Delegates head to Lake Junaluska for SEJ Conference

Delegates head to Lake Junaluska for SEJ Conference

The 2022 session of Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference will be held in George Stuart Auditorium, located on Lake Junaluska. (Photo courtesty of Lake Junaluska)

Update (4:30 p.m., Nov. 1) - Leamon Burl Lawson, lay delegate, also will not be attending Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference. Because there are no remaining lay alternates available, Holston Conference will be represented by 23 voting delegates instead of 24, said delegation leader Emily Ballard.

ALCOA, Tenn. -- Twenty-five delegates representing Holston Conference are departing for Lake Junaluska, North Carolina, where they will elect new bishops to lead United Methodist churches throughout the Southeastern United States.

The Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference will be held Nov. 2-4. Bishops and other leaders arrived in Western North Carolina over the weekend.

Holston Conference elected 28 delegates in 2019, including four alternates. Three of these delegates will not be attending this week's conference. Three alternates will now serve in their places.

Delegates not attending include John Eldridge, the Rev. Randy Frye, and Reagan Kelly. Alternates serving in their places include Sam England, the Rev. Amy Aycock Sumrall, and Dawson Kitts.

“We would certainly ask for prayers from the Annual Conference, as we will be electing episcopal leadership that will guide us for the next  four, eight, 12, 16-plus years,” said the Rev. Kim Goddard, lead clergy delegate for Holston.

Goddard is superintendent for Holston’s New River District. Emily Ballard, a graduate student at Lincoln Memorial University, is leader of the Holston Conference delegation.

The Holston delegation includes:

Lay members - Emily Ballard, Del Holley, Anne Travis, Donna Mosby, Becky Hall, Amanda Onks, Charles McEntyre, Jim Gass, Nate Roark, Leamon Burl Lawson, Sam England, Dawson Kitts.

Clergy - Kim Goddard, Wil Cantrell, Paul Seay, Mary Thompson, Sharon Bowers, Lauri Jo Cranford, Josh Kilbourne, David Graybeal, Kristen Burkhart, Sarah Varnell, Mark Flynn, Amy Aycock Sumrall.

Alternate - Caleb Frazier

Delegates are charged with electing three bishops from a list of nine nominees. The list includes the Rev. Sharon Bowers, nominated by the Holston Conference Black Methodists for Church Renewal.

From the Holston delegation, Goddard and Holley are members of the Committee on Episcopacy, which will assign bishops to lead annual conferences effective Jan. 1. Goddard asked for “prayers for guiding our work” and for the resident bishop who will lead Holston.

“We are certainly hoping and expecting it’s Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett,” Goddard said. Wallace-Padgett has led Holston Conference since September 2021, in addition to serving as resident bishop of the North Alabama Conference since 2012.

Livestream will be available of the Stuart Auditorium sessions, beginning with opening worship at 9 a.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 2. Bishop James Swanson will preach and Bishop Wallace-Padgett will serve as celebrant.

The Southeastern Jurisdiction of The United Methodist Church includes 14 annual conferences in nine states. Total number of SEJ delegates: 364.

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Annette Spence

Annette Spence is editor of The Call, the Holston Conference newsletter.

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