Last year, "Discovery" was canceled for lack of interest and participation.
This year, 28 high school students revived Holston's tradition of gathering, nurturing, and informing young people who feel God may have chosen them for full-time ministry.
The youth met April 1-3 at Camp Wesley Woods, where they shared thoughts and experiences in small groups and talked with veteran ministers. They also worshiped together and basked in a spring weekend at Holston's camp in Townsend, Tenn.
Kelsey, age 16, said she came to Discovery because she feels called to music ministry. Spending time outside in the nature of Wesley Woods inspired her and helped her feel closer to God.
Thomas, age 17, recognized a yearning to serve in camp ministry as he was attending Holston's Resurrection youth event in Gatlinburg in January.
"I've been going to camp ever since third grade, and I love being outdoors," said the member at Kodak UMC in Knoxville District. "When I felt like I was called to work with youth and college kids, I knew it had to be camp." (See photo.)
Thomas has already worked at Buffalo Mountain Camp one summer and hopes to return as a staff member.
Bishop James Swanson joined the group for discussion, worship, and Holy Communion on Sunday morning. He talked about the symbolism and meaning behind communion.
By having the disciples drink from his cup, "Jesus was trying to help the disciples understand, in a symbolic sense, that this is serious business you're getting into," Swanson said.
He spoke of the difficulties of serving in full-time ministry, and the advice often given to people considering it: "Only do this if you can't do anything else."
"You don't ever want to do this simply for the money," he said.
But for those who can cope with the scorn, misunderstanding, and rejection that ministers often encounter, "it's a pretty good life. There are tremendous blessings when you give your life to the Lord." (See photo.)
Other church leaders who met with youth during the weekend included the Rev. Joey Manes, pastor at Piney Flats UMC, Johnson City District; the Rev. Jody Ihfe, associate pastor at Gray UMC, Johnson City District; Josh French, youth director at First Gatlinburg UMC, Maryville District; Lindsey Almond, director of children and family ministries at Bearden UMC, Knoxville District; Anthony Burns, student ministry director at Bearden UMC; and Chris Lee, youth minister at Ebenezer UMC, Knoxville District.
Participation was high this year partly because of good follow-up on youth who filled out "call to ministry" cards at Resurrection in January, said Laura Lambert, associate director of connectional ministries.
More youth indicated interests in mission work than in previous years, she said. Two youth said they wanted to teach English in different countries. One indicated interest in overseas medical missions. Another said she felt led to serve in Africa.
"It's amazing to me how quickly they bonded with each other within 24 hours," Lambert said.
For more information about Discovery and similar events, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.