A Servant's Heart: Tommy Siler - "Doing Church" Hand-in-Hand

October 27, 2014

   Tommy and Tiffany Siler, parishioners at St. John’s since 2002, have two daughters, Lauren (age 8) and Kathryn (almost 11). Tommy is an usher and former Chapter member and Tiffany serves on a monthly flower guild team. During Tommy’s tenure on the St. John’s Chapter he was asked to serve as the Chair of the Endowment Committee. His work at UBS Financial Services, the many charitable boards on which he serves, his year spent in Leadership Knoxville, and his enthusiastic leadership style made him a great fit for the role. 

   When talking about the duties of the Endowment Committee, Tommy ties it together with the ministry of St. John’s. “Church is changing from sitting in a pew on Sunday morning to stretching beyond the building and living our faith daily by serving together in our larger community of Knoxville…especially downtown.” Given the ever-changing landscape of churches today, how do we acclimate? How do we serve people? How do we “do church” in an ever evolving community? “The charity becomes the church.”

   By decreasing the number of ministries St. John’s Endowment supports, we are able to make a larger impact on the causes supported. One of the long-supported ministries, Volunteer Ministry Center, would continue to be our partner in ministry, and in that spirit the Endowment Committee wanted to make a measurable, sustainable impact for our city. The idea is to prevent the dependency that VMC is trying to reverse in Knoxville’s adult population.

One of the new ministry ventures of the Committee evolved from a meeting Tommy had with Buzz Thomas with Greater Schools of Knoxville and a partnership was born. St. John’s has become a hallmark church partnering with an inner-city school, Green Magnet Academy, to offer more than just a check every year. “With Green Magnet, we need them more than they need us,” said Tommy of this new relationship. Green Magnet Academy is just over one mile away from St. John’s, and makes the opportunity to help those in our neighborhood. 

   For Tommy, one special moment stands out in the process of partnering with Green Magnet. As he stood at the back of the Church a few weeks ago, waiting to enter as Professor Neussbaum and do his silly skit, Tommy witnessed the impact: “Melissa Everett was so enthused and emotionally impacted talking about the food backpack ministry she’s helping to coordinate, I realized that the St. John’s partnership with Green Magnet that had been four years in the making had finally moved off the blueprint page and had turned into real action.” 

   Tommy’s enthusiasm has become infectious. There is a lot of energy around the outreach already happening: sponsorship of an afterschool art program, weekly food backpack distribution, reading buddies, clothing drive, etc. Still in the works: the creation of a Green Magnet Foundation, generating support for small businesses in the school’s local community (such as the Old City), assisting with repairing the playground, and helping in the school’s garden.

   “Hand-in-hand! We’re doing this WITH the school – let’s create INDEPENDENCE in their generation.” 

 

~Who do you know with a servant’s heart? We’d like to tell their story. Contact Melissa Dodson, 934-4823.~

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