We Are St. B's

Stop in each week to read a story of how St. B's has been a place of healing, community and growing in faith.

Music + Liturgy = Home

As the song says, "Music was my first love, and it will be my last." On our very first visit to St B's I wept through the entire service because the music showed me I was home. There have been countless times since where the intertwining of music and liturgy has brought me to tears or transcendence, but a love that was heartily rekindled was for the Triduum—the three services that make up Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday. 

As a lifelong Anglican, I've seen all my churches handle Easter week in their own way, and each brings something unique to the table. But NOTHING compares to a St. B's Triduum. The drama of the liturgy, the thoughtfully chosen and beautifully performed music, the use of darkness and light, and the interactive elements for the congregation combine to bring home the passion of Christ in a way that never fails to impact me and, more importantly, bring me back to Jesus.

Jude Mason is senior warden and sings in the worship band. Her husband Stephen is often on bass guitar in the band and their daughter Milly is often acolyting.

Restored and Renewed

A job redundancy precipitated my move to Nashville. My marriage was heading to divorce. I was alone and hurting. I felt spent and empty. While church hopping, I visited St. B’s one Sunday in September 2015. My welcome was warm and engaging, as if reconnecting with old friends.

The readings, sermon, and songs spoke directly to the pain I was experiencing. The music played by the band and organ enveloped me. Lifting my voice while singing the Lord’s Prayer gave me unending goosebumps. This was worship! And it was as if the service was designed and choreographed specifically with me in mind. I left feeling restored and reminded of God’s love for me. And St. B’s has been a wellspring of renewal ever since. 

Andrew Smithen is a member of our vestry, worship team, and choir. Being a part of the St. B's family is a central aspect of worship, service, and friendship for him, along with his wife Lisa and their daughters Arianna, Amalyah, and Sanaa. 

An Egalitarian Community

The Thursday morning women’s Bible study has altered the course of my life by reshaping my understanding of community, service, and democracy. When he was on earth, Jesus empowered an egalitarian community of followers who obeyed him alone and served all others. For me, the Bible study is a real-life experience and practice of that. The women share the labor required to run our microcommunity. We take turns leading and bringing snack. We all have input on what we study and how we run the study. We bear one another’s burdens in prayer. We offer both our strengths and our limitations to bless the group. I have come to see that setting aside that weekly time is serving one another as we follow Jesus together.

Gretchen Abernathy and her family have been at St. B's for 16 years. Gretchen is a chair of our Rector Search Committee and was previously Senior Warden. She originally joined the women’s Bible study 11 years ago because there was childcare and she was going a bit bonkers at home with her baby.

Questions Encouraged

Less than fifteen hours had passed since Emily said “yes” when I proposed. We knew that a new chapter in our life was beginning, and that God was calling us to follow him at a new church. From the time we arrived at St. B’s, we were warmly greeted and repeatedly encouraged to return.

The music touched us and does so to this day at every service. It is such a beautiful melding of traditional and contemporary that kindled fond memories of church from my childhood through more recent days. Emily loved the liturgy and practice, and I always love it when there is a thurifer swinging incense.

St. B’s is a place where we can learn and grow in God’s love without fear of not knowing something, saying the wrong thing, or asking a tough question. Questions are encouraged. Discernment is encouraged. God has given us a church to call home and a congregation to call family. 

Joshua Andrews, a lifelong Episcopalian, is a member of our Stewardship Committee and attends our Young Adult gatherings with Emily as her “plus-1.”

Surrounded by Rainbows

Rainbows have a very special meaning for me. My parents used to see rainbows frequently from their home, perched high on the brow of Lookout Mountain in Alabama. In early 2009, when we lost Dad to cancer just before Lent, he had just written a meditation for a reflection guide for his church about the rainbow as a sign of God’s covenant with God’s people after the floods. Then, in 2013 Mom moved from the little house on the mountain to North Carolina and was a bit nervous about starting this new chapter. Her first day in her new home she spotted a glorious double rainbow over the mountains from her kitchen window. 

Every Sunday at St. B's rainbows pour into the sanctuary through the stained glass, surrounding us in color and light. It’s powerful to see the light bouncing across the aisle, casting colors on the faces of my fellow worshipers. Often it is the reminder that the rainbows will greet me that gets me to the church on time! What a comfort to know that God is always with me and God is present at St. B's. 

Kim Strickland is a member of the Vestry and she and her husband Jeff, daughters Anna (16) and Audrey (14) have been attending St. B’s since 2009. Their family has led Sunday School for 2s/3s and pre-K and has ministered with Room in the Inn.

More Than Food

We first visited St. B’s when Towles was 7 months pregnant with our second child, Elizabeth. We were new to Nashville and did not have any family in the vicinity, and only a few friends. By the time Elizabeth arrived, we’d only attended a handful of church services, yet through the lavish gift of St Bartholomew’s meal ministry, we were provided with three meals a week for the first six weeks of her life.

Each person who showed up at our door brought us food, yes, but more importantly the fellowship of kind words, encouragement, and an overwhelming sense of belonging. Upon first visit to St B’s we’d felt it was the church for us, but this ministry transformed the Kintzes from “attendees” of St Bartholomew’s Parish to beloved members of a greater family. It’s a lesson on how to show up as the hands and feet of Jesus that we will each carry with us for the rest of our lives.


Andrew serves on Vestry as our Junior Warden and Towles Kintz previously served on the Stewardship Committee. On a Sunday, you’ll often spot Andrew ushering and their three children acolyting.

Chosen Family

“Hi Brea, I hope you had a good week... it’s good to see you again."

This is the greeting I got from Thorunn on the second Sunday I attended St. B’s. They said hello? And remembered my name? This happening, after finding, meeting and being taken to lunch with the Young Adult group on my first Sunday. My search for a new church home was over, and this was my new family…. I felt it then and I still feel this today. Family can be both by blood and by choosing. The connections that I make are each special and a note from God that I am loved. I am happy to have chosen St. B’s as my family, but even happier and fully blessed that St. B’s has chosen me, too.

Brea Cox is a lifelong Episcopalian and has been attending St. B’s since 2004. Along the journey she has served with the music, welcome, hospitality, women’s, children’s, RITI and S’more ministries as well as serving on previous vestry and search committees.


My 5-K Children’s Ministry class hadn’t met for 3 weeks due to year-end holidays. We re-gathered on an unseasonably warm Sunday in January, working through engaging Epiphany lessons and activities. During our usual prayer/share time children shared various trips, presents, joys and hurts.

When it was my turn, I added, “I’ve been sad because my Dad died right before Christmas.” After some silence, one of the children, whom I’ll call, “Terry,” looking somber, raised a hand, then simply responded, “Well, can we go outside now and play?”

So, for many years now, on reflection, that was perfect, a personal epiphany message: Dad’s with God; we’re here enjoying our Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer; and life is for living, so though sad, I can go out(side) and joyfully play whatever roles God desires. 

Jim Pichert, St. Bs member with his wife Sue Pichert since 1979. Jim has served as a children’s ministry teacher, Room In The Inn program coordinator, choir member, vestry person, lay eucharistic minister and current Vestry clerk.

A Hospital for Healing

My wife Suzanne and I came to St. B’s in 1987, after we had been participating in recovery programs for a few years. Steve and Donna Renner were facilitating the 12 Step Sunday School Class, which is where we began our early engagement at St. B's. I realized my alcohol abuse and need for recovery while involved in leadership in another church, which left me with additional shame, guilt and confusion. The welcoming fellowship, loving and grace filled community of people at St. B’s were exactly what I needed to calm my soul and to provide, as Donna used to say. “Jesus with skin on.” From the very early days until today, God has used St. B's as a healing place to deepen my relationship with Jesus. I continue to find at St. B’s the gifts of relief, peace, love and grace to walk through the daily journey of confession, repentance, forgiveness, healing, acceptance and service some 35 years later. This parish has been described as a “hospital” for people in need of healing. This was true for me then and remains so today.

Rodger Dinwiddie serves as Chair of the Stewardship Committee and previously served as Senior Warden, usher, greeter, as a Sunday school teacher, and in many other roles.

Finding Spiritual Direction

My husband and I came to St. B’s from a non-liturgical church in December 2009. Our former church was sermon-focused with less emphasis on worship. In conversation at St. B’s I got to know a woman who told me about opportunities for Spiritual Direction in town. I had never heard of Spiritual Direction and was intrigued. I signed up for a Spiritual Direction group and consequently spent nine months being led through the 19 Annotations of St. Ignatius. Experiencing the love of Christ through Spiritual Direction changed my life. It took me from a head-centered faith to a heart-centered faith. Worship at St. B’s has become much more rich and meaningful to me as a result. It has given me such a deeper knowledge of God’s love for me and His calling to follow Him from a place of gratefulness instead of from a place of duty.

Beth Heimburger serves on Vestry and is our vestry Liaison to our South Sudanese community. Beth is also active with Women's Bible study, as a Greeter and providing hospitality. She and her husband Doug led one of our Refugee Response Teams through Siloam Health.

Integrating Faith & Work

In 2012, with a young child at home and another on the way, I left the world of touring full-time as a guitar tech to get into the local non-profit world. Soon after I started my new job in development at the Nashville Symphony, God inspired me and encouraged me further through a conversation at a St. B’s men’s retreat.

We were speaking about what our names meant and I shared that Philip has a Greek origin and means “through love is mastery” or “lover of horses.” I picked up on the common thread that there was love in the origin of my name. The next day Fr. Jerry preached about the different versions of love (agape, eros, philos, etc). I had begun to learn about philanthropy and always understood it to be about people giving money. The dots connected for me that morning when I realized that the root origin of “philanthropy,” my new line of work, meant “love of people” (“philos” + “anthropo”). It blew my mind and has served as a sign post and a compass for me knowing that my work can make a difference in the world. 

Phil Shay serves on the Stewardship Committee and worships at St. B’s with his wife Sonnie and their three children. He is grateful to Fr. Jerry, Tom Mahan, Rodger Dinwiddie, Langley Granbery, and others, who made time to talk to him about his career change back in 2011.

Finding Healing

Our family joined St. Bs on Pentecost of 2021, after 17 years of working in churches in youth ministry and weary from years of service. We were eager to be parishioners again and were taken aback by God's generosity towards us as we worshiped, prayed, and rested on Sunday mornings. St. B’s gave us permission to simply be present and enjoy God's healing grace through music, liturgy, classes, and conversations.

I found healing this past year at the women's Thursday morning Bible study. Each week I was cared for with childcare, thoughtful conversation, sharing, and prayers. This outlet of reflection and support allowed me to grow deeper in my relationship with other women as well as providing insight and perspective in the midst of so many challenging and disturbing world events. This is one example of how God through St. Bartholomew’s has had an impact on our family greater than words can convey.

Jill Altom serves on our Stewardship Committee, attends worship with her husband and three young children, and is grateful for St. B’s quiet days, the children's ministry, music offerings, holy week services, and much more.

Giving More Grace

What is an example of how a specific St. B's volunteer opportunity has changed the way you view yourself, others, or God? 

In the 1980s, when Randall Ferguson and Jim Stranch invited me to spend the night with 12 homeless people, I said yes because all night poker was part of the offer. God surprised me that first night with the men and I learned many things.

I was somewhat surprised to learn that few of our guests were alcoholics and some form of mental illness was the most prevalent trait. I was more surprised to learn that most of our guests frequently had jobs. They were earning money but not enough to pay regular rent or to purchase a house. My greatest surprise was the story of Father Strobel and how Room In The Inn was started. It is amazing how God convicted one man and his response grew into Room in the Inn.

I am grateful for the opportunity to volunteer with the Room In The Inn ministry at St B’s and have changed my view of homelessness and the people experiencing it. Hopefully, I have also grown to give more grace to those without shelter.

Bob Garth serves on our Rector Search Committee and our Vestry’s Finance Committee. On a Sunday morning you may see Bob ushering and his wife Shirley welcoming worshippers at the door.