Author Archives: Sandra Alagona

Reflections on January 6, Epiphany 2021

Many years ago, I was watching news coverage of flooding in the Midwest. On the television screen was an aerial view of a broad swath of brown murky water covering the rooftops of a community. As far as the eye could see, there was water. It was everywhere. As I was watching this awesome and destructive mass of water covering the community, I heard the newscaster say, “… and here is the Mississippi River at flood stage.”

Looking at the water covering the town, I immediately thought, this is not a river. This is simply a body of water, flowing wherever it can, destroying any and everything in its path. My next thought was, what makes a body of water a river? A river has banks. A river’s banks are borders and boundaries. The banks direct and guide the water to where it is meant to go. Some rivers go to larger rivers and eventually all rivers and streams find their way to the sea. A river without banks is not a river. The banks of a river provide order, direction, and purpose to the water. Otherwise, the water is a formless void capable of inflicting violence and destruction on anything in its path.

We humans, like water, need boundaries, borders. We need rules and laws. Without them, we can be prone to chaos and even destruction. For most people of faith, our foundational set of laws are the 10 Commandments. These commandments focus us on our call to be in relationship with God and each other. For citizens of the United States, our foundational documents, creating our rights and obligations as Americans, are the Declaration of Independence, the Bill of Rights, and the Constitution.

Like many of you, I watched with horror and dismay the events of January 6, unfolding in our nation’s Capitol on the Feast Day of Epiphany, disbelieving my own eyes. The crowd which surged toward and into the Capitol Building reminded me of the Mississippi river at flood stage. They might have had a purpose, but as far as I could tell, it was not in keeping or consistent with any faith tradition or the founding tenets of our great democracy. They were destructive, violent, and chaotic. They were like a river which had overflowed its banks.

Given our public and political discourse over the last several years, and the ever-increasing tension which has accompanied the conversations, I don’t think any of the events of January 6 came as a total and complete surprise to anyone. Maybe the scene of American citizens smashing windows, breaking down doors and ransacking the Congressional offices in our Capitol was the shock we needed to our collective conscious to show us we need to reevaluate who we are and what it means to be an American.

We need to repent—literally, we need a change of heart. We need to restore our collective national identity as Americans, which transcends political parties, race, creed, and ethnicity. We need an epiphany—a manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something. As the Declaration of Independence declares, we must always remember the self-evident truth that “all men [humanity] are created equal…” Remembering that in our Baptismal Covenant, we have promised to “strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being.” (BCP, p. 305).

 The gospel truth is this: we are all made in the image of God; we are children of God—each and every one of us. Without Christ, I am a formless void capable of destructive and violent actions and behavior. We all are. When we fail to remember and follow the inspired wisdom and direction of our nation’s foundational documents, we can resort to mob rule. That is what we recently witnessed. As Americans we are better than this. As Christians we are called to a much higher standard. As Christians, we are called to love our neighbor as ourselves; loving each other as our Lord Jesus Christ loves us.  Please let’s join together following Jesus, striving to be children of God, one to another, and loving our neighbors as we love ourselves.

Blessings, grace, peace, and love,
Robert+

Signup for Worship Services and Activities

As we continue to resume certain worship services and activities to our schedule in this time of pandemic, we’ve created this webpage to make it easier to find all of the different signup links we’re now using to ensure we can maintain appropriate social distancing and not overcrowd our indoor spaces.  Please bookmark this page as it will be updated weekly on Mondays with new links.

Beginning April 26, we are no longer having pre-registration for the Sunday 5:00 pm service! 

To sign up for an in-person Sunday service, call the church office or click on one of the registration links below.  Our 10:00 am service will also be livestreamed to Facebook and YouTube, as we have been doing.  Registration is not required if you are watching the livestream at home.

Missed the pre-registration deadline?  That’s ok!  Come to church anyway; we have overflow seating in case the main church gets filled.  The ushers can write your names down for contact tracing (should we need it) and will seat you.

NOTE: There are multiple screens to click through with a “Next” button.  The final screen will have a “Register” button to submit and complete your registration. Once you’ve successfully completed your registration, you will receive a confirmation email.  If you’re in doubt, please call the church office to verify.

Worship Services

Please note that you can also signup by calling our parish administrator, Nicole Seiferth, at the church office (423-821-1583).

For Sunday, May 16

“What is Truth?”

And so says Pilate to Jesus on Good Friday just a few hours before Jesus is nailed to the cross and crucified. Jesus has just told Pilate that he came to testify to the truth and everyone who is “of the truthhears his voice. To this bold and powerful statement, Pilate wonders about the nature and, I suspect, the existence, probability and even possibility of truth.

Pilate was a politician, someone who was good at quickly discerning and pivoting to position himself to be on the right and “winning” side of issues. For Pilate, the truth was never a fixed and permanent position. The truth was always subservient to power, politics, prestige and wealth. Truth was always wrapped up in what was best for Pilate.

Pilate’s question to Jesus is especially important in the current situation we face in our culture and country. We are divided along so many lines. We have lost faith and trust in many of our leaders and institutions. I suspect many of us have asked this same question recently as we threw down the newspaper, changed the channel or turned off the TV set. What, indeed, is Truth? And how do we know and claim it?

In this time of pandemic and Covid-19 our lives and schedules have been altered and greatly disrupted. Our means of communicating and interacting have changed. For many of us, how and where we receive information is different. All of these changes have left many of us feeling untethered, disconnected and uprooted.

For me, I am able to find, discern and follow “truth” when I am connected to the Truth, which, I believe, is Jesus. When I say that Jesus is Truth (I call it “big T” truth), I am not necessarily talking about readily discernible “facts.” Facts are what I call “little t” truth. There is a difference between “big T” and “little t” truth.

Many years ago, in seminary, I was introduced to icons as an aid for prayer and meditation. My favorite icon is of Jesus as The Christ Pantocrator (Almighty) from St. Catherine’s Monastery at Sinai. This is thought to be the oldest known icon of Jesus. I have a copy of this icon at home, in my office, as well as a laminated bookmark I use in books I am reading. I have spent countless hours meditating and praying while gazing at this powerful and mysterious image of Jesus.

I must admit when I first began to “look” at this icon, it made me uncomfortable. His eyes challenged, humbled and, at times, shamed me. Even though this was “just” an artistic representation of Jesus, I did not feel worthy to gaze into his eyes. After a few seconds, I had to turn away. But when I turned back to look into his eyes while allowing those same eyes to look into my own and then into my heart, I began to sense his love, his love for me. Along with his love, I experienced his forgiveness, his patience, his mercy and his grace. Of course, when I first began this journey with Jesus, I couldn’t articulate all that he was “sharing” with me. I just knew that he cared, that I mattered, and that he believed in me, even more than I might believe in myself.

As I looked into the eyes of love that Jesus shared with me, I was invited to live into the Truth of that love. He invited me to become in my own eyes what I already was in his eyes—a child of God, made in the image of God. I am still in process of becoming who Jesus has told me I am. I often forget, doubt, mess up and find myself in a ditch. And yet, he still looks me in the eye and lovingly reminds me of the Truth he continually whispers into my heart. I am his, marked as his own forever.

When Pilate asked Jesus, “What is truth?” Jesus said no words, he simply looked at him. I believe that Pilate never forgot that look. For a time, I suspect he was haunted by that look, by those eyes. But I believe the more he remembered and thought about that last look, the more the light of love began to shine through into his heart. In that light, Pilate began to see the glory and wonder of Jesus’ Truth as well as the illusive and deceitful nature of his own “truth.”

In the weeks and months ahead, we will surely find ourselves, like Pilate, asking “what is truth?” countless times. We might easily become fearful, anxious, disillusioned, cynical, hard-hearted or enraged. Or we can turn our gaze to Jesus. We can ask him to share his Truth with us. We can listen as he whispers into our heart—“my Truth is your Truth.” You are loved. You are made in my image. You are my child. And this Truth—we must always remember—is shared by all of us, all of humanity. And so, we love our neighbor, strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human being. (“Baptismal Covenant,” Book of Common Prayer, p.305)

Whenever we read or hear or see anything that conflicts or contradicts or otherwise diminishes this Truth, we must name it and call it out for the lie that it is. Please, let us know our Truth, the Truth given to us at Baptism—we are children of God, marked as Christ’s own forever. Believe it, live it, proclaim it. Our world is hungry to know this Truth.

Grace, peace and love,
Robert+

Remembering John Lewis and wondering whether we can hear the words “Black lives matter” as a Gospel Mandate

Like so many Americans, I was saddened to hear of the death of John Lewis, Congressman from Georgia. He was a man deeply grounded in the gospel of Jesus and committed to the nonviolent principles he learned in his work with Martin Luther King. At an early age he articulated his beliefs and principles as one of the speakers, along with Dr. King, at the 1963 March on Washington, where King delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech. Some two years later he was called to live out his beliefs as he walked over the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma.

Recently, while reading an article about Congressman Lewis, my eyes kept coming back to the photo above the story. It was a photograph from Selma, Alabama, my hometown, of “Bloody Sunday” when peaceful marchers were attacked by law enforcement officers as they crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge at the beginning of their march to Montgomery. A large group of state troopers are chasing the marchers back over the bridge, with Billy clubs raised and gas masks covering their faces. One trooper is standing over a fallen man, Billy club in his hand and arm raised. The fallen man has his hand on his head. This man is John Lewis. The blow from the state trooper’s Billy club cracked his skull.

I remember as a 10-year old seeing this same picture in our local newspaper. Then, my 10-year old eyes were not drawn to the injured man. Instead, all I could see was the sign on the building across the street which said, “Haisten’s Mattress & Awning, Invest in Rest.” Mr. Haisten, who owned this business, lived down the street from me and I knew him and his wife since the boys in the neighborhood often had to climb their fence to retrieve errant baseballs which landed in their yard.

When I looked at that picture in March 1965, I did not see violence or oppression. I did not see a young black man being wrongfully assaulted. I just saw “Haisten’s Mattress & Awning, Invest in Rest.” That is all that mattered to my young 10-year old eyes. The life, the health, the well-being and safety of that young man didn’t matter. In short, his Black life did not matter.

The life of John Lewis did not matter to the state trooper who was wantonly striking him on the skull. The lives of the marchers did not matter to the Selma, Alabama Police Department. Their lives did not matter to the Dallas County Sherriff’s Department. Their lives did not matter to the State of Alabama. The lives of the black citizens who were wrongfully beaten as they crossed the bridge on “Bloody Sunday” did not matter to so very many in the United States of America until they saw on their television sets that evening what happened on that Sunday afternoon on a bridge in Selma, Alabama. And then, for many, Black lives, for a time, mattered.

We have come a long way since Bloody Sunday and the Selma to Montgomery march but still the phrase “Black lives matter” proclaims we as a country are not where we ought to be. The Black Lives Matter movement began as a response to the killing of Trayvon Martin in Florida and other violence inflicted upon Black individuals and communities. Since that time, and especially in the last few months, Black Lives Matter has become highly politicized, both by the left and the right. Like so many issues in our country today, Black Lives Matter has become a lightning rod, hot button topic in our highly polarized society.

I am writing about Black lives matter—not the movement, but our fellow American citizens whose skin color is black—because, for far too long, many in our country have acted as if the lives of Black people did not matter. I did not choose to write about this to proclaim my political allegiance to any party or politician. I feel compelled to write about this because, in these troubled times, I am struggling as hard as I can to follow Jesus and love my neighbor as myself. I am trying to work out “with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12) exactly how I “strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human being” (Book of Common Prayer, p.305).

I often say, especially in these strange times we find ourselves in, that we are all children of God, each of us made in the image of God, bearing the divine spark of the Holy Spirit within each of us. If that is the truth—and I believe it is—then why should we have to single out one particular group of people proclaiming that they matter? Does that phrase signify that Black lives matter more or are different than other segments of the population?

One doesn’t have to look too far or dig too deeply to see that Black lives in our country are generally at a disadvantage in so many different ways when compared to other groups. As a people, and a race, Black Americans are disproportionately impacted regarding access to voting, quality education and health care. Black Americans, especially males, are more likely than other races to experience violence at the hands of law enforcement. Similarly, when one looks at arrests and sentencing, the Black population is adversely impacted at a much higher rate than other groups. The unemployment rates are higher and average wages are lower for Black Americans than other segments of our population.

In our Declaration of Independence, we say that all men (humans) are created equal and that we are “endowed by [our] Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” And yet, for our entire history, Black Americans have faced barriers and obstacles keeping them from accessing these “unalienable Rights.” It is a stark judgement on our democracy and political system that a great segment of our population is denied or has restricted access to many of the rights and privileges of basic citizenship.

This is the political reality, but I want to address the gospel mandate to pay attention to and care for “the least of these” (Matthew 25:44-46). In this gospel passage, Jesus speaks about the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the sick and those in prison, asking how we have treated them. He reminds us that, inasmuch as we bless or ignore these children of God, we are blessing or ignoring Him. In our country, Black Americans are disproportionately hungry, thirsty, treated as strangers, sick and in prison. In short, in our society they are “the least of these.”

This is why I don’t believe we can say “all lives matter” and then proclaim we are following the gospel of Jesus Christ. To say simply that “all lives matter” is a way for white people – like me — to get ourselves “off the hook” saying, in effect, nothing is inherently and systemically wrong in our culture and society; that the status quo is just fine. In the United States, quite often the laws, the criminal justice system, access to voting, healthcare, and other basic unalienable rights work to the disadvantage of a specific segment of our population. Not only that, but those same societal structures have benefited the white population generation after generation, creating systemic benefits that further the racial divide.

“Black Lives Matter” does not purport that other lives do not matter. Rather, it is a declaration that a race does, in fact, matter, despite societal structures repeatedly telling and showing otherwise. To say that “all lives matter” can be a way for white people to ignore the truth that our culture and its conscious or unconscious biases have repeatedly said some lives — often white lives — matter more than others.

As Christians we are called to follow Jesus, loving God and our neighbors—all of them. In the Episcopal tradition, our Baptismal Covenant calls us to “strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human being.”

If we are to do what Christ calls us to do and be the people Christ calls us to be, we must prayerfully discern how our thoughts, words, deeds, as well as the structures of our society, impact, marginalize and discriminate against people of color. Jesus says how we treat “the least of these” is how we are treating Him. If we are to take Jesus at his word, when we fail to recognize and act to address these societal issues, we are ignoring the very presence of Christ in our midst

Blessings, grace and peace,
Robert+

The Ordination of Michele Simmons to the Sacred Order of Priests

By the grace of God and the consent of the people, on behalf of The Rt. Rev. Kimberly Lucas, Bishop of the Diocese of Colorado, The Rt. Rev. Brian L. Cole, Bishop of the Diocese of East Tennessee, will ordain Michele Lynn Moore Simmons to the Sacred Order of Priests in Christ’s holy catholic and apostolic church.

The ordination will take place at 2:00 pm on July 1, 2020 at the Church of the Good Shepherd, 211 Franklin Road, Lookout Mountain, TN 37350.

The service will not be open to the public, and will be livestreamed to Good Shepherd’s Facebook page and YouTube channel. The livestream will begin at 1:50 pm and the ordination service will begin at 2:00 pm.

The first two links below will take you directly to the service.  If Facebook, in particular, does not cooperate, the instructions below the links will help you locate the service on our Facebook page.  The YouTube livestream may also be watched on this page by clicking the play button on the video above.

If you would like to contribute a gift to Michele’s discretionary fund, click here or click on the fourth link below.

We also invite you to send your congratulatory email to Michele at michele@gslookout.com. Cards to welcome and congratulate Michele may be sent to the Church of the Good Shepherd, 211 Franklin Road, Lookout Mountain, TN 37350.


Click here to watch the ordination on Facebook

Click here to watch the ordination on YouTube

Click here to download the service bulletin

Click here to send a gift to Michele’s discretionary fund


If the Facebook link above misbehaves, the easiest way to watch the service’s livestream on Facebook is by clicking here.  You do not need a Facebook account to tune in; simply click the link and watch – and don’t forget to unmute the video feed by clicking on the speaker icon in the lower righthand corner of the video.

When a live video is playing on this page, it will be under the Happening Now heading.

If you do not see a live video playing, refresh your browser tab or window.  Not sure what the refresh button looks like? Look for the right-pointing circular arrow button near the top of your screen.  It will look something like this:  

Note, videos and streams on the homepage of our Facebook page may appear under the pinned posts in our Posts block – you may have to scroll down the page a bit!

Thoughts on the sin of racism

The world, as it is at this present point in time, is unlike anything I have every experienced. The United States of America, my home, is becoming unrecognizable to me. It seems as if the very fabric of our society is unraveling before our eyes. The pandemic, as bad, dangerous and destructive as it has been seems almost secondary—and I don’t say this lightly—compared to the horror of seeing a police officer murder an unarmed man, George Floyd, in broad daylight, with witnesses and fellow “law enforcement officers” calmly looking on.

As you all know, I was born and raised in Selma, Alabama, and have witnessed the destructive horror and evil of racism. I know that sin—the sin of racism especially—unaddressed and unconfessed will continue to eat away at the soul of a society and a people. My hometown has struggled because of what happened in Selma in 1965. So much of what happened leading up to, during and following the events of 1965 has never been addressed, confessed and repented of. Because it is so painful, I don’t think the hard work of reconciliation has ever been done, and though most of the adults who were present at the time of the 1965 Civil Rights marches in Selma have died, the generational sin and impact of what happened over 50 years ago still survives.

Unfortunately, Selma’s situation is not unique. The generational sins of slavery, lynching, Jim Crow laws and state sanctioned segregation continue to haunt, impact and infect our entire country, not just the South. Redemption, renewal, and reconciliation can only come through an awareness of sin and the turning towards the new life promised to us in Christ’s resurrection. But where and how do we begin to make this spiritual turn, as individuals, as a people, as a country?

I believe the Martyrs of Uganda, whose feast day I recently celebrated, show us a way forward. On June 3, 1886, 32 young men, pages of the court of King Mwanga, were burned to death for their failure to renounce their faith in Christ. When Christianity was introduced in Uganda under a prior King, some nine years earlier, it flourished among the members of the royal court. King Mwanga, when he ascended to the throne, was angered that some of the converts to Christianity were placing loyalty to Christ above loyalty to the King. When the young men refused to pledge their total loyalty to Mwanga he sentenced them to death. On their way to their death, the young men sang hymns and prayed for their enemies.

The witness of these faithful martyrs offers me hope in these troubled, tumultuous and divisive times. In the United States, battle lines have been drawn along all sorts of lines- political (especially), economic, racial, religious, etc. The divisions have been especially strong among “people of faith,” those who profess a belief in a “higher power.” It seems that the draw of loyalty to something or someone other than Jesus has been the dominant pull for many. What if our loyalty to Christ was above our loyalty to political party or candidate? Or country? What if we looked at each other through the eyes of Christ, letting our loyalty to Christ lead the way? As 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation; the old has passed away.”

The Martyrs of Uganda have much to say to us at this crucial time in history, calling us to proclaim Jesus as Lord, rather than the civil authorities and our elected officials. Our Lord Jesus calls us to tend his sheep and to follow Him. May we have the courage and wisdom to do so.

Blessings, grace and peace,
Robert+

To learn more about the Martyrs of Uganda, click here.

We invite you to join us this summer in reading our book club selection, How to be an Antiracist by Ibram Kendi

Holy Week Online

Sunday, April 4, 2021
Easter Sunday

Easter Sunday 10:00 am – Download the bulletin here.

Bookmark this page to watch our Holy Week services right here on our website using our YouTube video feed above (click on the image to watch each day’s service once it’s live, or watch it on YouTube directly).  You can also watch on our Facebook page by clicking here.

To sign up to attend our Holy Week services in person, click here.

Our streamed services schedule is as follows:

Where to watch

Our Holy Week services will be streamed to both our our Facebook page and YouTube channel. The service will also be available at the top of our this page once the stream has begun.

The easiest way to watch all livestreams and videos on Facebook is by clicking here.  You do not need a Facebook account to tune in; simply click the link and watch – and don’t forget to unmute the video feed by clicking on the speaker icon in the lower righthand corner of the video.

When a live video is playing on this page, it will be under the Happening Now heading.

If you do not see a live video playing, refresh your browser tab or window.  Not sure what the refresh button looks like? Look for the right-pointing circular arrow button near the top of your screen.  It will look something like this:  

Remember, videos and streams on the homepage of our Facebook page appear under the pinned posts in our Posts block – you may have to scroll down the page a bit!

In order to add your comments to the chat on YouTube’s website, you must have a Google/Gmail account, however, you do not need an account to view the stream or any of our videos on our YouTube channel or on our website.

 

Please email Sandra your feedback after the service. We want to ensure that we can all worship together on Sunday with minimal interference from technology.

Church Today

 Sunday, October 24, 2021
The Twenty-Second Sunday after Pentecost

Today at Good Shepherd we offer our latest Sunday of online and onsite offerings during the ongoing public health crisis.  As a reminder: Due to the local delta Covid-19 variant surge, masks are again required at all worship services and in-person, indoor activities.

On the schedule:

  • 8:00 am – Holy Eucharist with Fr. Robert, Mtr. Michele, and Deacon Janice in church (not livestreamed)
  • 9:15 am – Lectionary Bible Study with Fr. Robert and Mtr. Michele via Zoom
  • 10:15 am – Children’s Sunday School, Godly Play, in Talbird Hall
  • 10:30 am – Holy Eucharist with Fr. Robert, Mtr. Michele, and Deacon Janice livestreamed to Facebook, YouTube, and to our website
  • Immediately following the 10:30 am service – Curbside Communion in the circular driveway for 20 minutes
  • 5:00 pm – Holy Eucharist with Fr. Robert and Mtr. Michele in church (not livestreamed)

The 10:30 am Holy Eucharist service bulletin can be downloaded by clicking here.

Where to watch

Holy Eucharist will be streamed to both our our Facebook page and YouTube channel; click here to go directly to the service’s stream on YouTube or click on the linked image above.  The service will also be available at the top of our this page once the stream has begun.

The easiest way to watch all livestreams and videos on Facebook is by clicking here.  You do not need a Facebook account to tune in; simply click the link and watch – and don’t forget to unmute the video feed by clicking on the speaker icon in the lower righthand corner of the video.

When a live video is playing on this page, it will be under the Happening Now heading.

If you do not see a live video playing, refresh your browser tab or window.  Not sure what the refresh button looks like? Look for the right-pointing circular arrow button near the top of your screen.  It will look something like this:  

Remember, videos and streams on the homepage of our Facebook page appear under the pinned posts in our Posts block – you may have to scroll down the page a bit!

In order to add your comments to the chat on YouTube’s website, you must have a Google/Gmail account, however, you do not need an account to view the stream or any of our videos on our YouTube channel or on our website.

 

Please email Sandra your feedback after the service. We want to ensure that we can all worship together on Sunday with minimal interference from technology.

COVID-19: Caring for our community

As news about the spread of the novel coronavirus, COVID-19, continues to change, we will be sharing and updating this page as our response and practices shift to this fluid and rapidly changing public health crisis.  Our chief goal is to ensure that we are taking care of the most vulnerable amongst us. We are monitoring news and following guidelines from The Episcopal Church, the Diocese of East Tennessee, the Centers for Disease Control, Hamilton County Health Department, the Tennessee Department of Health, and the city of Chattanooga.

During this crisis, this page will be updated, at most, twice weekly – on Mondays and Fridays.  If any updates are posted outside of this schedule, we will make an announcement on our Facebook page.

Our current online service schedule & remote parish activities are below; the listing begins on the entry dated March 20, 2020 and is updated as the schedule and activities change.


September 17, 2021

Our Covid Protocols were updated this week and the full booklet can be found by clicking here.  Further, we are adjusting our Sunday schedule as follows beginning this Sunday, September 19:

  • 9:15 am – Lectionary Bible Study via Zoom
  • 10:30 am – Rite II Eucharist instead of at 10:00 am.  This service will continue to be livestreamed to Facebook and YouTube, and will also be available on our Church Today page here on our website.  The stream will begin at 10:20 am.
  • Curbside Communion has resumed and will be offered immediately following the conclusion of the 10:30 am service for 20 minutes.

July 28, 2021

Due to the surge in Hamilton County of the delta variant of the Covid-19 virus, we are requiring face masks to be work at all indoor worship services and activities effective immediately, and are re-introducing socially distanced seating in the church sanctuary by closing off every other pew.  For a complete overview this update to our Covid protocols, click here.


June 18, 2021

Clarification on face mask policy at Good Shepherd

Masks are required at all times in: all hallways, the School and Church Office. Fully vaccinated? If so, masks are optional in: offices, meeting spaces, and outside. Thank you for helping us protect the most vulnerable members of our community! Forgot your mask? No problem! We have masks and we’ll be happy to provide you with one.

At worship services ONLY: while children are with and under the active supervision of their parents, children aged 2-11 may wear masks at the discretion of their parents. At all Children’s and Youth ministry activities and at Good Shepherd School, Covid unvaccinated children age 2 and above are required to wear masks.


May 28, 2021

Beginning June 1, 2021, we are making the following changes to our Covid safety protocols

  • Masks optional for vaccinated persons
  • Unvaccinated persons please continue to wear masks
  • Children’s masks required at ministry activities & Good Shepherd School
  • At services, children’s masks will be at the discretion of parents
  • Tuesday & Thursday midweek services return to the chapel

Beginning June 6, 2021

  • Congregational singing returns
  • 5:00 pm service returns to the chapel

To watch Fr. Robert’s update about these changes, click here.


May 21, 2021

Updates to Covid protocols

Good Shepherd will continue to require masks for the following two Sundays (May 23 & May 30) at all Sunday services.

Additionally,

  • If you have been fully vaccinated and are 2 weeks beyond your second shot, masks are optional at our midweek services.
  • If you have not been vaccinated, we ask that you wear a mask to our services and activities.
  • We will continue to observe socially distanced exchanges of the peace, and will offer communion and dismiss services as we have been.

To watch Fr. Robert’s update about these changes, click here.


May 17, 2021

We are updating our Covid safety protocols as of Monday, May 17, 2021 with the following:

  • We are no longer requiring sign ups for any in-person Sunday services
  • We are removing the social distancing ribbons from the pews in the nave and ask that you continue to Love Your Neighbor as you seat yourselves for any of our services
  • We will continue to livestream the 10:00 am service to Facebook and YouTube

As a reminder, we are awaiting a diocesan update on wearing masks and will update the parish later this week on what impact this will have on our own Covid safety protocols.  Click here to watch Fr. Robert’s video that walks us through this decision in light of last week’s CDC update.

We will publish our updated Covid safety protocols document later this week and make this available to the parish once again.

Before attending any of our in-person services, we ask that you continue to assess your and your family’s health as regards Covid. Please help us continue to Love Our Neighbors and care for those in our community who are unable to get vaccinated.

  • Have you been in close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the last two weeks?
  • Are you experiencing a cough, shortness of breath or sore throat?
  • Have you had a fever in the last 48 hours?
  • Have you had new loss of taste or smell?
  • Have you had vomiting or diarrhea in the last 24 hours?

Please stay home if you answer “yes“ to any one of these questions.


May 14, 2021

On May 13, the CDC updated its guidelines again for fully vaccinated people and mask wearing.  Today, Fr. Robert shares a brief update on our current plans as we await diocesan guidance next week.  Click here to watch this update.


April 30, 2021

On April 27, the CDC updated its guidelines for actions to take with a mixed population of vaccinated and unvaccinated persons.  You can read those guidelines here.  In light of this,  Hamilton County’s health department has also issued a press release (click here to read it).  Both guidelines encourage the continued use of face coverings, particularly indoors and outdoors in large gatherings.   We continue to follow CDC and local health department guidelines in order to love our neighbors and protect those in our congregation who are immunocompromised and/or who are unable to get vaccinated at this time.  To watch our video regarding mask requirements at Church of the Good Shepherd and Good Shepherd School, click here.


April 26, 2021

Beginning this week, we are no longer having pre-registration for the Sunday 5:00 pm service!  Because of the smaller congregation size of this service, we will also begin re-introducing congregational singing with masks on.  As with the rest of our Covid safety protocols, we will pivot should we need to depending on the public health situation.


April 16, 2021

Today, Fr. Robert Childers, rector of the Church of the Good Shepherd, and Sandy Skorput, director of Good Shepherd School, walk us though how Good Shepherd will approach mask wearing through this summer after the lifting of Hamilton County’s mask mandate on April 29, 2021.  To watch their video, click here.


March 1, 2021

After a successful trial run last Wednesday, Godly Play returns to our in-person activities schedule on Wednesday afternoons.  Kids through 5th grade can join Miss Kathleen in Talbird Hall on Wednesday afternoons at 5:30 pm to join the Godly Play circle.  Parents are invited to attend the Reconciliation Eucharist service at 5:30 pm in the church while the kids are in Godly Play.  Make an evening of it and take your Shepherd’s Night Out to Go (SNO2Go) dinner home with you at 6:00 pm from Talbird Hall courtyard!


February 8, 2021

All in-person midweek services resume this week.  Registration is not required for these services, but our Covid safety protocols are still in effect, just as they are for our in-person Sunday services.  For a copy of our full protocols booklet, go to: https://bit.ly/GSLoveYourNeighbor.


February 1, 2021

In-person Sunday services resume this week with Holy Eucharist services offered at 8am, 10am, and 5pm on February 7.  Registration is required for these and should be completed by 4pm on Friday, February 5.  Registration can be completed online from this page or by calling the church office, (423) 821-1583.  Tuesday and Wednesday midweek services will continue online only; Thursday midweek service continues in-person without registration required.


January 5, 2021

During this time of Covid surge in the community, we will continue to offer only one Sunday service – a virtual livestream of our 10 am service.  We will also continue to offer curbside communion following this service.  No in-person Sunday services will be offered at this time.  We will revisit this decision after January 19 in accordance with any public guidance by the Governor of Tennessee and the Hamilton County Health Department.

Midweek services, however, have resumed beginning today as in-person services.  Because these services traditionally are attended by less than 10 people each, we feel we can have the most social distancing at these services.  The Wednesday Reconciliation Eucharist, offered at 5:30 pm, will also return to our Facebook livestream schedule this week.


January 2, 2021

We’ve had two church staff members test positive for Covid-19 in the past three days.  Fr. Robert wrote to the parish on December 31 and again on January 2.  Out of an abundance of caution, we will offer only one service on Sunday, January 3 – a virtual service at 10 am.  The church office will remain closed on Monday, January 4, 2021 and the staff will meet by Zoom to determine our next steps.  We will communicate any changes to upcoming services and office schedule on Tuesday, January 5.  The online Daily Office will resume from its holiday break on Monday, January 4.


December 21, 2020

In light of Governor Bill Lee’s Executive Order #70 limiting public gatherings to groups of no more than 10 people, we are making adjustments to our Christmas Day plans, and are changing our in-person Sunday worship schedule for December 27, January 3, 10, and 17.  Click here to read about or watch the announcement.


December 15, 2020

Fr. Robert walks us through our Christmas services plans following much prayer and discussion after going through the results of our parish-wide Christmas survey.  Click here to read about or watch the announcement.


November 27, 2020

Per Fr. Robert’s November 27 letter to the parish, we are temporarily suspending in-person services and activities due to a staff member Covid case.  All Good Shepherd church staff are undergoing Covid testing and will be out of quarantine on Thursday, December 3.  If this situation changes, we will alert the parish.


September 4, 2020

Midweek services will resume beginning Tuesday, September 8, 2020 as follows:

  • Tuesdays, 10:30 am – Healing service and Holy Eucharist, church
  • Wednesdays, 5:30 pm – Reconciliation Eucharist, church
  • Thursdays, 5:00 pm – Holy Eucharist, church

August 16, 2020

We will begin live-streaming one in-person Sunday service beginning with today’s 10 am Holy Eucharist service.  The service will be simulcast on Facebook and YouTube.  See our Church Today page details.


July 9, 2020

Today, Fr. Robert walks us through what church will look like on resuming in-person Sunday worship on July 12, 2020 at Church of the Good Shepherd. Click here to watch the video.  For a copy of our full protocols booklet, go to: https://bit.ly/GSLoveYourNeighbor.


June 26, 2020

Fr. Robert has sent a letter to the parish to begin introducing our covenant and plans to resume in-person Sunday worship beginning July 12.  Click here to the read the letter.


June 12, 2020

Fr. Robert has now tested negative and is finishing his mandatory quarantine.   Please click here to read the announcement.


June 5, 2020

Today, Fr. Robert announced that all church staff members’ Covid-19 test results are now back.  With this, however, we have an unexpected positive test result – Fr. Robert’s.  Please click here to read the announcement.


June 3, 2020

This week, we have begun a staggered re-opening of the church office to staff only.  We are not open to the public.  To read Fr. Robert’s announcement, please click here.


May 18, 2020

Today, we launched a parish survey both by email and by post asking for parishioners’ thoughts and input as we continue to develop our plans and protocols on resuming in-person worship at Good Shepherd.  Surveys can be completed online by following the link above, or by completing and mailing us the paper copy which was sent to each families’ home.  Surveys should be completed and returned to us by Sunday, May 24, 2020.


May 7, 2020

Today, Fr. Robert announced what steps we’ve taken through the federal government’s Payroll Protection Plan (PPP) to ensure the employment of all church and school employees during this public health closure.  To read his letter to the parish, click here.


April 3, 2020

To comply with the stay at home orders issued by the City of Chattanooga and the State of Tennessee, all clergy and staff will be fully remote and working from home.  This includes preparing for and participating in online services and activities.  The chapel is now closed to the public and we ask all parishioners not to enter the church/nave, and to respect these new local laws and remain at home yourselves.


March 20, 2020 (online and onsite services & remote activities – last updated September 10, 2021)

We have moved our services and activities entirely online.  All videos and livestreams will appear or take place on our Facebook page and are then archived further on our Facebook page and on our YouTube channel for ease of finding.  As of April 19, Sunday’s service is being simulcast on our Facebook page and on our YouTube channel as well as here on our website on our Church Today page.

If you do not immediately see the videos or livestreams on our Faecbook page, scroll down past our latest Photos block until you reach the Posts block – live streams and recorded videos with the ability to join or start a watch party (indicated by a purple button with popcorn in a bucket icon) will appear at the top of our Posts block or below the latest pinned post. Both livestreams and watch parties allow us to share comments with one another in real time; watch parties allow us to more easily respond to comments in writing, while during livestreams we can sometimes reply to comments by voice or in writing.

We hope these offerings help you stay and feel connected during these strange times, for we are all still the Body of Christ.  As new offerings are added to this schedule, we will notify the parish by email, social media, and on our website.  If you have any  worship ideas or have something encouraging you would like to share with our church family, please reach out to Sandra Alagona at sandra@gslookout.com.

Daily Office

  • 8:30 am – Morning Prayer with Kathleen and others (Live)
  • 5:00 pm – Evening Prayer with Mtr. Michele (Live; Mondays and Tuesdays)

Tuesdays

  • 10:00 am – Intercessory Prayers Group (in church)
  • 10:30 am – Healing Prayers and Holy Eucharist service (in church)
  • 11:15 am – Centering Prayer (in church)

Healing prayer intercessors – parishioners who usually attend our Tuesday Healing Prayers and Eucharist service, and who were offering healing prayers at the 8:00 & 10:30 am services this Lent – will continue to meet using phone and internet technology.  Part of their weekly practice is to pray for parishioners on our prayer list, for each other, and for other prayer requests they’ve received.  If you have a prayer request or would like to add yourself or a loved one to our prayer list, please email Sandra and I will share these with our healing prayers intercessors.

Wednesdays

  • 7:00 am – Men’s Bible Study in person (socially distanced) or via Zoom.  For information and details, contact Pat Conroy at (423) 903-4746
  • 6:30 pm – Youth Bible Study and Discussion
    The Youth Group is now meeting in person around the fire pit outside of the Youth Building

Small Groups & Bible Studies
Several small groups and Bible studies will be meeting online in video conferencing meeting rooms.  If your group or group leader has requested an online meeting space, you’ll be receiving instructions on how to access these later today.  If you lead a small group and would like an online meeting space, or would like to learn what our options are, please email Sandra.

Supper Clubs
In light of social distancing recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control, we ask that supper clubs NOT meet while social distancing guidelines are still in effect.

Sundays

  • 8:00 am – Holy Eucharist with Fr. Robert, Mtr. Michele, and Deacon Janice in church (not livestreamed)
  • 10:00 am – Holy Eucharist with Fr. Robert, Mtr. Michele, and Deacon Janice on Facebook and YouTube and on our Church Today page
  • 11:30am – Lectionary Bible Study with Fr. Robert and Mtr. Michele.  This class will take place via Zoom and will not be livestreamed.  If you do not already have the link, contact Sandra to obtain it.
  • 5:00 pm – Holy Eucharist with Fr. Robert and Mtr. Michele in church (not livestreamed)
  • Wednesday – Music offerings for Sunday – shared on Facebook

#GSLOOKOUTCREATE
We all know we’ve got some creative people in this parish, so let’s get creative!  If you’re using this time creatively – or if you’re not, we bet you can!  to produce poetry, prose, reflections, prayers, art, or music during this period of uncertainty and anxiety, share them online on Facebook or Instagram using the hashtag #gslookoutcreate. Once we have passed through these seemingly dark and surely uncertain times, we can then put it all in print! (No longer happening.)

Ongoing Outreach

April 2021 update – Outreach updates will continue to be shared in our weekly e-newsletter, The Good News, and in our service bulletins.  They will no longer be updated on this page.  To access our e-newsletter archive, click here.

Since Lent, we have been collecting non-perishable food items for the Chattanooga Area Foodbank and for Fairyland Elementary School Sack Packs.

We are happy to report that Sack Packs were delivered to Fairyland on Friday, March 13 so students could have these before their school was shut down in light of COVID-19.  The Foodbank also instructed us to deliver whatever other non-perishables we’d already collected to East Side Elementary since their Foodbank Mobile Pantry session, scheduled for Wednesday, March 18, was cancelled due to Hamilton County Schools’ closure.  This was also delivered to East Side on Friday, March 13.

April 17 update – We are once again collaborating with Fairyland Elementary School for another Sack Pack donation in May.  For more information and to participate, email Deacon Janice.

August 18 update – We are once again collecting food items for Fairyland Elementary School for an additional Sack Pack donation sometime in September or October.  For more information and to participate, email Deacon Janice.

The Foodbank still needs our help and has asked us to continue our Lent Food Drive.  If you have food items you’d like to donate, please drop these off in the collection wagon in the narthex (hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes are still located at the church entrance for your use).  The Foodbank is also in need of monetary donations, which you can give using our Online Giving page (click here) and adding a note that you are designating this for the Foodbank.

April 17 update – The Foodbank has asked us to continue spreading the word that they are in need of food and monetary donations, as well as volunteers.  For more information, contact contact John Pine (click here), Shelley Armstrong (click here) or Deacon Janice Robbins (click here).

September update – We are collaborating with Fairyland Elementary School once again, and have an ongoing collection for non-perishable snack items from now until the end of 2020.

February 2021 update – We are collecting new or gently used winter coats and jackets to be distributed at Chattanooga area ministries and non-profit agencies this winter.  Donations may be dropped off in the narthex and left in the marked wagons.


March 14, 2020

In preparation for tomorrow’s services, Father Robert sent the parish another letter today (click here to read it).  He further clarified what church will look like now that we cannot have in-person worship services or have in-person meetings or group activities at the church.

Tomorrow’s schedule is:

  • 9:30 am – “Fireside” chat with Fr. Robert
  • 10:00 am – Godly Play with Kathleen Crevasse
  • 10:30 am – Morning Prayer with Fr. Robert & Deacon Janice (click here for the service bulletin)

All offerings will be livestreamed to our Facebook page. A music recording by John Wigal and our staff choir singers will be posted to our Facebook page at the conclusion of our Morning Prayer service.  As a reminder, you do not need a Facebook account to tune in to these livestreams or to view our video archive.  Simply click the link to our page and watch.  An email will be sent out to the parish with instructions prior to the beginning of the livestream schedule.

Remember to continue following the CDC’s and health department’s recommendations to wash your hands well, not to touch your mouth, nose, and eyes, and maintain social distancing from others; use hand sanitizer and disinfect surfaces with a good disinfectant.  If you’re feeling sick – especially with fever, cough, and difficulty breathing – stay home and contact your doctor.


March 13, 2020

Last night, Bishop Brian Cole issued a statement directing parishes in East Tennessee to suspend are worship gatherings, activities, and meetings for the next two weeks, with the aim to resume worship services on Palm Sunday, April 5.

In light of this, Good Shepherd is suspending all in-person worship services and activities beginning today. Instead, we will be offering live streams of services and will work to set up our small groups with online gathering options as they desire.

This Sunday, March 15, we will offer an informal talk with Fr. Robert at 9:30 am followed by Morning Prayer service at 10:30.  Both offerings will be live streamed to our Facebook page.

Morning Prayer will be offered live on our Facebook page by Christian Formation Director, Kathleen Crevasse, Mondays though Fridays at 8:30 am.  The Youth group will be meeting online with daily activities and chats that Youth Director, Matt Harbison, is setting up.  We will also have other online offerings and our Communications Director, Sandra Alagona, will be working with small groups to help get them set up with online meeting spaces so that everyone can adhere to the CDC’s guidelines of social distancing.  A full schedule of activities and virtual worship services will be shared with the parish next week.

To read Father Robert’s letter to the parish sent today, click here.


March 12, 2020

First and foremost, we want to let you know what health and hygiene precautions we’re taking to protect the most vulnerable in our community:

  • Our facilities throughout the church are being rigorously cleaned and disinfected daily for everyone’s safety
  • Hand sanitizers and disinfecting wipes are readily available throughout the church at entrances to the church, the church and school offices, and our large common meeting spaces
  • The bathrooms in Talbird Hall, the Christian Education building, and the school are well stocked with soap and paper towels for handwashing and drying

If you feel sick or have the flu or cold, please stay home. We would obviously love to see you, but we want to make sure that you are not exposed to anything further, and that you are not exposing those most at risk of infection from contagion.

Following CDC guidelines, please maintain a social distance of three feet and refrain from hugging. Make sure you’re washing your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, and using hand sanitizer to disinfect on the go.

During church services, we want everyone to feel as comfortable and safe as possible during this time of concern about passing the peace and receiving of the elements of the Eucharist (bread and wine).

During the passing of The Peace, we invite and encourage you to avoid shaking hands as you exchange the peace. We encourage you to wave or bow to one another or bump elbows
as a sign of God’s peace.  Sharing the “peace” sign with your fingers – or even the Vulcan “Live long and prosper” sign – works too!

Before the Eucharist, all altar party members – clergy and chalice bearers – will be washing and sanitizing their hands.

As you come up to receive the Eucharist, please make use of the hand sanitizers at the front of the church. 

During Eucharist, Fr. Robert will consecrate bread and wine as normal, but only he will drink the wine. The altar party members and congregation will receive bread only, which is a perfectly valid and complete reception of the Eucharist.

Our common worship and celebration of the Eucharist should be a time to be strengthened in our faith and journey, not a place where we should be anxious.

The health and well-being of every person in our community is our top priority. We are still discussing which, if any, non-essential activities and gatherings may be canceled in future, and what additional ways to participate in our services we might offer.  At this time, however, all services and activities are proceeding as normal. 

If you have any questions about our procedures or services and activities in general, please don’t hesitate to contact our communications director, Sandra Alagona, in the church office.

We have a new assistant priest!

The Rev. Michele Simmons, our next assistant priest

The Rev. Michele Simmons

I am excited to announce to you that I have called Michele Simmons to be my new assistant. She is a senior seminarian at Sewanee from the Diocese of Colorado. If you were paying attention to March 11’s entry in our Lent Devotion Book, you’ll have gotten a brief introduction to Michele’s theological perspective already.  In early September, Derrick Hill, the rector of St. Timothy’s, recommended I talk to Michele who completed her field work at St. Timothy’s as their seminarian. Her preaching, teaching and involvement in the life of the parish were a great addition to St. Timothy’s while she was with them.

Michele and I have been in conversation since mid-January. She spent an afternoon with our staff, as well as some time with a few members of the parish. When I was able to see her interact with our staff and Good Shepherd folks, I felt that she would be a perfect fit in our parish and a wonderful addition to our staff. Moreover, I believe she will be a very good partner for me and that we can work well together.

Michele is originally from California and graduated from the University of California, Davis. She worked for over 20 years in the national park service, serving in California, Arizona, Nevada, Alaska and finally, Colorado. In her work in the national park system, she did a great deal of teaching and training of guides. I am especially excited about her work with the training of guides because I believe this will be an aide to us in developing more lay leaders within our parish.

Also, her love of nature will be a plus for activities like parish hikes, family camp and other outdoor events that she could coordinate and lead. Clearly her previous job as a park ranger reflects her love of creation and the outdoors. I am excited to see how she can use that love to help our community to grow in our love and appreciation of the outdoors and God’s creation.

On a personal level, I really love her varied experiences of all the churches she has been involved in throughout her adult life. Because she moved around in her work, she had to worship in whatever church community existed wherever she lived. And wherever she lived, she made sure to become involved in a faith community. This shows an adaptability and openness to other traditions as well as the capacity to live with those who might think differently. Furthermore, as we attract more and more people who did not grow up in the Episcopal tradition, her real life church experience should serve us, as well as our newcomers, well. She also has a quiet, peaceful presence and wisdom that will, I believe, draw y’all in.

Her gifts of preaching, teaching and her warm, friendly, approachable and wise presence will be a comfort to many that will transcend both age and gender. Finally, I am excited to have a female priest as a colleague. We have had female priests for much of our history, but not in the past 10 years. Her voice and experience will, I believe, be a great gift to us all.

You can get a taste for her sermons and preaching style on her YouTube channel. Click here to access a selection of her sermons. I think you will enjoy hearing her. She is quite a good preacher.  Please feel free to drop Michele a line and welcome her to Good Shepherd.  You can email her at michele@gslookout.com.

Grace and peace,
Robert+