The riotous assault that occurred on Wednesday January 6, 2021 on the United States Capitol building was a dark and disgraceful event in our nation’s recent history.  This dangerous insurrection by an armed mob, fueled by hate and misinformation from the highest levels of our government, was a vicious attack, not only on the seat of our government, but on American democracy itself.  Such actions were heartbreaking and wrong and have no place in our political discourse.

We, the members of the Silver Spring United Methodist Church Racial Justice Ministry, strongly condemn this unprecedented attack on our democracy, and we call on all our elected leaders and all communities of faith to do the same.

American voters made their voices heard when they elected Joseph R. Biden, Jr. the next President of the United States.  The election was lawful and secure, and the peaceful transition of power is a core tenet of our democracy, one that we always have and always should respect.  And, in spite of the violence and threat against their lives, our elected leaders went back to work to protect our democracy, and to fulfill their constitutional duty under the law.

As people of faith, we have important work to do to help heal the divisions in our nation, and to rebuild our relationships with one another in order to prevent such violence in the future.  In the spirit of Christ, our Savior and Redeemer, let us focus on that work: to move our churches, our communities, and our country forward toward unity and equality.

May there be Peace with Justice,

SSUMC Racial Justice Ministry Leaders

January- Feb 2021 small groups!

Kick off your discipleship journey in 2021 by joining an SSUMC small group or study group! What’s the difference between a small group and a study group, you ask? Good question! I tend to think of small groups as longer-term groups that are committed to supporting each other in addition to engaging in faith formation and their discipleship journey together. Study groups are groups that convene mostly for the purpose of reading a certain book or engaging in a certain topic. They’re often shorter term.

Both small groups and study groups are excellent resources for discipleship ministry! Both provide opportunities to connect with others in the SSUMC community and help to develop the web of relationships that is a sign of health in any church. The culture of these types of groups are different though, and in meaningful ways. All of the SSUMC groups are open for new participants, and it can be help to know more about where these groups fall on the small group —————– study group continuum when you’re considering joining one. Here’s the list for the Jan-Feb 2021 “term” at SSUMC:

Visit the SSUMC calendar page to get links for all of the meetings and groups described below, and email Jen to get connected. That’s, if the link is broken 🙂

Being Christian study groups with Rev. Alex (Sundays from 7-8pm, and Mondays from 7-8pm). As we begin 2021, wouldn’t a great New Year’s Resolution be to grow spiritually? Rev. Alex will be leading a 5-week book study on Being Christian: Baptism, Bible, Eucharist, Prayer by Rowan Williams beginning January 10th. This accessible, beautifully written book explores how these four elements work to shape our relationship with God and each other. There are two options for you to join this study: Sunday evening at 7:00 PM and Monday evening at 7:00 PM. The book can be ordered online for about $10. (Please make sure you order Being Christian; there’s a sequel book called Being Disciples that will possibly be a study for another time!) If you need the church to send you a book, reach out to Jen!

Monday Night Study Group (7-9pm). This group has been meeting weekly for nearly 10 years and loves doing a variety of studies. We meet for 2 hours in part because we take time for joys and concerns at the end of every meeting to check in with each other. We love when folks join us for a single study…but we warn you that some of our long-term regular folks joined for “just one study” years and years ago 🙂 Starting January 11, we’ll begin a 6 week study using the book, Native: Identity, Belonging, and Rediscovering God. by Kaitlin B. Curtice.

Adult “Monday School” Class, led by Neil Hindman (7-8pm). This Adult Sunday school group has been meeting for decades and has taken their weekly meetings to zoom on Monday evenings. They often study books of the Bible, and are currently working through the gospels! While they have a core group of folks that have been meeting together for a long time, they are always happy to welcome new folks. Their meetings are on-going, but you can join them at any time.

Wonderful Wednesdays (7-8am) is a true small group! They meet and discuss the Upper Room scripture and devotion and how it applies to their lives. They spend time in prayer for each other during the week and cherish the opportunity this group creates for them to deepen their faith and their relationships with each other. New people are welcome, especially those looking for a “caring and sharing” group.

Women’s Bible Study (Thursdays from 10-11am) – This group has been meeting for 6 years now and enjoys doing a mix of studies and books throughout the year. We regularly welcome new folks to join us for specific studies, though there is a solid core group that enjoys participating in every study together. We make time for joys and concerns at the end of each meeting. Starting on January 7, we’ll begin a 6 week study using the book, Native: Identity, Belonging, and Rediscovering God. by Kaitlin B. Curtice.

Sacred Ground and SSUMC

I know my calling to a caring for creation ministry for SSUMC is kind of an outlier.  I will testify a bit to my experience. In 2004, our churches merged. I had been teaching the youth and doing a small garden at Marvin Memorial.  I had discovered a set of plants that attracted butterflies there and at my home.  When we started meeting as a joined congregation, we had our first Time and Talent survey, but I was no longer teaching Sunday School.  At that time, some of us Marvinites felt a bit out of place, some still do.   But the church ministry staff was fantastic in selling the idea together we could be a strong church as a merger of two congregations.

We cannot hide the fact, that we have every few years the conference or a circumstance changed our senior pastor.  But, each senior pastors so far have brought visionary ministry.  Anyway, I asked Rev. Rachel if I could use my time and talent to plant a butterfly garden at our downtown campus.  I am kind of a John the Baptist:

I would prefer to live out in a wilderness among God’s creations or in hillbilly parlance in some lonely holler where the sun never shines, like where I grew up, in Southwest Virginia.  I had to come to the big city for work and was never able to go back to the mountains to be the activist I trained to be.  Elizabeth always said that I got happy as soon as I got out in the countryside and my country accent started coming back. 

My wife asked me at some point change my attitude and to grow where I was planted, this included a lot of things including where I was working. Anyway, at church, the butterfly gardens attracted 5 types of the common butterflies. A church member told me that there was a workshop called Sacred Grounds.  Really, Sacred Grounds is a visionary project that believes the places of worship in our area can have an interfaith ministry to raise up God’s creation.  I was really smitten by the idea—if I can not go back to the wilderness, I can bring some wildness to the city. 

This has been spiritually fulfilling work.  The church has a cistern, two rain garden complexes, a trench, 5 separate butterfly gardens, 9 new canopy trees, and a grove of shrubs.  Silver Spring United Methodist Church has a Rob the Environmentalist problem.  I will say that I have gotten myself into a lot of “good trouble.”  The work described was accomplished without a lot of true believers other than myself, I will say Rob and his friends brought the church grounds to the state they are in now with the permission of the board of trustees.  This came at essentially zero cost to the church.

If I were to disappear, I sometimes wonder whether all these improvements would gradually be un-installed. 

SSUMC leadership gave me five years to transform the church grounds and I have created something that is amazing to me.  I am not done yet.  Now I want to change the rest of you or at least 30 or 40 of you for 2020. I had a short career in Appalachia as an activist and I got the idea that people did not want to be changed. To see the mess they made of my beloved mountains makes me cry.   What is the point of having scientists, if no one is going to believe them.  If we get the Earth-saving work wrong, the species that will go extinct is all of them.  We will have to hope that the New Jerusalem is on a still living planet somewhere in outer space.

So the point is can we, as a church, take the next step to fully and faithfully participate in this Caring for Creation program. We have four people signed up in the focus groups through the sign-up genius, one being me and one being my lovely wife Elizabeth. We cannot think about step two if cannot take step one.  But, SSUMC has already done some impossible things.  We were re-born from two broken pieces, we became reconciling to people who thought they would be forever forgotten,  we have worked for a day when people will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.

I know I am a big troublemaker, but if I get about 20 sign-ups on for the Sacred Grounds focus groups, that will keep me happy for a few days.  Anne Metcalf, Elizabeth and I will make calls in the next few days also to try to fill up the focus groups.  The three focus groups are next week.  My faith tells me that the sessions will have a good number of virtual attendees.  My faith tells me that you will make an important difference for me.

Rob Horn

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

Mental health and spiritual health are tightly connected.  Faith can be a source of grounding and strength, hope and grace. But we also sometimes need mental health support, especially during chaotic times like these.  Asking for and seeking help are signs of strength. 

Here is a list of information and resources.  Many of these resources are free.  You can also reach out to Rev. Michele for more information on resources or call the Pastoral Care Emergency Line at 301-458-0768.

Suicide Prevention Week is September 6-12, 2020

National Suicide Prevention Week is an annual week-long campaign in the United States to inform and engage health professionals and the general public about suicide prevention and warning signs of suicide. 

World Suicide Prevention Day is Sept 10

Montgomery County Crisis Center

Consider saving this number in your phone as a possible resource for moments of crisis for those in Montgomery County: Crisis Line: 240-777-4000



EveryMind works to improve mental wellness through counseling and case management, peer navigation to veterans, support to at-risk students and their families, crisis prevention and intervention and community education.

Call/text for crisis support. Text service operating 7 days/week from 12:00pm to 12:00am.

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) – Montgomery County

301-949-5852 (not a crisis line)

NAMI Montgomery County provides free classes and support groups for individuals – and family members of those individuals – living with a mental illness. 

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) – DC

202-546-0646 (not a crisis line)

The mission of NAMI DC is to support and educate family, friends, the public, and persons with a diagnosis of serious mental illness, and to advocate for the development of services.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

1-800-273-TALK (8255)

The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals.

Crisis Text Line:  Text HOME to 741741 to connect with a Crisis Counselor.  Free service 24/7

The Trevor Project


Founded in 1998 by the creators of the Academy Award®-winning short film TREVOR, The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning (LGBTQ+) young people under 25.

Each Mind Matters

Each Mind Matters is a California based Mental Health Movement. It is a helpful resource with links specific to California and also helpful beyond there.  

SSUMC Youth – Fall 2020

As frustrating as it is to have to move so much of our lives into a virtual space, I am really looking forward to the SSUMC youth programming for this year. We kick off on September 13th!

All youth ages 6th-12th grade are invited to join in a weekly zoom on Sundays from 5-6pm. We’ll catch up, play some games, and split into middle school and high school groups for a series of discussions about (surprise surprise) Bible stories that feature characters whose plans for their lives unraveled. We know that we’re not alone in dealing with the unpredictable stuff in our lives, but it helps to spend time with some of the stories in our holy scripture that give us examples of how we find motivation, comfort, resilience, and joy in the midst of uncertainty, grief, and resentment. Each week this Fall, we’ll use this resource to introduce stories and some beautiful art to reflect together about finding God in the midst of all kinds of unraveling.


Families do not need to purchase this material. We’ll engage primarily via screen sharing on zoom, and I will scan each lesson and email it out for those who can’t make it any given week.

Join the Zoom! Meeting ID: 834 8767 3206 Passcode: 8900

In addition to weekly zoom meetings, I have prepped materials for three of the creative projects I wish I could do with the youth this semester, and have made videos so that youth can do these projects anytime they need a brain break or want to do something creative. Creative projects are one of my favorite parts of youth group; they help us relax and get out of our own heads, and they remind us that our ability to create – even when we’re making small things – is something that connects us to our Creator. They help us create reminders of who we are called to be as God’s people.

Families will need a few basic materials at home (list provided), but the tricky-to-find materials will be available for pick up at the church on the same days as you can come by to grab some Kick off swag!

Thursday September 10 from 5-7pm

Saturday September 12 from 10am-12pm

Sunday September 13 from 2-4pm (also drive in communion)

Tuesday September 15 from 12-2pm

I’ve got a few other tricks up my sleeve, so be sure to email me to join the email list for other events this fall:

Fall 2020 Small group preview

It already feels like 2020 has existed at every possible extreme, and with a one-of-a-kind Fall ahead, its surprises are probably not over. It feels like the year has passed quickly and moved slowly, all at the same time. As we dive back into the time of year when more traditional programming kicks-off, SSUMC small groups are offering virtual ways to connect, grow in your relationships with each other, and deepen your faith. These are places where friendships grow quickly, questions are welcome, and group members hold each other in prayer throughout the week. We hope you will consider joining us! Maybe a topic looks interesting, or the virtual format makes it easier to join in, or maybe you just really need some extra community right now. Most groups are kicking off the week of August 31, though a few have ongoing meetings that you can easily jump into anytime. All y’all are welcome! Email Jen Kidwell to get connected to a group.

Adult “Monday” school class (Mondays, 7-8pm): This group usually meets on Sunday mornings, but has pivoted to Mondays when they are meeting virtually. They will be finishing up a study on Community early this Fall and then transitioning into a study on the synoptic gospels. Neil Hindman is this group’s long-time leader. [group meetings are ongoing]

Monday Night Study Group (Mondays, 7-9pm): This group has met for 9 years and usually alternates between Bible studies and topical studies. This Fall, they are reading Wilda Gafney’s Womanist Midrash and revisiting stories about the women in the Old Testament from the perspective of the experience of African American women. Jen Kidwell and Dan Sherk co-lead this group! [group meetings resume 8/31]

Wonderful Wednesdays (7-8am): This group meets weekly for some reflection on the Upper Room scripture and devotion for the day, and a time of “caring and sharing” and prayer. This group rotates in leadership! [group meetings are ongoing]

Women’s Bible Study (Thursdays, 10-11am): This group has met for 6 years or so and engages many different types of studies. This Fall, they are reading Wilda Gafney’s Womanist Midrash and revisiting stories about the women in the Old Testament from the perspective of the experience of African American women. Jen Kidwell leads this group. [group meetings resume 9/3]

White Fragility group (Thursdays, 7-8pm): This group is open to all, and is a continuation of one of the summer discussion groups that read Raising White Kids (Jennifer Harvey). The group will be focused on how white folks can develop a healthy relationship to whiteness that’s grounded in learning antiracist actions, and why resistance to them is often deep-seated. The group is organized by Ana Lincoln and Brenna Thibault. [group meetings begin on 9/3]

ALSO: Stay tuned for more information on our next all-church study, which will be built around Ibram X. Kendi’s How to be an Antiracist, and will begin in mid-October.

Virtual Hugfest for Rev. Angela and her family

Dear all:

Please join us on Sunday, August 16, from 2:00-2:45 pm for the Virtual Hug Fest for Rev. Angela as we celebrate her ministry and wish her well in her transition. Here’s the zoom link:

Meeting ID: 819 6552 7944

Passcode: 8900

Phone number: 1 301 715 8592

As of the morning of August 16th, there is still time to:

Share your well wishes, art and kudos to Sophia and Nadia on the KudoBoard at Upload a recording of you or your family, find the perfect gif, or write them a special message. They will love to see your expressions of caring, love and well wishes.

Mail letters, cards, and artwork (from kids and adults!) for Rev. Angela, Kelli, Sofia, and Nadia until August 22, c/o

James Manley

2115 Walsh View Terr #103

Silver Spring, MD  20902

You can also contribute to a love offering for Rev. Angela and her family by going to to contribute online by choosing Make a One-Time Donation Log-in and then choose the Love Offering for Rev. Angela. You are also welcome to send a check to SSUMC with “Rev. Angela – love offering” in the memo.


(original message below)

Shh!… It’s a secret (at least we hope so) from Rev. Angela and her family.  No later than August 15, you can record or upload a very short video ‘hug’ of no more than 10 sec for Rev. Angela at  These video hugs need to be short ‘bumper stickers’ of your well wishes and testimony to the impact of her ministry on you.  We will play the video hugs during the Virtual Hug Fest.  If you have any technical questions, please contact Mary Kautz at

What, you find 10 sec. too short to say all that you want to say to Rev. Angela!?  What a  surprise! Please write your more detailed thoughts, prayers and expressions of love in a card or letter. Send these by August 14 to:

James Manley

2115 Walsh View Terr #103

Silver Spring, MD  20902

Kids and Youth, would you rather draw a picture or piece of art to give to Rev. Angela?  Please do.  You can send your artwork to James at the address above. Your cards, letters, and artwork will be compiled in a Memory Book that will be presented to Rev. Angela.  We are confident that Rev. Angela will find your messages important and will enjoy being able to read your cards and letters, listen to your virtual hugs again, and enjoy your artwork at her leisure. 

So, all you kids, of all ages, are saying now, “What about Sophia and Nadia?  We are going to miss them, too.” Please share your well wishes, art and kudos to Sophia and Nadia on the KudoBoard at Upload a recording of you or your family, find the perfect gif, or write them a special message. They will love to see your expressions of caring, love and well wishes.

More secrets! You can contribute to a love offering for Rev. Angela and her family by going to to contribute online by choosing Make a One-Time Donation Log-in and then choose the Love Offering for Rev. Angela. You are also welcome to send a check to SSUMC with “Rev. Angela – love offering” in the memo. Please make your donations by August 14.  SSUMC will give Rev. Angela a piece of art and the remainder of the  love offering as cash to help with her and her family’s transition.

This is a bittersweet time of transition in which we say farewell to Rev. Angela, celebrate her outstanding ministries in the past three years that have led us through ‘troubled waters’ walking with Jesus at our side, and wish her well as she focuses on restoring her well-being.  It is also a time in which God is with us, we know who we are, and we are ready for the next steps in our faith journey together. Although we can’t hold the kind of send-off we’re used to doing in person, we hope you will take the time to share your personal messages of support to help Rev. Angela feel some love! Visit the links above or posted on SSUMC website, Facebook and eNews to send your personal well wishes. Please join us on Sunday, August 16 at 2:00 pm to wish Rev. Angela well with your virtual hugs. **Note that drive-in communion has been moved to Saturday August 15 at 9:30am**



Patsy Brannon, James Manley, and Kyle Whitley