Latest News: April 2-8

First United Methodist Church
Bristol, Tennessee
Your Weekly e-Newsletter and Events Schedule
April 2-8, 2020

Palm Sunday

April 5, 2020
Matthew 21:1-11

Days in the Wilderness: Bread and Circus

Rev. Brandon Berg
Schedule adjustment:

Morning worship at 11:00 a.m. via Facebook Live

The River and the Traditional service will not gather
until further notice per Bishop Taylor.
Our virtual worship together will take their place
until our time of social distancing is lifted.

If you have not connected to FUMC via Facebook,
please go do that. You can also connect to Rev. Berg
on Facebook, on Twitter, and on Instagram.
He will try to share uplifting and empowering things
on those media.
From the Pastor's Pen

Lent is a crazy time of year for church professionals.
This particular Lent has been nothing short of mind-bending. And it also doesn't seem to have an end.

Lent is a 40-day period of fasting and self-denial. We give up chocolate or soda or take up a self-care or spiritual practice; something symbolic to recognize the sacrifice of Jesus for us.
Not this year!

This year we have forsaken community. We have lost jobs.
We have lost touch. We are losing loved ones.
And this Lent will keep going after Easter has come and gone,
maybe into the summer.

I know God will bring us through on the other side of this.
I know we will be transformed, and the nature of our transformation
will be defined by how we allow God's Spirit to work in and through us.
I know these things, but I don't know when the end will be or how decimated we may become in the meantime.

But for now, I just want to provide what I can.

So I am going to do my best to keep offering a daily thought.
I'm going to do my best to keep offering Morning Prayer.
Maybe one day I'll be able to draft a liturgy you can follow along with, or maybe even sing along with.
Or you can invest in your own
Book of Common Prayer and 1982 Episcopal Hymnal.
We are going to keep live-streaming worship at 11:00a.m. on Sundays,
and that'll include Easter, even though our original plan had been a 10:00a.m. Easter service. Consistency is probably more important
than sticking to a change schedule.

We won't be gathering for brunch afterward, but if you'd like to photograph your gathering and tag FUMC when you post it online, it could be neat to see how we are still, in fact, all doing this together.

We are still going to celebrate Holy Week, but we'll stream the services online. Stay tuned to our Facebook page for more details.
I know this is all weird and uncomfortable. It is for me, too. We will get through this long, long Lent. In the meantime, stay in touch with FUMC and with each other. Care for each other, and be very careful with each other.

This isn't something God has brought upon us, but God is going to do amazing things through us in the midst of this lonely time. Just open yourself to it.

A Note from Paul Bowman,
Executive Director, Holston Foundation

"Thank you for taking a special offering in support of the people of South Sudan! Your gift will be matched dollar for dollar
by the foundation.
Gifts from your church enable the Holston Conference to continue its ministry with the people of South Sudan as they survive in Uganda because of continuing civil war".

Visit for information, resources or donations.
While we are practicing social distancing in response to the COVID-19 outbreak,
FUMC will not be keeping regular office hours.
If you need to reach Rev. Berg, he will still be responding by email at
and by text or call (276) 237-6498
The Book Study is postponed until the coronavirus is past. Continue to read, study, spend time with Christ, and pray for one another.
A Note From Sue Dietz, Lay Leader

Hi Everyone!
As you can see, picture taking is not a perfected skill by a long shot!
Dale has not lost part of his head.

The picture behind us is one of Ernestine Blanton's wonderful works. We got it to celebrate Dale's successful transplant experience. What will we all do to celebrate when we see the end of this long tunnel called COVID-19? I hope we will first remember to thank God
for getting us through.

Then I hope that the ability to attend services again will gain new meaning for each. It's not a duty, it's a privilege. I hope we will be with our church family again and remember oh how we miss each other now.

Yes, there will be an end, and we will be able to meet again. How will you celebrate? Please send pictures, information on how you are doing, anything you feel would be a help. If a lot respond, it may take a few weeks to post them.
Last Sunday at First UMC
John 9:1-41 Wilderness Days: Chosen and Rejected by Rev. Brandon Berg

We had several guests
at last Sunday's
Virtual Service!

Brandon introduces himself
to one guest.

The Berg Children were welcoming hosts
for our visitors.
And, our new video tech was on the job as well!

Due to social distancing
the squirrel chose
to observe from
the sidewalk.
Lay Leader Weekly Report
From Sue Dietz

As Lay Leader, I'll try to send out information and updates just as I get to do on Sunday mornings.

Many thanks to Julie Blanton, who is doing
the newsletter at this time.

As you may have heard, Carol Johnson has resigned. It broke her heart to do so, as she loves the people at First. She was such a gift, if even for less time than we would like.

Brandon has been doing morning prayers on Facebook, as well as a Sunday church service. If you missed the picture of the attending 'animals' I bet you can still find it. Thank you Brandon for
helping us worship at this difficult time.

You might be interested to know that the 6:00pm yoga class is meeting via Zoom. Last week was our first. Thanks Jean; not only a great yoga instructor but also an electronics wizard.

Blessings until next time!


Happy Birthday to
Beverly Basham

Beverly is celebrating
her 90th
birthday on April 2nd!!

Happy Anniversary
to the Bashams!

Russ and Beverly
will celebrate their
67th Special Day this week.

A Note From Carol Johnson:

Dear First Methodist Friends,

Many of you probably know that I resigned my position as part-time secretary of the church last week. I knew that it was time to do so when a pandemic like nothing we have ever known closed down schools, churches, and many of the businesses around us and throughout our nation.

I just want to tell you how very much I have been blessed these past three years as I have worked at First UMC. I have had the privilege of working alongside a devout and caring ministerial staff-Pastor Berg, Phil, and Betty, who weekly commit their time and talents to sharing the message of Christ in all its beauty, truth, and relevance!

I have been blessed to get to know many of you in your devotion to our Lord and to learn your special gifts and talents! How many and varied are the talents in this church!
Each of you has touched me with your faith, and increased my own.

Even though I will not be driving to Bristol to be with you, I will be carrying you in my heart and prayers.
I hope, as much as you can, you are sheltering in place. Stay healthy. I love you.

FUMC-Bristol Historical Note
by Penny Hudson

"Am I the only one who wondered about the shield in the sanctuary? Obviously it was there for a reason, but what reason?

Here is the story behind the shield.

During Operation Desert Storm, which started in 1990, a lot of the region went off with the military. Roger Duncan, who was the organist at that time, had the idea for a prayer shield with the names of those serving in Desert Storm. The 153 names were suspended by golden chains. These were the names of family and friends that the congregation wanted to be protected by prayer.

The shield was designed by Ernestine Blanton, who at that time was teaching art at Vance Jr. High. Ernestine says she doesn't like to draw people and was trying to draw the hands when a force seemed to use her hands to draw the hands on the Prayer Shield. Perhaps this is what we often call "a God thing".

Every church service, attention was called to the Prayer Shield and the names on the shield. Special prayers were said for the service men and women.

With the homecoming of the troups, the congregation wanted to match the names they had been praying for to the faces. A 'pig-pickin' event (a type of Southern barbeque gathering) was planned and the family members of the names on the shield were also invited.

Perhaps miraculously, not a single person whose name appeared on the prayer shield died in the Persian Gulf. God answers prayers.

The Prayer Shield still hangs in the sanctuary. I will never look at the Prayer Shield without remembering the answered prayers for the safety of the ones whose names were on the shield".
Holy Week at First UMC
Holy Monday, April 6
Holy Tuesday, April 7
Holy Wednesday, April 8
Maundy Thursday, April 9
Good Friday, April 10

All Services 6:00 p.m. via Facebook
Easter Sunday

Then came the morning
Night turned into day
The stone was rolled away
Hope rose with the dawn
Then came the morning
Shadows vanished before the sun
Death had lost and life had won
For morning had come.
~Guy Penrod
Virtual Easter Service via Facebook 11:00am

General Conference 2020 has been postponed;
rescheduled dates will be posted.
Holston Annual Conference
June 7-10, 2020
Lake Junaluska, NC

Coming This Summer…
Worship at Sugar Hollow

July 12

Save the Date
Send Your Pictures and Announcements
to Publish in the Newsletter
Send your photos and announcements for the Newsletter
call Julie at 423.914.9820.
For each publication, information is
needed by noon on Wednesday.
Your Church Event and Planning Calendar
April 2-8, 2020
Thursday, April 2

Friday, April 3

Saturday, April 4

Sunday, April 5
11:00am virtual Sunday Service via Facebook
Monday, April 6
6:00pm virtual Holy Monday Service via Facebook
Tuesday, April 7
6:00pm virtual Holy Tuesday Service via Facebook

Wednesday, April 8
6:00pm virtual Holy Wednesday Service via Facebook

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
    First United Methodist Church of Bristol Tennessee | 322 Vance Drive, Bristol, TN 37620