nave at half capacity

Written by Caroline Lamar, church member and guest blogger.

Today was our second Sunday back at church since before the pandemic. Despite masks and preregistration, it is wonderful to walk through those doors and worship together in person. To be clear, our church never closed. We fed our community members experiencing homelessness on Thursdays, we participated in Bible study, Sunday School classes, and even choir. Our sanctuary was closed to us though, so coming back has been a bit of a reawakening for me.

Our church nursery has not yet reopened which means there are lots of kiddos in “big church” as we often call it. Today, some of those kids were quite vocal in their participation, even in times which some might have deemed inappropriate.

To the parents of those noisy kids today I have a few words I want to share with you. First of all, I see you. OK, OK, I didn’t actually see you because you were somewhere behind me in the sanctuary. But I see you because I have been you. I know exactly what you went through to get your children up, fed, dressed (perhaps dressed again if the morning didn’t go well) and to church on time, or some proximity of on time. I recognize that right now you actually had to plan ahead of time to go to church because we are registering in advance, part of our Covid protocols. We have three children who are now teens/pre-teens but I remember well the way we used to plan church attendance around feeding, naps, and snacks. I can’t imagine adding a pandemic to the mix.

So in addition to seeing you, I also want to thank you for bringing your children to church. Our pastor mentioned before her sermon today how much she loves seeing all the children. I know our pastor; she really means this. It is not a platitude. It brings her (and the rest of us) great joy to see and hear children at church. I know that when your kids got loud/kicked the pew in front of you/dropped crayons/crinkled paper/asked in a mock whisper how much longer was this going to take…that you were sweating through your shirt and second guessing your decision to even come in the first place.

We had one of those Sundays many years ago. All three kids were not in the best mood. They were restless, they were loud. We attend a very traditional worship service and I was keenly aware of those parishioners around me. I felt responsible for “ruining” their worship experience. I knew they were watching and silently judging me. That day after church an elderly member of our congregation passed me a note and walked away. I shoved it in the pocket of my coat and hurried everyone out to the car. I knew the note was probably saying I should get my kids under control during worship. Later I opened the note and it said, “You have a beautiful family.” Full stop. That little note on a scrap of paper completely changed my perspective. Kids need to be kids, even in worship, especially in worship. And while I obviously wasn’t there, I like to think of all the times Jesus preached to noisy crowds of people. I would venture to guess it was loud…small kids running around, livestock making their presence known, shouts from nearby shopkeepers. Silence isn’t a prerequisite for worship. Is it good to have times of silence? Yes, of course, but noisy kids in church do not detract from anything the rest of us are trying to do.

Because church isn’t about me. It’s not about my “experience.” It is about worshiping God and the risen Christ, and quite frankly, when I think of it that way, why are any of us quiet about it?

Our church isn’t doing congregational hymns right now, and the music is being provided by a choral ensemble. Today, as they sang the Doxology (a song that gets me EVERY single time), I could hear the little girl two pews in front of me. Even behind her mask, she was singing loudly, “Praise God from whom all blessings flow.” It reminded me of another of my favorite hymns, “How Can I Keep From Singing?”

Through all the tumult and the strife
I hear its music ringing,
It sounds an echo in my soul.
How can I keep from singing?

So moms and dads with noisy kids in church, please don’t stop bringing them. Let them make noise and praise God in their own ways. If you see me cast a glance in your direction, just know I have been in your shoes and I remember. And since I am firmly on the other side of that phase of parenting, I want to tell you that one day your children will get themselves dressed for church and they will join you in the pew and recite the prayers and listen to the sermon and ask insightful questions on the way home. Hang in there, you’re doing great.

This blog was originally published on Caroline’s personal blog here

Two vaccines are now being offered to prevent COVID-19. Pfizer-Biontech and Moderna vaccines have been released under Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) by the FDA. Both are messenger RNA vaccines (mRNA) which work by teaching our cells how to make a protein that triggers an immune response. The mRNA from the vaccine does not enter the nucleus of the cell, which is where our DNA is kept. This means the mRNA cannot affect or interact with our DNA in any way. COVID-19 mRNA works with the body’s natural defenses to safely develop immunity. These vaccines were >90% effective in clinical trials.

Two doses required. Pfizer vaccine is given 3 weeks apart, Moderna vaccine is 4 weeks apart. Both doses must be from the same manufacturer. You will receive a vaccination card with your first dose documenting manufacturer and lot number for the product you received. Take a picture of it to serve as a back-up. You will need to present it when getting the second dose and information from that dose will be added.

Allergic reactions are possible but rare. As with any vaccination, you will be asked to remain in the area for 15 minutes afterwards in case a severe reaction occurs. If you have a history of severe allergic reactions, you will need to stay for 30 minutes. Unlike other types of vaccines, these do not contain eggs, preservatives, or latex.

Side effects are most common after the second dose. These flu-like symptoms are usually gone after 36-48 hours. Some vaccine centers are advising to avoid premedicating with acetaminophen (Tylenol) and anti-inflammatory drugs (Advil, Aleve, Naprosyn, ibuprofen, aspirin, etc.) and avoid for 6 hours after the vaccine. This is due to concerns these drugs might decrease your response.

How can I get a vaccine? There is a master plan based on specific groups because of limited availability. These two companies are working to supply not only the U.S. but countries around the world. Three more U.S. companies have a vaccine in clinical trials. Visit COVID-19 Vaccine Information | TN COVID-19 Hub and look at COVID Vaccine FAQs to find “How do I know when it’s my turn to receive the vaccine and how do I register?

Health Departments are scheduling appointments as they receive shipments. You do not have to be vaccinated in the county where you live. However, you should return to the same location for the second dose to ensure it is from the same manufacturer. More information can be found at County Vaccine Information – TN COVID-19 Hub.

Some Health Care Systems are partnering with Health Departments to offer vaccines to the public. Check with Covenant Health at COVID-19 Vaccines for Older Patients I Covenant Health to see when additional vaccination clinics will be available. If your primary care provider is part of the UT Health System you should contact their office to schedule a vaccine appointment at the medical center.

Pharmacies are currently vaccinating long term care and assisted living facilities but should have doses for the public when that phase is completed.

Get the vaccine even if you have had COVID-19. Duration of natural immunity (from actual infection with the virus) is not known. There are reports of re-infections occurring more than 90 days after the initial one.

Continue to wear a mask and follow precautions as before vaccination! It takes about 2 weeks after the second dose to achieve protection. And, there is not enough data at this time to know how long immunity lasts. There is also concern that an immunized person can be exposed to the virus and then shed it to others but not become infected themselves.

Women who are pregnant or considering pregnancy should speak with their doctor. Current guidelines from obstetric organizations recommend the vaccine, stating benefits outweigh risks. However, it is always best to discuss with your doctor to ensure you have the most up-to-date information.

Remember members of your Parish Health Team are available for help with questions or concerns! You may leave a message with the church office to request a call.

Submitted by: Vicky Shelton D.Ph.; Cathy Goff MSN, RN; and Kathleen Harwell MSN, MBA

Learn more about the Parish Health Ministry Team here.

Church Street is pleased to welcome Rev. Catherine Clark Nance, Senior Pastor, and Rev. Tim Best, Senior Associate Pastor, to our clergy leadership team. They join Rev. Palmer Cantler, Associate Pastor, Rev. Dr. Jan Buxton Wade, Minister of Spiritual Enrichment, as well as our Visitation Pastors, Rev. Pat Clendenen and Rev. Andy Ferguson. Enjoy this welcome letter to Church Street from Rev. Catherine Clark Nance:

Dear Church Family,

I would love to say, “It has been wonderful getting to meet so many of you!” I long for the day to shake hands and ask you to repeat your name for me. In the meantime, I am scrolling through Facebook and looking at a pictorial directory I found in my office from 2016 trying to learn some names and faces.

Since I cannot see you right now, I have spent time seeing where you worship and learn and fellowship. I always feel at home in a United Methodist Church building. Regardless of the architecture, location, and age, there are things all Methodist churches have in common. I have enjoyed walking the hallways and seeing the information on bulletin boards, the leftover hearts from Valentine’s Day that the children taped to the walls, collection bins for UMCOR items as well as local agencies. I love the smell of the library and how the UMW Reading List books are prominently displayed. (The colorful butterflies created by children say that all ages are welcome here!)

Sunday School rooms tell a lot about the people who meet there each week. The items you display and the things you store in cabinets, signup sheets for refreshments and teaching, and prayer concerns written on the board all say that Christian fellowship and education are important. I have spent time in each room I visited offering a prayer of thanksgiving for the learning that has gone on. I imagine conversations that have taken place as members strive to love and care for one another in difficult times.

Although I cannot visualize who sits in which pew, I assume most of you usually sit in the same spot! I have sat in different pews while listening to one of the students practice organ and offered prayers for those who come each Sunday. Prayers of gratitude are offered also for those whose precious memories fill the room as well as those we will welcome in the future.

In this time of being physically apart, I often pray the hymn by John Fawcett:

     Blest be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love;

     The fellowship of kindred minds is like to that above.

I pray that we are each aware of God’s Holy and Connecting Spirit; the tie that binds. Through the mystery and benevolence of the Holy Spirit, we are indeed together. I am grateful to be joined with you at Church Street United Methodist Church. The clergy here have welcomed Rev. Tim Best and me graciously. We look forward to working alongside Palmer, Jan, Andy, and Pat. Your staff has made transition easy! How fortunate we are to have a committed and talented staff! I know you appreciate them!

As the hymn continues,

     … we shall still be joined in heart

     And hope to meet again (let’s change ‘again’ to ‘soon’!)

Thankful for all of the ways we can be joined!

Blessings to you –

Catherine

Our thanks to the 350+ individuals (and a few families) who responded to the Church Street COVID-19 Check-In survey that was sent in mid-May. The check-in asked questions about thoughts and attitudes toward re-gathering for in-person activities, how members are engaging with online worship opportunities currently, and a self-reporting of individual health and personal stress.

Click here to view the full report.

 

The summary findings are:

Findings regarding future in-person worship: 

  • A critical mass of worshipers exists for in-person worship, contingent on safety
    precautions for some
  • These interested worshipers express favorable willingness and acceptance
    of precautions for in-person worship (such as mask wearing, temperature checks,
    pre-registration, social distancing, etc.)
  • The best indicator of when to resume in-person worship should be science-linked
    information (vs. economic)
  • There is no apparent desire to rush resumption of in-person worship services

Findings regarding parish health:

  • Indicators suggest the pandemic has had adverse effects on people’s mental
    health, financial stress and job stability
  • More than half of respondents report spiritual growth during the pandemic

Findings regarding current ways of worshiping:

  • There has been widespread viewership of online worship services, but less-so of
    other online meetings/events
  • Most viewing of online worship has centered on CSUMC
  • Rev. Wade’s prayers have been widely followed
  • Music events and spiritual enrichment services lead a list of several other desired online worship offerings

In this time of injustice and unrest, we are seeing a plethora of resources being shared to learn more about and stand up to racism.

The United Methodist Church has provided some great resources, practical and spiritual, that can help us learn more about allyship and action during the road ahead to protect our black and brown brothers and sisters in Christ.

The graphic shown here can be downloaded and used as a FB profile pic to show your solidarity.

Bishops United Against Racism

Bishops LaTrelle Easterling and Robert Farr discuss racism, the killing of George Floyd by the police and the protests happening across the US.  Listen to this episode of the Get Your Spirit in Shape podcast by clicking here.

Why Black Lives Matter: A Spiritual View

What is required of humanity to address the issues of mass incarceration, police brutality, and so many more?

#BlackLivesMatter!  A growing global movement of the same Twitter hashtag name addressing the civil and human rights of a new generation has been born. A 2016 piece from Rethink Church. Click here to read more.

Moving Toward the Pain

Erin Hawkins responds to the death of George Floyd. General Commission on Religion and Race (GCORR) website. Click here to read.

Compass Podcast: Speaking for What’s Right with Rob Lee

Rev. Rob Lee, a descendant of Confederate general Robert E. Lee and visitor to Church Street, talks to the Compass podcast about staying strong in the face of criticism around his outspoken support of #BlackLivesMatter. Click here to listen to the episode

Racial Justice Conversations Guide

Ideas about engaging with others in difficult, but important conversations on the topics of race, privilege, and inequality. Helpful resources and discussion questions for small groups, too. Click here to see this resource.

 

Ways United Methodists can stand against racism

Practical ways those in the UMC can act against racism. Click here for these resources.

 

United (Methodists) Against Racism

The United Methodist Church’s campaign to recognize racism as a sin, commit to challenge unjust systems of power and access, and work for equal and equitable opportunities in employment and promotion, education and training; in voting, access to public accommodations, and housing; to credit, loans, venture capital, and insurance; to positions of leadership and power in all elements of our life together; and to full participation in the Church and society. Check out the resources by clicking here.

Though we won’t be able to join together in person during Holy Week, Church Street offers several offerings online that will honor these most important days of the Christian year: Jesus’s death and miraculous resurrection.

Our YouTube Channel is linked here

Holy Week Worship Opportunities:

+Stations of the Cross: A new display of 14 masterworks is available for your private viewing and spiritual meditation throughout Holy Week. Each painting depicts a gripping event in the final drama of Jesus’s life on earth. Premieres on Sunday, April 5 on YouTube.

+Holy Week Devotion: Live on Monday, join Pastor Palmer as she follows the lectionary with greetings, scripture from the daily lectionary, a short message, and prayer. On the Church Street Facebook Page at noon, and afterward on YouTube.

+Holy Communion on Maundy Thursday: Join us at 7 pm on Thursday, April 9 on our YouTube channel for a virtual communion table with our clergy. We encourage you to use items in your home already (do not go to the store and risk illness). Preferred items are grape juice and baked bread, but any juice or liquid, along with bread or crackers will work to take part in this spiritual practice.

+Good Friday Program: In remembrance of Christ’s Passion and death, this contemplative program will feature the Passion account from the Gospel of John read by Terri Ward, interspersed with organ chorales played by Edie Johnson. Premieres on Friday, April 10 at noon on YouTube.

+Easter Sunday Worship: Join us for worship on Sunday, April 12, as we celebrate the risen Lord! Premieres Sunday, April 12 at 10 am on YouTube.

+Daily Prayers: We hope you are enjoying Pastor Jan’s daily prayers. If you would like to receive them by email, contact communications@churchstreetumc.org.

“Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” – Colossians 3:15

As a body of Christ, we are thankful and fortunate to have resources to continue our worship and work for the Lord, to have dedicated and prayerful members and staff to visit (limited) and call our most vulnerable, and to have so many arms that reach out into the community, even in times of crisis and uncertainty, to care for our neighbors who are hurting.

Church Street wants to stay connected with you and through you in new and creative ways during this time of social distancing and protecting ourselves and each other. Holston Conference Bishop Dindy Taylor issued a letter on March 18 that churches in the conference shall suspend all gatherings until further notice; therefore Church Street’s worship gatherings, Sunday School classes, and all other in-person meetings, activities, and events have been suspended indefinitely.

We are planning ahead for weeks, possibly months, apart and are happy to share the schedule below of how to connect with Church Street (this is evolving):

+ Worship will be shared each Sunday at 10 am online. These sessions, recorded each Thursday with individuals separately to adhere to social distancing guidelines, will honor our Sunday worship services as much as possible, with greetings, music, scripture, children’s moments, homily, prayer, and benediction all included. These will “premiere” on Sundays at 10 am on the Church Street Facebook Page and our website. Due to the visiting restrictions at WVLT, Rejoice! at 8 AM on Sundays will, for the foreseeable future, be previously aired content.

+ Devotion LIVE at Noon, each Monday & Thursday. These short scripture / homily messages will be shared each Monday and Thursday via our Facebook page using Facebook Live. To view, either tune in at noon on those days live and participate in the comments section, OR you can access the video after it has “aired” live using the links on our Connect webpage: https://churchstreetumc.org/connect. All you need is a prayerful heart, about 5-10 minutes, and an Internet connection.

+ Daily Prayer Guide. Pastor Jan is putting together beautiful daily prayers that help us connect to and pray for those amongst us who have joys and concerns. These prayers are sent to our Messenger email list each morning, and they are also posted to the webpage above and to our Facebook page.

If you do not have easy access to our online offerings, please contact communications@churchstreetumc.org so that we may help you receive a hard copy disc.

Dear Church Street Family and Friends,

We are living in an uncertain time, but we can be very certain of God’s love for us all. Our clergy, staff, and Parish Health Ministry Team (PHMT) are continuing to monitor the increased number of cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. and locally. As of today, there has been one identified case in Knox County.

As we have monitored the spread of this disease, we have considered both the size of our corporate worship and the vulnerability of many of our members to COVID-19. Today, Holston Conference Bishop Virginia “Dindy” Taylor shared the following with the Conference:

 “…I strongly urge the churches of Holston Conference to suspend worship and large-group gatherings beginning today for the next two weeks.”

(read the entire letter here)

Thus, Church Street will suspend all large group gatherings, including Sunday worship and Sunday School, beginning Sunday, March 15 until Tuesday, March 31, and church leaders will re-evaluate and communicate next steps no later than March 31. All events, activities, and meetings are also canceled through March 31.

 

Here are some additional details:

  • “Attending” Worship: You can watch Rejoice! on WVLT each Sunday morning at 8 am. Clergy are working on ways to continue to share scripture and a homily or sermon through video. Please watch for further communication so that you can connect with the Word.
  • Staff: Church staff will still be working at the church at their discretion (otherwise, they will work remotely). Our custodial staff will use this time to do some deep cleaning of our space. The church will be closed, however, to any non-staff persons.
  • Outreach Ministries and Missions: All of our populations served by our missions will continue to be served in amended ways, and each outreach ministry will enact plans to protect both those serving and those served. This, too, is fluid and may change. Contact Rev. Cantler if you have questions.
  • Offering: The operations of the church move on! If you choose, you may still mail your offering to the church – staff will be on site. This might be a good time to set up your online giving. It’s simple – you may go to the Give section of our website, linked here, or download the Give Plus App.

Rest assured, we will continue to provide updates and communicate from the church when needed, and we will re-evaluate and communicate our next steps with you through as many channels as possible.

 

We offer this prayer for you to use at home or with family, as we continue to move through these uncertain times:

Lord God, hold those who have contracted this virus and their loved ones in your mighty hands, as well as those who are in vulnerable populations. We pray for our health care workers around the world who are exposed and working tirelessly to treat and care for our brothers and sisters. We pray, too, for all the leaders of governments, organizations, businesses, and service providers of all kinds who are making hard decisions with serious repercussions in all directions. And Lord, we look forward to the time when we will worship together again at Church Street, having moved through this uncertain time hand-in-hand with you. In Jesus’s name we pray, Amen.

 

Sending you and your family prayers of hope and healing, and assurance of God’s love for us all.

Your Church Street Family