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Discover Church Street
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If you have been visiting Church Street or have recently joined, you are invited to the next Discover Church Street class on Sunday, January 25, from 4-7 p.m., in CLC 120. Discover Church Street is a great opportunity to get to know the pastoral staff, learn more about the mission and ministry of Church Street and the major beliefs/practices of The United Methodist Church. If you are interested in attending or have more questions, please contact Rick Isbell, Minister of Discipleship, at 521-0266 or risbell@churchstreetumc.org.

Posted: January 15, 2015 08:48 PM
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Leadership Event
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On Sunday, January 25, following the 11 a.m. service, all church committee chairpersons are invited for lunch in the Parish Hall, followed by a time of training and conversation. We will be providing specific information on the various committees of our church, discussing how to lead and manage an effective committee, considering the larger mission of our church, and where we all fit in. Lunch will be provided by the church at no cost to participants. RSVP or inquire further with Pastor Matt Hampton at mhampton@churchstreetumc.org, or at 865-521-0279.

Posted: January 12, 2015 04:04 PM
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Toilet Paper Drive
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The Mission Committee is kicking off the new year with a toilet paper drive for the Sharing Shops. We are asking everyone to bring rolls of toilet paper to church on Sunday, January 11. We will take single rolls or any combination of multi rolls. Toilet paper can be wrapped or unwrapped. You may drop off your donations from 8 - 11 a.m. in the CLC Hallway (near the Welcome Center) or in Parish Hall. All donations are appreciated! Thank you for helping Church Street kick off hands-on missions in 2015.

Posted: January 06, 2015 08:43 AM
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UMW General Meeting
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Please join United Methodist Women for their first General Meeting of 2015. We will gather on Tuesday, January 13, at 11 a.m. in the Parish Hall to hear from Fr. Joe Reed who is the associate pastor of Sacred Heart Cathedral and chaplain to Sacred Heart Cathedral School.

Fr. Reed is a Knoxville native who moved to a Benedictine monastery in 1994. He returned to Knoxville in 2013 to continue his priestly ministry in a parish setting. "An introduction to Monastic life and spirituality" will be the focus of his talk. According to Fr. Joe, "monastic life is simply one of the many ways of living out the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Some of the lessons learned in the monastic life can be applied to any Christian?s life. Monasticism has shaped many saints in the Church, as well as the architecture and prayer of many churches." Fr. Joe will share his own call and experience of monastic life.

Lunch will follow in the Parish Hall and reservations should be called into the church office by Friday, January, 9th. Please join us for this important and meaningful program as we begin a new year of spiritual growth and mission. All are welcome.

Posted: January 05, 2015 08:54 AM
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Advent Devotion: December 25
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The Memory of a Song
Read Colossians 3:16

A number of years ago I enrolled in a chaplaincy program with a hospital in Chattanooga, and during my time there I worked closely with a pastoral care supervisor named Keith. Keith turned out to be a mentor and a friend who had a large and lasting influence upon my life.

One day the chaplains were discussing the difficulties of serving individuals suffering from dementia, and Keith told us about an experience he'd recently had. He had visited a nursing home where he encountered an older lady who had Alzheimer's Disease. This lady was seated in a wheelchair in the common area of the nursing home, but it had been a while since she had spoken with anyone.

Keith tried to talk to her, but he knew before he started that the effort was in vain. And finding this lady altogether unresponsive to his presence, Keith wondered what to do next. Was there any point in being there? Should he simply give up and move on, and check this woman's name off the list of people he had to visit? Keith didn't want to rush off. He wanted to be present, even if his presence seemed to make no difference. He settled in next to this lady, and after a few moments he began softly to sing a Christmas song.

"Silent night, holy night, all is calm, all is bright?" Keith is a person who loves to sing. Among other roles he plays, he is an Elvis impersonator. But he was completely surprised when he realized that the voice of the person softly singing along with him was the lady he had come to visit. And not only did she sing along, her voice rose and rose, until she was singing loudly and clearly. And she sang the whole song. Those were the only words they exchanged that night, but when Keith told us that story we felt we had learned something very important about the ways we may communicate love to other human beings. Keith had gone into that place hoping against hope for the tiniest fragment of a conversation, and he had come away with a duet.

Let us not pass by too quickly when we have the opportunity to be present with another human being with whom we might connect. Do we have something of value to offer our neighbors? If we bring only our presence, our attention, and our care, then we have brought something of great value. And it may be that the person before us needs great amounts of time and energy. But it may also be that he or she only needs a smile, a hug, a listening ear, or a song.

Prayer: God of the unexpected and the unknown, during this season of waiting and expectation, as we remember Christ's advent with us and among us, we pray for eyes to perceive your grace in unexpected places, for hearts open always to your divine presence in the people and circumstances of our lives, and for a willingness to take part in the lives of others, as you have taken part in our lives. Help us to find our song in this season of Advent and Christmas. Help us to sing together with all our hearts. Amen.

-Matt Hampton

Posted: December 25, 2014 03:45 PM
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Advent Devotion: December 24
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Go Away
Read Luke 2:7

For thirteen of the last fourteen years, I have been asking people to go away and leave me alone during the Christmas season. I have no room for them in my life because I am always the Innkeeper at Walk Through Bethlehem. It is my job to make the guests feel unwanted and to keep moving. I have nothing to offer them because my life is full. I am at capacity. I have no time for the young, the old, the rich, the poor, or any of their problems. I just tell them to keep going and to not ask me for anything.

I wonder sometimes how much of what I shout at our visitors to Bethlehem while pretending to be a character is what I am really saying from my heart. Am I telling people to not look to me for help? Am I telling people that I am too busy for their concerns? Is my heart, like the inn, too full to accept Jesus and the joy He brings each Christmas?

However, as I sit in my chair being grouchy, I realize, too, that Christmas begins for me the day I sit there. It is the moment my focus turns from Christmas shopping to Christmas believing. It is the chance to look again at the baby in my stable between crowds of people I must reject, and realizing that this baby gives me a new start. It is the chance to be a believer for another year. This is the moment that I again get to participate in the joy and miracle that comes at Christmas and to prepare enough room in the inn that is my heart.

Prayer: Heavenly Father, please let me always have room in my heart for You, and please let me always find ways to serve You. In Jesus? name. Amen.
-Stephanie Richter

Posted: December 25, 2014 03:44 PM
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Advent Devotion: December 23
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Remember the Story, Tell the
Story, Live the Story

Read Deuteronomy 6:5-7

Each year I am amazed at the number of stories that are told around our home concerning the Advent and Christmas season. We tell the story of Sue and my first Christmas together when we bought our live Christmas tree on Dec. 23 on a sunny and hot parking lot in Florida. It was truly a "Charlie Brown" tree. We tell the stories of all the ornaments on our tree from friends and family, from places near and far and from our own childhood. We tell the stories of finding our gifts through scavenger hunts that led family members all over the inside and outside of our houses. We share the stories of the stockings on our mantle and what must be in each stocking come Christmas Eve. We tell the stories of traditional menus that must be cooked or the holidays seem empty. Stories of our lives, especially during this time of the year, are very important. They give us meaning of who we are and what is most important.

Stories in the life of the church also need to be remembered and told. I remember Rev. Bill Balch telling me the story of when Christmas Eve services started at Church Street as together we stood in the back of the narthex one cold December night. I can still remember the first year that Walk Through Bethlehem took place at Church Street when so many thought it impossible. And now, we have a whole generation of children and youth who have participated in it from birth and oh, the stories they can tell!

But the story we need to tell the most is how God kept God's promises throughout the generations from Abraham to Moses to Hannah to Isaiah to Elizabeth and to Mary that God would reconcile the world. We need to tell the story of how this baby Jesus grew into a man who showed us how to really live. And, that this man died that all the world might be redeemed.

As we begin this Advent season, I hope that we would share our family and faith stories that give identity and meaning to our lives. Some are happy and some are less than joyful. However, we must remember and tell our stories of family and faith or they will be forgotten. But the greatest gift we can give to our children and to others is to live the story!

Prayer: O God, help me today to remember the stories of my faith and family, to share the story of Jesus with others and to live like the stories make a difference in my life. Amen.

-Rick Isbell

Posted: December 23, 2014 08:14 AM
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Advent Devotion: December 22
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Starlight & Angels
Read Isaiah 9:1-7

Bethlehem was dark that night, filled with tired people seeking shelter. On the hillside shepherds settled their sheep. Suddenly a great star shone forth! An angel appeared, first to the shepherds, proclaiming:

Don't be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.
Today in the town of David, a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.
This will be a sign to you. You will find the baby all wrapped up and lying in a manger.
Then a multitude of angels filled the wide sky singing, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace to men.


Who could ignore it? The shepherds ran down to join the awakened people, everyone amazed by the starlight, by the beauty of angelic voices. And then someone mentioned the pregnant woman in the stable. They knocked timidly on the door.

Mary and Joseph remembered their own angelic experiences and gladly showed their baby to the excited onlookers. Everyone joined in this heavenly celebration for the birth of Jesus, although unlike us, they didn?t know the rest of the marvelous story.

Christmas is upon us. Take time to re-imagine the night when a mysterious star shone brightly and choirs of angels celebrated the birth of God?s son. Don't let the jubilant truth of that night be lost in frantic activity. Remember the birth of our Savior and let your heart be filled with excitement and joy!

Prayer: O Father, clothe us with light and joy as we celebrate the birth of Jesus our Savior. Amen.
-Fran Wheeler

Posted: December 22, 2014 07:59 AM
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Advent Devotion: December 21
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The Greatest Gift
Read Romans 6:23

When I was a child, my favorite time of the year was Christmas, for it was then that we received absolutely the best gifts and so many of them at the same time. The anticipation of that day was almost as exciting as the actual event. Sometimes the gifts I received were not things I wanted, but things I needed. It was difficult to get as excited about those, but life without them would have been difficult.

As I grew older, I slowly began to realize that the pleasure those gifts brought was only temporary, sometimes not even lasting through that day. Also, the older I got, the more I found joy in giving gifts to others.

The Advent and Christmas season continues to be my favorite time of the year. I enjoy Christmas Carols and anthems. I listen to them during all times of the year, despite the strange looks from my spouse! But my excitement is sustained for far different reasons than those present as a child. For now I mostly look forward to giving to others, and receiving anew a wonderful gift, something I need most of all, which is the incredible love revealed to us in God's most wonderful and lasting gift - that of His Son who came to be the living promise of His new covenant with us. It is a free gift and totally undeserved! This is truly the one gift that never gets old, the gift that continues to excite, and most importantly, the only gift that will last for eternity. It is the one thing needful!

Prayer: Father, as we look forward once again to celebrating the birth of Jesus, we thank you for the love shown to all of us in the most precious gift we could ever receive - your own Son, our Savior. Help us to never lose the wonder and joy of this, the greatest gift of all. Amen.

-David Lineberger

Posted: December 21, 2014 07:27 AM
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Advent Devotion: December 20
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Finding the Christ in Christmas
Read Deuteronomy 4:29

Christmas is one of the busiest times of the year. Between all the festivities, the shopping, and the cooking, it?s hard to remember this holiday?s true meaning when you are thinking about the next thing on your Christmas check list.

Christ can be found in the most trying situation and in the most peaceful if we look for it. That?s the catch. Christ and the peace he brings are everywhere. If we constantly remind ourselves of Christ all throughout this Advent season, our hearts will be cleansed and prepared to celebrate his birth. Christ will reveal himself in bits this season as long as our hearts are ready to receive. This Christmas, don't forget to be sure Christ is first.

Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, let us recognize what this holiday is about - You. Help us to be ready to receive your peace and love this Christmas season. Help us live life for the glory of you and treat others the way you would. In the Lord?s name we pray. Amen.
-Hadley O'Hara

Posted: December 21, 2014 07:27 AM
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