New Year Edition!! :)

Hello 2019 & Howdy High Places!

I hope everyone had a great holiday break, shared in some holiday cheer, and feels like they can close the books on 2018 in good spirits while starting 2019 with a sense of purpose and hope. Life presents us with many challenges and can throw us a lot of curve balls. It can be so hard to keep a level head and pure heart sometimes…. that’s why we need each other, need places carved out for encouragement, joy, and togetherness.

That’s what High Places been to me for some 28 years now… who you’ve been! I look back at 2018 and see so many places where I was stretched, challenged, and comforted by your words, smiles, and embraces. And when I look out at 2019, I see abundantly more of the same care and inspiration in our church family. Personally, I am excited for this New Year!

In case you couldn’t tell, I feel really, really good! A big part of that is the time off I had last week – thank you, thank you, thank you. I was way past due for some R&R and it did my soul well to take a week off. Another part of it is just closing the book on the last couple of months in 2018. Between the craft fair, the Thanksgiving dinner, the Christmas program, organizing two People’s Suppers, finishing up my contract work with the Kettering Foundation, and substitute teaching, I don’t think I’ve ever had a more packed and stressful 10 weeks of work…. not even back when I worked three jobs and took 21 semester hours in college (which almost killed me!).  

I spent last week in my pajamas for the most part…. finally got in the boat with my dad for a few days of fishing… I spent a bunch of time just reading, praying, and reflecting… and best of all, I had three nights with 8+ hours of sleep last week, which I don’t think has happened to me in ten years (exception: I had the flu in 2015 and slept three days straight). That’s God providing REST when I needed it most. Again, thank you so much for the week off. If you have been praying for me, please know I am feeling it!

I’m also excited for the very specific ways God has been speaking at the close of the year and into the New Year. He’s been so specific that He is even linking together parts of the last three years that I didn’t think could be connected – like a master weaver. There has been a ton of “overlaying affirmations” in 2018, that honestly fall almost directly on top of what were 2017’s “underlying insecurities.” It is almost as if God has intentionally laid down an exact affirmation last year right on top of what were for me huge challenges in 2017… His replacement reality, right atop my fears of failure and insecurity. I could go on for awhile but I won’t. Just know that God is good, and He is working!

God added beautiful souls to High Places in 2018… and brought back some beautiful familiar faces we haven’t seen in a while. God is working in High Places! I love the scene in the gospels when Jesus is confronted for healing on the Sabbath. His response is somewhat blasphemous to their ears when He says, “My Father is always working, He’s never stopped working and I am working too.” Just watching how He’s added to our fellowship this year in ways that go much deeper than the numbers is proof positive of that holy work. God continues to deepen us and grow us from the inside out.   

I’m excited about 2019… I want you to be excited too. But part of how God is dealing with me lately has been learning that I cannot manufacture, coerce, or mass produce enthusiasm. The word enthusiasm in the Greek literally means, en-theo-ismos “in God, fully.”

I cannot create that for you no matter how hard I work or how excited I get. What I can do is pray for the “ismos” (full possession) of Theo (God) en (inside)… I can pray that God is in full possession of each one of us at High Places, and I will. That’s what enthusiasm means.

I pray for enthusiasm, because “God IS and He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6). We’re all bound for a great year, together, because God IS. And because God wants to see the best in us and in our community come to the Light of His love and grace.

Here’s to 2019… and there’s so much great news to follow in the coming weeks. See you Sunday, you won’t want to miss the first Sunday of the year!

Much Love,


High Places Welcomes October!

Good afternoon High Places!

October arrives with a tease of cooler temperatures and my last fishing trip I saw hints of the season appearing in the leaves on the trees. Such a beautiful time to be living here in East Tennessee.

At High Places, our autumn begins with many of our students enjoying two weeks of fall break. Some of our families are traveling, so our thoughts and prayers are with you. We hope that if you are, you will keep a good eye on the happenings in and around HPCC through these news and notes, as well as potentially tune in live to our main meeting time through Facebook, which we are testing all this month.

This Sunday we will be looking specifically at the three crosses on Golgotha, where Jesus died. These three condemned men each had different responses to their tragedy. Our responses to the bad things we have to endure in life really matter. In our story, there are three crosses and disguised in them, I believe, are our three psychological responses to pain: denial, shame, and strength. If you're bearing a cross of any sorts this week, I hope you'll join us at the Grove on Sunday, 10:30 AM.

REMINDER Ladies: tomorrow evening (Thursday), our women’s ministry will begin a new series entitled “The Cure for the Common Life” which is based on the book by Max Lucado. The fun begins at 6:30PM at the home of Laurel and David Richmond, 103 Evans Lane in Oak Ridge.

REMINDER Leaders: We will be meeting Sunday, October 16 immediately after our main meeting at 1:00PM. Mike is making chili and grilling wings, yummy! Look for an email to follow this one for more information.

REMINDER: Mountain Movers! Our children’s ministry is having a Halloween celebration on Saturday, October 29 from 1:00-3:00 PM. There will be friendly monsters, crafts, games, food and more! Kady Marcotte has asked me to remind everyone that many needs still exist for this event. We need volunteers for all areas, prizes to give-away, and financial donations to help purchase needed crafts, food, and supplies. Please see Kady for more information and how you might be able to assist.

Friday & Saturday, October 21-22 will be a two BIG nights for High Places and the Grove Theater. The Arts Council of Oak Ridge is holding a concert benefit with a lot of bands and activities happening all weekend long with events kicking off Friday night. It would be great to have lots of High Places folk out in support! Besides it is my birthday (which I share with Rebecca Halperin!), so let’s get out and have some fun! Also of interest -- the United Nations will officially deem October 21 as International Wonder Woman Day in honor of the famous superhero! Yet another reason to celebrate… Ha!

Finally, Marilyn has asked me to remind everyone that our last 90-Day Faith Challenge of 2016 officially begins this month (see attachment). In case you missed it, she shared from her heart on Sunday regarding our church finances, which are behind for the year. She said the amount we’re behind seems large and can feel overwhelming for her at times. Yet, when we look at it, we see that we’re only behind a very small amount when we each give faithfully and consistently… only $1.89 each week to be exact! Faithful giving is about trusting God with what is already His and what may seem like a small commitment of faith is actually the kind of thing that God uses to do great things with. She’s asking for 100% participation for this 90-day stretch, so let’s please prayerfully consider what God leads us to do.

Lots of great stuff coming this month and next at High Places, stay tuned! And as always, please keep our church, its staff, and our ministries in constant prayer.

Also, please pray for those in the path of hurricane Matthew, which include many of our own High Places friends and families.

Much love,


Summer Camp is Here!

Hello High Places!

I hope it has been a wonderful summer so far. Summers tend to be a busy, busy time for so many with beach trips, sports camps, family visits, and more. If you missed a few Sunday's, don't worry -- we're still here! And we've missed you too!

This past Sunday was a wonderful turn-out as we kicked off our new series. This Sunday we will hit part two with a look at the concept of "church fellowship." Hanging out together and enjoying one another's company is not only extremely HEALTHY, it is also a great way to GROW together!

Our teenagers will enjoy some "fellowship" next week at Big Ridge State Park for our annual Off the Wall Summer Camp. This year's theme is "LIMITLESS" and one thing that seem almost limitless is the number of campers we have committed!

Kudos to Chad and team for ministry to what could top 85 teenagers -- our largest summer camp ever!

With a camp this large, needs get multiplied. Everything from transportation to the amount of extra sunscreen we need to pack for kids that forget!

Thank you to the MANY who have already contributed to our kitchen needs for camp, made extra donations to help sponsor our campers and youth ministry, and who are volunteering in so many ways to help make this happen.

There are still many ways for the church at large to help out -- starting with a commitment to pray for us all next week. For many campers and counselors alike, it will be their first experience at Big Ridge. Pray for God to work and move, pray for a safe camp, and pray for those young people who may have never opened up to God's love to be ready to receive Him.

In fact, if you are willing -- would you consider setting your phone alarm to buzz you at 8:00AM and 8:00PM every day next week as a reminder to pray? 8:00AM because that's the start of every day for campers... and 8:00PM because that is approaching our bonfire time where many students open up and share.

The next thing we would really love is to have the whole church come visit us at Big Ridge on Thursday night for family night and baptisms. Bring a side dish to share and come up by 6:00PM to enjoy dinner as well.

NEEDS LIST FOR CAMP is evolving and changing, but for now we could really use some help Saturday driving back luggage, gear, and kitchen supplies. A few extra trucks would be very helpful. Also, when we return having a crew on hand to help us unpack at the Grove (noon on Saturday) is always a welcome sight after a long, hot week at camp.

Stay in touch with Chad and our staff for more specific needs as they arise.

Finally, our Mountain Movers are invited to get a "taste" of camp on Saturday night before we had over the keys to Big Ridge on Sunday. See Kady Marcotte this Sunday for more on the over-nighter at Big Ridge for our children's ministry.  

Thank you for taking time to read this long email! We're heading into a great week!

Much love,


News and Notes: Graduation Celebration at Clark Park!

Hello High Places!

Just a reminder that this Sunday is our graduation celebration at Clark Park in Oak Ridge. It looks like we may get a break from the weekend rain just in time for a wonderful outdoor party! We will begin at 10:45AM to allow any who may show up at the Grove to trickle over. (It is a short ride over to Clark Park, less than 10 minutes from our usual Sunday morning home!)

If you or someone in your family graduates from high school or college, we want to make sure we don’t miss the opportunity to celebrate and serve, so please let me know by responding to

Even if you can’t attend, we still want to mention you specifically by name and express a shared gratitude for this fabulous milestone, so don’t hesitate to reach out!

Things Needed, Things to Bring:

We are planning to cook-out, so the kitchen team is asking for us to bring a favorite veggie of choice, fresh fruit, or perhaps a dessert! We may even do a contest on the veggies and let any graduates present pick their favorite item (because we know graduates don’t eat enough veggies!)

Bringing an outdoor lawn chair is always VERY helpful. Seating is tight and it is tough to load 50 chairs in the back of pick-up trucks. If you have one and maybe an extra, please bring along!

In the event of rain, we will meet at Clark Park anyway provided we can get the big shelter (it is a first come first serve deal, so a couple of EARL-y birds (hint dad and Tony), maybe can get there early to hold it for us.

I need a couple of standbys at the Grove to help usher traffic over to Clark Park with big smiles!

We’re going to have a GREAT Sunday morning experience, recognizing that CHURCH is WHEREVER WE ARE at ANY GIVEN TIME.

Other items – KID KAMP & YOUTH CAMP are coming up quickly. We could really use some help – human resources, giving resources, prayer warriors, and logistical planners are always a big part of what makes our camps so successful. See Chad or Kady for more!

It’s been an outstanding year so far at High Places and it just seems to be getting better and better! Thank you all for doing, giving, and most importantly for BEING so much!

In Him,


News and Notes, May 12

Good Morning High Places!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Mother’s Day weekend, it was so great to see everyone and you all looked beautiful. This weekend we continue our look at the “invitational” church with the Apostle Paul and also, a look at the late Prince Rogers Nelson (of whom I was admittedly a fan). What could Prince at the Apostle have in common? Hmmm… we will see!

I have a few very special requests ---

This Saturday, we will be hosting our “Friends of the Grove Theater” brunch and I could really use a few extra breakfast casseroles, cinnamon rolls, etc. to serve our guests. If you are willing to whip something up for Saturday morning at 9:30AM, please let me know by replying to this email. Thank you!!!

At the end of the month, Wednesday June 1st, High Places “Off the Wall” youth ministry will be hosting a big event for area teenagers – “School’s Out, Three-Point Shoot Out!” We really want to be able to provide GREAT prizes for the winners and we need a budget to work with…. So if you are willing and able to chip in for this event, drop something in the box or use the new HPCC smartphone App under the GIVE section.

As you probably know, our youth and children’s ministries have about as wide and as deep of a reach into our community as there is in Oak Ridge. Our SUMMER PROGRAMS are practically unrivaled when it comes to providing fun and caring environments for students… and as we mention each year, we need church support to pull this off.

Our summer budget for the school’s out event, Big Ridge, Kid Kamp and more will easily reach about $3,000. As we begin a new 90-Day Faith Challenge in June, would you be willing to pray for High Places commitment and investment in these important summer ministries, and to ask God how he might use you? In and through our faith, God does incredible things each year at High Places with this community’s young people

Mark your calendars for Sunday May 22, as this is typically the Sunday we go to Clark Park for a church picnic and graduation celebration. We are working on being “first in” for the large pavilion near the softball fields, so expect us to meet there instead of the Grove for our main meeting.

Kid Kamp is June 20-23 and Kady Marcotte is looking for a team of helpers. If you can help serve our children by teaching, shepherding, organizing games or even help with the planning, please notify her of your willingness this week.

Finally, our quarterly leadership meeting is this Sunday from 5:00-7:00PM. If you have not already responded to Martin to confirm attendance, please do so today.

Keep the many who are hurting in our church in your prayers, including Debbie Casey’s brother, Julie, Rebecca Mantooth’s brother, and many others.

Thank you all and have a great week!


So Long April, You Were Beautiful

Hello High Places!

Can you believe April has basically come and gone already? This year seems to be flying by! And it’s been a great year for High Places -- and a great month. For example, last night I was talking with Tony South who’s been having a lot of work responsibilities lately and I called just to say we were thinking of him. I was so pleased to hear that so many in our church had already reached out to Tony, completely on their own, to say the exact same things.

Folks, that is an incredible barometer for a healthy church. When we love one another and when our love is practiced not just in words, but in actions. The connections we make with each other and the ways we encourage one another throughout the week is a demonstration of the love God has given us. I am so excited and so happy for this church and the way God is working among us currently. Let’s continue to seek Him and be willing to follow Him as He leads.

I really want to ask for your support through the coming month of May. Martin gave us all a great gift by sharing his heart these past two weeks. What you may not know is how much I needed time to clear some space to hear from God regarding our upcoming theme. The gift Martin gave me – and continues to give me every week as a friend and mentor – was exactly what I needed.

God is speaking very clearly to me and I am ready to begin unpacking the direction He is revealing for the coming weeks. You may recall during the State of the Church Sunday in January that one of things God was saying to me for 2016 was that this could be a great year for us to shift from being just a “Welcoming” church to becoming an “Invitational” church.

Becoming “invitational” is about mission, vision, and intention. I might even call it a non-accidental kind of welcoming. In other words, we haven’t just welcomed someone to the Jesus-party at High Places, we have actually personalized an invitation…. but then, that’s kind of the hard part in some ways.

The questions boil down to:

-- Who are we inviting?

-- What are we inviting them to?

-- How are we extending this invitation?

As I said, God has been speaking, and I feel the need to begin this Sunday by personalizing with you a little bit, perhaps in ways that make me slightly uncomfortable. I need to model risk, authenticity, and transparency as methods of communicating the concepts of being an “invitational” church before I spend a month talking more deeply about them.

I hope you will commit to be a part of what God is doing and is about to do in High Places over the coming weeks. I hope you will be present as His Church this Sunday as we open the door on this very important, and I believe divinely inspired, next step for our church family.

Other items of interest:

Mother’s Day is May 8th – an incredible opportunity to be invitational. Bring mom, or if your mother has passed, I want to encourage us to find someone who’s been lovingly mother-like to us and invite them as we pause to honor one of God’s greatest gifts to us – Mom.

Baby Dedications traditionally happen on Mother’s Day. If you have a newborn and would like to have him/her take part in this special service, please notify me as soon as you can.

Friends of the Grove Community Partner Champagne Brunch is scheduled for Saturday morning May 14. We may need help with this event, please stand-by for more information!

Graduation Celebration at Clark Park is tentatively set for May 22.

We will have a Leadership Meeting in May, so when that date is confirmed, leaders please make every effort to attend.

Off the Wall Youth Ministries continue to be hopping and we are currently in a full-on search mode for potential camp counselors. If you can DEVOTE a week to simply LOVING on teenagers and following a very simple plan on how to show that love, then we desperately need you.

Thank you again High Places for being so amazing. God is extraordinarily good to us. Praise Him.



“I know your sufferings and your poverty, but you are RICH.” -- Jesus

News and Notes: April 20 2016

Good afternoon High Places!

A couple of friendly reminders for the week – First, this Sunday is “Big Food” Sunday and we’d love it if everyone could bring something and potentially stick around and fellowship afterward by having lunch together as a church family. Our theme for this month is “Secret Ingredient!” so if you have a recipe with a secret ingredient, bring it and let us have some fun trying to guess what it is!

Secondly, for those who signed up for NT Wright’s “Simply Jesus” study, we hope to meet this Sunday at 1:30PM at my house for a discussion over the first three sections. Plan for about one hour.

Other needs / requests:

  • Please keep our youth ministry and the many volunteers and leaders who give much in your prayers. We continue to feed about 50+ kids per week, so if you are ever out and about and see a good deal on non-perishables like drink mix, plates, cups, forks, bags of rice, big cans of veggies, or anything else grab some up and we will find a way to put them to good use! Our kitchen volunteers (both on Sunday and Wednesday) are putting in a lot of time and resources keeping us all fed, so anything you’d like to put in the mix won’t go to waste and will help a ton!!

  • If you currently support High Places with auto-depositing or online giving and are not using the new PushPay system available through our App, please see Mike or Marilyn. We are trying to go with the new system entirely so we can cut the cost of using two online donation systems. And no matter how you give, we want to say “Thank You” for supporting God’s work at High Places!

  • Speaking of the App, it is still up and ready for your use! Maybe you are reading this already through the App itself, awesome!! If you don’t already have it, just search for “High Places Community Church” in your App store. It’s free!

  • Don’t forget, Mother’s Day is May 8th – we will be honoring all moms on this Sunday, and prayerfully remembering moms who’ve gone before us, but left a great legacy of love. Mother’s Day is also traditionally when we do baby dedications, so if you have a newborn then please contact David (or reply here) to make plans now to be a part of this special service.

The Sacred Breath is moving at High Places, may it blow on the many seeds of ministry He is springing up at His church in Oak Ridge & in our hearts!

Much love,


News and Notes: Post Easter

Wow! What a wonderful Easter we had together at High Places this week!

The crowd (somewhere upwards of 170!), the music, the choir, the food -- and most importantly -- the SPIRIT of the day was fantastic. I want to pause and say a big THANK YOU to the scores of people who worked very hard to make this Easter successful.

Our food team, ambiance team, building and grounds team, cleaning team, hosting and greeting volunteers, music team, choir, children and youth ministries, and audio-visual crew all worked extremely hard and put in EXTRA-EFFORT to make everything come off without a hitch. #blessedbeyondbelief

I can't begin to express how much it means to me to see God's people at High Places take so much CARE in making our time together overflow with love, service to Him, and celebration. I am truly humbled by our support teams, volunteers, and staff commitment. Thank you! Thank you!

This Sunday we pick up IMMEDIATELY on the Easter story, right where we left off in John 20, with a look at the Holy Spirit and God's Breath. Has God ever "breathed on you?" How do we recognize when He does? What are we supposed to do with His breath?

Ironically, I will be sharing this message while battling a nasty lung infection -- keep me in your prayers!

SPECIAL INTEREST ANNOUNCEMENT -- This one requires a 48-hour response window. Those of us who signed up for NT Wright's "Simply Jesus" online course using the coupon code just before Easter have been given a 2nd Coupon Code to invite one friend to the course for only $10.

What this means is that if you A) Have Internet Access, and B) Have Interest in Learning about the Historical Jesus and His Mission, that some of us are willing to sign you up. Let me know by replying here if you would like to participate. There are 13 video lectures (all short) and some supplemental reading. We will debrief a few times together as a group at my house this month and next.

High Places SOFTBALL is back in FULL SWING and we would love to have you come support our men and women in green this Tuesday at 8:00PM at Jefferson field. It's a lot of FUN!

Our GAG (Grove Action Group) has met and walked the building. They will be sharing a few things this Sunday about ways to plug in -- and no, you don't have to be a handyman or construction genius to play a part in shaping up our space! I think we will all be surprised by the "little" things that we can do that will make huge differences in the Grove. So stay tuned for that!

Lots and lots of happenings and goings on. Please pray for Jan Joyal who we all missed on Easter because she broke her foot! Prayers for quick healing and comfort to her. Prayers also to the many who are battling illnesses (like our prayer team leader Julie!) and who have experienced loss in recent weeks (like the Clark family in the loss of Karen's dad).

So excited for the coming weeks.... they are going to be GRAND!

Love you all,