Bishop’s Message to the Diocese, March 5, 2020

I write to you in the wake of the two devastating tornadoes that impacted our community in Middle Tennessee in the early morning of March 3rd.

Neighborhoods in North and East Nashville, Donelson and Hermitage, Mount Juliet and Lebanon, as well as in Cookeville and Putnam County, among others, have been affected. Loss of life is significant, particularly in Putnam County, and likely to increase as the missing are recovered or accounted for. We mourn for those who have been lost. Please pray for those who have died and for those who are grieving, as well as for those most heavily impacted by the storms.

Businesses, homes, and churches have been destroyed or damaged, and many of our neighborhoods and communities will be faced with the challenges of re-building. Our churches have parishioners who have been affected by the storms, and all of us have friends who have been impacted. This is a challenge to all of us involved in the mission and ministry of the church, especially those engaged in pastoral ministry.

Our churches in the immediately impacted areas, especially St. Ann’s Church in East Nashville; St. Anselm’s Church in North Nashville; St. Philip’s Church in Donelson; Church of the Epiphany, Lebanon; and St. Michael’s Church, Cookeville; were not damaged, but neighboring churches were. I mention in particular St. John’s Lutheran Church, in Donelson; East End United Methodist Church, in East Nashville; Braden Memorial United Methodist Church, in East Nashville; Mount Bethel Baptist Church, in North Nashville; Hopewell Missionary Baptist Church, in Germantown; and Dodson Chapel United Methodist Church, in Hermitage. Please keep members of these churches in your prayers.

Some of you will know that the Rev’d Cynthia Seifert, priest-in-charge at Epiphany Church, Lebanon, is married to the Rev’d Chris Seifert, senior pastor at Hermitage UMC, which partners with Dodson UMC in a joint ministry. Please keep them in your prayers as well, at a stressful time for the Dodson congregation, and for the United Methodist community in Nashville.

Our parishioners will be involved in recovery efforts, both through “hands on” efforts (especially in underserved neighborhoods), and through financial support. Some of our congregations may wish to call for a special offering toward recovery efforts. Other congregations may be able to supply needed ministry on behalf of affected churches and institutions. I commend to you, in particular, the many opportunities for involvement and giving that are detailed on our website, especially the work of the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), working with the local Conference.

At this time of challenge to so many in our community, please remember St. Paul’s words in the Letter to the Romans. “Do not lag in zeal, be ardent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in suffering, persevere in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints; extend hospitality to strangers… Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” (Romans 12:11-13,15). Thank you all for your prayers, and for your encouragement in the ministry that we share in Middle Tennessee.

Yours faithfully,

The Rt. Rev’d John Bauerschmidt
Bishop of Tennessee

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Tornado Relief Information