We Exist to grow Together in Faith

God’s grace is a continual presence in our lives. Through studying the scriptures, prayer, and serving others, this grace will grow our love and understanding of God. We invite you to join our small group studies and Sunday school classes to help you grow in your own relationship with God.

Our adult Sunday School classes are taught as a single, hybrid class at 9:00 a.m. on Sunday mornings. You may attend in person at the church (*must be COVID-19 vaccinated) or you can attend online via ZOOM. All of our mid-week small group studies and Intentional Prayer time are online-only, via ZOOM.

Get Connected to grow: e-mail grow@atlantafirstumc.org for the ZOOM links, information on how to join a small group or attend Sunday School classes, and other learning opportunities.


Sunday Morning grow Group:
Learning to Walk in the Dark

Our society has a tendency to associate all that is good with lightness and all that is evil and dangerous with darkness. Doesn’t God work in the nighttime as well? In Learning to Walk in the Dark, author Barbara Taylor asks us to put aside our fears and anxieties and to explore all that God has to teach us “in the dark.” She argues that we need to move away from our “solar spirituality” and ease our way into appreciating “lunar spirituality” (since, like the moon, our experience of the light waxes and wanes). Through darkness we find courage, we understand the world in new ways, and we feel God’s presence around us, guiding us through things seen and unseen. Often, it is while we are in the dark that we grow the most.

You are invited to join the Sunday grow Group during the season of Lent as we follow the lessons of Learning to Walk in the Dark. This grow group study directly compliments our Lent worship series, Darkness – Moving Through Difficult Times, taking a deeper dive into the themes covered by Pastor Jasmine and Pastor Chris’ sermons. If you are unable to attend on Sunday mornings, we are also covering this curriculum in our Wednesday evening grow group.

The class meets online in ZOOM and in-person in a classroom at Atlanta First at 9 a.m. EST on Sunday mornings. The ZOOM link and information are below. Let’s grow with God together!

Click Here to Join the ZOOM
Meeting ID: 817 7912 8812
Passcode: 0360
Phone: 301.715.8592

Tuesdays: Disciple IV Bible Study

In the Disciple Bible Study class we are studying Disciple IV: Under the Tree of Life. The study concentrates on Old Testament Writings from August to December. The Gospel of John, the Epistles of John, James, Jude, and finally, Revelation are the focus in the Spring session from January to May. Emphasis on the Psalms as Israel’s hymnbook and prayer book leads naturally to an emphasis on worship throughout the study. Present through the entire study is the sense of living toward completion – toward the climax of the message and the promise, extravagantly pictured in Revelation. The image of the tree and the color gold emphasize the prod and promise in the Scriptures. The word under in the title is meant to convey invitation, welcome, sheltering, security, and rest – home at last. Let’s grow with God together!

This grow group meets via ZOOM on Tuesdays at 6:30 p.m. EST. Lead Pastor Rev. Jasmine R. Smothers is the facilitator.

Wednesday Evening grow Group

Our society has a tendency to associate all that is good with lightness and all that is evil and dangerous with darkness. Doesn’t God work in the nighttime as well? In Learning to Walk in the Dark, author Barabar Taylor asks us to put aside our fears and anxieties and to explore all that God has to teach us “in the dark.” She argues that we need to move away from our “solar spirituality” and ease our way into appreciating “lunar spirituality” (since, like the moon, our experience of the light waxes and wanes). Through darkness we find courage, we understand the world in new ways, and we feel God’s presence around us, guiding us through things seen and unseen. Often, it is while we are in the dark that we grow the most.

You are invited to join the Wednesday Evening grow Group during the season of Lent as we follow the lessons of Learning to Walk in the Dark. This grow group study directly compliments our Lent worship series, Darkness – Moving Through Difficult Times, taking a deeper dive into the themes covered by Pastor Jasmine and Pastor Chris’ sermons. If you are unable to attend on Wednesday evenings, we are also covering this curriculum in our Sunday morning grow group.

The Wednesday Evening grow Group meets online via ZOOM at 7 p.m. EST. The group is co-facilitated by Associate Pastor Rev. Chris Rapko and Melanie Long. You may register HERE to receive the study materials. The ZOOM link is below. Let’s grow with God together!

Click Here to Join the ZOOM

Thursdays: Jesus in the Gospels

The Thursday Morning grow group is undertaking a study based on Jesus in the Gospels by Leander Keck. This study illuminates an aspect of Jesus in the Gospels each week and connects scripture to daily life and Jesus’ call to discipleship. The overarching aim is to deepen discipleship through better understanding of the biblical texts and their message. The study helps group members understand that Jesus is rooted in Judaism and the Scriptures of Judaism and that Christianity and the New Testament are rooted in the Scriptures of Judaism—our Old Testament.

This grow group meets via ZOOM, Thursdays from 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. EST. The class is led by Rev. Dr. Jacqui Rose-Tucker. Please register if you wish to participate, to receive the ZOOM link. All are welcome!

Book Club: The Fourth Monday Each Month
Next Meeting: March 4 at 7 p.m. EST.

Love to read? Join our Book Club on the fourth Monday of every month to discuss some of the hottest reads in the last several years through the lens of faith. The group meets online via ZOOM. To receive the ZOOM connection info, if you have questions or if you need help purchasing a book, please send an email to grow@atlantafirstumc.org.

In February, The Book Club will be reading The Heaven and Earth Grocery Store by James McBride. Due to the shortness of the month, we will on March 4 at 7 p.m. to discuss the book. The Book Club meets online via ZOOM. You may click the link below to join the meeting, or use the login info to join manually or phone in.

Click Here to Join the ZOOM
Meeting ID: 872.7351.0270
Passcode: 666318
Phone: 301-715-8592

If you need help purchasing any of the books, please send an email to grow@atlantafirstumc.org.


Creating a Safe Sanctuary

Jesus said, “Whoever welcomes a child … welcomes me” (Matthew 18:5). Children are our present and our future, our hope, our teachers, our inspiration. They are full participants in the life of the church and in the realm of God.

Jesus also said, “If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones … it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depth of the sea” (Matthew 18:6). Our Christian faith calls us to offer both hospitality and protection to the little ones, the children. The Social Principles of The United Methodist Church state that “children must be protected from economic, physical, emotional and sexual exploitation and abuse.” (¶ 162C).

Tragically, churches have not always been safe places for children. Child sexual abuse, exploitation, and ritual abuse [“ritual abuse” refers to abusive acts committed as part of ceremonies or rites; ritual abusers are often related to cults, or pretend to be] occur in churches, large and small, urban and rural. The problem cuts across all economic, cultural, and racial lines. It is real, and it appears to be increasing. Most annual conferences can cite specific incidents of child sexual abuse and exploitation within churches. Virtually every congregation has among its members adult survivors of early sexual trauma.

Such incidents are devastating to all who are involved: the child, the family, the local church and its leaders. Increasingly, churches are torn apart by the legal, emotional, and monetary consequences of litigation following allegations of abuse.

God calls us to make our churches safe places, protecting children and other vulnerable persons from sexual and ritual abuse. God calls us to create communities of faith where children and adults grow safe and strong.

Thus, in covenant with all United Methodist congregations, we have a policy for the prevention of abuse at Atlanta First United Methodist Church and accompanying procedures to demonstrate our absolute and unwavering commitment to the physical safety, emotional well-being, and spiritual growth of all our children, youth, and vulnerable adults. Find a copy of that policy HERE.

This form is for unintentional acts which occur on church property or during church events and someone is hurt. For example: A child falls on the playground; an older adult slips on the floor; a tooth is knocked out during youth basketball.

This form is used when an action is observed that does not require reporting to DFCS, but does require attention by staff or clergy. For example: A Sunday School teacher “loses it” with a class; an adult “in charge” walks out of a classroom to get supplies and leaves children briefly unattended.

This form is used when a volunteer or staff person sees, has been told of, or suspects a child, youth or vulnerable adult has been abused in some way. For example: A youth confides abuse to a counselor; a child comes to Sunday School with bruising and injuries he can’t/won’t explain; a homebound visitor finds a senior adult without food in the house.

This Suspected Abuse Follow-Up Form is used to record additional steps taken by staff to address the Suspected Abuse.

A form to give permission to the church to use your image, or the image of someone you are the legal guardian of, in print, web, video, and all other media. Please fill out separate forms for all adults and children in a given household. Please email the completed pdf form to engage@atlantafirstumc.org.

A form for parents or guardians of children and youth to fill out with emergency contact and insurance information. Please email the completed pdf form to engage@atlantafirstumc.org.