Rev. Nadia Bolz-Weber in Bristol, VA

Founding pastor of House of All Sinner and Saints in Denver CO, will be speaking at Central Presbyterian at 7pm on February 16.  She is a gifted speaker whose theology is grounded in the Lutheran tradition.  She will not disappoint.  This is a free event put on by King University’s Institute for Faith & Culture. Hope to see you all there!

A letter from Bishop Elizabeth Eaton

Lutheran_Immigration_and_Refugee_Service_Logo_-_vertical_orientationELCA presiding bishop addresses President Trump’s refugee executive order

CHICAGO (Jan. 30, 2017) – The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton, presiding bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), has issued a pastoral message addressing President Trump’s executive order to restrict entry by refugees and visitors into the United States from seven predominately Muslim countries.


Eaton’s message follows.

January 30, 2017

Blessed are the merciful, for they will receive mercy. Yesterday, we heard these words in the Gospel reading from Matthew 5:1-12, the beginning of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. In the Beatitudes, Jesus lays out a vision for life in God’s realm, characterized by seeing those who are often most disregarded, including the meek, the mourning and the peacemaker, as bearers of God’s blessing. Over the coming weeks, we will continue to hear this Gospel, including Jesus’ call for his disciples to be carriers of God’s light and hope and reconciliation to a world deeply in need of them.

In this spirit, earlier last week I communicated with the Trump administration asking that it not stop the U.S. refugee admissions program or stop resettlement from any country for any period of time. The Bible calls us to welcome the stranger and treat the sojourner as we would our own citizens. I agree with the importance of keeping our country secure as the administration stated in its executive order last Friday, but I am convinced that temporarily banning vulnerable refugees will not enhance our safety nor does it reflect our values as Christians. Instead, it will cause immediate harm by separating families, disrupting lives, and denying safety and hope to brothers and sisters who are already suffering.

Refugees being resettled in the United States have fled persecution because of their race, religion, nationality, political views and/or associations. They wait for years for the chance to go home. But sometimes, there is no home for them to go back to. We know from our partners at Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service (LIRS) that only 1 percent of all refugees are chosen for resettlement.

People of faith helped start and still sustain the refugee resettlement program in the United States following World War II. As Lutherans, many of our ancestors faced the pain of having to flee their homes and the joy of being welcomed in new communities across the United States. As we have done throughout history, millions of Lutherans across the country honor our shared biblical values as well as the best of our nation’s traditions by offering refuge to those most in need. We are committed to continuing ministries of welcome that support and build communities around the country and stand firmly against any policies that result in scaling back the refugee resettlement program.

We must offer safety to people fleeing religious persecution regardless of their faith tradition. Christians and other religious minorities suffer persecution and rightly deserve protection, but including additional criteria based on religion could have discriminatory effects that would go against our nation’s fundamental values related to freedom of religion.

I invite ELCA congregations into learning, prayer and action on behalf of those who seek refuge on our shores. The ELCA “Social Message on Immigration,” AMMPARO strategy and LIRS resources are good places to start. Those who have been part of resettling refugees or have their own immigration experience have important stories to share with their communities and testimony to make. I also encourage you to consider adding your voice by calling your members of Congress to share your support for refugees and using online advocacy opportunities through current alerts atELCA Advocacy and LIRS.

In Matthew 25:35, Jesus said, “I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” Our Lord not only commanded us to welcome the stranger, Jesus made it clear that when we welcome the stranger into our homes and our hearts – we welcome him.

God’s peace,

The Rev. Elizabeth A. Eaton
Presiding Bishop

Remember Your Baptism

I received a letter from someone that was a member here at Redeemer beginning in the 1940’s until her family left the area many years later.  In her letter, she was interested in finding out her baptismal date.  It turns out that she was baptized on March 29, 1942.  Amazingly, this was the same date on which I was baptized just a few years later in 1981. 

Baptism is a gift — an eternal endowment given by God and initiated by the Holy Spirit, the same Spirit that opened the heavens and descended onto Jesus to proclaim the reign of God is near.  In the gospels, the accounts of Luke and Mark record the voice as addressing Jesus by saying “You are beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Mark 1:9–11; Luke 3:21–23).   In the Gospel of Matthew, the divine voice addresses all those who were gathered on the banks of the River Jordan, saying “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased” (Matthew 3:13–17).  Consequently, who knows if this voice was only heard by Jesus, or if all the onlookers heard God’s declaration?  Either way, I believe that the same Spirit descended upon us in each of our own baptisms.  The same hallowed voice proclaimed to you and me, “This is my child, in whom I am well pleased.”  And this, sisters and brothers, is something to celebrate!  This is the gift we should recognize and rejoice in every year when our baptism anniversaries come around. 

So, when were you baptized?

God’s Peace,
Pastor Austin


Advent Vespers Begin Wednesday November 30

advent-wreathThe season of Advent begins this Sunday, November 27, and our traditional Advent Vespers Services will be held on Wednesdays November 30, December 7, 14, and 21.

A soup and sandwich meal will be served at 6:00 p.m. in the Fellowship Hall, and the Vespers Service will begin at 6:45 in the sanctuary.  You can sign up to bring soup or sandwiches on the table in the narthex.

If you don’t drive at night, transportation will be provided.  Call the church office or sign up in the Narthex.  We hope to see you there.

Join Us This Sunday for Ecumenical Service Celebrating Family Promise!

You are invited! This Sunday, October 13, at 4pm to the Ecumenical Celebration Worship Service and 5th Birthday Party for Family Promise of Bristol.

Family Promise of Bristol opened in June 2012 as the twin city’s chapter of Interfaith Hospitality Network, a ministry of housing for homeless families.  Participant families are provided housing in FPOB3ten area churches.  During the day, the children attend local schools while the parents receive access to services at the Family Promise Day Center, located at Redeemer Lutheran Church.

About once per quarter, our downstairs Sunday School rooms get made up with beds, tables, and other accessories.  Each family has a private bedroom, and they share a common lounge area.  Meals are served family-style by church volunteers.  Friends at Faith Lutheran also support our ministry here at Redeemer by providing food and volunteers.

Come, join us!

Special Events Planned for Sunday October 16

You won’t want to miss worship at Redeemer on Sunday October 16 at 10:30!

We will be celebrating the ministry of Marcia Cooper, Director of Music, on her 10th anniversary here at Redeemer.  A special piece of music has been commissioned by renowned Lutheran composer and hymnwriter Carl Schalk, and he will be joining us for worship.  The King University Symphonic Choir will also be our guests that day, and a covered dish luncheon will follow the service!

A small team from the Music Department began planning for this event last summer.  When we were trying to determine the best way to honor Marcia’s anniversary here at Redeemer as well as her lifetime of service to the Lutheran Church, the idea occurred to commission a special piece of music in her honor.  “Lord, Thou Hast Been Our Refuge” was composed this summer by Dr. Schalk, and it was presented to Marcia as a surprise at the choir rehearsal on Wednesday September 21.  The text of the anthem is excerpted from Psalm 90:

Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God. Thou turnest man to destruction; and sayt, Return, you children of men…12 So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts to wisdom.

For members of the congregation and friends who would like to contribute to this occasion, the council has authorized the collection of a love offering that will be presented to Marcia as a gift in recognition of her service to the church.  If you would like to participate, please mark your check “love offering – Cooper” and place in the offering plate or send to the church office.

About Marcia

marciaMarcia Cooper has served as Director of Music at Redeemer Church since 2006.  Her primary duties at Redeemer include oversight of all aspects of the music program at Redeemer, including the adult choir, handbell choir, soloists, and instrumentalists.  Additionally, she is the principal organist for all services and the director of the adult choir.

Marcia earned a Bachelor of Arts in Fine Arts – Organ from Roanoke College in Roanoke, Virginia, and a Master of Music in Ethnomusicology from Kent State University in Kent, Ohio.  She is a member of the American Guild of Organists and the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians.  She has served Lutheran parishes in Tennessee and Virginia and also served with her husband, the late Rev. John J. Cooper, as a Lutheran missionary to Thailand from 1976-1982.

Marcia lives in Blountville, Tennessee, on her family’s farm where she enjoys cooking and summer gardening.

About Dr. Schalk

Dr. Carl Flentge Schalk (born 1929) is a noted Lutheran composer, author, and lecturer. Between 1965 and 2004 he taught church music at Concordia University Chicago.   During this time he guided the development of the university’s Master of Church Music degree, which has since graduated more than 140 students.  Schalk was a member of the Inter-Lutheran Commission on Worship, which produced Lutheran Book of Worship in 1978.   Continue reading Special Events Planned for Sunday October 16

Lutheran Day of Service

God’s Work – Our Hands at the Bristol Minnick School

Continue reading Lutheran Day of Service

“God’s Work. Our Hands.” Day of Service 2016

“God’s work. Our hands.” day is an opportunity to celebrate who we are as the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) – one church, freed in Christ to serve and love our neighbor.

Gods Work Our HandsOn Saturday October 1, volunteers from Redeemer Lutheran Church will join with 4 million other Lutherans from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America for the second annual “God’s Work. Our Hands.” – a dedicated day of service which began in 2015 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the denomination.

Our day of service will benefit the Minnick School, a new school in Bristol, Virginia which is run by Lutheran Family Services of Virginia. This school serves students who, for one reason or another, have had difficulty in the mainstream public school system. Continue reading “God’s Work. Our Hands.” Day of Service 2016

The Battle at (Redeemer) Bristol

The Battle at (Redeemer) Bristol!BattleAtBristol2016-Horizontal-Logo-jpg-3

Who’s going to win in giving to those in need by representing your team: the Tennessee Volunteers or the Virginia Tech Hokies? Here’s how to support your team:

Donate canned and non-perishable goods to the Bristol Emergency Food Pantry. Bring them to the church and deposit them in the bin that corresponds to your team.

May the best team win and may all God’s children be fed. The last Sunday to donate for your team will be September 4.

Fear Not…Sunday’s Sermon From Pastor Austin

7287_10151356428378085_1795696319_nThere’s a lot of fear in our world.  I fear things in my own life: will Tanya get home safely today from her Grandmaw’s; I fear that if I start running again my planter faucitis will act up; I fear will an act of terror take the life of someone I love; who will be our next president; will that stray dog attack me; I fear trying something new because it might fail; I fear the unknown.  Our French sisters and brothers live in a new fear brought on by a man in semi-truck who feared the freedom found in democracy.   What do you fear?  There’s a lot of fear in our world.

As Lutheran’s we believe that the Bible, our Holy Scriptures, is the living word, and are continually contextual in today’s societies.   Additionally, meaning the words on paper come alive in our lives; these ancient stories continue to unleash new meaning for our lives and faith.  It’s like that favorite book of yours, every time you read it again there is something new to discover.  I have read The Education of Little Tree over-and-over again, and never have the words on their worn out pages failed me in sparking a new thought, or given me a new relationship with an old character.  A favorite quote from the book: “Grandma said when you come on something good, first thing to do is share is with whoever you can find; that way, the good spreads out where no telling it will go. Which is right.”  Scripture is the same, every time we reread a text, passage, or story, a new understanding comes to us. It’s the living word!  And when we come across something new from it, we should share it with whoever we can find, because it’ll spread out where no telling it well go. Which is right. Continue reading Fear Not…Sunday’s Sermon From Pastor Austin