The Church Bell
Vol. 4, No. 4
May 2020
The Fourth Sunday of Eastertide
The artist rendering you see above can help you prepare for Sunday, May 3rd, which is the Fourth Sunday of Eastertide.

Our gospel lesson comes from John 10: 1-10 where Jesus talks about the Good Shepherd and the Gate of the Sheepfold. The 23rd Psalm is also assigned for that day.

I encourage you to read these two lessons and then watch the video of our Evening Prayer Service & Sermon. The video will publish on our YouTube Channel and on our Facebook page at 5:00 p.m. An e-mail and link will go out to the congregation at that time as well. You can watch the video any time you want after it gets published.
Collect & Lessons for May 3, 2020
The Collect
O God, whose Son Jesus is the good shepherd of your people: Grant that when we hear his voice we may know him who calls us each by name, and follow where he leads; who, with you and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

The First Lesson
Acts 2:42-47
Those who had been baptized devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.

Awe came upon everyone, because many wonders and signs were being done by the apostles. All who believed were together and had all things in common; they would sell their possessions and goods and distribute the proceeds to all, as any had need. Day by day, as they spent much time together in the temple, they broke bread at home and ate their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having the goodwill of all the people. And day by day the Lord added to their number those who were being saved.

The Response
Psalm 23

1 The Lord is my shepherd; *
I shall not be in want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures *
and leads me beside still waters.
3 He revives my soul *
and guides me along right pathways for his Name's sake.
4 Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I shall fear no evil; *
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
5 You spread a table before me in the presence of those who trouble me; *
you have anointed my head with oil,
and my cup is running over.
6 Surely your goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, *
and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

The Epistle
1 Peter 2:19-25
It is a credit to you if, being aware of God, you endure pain while suffering unjustly. If you endure when you are beaten for doing wrong, what credit is that? But if you endure when you do right and suffer for it, you have God's approval. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in his steps.

“He committed no sin,
and no deceit was found in his mouth.”

When he was abused, he did not return abuse; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he entrusted himself to the one who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that, free from sins, we might live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. For you were going astray like sheep, but now you have returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls.

The Gospel
John 10:1-10
Jesus said, “Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers.” Jesus used this figure of speech with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.

So again Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”
Update from the Senior Warden
Dear Church Family,

We are starting the month of May in prayerful hope that the COVID-19 pandemic will subside. As I am writing, some of the restrictions on public activity are easing and business is starting to ramp up.

St. Agnes' and all 48 of our sister congregations in the Diocese of Tennessee are waiting for a new directive from Bishop Bauerschmidt. Hopefully he will give us a timeline to start services and large-group gatherings again.

As of our last communication from the Diocese, we are tentatively looking at May 17th; however, the date could be extended further depending on the outlook of the pandemic.

When and if we receive a new directive from the Bishop, we may be advised to hold off on providing on-site meals or snacks until the end of the season. Other suggestions and recommendations may be in place as well. Whatever the outcome, and whenever information is available, we will gladly update the congregation and make plans accordingly.

The few weeks that we have been on suspension have understandably given me time to see how we are functioning as a congregation during this peculiar time in our history. Looking back on things that happened in the past, I am able to get a clearer picture of where we stand in today's context.

For starters, this is not the first time that services at St. Agnes' were suspended. At the height of World War II, St. Agnes' closed for a period of several months.

In those days, a large number of clergymen in the Sewanee area were serving overseas in the armed services, which vastly limited the number of available priests to lead services.

At the same time, most family units in our community had vastly different living arrangements with husbands and fathers going off to war. Meanwhile, many wives and mothers back home went into the full-time workforce to support the war effort.

When St. Agnes' finally reopened toward the end of the war, the congregation went on to enjoy a vast revitalization. Sunday attendance, in fact, briefly grew to over 100 people by 1957!

St. Agnes' also suspended services briefly in the late 1980's. A perfect storm of families moving away from Cowan, a huge economic downturn, and the passing of several prominent long-term members altogether took a toll on the small congregation here at the time. But, once again, St. Agnes' re-opened afterward and enjoyed a long-period of stability through the 1990's.

Our suspension of services during the COVID-19 epidemic is a challenging time, but there's something different about our experience this time around.

In the 1940's and in the 1980's, St. Agnes' had very little, if any activity during the closure. That is not the case at all in the year 2020!

St. Agnes' is blessed during the time to have an active pastor, Bishop Paul. We have a larger-than-expected virtual footprint with a website, a Facebook page, a YouTube channel, and an e-mail newsletter. We have a vast array of video and live-stream services to choose from on Sunday's and through the week. Members of the congregation are staying in touch and reaching out to one another by phone and through social media. We are praying for each other and for our neighbors in need. All-in-all, we are fully intact as a faith community, albeit missing the ability to see each other in person!

Every day that passes is a day closer to St. Agnes' re-opening for Sunday services and, with God's help, when the COVID-19 pandemic will be behind us.

Until we meet again in person, stay safe and stay well. Remain in prayer and in the daily reading of Holy Scripture.

"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." (Psalm 46:1)

Gracefully yours in Christ our Risen Lord,

Jarod
Video and Live-Stream Sunday Services
St. Agnes' has Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer, and other services to our YouTube channel . You can click here to view the channel. When the service is uploaded, we will send a specific link to everybody by e-mail and also through our Facebook page.
Holy Family Episcopal Church in Angola, Indiana has a lively presence on Facebook. This is where our former resident seminarian, The Rev'd Tom Adamson, is serving as Vicar. https://www.facebook.com/holyfamilyec/
Trinity-by-the-Cove in Naples, Florida is holding live-stream and video services. This is where our former resident seminarian, The Rev'd Nicholas Ceccese, is serving as Associate Rector. Here is the link: https://www.trinitybythecove.com/visit/live-stream-services/
Several of our sister congregations in the Diocese of Tennessee are hosting Sunday services via the Internet on video and live-stream.

Here are some examples:
Christ Church Cathedral in Nashville will holds a live-stream broadcast of service at 11:00 a.m. Other services will be broadcast on Sunday evening and during the week as well. Simply click on the link below:
St. Georges' Nashville holds a live-stream broadcast at 10:00 a.m. You can see the same services posted by video a few hours later that you can watch anytime. St. George's will also broadcast a noon-day prayer service each day during the week.

To see the live-stream and the video links, click here: https://www.stgeorgesnashville.org/worship/watch-listen
St. Peter's Columbia will do a live-stream broadcast of services through the church's Facebook channel. To participate, go to the church website and click on the Facebook icon. https://www.saintpeterscolumbia.org/
Ongoing Work on the Church Campus
Services may be suspended, but there has been some activity on the church campus this season.

  • The Black's cleaned out a storage area, serviced our candles, and washed vestments.
  • Jarod brushed primer on the parish hall doors and, with help from Isaiah, added fresh river rock around the outside shrubbery.
  • Ben trimmed and installed new slats so that our hymnals, prayer books and pew bibles can sit at an even level.

We will try to schedule a work day as soon as we have a firm date in mind to restart Sunday services. Stay tuned for details...
Updates from Our Church Family
Mr. Howard Gene Eslick hasn't been able to receive visitors since the COVID-19 pandemic started. We can only imagine how stressful that was for him and thousands of other nursing home residents throughout the nation. Fortunately, the staff at Signature Healthcare in Monteagle reached out and made a special opportunity for Jarod to visit Mr. Eslick at the front door of the facility. He was thrilled to get a visitor and seems to be doing reasonably well. Mr. Eslick is very special to us at St. Agnes'. His grandmother, Mrs. Barnes, was a founding member of the original congregation. Gene also lived behind the church for over 31 years and made many friends here. For a few years he served as our custodian and helped with our lawn care. We miss having him as our neighbor, but he is still a dear friend to the congregation. Please remember him and keep him in your prayers.

Wynona Gibson sends her love, best wishes, and appreciation for our prayers during her recent hospitalization. Fortunately, she was able to return home in good time. Wynona is very grateful to receive cards and flowers from her church family. Please keep her in your prayers in coming days as she continues her recovery.

Steve Pearson is very pleased to share news from his recent oncology report. His cancer score dropped over 300 points after only two months of chemotherapy! Thanks be to God! Steve appreciates our continuing prayers as he has several months of treatment remaining.
We Remember in Prayer
Teresa Brown, Wynona Gibson, Patsy Rigsby, Brad Roberts, Rosemary Harris, Claire Lusk, Christy Shepard, Steve Pearson, Dick & Mary Ann Austin, Marty Judd, Jonanne Hammer, Jay Yowell, Iris Ellidge, Mary McDonald, Will Olsmit, Peggy Nunley, Gina, Jordan and Austin Cleek, Brad and Anita Warmbrod, Roy Tankersley, Royana Stewart, Bill Keller, Howard Gene Eslick, Linda Milligan, and Karen McCallie.

We pray continually for Christians around the world in grave danger and for those in our armed services, especially Wes Nevels.

We bless and commemorate Marie Guess and Sarah Hunter who recently passed away.

***

"O God, the strength of the weak and the comfort of sufferers: Mercifully accept our prayer, and grant to your servants the help of your power, that their sicknesses may be turned into joy; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."
Sunday Service ....................................11:00 a.m.
Sunday School .....................................10:00 a.m.

Location/Address: 105 England Street E., PO Box 356, Cowan, TN 37318
Telephone: (931) 636-6313
The Rt. Rev'd John C. Bauerschmidt..................Bishop of Tennessee

The Rt. Rev'd Paul Lambert................................Pastor and Celebrant

The Rev'd Jean Mweningoma.............................Visiting Priest

L. Jarod Pearson..................................................Lay Reader