News from your district
ABINGDON: Anderson Street UMC hosted its third annual back-to-school block party on National Night Out (Aug. 4). More than 250 people crowded the church parking lot to visit with firefighters and police officers, enjoy refreshments, and receive free school supplies. Several community agencies joined the church in contributing party goods and volunteers. The Rev. Barbara Clark says she was uplifted to see so many happy children and also by “knowing they will start off the school year with quality supplies and prayers from our congregation.” (See the Bristol Herald Courier article.)
BIG STONE GAP: Velma McConnell was 90 when she began crocheting hats for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy. On July 5, McConnell celebrated her 94th birthday and some 220 finished hats. “A Methodist since age nine, Velma has a firm belief that God is still using her to do his work,” says her pastor, Ken Taylor of Norton UMC. “Baking cakes and pies for her neighbors, playing gospel hymns at church, she always seems to be sharing God’s love with others.”
CHATTANOOGA: Send information to: The Call, P.O. Box 850, Alcoa, TN 37701-0850, or email@example.com
CLEVELAND: Soddy UMC is celebrating its 150th birthday in 2010 as well as an active ministry, reports Karen Yeatts. The church food bank feeds 280 families each month, and a recent “Blue Grass Gospel Under the Oak Tree” received a positive community response. “With sing-alongs, free cookies and ice cream, we agreed this first-time event should be repeated,” says Yeatts. Other Soddy sources of pride include a school supply giveaway, prayer shawl ministry, and 200 shoebox gifts donated to Samaritan’s Purse.
JOHNSON CITY: Gray UMC is one of several Holston churches providing temporary housing for homeless families through Interfaith Hospitality Network (IHN). Gray volunteers noticed these transitional families often didn’t have luggage or backpacks, but carry their belongings in plastic trash bags. The call went out to the congregation to donate their unused suitcases and backpacks. In just two Sundays, Gray UMC had collected 100 suitcases and 100 backpacks, “many of them new and filled with supplies,” says David Shipley. The church has designated a storage room for the new ministry and is now providing luggage for IHN families staying at other churches, too.
KINGSPORT: When Jacob lived in Savannah, he was asked to leave his church and find a new one, because his church wasn’t equipped to handle a special needs child. When Jacob moved to Kingsport, his mother told that story to his teacher, who listened with tears in her eyes. Nylene Jones told Jacob and his mom about her own church, Emory UMC, and invited them to come. They did, and Jacob had a joyful time at Vacation Bible School this summer. On Aug. 16, nine-year-old Jacob and his parents were baptized at Warrior’s Path boat ramp and accepted into Emory’s membership on profession on faith. About 60 people from Elm Tree Parish came to witness and sing, reports the Rev. Stephen Burkhart.
KNOXVILLE: Elka Hyder remembers how a favorite blanket comforted her sick baby when he had to be hospitalized. Hyder met with her pastor, the Rev. Pat Polis, and proposed a blanket ministry to serve the scared young patients of Children’s Hospital. The congregation at Hillcrest UMC jumped right in, and since March, 178 blankets have been produced. Hyder hopes the “Bundled in Love” ministry will be expanded to nursing homes, hospices, and women’s shelters, according to the Knoxville News Sentinel.
MARYVILLE: Through two young adult members who traveled to Kenya on a two-month mission trip, Sycamore Tree UMC has been led to raise $44,000 to construct a new building, dig a well, and buy food and farming supplies for children at Sandota School. The new orphanage building was completed in July and has been named “Sycamore House.”
MORRISTOWN: On Aug. 18, Holston Home for Children celebrated completion of a $5 million building and renovation project. The project included renovations across campus and construction of two new residence halls. Country music star Rodney Atkins, a former resident, attended the ceremony. (See the Greeneville Sun article.)l
OAK RIDGE: Each February, Luminary UMC offers a health fair for people in Roane and Meigs Counties. About 250 come for mammograms, kidney screenings, eye exams, and other health services. “We are very insistent that everything remains free,” says the Rev. Billy Kurtz. This summer, Luminary received a $1,000 Margaret Loving grant to aid this ministry.
TAZEWELL: For 12 years, Central UMC has hosted a post-baccalaureate cookout for the graduating class of Bland High School. This year, Central pastor Bobby Lorton was invited to preach at the service prior to the cookout. About 160 came to the cookout, including 50 church members who provide all the food and serve as hosts, according to Betty Munsey.
WYTHEVILLE: On the last day of Vacation Bible School, Bishop’s Chapel UMC provided free school supplies to 20 attending children. Two-thirds of the class were non-church members, said Mary Harmon. Supply lists from each child’s teacher were located and fulfilled.