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Salem United Methodist Church

R ockvale, TN

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What is Ash Wednesday?

Posted on March 1, 2019 at 9:15 AM Comments comments (0)

For those who might wonder about the origins of Ash Wednesday
I found this article that may help you better understand the 
who, what, when, where, and why of the occasion...
This article was taken from:
written by Kelly Givens



What Is Ash Wednesday? & Why Do Christians Celebrate It

Each year, Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent and is always 46 days before Easter Sunday. Lent is a 40-day season (not counting Sundays) marked by repentance, fasting, reflection, and ultimately celebration. The 40-day period represents Christ’s time of temptation in the wilderness, where he fasted and where Satan tempted him. Lent asks believers to set aside a time each year for similar fasting, marking an intentional season of focus on Christ’s life, ministry, sacrifice, and resurrection.

Who Celebrates Ash Wednesday?

Have you ever noticed how once a year, usually in February or March, there are a lot of people walking around with an ash cross on their foreheads? You probably knew it had something to do with Lent, but you weren’t sure why the ash cross was significant.

Or maybe, you grew up in a Catholic or Protestant church that held Ash Wednesday services each year, and so you’re already familiar with the service, but aren’t too sure about the history of Ash Wednesday and Lent, and what they have to do with the Christian faith. If you want to learn more about this important day in the liturgical calendar and why so many celebrate Ash Wednesday and Lent, read on!

Often called the Day of Ashes, Ash Wednesday starts Lent by focusing the Christian’s heart on repentance and prayer, usually through personal and communal confession. This happens during a special Ash Wednesday service.

                             What is the Meaning of Ash Wednesday and What Happens?               

Ash Wednesday Service

During Mass (for Catholics) or worship service (for Protestants), the priest or pastor will usually share a sermon that is penitential and reflective in nature. The mood is solemn - many services will have long periods of silence and worshipers will often leave the service in silence.

Usually, there is a responsive passage of Scripture, usually centered around confession, read aloud about the leader and congregation. Attendees will experience communal confession, as well as moments where they are prompted to silently confess sins and pray. 

After all of this, the congregation will be invited to receive the ashes on their foreheads. Usually, as the priest or pastor will dip his finger into the ashes, spread them in a cross pattern on the forehead, and say, “From dust you came and from dust you will return.”

Where do the Ashes Come from and What do the Ashes Symbolize?

Ash Wednesday Ashes 

In many congregations, the ashes are prepared by burning palm branches from the previous Palm Sunday. On Palm Sunday, churches bless and hand out palm branches to attendees, a reference to the Gospels’ account of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, when onlookers lay palm branches on his path. 

The ashes of this holiday symbolize two main things: death and repentance. “Ashes are equivalent to dust, and human flesh is composed of dust or clay (Genesis 2:7), and when a human corpse decomposes, it returns to dust or ash.”

“When we come forward to receive ashes on Ash Wednesday, we are saying that we are sorry for our sins, and that we want to use the season of Lent to correct our faults, purify our hearts, control our desires and grow in holiness so we will be prepared to celebrate Easter with great joy” 

With this focus on our own mortality and sinfulness, Christians can enter into the Lent season solemnly, while also looking forward in greater anticipation and joy of the message of Easter and Christ’s ultimate victory over sin and death. 

When is Ash Wednesday in 2019?

Here are the important dates of Lent and when they occur in 2019:

Important Dates of Lent Brief Overview of Significance 2019 Date

Ash Wednesday The beginning of Lent, a day of reflection and repentance from sin March 6, 2019

Palm Sunday Celebrates Jesus's triumphant entry into Jerusalem April 14, 2019

Holy Week The week leading up to Easter April 14- April 20, 2019

Maundy Thursday Commemorates the foot washing and Last Supper of Jesus Christ with the Apostles April 18, 2019

Good Friday Commemorates the crucifixion of Jesus and his death at Calvary April 19, 2019

Easter Sunday Celebrates the resurrection of Jesus from the dead and his victory over sin and death. April 21, 2019

The History of Lent and Ash Wednesday

The history and beginnings of Lent aren’t clear. According to, Lent has likely been observed: “since apostolic times, though the practice was not formalized until the First Council of Nicaea in 325 CE.” Christian scholars note that Lent became more regularized after the legalization of Christianity in A.D. 313. St. Irenaeus, Pope St. Victor I, and St. Athanasius all seem to have written about Lent during their ministries. Most agree that “by the end of the fourth century, the 40-day period of Easter preparation known as Lent existed, and that prayer and fasting constituted its primary spiritual exercises.” 

What Are You Not Allowed to Eat on Ash Wednesday?

As far as the exact rules and practices of Lent, those have changed over the years. “In the early centuries fasting rules were strict, as they still are in Eastern churches,” notes “One meal a day was allowed in the evening, and meat, fish, eggs, and butter were forbidden. The Eastern church also restricts the use of wine, oil, and dairy products. In the West, these fasting rules have gradually been relaxed. 
The strict law of fasting among Roman Catholics was dispensed with during World War II, and only Ash Wednesday 
and Good Friday are now kept as Lenten fast days.”

 Is Ash Wednesday Only for Catholics, Or Can Protestants Celebrate Too?

Catholic, Orthodox and many (but not all) Protestants appreciate and observe Lent. Though Lent is not named or observed in the Bible, as Christianity Today notes, “the path of Lent—prayer, fasting, and generosity over a period of time—is heavily emphasized by the authors of and characters in the Bible, including Jesus. The Bible commends a lifestyle of worship and devotion that looks considerably like Lent. Therefore, while the word is absent in the Bible, the reality of Lent is woven throughout the whole of Scripture, as we have discovered.”

In his Gospel Coalition article Evangelicals Embracing (and Rejecting) Lent, Trevin Wax gives us an important reminder regardless 
of whether we personally observe Lent:

“I hardly think the church is suffering from too much fasting,” Wax says. “But I do think the church is suffering from too much self-righteousness (and I include myself in this indictment). Lent – being either for or against – can become a way of climbing up on to the pedestal.”

He goes on to say, “What is more important than the practices we take on is the heart attitude behind them. If there’s anything we should give up this time of year, it’s our sense of superiority either to those outside the church or those inside the church who do things differently than we do.”

Verses to Reflect on for Ash Wednesday:

If you’d like to start thinking through and observing Lent and Ash Wednesday, here are a few verses specific to Ash Wednesday to meditate and reflect on, and then a prayer you can pray to observe the day.

Our Creation: Genesis 2:7 - Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.

Our Curse: Genesis 3:19 - By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”

Our Cry of Repentance: Psalm 51:7- 10: Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.

A Prayer for Ash Wednesday:

Lord, Holy One, have mercy on us. We confess our sins to you. We have fallen short of your glory and without your mercy and grace, we would be dust. We repent now. Lord, as we enter into this Lenten season, be near to us. Help us, by your Holy Spirit, to feel right conviction and repentance for our sin. Help us, by your Spirit, to have the strength to overcome the enemy.

Thank you, Lord, that Easter is coming! Death has no sting, no victory, because of Jesus! Glory and honor and praise to His name! Thank you for rescuing us. Help us keep both the weight and the joy of this season in our hearts and we move through the next several weeks. Help us bear the good fruit of your Spirit.

Thank you that the ashes on our forehead do not symbolize our ultimate reality. From dust we might have been formed, but our bodies, our spirits, ourselves, await beautiful redemption and the restoration of all things. 
Help us long and look forward to that day, and let it come quickly, Lord Jesus.


Rate & Review Us On Facebook

Posted on February 25, 2019 at 12:15 PM Comments comments (0)

As our social media community continues
to grow, we would absolutely love for you 
to rate and review us on Faceook...

And feel free to recommend us to your
friends and family as well...

Thank you for being a part of our growth!!!

We are bringing Ash Wednesday To YOU!!!

Posted on February 25, 2019 at 9:15 AM Comments comments (0)

This year...
Salem UMC is proud to announce that we will be bringing
our Ash Wednesday services to you...
Kind of...

Instead of the traditional "one evening service" on Ash Wednesday
we will be setting up in the front parking area of ththe church
(old salem Rd for those who may not know)
and will be doing  "drive thru" style service for those who
can't make a particular time for worship...

Here's how it will work...

You drive in...
Receive your blessing and mark of the cross
on your forehead...

We will then hand you a card to gove to 
the FIRST person that tells you that you
have dirt on your forehead...
This card is an invitation for that person
to come on by and receive their blessing too...

And as you prepare to head out in to the world
to work or run errands, we will hand you a snack
to hold you over...

We will be here from 6:15 in the morning until 5:15
that afternoon, so if you are in the area please stop by!!!

The History of Valentines Day

Posted on February 14, 2019 at 9:10 AM Comments comments (0)

This article was taken from

History of Valentine’s Day

Every February 14, across the United States and in other places around the world, candy, flowers and gifts are exchanged between loved ones, all in the name of St. Valentine. But who is this mysterious saint, and where did these traditions come from?
Find out about the history of this centuries-old holiday, from ancient Roman rituals to the customs of Victorian England.

The Legend of St. Valentine

The history of Valentine’s Day–and the story of its patron saint–is shrouded in mystery. We do know that February has long been celebrated as a month of romance, and that St. Valentine’s Day, as we know it today, contains vestiges of both Christian and ancient Roman tradition. But who was Saint Valentine, and how did he become associated with this ancient rite?

 Who Was the Real St. Valentine?

The Catholic Church recognizes at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred. One legend contends that Valentine was a priest who served during the third century in Rome. When Emperor Claudius II decided that single men made better soldiers than those with wives and families, he outlawed marriage for young men. Valentine, realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When Valentine’s actions were discovered, Claudius ordered that he be put to death.

Other stories suggest that Valentine may have been killed for attempting to help Christians escape harsh Roman prisons, where they were often beaten and tortured. According to one legend, an imprisoned Valentine actually sent the first “valentine” greeting himself after he fell in love with a young girl–possibly his jailor’s daughter–who visited him during his confinement. Before his death, it is alleged that he wrote her a letter signed “From your Valentine,” an expression that is still in use today. Although the truth behind the Valentine legends is murky, the stories all emphasize his appeal as a sympathetic, heroic and–most importantly–romantic figure. By the Middle Ages, perhaps thanks to this reputation, Valentine would become one of the most popular saints in England and France.

Origins of Valentine’s Day: A Pagan Festival in February

While some believe that Valentine’s Day is celebrated in the middle of February to commemorate the anniversary of Valentine’s death or burial–which probably occurred around A.D. 270–others claim that the Christian church may have decided to place St. Valentine’s feast day in the middle of February in an effort to “Christianize” the pagan celebration of Lupercalia. Celebrated at the ides of February, or February 15, Lupercalia was a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, as well as to the Roman founders Romulus and Remus.

To begin the festival, members of the Luperci, an order of Roman priests, would gather at a sacred cave where the infants Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome, were believed to have been cared for by a she-wolf or lupa. The priests would sacrifice a goat, for fertility, and a dog, for purification. They would then strip the goat’s hide into strips, dip them into the sacrificial blood and take to the streets, gently slapping both women and crop fields with the goat hide. Far from being fearful, Roman women welcomed the touch of the hides because it was believed to make them more fertile in the coming year. Later in the day, according to legend, all the young women in the city would place their names in a big urn. The city’s bachelors would each choose a name and become paired for the year with his chosen woman. These matches often ended in marriage.

Valentine’s Day: A Day of Romance

Lupercalia survived the initial rise of Christianity and but was outlawed—as it was deemed “un-Christian”–at the end of the 5th century, when Pope Gelasius declared February 14 St. Valentine’s Day. It was not until much later, however, that the day became definitively associated with love. During the Middle Ages, it was commonly believed in France and England that February 14 was the beginning of birds’ mating season, which added to the idea that the middle of Valentine’s Day should be a day for romance.

Valentine greetings were popular as far back as the Middle Ages, though written Valentine’s didn’t begin to appear until after 1400. The oldest known valentine still in existence today was a poem written in 1415 by Charles, Duke of Orleans, to his wife while he was imprisoned
in the Tower of London following his capture at the Battle of Agincourt.
(The greeting is now part of the manuscript collection of the British Library in London, England.)
Several years later, it is believed that King Henry V hired a writer named John Lydgate to compose
a valentine note to Catherine of Valois.

Typical Valentine’s Day Greetings

In addition to the United States, Valentine’s Day is celebrated in Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, France and Australia. In Great Britain, Valentine’s Day began to be popularly celebrated around the 17th century. By the middle of the 18th, it was common for friends and lovers of all social classes to exchange small tokens of affection or handwritten notes, and by 1900 printed cards began to replace written letters due to improvements in printing technology. Ready-made cards were an easy way for people to express their emotions in a time when direct expression of one’s feelings was discouraged. Cheaper postage rates also contributed to an increase in the popularity of sending Valentine’s Day greetings.

Americans probably began exchanging hand-made valentines in the early 1700s. In the 1840s, Esther A. Howland began selling the first mass-produced valentines in America. Howland, known as the “Mother of the Valentine,” made elaborate creations with real lace, ribbons and colorful pictures known as “scrap.” Today, according to the Greeting Card Association, an estimated 145 million Valentine’s Day cards are sent each year, making Valentine’s Day the second largest card-sending holiday of the year (more cards are sent at Christmas).
Women purchase approximately 85 percent of all valentines.

Mission Accomplished!!!

Posted on February 3, 2019 at 6:45 PM Comments comments (0)

For those who attend Salem UMC
You know that I am Joel Tompkins, the social media guy
and website manager for our awesome little church...
That's my wife and I in the bottom middle picture for those of
you who may not know...

When I first approached Pastor Ann with the idea
for the "Souper Bowl Saturday" I really wasn't sure
what to expect as this is something that hasn't been
done here at Salem atleast in the time that my
family has been attending here...

With the blessing of Pastor Ann and the church
we planned this event and with each meeting
I think it is safe to say that you could FEEL
the excitement grow amongst those who
helped put this together...

I can't say enough good things about those
that were part of the planning committee
and those that volunteered to prepare a
crock pot FULL of deliciousness...
And that cornbread!!!

To those who gave up a portion of
their afternoon to share a meal with us


With out your participation this would not
have been possible...

We look forward to doing this again next year
and please, feel free to leave us a suggestion
on anything we can do to add more fun to next year!!!

Have a great week!!!

SOUPER BOWL SATURDAY this weekend!!!

Posted on January 30, 2019 at 10:10 AM Comments comments (0)

We are so EXCITED to see that the weather for our 
event is going to be nearly PERFECT for football!!!
The high temp is in the mid to upper 50's on Saturday...
So PLEASE comeon out and join us for all of the 
FOOD, FUN, & FELLOWSHIP that you can stand!!!

Dinner will be served up from 4:00 pm until 5:30 pm...

Best team spirit (individual and couples) will be chosen from 5:30- 600 pm...

Followed by the GREATEST sports movie EVER...
6:00pm - 8:00pm

Souper Bowl Saturday Is Coming!!!

Posted on January 9, 2019 at 2:20 PM Comments comments (0)

We are beyond proud to announce
that on Saturday, February 2nd, 2019
we will be hosting the 1st ever

It promises to be an afternoon of
Food, fun, fellowship, and prizes!!!

Wear your favorite team colors and
be ready to compete for prizes for
best team spirit!!!
(individual & couples)

Dinner will be held from 4pm until 5:30
and the movie will play at 6pm...

Come on out and join us for all the fun!!!


Posted on January 7, 2019 at 9:35 AM Comments comments (0)

A BIG congratulaions goes out to our
2019 GROW officers from Salem:
Kay Atwood: President
Virginia Caldwell: Vice President

Photos With Santa

Posted on December 3, 2018 at 2:35 PM Comments comments (0)

Santa Claus is coming to town...

That's right...
Santa will be at Salem UMC
THIS SATURDAY from 11 am to 4pm
taking pictures with families and their pets!!!

We will have a photographer (Leah Meece) on site
and donations will be accepted for her college fund...

Reservations are suggested...

Call or church office and leave a message...
Your call will be returned within 24 hours...


Souper Bowl Planning meeting

Posted on December 3, 2018 at 2:25 PM Comments comments (0)

We hope you can join us for our first planning meeting
for what we hope will become an annual event called

Please come with an open mind and bring some
football themed fun ideas!!!

The meeting is set for this Sunday
Dec 9th at 1pm at Salem UMC

For more info please call Joel Tompkins
(leave message)
or e-mail him at: