Day-to-Day Scenes

The Hot Months of Summer – Casual Dress

During the month of June, July & August St. Paul goes casual. We invite our members to dress casual/cool but appropriate. We do have air conditioning and the santuary is always comfortable but we would like everyone to be comfortable, it is also a time when our pastor enjoys not wearing a tie.

 

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Day-to-Day Scenes

Our Pastor’s Role as Chaplain

pastor-russ-knox-county-chaplain

Police officers are in a class by themselves. By nature of the task they perform in the line of duty, they are a breed apart. They bear a tremendous responsibility, they are arbitrators of everything imaginable, instant problem solvers and often called upon to make split second life and death decisions  An effective chaplaincy program can help to conserve this valuable resource. As a chaplain with the Knoxville Police Department my first responsibility is to the Officer, to assist them in spiritual and occupational issues. Next we minister to the victims of crime, inform families when there has been a death or accident. We are one way in which God can use to let law enforcement know that they are not forgotten.
Pastor Russ

Day-to-Day Scenes

A Church Divided.

 

What’s In the Connectional Conference Plan?
By Thomas Lambrecht 
The report of the Commission on a Way Forward and the legislative proposals for the three plans they developed are now posted publicly on the Judicial Council website. In the interest of helping facilitate discussion and consideration of the three main proposals that will be voted upon at the special General Conference next February, I have now shared the elements involved in each plan. You can read about the One Church Plan here and the Traditional Plan here.

Although this article is shorter than the 232-page full report and petitions, in the interest of thoroughness, many details will be included. For those looking for a shorter report, you can skip to the summary at the bottom of this article.
Features of the Plan
The Connectional Conference Plan is the most complicated of the three proposals coming before the General Conference. It attempts to treat all perspectives on the church’s stance regarding LGBT persons fairly and equally. Due to the great complexity, I will not be able to cover all the details involved in the plan, but I will describe the broad approaches that the plan takes.
The essence of the Connectional Conference Plan is to create three new theological jurisdictions (called “connectional conferences”) in place of the current five geographical jurisdictions. Each connectional conference would cover the entire United States. There would be a Traditional Conference that would maintain the current Discipline’s prohibition of same-sex marriage and the ordination of self-avowed practicing homosexuals. There would be a Unity Conference that would neither forbid nor require same-sex marriage and the ordination of self-avowed practicing homosexuals (this branch would be similar to what the One Church Plan envisions, but only for this branch). And there would be a Progressive Conference that would require and expect all pastors to perform same-sex weddings and all its annual conferences to ordain and appoint practicing homosexual clergy.
There would be a sorting process designed to limit the number of votes that would be needed. Current jurisdictions would vote first on which of the connectional conferences they want to affiliate with. (All jurisdictional property would then go with that connectional conference.) Any annual conference that disagreed with the decision of its jurisdiction could vote to join a different connectional conference. (All annual conference property, assets, and liabilities would go with the annual conference wherever it decided to affiliate.) Any local church that disagreed with the decision of its jurisdiction or annual conference could vote to join a different connectional conference. (All local church property, assets, and liabilities would go with the local church.) No local church would need to vote unless it disagreed with the decision of higher-up entities. Any vote by any church body to realign with a different connectional conference (once the plan is implemented) could happen no more frequently than in four years from a previous vote, in order to minimize continuing conflict and membership “churn.”
Bishops and clergy would similarly choose which connectional conference they wanted to join, with a possibility of transitional appointments until a suitable appointment is found for them in their preferred connectional conference. Clergy could serve in a different connectional conference, with the approval of that conference, as long as they adhered to the requirements of that conference.
There is some question whether all three connectional conferences would be populated, with the possibility that many progressives might stick with a Unity Conference instead of forming their own conference. But that decision would be up to each jurisdiction, annual conference, local church, and clergy person, rather than being dictated by the plan itself. There is no doubt that many annual conference boundaries would need to be redrawn and new annual conferences formed. There would be two or three annual conferences covering each geographical location in the United States. Each new connectional conference could determine whether or not it wanted to have jurisdictions as part of its new structure (hopefully with another name).
Under the Connectional Conference Plan, the primary identity would be the connectional conference. Some of the powers of the General Conference would be shifted to the connectional conference, including:
  • Determining the number of bishops needed, electing the bishops, and funding the bishops (no funding for a bishop in the U.S. would come from a different connectional conference).
  • Determining the qualifications, powers, and duties of clergy, including accountability through the complaint process.
  • Determining the qualifications, powers, and duties of bishops, including accountability through the connectional conference college of bishops.
  • Adapting most of the Book of Discipline according to its theological perspective.
  • Holding its bishops accountable to the connectional conference rules and requirements.
  • Creating whatever boards and agencies the connectional conference believes it needs to enhance effectiveness in ministry.
All three connectional conferences would still be part of The United Methodist Church, but each would have much more autonomy to operate in the way it believes would be most helpful and consistent with its theological perspective. The general church would consist of:
  • A General Book of Discipline including the doctrinal standards and theological task, ministry of all Christians, new global social principles, and provisions governing all shared agencies.
  • A shortened General Conference, mostly for celebration, sharing of best practices, and governing those parts of the church shared by all the connectional conferences.
  • A redefined Council of Bishops, caring for ecumenical relationships, fostering cross-connection ministries and partnerships, and serving as a learning and support community for bishops (This redefined COB would not have supervisory authority over the bishops or over the connectional conferences, as that function would pass to each connectional college of bishops.).
  • General Board of Pensions and Health Benefits (Wespath).
  • The Publishing House.
  • General Council on Finance and Administration.
  • United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR).
  • Parts of the General Board of Global Ministries as agreed upon by all the connectional conferences.
All the rest of the general boards and agencies would be subject to whether or not any connectional conferences want to continue to participate in them. Continuing agencies could serve one, two, or all three connectional conferences, and funding would be apportioned from only those conferences participating. Connectional conferences could also contract with specific agencies for fee-based services as desired.
The current central conferences outside the United States would be renamed as connectional conferences and be given equal power and authority with the US connectional conferences. Each non-U.S. connectional conference could remain separate as it is, join with other connectional conferences in its area, or join one of the three U.S. connectional conferences. If annual conferences in a given area realigned, non-U.S. connectional conference boundaries might need to be redrawn. Funding for bishops and ministries outside the U.S. would be shared by all three U.S. connectional conferences, as it currently is.
Enactment of this plan would require nine constitutional amendments that would hopefully be approved and ratified as a package. Implementation of the plan would take until 2023, and the 2024 General Conference would be shifted to 2025, moving the four-year cycle of General Conference so that it does not coincide with United States presidential election years.
Summary
The Connectional Conference Plan creates three new theological conferences (Traditional, Unity, and Progressive) in place of the current five geographical jurisdictions. It creates a process of sorting that seeks to minimize the number of entities that will need to vote on an affiliation. It continues a United Methodist Church umbrella of shared services and shared doctrinal standards, but devolves much of the authority and accountability functions to the connectional conferences. Cross-connection ministries and partnerships could continue, but work within each connectional conference would be funded and governed by that conference’s theology and requirements. Bishops and clergy would only serve within their connectional conference.
Implications
  • This is a radical restructuring of the church that seeks to treat each perspective fairly and equally.
  • Not only would this restructure hopefully resolve the impasse over marriage and human sexuality, it is designed to create the opportunity to redesign the general agency structure into something that better serves the needs and theological emphases of various parts of the church. It would allow experimentation with ministry and structure within each connectional conference that could cross-pollinate the other conferences.
  • This plan requires a two-thirds majority at General Conference and ratification by two-thirds of the members of all the annual conferences. It can only be adopted if there is broad support across the church for such an approach. At this time, it appears to lack that broad support across the theological spectrum. In the event that other plans fail to pass General Conference, it is possible this plan might serve as a compromise for a way forward.
  • Even though one’s primary identity would be in the connectional conference, rather than in the general church, some evangelicals and traditionalists would still object to being part of the same general church where another part of the church can support and engage in practices that the Bible calls sin. These persons would feel the need to withdraw from the denomination, but there is no provision in the plan for them to do so.
  • The connectional conferences would face a branding challenge in distinguishing their churches from those of a different connectional conference, sometimes in the same community.
  • The four-year implementation period needed is too long for some who are impatient to resolve our impasse immediately. This contrasts with a 22-month implementation for the Traditional Plan and an 18-month implementation for the One Church Plan.
There is no easy or painless way out of the impasse that besets our church, and there is no perfect solution. Unique among the three plans, the Connectional Conference Plan seeks to provide a place for each theological perspective and to treat everyone equally. No one would be forced to leave the church, and hopefully fewer would desire to do so under this plan. I believe it could serve as a good “Plan B” in case the Traditional Plan fails to pass. It is certainly preferable to the One Church Plan and to the option of doing nothing.
Thomas Lambrecht is a United Methodist clergyperson and the vice president of Good News. He also served as a member of the Commission on a Way Forward.
Day-to-Day Scenes

Why Christians don’t share their faith

1. Fear. The fear of being ridiculed, disapproved and persecuted by the world, especially those close to us and those who have authority over us like parents, spouses and bosses.
2. They don’t feel or think that they are qualified. I AM ALSO GUILTY OF THAT. I spent most of my life trying to heal my
emotions. Didn’t feel qualified to share the gospel I was so messed up who would want what I have if I am still a mess?
3. They want to keep their jobs. Just to keep their jobs, Christians have negated the Great Commission. In the workplace you fear losing your job. It is a very real possibility in this day and age. However in the church it is also a problem because of those with legalistic perspectives. You might not get it right.
4. Complacency, lack of compassion and passion, spiritual laziness Luke 8:14 and that which fell among thorns are they, which, when they have heard, go forth, and are choked with cares and riches and pleasures of this life, and bring no fruit to perfection.
5. Too many worry about “political correctness”. It’s not politically correct anymore to share your faith.
6. Influenced by worldly culture because they have believed the lie that they are “pushing” their beliefs on someone.
7. A lack of training and don’t know how to share. ! believe it’s because they weren’t informed about the true meaning and responsibility of being a disciple of The Lord Jesus Christ.
8. Not strong Christians with strong faith.
9. Few people believed what they said and believed in. Because we live in a world that is so tolerant of everything but Christianity! Just the mention of “Jesus” sends everyone to their politically correct corner.

10. ” they don’t see the example from Church leaders.

New Doors to Sanctuary
Special Service

A commentary on the state of the Church.

 

We are living in hostile times here in the United States, never before has the country been so divided. Democrats and Republicans are at each others throats 24/7. The President of the country and his family are under constant attack, parents sturggle to control their children, overdose deaths spread over every city in America like the black plague of death and our Christian faith is under attacked like never before in this country. In addition to this America has turned her back on God’s commandments by allowing LGBT marriages to take place,  killing the unborn by the hundreds. To our dismay we now have major denomination, once strong in the Christian faith allowing homosexual persons to pastor their church. God help us.  Our own denomination United Methodist, is currently in a struggle over human sexuality which threatens to split the church into several factions. God word has never changed despite what the culture does.  We, the chruch, in an effort to make ourselves more attractive to the world have lowered our standards, rejected the convictions and orthodoxy of our church fathers and mothers and have wandered into dangerous territory.  The founder of our own denomination John Wesley warned that such a day would come if we did not hold fast to the faith.  We as a denomination are in serious trouble. We have decline in membership, those faithful to the church are  in their golden years and the church is literally dying on the vine. Our leaders refuse to show any leadership or conviction when it comes to upholding the Book of Discipline much less the Holy Word of God. Here is the good news: God will always have a church,  preachers who will stand in the gap and preach the word of God fearlessly. As a member of Christ Holy Church you have the obligation to find a church that still preaches against sin, that still maintains that God’s commandments are not suggestions, that Salvation is only through Jesus Christ that his blood is the only agent capable of saving us from an eternal hell. Find a church that believes that, “all roads do not lead to heaven.” that heaven and hell are realities and that we have a responsibility to tell the lost of the saving grace of Jesus Christ. If you are looking for a church like this, I know one. You are welcome to attend St. Paul East UMC  located on Ruggles Ferry in East Knoxville.  I promise you that when it comes to upholding the word of God, preaching the truth, winning the lost, standing for holiness of  the heart the mind and the body, wse are:  “Moving in the right direction.”

Pastor Russ

 

 

 

Day-to-Day Scenes

Sharing Our Faith

 

We can share our faith with others in many different ways. The first
and most important way is through our lifestyles. We must live a life
that is reflective of our convictions in such a way that it attracts others.
Jesus said the 2nd greatest Commandment was to love others and
Ephesians 5:2 tells us to “Live a life filled with love, following the
example of Christ.” Paul says “I always try to please others instead of
myself, in the hope that many of them will be saved. You must follow
my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Corinthians 10:33 f).
We become ineffective when our lives are out of sync with God’s will.
Living a healthy, holy and attractive life is always compelling. When
others notice your life they will often be curious and want to know
more about it. Peter tells us “if someone asks about your Christian
hope, always be ready to explain it. But do this in a gentle and
respectful way” (1 Peter 3:15-16). It doesn’t take a Bible College
degree or years of Bible study to be able to answer the questions of
others about our faith. Yet, the phrase “always be ready” means that
we’ll have to spend some time preparing. Every Christian should think
through their personal testimony of God’s faithfulness to them and how
that has given them a new perspective on life and a hope for eternity.
Not all of us have dramatic conversion stories but we all have stories of
how God has impacted our lives positively. Every believer has a story
to share and every believer must be ready to share it.
Your story should contain three parts. The first part is what your life
was like before God acted in his marvelous way to bless you. For those
who came to faith in Christ later in life, that is normally our salvation
experience. I was in the midst of a divorce and faced the prospect of
losing my family and other precious things in life. But for others it’s a
personal testing; the loss of a loved one, the loss of a job, a stage of
sheer disillusionment with life as a whole, or many other issues that
drive us to take a more serious look at our life and very often drives us
to our knees and opens our hearts to hear from God. We should not
spend too much time on this part of the story, but use it to set the stage
for giving God the glory for His wonderful work. The 2nd part of the
story is about what God did to resolve my life crisis issue or personal
struggle. This part takes some deep reflection because God’s ways are
usually mysterious and we need to work at understanding what and
how God worked in our hearts during that period. The last part of my
story is about how I changed after God’s work in my heart. The
difference.

Special Service

Welcome Home

New Doors to Sanctuary
New sanctuary entrance doors recently installed at St. Paul East United Methodist.

Who is coming to Homecoming on Sunday, September 14th at 10:30 am? Check out the new entrance doors to St. Paul East. The slogan of the United Methodist Church is “Open Minds, Open Hearts, and Open Doors.” However, in order to showcase the beauty of the new wood and glass details, we decided photograph the doors while closed. Doors will be wide open and welcoming everyone for the annual Homecoming service this coming Sunday, September 14, 2014. Mark your calendar and make plans to attend. The service will be followed by a covered dish meal in the basement fellowship hall. Everyone is invited and encouraged to attend this wonderful service and meal.

Special Service

Homecoming 2014

Homecoming-2014

Mark your calendar, and make plans to attend Homecoming
September 14, 2014
10:30 am

Guest Speaker: Tom Ballard
Special Music: Harmony Ladies Trio
Homecoming Meal: Everyone brings a covered dish and enjoys food, friends, and fellowship downstairs in the church basement following worship service.

We encourage everyone to worship at St. Paul at every Sunday. Our annual Homecoming service is an especially great time with a guest speaker and special music. If you ever visited or once attended St. Paul, please come back and see the great things God is doing.

Questions? e-mail Pastor Russ: contactus@stpauleast.org

Day-to-Day Scenes

Near the Cross

After services on Sunday was a good time for friends and fellowship with Pat Luttrell (left) and Cathy Young (right) at the door of the sanctuary. Check out Cathy’s shirt that she got at annual conference at Lake Junaluska. It has the symbolic Methodist cross and flame. The image relates The United Methodist church to God through Christ (cross) and the Holy Spirit (flame). The flame is a reminder of Pentecost when witnesses were unified by the power of the Holy Spirit and saw “tongues, as of fire” (Acts 2:3).
>> more in-depth information about the Methodist cross and flame symbol

cathy-and-pat

Near the Cross

Hear the St. Paul congregation sing “Near the Cross”