Pastors gather at Convocation for worship, education, news

Pastors gather at Convocation for worship, education, news

Bishop Dindy Taylor (center) congratulates Appalachian Trail chaplain Bert Emmerson and his wife Becky.


PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. (Feb. 26, 2016) – Pastors learned about “Preaching in a Time of Change” and worshiped with their peers and bishop. They saw for themselves the big building their conference is investing in -- as well as a proposed map of how Holston might change its districts from 12 to seven.

The 291 clergy attending Convocation also celebrated the completion of the outgoing Appalachian Trail chaplain’s journey and commissioned the new chaplain who will depart next month.

Convocation, organized by the Wesley Leadership Institute, was held Feb. 22-25 at Music Road Convention Center

The plenary speaker was Dr. Karyn Wiseman, associate professor of homiletics and director of United Methodist studies at Lutheran Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. She is author of the book, “I Refuse to Preach a Boring Sermon: Engaging 21st Century Listeners.”

On Tuesday, 361 pastors joined at “The Gathering,” where the Rev. Rusty Taylor and Becky Hall of the Congregational Development and Revitalization Team explained the decision to lease the Sevierville facility for a two-year period.

The bulk of Tuesday afternoon’s “Clergy Gathering” portion was devoted to an explanation and exploration of ongoing work by a strategy team to consider updating the missional objectives, funding and structure of Holston Conference. Speakers included the Rev. Charles Maynard and Mike Eastridge.

Bishop Dindy Taylor spoke to pastors from Luke 13, about the “bent-over woman” who had been crippled for 18 years before Jesus healed her.

“God wants us to stand up straight as the church,” she said. “God wants us to imagine the possibilities for this world.”

Bert “Wildcat” Emmerson completed his 2,200-mile Appalachian Trail journey on Feb. 23 and then arrived in Pigeon Forge at Convocation’s closing worship to receive congratulations from Bishop Taylor.

“You blessed me,” she said, after explaining how she had received daily text messages from Emmerson on his progress. “Thank you, my dear.”

Chuck “Cold Turkey” Jones was commissioned by the Rev. Jeff Wadley as the 2016 Appalachian Trail chaplain during Tuesday evening worship.

Emmerson is a member at First United Methodist Church of Maryville, Tenn. Jones is a member at Hulls Chapel United Methodist Church in Blountville, Tenn.

Portions of Convocation are available on video.

Share feedback regarding "The Gathering" building with Rev. Rusty Taylor at or Becky Hall at

Share feedback regarding the Conference Strategy Team's work with Mike Eastridge at




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Annette Spence

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