• God’s grace on parade

    We had been planning this particular weekend for months, Part One of our Christmas 2016 Celebration Extravaganza.

    Part Two happens on Dec. 24 with a trip to Orlando for a replay of a Christmas Eve we spent there two years ago. 

    We had begun with a Christmas Eve service at a church near the downtown area, followed by pizza and hot, gooey garlic knots.

  • Heeding the call

    After just a few months as new pastor of Hernando United Methodist Church, the Rev. David Spaulding knows this is where God wants him to be. 

    “The church has been here for quite a while,” he said. “But God has a way of showing us how to do things differently.” 

    Spaulding and his wife, Jeanne, recently moved to Citrus County from Jacksonville. 

  • Party like a prodigal

    There’s a group of people in North Carolina who call themselves People of the Second Chance (POSC).

    One of the things they do is throw parties — for people just out of prison, for recovering drug addicts, for misfits, for the discouraged, for the uncelebrated and forgotten, for the overlooked and hurting, for those bowed down with guilt and shame.

  • Less religion, more grace

    Last Saturday, Larry Silverman caught a catfish, which he considers a miracle, a moment of light after a year of incredible darkness.

    Larry is the pastor of New Covenant of Grace Fellowship in Inverness.

    Last year, Larry had a loose tooth, and shortly after he had it pulled he was diagnosed with cancer in his mouth. As a result, he had part of his tongue removed and his jaw reconstructed using a bone and skin from his leg. He now eats through a feeding tube.

  • Diamond anniversary

    Back in the day, longtime Inverness resident Clarence Stokes faithfully brought his family to church every Sunday — all the way to Oxford in Sumter County, 30-plus miles from the family homestead on Old Floral City Road.

    “We always drove over to Pleasant Grove Baptist Church in Oxford at that old country church where my mama was raised,” said Juanita Shipp, the oldest of three of Joseph Stokes’ daughters. 

  • Grace Notes 11/19/16: Psalm for Thanksgiving

    Editor’s note: Nancy Kennedy has been writing an annual psalm of thanksgiving since 1999 when she first started writing her column.

    Dear God,

    Here I am again, my 17th year of making public my thanks and gratitude to you for yet another year of your faithful kindness and goodness to me.

  • Need wisdom?

    I know stuff, although most of it is useless.

    Like, only 30 percent of people can flare their nostrils.

    I know that two-thirds of people tilt their heads to the right when they kiss and that supposedly chewing gum while cutting onions will keep you from crying. Since I don’t chew gum, I don’t know how true that is. I also don’t know why onions make you cry.

  • When sin is ... good?

    Here’s a question for you: When is sin a good thing?

    Recently, I heard a preacher say, “The greatest gift that God gives to the people he loves is their sin — when they know it.”

    I’ll let you digest that for a minute.

    The preacher did NOT say that God thinks sin is good. Sin is what separates the creature from the Creator, the very thing that caused Jesus to die for us.

  • God still stills restless hearts

    By the time I left the newsroom I was ready to rip out my hair or stick a hot poker in my ears.

    All day the noise and commotion drove me to distraction — and it had been a fairly quiet day. I was alone in the pod I share with two other reporters and my phone only rang once.

  • Village of Samaritans provide sanctuary

    MOUNT GERIZIM, West Bank — In one of the tensest corners of the West Bank, Israeli settlers and Palestinians live in separate worlds. But there is a spot on the top of a mountain that connects them both: a village of Samaritans.