Membership increases by 394; worship attendance drops 222
Church leaders representing 899 congregations roared in celebration June 11 on receiving the news that a $1 million goal for Imagine No Malaria had not only been met, but exceeded.
Holston Conference raised more than $1.13 million to save an estimated 113,525 lives from malaria after a year-long campaign inspiring members to run and bicycle hundreds of miles; shave their heads and skydive; sell pizza and lemonade; and jump into an icy lake. A few weeks before Annual Conference, the fundraising team submitted a resolution to extend the campaign six months to allow more time to reach the goal. The resolution was approved by the Annual Conference earlier on June 11.
However, in an evening worship service celebrating Imagine No Malaria and the denomination’s quest to eradicate the disease, Holston members rejoiced when the total collected was announced by the Rev. Andy Ferguson, campaign chair.
The worship service also included testimony from the Rev. Fred Dearing and Libby Dearing, now serving in Yei, South Sudan, and preaching by the Rev. Charles Maynard, the Maryville District superintendent who walked 100 miles among his 64 churches to raise awareness.
The 2013 session of clergy and lay members from east Tennessee, southwest Virginia and north Georgia was the first for Bishop Mary Virginia Taylor as Holston’s resident bishop. Under the theme “Imagine,” Taylor preached on Ephesians 3:20 during opening worship: “God can do anything, you know – far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams!” (The Message)
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- About 225 participants joined in an early-morning BuzzKill 5K Run/ 1-Mile Walk to raise money for Imagine No Malaria. Winners of the 5K: Rev. Wil Cantrell (male) and Rev. Nancy Twigg (female).
- Supplies valued at $286,410 were blessed and dispatched to Ishe Anesu Project in Zimbabwe and United Methodist schools in Liberia. Local churches began collecting food, health, school, and sewing supplies for the annual Hands-on Mission Project weeks before Annual Conference.
- An offering of $61,922 was collected for Change for Children, half designated for children’s ministry grants within Holston Conference. The other half is earmarked for children in Africa, specifically Imagine No Malaria.
- The Missions Ministry Team reported that Holston will be receiving its fourth Church and Community Worker, Brooke Atchley, to serve throughout Tazewell District.
- The Missions Ministry Team and Libby Dearing reported that the Grace Home for Children is under construction and will open this fall for 24 residents in Yei, South Sudan. The orphanage was realized with a $300,000 Christmas 2012 offering from Christ United Methodist Church in Chattanooga, Tenn.
- The Congregational Development Team reported that three new churches were funded in South Sudan and a partnership has been formed with Cokesbury United Methodist Church of Knoxville, Tenn., to begin recovery ministries throughout the conference.
- Holston Conference Foundation reported that Cokesbury United Methodist Church had established the G. Steven Sallee Evangelism Endowment in memory of their senior pastor, who died May 2.
- The Annual Conference adopted a 2014 budget of $10.2 million, an increase of $265,000 over the 2013 budget.
- John Goolsbey of the General Council on Finance and Administration congratulated and thanked Holston Conference for paying 100 percent of its general church apportionment.
The Annual Conference celebrated Lake Junaluska Assembly’s 100-year anniversary with presentations by Executive Director Jack Ewing.
- The 100-year anniversary of campus ministry was marked with worship and Holy Communion led by participants from Holston’s three related colleges (Emory & Henry, Hiwassee, Tennessee Wesleyan) and five Wesley Foundations (University of Tennessee-Chattanooga, University of Tennessee-Knoxville, East Tennessee State University, University of Virginia College at Wise, Radford University).
- The Francis Asbury Award was presented to the Rev. William McDonald, chair of the department of religion and philosophy at Tennessee Wesleyan College.
- The Denman Evangelism Award was presented to the Rev. David Graves (clergy), Anne Travis (laity), and Emily Ballard (youth).
- Three teaching sessions on “appreciative inquiry” and Vital Congregations were led by Alice Williams, lay leader of the East Central District of the Florida Conference, with the Rev. Jennifer Stiles Williams, executive pastor at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Orlando, Fla.
- The Annual Conference voted to adopt the four proposed constitutional amendments from the 2012 General Conference.
- The Annual Conference voted to adopt a resolution requiring local churches to conduct annual accessibilities audits by 2015.
- A resolution for the closing of four churches was approved: Riceville (Cleveland District), Mt. Zion (Kingsport District), Westview (Knoxville District), and Trinity (Wytheville District). A resolution for the abandonment of seven churches was approved: Smith’s Chapel (Abingdon District), Mt. Vernon (Morristown District), Cove (Tazewell District), and Russell’s Chapel, Andover, Dunbar, and Imboden (all of Big Stone Gap District).
- Two events were announced: the Abolishing Poverty Conference on July 27, 2013, with Bishop Ken Carder speaking, and the Evangelism Conference on March 14-15, 2014, with the Rev. Jorge Acevedo speaking. Both events will be held at Cokesbury UMC in Knoxville, Tenn.
- The Annual Conference recognized 35 clergy retirees and memorialized 43 deceased clergy and clergy spouses.
- Bishop Mary Virginia Taylor ordained 9 elders and commissioned 11 elders and 3 deacons. Thirteen local pastors were licensed.
- Membership stands at 165,976, up 394 from the previous year. Worship attendance stands at 68,595, down 222 from the previous year.