General Conference 2012 in Tampa, Fla.
The Holston Conference delegation began their first official day of the General Conference on a somber note, when they learned that one of their own had lost his struggle with cancer.
Jay Garrison, 63, Holston's long-time chancellor, didn't join his delegation in Tampa, Fla., but died at his home in Knoxville on April 24. First alternate Paul Brown of Johnson City is now representing Holston in Garrison's place.
Garrison was a lifelong member of Fountain City United Methodist Church in Knoxville. He was elected first lay alternate to the Judicial Council, The United Methodist Church’s highest judicial body, in 2008.
In June, he was elected to the Holston delegation to General Conference for the first time. "He really was looking forward to it," said the Rev. Jim Whedbee, Fountain City pastor. "It was only about two weeks ago when he decided he couldn't go."
“Holston Conference will miss Jay’s leadership. The Holston delegation joins with other voices across our conference and the United Methodist connection to express our condolences to Jay’s family, and we continue to lift them in prayer during our work together in Tampa," said Del Holley, head of Holston's delegation.
Garrison's death was announced during the April 24 session at General Conference, and leaders and delegates expressed their sympathy to Holston delegates. Garrison's Celebration of Life service is scheduled for May 7 at Fountain City UMC.
Read obituary in Daily Christian Advocate.
Big meeting, big coverage
Holston's team of 20 (seven clergy, seven lay members, six alternates) are joining nearly 1,000 United Methodist delegates for a 10-day conference that concludes May 4.
Delegates from the United States, Europe, Africa, and the Philippines will consider 1,200 petitions that will determine the manner in which the 12.1-million-member denomination orders ministry, structures agencies, and addresses social justice issues for the next four years. (See UMNS opening story.)
Extensive, minute-by-minute coverage is provided through news, photos, videos, Twitter, Facebook, livestreaming, blogs and more at UMC.org.
However, for coverage streamlined for Holston readers, visit Holston.org now through May 4 for "GC Journal."
You'll also find Holston coverage (especially photos and breaking news) at Facebook.Holston.org, or through Twitter @TheCall_Holston.org.
Visit gc2012.holston.org for quick links to live streaming, the delegation list, and more.
Look for the wraps
Each day, United Methodist News Service provides "wrap stories" that neatly explain the complicated proceedings and happenings of the day. Here are the wrap stories so far:
April 28: Repentance is life work
April 27: First step to set-aside bishop
April 26: Work begins
April 25: Opening addresses, rules
Earlier this week, Holston delegates worked long hours in committee meetings while acclimating themselves to the Tampa Convention Center and General Conference routines and idiosyncracies.
The first hours of the giant gathering struck Holston delegates as an important time for
- holy conferencing
- gathering as the body of Christ
- worship with the feel of Pentecost, and
- Episcopal leadership focused on casting vision rather than reciting statistics
Those were text-messaged answers in response to The Call's text-messaged questions. Del Holley added this observation:
"The thing that struck me most about yesterday's sessions were the moments in the liturgy when we were called to respond verbally in our native languages. It was a reminder to me that we serve such a powerful God who hears our voices (when all we hear are a jumble of sounds) and understands our petitions."
See candid photos from the delegates on Facebook.
By day 3, John Tate, who sits on the Financial Administration Committee, was pleased that his group had finally made good progress.
"We are dealing with the budget, divestment, and pension plans," Tate said. "We obtained some agreement on the items that were long-hanging fruit."
However, General Conference makes the Holston Annual Conference "seem like a breeze," Tate added.
"I used to think that action was hard to follow at Annual Conference. General Conference is even more difficult with motions to motions many times over."
More to come
Remember to keep up with Holston news now through May 4 at Holston.org or on Facebook. The Call will be on site in Tampa by Sunday, April 29.
Annette Spence is editor of The Call. Text news or photos to (865) 719-9715, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or Twitter to Annette Spence @Pauledith.
Annette Spence is editor of The Call, the Holston Conference newspaper.