First Presbyterian Church, Tullahoma TN 37388
April 2022 Volume 51, Issue 3
Church Office: 204 E. Grundy St.
Phone: 931 455-9328
Sunday school – 9:15 a.m.
Worship at 10:30 a.m.
Preschool Office: 931 455-1515
Pastor: Stephen Yates
CE/Youth Director: Christy Sherrer
Secretary: Martha Bradley
Organist: David Hiebert
Parish Associate for Pastoral Care: Michael Bradley
Learning Place Preschool Director: Bethany Sterling
Sunday School at 9:15 AM
The Christian Living Class. A study of different book and authors on Bibical Theology
Fun activities and Bible stories to help young childeren learn about God, Jesus and christianity.
The Bible Study Class addresses various books of the Bible and how they apply to everyday life.
Holy Week and Easter Events and Services
*Please join us as we remember Christ’s last days and resurrection during Holy Week.
April 10, Palm Sunday Procession - We will commemorate Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem by processing into the sanctuary for worship. We will gather at 10:00 in the Williams Family Center for fellowship, coffee, and donuts. To begin our 10:30 service we will pass out palm fronds, have a reading and prayer, and then process with palms into our sanctuary to remember this day and the beginning of Holy Week.
April 14, Maundy Thursday- We will hold a special Maundy Thursday worship service at 6:00 p.m. This service is held on the day of the Passover meal (Last Supper) Jesus had with his disciples before his arrest later that night and crucifixion the next day (Good Friday).
April 17, Easter! – Celebrate the resurrection of Jesus at the Easter worship service. We will have ONE worship service this year. He is Risen! Fellowship time starts at 10:00 a.m. in Williams Family Center. Easter Service will start at 10:30 a.m. The children and youth of FPC will be singing, helping with liturgy, and helping with special music. There will be joyful hymns and beautiful lilies.
Sabbatical Send-off April 24
After Worship in Williams Family Center
Sign-up will begin April 3
This luncheon (boxed lunch will be provided) is a way we as a congregation can learn what Pastor Stephen will be doing on his Sabbatical, what we will be doing while he is away, and a time for us to tell him “Godspeed and see you soon”!
The luncheon will be a time for us all to come together and hear from Stephen about his plans, how he will be diving deep into his own faith and baptismal journey to renew his spirit, for himself and for our congregation.
We will also hear what we are being called to do in his absence. We will take a look at ourselves as a church and our own individual faith and baptismal journeys: Where have we been? Where are we going? Who walked with us in the past? Who walks with us now?
Please mark your calendars and make the time to join us for this special Sabbatical Send-off for our Pastor. Sign-ups will be in the Sunday bulletins or email to email@example.com.
Dear Church Family,
Many of you might be familiar with a non-profit organization called StoryCorps. The organization, which is often featured on NPR, has, I think, a very noble mission. Or as they say on their website, “StoryCorps’ mission is to preserve and share humanity’s stories in order to build connections between people and create a more just and compassionate world.”
Through interviews between people, sometimes they are close friends and relatives, while at other times they might be simple acquaintances, people get to tell their stories, which are recorded in the process and saved for future generations of people to listen to. The interviews are often poignant and quite moving. I recently listened to one StoryCorps between two brothers, one of whom was dying from cancer. It was touching to hear the two brothers speak so lovingly of each other knowing one of them was about to die. Or as one brother said to the other, “I have to carry the cancer, but you have to carry me.”
Well, this summer while I am on sabbatical, you fine folks at FPC Tullahoma will have the chance to do your own version of StoryCorps. While the specifics are still being worked out, the basic goal will be to provide people an opportunity to share the important and meaningful moments from their baptismal journeys, which yes, will be recorded and kept for later generations to listen to. We hope to build a kind of catalog of various people from the congregation who are willing to share the important and significant moments from their lives (both the highs and the lows). There are three questions people will be asked to respond to during their StoryCorps session: 1) Who have been significant people in your baptismal journey? 2) What have been the significant events/moments in your baptismal journey? and 3) What does it mean to be a mentor for others on your baptismal journey?
So when the time comes this summer, I hope everyone will give some thought to sharing their baptismal story for posterity. For while every story is surely unique, when sharing them, we are also reminded of our common humanity. For who among us at some point hasn’t been touched by both joy and grief, laughter and sadness, hope and despair, peace and conflict, as
well as love and even hatred.
Minute with Mike
Michael Bradley, Parish Associate for Pastoral Care
Outsmart the Devil?
“The devil went down to Georgia,
he was lookin' for a soul to steal;
He was way behind in that line
and was willin' to make a deal.”
So begins the famous Charlie Daniels' hit song “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.” In the ballad the devil meets a young man named Johnny and challenges him to a fiddling match. If the devil wins he gets Johnny's soul; if Johnny wins he gets the devil's solid gold fiddle. At the conclusion of the song Johnny walks away with the fiddle because he's “the best they has ever been.”
There are lots of such stories about people who outsmart the devil. An often read short story by Stephen Vincent Benet, “The Devil and Daniel Webster,” is one example. These songs and stories are more than just entertainment; they make a point we need to consider closely during Lent and Holy Week---evil is real.
The world is not perfect. Evil wants our souls — our very identities. These stories recognize that evil tempts us to go back on everything, to abandon who we are, to betray all that we love, usually to gain something or save ourselves. That is part of what is broken about us. We even love imperfectly — we are sometimes willing to sell our souls, even for “good” reasons. Often, we are willing to argue that seemingly positive ends justify destructive means. We have a tendency to go back on our principles — especially in extreme situations.
In the fourth chapter of Luke there is the account of how Jesus, following his baptism, was moved by the Spirit to go into the wilderness where he was tempted by the devil for forty days (In Bible-speak, forty days means “for as long as it took to get the job done”). In every case, Jesus outsmarted the devil, answering the devil's scripture quotation with one of his own. Luke concludes this account by saying “and the devil departed from him, until a more opportune time.”
Not “departed from him for good,” but “departed until a more opportune time.” You see, the devil can be outsmarted, but the devil is persistent, always coming back at “a more opportune time.” That “opportune time” is not likely to be opportune for you, either, but opportune for the devil.
Feeling stressed? Out of sorts with some folks at church? Disappointed about how your job is going? Tired of the same old routine? Frustrated with fighting the same battle over and over? These are “opportune times” for the devil to offer you a deal. If you don't take the deal, just wait; the devil will be back.
The devil can be outsmarted. If a good ole boy from Georgia can do it, anybody can. You have done it; I have done it---just not every time. Several months ago I was helping a church sell a piece of property and an on-line buyer offered me $1,500 if I made sure he got the contract. I did not return his call; I can resist the temptation of $1,500. But suppose a family member needed some very expensive medical care to save their life and the offer was $15,000,000? Talk about coming back at “a more opportune time.”
During Lent and Holy Week we need to remember that we can, and sometimes do, outsmart the devil, but there is always that “more opportune time.” Lent and Holy Week remind us that while we are occasionally successful in outsmarting the devil, Jesus always was. Always is. And is here to help us, if we ask him to.
“The devil went down to Georgia,” but he lost his gold fiddle. Jesus went to Calvary and defeated the devil for good. That means we have something better than a gold fiddle to look forward to when we face evil. The victory of Jesus over death, the news of the empty tomb at Easter, means we have life in the presence of God ahead, an existence marked by the absence of evil. Lent and Holy Week help us to keep that in mind.
Offering from the Office by Martha Bradley, Church Secretary
Many years ago now you probably could have heard me complain about the “new math” my children were encountering, even in elementary school. Doing simple arithmetic looked different from the way I was taught. I remember thinking at the time “You can call it ‘new math,’ but in reality it is the same ‘old math’ arriving at the same old answer in a new way.” Since 40+ years have passed, there have probably been many more versions of “new math.” And the term has been expanded to encompass areas other than mathematics.
Recently on a morning when I was driving to the gym and listening to NPR to catch up on the news from overnight, I heard the term “new math” applied to the situation of Russia invading Ukraine. The term can also be applied to the change that came about through the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
According to the rules of the “old math” when people die, they stay dead. When the women went to the tomb to tend to their Master’s body, they expected to find a dead body. They were going to pay their last respects. Can you imagine what went through their minds when they got there and there was no body? Not dead, but alive? The God whose will Jesus had followed all the way to the cross had raised him in power and glory to be our salvation.
It is no wonder that the women had a hard time comprehending this incredible news, for it called into question the very foundation of the “old math.” It should be no surprise that the gospel accounts of that morning are not identical, for what had taken place turned their world upside down. The sense of shock comes through loud and clear in Mark and Mathew, who describe the women as terrified and bewildered, emotions shared by the other disciples in John’s gospel, who says they were hiding behind locked doors when the risen Christ appeared to them.
Although we are removed from these events by more than 2000 years, as those first witnesses we also struggle with the “new math” of Jesus’ resurrection. Surrounded by the “old math” of this world, it is hard to embrace the new life of Easter: to give rather than take, to offer forgiveness instead of striking back, to serve others first and ourselves last.
The truth is that such a life is beyond our own power to achieve. If we depend on our own ability to be more loving, giving, kind, and generous, we are bound to fail. By the power of the resurrection, God has done for us what we cannot do for ourselves. The “new math” of Easter means that Christ’s life is now ours.
The challenge for us who live on this side of the resurrection is to LIVE the “new math” revealed in the risen Lord, so that the world may see and know that 1 plus 1 does not always equal 2. It’s not easy to unlearn the “old math,” but by the grace of God we can. “If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: the old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
Born in the light of the Bright and Morning Star,
we are new.
Not patched, not mended … but new
like a newborn …
like the morning …
The guilt-blotched yeserdays are gone;
the soul stains are no more!
There is no looking back;
there are no regrets
In our newness, we are free.
In the power of God’s continuing creation,
new shoots from the root of Jesse.
new branches from the one true Vine,
new songs breaking through the world’s deafness.
This then is a new day.
New shoots, new branches,
new songs, new day …
Bathed in the promise of God’s New Creation,
Searching for Shalom
Forty days stretch before us,
forty days of hungering after faithfulness,
forty days of trying to understand the story,
and then, Holy Week . . .
O God, if every week were holy…
These forty days stretch before us,
and those of us who believe
yearn to feel Your presence,
yearn to be Your people;
and yet, the days fill with ordinary things
with no time left
for seeking the holy.
---from “The Holy in the Ordinary”
Ann Weems, Kneeling in Jerusalem
Session Committee Reports
Mission Committee – Kristi Fruechtl, J. Ray Joellenbeck, Co-chairs
Mission Work Day at Shepherd’s House Coming Soon
Shepherd’s House needs our help with spring cleaning their yard and some outdoor repairs. We will be trimming and pruning bushes and trees and other yard work. We will also clean gutters and make repairs to those. Please listen for details and times. The date will most likely be at the end of April.
Great Bread Auction and One Great Hour of Sharing/Ukraine
Thank you for donations of bakes and bids made to One Great Hour of Sharing in March. We appreciate your help! For more information about OGHS please notice the bulletin inserts and utilize the offering envelopes.
As you all know, our world is war and crisis. The people of Ukraine are suffering and need our help. By visiting pcusa.org and clicking on the Missions button you may make a donation to support humanitarian efforts to assist international refugees and internally displaced persons and designate your gift for Ukraine.
Special Days in April
April 8: International Roma Day - International mission workers are addressing the discrimination, poverty, and social separation experienced by Roma people in Ukraine.
April 22: Earth Day – Celebrate the gift of God’s creation by making a commitment to plant trees or a garden, and also recycling. FYI –Styrofoam (a worst offender!) can be recycled at Publix!
April 24: Armenian Genocide Remembrance Day: Pray for the Middle East, for Armenia, and for all who suffer persecution.
Property Committee – Travis Sherrer, chair
After taking some time off and just concentrating on routine maintenance, the Property Committee met in February to discuss current/scheduled maintenance items, future projects, and property member “wish lists” for the year ahead.
Around the Sanctuary
As any home owner (especially an older home) knows, routine maintenance is a constant job. Some of those recent maintenance items at the church include ceiling tile replacement, light conversion/replacement, door latching issues, tile brackets, plumbing, etc.
Some of the more substantial project highlights:
Filters for all the HVAC units replaced
Phoenix Apartments – replaced the kitchen flooring in the upstairs apartment that had water damage; built/installed a water heater cabinet.
Roofer inspected water leak marks in the sanctuary - Caulked and replaced nails. Also, the roofer worked on the leaks upstairs in the preschool. Completely covered the duct that goes into the roof with roofing material and caulked along the wall at the back of the church.
The flower boxes have been cleaned and some early spring flowers have been planted in the front of the church.
Toilet has been replaced in the annex office area.
HVAC in preschool area replaced
On the Horizon
The church needs a new vacuum. We have asked Shannon (custodian) to help us pick out a good quality vacuum to purchase.
In the process of getting an estimate to repair some ceiling damage in the upstairs annex apartment.
Looking into solutions for cleaning the bell tower area in the front.
Help with a community garden for the youth and flower planting area for the preschool.
Please feel free to contact me or any Property team member if you see anything that needs attention, have any ideas for improvements, or would like to become a member.
Thank you for all of your continued prayer and support.
Stewardship Committee – Martha Bradley, chair
Most churches in the United States, mainline to evangelical and beyond, have a Stewardship Sunday every year. It often involves testimonials; a sermon involving scripture that includes phrases like “gave her last mite,” “cheerful giver,” or “rich young ruler;” and Estimate of Giving commitment.
While nothing about Stewardship Sunday is inherently bad, the problem is what it conveys about what stewardship is. You would likely leave the service with the impression that stewardship is mostly the same as fundraising and describes an event or campaign that happens once a year and involves giving envelopes and a pledge drive and is designed for the purpose of asking congregants to help offset church expenses.
The problem is that the core of stewardship isn’t about money. It’s about love. Stewardship isn’t an event or campaign. It’s a spiritual practice.
Of course, using financial resources is a part of stewardship. But to practice Christian stewardship and be moved by it is to consider how we use our whole lives to be expressions of God’s love in the world. The gospel calls for an alternative way of being in the world that places love at the center – not money, power, validation, possessions, popularity, or even security.
In love we share our resources with abandon; speak truth to power without worry for consequence; stand with the foreigner who is knocked down by oppressive systems; proclaim that all human beings are worthy just because God created them; and lay down our lives for causes of justice.
Exploring Christian stewardship involves members of the faith community being in an ongoing practice of self-giving. The spiritual practice of stewardship informs the way we see the world and ourselves within it as people of faith. It encourages us to grow daily in Paul’s list of spiritual fruits: love, joy peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control – in addition to generosity and gratitude. It calls us to be stewards of every part of who we are, not just our money, for love’s sake.
Like all spiritual practices, including prayer or regular worship, stewardship isn’t a one-time event or even seasonal. It’s an ongoing commitment with endless opportunity for growth and increased attunement to God’s call. What’s more, the practice is valuable outside of financial goals. If we quadrupled our church bank accounts but aren’t transformed into a community of people who are kinder, gentler, more ready to welcome the stranger, more forgiving, and more committed to justice, then we may have practiced fundraising, but we don’t find ourselves playing in the deepest wells of real stewardship where real change lives. The thermometer for raising meaningful stewardship is less the meeting of an annual financial goal and instead the degree to which a church body looks more and more like a beloved community.
If our stewardship focus is mainly on money, stewardship is stripped of its fuller, robust meaning, and we miss the deeper call of Christ to inner transformation. Let’s all live into our baptism by growing in stewardship.
Ideas from “The Core of Stewardship Is Love,” by Farley Lord and Christian Peele, in The Presbyterian Outlook, February 11, 2019.
Living into our baptism . . .
growing in stewardship
Baptism is the initial step of a lifelong journey – a journey of discipleship and stewardship - to become the people God calls us to be, always moving forward and growing in our faith.
In April you will undoubtedly see and hear about Earth Day, a day to raise public awareness about environmental issues. World leaders and ordinary citizens alike are seeking ways to better care for the earth. People of faith have a particular call to be good stewards of God’s creation. The work we do as individuals and as a church to save God’s creation, our Earth, is stewardship of the environment. And it echoes our Presbyterian forefather John Calvin’s doctrines of creation and stewardship as we talk about natural resources and our duty to treat them with care. What are you now doing, and what more can you do, to become a better steward of the environment?
Letter from Christy Sherrer
March 6, 2022
To the members of Session at First Presbyterian Church Tullahoma,
I am writing this to let you know I will be resigning from my position, June 30, 2022. I have been praying about this for a while and feel this is the best time to step down for me and for my family.
The almost 18 years I have been on staff at FPC have been the most rewarding, hardest, and beautiful times of my life thus far. The lessons and growth I have received during my time has been invaluable.
I want to thank the church for the love and support our church family has given me and our Christian Education program and the many, many youth we have welcomed here. I also want to thank Martha Bradley, and the three Pastors (Patterson Lyles, Mike Bradley and Stephen Yates), with whom I have been so lucky to work, for their unfailing mentorship and friendship. My time on staff here will forever be in my heart.
I will do anything I can to make this transition a smooth one, for both the church and the Youth program. I am available to help however I am needed. This will always be my church home.
Once again, I am eternally grateful for my time as Director of Christian Education and Youth Ministry. Thank you for giving me this opportunity to grow and serve our church the past 18 years.
Peace and Love,
[Editor’s Note: We will have a celebration honoring Christy for her ministry here after Stephen returns from his sabbatical.]
Celebrating Easter with flowers
It’s time to prepare for Easter! We will again decorate the church with live, beautiful lilies to celebrate the Resurrection. To order lilies for decorating the church you can use the form below or call the church office. The cost is $18.50 each, and orders need to be in by April 10. The lilies are a good way to honor someone special or purchase in memory of ______, plus they will make the sanctuary beautiful on Easter morning. ---Mary Jane Christopher
[Editor’s note: Mary Jane learned that the lilies are in limited supply this year, so please get your order in as soon as possible.]
Around and About FPC
Spring is finally here and the children’s program is in full bloom. We have lots of events coming up in the next few months and we hope all of the kids can join us!
April 9 - Easter Egg Hunt for children 5th grade and under. This year we will be hosting it here at First Presbyterian Church at 1:00 p.m. Join us for snacks, games, fellowship and egg hunt.
April 17 - Easter Sunday
KINGDOM KIDS singing during worship service.
May 18 - Kingdom Kids will present “Fashion (Old Testament) Runway” at 5:00 p.m. in the sanctuary. We hope you will join us as the Kingdom Kids bring you the latest in fashionable outfits along with some history and humor.
May 25 - End-of-Year Bash - Be on the lookout for more information as the date gets closer
In June and July we will not meet weekly, but we are planning several events throughout the summer. Vacation Bible School, Field Day, and a lock-in for older elementary are just a few of the events on our summer calendar. Be on the lookout for summer activities flyers and announcements as we finalize details and dates.
August 7 - Rally Day
With so many events coming up there are many opportunities and ways to volunteer within the children’s program. Please keep an eye out for bulletin inserts and announcements on different areas in which volunteers are needed.
Candy donations for the Easter Egg hunt would be appreciated. You may leave candy in my office anytime between now and April 8 or drop it off in the church office April 4 - 7.
Good Samaritan Ministry
Good Sam’s special food request for April – cereal
During the month of February the Ministry office was open for 19 days.
We provided food for 64 families (98 adults, 47 children).
Dignity Campaign – We provided dignity items for 7 families (12 adults, 9 children).
Utility Assistance – 17 families (26 adults, 18 children).
Rental Assistance – 7 families (8 adults, 5 children).
Medication – 0 family (0 adults, 0 children)
Homeless – 0 family (0 adults, 0 children.)
Through our Project Help Fund we provided assistance for 6 families (7 adults, 0 children) with their utility bills (These clients present with disabilities or are elderly).
Through COVID Community Care Fund we provided assistance for 1 family (2 adults, 3 children).
Project Baby Boom – We assisted 0 families (0 adults, 0 children).
Pet Food – 17 families were given dog/cat food.
Gifts – 4 families were given clothes, coats, shoes, household goods or furniture (4 adults, 0 children).
During the month of February, we saw an increase in the number of food clients. Financial clients remained steady. There was an increase in Project Help and CCCF clients requesting assistance!
During the month of February, we started adding a couple of personal hygiene items with each food order.
---Cindy Kinney, Director
Let’s help Good Sam
Our next Mission Sunday is April 10. Items needed by Good Sam are canned fruits, canned vegetables, dry spaghetti, pasta sauce, soup, soda crackers, cereal, peanut butter, canned tuna, and canned chicken. As you grocery shop, pick up some items for Good Sam, and bring them with you to the worship service on April 10 and place them in the box in the narthex.
For April the special request item is cereal. Anytime that you come to the church building during the month, you can drop the special request item and any other donation in the Good Sam box.
One Great Hour of Sharing at work
Because of contributions to OGHS, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (one of 3 programs supported by OGHS) is already at work helping in Ukraine.
Giving to OGHS means that Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) has funds at their disposal immediately to begin helping with humanitarian needs.
Ukraine: As the violence continues, the number of people being displaced internally and fleeing to neighboring countries increases by the day. And in the midst of the chaos, there are sibling churches and ecumenical partners who are already providing assistance with basic items for survival. The first priority of PDA is to provide funding to these partners on the ground. While the scale of this crisis is new, receiving refugees from Ukraine and other countries in Central and Eastern Europe is not, which means we have trusted, established partners with the knowledge and expertise to carry out this important work. We are hearing that the reformed churches in Ukraine and the region are also feeling called to join in the humanitarian response. PDA, therefore, anticipates that our response will include both financial and technical assistance as the network of faith communities providing humanitarian assistance grows in the months ahead.
All women are invited to this Bible study. We will meet in the Fellowship Hall on Wednesday, April 13 , at 10:00 a.m. We will continue the Horizon Bible study What My Grandmothers Taught Me, Learning from the Women in Matthew’s Genealogy of Jesus by Merryl Blair. Scripture is Luke 1:26-56; 2:1-52; and John 2:5; 19:25-27
Our lesson is about Mary in the Faith and Tradition of the Church. No biblical woman has captured the imagination of the faithful as thoroughly as Mary. As someone who understands the fears and grief of motherhood, she has been a sympathetic figure to women through the ages. Mary is also the model disciple for all followers of Jesus. She allowed God to work in her despite the risk and pointed others to faith in Jesus.
Session is organized for its work through standing committees. If you have ideas, suggestions, or questions about the work of specific committees of the church or if you are interested in serving on one of the committees, please talk to one of these Elders.
Elaine Huffines, chair;
Mary Etta Ward
Finance and Personnel
Jessica Smith, chair;
Family Activities and Outreach
J. Ray Joellenbeck, Kristi Fruechtl; co-chairs
Rational for sabbatical leave
Someone has compared the life of a minister with that of a taxi leaving an airport. It is so loaded down with passengers and suitcases and the other items that the car has a hard time even moving and is strained to the point of breaking, yet the taxi may be only a few years old. So it is with clergy. They bear the burdens, the anguish, the pain, and hurt of their parishioners 24-7. That is 24 hours, seven days a week. As a result, many, if not all, experience to one degree or another symptoms of emotional collapse, stress related illnesses, and “burnout” adversely affecting the minister’s personal, family, and parish life, and greatly diminishing his or her effectiveness and well-being. For too long, this situation has been accepted, even tolerated as an inevitable part of the job.
A viable solution to the peculiar stresses and strains the clergy encounter is the sabbath leave, sometimes referred to as a sabbatical. This solution has its roots in Scripture and in church tradition. Sabbatical Leave for pastors and church educators is a planned time of intensive enhancement for ministry and mission. Sabbatical Leave follows precedents in the academic community and among a growing number of private sector groups. This “extended time” is qualitatively different from “vacation’ or “days off.” It is an opportunity for the individual to strategically disengage from regular and normal tasks so that ministry and mission may be viewed from a new perspective because of a planned time of focus.
Sabbatical Leave is an extension of the Biblical concept of a Sabbath day and a Sabbath year for renewal. It is both an act of faith that God will sustain us through a period of reflection and changed activity and an occasion for recovery and renewal of vital energies.
The next issue of the Newsletter will be the May 2022 issue. The deadline for submitting information and articles is noon on Tuesday, 19th of April