Weekly Prayers for the Church Street Family

Week of July 25, 2021

Written by Rev. Catherine Nance

O God of Invitation, scriptures tell of folks who are far away being brought near by the grace of Jesus Christ. We thank you for the gift of worship that brings us near to you. Some of us have felt far away in recent days – some literally because of travel. Some are far away because of health concerns or fear of being in crowds, some are far away because of guilt or shame or depression. Even when we gather in person, there are those sitting on our same pew who still feel far away. What a gift worship is, O God who gathers us in. Our time of worship draws each of us near to you, and as we each draw closer to your throne of grace, we sense the presence of our brothers and sisters who also long to be near you.

Thank you for gathering us into one body, into one family. Today we bring our fragmented hearts and our broken spirits and you make them whole again. All praise to you, for you welcome all into your household; thus so, may we eagerly greet one another with compassionate spirits each time we are together.

When we bow before you in prayer, our hearts open and our petitions spill out. In speaking aloud to you the worries, the hopes, the anguish, and the joy that are in our hearts, we know you have already turned a listening ear towards us and are already breathing your Spirit into these petitions.  Open our ears, O Loving God, that we may hear how you desire us to respond, to think, to act, to dream.

As we pray for people who are far away — citizens of countries worn down by years of oppression and deprivation, citizens whose lives are disrupted by violence, for citizens in our own country who yearn for a return of order and safety, citizens of our northwestern states as forest fires and heatwaves continue.  Though all these are distant to us in miles, they are near to us in spirit, for you are the one who joins us all together.

We thank you for this church, for this particular congregation of the body of Christ and for the ministries and opportunities to serve. We give thanks for children who have learned new songs and for youth who have given of their time and energy; we are thankful for Sunday School classes meeting in new ways and reuniting in old rooms. We pray that the church that meets in this building knows full well that their hearts, their arms, their love, and, their awareness moves well beyond the walls to places we may never know.

We are indebted to you, O God, for you so freely listen and accept these murmured prayers, reflecting our dreams, hopes, and gratitude. Listen also, we pray, to these personal concerns and joys that live in the hearts of your people at Church Street:

Thanksgivings:

  • Thankful for prayers for brother with cancer
  • Prayers appreciated: Correct diagnosis made for young niece having seizures
  • One healing well after a fall
  • Knee injury is healing well
  • Two offer gratitude for the gift of prayer shawls
  • Family recovering from Covid
  • Father offers gratitude for daughter’s academic awards
  • Thanksgiving for generous friends supporting Beacon of Hope
  • Injections are offering relief for back pain
  • Grateful for prayers: one with back injury has returned to work

Concerns:

  • Prayers for family members refusing Covid vaccination
  • Friend in mourning – husband died following heart transplant
  • Two families isolating – Covid concerns
  • Comfort for elderly mother hospitalized
  • Continued physical healing of former Sterchi Lodge caretaker & comfort as she mourns the sudden death of her husband
  • Healing for friend symptomatic of ALS
  • Cousin in Texas, hospitalized with Covid
  • Lonely widow in poor health
  • Wisdom in diagnosing an intestinal malady
  • Prayers for son’s healing: PTSD and addiction
  • Family grieving death of mother on Tuesday
  • Protection and peace for two church families moving far away
  • Strengthening commitment of young married couple
  • Mending a broken relationship
  • Recovery for member in cancer treatment
  • Lonely ill widow
  • Two seeking relief from debilitating back pain
  • Healing for member — lengthy depression
  • Healing for friend — bone marrow transplant
  • One suffering complications following a rattlesnake bite

Lord of All, we, your wandering sheep, will travel roads both familiar and new in the days ahead. Stay close to us, through your grace, that our eyes remain open to your eternal truth; that our ears be open to your holy voice; that our minds be open to your love and comfort. And along the way, wherever we find ourselves, may our hearts beat in rhythm with the heart of Christ, who is the pulse of life itself:

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.

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Weekly Prayers for the Church Street Family

Week of July 18, 2021

Written by Rev. Jan Buxton Wade

We come at this moment, O Lord Most High, knowing it is your will that all people be bound together in love and harmony.  Truly, it has long been our prayer that we might become an integral part of your plan; we would be among those focused and resilient ones who uphold your foundation of grace and love.  We confess, however, that we have fallen short of your expectations and have failed in our resolve. Our prejudices and pride have resurfaced time and again to weaken the very structure we have sought to buttress.  Forgive our flaws, especially the countless ways in which we have excluded those who do not think or act as we, those whose lifestyles and experiences are vastly different than our own.  And in your mercy, tend the wounds, we pray, of those whom we have injured.  Turn us again toward your true words of welcome and acceptance, that we might find our unyielding place beside your Son, the Cornerstone of our Faith.

Renewing God, truly your faithfulness comes to us new every morning. Even the vaporous undulating clouds overhead, ever changing in their mystery, speak of your nearness and your promise of new beginnings.  We praise you for their silent message that clear skies live just above mounds of gray; and that, through your grace, fresh possibilities await.  Give us patience, we pray, to work in your name even when the times seem ashen, even when our efforts seem fruitless. When our discipleship grows stale, point us toward that untried avenue of service that you have already planned for us.  Give us such faith, we pray, that we might never doubt that your clarity ever shines beyond the haze.

It was Jesus who took a single scant meal of bread and fish on the mountainside, blessed it, and it provided enough to feed a multitude. We recognize how you have blessed us and are humbled that you have given us more than we could ever ask or deserve.  Even life in this realm is your sacred miracle.  Help us who are so richly blessed to bless the multitudes, as did our Lord.  Bless the hands of those among us who feed the hungry and reach out to the poor.  Bless the hearts of those who never forget the homeless, the ill, and the vulnerable. Bless the feet of those who transport your hope to the hurting across the globe.  May your power continue to flow through these humble servants who extend your mercy in abundance, as did Jesus.

Remembering that your Son receives every care we cast upon him, we share our deepest concerns this week.   And also acknowledging the ways in which you are sustaining us, we name our thanksgivings:

Thanksgivings:

  • Gratitude: husband recovering steadily in assisted living
  • Thanksgiving: member continues to heal following a fall
  • Family celebrates out-of-town wedding of last week
  • Thankful for prayers during long journey cross country and safe arrival
  • Prayers appreciated: Husband home from rehab
  • Gratitude for life of faithful Christian servant at Sterchi Lodge
  • Couple thankful for respite – travel in northern states
  • Family thankful for a son’s college scholarship
  • Family celebrates a daughter’s engagement
  • Grateful for prayers: Neck surgery went well
  • Thankful for prayers: No side effects experienced during cancer treatments
  • Celebrating children and leaders in successful choir camp
  • Prayers appreciated: Member managing radiation treatments

Concerns:

  • Continued health and protection for four mothers-to-be
  • Couple separated for four weeks, work responsibilities
  • Grace and patience for one healing from a leg injury
  • Mending a shattered friendship
  • Three members in physical therapy
  • Two seeking relief from debilitating back pain
  • One in longtime depression, for a new beginning
  • A friend healing from heart transplant
  • Healing grace for young mother with bone cancer
  • Healing for friend – bone marrow transplant
  • Comfort for husband wife separated in assisted living
  • Continued healing for mother with broken pelvis
  • A daughter and son-in-law with Covid and their family
  • Steady healing for brother with colon cancer
  • Longtime friend with advanced liver and lung cancer
  • God’s grace for young friend showing signs of ALS

We ask all these things with confidence, knowing that you hear us even before we ask, and we pray in earnest, using the words Jesus taught his first disciples:

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.

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Our youth had an incredible week last week. And while it sounds cliche, our students really did make a difference in our city last week. They finished mission projects with such efficiency that we had to work hard to find more projects for them to complete! But even more than that, they served with generosity and joy — it was a beautiful thing to behold. And it was so special to have our first big event back together. Multiplied students and parents shared about how meaningful it was to be back and appreciated that we shifted to make this event a possibility.

Here’s a list of all the projects completed at our various worksites in just a few days:

Wesley House Community Center
– hosted a virtual Walk-a-thon to raise funds for the capital campaign
– spent time in classrooms and playing with students
– sorted and labeled close to 2000 library books
– built new shelves for library storage
– took inventory on hundreds of school supplies and sorted for the upcoming school year’s distribution
– created a resource closet in the library for student supplies
– cleaned and organized the stage and gym storage
– provided storage solutions for storage areas
– provided daily lunches and field trips
– cleaned Wesley House vehicles inside and out
– set up a music room
– assisted with donation room and multipurpose room

Operation Backyard
– built parts for handicap ramps to serve at least 7 Knoxville homeowners
– built storage shelves and work tables for the OBY warehouse
– cleaned the OBY warehouse

Beacon of Hope
– sorted and labeled all food co-op items
– cleaned and organized food pantry area
– sorted all toiletries
– cleaned and set up a children’s area with a children’s library

Church Street Missions
– packed hygiene kits
– packed Blessing Bags
– packed disaster relief kits for UMCOR
– made laundry detergent for Sharing Shop and Beacon of Hope
– sorted Sharing Shop items
– wrote notes to homebound church members

Emerald Youth
– packed incentive goody bags for students
– packed STEAM kits
– cleaned gym and bleachers
– cleaned concession stand and took inventory on items
– cleaned and reset rec room

Wesley Foundation at UTK
– cleaned and organized storage areas
– cleaned and worked in kitchen
– prepared walls and bulletin boards for fall semester info

Church Street Youth
– cleaned all common areas and kitchen
– set Sunday school rooms for fall semester
– prepared mailings for all students

This year’s Summer Lecture Series marks the fourth year of the special opportunity created to educate the church body and the public on matters related to spirituality, history, archeology, social justice, current events and other religions (among other topics) in the context of Christian faith.

Last summer, the Education Committee pivoted to meet the health guidelines of our community to host a successful webinar-only lecture series. This series brought in national speakers and attendees , and it helped the committee explore the opportunity to provide educational opportunities for both Church Street and the broader community.

Dr. Valerie Cooper, Associate Professor of Religion and Society and Black Church Studies at Duke Divinity School and a 5th generation United Methodist, presented the first lecture of the series via webinar on Sunday, July 11. Her lecture, “Black Deaths Matter, Too: Doing Racial Reconciliation after the Massacre at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC,” which tackled  how to pursue justice in a contentious age. 

You can watch a replay of the lecture here

Each of the three remaining lectures will be in-person and hybrid. In-person attendees will be provided light, individually packaged refreshments. To join any lecture virtually, please click here. 

On July 18, Rev. Dr. Alex Thompson will present “Recognizing Jesus: The Appearances of the Risen Christ in the Synoptic Gospels”. He is Professor of Religion at Tennessee Wesleyan University and serves as pastor at Niota and Cedar Springs UMC. This will be an in-person and online hybrid event. 

On July 25, Dr. Reiff will share a presentation titled, “The Eyes of Jesus Were Upon Her: The Advent of Clergy Women in Mississippi Methodism.” The story explores the remarkable transformation of a previously all-male world of ordained clergy in early 20th century Mississippi to the later part of the century when more than 50 women were serving as ministers in some capacity in United Methodism (with 44 fully ordained). He is Professor Emeritus of Emory & Henry College. 

To finish the series, Dr. Rachelle Scott will present “Buddhism Beyond Meditation Cushion: Buddhist Action in the 20th and 21st Centuries” will delve into several examples of how monastic and lay Buddhists participate in social and political activism as acts of Buddhist piety in the 20th and 21st centuries. She is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Christian education has always been a vital part of Church Street’s ministry in the community. The Education Committee works each year to ensure that educational opportunities are brought to the Church community. 

With a proximity close to the University of Tennessee, Church Street has always been home to and attracted scholars of all types. The Education Committee works each year to ensure that there are always new educational opportunities, whether through Sunday School classes or special lecture series and events. 

The Education Committee hopes to develop training for Sunday School teachers this fall in an effort to revamp how we talk about, describe and share our Sunday School classes. An update to the language surrounding Sunday School will hopefully expand Church Street’s reach to new members of the community, and to United Methodists across the world. 

To learn more about Church Street educational opportunities, visit https://www.churchstreetumc.org/education/

Weekly Prayers for the Church Street Family

Week of July 11, 2021

Written by Rev. Tim Best

Gracious and Merciful God, you have indeed blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing that comes from heaven. We confess our tendency to grasp for more, while discarding the abundance which you have given us. Make us mindful of the many ways in which we are blessed and through which we are called to be a blessing to all those around us.

In a world that can often appear to be ruled by forces that divide, depress, and isolate, you, O God, have chosen us in Christ to enter into your presence. We pray that we might be a sign of your presence in the world. We pray for our youth who have gone out into our community this week and have partnered with our neighbors to make a difference in our city. We also pray for the children who have gathered to learn to sing your praises during children’s choir camp. Fill the youth, children, and their adult leaders with the certain knowledge of your abiding love, and give them energy for their labors.

God, you have destined us to be adopted children through Jesus Christ because of his love. We rejoice that have been called and claimed as children and heirs; give us patient humility to recognize that Jesus’ love is a gift we are called to share. Guide us to reach out in love to those who are alone, to those who we do not understand, and to those we would see as enemies. Our inclusion into God’s family is pure gift, help us to see all others as those who have also been invited into fellowship with God.

And within the fellowship of Church Street UMC, we lift up our praises and our concerns, believing that you will continue to hear us, to love us, and to heal us:

Thanksgivings:

  • Family appreciates prayers for ill wife, much improved
  • Thanksgiving: Husband’s injury will not require surgery
  • Celebration of a young son’s baptism last Sunday
  • Gratitude: Husband’s cancer scans were all clear
  • Gratitude: Grandson has completed lymphoma treatments
  • Family thankful for church member’s visit to an ill husband
  • One grateful for safe travel during storms
  • Sustaining grace for a bereaved family
  • God’s hand in bringing about a change of heart
  • Parents offer gratitude for a daughter’s wedding
  • Adult son’s heart tests were clear

Concerns:

  • Safety and guidance for sisters assisting ill relatives in California
  • Comfort and peace for a husband/father nearing death
  • Healing grace for a mother with bone cancer
  • Prayers for reparation of a broken relationship
  • A daughter and son-in-law with Covid and their family
  • Continued prayers for brother with cancer
  • Longtime friend with advanced liver and lung cancer
  • Healing relationships within a family
  • Prayers for one undergoing knee surgery on the 19th
  • Healing mercies for member having neck surgery next week
  • Continued healing for one in radiation treatment
  • Diagnosis for young niece experiencing seizures
  • Mother with fractured pelvis
  • Healing mercies for member beginning cancer treatment this week
  • Prayers for friend with cancer undergoing bone marrow transplant
  • Physical strength for wife and husband in physical therapy
  • Healing for an ill couple, professional performers

We pray in faith for that day when you will bring all things together in Christ, the things in heaven along with the things on earth. We pray for those who have died, and for those who grieve. We pray for peace amongst the nations, and for the unity of our community.

Living God, help us so to hear your holy Word that we may truly understand; that, understanding, we may believe, and, believing, we may follow in all faithfulness and obedience, seeking your honor and glory in all that we do; through Christ our Lord, 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?

Making a Difference (MAD) in the City is Church Street Youth’s annual summer mission project. This project is focused on serving Knoxville and is a longstanding partnership with the Wesley House Community Center. Historically, we have spent time each summer with Wesley House students by providing academic support with one-on-one schoolwork, playing games, going on field trips, and working on building projects.

This year, in order to honor COVID protocols, we are adding other service projects to the week to keep our groups smaller and support our city in even more ways. This summer, our youth will:

  • Continue in our partnership with Wesley House,
  • complete a house-roofing project, and
  • work with Beacon of Hope to help them prepare for a new school year.

Our students will be rotating between the three work sites during the days. In the afternoons & evenings, we will join together back at Church Street for fellowship, dinner, and worship before pick-up.

One new addition to the week is supporting Wesley House’s Walk-a-thon fundraiser to help with their capital campaign! Wesley House is currently working through the rigorous process of becoming licensed with the Department of Human Services. This will allow them to better serve the East Knoxville community in a wide variety of ways. The pandemic has shifted the way Wesley House operates and serves, like becoming a Food Pantry in addition to all of their other work.

Becoming licensed will open so many doors for this incredible group, but getting there requires substantial updates to their building. The Walk-a-thon fundraiser will help with getting their building up to code — a huge priority to help this ministry continue serving the community!

Our youth group will be doing a walk through Downtown Knoxville on Sunday, July 11 as part of our kick-off to MAD in the City.

Our goal in this Walk-a-thon is to raise $2500 for WHCC. Make a gift here.

Our week looks a little different than is has in the past, but it is also SO exciting to think about how much we can accomplish during this time! Our youth are generous with their time and energy each summer so that we can commit to serving the Knoxville community well. One of the verses we return to over and over again is James 1:22, which reminds us to be doers of the word, not just hearers. When our faith changes our hearts, it calls us to action. And this summer, we are answering that call by serving our city with joy!
Contact Jenny Cross at jcross@churchstreetumc.org with any questions.