Church Street is pleased to welcome Rev. Catherine Clark Nance, Senior Pastor, and Rev. Tim Best, Senior Associate Pastor, to our clergy leadership team. They join Rev. Palmer Cantler, Associate Pastor, Rev. Dr. Jan Buxton Wade, Minister of Spiritual Enrichment, as well as our Visitation Pastors, Rev. Pat Clendenen and Rev. Andy Ferguson. Enjoy this introductory letter from Senior Associate Pastor Tim Best:


Dear Church Family,

Greetings to each of you! As I begin my ministry here with you all, I find the simple words of Paul from Ephesians 1:15-17 to be a powerful prayer.

“I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, and for this reason  I do not cease to give thanks for you as I remember you in my prayers. I pray that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation as you come to know him.”

I share these words from St. Paul’s letter for several reasons. First, they are good words for the time in which we find ourselves. Except for a small handful of folks that I had met before Covid and before I was projected to be one of your pastors, I have not met you. I have, however, heard of your faith. I have known many of your former pastors; I have met candidates for ministry from Church Street; I have been a part of Holston Conference for over a decade and have seen much of the fruit of your ministry beyond Knoxville. I have been praying intentionally for you, for all of the clergy and staff, and for our shared ministry since this spring when I was informed I would be serving with this storied community of faith. I have prayed that we can gather safely. I have prayed for the countless ministries and projects that have been postponed, cancelled, or reimagined.

Paul gives us a cue for our faith, even in the midst of crisis. Paul unites his prayers with his thanksgivings. Even as I pray for our transition, our return to worship, our longing for some sense of “normal,” I give thanks. Last week I joined a meeting to discuss the Summer Lecture Series. I was blown away by the effort that had been expended to reformat this annual program. I have already begun to connect with Sunday school classes that are meeting over zoom. My heart is full with thanksgiving for such commitment to the gospel and one to another. As Christians we are Easter people, a people of hope, even when our Easter celebrations, our farewells, and our welcomes are a stunted version of what we would like. Nonetheless, these things have happened. Our doors have been shut, but ministry hasn’t stopped. I have heard from some of our members that the shutdown and online meetings have drawn them closer to one another. The Nave is empty on Sunday mornings, but worship carries on. The beauty of our choir has even found a way to shine in this moment by gathering virtually and revisiting recordings. There is much for which to be thankful here at Church Street!

The climax of Paul’s greeting is about Jesus. I haven’t included the whole paragraph, but Paul quickly turns his focus on the God revealed in Jesus. I am encouraged that our shared focus is on Jesus, too. The challenges we face and the work we have ahead are all manageable in the light of Jesus’ love and grace. Though the times are strange I am overwhelmed with hope because of Jesus. This past Sunday I ended my pastoral prayer with the words of the children’s hymn: “Jesus loves me.” Many years ago now, a well-known pastor and theologian, Karl Barth, was asked at the end of his life what had been the most important thing he had learned while teaching and in writing his 38 volumes on theology. Barth reportedly responded with a smile as he began to sing “Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so.” My prayer is that as we grow and serve together, our hearts may be transformed by Jesus as we come to know him ever more fully and faithfully.

Rev. Timothy J. Best

Church Street is pleased to welcome Rev. Catherine Clark Nance, Senior Pastor, and Rev. Tim Best, Senior Associate Pastor, to our clergy leadership team. They join Rev. Palmer Cantler, Associate Pastor, Rev. Dr. Jan Buxton Wade, Minister of Spiritual Enrichment, as well as our Visitation Pastors, Rev. Pat Clendenen and Rev. Andy Ferguson. Enjoy this welcome letter to Church Street from Rev. Catherine Clark Nance:

Dear Church Family,

I would love to say, “It has been wonderful getting to meet so many of you!” I long for the day to shake hands and ask you to repeat your name for me. In the meantime, I am scrolling through Facebook and looking at a pictorial directory I found in my office from 2016 trying to learn some names and faces.

Since I cannot see you right now, I have spent time seeing where you worship and learn and fellowship. I always feel at home in a United Methodist Church building. Regardless of the architecture, location, and age, there are things all Methodist churches have in common. I have enjoyed walking the hallways and seeing the information on bulletin boards, the leftover hearts from Valentine’s Day that the children taped to the walls, collection bins for UMCOR items as well as local agencies. I love the smell of the library and how the UMW Reading List books are prominently displayed. (The colorful butterflies created by children say that all ages are welcome here!)

Sunday School rooms tell a lot about the people who meet there each week. The items you display and the things you store in cabinets, signup sheets for refreshments and teaching, and prayer concerns written on the board all say that Christian fellowship and education are important. I have spent time in each room I visited offering a prayer of thanksgiving for the learning that has gone on. I imagine conversations that have taken place as members strive to love and care for one another in difficult times.

Although I cannot visualize who sits in which pew, I assume most of you usually sit in the same spot! I have sat in different pews while listening to one of the students practice organ and offered prayers for those who come each Sunday. Prayers of gratitude are offered also for those whose precious memories fill the room as well as those we will welcome in the future.

In this time of being physically apart, I often pray the hymn by John Fawcett:

     Blest be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love;

     The fellowship of kindred minds is like to that above.

I pray that we are each aware of God’s Holy and Connecting Spirit; the tie that binds. Through the mystery and benevolence of the Holy Spirit, we are indeed together. I am grateful to be joined with you at Church Street United Methodist Church. The clergy here have welcomed Rev. Tim Best and me graciously. We look forward to working alongside Palmer, Jan, Andy, and Pat. Your staff has made transition easy! How fortunate we are to have a committed and talented staff! I know you appreciate them!

As the hymn continues,

     … we shall still be joined in heart

     And hope to meet again (let’s change ‘again’ to ‘soon’!)

Thankful for all of the ways we can be joined!

Blessings to you –


Dear Church Street Family and Friends,

We are living in an uncertain time, but we can be very certain of God’s love for us all. Our clergy, staff, and Parish Health Ministry Team (PHMT) are continuing to monitor the increased number of cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. and locally. As of today, there has been one identified case in Knox County.

As we have monitored the spread of this disease, we have considered both the size of our corporate worship and the vulnerability of many of our members to COVID-19. Today, Holston Conference Bishop Virginia “Dindy” Taylor shared the following with the Conference:

 “…I strongly urge the churches of Holston Conference to suspend worship and large-group gatherings beginning today for the next two weeks.”

(read the entire letter here)

Thus, Church Street will suspend all large group gatherings, including Sunday worship and Sunday School, beginning Sunday, March 15 until Tuesday, March 31, and church leaders will re-evaluate and communicate next steps no later than March 31. All events, activities, and meetings are also canceled through March 31.


Here are some additional details:

  • “Attending” Worship: You can watch Rejoice! on WVLT each Sunday morning at 8 am. Clergy are working on ways to continue to share scripture and a homily or sermon through video. Please watch for further communication so that you can connect with the Word.
  • Staff: Church staff will still be working at the church at their discretion (otherwise, they will work remotely). Our custodial staff will use this time to do some deep cleaning of our space. The church will be closed, however, to any non-staff persons.
  • Outreach Ministries and Missions: All of our populations served by our missions will continue to be served in amended ways, and each outreach ministry will enact plans to protect both those serving and those served. This, too, is fluid and may change. Contact Rev. Cantler if you have questions.
  • Offering: The operations of the church move on! If you choose, you may still mail your offering to the church – staff will be on site. This might be a good time to set up your online giving. It’s simple – you may go to the Give section of our website, linked here, or download the Give Plus App.

Rest assured, we will continue to provide updates and communicate from the church when needed, and we will re-evaluate and communicate our next steps with you through as many channels as possible.


We offer this prayer for you to use at home or with family, as we continue to move through these uncertain times:

Lord God, hold those who have contracted this virus and their loved ones in your mighty hands, as well as those who are in vulnerable populations. We pray for our health care workers around the world who are exposed and working tirelessly to treat and care for our brothers and sisters. We pray, too, for all the leaders of governments, organizations, businesses, and service providers of all kinds who are making hard decisions with serious repercussions in all directions. And Lord, we look forward to the time when we will worship together again at Church Street, having moved through this uncertain time hand-in-hand with you. In Jesus’s name we pray, Amen.


Sending you and your family prayers of hope and healing, and assurance of God’s love for us all.

Your Church Street Family

Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death came through sin, and so death spread to all because all have sinned—sin was indeed in the world before the law, but sin is not reckoned when there is no law. Yet death exercised dominion from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sins were not like the transgression of Adam, who is a type of the one who was to come.

But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died through the one man’s trespass, much more surely have the grace of God and the free gift in the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, abounded for the many. And the free gift is not like the effect of the one man’s sin. For the judgment following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brings justification. If, because of the one man’s trespass, death exercised dominion through that one, much more surely will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness exercise dominion in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.

Therefore just as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all. For just as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.


Six days later, Jesus took with him Peter and James and his brother John and led them up a high mountain, by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became dazzling white. Suddenly there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. Then Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here; if you wish, I will make three dwellings here, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, suddenly a bright cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud a voice said, “This is my Son, the Beloved; with him I am well pleased; listen to him!” When the disciples heard this, they fell to the ground and were overcome by fear. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Get up and do not be afraid.” And when they looked up, they saw no one except Jesus himself alone.

As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus ordered them, “Tell no one about the vision until after the Son of Man has been raised from the dead.”

And so, brothers and sisters, I could not speak to you as spiritual people, but rather as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for solid food. Even now you are still not ready, for you are still of the flesh. For as long as there is jealousy and quarreling among you, are you not of the flesh, and behaving according to human inclinations? For when one says, “I belong to Paul,” and another, “I belong to Apollos,” are you not merely human?

What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you came to believe, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. The one who plants and the one who waters have a common purpose, and each will receive wages according to the labor of each. For we are God’s servants, working together; you are God’s field, God’s building.

When Jesus saw the crowds, he went up the mountain; and after he sat down, his disciples came to him. Then he began to speak, and taught them, saying:

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.

 “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.

“Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy.

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

“Blessed are you when people revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

Now when Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he withdrew to Galilee. He left Nazareth and made his home in Capernaum by the sea, in the territory of Zebulun and Naphtali, so that what had been spoken through the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:
“Land of Zebulun, land of Naphtali,
on the road by the sea, across the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—
the people who sat in darkness
have seen a great light,
and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death
light has dawned.”
From that time Jesus began to proclaim, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”

As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea—for they were fishermen. And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.” Immediately they left their nets and followed him. As he went from there, he saw two other brothers, James son of Zebedee and his brother John, in the boat with their father Zebedee, mending their nets, and he called them. Immediately they left the boat and their father, and followed him.
Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and curing every disease and every sickness among the people.

The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him and declared, “Here is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is he of whom I said, ‘After me comes a man who ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him; but I came baptizing with water for this reason, that he might be revealed to Israel.” And John testified, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ And I myself have seen and have testified that this is the Son of God.”
The next day John again was standing with two of his disciples, and as he watched Jesus walk by, he exclaimed, “Look, here is the Lamb of God!” The two disciples heard him say this, and they followed Jesus. When Jesus turned and saw them following, he said to them, “What are you looking for?” They said to him, “Rabbi” (which translated means Teacher), “where are you staying?” He said to them, “Come and see.” They came and saw where he was staying, and they remained with him that day. It was about four o’clock in the afternoon. One of the two who heard John speak and followed him was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which is translated Anointed). He brought Simon to Jesus, who looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You are to be called Cephas” (which is translated Peter).

Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. And when Jesus had been baptized, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”