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.

Monday, May 9, 2011

March/April Newsletter at Fourth United Presbyterian

Fourth United Presbyterian Church, U.S.A.
1329 N. Broadway
Knoxville, Tennessee

March/April, 2011 Newsletter

Dear Members and Friends of Fourth United Presbyterian Church:

I hope this letter finds you well. As the pastor of 4th United Presbyterian Church, I want to remember a couple of things with you and then look forward as well.

First, I want to remember that my former co-pastor, Rev. Sonya McAuley-Allen served well at our church, and I want to remember that the Rev. Sonya McAuley-Allen and I will always be the organizing co-pastors of 4th United Presbyterian Church and that you who were part of this union of two churches will always be the organizing members of 4th United Presbyterian Church.

Second, I want to remember honestly with you that it was not a very easy union as we dealt with some conflicts and turmoil in uniting the churches. And, I want to thank Bob Crawford and Jane Parker, and also Katherine Ottinger, for living up to their commitments as former members of Fourth Presbyterian Church and current members of our new church. And, I want to thank all those who came with me and Rev. Allen from 1st United Presbyterian and some who joined us along the way for enduring through people troubles and building troubles and learning to make a home in a new place. Thank you for your patience.

And, now as I look forward, I have some concerns. Although we have received generous support from the Presbytery of East Tennessee, and although we have a much improved building to utilize for the ministries of the church, I wonder about our present level of energy and commitment here at Fourth United Presbyterian. There is something difficult about moving to a new place, and there is something hard about losing a pastor, and there is something hard about being a small church and trying to keep things going year after year. I know something about that as I first began preaching at 1st United Presbyterian the first Sunday of September, 1995.

And, as I look forward, I see that we need to move in some very new directions as a church if we are to realize our calling. And, one direction I think we need to move in is developing our building as a community center, where people can come to experience something both meaningful and enjoyable. I see that we can develop in three new directions: developing new styles and times for worship; developing an even more ambitious community forum program; and opening our building to others who are able to provide needed services to the community. One new type of worship experience we will be providing is CafĂ©’ Worship, which is most likely to be held in our Gathering Hall once a month at 5 p.m. on Sundays. Our community forums are currently reaching further into social issues as we will have our April forum on ‘internet pornography: legal and spiritual consequences,” and as we hope to host a discussion featuring four candidates for Mayor of Knoxville in our May community forum. As far as other services that might be provided in our building, investigation and planning is underway. We have offered to host a fundraising concert to benefit Second Harvest Food Bank. In late February, a benefit concert was held for Casa de Sara School in Bolivia, which is a very wonderful ministry for children.

This development of our church as a community center seems to be the direction we are going. Although it has been disappointing to see the lack of participation in some of our regular programs of the church, it has been very heartening to see the good attendance and sincere interest in our non-traditional church programs such as our community forums and special worship services. With the exception of Adult Sunday School, our traditional services and meetings are seeing a lower “turn-out.” There comes a time for change, and I think the time has come. We will continue to have our traditional Sunday morning service and Sunday School classes, but we are beginning to build some new programs and perspectives into our church’s life. And, there is work to be done on developing our Sunday morning service in some new directions as well.

Are you as members and friends of our church interested in what this church might become in our community? We started out as a merger between an old, traditional white Presbyterian church and an old, traditional black Presbyterian church. But, if we are to realize what we can be, I think we are going to have to move in some new directions. I am ready to move forward in the messages I feel called to preach. I feel there are many people in our community who yearn for a church that is truly free to speak and hear the truth and to celebrate the truth wherever it is found. And, sometimes to find the truth, you have to take a road less travelled. The road we are called to take has not been taken by any church in our community. We need some new people to join us on this journey. Are you open to a new way of being a church, to a new way of serving God, to a new way of experiencing grace?

If you are, you are welcome to join in this project-in-the-making which we call “Fourth United Presbyterian Church.” If you are not, then you are welcome also, because our doors are open and you might just be the kind of person we need to remind us of the importance of the old, time-tested traditions of the Church. If you are disillusioned with religion, but long for a place of peace and truth and purpose, then we welcome you to join us in our struggle to find those same things in worship, discussion, service, and fellowship.

God’s grace and peace be with you.

-Rev. George H. Waters
(865) 805-3618

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