Holston churches put 'legs on the prayers' by helping storm survivors

Holston churches put 'legs on the prayers' by helping storm survivors

A team from Keith Memorial United Methodist Church wears the mud they worked in while pulling out water-logged insulation beneath a mobile home in Norton, Virginia. From left to right: Sarah Williams, Tyler Nash, Chris Anderson, and Terry Stansell. Photo by Melissa Smith

ALCOA, Tenn. -- August has been hot, but not just the weather. Many United Methodists in Holston Conference were hot to do mission after learning about devastating floods and storms recently experienced by neighbors in Eastern Kentucky and Southwest Virginia.

They didn't just pray about it. They got busy. 

While some United Methodists gave to Holston’s flood fund or assembled cleaning kits and hygiene kits requested by their district offices, others dispatched trucks loaded with supplies or sent mission teams to flood-trounced towns. They were assisted by mission coordinators including the Rev. Beth Tipton in Wise, Virginia; the Rev. Harry Howe in Marion, Virginia; and the Rev. Donnie Lee Bailey in Grundy, Virginia. 

Here's a list of the ways churches and ministries are responding.


Project Crossroads house awaits repair.
Project Crossroads: When a tree fell on the Project Crossroads house on Aug. 5, a team from Central United Methodist Church (Radford, Virginia) was on site the next day to begin cleanup. Later, Hampton United Methodist Church (Virginia Conference) helped the Rev. Harry Howe and Mike Walker cut and remove the tree in sections. The damage awaits insurance assessment before repairs can be completed. In the meantime, most of the house is usable, Howe said.

Pound UMC: The Rev. Randy Carter received “cleaning kits,” “hygiene kits,” and water from Holston’s stockpiles and other sources and then shared those supplies widely throughout hard-hit areas in and near Pound, Virginia. “We tried to make cleanup easier for them, any way we could. We put the legs on the prayers,” Carter said.
Dennis Ashley, member of Trinity UMC in
Big Stone Gap, unloads water in Pound.

Keith Memorial UMC: A team spent Aug. 13 removing wet insulation and ductwork from beneath a mobile home in Norton, Virginia. “The team was covered in mud, but God gave them the strength to get it done,” said the Rev. Melissa Smith. The next day, they participated in Sunday worship at Norton United Methodist Church. Keith Memorial, located in Athens, Tennessee, plans to send another team this fall.

Clintwood UMC: After the community clothes closet at Clintwood United Methodist was flooded on July 27, a team from First Broad Street United Methodist helped “clean up the mud and wash down the walls,” said the Rev. Mark Huffine, Clintwood pastor. The clothing ministry is in the process of being relocated to the parsonage basement in Clintwood, Virginia. First Broad Street is located in Kingsport, Tennessee.

Bristol Parish team cleans out
Mt. Hermon UMC in Bandy.
Bristol Parish: Teams representing four United Methodist churches in Bristol, Virginia, traveled twice this month to Bandy, Virginia, to help clean up a church that was flooded in mid-July. On Aug. 23, a team helped paint Mt. Hermon United Methodist Church so the congregation can soon return to the building. “They have been displaced from their sacred place of worship since the flood,” said the Rev. Scott Spence, Bristol Parish pastor. The parish includes Reynolds Memorial, Hunt Memorial, Trinity, and John Wesley United Methodist Churches.

Cokesbury UMC (Knoxville): Cokesbury United Methodist is targeting their aid for Letcher County, Kentucky, setting up an Amazon Wish List of needed supplies for church members to purchase. Staff have delivered three truckloads to Letcher so far, and this week, Cokesbury sent three cleanup teams to Jenkins, Kentucky. Communications Director Ashley Cross says Cokesbury will keep contact with local organizations to continue providing the most-needed help. “They don't expect to return kids to school until some time in October, so we may help with school supplies when that time comes,” she said.

Cokesbury UMC members in Johnson
City prepare "cleaning kits."
Cokesbury UMC (Johnson City): Cokesbury United Methodist in Johnson City, Tennessee, recently prepared 20 “cleaning kits” (buckets) to help flood survivors, delivering them to their district office, says Amelia Brown. In addition, the Rev. Kimberly Hingers traveled with a Samaritan’s Purse team to help gut a house in Vansant, Virginia, over three days.

Rogersville UMC: A Rogersville United Methodist Church member asked her congregation to help collect needed supplies for her flooded hometown: Langley, Kentucky. The Rogersville church teamed with First United Methodist in Church Hill to take five vehicle loads of pillows, blankets, fans, hygiene items, clothes and cleaning supplies to a Langley nursing home. The story was published in the Rogersville Review, said the Rev. Elaine Ruth, pastor of the church in Rogersville, Tennessee.

Emory/ St. Matthew UMC: Emory United Methodist Church delivered bleach, cleaning supplies, laundry detergent and $300 in gift cards to the Appalachian District office earlier this month, said the Rev. Melissa Malcolm. St. Matthew United Methodist collected $725 to help a family in need of temporary shelter after their flooded home was condemned. Emory and St. Matthew are located in Kingsport, Tennessee.

East Stone Gap team repairs church
in Neon, Kentucky.
East Stone Gap UMC: East Stone Gap United Methodist sent two mission teams to help two different flooded churches this month. One team went to Mt. Hermon United Methodist in Bandy, Virginia. The other team went to Neon United Methodist in Neon, Kentucky, reports the Rev. Jake Herron. East Stone Gap also delivered a large load of bottled water, detergents, buckets, mops, soap, toothbrushes, pet food and more to Letcher County, Kentucky. East Stone Gap is located in Virginia.

 Sign up for a free weekly subscription to The CallHolston Conference includes 842 United Methodist congregations in East Tennessee, Southwest Virginia, and North Georgia. 


Annette Spence

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

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