Weekly Prayers for the Church Street Family

Week of May 16, 2021

Written by Rev. Jan Buxton Wade

Let us sing a glad song of gratitude to our God who has given us life and has imbued us with power to change the world.  How amazing is that grace!  The Holy One believes in us!  We now bow in the silence and reflect upon the ways we have felt his sacred movement in our lives in recent times . . . . . . . . . . Take us by the hand each day of this week, Lord, and lead us in those paths you have prepared for us; and may we recognize your empowering Spirit along the way.

Gracious God, receive our prayer.

“Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord,” sang the psalmist.  We do come in your name this evening, Our Forever Companion, knowing you see us as we are, and that we are cherished in your sight.  We remember the gentleness with which you steered us through this past year’s turmoil and dissension. In our doubts, fears, and grief, you were working silently to restore our hope.

Gracious God, receive our prayer.

Yes, we are indeed richly blessed and we praise the God from whom all blessings flow.  Receive now, we pray, these specific expressions of gratitude brought by your people at Church Street; and also shine your light of gentle grace upon those who render their deep personal concerns:

Joys

  • Family celebrates new grandbaby, born May 14
  • Thanksgiving for visit with first grandchild
  • Grateful for prayers: heart procedure successful
  • One celebrating success of risky back surgery
  • Thankful for more in-person church gatherings
  • Prayers appreciated: member released from hospital
  • Member offers thanks for her steady recovery from a stroke
  • Gratitude: multiple mission projects completed on Sat
  • A friend’s successful knee replacement on the 17th

Concerns

  • Healing for young pregnant cousin very ill with Covid
  • Relief for one suffering great hip & leg pain
  • Group seeking earnest discernment
  • Calm and peace for one facing extensive surgery
  • Beloved brother suffering from cancer
  • Healing of friend in CO in rehab center
  • Recovery for extremely ill husband in hospital
  • Continued healing for husband in rehab facility
  • Vaccine availability for India overwhelmed by virus
  • Sustaining dear grandson in treatment for lymphoma
  • Continued improvement: husband with rare cancer
  • That two in deep depression may be delivered from their pain
  • Healing for grieving families & pained members of the Austin-East community who seek change
  • Healing for member with lymphoma
  • Sustaining grace for member struggling with anemia
  • Grace & comfort for husband in hospice care at home
  • Continued recovery for one in therapy for injured leg
  • Prayers that shoulder injury will not require surgery
  • Easing of painful knee injury

Gracious God, receive our prayer.

We confess, Patient One, that the magnet of our daily affairs has pulled us away from our best intentions.  Especially our weakness was most pronounced in these instances which we remember with regret: . . . . . . . . . . Buttress us, that we might withstand the tug of the world and remain steady in our purpose to live out the promises we make in Christ’s name.

And as you feed us your food of compassion each and every day, you are showing us how to open our hands to share healing with those whose lives are broken, to offer hope to the desperate, to deliver companionship to the lonely, to proclaim your good news. All these efforts we dedicate to you in Christ’s name, our Teacher and Example who taught us to pray in this way:

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.

Have a Prayer Request?

One of our favorite things about the spring semester each year is celebrating our graduating seniors.  And this year, we have a special Senior Spotlight series on our blog.  Our seniors answered interview questions earlier this spring and it has been so much fun learning their answers! Check back in each week to get to know our seniors better and help to cheer them on as they wrap up high school and prepare for their next steps!

Meet William Walker!

What high school are you graduating from?
West
What are your plans for next year?
Attend the University of Virginia
What is your favorite bible verse?
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” – John 3:16
If you could choose one meal to eat for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Stromboli
If you could give some advice to your younger self, what would it be?
Don’t Procrastinate
What are your top 3 favorite movies?
Good Will Hunting, The Godfather, Iron Man
What is your favorite Church Street memory?
SLA 2018
What are you most excited about going into the next season of your life?
Discovering myself

Weekly Prayers for the Church Street Family

Week of May 9, 2021

Written by Rev. Jan Buxton Wade

You are our Risen Lord, and in these days of Eastertide we reflect upon your glorious Ascension.  As you were taken up unto the heavens, your followers were confused; and we in our era confess that we overlook the significance of your extraordinary ascent. We cherish our memory of those days when you walked the dusty byways with your friends, teaching them along the way, close enough to comfort and support. These reflections remind us that you are present with us in the ordinariness of our days. But your mission was not solely for that one devoted community of ages past, nor for our own community today. Your return to the Father solidified your holy union forever, declaring your omnipresence throughout the universe. As the world has seen and known you, so have all seen and known the Father. Thanks be to God!

Lord in your mercy, receive our humble prayer.

O God of Mystery, we picture Christ rising among luminous clouds, his arms outstretched, demonstrating that his love permeates all the world.  And that which Christ loves, we are called to embrace. Such a command demands our all, Lord, for how near impossible it is to pray for those who wish us harm, to show grace and forgiveness to those enemy nations who seek our downfall.  You have laid down a standard, Lord, that none but the most trusting can follow.  Strengthen our own trust, we pray, that we might also practice your radical, forgiving love.

Lord in your mercy, receive our humble prayer.

O Friend of All, we are mindful of our own human weakness, and we lean upon your mercy and grace to encourage all who are broken in mind, body, or spirit. The psalmist tells us that “Weeping may spend the night, but joy comes in the morning.” Help us remember that all that harms us will eventually turn to ashes and that one day you will set things right. Initiate that new beginning for those who call out in your name, particularly those who are in deep mourning, those suffering in places where the Covid death toll rises, those who have lost their homes through disaster or violence, those whose memory has deserted them; and also touch each of these Church Street friends who bring before you their own needs and their thanksgivings:

Joys

  • Back pain is decreasing following recent surgery
  • Mother in assisted living most happy with arrangement
  • Thanksgiving for our valiant high school seniors
  • Appreciation for home help for challenged son
  • Prayers appreciated: cousin’s triple heart by-pass successful
  • Grateful that brother with Covid released from hospital
  • Gratitude: member’s knee surgery went smoothly
  • One with cancer celebrates a week of renewed energy
  • Prayers upheld brother-in-law during his successful May 7 surgery

Concerns

  • Prayers for member having heart procedure May 12
  • Adult son grieving death of his mother in New Delhi
  • Vaccine availability for people of India overwhelmed by virus
  • Continued prayers for husband recovering from rare cancer
  • That two in deep depression may be delivered from their pain
  • Prayers for Hispanic friend with multiple needs
  • Healing for families who have lost beloved family members due to gun violence in the Austin-East community
  • Healing for member recovering from back surgery
  • Grace & comfort for husband in hospice care at home
  • Prayers for loved ones living in throes of dementia
  • Continued recovery for one in therapy for injured leg
  • Prayers that shoulder injury will not require surgery
  • Full Covid recovery for single mother of two

God of our Salvation, we feel you working through your Risen and Ascended Son, showering us with new courage and endurance to face the challenges that have entered our lives. Thanksgiving fills our souls when we remember that we are held fast and forever in your grasp, and we now offer that prayer that has sustained us throughout the ages:

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.

Have a Prayer Request?

The Church Street chapter of United Methodist Women is a vibrant community of more than  200 women from all walks of life. Whether at an annual Bake Sale or Call to Prayer, you’ve likely come into contact with a few members. 

When the pandemic halted in person activities at Church Street last spring, UMW President Jana Davison wasn’t sure what would come next. 

“I’d never heard of Zoom. I’d never watched YouTube,” Davison says. “When we realized this was long term, I mean, you can’t just stop this stuff. I don’t remember what I saw the first time on Zoom, but it occurred to me that we’ve got to get going again.”

So, after a brief pause, meetings and events continued virtually and have since without missing a beat. 

“At first, I had a love/hate relationship with Zoom,” Davison says, “but it has been my lifeline.” 

United Methodist Women volunteer at the Fall UMW Bake Sale.

Cultivating community virtually 

Meeting on Zoom hasn’t been a lifeline for just Davison. She has seen the UMW community grow to reach not just local members, but women across the nation. 

“The really good thing is we have had people join us that never would have been with us otherwise,” Davison says. “It’s been wonderful.” 

In addition to members that aren’t normally able to join because of work and other prior commitments, Davison says that younger people have joined that may not have joined because of school. 

“I think we’ve done a really great job of trying to adapt to the situation,” organizer of book studies Susan Dominick says. “And in many ways, it couldn’t have been any better in person.” 

During one recent book review, a member who is homebound joined one of the Zoom sessions thanks to the help of a staff member at her senior living community. 

“My heart exploded,” Davison says. “We haven’t seen her in four years or so.” 

Moments like this are what encourage members like Betty Craig to search for more ways to interact with the community, whether that’s in Knoxville or across the country in Oregon. 

“Being able to reach people who can’t come means that Zoom has to continue,” Craig says. “When we’re back in person, we can record things and reach more people if they can’t participate at the time.” 

A four-week study held in October on Zoom based on the book “Finding Peace in an Anxious World” reached up to 50 attendees each week. Led by Celia Ferguson, the timely education and conversation each week shared how the spiritual disciplines of scripture and prayer can help us with our anxiety. 

“I had many people tell me ‘This is what I needed,’” Ferguson says. “It helped them find some grounding in their faith as well as gave them some tools.” 

That conversation each week reached women outside of the normal UMW audience like younger women in Knoxville and Nashville, and women in Montana and Washington D.C.

“We would never dream of extending those boundaries,” Davison says. “It’s never been physically possible.” 

Giving back to the community 

In a typical year, UMW members find themselves very active in community service, whether that is through service projects at the church and for the church’s ministries and missions, or it extends to the East Tennessee community at large. 

“If you want something done, ask United Methodist Women,” Davison says. “We send the plea out, and within minutes, my phone will blow up. That’s just how we roll.”

One plea last summer was for cloth masks to be made for Green Magnet Academy, Knox County School System’s only elementary STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics) program. The school is located in a low-income area near the church. 

Last summer, the school was in desperate need of masks before the start of the fall semester, and Davison shared the assistant principal’s plea for help with members. Knowing that the UMW had women of various craft backgrounds, Davison shared the plea with the unit. 

Craig was one  of the members to respond to the plea for 350 masks; the UMW surpassed what was needed by the school. When the plea rang out again in January, Craig crafted 98 of the 267 additional masks made by UMW members; while only 150 were needed by Green Magnet at the time, the Church Street UMW nearly doubled the number, giving the school a welcome surplus at the height of the pandemic in Knox County.

“It’s truly the most talented group of people I’ve ever been around. And that is counting some really, really great companies,” Davison says. “They just don’t work better together than this group of ladies.” 

“Nobody cares to stick their hand[s] in and get them dirty,” Davison adds. “Nobody cares. It’s just amazing.” 

And just as there was no hesitation to help provide masks for the children of Green Magnet Academy, there was no hesitation to help provide the church community with a resemblance of normalcy, by offering a drive-thru bake sale option at the start of the holidays. 

The annual UMW Bake Sale is one of the most anticipated events at the church, as members race to the table to get the best goodies church members have to offer. And when the idea of a virtual bake sale was brought to the table during a virtual monthly meeting in 2020, it didn’t take long for UMW members Ann Reego, Dominick and Jean Galyon to say they’d lead the charge. 

With the help of Communications Director Katie Strangis, a sign up platform for baked goods was identified and sent to the church community with an invitation to contribute baked goods for the sale. Within a few days, Reego says she knew it would be a success. 

“The first two days, I was in tears,” Reego says. “We got so many submissions that I was drowning.” 

Once baked goods were donated, church members were able to reserve and purchase  baked goods they’d like online before coming to pick-up the weekend before Thanksgiving. In addition to baked goods, Tim Ward sold Messiah CDs from the Church Street Choir, , Rev. Jan Buxton Wade’s Table Graces Volume II was available, and the Service Circle of UMW made $800 in quilts, pillows and throws to contribute to the sale. 

With over 100 donors and 75 buyers, the bake sale fell into place and the profit was almost the same as a pre-pandemic year. 

“The Lord smiled on us, and it was a gorgeous day,” Reego says. “It was a Saturday morning with the sun shining and we just had everything dropped off and picked up.” 

Davison says that although she was nervous about the turnout, she can’t imagine the bake sale going any better. 

“If this were a corporation, if what we have done was a corporation or business, it gives me cold chills. I’d rate it higher than any business,” Davison says. “The commitment of the people is stronger than the commitment of any place I’ve worked in my career.” 

“I just have never seen anything like it and I thought I’d seen it all,” Davison adds. 

Because the fall bake sale was a resounding success, the UMW organized its Spring Gifts and Goodies Sale, just in time for Mother’s Day 2021. Again, the sale took place online, but this time it included handmade gifts from talented members of the Church Street family, including handmade cards, handcrafted wooden items, jewelry, and handmade garden decor, among others. On May 16, the UMW will lead the congregation in all worship services, in person and online, as the church celebrates the outreach and connection of this vital ministry in our community.   

If you’d like to learn more about the United Methodist Women chapter at Church Street United Methodist Church, please contact President Jana Davison. 

One of our favorite things about the spring semester each year is celebrating our graduating seniors.  And this year, we have a special Senior Spotlight series on our blog.  Our seniors answered interview questions earlier this spring and it has been so much fun learning their answers! Check back in each week to get to know our seniors better and help to cheer them on as they wrap up high school and prepare for their next steps!

Meet Margi Troxler!

What high school are you graduating from?
West High School
What are your plans for next year?
To attend the University of Mississippi!
What is your favorite bible verse?
“The Lord is my light and my salvation whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?” – Psalm 27:1
If you could choose one meal to eat for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Pizza with ranch!
If you could give some advice to your younger self, what would it be?
How will the choices you’re making right now affect you in the future?
What are your top 3 favorite movies?
Pretty Women, Mamma Mia, 10 Things I Hate About You
What is your favorite Church Street memory?
My first choir tour going Canada!! This trip was filled with so much fun and an experience I’ll never forget.
What are you most excited about going into the next season of your life?
I’m most excited about meeting lots of new people and being able to participate in all college activities!

Weekly Prayers for the Church Street Family

Week of May 2, 2021

Written by Rev. Jan Buxton Wade

You ask us, Lord, to abide in you, and we have pledged to do so. Yours is such an open and gracious invitation, but in our narcissistic society, our hearts are easily tempted to take shelter in unhealthy places, spending hours in ways that do not nourish our spirits. Forgive us, we pray, for focusing on the transient, for settling for second-best, when we could be daily enriched by your goodness. Call us home again, Dear Friend. Brush off the doormat that bids us welcome, and we will enter your abode where we shall be fed with trust and kindness. Make us resolute in soul, we pray, that we might never wander again.
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.
Source of Sustenance, in our roving, we confess the seeds you have planted in us have returned a meager harvest; but we thank you that you haven’t given up on us. As the Master Gardener, take those dormant kernels, long neglected and dissipated, tend them with your patient hand, and provide an environment of prosperity. We would yield savory and abundant crops for the kingdom in the season of life which we are given. May grace and peace and mercy and forgiveness be the fruits we bear, and may we share them generously in your Name.
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.
Vine of True Life, this week spring rains have poured forth torrents of your life-giving waters, assuring us of your constant care for all creation. As you replenish and sustain your good earth, replenish us with a spirit of thanksgiving, for our wells are full to overflowing with gifts from your benevolent hand. From the rising of the sun to the going down of the same, may Jesus Christ be praised!
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.
We are indebted to you, O Divine One, for sending us the Holy Spirit to help us in our yearning, for we truly do not know how to pray. We remain mystified by the suffering and pain that thrive throughout our planet and we long to be part of its healing. Send your soothing Spirit to our brothers and sisters in every region who are oppressed, misunderstood, lonely, hungry, and forgotten; and as each soul is dear to you, receive these particular petitions and thanksgivings offered by your followers at Church Street:
Joys
  • One appreciates completion of another round of chemo
  • Gratitude: Knee replacement surgery successful
  • Member recovering well from heart surgery
  • Member celebrates birth of twins: grand-niece & grand-nephew
  • Encouraging news of dear friend healing from Covid
  • Member celebrates a new living arrangement
  • Back surgery is bringing healing for member
  • Family thankful for church support during a bereavement
  • Gratitude: mother with leukemia much improved
  • Thankful: sister has been discharged from rehab facility
Concerns
  • Cousin recovering from triple by-pass surgery
  • Healing for mother & brother in New Delhi struggling with Covid
  • Relief for the people of India suffering from virus
  • Lift up member, new resident in assisted living
  • Cherished husband, healing of leg injury
  • Healing prayers: one undergoing knee surgery May 6
  • Encouragement for one in deep depression
  • Continued relief for one suffering from asthma
  • For brother-in-law’s successful heart surgery May 7
  • Steady healing for member with fractured femur
  • Patience & healing of painful shoulder injury
  • Comfort & safe travels for bereaved member
  • Full Covid recovery for single mother of two
  • Cherished aging father in assisted living
  • New hope for a husband who is discouraged
  • Healing for two afflicted with lymphoma
As ones aware of our weakness, yet trusting that you are our strength; as those harboring questions, yet knowing that you hold all answers, we lift up all our prayers to you in the name of Jesus, who taught us to pray:
Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.

Have a Prayer Request?

Sunday Morning Worship

Church Street is offering in-person worship experiences at 8:30 and 11:00 on Sunday mornings and online via YouTube at 11:00 each week.  We would love for you to join us!  If your family would like to attend in-person, please use the link below to register!
Senior Sunday
Each year, we are lead in worship by our high school graduates and it is one of my favorite days of the whole year.  On May 9, this year’s seniors shared their gifts and talents in a beautiful service.  This year has been particularly hard on our students graduating, and it was such a joy to honor and celebrate them!  If you missed the services, click below to watch!
Change the World Weekend
This weekend, Church Street’s missions committee is hosting an event called Change the World Weekend. Here is what the team says:
“We have the opportunity to be in service with one another for our neighbors, as the UMW and Missions Team partner to provide hands-on, intergenerational ways to be in service to our local community this weekend. We can change the world by starting in our own backyard.”  To learn more, head to the link!
Summer Newsletter
Our summer newsletter is live and available below! It has all the info you need for MAD in the City, Hang Time, Bible Study, and more!  Please be sure to check it out.
Earlybird registration ends Sunday, May 23. So please be sure to sign up if you want the discounted price!!
Summer bible study & Hang Time begin the first week of June!

One of our favorite things about the spring semester each year is celebrating our graduating seniors.  And this year, we have a special Senior Spotlight series on our blog.  Our seniors answered interview questions earlier this spring and it has been so much fun learning their answers! Check back in each week to get to know our seniors better and help to cheer them on as they wrap up high school and prepare for their next steps!

Meet Eli Cowart!

What high school are you graduating from?
Bearden
What are your plans for next year?
Start at Pellissippi for audio engineering and finish the conversion on my vintage van
What is your favorite bible verse?
The desire of the righteous ends only in good,
    the expectation of the wicked in wrath.” – Proverbs 11:23
If you could choose one meal to eat for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Buffalo wings
If you could give some advice to your younger self, what would it be?
To not be so hard on yourself
What are your top 3 favorite movies?
Here Comes the Boom
School of Rock
The Dark Knight
What is your favorite Church Street memory?
The New York choir trip
What are you most excited about going into the next season of your life?
My van conversion and the traveling I’ll do in it

Weekly Prayers for the Church Street Family

Week of April 25, 2021

Written by Rev. Jan Buxton Wade

Lord of Change, you show us the sacred in everything, even in the simple occurrences in our lives. As you are turning over the season, we feel the warmth of the spring sun, behold the fresh buds and green sprigs, and hear the early birdsong and chattering squirrels. Turn our souls over, too, we pray, that we might unearth the long buried pure intentions once rooted in our hearts. Direct us toward ways in which we might let the old fall away — the old ideas, the obsolete models, and our resistance to change. Transformation often comes with pain, but you, O God of New Beginnings, will instill us with courage to take our first wobbly steps down that rough road of renewal. Hear us, Lord, as we especially seek your transformation in these personal areas: . . . . . . . . . .
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

Good Shepherd, we, like sheep, are often myopic, wandering from one situation to another, frightened and disoriented, battered by grievous news of widespread illness and disaster, by blatant acts of violence and destruction, by racial misunderstandings and divisions, by knowledge of innocents who are undeserving of pain and death. Sometimes the weight of the world becomes too much for us to bear and our hearts remain broken. We recall the psalmist who knew you as the Good Shepherd; he never promised that all our pain and woes would cease. Rather, he assured us that you would comfort us with your rod and your staff. Comfort, O comfort your people, Lord, for we are worn and weary. Bring your sheep into your fold once again, that we might learn your gentle ways and follow you to pastures of healing.
Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer.

O Keeper, you are often looking out for us, even when we so carelessly graze in dangerous pastures. We pray we do not stray too far from the voice that calls out to us across the way. We know your voice, just as you know ours, so shelter us from all that threatens. And so, with confident hearts, we lay before you these prayers on behalf of our church family:

Joys
-Gratitude: member recovering steadily from surgery
-Blessing of Sunday’s confirmations and baptisms
-Thanksgiving: local availability of virus vaccines
-Appreciation for faithfulness of our Stephen Ministers
-One thankful that cancer meds seem to be working
-Gratitude that heart cath procedure went smoothly
-All who work to help solve violence in our neighborhood

Concerns
-Comfort for family mourning death of cherished husband
-Easing of back pain for one who suffers greatly
-Mother & brother in New Delhi afflicted with Covid
-Steady healing for member with fractured femur
-Patience & healing of painful shoulder injury
-Beloved niece in Iowa recovering from cancer surgery; & guidance for family members & medical personnel supporting her
-Prayers that mentor may recover from Covid
-Covid relief for all suffering in India
-Smooth transition for family moving to another state next week
-Healing touch of God for one in depression
-Easing of anger & tension between neighbors
-All mourning death of brother last Saturday
-God’s strength & courage for two struggling young women
-Healing for two afflicted with lymphoma

We thank you for putting in our hearts a desire to know you more fully, a desire to be more closely bonded to your Son, and a desire to be a better people. Watch over us this week, we may follow the lead of our great Shepherd of the Sheep, who taught us to pray:

Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil, for thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever. Amen.

Have a Prayer Request?

When the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in East Tennessee and caused closures across Knoxville, it was unclear how long a shutdown would last.

In a typical year, 6th grade students who choose to participate in Confirmation meet weekly with Rev. Rick Isbell to learn more about their faith, the traditions in the United Methodist Church, and how to live as a disciple of Jesus Christ. But this has not been a typical year. What was unclear at the start of the 2020-21 school year was if and how a confirmation class would continue at Church Street.

Isbell has taught the confirmation class since he first began ministering at Church Street. Isbell retired in 2019. Each August, he would welcome a new class of students, and spend the next 8 months getting to know them and leading them, along with supportive adult volunteers, in this new era of their faith stories. 

“I’d never envisioned that I would do confirmation over Zoom,” Isbell says. “I’d never imagined I’d do a lot of stuff this year through Zoom, but we’ve been able to do it.” 

This year, 6th and 7th graders have joined together weekly on Zoom for the 15-person confirmation class. 

The 2021 Confirmation Class poses for a group photo on Sunday, April 25 following their confirmation.

Getting started included church staff, members 

Isbell says that while he has led the conversation each week, one powerful lesson has come from teaching the confirmation class during a pandemic. 

“What I learned is it takes a church to teach a confirmation class,” Isbell says. “It’s not just me, it’s a ton of people that have really helped this come about.” 

The first step in moving the confirmation class online was deciding how to take the physical worksheets and interactive activities and replicate them online. Youth Director Jenny Cross developed the online presence for the class, creating an online folder for students to access with worksheets and lessons before arriving to Zoom class on Sunday mornings. 

Before Cross could add digital files to the online folder, Rick and Paula Buckner worked to organize and keep track of worksheets and lessons. Once a worksheet was needed, a church staff member like Children’s Director Katryn Bancroft or Associate Pastor Palmer Cantler would find the worksheet in the physical file at the church, share with Doris Lively in the front office who would then scan and send to Cross and Isbell. 

Once on Zoom, Melanie and Russell McNutt would ensure that the logistics of on-screen learning were ironed out. Russell is the host most weeks, and both make sure that screens are shared and students are muted at appropriate times. Jeri Strong also joins each Zoom meeting to take attendance. 

“It’s been challenging, but it’s also been rewarding to continue to see their faces every Sunday morning,” Isbell says. 

Class continues as planned, with only minor changes 

In previous years, the confirmation class has been very interactive, with games and other ways to keep the students engaged in their learning. As the class moved to Zoom, Isbell worried about the engagement of the students. 

As the class began in the fall, Isbell struggled to get responses on the Zoom format. But, through trial and error,  teachers realized the best way to communicate with the students was by using Zoom’s chat feature. In one 45-minute session, more than 100 chats were sent by the students. 

“One of my favorite things about the Confirmation process is observing these middle schoolers connect the dots between what we say we believe and putting our faith into action,” Cross says. “They are thoughtful, dedicated, and eager to learn. It is truly a joy!

In addition to Zoom classes each week, students have participated in mission activities to teach the importance of service and compassion in the Christian faith, just like they would any other year. The students collected items for Beacon of Hope Food Co-Op, and the first drop off for those items was at the end of February. The second drop off was on Saturday, and 330 total individual items were collected for Beacon of Hope by this year’s class. 

The students have also collected money for their compassion banks for Heifer Project International. This money was also dropped off on Saturday, and the total raised was $540. 

Confirmation Students and Parents met for an in-person, socially distanced Sunday afternoon retreat on April 11.

The major change for the class this year was the absence of the annual retreat. In years past students and parents would travel to an off-campus session with confirmation leaders for a spiritual retreat prior to Confirmation Sunday. In its place, parents have been required to participate on-screen the first Sunday of each month, and on April 11 a special session was held in the Church Street gym to cover some information typically disseminated at the retreat. 

Each confirmand has a mentor that is required to attend at least five sessions so they can understand what is being discussed and how to best be a guide and support for their mentee. In addition, clergy members Rev. Catherine Nance and Rev. Tim Best have joined a session from time to time. 

“We often say that our children and youth are the church of the future, but I would argue that they are the church of today,” Cross says. “They are already part of the body of Christ, uncovering their gifts and becoming more of who they were designed to be.”

“I believe that this ‘act of becoming’ ultimately makes us more like Jesus. And I’m grateful that Confirmation encourages our students to do just that.”

Complete list of confirmands: 

Stephanie Oluwakorede Dahunsi

Claire Beth Elliott

George Miles Anderson

Riley Catherine Cada

Elizabeth Mason Cada

William Young Caroll III

Sarah Elisabeth Cheatam

Samantha Jeanne Ford

Margaret Suzanne Galbreath

Kira Morgan Hertwig

Cole Houston Jackson

Kathryn Elizabeth Johnson

Lila Fay Jumper

Grayson Michael Parker

Mary Reagan Weaver

View a gallery of imagery from the 2021 Confirmation Sunday on the Church Street Facebook here.