October 21, 2021
Dear Friends at Trinity UMC:
Hi Y’all from Tennessee where the tea is sweet, the BBQ’s amazing and the churches are huge. Pastor Joey thought you would like an update on what has been happening in Jenny’s and my life since we moved. To put it succinctly, “We love it here!”
As you might expect, there were a few challenges moving here with a puppy and getting settled in the midst of the COVID pandemic, but we did it! After spending much of the first year watching church online our first in-person worship was a communion service in the parking lot. Sound familiar? We met the three delightful pastors, (that’s right, three!), of the church we attend. To give you an idea of church size, ours is not the largest UMC in the area, and there are a dozen or so smaller UMC churches, all in a community of 50,000. This spring worship in the sanctuary was opened, with safety protocols, and we started attending in person, feeling blessed to have found a church home where we are nourished spiritually. Now we are working at helping them to understand what it means to be “Radically Hospitable” like you!
In speaking with the senior pastor about how we both might volunteer, he mentioned his desire to get a Grief Ministry started. Jenny and I are co-leading this program, teaching an eight-week class that will be held twice a year, and overseeing a program where trained people from the church will support an individual during the first year after their loss. We are beginning to be known as “The Grief Couple” or the “Green Team!” There is also a Wednesday night Celebrate Recovery Service for those in recovery from addictions, and we help as needed from being in the kitchen to my preaching when asked.
While walking the puppy Bridget, we started visiting with people. From those casual conversations has blossomed a network of neighborhood friends that get together to eat, celebrate birthdays, and take some day trips, like to Dollywood. Jenny and a friend hosted a Paint Pour day for the women, teaching and learning about Fluid Art on canvas. These fun friendships bring us a lot of joy.
Being near son Sam is a blessing, seeing them often, sharing meals usually with something wonderful coming from Sam’s smoker/barbeque. Gwen, now 7, is with us at least once a week and we celebrate that she is doing well in Montessori school. We also do some day trips with them.
Maryville is a beautiful area in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains. We added a screen room so we could enjoy the weather. Now into October, we are still eating outside some of the time. We love living twenty minutes from the Great Smokies National Park where we are beginning to see the leaves turning color.
Jenny and I often tell each other how fortunate we are to be living here, but we have not forgotten you! Each week we read about the events taking place, grieving with you for those beloved who have died since we left. They were all dear friends whom we enjoyed working beside. And we rejoice about all the ways God is continuing to bless you. Right now your biggest blessing is having Joey as your interim pastor! We so appreciate her asking us to share. It made the miles between us seem a little less.
As they say in Tennessee: “Have a Blessed Day!”
Pastor Bill and Jenny
Some Concerns that we have:
- Pastor Brad and Dorothy for Brad’s health issues.
- For those who continue to go through physical struggles, those who are dealing with cancer, or other health situations. For those who are emotionally feeling lost and alone.
- For those who haven’t been vaccinated yet; for all those who are ill from the Covid-19 virus; for those families who have lost loved ones to the virus; and for essential workers.
- For peace in our country.
- For Katherine Parker, missionary to Nepal.