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!

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

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. 

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 Claire Hamilton!

What high school are you graduating from?
Webb School of Knoxville
What are your plans for next year?
University of Tennessee – Go Vols!
What is your favorite bible verse?
Too many good ones to choose from!
If you could choose one meal to eat for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Grilled chicken, green beans, a sweet potato, and a chocolate chip cookie.
If you could give some advice to your younger self, what would it be?
Be kind to everyone you meet
What are your top 3 favorite movies?
How to Loose a Guy in 10 days, Legally Blonde, and 50 First Dates
What is your favorite Church Street memory?
All Mad in the Cities and Resurrection 6th grade
What are you most excited about going into the next season of your life?
Branching out and becoming independent. Also cheering on the Vols!

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 Franklin Smith!

What high school are you graduating from?
West High School
What are your plans for next year?
To attend Wagner College to play football.
What is your favorite bible verse?
In all your ways acknowledge him,
    and he will make straight your paths.”
– Proverbs 3:6
If you could choose one meal to eat for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Cowboy Ribeye
If you could give some advice to your younger self, what would it be?
Don’t listen to people that try and break you down and always be yourself.
What are your top 3 favorite movies?
Rush Hour 2, The Dark Knight, and The Hangover
What are you most excited about going into the next season of your life?
Being able to meet new people and get a new feel for life and school somewhere else.

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 Isabella Johnson!

What high school are you graduating from?
West High School
What are your plans for next year?
Majoring in Engineering at UTK while continuing to sing in choir
What is your favorite bible verse?
“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” – Galatians 3:28
If you could choose one meal to eat for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Honey Bunches of Oats
If you could give some advice to your younger self, what would it be?
Make an effort to spend as much time with your friends as possible because it will pass quicker than you expect.
What are your top 3 favorite movies?
Finding Nemo, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
What is your favorite Church Street memory?
Singing around the campfire at SLA, waking up to a winter wonderland on a high school youth retreat, and playing card games on the floor of the choir tour bus with all of my friends.
What are you most excited about going into the next season of your life?
Meeting new people that enjoy similar activities as me and learning how to be more self sufficient.

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!
Confirmation Sunday
This Sunday, April 25 is Confirmation Sunday!  We are so excited to welcome our 6th and 7th graders into the congregation.  They have worked hard all year and have been committed to Zoom meetings on Sunday mornings.  They have partnered in mission with the Beacon on Hope to provide items for the Food Co-Op and have raised funds with Heifer International to provide animals to families in need around the world.  If you want to help us celebrate this special Sunday, join us at the 8:30 service to welcome them!

In-Person NightLife

NightLife is back!! We had such a special evening on Sunday night as we gathered together for the first time. We’ll be back again this Sunday at 5:00 in the gym! Here is everything you need to know:
  • Masks are required and social distancing must be observed
  • Bring your own Bible
  • Temperatures will be checked upon arrival
  • Enter through either the CLC Breezeway doors or the Youth Area doors
  • NightLife will be in the gym
  • We will sit (6 feet apart) with our small groups for the whole evening and we won’t go into small rooms
  • Pick up will be in the Youth Lot at 6:00
  • We will have office hours until 6:30
We are SO THRILLED to be together and to see your faces. If you’re not ready to join us for in-person activities yet, please log in to Zoom! We’ll have a small group there as well.
Senior Deadlines Extended
Our original deadline for our college applications was set for Sunday, March 28. But due to some technical issues we are extending the deadline until April 30! Please get those applications in before that date! Let Jenny know if you have any questions.
If you have not submitted your form for Senior Form, please do that ASAP to be included as we celebrate the class of 2021!
MAD in the City
Mark your calendars for one of our favorite events of the year – Making a Difference (MAD) in the City! We’ll be serving together in mission July 11-14.
This year, we will modify the event to allow for appropriate COVID-19 protocols, so we won’t be staying overnight at church. But it is still going to be a special week of service, worship, and fellowship. Stay tuned for more info!

One of our favorite things about the spring semester each year is celebrating our graduating seniors.  And this year, we’re 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 Anna Grace Cathey!

What high school are you graduating from?
Webb School of Knoxville
What are your plans for next year?
University of Tennessee Knoxville
What is your favorite bible verse?
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall 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?
Mac and cheese
If you could give some advice to your younger self, what would it be?
Stand up for your beliefs
What is your favorite Church Street memory?
Children’s worship with Miss Sue
What are you most excited about going into the next season of your life?
Going to college!

One of our favorite things about the spring semester each year is celebrating our graduating seniors.  And this year, we’re 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 Graham Lischer!

What high school are you graduating from?
Webb School of Knoxville
What are your plans for next year?
Attend University of Virginia
What is your favorite bible verse?
“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'” – Jeremiah 29:11
If you could choose one meal to eat for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Steak and Potatoes
If you could give some advice to your younger self, what would it be?
Step out of your comfort zone.
What is your favorite movie?
Dazed and Confused
What is your favorite Church Street memory?
MAD in the City
What are you most excited about going into the next season of your life?
Meeting new people and discovering my career path.

One of our favorite things about the spring semester each year is celebrating our graduating seniors.  And this year, we’re 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 Mary Kate Holladay!

What high school are you graduating from?
West High School
What are your plans for next year?
Attend college (undecided as of now)
What is your favorite bible verse?
“I can do all things through who Christ who strengthens me.” – Philippians 4:13
If you could choose one meal to eat for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Chicken minis from Chick-fil-a
If you could give some advice to your younger self, what would it be?
Don’t take the little moments for granted- life is very precious and you should cherish it.
What are your top 3 favorite movies?
Titanic, 10 Things I Hate About You, Sound of Music
What is your favorite Church Street memory?
Getting the opportunity to start off my summer by traveling to a new place, singing to unfamiliar people, and growing closer with those around me in the youth choir.
What are you most excited about going into the next season of your life?
To step out of my comfort zone and experience new things that will help me grow as a person.