Updates & Blog

Repentance & Lent

Greg Gardner is a native of Sharon, Tennessee, and a graduate of Lambuth University and Vanderbilt Divinity School. During his time at Vanderbilt, he focused his studies on pastoral care and served Trinity Presbyterian Church (Nashville) as Minister of Young Adults.

Before pursuing a theological education, he worked many years in Nashville as a banker. Greg currently works in land scape design and installation, is a member and installed elder at Woodland, and chairs our congregation’s Worship & Education committee. 

Dear friends,

We are approaching the end of the ancient, liturgical Christian season of Lent and will soon begin the celebratory season of Easter. During Lent, Christians all over the world have been practicing, while even seeking to discover, the purpose of these forty-plus days. Over the last two millennia, there have been varying and competing claims to the purpose and value of this time- some more nuanced, and some with stark differences. Imagine that. Christians disagreeing. Ultimately, these differences are rooted in the varying claims about the personhood of Jesus- that is, who was Jesus, his purpose, and what exactly was accomplished by his life, work, teachings, suffering, death and resurrection.

Repent: A shamed-filled and prickly word.

Most common among these understandings of Lent has been the idea and practice of “repentance.” But even the practice of repentance during Lent has differed among Christians and Christian traditions. For some, repentance has meant giving up a substance or behavior, or taking on a practice or discipline, both as means of self-denial and moving one more closely to identify with the chosen suffering and self-denial of Jesus. For others, the practice has been a time of atonement and penance for shortcomings, commonly called sin, in order to “get right with God” and prepare one for death.

Yes, it’s Good News.

At Woodland, Lent is also a time of repentance and preparation, but is largely understood as a time of communal and individual self-reflection and examination, as we consider what it means to follow more closely the way of Jesus. This, we think, is the purpose and value of this sometimes prickly word. We open ourselves to renewal and change, and we practice repentance, from the biblical Greek, metanoia, meaning, “to turn from, away, and towards” or to “experience a transformative change of mind or heart.” It is then we can more fully understand and become the persons, community and world God intends us to be. And we can see ourselves and others as God truly sees us: people worthy of love, grace and acceptance, rather than toxic guilt, shame and punishment. We become more capable of giving and receiving unconditional love.


“I never felt like a stranger.”

“The members truly love it here, and make you want to come back. You don’t feel like a stranger. I never felt like a stranger… I felt like I had been here my whole life.”

Tracy has joined the community at Woodland fairly recently. It’s easy to feel like an outsider as a staff member, but Tracy had a different perspective.

Woodland is a Christian community in the heart of East Nashville. We’re Presbyterians committed to inclusive & progressive values, particularly LGBTQ+ inclusion & equality in the Church.

This Easter, we’re doing something different. We’re adding 10 new members, and want to celebrate alongside our community.

Join us on Easter Sunday for an uplifting service, where we welcome new and old members, the convinced and unconvinced, and anyone who dares to believe that love truly wins.

“Why not Woodland? Woodland is open to every person. You feel welcomed — you feel like you belong.”

Learn more about Easter Sunday at Woodland.


What’s New Member Sunday?


Woodland leadership is excited to introduce an ambitious event for this upcoming Easter Sunday.

It’s called New Member Sunday.

New Member Sunday will be this Easter 2018. Our dream is for Woodland to receive a group of new members on one day as a visible example of our community’s growth.

On Easter Sunday this April 1, we’d like to see 10 new members join: one for each decade our community has been in our historic building. But that’s not it. We would also like to have 160 people at this New Member Sunday service: one for every year we’ve been in Nashville.

Our hub interns and team at Ministry Architects is already planning to make these goals a reality, and we’d like you to help us accomplish our goals.

Invite your friends, family–whoever you’d like–to our New Member Sunday. Share our posts on social media. Subscribe to our newsletters. Do whatever you can to spread the word about our fresh start and how we’re transforming.

We would love to see you at Woodland on April 1 for Easter and New Member Sunday.

We’ll have brunch at 9:45a, an Easter egg hunt at 10:30a, and our celebration in worship at 11:00a. It’s an exciting day for our community, and we can’t wait to see our goals come to life.

Let’s think about Lent…

Hey there, friends & members of Woodland!

It’s almost Lent in the church calendar, which means quite a bit. Lent is a time of reflection and contemplation, and is often used to intentionally center on spiritual practices or disciplines.

While you don’t have to take up a discipline or give something up, it’s an opportunity to be more intentional about your spiritual life. I remember a season in my life when I was particularly bitter. It wasn’t a good fit for me to abandon something material or to give up a habit. Rather, it was transformational for me to adopt the practice of prayer and meditation, especially prayers for those I felt bitter towards.

At the end of the day, Lent should not be a distraction or stressor on your life. For some, the guidance of a therapist or mentor can be a resource when thinking about Lent and any changes to habits or practices.

I’d like to invite you to our Lenten book study. It’s a great opportunity to find a Lenten community, dialog about practices and disciplines together, and be intentional about your spiritual life.

This book study will focus on Brené Brown’s “Braving the Wilderness,” a book that centers on themes of belonging and un-belonging. It’s not an explicitly Christian book. In fact, it’s a great opportunity to join us if you’re a bit unsure or hesitant to get involved with a church.

I’ll be leading our first study on February 18. I promise we won’t ask you frightfully personal questions or ask you to leap out of your comfort zone. Instead, we’ll be joining in some group discussion, creating small groups to share our thoughts, and exploring what it looks like to unashamedly exist as ourselves.

You’re more than welcome to read the first chapter of “Braving the Wilderness.” It’s not required, but could give you some ideas to think about.

You can purchase a book at Woodland for $20, or bring your own copy on February 18. The study will begin at 9:45a, and all are welcomed without exception in our worship service beginning at 11:00a.

I hope you’ll join us as we begin this Lenten season.

Michael (michael@woodlandpresbyterianchurch.com)


January Calendar of Events

Jan. 7 | 12:00p | Potluck with Eastminster

Join us in the dining room for our monthly potluck.

Jan. 7 | 12:00p | Christmas Clean-up

It’s time to take our decorations down!

Jan. 20 | Room in the Inn & Saturday Supper

Help serve our community that is experiencing housing instability or hunger.

Jan. 27 | Work Day

Time TBD; keep our campus clean during our monthly work day.

Welcome Jenny, Michael, and Tracy!

This December, the Session approved a proposal to help Woodland Presbyterian Church engage with young adults and colleges students in Nashville in a creative way! Beginning next month, a group of young adults will start to take shape as members of the Woodland staff, working part-time hours helping implement different ministry projects. Initially we are adding team members to help with youth ministry, children’s ministry, and our strategic administrative tasks. As this training hub develops we hope to add more team members leading in areas of hospitality, worship, and more! Get ready for some new faces around Woodland!

A few of those new faces have already joined us. Michael Cuppett is a music student at Belmont, and joins Woodland as our new Social Media Intern. As Abby departs, Jenny Cook will be taking over the Children & Youth Ministry, and Tracy Bell will be helping with administrative duties.

Give all three a warm Woodland welcome when you see them on Sunday!

What’s the least I can believe and still be a Christian?

We’re in the middle of a six week study diving into the book, What’s the Least I Can Believe and Still Be a Christian?  We’re not afraid of asking the hard questions and having conversations about what does it really mean to be a Christian? Join us each Sunday at 9:45am for this discussion. Even if you haven’t read the book we’re sure you’ll still have lots to talk about!

Meet Our New Children and Youth Coordinator

It is with great excitement and gratitude to announce that our Woodland faith community has a Children & Youth Coordinator.

Woodland Presbyterian, Eastminster Presbyterian, and the Presbytery of Middle Tennessee are partnering together to provide a start-up youth and children’s ministry for the two churches together.  Abby Buter from Ministry Architects has been hired as the new Children and Youth Coordinator for this new ministry.  Abby comes with a bachelors degree in community development and a masters in urban studies, as well as experience locally with Harvest Hands CDC, working with children and youth there.

Over the next few months, Abby will work with the leadership of Eastminster and Woodland to create and implement a program Sunday mornings for the 2nd through 12th graders. Starting June 23rd, the youth and children of these two churches will meet every Sunday morning, cultivating a space for the next generation to learn more about themselves, each other and God, a place of strong community where every students feels safe, heard, and free to ask good questions and explore what their faith means.

We are thrilled, grateful, and hopeful about this opportunity to serve our youth and children!