Brian Tillman poster CSUMC

Rev. Brian Tillman was Church Street UMC’s coach and mentor last year during the Racial Reconciling Cohort with the Western North Carolina Conference. The six-month journey of learning and reflecting inspired our church’s cohort (ten members and Rev. Catherine Nance) to continue the conversation. One of the group’s dreams was to invite Rev. Tillman to our church home.

On November 13, Church Street is thrilled to welcome Rev. Tillman to our worship services and to teach us more about the work of racial reconciliation. He is the Director of Inclusion and Advocacy for the North Georgia Conference of the United Methodist Church.

He will be leading a workshop on Sunday afternoon for all who are interested titled “The 6 R’s of Racial Reconciliation: resistance, recognition, repentance, repair, reconstruction, and restored relationship.”

This workshop is free, but we ask that you please register below to give us a headcount for resources and food/beverage.

  • Learn more about Rev. Tillman’s work, linked here
  • To register for the workshop on November 13 at 4 pm, click here

On November 13, Rev. Tillman will be preaching at both the 8:30 and 11:00 worship services in the nave. The workshop begins at 4:00 and will last approximately 2 hours. Room assignment TBD.

Kate Bowler

On Sunday, October 2, Church Street UMC was thrilled to welcome Dr. Kate Bowler to the nave for a presentation about “Deconstructing our Cultural and Spiritual Scripts”.

About the Bishop Lecture Series

Kate Bowler and Dr. Asa and Skippy Bishop

Kate Bowler and Dr. Asa and Skippy Bishop. The Bishop Lecture Series has provided funds to bring authors like Dr. Bowler to Church Street for spiritual growth.

The event was made possible thanks to Church Street’s Bishop Lecture Series. Dr. Asa Bishop created an endowment in memory of his father A. Orin Bishop, called the Bishop Lecture Series, and over the years, the series has underwritten more than 20 lectures and extended the legacy of the Bishop Family and their passion for biblical and spiritual enrichment into the future.

About Kate Bowler

Kate Bowler is a three time New York Times Bestselling author, and she is a professor of history at Duke Divinity School. Her academic research has focused on the history and culture of American Christianity, exploring the phenomenon of the Prosperity Gospel, the idea that God will show favor to some of us for our faith and bless us.

She is known for her popular memoirs Everything Happens for a Reason (and other lies I’ve loved) and No Cure for Being Human (and other truths I need to hear), her book of devotions Good Enough, and her podcast EVERYTHING HAPPENS, where she has interviewed everyone from authors Barbara Brown Taylor, Anne Lamott, and Richard Rohr to the Archbishop of Cantebury and Reverend Will Willimon, to actors Stanley Tucci, Matthew McConaughey, and Alan Alda – among many others. She has nearly 150,000 instagram followers where she shares hope and humanness about what she has called “our chronic lives”.

Kate Bowler at CSUMCKate Bowler full naveKate BOwler Catherine Nance Q and AKate Bowler BlessingKate Bowler reads blessing

Kate Bowler and Tom HoodKate Bowler greets Rev. Tim Best and family

This week, we are hosting our annual Thanksgiving Basket project!  We will serve the Knoxville area by providing groceries to those experiencing food insecurity.  We need lots of hands to make this possible!  Please read the opportunities for serving below, and click the link at the bottom of the post to sign-up to serve!
Food Pick-Up — November 17 @ 3:30
Our food will be picked up at the Kroger in Bearden (4918 Kingston Pike, Knoxville, TN 37919).  We will have the church trailer there to load the majority of the food, but always need extra vehicles to help with what does not fit.
Food Sorting — November 17 @ 4:30
Please meet us in the breezeway to help organize and set up our food items.  We will unload food from the trailer & vehicles, transport to the gym, sort & organize, and count to insure we have all the necessary items for packing boxes.  We anticipate being finished with this project between 5:30-6:00.
Basket Packing — November 21 @ 9:45
We will gather in the gym & CLC Hallway to pack our items for distribution.  All food items will be packed into either a cardboard box or a reusable grocery bag.  This will take place during the Sunday school hour.
Basket Delivery — November 21 @ 11:30-2:30
After our baskets are packed, we ask for members of our congregation to help deliver baskets to our recipients.  They will be taken either to individual residencies or to a local partnership location.  Recipients have been told to expect their food to be delivered between 11:30-2:30 PM.
Thanks again for your willingness to serve our community!  It is a true joy to provide for this need during Thanksgiving week.

This year’s Summer Lecture Series marks the fourth year of the special opportunity created to educate the church body and the public on matters related to spirituality, history, archeology, social justice, current events and other religions (among other topics) in the context of Christian faith.

Last summer, the Education Committee pivoted to meet the health guidelines of our community to host a successful webinar-only lecture series. This series brought in national speakers and attendees , and it helped the committee explore the opportunity to provide educational opportunities for both Church Street and the broader community.

Dr. Valerie Cooper, Associate Professor of Religion and Society and Black Church Studies at Duke Divinity School and a 5th generation United Methodist, presented the first lecture of the series via webinar on Sunday, July 11. Her lecture, “Black Deaths Matter, Too: Doing Racial Reconciliation after the Massacre at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, SC,” which tackled  how to pursue justice in a contentious age. 

You can watch a replay of the lecture here

Each of the three remaining lectures will be in-person and hybrid. In-person attendees will be provided light, individually packaged refreshments. To join any lecture virtually, please click here. 

On July 18, Rev. Dr. Alex Thompson will present “Recognizing Jesus: The Appearances of the Risen Christ in the Synoptic Gospels”. He is Professor of Religion at Tennessee Wesleyan University and serves as pastor at Niota and Cedar Springs UMC. This will be an in-person and online hybrid event. 

On July 25, Dr. Reiff will share a presentation titled, “The Eyes of Jesus Were Upon Her: The Advent of Clergy Women in Mississippi Methodism.” The story explores the remarkable transformation of a previously all-male world of ordained clergy in early 20th century Mississippi to the later part of the century when more than 50 women were serving as ministers in some capacity in United Methodism (with 44 fully ordained). He is Professor Emeritus of Emory & Henry College. 

To finish the series, Dr. Rachelle Scott will present “Buddhism Beyond Meditation Cushion: Buddhist Action in the 20th and 21st Centuries” will delve into several examples of how monastic and lay Buddhists participate in social and political activism as acts of Buddhist piety in the 20th and 21st centuries. She is Associate Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

Christian education has always been a vital part of Church Street’s ministry in the community. The Education Committee works each year to ensure that educational opportunities are brought to the Church community. 

With a proximity close to the University of Tennessee, Church Street has always been home to and attracted scholars of all types. The Education Committee works each year to ensure that there are always new educational opportunities, whether through Sunday School classes or special lecture series and events. 

The Education Committee hopes to develop training for Sunday School teachers this fall in an effort to revamp how we talk about, describe and share our Sunday School classes. An update to the language surrounding Sunday School will hopefully expand Church Street’s reach to new members of the community, and to United Methodists across the world. 

To learn more about Church Street educational opportunities, visit

Upcoming Project Volunteers Needed for:
  • Sweep the Music Suite! Thursday, October 3, 9-11 am — Come help us clean the music suite!  Bring your rags, buckets, cleaning supplies, vacuums and hand vacuums! Sign up with Tim or Edie.
  • Spirit Adventure Sunday School Teachers —  curriculum provided. Love of children required! Sign up with Katryn Bancroft.
  • Wesley House Tutors — The Wesley House needs your help! On weekday afternoons, dozens of students grades K-8 at the Wesley House need homework assistance as well as folks to read with them. They are particularly short of volunteers on Mondays and Wednesdays from 3:00-5:00. If you would like to serve, please contact Jenny Cross at
Ongoing Needs for Volunteers:
  • Beacon of Hope Sharing Shop — Second and Fourth Thursday of each month at Vestal UMC in South Knoxville (12 pm). Contact Dona McConnell if interested. 

As county and private schools fall back into the swing of the new school year, so does Church Street. From moving up to the next Sunday School class to preparing our hearts and minds through song and prayer, the school year is officially underway.

On August 11, children gathered at the altar with their backpacks to receive a special blessing for the school year. Children and youth met their new Sunday School teachers who will shepherd them through the year in their Christian education. After worship, our children’s choirs kicked off their rehearsals for the year.

Upcoming Activities for Children, Youth, and Families: 

August 17-18 – Parish Youth Choir Retreat

August 18 – Back-to-School Family Prayer Time (4pm, Nave)

August 25 – Youth back-to-school party at 5pm in the Gym

Photos from Promotion Sunday and Blessing of the Backpacks: