Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Advent Updates

This Sunday-- December 18, 2016 will be the last Sunday in Advent with two major events planned!  Sunday morning will be our annual Christmas Music Special featuring the Adult Choir, the Handbell Choir, and even a song from our children.  Its going to be a great morning for worship!  Invite a friend or neighbor. 

Sunday evening at 5:30pm we will have our Annual Potluck and Impromptu Christmas Pageant.  All children are invite to participate in the Impromptu Pageant, and we have costumes ready in all sizes.  Bring some food to share, as we gather as a Church family to remember the story of Jesus' birth.

Christmas Eve this year is on a Saturday Night (Dec. 24th), brass prelude to begin at 5:45 with the service at 6:00.  The service will include lighting the Christ candle on the Advent Wreath, communion, carol-singing, and candlelight.  Children are welcome to stay for the service, and a nursery will be provided for the convenience of loved ones.  Come prepared to give generously to Susannah's House (bring donations of items as well).

Christmas Day is a Sunday!  We will have worship that day at 10:45am in the Sanctuary.  Kids can wear their Christmas PJs and bring a new favorite toy.  We will sing carols and share the story of Jesus' birth on Christmas Day.

New Year's Day is also a Sunday-- this will be Bistro Church!  
We will meet downstairs in the Fellowship Hall for brunch and worship.  Let's start the new year off right with fellowship, worship, and our focus on God.

As always, invite your friends and neighbors! If your church family is a blessing to you and to our neighborhood, it will be a blessing to those that you invite to join us!

Sunday, August 28, 2016

New Offering: Agape Cafe!

Save the Date! 
The Agape' Cafe' starts Wednesday with singer / songwriter Brad Austin 
sharing his story and his music! 
Bring a friend and join us for pizza and salads at 5:30 pm. 
The music begins at 6:30!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Back to School Sunday!

Join us for worship this Sunday at 10:45am. 

We will share in Holy Communion, consider the importance of education, and pray for students, families, educators, and staff of our local schools.  We will also bless the mission supplies we have collected for Shannondale Elementary School.  Remember this is the last week!  Bring wet wipes, hand sanitizer, glue sticks, and kleenex.  These are the supplies our teachers end up buying out of their own pockets.  Collect items this week and contribute to our efforts on Sunday!

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Tai Chi at St. Paul UMC, Fountain City

On July 13th there will be a presentation on Tai Chi and its benefits.  This introduction to Tai Chi will be from 6:30 to 7:30 and there will be no charge.
On July 20th, a beginner’s class will be held at the following times: 
1.    Seated Tai Chi (also called Tai Chi for Back Pain) from 6:30 to 7:00 at No Charge.
2.    Standing Tai Chi from 7:15 to 8:00 with a charge of $3.00 per class.
The Class will be every Wednesday ending on Sept. 14th.  The basic 21 movements are learned, along with proper breathing.  There are also a few exercises to strengthen the legs.   No prior experience is necessary to enjoy the benefits of these ancient and gentle exercises.  Students for Tai Chi will be accepted up to and including August 3rd.  It is advised that you consult your personal physician prior to any exercise class.  Students may want to keep a chair handy, if needed, for stability.   The health benefits include improved balance, strength, and flexibility.  The introduction session and the classes will be held in the downstairs activities room, which is accessed from the back parking lot.

Monday, May 9, 2016

4 Things We Should Learn from Jonah

A segment from Sunday's Sermon...   Posted due to popular demand.

Jonah ran from God's call, spent 3 days and nights in the belly of a big fish, went to preach to his enemies at Ninevah and the entire city repents. His odds are better than the most convicting preacher! Jonah should be ecstatic, but Jonah is mad. Mad as a June bug tied to a piece of string. He'll pull his own leg off flying away before he'll join this party.

This story is meant to be humorous, poking fun at a certain perspective of the world-- that there are good people and bad people and God loves the good and hates the bad. That there are categories so simplified, like an old Western movie, where the good guys wear white shirts and the bad guys wear black shirts and masks. But life and the world and people are more complex than that. And it is only God who knows just how complex.

What can we learn from Jonah today?

4 Things We Should Learn from Jonah 
   Themes borrowed from the words of A.A. Milne, author of Winnie the Pooh.

1.  You are braver than you believe.  Its never about the task itself. When we focus on how big the thing in front of us is, we forget to see how God has equipped us to tackle it.  Like the little girl who climbed a ladder one rung at a time, never looking down to see how high-- instead she shook from the top when she looked out at the view and down at all she accomplished.  It easy to stand at the bottom and shake in our boots.  Jonah could not stomach the thought of facing his enemies and chose instead to flea across the Mediterranean Sea.  Facing in the right direction, no matter the climb, it can all be boiled down to one foot in front of the other. 

2.  You are stronger than you look.  If, like Jonah, you can run in the opposite direction with every ounce of your being from what you should do or who you should be, you are strong enough to run full force in the direction of God's future for your life.  Stop wasting so much energy saying "no" to that tug on your heart.  Stop wasting so much time and breath telling God who you are and who you are not. If anyone knows what you are capable of, its God, the one who fearfully and wonderfully knit you together in your Mother's womb.

3. You are smarter than you think.   Too often we spend our time comparing ourselves to everyone around us-- they are so much smarter, they know more than we do, they are better liked by others, they always get a break.  You are who you are for a reason, and your life has purpose.  God used Jonah, even though the smart thing would have been to find someone more obedient (the first time).  God spared the Ninevites, even though the smart thing in Jonah's estimation was to destroy them.  God promises to equip us and give us the tools we need for our life's journey, smart is not our issue, as the phrase goes, "work smarter not harder."  It is time to look down and see what God has placed in your hands and on your heart.

4. You are loved more than you know. God's love and grace is always bigger than we imagine.  And God doesn't always follow the rules.  This was Jonah's big beef with God, God should have hated the Ninevites for all that reasons he hated them, and Jonah spent a lot of effort hating. There is no group of people, and no place, not even Nineveh, can properly be called God-forsaken. Thanks be to God that we are loved more than we can earn or deserve.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Now Hiring! Positions to be filled...

St. Paul UMC, Fountain City is seeking a part-time Music Director to lead the music program and direct the Chancel Choir, experience with Handbells is preferred but not required. Please submit a cover letter and resume to, or call the office for additional details at 865-687-2952.

St. Paul UMC, Fountain City is seeking a part-time pianist/organist.  Responsibilities include accompanying the Chancel Adult Choir, and being the primary instrumental musician during Sunday morning worship.  Please send a cover letter and resume, or call the office for additional details at 865-687-2952.

 St. Paul UMC, Fountain City is seeking a nursery worker.  Responsibilities include: caring for children Sunday mornings from 9:00am-12:00pm.  Additional opportunities for work may be available with notification. Background check required and First Aid training preferred, but can be provided.  If you are interested, please contact the church office for more information: (865) 687-2952 or email:

For more information, see our website: or see our Facebook page at

From a Choir Member's Perspective...

       Sitting in the choir is the best seat in the house.  One can see all the members of the congregation. There are long-time friends and new members.  There are visitors and previous members sitting with their parents.  Each one special and each one loved, old friends and new members and some waiting to become friends.
      Communion is a very special time.  From the choir one can silently name and pray for each St. Paul family member.  As each individual comes down the aisle and kneels at the rail, a prayer is lifted to God for the ones receiving the gift of His Son.  We thank God for each one.  And we can't help by remember the ones no longer with us. 
Sentiment aside: From the choir we see and enjoy the children and babies of St. Paul.  What a blessing! 
      Does it matter that one little redhead runs up the aisle while Sarah is speaking?  Does it matter that Sarah's own girls interrupt her children's time?  Does it matter if a baby fusses?  "Don't take them out!" They are part of the family too.  Seeing young children in their father's arms puts an "ahh" in each heart of those watching.  Seeing mothers touch their daughters and sons with gentleness is an added joy in the heart of the beholder.
Sitting in the choir means singing and praising God.  And we do this with pleasure and commitment.  Everything said above is an additional blessing. 
                                 --From the heart of Dot Conner, St. Paul Historian

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Current Sermon Series!

Stories from Sunday School (Uncensored)
April 3         Trouble in Paradise: Cain and Abel
"I'm not my brother's keeper," words spoken by Cain to God when God asked about Abel's whereabouts.  So, the question is, are we one another's keeper?  What is there to learn from this story of family rivalry and violence? 
April 10       Sheep Patrol: Psalm 23
     These words are recited and most every Christian funeral, so often that even people
     Who do not have a connection with a faith community can recite portions of it...      
    "The Lord is my Shepherd."  Why is this passage so meaningful? 
April 17       Parenthood and Modern Family: Abraham and Sarah
     Parenthood, family  and marriage can be difficult at any age.  Infant loss and  
     fertility is a silent grief. The drama behind closed doors is not usually the story we
    know.  Can you relate? 
April 24       Warrior Nation: Story of Gideon
     God is with you!  Then why is there so much trouble?  God will see you
     through!  Then why hasn't God already done something?
     God can use you! Haha... who, me? 
May 1         Beauty is More than Skin Deep: Esther
     Body image issues, women's liberation, identity, low expectations, feminism, female
     leadership...need I say more? 
May 8         A Whale of a Story (or is it big fish?): Jonah
     I love this story!  Jonah in the belly of the whale because he wouldn't go where God
    was sending him!  Wait, the belly of a whale?  That's a horrible place to be... and the    
    people God wants Jonah to speak truth and repentance to are not good   
   people.  What is the point of this story again? 
May 15     Special Worship Celebration of Pentecost!
     Pentecost is the birthday of God's church!  In honor of this very momentous occasion, we will have as our guest, John Purifoy, a local composer and musician.  The sanctuary will be specially adorned in celebration of Pentecost, and much of the liturgy and music will be composed specifically for the worship service. You won't want to miss this very meaningful time of worship and community.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Good Friday: The Passion of Jesus Christ

  Mark 15:16-20

Then the soldiers led him into the courtyard of the palace (that is, the governor’s headquarters); and they called together the whole cohort. And they clothed him in a purple cloak; and after twisting some thorns into a crown, they put it on him. And they began saluting him, “Hail, King of the Jews!” They struck his head with a reed, spat upon him, and knelt down in homage to him. After mocking him, they stripped him of the purple cloak and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him.

What follows are the words of N.T. Wright, Bishop of Durham, to read the entirety of his lecture, click here...

What, after all, would it look like if the true God came to deal with evil? Would he come in a blaze of glory, in a pillar of cloud and fire, surrounded by legions of angels? Jesus of Nazareth took the total risk of speaking and acting as if the answer to the question were this: when the true God comes back to deal with evil, he will look like a young Jewish prophet journeying to Jerusalem at passover-time, celebrating the kingdom, confronting the corrupt authorities, feasting with his friends, succumbing in prayer and agony to a cruel and unjust fate, taking upon himself the weight of Israel’s sin, the world’s sin, Evil with a capital E. When we look at Jesus in this way we discover that the cross has become for us the new Temple, the place where we go to meet the true God and know him as saviour and redeemer. The cross becomes the place of pilgrimage where we stand and gaze at what was done for each one of us. The cross becomes the sign that pagan empire, symbolized in the might and power of sheer brutal force, has been decisively challenged by a different power, the power of love – and that this decisive challenge shall win the day.

The question is then posed to us in the strongest and clearest possible way. Dare we stand in front of the cross and admit that all that was done for us? Dare we take all the meanings of the word ‘God’ and allow them to be recentred upon, redefined by, this man, this moment, this death? Dare we address the consequences of what Jesus himself said, that the rulers of the world behave in one way, but that we must not do it like that? Dare we thus put atonement-theology and political theology together, with the deeply personal message on one side and the utterly practical and political message on the other, and turn away from the way of James and John and embrace the way of Jesus himself? Only so, I believe, can we even begin the task, to which the subsequent lectures will return, of working in our own day with mature, Christian and sober intelligence to address the problem of evil which still haunts the world which God loved so much.

Dear Sisters and Brothers, Easter is coming...

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Maundy Thursday: Footwashing and the Last Supper (Matthew 26:17-30, Mark 16:1-8, Luke 22:7-38, John 13:1-17)

As a child, I thought this day was called "Monday-Thursday," and even though that didn't make very much sense, I accepted my pastor at his word.  When I discovered it was "Maundy" I was even more confused.  Do you know why it is Maundy Thursday? #ChuckKnowsChurch briefly shares more about this day in Holy Week...

Over the course of time an out of convenience, many churches have developed Maundy Thursday into an evening that includes Good Friday remembrance as well.  This is true for St. Paul-- we will celebrate the Last Supper, participate in a service of Tenebrae (with special music from the Parish Adult Choir), and strip the altar of liturgically significant items. Hope to see you and yours for worship tonight at St. Paul at 7:00pm! There is a nursery available for children under the age of 5 years old.

Dear sisters and brothers, Easter is coming...

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Wednesday of Holy Week: Jesus is Anointed (Matthew 26:6-13; Mark 14:3-9; Luke 7:36-50; John 12:1-8)

This story is in all four Gospels, but here is Matthew's telling of it... Matthew 26:6-13:
Now when Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, a woman came up to him with an alabaster flask of very expensive ointment, and she poured it on his head as he reclined at table. And when the disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste? For this could have been sold for a large sum and given to the poor.” But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me. In pouring this ointment on my body, she has done it to prepare me for burial. 13 Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her.”

The following commentary is an excerpt from renowned blogger and modern theologian, Rachel Held Evans (you can find the rest of her reflections on this passage here)...

Just days before his betrayal and death, Jesus and his disciples were eating at the home of Simon the Leper in Bethany. While they were reclining at the table, a woman, who John identifies as Mary of Bethany, approached Jesus with an alabaster jar of expensive perfume, worth about a year’s wages. Mary broke the jar of spikenard, pouring the perfume on Jesus’ body. The house filled with its pungent, woody fragrance as she anointed Jesus’ head and feet. 

Everything about the incident is offensive—an interrupted meal, an excessive gift, a woman daring to touch a man with her hair.

It's also highly symbolic.

In Jesus’ culture, the act of anointing signified selection for some special role or task. Kings were often anointed with oil as part of their coronation ceremony, usually by a prophet or priest. The Greek word christos, Christ,” is a translation of the Hebrew word for Messiah, which means “the anointed one.”  And so this anonymous woman finds herself in the untraditional position of priest and prophet. In the upside-down Kingdom of Jesus, it makes perfect sense.  

Anointing the feet took things a step further, modeling the service, discipleship, and love Jesus taught. In a culture in which a woman’s touch was often forbidden, Mary dares to cradle the feet of Jesus in her  hands and spread the oil across his ankles and toes with the ends of her hair. And rather than measuring out a small amount of oil, Mary breaks the jar lets it all pour out.  She’s all-in, fully committed, sparing no expense. The oil she may have been reserving for her own burial, or the burial of a loved one, has been poured out generously, without thought of the future.

The humility of this action foreshadows the footwahsing that is to come and that we remember on this Maundy Thursday. Later, Jesus would imitate Mary by washing the feet of the Twelve, telling them to do the same.

Dear Sisters and Brothers, Easter is coming...

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Tuesday of Holy Week: Jesus Weeps Over Jerusalem (Luke 19:41-44)

Luke 19:41-44
As he came near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, ‘If you, even you, had only recognized on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. Indeed, the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up ramparts around you and surround you, and hem you in on every side. They will crush you to the ground, you and your children within you, and they will not leave within you one stone upon another; because you did not recognize the time of your visitation from God.’


There is but one face
   whose holy eyes
won't turn away,
   but focus on us
and weep...

Jesus, you!
  like a mother hen
yearning to gather us to you,
  but we would not...
for we have killed the prophets
   and stoned the messengers.

Now abandoned and empty,
  the stones of the temple
waiting to fall
  around our ankles,
we still do not come
to you,
and, even now,
you weep.

--Ann Barr Weems, Kneeling in Jerusalem, 1993

Dear Sisters and Brothers, Easter is coming...

Monday, March 21, 2016

Monday of Holy Week: Jesus Cleanses the Temple (Mark 11:15-19)

Mark 11:15-19

Then they came to Jerusalem. And he entered the temple and began to drive out those who were selling and those who were buying in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves; and he would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. He was teaching and saying, “Is it not written, 
‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’?
But you have made it a den of robbers.”
And when the chief priests and the scribes heard it, they kept looking for a way to kill him; for they were afraid of him, because the whole crowd was spellbound by his teaching. And when evening came, Jesus and his disciples went out of the city.

This passage is troubling, on a couple of levels.  It is also featured in all four gospels.  First, the jolting disturbance of people using God's house in a way that does not honor God.  I'll say more about that in a moment.  Second, Jesus' very physical reaction of "driving" the money changers and his very forceful message.  I'm not used to imagining Jesus posturing above people, or behaving with the rage summoned by an angry toddler.  A more consistent image in scripture is one of Jesus kneeling to serve, heal and receive us, no matter our condition.  

But, on to the first troubling point.  What is so offensive about the actions of the merchants and money changers?  I imagine that what they are doing was not new; rather, it was the way that things evolved in Jewish life.  Jesus probably witnessed this at other times in his life, but he chose this particular moment to literally make an example of this practice as ungodly. Keep in mind, Jerusalem was packed with Jews who had come for Passover, perhaps numbering 300,000 to 400,000. Jesus' actions were easily visible and experienced by the sea of pilgrims moving in and out of the Temple Courtyard. 

Some would make the connection to justice-- the exploitation of the "have-nots" by the "haves" being offensive and unacceptable in God's presence (yes, indeed).  Others might point out a modern connection to the ways in which the church today is a house for sinful behavior and activities, much like what Jesus experienced. Along those lines, it is easy and tempting to put ourselves in the shoes of Jesus and anyone on the end of our finger in the position of the merchants and money changers.

But a little later in Mark chapter 12, Jesus has a very telling exchange: One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, “Which commandment is the first of all?” Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Then the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher; you have truly said that ‘he is one, and besides him there is no other’; and ‘to love him with all the heart, and with all the understanding, and with all the strength,’ and ‘to love one’s neighbor as oneself,’ —this is much more important than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” When Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.”

I invite you to join me in turning that finger from pointing outward and instead point inward.  We are the merchants and the money changers.  As we approach Easter on this Monday of Holy Week, perhaps this story begs the question: how is Jesus pressing upon you in this final week of Lent to cleanse your heart and mind?  To whom have you given your allegiance other than God?  Who do you oppress by your way of life and how might you begin to make amends?  

Dear Sisters and Brothers, Easter is coming...


Tuesday, January 26, 2016

January 31, 2016 Fifth Sunday Arts Celebration

Michael Rodgers will be our special guest in the Sunday morning service on January 31.  Michael will sing "His Eye is on the Sparrow" at the beginning of the service and will sing
three solos with the Chancel Choir on the theme of Heaven: "Shall We Gather at the River," "City Called Heaven," and "I Bowed on My Knees and Cried Holy."  Pastor Sarah will continue her sermon series on, "Why?"  The service begins at 10:45am with lunch to follow. 

Michael has a Bachelor of Arts/Vocal Performance from Knoxville College and a teaching certificate from the University of Tennessee- Knoxville.  He is currently a Special Education teacher with the Knox County School system.  Michael is co-director of Encore Singers, a children's choir composed of community children.  He also sings with the Knoxville Opera Company, is a member of the Tri-Octaves, and has performed recitals and concerts throughout the nation.  

Join Us!
Join us for for an abundant day of music, art and food on Sunday, January 31. Our Sunday worship service will be a fifth Sunday Music Service, with vocalist Michael Rogers performing several hymns and musical numbers, followed by a Baked Potato and Salad lunch provided by our Hospitality Team in the Fellowship Hall. While in the Fellowship Hall, enjoy our Quilt Display, featuring several quilters from our church family. These intricate, practical, beautiful and meaningful heirlooms are full of history, art, memories and love. The Hospitality Team, Music Team and Family Ministries Team invite you to come enjoy this day of culinary, vocal and visual craftsmanship. 

Saturday, January 16, 2016

4-week Sermon Series: January 17- February 7

WHY? Why is this happening to me? What is God's will? Does God answer my prayers? If God is good, why is there so much hurt in the world? Starting a new sermon series tomorrow that will last the next four weeks. Join us and invite a friend! Worship at 10:45am.
Books of interest: "Why? Making Sense of God's Will" by Rev. Adam Hamilton, "When Bad Things Happen to Good People" by Rabbi Harold Kushner, "The Will of God" by Rev. Leslie D. Weatherhead

St. Paul UMC- Fountain City

St. Paul UMC- Fountain City