July 18, 2018
Briefs from around the conference
‘Hallelujah’ and goodbye
In May, the Rev. Scott Layer asked his congregation to suggest popular songs for which they would like to hear a sermon. “I received over 50 responses and chose five songs,” says the pastor at Central UMC in Lenoir City, Tennessee. Layer chose “Hallelujah” by Leonard Cohen because the song features “the evolution of the character of David.” He also thought Music Director Trevor Smith would sound great singing it.
Shortly after, Smith accepted a new position at First Broad Street UMC. The pastor asked Smith to record a video with the “Hallelujah” song -- “to share as a gift to our church who loved his ministry here.” The video shown during Central’s July 15 worship already has more than 5,000 views on Facebook. Find out more about Layer’s “Summer Playlist Sermon Series.”
Awakening in Alcoa
With July came new staff arriving at the Alcoa Conference Center, requiring one of the meeting rooms to be converted into an office and a general re-acquaintance with the employee rulebook. (Some of the newcomers read all 61 pages.)
New faces include the Rev. Terry Goodman, conference secretary; the Rev. Tim Jones, communications director; the Rev. Susan Groseclose, associate director of connectional ministries for discipleship; and LeRae Collins, communications director for the Holston Conference Foundation. A July 25 “meet and greet” is planned to welcome the Alcoa freshman as well as the Rev. Susan Heustess, serving in the Center for Wellbeing in Knoxville; and the Rev. Richard Edwards, who joined the Foundation staff as stewardship director in May. About 30 employees work in the Holston headquarters.
Love at the fairgrounds
Doug Hulshult worries about teenagers who don’t realize God loves them “no matter what.” So the part-time youth leader is proceeding on a vision he says has been nagging him for a while. On Sept. 8, the youth ministry at First United Methodist Church of Elizabethton will host a “No Matter What” concert with Elias Dummer, formerly of the City Harmonic praise band. Hulshult hopes to pack the Appalachian Fairgrounds with 1,000 youth. Also appearing will be the Rev. Jason Roe and Roger Williams and his band.
“The message to our youth is that no matter what they’ve been through … they are beautifully, wonderfully made children of God and they are loved, no matter what,” Hulshult says. Find out more.
Back in the D.R.
Three Appalachian District churches have a 27-member mission team in the Dominican Republic right now to serve the mountaintop city of Jarabacoa. Members of East Stone Gap, Prospect, and Midway Memorial churches will pour concrete flooring into houses with dirt floors, help build a school, lead Vacation Bible School and an arts camp, lead medical and dental clinics, and distribute Spanish and Creole Bibles in door-to-door evangelism.
The Rev. Brad Stapleton says this is the sixth trip he has led to the area. The team returns to the U.S. on July 25.
Pickles and scripture
East Ridge UMC just finished "Pat's Camp,” a life-skills week for 17 kids in grades 2 to 12. The Chattanooga church already has a history of working with children living in nearby weekly hotels. “They’ve done VBS, and you could tell they were getting bored with it,” says Allison Bishop. “We wanted something practical.” So July 9-14, the kids made potato salad and deviled eggs; created carpenter aprons from recycled jeans; learned how to can pickles; worked in the garden; and learned sign language.
“Each life skill had a corresponding scripture lesson showing how the Bible applies to every aspect of our lives,” Bishop said. The camp is named after Pat Murdock, a faithful children’s ministry worker who died last year.
Contact Annette Spence at email@example.com.
Heard in Holston (7.11.18)
Annette Spence is editor of The Call, the Holston Conference newspaper.