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conversation matters

Technology has advanced so rapidly. Our medical care is better. Our ability to keep informed with the world is better. Grandparents are able to watch grand children grow up, even from great distances with the help of Facebook and Skype.

With the advancements in communication, has come unintended side effects. Online we have the ability to comment on a world of topics anonymously leading us to say things we would never say to someone's face. On Facebook, we can hide the things that we don't like. We don't have to see the other side of an argument. We can filter our news so we never hear of the world's events.

As people who are called to be a light in this world... 

We need to know what is happening in the world. 

We need to hear all sides of the story. 

We need to respectfully share our side.

During each Conversation Matters event, we will have  conversations about specific cultural and historical topics. These discussions will be led by United Methodist scholars who care deeply about the conversation and the church.   

On April 30th, Dr. Eric Keels of the Howard Baker, Jr. Center for Public Policy led a conversation on the crisis in South Sudan.

1st UMC has been active in that region of Africa for many years.  That work included building a church/school building in the

village of Pukuka.  The current conflict in South Sudan has forced the people in that village to flee, with most going to the neighboring country of Uganda.

Scroll down to hear Dr. Keel's presentation

and listen to audio from some past Conversation Matters events.

Conversation matters

audio and video


iSLAM 101

aUGUST 28, 2016

On August 28th, Dr. Phillip Sherman of Maryville College led the Conversation Matters event.  The focus for the evening's discussion was on the basic tenets of the Islamic faith.   

If you would like to hear the conversation from August 28th, CLICK HERE!



jULY 31, 2016

Del Holley, the Lay Leader for the Holston Conference of the United Methodist Church joined the conversation with information on the debates at the 2016 UMC General Conference.  

challenging segregation

april 24, 2016

Fifty three years ago, more than two dozen white Methodist pastors in Mississippi  issued a public statement called "Born of Conviction."  The result was a large backlash against them, one that was overshadowed by many of the other events of the time. 

Late last year, the Rev. Dr. Joseph Reiff, who grew up in Mississippi, released his book "Born of Conviction: White Methodists and Mississippi's Closed Society."  He joined us on April 24th for conversation about the book, what happened to those ministers and how themes of the book are still relevant today.

The Rev. Dr. Reiff is an ordained United Methodist minister.  He is currently the chair of the Religion Department at Emory and Henry College in Virginia. 

Click here to read more about "Born of Conviction" and Dr. Reiff's challenges in writing it. 

homosexuality and the church

February 28, 2016

Last year's US Supreme Court decision regarding gay marriage did not end the debate over it.  In fact, churches like the United Methodist Church continue to debate homosexuality and how it fits into our understanding of the Bible. 

Dr. Phillip Sherman of Maryville College led the discussion on this controversial topic.

During the event, he explained what is expected to happen at the upcoming General Conference of the United Methodist Church, the top legislative body for the denomination.

Click here to listen to this conversation. 

Dr. Phillip Sherman

Photo courtesy of www.maryvillecollege.edu

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The church and the state

january 31, 2016


When Adolf Hitler and the Nazis took power in Germany, how did church leaders and ordinary Christians react? The answers may surprise you.  

Our "Conversation Matters" series kicked off with the Rev. Steven Martin, a United Methodist scholar, showing his film Theologians Under Hitler.  It is based on groundbreaking research into the lives of three Christian scholars of the 20th Century: Paul Althaus, Emanuel Hirsch, and Gerhard Kittel.  

Following the film, Rev. Martin led a discussion on the film and how it is relevant in today's debates over the role of church and state. 


Below you can watch an excerpt from the film.