Church of the Three Crosses embedded into its Sunday preaching the songs of Dolly Parton, saying that it's a way to easily explain the Word of God to new believers they met online during the pandemic.

Hailed as a "Secular Country Pop-Saint" and the "Jesus of Appalachia," Parton has been the theme of a five-part sermon series at Church of the Three Crosses in Chicago.

Rev. Britt Cox told the congregation that they have been using Parton's works as their way to delve into the larger story of the Christian faith, saying all stories matter. She ended her sermon series by saying "The Gospel According to Dolly."

She told Religion News Service that they were focusing on sharing personal stories after returning to in-person services to catch up with its new and old members. Cox said Parton's works can connect with different people and create "instructive stories" that were viable for the congregation who were meeting again.

"She's a person who walks her talk," she added. She admired "Parton's music and subversive sense of humor," much later when she realized the Christian singer-songwriter shared inspiring messages in her songs.

The Church of the Three Crosses belonged to both the United Methodist Church and the United Church of Christ according to its website.

Also Read: 'Amazing Grace', As Sung By Dolly Parton, Might Become Tennessee's Official Hymn

Incorporating Parton's Music Into Sermons

Each Sunday's sermon has a corresponding song by Parton performed by the member of the congregation. She used the song "I Will Always Love You," to preach the teaching of Jesus of forgiving a person seventy times seven as stated in the Gospel of Matthew.

The pastor explained that it was not a love song but a farewell song. She said that it was Parton's way to bid goodbye to her music partner Portner Wagoner when she pursued a solo career. "It's a song about goodbyes, about endings, about forgiveness on both their parts for them to be able to move into a new beginning," she said. During the last part of the series, Cox related herself to the song as she prepares her goodbye to the congregation for taking a new appointment.

She said that her inspiration for pursuing this kind of sermon series were "The Gospel According to Dolly Parton" of Mayflower Congregation in Oklahoma, the WNYC podcast "Dolly Parton's America" and other current events.

Dana McKinney, a church member from Church of the Three Crosses, said she accepted how the pastor presented the sermons. Though she was not sure if all the principles laid were true, she was open to new perspectives as long as they will help her to be a better person. She said that she will never hear "I Will Always Love You" without thinking about forgiveness.

What Makes Dolly Parton Cringe

In the 2021 Issue of People Magazine, Parton said it makes her cringe when people worship her. As the Bible was clear about idolatry, she doesn't want to be worshiped. She said people must worship God more than anyone else.

Related Article: Tennessee Wanted To Erect A Statue Of Dolly Parton, But She Declined It For Good Reason