August 1, 2018
Briefs from around the conference
Vacating The Connexion
When Annual Conference voted not to purchase The Connexion on June 12, it was left to conference staff member Angela Lee to empty the building by June 30. With the help of Two Men and a Truck, she moved the Holston archives collection that had been stored in The Connexion to a climate-controlled facility in Knoxville. She moved three truckloads of Holston equipment back to the Alcoa Center, and she connected Appalachia Service Project with the bank so they could make their own moving arrangements. El Ministerio del Espiritu Santo relocated themselves back to First UMC in Sevierville, where the congregation started eight years ago.
On June 28, Lee turned the keys over to Citizens National Bank. “It was emotional,” said Lee, who managed the Sevierville property during Holston’s 29-month lease. “I guess you can be sad and relieved all at the same time.”
Archives destined for Athens
The Holston Conference archives are temporarily housed in a Knoxville storage facility (see paragraph above), but the permanent home may soon be at Tennessee Wesleyan University. The Holston History and Archives Commission has searched for a new place for the collection since 2016, when Emory & Henry College discontinued the conference archivist position in a “cost-cutting measure,” says the Rev. David St. Clair, commission chair. Until then, Emory & Henry had taken care of the archives for 21 years. The archives commission is now in the process of working out relocation details with Tennessee Wesleyan.
“The Holston Conference archives are home to many valuable, irreplaceable, and one-of-a-kind documents pertaining to our identity,” St. Clair said.
Blount County break-up
Family Promise of Blount County is “diligently searching” for more churches to provide emergency shelter for homeless families. Executive Director Kathi Parkins says the stressful situation emerged after Christmas 2017, when Family Promise brought in a family with same-sex parents. Two Baptist congregations and one United Methodist congregation completely dropped their support. One large United Methodist congregation agreed to continue providing support “with the stipulation that couples will only share a bedroom if they are married and heterosexual,” according to the church newsletter.
Says Parkins, “We need our church buildings and all of our volunteers so we have complied with these requests,” but not without challenges in explaining why some families must be separated. First United Methodist of Maryville has gone above and beyond to fill the gaps left by exiting churches, she said. Family Promise is currently housing 10 families with the help of 26 total churches; six are United Methodist. Contact Parkins at 865-233-4737 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Preach, cuss, love
“Preach like a woman. Cuss like a sailor. Love like Jesus.” That’s the message Rev. Evelyn Harris carries around on her personalized polycarbonate water bottle. When other people wanted a bottle like hers, the Chattanooga pastor decided to sell them to raise money for Holston clergywomen. Harris explained that she struggles with a “salty mouth," and people don’t always realize how vital female preachers were to John Wesley’s movement.
“I believe the world needs Jesus now more than ever, and if a $16 water bottle can start a conversation, or raise the eyebrow of a non-believer, all the better,” says the St. Luke UMC pastor. The bottles are available until Aug. 17. Proceeds will "organize, equip, empower, educate, and encourage" clergywomen.
Five days in South Africa
Parker Kitts, 20-year-old member at Harriman UMC, was one of 330 young adults who went to Johannesburg, South Africa, for the fourth Global Young People’s Convocation. Delegates from 40 countries in four regions of the world came together July 18-22 for the leadership development event organized by United Methodist Discipleship Ministries. “Holston has had representatives attend all four of the GYPC events that have happened,” said Laura McLean, associate director of connectional ministries. Young adults are required to apply for the opportunity.
Contact Annette Spence at email@example.com.
Annette Spence is editor of The Call, the Holston Conference newspaper.