District Roundup

District Roundup


From the November  newspaper

ABINGDON: Wilfredo Dolinguez wanted to be baptized by immersion, but the pool was drained and the river is too cold in October. So Jackie Thomas brought a 500-gallon cattle trough from his farm and members of Lebanon UMC built a fire under the trough.On Sunday morning, Oct. 25, Dolinguez was baptized in a warm bath and received into membership on the church playground. The temperature outside was 38 degrees, reports Pastor Paul Griffith. 

BIG STONE GAP: For the first time that anyone can remember, two Norton churches with Wesleyan heritage joined for worship on World Communion Day, Oct. 4. Pastor Ken Taylor reports that the blending of worship styles from Blackman Chapel African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church and the Norton UMC was inspiring: "Everything about the service was harmonious, yet unique." The joint service was celebrated in the Coalfield Progress.

CHATTANOOGA: Tyner UMC held its annual Trunk or Treat on Wednesday, Oct. 28, logging the highest attendance ever. Almost 1,000 people were drawn to the hot air balloon, games, food, cake walk, and candy-infested cars. Participants were invited to sign up for a prize drawing, then asked if the church could later make contact. The Tyner evangelism team collected 105 names of people who do not attend church, reports the Rev. Robert Haskins. The plan is to follow up by telephone and then home visits.

CLEVELAND: Missions Chair Melanie Ajinov wanted to help her church reach out to youth. So she booked the Christian rock band Starfield at Athens Junior High, then started a campaign to raise $8,000. With 50 in average worship attendance, Wesleyanna UMC worked many months and contacted several local church youth groups. Ajinov devised a plan to give two free tickets to each youth, with the directive to invite one un-churched friend to the concert. On Oct. 19, Starfield led praises to Jesus for 475 Athens teenagers. "While other mega-churches charged $12 admission, this little church gave away their Starfield tickets to make a difference in the lives of youth in our community," said the Rev. Scott Wilks.

JOHNSON CITY: Johnson City: At Annual Conference in June, many members were shocked to hear Bishop Richard Looney's name called out during the Sending Forth service. Bishop James Swanson had enticed the retired bishop to accept an appointment at a local church, Telford UMC. Looney lives in Cleveland but drives to Telford to work each weekend. He is a Holston native who was serving Church Street UMC when he was elected bishop in 1988. These days, 75-year-old Looney, who once led the South Georgia Conference, preaches to about 100 Telford worshippers, according to Chattanoogan.com.

KINGSPORT: The Rev. Clinton Jones noticed a lot of dog-walkers in the suburban community surrounding Cloud's Bend UMC. He also wanted to help his congregation use and enjoy their recently renovated picnic shelter. So Cloud's Bend did what a lot of United Methodist churches have done lately: They organized a community Blessing of the Animals service. "We didn't really get the visitors we hoped for," said Jones, "but at least 50 people were invited to our church through this service." About 14 people came, along with nine spiritual dogs and one hallelujah cat.

KNOXVILLE: Church Street UMC also had a Blessing of the Animals on Oct. 5. About 100 people gathered in the courtyard, along with 60 animals ("mostly dogs, several cats, and even three rats," says Teresa Williams). After a litany in the tradition of St. Francis of Assisi, Church Street pastors (Ferguson, Rasnake, Buxton-Wade, and Moody) scattered and gave personal blessings for each four-legged believer.

MARYVILLE: Camp Wesley Woods raised $1,304 for scholarships through "Battle of the Praise Bands" on Oct. 17. First Farragut UMC hosted the event. Four bands particpated, including those from First Farragut, Concord, Seymour (all Oak Ridge District churches) and Front Street of RIO Restoration. Seymour's band took home the trophy. About 150 music lovers came in all, reports Kelly Milligan.

MORRISTOWN: Send news to thecall@holston.org or to: The Call, P.O. Box 850, Alcoa, TN 37701-0850.

OAK RIDGE: Seven men from Martel UMC chopped firewood and delivered it to the elderly at Project Crossroads Oct. 9-10, reports Debbie Boring Hudson. It was the first Crossroads mission for all, with the exception of  Pastor Jason Crandall. "I'm very proud of the guys who sacrificed a football Saturday to help the folks up there in Marion," says Hudson. "Although it did seem a bit awkward rooting for Tennessee, who was playing Georgia, while working in Virginia." 

TAZEWELL: The five churches of Staffordsville Circuit joined for a picnic at Big Walker Creek, followed by a baptism in the river on Oct. 3. The Rev. Jack Jenkins baptized Julie Bradley and her autistic son, Matthew. At first, Matthew panicked in the water, but Jenkins gave him a "dry run" to calm him down. When the baptism was completed, "everyone on the creek bank erupted in cheers as Matthew yelled, 'I did it!'" Jenkins said.

WYTHEVILLE: West End UMC had its first Trunk or Treat on Oct. 31 and was delighted when 88 children came for the treats of nine trunk owners. Church members did the ground work on Thursday, Oct. 29, when they went door-to-door to hand out invitational fliers, according to the Rev. Janet Richardson.