Fry On Friday: “Mouth or Feet,” August 18, 2017

           This Friday I need to set aside my keyboard.  No writing this week.  Appalled by the violence and hatred shown in Charlottesville, I have plenty to say.  I am far from speechless.  I want to assert that I am anti-hate and violence.  I am anti-white supremacy, or any supremacy that asserts one class of people over another.  Most especially, I deplore any justification of hatred and violence through scripture or twisted Christian doctrine.  Such justifications are blasphemous.

            But today I need to set aside my keyboard.  No writing this week.  Chances are, dear reader, that you, like I, have received a barrage of statements, postings, blogs, and proclamations decrying the events in Charlottesville.  You don’t need to hear another.

            I need to set aside my keyboard and put on my shoes.

            Fry On Friday is intended to offer descriptions of how my faith is lived out week by week.  Faith is not a set of opinions, even strong opinions. Responding to Charlottesville, I can begin to feel that stating my opinions and condemning sinful actions is sufficient as my Christian response.  It is not.

            We are called to walk with Christ, not type with Christ.  I need to explore how I can do my faith regarding racism, not how I feel or what I say. I’m looking for ways to act that are more than symbolic gestures, more than attending rallies or signing petitions.

            The ways I’ve come up with so far are so trivial they’re embarrassing.

  • I resolve to smile warmly to every person I meet wearing a hajib, a yarmulke, or who is covered in tatts.
  • I resolve to attempt to strike up a conversation or at least a friendly greeting in every encounter with a person of a different race.
  • I resolve that no person twenty years older than me or twenty years younger will ever be made to feel invisible to me.

           These are such small actions, I’m uncomfortable naming them.  None of them will make a huge difference in the world.  But on a molecular level, perhaps they will join with others in setting a new tone of respect, of civility, of community.

            My faith is not measured by what I write but what I do.  To paraphrase Barbara Brown Taylor, when I want to know the quality of my faith, I look in the mirror and ask which is moving, my mouth or my feet.

Dr. Dave Fry is the senior and founding pastor of Pleasant Hill Presbyterian Church in Duluth, Georgia, which was started in 1985. Send comments to “Fry on Friday” at


Got Serve?

Sign up for The Fall Mission Trip to Blue Ridge, GA
We’re making our third trip to Blue Ridge, GA to work with Habitat for Humanity and help out our neighbors in that part of the state, Wednesday Nov. 1-Saturday Nov. 4. Cost is $100. Deadline for registration is Sunday, October 1. For more info, please contact Florence and Jeff Milway at


Rainbow Village Volunteer Needs & Opportunities
Urgent Need:  Crib Sheets
The Early Childhood Development Center enrollment is growing!  
Crib Sheets needed for napping babies and kids!   
If you are able to assist, please contact Michelle Alcorn, Community Engagement Director at

There are also numerous opportunities to share your gifts at Rainbow Village. Click on this link to find out how you can bring light and hope to Duluth families and neighbors:


The Soul Project Shoe CollectionSundays August 13, 20 and 27
For the third year in a row, we’ll be collecting new and gently used shoes (no holes or tears) for The Soul Project which distributes thousands of shoes to children and adults in Africa and other countries. The Soul Project seeks to provide hope and help erase the memories of children who have been injured, ill or crippled due to walking barefoot on the harsh terrain that is full of sharp rocks and stones which can make even a simple cut on the foot susceptible to preventable diseases and parasitic infections.

PHPC’s Refugee Reading Program

Interested in PHPC’s Refugee Reading Program?  It’s an exciting opportunity to serve our refugee neighbors from Burma!

What we do: It’s pretty simple, we take children’s books to Proctor Square apartments where the children gather in one of the homes and we read stories to them and have them read stories to us.  We also spend time going through flash cards with them as well as laughing, joking, and talking about our day.  Pretty simple!

This small act of sharing story time provides the kids with additional English language support, as well as seeing/hearing/reading English to better help them in school.

What’s the time commitment: Flexible and up to you!  We usually spend about 45 minutes to an hour with the kids, but not set in stone.  Our time varies from week to week depending on our schedules.  However, I will say that typically we stay for a while because we are all just having so much fun- Us and them!

How often you go is also up to you.  We’ll work with your availability. 🙂

When we go: Our family goes on Saturday mornings, but we are also putting together an afternoon/evening group(s).  The kids are usually home every day after school and have pretty open schedules.

WHAT Next?  Please respond to Tina Martin at and let me know the following:

       1. Please indicate which day/days of the week you would be available:  Monday through Saturday. (Weekdays after 4 or Saturday mornings/ Sundays are church days- they spend time with us at PHPC and at their own church later in the afternoon.)

      2. Please let me know how often you would like to go- once a month? Once a week?  6 week rotation? (you tell me what works for you!)

I’ll start rotating people in as soon as I have your information.  We’ll provide additional details prior to your first trip and can go with you on your first visit to introduce you to the group. Thanks so much for your interest in this rewarding outreach program. I look forward to hearing from you all very soon!

–Tina Martin, elder on Mission & Outreach

Fry On Friday: “Baptizing the Bus,” August 11, 2017

               We’re pleased with our newly-arrived church bus, purchased through gifts of our members supporting the “Gifted Past, Bold Future” affirmation of our capital campaign last spring.  Wanting to show off our new wheels, we parked it under the portico just outside the sanctuary front doors.

            At launching, ships are christened with a bottle of champagne broken on their bow.  Nobody in our crowd was willing to see champagne wasted in such a manner, so we sought an alternative ceremony.  Thus, after worship, we baptized our bus with water balloons.

            After the benediction, we hustled everyone outside to arm themselves double-barreled with loaded balloons.  A statement of thanks to those whose contributions made the purchase possible; a brief prayer of dedication, then the command, “Let ‘em fly!” 

            That was the plan, anyway.  Just as we started the prayer, the bus from a nearby Assisted Living Facility pulled up directly between our new vehicle and our gathered people.  The facility’s old bus and their residents both have commensurate high mileage.  The driver emerged to assist the residents who had finished worshiping with us that morning.  This was not a lightning-fast procedure.  But we waited patiently.  Forever.

            The driver guided each rider to a seat, loaded each walker, fastened each seat belt, then checked the tires and gave the vehicle a complete safety inspection.   We waited patiently, but not so patiently as before.

            Finally, the driver returned to the wheel, started the motor…and sat there.  “What are you waiting for?  Move it!”   Then I saw:  JoAnn, one of our elderly members, was standing directly in front of the loaded bus, gazing off in the other direction.  “Miss JoAnn,” I yelled.  “Get your oblivious _____ out of the way!”  Fortunately, the people around us heard me say gently, “JoAnn, let me help you to a place where you won’t get bombarded by flying balloons.” 

            Honoring our fathers and mothers as we are commanded, is more challenging in practice than in theory.  But because we were delayed, everybody arrived in time to participate.   Everybody shouted a cheerful good-bye to our departing elders, thanking them for coming.  Everybody witnessed those who attend worship faithfully, even when it is both inconvenient and exhausting.

            Only a few noticed Miss JoAnn, reloading and tossing balloons until the final orb had been launched.         

Dr. Dave Fry is the senior and founding pastor of Pleasant Hill Presbyterian Church in Duluth, Georgia, which was started in 1985. Send comments to “Fry on Friday” at


Fry On Friday: “Bill Could Use A Visit,” August 4, 2017

  “Bill could use a visit from you, if you have time,” urged the early morning text.  “If you have time,” she wrote, assuming that I am busy, even in the slow weeks of summer.  Pastors stay busy.  If we didn’t, people might notice the embarrassment, the exposure of how little of God we actually have to offer.  Pastors are saved by people who send messages like this early morning plea, people who know what we ministers are supposed to offer and who expect it. 

            Thus I found myself back at the farm, a quarter-mile gravel drive into the heart of a pastoral Eden besieged by carpools, Starbuck’s to-go and all the things that keep pastors busy.  Bill’s world had come to an end two weeks ago when Tim, the farm’s owner, left us.  Without having the courtesy of asking if this might be a convenient time, Tim just dropped dead, and the worlds of those who knew him came to an end.  “Bill could use a visit…”  Thus we sat cradling our coffee, watching the sun peek through the trees, mildly surprised to observe that it had risen once again.

            What does the future hold for a farm without an owner?  For a horse wrangler whose herd has dwindled to two elderly mares?  What’s ahead for a ranch encircled by golf-course developers, and for its lone ranch-hand?     “I don’t just work this place,” Bill sighed, “I love this place.  It’s home to me.”  Yep, Bill could use a visit. 

            Being a pastor consists mostly of sitting beside people as they face the reality of how fragile lives are.  The world is indeed coming to an end, every single day.  People who say they don’t mind facing that truth are lying.  The truth is hard.  And we can devise a dozen ways to avoid it.  When we do gain the courage,  it helps to have someone around, even it that someone is a pastor with very few answers.

            We didn’t search for answers.  We just sat in the morning dew and rocked.  Bill talked about his church and the faith he gains there.  “We’re hard-core Baptist,” he reminds me, aware that I am frozen-chosen Presbyterian.  We talked of rattlesnakes he’d encountered in the fields near his own home.  He didn’t mention any rattlesnakes in his church, for which I was grateful.  We even talked about Jesus.  Mostly we rocked and gazed at the hay which Bill would cut that afternoon.

            Then I knew it was time to leave.  A sense of  calm had imperceptibly  come over us.   It felt different from when I’d arrived.  Something had changed, not so much in Bill as in me.  I didn’t feel busy.  I suspected that my own unknown future was in God’s hands, and for a while that would be good enough.  Bill said he felt the same way. 

            “Bill could use a visit from you,” the text had said.   The true message was more like, “If you and Bill could find some time together, I’ll visit both of you at once.”  I don’t need to be a pastor to understand where that message came from.

Dr. Dave Fry is the senior and founding pastor of Pleasant Hill Presbyterian Church in Duluth, Georgia, which was started in 1985. Send comments to “Fry on Friday” at


Regular Worship Schedule Resumes; Back to Church School Fair & Celebrating the New Bus: Sunday August 6

Listen up, cool cats!

We return to our regular Worship Schedule of two services,
8:30 and 11 am, Sunday, August 6


Also join us for our “Back to (Church) School Fair,” in between services, 9:40-10:40 am in Fellowship Hall.
Your whole family is invited to come by to fill out registration forms for the year, get your backpack blessed, take pictures in the photo booth, meet your teachers, play games and more!  Bring your backpack for a blessing and also bring new pencils, crayons, markers or glue sticks to give to a local charity.


And stick around for a few minutes after the 11 am worship service
to celebrate our Brand New Church Bus
funded through your generous support of the “Gifted Past, Bold Future” campaign!!!

We’ll gather under the portico; Rev. Andy Acton will give a brief blessing and prayer of thanksgiving, and then we’ll christen the new vessel with water balloons!!!!

Clerk’s Corner: Transition Team Report, August 2017

Dear Congregation,

The leadership of Pleasant Hill Presbyterian Church continues to move us toward that day when we will have to say goodbye to Dave Fry, and welcome a new phase in the life of the church.

Earlier this year, the PHPC Nominating Committee (NC) was set up (as it is annually) to make recommendations to the congregation for members to serve on Session. The NC includes Cathy Hoffman, Sherre Kahrs, Mary Don King, Angie O’Farrell, and Diane Warren.  (It originally also included Bernie Kida, but he had to drop off because of other commitments.)

Normally, the NC’s work would be done in the Spring after the new elders are elected, ordained and installed. However, because of the head of staff transition, the NC has been tasked this year with two more responsibilities:

1. Recommend members to the Session who would serve on the Interim Pastor Nominating Committee (IPNC) who will begin a search for an Interim Head of Staff whose tenure is expected to begin shortly after Dave’s retirement in mid-November.

2. Recommend members to the congregation who would serve on the Pastor Nominating Committee (PNC). This action would occur after Dave’s retirement. And the PNC would then begin their process of finding a permanent Head of Staff at the end of 2017/early 2018.

On July 23, the Session met to receive and consider a recommendation from the NC to elect the IPNC (see task #1). The NC carefully considered possible nominees to include: both gender and age balance; one member of Session; and a member of the church’s Personnel Committee.  The NC also considered who may be possible members of the Pastor Nominating Committee for when that time comes.  Even though it is not prohibited that someone sit on both the IPNC and PNC, it is strongly preferred that they not, so that more members of the congregation are directly involved in the transition process.

The NC presented a motion that the following members of PHPC (all who accepted the invitation) be elected by the Session to serve on the Interim Pastor Nominating Committee (IPNC):

Laura Freese
Matt Hoffman
Claire Keyser
Patrick O’Farrell
Winn Story
Mary Winkeljohn

This motion was put to a vote and passed unanimously by Session.

So, the IPNC is now empowered to start looking for Interim Head of Staff candidates and will make a recommendation to Session in the coming months.  I will continue to keep you informed on their progress.

Continue to keep the leadership, the NC and IPNC and church in your prayers.
David Ashley, Clerk of Session,
Pleasant Hill Presbyterian Church