Volunteer Ian Hennessey packs up his pick-up with lunches.

“We need your help!” exclaimed Matt Mobley to the camera, but he and others were head-down and focused on their work as they assembled and packed 1,000 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches Thursday.

The plea was to Church Street UMC’s followers on social media for volunteers with vans, trucks, or SUVs to help transport 1,000 bagged lunches on Friday, January 12 for the weekend’s Remote Area Medical (RAM) pop up clinic at the Jacob Building in Knoxville. Seven trucks and vans showed up with less than 24 hours notice to transport the lunches to the RAM clinic site.

The church purchased and volunteers prepared hand-held meals for the anticipated crowd of more than 900 patients RAM expects to see this weekend. RAM reports that many patients will wait in the parking lot overnight to access the free healthcare service. RAM operates the pop-up clinics to deliver free medical, dental, and vision services to the underserved, uninsured and underinsured individuals who cannot afford or access a doctor. No qualifying questions or proof of income or identification are asked of patients who access the clinics. Headquartered in Rockford, TN, RAM’s more than 196,000 volunteers—licensed dental, vision, and medical providers, as well as general support volunteers—have treated more than 910,000 individuals, delivering more than $189.5 million worth of free services since the nonprofit’s founding in 1985.

“Working with RAM gave us the opportunity to live out our calling as Methodists; specifically, that the mission of the church is missions,” shares Matt Mobley. “Whether that means supporting our overseas ministers in their spreading the message of Christ’s love, working in our own local soup kitchen, or something as simple as making and bagging sack lunches for a wonderful program like RAM, no mission is too large or too small to demonstrate the example of Christ’s love to a world desperately in need of care and compassion.”

Volunteers from RAM and Church Street share a moment in the cold after the work is complete!

About 10 volunteers spent Thursday in an assembly line in the church’s Parish Hall organizing the 1000 bags to be delivered to RAM’s patients. Church Street is intentional about being in community with others through long-standing local, national and international mission efforts, and has used the prayer from Psalm 90 as its guide over the last year:

Let your acts be seen by your servants;
let your glory be seen by their children.
Let the kindness of the Lord our God be over us.
Make the work of our hands last. (Psalm 90:16-17)


For more information about Remote Area Medical, visit https://www.ramusa.org. For more information about Church Street’s missions or to learn more about our efforts in the community, please visit https://churchstreetumc.org/resources

The Tie that Binds Banner

Today, we are delighted to share a video featuring Laura Still, who is a longtime Church Street member and Children’s Ministry volunteer. You have probably seen her on a Children’s Sunday directing kids in skits during worship, or behind the scenes at the annual Christmas Pageant.

But she is known to our children for the creative and dramatic arts she uses to bring the stories of the Bible alive in the Drama room on the third floor of our Education building. If you don’t have a child, you’ve probably not seen it. So we invite you to listen to Laura’s story about her love of Church Street and explore this foundational ministry in the life of our church.

Children’s Ministry by the numbers: If you don’t have children or grandchildren, you may not know the breadth or depth of how the program engages our kids.

  • Camp Hogwarts: 30 children attended
  • VBS (Vacation Bible School): 38 children attended
  • Fall Festival: around 300 attendees, including their grown-ups!
  • Average of 12 children in the Nursery each week
  • 76 children on our Children’s Ministry roll

Other activities for children include Mission events, special worship nights, summer fabulous fun days, 3rd grade Bibles, older elementary retreat weekends, and more opportunities to grow and participate fully in the connection that Church Street offers.

Don’t miss what is coming up in Children’s Ministry:

  • Sunday, December 4, 5-7 pm: Advent Craft Festival and Potluck (Parish Hall and Gym)
  • Sunday, December 18, 9:45 am: Christmas Pageant! Children go to Sunday School classes and then head to the gym once they have their costumes! Christmas Pageant is followed by coffee and cookies and a time of fellowship in the gym.
  • Saturday, December 24, 3 pm: Family Christmas Eve Service. Children are invited to explore the nave, build the creche, and hear the familiar story of Christmas. Candlelight and communion at each Christmas Eve service.

If you are interested in working with our Children’s Ministry, please contact Katryn Bancroft, Children’s Director, at kbancroftATchurchstreetumcDOTorg.

The Tie that Binds Banner

A few years ago, I attended the funeral of one of the longest-serving “volunteers” for Church Street. I can’t say at Church Street … because he wasn’t in Knoxville. He was the spouse of our caretaker at Sterchi Lodge and served alongside her for 43 years as our welcoming hosts. Roy loved playing and singing bluegrass and gospel music, frequently entertaining guests at the Lodge. In celebrating his life, a bluegrass quartet sang a song that has come to live in my heart … and encapsulates for me the reason I choose to serve my church by standing at a doorway.

           I believe at least for me

           I’ll see my Mom and Dad

           My brothers and my sisters

           And everywhere you look are friends

           Oh, the greetings will be precious

           From those we’ve loved so dear

           But mortal man has never heard

           The likes of when he hears

           Welcome home, I knew you’d come

           Welcome home, you’re here for good

           Look around, was it worth the wait

           Welcome home, step thru the gate

                                               “Welcome Home” by the Gospel Plowboys

Months after the funeral, I was asked to be a greeter at church. Seemed like God heard my new favorite song and was giving me the opportunity to serve in a unique way.

As I take my place in the Welcome Center on Sundays, I think about the people I may see that day. The families I knew growing up in this church, people I have met since I moved back after 35 years away, UT students checking out that “other” beacon on a hallowed hill, and visitors from here and away.

Each person is an opportunity to affirm my faith in the wonderful variety of God’s children and rejoice in how we are all tied together by a common desire to gather in His presence. As I greet people with “Hello”, “Good Morning” and “Nice to see you,” I sometimes slip in a “Welcome Home”. The look on their face changes from confusion to comprehension, then a radiant smile and a little nod … acknowledging that they are indeed home for good.

Kit Brown, Church Street Member and Greeter Coordinator, whose Sunday School class (Open Door) is pictured above at Sterchi Lodge in the Fall of 2022.

The Tie that Binds Banner

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” – Matthew 11:28-30 (The Message)

Last weekend at Spiritual Life Advance, or ‘SLA’ to our youth, about 50 middle and high school youth and adult volunteers retreated to the mountains to step away, lay their burdens down, spiritually reset, learn about carrying one another’s burdens, experience Holy Communion, and move back into the real world with intention and grace. The focus verse for the weekend was Matthew 11:28-30, posted above using The Message translation.

For some, SLA ’22 was their first youth retreat, and for others, it is a grace-filled experience they welcome annually for spiritual growth, renewal, and fellowship with beloved members of their Church Street family. And you can be part of their experience by listening to their 2022 SLA Spotify playlist (click here)!

Enjoy hearing more in the video below from Youth Director Jenny Cross and 2022 graduates of our youth program Reece Wood and Sophia Thompson. They share more about how Church Street has played a big part in their spiritual formation and growth.

Youth Ministry serves 110 middle and high school students from all over the Knoxville area.

Mad in the City 2022As you heard in the video, part of what makes Church Street unique is that we welcome youth from a variety of middle and high schools in the region. Students connect with peers from around town; they worship and deepen their faith with adult supporters and peers; they mentor each other as they are in different stages of adolescence and spiritual growth; and they take on leadership positions at a variety of levels — from worship band and small group leaders to becoming paid college interns!

If you missed our MAD in the City summer recap, click here to enjoy learning about the mission work our youth do with community partners during the summer. Youth Ministry offers many missions and outreach opportunities throughout the year: Advent, Lent, this weekend for Thanksgiving Baskets, to name only a few of them!

We invite you to stay up-to-date with all that is happening in Youth Ministry at Church Street.

Click here to see more!

The Tie that Binds Banner

Each day this week, we will be sending an email with important information about the church’s budget, stories from church members about their ties here, what giving looks like here, and other information that shows us ‘The Tie that Binds” … to God and to our church family.

Today, hear from two long-time Church Street members — Verna McLain and Susan Dominick — who share more in the video below about how the music program at Church Street has formed a musical and spiritual foundation for them and deepened their connections to their church home.

Music Program by the Numbers:

  • Adult Choir: 55 members
  • Youth Choir: 52 members
  • Children’s Choirs: 30 members
  • Handbell Choir: 10 members
  • Scholarship Singers: 6 students

Master Arts Series Upcoming Events:

  • Dec. 9: Holiday Dinner and Concert
  • Dec. 11: Youth and Children’s Choirs in Worship
  • Dec. 18: Parish Adult Choir and TN Brass Quintet in Worship

More about these and the 2023 events at www.churchstreetumc.org/master-arts






Our Worship Services offer traditional worship and are planned carefully with our music program to give a full and connected experience each Sunday. In this ‘post-lockdown’ world, Church Street has continually seen in-person worship numbers rise and continued to see online worship numbers stabilize at an average of between 100-125 unique viewers per week. (All attendance metrics are noted each week in the Messenger.). Other worship highlights this year have included:

  • Disability Awareness Sunday, pictured above, and the consecration of the new accessible chancel lift
  • The Rev. Brian Tillman, pictured above, preaching at both in-person services on November 13
  • 39 adults joined the church, plus 13 confirmands in April – a total of 52 new members!
  • What a joy to celebrate more than 10 baptisms

Every Sunday is a special Sunday to be in worship together! Other ‘Special Sundays’ celebrated in the life of our church this year included United Women in Faith Sunday, Children’s Sunday, Missions Weekend, Confirmation Sunday, Stephen Ministry Sundays, World Communion Sunday, Missions Weekend, Senior Sunday (pictured above), Promotion Sunday, Hymn Festival and All Saints’ Sunday.

This week, you should be receiving a letter and a commitment card in the mail for your 2023 pledge – please return it on Sunday, November 20 during worship. If you prefer to make your commitment online, you may do so securely by visiting www.churchstreetumc.org/stewardship. If you would like to discuss your pledge, please contact Kate Spencer, Church Administrator, at kspencer@churchstreetumc.org or 865-521-0268.

The Tie that Binds Banner

Each day this week, we will be sending an email with important information about the church’s budget, stories from church members about their ties here, what giving looks like here, and other information that shows us ‘The Tie that Binds” … to God and to our church family. Please be prayerful as you explore how this church is supported by you, its members and friends, and how making an annual financial commitment between now and Commitment Sunday, November 20, gives Church Street the opportunity to be in ministry and mission within our community.

Below, find three graphics that represent how we look at three larger buckets of Church Street’s expenses in 2022, with additional context provided about each graphic below.

Ministry Expenses budget graphic

Ministries at Church Street: Our ministries and missions make up just over 37% of our expenses in 2022. Many are noted in the graphic above, but the missions Church Street supports were too long to include in one graphic! Missions include:

  • Wesley House Community Center
  • Beacon of Hope Food Co-Op, Ladies Lunch and Learn, and Sharing Shop
  • Soup Kitchen
  • Habitat for Humanity
  • Justice Knox
  • Operation Backyard
  • Sharing Shop
  • Family Promise
  • Wesley Foundation at UTK
  • Dogwood Elementary School Kindergarten
  • Food 4 Kids Weekend Bags Packing
  • Annual Thanksgiving Baskets for 115 neighbors in need
  • United Methodist Committee on Relief (Disaster Relief for hurricane and flood victims and relief for Ukraine)
  • Rise Against Hunger (packing 10,000 meals)
  • Henderson Settlement
  • Missionary Support (Alaska & South Sudan)
  • Hands-On Mission Projects, including food buckets for Zimbabwe, Emerald Youth Foundation

Extension Ministries Budget

Extension Ministries comprise nearly 13% of our annual expenses and include the Church Street Preschool, all expenses related to maintaining Sterchi Lodge — our church’s mountain retreat — and the myriad uses of the Church Street Kitchen.

Notably, on each school day the kitchen is in use by the Preschool for healthy meals. And every Thursday for more than three decades, church volunteers serve a warm lunch and a takeaway bag for guests who join us at Soup Kitchen in Parish Hall. In the first 10 months of this year, Soup Kitchen has served more than 3,700 meals.

Salaries and Benefits Budget graphic

Salaries and Benefits for our staff make up 50% of our expenses at Church Street. Guiding our mission and ministry work every day and helping to deepen our faith through our sacred worship setting and meaningful programming are:

  • Three full-time appointed pastors
  • Fifteen full-time program, administrative, and custodial staff members
  • Five regular part-time support staff, including music support, communications support, finance and administrative support, and childcare support (with additional nursery and childcare workers as needed)

Did you know… SIX of our full-time staff members have been employed at Church Street for more than 10 years? Administrative Assistant to the Senior Pastor Kelly Woods, with the longest tenure, began working at Church Street in her early adulthood and has served with 9 senior pastors, beginning with Rev. Toombs Kay.

This week, you should be receiving a letter and a commitment card in the mail for your 2023 gift – please return it on Sunday, November 20 during worship. If you prefer to make your commitment online, you may do so securely by visiting www.churchstreetumc.org/stewardship. If you would like to request more detailed budget information, or have other questions, please reply to this email and Kate Spencer, Church Administrator, will be glad to speak with you. You may also call: 865-521-0268.

The Tie that Binds Banner

November 11, 2022

Haven’t you loved the “photo of the week” on the banner of our MESSENGER newsletter? This is something we started doing on August 19, 2022. Instead of the same picture for a season – which were beautiful – you get a snapshot of a ministry moment that happened that week! These pictures are indeed worth a thousand words! I’m going to write a little less than one thousand, though, as I share with you how these pictures are possible and what they mean! (If you want to go back and see all the Photos of the Week, you can go to www.churchstreetumc.org/messenger to see them all.)

In Catherine’s Corner last week, I shared with you about The Tie That Binds and all the ways the Holy Spirit connects us to God and to each other. There is always an ‘each other’ component when we talk about our relationship with Christ. Our response to Christ’s love for us is often manifested in our relationship with others – those in our family, our community, our church, and around the world! You see that connection in all the pictures.

Your offerings to Church Street United Methodist Church are one way to respond to Christ’s gift of salvation and love. No, we cannot pay for or buy our salvation! But we respond with thanksgiving! Our prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness are disciplined practices that connect us to God and to each other. When much in our world seems to be unraveling, the Holy Spirit is a tie that pulls together, shores up, strengthens, and reinforces our dependence on God and each other. It indeed binds us together!

Each day next week, we will be posting ‘snapshots’ of information about our church and see samples of the tie that binds. Through emails and social media, you will learn more about how we use your gifts and offerings to provide ministry and programs that are meaningful. You will not want to miss seeing the videos – they are precious! I hope that as you see how the Spirit is working and connecting, you will respond faithfully by filling out the pledge card you will receive in the mail and bring it with you to worship on Sunday, November 20. If you are not able to be present, you can mail it, or follow the instructions to pledge online or to talk to Kate Spencer, Business Administrator, directly.

I am thankful that you take time to read my Friday morning musings! It is one way we stay connected.

Looking forward to being with you in worship on Sunday!