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he season of Pentecost, spanning nearly six months from June to November, seems an apt time to celebrate our growth during a very significant transition. Together, we have:

Shared sacred conversations Dreamed Cared well for one another Explored new expressions of team ministry Celebrated our gifts Considered “Who is my neighbor?” Set goals Invited transparency Acknowledged our growing edges Prayed and worshipped and studied, in person and at a distance Discovered new technology Trusted God and then trust God some more Asked hard questions and sought even harder answers Believed the best in one another Loved the world

What was the most significant characteristic of the entire process? For me, it was our unity. When we had to work hard, we worked really hard. When we needed to meet, folks showed up. When sacrifice was required, you stepped up again and again. When we need to rally around one in need, everyone contributed. Together, we have shared a journey that brought us to a new chapter in God’s story … TOGETHER! Steve Holmes writes: “We are all fingers of the One hand, words of the One song. The Holy One contains us all. We are one Body—not just believers (who can judge, who can separate?) or all who breathe long for God. This whole universe, this one creation, is but the speaking of God's one Word. In all its complex harmonies and flowings, its growths and reflections, it is One. There is only One thing, and we all are of it. We are bound with the stranger, completed by our enemy, blessed by the foreigner who practices a strange religion, as they by us. Unity is not a goal we strive for, but the reality we struggle to see. Holiness is not separation, but deep belonging to the Holy One.” I am thankful for the Holy One who claims, loves, gifts, calls, and empowers us; I am thankful for the gift of life together!




ven… the sparrows… even the sparrows find a home, at your altar… even the sparrows find a home.

The season of weeks after Pentecost is about growth, and usually we focus on the light green of leaves budding, turning to the dark green of late summer leaves, all shades reflected in the various greens of our altar cloths and pastoral stoles in worship, but this season, I’m focused on birds, as a symbol of God’s Spirit, but even more, as a symbol of God’s care for us, and of growth. This season, I’ve found myself working outdoors more often than usual, writing articles and sermons outdoors, making phone and Zoom calls outdoors, and meeting in person outdoors when possible. As a result, I have seen so many birds and heard such birdsong! As I have, these birds have reminded me of some things about growth. Sometimes growth is slow. If you’ve ever peeked in on eggs in a nest or incubator, you’ve probably noticed how long it can seem before any change is visible. But all that time, incredibly rapid growth is going on inside. And then, when the little beak first pokes through the shell, change is so sudden. But then, often, it’s another long while before more progress comes. The cracked egg rocks back and forth, then rests, then rocks and rests, until finally the chick comes bursting out. Then, for quite a little while, growth is awkward, as the eggsoaked chick flops about, dries, and cleans its feathers, all the while figuring out which way is up, how to stand, and how to move about in the new world it’s so recently entered. All of this gives comfort, as we enter a very new world ourselves. In the season of weeks since COVID-19, so much of how we ordinarily do things is shut down. Being together in groups, being together inside — singing together — all have to be renegotiated. Caring for our children and parents and elders, education from kindergarten to grad school, how we do our jobs, who gets a job, and how we address injustice in these things — especially around race, wealth, and social advantage — all have to be renegotiated. It’s slow, then sudden, then slow again, and oh, so awkward. In the midst of that, I encourage us to find strength, peace, and will to persevere, in Psalm 84. “Even the sparrows… even the sparrows find a home, at your altar… even the sparrows find a home.” In this psalm, the psalmist speaks from the point of view of a priest or servant or child, like the boy Samuel in 1 Samuel 3, passing in sight of the altar of God, maybe sweeping or running an errand, and noticing, a mother bird has made her nest, on or under the altar. God provides a home for even the tiniest one, and the psalmist celebrates. The psalm goes on to note, “blessed are they whose strength is God…” they bring blessing wherever they go. “As they go through the dry, dry land, they make it a place of springs.” It also says, “better to be one who waits outside” the house of God — like the psalmist, seeing the altar and the birds from a distance — “than to live in tents of wickedness.” The smallest blessing from God is better than anything gained by wickedness. To me, these things are encouraging, as we work through how to be church and a world together. Growth is slow, then sudden, then slow, and it’s usually awkward. The tiniest of us has a place in God’s house and can bring blessing to all. And there is nothing wickedness can provide that is not better replaced by even the least of God’s blessing. “Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, at your altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God. Happy are those who live in your house, ever singing your praise.”




eginning Tuesday August 11th, we will meet at 12:00 noon via Zoom to share a Bible study of Jesus’ parables, making use of Gospel stories and Amy-Jill Levine’s Short Stories by Jesus. The schedule will be as follows:

August 25 … Lost Coin (Luke 15:8-10) September 1 … Lost Son (Luke 15:11-32) September 8 … The Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) September 15 … The Kingdom of Heaven Is like Yeast (Matthew 13:33) September 22 … The Pearl of Great Price (Matthew 13:45-46) September 29 … The Mustard Seed ( Mark 4:30-32, Matthew 13:31-32, and Luke 13:18-19) October 6 … The Pharisee and the Tax Collector (Luke 18:9-14) October 13 … The Laborers in the Vineyard (Matthew 20: 1-16) October 20 … The Widow and the Judge (Luke 18:1-8) October 27 … The Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31) November 3 … A Conclusion to Parables As we get into specific parables, please feel free to read each Gospel lesson prior to our study, listening for the phrases that captivate your heart and questions that engage your mind. If you’d like to purchase Levine’s book, you can order from Amazon via the following link: dp/0061561037/ref=sr_1_2 Here are the details for the recurring Zoom meeting; feel free to use this meeting ID information each week, joining us at Meeting ID: 980 2680 6446 Please let me know if you have any questions!I look forward to learning together! Peace and Love, Pastor Amy




f then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus… ~Philippians 2:1-5~ As we consider the ongoing need for social distancing, it is time to consider how we will continue to care well for the people of St. John’s. Here are some methods through which we have connected: Phone calls, handwritten notes, text messages, social media, Zoom gatherings, masked conversation at a distance, delivery of food, intentional prayer vigils, and Stephen ministry visits. Pastor John even stood under an umbrella in the rain, talking to a member on the phone while they waved to one another through a window. No doubt, God looks down and smiles! Pastors Amy and John will continue to reach out via phone calls, assisted by Church Council members and our Stephen Ministers. So how else can we care well for one another? Let your creativity run wild, and then reach out with your ideas!



n an effort to faithfully care for our St. John’s family, the SJLC COVID Response Team has made several recommendations. These guidelines reflect the reality of rising rates of COVID in our community and the need for more specific guidelines to prevent miscommunication.

If possible, services such as Baptisms, Weddings, or Funerals should occur outdoors in the courtyard. Optimally, limit the number of people within the sanctuary to ten, including pastoral staff and congregants. This recommendation includes intimate services such as Baptisms, Weddings, Celebrations of Life, or portions of these services. All individuals should wear masks for both indoor and outdoor services or prayers. Per ELCA guidelines, worship leaders may not need to mask when physically distanced by at least 6 feet. All individuals should practice social distancing of at least 6 feet unless they are with immediate family members who are already living together without social distancing. For prayers and meditation only one family unit (people living together without social distancing) may be in the sanctuary at any time. As a reminder, these are recommendations. Pastor Amy and Pastor John may consult with physicians and/or our COVID Response Team to address the safest way to handle individual situations. Thank you for observing these recommendations as we look forward to the time when we can worship together again, SJLC’s COVID Response Team Dr. Karen Wells, Team Co-Leader




ecently, it’s been necessary for us to find different ways to connect and experience community together here at St. John’s. Here is a snapshot of the ways we are providing ministry and faith formation opportunities and creating connection for ALL AGES!

NoonDay Prayer Daily prayer at 12noon will be broadcast via FACEBOOK LIVE every Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. All can access by going to the St. John's Facebook page at

NoonTime Bible Study Tuesday 12Noon Bible Study continues via ZOOM. The virtual meeting is easily accessed by logging on to, then entering a Zoom Meeting ID number which we share on the home page of our website at and our Facebook page.

Compline / Evening Prayer Thursday at 8:30pm. Pastor John Tirro leads us for a time of song and prayer on Thursday evenings beginning at 8:30pm. Join him on his Facebook page or the St John’s Facebook Page.

VIRTUAL COFFEE and DONUTS via ZOOM Virtual Coffee and Donuts at 10:15 AM. Drop in to say hello and join us for relaxed conversation. The Zoom meeting ID can be found on our website and our Facebook page.



Sunday Worship Online Sunday at 9am. We provide a LIVE worship experience led by our Pastors at 9am on Sunday mornings on our YouTube Channel and our Facebook page. The service is archived & can be viewed at any time after the service. Log onto and search for St. John’s Lutheran Knoxville.

Sunday Faith Formation Sunday at 10:15am and 11am. Join us for Faith Formation via Zoom on Sunday mornings. There are two offerings, the first at 10:15am and the second at 11am. Join us for one, or both. The Meeting IDs are shared on our website and Facbook page. Children’s Storytime w/ Pastor Amy Wednesday @ 3:30pm & Saturday @ 1:30pm via ZOOM. Pastor Amy gathers our kiddos together as she reads a story and shares activities, laughs and fun. It’s a Zoom meeting and the ID is provided on our website and Facebook page. STORYTIME IS CURRENTLY ON HIATUS BUT WILL RETURN AFTER SCHOOL HAS BEGUN.

I’m frequently updating the website and posting to our Facebook page, so I suggest you make regular checks to both places for updates or changes to scheduled events/connections. As Communications Director of St. John’s, I’m happy to assist in getting you connected with any and all these options. Reach out via email at or you can call or text me at 404-246-2795 and I’m happy to troubleshoot any problems or simply help you GET CONNECTED!

Communications Director





ere’s an important look at the Ministry Teams of St John’s, including objectives, goals, team leaders and co meeting times. We’d LOVE for you to become a part of the team that speaks to your passion and desire to


ontact information, and o serve. See details below.




his summer, WOW (Win Our World) Urban Ministry, looked very different than summers past. As the COVID-19 pandemic continued to grow, the staff of WOW 2020 committed to lean in to what this would look like and to find God at work in Knoxville. The staff began meeting online via Zoom to plan in early March, hopeful that the pandemic would soon be under control and provide the opportunity to host a shorter, but typical WOW experience. After taking some time to brainstorm and dream, the staff chose the theme “Outside Yourself,” a theme that explored finding God beyond ourselves and in our communities, country, creation, and the cosmos. However, as the weeks pressed on and the pandemic grew bigger, this faithful staff determined that WOW was being called to operate outside itself this year. This transition felt hard, but the staff made the commitment to safety and knew God was up to something really beautiful still. With changes already planned as Pastor Amy and Nancy were transitioning to other adventures, the WOW staff decided to use three of the four weeks of WOW to create a WOW Binder – a written document preserving the institutional memory for future generations. This work took place the first three weeks of July as the staff met – socially distanced, wearing masks – and collaborated on what were the essentials of WOW and what made it stand apart as a ministry. This labor of love recalls the story of WOW’s creation from the early years of youth dreaming what engaging the community looked like to what it is today. It also includes the plans and roles of those who will serve in future years as God continues to move in and through this ministry. Wanting some since of normalcy and after consulting with the SJLC council and COVID task force, WOW hosted one very different week of WOW for SJLC and local youth (10 total youth). This week was strategically planned, keeping the safety of everyone as the top priority. This week was a ½ day camp from 8:00 – 12:30 each day, meeting in the courtyard of the church, social distanced (with masks) and included modified (spoken) worship, leadership development, faith formation, and reflection. Additionally, WOW partnered with Mabry Hazen House to do outside landscape work, weeded the SJLC courtyard, and wrote letters to essential workers. Although the week looked very different from a typical WOW week, the Spirit of God and the spirit WOW was faithfully present! The theme of “Outside Yourself” was one that WOW, the staff, and guests embodied this summer in a very faithful way! WOW is grateful for the continued love, prayers, and support of SJLC and for opening up their space and hearts to this continued mission! We’d like to give a special thanks to Pastor Amy, Pastor John, SJLC Council, and SJLC COVID Task Force for their faithfulness too! God continues to be up to really good, beautiful things through WOW!





Tyson House: In Person or Online, The Mission Stays the Same


fter a great start to spring semester, with an ice cream social at The Phoenix and a new Garden Club, it became clear just before spring break that coronavirus was a real concern. UT moved almost everything online, and Tyson House did too. Three of our eight residents still lived at the center, then one as more went home, and now we’re edging back to four, as students return for internships and jobs. Jessi Grieser, St. John’s Council VP, is also a UT Professor and a member of Tyson House Council and has convened a new Safety Team to determine CDC-complaint ministry practices, so students at Tyson House can stay well and safe. One thing we noticed early was that students, whose classes all moved to Zoom, were plum worn out on video formats, so we offered worship by “A Taste of Tyson House,” a PDF email devotional with an accompanying Spotify playlist. Each week, we added something, like mp3’s of students reading scripture and giving homilies. We did move to Zoom for Easter Evening, with music from Pastor John’s piano and a digitally enhanced chapel as a Zoom background for Father RJ to preach from.

Ice Cream at the Phoenix

Buying Plants at Stanley’s

Lucas, one of our residents, sewed masks to protect our community and worked with Father RJ and Pastor John to weed and prune the grounds. Elijah, our Head Resident and Worship Chair, made sure plumbing flowed and hymns were prayerfully selected. Ezra, our intern, kept Zoom office hours, helping people feel loved and heard. Madison, one of next year’s residents, polled students to see how they’d like to serve in the fall. Caitlynne, our Administrator, kept bills paid and took on responsibilities of managing grant reporting.

Digitally Decorated for Easter

Online or in person, the mission stays the same: love God, love your neighbor, and love yourself, in Jesus’s name. We keep doing that, helping students and young adults grow as leaders, and God keeps blessing and making it beautiful!

Zoom Worship with Father RJ preaching



“Child of God, you have been sealed by the Holy Spirit and marked with the cross of Christ forever.” These words were spoken over Amelia Kate McWhorter, daughter and Mac and Karen McWhorter, on Sunday, July 11 and Jonathan Parker (JP) Pressley, son of Sam and Chelsea Pressley, on Sunday, August 9. While best understood as a communal event, we honored the requests of parents for family baptisms during this unusual time. We will introduce these sweet babies to the congregation once we are able to worship together in our sanctuary. Until that time, we pray: “O God, the giver of all life, look with kindness upon Mac and Karen and Sam and Chelsea. Let them ever rejoice in the gift you have given them. Make them teachers and examples of righteousness for Amelia and JP. Strengthen them in their own Baptism so they may share eternally with their children the salvation you have given them, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

Mac and Karen McWhorter with their daughter Amelia Kate

Sam and Chelsea Pressley with their son Jonathan (JP) Parker




t. John’s has a long history of service to our unhoused neighbors. Despite the pandemic, the Social Ministry Team has been in conversation about how we can extend our outreach to these folks. We our blessed to be on the corner on 5th and Broadway, the epicenter of homeless ministries in east Tennessee. VMC, KARM, and the Salvation Army are on the corners of this intersection with us. So obviously we have a wealth of opportunities to serve. There are other organizations doing amazing work as well. We have been introduced to a great group recently: “A Place at the Table”. A Place at the Table is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization serving the homeless community in downtown Knoxville on a weekly basis. Toiletries are provided on a weekly basis and include items such as: AA and AAA Batteries Hand Sanitizer (pocket size) Hotel size toiletries such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, body wash, lotion, shampoo) Hotel size laundry detergent Disposable Razors Brushes and Combs Lip Balm Candles and Individual Packs of Matches Socks, Underwear, Gloves Pocket Kleenex Tampons, Pads, and Condoms Band-Aids (Regular and Large) Q-tips Individual Antiseptic wipes Fingernail clippers Paperback books (Mysteries, Devotionals, Inspirational, etc.) Plastic grocery bags Clasp free hair ties If you (as an individual) or your group (whatever that group may be)) would like a project - consider one of the following … > Filling snack bags with 2 regular Band-Aids, 1 large Band-Aid, and two antiseptic wipes > Filling snack bags with one dozen Q-tips > Create basic toiletry snack bags for distribution To arrange pick up of items you wish to donate, please text or call (865) 256-4587. If you would like to make a monetary donation, please visit and click on “Donate Now”. Thank you for your support!


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Garry Menendez Brady Hopkins Turner Rogers Debbie Sousa Maggie Wilson David Jagels Marjorie Hansen Michael McWilliams Natalie Throckmorton Robert Throckmorton Shane Webb David Cash Christopher Hegseth Shannon O’Hatnick Deanna Lloyd Christine Oehler Ann Crytser Toni Denton Marva Solt Bill Fogarty Michael Adams

Norma Bradley Eunice Carlson Phyllis Collins Nathan Kimzey Aubrey Metelka Linda Cash Matthew Long Jimmy Reed David Maples Sylvia Countess Keith Eichenberg Lynn Menendez Frank Metelka Gary Anderson Jean Smith

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Lars Cooter Ryan Cooter Tom Wainner Karen Robbins Kim Shock Ella Kate Smith Betty Kyle Anna Brownlee Katherine Perkinson Keith Beckwith Jackie Tucker Lisa Minton Madeleine Trout Ron Rimer Darrell Murrell Emilie Casey Aaron Delgado Lakiea Chapman Mary Eikenberry David Trout Holden Giesecke Andrew Holt Connor Lee Williamson Kay Burnette Olga Eisenhower August Warren Joaquin Bocangel

Jessica Bocangel Odessa Clark Morgan Hancock Carolyn Ray Lydia McCollom Cami Brewer Sarah Griswold Isaac Griswold Simon Griswold Carter Wells Karen Wells Nolan Wells Lisa Harris Cindy Krusenklaus Chuck Maland Grace Shattuck

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Peter Crowley Lola Bocangel Benson Hopkins Mary Rimer Brittney Greene Maya Rose Lu JT Maland Emlyn Cobble Pam Shealy Lee Ley Louise Hegseth Hailey Hudson Lisa Jimenez


ST. JOHN’S LUTHERAN CHURCH 544 Broadway, NW Knoxville, TN 37917


CHURCH LEADERSHIP & STAFF Amy Figg Ley Senior Pastor

John Tirro Pastor of Worship & Campus Ministry

Christopher Clay Director of Communications

Deborah Dunne-Sousa Minister of Music

Darrell Murrell Facility Staff

Thea Peterson Kids Hope USA Director

Phone:: 865.523.3330

Toni Denton Administrative Assistant Mary Elizabeth Peterson, Lisa Minton & Bailey Morgan Nursery Assistants

Fax: 865.524.7895 Email: Website:

Profile for Toni Denton

Lutheran Life Pentecost II  

Newsletter of St. John's Lutheran Church in Knoxville, TN

Lutheran Life Pentecost II  

Newsletter of St. John's Lutheran Church in Knoxville, TN


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