(click the image above to see a video message from Emily)

March 24, 2020

Dear friends,

Life changes by the minute. Yesterday, Knox County issued a “safer at home” order, shutting down all but essential functions. No question but that Blount County will soon follow suit.

Even before that happened, we on the church staff had decided that the wisest move was for all of us to begin working from home. Today (Tuesday 3/24) will be a day of packing up, transferring essential files, and finalizing communication plans. By Wednesday morning, we will all be connecting from our home offices or kitchen tables.

A few notes:
  • We will still be available! Email or call us as you need. The staff contact list is at the bottom of this email, and will be sent out in the abbreviated April New Prov Press. Call the main church number, and type in the extension of the staff member you need to reach, and leave a voicemail. Those voicemails are then sent to us via email and we will call you back. We want to respond quickly and appropriately to your questions or concerns. But it’s also important that we not burn out our staff members in a crisis. “Working from home” doesn’t mean that everyone will be available 24/7. Office hours will remain 7-6, Monday-Thursday. Just like your doctor’s office, we’ll return calls by the end of the day, or the next business day (depending on when you call). Obviously, if there’s a crisis, we’ll be all hands on deck. But in this stressful time, please grant our staff members the grace—and the space—to step away and recharge.
  • If you have a pastoral emergency, call the main church number (865/983-0182). You will be given an option to press 1 and leave a message for the pastors. Those messages are forwarded immediately, and a pastor will be in touch with you. (Note: “My son has been in a terrible accident” is a pastoral emergency. “I need Suzy Schmodmatz’s phone number” is not. I know you know that, but maybe it’s worth a reminder.)
  • Financially, this is a very strange time for us. Even while we are away from the building, the session has committed to paying all our employees their normal weekly income. That is absolutely the right thing to do, and I know you agree. No workers or their families should suffer because of a pandemic over which they have no control. But the reality is that when we’re not physically gathering for worship on Sundays, it’s difficult to estimate our weekly giving. Contributions drop; normal patterns are disrupted. Would you consider one of these options?
  • Set up your giving through an automatic draft from your bank account (that’s what I do, and it’s just wonderful. I never have to think about it!) Click here to download and print the form. Simply mail the completed form with a voided check to Penny in the church office.
  • Give weekly via an online donation: on our website, click on “Give” or “Donate.” It’s just like buying something from Amazon or anything else you pay for online. You will be asked for a few details, and it’s an easy way to make a donation via your credit card.
  • Do you want to go old school and mail a check? We’re happy to receive that. We have systems in place to collect and respond to mail. Just please remember that in this season, processing time may be extended by a week or two.
  • The Welcome Table will continue as a to-go ministry as long as we are able to do so. The “safer at home” order is exactly the right thing to do, but food service is exempted as an “essential service.” So until we are told otherwise, the Welcome Table intends to continue providing to-go meals for those who need them.
  • My apologies to those of you who were looking for 90@9 this morning! We’ve decided to do that only on Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays, so I’ll see you on Facebook Live at 9 am tomorrow.
  • The session met via videoconference last night, and agreed that we continue to cancel all in-person gatherings (including worship) until further notice. But we also agreed that whatever the first Sunday is that we’re all back in the sanctuary, it’ll be “Easter Sunday” for us – even if that is May or June or whenever.
  • Since we’ll all be working from home, we’ll be recording our own segments of worship services independently. Gregg will be stitching all of those together into a video which will be posted on our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/NewProvPres/). So it won’t be “Facebook Live” anymore, but we’ll host what’s called a “Facebook Watch Party” where everyone can still check in with one another. More information coming about that later in the week.
  • I will continue to send updates about plans and opportunities for the congregation as they arise, but probably just once or twice a week at this point.
  • Many of you have asked the best question of all: “How can I help?” Stan and Gloria are contacting our members who live alone or may not have Internet access to find out about their needs, be they groceries or just conversation. If you’d like to volunteer to help out, email gloria@newprovidencepres.org. I especially encourage you to reach out to your own neighbors. Maybe even just write a note and leave it on a neighbor’s door with your phone number. There can never be too much kindness in the world.
  • Finally, let me tell you what outstanding and committed staff and officers we have at New Providence. As the book of Esther says, they are exactly the right people “for such a time as this.” I am honored to be able to serve alongside them.

Whew! That’s a lot of information, but hang onto it and refer back as you need. Please stay in touch.

It is (always) a joy to be the church with you!


Staff Contact List:
  • Emily Anderson, emily@newprovidencepres.org, 865-983-0182, ext. 107
  • Trish Badgett, trish@newprovidencepres.org, 865-983-0182, ext. 106
  • Penny Bever, penny@newprovidencepres.org, 865-983-0182, ext. 108
  • Rob Britt, rob.britt@blountk12.org
  • Ray Bryant, ray@newprovidencepres.org, 865-237-1661
  • Fairlena Googe, children@newprovidencepres.org, 865-983-0182, ext. 119
  • Gloria Mencer, gloria@newprovidencepres.org, 865-983-0182, ext. 105
  • Gregg Randolph, gregg@newprovidencepres.org, 865-983-0182, ext. 102
  • Stan Rushing, stan@newprovidencepres.org, 865-983-0182, ext. 116
  • Amelia Scott-Geis, ameliageis@yahoo.com
  • Louden Young, louden@newprovidencepres.org, 865-983-0182, ext. 109