New Providence Presbyterian Church - Maryville, TN
Thursday, June 20, 2019
New Providence
Presbyterian Church
703 West Broadway Avenue
Maryville, TN 37801
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“Be the Church You Wish to See”

I’ve always loved that quote from Gandhi: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” In other words, if you want the world to be more loving, be more loving. If you want the world to be more tolerant, be more tolerant. If you want the world to be kinder, be more kind. 

I was disappointed to learn recently that it may be fake news. It turns out that Gandhi died in 1948, and the quote didn’t surface until 1974. Oops. 

Nevertheless, the sentiment is still valid. This old tired world could certainly use some change, and who better it come from than us? Let’s be the church we want to see in the world.

That’s the impetus behind our summer listening groups at New Providence. As you’ve heard, in the next 2-1/2 months, the session is inviting every member and friend of NPPC to participate in listening groups to talk about where we believe God is calling us in the next 3-5 years of our life together.

We are referring to these as “soul-stirring conversations,” because they’re not just about data, or budgets or buildings, but about who we are, what we’re passionate about, who we want to be, and what we want to be known for as we move forward.

Why now? Because this is a unique moment of our life together that offers us the opportunity to talk and pray about the future into which God is calling us. Those conversations will pave the way for church leaders to discern how we focus our resources and energy in those directions.

Beginning in the first week of June, the session will host (at least) 18 different listening groups that will continue through the middle of August, and our hope is that everyone connected to NPPC will participate. Each gathering will last 90 minutes.

Groups will be asked to respond to several different questions: 
  • First, what Biblical story best reflects NPPC in your experience? This is not a Bible quiz, it’s a way of seeing our story as a part of God’s ongoing story. Are we a Good Samaritan church or a “loaves and fishes” church, or something else? How do we line up in God’s broad mission to the world?
  • Secondly, what are our strengths/assets? What challenges will we face in the next 5 years?
  • And finally, what do you want NPPC to be known for?

In each listening group, recorders will compile notes, and that information will be distilled to discern patterns and themes that arise. This winter, church leaders will turn those central ideas into actionable plans about who God is calling us to be, including staff design, budgets and ministry initiatives.

Each session will begin with a few ground rules: 
  • This is a time to dream about the future; while we are grateful for our history, we want to look forward, and not just reminisce.
  • This is not a budget forum, a time to air grievances, or a time to advocate for specific projects.
  • While we have to operate within the limits of our resources, this is a time for dreaming and envisioning the future.

Does that wet your whistle? I hope so. Because this project will only be successful if we have input from as many NPPC members and friends as possible. Following this article, you will see a list of dates, names and locations for listening groups. You may sign up online at, or contact Carrie Eaton (, 984-7440). 

Let me say this as clearly as I can: everyone is invited to be a part of this. Have you only been at NewProv for a few months? We need your fresh perspectives! Are you a part of the youth group? Older members need to know what matters to you! Are you not *technically* a member, but still hang around? Even better! We need your input. Have you been at New Providence since God was a baby? Fantastic. Your experience will help us ground our story in our history. 

In other words, everyone is wanted, every opinion matters, every voice is needed. Please give an hour and a half of your time this summer to this important moment in our life together. I look forward to hearing from you, and I look forward to what God has in store for us!

It is a joy to be the church with you!

Emily J. Anderson

There are 17 sessions to choose from with the date, time and location of each session. Sessions are in the home unless otherwise listed:
  • June 6, 2:00 p.m., Alida Graves
  • June 7, 7:00 p.m., Steve Musick
  • June 10, 3:00 p.m., Andrew Irvine
  • June 14, 6:30 p.m., Nick Bradford
  • June 18, 7:00 p.m., Carrie Eaton
  • June 27, 7:00 p.m., Emily Anderson
  • June 28, 2:00 p.m., Hayley Lynn at Shannondale
  • July 1, 4:00 p.m., Gabie Kerr
  • July 5, 6:30 p.m., Laura Shamiyeh
  • July 11, 7:00 p.m. Bill Yarborough
  • July 15, 4:00 p.m., Bill Savell
  • July 22, 4:30 p.m., Tracy Luttrell
  • July 23, 7:00 p.m., Tyler Johnson
  • July 29, 7:00 p.m., John Pittenger
  • August 2, 6:00 p.m., Jane Morton (at NPPC)
  • August 5, 4:00 p.m., Maxey Long
  • August 8, 6:00 p.m., Bryan Kilday