Newsletter: April 22-28

First United Methodist Church
Bristol, Tennessee
Your Weekly e-Newsletter and Events Schedule
April 22-28, 2021

Welcome to In-Person Worship Again….

We rejoice in once again gathering together for in-person worship!

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.

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.

4th Sunday of Easter

April 25th, 2021
John 10:11-18

Rev. Brandon Berg

Demonstrators gather outside Cup Foods in Minneapolis on April 20, 2021, to celebrate the murder conviction of former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin in the killing of George Floyd. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

From the Pastor's Pen

Friends, in this historical moment, mine is not the voice that needs to be heard. Reflecting on the trial of the murder of George Floyd, I yield my space to the Reverend Charlie Edward Dates:

Derek Chauvin’s guilty verdict might be an exodus for America
Chauvin's verdict is an opportunity for the liberation of all Americans.

The first thing my daughter Claire asked when she came home from school on Tuesday (April 20) was, “Dad, what does a guilty verdict mean?”
I thought of the passage in the Book of Joshua: “This shall be a sign among you; when your children ask later, saying, ‘What do these stones mean to you? Then you shall say to them, ‘That the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord.”
The 12 stones, set to block the flow of the Jordan, allowed the Israelites to cross the river, the final step of their journey from Egypt to freedom.

RELATED: Faith leaders praise Derek Chauvin’s guilty verdicts,
acknowledge work ahead

The God of the Bible does not seem to trust history to human memory alone. Somehow, we quickly forget the deliverance of God.
Years after their exodus from Egypt, after they had forgotten the taste of manna from heaven, a new generation of Israelite children would sit in the Promised Land and openly wonder at the progress they had made.
And in years to come, when your children ask, “What do these stones mean?,” we will tell them that we were in bondage, but the Lord brought us over.
It is no secret that the Exodus narrative of Scripture is significant to the American Black church tradition. It is the singular biblical book the slave holding preacher purposefully overlooked. It was the reason so-called slaves, such as Frederick Douglass, were not taught to read. Still, Black preachers, in the hush harbors, proclaimed the power of God to deliver His people. They understood the God of Exodus to be both a deliverer then and an emancipator now. That chronicle became the hope of liberation to an entire people.
The guilty verdict of former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin in the murder of George Floyd might be an exodus for America. Tuesday may be the day that the ancient account of God’s deliverance becomes as important to America as it has been to the Black church.
London Williams, 31, left, of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, bursts into tears on April 20, 2021, in Washington, after hearing that former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murder and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
This guilty verdict is an opportunity for the liberation of not just Black, Brown and Asian Americans, but for White Americans, too. Chauvin, like many anti Black authoritarians before him, was imprisoned by his sense of supremacy long before he was assigned a prison cell in Minnesota on Tuesday afternoon.
One day our children will ask, “What does this verdict mean?” We will tell them that we were in bondage, but the Lord brought us over.
Let me not overstate or understate the significance of this verdict. The jury’s determination is not the singular correction of centuries of injustice. It may be the hinge, however, on which turns the steel page of history.
Anyone familiar with the history of unprosecuted lynchings on American soil or the long night of racialized kangaroo courts can sense that something special happened in Minnesota Tuesday afternoon. Anyone who remembers that we still live in an era when a murdered child is not guaranteed to have her executioners put on trial comes to appreciate the promise that Tuesday’s progress represents.
My house is down the street and around the corner from the childhood home of a famously murdered Chicago kid. His killers never saw the light of justice. At his funeral, Mamie Till forced open the casket of her son, Emmett, so the world could see the evil lurking inside the heart of racist America. In 1955, she permitted Jet Magazine to publish images of the torn and bloated face that was once her son. She received no restitution, no justice, no compensation. His murderers walked free. His blood cried for justice from the Tallahatchie River.
And in years to come, when your children ask, “What do these stones mean?,” we will tell them that we were in bondage, but the Lord brought us over.
There are other children still, such as Rekia Boyd and Tamir Rice, whose blood yet cries out for justice. Children need the governing hand of justice to rightfully interpret God’s righteousness. George Floyd died crying out for his mother as both his breath and justice was snatched away. In his dying moment, he spoke as a child being lynched under a policeman’s knee.
So, what is a child’s reading of Tuesday’s verdict? One day we will tell them that we were in bondage, but the Lord brought us over.
It was her older brother who answered Claire’s question. Charlie II replied,
“It’s when you go to a judge and he pounds his wooden stick on the desk and shouts, ‘Guilty!’ Then the people cry and the judge says, ‘You will spend so-in-so number of years in jail.’”
RELATED: Bystanders in a digital age: The heroes of the Derek Chauvin trial

I smiled because that’s a child’s reading of the verdict turned history on Tuesday. The day will come when this verdict will mean something more. It will mean that the moral arc of the universe is long, but it really does bend toward justice.
The verdict in Minnesota will signal that though truth is forever on the scaffold and wrong
forever on the throne, yet behind the dim unknown standeth God keeping watch above his own. It will mean that though justice be delayed, it cannot forever be denied.

(Charlie Edward Dates is the senior pastor at Chicago’s Progressive Baptist Church. He also serves as an affiliate professor at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect those of Religion News Service.)


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

3rd Sunday of Easter

Words of Greeting and

by Sue Dietz

Responsive Reading
led by Rev. Berg

Psalm 4
adapted from the Common English Bible

Answer me when I cry out, my righteous God!
Set me free from my troubles!
Have mercy on me!
Listen to my prayer!

How long, you people,
will my reputation be insulted?
How long will you continue
to love what is worthless
and go after lies?
Know this: the Lord takes
personal care of the faithful.
The Lord will hear me
when I cry out to God.
So be afraid, and don’t sin!
Think hard about it in your bed
and weep over it!
Bring righteous offerings,
and trust the Lord!
Many people say,
“We can’t find goodness anywhere.
The light of your face has left us, Lord!”
But you have filled my heart with more joy
than when their wheat and wine are everywhere!
I will lie down and fall asleep in peace
because you alone, Lord, let me live in safety

Opening Hymn
"Great is Thy Faithfulness"
UMH 140

sung by Phil Haga

Gospel Reading

led by Rev. Berg

Luke 24:36b-48
Common English Bible
While they were saying these things, Jesus himself stood among them and said, “Peace be with you!” They were terrified and afraid. They thought they were seeing a ghost.

He said to them, “Why are you startled? Why are doubts arising in your hearts? Look at my hands and my feet. It’s really me! Touch me and see, for a ghost doesn’t have flesh and bones like you see I have.” As he said this, he showed them his hands and feet. Because they were wondering and questioning in the midst of their happiness, he said to them, “Do you have anything to eat?” They gave him a piece of baked fish. Taking it, he ate it in front of them.

Jesus said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you—that everything written about me in the Law from Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures. He said to them, “This is what is written: the Christ will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and a change of heart and life for the forgiveness of sins must be preached in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.

Last Week's Sermon

"You Are Witnesses"


Rev. Berg

Closing Hymn

"Oh How He Loves You and Me"
UMH 2108

Sung by Phil Haga

The Coppedge Family
wishes to express its gratefulness to the congregation
for the support given during John's passing.

Frances mentioned that the meal and fellowship
were greatly appreciated during a difficult time.
Grief Support Group…

There is a Grief Support Group in the process of
forming locally.
The link below has information and a registration link:

Annual Conference Schedule Change

There have been a couple of changes to our Annual Conference schedule. First, the Virtual Clergy Session has been moved from Monday, June 7 to Tuesday, June 8, 2021 at 2:00 pm. The second change involves the Memorial Service and Ordination Service. Both Services will remain on Friday, August 27, but their times have been swapped. The Memorial Service will now begin at 3:00 pm, and the Ordination Service will begin at 7:00 pm.

Be sure to check out for all the latest news concerning our 2021 Annual Conference schedules.

The new Annual Conference Schedule is as follows:

June 8, 2021 | VIRTUAL Clergy Session
Zoom Webinar – 2:00 pm
June 12, 2021 | VIRTUAL Annual Conference
Zoom Webinar – 1:00 pm
August 27, 2021 | Memorial Service
First Broad Street UMC – 3:00 pm
August 27, 2021 | Ordination Service
First Broad Street UMC – 7:00 pm
August 28, 2021 | In-Person Annual Conference
MeadowView Conference Resort & Convention Center – 12:00 – 6:00 pm

A Note From Our
Lay Leader

Our Tulip and Last Wednesday …
We have a surprise purple tulip. Not only did we never plant it, it continues to bloom through frost, wind and time. Last Wednesday I attended the prayer service for Caroline Hawthorne planned by her ministry hub. Caroline is a Methodist minister who serves Hunt Memorial and has been in ICU for several days suffering with Covid 19. (I am glad to tell you by Sunday the report had improved.)
It was a service attended by both black and white with the John Wesley minister and some of his members. They offered prayers that went to my soul. I wanted to shout amen! We had a contemporary duo who offered two songs that spoke to where we are in our lives right now.
The purple tulip and Wednesday plus the sermon last Sunday have me thinking about how we do things at First UMC. This Sunday I loved the music Phil brought to us…those older hymns. There are so many ways to worship and people to worship with. Are we open to trying different ways of doing things? Are we open to those not like us? I think we are for the most part. Sometimes we must leave our comfort zone to reach a new understanding. I realize I want old and new, tradition and contemporary. Could we combine both? What do you want as we return to a new day when we are together with singing, praying, and worshiping? I find right now that just being with those who feel safe to come to church feeds my soul. What feeds yours?
How about volunteering for the worship committee when we can meet again. Just saying….

Sue Dietz

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.
Send your photos and announcements for the Newsletter
to or call Julie at 423.914.9820.
For each publication information is needed by noon on Wednesday.
Calendar of Events
April 22-28, 2021

Sunday, April 25
11:00am-Sunday morning service IN-PERSON and live-streamed on Facebook

Tuesday, April 27

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