I’ve heard it put that hospitality, that is, true hospitality, is considering a guest’s feeling of welcome to be of greater importance than one’s own comfort.

It’s what my wife and I felt from you when we came to Knoxville almost five years ago, a feeling of welcome and blessing that continued as our family grew. We have seen and felt the blessing of the hospitality of Sequoyah Church first hand! In no small part, the love and grace you have shown us affirmed to us that God had truly called us to this community.

That’s the other side of hospitality. It’s a vulnerable place to be in when you’re a guest. Have you ever entered an unfamiliar house or gone to a gathering at which you didn’t really know anyone? It can be intimidating, even discouraging, to say the least.

That’s what “coming to church” can feel like to so many people—and not just “coming to church,” but approaching anything resembling a life of faith in Christ and his community. It’s intimidating, possibly discouraging, and there’s no telling what histories, doubts, and scars from past wounds come along with it.

But how much relief does it bring when, upon entering that unfamiliar place, the hosts quickly come up to you, embrace you, and surround you with welcome to make you feel at ease?

That’s what “coming to church” should feel like too. An eager invitation and welcome into fellowship are a reflection of the grace Christ bestows. We welcome because God in Christ has welcomed us. We REACH out because God in Christ has REACHED out to us.

That outward REACH has been ingrained in the life of the church ever since and, as I have been blessed to see, in the life and heritage of Sequoyah Church.

The ministry and mission of the church has always been defined less by who were already there and much, much more by who weren’t there yet.

We now stand at a juncture in the life of our church with the opportunity to reclaim and renew our dedication to that call of Christ and commitment to our heritage: to REACH, to embrace how the outward call of the Lord leads us in how we use and restore our building, and to refocus our commitment to connection, both among those who are here now and, perhaps more importantly, with those who aren’t here yet.

In these pages, you’ll read how God has called the church continuously to REACH, beyond where we’re comfortable and toward those who weren’t here yet. You’ll learn more about a vision for updates to our mission, ministry, and building that invites us to embrace this call to REACH in all facets of our church’s life together.

I pray that in the Spirit we might together be inspired to press forward—and REACH out!

In Christ,

Jay Howell
Pastor | Head of Staff





Olive Tree