Meeting Times at 4th United Presbyterian Church

Cafe' Worship: 9:15 a.m. each Sunday in Gathering Hall (activities provided for children; coffee; snacks)
Adult Sunday School: 10 a.m.

Sunday Worship: 11 a.m.

Bible Study: each Thursday at 6 p.m.

Community Forum: last Thursday of each month at 6 p.m. with meal (no community forum in November, 2011)

About the 4th United Presbyterian Bible Blog

Posts on this blog are from me, Rev. George H. Waters, one of the two organizing co-pastors of 4th United Presbyterian Church. Our other organizing pastor was Rev. Sonya McAuley-Allen, who is now pastor of a church in Charlotte, N.C. Since June of 2011, Rev. Elizabeth Peterson has been our parish associate pastor for new church development. The earliest posts are sermon notes from the few I have typed the last two years. Then, there is a series of notes posted on the book of Romans. After that, it varies from week to week, sometimes church news, sometimes reflections on a happening, a passage of scripture, or even some pictures. This blog is meant to open the conversation we have going on in our church to others in our community.

The picture below is of our church's sanctuary, built in 1913.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Thinking out loud on a Friday afternoon about 4th United Presbyterian Church

July 2, 2010: I woke up this morning, thinking that I was still in a dream. But, then I realized that it was really true: my daughter was in our house, home after being in South Africa for almost six months. It has been a week involving a lot of different things – waiting for my daughter to come home on July1, and waiting to hear about the condition of my mother’s heart, and then after those central matters in the family, there was the usual work with clients, a mediation on Monday, church building issues on Tuesday and even representing someone in a domestic case this week for me. And, now it is Friday. I finished work early today, and am home. It’s about 4 in the afternoon.

My faithful little dog, Reuben, is next to me on the couch, and I am glad to be able to sit back and take this week in. And, as I do, my thoughts turn to our church, 4th United Presbyterian Church. A church that began with the union of two old, small churches: 1st United Presbyterian and 4th Presbyterian. Our church was formed on February 7, 2009. We have spent the last year dealing with building problems, people problems, financial problems, and just plain “starting something new” and “dealing with change” problems. Now, we are emerging from the struggle and opening our eyes and looking around to see the community that we are in. We are beginning to look at ourselves and ask: what are we supposed to do in our time here on the corner of Glenwood and Broadway?

Some of us might be thinking: well, I wouldn’t mind being back at 1st United Presbyterian and in our building on the Knoxville College Campus. Some of us might be thinking: I am alright with being in this new place, but when are we going to move forward? When is our building going to be usable? When are we going to let people know we are here? When are people, other than the group we already have, going to come and join us? When are we going to begin reaching out to our local community? When are we going to have something here for our children? Others among us might be very hopeful and excited about what is going on, as these can see the possibilities and the goodness of God’s Spirit in all of this.

I ask myself today: where am I? Because I have been in the third group of hopeful thinkers in all this for most of the time. But, I have my days when I have thought: well, I wish we were back where we were. And, those days when it feels like nothing is ever going to get going. But, there have been days here, God knows, there have been days, when I have seen the coming of the glory of the Lord in the newness, in the praise and hopeful spirit, in the new things that come our way, and new people that seem to be coming at times. God knows, there have been days, when I have seen the coming of the glory of the Lord in a community emerging that sees no real differences between different people, because of the experience of our profound sameness in Jesus Christ. God knows, there have been days, when I have felt the power of this grace growing. But, where am I today?

Today, I am in that second group. I am feeling “when is anything going to get going?” The building, the ministries, the outreach, the partners in ministry, the sense of what it means to be at home in this community. When? That’s where I am today. I am impatient right now. And, maybe I ought to be – at least on some things.

When I honestly survey what it is going to take to get moving at 4th United Presbyterian, I am struck with a simple thought: it is going to take commitment, work and giving time to this work. It took a lot of just plain hard work to get the merger accomplished. It took a lot of hard work to get the new structures in place and the budget under control. It took hard work to get support from Presbytery. It took hard work to get other resources necessary to prepare our building for use. It has taken regular, hard work to get this foundation laid for our ministry. But, now we move to the real task at hand: responding to God’s will and experiencing God’s love for those around us in our community. This takes a different kind of hard work. The hard work of “being there,” of “being concerned,” of “acting on that concern.” The hard work of planning with others in mind. The hard work of working long hours to get something good done. But, the real power for this work comes from something that is not hard at all. And ,that is letting oneself be loved and held and cleansed and awakened and renewed by God’s very gracious and holy Presence. Where this core experience is there, the work that is “hard,” is like running when you are in shape. It takes exertion of effort, but it is joyful and brings energy more than takes it away.

So, I am taking one step back from my impatience to step towards that holy sanctuary of the most High God. That place deep within, that is so quiet, you can’t do anything but “be still and know that the Lord is God” when you are there.

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