ALCOA, Tenn. (Dec. 29, 2018) -- At the end of another year of writing and sharing news and stories from Holston Conference, it's always telling, and sometimes surprising, to review what readers clicked on the most. I can't be sure if these stories are the most liked, of course, but it's possible to get a glimpse into reader interest by studying insights and data from social media and our weekly e-newsletter.
If clicks are picks, then, here are our readers' choices for the top 5 stories of 2018:
1. Bishop announces projected staff appointments (April 26)
2. We're doing Annual Conference from A to Z (June 7)
3. Goddard asks district to ‘hold steady’ in first discussion (Aug. 29)
4. Delegation wants to clear confusion about GC2019 (July 19)
5. Heard in Holston: Rez Kidz shuts down after six years (Aug. 8)
As you can see by #3 and #4, General Conference 2019 is an attention-grabber for many readers. As for #1, clergy are always interested in appointments and what the resident bishop is doing. In fact, the click count on #1 was almost triple the number for stories that followed.
The above "readers' picks" are important and revealing, but there are five more I think you need to see. Here are the Editor's choices for top stories of 2018:
1. His struggle made him who he is: 'God wastes nothing' (Oct. 22)
2. Community outcry: United Methodists respond after ICE raid (April 9)
3. Bishop Taylor: Jesus is on the side of the excluded (Nov. 15)
4. When did you know? 8 'call to ministry' stories (Oct. 18)
5. Christmas Camp gives kids a 24-hour Advent adventure (Dec. 20)
"God wastes nothing." Michael Dolinger's testimony in story #1 inspired people from outside our churches to repeat that message of hope and share his testimony multiple times on Facebook. The story was also reprinted by the local newspaper and United Methodist News Service.
Last spring, the federal raid on a meatpacking plant in Bean Station motivated United Methodists to respond with great compassion and connectionalism in story #2. This story was also picked up by United Methodist News Service.
Journalist John Shearer gave us the idea for #3. We asked Church Street United Methodist Church to share the audio for Bishop Dindy Taylor's November sermon, which translated beautifully into another message of hope.
"When did you know?" We asked eight Holstonians to share their "call to ministry" stories. We hope #4 will help others to also respond, "Here I am, Lord."
I'm always looking for a great Advent story to wrap up the year. The Christmas Camp story (#5) was in the bag when I heard that a generous church member had given money for Bethlehem Center children to attend Camp Lookout.
Happy New Year. Thank you for helping me keep my eye on the "prize of God's upward call in Christ Jesus." What will be the top stories for 2019? If I get my wish, they'll be filled with hope and vision for the church to come.
Contact Annette Spence, editor of The Call, at email@example.com.
Holston Conference includes 874 United Methodist congregations in east Tennessee, southwest Virginia, and north Georgia.
Annette Spence is editor of The Call, the Holston Conference newsletter.