At the start of each summer, Church Street participates in a special hands-on mission project in conjunction with the Holston Conference. In an unprecedented year, the need was greater than ever, and the task more challenging than ever. 

Within the Holston Conference, projects in Liberia and Zimbabwe are supported by the fulfillment of buckets full of food and school supplies. For the past two years, Church Street has supported the Zimbabwe-based project Ishe Anesu, which is designed to provide education to under-resourced children. This is accomplished through the payment of school fees and the purchase of required school uniforms, books and stationery.

“American schools are funded by the state,” Associate Pastor Rev. Palmer Cantler says. “Many public schools in African countries are not free and require families to pay for the education of their children.”

The Ishe Anesu project also offers Christian education and values, family and social ethics and recreation while providing two meals a day. Those meals are supported in part by the Church Street congregation. 

In the two years Church Street has supported Ishe Anesu, Rev. Cantler has set a goal of fulfilling 50 food buckets. In 2019, the Tennessee Valley region of the Holston Conference sent 716 buckets to Zimbabwe. So far in 2020, 220 buckets have been sent. 

Each bucket is filled with 1 bag (4-5 lb.) sugar; 1 bag (4-5 lb.) self-rising flour; 1 bag (2 lb.) rice; 1 bag (2 lb.) dried beans; 1 powdered milk (10 oz. or less); 1 box (18 oz. or less) quick/instant oats; 1 bottle (48 oz. or less) cooking oil; 1 box (50 count or less) Splenda/sucralose; and canned ham (2 lb. total). 

The 5-gallon bucket must be packed strategically, Rev. Cantler says, because if one thing is off, it can be flagged by customs on its way to Zimbabwe and the whole shipment could be delayed. 

Before the pandemic, buckets would sit in the breezeway of the church, waiting for members to take them home and fill before returning on a specific day, or members could support the project financially. Volunteers would then check each bucket to ensure that each was packed correctly before sealing with a lid and loading for shipment. 

But as time for the annual hands-on project approached in 2020, Rev. Cantler was unsure of how to move forward with the buckets in a safe way, let alone fill 50 appropriately with a food shortage. Missions chair Katie Heatherly sparked confidence and the team decided to give it a try. 

Opting to ask the congregation to support financially, it was nearly a week before the donations from members funded 70 buckets, surpassing the annual goal of 50 buckets in record time. 

In addition to the financial giving from members, a church member affiliated with Home Depot learned about the project from the church newsletter and approached the missions team about donating the buckets for packing. Rev. Palmer also connected with a Kroger and Walgreens partner to order the appropriate food. Each partner coordinated the best way to safely order and transport supplies to the church. 

Masked and gloved, the missions team packed 70 buckets in one night, working socially distanced in an assembly line style. The buckets were packed and sent off to their recipients in Zimbabwe. 

“It was really amazing that we were able to do more,” Rev. Cantler says. But, little did she know when she received the updated numbers the next week that donations for the project had jumped to about $5,000— almost double what was received in the first week. 

In addition to learning that donations had far exceeded what she expected, Rev. Cantler felt confident that the team of volunteers could fill the gap caused by COVID-19’s impact on other churches in the Tennessee Valley region. She ordered more food, asked her contact at Home Depot for 50 more buckets and on Saturday, Nov. 7, volunteers packed 50 more buckets. This brings the total for the Holston Conference total to 270. 

“I hoped for 30 at the beginning of the year,” Rev. Cantler says. “120? I was astonished.” 

This miraculous act of giving by the Church Street congregation reminds Rev. Cantler of her word for the year: Flexibility. Early in 2020, events happened that began to be clear signs that God was showing her how to have flexibility in her life, and the Zimbabwe food buckets are no exception. 

“A big lesson in 2020 for me is God is abundant,” she says. “God has continued to show up in abundance and generosity and shown generosity in this congregation.” 

What started as a goal of 50 more than doubled, and it created quite the impact on the Ishe Anesu project as founder Maria Sabino Humbane and her team continue to support the immediate needs of the poorest of the poor. They can provide more opportunities for continued growth through vocational training and outreach programs to educate and empower mothers of Ishe Anesu children. 

“I just keep praying for abundance and flexibility and staying out of the way,” Rev. Cantler says. “No matter what, God will provide.” 

Want to become involved with Missions at Church Street? Learn more 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 introductory letter from Senior Associate Pastor Tim Best:


Dear Church Family,

Greetings to each of you! As I begin my ministry here with you all, I find the simple words of Paul from Ephesians 1:15-17 to be a powerful prayer.

“I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, and for this reason  I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers. I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him.”

I share these words from St. Paul’s letter for several reasons. First, they are good words for the time in which we find ourselves. Except for a small handful of folks that I had met before Covid and before I was projected to be one of your pastors, I have not met you. I have, however, heard of your faith. I have known many of your former pastors; I have met candidates for ministry from Church Street; I have been a part of Holston Conference for over a decade and have seen much of the fruit of your ministry beyond Knoxville. I have been praying intentionally for you, for all of the clergy and staff, and for our shared ministry since this spring when I was informed I would be serving with this storied community of faith. I have prayed that we can gather safely. I have prayed for the countless ministries and projects that have been postponed, cancelled, or reimagined.

Paul gives us a cue for our faith, even in the midst of crisis. Paul unites his prayers with his thanksgivings. Even as I pray for our transition, our return to worship, our longing for some sense of “normal,” I give thanks. Last week I joined a meeting to discuss the Summer Lecture Series. I was blown away by the effort that had been expended to reformat this annual program. I have already begun to connect with Sunday school classes that are meeting over zoom. My heart is full with thanksgiving for such commitment to the gospel and one to another. As Christians we are Easter people, a people of hope, even when our Easter celebrations, our farewells, and our welcomes are a stunted version of what we would like. Nonetheless, these things have happened. Our doors have been shut, but ministry hasn’t stopped. I have heard from some of our members that the shutdown and online meetings have drawn them closer to one another. The Nave is empty on Sunday mornings, but worship carries on. The beauty of our choir has even found a way to shine in this moment by gathering virtually and revisiting recordings. There is much for which to be thankful here at Church Street!

The climax of Paul’s greeting is about Jesus. I haven’t included the whole paragraph, but Paul quickly turns his focus on the God revealed in Jesus. I am encouraged that our shared focus is on Jesus, too. The challenges we face and the work we have ahead are all manageable in the light of Jesus’ love and grace. Though the times are strange I am overwhelmed with hope because of Jesus. This past Sunday I ended my pastoral prayer with the words of the children’s hymn: “Jesus loves me.” Many years ago now, a well-known pastor and theologian, Karl Barth, was asked at the end of his life what had been the most important thing he had learned while teaching and in writing his 38 volumes on theology. Barth reportedly responded with a smile as he began to sing “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” My prayer is that as we grow and serve together, our hearts may be transformed by Jesus as we come to know him ever more fully and faithfully.

Rev. Timothy J. Best

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 –


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

Join Conversations on Race as they host a relevant and timely book presentation and discussion of The Color of Law by Richard Rothstein, presented by Margaret Rowlett, J.D.

Register in advance for this meeting at the link below:
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.
In our continuing Conversations on Race: Building Authentic Relationships, we hope you will join us on Sunday, June 14, 3-5 p.m. via Zoom for a virtual presentation and discussion of The Color of Law, designated one of ten finalists on the National Book Awards’ list for the best nonfiction book of 2017.
RICHARD ROTHSTEIN, author of The Color of Law, writes:
“Today’s residential segregation in the North, South, Midwest, and West is not the unintended consequence of individual choices and of otherwise well-meaning law or regulation but of unhidden public policy that explicitly segregated every metropolitan area in the United States.” 
MARGARET ROWLETT, J.D., Knoxville native and now practicing attorney in Greensboro, NC, will present and lead our discussion. Ms. Rowlett is a graduate of Emory and Henry College and Duke University where she earned a law degree, as well as a master’s degree in public policy. She has for many years been involved in peace and social concerns and undoing racism through The First Friends Meeting in Greensboro, NC. Ms. Rowlett is also the daughter of Church Street UMC members, Rev. Pete and Ginny Rowlett.
Your presence and participation in this timely and important discussion are welcomed!
Questions? Please contact:
We look forward to seeing you on ZOOM, Sunday, June 14 at 3:00 pm. Check-in begins at 2:30 pm.
Remember to Register:
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.


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

“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: 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 so that we may help you receive a hard copy disc.

Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death came through sin, and so death spread to all because all have sinned—sin was indeed in the world before the law, but sin is not reckoned when there is no law. Yet death exercised dominion from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sins were not like the transgression of Adam, who is a type of the one who was to come.

But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died through the one man’s trespass, much more surely have the grace of God and the free gift in the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, abounded for the many. And the free gift is not like the effect of the one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brings justification. If, because of the one man’s trespass, death exercised dominion through that one, much more surely will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness exercise dominion in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.

Therefore just as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all. For just as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.


Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. Then Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!” When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Get up and do not be afraid.” And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone.

As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, “Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”