Our interim pastors, Norma Johnson and Larry Richardson, were feted at a brunch following the service on December 31st. Each of them was presented with a magnificent wooden cross made by Neal Vaughn, pictured here with the pastors. We thank Pastor Norma and Pastor Larry for their ministry at Grace!

See the latest news from our team of missionaries, the Brondos family.

Read a letter from our seminary partners, Ashton and Jennifer Roberts.

Mental Health Ministry – Suicide Prevention
by Annie Long

Scott Payne was the speaker for the Mental Health Ministry program on August 22nd. He is the East Tennessee Regional Coordinator with Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network.

He shared risk factors for suicide: losing a job, suffering depression, substance abuse, having attempted suicide before, or suffering a death (especially by suicide) of a family member or friend are some things that may cause a person to think about suicide.

Persons who are suicidal will often talk about it, saying they can’t see any reason for going on, giving away cherished possessions, losing interest in activities and their appearance. Veterans are particularly at risk. 22 US veterans commit suicide every day.

Payne said that we are all “gatekeepers,” that we can help using the “Question, Persuade and Refer approach. If a person threatens suicide or you fear they are suicidal, ask them if they are. Asking them, does not make them more likely to commit suicide. They may be more likely to talk to you. Listen without interrupting or condemning. Only speak when they are finished. As them if you may take them to a counselor, hospital, or a professional person or call 1-800-SUICIDE. If the suicidal person won’t call, make the call yourself and get help in finding out how to stop them. Make suicide as difficult as you can by removing pills, firearms, or car keys. Offer hope in any way you can.

More information is available by calling (615) 297-1077 or at

Mental Health Ministry – Youth Substance Abuse
By Stan Long

On Saturday, July 18, the Grace Mental Health Ministry hosted another informative program open to the general public. The topic was “Youth Substance Abuse – the Complex and Courageous Conversation,” presented by Mr. Michael Yates, the Development Director for Ridgeview Behavioral Services.

Michael used a quote from T.S. Eliot’s poem, Four Quartets; “In my beginning is my end.” as an introduction to the main part of his presentation. What happens to us as children generally shapes our adult behavior, particularly where childhood traumatic experiences are involved.

We were shown a short video “test” proving that many of us only perceive what we look for, or want to see. Traumatic experiences may not be easy to spot; are easier to deny, and usually difficult to discuss.

He referred to a study called Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) that can be found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) web site: It illustrates the connection between parenting (or lack thereof) and a child’s lifetime mental and physical health, and how “some of the worst health and social problems in our nation can arise as a consequence of adverse childhood experiences.” Substance abuse is an attempt to cope with these experiences, and is considered a suicide risk factor.

Coping requires “complex and courageous conversations,” Michael emphasized, both within families and when seeking professional advice. He identified a number of community organizations that are available to provide assistance, and to offer advice on strengthening youth and families in recognizing the risk factors leading to substance abuse.

To summarize, Mr. Yates is an excellent speaker with a timely topic, and offers potential solutions that can lead to prevention of youth substance abuse, leading to longer, more productive lives. For more information or help, please call 1-865-482-1076 or go to Other resources for help are the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-TALK, and the Tennessee Suicide Prevention Network,