Scott Hagan

Author's details

Name: Scott Hagan
Date registered: September 25, 2012

Latest posts

  1. Reflections on the The Word and World: The Ebola Crisis: Stop, Check Your Pulse, Think — October 16, 2014
  2. Reflections on the The Word and World: Our Little Corner — October 7, 2014
  3. Reflections on the The Word and World: The Same and Different — October 2, 2014
  4. Reflections on the The Word and World: A Theology of Telling the Truth and Inspiring Hope — September 24, 2014
  5. Reflections on the The Word and World: God loves you. Your church does, too. — September 19, 2014

Most commented posts

  1. Reflections on the The Word and World: Do We Need Jesus in Our Death Penalty Conversation? — 1 comment

Author's posts listings

Oct 16 2014

Reflections on the The Word and World: The Ebola Crisis: Stop, Check Your Pulse, Think

Original post at

   The Ebola crisis is now front-page news every day. As of this week, 4,995 cases and 2,729 deaths have been confirmed through laboratory testing, though the World Health Organization believes that this substantially understates the magnitude of the outbreak. One expert believes that there could be as many as 10,000 new Ebola cases per week by December 2014. How are we to respond? 
   First, let’s get clear on the facts. Ebola is not the beginning of a zombie apocalypse. (I am not kidding, people I know have repeated that to me.) However, it is serious and deadly. This outbreak started last December in Guinea, but Ebola was first identified in 1979. Symptoms start with a fever, sore throat, muscle pain and headaches. Typically, vomiting, diarrhea and rash follow, along with decreased function of the liver and kidneys. Some patients begin to hemorrhage, also, and death is occurring around 50% of the time. No specific treatment for the disease is yet available (information from All of this is stark, considering we know that Ebola has spread to two people in the past week in the US. The Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention admitted on Tuesday that they failed to do all they should have done to prevent Ebola from spreading in Texas. Agency Director Tom Frieden says, “Ebola is unfamiliar. It’s scary, and getting it right is really, really important because the stakes are so high,” adding that he wishes the CDC had done more from the beginning to train the hospital staff (from the Associated Press).
   Second, let’s stop doing harm. I have been praying for the people affected by Ebola, patients, families and healthcare workers, since June. We all need to pray more and panic less. It should go without saying that gossip and spreading half-truths in this crisis is the opposite of helpful. 
   I came across a post from a friend of mine that captured my hopes so beautifully. Leah Leslie was a Sunday School teacher, the mother of youth, and my co-teacher in Confirmation classes in Fayetteville. She is also a nurse. She wrote this earlier this week:
So in 1979, I had been a nurse for 1 year and heard about a terrible virus that killed homosexual men. Soon, we found that the facts were not correct and fear among healthcare providers was rampant. Nurses refused to take care of patients, and some died alone in their rooms... we had little information so we became hysterical and acted without compassion and reason. It’s easy to be brave about HIV now- we know more. But now almost 35 years later we are again walking in fear. It’s a different virus, but I recognize the same fear. Is fear unreasonable, no, but let’s use it in a different way. Let’s learn from the past, Let’s not act hysterically, Let’s not behave without compassion, Let’s remember to ask questions regarding exposure and travel histories, Let’s isolate appropriately, Let’s use appropriate Personal Protective Equipment, Let’s put on and take off PPE with meticulous attention to detail. Let’s communicate appropriately, Remember, it is the job of the media to excite and sensationalize. Let’s make sure our sources are evidence based. We will be less stressed and our patients will be better cared for. Let’s be an instrument of peace and comfort- not of chaos and fear. Remember the first rule of any emergency is: Stop, check your pulse and then Think.
   Leah’s words of calm, written to any who would hear, apply beyond the world of those who practice medicine. We, who practice faith, should stop, check our pulse, and think in order that we are spreading love and not fear. Grace and Peace, Scott

Permanent link to this article:

Oct 07 2014

Reflections on the The Word and World: Our Little Corner

Original post at

   I was blessed to stand in a crowd of family, friends and enlisted soldiers and commissioned officers a week ago to see Kris Farrar pinned with the two bars signifying his promotion to the rank of Captain in the United States Army. It was great to see Nicole and their two boys standing proudly with Kris for the brief, but meaningful, ceremony.
   Two of Kris' supervising officers spoke of his excellence in leadership. They gave specific instances of how his work has served the mission of the infantry training unit that Kris helps to run and how all of their work there serves the larger mission of the entire Department of Defense. I love the way our military is able to connect specific actions and the people who carry them out with the greater mission that each has signed up for. In the middle of the ceremony, the commanding officer offered a few words of inspiration to every soldier who was present. He said,

We are each responsible for our little corner of the Army. - Lieutenant Colonel Jim Pangelinan

He went on to say that every one of them oversees their part of what is happening to advance the mission and every one has the ability to expand what they are doing for the good of the cause.
   My mind raced. As the son of a retired military officer, my father was in the Coast Guard Reserve for thirty years, I knew this to be true. I also delight in the close friendships I have with current officers in the Air Force, Army and Navy. His statement resonated with what I know of each of their work and service, but I could not help but think that the truth he had so eloquently captured with a few words was applicable far beyond military service.
   We are each responsible for our little corner of God's Kingdom. God has chosen to order the world in such a way that we are called to be partners in God's work.
   Paul, an early Christian leader who helped start churches and wrote about the mission of the people of God, described the Church's responsibility as "the ministry of reconciliation" because "God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself" (2 Corinthians:5:18-19). God's ultimate purpose is to reconcile - bring back and make right - all people to Himself. The Church plays an important role in achieving this mission. We are called to live (by deed and word) in such a way that we point to the very heart of God's love for the world - which is Jesus Christ crucified that we might have life.
   The mission of Epworth is to connect and equip all kinds of people to seek, serve and share Christ. How am I helping achieve this mission? How am I doing with my little corner of the Kingdom?
   Grace and Peace, Scott

Permanent link to this article:

Oct 02 2014

Reflections on the The Word and World: The Same and Different

Original post at

   A week ago, I held Everett Bates Carpenter in my arms about 20 hours after he was born. He came into the world weighing over 10 pounds. He is the second son of Bryan and Sydney, regular visitors to our church while Bryan is training at Fort Benning. Sydney is also my wife's second cousin!
Kirk and Henry
   This Monday, I was so thrilled to hold Henry Carlton Hagan about 3 hours after he was born. He is the second child born to my brother, Kirk, and sister-in-law, Robin. Henry was born in Dublin, the closest hospital to Wrightsville, where my brother serves as the United Methodist pastor. Little Henry weighed a little over 6 pounds when he was born.
   I was amazed, standing there holding my nephew, at how little he is. Not just because he was just born, but because I had held another, heavier, newborn the previous week. We all come into the world in our own, unique form. We are different.

   We are the same. That was Ellen Murkison's opening message to our congregation on Sunday as she set out to capture the work and grace of God through the retelling of their family's amazing story of life over death. When Ellen said, "We are regular people," I could sense every person lean in. [You can still purchase copies of her book, Prayers from Fiji, on] Her message resonated with what we believe about Epworth. I continue to be amazed at how God has been preparing our next steps as a church through the work of our Vision Team earlier this year. Who knew then that our first core value, seen here, would be lived out in that very moment?

Epworth’s Missional Motives - Why We Do What We Do
• We are real people.
• We welcome all God's children. 
• We love what we do.
• We seek Jesus in all we do.
• We serve to make the world better.

We all want to connect with people who are real. On Tuesday of this week, Glenn Griffin stopped me out front to say a word of appreciation for Ellen's message. He said, "We all need to be reminded of good stories and God's work." Amen to that.

   We come into the world in different shapes, sizes, and colors. Soon enough, though, all of our stories come together to share many things in common: heartache, loss, triumph, betrayal, trauma, joy, delight, and connection. Epworth is filled with people who are different and the same. The greatest story of all, though, is the love of God for all of us. We are loved and saved back from the brink of destruction by the most powerful force in the universe: God's love.
   Beautiful, saved, loved people - that is what we are becoming. Grace and Peace to you, Scott

Permanent link to this article:

Sep 24 2014

Reflections on the The Word and World: A Theology of Telling the Truth and Inspiring Hope

Original post at

   My parents were the first to share with me the devastating news by telephone: the family of one of my high school friends had been involved in a serious car accident while back home visiting Statesboro and his two children were critically injured. We learned that they had been rushed by helicopter to a hospital in Savannah and we should begin praying for all of them. Conversations like that, updates on Facebook and, later, the site became a norm for the family and friends of David and Ellen Murkison in December 2011. We were praying for the health of their sons and, soon, for miracles to happen.
   The Murkisons will be with us this Sunday morning to share some of their story. I've been reading the book that Ellen has published this year and I must say, it is powerful. She is a really gifted writer, but there is something more going on than the retelling of a powerful story: Ellen is a theologian. It is not a title she would probably readily claim, based on her own words. She says as much to start the third section of the book, Prayers from Fiji,

I have no theological background, but I am person of faith. By writing this book, I am trying to follow what I believe is God's plan for me, namely to give others hope by sharing the extraordinary events of Brian's recovery. It would be a somewhat safer venture if I were to stop at this point to just let the events themselves be the story. Yet, I have heard a voice in my head saying to write on. [What follows]... are reflections on my journey through this experience from a faith-based perspective, and I humbly offer them up, flawed and imperfect as they are, from my heart and as honestly relayed as I can. (page 113)

I love her humility. She wants us to know that she does not have a theology degree in her past, but I cannot help declaring that what she is sharing is her own claim to a theological present. Ellen writes from a theology of 'this is what happened.' Like the Gospel writers of the New Testament, she writes about what she knows. She goes on to share the truth, as her family has lived through it, in sections about faith in the unknown, perseverance, community, forgiveness and gratitude. She writes openly about the Holy Spirit and the presence of God. I cannot wait to hear from them in person this Sunday at 9 AM and 11 AM in worship.
   We don't need more theology degrees in the church. We do need people to live into their calling to be theologians. We each possess the essential qualities needed: senses to be aware of what is happening around us and tools to share what we have seen and are experiencing. Here is what I know: the world is desperate to hear, from real people, a message of what God is doing in the world. We can inspire hope by simply telling the truth of what God is doing.
   Grace and Peace, Scott

Permanent link to this article:

Sep 19 2014

Reflections on the The Word and World: God loves you. Your church does, too.

Original post at

Receive the Word of God. Learn its stories and study its words. 
Its stories belong to us all, and these words speak to us all. 
They tell us who we are. They tell us that we belong to Christ 
and to one another, for we are all people of God.

   As they prepared to receive their Bibles and the prayer throws made for them by the hands of our Prayer Shawl Ministry volunteers, these were the words that Kelley Conkle read to Ema, Emma, Carter and Davis, the rising third graders who stood before the congregation on Sunday. The faces of these four young people beamed with pride as they received these gifts and the attention of standing in front of everyone. I then made an attempt to capture all of this. I said,

God loves you. Your church does, too.

   I made it to the parking lot after worship before the magnitude of that moment began to sink in further. What a privilege to speak to young people in such precious moments. What an honor to be a small part of what God is doing through the hundreds of family, teachers, counselors, coaches, doctors, nurses, and volunteers who have helped these young people to make it this far. Of course, we know they have further to go. The world is complicated and amazing and terrible and beautiful and sad. They know some of that now and will know more of that later. But, throughout, these two truths do not change; God loves them and so does this church.
Epworth's Sanctuary in April 1963
   Epworth has a long history of shining the love and light of God into the lives of children and adults. It started with families gathering in a home on Rosemont Avenue, continued with months of meeting at Sherwood Methodist Church, and has continued these 51 years that we worshiped here on Devonshire Drive. Our Homecoming preacher, the Rev. Dr. Rick Mitchell, is a part of our great history. He served here for three years, including the time that the Hamp Stevens Memorial UMC congregation merged with Epworth. That merger helped make possible the amazing renovations and updates that our building and parking have seen this year.
   Epworth has a good history. We gather to celebrate the God who makes history worthwhile. We gather to embrace the present that we are called to help transform. We gather to claim and proclaim a future overseen by the sovereign God of the universe that loves us. To that, we can all say, Amen.

Permanent link to this article:

Sep 10 2014

Reflections on the The Word and World: Home Depot (and the World) Leave us Exposed

Original post at

   The good people at the Home Depot headquarters in Atlanta confirmed on Monday that its computer systems were hacked into and that everyone who made purchases in stores since April of this year possibly had their card number and information stolen. This includes me and probably many of you. While it is not yet known how many consumers were affected by the breach, this story follows others just like it from Neiman Marcus, P.F. Chang’s, and Target. The Target crime affected some 70 million customers and has so far cost the company $146 million, according to the Washington Post.
   Clark Howard is an Atlanta celebrity and expert in the world of finance and common-sense living. He writes extensively on things you should know and do when it comes to protecting your accounts and your credit. Here are summaries of five of those things:

  1. Expect news of more breaches for the next 2 years - It will take at least that long for US banks to make the switch, which they could have done decades ago, to a safer process for cards. The retailers (Target, Home Depot, or anybody else) are not at fault here. The blame lies with the banks.
  2. Know the difference between debit vs. credit cards - Debit cards don't have the normal protections under federal law offered by a credit card. With a breached debit card, you have only 2 days after you notice that money is gone from your account, or else your liability rises to $500 or beyond.
  3. Watch your bank statements carefully - Go through your credit card and debit card statements this month and next month with a fine tooth comb. Identify any false charges and dispute them immediately with your bank or credit card company.
  4. Be on the lookout for email or phone scams - Be wary of anyone calling or emailing you trying to impersonate a breached retailer or your bank. When in doubt, hang up the phone or close out the email. Then call your bank or visit the merchant website to verify the legitimacy of the request.
  5. Limit the risks from debit cards by setting up a separate account - Customers who use debit cards are hit hardest by any breach. If you wish to continue using debit in the future, be sure you tie it into a separate account that's only used for debit transactions. You can read more of all of this on his website,

I especially like what Howard says first; expect that breaches will continue to happen. The truth is, the moment we choose to engage in the world we put ourselves at risk. This risk goes far beyond swiping our cards. We risk our bodies, our feelings, our hopes, our spirits, our closest relationships, and the list goes on. Jesus finishes a parable in Luke 19 with this line, "'The person that uses what he has will get more. But the person that does not use what he has will have everything taken away from him." Risk is necessary.  People who are overly concerned about security and consistency are likely to miss amazing opportunities that present themselves in our path. To be a disciple of Jesus is to take risks - but when it comes to your bank account, take some protections, too.
   Grace and Peace, Scott

Permanent link to this article:

Older posts «