Minute for Mission: June 15, 2014

June 15, 2014
Minute for Mission
Sharon Patton

For over 220 years, members of First Presbyterian Church have served Christ in the heart of Knoxville.  We are privileged to follow in the footsteps of the saints who have gone before and who have now joined the Church Triumphant.  As you probably have heard, we are in the midst of the Heritage, Heart, and Hope Capital Campaign with a goal of raising $2 million to renovate and update our church facilities so that our ministries in downtown Knoxville can continue well into the future.

The unique aspect of this capital campaign is that every dollar raised will be matched 4-to-1 by a wonderful gift from the McMurry Memorial Fund established through the extraordinary generosity of First Presbyterian Church’s long-time member Kaptola “K” McMurry.  Each $10,000 we raise will become $50,000 which will enable us to continue our ministries and work for our Lord.

Our ministry in downtown Knoxville is important. Our gathering together in downtown Knoxville as the church militant is important.  It is from this building, these Sunday classes, these bible studies, these sermons that we obey Jesus who said – go into all the world and preach the gospel. It was here in this building that Bill Rule as a little boy heard missionaries speak and was called of God to grow, study and equip himself to go to Africa for a great medical missionary outreach. From this old downtown church it is important that we minister here in Knoxille, and that we equip ourselves to serve wherever we are called. As our children’s catechism says –  What is the church?  Answer: We are the church: the people who believe the good news about Jesus, who are baptized, and who share in the Lord’s Supper. Through these means of grace, the Spirit renews us so that we may serve God in love. We teach that the church is the body of Christ. The people of the Church are to act like the hands, the feet, and the body of Jesus in the world today.

I am told that the word Heritage was used as part of our campaign theme to acknowledge the importance of the work done by those who preceded us.  In this church – Stories abound about the life and work of these saints – Bill and Effie Rule – Julia White – May Lea Moore – Paul Clapp – Fred and Hunter Cagle just to name a few – have taught and inspired us.  I have loved taking the children to see the display about the Rules and sometimes we go in the columbarium, and I tell them about Edith Watson.  Perhaps we even learned a little more about caring for others as we ministered to those like my mother and Raymond’s Dad who in their prime were active members of churches teaching children, serving as officers, but were here worshiping as people with Alzheimer’s disease and other challenges.

Remembering our Saints in the Church triumphant inspires us to continue our ministry as the body of Christ. The Heritage, Heart, and Hope Capital Campaign committee is proposing a way to remember those saints in the church triumphant who are related to you or who have nurtured you along your faith journey. One of the enhancements in the renovation plan is a beautiful columbarium and reflection space connected to our historic sanctuary and graveyard which dates back to the 1700s.  The reflection space will be a place where church members, families, and friends can pause and remember those who have had an impact on the history of this church. Associated with this space will be a beautiful memorial wall to the saints of First Presbyterian Church where names of past members will be listed.  Perhaps you would like to make a contribution to the campaign in memory of some special individuals in your life who were a significant part of First Presbyterian Church in the past. Perhaps, I will take my Sunday School Children there.

You will be receiving more information about this attempt to remember those on whose shoulders we stand.  On this trinity Sunday we remember- that God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and as the hymn says

The church’s one foundation  is Jesus Christ her Lord….

Yet she on earth hath union with God the Three in One, And mystic sweet communion with those whose rest is won, O happy ones and holy!  Lord, give us grace that we, Like them, the meek and lowly, On high may dwell with Thee.