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November - December 2016



Return of the Prodigal

The Gift of Grace

Grace is a gift that keeps giving, God active within us, doing for us what we cannot do for ourselves. It is dynamic and ongoing. Read More

Personal Story

Elise Matheny Eslinger

Abundant Grace: A Crash Course in Grace

God's grace can show up in the most unexpected places and circumstances. For Elise Matheny Eslinger, this grace literally came crashing into her life on Oct. 8, 1989. Read More

Personal Story

Abundant Grace: Living Grace

Grace. One tiny word that will change your life. We know, because extraordinary and everyday experiences of grace forever changed our lives. Read More

Congregational Care

Somebody cared

The grace, the love freely given, illustrated in the story of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) is to be extended to the physically beaten – and to the spiritually beaten. A true story from the Rev. Paul Slentz's 18-year pastorate at 61st Avenue United Methodist Church in Nashville, Tennessee, illustrates both. Read More


Squeaky Clean Grace

Sometimes God's grace comes in the form of freshly laundered clothes, sheets and towels. Such is the case for the Loads of Love laundry ministry in Bonaire, Georgia. Read More

United Methodist Beliefs

A Wesleyan Understanding of Grace

At the heart of Wesleyan/Methodist theology and practice is a profound understanding and vital experience of grace. Grace, as understood, experienced and proclaimed by the United Methodists remains relevant and transformative. Read More


Mark Windley

God’s grace: Presented/re-presented through the sacraments

They are rituals as old as Christianity itself. A pastor takes bread and cup, recounts God's saving activities, gives thanks and serves the people. A person, often an infant, is immersed or doused with water and becomes part of God's family. Read More


computer prayer group - gil hanke

Grace: Responding with piety and mercy

Throughout the centuries, God has been extending grace to people through everyday practices. These means of grace, as John Wesley called them, continue to inform and enrich people of faith who put them into practice. Read More


Susan Henry-Crowe - GBCS

Voting: A Prayerful Act

Voting is a matter of faith, citizenship and democracy. It is a kind of prayer and faithful testament to the belief that every citizen bears a responsibility and equal right to determine the future of governance in society. Read More


Churches are considering a communion service on election night, as Jesus welcomes all to the table regardless of political affiliation. Photo by Diane Degnan, United Methodist Communications.

Communion on Election Day can make a statement

Churches are considering a communion service on election night, as Jesus welcomes us all to the table regardless of political affiliation. Read More


Welcome voters to your church

Election Day at churches that serve as polling places can be busy and sometimes disruptive. It also offers an opportunity to extend hospitality to people waiting in long lines. Read More


The Rev. Dr. Carolyn J. Davis

Voting as Christian Discipleship: Let compassion, care shape participation

How would presidential debates change if candidates started with concern for the other wonders Carolyn J. Davis, deputy director of Center for Public Theology at United Methodist-related Wesley Theological Seminary. Read More


Voting as Christian Discipleship: Participation in political process is opportunity, responsibility

Should Christians participate in the political process that governs our country (from local school board to U.S. president), and if so, how? Read More


Hans Martin Renno

Voting as Christian discipleship: Sharp, alert, inspired minds needed

Disciples of Jesus are challenged to take a proactive role in many different aspects of social commitment. Read More


Season of Advent Pinecones - stock

A time of sacred waiting: Keeping Advent at home

Many individuals, families and churches have traditions for keeping Advent -- a time of preparation and reflection in anticipation of the gift celebrated during Christmas. Read More

Congregational care

Christmas teddy bear

12 days before Christmas

Giving "12 Days of Christmas" before the holiday can bring cheer to those for whom the holidays are lonely and or painful because of the loss of a loved one. You can bring surprise, laughter and joy. Read More


Advent wreath - blue candles

Make Advent a countercultural experience

"Be countercultural when preparing for Advent," advises the Rev. Carol Cook Moore. She recommends several strategies for laity and clergy to provide a haven for worshippers and community members during Advent. Read More


Boar-s Head Festival - camels

Boar’s Head Festival: A festive end to Christmastide

For more than 30 years, the Boar's Head Festival at the end of Christmas has drawn crowds to Trinity United Methodist Church in Springfield, Massachusetts. Read More

Global health

‘AIDS is not over yet’: United Methodists continue fight

World AIDS Day is Dec. 1. Each year, the observance brings people together to unite in the fight against HIV/AIDS, show their support for people living with HIV and remember those who have died. Read More

UM Student Day

Philander Smith College students

Offering helps students defray higher education costs

On Sunday, Nov. 27, United Methodists will celebrate United Methodist Student Day by receiving a special offering. The proceeds of which help provide scholarships to students at United Methodist-related colleges and seminaries. Read More

United Methodist history

The Wesley Pilgrimage: The method of early Methodism

Disciple-making and disciple-shaping groups not only the method but also the genius of the early Wesleyan and Methodist movements. They remain so for United Methodists today. Read More

Publisher's Column

Publisher’s Page: Grace: A song for singing

"There's a Song in the Air" and it is God's grace come to us in the infant Jesus. Interpreter publisher and United Methodist Communications general secretary Dan Krause reflects on the gift of grace. Read More

It Worked for Us

Churches feed community on Christmas morning

Christmas morning for close to 600 diners will begin with a hearty breakfast of eggs, sausage, biscuits, cheese grits, orange juice and a hot cup of coffee at two United Methodist churches in Savannah, Georgia. Read More

It Worked for Us

Asbury Jessup UMC yourth

Honor roll students eat with pastor

Hosting honor roll students for dinner at favorite restaurants is one way the Rev. Gay Green-Carden has grown the United Methodist youth group in Jessup, Maryland. Read More

It Worked for Us

Deployed spouses dinnerr - families

Military families support one another

Conversation over dinner and support are equally valuable for those attending the montly Deployed Spouses Dinner at Northwoods United Methodist Church in Jacksonville, North Carolina. Children also have opportunities to share their concerns about absent parents. Read More

It Worked for Us

Magi puppets

Large puppets take the stage

The magi, depicted by 14-foot tall puppets, were part of the cast of "Following the Star" presented during Advent 2015 at Trinity United Methodist Church in Grand Island, Nebraska. Read More


Podcasts give the spirit a workout

"Get Your Spirit in Shape" is a new monthly podcast from United Methodist Communications featuring conversations with leaders, authors and others who provide spiritual nutrition and exercise. Read More

We asked; You said

WAYS: What is your most meaningful Advent/Christmas tradition?

Several weeks prior to finishing each issue of Interpreter, we send a question to all readers for whom we have email addresses, asking them to respond with a short answer of 50-75 words. A select few are included here, edited for length as necessary. Find many more readers' responses at Interpreter Online, We hope you will join the conversation. Read More


Technology: Abandon the screens; focus on the people

Christmas gift-giving will likely include a lot of technological gadgets. However, father, next-generation pastor and Interpreter technology columnist Jeremy Steele urges you to spend at least as much time with people as with screens during the coming weeks. Read More

To Be United Methodist

To Be United Methodist: Why do we call it ‘grace?’

Why is the prayer before meals often called "grace?" Read More