Yoga, Christian contemplation offered at FUMC

First United Methodist Church of Oak Ridge

The First United Methodist Church of Oak Ridge is pictured above. (Photo by First United Methodist Church)



For some yoga and prayer go well together because they experience yoga as a way to pray with the body, uniting body, mind, and spirit. For others, yoga, with its careful use of breathing and postures, serves to quiet and focus the mind, thus beautifully preparing us for prayer. First United Methodist Church of Oak Ridge, 1350 Oak Ridge Turnpike, will again be offering classes which combine yoga and Christian prayer. The classes will be led by professional yoga instructors and the Rev. Jenny Caughman.

In these classes, we will practice yoga with conscious awareness of God’s constant presence with us. Yoga can be used to open ourselves up to the spirit. In the words of Fr. Thomas Ryan, when practicing yoga “one creates an atmosphere of calm, peace, and silence without and within, establishing a harmony between body and spirit so that nothing hinders the working of grace, the Holy Spirit. The aim is to bring tranquility to one’s mind from anxieties and problems; and to render it available to the Spirit.” This class will seek to make us increasingly open to the Spirit by integrating Christian contemplative prayer with the practice of yoga. [Read more…]

Anderson County hosts National Day of Prayer at Courthouse on Thursday

Anderson County Courthouse

Anderson County will participate in the National Day of Prayer on Thursday, May 7. It’s scheduled from noon to 12:30 p.m. Thursday on the front steps of the Anderson County Courthouse on North Main Street in Clinton.

The Anderson County Mayor’s Office said the Courthouse will remain open but with limited staff during the ceremony, and officials ask residents to be patient if they have business to conduct. All Anderson County citizens are invited to attend the local ceremony, a press release said. Prayers will be offered for county officials, the nation, education, the U.S. military, community relationships, and churches and families, the release said. Local pastors will lead those assembled in prayer, and local residents and students will provide musical selections.

The press release said the National Day of Prayer provides Americans an opportunity to come together to pray for matters concerning present-day America and the nation’s future.

Guest column: ‘A Day of Publick Thanksgiving and Prayer’

John Ragan

John D. Ragan

In October of 1789, George Washington issued a proclamation “recommending” to the people of the United States a day of “Publick Thanksgiving and Prayer.” He urged Americans to remember “with grateful hearts the many and signal favors of Almighty God.” He published this proclamation, less than a month after the Constitution was signed, at the request of Congress.

Seventy-four years later, in the midst of a bloody and bitter civil war, a different president issued another Thanksgiving Day proclamation. In his proclamation, Lincoln called for “a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.” He urged Americans to acknowledge “the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy.”

School children of my generation were assigned to read and study such Thanksgiving proclamations from our presidents. But today, it seems school children are seldom required to become familiar with such historic proclamations. Why is this? Are our schools, and popular culture in our nation, conspiring to obscure the meaning of Thanksgiving? [Read more…]

Today: ‘Say No to Drugs’ balloon release in Oak Ridge

Say No to Drugs Balloon Release

Have you or someone you love ever suffered from drug abuse? Have you ever given thanks that the negative effects of drug abuse haven’t entered into your life?

If so, you are invited to join the family and friends of Clayton Smith along with the Roane County Anti-Drug Coalition for a special prayer and balloon release at 1 p.m. Sunday, November 9, at Oak Ridge Memorial Park.

The event is being held to honor the recovery efforts of anyone who has suffered from drug addiction and to remember the lives of loved ones lost due to drug abuse. [Read more…]

Service of Memory and Hope at First Presbyterian on Tuesday

Sharon Youngs

Sharon Youngs

The First Presbyterian Church of Oak Ridge will hold its second annual Service of Memory and Hope at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in the sanctuary.

“This candlelight service is for those who seek a peaceful setting to remember loved ones and friends who are no longer with us, those who are currently going through a difficult time in their lives, and those who, for whatever reason, find this time of year to be particularly hard,” said the Rev. Sharon Youngs, church pastor.

The service will feature an opportunity to light candles in memory of loved ones, prayer, and comforting music presented by the Rev. Youngs on guitar and Music Director Anna Thomas on flute.

Child care will be offered during the service. The church is located at the northeast corner of Oak Ridge Turnpike and Lafayette Drive.

Guest column: Thanksgiving for the ‘First Freedom’

John Ragan

John Ragan

The search for religious freedom on American shores began nearly four centuries ago. In 1620, Pilgrims arrived in America seeking to escape religious persecution in England.

The following year, this group celebrated the very first Thanksgiving of English-speaking people on our shores. After a hard winter and loss of a number of settlers, but a bountiful harvest, the Pilgrims held a three-day feast with their indigenous neighbors as guests. Thus began a national tradition.

Our grand, national custom of acknowledging religious freedom and abundance through a national day of gratitude to the Divine Author of Liberty remains enduringly impressive. However, for some, remembering the purpose of that celebration may be a bit more difficult. [Read more…]

Faith column: Building on the firm foundation of spiritual gifts

The new mindset compared to the old way of thinking

Have you checked your thinking closet lately? What old ways and what new ways are going on all around you? The struggle with many people is: What are the old ways that I want to keep, and what are the new ways I want to accept.

Jesus noticed the problem and used a parable of wine skins to illustrate his point. (Luke 5:33-39) He understood. He knew the reality of change. He fought against some of the need for change that he was bringing himself.

Here are a few thoughts on the subject of churches and changes. Many, many more could be added to the list. [Read more…]

Faith column: No one can rid the community of faith in God

Faith cannot be separated from community life in America. It is intermingled with the affairs of daily life because the people around us carry that faith. A bugler plays “Amazing Grace” at a community memorial service, and an athlete publicly thanks God for their victory and strength. The victim in a high-profile case broadcasts, “With the guidance of God, I will prevail and help others who have suffered…” A health facility posts a plaque that states, “Grounded by our faith in God, this facility seeks to provide…” A plea for prayers is heard during a national tragedy, and an acknowledgment of God’s divine intervention is overheard from the next booth in a restaurant. A chaplain offers an invocation at a public meeting thanking God for His blessing and guidance, and a funeral card memorializes the deceased with an inscription of the 23rd Psalm. Who can snuff out the magnitude of faith expressions that existence in our world?

Particularly amusing this week has been the man who filed a motion against the county for installing our country’s motto over the courthouse doors, stating he believes in the Red Road religion and not in God. This man is quoted as saying that the signs remind him every time he passes that “Christians” think he is going to hell. The country’s motto, however, does not say, “In Christ We Trust.” (Oh, how I wish it did.) It simply says, “In God We Trust.” The use of the word God is very generic in this context. [Read more…]

Faith column: Strategy in prayer

Everything that is successful usually has a strategy. What I mean is that for us to have any realistic expectations for an endeavor to be even remotely successful, we need to have a strategy. We need to have a plan.

We would not expect to start a new business without a strategy. We have a strategy for how we raise our children, how we work in our careers, how we run our finances, and for anything and everything that we consider important. If we want to succeed in it—we have a plan of action or a strategy for it.

If the above is true, and it is, why don’t we have a strategy for prayer? Why don’t we have a strategy for the most important activity that we can participate in? Why don’t we have an action plan for our prayer life? [Read more…]

Faith and the Medical Community, Part 2: The Parish Nurse

“The body and spirit are too intertwined to easily separate them from each other,” explains Meg Tonne, a registered nurse and parish nurse for First Presbyterian Church. Part nurse, part social worker, part patient advocate—the parish nurse fills roles we rarely think to associate with church ministry. While Meg Tonne (pronounced Tony) is the only parish nurse in Oak Ridge, she says that tending to the whole person—body, mind, and spirit—is her goal while serving on the church staff.

Meg Tonne ministers to church members as a medical professional, spending her time in a plethora of ways. Sometimes she is visiting those who are homebound or hospitalized or in a nursing home; waiting with family during surgery; praying with someone; providing a listening ear; holding a hand; giving emotional support; attending a church staff meeting; or planning a monthly luncheon for senior adults.

Other times, she is advising church members of patient rights, discussing health insurance, referring the sick for appropriate medical assistance, accompanying someone to a doctor appointment, lending medical equipment, assisting with home health care, holding health screenings, taking blood pressure, or doing EKG screening at a health fair. While she cannot do hands-on nursing or treatment, her responsibility is to refer members to the assistance they need.

[Read more…]

Faith and Our Medical Community, Part 1: The Hospital Chaplain

Several times I thought I saw the silhouette of angels moving around behind Chaplain Sills as I recently interviewed him in the Methodist Medical Center chapel. Reverend Jack Sills certainly needs angelic assistance in his role as the hospital chaplain here in Oak Ridge.

Just as you would expect, Chaplain Sills is a calm, gentle man who exudes kindness and understanding. This year, he will celebrate his 25th anniversary as the only full-time hospital chaplain Oak Ridge has ever had. He calls his role a “specialized form of ministry.”

Chaplain Sills describes his ministry as “the representative presence of the hospital’s belief that God is important in the care of patients, families, and staff.” He explained this to mean that the belief in God for human beings is important. His role in practical terms comes down to being a visible presence. Chaplain Sills continued: “Being present gives opportunity to others to discuss spiritual or emotional concerns without an agenda. I consider these to be holy moments.

[Read more…]

Letter: Thanks Anderson commissioners for prayer vote

I would like to express my appreciation to the Anderson County Commissioners for approving a resolution in their Aug. 20 meeting to continue the tradition of invocations at the beginning of their meetings. The County Commission has always been supportive with regard to this practice, affirming the freedoms on which our country was founded.

The intention of an “Invocation” is to invoke a good and positive blessing through prayer.

[Read more…]