Wednesday, December 17, 2014

"From the Pastor" Messenger Article

From the Pastor...

I got in my car the other morning to be pleasantly surprised by one of my favorite christmas works on the radio-- Handel's Messiah.  The chorus sang, "for unto us a child is born, unto us, a son is given..."  I was instantly transported through time to years of Christmases and of hearing this powerful music. 

In fact, one of my favorite experiences during Advent was while I was living in Durham, NC.  Every Advent the Duke Chapel has an evening where the community is invited to come and sing Handel's Messiah together.  Most everyone brings their own music, and the Duke Chapel Choir, an auditioned group of 100+ voices lead the singing from the chancel area and provided a group of incredible soloists. On the front end, it sounds like a bit of chaos-- and probably would be total chaos if it wasn't for the Chapel Choir, helping to lead.  It is wonderful, the music is a perfect setting for Isaiah' prophecies, the gothic cathedral is awe-inspiring, and the task of singing with friends and neighbors around you is akin to the heavenly chorus singing around the throne. 

I grew up around this music during Advent, but that particular experience made it come alive for me in an unexpected way.  The words of the prophet Isaiah or powerful, but put to music they seep down into your soul.  The music lifted my spirits and made me long for the anticipated birth of Jesus, in my own heart and for all the world. What tradition do you have that gets you, as they say, "in the Christmas spirit?" 

From Isaiah 7:14, Therefore the Lord God will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel. Good news for you and me, for all the world!! 

We have a few more traditions left at St. Paul that I hope you will attend.  This Sunday, December 21st, after worship will be our packing party for the baskets that will be delivered on Christmas Eve to various businesses.  Stay after church and join us in the Fellowship Hall to help!  Then, Sunday evening we will enjoy our Christmas Church Potluck and the Children's Impromptu Nativity Play.  This is an evening you won't want to miss-- a time of fellowship, fun, and the amazing story of Jesus' birth on that holy night in Bethlehem.  Dinner begins at 5:00pm, bring your favorite dish to share!  I'm bringing one of my favorite Christmas dishes that my Mom makes-- sweet potato dumplings! 

On Christmas Eve we will worship God together with carols, candlelight at communion.  The service begins at 5:30pm. 

Christ is coming into the world, to be born in our hearts. Is your heart prepared to receive the sign this year?


From our family to yours-- Merry Christmas!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

St. Paul UMC: Advent Activities

Happy Advent!  There is a lot going on at St. Paul this time of year, and we hope that you will join us! Check it out:

December 7:  Come for worship at 10:45 for a "Hanging of the Greens" service during worship.  Why do we have a Christmas Tree?  What does Chrismon mean? Where does the Natvitiy tradition come from?  All of this and more!

December 14:  During worship at 10:45 we will have our annual choir Christmas Cantata called "What Sweeter Music."  It is filled with familiar songs of the season, and will be an inspiring time to prepare all of us for the birth of Jesus in just a couple of weeks.  See you there!

December 21:  Packing Party after worship!  Come to the Fellowship Hall to help prepare the baskets for Christmas Eve.  The baskets will be delivered to area workers who are on the job (thank you!!) on the holiest night of the year.

December 21: Christmas Dinner and Impromptu Children's Nativity! At 5:30, bring your neighbors, your grandkids and your kids for a potluck dinner and the nativity play.  We are hoping for a special guest!  This will be a wonderful evening of fellowship!

December 24: Christmas Eve service at 5:30pm will include candlelight, communion, and plenty of carol-singing! Merry Christmas!

December 31:  Bistro Church in the Fellowship Hall!  We will have worship, stories, and carols, all while enjoying a hearty breakfast.  Kids are invited to wear pajamas and dress is casual!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

St. Paul UMC Fall Activities

Happy Fall Y'all!  Come, Join us!  You are always welcome to come to worship at 10:45am on Sundays, and Sunday School for all ages begins at 9:45am.  Below is a sampling of some of the other things we have going on this Fall! 
September Sermon Series: The Book of Exodus!  Let's journey with Moses and the Israelites and discover how the lessons they learned can apply to our lives today. 

September 28, 2014: Open House at the Parsonage and Mission Fundraiser
John Moyer's BBQ chicken will be provided, and church members are invited to bring picnic-style sides to share.  The event will start at 4:00pm and include an opportunity to see the parsonage, food, and games for all ages.  We are even planning a whiffle ball game to help with the mission fundraising.

October Mission Opportunity: Bring Shampoo for the Fountain City Ministry Center.  Also, pecans for $10 a pound are on sale to raise money for diapers. 

October 5, 2014: Hunger Hike! 
We will meet at the church at 1:30 to head over for the Hunger Hike at the TVA Pavioion at Lakeshore Park.  You can pick up donor support worksheets on the bulletinboard near the church office.  Money goes to support Fountain City Ministry Center- Camp Meeting/ Piano Dedication

October 26, 2014: Camp Meeting, Storytelling, and Community Dinner
An event for all ages!  Nursery will be provided for children 5 years old and under, if parents would prefer.  The program will begin in the Sanctuary at 4:30pm with special camp meeting style music from the choir, and solos to highlight our beautiful baby grand piano.  This service will include a piano dedication because we have officially paid the bill in full and it is time to set the piano apart for the very sacred task of leading worship each week.

We will also have storytelling! Introducing to St. Paul, Dianne Hackworth!  From her website: "Although she has honed her skills with a Master's degree in Storytelling, Dianne comes to storytelling naturally, having learned many of her stories from her parents and grandparents. She keeps all these stories alive by passing them on to you! Touring throughout the Southeast telling stories for all ages, Dianne brings to life Appalachian Tales, musical tales, and folktales from around the world."  Read more about her on her website:  She promises that there may even be a slightly spooky story to share with Halloween just around the corner.

After the music and storytelling we will commune together over an old fashioned, St. Paul style smorgesbord pot-luck! John Moyer's Barbeque will be our central dish, but bring your favorite dish to share!  It will be a great evening to get to know your friends at St. Paul, and a wonderful opportunity to invite a friend to church for a time of sweet fellowship and entertainment.

November 2, 2014: All Saints and Stewardship Commitment Sunday
Rev. Carl Oakes, beloved former pastor of St. Paul will be our guest preacher on this Sunday.  We will remember and celebrate those who have gone on to be with Jesus, with a reminder that we must pick up where they left off to do God's work in this neighborhood and throughout our world. Every Sunday in worship is meaningful, but this day will be particularly special with Rev. Oakes among us.

Monday, May 5, 2014

St. Paul: Summer Edition!

Hello friends of St. Paul UMC:  Can you believe that we are on the doorstep of summer-time?!  We have a lot planned and you won't want to miss it! 

Pastor Sarah will be having a baby girl any day now and she will be out of the office for the first few weeks of summer.  During that time Rev. Jim Whedbee will be filling the pulpit, along with our own, Rev. Bass, and our District Superintendent, Rev. Nathan Malone.  You won't want to miss any of these sermons! 

Here are some church-wide activities that we would like to highlight:

June 10: Lake Junaluska Singers Concert will start at 7:00pm in the Sanctuary.  You don't want to miss this incredible group of professional singers!  This event will not be ticketed, but there will be an opportunity to respond with a love offering.  

June 13:  "Movies on the Lawn" will feature a special film for a weekend of celebrating that special Father in your life!  Come for games and food starting around 8:00, and the movie will start once it is dark enough to see-- bring a lawn chair, quilt, and a friend!

June 15: Casual Worship and Break-FEAST!  Sunday morning worship will include a breakfast and laid-back feel as we meet in the fellowship hall this morning.  Tables will be set up to enjoy the food provided by the Hospitality Committee.  Our music director, Josh, will host us in a good old fashioned hymn sing and Rev. Linda Bass will bring the word on this day.  It will be a wonderful and relaxing time for fellowship and community.   

June 22:  The Chattanooga Boys Choir will be in worship at St. Paul this morning!  Come to worship God with the musical leadership of Mr. Vincent Oakes and a 35 voice Boys Concert Choir--wow!  What a special day!

July 12 and 19: "Made with Love":  Vacation Bible School with an emphasis on the arts!  This event will take place on 2 Saturdays, starting at 9:00am until 1:30pm.  It is open to all children through the 5th grade, if your child is under the age of 2, a parent will need to stay with them to guide them through the day.  We have crafts, outdoor activities, and music planned with lunch and snack included.  All for free!  If you are interested, please register by calling the church office (687-2952), we will also have registration on the morning of the event. Spread the word!
July 28:  "Movies on the Lawn" will feature  a current favorite of every young child right now--And yes, in addition to our usual spread of food we will have something frozen to enjoy as well!  Come for games and food starting around 7:00, and the movie will start once it is dark enough to see-- bring a lawn chair, quilt, and a friend!

August 1-2: Operation Backyard!  We will do a mission project in our city for a family that is in need, and we need plenty of volunteers.  We have committed to have 15 volunteers on the 1st and 20 on the 2nd.  No skills are necessary (though they are welcome)--plan to be there!  Lunch will be provided during the work day.

August 23: "Movies on the Lawn"  in celebration for the return of the school year.  Come for games and food starting around 7:00, and the movie will start once it is dark enough to see-- bring a lawn chair, quilt, and a friend!

Friday, April 18, 2014

Easter Sunday at St. Paul UMC

7:30am (gather as early as 7:00) for our Easter Sunrise Service!  The sun will be a little ahead of us, but we will still be among the first to shout "He is Risen, indeed" with the women at the tomb.  Worship will begin in front of the church and we will process into the Sanctuary together to re-awaken our sacred space for a most holy day of worship!

8:00am you are invited to join us in the fellowship hall for a light breakfast so that we can continue the celebration among the fellowship of friends.  Also, you may need a cup of coffee to make it through the rest of the morning!

9:30am is our Sunday School hour for people of all ages (babies and toddlers are invited to the nursery).  Join us for bible study and catching up with friends.

10:45am We will worship our Risen Lord together in the Sanctuary! Lilies will adorn our space, we will place all of the items we removed on Maundy Thursday, children will shout Alleluia, the choir will sing, and the Word will be proclaimed.  It will be a great morning to worship at St. Paul UMC- Fountain City.  Join us!

Christ is Risen, He is Risen Indeed!

Saturday, March 1, 2014

St. Paul Lent Events (March & April)

Join us for any and all activities during the Lenten season! The sermon series will be loosely based on a book called A World Worth Saving: Lenten Spiritual Practices for Action by: George Hovaness Donigian.   In addition to our usual services during Lent and Easter we will also have our annual Easter Egg Hunt for the children of the Fountain City Community, and a special afternoon of "Musical Madness" as we learn about our Choral Scholars and raise money to continue supporting them.  Worship is on Sundays at 10:45am.

March 5: Ash Wednesday
Sermon Text: Luke 4:1-13

Giving up Apathy for Lent or, taking up a mission focus.  Check out this list of missions that our church is involved in and choose one to focus on...start by committing to pray for this ministry daily and get informed about the ins and outs!

March 9: Lent Sunday 1
Sermon Text: James 2:14-18
We serve God when we serve others.  So, what is our response right now to what God is doing in our midst?  How can you connect at a deeper level with the mission for which you have chosen to pray? 

March 16:  Lent Sunday 2
Sermon Text: Mark 10:35-45
We can't control how something makes us feel, we can control how we respond.   Are you ever tired of all the appeals for help? What do we do with feelings of guilt and shame?  Especially when it comes to what we have left undone. What motivates you to respond to a ministry of mercy or compassion?  What stirs your passion?

March 23: Lent Sunday 3
Sermon Text: Isaiah 1: 16-17
God's picture for a just world is hard to imagine in our current context.  How is God's justice different that our sense of justice?  Should justice be retributive or restorative?  What does God expect of us? How does this fit into mission?  Rev. Linda Bass will be preaching.

March 30: Lent Sunday 4
Sermon Text: John 11
Jesus offers to heal us.  What binds us? Where you have seen healing or hope? Problems are so complex, and are best pulled apart in one layer at a time.  How is lived out? Do we need the cross?

April 6: Lent Sunday 5 (Communion)
Sermon Text: 1 John 4:7-12
Jesus asks us to be community with one another.  Have you ever had strong feelings or a prejudice about something or "those people" that was changed by a friendship?  By coming to live among us, God says that our issues are worth getting to know, that we are worth the greatest display of love possible.

April 6: Musical Madness at 4:00pm
It’s time for “Musical Madness!” since it is March, and we are about to enter what is
known in the sports world as “March Mad-ness” to determine the best in college
basketball, the Music Committee here at St Paul has determined we need our own “Musical Madness.” This program will showcase the best of musical offerings from the choir plus vocal guests and will be held on Sunday, April 6th, at 4 p.m. Much needed funds will go to support the Friends of Music Fund. This fund allows our three college scholars to sing with the choir; however, each student represents $200 support per month. Please mark your calendar for a fun afternoon. Plans are in the early stage, so there will be more details to come. Remember, it’s not “March Madness” but “Musical Madness” here at St Paul, and you don’t want to miss it!

April 12: Easter Egg Hunt
We invite our community and neighbor to join us on this day with facepainting, Springtime crafts, and an Easter Egg Hunt.  Parents with small children (under 3), there will be a seperate site for your children to hunt for eggs.  All are welcome, we have been collecting candy and eggs for a grand time together!

April 13: Palm Sunday
Children will process palms, we will celebrate that the Messiah has come among us-- and by the end of the service we will be looking toward a cross for his throne!  This is a day of conflicting emotions in the church, but one that readies us for the Resurrection on the following Sunday.

 April 17: Maundy Thursday
Worship will include a brief liturgy, inspiring music from the choir, a short meditation, Holy Communion, and the traditional stripping of the altar. You do not want to miss this beautiful and haunting service that prepares us for the light that is to come.

April 20: Easter Sunday
Worship will be at 7:30am for a special "Sunrise Service" to be the among the first to shout "Alleluia" with the women at the tomb.  Worship will begin in front of the church and we will process into the Sanctuary to awake this sacred space for the most sacred of Christian celebrations: the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! 
Our Great Service of Worship will be at 10:45 with special music from the choir, and a joyful morning of celebration.  Christ is Risen, He is Risen Indeed! 

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

From the Pastor: Messenger Article week of January 27, 2014

From the Pastor...

I'm curious, did you make any New Years Resolutions for 2014? Better yet, have you ever resolved to change something and seen it through? Some years I make little commitments and other years I find myself resolving to make big changes.

What about Resolutions you are afraid to make? My secret resolution is always to become a runner again (I used to be very athletic), but I'm afraid to claim it because I don't believe it will ever actually take hold. My excuse this year: pregnant! Honestly, I always have something that I can blame for holding me back, and its always something other than myself.

I was reading in the news that by the end of January, most people have given up any Resolutions they made with the new year, that if you make it until February you have a much greater chance for your Resolution to become a real life-altering habit. The article said, "January is for dreamers, February is for doers."

We can all agree from experience of successes and failures that any change comes with great personal effort. Our walk with Jesus, though grace-filled is no different.  Like most positive choices it requires an intentionality... a choice to commit our lives and then to follow through and some days we make it for a few hours, and others we barely get out of bed before our resolve is a faint memory. 

My resolution this year is simple: pray this covenant prayer written by John Wesley every morning. It's already harder to do than I predicted, and it's already shaping my heart and soul. Sometimes the words of others can shape our hearts in deep and profound ways.  Maybe you could join me?

I am no longer my own, but yours.
Put me to what you will, rank me with whom you will;
put me to doing, put me to suffering;
let me be employed for you, or laid aside for you,
exalted for you, or brought low for you;
let me be full,
let me be empty,
let me have all things,
let me have nothing:
I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things
to your pleasure and disposal.
And now, glorious and blessed God,
Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
you are mine and I am yours. So be it.
And the covenant now made on earth, let it be ratified in heaven.

I hope to see you and yours in worship this Sunday. Stay well, sisters and brothers!


Thursday, January 23, 2014

St. Paul January Events

District Superintendent, Rev. Nathan Malone, preaching
Sunday, January 12, 2014
We have a special treat!  Our D.S. will be preaching at St. Paul on this day, you don't want to miss the word that God will give him to bring.

Youth go to Resurrection (youth conference) in Gatlinburg, TN
January 17-19, 2014
Be in prayer for our youth and other adults who will be attending Resurrection this year.  This is a great mountain-top spiritual event for renewal and reunions with old friends.  We will leave at 4:00 on Friday, January 17th and return sometime after 1:00 on January 19 (parents will be notified as we are on our way back to the church).  

Youth Share about Resurrection in Worship
Sunday, January 26, 2014
Today in worship the youth will share about their experiences of last weekend, and the sermon will center around the message of the Retreat.  Hope to see you there!

St. Paul UMC- Fountain City

St. Paul UMC- Fountain City