Tennessee Conference Review

Electronic Version of The Tennessee Conference Review a publication of The Tennessee Conference - United Methodist Church

Thomas Nankervis, Editor

Saturday, July 31, 2010


Articles in the August 6th edition of THE REVIEW

1. Bishop’s Flood Relief Appeal flyer
2. VIM Mission trip to Liberia
3. Tennessee Pastor Launches “Getting Ready for Sunday” Column and Web Site
4. Revival at Hartsville United Methodist Church
5. Introducing the Rev. Dr. Ed Trimmer, Executive Director of the Cal Turner Center for Church Leadership
6. Eagle project far from the ordinary.
7. Mississippi Choctaw Youth become part of mission team in Tennessee
8. Stephen E. Handy, Sr., honored with G. Ross Freeman Leadership Award
9. Dr. Gloria Johnson presented Frances Asbury Award
10. A Second Chance Shared

Bishop’s Flood Relief Appeal
VIM Mission Trip to Liberia
By Peggi Billman
Tennessee team members on the mission trip to Liberia: l to r, Frank Billman, Peggi Billman, and Jonathan Dow.

Bishop John Innis invited Aldersgate Renewal Ministries [ARM] to send a team to Liberia to lead the Life in the Spirit Seminar, Worship in Spirit and Truth seminar and Lord Teach Us to Pray seminar at the Gbarnga School of Theology. After much planning and preparation work, on May 16th a team of 13 boarded a plane in Chicago for a UM Volunteers in Mission trip to Liberia. Members of the team were Frank & Peggi Billman (Joelton, TN), Jonathan Dow (Hendersonville, TN), Rich & Sue Fetzer (Woxall, PA), Rev. Maryanne & George Ditter (Woxall, PA), Rev. Doug Miller (Franklinville, NC), Gary & Deb Todd (Twinsburg, OH), Bob & Lynn Denges (Hudson, OH), and Lynn Norman (Silver Spring, MD).

Peggi Billman coordinated the Lord Teach Us to Pray seminar, Jonathan Dow, Executive Director of ARM, coordinated the Worship in Spirit and Truth seminar, and Dr. Frank Billman, Director of Church Relations for ARM and pastor of Forest Grove UMC in Joelton, coordinated the Life in the Spirit Seminar.

There were about 160 participants made up of pastors, church leaders and students from the school. Some of the pastors walked 15 hours in high heat and humidity to get to the seminars. Many people responded to opportunities for healing prayer. A number of people then testified to being healed. Others testified to receiving dreams and visions. One Life in the Spirit experience involved those who had no father or never knew their father receiving words of affirmation and love from fathers in the group. One female pastor in particular was visibly touched by this experience and wept.

The 14 year long civil war ended in Liberia in 2003 but signs of the war were evident. The school property had been occupied by two rebel groups and the agriculture school, fish ponds and rice paddies were destroyed. Bullet holes could be seen in some buildings. Road damage caused by the war made travel take much longer. There was no running water and electricity by generator only. The school had returned to the site from Monrovia just a little over a year ago. One meaningful experience during the Life in the Spirit Seminar was when a team member offered the opportunity for them to forgive those who destroyed, harmed or even killed family members during the war. The team member stood in for whoever their enemy might have been and then asked the participants to speak out words of forgiveness towards those who sought to destroy them, even naming them if they could. Men at the front pointed and said (loudly) “I forgive you Charles Taylor”, who was the oppressive President of the country during the war.

Worship celebration in Liberia

The team had shipped extra manuals for each of the seminars to be used after the team left. They also brought 4 donated laptop computers (none of the faculty members had computers), clothing and shoes for children and adults, choir robes and Bibles. There is a need for Bibles, choir robes and Methodist hymnals (any edition) in the United Methodist churches there. These items can be shipped there economically through Operation Classroom, a General Board of Global Ministries Advance Special project.

The team also toured other United Methodist works in Ganta and Monrovia. They returned home safely on May 27th.

Yatta Roslyn Young, Dean of the School and 3 District Superintendents present at the seminars were very pleased with the results. They will be a topic of discussion at upcoming charge conferences and the cabinet meeting.

Aldersgate Renewal Ministries has conducted these same seminars in churches across the United States. Another team is taking the Life in the Spirit Seminar to India in September.

Tennessee Pastor Launches “Getting Ready for Sunday” Column and Web Site

The Rev. Martin Thielen

Years ago at a denominational meeting, two old seminary friends ran into each other. It had been twenty years since they last met. One served as a pastor, the other as a minister of music. The pastor asked the music minister, “What have you been doing these past twenty years?” He answered, “The same as you, getting ready for Sunday!”

Church leaders spend enormous amounts of time and energy getting ready for Sunday. Therefore, they constantly need fresh worship and preaching ideas. That need prompted Martin Thielen, senior pastor at Lebanon First United Methodist Church in Lebanon, Tennessee, to launch a new “Getting Ready for Sunday” column and Web site.

Beginning with the Sept/Oct 2011 issue, Martin will write a “Getting Ready for Sunday” worship and preaching column for the international digital clergy magazine, Net Results. The column will be attached to Martin’s recently launched preaching and worship Web site: http://www.gettingreadyforsunday.com/.

GettingReadyForSunday.com includes worship, preaching, and pastoral leadership articles, the Net Results columns, and a selection of storytelling style sermons and sermon series. Martin will add new articles, sermons, and sermon series to the site on a regular basis. In the future he plans on adding drama and lectionary preaching resources.

Before transferring to the United Methodist Church, Martin served as a national worship and preaching consultant, editor, author, and adjunct seminary professor for the Southern Baptist Convention. Martin is the author of five books and over one hundred articles, most on the subject of preaching and worship. His latest book, What’s the Least I Can Believe and Still Be a Christian? A Guide to What Matters Most (Westminster John Knox) will be released in February, 2011. Martin’s next book, If Money, Success, and Beauty Don’t Make People Happy, What Does? will be released by WJK in 2012.

During Martin’s tenure, Lebanon First United Methodist Church has doubled in size, primarily by prioritizing worship. Articles about Lebanon’s revitalization and growth, including “How Worship Brought Our Church Back from the Dead,” can be found at http://www.gettingreadyforsunday.com/

One Bread, One Body, One Lord of All!
Revival at Hartsville United Methodist Church

Preachers for the Hartsville Revival: Tito Hernandez, Willie Jackson, and Tom Gibson.

A multi-cultural revival brought together three cultures and five congregations at Hartsville UMC on July 1, 2 and 3! The Chapel Hill UMC (Anglo and Hispanic congregations), Lafayette UMC (Anglo and Hispanic congregations), and Williams Chapel Church (African American) came together to celebrate God’s abiding presence, love and grace through Jesus Christ—together!

Uziel Hernandez and Pastor Tito Hernandez organized this celebration, with Pastors Willie Jackson, Tito Hernandez, and Tom Gibson preaching on each of the three nights following a fellowship meal together each evening! Uziel Hernandez interpreted for the services in both English and Spanish for the 100+ persons present, all of whom were thrilled to be sharing in such a momentous time of coming together as One Body, sharing One Bread, and giving testimony to the One Lord of All!

Special thanks to Uziel and Pastor Tito, for your vision and for helping this great event to happen!

Introducing the Rev. Dr. Ed Trimmer
Executive Director of the Cal Turner Center for Church Leadership

Dr. Ed Trimmer

Greetings from Martin Methodist College and the Cal Turner Jr. Center for Church Leadership. My name is Rev. Dr. Ed Trimmer and I am the new Executive Director of the Center. I love Jesus Christ and God's Church, thus I am very excited to be able to be a part of the Center for Church Leadership thanks to the generosity of Cal Turner Jr.

I have been a lifelong Methodist (before we were United Methodist). In fact, I remember thinking the UMW (sorry ladies) stood for the United Mine Workers, since my dad was a union organizer when I was a “wee lad.” As a lifelong United Methodist I hope to help a conversation continue or begin with those of us who love the United Methodist Church and who are struggling with how to help our church adapt to a new time of change in this country.

Since I am new to this conference I need to study the context for our ministry together for Jesus Christ and building God's Kingdom. I may bring up things that you may have intuitively known about yourselves OR simply things you don't believe about yourselves. But always my task in this column is to help the conversation continue around the work and ministry of God and the United Methodist Church.

For example, did you know that a quarter of all the United Methodist's in this annual conference who are in church on a given Sunday attend just 16 of our roughly 611 churches. Do you know which sixteen? Or that approx. 57% of our churches (or 351) have an average worship attendance on Sunday less than 50 people. How do these numbers compare with other conferences in the UM Church?

The Lewis Center for Church Leadership at Wesley Seminary (Lovett Weems) suggests that 125 is roughly the number of average worship attendance needed to support a full-time seminary educated elder. My own research, esp. in the Southeast Jurisdiction where giving per household unit has historically been slightly higher than the rest of the country, suggests the number of average worship attendees needed to support a seminary educated elder is somewhere around 100. None the less that means the majority of our churches have no realistic expectation in the near future of being able to support a full-time seminary educated elder dedicated to “their” church. Is that good or bad?

I believe we have as many elders in our church now as we did when we had 4 million more members and 6,000 more churches. Is this a good or bad thing? Is it time, not for guaranteed appointments to go, but for minimum salary to disappear; especially 12% pension, which is incredibly generous given that business standards have fallen to about 5% contribution to pension by employers with employees matching?

Do we need a different style of church leadership and education for “mustard seed” churches (small membership), as the Bishop refers to them, beyond or besides local pastor schools dominated by “UM seminaries”?

How does your church respond when it realizes that the largest Protestant Churches in the country have made drums and guitars the musical instruments of choice over the keyboards? While organs are not going to disappear any time soon, their 400-500 year reign as the musical instrument of choice in Protestant worship is rapidly declining?

These issues and others are what I hope to discuss in subsequent columns with the hope of keeping a dialogue alive among those of us who love God and God's Church. Blessings from Martin Methodist and the Cal Turner Jr. Center for Church Leadership.

140 seniors dine and dance courtesy of scout
Eagle project far from the ordinary

This article originally appeared in the online newspaper The Brentwood Home Page, Posted July 7, and was very slightly modified for this issue of THE REVIEW. It is used here by permission. Further information about the Brentwood Home Page is carried at the end of this article.
Event host Rob Graham dances with 93-year-old Naomi Jones who is visiting from Colorado. Mrs. Jones is the mother of Brentwood member Jackie Shields.

More than 100 Brentwood seniors danced the night away Friday, July 9th, all courtesy of another senior and a few of his friends and supporters.

Troop 1 Life Scout Rob Graham—a Brentwood High School senior—hosted Candlelight Memories, a free seated dinner and dance, as his Eagle Scout project.

The fun evening blossomed out of a sad series of events, however, Graham explain on Tuesday before the dance as he measured Haney Hall at Brentwood United Methodist Church where the event was to be held.

Good food and great dance music. Things don’t get better than this. Ruth and Al Regen reside at the Heritage Senior Living Community. They are 60 year members of Belmont UMC

“I was ushering at Billy Jim Vaughn’s funeral, and I overheard a member of the Robert I. Moore Sunday School class ask, ‘Are we in the same spot?’” he recalled. The class, one of the church’s oldest and largest, had lost several members in the past year. Among them was Vaughn, who died in December at age 97. Vaughn served as Troop 1 scoutmaster for almost 75 years. Another was Bob Battle, well-known as an editor of the Nashville Banner and more recently, as Country Living columnist for The Tennessean.

“I felt that was really sad, to know they had had so much loss they had ‘a spot’ to sit at funerals,” Rob said.

Because Vaughn had made such an impact on his life, Rob said, “I wanted to give back to his group, to this group.”

The Moonlighters brought back fond memories of the big band sound from the 1930s and 40s.

His Eagle project plan was approved by the Mid-Tennessee Boy Scout Council in March and he got to work immediately afterward. He solicited donations and discounts, secured a caterer and booked a band. He admitted that as a 17-year-old, he had a lot to learn about party planning. For instance, you need salt and pepper shakers if you’re having a dinner party. He’s also learned about coffee creamers, sugar caddies and water pitchers.
Elizabeth and Chester Hill were fabulous dancers. The tango and many other dances – they were comfortable with them all.

One detail he was dealing with on Tuesday before the dance was a dance floor. He hadn’t budgeted for one and learned late in the afternoon that the cheapest one he could get would be almost $500. If all else fails, he said dancing on carpet wouldn’t be a disaster. Graham DID secure a dance floor and only had to pay installation costs so everything was go for the dinner dance.

Graham sent personal invitations to all members of the Robert I. Moore and Wesley Forum Sunday School classes at Brentwood UMC. He put up flyers at The Heritage senior living community and The FiftyForward Martin Center to spread the word. All seniors were welcome, space permitting.

Three days before the dance 130 persons has signed up for the event. He originally hoped about 75 to 100 guests would attend.

Suzanne McKnight and scout Xavier – the scouts danced with the ladies all evening long

Fellow scouts, friends and family played a huge role in making the dinner-dance a success, he said. Recent Brentwood High School grad Patrick Walsh helped his friend measure Haney Hall before the dance.

“I think it’s great that he’s doing something really good,” Walsh said, and he was back on Friday afternoon to help set up. He wasn’t alone. Over 40 people helped set up, serve, bus tables and wash dishes. A few even served as dance partners.

There was plenty of dancing with The Moonlighters performing music from the 1930s to the 1950s.

The Parents of host Rob Graham, Bob and Susan Graham.

A final Summary Note from Rob Graham
My original goal with this dinner dance was to affirm the value of our senior members of the church and our community in a way that was fun and included them in a very personal way. I wanted to honor them with an event that would combine several generations and affirm the importance of sharing our lives. Scouts dancing with dressed up ladies provided that very experience in a way that brought smiles and laughter! I have been blessed to have the support of my family, my church, my youth group and scouts who have all helped make my vision a reality that far exceeded my original goals. One of the attendees, Chad Drumright, announced to his Sunday School class, “When I came to the dinner, I was 80, but when I left I was 16 again!” That says it all!
More information about the Brentwood Home Page
Brentwood Home Page (www.brentwoodhomepage.com) launched in September 2009. The online "newspaper without the pulp" bills itself as "the go to place for everything Brentwood" and quickly established itself to be just that. It is the brainchild of owners Susan Leathers, a seasoned newspaper editor, and Kelly Gilfillan, a sales and marketing professional. Both are members of Brentwood United Methodist Church.

Readers are invited to sign up as BHP members by clicking the Sign Up button in the navigation bar. It's free and allows the ability to post to the site's free classifieds, community calendar, photo galleries and more. Members also receive daily emails listing the top stories of the day.

Mississippi Choctaw Youth become part of mission team in Tennessee

The youth from Philadelphia, Mississippi, proudly pose wearing back packs provided by the Columbia District United Methodist Women.

One of the mission studies of the UMW for 2009-2010 was Native American Survival. One of the teachers, Mary T Newman, spoke to the Columbia District UMW annual meeting. Their “love offering” was backpacks for Native American children. The backpacks would be dispensed at the discretion of the Committee on Native American Ministries. CONAM partners with the ministry of Great Spirit UMC in Philadelphia, MS of the Choctaw Nation.

Several of the Great Spirit UMC children and youth came to Tennessee to become part of a mission team with Spring Hill UMC in Clarksville District. Pastor Willie Lyle organized community mission work and social activities for the visiting youth who are led by dedicated leaders. Rev. Daniel Tubby and his wife Sybil.

Whether working on a wheelchair ramp or visiting the shut ins, the group had an impact, but also became missioners. Native Americans are systematically “missionized”. This partnership began to change the perspective and taught the visiting Choctaw youth how to minister.

The blessing of backpacks filled with school supplies, provide by the Columbia District United Methodist Women, brought many smiles and laughs as the youth chose their backpacks. Several backpacks were also sent with the group back to Mississippi. The backpacks have also found their way to South Dakota to the Rosebud Reservation to be given out through Tree of Life Ministries, a full time ministry to that area. More backpacks are going to the Four Corners area. Backpacks are also being given out at Native Moccasins Rock in August. This annual event brings together folks from about 10 tribes.

Stephen E. Handy, Sr., honored with G. Ross Freeman Leadership Award

The United Methodist Men of the Tennessee Conference and Southeast Jurisdiction have recognized a Nashville District pastor with an award for his outstanding contributions to ministry to men. The Rev. Stephen E. Handy, Sr. was presented the G. Ross Freeman Leadership Award at the Tennessee Annual Conference on June 15, 2010 at Brentwood UMC. “Brother Steve has been instrumental in promoting and supporting men’s ministry in all of the churches he has served and is most deserving of this honor”, said Ingram Howard, Conference President, who made the presentation. Rev. Handy is the sixth pastor from the Tennessee Conference to receive this award. For his outstanding work and leadership, Rev. Handy was also given a Life Membership in United Methodist Men and a $200 donation was made to the UMM Foundation in his honor.

United Methodist Men president Ingram Howard presents the G. Ross Freeman Leadership award to Stephen E. Handy, Sr.

Rev. Handy has been instrumental in rebuilding and reorganizing the men's ministry at McKendree United Methodist Church of Nashville. Under his leadership the men are participating in a weekly noon-day lunch for the homeless in downtown Nashville. They recently participated in a project to build personal energy transports for the disabled in Africa, and he leads his men in a weekly Bible study in a local barbershop. They have also launched a wellness center, a charter school, and groups which gather after the Sunday services to discuss the sermon message. Prior to his appointment at McKendree UMC last year, he had served as Senior Pastor at Pickett-Rucker UMC in Lebanon for eight years where he had an outstanding ministry. He also worked at the United Methodist Publishing House during those years.

Dr. Gloria Johnson presented Frances Asbury Award
By Michele Morton, Director of the Wesley Foundation, Tennessee State University

The Tennessee Conference Board of Higher Education and Campus Ministry honored Dr Gloria Johnson by presenting her with the Francis Asbury Award at the 2010 session of the Tennessee Annual Conference. The award offers recognition to individuals who have made a significant contribution to fostering the church’s ministries in higher education.

Dr. Gloria Johnson receives the Francis Asbury Award from Tom Gildemeister, Bishop Dick Wills, and Matt Charlton.

For over twenty years Dr. Johnson has worked tirelessly with campus ministry as an active board member. She served on the Board of Directors for what was then the Nashville Wesley which gave oversight to the Wesley campus ministries at Vanderbilt, TSU and Fisk. She then served actively on the TSU Wesley Foundation Board of Directors for many years while at the same time working on campus, leading, teaching and guiding students as a professor, mentor and advisor of many other student organizations on campus, including being the supervising advisor of Alpha Chi chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.

Presently, Dr. Gloria Johnson is the Interim Dean, College of Arts and Sciences, at Tennessee State University, Nashville, Tennessee. Previously, she has served as the Department Head of Languages, Literature, and Philosophy, and Professor of English, at Tennessee State . She is known on campus as an extraordinary leader who puts the students well being first and foremost.

Dr. Johnson was recently honored by a young adult women’s Christian organization on campus for her gifts in leading young adults, especially college students. These students felt that she was rare on campus among the administrators because she listened to them, helped them with crucial decisions and guided them through many difficult problem solving situations. This is Dr. Johnson’s life everyday on campus as well as excelling in her university duties.

Dr. Johnson presently serves on the Tennessee Conference Board of Higher Education and Campus Ministry. She is a lifelong member of John Wesley United Methodist Church where she has served in many leadership capacities.

Wedding Shower provided a great way to celebrate and to make a difference
A Second Chance Shared
*By Julie Lewis

Editor’s Note: Nancy Neelley Hicks is a Deacon and Member of the Tennessee Conference. Her wedding shower might help other couples want to make a difference in the way they plan and celebrate an upcoming marriage.

Nancy Neelley Hicks loads her car. Shower gifts were supplies for Nashville’s homeless.

A wedding shower has paper bells and balloons, women laughing, wrapping paper and bows. On a recent evening in Nashville, a wedding shower included tents, toilet paper and tears.

In early May, historical floods changed the landscape of Nashville and surrounding counties. The residents of Tent City, a homeless community in Nashville, lost what little they had. However, during a wedding shower for the future Mrs. Neelley Hicks, her second chance at love became a second chance for others to rebuild their lives.

“I feel so blessed,” Neelley said, “and this shower was the perfect way to help others know that no matter what you’ve gone through, God’s love can help you start anew.”

Neelley’s friends purchased supplies for the homeless of Nashville to restart their lives. Several friends pooled their money to purchase 13 tents. Others donated giant packs of bathroom tissue, a necessity most people take for granted. Two partygoers created “bags of grace” for Neelley’s car. These backpacks held toiletries, socks, underwear and shoes. When she sees someone in need, Neelley will be ready to give a prepared bag. She also received feminine products, shampoos, soaps, lotions, a container for clean water, bleach, an air mattress and a cooler. A stack of gift cards, now a wedding shower staple, will go to those who need to buy what they need to live instead of wedding china and honeymoon souvenirs.

Decorating the tables were party mix served in tin cans and flashlights as candles atop shimmering pink tablecloths. Guests found their way to the shower by following a series of signs seen often on street corners. “Will work for food.” “Can you spare a dollar?” The signs of promise offered back – “Food Line” and “Free Food.”

After a traditional game of “How well do you know the bride?” the shower took a more meaningful turn. In Nashville, the homeless community writes and produces a newspaper, The Contributor. The homeless sell this paper as a source of income. Many women in the room regularly purchase copies from the street vendors. On each table, rolled up in lavender scrolls, were copies of stories from The Contributor. Several women rose to read the stories. It was a moment to hear about the lives of the people we see on the streets and often avoid.

Neelley’s heart is for the homeless of Nashville. Her secondary appointment as a deacon is to a congregation in west Nashville that includes a large homeless population. When the floods washed away Tent City, her friends lost everything. Within days, she was at Tent City helping one of the church members find the last picture of a deceased mother. Neelley’s kind, loving spirit multiplied through the gifts given during the shower.

“This shower was not only a chance to honor a bride,” said event planner Jackie Vaughan, but also “a chance to honor those who do what they can to survive on the streets. We were reminded that all persons are of sacred worth.”

“This bridal shower was one of the most meaningful and fun showers I’ve attended, added guest Amanda Bachus. “It was simple, and down to earth. It wasn’t boring because it had a real purpose.”

If you are ready to “rethink” a wedding shower, here are some things to consider:

1. Choose a cause that is important to the bride.

2. Offer the guests a specific list of items to purchase.

3. For larger items, encourage guests to pool funds.

4. Blend the traditional with the unconventional in decorating, food choices and activities.

5. When possible, include insightful stories and testimonies about the cause.

*Lewis is a member of the Web Ministry Team of United Methodist Communications, Nashville, Tenn.


Articles in the July 23rd issue of THE REVIEW

1. Tennessee Conference Bishop’s Relief Appeal
2. Native Moccasins Rock, Nationally known Festival/Workshop/Retreat, August 13-15, 2010, Camp Lake Benson
3. Vacation Bible School in Florida unearths treasure for Tennessee Conference Church
4. Harvest Hands Camera Club gives children opportunity for self expression, and the ability to see world in a different way
5. Bonnaroo
6. July 2010: “Tears may linger at nightfall, but joy comes in the morning” [Psalm 30:5]
7. Journal Dedication 2010 to lay person Glenn Abernathy
8. Journal Dedication 2010 to the Rev. Farris Farmer Moore
9. Tennessee Conference Advance Special, the Salvus Center

Congregations urged to take special offering on Sunday, August 22

Tennessee Conference Bishop’s Relief Appeal

Wind and water have passed for now, but tens of thousands of survivors have just begun a long path to recovery in more than 29 counties across the Conference. Along this year’s lengthy journey, many will need our assistance in the form of spiritual/emotional support, building materials, volunteers, and more. On Sunday, August 22, or another Sunday of your choice, give in Christ’s name to serve your neighbor. Checks can be made payable to your local church, and designated: “2010 Spring Flood”

For additional information, contact:

Tennessee Conference Office Disaster Response
615-695-2765 or DisasterResponse@tnumc.com

Vacation Bible School in Florida unearths treasure for Tennessee Conference Church

Vacation Bible School, “High Seas Expedition,” First United Methodist Church, Orlando

The children of Orlando, Florida’s First United Methodist Church, were involved in an exciting Vacation Bible School using the theme “High Seas Expedition,” a theme that conjures up all kinds of dramatic imagery from underwater exploration to historic sailors searching the ocean blue for whatever lay across the uncrossed sea. It also brings to mind the imagery of pirates in search of treasure. And, as the man with a black patch over one eye would like to tell you, “Aye, matey, the motion picture and television industries have kept OUR pirate story alive for a very long time.”

The children signed up for Vacation Bible School, in fact, were each given “a treasure chest” with suggestions on how to collect money over the 5-days of VCS to be used in First UMC’s mission outreach. In this case ALL the money raised was to be used in reconstructing an historic but heavily flood damaged United Methodist Church in the Tennessee Conference. The parent newsletter summed it up: “Our mission project this year, in keeping with our water theme, is raising funds to help restore one of the oldest churches in Tennessee, Dodson Chapel UMC, which has been a victim of flooding. 100% of the money raised will go to repair their church.”

Treasure chests used to collect money to assist flood recovery by Tennessee’s Dodson Chapel United Methodist Church

Children were asked to fill their treasure chests with coins/dollars based on some simple explorations at home—all related to water:

• Day 1—the number of showers, tubs and toilets in your home.

• Day 2—the number of hoses and spigots outside your home.

• Day 3—the number of faucets in your home.

• Day 4—the number of sprinklers in your yard or garage.

When the treasure chests were returned on Friday the children of Orlando First United Methodist Church had raised $1500.00 for Dodson Chapel’s recovery.

*Orlando First United Methodist Church is located in downtown Orlando. In its 125 year history the congregation has seem numerous changes in its community – from being a smaller community in the center of Florida’s citrus belt in 1885 to 2010 when it is the 27th largest metropolitan area in the U.S. and a major tourist destination.

Native Moccasins Rock, Nationally known Festival/Workshop/Retreat, August 13-15, 2010, Camp Lake Benson

Jaime Russell teaching Native flute techniques to the Rev. Fred Harper

Native Moccasins Rock 2010 will be held August 13, 14, 15 at Camp Lake Benson. This week end is a tremendous opportunity for the local church and the community at large to be a part of an event which is celebrating nine years of bringing Native American artists, performers, speakers and dancers together for a time of teaching their various skills. The workshops are interactive and are led by nationally known artists. The evening entertainment brings well known performers to the stage. Recording artist Jamie Russell, Emerson Begay and Grady Jones are know in our conference as well as across the southeast. Boe Harris has performed internationally and Freeman Owle will enthrall you with traditional stories of the Cherokee. Ragghi Rain will keep you spellbound with stories she has written. Her stories are from the heart and will touch you deeply. New this year is the workshop on making a flute. Also new this year is how to make a gourd rattle. Gourd rattles have more meaning than just hearing the sound. Even though it will be August, there will be a workshop on how to cook with clay vessels on a fire and a popular (and taste tempting) workshop will return, “ how to make authentic frybread.” A new session on youth leadership is on the schedule in the youth track. It is entitled “Walking the Spirit Path” (Generosity, Courage, Respect, Wisdom –values then and now). The workshop session “Time for Spirit” will be a comparison of Dreams, Visions, as Circles are found in native spirituality and the Bible.

Choctaw basket maker Ramsey King and Marilyn Huey, basket maker from Alabama

Join us for a week end of understanding through education. There will be a time of worship, a time of dance, a time of laughter and a time to learn from the rich culture of Native Americans.

Contact Mary T Newman via e mail: mtnewman@tnumc.org; phone, 615-695-2760/ 800-403-5795 You may download a brochure from the webpage http://nativeamerican.tnumc.com

Harvest Hands Camera Club gives children opportunity for self expression and also the ability to see world in a different way

Jesica photographs a favorite stuffed toy.

The young boy glanced out the window just in time to notice a big truck pass by—obviously a work truck with a lift, and other appendages that would allow workmen to operate safely at telephone pole heights. The configuration of the truck amazed him and he shouted to no one in particular, “I’ve got to get a picture of that truck.” Unfortunately, the truck was gone almost as soon as it was spotted. The episode shows what is happening in the lives of a group of youngsters called the “Camera Club” a summer program sponsored by Harvest Hands, an agency envisioned by the late Howard Olds and other leaders at Brentwood United Methodist Church. The goal was to make a true community of a large area close to Nashville’s State Fair grounds—the area was becoming “fractured” by older residents moving out, a blend of persons from various racial groups moving in, emergence of illegal drug sales, increase in crime, working parents, latch-key kids, scarcity of grocery stores within walking distance—things symbolic of rapid change in what had been an established community in South Nashville.
Ivana proudly shows a photo to interns Lindsey and Laura (holding the photo). The interns are devoting their summer to Harvest Hands and to the Camera Club kids as well. A second Camera Club member, Andrea, watches the response of the interns.

This spring two volunteers, Jackie Shields and Sharon Cox, envisioned using photography with young children as a means of self-expression—and the children that became involved are very young, mainly kindergarten through third grade. By raising funds through a “Making a Difference” program at Brentwood UMC it was possible to purchase a dozen small digital cameras with rechargeable batteries. And so on June 8th the group got underway—and the goal was NOT to make professional photographers by teaching the lexicon of photography. The goal was to allow the children to have a means of self expression . . . and the natural byproduct of working with a camera, you begin to see common ordinary things around you in new and exciting ways.
Andrea, one of the older children, helps Evelyn with her scrapbook. Evelyn is the youngest child in the Camera Club.

What? Not teaching about focal length, color balance, lens openings, shutter speed, the difference between wide-angle and telephoto lenses. Avid photographer Tom Nankervis had to visit class and see for himself what was going on. What he saw shocked him – in five weeks the kids could spot a good picture and capture the image – whether it was on a walk through the neighborhood or, on the Tuesday morning that Nankervis visited, to bring something that each child loved from their homes and make several photos of it during the weekly Camera Club meeting—which they did, bringing everything from stuffed toys to a formal photo of their family. On arriving each child is given her/his personal bag containing the camera they use, prints of all the photos they have made from the beginning, AND ingredients for a home-made scrap book which would allow them to choose, mount, and display favorite photos.

Decisions, decisions. Miranda selects the best shots for her album.

CHOOSING was a challenge because as the children thumbed through photos they were ALL good, displaying various scenes, people, places, objects in interesting ways. With the help of volunteers including intern AK (who will be serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer overseas starting in the fall), the children cut out color backgrounds, cut photos into various shapes, and mounted photos page by colorful page. The scrap books will be an ongoing project along with various types of photo shoots (including visiting a park with a naturally flowing creek). Ongoing, that is, until the 29th of July when the kids will have a gallery showing (two favorite photos for each child, blown up and mounted in professional style) at the Harvest Hands building, 434 Humphreys Street, Nashville, TN 37203 (the old Humphrey’s Street United Methodist Church). The individualized scrap books will also be available for viewing on the 29th.

Ruben (9th grade) and Victor create background designs for their albums.

Back to the story of the boy and the truck. These are kids that now see everything in a different way including the neighborhoods in which they live. They can now share personal feelings, creative insights, remarkable close-ups –through an art form, photography. There is no doubt that one young boy could see many photo possibilities in a passing truck, a truck that probably would have been ignored six weeks previously.

Sisters Andrea and Leslie include a flower in their shot of favorite toys.

One of the volunteers proudly displayed a close-up photo of two pieces of fruit hanging on a neighborhood tree. “Another boy, one of our older kids took this photo as our group went through the neighborhood. He was shooting photos from every conceivable angle short of standing on his head.” There was no doubt in the volunteers mind that the boy WOULD stand on his head if that was necessary to get a good perspective.

Victor, Brittany, and Andrea enjoy themselves while serving as models for a photographer friend.

Leslie focuses the camera on her favorite toy.

Brittany gallery photo, Photographer photographing photographer

By Bradley Edwards
Teri and Bradley Edwards at Bonnaroo

Bonnaroo. Depending on who you are, the word conjures up images of drug-induced hazes, free love and beer. So much beer. Legend has it there’s a river of it running through the farm if you’re willing to look for it. Or it makes you think of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, Stevie Wonder, and workshops called Social Change Thru Music. Either way, you’d be right.

Opinions on the yearly Manchester, Tennessee, music festival vary from disgust to life-giving. Contempt to love. The devil’s playground to a new kind of Eden. And that diversity of opinion is just in the local church.

And it’s in the middle of those opinions and in the middle of Bonnaroo that I find myself. I’m a regular attendee of both the local church and the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival. But the more I attend both, the more they’ve started to look more similar than different.

My wife Teri and I went this year with some friends and spent the weekend listening to Kings of Leon, Tenacious D, Michael Franti and Spearhead, Norah Jones, and Stevie Wonder. I’m somewhat ashamed to say we skipped Jay-Z. It was while listening to Michael Franti that I began to notice something. All the artists would ask us, the audience, “How are you Bonna-roo?!?!” What an odd, unorthodox thing to say.

But it was afterward that I realized, these artists were talking about Bonnaroo as a group of people. For Norah, Kings, and Stevie, Bonnaroo wasn’t just where people came, it was people. It wasn’t just a farm in Manchester. It wasn’t simply a big event that had lots of programs, activities, and music. First and foremost, every single artist I heard referred to Bonnaroo as a group of people. Of course there were programs and there were activities, but it was people that seemed to be the focus.

And these people treated each other like they mattered. They threw the Frisbee with strangers, smoked with new friends, and danced as though they had grown up together all-the-while they just met. Some might think it a stretch, but they looked like a tight-knit community, not a bunch of strangers. And there’s something of truth and beauty in that.

If I’m allowed to say it, it’s the kind of truth and beauty we need more of in the church.

The truth is that while Kings of Leon perpetually asked us, the people that are Bonnaroo, how we were doing, the Church confuses the facilities for the Body. We’ve confused screens, projectors, and programs with a Wedding Feast. It’s in this that both the people and the event of Bonnaroo have reminded me what the Church really and truly is: A Body.

And we’re actually a Body that was created for community. While the people of Bonnaroo hula-hooped with strangers, we the Church have, at times, spent more time deciding if guitars or organs are more holy (and somehow forgetting that worship was never intended to be about our preferences at the same time). While the people of Bonnaroo popped open a cold one with friends, we the Church have, on more than one occasion, been more consumed by building projects than consumed by people.

The truth is that we need community in a real and tangible way. Jesus had it. The Trinity lives in it. Bees have hives. Wolves have packs. Dolphins have pods and fish have schools. It’s all around us. We the Church need each other in a challenging, beautiful, terrifying, and God-breathed kind of way.

So I continue to go to Bonnaroo. I continue to listen to Jack Johnson and Dave Matthews Band and Ben Harper. I continue to realize that God is not just located in a particular building a few hours a week on Sunday mornings. I continue to realize that God is bigger than most of us ever imagined. I continue to find God in the most unorthodox of places, and so I’ll continue to go to those places.

July 2010: “Tears may linger at nightfall, but joy comes in the morning” [Psalm 30:5]
By the Rev. Gary Brock

Our neighborhood has changed since the flood. It has become very dark at night … too many houses flooded … gutted … uninhabitable … windowless … a For Sale sign already in one yard.

Our neighborhood and some of its people are in exile … with families … in apartments … safe … some gone at least for now … a few will not return … people left in limbo waiting for Metro to decide about building permits.

Our neighborhood has changed because of the flood … the initial rallying with help came when it was so needed … now folk have more or less retrenched back to their pre-flood behaviors … aloofly friendly … secure in their own homes.

The sounds of our neighborhood has changed … there is a frightening quietness … evening and night sounds dramatically loud … sometimes unnerving … an occasional car slowly drives by and you wonder if it belongs … there was some theft early on that brought increased police patrols … the growling of a coyote being chased through our yard by a neighbor’s dog … the cries of an animal in pain … the occasional screech owl … and then just the dark silence.

Our neighborhood has changed because of the flood … most of it will be re-built … perhaps a few new folk will move in … lights will be turned back on … the dark will again become friendly … comforting … familiar.

The healing already begun will happen … the scars will remain of course … they will no longer be the first thing seen … felt … talked about … “Do you remember when” will become the conversation starter, rather than, “Oh God! What are we going to do now?”

The brown high-water mark staining the trees will be washed away … leaves will become green again … nature cleansing itself … the joyful sounds of the birds making this more bearable.

Our neighborhood will slowly renew itself … with hope … in hope … because hope is God’s gift of being able to see beyond the present.

We will emerge a little wiser … a little sadder … there will always be a twinge of pain when reminded of what has been lost … can’t be replaced … doesn’t need to be … maybe … for a book is never just a book … a birth certificate is so much more than a legal document … a picture is never just a picture … so many things with meanings far beyond what they seem.

“Lord, this has been a rough time. There was simply no way to be prepared for the unexpected. Yet, you have stuck with us through it all. Our faith had long told us that you would – but it sure is different talking about it and then experiencing it. Thank you for surprising us. Thank you for your patience with us. We know that tears may linger at nightfall, but joy comes in the morning. Give us the grace and hope to await each sunrise. Amen.

Journal Dedication 2010 to lay person Glenn Abernathy

The Abernathy family

The Rev. Skip Armistead remembers the day in May of 1980 when Glenn Abernathy told him, Glenn’s pastor at the time, that he was retiring at age 55 to answer a call by God to use his gifts and talents as a missionary both at home and abroad. His main gift was building or renovating church facilities. His first efforts were to do some simple renovations at our Beersheba Springs United Methodist Assembly grounds. Since then (all after 55 years of age), Glenn has been involved in eighty-eight mission efforts serving in whatever capacity he was needed-- designer, engineer, builder, or overseer of (all free of charge) these projects:

He has built parsonages, family life centers, churches, church additions, and made repairs to damaged church buildings and even one Wesley Foundation. Nor has this United Methodist layperson restricted the use of his gifts and talents to one denomination. Beside serving numerous United Methodist Churches, Glenn’s efforts were extended to Baptist, Catholic, Cumberland Presbyterian, Church of God, Church of the Nazarene, and Lutheran congregations.

Internationally he has led Tennessee Conference Volunteer in Mission teams to the Island of Dominica (2 times), various locations in Panama (16 times). He has helped build churches, medical clinics, schools, water systems, dormitories, parsonages, community centers, conferences centers, in addition to providing major repair to church and school buildings. In one instance his team built a bridge over an often flooded river so children on the other side of the river could get to school during the flood season.

Under the guidance of the United Methodist Committee on Relief of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, Glenn has helped to build fifty homes for those displaced by an invasion of Panama. Glenn’s ministry has extended to churches across America. He has led mission teams for the Board of Global Ministries from Texas, Oklahoma, Florida, Alabama, California, New York, Wisconsin, and Indiana.

In addition to all of the above, which took a lot of time and effort, Glenn had led 3 mission trips to Appalachia with his home church, Salem UMC. He helped start and develop with Myranel Harker Brown, Saints Alive, a week-long mission camp similar to Mountain T.O.P.--sponsored by Salem UMC, Clarksville, for 17 years.

In response to the terrific damage done along the Gulf Coast by Hurricane Katrina, he has lead three Volunteer in Mission trips to the Gulf.

Through everything Glenn remains very active at his home church, Salem United Methodist Church. "I’m not even going to go into all of his other contributions to God’s kingdom,” notes Skip Armistead, “such as his serving on the Clarksville - Montgomery County School board when the board first began building its school buildings back in the 1960’s, as well as his work with the Civitan Club and all kinds of little league and softball teams.”

Glenn does not want any recognition for his work. In fact, Pastor Armistead, nominator for this award, says, “I’m convinced he’s probably a little embarrassed we are making this recognition. We had to literally ‘pull out’ the information through his family. But we thank God for what God has done, and continues to do, through Glenn, even during this year at age 85. I am confident that Jesus is already saying to Glenn Abernathy, “‘Well done, good and faithful servant!’”

Journal Dedication 2010 to the Rev. Farris Farmer Moore
By Rev. Charles F. “Skip” Armistead

Born in July 21, 1909, Farris Farmer Moore is our oldest living pastor of our Tennessee Conference. Growing up in Robertson County, Farris was licensed to preach in 1935, admitted as a probationary pastor in 1941, ordained Deacon in 1943 and became a full-time Elder in 1944. From his first local church appointment in 1935 to Crossville Mission (where rumor has it that he received a salary of $435 a year) to his final local church appointment in 1970, Farris served almost every type of congregation from rural to urban and suburban, small to large. He also served a variety of appointments including District Superintendent, Director of the Fiscal Office (Now called Director of Administrative Services), and finally, Director of Development for McKendree Village.

Farris Moore, Conferences Oldest Living Minister at 101

During his active ministry, Farris was one of our Tennessee Conference delegates to General Conference three times and to Jurisdictional Conference four times, was chair of many of our Tennessee Conference Boards, Councils and Committees, and mentored many a young pastor into effective ministries.

After forty-five years of active ministry, Farris retired in 1980. However, as long as his health permitted until very recent years, Farris continued being one of the most popular pastors, preaching in revivals and homecomings, and presiding over funerals and other special occasions. In fact, last year he preached to a packed congregation at Springfield First United Methodist at a special celebration of his seventy five years of ministry.

Those who know Farris the best say that he probably would have been a bishop except that both Thornton Fowler and he were such great leaders the support of our conference was split between the two. As a kind benevolent leader of our conference and follower of Jesus Christ, people in our conference knew that if Farris was supporting any ministry, any new initiative, any resolution or whatever, it was most likely going to succeed.

Farris reaches age 101 on July 21, 2010. His health is weakening, but the Holy Spirit is still very much alive and his mind is still very alert. God has been very productive spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ through Farris Moore.

One of Farris Moore’s favorite hymns is “I’ll Go Where You Want Me to Go.” He has said many times, “If I could go back, I would do the same thing again.” Thus, it is an honor for all of us to make this year’s clergy dedication for our Tennessee Annual Conference Journal to Rev. Farris Farmer Moore.

Tennessee Conference Advance Special, the Salvus Center
By Ted Hill, M.D., Medical Director, The Salvus Center

We have all been recently touched by the economic crisis. Not only those of us in the U.S., but persons all across the world. So has Salvus.

Underneath this economic crisis is a crisis of values. It has and should raise questions such as “What are the priorities of our society? What are the true measures of success? What is the condition of our moral and spiritual well being? And, what are the ultimate goals and purposes of our lives, including our economic lives?” This crisis has given us an opportunity for evaluation and transformation if we seek to take opportunity to seize it.

For many, the most important question seems to be “When will the crisis end?” Perhaps a different question might be just as or more important, “How will this crises change us? Or will it?” The fact is, we need an economic AND a moral recovery. We must set aside the maxims that overtook us: “that greed is good; that it’s all about me; that I want what I want and I want it now.” These values have wrecked our economies, cultures, families and perhaps most importantly, our souls. We must reclaim virtues like: “enough is enough” and “we’re in this together.” We must also ask the question, “How will this impact our future or the future of our children?” Our traditions and even religious teachings offer some correctives. Christianity says: “do unto others as you would have them do unto you; don’t worry about material possessions, God is aware and will supply your needs.” Judaism tells us: “to leave the edges of the fields for the poor to glean; welcome the needy to your table.” Islam proposes to prohibit unfair usury, the excessive interest one could charge on a loan. Change for the common good and correction of our distorted values can begin when we make different choices than have been made and will grow when we make these choices together. (Rephrased from an excerpt from Jim Wallis’ Rediscovering Values.)

An archetypal story gives reference to this. It is an old story from the beginning. The story of Cain and Abel. It is the story of two brothers. Both lived by higher standards by which they measured their behavior. They worshiped a higher being than themselves. They both brought offerings for their worship but for reasons that may escape us, one’s offering was accepted and the other rejected. The response and behavior of Cain was one of rage and he killed his brother. The Higher Power shows up and asks Cain, “Where is your brother?

The questions continues today, particularly in light of the crisis mentioned above. Rephrased another way, the question becomes: “What is our responsibility for each other?” I want to pose an answer to this using two scenarios. One with those persons closest to us and secondly, our “enemies.”

Those closest to us are our families, friends, colleagues, neighbors, grocery clerks, fast-food servers, bank clerks—anyone you come in contact with often. They and we are all part of the human family. These persons should come to mind first when posed with the question—are you willing to take some responsibility for those you spend some time with? Cain refused responsibility.

I can hear someone saying, “But we should take care of ourselves” and yes that is true, but God’s question implies in some regard that we are responsible for what happens to those around us. If someone you know is in need, shouldn’t you respond in some way? The people involved with Salvus have answered the question, “Yes.” And we have worked with over 100 consultants all across Middle Tennessee who have also answered the question, “Yes” as they and you have supported the work we do.

We had a patient who encountered a different answer. He presented a history of abdominal pain, weight loss, a change of bowel habits and passing blood in his stool - - all cardinal signs of colon cancer. He was told, come back when you have money or insurance and we will run some tests. He had neither money or insurance. Some months later, friends told him of Salvus and he came and had the needed tests, and unfortunately he did have metastatic colon cancer. But he did get surgery to avoid a complete bowel blockage and chemotherapy which did extend his life, though he might have lived longer had he been cared for at the original opportunity. The question of how to care for one another is difficult and must be answered individually. However, that we are all connected to each other and our actions or inactions affect others around us.

The question who is our brother or sister challenges our responsibility to our enemies. Like the story of Cain and Abel, we have some responsibility to see our enemies as brothers and sisters in the human race. Cain must have seen Abel as his enemy. There is a medieval legend that relates to this. There once were two warriors riding in full armor on the same path. Each thought they were completely alone. Their path crossed in the darkness of the woods and they startled each other. Their movements were interpreted by the other to suggest hostility and they began to fight to defend themselves against the perceived threat of the other. The fighting escalated until finally one knocked the other off his horse and with a mighty effort, thrust his lance through the heart of the fallen. The victor dismounted and struggled over to pull the mask off his adversary. To his horror, in the pale moonlight he recognized his brother.

Today do we see the uninsured as an enemy? Who are the uninsured? 20/5% are adults. 11% are children. They are 1/3 of all adults from ages 19-64. They are 2/3 of all low income earning adults. There are close to 50 million of them in the U.S. There may be 22,000 of them in Sumner County, Tennessee. Many are living on such marginal income that if they bought insurance they would not have enough money for the basic necessities of life like food, heat or rent. Yet 79% of these people work! More than 30,000 of them die each year unnecessarily because they get into the present health delivery system late or not at all for lack of money or insurance. When they enter, they are sicker and their medical outcomes are worse for the delay. The largest group of these are kids from 19-24. Many are without insurance because of layoffs or lost work. Some work for small employers who cannot afford health benefits for their employees. Some have been insured on the job and are unable to work. Some own their own small business and cannot afford health premiums. Some have been divorced and lost the coverage of their spouse. Some are going to school to try to advance their education and wage opportunities.

Salvus has had over 12,000 patient visits from these folks, these neighbors of yours in the past 4 years. They are your neighbors; your brothers and sisters.

Let me leave you with these questions as you reflect on this crisis. Who is the suffering brother or sister that you need to recognize? What is the crying need of our community? Where do you and I need to respond to the human need around us today? Where can you contribute to the common good? Part of the answer for me is, of course, the Salvus Center. Even if the new healthcare legislation survives its present form, the 32 million U.S. citizens to be covered will not get coverage for 4 more years. Please, do not forget us and them during the next 4 years; these are your brothers and sisters still in need of quality health care. Don’t forget them or us as we try to serve them. God bless you as you help those around you in our community and thanks for your support of the Salvus Center.

The Salvus Center is an Advanced Special of the Tennessee Annual Conference. The Salvus Center seeks to reach some of the estimated 22,000 uninsured Sumner Country residents as a “faith-based health center that seeks to reclaim the Biblical and historical commitment to care for those who are sick and in need so they might experience wholeness, wellness, and healing.”

Monday, July 05, 2010


Articles in the July 9th Edition of THE REVIEW

1. God Bless America, article with no graphics or photos
2. Three persons receive Denman Evangelism Award at 2010 Annual Conferenc

a. Rose Newman
b. Rick Sears
c. Ronald Lowery

3. Learning valuable lessons from the young,
4. Forest Hills UMC Farmer’s Market Draws Warm Response,
5. A VERY funny Fathers’ Day gift presented by Brentwood UMC,
6. Three receive Lifetime Achievement Awards from the Tennessee Alliance for Progress,.

a. Gordon Bonnyman
b. Don Beisswenger
c. Bonnie Spear

7. Refugees Share Experiences at Scarritt-Bennett Center,
8. Reflections Over the Past Month, article with one captioned photo

God Bless America

By Lucy Neeley Adams*

On July 4th we saw bright fireworks, and beautiful flags waving in the wind. As we once again joyfully celebrated our freedom and asked God to continue to bless us, the prayer-song God Bless America was heard throughout the nation.

During these happy times, we may remember some dark times, when we have sung this song through voices of sadness. In tears, we have prayed that God would “stand beside us and guide us through the night with His light from above.”

It took the writings of Booker T. Washington (1865-1915), who founded the Tuskegee Institute, to guide my thinking toward America’s dark days of slavery. Many prayers were prayed and sung about the dreams of freedom the black slaves longed for. It all began in 1619 in Jamestown, Virginia. Twenty Africans were brought to America on a Dutch ship and were forced to live and work for white people. Africans were slaves for over two hundred years.

In the book, GOD HAS SOUL - CELEBRATING THE INDOMITABLE SPIRIT OF AFRICAN AMERICANS I have read and re-read the words of Booker T. Washington who became a powerful political leader and great educator:

“As fireworks light up the sky in celebration of our country’s independence this Fourth of July 1881, I feel my own sense of independence and freedom. It is a reflective day for me, as I think back to the days of my childhood.” Washington never forgot that his mother’s prayers sometime awakened him at night as she knelt by his pallet praying for their freedom. He was nine years old when that day of liberation finally came because President Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation on Jan.1, 1863.

Many other tragedies have dotted the history of America since the first Independence Day in 1791. Some church congregations were split in anger and divided because of slavery. In 1861 the Civil War threatened to devour our beloved land. In the early 1900’s Women’s Suffrage Movement was a horrible blight on our nation.

However, one of the greatest tragedies to come to American soil was on September 11, 2001. The day began bright and beautiful. But telephone calls, computers and television sets soon spread the word that our country had been attacked. Nothing went as planned that day. Our family sat frozen in horror before our television set as we watched destruction like we had never seen in our beloved land.

Throughout the days we saw and heard people drawn together by a common goal of suffering. Praying and singing were beautiful expressions of unity. One of those songs was a prayer, God Bless America, which is a plea for God to bless and care for and heal America.

The interesting fact about this song is that it was written to be included in a Broadway play in New York City in 1918. It was composed by Irving Berlin who was annoyed that his song was not chosen as a part of the stage production. But he filed it away and said, “there may be some other time when that song will be needed.”

Sure enough, twenty years later, he retrieved that old song. He rearranged the lyrics, wrote this beautiful melody and God Bless America was born in 1938. It is truly a “golden oldie.”

Irving Berlin was a gift to America. He was born in 1888 in Russia and his family came to this country in the early 1900’s. He became an American citizen and wrote hundreds of unforgettable songs. Evidence of his devotion for his adopted homeland can be found in this song of prayer. Millions of Americans continue to sing about the “land that I love.”

The popular vocalist of that day, Kate Smith, introduced it to America on Nov.11, 1938 as her dynamic voice carried it with great enthusiasm. The rest of the story is well known to the people who saw her on stage or heard her on radio. She never ended a performance without singing her trademark song, God Bless America.

We will always be aware of the growing pains of America. And we also give thanks for the happy times of triumph. Let us rejoice in God’s promises in the Bible. One in particular is Psalm 33:12: “Blessed be the nation whose God is the Lord.”

*Lucy Neeley Adams is author of 52 HYMN STORY DEVOTIONS (http://www.52hymns.com)

Three persons receive Denman Evangelism Award at 2010 Annual Conference

For Harry Denman, “there were always more prayers to be prayed, more letters to be written, more people to be encouraged, more churches to be started, more witnessing to be done,” wrote Harold Rogers in Harry Denman: A Biography. Now, 60 years after Dr. Denman envisioned and established The Foundation for Evangelism, we continue to celebrate those persons – both lay and clergy - whose personal ministry in evangelism continues the work of this amazing United Methodist leader with The Harry Denman Evangelism Award. The 2010 Harry Denman Evangelism Awards were presented to Ron Lowery(Clergy) and Rick Sears (Laity) at the 2010 session of the Tennessee Annual Conference. This year, for the first time, the Denman Award was being given not only to both Laity and Clergy, it is also being given to one of our Conference Youth, Rose Newman.

Rose Newman, Youth Denman Winner 2010

Rose Newman stands with her mother after receiving the Tennessee Conference’s first Denman Award for Youth.

Rose Newman is a member of Gainesboro First United Methodist Church. She serves as the UMYF president, is an active member of the bell choir, and is passionate about her faith. Rose has been instrumental in forming family centered church by fostering Bible study and worship services that are geared toward the younger generation.

Not only does Rose participate in the worship and activities of her local church, she reaches out to her school mates with the love of God. She will frequently invite friends over for a “sleep over” and then bring them to the Sunday morning worship services. Rose also has organized a Christmas in July project that supplies the less fortunate in her community with school supplies. Over all, Rose genuinely displays the love of God in a real and compassionate way. She stands as an example, not just as a youth, but to us all to take our faith beyond the walls of the church and shine God’s light for all to see.

Rick Sears, Laity Denman Award Winner 2010

Family and friends gather to honor Rick Sears, winner of the Laity Denman Award.

What happens when you take an ex-drug addict and alcoholic and fill Him with the Love of God? Rick Sears is what happens! Rick is a Member of the Fellowship United Methodist Church in Murfreesboro, TN. From the first day of His walk with Jesus, Rick became an instrument that God has used to touch hundreds, if not thousands of lives. Whether Rick is leading the Wednesday night youth service or helping rebuild homes destroyed by tornadoes, Rick is always sharing the Gospel with people. Because of his own battle with addictions, Rick began a Friday night Celebrations Recovery Service so that he could help other experience true deliverance from their addictions.

Probably one of his greatest evangelism mission trips was when he went back to his hometown to preach at one of the churches there. He spent a week going to the highways and byways, talking with old friends. Upon entering one of his old hang outs, one of his old drinking buddies recognized Rick and offered to buy him a drink. Rick drank a coke and shared what God had done in his life with those present. Before the night was over, Rick had led several of them to know Jesus. By the time the Sunday services rolled around, there was standing room only in the church, as the town’s people gathered to see what had happened in Rick’s life. Before returning to his home church in Murfreesboro, Rick started a Bible study with several of his old friends and they are still participating and attending today.

At present Rick is faithfully sharing the love of God at home, at church and even in his trucking business which he named Trinity Trucking. He is a reflection of Jesus to all who know him and light to those in darkness.

The Rev. Dr. Ronald D. Lowery, Clergy Denman Award Winner 2010

Ronald Lowery, winner of the Clergy Denman Award stands with wife Connie and family

Ron Lowery has the spiritual gift of visioning. He sees not only the reality of a situation, but sees how to move that situation into compliance with kingdom living.

Through his strong leadership and timely guidance, he was instrumental in the birth of a new church at Providence. He called the Cumberland district churches to a forty day time of prayer around the start of this new church. He navigated the usual questions and concerns and generated an excitement while keeping focus on the goal of reaching people for Jesus Christ. He arranged for Grace to be the mother church of Providence which led to the healthy birth of Providence. This was a truly evangelistic effort. In fact, a very successful one. In less than two years Providence now worships around 450 people each Sunday and has had over 100 professions of faith.

Ron was the first speaker for a pilot evangelism event entitled “Let’s Talk: Effective Faith Sharing,” The focus was on how to help local churches be evangelists using scripture to demonstrate the foundation for sharing our faith. One tool Ron Lowery used was developed from churches in the Cumberland District based on answers to the question about how they shared their faith. In this way he acted as the conduit for churches to teach other churches how to evangelize.

Beverly Dycus, Director of Clarksville District United Methodist Urban Ministries, has witnessed Ron’s faith sharing first hand whether during worship in a local congregation or sharing with the unchurched in a local diner. She noted his passion about sharing his faith in Jesus Christ. She stated it was a blessing to have him stop by to Urban Ministries to visit and encourage our volunteers. His words of hope and his personal witness to clients has been an inspiration.

Whether on a plane, in a coffee shop, at a District event or in a quiet moment of a parishioner’s home, Ron is willing and able to share the good news of Jesus Christ. For many years he has given away bibles as he witnesses to the faith and hope he has in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He has given away bibles to persons when visiting door to door. He has given bibles to our military, he has given bibles to persons he has met on the street or in the marketplace.

One wonders how many bibles has he given away after individuals “caught” him reading and interrupted his reading to ask a question. There are no records for this but in heaven we will no doubt hear the stories of how his sharing made a difference in the lives of many whose hands he held in prayer and who carried with them not only scripture after an encounter with this man, but a living hope.

When Ron was named District Superintendent for the Clarksville District with Clarksville itself being the location of Fort Campbell, a huge military complex and home to the 101st Airborne military unit, he had a vision. His vision for the Clarksville District involved bringing the United Methodist Women into covenant relationship with military families. Working with the Clarksville District UMW President Kaye Martin and military chaplains at Fort Campbell, the UMW has begun meeting with and ministering to these families.

Throughout his ministry Ron has demonstrated an ability to move persons and situations in conflict toward reconciliation and peace. He has worked alongside pastors to allow the joy and peace and unity to propel people forward into ministry. Realizing meeting this need is essential to effective evangelistic efforts; he initiated a Conflict Resolution Seminar to help train pastors in these skills.

Under Ron’s leadership and love for Shalom (peace), the Clarksville community began exploration for a new Shalom Zone around First UMC, Clarksville. The program is ecumenical, multi-racial, and interdisciplinary. The Communities of Shalom initiative began as a response to the conditions that impelled, and the aftermath of the Los Angeles rioting in 1992. An original Community of Shalom was created in Los Angeles. The model has been replicated throughout the United States and around the world. Through the power of God, Communities of Shalom works for spiritual renewal, community economic development, and healthy communities.

As a military chaplain, Ron has faithfully worked with persons from not only around our nation, but around the globe. Ten days each quarter he leaves the states to fulfill his requirement – his mission, as the Air National Guard Liaison Chaplain to the United States Air Forces – Europe. While still being available to his pastors at home, he was able to be physically present to the wounded and the chaplains who care for the wounded in Germany. His ministry among them and his ministry among us was part of the call of God on his life. Earlier in 2010 he was promoted in a special ceremony to Colonel in the Air National Guard. His passion for the Gospel and his overseas experiences have made him a true proponent of Global Evangelism.

Learning valuable lessons from the young

Samantha Kelley, going into 4th grade this fall, sits with Bishop Richard Wills at the front of assembled delegates at the 2010 Annual Conference

Often times adults can learn a great deal from children and young people—at the 2010 session of the Tennessee Annual Conference delegates learned a great deal about sacrificial giving from a nine-year-old.

Samantha Kelley had gone with her dad, the Rev. Steve Kelley, to a Cumberland District Minister’s meeting. It was not long after the major flooding in early May, and a report was given on the tremendous amount of damage done to one of the District churches, Dodson Chapel . . . and the difficulty there would be in raising funds to cover the damage. There were a number of thoughts on how to best help Dodson Chapel United Methodist Church to recover, but nine-year-old Samantha was wondering how she personally could best help the struggling congregation. When she had a chance to talk to her father she asked if she could make and sell Friendship Bracelets at $1.00 per bracelet and give all the money to Dobson Chapel. Samantha, a member of Walnut Grove United Methodist Church, had done it before to raise funds for a worthy cause. That time a family had lost a loved one and was faced with the heavy costs of funeral and burial. Samantha was concerned for the family and raised funds for funeral/burial costs by creating and selling Friendship Bracelets.

At the 2010 Annual Conference Bishop Wills learned that Samantha was at Conference selling bracelets for Dodson Chapel. He purchased $20.00 worth of Friendship Bracelets on Monday to help Samantha on her faith journey. At the time Samantha only had 16 bracelets left and went home that night to prepare additional bracelets for the Bishop. In the morning she was quite anxious to get back to Annual Conference so she could give the Bishop the remainder of his order. He invited her to sit at the front table with him on Tuesday and introduced her to the assembled delegates. So, thank you, Samantha Kelley, for teaching us all how to show love and concern when human need manifests itself.

Forest Hills UMC Farmers Market Draws Warm Response
Editor’s note: The Forest Hills Farmers Market will continue on Saturday mornings through mid-September, 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 noon.

Leigh Ann Pettus and husband Jeff. Leigh Ann provided major leadership in organizing the event.

In establishing a weekly (Saturday morning) summertime Farmers Market, Forest Hills United Methodist Church felt it was creating a valuable new ministry—one that would be of help to the cities of Forest Hills and Brentwood, as well as assist local farmers in a substantial way. The Forest Hills location was great—right along heavily traveled Old Hickory Blvd—and with plenty of outdoor space to accommodate a number of vendors.

Organizers probably did not envision that the first hour of the “grand opening” of the Farmers Market would be accompanied by a heavy downpour – and certainly weren’t prepared for the fact that the downpour didn’t seem to make any difference at all. There were still a large number of shoppers—most with umbrellas holding out the rain but more than a few without protective cover except for nearby trees.
Even heavy rain couldn’t keep appreciative customers away on opening day.

There were a rich variety of products available: fresh fruit and vegetables, berries, honey, jelly, meat, pastry, a variety of cheeses, vegetable juice—and that wasn’t all.

Pastor Jim Hughes was enthused with the way the day went. “We couldn’t have been more pleased about our first attempt. We had a really good crowd, the rain didn’t “dampen” anyone’s enthusiasm, and our growers were happy and impressed with our organization. We expect only bigger and better things. Clearly, we feel we have touched on a need in our community and the market will allow a lot of community residents to know who we are at Forest Hills UMC.”

Leigh Ann Pettus, who did much of the organization and promotion for the event, reflected on the success of the opening day, and indicated some future expansion of the Farmers Market experience:

"The grand opening of The Forest Hills UMC Farmers Market was a wonderful success. Even the morning storm that blew through around 8:45 did not stop our volunteers, farmers and customers from enjoying a beautiful summer Saturday morning with fellow members of the community. Some have estimated market attendance between 400-500 people.

The church’s tree shaded lawn is the perfect place for a Farmer’s Market.

“Many of our neighbors expressed appreciation to the church for giving the area such a much-needed place to support our local farmers and our community. One of our farmers commented that he had attended several markets in the past, but had never seen people having such a good time.

“But, perhaps, one of the best quotes, one from local farmer Freddie Haddox, was printed in an article on the Brentwood Home Page.

“‘That’s a sanctuary,’ Haddox said pointing to the steepled building where church members worship on Sunday mornings. ‘But this place feels like a sanctuary too,’ sweeping his hand in the direction of the yard and the big tree that provided shade to the entire market area.’ ‘And the people have a great spirit here.’

The tremendous feat was due to all of our Forest Hills UMC members, who not only volunteered at the market, but bought many of the fruits, vegetables, meats and baked goods from our farmers.

Now the challenge will be to keep the momentum going. For our future markets, we have added a local coffee vendor, Roast, Inc., whose product will compliment those delicious signature muffins from Anne's Cakes. The market is a work in progress. For example, we saw that several customers brought their dogs, so we have added a new vendor, Daisy Delicacies, a local vendor who creates gourmet treats for pets. We also hope to have some of our members or people from the community to provide musical entertainment."

“The market is already accomplishing one other very important benefit,” notes Pastor Hughes after the second Saturday’s Farmers Market, “we are having really good conversations with people about our church. I’ve already had numerous encounters with folks who are interested in knowing about who we are. We had hoped this would happen and it gives us a chance to really connect with people looking for a church home”.

Event raises $22,500 for Flood Relief
A VERY funny Fathers’ Day gift presented by Brentwood UMC

Al McCree started the “Laugh Fest” off with some funny songs.

The Fathers’ Day for Flood Relief Benefit Concert sponsored by Brentwood United Methodist Church not only provided substantial help for Middle Tennessee Flood Relief efforts, but shared a comic gem in Jeanne Robertson.

The last figure obtained before press time for THE REVIEW showed that $22,500 was raised for Flood Relief ( to be administered via the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee). Jeanne Robertson, a comic storyteller and noted motivational speaker, managed the impossible – getting such vibrant audience laughter that personal problems including flood damage were forgotten for the moment.

The concert was free . . . but a free will offering raised $22,500 for flood relief in hard-hit middle Tennessee

Getting people in the mood to enjoy Robertson was musician and Brentwood UMC member Al McCree with his own comic style as he sang several well-known numbers with new and funny lyrics. To make certain that everyone understood that although we were being treated to a comic masterpiece—and laughter was the order of the day--there remains great need in Middle Tennessee, McCree introduced Ellen Lehman, president of the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee. Lehman has been president since the Foundation began in 1991

Ellen Lehman, president of the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee. The Foundation will administer all funds raised at the Comedy Concert

The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee responds in times of disaster to connect generosity with need and has activated the Tennessee Emergency Response Fund to support relief efforts throughout Middle Tennessee necessitated by the May 2010 floods. To find out more about the agency go online to http://www.cfmt.org/floodrelief/terf/

Jeanne Robertson, a former Miss North Carolina, is a VERY funny lady.

And for those of you who haven’t had a chance to see Jeanne Robertson in action – or those of you that were at the June 20th performance but would like to relive Jeanne’s humorous moments—you can go to the following website:


Included in the material about Jeanne are links to several of her comic stories.

Three receive Lifetime Achievement Awards from the Tennessee Alliance for Progress

Three persons well-known in the Tennessee Conference receive Lifetime Achievement awards from the Tennessee Alliance for Progress

Two persons, both associated with Nashville’s Edgehill United Methodist Church, were awarded a 2010 Lifetime Achievement Long-Haul Award by the Tennessee Alliance for Progress in a late spring ceremony. Peace activtivist Don Beisswenger, and Tennessee Justice Center’s Gordon Bonnyman were both recognized for their lifetime labors. TAP’s annual Long Haul awards salute the achievements of outstanding people who work for social, economic and environmental justice in Tennessee. In addition, Bonnie Spear, Director of the Blakemore United Methodist Children’s Center, was presented a Lifetime Achievement Long-Haul Award.
Gordon Bonnyman is a Knoxville native who received his law degree from the
University of Tennessee in 1972. He is the executive director of the Tennessee Justice
Center, a non-profit public interest law firm that serves the poor. Before co-founding
the Center in 1996, he worked as a staff attorney for the Legal Aid Society in Nashville
for 23 years, representing thousands of low income clients. Gordon has testified before
Congress, argued before the Supreme Court and has served as lead counsel in class actions involving health care, prison conditions, foster care, nursing homes, housing
and Civil Rights. During sabbaticals, Gordon and his wife, Claudia, who is a Davidson
County Chancery Court judge, worked for human rights organizations in the Middle
East (1978-1979) and Eastern Europe (1994).

Don Beisswenger receives his award from Mark Burnett, Chair of TAP. Beisswenger also accepted an award on behalf of Gordon Bonnyman who was unable to attend the ceremony.

Don Beisswenger has lived out a commitment to social justice. He was ordained to the ministry in the Presbyterian Church in 1956, the year he married Joyce Horton. Don
and Joyce served congregations in the Ozark Mountains, Cincinnati and Iowa before moving to Chicago in 1962 where he was active in the Chicago Industrial Ministry and part of the campaign for racial equality in the Sixties. Once, when black friends were prevented from buying a house, he and Joyce bought the house and then resold it to them, despite threats and harassment. In 1968, Don joined the Vanderbilt Divinity School as a professor and director of field education. This work brought national recognition to the divinity school for the excellence of the field studies program. In 1983 Don and Joyce founded the Penuel Ridge Contemplative Retreat Center. Out of his concern for Central America he was a founder of Witness for Peace in 1983. He engaged in civil disobedience at the School of the Americas in 2003 and was sentenced and served six months in federal prison. Joyce died in 2002. In 2005, Don married Judith Freund Pilgrim. Together they have ten children and thirteen grandchildren. He continues his advocacy, especially on housing and the homeless.

Bonnie Spear receives her Lifetime Achievement Award from Mark Burnett.

Bonnie Spear is the director of Blakemore Children’s Center and currently serve on
the board of the Tennessee Association for the Education of Young Children, Temple Playschool Advisory Board and Stand for Children, She was born in Chattanooga but lived in Kentucky, Illinois and then back in Tennessee while growing up. From preschool until she graduated from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, she attended twelve different schools. Of those, Francis W. Parker School, in Chicago, had the greatest impact on her life. The school’s motto is “Everything to help and nothing to hinder.”

Students were encouraged and helped to volunteer and make a difference in their community from an early age. She began volunteering at Jane Addams Hull House at the
age of thirteen. She has been married to her husband Danny for thirty-seven years. She
has a son, daughter and foster granddaughter.

Persons can go to the TAP website for more information and to make donations to
TAP. It is http://www.taptn.org/

Nashville is Now Our HomeRefugees Share Experiences at Scarritt-Bennett Center

Five refugees, who have made Nashville their home during the past decade, recently shared their experiences during a forum presented by Catholic Charities’ Tennessee Office for Refugees at Scarritt-Bennett Center in observance of World Refugee Day. Pictured (left to right) are Fatuma Masazi and her daughter, Aziza Abdiaziz, from Somalia, who have lived here since 2005; Abdikadir Ali from Somalia, who has lived in Nashville since 2004 and now works at Catholic Charities; Jamal Alwan, a surgeon from Iraq, who has lived here since 2009; Fadil Dervishi from Kosovo, who arrived in Nashville in 1999 and owns Sevala’s Cafe; and program moderator Carol Etherington, associate director of the Vanderbilt Institute for Global Health. In 2009, more than 1,500 refugees fleeing persecution, found a new home in Tennessee. Last year, families and individuals from 15 different countries -- escaping war, persecution and often a continuous threat of death -- were welcomed to the Nashville community with the assistance of Catholic Charities of Tennessee.

Reflections Over the Past Month
By The Rev. Wm. Russell Cain. Elder, Retired

William Russell Cain

It doesn’t seem as if a month and more have gone by since we heard of all the flooding and flood damage covering a larger part of Middle Tennessee. It has been called the “Nashville Flood,” and yes, Nashville did receive a lot of damage, but other parts of the state were affected. The numbers were not as great as Nashville, but the pain and individual losses were the same. I worked the disaster in Smith, Jackson, DeKalb, Macon, and Clay counties.

There were close to nine-hundred families affected by the flooding in those five counties. From reports of road damage, to water in the basement, all the way to total loss of the home. Fences were lost, animals were lost, businesses under water, jobs ended and income stopped. It was heart breaking to see the loss and despair of people. Twenty-five people had to move to a shelter for safety. Some of the people in the shelter were rescued by boat. The American Red Cross and the Carthage United Methodist Church provided a shelter for almost a week, as people sorted out their lives.

Even in this dark hour, God stood in the disaster with his light shining. People and help began to respond immediately. Soon, people were coming to the aid of their friends and neighbors, strangers put forth a helping hand, and hope rose in the hearts and minds of people. The United Methodist Committee on Relief sent Early Response Teams from the Holston Conference arriving three days after the flood. Because of connections made earlier, that team received help from the Jewish Disaster Relief in the form of an AmerCor team. This coupled with local help from other faith groups, and a District Early Response Team got the mud washed away, wet walls and floors were taken out, and God’s grace was given.

Just short of forty homes were deconstructed by these Early Response Teams. New friends were made, hopes were lifted, a future seen. All this because people, called of God, answered with love, grace, hard work, and lots of sweat. They were the hands and feet of Jesus in the communities they worked in. A special thanks goes out to the Holston Conference of the United Methodist Church for their help, to the Jewish Disaster response with the Amercor team, and to the Monterey Baptist Church for help and supplies, as well as our own District Early Response Team. Two-thousand and two hundred hours were spent in work time by these teams. This does not include their travel time just to show up.

I must say great things about the people of the Carthage United Methodist Church. They opened their church and their hearts to provide housing, showers, and food for the teams. I have no real idea of how many work hours were given by the members of the church, but there were many. The only complaint I heard form a team member was, “I’m going to leave here ten pounds heavier than when I came.” The church also fed the community response teams during the first week as it housed the shelter. The vision this church had when they built the new part of their church was fulfilled in this mission outreach.

No, the work is not done, it only changes from deconstruction to reconstruction. A Long Term Committee is being worked on which will set the stage for more work teams to respond. Instead of ERT teams, they will be VIM teams. Carthage United Methodist Church stands ready to receive them as they come in the name of Jesus to show love for their neighbor.

It has been a great and heartwarming experience to be a part of this mission work. When God’s people can work together, with God’s help, nothing is impossible. Love was truly made visible.