Monday, September 10, 2012

Church Street United Methodist Church, Knoxville, TN

Church Street United Methodist Church, Knoxville, TN
After a good bit of exploration and discussion, Cindy and I have decided on a church---historic Church Street United Methodist Church in downtown Knoxville.

It's funny how we settled on this church.  Cindy, who grew up in this area, had always wanted to visit this church because of its beauty and prominence in Knoxville.  She had mentioned to me that, before we chose a church to attend regularly, she would like to visit just to get the flavor of the place.  We had given no real thought to actually joining because it is located downtown, which seemed so far away---especially with other nice churches located all around our home.

Beautiful Stained Glass Windows

So---six weeks ago we drove to Church Street Church for the early Sunday morning service.  I was surprised when I discovered that it only takes 11 minutes to get to the church from our home.  That, plus the fact that everyone was friendly while we were there, made us agree that this would be the right place for us.  We plan on officially joining in a few weeks.

Procession at the Beginning of Sunday Worship

For the past few Sundays we have been trying to find just the right Sunday School class.  My friends, if you have not gone through this drill recently, you probably have forgotten how utterly taxing and befuddling the process can be.  Consider these factors:

---There are 18 adult classes
---We selected three to visit.  We tried to choose those that concentrate on scripture-based instruction
---The first class we attended had everything we want.  Everyone was friendly and we came away with the warm fuzzies.  Only consideration:  Cindy and I are 10-15 years younger than most of the class members.  We are concerned about a generation gap.
---The second class we visited was basically our age range, but cliquish.  When we entered, only 3 or 4 people introduced themselves to us.  Only two people actually talked to me before class.  Everyone else stood around in groups of four to six people and conversed with each other.  Few people wore name tags, which is very helpful to newcomers.  We were asked to give our contact information---phone number and E-Mail addresses---but we have not been contacted regarding membership or given an invitation to ask questions about the class.
---The third class we visited (yesterday) was our age range.  People were friendly.  But no one asked for contact information. 

Each class has its pros and cons.  The class with the older membership was actually the best-run class.  The members were the friendliest and most outgoing.  But---there is that age difference, and Cindy and I don't know how big a factor that could be in relating to everyone.  We are praying about it.

The second class reminded me of the class we were members of in Texas.  It is fairly large.  I was somewhat turned off by the constant referrals to members of the class and how important everyone seems to be.  "See that man over there?  He is a federal judge.  And that lady over there is a doctor.  And The fellow over by the window is CEO of XYZ Company."  I started getting the feeling that maybe I wasn't important enough to belong in that class.  Ha.

The third class had an attendance of about 20.  But if they didn't care enough to take down our names and E-Mail addresses, do they really want new members?

To anyone experiencing a new church and going into Sunday school classes where everyone and everything is unknown, there is a certain amount of stress.  I understand that choosing a class and trying to fit in is a process, but the process could sure be helped by a recognition on the part of class members that visitors need to be welcomed by all and made to feel at home by everyone.

And it wouldn't hurt to call the visitors the following week and let them know they are wanted.  If they are, of course.


  1. From our years of experience, we should not be surprised by human nature .. it is the same inside the church as outside. It's not left outside the door. Look at what Jesus had to deal with, human behavior at its very worst.

  2. People are people. And thank the Lord, we can rise above that petty stuff. I agree with you about the "status Sunday school" class. Move on. Find a place where there are real people. Drunks. Cheats. Liars. All of us are just trying to get it together.

  3. Clint you only tried three out of eighteen classes, my suggestion is to try ... there just might be something out of your comfort zone for you to learn from or through, maybe you and Cindy are to be the example for the younger ones, maybe God is trying to tell you something different than you are used to and the feelings of not being welcome might be a sign. I don't have the answers, this is just a possibility, but I would for sure suggest different classes.

    The church itself is beautiful, too bad not all of the patrons attitudes are as beautiful as the church itself. And as far as I'm concerned, you are in the best category or 'class', you're real and genuine and a job description does not define who you are. The best message I get in AA is nobody is above nor below anyone else, the judges, lawyers, social workers (had to throw that one in here!) are the same as the homeless or poverty stricken... all of our blood is the same color. I'm not saying that it's totally harmonious, I'm saying that the groups who judge I can feel when I walk into a room, there's zero spirituality in this so I choose not to attend these meetings. I've found a home group who loved me until I could learn to like myself, now if this isn't God love at it's finest I don't know what is. The funny thing is that I've found God in the rooms of AA more so than in most of the churches I've attended.

    All the best in finding out where God wants you! Have a wonderful week!

    Hi Cindy, I hope you also have a great week!

  4. When I attened the Nazarene church back in MA (that I've mentioned before) they had started home bible study groups because they felt that this would be the church of the future, meeting in private homes I guess out of the government eye, real apocalyptic stuff. So a friend and I joined a local group of about 5 and there was also another new person there, she was a younger person who was a single mother and very lonely. She said she liked to walk but was afraid to go alone so my friend and I gave her our phone numbers and asked for hers so that we could get together and walk. During a break in the bible study the pastor invited us to step outside where he berated us for being too pushy and said we might scare her away. I thought we were being nice and friendly and we really liked this younger girl who was all alone. Hey, how about two instant older friends who can be there for you! He didn't appreciate our being friendly. Maybe he felt threatened by us, you know two strong women who know how to spread the love of the Lord.
    Hmmmm, something I will never forget.

  5. What a beautiful church, Lovely to have settled there.

    I am back with a new blog but unfortunately can't get it on Internet Explorer. I know a few on Firefox have got it also on Chrome where I put it together,
    Hope you and all are well.

  6. Thank you all for your responses. I agree with all of you. I've often said that church is the devil's workshop. It's easy to get caught up in pettiness and pride. I've done it myself. But I do know that God has a plan for us and we will find ourselves on a rewarding journey where we can be a light for others as we ourselves grow in our spirituality.

  7. I think that the older we get the less status means. You were in that class as number one. Number two - you might be the same actual age - but way ahead mentally. Get it?

  8. That's a lovely church. P|leased you are both happy with your choice.
    Yes, God does have a plan for us, he has it all mapped out.

    Here where I live, if you belong to a certain religion you usually go to the church nearest to you, if you just don't happen to like the people there you go to another church of same religion.

  9. Lovely church. God bless you with a united, happy community. No matter what group you belong, just continue being a blessing to others.