AC Wednesday: Holston commits to saving 100,000 lives

AC Wednesday: Holston commits to saving 100,000 lives

Bishop James Swanson is moved by a tribute video from South Sudan during last night's celebration of his ministry.

From the June 13 daily onsite edition, provided for participants of the Holston Annual Conference at Lake Junaluska, N.C.

The Annual Conference passed a resolution of commitment yesterday to raise $1 million to fight malaria in the coming year.

Within six minutes, Holston had already collected $11,638 toward that commitment with a special offering for Imagine No Malaria. “In six minutes, you saved 1,164 lives,” said Bishop James Swanson.

A $10 bed net will save one African child’s life from the deadly disease transmitted by mosquitos. In the next year, Swanson said, Holston will save 100,000 lives by raising $1 million. “Are we going to get this done?” he asked.

In fact, the Annual Conference got a lot done yesterday. They presented six Denman Evangelism Awards and a Francis Asbury award for higher education. They honored the founders of Jubilation retreat for seniors and “passed the mantle” from an ordinand to a retiree. They celebrated numbers representing children served by Holston Home and numbers representing Foundation grant money awarded to ministries.

At the end of the working day, the Holston Annual Conference relaxed, rejoiced and reminisced in Stuart Auditorium as they celebrated Bishop James Swanson, Delphine Swanson, and Holston’s ministry fruits during their eight-year leadership.


  • The Rev. Brian Taylor, chair of Holston’s Imagine No Malaria Task Force, said the United Methodist Church’s ultimate goal is to eliminate malaria; $20 million has already been raised denomination-wide for the goal. “We want to put a wamp on those skeeters,” Taylor said.
  • The 2013 Annual Conference offering will be designated for Imagine No Malaria, Swanson said. Half of the coming year’s Change for Children offering will also be designated for battling the disease.
  •  Members were invited to bring their Change for Children offerings to the outdoor tent between 8 a.m. and noon. The total collected will be announced this morning.
  • The Rev. Randy Pasqua of Holston Camp and Retreat Ministries led morning camp-style worship. “Whenever I see a campfire, I want to sit down next to it,” Pasqua said, pulling up a stool next to a pretend fire.
  •  After camp-style worship, the Denman Evangelism Award for laity was presented to Holston’s four camp directors: Michael Snow of Dickenson, Don Washburn of Lookout, Jason Onks of Buffalo Mountain, and John Erdman of Wesley Woods.
  • The Denman youth award was presented to Molly Kate Brannock, age 18, of Trinity (Greeneville) UMC. The Denman clergy award was presented to the Rev. Jerry Russell, Fairview UMC in Maryville.
  • The Rev. Cliff Amos of Asbury Inc. presented an plaque of gratitude to Janet Harville and her late husband, the Rev. Cecil Harville, for their ministry to older adults through the annual Jubilation retreat.
  • Art Masker of Holston Home for Children reported that a total 800 children were served in the last year; 37 completed high school diplomas or G.E.D.s ; 16 were adopted; 110 were reunited with birth families; 34 made first-time professions of faith; 49 were baptized; and 28 attended camps last summer through scholarships or private donations.
  • Roger Redding of Holston Conference Foundation announced that $47,654 was presented in Loving, Henson, and Redwine grants to Holston ministries this month. He said the late Rev. Linda Bird Wright had willed 10 percent of her estate to the Foundation to build an orphanage in South Sudan.
  • The Rev. Chris Brown of Holston Higher Education and Ministry presented the Francis Asbury Award to Martee Buchanan, director of the Radford University Wesley Foundation.
  • The Rev. Tim Kobler led an appreciation of collegiate ministries, featuring testimonies from two Wesley Foundation participants (Liz Barr of UTK/Ebenezer UMC and Caleb Frazier of ETSU/Embreeville UMC). The Rev. Andrew Amodei, pastor of Cherokee UMC, spoke of a troubled period in his young life when the ETSU Wesley Foundation “literally saved my life.” 
  • Bishop James Swanson recognized 16 retiring clergy whose years of service total 402 years. Retirees include the Rev. Frederic Kellogg with 51 years and the Rev. Marvin Howard with 50 years. (See page 46 in the “Worship Book” for complete list.) The Rev. Jim Whedbee as retiree “passed the mantle” to the Rev. Will Shewey as ordinand.
  • The Rev. Lew Parks of Wesley Theological Seminary led a plenary on how small churches can still fill essential niches and have vital roles as Vital Congregations. “God sees the small church as a place with unique characteristics that still appeal to many persons.”
  • Bishop Gregory Palmer of the Illinois Great Rivers Conference said the “Call to Action” provided a statistics lens through which United Methodists could better see the church and then act. “We want the next 40 years to be drastically different than our last 40 years,” he said.
  • Hughes Melton of the Board of Pensions reported that 72 conference health plan participants had completed biometric screenings.
  • The Rev. Randy Frye announced last night during the Swanson celebration that $78,681 was collected on Monday for Vietnam victims of Agent Orange. He recalled how Holstonians gave generously to numerous Annual Conference missions (Latvia, Alaska, Brazil, South Sudan) and disaster responses (Katrina hurricane, Haiti earthquake, Indonesian tsunami, Holston tornadoes) during Swanson’s eight-year leadership. Holston gave a total $6.05 million to missions from 2004 to 2012, Frye said.
  • Frye also said churches had collected 240 tons of Hands-on Mission supplies for Liberia and Zimbabwe during Swanson’s leadership. They gave financial gifts sufficient to dig 27 wells in South Sudan. “We would like to thank you for following in the footsteps of John Wesley and truly seeing the world as our parish,” Frye said.
  • The Rev. Catherine Nance of the Committee on Episcopacy awarded Bishop Swanson a ministry gift of $32,341 from members, which will be divided for clergy support in memory of Swanson’s father and domestic violence in memory of his mother.


Yesterday’s edition incorrectly identified the Rev. Lauri Jo Cranford, who did not lead the Retirement Recognition with the Rev. Rex Smith, but co-led Jump Start worship.

Yesterday’s Facebook and Twitter reports incorrectly identified Molly Kate Brannock, winner of the Denman Evangelism Award for youth.

The Call regrets these errors.

See the next edition of The Call e-news or visit for final reports. For a free e-news subscription, go to For general information or Annual Conference resources, visit

See also:
Complete Wednesday paper (PDF), page 1
Complete Wednesday paper (PDF), page 2


Annette Spence

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