Latest News: July 9-15, 2020

First United Methodist Church
Bristol, Tennessee
Your Weekly e-Newsletter and Events Schedule
July 9-15, 2020

6th Sunday After Pentecost

July 12, 2020
Van Gogh, "The Sower"
Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23

Old, Old Stories: Good Soil & Bad

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
and our Administrative Council.
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

Karoline had to ride in my car the other day. Typically, if we go somewhere together, we take her car. Riding with me in the driver’s seat makes her nervous. I guess I’m a scary driver. That day, though, her car was going to the shop for a safety recall, so I drove her back home.

She noticed a sound that my car was making that it probably shouldn’t have been. It’s not a big deal, but it’s probably something I should have looked at. I don’t concern myself with some of the noises and quirky behavior of that machine, because it’s a 2007 economy car with 198,000 miles. It apparently has a resale value of $250. Weird noises and quirky behavior are pretty acceptable in a car I’ve been driving for twelve years.

I probably should have it looked at before something falls out of the bottom of the car, though. Something probably just needs to be snugged up.

Cars just need routine maintenance. They need gas all the time. They need oil changes frequently. If you don’t take care of the regular maintenance, little problems become big problems. Things that could have been adjusted simply can start misaligning other things in related systems, and what could have been an inexpensive fix can turn into a very expensive overhaul.

And if my car is only worth $250 (that can’t possibly be right!), an expensive overhaul is not a great option.

Now, y’all know that your body needs routine maintenance, too. It needs to be cared for. It needs quality stuff going in and it needs to move in order to stay healthy.

So does your spirit.

In a normal social environment, we would pretend that spending an hour at church each week is plenty of routine maintenance for our spirits. That would probably compare to the way I take care of my car, though. Maintenance and repairs are expensive and time-consuming, and I’d prefer to invest our finances and my time elsewhere.

So it makes some noises. The air conditioner works sometimes. A wheel leaks air no matter what tire is on it. Warning lights no longer actually alert me to real problems.

I overlook all that stuff. It starts and it gets me from point A to point B.

Noticing problems with our spiritual health can be a lot more difficult than noticing problems with the health of our vehicles. We don’t tend to be aware of what the signs of spiritual disease are. I’d offer the fruits of the spirit as a guide, though. If you’re displaying love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, you’re probably in a healthy place. If you’re having any sort of issue with any one of those, though, you’re in need of a tune-up.

And being in need of a tune-up is a bit like being in need of deodorant. Everybody around you will notice long before you will.

And your witness will be damaged because of it.

I know that maintaining our spiritual health is difficult in a time of social distancing and quarantine, but I encourage you to find ways to keep yourself healthy. Pray more often. Study with the guidance of friends and other theologians, especially folks who don’t think quite like you do. Do acts of mercy and lovingkindness intentionally and more often than you think is appropriate.

Don’t let your spirit fall apart. Do the work. Do the maintenance.

You’re worth it. So is the community that surrounds you. They need you to be the image of God for them.

God desires health and wholeness for you, and there’s a lot you can do to make that happen.

Take care of yourself.


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

Our Administrative Council, with others, is carefully considering best practices
to keep us safe in our re-connection.

A re-opening date has not been determined, but will coincide
with health recommendations.

The Holston Conference COVID-19 Task Force met Wednesday to discuss questions district offices have been receiving as local churches submit their plans to return to in-person worship. A subcommittee has been formed to create a document to give guidance to District Superintendents on when to allow and disallow in-person worship. This subcommittee will also discuss additional ministries and outside groups, and what additional guidelines, if any, are needed moving forward. The subcommittee is scheduled to meet later this week.
At this point in time, no changes have been made to the in-person worship guidelines: "Taking Steps Forward Faithfully and Safely."

We feel and share your eagerness to return,
and we appreciate your patience
during this uncertain time.

Last Sunday

Matthew 11:16-19 New International Version

16 “To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others:
17 “‘We played the pipe for you,
and you did not dance;
we sang a dirge,
and you did not mourn.’
18 For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ 19 The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is proved right by her deeds.”

Matthew 11:25-30 New International Version

25 At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. 26 Yes, Father, for this is what you were pleased to do.
27 “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.
28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing

Come, Thou Fount of every blessing
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace
Streams of mercy, never ceasing
Call for songs of loudest praise
Teach me some melodious sonnet
Sung by flaming tongues above
Praise the mount, I'm fixed upon it
Mount of Thy redeeming love

Here I raise my Ebenezer
Here there by Thy great help I've come
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure
Safely to arrive at home
Jesus sought me when a stranger
Wandering from the fold of God
He, to rescue me from danger
Interposed His precious blood

Oh, that day when freed from sinning
I shall see Thy lovely face
Clothed then in the blood washed linen
How I'll sing Thy wondrous grace
Come, my Lord, no longer tarry
Take my ransomed soul away
Send Thine angels now to carry
Me to realms of endless day

Oh, to grace how great a debtor
Daily I'm constrained to be
Let that goodness like a fetter
Bind my wandering heart to Thee
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it
Prone to leave the God I love
Here's my heart, oh, take and seal it
Seal it for Thy courts above

Robert Robinson

Thanks to Rev. Berg, Phil Haga, Betty Curtis, and The Berg Family
for bringing this service to us.

The Church Gets a Much Needed Freshening-up!
The crew de-staining the sidewalks.
The facade getting a wash-down.
The surfaces will gradually lighten even more in the sun.
!! Pen Pals Needed !!
A national news organization recently posted a story about a remarkable program established by a retirement facility to help its residents stay connected during the pandemic.
Photos of the residents are posted on social media, along with a sign with their name, interests, and a plea for Pen Pals to write to them. The program is so successful that the residents are receiving hundreds of cards and letters
from all over the world.

Wouldn't it be miraculous to start this type of thing in Bristol?
I have been in contact with a local residential facility to work out the details, but….

We Need Pen Pals!

Please take the time to click on the link below, read the article, then let me know if you would be willing to be a Pen Pal to a local senior.

Thank you!
Julie Blanton


Clinch Mountain District Hands-On Mission Project
Our School kits for Liberia project is still scheduled to proceed; the collection dates have been delayed. Please keep this mission in mind and assemble a kit for a school child.
Also, if you are willing to oversee the checking and transport
of the kits to Abingdon please let Brandon or Julie know.

Our worship at
Sugar Hollow Park
has been cancelled this year due to COVID-19.
We look forward to gathering next year when hopefully we can do so safely.

Tithes and offerings may be donated using the

free online giving tool. Choose Clinch Mountain District.

or mail your check to the church if you wish.

Keep Us Updated
Have you had a change of physical address, phone number, or email address? Please notify Julie Blanton or leave a message at the church office so that we may update our records.
Thank You!

Dinner for ?

The tailgate was a success! A Unicorns and Kittens rope kept our cars socially distanced, thanks to the Berg daughters.

The dogwood tree gave us much needed shade. Pizza, plant-based salad, sandwiches, plus a full course dinner were on the menu.

Several fine-tuning ideas for next time were planned.
It was decided to move to the Sparger Road parking lot where there is an opportunity for shade from trees, a handrail for moving up to the upper level and even a shaded porch area if needed.

Weather permitting the next tail gate will be held on
Friday, July 17, at 5:30 p.m.

You are invited!

Social distancing will be observed and masks will be worn while not eating.

Sue Dietz
Lay Leader

Okay, who turned on the waterworks!

Are you feeling as if there are stages to this staying at home and wearing a mask way of life? I sure am. It started out as a "snow day" and then went to "I can do this" to any number of other stages. Now I am crying at the drop of a hat…sad, happy, angry, supportive. Getting to know the real me is quite a trip, and the learning doesn't end. Guess I'm here for the ride and will keep the Kleenex close until I'm on to a new stage. Where are you in this strange trip?

It was so good to be together with our daughter, her husband and his family in a small group 4th celebration. We were outside all day (I have the burn to prove it!) and laughed and talked just as if there was no threat waiting for us if we weren't careful. That happened at the tailgate gathering too. It reminded me of the family reunions in Missouri where everyone just enjoyed good food and talk. I feel ready to get on with this summer and crying and cooking and yoga by zoom. If I can find the quilt room under all the projects waiting for completion maybe I'll enter a stage of productivity!

You know, as I write I realize that I've forgotten to turn this over in prayer. Why oh why, can't I remember that prayer? When does the stage of learning how to be in contact with our Lord come? So many seem to have it down pat, but surely, I'm not alone in being a slow learner. That's the stage I need to strive for…turn it over in prayer and grab the Kleenex.

Historical Musings
Penny Hudson

Click the link below
to read about pastors
who have come from First-Bristol.

Send your photos and announcements for the Newsletter
call Julie at 423.914.9820.
For each publication, information is
needed by noon on Wednesday.
Calendar of Events

July 9-17, 2020

Sunday, July 12th
11:00am-live-stream service via Facebook

Friday, July 17th
5:30pm Tailgate Gathering, Sparger Road side of church

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