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Season of Service: Why I Serve
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During Lent we are focusing on A Season of Service. Each week on the blog several Church Street members will share why they serve in a particular area of ministry and how you can get involved. Today's post comes from Pat Bellingrath.

I volunteer regularly in the Sharing Shop that was started here about a year and a half ago by United Methodist Women. The shop began with the idea to share things such as picture frames and flower vases that could be given as Christmas presents. We quickly discovered that our customers didn't want picture frames and flower vases-they needed shampoo and laundry detergent, toilet paper and dry socks and warm coats. Our initial attempt at mission has become so much more as now we share basic items but also God's love and hope I have written about the Sharing Shop several times in The Messenger, in The Mountain, and in UMW newsletters, and I have often said that this place here at Church Street means "the world" to the people who come through its doors. I love working in the store, and it came to me several months ago that the Sharing Shop actually means the world to me, too.

I have been blessed in so many ways from my time spent here. The relationships I have formed with our customers are special to me, and serving in the shop has been a wonderful opportunity in which to share God's love and grace. For me, this is service at its best-sure, it is easy to share basic needs such as toilet paper and toothpaste- and, yes, these are important. But how lucky I am to be able to reach out and let our brothers and sisters know that they matter, that God loves them. I believe that God is using me to help transform the lives of those who enter the SS. Our customers tell me regularly that they look forward to the Mondays the shop is open and to visiting with one another. As they wait their turn to enter the shop, they sit together in the hallway and really seem to enjoy their time with each other. I see them sitting there, sharing stories and news, and I think this is what matters-being a community of God's people who care for one another. At this time, we have served approximately 1,000 customers.


Amy Knapp shared something with me she witnessed a few months ago.
She watched a SS customer place a voucher in the offering plate. Vouchers substitute for money in the store and this gentleman shared something of value with the church. With the church that reached out to him. For me, that simply but profoundly says that what we are doing has meaning for others. I am excited to be a part of a ministry where our sharing is love in action and where we say "come in, you are welcome here, and we are so happy to see you."

I also want to take this opportunity to thank you, the congregation, for your donations to the shop. I have been amazed and inspired by your generosity and I want you to know that we could not be in mission without your contributions. Your donations matter and have made a difference for many.

Volunteering in the Sharing Shop has been transformational for me, and it is my hope, that during this season of Lent, each of you will find your special place of service. We can always use your help in the Sharing Shop. As we expand and open our second location as part of the Beacon of Hope ministry, we will need many volunteers. I am grateful to be part of our church where service is one of the things we do best. To paraphrase the words of St. Francis: "Preach the Gospel always and use words only when necessary."

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Posted: March 28, 2014 08:18 AM
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Lenten Reflection - Silent Processional
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What's All The Quiet About?
The Role of Silence in Lenten Liturgies
-Pastor Ashley Helton


The beginning of Sunday morning worship at Church Street has been a bit different since the beginning of Lent. If you have been here then you know that the difference has involved taking away music during the processional. This change is small and quiet, but it has created a significant amount of noise around the church. Some people have expressed feeling awkward during the silence while others have commented that the silent procession seems awfully sad. I have heard these questions and comments as a teaching moment for us as a Church. Why are we processing in silence? How should you respond from the pews during the beginning of worship? Are you supposed to feel sad as you notice the absence of music during church this Lent?

During worship, we are called into active participation. This phrase most likely makes you think of singing, bowing/kneeling, joining in on the responsive readings, and praying. However, active participation is not activism; actively participating in worship does not always mean that the worshipper must do something. Instead, active participation in worship means that we are "entering into the heart of the mystery celebrated in the liturgy." Indeed, this participation often occurs through our activism (singing, praying, etc..), but during Lent we attempt to still our active instincts for introspection and somberness. This year, Church Street is stilling itself during worship by observing a reverent silence during the processional.

Our silence is a response of reverence that acknowledges the journey that we are on during this Lenten season. Yes, that journey ultimately ends in victory over death and salvation for all. However, we are too often in a hurry to reach the empty tomb on Easter morning. We tend to forget the dark, sad, lonely, painful, and quiet steps that Christ took before he was restored to life and rolled the stone away. Our silence on these Lenten Sunday mornings is our reminder to walk with Christ between here and the empty tomb. Doing this begs us to admit that life would be permanently dark, sad, lonely, painful and quiet if Christ had not ripped the curtain and offered all of creation new life through his death.

Our silence this lent is a profound manner of active participation even though our processionals are not filled with music and song. I am willing to bet that you have felt more attuned and drawn into the processional these last three Sundays --- And that is the point; Lent should not feel the same as the rest of the year. As Christians, we are "Easter People" who believe that death has no power of us, which allows us to live (and worship) with great joy. But during lent we think about all of the "might have beens" if that first Easter would not have been. So if you have found yourself feeling a bit saddened by the silent processionals then you have been getting the point of your clergy's liturgical move this season. I encourage you to use the silence and any feelings of darkness as an opportunity for introspection and prayer these next few weeks. Use the moments of carved out silence as a time for response, receptivity, and listening to the voice of Christ on his way to death and then new life. Our silence this season is sacred; therefore, observe it as a time of offering and placing ourselves in the presence of the one who will give us a reason to sing come Palm Sunday.

Posted: March 27, 2014 08:21 AM
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Men's Softball Registration
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It's registration time for the Church Street United Methodist Church Men's Softball team. This year, we'll be competing in a league at Caswell Field on Tuesday nights. If you're interested in joining the team, contact Ian Hennessey at 712-1174 or goodyperry@gmail.com. The season begins on Tuesday, April 8. All skill levels welcome!

Posted: March 26, 2014 02:00 PM
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Sharing Shop Needs Donations
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The Sharing Shop continues to serve our neighbors and on March 10, we had almost 30 customers. We want to thank everyone for the many, many donations we have received. Your support helps us reach out to those who need us, and we could not be in mission without your generosity.
At this time we are in need of the following:

-Volunteers to work at the Church Street Sharing Shop and the Beacon of Hope Sharing Shop (please contact Pat Bellingrath at patbellingrath@gmail.com if you are interested in volunteering)
-Depends-all sizes
-deodorant
-shampoo
-shoes
-summer clothing only
-simple sewing kits (needles and thread)
-body powder
-alcohol-free mouth wash
-body wash
-sheets (all sizes)
-back packs

Posted: March 25, 2014 09:01 AM
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Season of Service: Why I Serve
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During Lent we are focusing on A Season of Service. Each week on the blog several Church Street members will share why they serve in a particular area of ministry and how you can get involved. Today's post comes from Elaine Ralston.

In 2005, Andy Snead asked me to be a coordinator for Church Street with Interfaith Hospitality Network - now called Family Promise. It is hard to say "no" when a minister calls! With this request began my finding my place of service. I have worked, played, and even slept as I have shared God's grace with homeless families in our community.

Frank is such a good husband; he jumped right in to help me. He brought his granddaddy toys! You should have seen the fun the children had launching Nerf rockets into the choir loft at Woodlawn Christian, our first host church. One time we prepared crockpot barbeque chicken and used too much sauce; it spilled out on the kitchen floor. Sweetheart that he is, he mopped up the mess for me. From playing and visiting, helping with dinner, we now serve as overnight hosts when the guest families come to Church of Ascension (our current host church). The volunteers from Church of Ascension always have a fabulous breakfast on Saturday morning for the guests and hosts so now I am feasting and sleeping while helping others. After breakfast, the families head off to the Day Center or jobs.

While I have had a lot of fun playing and being hospitable, I have also had some heartwarming encounters, too. One young mother came into the Family Promise program on our rotation. By her body language, she appeared uncertain and beaten down by life. On our next rotation three months later, she was completely different - full of hope and confident. She had gone through training at a local restaurant to become a manager, had been assigned a position, found an apartment, and would be moving out in a few days.

Family Promise is an ecumenical partnership of volunteers and two paid staff - showing God's love, and helping people work through a crisis. I have found my place to serve. During this Lent, I hope and pray you will find a place of service that is yours.

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Posted: March 24, 2014 02:09 PM
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Lenten Devotion: March 23
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Already, Not Yet
Read Revelation 3:20


This unique phrase 'already/not yet' reminds us that we need to look for signs and to be ready to volunteer in our Church mission 'to make disciples for Christ.'

There are many signs reminding us of the Lenten Season and doing work for Christ. The blooming Lenten Rose is an important sign. As a gardener, I raise many Lenten Roses in my yard and in a nursery. Other gardeners help me dig, move and plant them in Habitat home yards.

The Lenten Rose teaches me about perseverance as they bloom in February during the Lenten Season. Different varieties show off their beauty in shades of white, yellow and lavender. And the foliage is green year around. The Lenten Rose is a creation of God. The Lenten Rose is 'already.'

Our lives are busied with buying and using things, managing time, calendars and technology. I am busy being a father and husband, gardening, landscaping, volunteering and doing church work. Jesus rings my doorbell and I say 'not yet.' Or I procrastinate and say, "I will do it tomorrow, 'not yet.'"

Jesus teaches us the Word through the Bible, offers strength, grace and redemption and opens the door and is 'already.' His parables help us use our talents to feed the poor and visit the sick.

So kick off your shoes, sit down, put up your feet, drink a cool glass of water, look out at the blooming Lenten Rose and say, "I am ready!"

Prayer: O God, enter our busy lives and make us ready for you. Redeem us now and pour grace onto our 'not yet' souls so as to grow in Christian service. Amen.
-Dave Craig

This devotion is from the 2014 Church Street Lenten Devotion Book.

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Posted: March 23, 2014 08:50 AM
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New Small Group for Moms
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A new small group for moms is starting at Church Street. The group will meet for the first time on Friday, March 28, from 9:45-11:45 a.m. in room 103. Childcare is provided. We plan to spend the first hour doing introductions and gathering ideas about what participants would like to see from the group. For more information, please contact Marissa McConkey at riso1982@hotmail.com.

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Posted: March 22, 2014 03:02 PM
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AARP Smart Driving Course
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This classroom refresher course, for drivers ages 50 and older, explains the changes that occur in vision, hearing and reaction time as we age, and provides useful safety tips for handling these changes. The course is taught by Nancy Carmon and will be held at Church Street on Thursday, April 3 from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Cost is $15 for AARP members and $20 for non-members. Please call 865-584-9964 to register for the class. Checks need to be written to AARP. Registration deadline is Wednesday, March 26.

Posted: March 19, 2014 10:18 AM
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Season of Service: Why I Serve
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During Lent we are focusing on A Season of Service. Each week on the blog several Church Street members will share why they serve in a particular area of ministry and how you can get involved. Today's post comes from Erin Gamble.

It is hard for me to pick a specific mission or service experience to talk about because I have been going on mission trips since I was about seven. I have had the opportunity to work in Biloxi, Mississippi, Narows, Virginia, in Knoxville with Operation Back Yard, and on Eluthra Island in the Bahamas. We went to Mississippi after hurricane Katrina to help repair houses of the survivors, in Virginia we worked with Chris Brown's church and built a handicap ramp and repaired a few roofs. With OBY we have met some wonderful homeowner's, worked on countless countless roofs, and a built few porches and ramps. On Eleuthra we also repaired roofs after their seasonal hurricanes.

One of my favorite missions has been getting to go to the Wesley House and watching those kids grow up and change over the years. With all of those opportunities to serve, the one that has meant the most came as a bit of a surprise. Last year we went to Philadelphia for choir tour. We sang in a bunch of great places. While we were there, we visited a place called SPARC. SPARC is a place for adults with developmental disabilities to be cared for, socialize with others, and receive job training. We sang for them and seeing their faces while we sang really touched my heart and made me feel a special connection to them. I have always thought that I would like to study music in college but I have also thought about caring for people and Church Street has given me the chance to do both. SPARC showed me I could do both I could pair my love for music with providing care for others. This opportunity to serve through singing has led me to think about music therapy as a career.

We are all blessed at Church Street because we all have an opportunity to serve. I hope you will take time during this season of Lent to find a place meaningful to you to serve.

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Posted: March 18, 2014 11:26 AM
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New Small Group for Moms
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A new small group for moms is starting at Church Street. The group will meet for the first time on Friday, March 28, from 10 am. - noon in room 103. Childcare is provided. We plan to spend the first hour doing introductions and gathering ideas about what participants would like to see from the group. For more information, please contact Marissa McConkey at riso1982@hotmail.com.

Posted: March 17, 2014 02:08 PM
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