February 26, 2024 5:28 pm

Proposed School Voucher Letter Writing Party Our Social Concerns Committee is hosting an opportunity to make your voice heard by your Tennessee state representatives before they vote on the Governor’s pending school voucher bill, HB 2468/SB 2787. Regardless of where you stand on school vouchers, join the Committee on Tuesday, March 5 from 5:30-7:30 in room 204 and share your opinion with elected officials. Actions speak to our priorities, so if the school voucher bill is a priority for you, here’s your chance to take action before the legislature votes on it. According to The Tennessean newspaper, the proposal would offer taxpayer-funded grants of $7075 per year to 20,000 students to attend private schools of their choice and open universal eligibility for the program in 2025. Advanced drafts of Governor Bill Lee’s proposal will not include any testing or accountability requirements for participating students. Proponents of the plan argue that it offers families more school options and empowers parents to find the best school to fit their child’s educational needs. Critics of the proposal, claim it could dismantle public education in Tennessee and excludes lower income families because $7075 is not enough to cover the complete cost of a high quality private school. Considering that the school boards in Anderson County, the County Commission, the Oak Ridge City Council, and others have openly opposed vouchers, now is the time to make sure your voice is heard. If you’d like to learn more from one of the school director’s point of view, click here: (https://knowingthefullstory.blogspot.com/2024/02/debunking-voucher-smokescreens.html). If you want to discuss the proposed legislation or make your voice heard on one side or the other, please show up on Tuesday, March 5.

February 26, 2024 5:26 pm

Electronic Newsletter

Proposed School Vouncher Letter Writing Party

Our Social Concerns Committee is hosting an opportunity to make your voice heard by your Tennessee state representatives before they vote on the Governor’s pending school voucher bill, HB 2468/SB 2787. Regardless of where you stand on school vouchers, join the Committee on Tuesday, March 5 from 5:30-7:30 in room 204 and share your opinion with elected officials.

Actions speak to our priorities, so if the school voucher bill is a priority for you, here’s your chance to take action before the legislature votes on it.

According to The Tennessean newspaper, the proposal would offer taxpayer-funded grants of $7075 per year to 20,000 students to attend private schools of their choice and open universal eligibility for the program in 2025. Advanced drafts of Governor Bill Lee’s proposal will not include any testing or accountability requirements for participating students. Proponents of the plan argue that it offers families more school options and empowers parents to find the best school to fit their child’s educational needs. Critics of the proposal, claim it could dismantle public education in Tennessee and excludes lower income families because $7075 is not enough to cover the complete cost of a high quality private school.

Considering that the school boards in Anderson County, the County Commission, the Oak Ridge City Council, and others have openly opposed vouchers, now is the time to make sure your voice is heard. If you’d like to learn more from one of the school director’s point of view, click here: (https://knowingthefullstory.blogspot.com/2024/02/debunking-voucher-smokescreens.html).

If you want to discuss the proposed legislation or make your voice heard on one side or the other, please show up on Tuesday, March 5.

Financial Info Clarification

For those who read this financial information each week and might wonder why we are so far behind last year’s figures, our staff wants to pass along a clarification. In January 2023, we had a church member who waited too long to send in their 2022 financial gift. So, that person gave all of their 2022 gift at the beginning of 2023. That was wonderful for last year’s financial numbers, but it makes this year’s report look as if we are far behind expected giving. The good news is that when we take that large gift into account, we are exactly where we need to be financially in 2024. We thought you would like to know.

Commissioning New Stephen Ministers

This Sunday, we will commission three new Stephen Ministers for service. This is an exciting time. Pamela Cain, George Murchio, and Ray Pinckert have answered God’s call and committed themselves to a 50-hour training class to better equip them to walk beside people who are struggling. The commissioning will take place this Sunday at the 11:00 traditional service.

This group, along with others from three other congregations, has come together for close to 20 Tuesday evenings, meeting each time for two-and-a-half hours. Each week covers a different topic, from effective listening skills and the value of empathy, to the mechanics of the program, to supporting information on potential circumstances their future care receivers may face, such as grief, divorce, job loss, and life-threatening illness. The goal of a Stephen Minister is not to fix their care receiver, nor is it to be a cheap form of counseling. The goal is to be a caring, listening presence who, with Christ-like compassion, accompanies their care receiver on their challenging path.

If you would like more information about Stephen Ministry, please ask one of these new Stephen Ministers or one of the close to 20 others who serve in this capacity. You may have received communion from one of them, been visited at the hospital, or been blessed by some other encounter. We are grateful for this wonderful group that serves our congregation and this community. We hope you will celebrate with them this Sunday.

Holy Week Schedule 2024

Palm Sunday – March 24th
8:45 a.m. & 11:00 a.m. in the Nave
11:00 a.m. in the MPR

Maundy Thursday – March 28th
7:00 p.m. in the MPR

Good Friday – March 29th
7:00 p.m. in the Nave

Easter Sunrise – March 31st
7:00 a.m. in the Memorial Garden & Nave

Easter Sunday – March 31st
8:45 a.m. & 11:00 a.m. in the Nave
11:00 a.m. in the MPR

Easter Flowers

As we prepare for Easter, it’s time to think about decorating our worship spaces with flowers. Beginning Sunday, March 3, forms will be available from ushers or greeters on Sunday mornings or in the main office throughout the week. Please choose the type(s) of flowers you would like to purchase and note any memorials or honorariums you wish to include in the 2024 Easter Flowers booklet. Payment can be made with cash or check (made out to FUMC Oak Ridge with “Easter flowers” in the memo line) and submitted with the form in the Sunday morning offering or brought to the main office. The deadline for orders is Sunday, March 17. Questions? Please contact Josh Sumter at jsumter@fumcor.org.

March Special Offering: The Sallie McCaskill Memorial Scholarship Fund

Sallie McCaskill dedicated her life to education. She was an educated woman who aimed to help college-bound students from Anderson County. McCaskill assisted these students in finding tutors and often provided help herself. When McCaskill passed away in 1993, it was only right that her legacy of supporting minority students continued. Thus, the Sallie McCaskill Memorial Scholarship was established.

To date, over 200 scholarships totaling nearly $300,000 have been awarded to minority students from Oak Ridge High School, with most recipients coming from the Scarboro Community. This money is designated for the first year of college and can be used for any 2 or 4-year program.

Students are interviewed by a committee of volunteer adults who assess their academic achievements, leadership roles, and aspirations for the future. The cost of tuition for the program to which the students have been accepted is also taken into consideration. This scholarship program stands out as most of its contributions come from community individuals, with 76 contributors in 2022.

The scholarship fund operates without staff, and apart from some printing and postage costs, 100% of contributions directly benefit students. Last year, four students each received $2550.

Our church has supported this fund for several years and, with your help, we can continue to make a significant impact in assisting deserving students in advancing their education this year. You can contribute to this Special Mission Offering in the same way you make your regular donation. Just remember to mark it as “March Mission Offering” or “Sallie McCaskill.”

Painting the Psalms with Kris

Do you enjoy art? Do you enjoy reading scriptures? Join us in bringing the two together in a Visio Divina experience where we immerse ourselves in scripture and express it through painting. We experience prayer through art. Beginning Thursday, April 4, join Kris Koone in “Painting the Psalms.” Kris will choose a psalm for each week during the month of April. We will then use watercolors to express our interpretation of the psalm. The class meets at 10 a.m. each Thursday during April. After class, we will enjoy going to lunch together at an area restaurant. Please call the church office to register. A nominal $10 fee will help cover expenses. Scholarships are available. Contact Pastor Denna for more information at dhornby@fumcor.org.

Avoid Fraud and Scams; Attend Senior Adult Luncheon!

According to data collected by the Federal Trade Commission in 2023, older adults filed close to half a million fraud reports in 2022, resulting in a collective loss of over $1.5 billion. We care about your safety and want to prevent you from becoming a victim. Plan now to attend our next Senior Adult Luncheon on Wednesday, March 13 at noon. The program for the day will be “Scams, Schemes, and Cons” presented by Sarah Fluegel, a technology specialist with Oak Ridge Public Library. Sarah will provide valuable insights on how to fight back against scammers.

The cost of the luncheon is $15 per person. Our meal will be catered by Whitney Dodd and will include sliced eye of round roast beef with horseradish sauce, mashed potatoes, brown gravy, green beans, rolls with butter, and dessert. Please contact the church office by Thursday, March 7 to reserve your spot.

Sit Back And Enjoy A Classic Film

Marvelous Monday Movie will return on March 4 at 1:00 p.m. with a screening of the 1957 classic, “Funny Face.” This musical romantic comedy features Fred Astaire as the head photographer of a leading fashion magazine who discovers Audrey Hepburn during an impromptu photo shoot at a Greenwich Village bookstore. Our Adult Ministries Committee will provide all the snacks and show this classic on our impressive 15-foot screen in the Fellowship Hall. All are welcome!

Blanket Sunday Set for February 25

United Women In Faith (UWF) will be collecting blankets on Sunday, February 25 before and after all our morning worship services. Please bring new or gently used blankets, which will be donated to the Ecumenical Storehouse. Alternatively, you can donate $10, and the UWF will purchase a blanket for donation.

Pastor Denna's Greek Pilgrimage

From Knoxville to Washington, Zurich, and Thessaloniki, Pastor Denna will begin a Grecian pilgrimage on February 21 until March 1. She will visit Thessaloniki, where Paul established one of his earliest Christian communities. Then, she will travel on to Philippi to see archaeological wonders and locations where Paul preached. Next comes Kavala, a picturesque port city known for its rich history and scenic beauty. Following Kavala comes Berea, where Paul found a more receptive audience for his teachings. The trip continues to Thessaly, Delphi, Athens, and Corinth, where Paul spent a significant amount of time and wrote two letters to the Corinthians.

This spiritual pilgrimage will provide a deep connection to the biblical narratives and offers moments of reflection and growth. Bishop Wallace-Pagett is leading the group through these historic sites, providing insights and fostering a sense of community.

Pastor Denna looks forward to sharing her experience with you upon her return.

Church Budget for 2024

In 2023, our anticipated estimates of giving (based upon our financial campaign in 2022) totaled $1,160,168. Other sources of giving and income helped the church realize total receipts for the year of $1,453,522. The total approved expense budget for 2023 was $1,432,062. However, our beautiful church building had several large expense repairs and modifications – steeple tower masonry work, new cabinetry in the last three First Steps classrooms (this completed the six-classroom project and was a shared expense between First Steps CDC and Trustees), and the installation of the new chiller that arrived in spring. These larger outlays contributed to total operating expenses of $1,505,230. The difference of $51,708 was made up with funds from our operating reserves.

Considering all the larger maintenance and building repair expenses, the Finance Committee feels the year-end budget results ended in fairly good shape and they are extremely grateful there are reserve funds in which to pull from, if needed.

The 2024 budget request of $1,505,896 was approved by Church Council at the January 30, 2024 meeting.

Blanket Sunday - February 25

Each year, the United Women in Faith (formerly UMW) joins with Church Women United to collect funds to purchase blankets for those in need. The cost for a new blanket is $10.00 and used clean blankets in good condition are also collected. They will be donated to the Ecumenical Storehouse.

There will be a member of United Women in Faith holding baskets after each service for donations. Please make checks to UWF and write “Blanket Sunday” in the memo space. Thank you for your faithful support for this worldwide and local ministry.

It’s Tea Time!

Last year’s afternoon tea was a great success, so we’re bringing it back! Join us on April 27 from 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. as we celebrate our 2nd Annual Afternoon Tea! You can join in the fun by hosting a table. Hosts provide china, tea pots, tea cups, silverware, and various other table settings. We ask that table hosts be available Friday, April 26, for set up. Information packets are available in the church office. Please RSVP to the church office by March 31 if you would like to host a table.

Also, this year we are offering table sponsorships. Tickets will remain at the price of $10 per person. You can sponsor a table for $40.

Seating for our event is limited to 50 people. Please RSVP early to ensure your reservation!

Please see Pastor Denna, Kali, or Shelby with any questions.

We look forward to sharing tea with you!

General Conference Briefing

The Holston Annual Conference Delegation is hosting pre-conference briefings for The United Methodist Church’s General Conference beginning in late April. The briefing for the Smoky Mountain District and our Tennessee Valley District will be held on Sunday, March 24 from 3-5 p.m. at First United Methodist Church, Maryville. Click here to register: holston-reg.brtapp.com/GeneralConferencePreConferenceBriefings

First Church 101 and Group Membership Sunday: A Welcoming Guide

Every three months, we host two events for those new to our congregation. First Church 101 is a chance to meet others, explore our expansive 40,000-square-foot building, and learn about First United Methodist Church (FUMC) Oak Ridge and the Methodist denomination as a whole. This gathering provides a safe space for open discussion, where any church-related or theological questions are welcomed. We suggest you wear comfortable footwear for the tour.

In 2024, First Church 101 will take place on February 18, May 19, August 18, and November 17. We meet at noon in the Welcome Center, situated near the donut hole.

For those who feel uncomfortable about taking membership vows in a public setting, we offer Group Membership Sunday. On this special day, individuals join the church during any of our three services and take their vows together as a group. The dates for Group Membership Sundays in 2024 are: March 3, June 2, September 1, and December 1.

To learn more about First Church 101 or Group Membership Sunday, please contact Pastor Denna Hornby. You can reach her at dhornby@fumcor.org.

It is our hope that these events will make your transition into our community smoother and more enjoyable. We look forward to welcoming you to our congregation.