work” and a perpetual attitude of leadership in “peace treaties with love” during a lifelong effort to transform even the least promising relationship into “something very beautiful.”
Campbell quoted from the book The Crayon That Talks, making the point that as a group, we are “like a box of crayons, each of us unique, and when we all get together, the picture is complete.”
It was Campbell’s way of segueing into playing the Charlie Pride and Dolly Parton duet “God’s Coloring Book,” which at once celebrates the wonders of God’s creation and positively describes the human value of diversity. As a kind of encore, Campbell distributed brightly colored banners for all attendees to wave while everyone sang “Go Now in Peace,” after which she admonished the group to “call for a relationship peace treaty and get your heart right with everyone you possibly can.”
Guest of honor Becky Maddox, North Texas Conference UMW Chair, reminded the group that “faith, hope, love and action are what UMW is about” and that this year’s scriptural emphasis is on 2 Corinthians 5:17, especially the reference to “all things are becoming new.”
District President Nell Avery of First UMC Commerce presided at the business meeting in which District Superintendent the Rev. Paul Gould’s invocation thanked God for UMW ministry that reaches into many communities. Treasurer Brenda Bennett of Quinlan UMC lit the World Thank Candle and said that East UMW had contributed $2,854.51 to that ministry in the last year.
In other business, members over age 90 were honored, including 110-year-old Mary Tankursley of First UMC Paris.
He and his wife, pediatrician Dr. Jeannine Hatt, have made the race a yearly event.
This year their son Ryan joined the team for the 100-mile ride, the most grueling race of all. (The Hotter’N Hell offers a variety of race options, ranging from 10K to the ultimate 100- mile challenge.)
The tireless Dr. Ellen Palmer, whose connections with the Hotter’N Hell go back to the days when her late husband, Dr. Jim Palmer, served as pastor of Floral Heights UMC in Wichita Falls, didn’t let 80-plus birthdays keep her away.
She completed the 25-mile race. Her son, the Rev. Burt Palmer, came from Amarillo to race; his congregation at Polk Street UMC raised $1,600 for the cause.
In addition to Dr. Palmer, a member of First UMC McKinney, other NTC congregations represented included the Revs. John Fleming, pastor of Grace UMC in Sherman, and Allen Snider, pastor of Lakeway UMC in Pottsboro. First UMC Sherman lends its support with a fundraiser in August.
The team also draws ecumenical support, especially among colleagues and friends of Drs. Phelps and Hatt in the Denison area. Other NTC congregations are urged to join in the esprit de corps of Race for Grace. Contact Dr. Hatt at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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