Weekly Newsletter, March 18-24, 2021

First United Methodist Church
Bristol, Tennessee
Your Weekly e-Newsletter and Events Schedule
March 18-24, 2021
In-Person Worship Resumes This Sunday

We are ecstatic to announce that First UMC Bristol will be re-opening to in-person worship this Sunday, March 21! We will have one service on Sunday at 11:00 in the Sanctuary. If you are uncomfortable with worshiping in person or unable to join us for whatever reason, please tune in as we live-stream the service on Facebook.

As a reminder, we are in the midst of a global pandemic. Even though people are being vaccinated and infection rates are declining, we will be maintaining recommended best public health practices for the foreseeable future. When you come worship with us, some specific things will happen:

  • Enter the narthex doors beside the sanctuary.
  • Wear a cloth mask that covers your mouth and nose.
  • Temperature checks will be done.
  • You will be asked a handful of questions about your current health and recent interaction with other people who may be at risk for COVID-19.
  • Maintain at least six feet of space between yourself and anyone outside of your immediate household.
  • Minimize your use of the lavatory and sanitize the spaces you use, and
  • Exit the Sanctuary through the side doors closest to the parking lot.

This is a first step back toward normalcy, and we are looking forward making more progress very soon, but we will all have to cooperate to ensure that can happen.

We have missed being together in worship and we look forward
to seeing you!

Schedule Adjustment:

In-person worship at 11:00a.m. Sundays in the sanctuary
can also be viewed on the church Facebook page.

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.

5th Sunday in Lent
UMCOR Sunday

March 21th, 2021
John 12:20-33

Rev. Brandon Berg

From the Pastor's Pen

The phrase, “best practices,” came into its own in the past few years. Maybe it’s been around and in widespread use, but I simply hadn’t taken note of it. It has definitely seen some wear and tear over the past twelve months.

Wear a mask. Maintain appropriate social distance. Wash your hands. Avoid public gatherings. Stay home.

Have you been good this year? Are you on the naughty or the nice list for Coronavirus public health protocols?

Some of us — probably a lot of us — have always been very bad at following best practices around our personal health, and even worse around public health. I mean, how many of us wash our hands with soap for a full thirty seconds at least after using the lavatory?

Yeah, that’s just gross, y’all.

But as bad as we are at following best practices in regard to sanitation and disease control, we are far worse at following best practices in regard to our emotional, mental, and spiritual health. It’s not a lack of public knowledge that keeps us so unhealthy; the information is definitely out there. You’d have to be living under a rock to have avoided the wealth of recommendations in the past couple decades to care for your emotional and mental well-being. We know how; we just don’t do it.

So I want to offer a little guidance in the area in which I have a little expertise: maintaining spiritual health. And I know this is just a newsletter article, so I’m going to keep it simple and quote the founder of our tradition. I want to suggest that you follow three rules:

  1. Do no harm.
  2. Do good.
  3. Attend upon the ordinances of God.

Those first two pretty well summarize the Greatest Commandments. It’s the third that’s awkward. It was recently reimagined as “stay in love with God,” but that’s oversimplified. It doesn’t actually encapsulate what it is to maintain our spiritual health. The ordinances of God are things like:

  • Prayer
  • Study
  • Public worship
  • Works of mercy
  • Fellowship
  • Holy communion

Each of those can be very simple, and simple is a good place to start. Simple is probably better than what most of us do, which is Not At All. So start. In fact, pick just one. Is reading the Bible too hard? Is it too much bother to get out of bed on Sunday morning? How about taking just a couple minutes to pray? And by “pray” I mean “listen.” Still yourself enough that the voice in your head stops screaming, too, and listen for what’s underneath all the noise. Even if there are no words at all, the love of God is a stream flowing deep in your consciousness, giving life to you even without your awareness of it.

Try that. Try it for just a couple minutes. Grow into it. Let the time and the way you spend it expand over time. Then try something else.

Attend upon the ordinances of God. Attend upon the best practices for spiritual health.

I promise it’ll make a difference.

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

4th Sunday in Lent

Words of Greeting and

by Sue Dietz

First Reading

Thanks to Dow Strader
this reading

Numbers 21:4-9
The Message

They set out from Mount Hor along the Red Sea Road, a detour around the land of Edom. The people became irritable and cross as they traveled. They spoke out against God and Moses: “Why did you drag us out of Egypt to die in this godforsaken country? No decent food; no water—we can’t stomach this stuff any longer.”

So God sent poisonous snakes among the people; they bit them and many in Israel died. The people came to Moses and said, “We sinned when we spoke out against God and you. Pray to God; ask him to take these snakes from us.”

Moses prayed for the people.

God said to Moses, “Make a snake and put it on a flagpole: Whoever is bitten and looks at it will live.”

So Moses made a snake of fiery copper and put it on top of a flagpole. Anyone bitten by a snake who then looked at the copper snake lived.

Opening Hymn
"If Thou But Suffer God to Guide Thee"
UMH 142

sung by Phil Haga

Thanks to
Donna Camper

for reading the

Lenten Liturgy

Gospel Reading

led by Dr. Marinn Pearce

John 2:13-22

New International Version

Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him.” 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. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.

Last Week's Sermon



Rev. Berg

Closing Hymn

"To God be the Glory"
UMH 98

Sung by Phil Haga
News From Willow United Methodist Church
Willow United Methodist Church is a mission outpost of UMC in Willow, Alaska.
Pastors Joe-d and Christina Dowling-Soka shared news of the church in their winter 2021 newsletter, which is posted on our hallway bulletin board. Despite in excess of 4 feet of snow and temperatures of -25 degrees, the church provides essential support services to the inhabitants. They even have a drive-through Food Pantry!

Our church supports Willow through Advance Mission offerings. Please take a moment to read the newsletter at church, and read more about Willow using the link below.

Read about Willow at their website

A Note From Our
Lay Leader

When should I…?

As some know, I love to mow the yard. I find it a time to relax, think, listen to my audio books, get exercise. You name it, that is why I like it. Right now, I am in the throws of trying to decide just when I can start. I wish I had some direction.
As churches have opened or stayed open during 2020 and 2021 big decisions have needed deciding. We have had direction from our DS. Masks, social distancing, infection rates, entry and exit doors and other decisions have been directed by the DS. You may not know that members of the Administrative Board along with Brandon have been responsible for both opening and closing. We study the infection numbers, reports from both Bristols as well as Sullivan and Washing Counties. The decisions have been made trying to discern the best for our church family. We could not afford Covid cleaning techniques. Some folks did not completely follow the masking rules. When infections started up in November, we decided it was time to close again. That was hard but necessary. Now with vaccinations, lowering infection numbers and the sanctuary being ready we are ready. The services will still be on Facebook, but they will be live on Sunday mornings. (They will be available on the site after the first recording just as they are now.) It is going to be interesting just how this new phase will go. We have up graded and used expertise of both church members and professionals.
So, WELCOME HOME. Come when you are ready.

Sue Dietz

The Call Weekly Newsletter
Here's the link for the weekly email newsletter of the Holston Conference

Rev. Berg streams morning prayer live on Facebook
on weekday mornings in the 8:00am hour.
Share your prayer requests with him
or join him online.

The Holston Conference offers a daily devotional authored by laity and clergy
from all around the conference.
If you would like a word of encouragement birthed from the Bible and understood through the eyes of East Tennessean and Southwest Virginian United Methodists
click on the link below.

Send your photos and announcements for the Newsletter
to jbb1927@gmail.com or call Julie at 423.914.9820.
For each publication information is needed by noon on Wednesday.
Calendar of Events
March 18-24, 2021

Sunday, March 21
11:00am-Sunday morning service IN-PERSON and livestream on Facebook

Tuesday, March 23
8:00pm-AA meetings resume

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

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