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First United Methodist Church
Bristol, Tennessee

Your Weekly e-Newsletter and Events Schedule
March 28 – April 3, 2019
Fourth Sunday of Lent
March 31, 2019

Luke 15:1-3, 11b-32
Lenten Practice #4: Prodigal
Rev. Brandon Berg

From the Pastor’s Pen
Last Thursday, the clergy of the Clinch Mountain District gathered to have a learning and planning session around a new model of doing ministry together: Missional Hubs. The idea of Missional Hubs has roots in the Cooperative Parish model, in which multiple churches come together to do ministry that they lack the numbers or means to accomplish individually. While multi-church charges simply share the burden of a pastor’s salary, a Cooperative Parish shares ministry that they envision together. A Missional Hub brings potentially more churches together, focusing on the missional work we can accomplish when we connect our resources and people.
I’ve lost your attention, haven’t I?
The differences can be subtle.
The Missional Hubs of the Clinch Mountain District all made their way to different tables and began the process of introducing themselves and their churches. The clergy of the Bristol, Tennessee, Missional Hub sat together and bypassed the formalities to get right down to business, sparing a few longing glances at the Bristol, Virginia Missional Hub table.
We’re ahead of the game.
We learned a few years ago that there are things we can do together that we can’t do separately. It seemed silly to have this many United Methodist congregations in such a tight little twin city and not to be doing ministry together.
We know how important our connection is. We value it far above our differences of theology or ideology. We know that we serve a God who brings people together from backgrounds far more diverse than we could ever imagine. Connectionalism is vital to the life of the Church.
We need each other.
We are one Body.
That concept is probably more formative to my theology and my homiletical work than much of anything else. Fundamental to all my work as a pastor is the understanding that God has called us to be one in community, just as our Triune God is One in Three.
Sometimes, though, we churchy people do things that tear at the bonds that ought to keep us together. We beat each other up and we use language that excludes people and we arrogantly assume that our understanding of God is more clear, more focused, more informed than someone else’s. That language gets met by similar vitriol from people who disagree with us, which makes us respond with strength, and the responses become cyclical until all we can do is scream at each other.
A few weeks ago, I signed a petition to tell our Tennessee legislators that their vitriol had gotten out of control, and that the legislation they were considering was nothing but harmful. The Bristol Herald-Courier heard about it and decided they needed to talk to me. I was as honest as I could be.
There is a place for protest and for standing your ground. There is a place for prophetic speech. There is a place for promoting unity among the Body of Christ, too. It is my job constantly to find the place either where those meet, or where we are called to lean toward unity or toward prophetic action.
I hope I occasionally make the right choice.
I stand by my work in the pulpit. I stand by my words in the Herald-Courier article. I stand by people living on the margins. I stand by you.
I hope you’ll stand with me.

Feed the Hungry Offering
This week’s “Feed the Hungry” Offering will go to Holston United Methodist Home for
Children in Greeneville, TN. For the children and staff of Holston Home, Fifth Sunday
offerings throughout our Annual Conference give children a chance to encounter
acceptance and love and hope for their future.

Holston Conference Lenten Devotion
As we follow along on the journey with Jesus to the cross, the season of Lent calls us to a time of prayer, fasting, and giving. Lent is also a time of contemplation, a time of dedication, and a time of preparation.
Our hope and prayer is that these reflections might encourage you as well as enhance and deepen your experience of the Lenten journey this year. Please read the Scripture for each day, and then read the reflection, followed by the prayer, closing thought, or challenge offered by the author.

Meals On Wheels
Could Use a Helping Hand
Did you know that the 4th Tuesday of each month several of our dedicated members gather to make food for people of our community who might otherwise not have a hot meal that day?
Baked spaghetti, bread, peaches, cottage cheese, and salad are prepared,
packaged, and delivered to an average of 48 households.
But our Meals on Wheels Team needs a helping hand.
Please consider being a Driver, delivering food to approximately 7 houses on a specified route. It will only take about an hour of your time, and your help will make a big difference to both the recipients and our church Meals on Wheels Team.
Call Brenda Hobbs or Julie Blanton
423-968-4391 or 423-914-9820

In Worship Last Sunday
Luke 13:1-9
Lenten Practice #3: Patience

Draw us together in your love, O God. May our
restless hearts not resist you, but continue to
search until they find their rest in you.

There’s a wideness in God’s mercy like the wideness of the sea;
there’s a kindness in God’s justice, which is more than liberty.
If our love were but more simple, we should rest upon God’s word;
and our lives would be illumined by the presence of our Lord.
~Frederick Faber, 1854

God sends us out to empty our gifts for others.
Let us charge whatever we need to grace’s account.

A tremendous THANKS goes out to Alan and Karen Hale and Tom Felty for all the new ceiling tiles in Tankersley Hall. Looks great and should stay that way now that Summit Roofing found and fixed the leak. Also, thanks to Alan and Karen Hale for replacing almost all the lights in the sanctuary. It is much brighter and energy efficient using LED bulbs.
The central question is, Are the leaders of the future truly men and women of God,
people with an ardent desire to dwell in God’s presence, to listen to God’s voice,
to look at God’s beauty, to touch God’s incarnate Word
and to taste fully God’s infinite goodness?

The lovely flowers that graced our Altar on Sunday
were given by Larry and Kathy Wagner and cut
from this gorgeous Camellia bush at their home.

God’s Seasonal Beauty Graces the Church Grounds
I do not understand the mystery of grace — only that it meets us
where we are and does not leave us where it found us.
~Ann Lamott

In Children’s Worship Last Week . . .
Our lesson was from Isaiah 55.
The word for this week was “provide.” 
When God’s children were suffering in exile,
God spoke to His prophet, Isaiah.
He said to Isaiah, “Say these words to my people:
‘Your God will take care of you and provide all your needs.'” 
Mr. Mike had us play a game guessing what food we love best. 
God doesn’t have to guess what we need. 
He already knows, and He provides it. 

Clinch Mountain Mission Project
School Kits for Liberia
District Goal – 400 Kits

School Kits are being turned in!
Watch for the last turn-in date to be announced soon.

Thank you for supporting the
Hands-on mission project!

Church Financial Report
The General Budget balance will be posted as quickly as possible following
the end of each month. This gives the most accurate picture of the financial status for First UMC.

    February 28 Balance (-)$11,543.47 

Can you see the spiritual in the every day?
We have a challenge leading up to Easter to help open our eyes the presence around us. Post a photo in response to the word each day (or as many days as you can)!

Wednesday Evening Activities – April 3
The Fellowship Class
A Crazy, Holy Grace:
The Healing Power of Pain and Memory
by Frederick Buechner
5:30 p.m. in the Library
Bring a snack to share.

Youth . . .
Let’s Play Walmart Tag!
Join Us at 6:30 p.m.for an Evening of Fun and Fellowship with a Message!
Come Sundays from 9:30 a.m. to
10:30 a.m. for Biblical Exploration.

Note: Date and time have changed
Combined Cluster Youth Night at YMCA
Saturday, April 13, 6:25 p.m. to 9 p.m.

The doors are locked at 6:25 PM, and other than the lifeguards (provided by the Y and supervised by John Mack) we will be the only people in the building. 

We will have access to the children’s and adult pools, Gym and children’s gym (climbing tower/slides), game room and most of the exercise equipment. Please remember to bring $3/person to pay and tip the life guards. 

Lenten Luncheons
an Offering of the United Methodist Churches of Bristol
The Wednesdays of Lent 2019
Worship and Mid-Day Food & Fellowship
Worship: 12:00 p.m. – 12:30 p.m. / Lunch: 12:30 p.m. – 1:00 p.m.

April 3
Trinity UMC
320 Carter Street
Bristol, VA
Message by: Earl Maine
April 10
John Wesley UMC
311 Lee Street
Bristol, VA
Message by: Clara Bristol
April 17
Addilynn Memorial UMC
3225 Avoca Road
Bristol, TN
Message by: Joyce Moore

Organ Concert with Kenneth Miller
Sunday, March 31st, 2019, 3 p.m.
St.Thomas Episcopal Church
124 East Main Street • Abingdon, VA

Kenneth is assistant professor of church
music at the School of Theology at
Sewanee, and serves as organist and
choirmaster of the Chapel of the Apostles.
He will be performing works of Bach,
Walther, Mendelssohn, and Rogg.
Also performing will be St. Thomas’ own
Schéry Collins.
Admission at no charge
as a gift to the community.

Be a Shepherd.
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were
harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Matthew 9:36 ESV

The Children’s and Youth Departments will host an Easter Egg Hunt on Easter Sunday morning, immediately following a Joint Worship Service at 10:00 a.m.
Over the next three Sundays, would you help us by bringing
small novelty toys
or a small monetary donation (to offset costs)
Items must be small enough to place inside a plastic Easter Egg.
You may leave donations on the desk in the front office.
Your help will be so appreciated!

Spring Yard Sale
May 31 and June 1

Items may be stored at the church until time for the sale.

Camp Ahistadi Needs Your Help!
We have access to a beautiful corner of creation in our Clinch Mountain District: Camp Ahistadi. The District camp is nestled in in the Jefferson National Forest just south of Damascus, Virginia. The physical location of the camp is 209 Ahistadi Lane, Laurel Bloomery, Tennessee. The Camp Ahistadi Advisory Committee strives to provide a clean and safe natural space for church camps and events – but we rely on churches in the district to help with minor maintenance and repairs.
Spring tasks for this season are on March 30 and/or April 6 (rain day):
Project 1:  Prepare Pavilion - Remove and haul off rotted wooden handicapped ramp, repair sagging shutters, refurbish fire circle area, haul off old basketball goal, and clean up activity field.
Project 2:  Dig out behind cabins – Dig out dirt and leaves that have accumulated and spread nearby. Shovels, mattock and buckets needed. Four cabins.
Project 3: Pressure-wash Lodge basement – Pressure-wash basement and rinse walls with Borax solution. Requires adult supervision. Masks/protective gear available.
Project 4: Clean cabins – Walls, bathrooms, windows and mirrors. Four cabins.
Project 5: Clean Lodge  Clean and sanitize kitchen, wash & dry all mattress covers and dish towels. Clean up/organize left over building materials under front porch.
UMM, UMW, Youth, Sunday School, other church groups, family and
friends all welcome!
Free Hot Dog Lunch!
Call Denton Staley, 276-783-5194, or Hunter Bradley, 276-628-6323,
to schedule a project for your group between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

Registration for Summer
Camp 2019 Is Open!!
To register, go to and click on the Summer Camp tab.
If you know of someone who is interested in applying for a counselor or staff position, please call Camp Director Jeff Wadley at 423.329.8401.

Where Scriptures Come Alive
Join Bishop “Dindy” and Rusty Taylor on this “Travel with Friends” Tour of the Holy Land, Greece, and Rome. 
On the first leg of your tour, visit locations where Jesus walked and preached in Galilee, and follow the footsteps of Christ through Bethlehem and Jerusalem, including the Old City.
The second leg of your tour will include Biblically significant sites in Greece, including Athens, Corinth, Ephesus, Patmos, and the island of Crete. Finally, journey to Rome to visit Vatican City, the Christian Catacombs and many more historic sites.
Your trip begins on August 28 where you will spend 7 days in the Holy Land. On September 5, your journey continues with a 6 day tour of Greece and Rome. If you are unable to attend the full tour, you may choose the first leg of the tour only and return home on September 4.
August 28 – September 3, 2019
Holy Land                      $2,400
September 4 – 11, 2019
Greece & Rome             $2,100
There is a $300 per person deposit upon registration.
The final payment deadline is May 30, 2019.
For those seeking continuing education credits, 3.0 CEUs will be awarded for this tour.

Send Your Pictures and Announcements
to Publish in the Newsletter

Send your photos and announcements for the Newsletter
call Carol at 423.652.2811 M-Th, 9-2.
For each publication, information is
needed by noon on Wednesday.

Your Church Event and Planning Calendar
March 28 – April 3, 2019
Thursday, March 28
6:00pm-Yoga with Jean-Yoga Studio
6:30pm-Mankind Project-Youth Room
Friday, March 29
5:30pm-Belly Dancing Class-Yoga Studio
 6:30pm-Belly Dancing Class-Yoga Studio
Saturday, March 30
Sunday, March 31
9:30am-The River Contemplative Worship Service-TH
9:30am-Sunday School Hour
10:00am-Common Ground Service-Chapel
11:00am-Traditional Worship Service-Sanctuary
12:15pm-Choir Rehearsal
Monday, April 1
1:00pm-Food Pantry
6:00pm-Belly Dancing Class-Yoga Studio
Tuesday, April 2
 8:00am-Men’s Prayer Group-TH
Wednesday, April 3
12:00pm-Lenten Worship Service and Lunch-Trinity UMC, Message by Earl Maine
5:30pm-Fellowship Class-Library
6:30pm-Youth Activity-Tournament Night-TH
            To make changes or additions to the calendar contact Alan Gorrell 423-652-7377
                                                   or Sandy Gorrell 423-652-1987.

First United Methodist Church
Rev. Brandon Berg, Pastor (276.237.6498)
 322 Vance Dr., Bristol, TN 37620

Our Vision
Building A Community Where Anyone
Can Become A Deeply Committed Christian