District Roundup

District Roundup

ABINGDON: Send news and photos to: Editor, The Call, P.O. Box 850, Alcoa, TN 37701-0850, fax (865) 690-3162, e-mail thecall@holston.org

BIG STONE GAP: Three years ago, Hale's Chapel UMC created a dance praise team. "Nevaeh" is comprised of six dancers ages eight to 13, with instructor Danielle Anderson and assistant Pam Mack. The group has traveled to Holston View UMC as well as local AME Zion churches -- and are willing to visit other churches, too. (Contact Contrinia Payne at 423-384-4957 or Pastor Steve Templeton at 276-452-4873 for more information.) On March 9, Nevaeh will visit Tate's Chapel UMC in Morristown District, where Bishop James Swanson will also preach. "These girls work very hard to present Biblical truth through the medium of dance," reports Liz Wood, Hale's Chapel lay leader and proud grandmother of two dancers. "By the way, take a backward look at the name, Nevaeh."

CHATTANOOGA: On Feb. 17, Bishop James Swanson preached at three worship services in the Sequatchie Valley. "He preached to full congregations for the 8:30 a.m. service at Chapel Hill UMC and the 10:30 a.m. service at Dunlap UMC," reports Dunlap Pastor Amy Probst. In the afternoon, about 200 members of the 19 Sequatchie Valley Cluster churches gathered for the "Annual Valley Rally" at Sulphur Springs UMC. About 75 voices united for a cluster choir, singing Southern Gospel songs directed by June Smith.

CLEVELAND: Bachman Academy is a Christian nonprofit boarding school for students with learning challenges. Pleasant Grove UMC is located near the school in McDonald, Tenn. Until recently, Pleasant Grove might have as few as four people attending worship. But within the last months, as many as 25 to 30 students from Bachman have started worshipping at Pleasant Grove. On every other Friday, a group of four to six students also come to the church to help remove old carpet, paint, rake, or perform other tasks as part of the school's community outreach program. "The congregation is blessed to have this continued relationship with the academy," reports Pastor J.W. Burgess.

JOHNSON CITY: On the Sunday after Easter (March 30), Piney Flats UMC will recognize "Holy Humor Sunday" for the third year in a row. "The idea comes an ancient tradition when Easter Monday or 'Bright Sunday' were observed by the faithful as days of joy and laughter," explains Pastor Laura Rasor. "The customs were rooted in the idea that God played a practical joke on the devil by raising Jesus from the dead." At Piney Flats, parishioners will tickle themselves by putting balloons in the sanctuary and wearing bright colors, crazy ties, and funny hats. Last year, the adult choir played the children's hand bells and several "guest "choir members gratuitously sang off-key. A King College drama group presented humorous skits, and the children's sermon consisted of knock-knock jokes.

KINGSPORT: On Feb. 25, Community UMC celebrated the groundbreaking for an addition that will include four new classrooms. Located less than a half-mile from First Broad Street UMC, Community is nestled in a low-income neighborhood. A Tuesday-night supper ministry at Community has won the hearts of children and the dedication of other Kingsport churches and volunteers. An anonymous donor at First Broad Street financed the building addition, and other donations have provided the plans and heavy equipment. Holston's Volunteer Labor Team will coordinate the construction effort. Volunteers: Call the First Broad Street Missions office at (423) 224-1531.

KNOXVILLE: An UMCOR "medicine box" includes 18 essential drugs and medical supplies such as multivitamins, gauze, antibiotic ointment, and acetaminophen. The Rev. Don Hanshew recently made national UMCOR news when he placed a request for enough medicine boxes to serve 3,000 people in south Sudan. Sure enough, the medicine boxes were supplied by United Methodists from all over, in time to accompany a Holston team leaving for Yei, Sudan, on March 10. Hanshew is associate pastor at Fountain City UMC.

Carpenter's Campground, Friendsville, Green Meadow, Oakland, St. John, and Union Grove United Methodist churches will have cooperative Holy Week Services, March 17-20, at St. John UMC. The theme is "Twelve New Disciples," with a different preacher from a participating church each night at 7 p.m. A collective offering will help send low-income children from the school district to Camp Wesley Woods, reports Rev. Rich Mullan, St. John pastor.

MORRISTOWN: Liberty Hill UMC has organized a small, nonprofit bookstore with resources provided free or at reduced prices for local or lay pastors. "We are also interested in donations of books, or we have some funds available to purchase books from retiring ministers," says Pastor Terry Schnell. Call Liberty Hill at (423) 581-2587.

OAK RIDGE: Three years ago, Betsy Switzer visited Frazer UMC in Alabama, and learned of a "Cross in My Yard" project that she brought home to her church in Lenoir City, Tenn. Central UMC's evangelism team adopted the project, constructing about 200 four-foot crosses of rough-hewn lumber. They purchased fabric in purple, black, and white to make accompanying scarves. About three weeks before Easter, church members are invited to take a cross home, with instructions for rotating the scarves: Purple at first, black for Maundy Thursday, and white on Easter. To date, as many as 100 crosses are now scattered around Loudon County, says Switzer. "The only connection to our church is through individual inquiries of those who display the crosses. We have given some to folks outside our congregation who have seen them and inquired. Our purpose is to be a witness to our faith in our community." To find out more, e-mail Switzer.

TAZEWELL: Leaders at First Richlands UMC were touched when a member with cancer expressed this concern: Her wheelchair required her to come in through the side door, which has rough, uneven concrete. The side entrance leads into the front of the sanctuary, requiring a wheelchair-bound worshipper to take a visible ride to the back of the sanctuary. The congregation decided to start a project that would place an architecturally pleasing ramp at the front entrance, while repairing the bumpy concrete at the side entrance. The $12,000 project was begun with a $500 grant from Holston Conference, followed by another donation from a church member who recently injured his neck and had to use a walker. "He and his wife wanted to contribute because they said they know from experience how important it is to enter the front of the church," says Pastor David Brannock. "We want to send the message that everyone is welcome, and truly, our front doors are open to all."

WYTHEVILLE: The Rural Retreat Circuit has started dedicating a three-minute segment of Sunday worship to "A Doctrinal Moment." "An Article of Religion or Confession of Faith is read from the Book of Discipline," explains Pastor RuthAnne Henley. "The statement is discussed briefly and applied to everyday life in the community. We are not going through the doctrinal statements in order, but are incorporating those that are reflected in our scripture lessons." She adds: "There is a popular myth out there that doctrine is a divisive force. On the contrary, connecting around a set of Biblically based and culturally relevant truths forges an all-but-unbreakable bond." The circuit includes Fairview, Fulton, King's Grove, and Marvin United Methodist churches.

  • Send news and photos to: Editor, The Call, P.O. Box 850, Alcoa, TN 37701-0850, fax (86) 690-3162, e-mail thecall@holston.org.