Latest News: May 21-27, 2020

First United Methodist Church
Bristol, Tennessee
Your Weekly e-Newsletter and Events Schedule
May 21-27, 2020

Ascension Sunday

May 24, 2020
"The Ascension" by Frederick J. Brown
Luke 24: 44-53

Sheltering in Place

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

I had planned to be at the Festival of Homiletics this week. I should be crashing at a friend’s house in Atlanta, getting up before the sun to run, and catching public transportation to Peachtree UMC to hear the heroes of the preaching craft.


The Festival is online-only this year. Public transportation is a serious public health danger. Running has been put on hold as I recover from having mesh sewn into my abdomen.

But it saves money not to have to secure a place to stay or pay for transportation or gas or meals I have to grab within walking distance of the venue. The base cost of the Festival of Homiletics has decreased dramatically as the event has shifted online. Those are positives.

But I miss the fellowship. I miss the conversations. I miss exploring new spaces and meeting new people.

This new normal is weird.

There are neat benefits to doing this online, though. Yesterday we enjoyed an interview by Karoline Lewis of Dr. Leah Schade (take the “c” out and you’ll pronounce her name correctly), Professor of Preaching at Lexington Seminary. Live conversations about the interview were happening simultaneously in a digital Lounge hosted by the Festival and on Twitter under the #Homiletics2020 hashtag. Dr. Schade was responding in real time to questions in the Lounge and sharing links relevant to the interview.

I’ve tried to tweet quotes and reactions to preachers and presenters at the Festival of Homiletics when I’ve attended before, but that’s tricky when several hundred people are sharing internet bandwidth on the same network. Communication gets clogged up very quickly, and connecting to an outside mobile network isn’t typically a dependable option in the steel and concrete places where these events tend to be held. But this entirely online context is different. At FUMC during the week, I’m typically only sharing bandwidth with Carol Johnson. I can pretty easily stay connected and stay in the conversations.

Maybe this all sounds nightmarish to you. It might have to me, too, but I’ve had some previous experience with a few different meeting and video media like we’re using this week. A few years ago, I got familiar with Twitter trying to keep up with the action on the floor of General Conference. Sometimes it takes a big event to make unfamiliar media a bit more familiar.

I suppose that, for all of us, COVID-19 may be that kind of big event. I hope you’re finding new ways to be in community and in communication. I hope you’re finding new ways that God is blessing you through this pandemic.

I’m confident that God has not brought the disaster upon us, but I’m even more assured that God’s Spirit is with us in it, holding us together, offering us peace, comforting and advocating for us.

A whole lot of this stinks for a whole lot of people. When you have a moment, step back and see where God is at work. A little shift of perspective might do us all some good.

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

Last Sunday

John 14:15-21
Common English Bible

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. I will ask the Father, and he will send another Companion, who will be with you forever. This Companion is the Spirit of Truth, whom the world can’t receive because it neither sees him nor recognizes him. You know him, because he lives with you and will be with you.

I won’t leave you as orphans. I will come to you. Soon the world will no longer see me, but you will see me. Because I live, you will live too. On that day you will know that I am in my Father, you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commandments and keeps them loves me. Whoever loves me will be loved by my Father,
and I will love them and reveal myself to them.”

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine!
Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood.

This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long.
This is my story, this is my song,
Praising my Savior all the day long.

Perfect submission, perfect delight,
Visions of rapture now burst on my sight.
Angels, descending, bring from above,
Echoes of mercy, whispers of love.
Perfect submission, all is at rest,
I in my Savior am happy and blest,
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love.

Fanny Crosby, 1873

Thanks to
Donna Camper
for her solo
"His Eye is on the Sparrow".
Our New Book Study
continues this Wednesday
via Zoom

Kaitlin B. Curtice is engaging and inspiring.
I hope we can learn together to pay more attention to God's glory all around us.

Here's the link to participate:

Topic: Glory Happening book study
Join Zoom Meeting
Meeting ID: 911 4326 2294
Password: 633880

Here's a link to purchase a copy:

Hello friends-
Though the church office is closed for now, and services are temporarily virtual, our ministry still goes on and still needs your support. Thank you for all who have been giving faithfully!
We still have monthly bills to pay that are not covered in the SBA loan.

Some of you are sending checks in the mail, but if it is more convenient feel free to use the Holston Conference free online giving tool. Click below to be directed to that website, and choose
Clinch Mountain District.


There is room at the table for Dinner for ? participants.

Our first Tuesday went well. Delta Blues was the choice and did not disappoint. One family had to order somewhere else that could accommodate food allergies and preferences, but they helped a Bristol restaurant on Tuesday. A few members even saw each other as they picked up orders.
If you want to join us, email An email is sent out on Sunday to let you know which restaurant we will support that week. Send your email including up to five locally owned restaurants you would like for the group to visit. Do not feel you have to participate every week. Things do come up that preclude participation at times.
A Note From Your Lay Leader,
Sue Dietz

Change, change, change! It seems we are hearing so much about how things will change even when we are back to normal whatever that may be. At first, I feel like stomping my feet like a two-year old and refusing to change. The sight in my mind’s eye is ridiculous. I have begun to think about how my life has changed so much over my years on this earth. Never did I expect to end up in Bristol, Tennessee, or go into church administration or quilt. But it all seems exactly what was what I wanted now.
You know, I am sure we will see changes in our own church when we return. That sounds a little frightening to many. I have moved so much that I have had to become used to new normal in each new church. You know, change is not bad. With change comes the need to rethink what felt good and right and important. Methodists know this better than most because with the assignment of a new minister we must learn new ways.
Will we be wearing masks? Will the choir be able to sit as a group? Will we need to social distance? Will, will, will? All I know for sure is we will have an opportunity to rethink how we do things and what we can do. Our priority is all of us staying well and able to come together to worship. If it is not what we are used to, maybe it is what we will grow to cherish. I have found that is what happens with each church I have belonged to. At first it seems strange than it’s home to be cherished. Here’s to embracing and growing
with change in our lives.

Historical Musings From
Penny Hudson

The Absalom Bunn stained glass picture in the library caught my eye and got me curious about it.
Last week, I received an email from the Archives Dept. at Emory and Henry College in reply to my query concerning Abaslom Bunn. The treasure in that email was a letter written in 1993 to the Archives by Imogene Fortner!

Imogene said that the stained glass window in memory of Absalom Bunn (in the chapel) was so tall that they didn't put his picture on it. Imogene found the picture, cleaned the picture, had it hung in the library and she had a brass plate put under it saying that Rev. Bunn was a Circuit Rider.
Imogene added a PS telling that there were several in the congregation related to Rev.Absalom Bunn.

Imogene Fortner was the church historian for many years. Some time in the 1980s, she turned that position over to someone else. She wrote a two page article about First that was included in a book named Foundations of Faith
in Sullivan 1777 – 1935 published in 1986.
The picture of Imogene Fortner was taken in Feb. of 2014 just before the congregation stood and sang Happy Birthday to her on her 99th birthday!
Virtual Holston Annual Conference
June 27, 2020

Theme: I Love to Tell the Story

The conference mission offering this year is directed to
Opioid Addiction Response and Change for Children.
These projects will promote wonderful work in
serving and ministering
to those in need.
Please keep these missions in mind as we approach conference.
Send your photos and announcements for the Newsletter
call Julie at 423.914.9820.
For each publication, information is
needed by noon on Wednesday.
May 21-27, 2020

Sunday, May 21
11:00am-live-stream service via Facebook
Wednesday, May 27
6:00pm-virtual book study: Glory Happening via Zoom

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