Christmas tour stops in Holston to share smiles and hot cocoa

Christmas tour stops in Holston to share smiles and hot cocoa

United Methodists served more than 20 gallons of hot cocoa. Photo at top of page: "True Meaning of Christmas" van in Market Square.


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (Jan. 2, 2017) – The United Methodist Church had a shining moment in downtown Knoxville on Dec. 21, when a gift-wrapped van stopped in Market Square to share free hot cocoa and the “True Meaning of Christmas.”

Knoxville was stop number 18 on a 21-city tour organized by United Methodist Communications. Three downtown Knoxville churches sent members to hand out hot cocoa, invite passersby to Christmas Eve worship, and put a friendly face on The United Methodist Church.  

United Methodists shared 350 cups of hot chocolate – more than 20 gallons – from 2 to 6 p.m., according to LeRae Collins, director of communications at Church Street United Methodist Church.

“Unwrap Christmas was a great opportunity for the people of The United Methodist Church to reach out to our community and offer hospitality at Christmas,” she said. “At Christmas, Christ drew near to us and this was an opportunity to draw near to others. Through Unwrap Christmas we were able to offer more than just hot cocoa.”

Volunteers and pastors from Church Street, Central UMC, and Second UMC joined the festivities amidst shoppers, diners and ice-skaters.

Bishop Dindy Taylor of Holston Conference came to cheer the party on, along with the Rev. Brenda Carroll, Tennessee Valley District superintendent; the Rev. Jason Gattis, Smoky Mountain District superintendent; and Rev. Hugh Kilgore, Hiwassee District superintendent.

Facebook live video of the “True Meaning of Christmas” stop in Knoxville was re-shared from Holston’s page by United Methodist Communications. The video received 13,300 views.

Canned goods were collected for the Beacon of Hope food pantry at Vestal United Methodist Church.

 “The event was a great reminder to me that simple acts of hospitality and goodness are always needed in the name of Christ,” Collins said.

The tour started in Waco, Texas, on Dec. 2 and concluded on Dec. 24 in Nashville, Tenn.

See United Methodist Communications’ coverage of the tour. See more photos below.


Contact Annette Spence at

See also:
National UMC tour stops in downtown Knoxville on Dec. 21 (The Call, 12/6/17)

UMC to host Christmas tour stop in Market Square (WATE, 12/19/17)



Annette Spence

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