East Tenn. pastor makes the best of tough transition during COVID-19 pandemic

Local Coronavirus Coverage

MARYVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — COVID-19 has forced many churches to offer online-only services, but for one East Tennessee pastor, the pandemic has presented unique challenges.

Methodist minister Ron Fisher was assigned to a new church in the middle of the COVID-19 crisis. So he’s had to be creative in finding ways to meet and lead his congregation, and he does it all with a smile.

As part of the Holston Conference, Rev. Fisher has served at several area churches through the years, starting out as a young husband and father, forming lasting friendships with members of his congregation.

Now named to a new church during a pandemic, things have certainly changed.

“I began at Broadway United Methodist Church in Maryville on July 1st and as of yet, have not been able to worship with the congregation in the sanctuary,” Rev. Fisher told us via FaceTime.

As we see at other churches, Rev. Fisher holds online services, preaching from the pulpit alone, but in his case, there’s the added challenge of not personally knowing yet who he is preaching to.

“I think at the very beginning, it was kind of difficult for me because I look out and I see empty pews, no people are there,” he says.

That is beginning to change, with a recent picnic where Ron and his wife Becca got to meet members of a Sunday School class, practicing social distancing.

These days, the method of worship may have changed, but the message has not.

“I think we realize that we are the church even though we are not in the church building, and I think that’s something we’ve all discovered: how important it is to be in the church and have fellowship together, but however, we are the church wherever we are,” he says.

He counsels everyone to stay positive and use this time to help someone else.

“A phone call makes a big difference,” he says, “sending a card or bringing food to them, leaving it on the porch, and keeping that social distancing.”

“I think the main thing is, we realize how our lives can change in an instant as it did, and we need to reevaluate life and pursue the things that are most important to us. Our faith, our family, and our friends are so important.”

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