September 31 was a big day for St. Joseph the Carpenter Episcopal Church on Hardin Lane in Sevierville. The congregation is celebrating its 30th anniversary year with a series of special events. Sunday, Bishop George Young who presides over the East Tennessee diocese, came to worship with the congregation.
The day began with a round table briefing by the bishop about the state of the church in the South Dakota Missionary Diocese. He had just returned from a visit to the mission churches of the Lacota Reservation in South Dakota which St. Joseph supports in prayer and with financial gifts.
One of the things the bishop discussed was a phenomenon known as “Toxic Charity” which describes how often mission trips are about making the giver feel good rather than providing what the recipient needs. Afterward, instead of the regular schedule of two morning services, the community celebrated one service at 10:30 with Bishop Young and Rev. Paige Buchholz presiding. After the service, the congregation remained for lunch with the bishop. The bishop was then given the honor of knocking the first hole in the wall for a renovation project the church is starting.
It was an occasion with a lot of laughter and reminiscing for members of the congregation. Retired priest, Ft. Robert Rizner, attends St. Joseph and has done so since he retired 20 years ago from active ministry in Tampa, Florida. He served as a supply priest at St. Joseph for three years after retiring. “It is so nice to have the bishop here for the anniversary.” Father Rizner said, “He comes across so well. He and his wife are both priests and his father and I went to the same seminary.”
Carol and Richard Dalton are also long time members. “We decided to come here after attending on vacation and joined when we moved here.” Carol added, “It has changed a lot over the years, but my choir partner I started with 15 years ago is still here singing with me.”
The first event in this celebration year was in April with a visit from retired Bishop William Sanders, who was the first Bishop of East Tennessee Diocese. The second event was an ice cream social on Pentecost, June 8. The church is offering a storytelling and remembrances event in October and a free organ concert the first Sunday in Advent in November.