News from your district
ABINGDON: Hughes Melton, a member at Lebanon Memorial UMC, has been named "2011 Family Physician of the Year" by the American Academy of Family Physicians. Melton was recognized for co-founding a prescription drug abuse program for his medically underserved community. Melton serves on Holston's Board of Pensions and his physician partner, Brian Easton, is also a member at Lebanon Memorial.
BIG STONE GAP: Last year, Big Stone Gap District Church and Community Renewal served 600 families with its "Christmas CART" ministry. Nancy Hobbs is collecting for this year's project and requests new children’s clothing (especially pants and tops) in sizes 2 to 16; boys' and girls' underwear; socks (especially small sizes); basketballs and footballs; school supplies; and $15 gift cards, as well as money. Donations are needed by Dec. 4 for a Dec. 18 distribution date. Call (276) 523-0417 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
CHATTANOOGA: Jones Memorial UMC celebrated its 35th Annual Men's Club Bar-B-Que with a new pastor, the Rev. Larry Dial, who experienced the big event for the first time. Shirley Baugh reports that the whole congregation gets into the act to help the men cook and serve some 5,000 pounds of meat. Profits will be used to buy coats for needy children in East Ridge schools and also to aid youth camps, youth assemblies, and other charitable projects.
CLEVELAND: The Rev. Lu Crandall, associate pastor at First Cleveland UMC, was featured in a Cleveland Daily Banner story about her two mission trips to South Sudan and Holston's ongoing mission work there. When asked why people in Bradley County should be concerned about the life and struggles of people in Sudan, Crandall answered, “As a believer in Jesus Christ, I feel we are called to care for our neighbors next door, across the street, and around the world."
JOHNSON CITY: In late September, Unicoi UMC launched a new bi-weekly ministry, "Sweet Treat Thursdays." According to Pastor Todd Kingrea, church volunteers hand out free doughnuts to parents dropping off children at the nearby elementary school. The doughnuts are purchased at Wal-Mart and a church member makes mini identification flags (see photo, above). "We are also buying napkins with the church name and mission statement printed on them," Kingrea said. The project will continue through Christmas, when church leaders will evaluate and decide if they should dole out the dough again next fall.
KINGSPORT: In May, Kingsley and Hermon UMC started a community garden that has already blessed the congregations as well as the neighbors. The Rev. Joe Barber says the garden "shows God's love in a practical way and builds bridges with people who are not in church." Members of all ages are learning and working under the care of Roy Foulk, and 75 produce deliveries were made to needy families and shut-ins this summer. This fall, the garden is home to five different kinds of greens. Members are encouraged to take a bag of greens to someone who might not have a church home or who needs encouragement, Barber says.
KNOXVILLE: Church Street UMC celebrated the memory of a couple who helped start the church soup kitchen after retirement, then worked 25 more years as volunteers. About 400 people received a hot meal at "Bill and Fran's Barbecue" on Thursday, Oct. 14, just three days before 87-year-old Fran died. (Bill died in September 2009.) The Rev. Darryl Rasnake told the Knoxville News Sentinel that the Sarretts embodied the church's core values. "This ministry is not driven by a minister or staff. It's driven by volunteers," he said.
MARYVILLE: On Oct. 10, Broadway UMC observed "Heritage Sunday" by recognizing 24 members age 90 or older. After the worship service, some of the members rode the church bus back to their homes at Asbury Place retirement community. Several held red roses they had received in recognition or that they were taking to someone who could not attend.
MORRISTOWN: Strawberry Plains UMC hosted a "Conference on Aging: Growing Older and Living Stronger" on Sept. 23. The event was funded with a Margaret Loving grant for older adult ministries.
The agenda featured local health-care professionals with discussions on home and personal safety, diet and exercise, doctor visits, taking medications properly, and leaving a legacy for the community and church. About 60 people attended.
OAK RIDGE: Kern Memorial UMC held an Oct. 17 dedication ceremony for a newly completed memorial garden. "The garden will provide a maintained memorial site for the interment of ashes of Kern members, their families and friends who have been a part of the congregation, and former clergy of Kern and their immediate families," according to The Oak Ridger.
TAZEWELL: First Pearisburg UMC and the Staffordsville Charge joined on Aug. 29 for a baptismal service in Big Walker Creek at Bane, Va. Three youth and three adults were baptized by the Rev. Brad Scott and the Rev. Jack Jenkins. "A very large turnout from both charges came to witness the event, singing hymns and praising God on the creek bank," Jenkins said.
WYTHEVILLE: While other churches confronted ghosts and goblins on Oct. 31, Rural Retreat Circuit confronted the economic recession. The Rev. RuthAnne Henley invited the community to Fulton UMC on Halloween night "to unite in prayer for the unemployed and underemployed." According to Virginia Employment Commission data reported in the Wythe County News, Smyth County’s unemployment rate is 11.4 percent and Wythe County’s is 9.6 percent. "It is heartbreaking for us," Henley told the newspaper.