Cook's UMC

March 2023


From the Pastor

Welcome to the Wilderness. What an oxymoronic invitation! A Lenten journey is often referred to as wilderness walking because we are following in Jesus’ footsteps. He was driven by the Spirit into wilderness time as preparation for ministry that would eventuate in polarizing ministry. (The polarization was felt by those who were – or weren’t – trusting themselves to the God who was making all things new!) Jesus was clear, though: sometimes obedience leads to wilderness moments. 


Maybe we think of wilderness as dangerous because of the creatures that make wilderness home, that find camouflage and home in that place. Maybe you think of wilderness as lonesome because of its scarcity and difficult terrain. And, maybe you think of wilderness as barren or contemptible, not good for anything (as it is). Perhaps, you think of wilderness as all three and still more … more that should lead to avoidance. Separation from God, division between us and others. That’s often what drives us to the wilderness.


Yet there is glory in the wilderness. And, beauty, too. It is in the wilderness that Jesus came to the end of himself in his solitude and hunger. It’s one thing to be able to quote scripture; it’s another thing entirely to live by it. When confronted by the Enemy (who can quote scripture with the best of ‘em) who always has a self-serving motive in mind, Jesus was just like us and had to offer a response. Jesus knew more than God-issued words; he knew the truth behind them and the stand they would help him accomplish. And, that he did. He spoke truth to evil and was victorious. In the wilderness. Whether you are driven there, or we choose it, the wilderness can be a place of discovery, of revelation, of victory for us, too.


The wilderness of this Lenten choice – self-denial in the desert of our own making – can lead to beauty and glory that we cannot imagine. All we have to do is keep walking in the footsteps of our Savior. Not looking at the brambles and the seeming lack of sustenance; not looking at the assumed God-forsaken circumstance we stand in but expecting this God who promises constant companionship to really be present. God is present with you. God was present with Jesus, bigger than his hunger, bigger than his base desires of any kind. And, because Jesus remembered that God is the Source of true living – not the power, or admiration, or resources that he was tempted to seek after – he knew that Divine presence in a transforming way. That can be our wilderness experience, too.


I hope that eight days into this wilderness season (starting on Ash Wednesday, February 22), you’re getting clear about the brambles and the aridness, your hunger and thirst. I pray that you are seeing more surely that in chasing the experiences, relationships, resolutions, and opportunities the world says will bring meaning, you are chasing after wind. I am praying the same clarity for us as a body, too. For wilderness doesn’t just happen for individuals. What brambles and aridness do we meet in our experience of community right this very moment? God is everywhere. So, glory and grace are here, too. And God’s presence makes all things possible. So, what CAN our community be if we were to surrender our fears, our worries and concerns, our expectations, and our comforts? We could become conduits of a power we cannot fathom. A living reflection of the transforming power of God at the center of our relationships, our work, our lives.


A power that transforms our families because Jesus becomes our Center. A power that frees our communities because we no longer jockey for position as if there can be only one winner. A power that invites and believes the abundance of Spirit and, so, Love and Life … contrary to what the world believes is truth or possibility.


May you find courage to enter this wilderness and strength to keep step with Jesus. As we discover more truly who and Whose we are, there is no need for fear. For, you are loved by God Almighty, the Sovereign One, Your Savior, Brother, and Friend …



Monthly Memory Verse

Endure trials for the sake of discipline. God is treating you as children,

for what child is there whom a parent does not discipline? 

Hebrews 12:7

Communion Sunday

We will be celebrating the sacrament of Holy Communion this Sunday, March 5, 2023. If you will be worshipping/celebrating with us from home, please gather bread (or tortillas or crackers, etc.) and juice (if you don't have grape, any juice or liquid will suffice) enough for everyone in your household. We look forward to celebrating God's grace in this very special way.

Samaritan Fund                 

The dollars in this fund are used to help those in our community with immediate needs. The money used to fund this account comes from donations left on the altar rail during communion.

Special Informational Meeting Scheduled


Cook’s United Methodist Church Council is hosting a special informational meeting on Sunday, March 12. Conversation and information about the state of Methodism in our immediate area will be shared beginning at 1:00 p.m. in Friendship Hall. If you are interested in sharing lunch before we meet, BYOL or order your boxed lunch* and join us at 12:15 p.m. in the Friendship Hall.


Again, our conversation will begin at 1:00 p.m., with our regular monthly meeting of Church Council to convene immediately following the close of the informational meeting. Our hope and prayer are that all those attending the informational meeting will stay for the Council meeting – and hear the awesome opportunities and blessings with which God is entrusting us.


If you have questions you’d like to have considered/answered during the informational meeting, please submit those in writing no later than Wednesday, March 8. You may email them directly to Monica Cox or Sandra Clay OR submit (to either) the Question Form the Council has made available. Those forms can be found throughout the church or in the Church Office.


*(Boxed lunch options may be ordered and paid for no later than close of business, Wednesday, March 8. Please place your order with the Church Office)



Strouds Pulled Pork or Chicken Sandwich

Chips; Coleslaw; Dessert; Bottled Water

Home Centered

Dot Creasman, Billie East, Judith Mabb,

Phil & Gladys Pennington,

Norman & Ruby Walker

A “CHOSEN’ Binge

On Saturday, March 18 beginning at 10:00 a.m. we will gather in Room 113 (Youth Room) to binge watch the first season of “The Chosen.” Bring your favorite brunch/lunch or snack contribution and we will watch, graze, and talk our way through early afternoon. 


“The Chosen” is a dramatic TV series (streaming service) portraying the life of Jesus “through the eyes of those who followed him.” For three seasons now, the likes of Nicodemus the Pharisee, Mary Magdalene who was delivered from demons by Jesus, even Matthew the tax collector have been telling their stories of receiving God’s love in Christ, having their eyes (and minds) opened to new truth and deep understanding of the ways of God. We hope you’ll join us for our binge! And may we be changed, too, as we spend time with each other and with God, moving closer to the Cross of Christ.

Women Talking … and, Eating!

The Lenten sermon series will include close and daring scrutiny of forgiveness. Who needs it, who deserves it, what does it cost us, how does it change us … and more. Here’s fuel for our learning and growing: the story of “Women Talking” by Miriam Toews. Watch the movie or read the book or BOTH by March 28 and join us for a conversational dinner at Cook’s Church @ 6:30pm. Please bring a food item of your choice for sharing. Drinks and paper goods will be provided. Invite your book club friends and your movie buff besties to join us. Let’s learn and grow!

Coins for Lent 2023

February 22, 2023 (Ash Wednesday) to

April 8, 2023 (Holy Saturday)


Jars are available in the church office along with giving calendars and prayer prompts. Please take one for yourself and another for other family members, neighbors or friends and return them to the altar on Easter morning with your contributions. 


You may decide what coins you want to collect, or you may want to simply collect loose change and give whatever coins you have for each item. Items on the daily guide will remind us of all we have and how little others may have. Each Sunday, pray as a family for the project and the people who will benefit from your gifts. Cook’s will be donating 1/2 of the money collected to West Elementary for playground repairs and 1/2 for repairs to our Nursery Playground.

Suggested Resources for a Journey into Forgiveness:

No Future without Forgiveness by Desmond Tutu

The Book of Forgiveness by Desmond Tutu and Mpho Tutu

Forgiveness: A Lenten Study by Marjorie J. Thompson

Suggested Resources being used for Morning Devotionals:

Every Choice is a Seed, Alicia Britt Chole

Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals, Claiborne, Wilson-Hartgove and Okoro

The Desert of Compassion, Rachel Srubas

Breath as Prayer, Jennifer Tucker

Mobile Food Pantry Volunteers

Saturday, March 11 -- 7:45 am - Noon

SALT Pantry

Leeville UMC

7019 Hickory Ridge Road, Lebanon TN 37090


We're going to need lots of volunteers to man the Mobile Pantry. More people are struggling to feed their families, and we expect to see more that day. 


Volunteer parking at Leeville Church of Christ (to the east of the cemetery across the road from Leeville UMC). Please do not park in the Leeville UMC parking lot. 


Teens are welcome to serve as volunteers. If you're planning on bringing younger children, please let me know, and I'll try to arrange childcare. If not, parents will need to supervise their children and keep them out of the path of traffic. Mobile pantry is a drive-through event with cars coming through the parking lot.


Volunteers should sign in upon arrival. Someone will be manning a table at the side of the church. Bottled water will be available.


If there's questions, please call Joyce Gaines 615-513-4318.

Backpack Program

The Church at Pleasant Grove is sponsoring the Backpack Program for 5 schools in our area: Springdale Elementary, Stoner Creek Elementary, West Elementary, Mt. Juliet High School and Wilson Central High School. They need help in stocking their shelves. Items requested are: Instant Oatmeal Packages; Individual Mac & Cheese; Pudding Cups (non-refrigerated; Ravioli, Spaghetti-O's; Granola Bars; Fruit Cups; Applesauce; Juice Boxes (avoid those with lots of sugar). There will be a cart in the back hallway at church for your donations. 

2023 Lenten Season


The season of Church life we find ourselves in right now is considered Ordinary Time. I find that worth a church because we’ve learned in the last couple of years that there’s no such thing as “ordinary time,” haven’t we?!


As we make our way through the after-Epiphany Sundays toward the Transfiguration of Jesus, the Worship Planning Team has been praying over and working toward a meaningful Lenten Season. Lent is, literally, the 40 days (not including Sundays) leading to Easter. Early Church history shows that this period was used by the Orthodox Church to prepare converts for baptism and welcome to the Body of Christ. The 40 days begins with Ash Wednesday; it’s called that because of the practice of imposing ashes on those who wish to observe a meaningful season. Sackcloth and ashes have been a part of showing repentance of the heart and mind since the beginning of God’s people; taking on the discomfort and dirt of such material is a reminder of the mess we get ourselves into when we go our own way. An additional practice many choose during the season of Lent is the practice of fasting something of the world in their lives in order to have more time, more attention, more intention, and a greater practice of the things of God. Often, the fast is of food items or drink. Can I encourage you to think about giving up something that can be even more devastating to your health than Cheetos, chocolate, or excess coffee? What if you were to spend 40 without complaining? Without denigrating yourself? Without gossip? Whether your battle is with craving chocolate or the ease of complaint, fill those moments with a simple prayer for forgiveness, trust, and transformation and watch what your journey will become!


There are many other experiences during this holy season that will encourage you along the way. We hope to see you as we journey toward the Cross together.

February 22 – April 6 – Morning Devotionals, Monday thru Thursday each week, via the Cook’s Facebook page, 8:00am Livestream (Lent only)

February 26, March 5, 12, 19, 26 & April 2 – Six Sundays of Lent/Sermon Series on Forgiveness (Marjorie Thompson’s book, Forgiveness: A Lenten Study is a good companion through this season.) 8:45am and 11:00am.

April 2 – Cantata, Joint Choirs from Grace UMC and Cook’s UMC, during 11:00am Worship, Friendship Hall

April 6 – Maundy Thursday Meal and Worship; 6:00 pm in Friendship Hall, Including Holy Communion

April 7 – Good Friday, Interactive Stations of the Cross, Friendship Hall from 7:00am until 7:00 pm *

April 9 – Sonrise Worship, 6:30 am at Cook’s UMC Pavilion Easter Morning Worship, 8:45 am in the Sanctuary


* If you would be willing to serve as a host/hostess for 1-2 hours during Good Friday, we welcome you volunteering for such. You would simply be responsible for welcoming folks in the space, inviting them to start at Station 1, and, if needed, respond to any need expressed (directions to restroom, request for prayer, a necessary reminder to keep quiet for the sake of others’ experience, etc.) You may volunteer by emailing or calling the Church Office.

SALT (Serving at the Lord’s Table)


Needed from Cook’s

Canned Mixed Vegetables; Rice (1 or 2 lb. bags) &

Canned Beans (e.g., northern, pinto, black, kidney, pork & beans)

All donations can be left on the cart in the back hallway.

SALT Volunteers Needed

Staging: Twice monthly a team comes to the pantry to make sure that we have enough boxes and stage the food for the team that fills the boxes. They meet at 11:30 on the Tuesday of delivery weeks. A pick list of food items going in the boxes is posted and the number of boxes needed. We deliver about 200 boxes twice monthly. The team makes sure enough empty boxes are in the work area for the next delivery. We have a mixture of empty boxes and others that must be taped up. Food is pulled from the shelves and staged in our work area. Much of the food is in flats, and some is loose on the shelves. A flat will weigh between 12-25 pounds. A few boxes will weigh more, some less. We need 3 more regular volunteers. Depending on the number of volunteers, it takes 1-2 hours to complete the work.


Box filling: Twice monthly a team meets on Wednesdays at 8:30 on the days after staging. Empty boxes go on carts and are rolled around the work area, filling them with food that has been laid out. We then roll them inside to stack for the deliveries to be made later in the week. We then straighten the work area and gather cardboard to be taken to recycling. Frozen and refrigerated items are not added until the day of delivery. Boxes normally weigh 20 lbs. or less. Depending on the number of volunteers, it usually takes about 2 hours. We need 3 more regular volunteers.


Unloading food order and stocking the shelves: One Wednesday a month we receive a food order from Second Harvest. Food is picked up from the parking lot at the Mt. Juliet Help Center. Volunteers unload the trailer(s) and bring the food inside. Food arrives around 8:15 and unloading/stocking takes 2 hours or less. Few boxes may weigh 30-40 lbs., but most are 12-25 lb. range. Carts and dollies are used to move the food. Additional 4-6 volunteers would be helpful.


This is not only vital work that is needed for this ministry, but it is a time of good fellowship with friends and new friends. If you have more questions, please contact me by email or phone.


Joyce Gaines, SALT Pantry Coordinator, 615-513-4318, [email protected]

Handbell Practice Schedule

(Wednesdays in the Youth Room @ 6pm)

March 8 & 22

April 5, 12 & 19

May 10, 17 & 24

Choir Practice Schedule

(Wednesdays in the Youth Room @ 7pm)

March 1, 8, 22 & 29

Saturday March 11 Cantata Practice in Friendship Hall 9:00 – 1:00

April 5, 12, 19 & 26

May 3, 10, 17 & 24

June 7 & 14

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March Calendar of Events

Missions Team – Monday, March 1 @ 6pm

“Praying Like Monks” Study – Thursday, March 2 @ 5pm

“Sacred Slow” Study – Monday, March 6 @ 12:30pm

“Praying Like Monks” Study – Thursday, March 9 @ 5pm

Cantata Rehearsal – Saturday, March 11 @ 9am

Church Lunch – Sunday, March 12 @ 12:15pm

Finance Meeting – Sunday, March 12 @ 12:30pm

Informational Meeting – Sunday, March 12 @ 1pm

Church Council – Sunday, March 12 (immediately following Informational Meeting)

SPR Team – Tuesday, March 14 @ 6pm

Worship Team – Thursday, March 16 @ 3:30pm

Discipleship Team – Thursday, March 16 @ 5pm

“Praying Like Monks” Study – Thursday, March 16 @ 5pm

“The Chosen” Binge (Season One) – Saturday, March 18 @ 10am

United Methodist Men Breakfast – Sunday, March 19 @ 7:45am

“Sacred Slow” Study – Monday, March 20 @ 12:30pm

Girl Scouts – Tuesday, March 21 @ 6:30pm

Congregational Care Team – Wednesday, March 22 @ 10am

“Praying Like Monks” Study – Thursday, March 23 @ 5pm

Kitchen & Friendship Hall Reserved ALL DAY – Friday, March 24

Boy Scout Spaghetti Dinner – Saturday, March 25

“Women Talking” Conversational Dinner – Tuesday, March 28 @ 6:30pm

“Praying Like Monks” Study – Thursday, March 30 @ 5pm

Mondays @ 9:30 am Bible Study (Youth Room)                                     

Thursdays @ 6:00 pm Boy Scouts (Youth & Shine Rooms)

Tuesdays & Thursdays 9:00 am – 3:00 pm Oliver Academy                

Mondays, Tuesdays & Fridays @ 6:00 pm TKD (Friendship Hall)

In Person Giving

An offering basket is available at the back of the Friendship Hall during all worship services, or you can drop your offering off by the church office during regular business hours.

Online Giving

You can give online at or

text cumc to 73256

Electronic Bank Draft

If you are interested in this easy and convenient way of giving,

please contact the church office.

7919 Lebanon Road

Mt. Juliet TN 37122

Sunday Schedule

8:45am Traditional Worship (Sanctuary), Facebook Live & YouTube

10:00am Sunday School

11:00am "The Well" Worship (Friendship Hall), Facebook Live & YouTube