Stories of Holston youth in ministry grace the pages of The Call month after month. Students who work in soup kitchens. Teenagers who paint Habitat houses. Young people who raise money to feed or clothe their brothers and sisters in need.
On the front page of this month's print edition of The Call, there's a story of seven young women from Chuckey, Tenn., who will represent Holston Conference this month at General Conference in Fort Worth, Texas. Their ministry is in dancing, but it's also in singing praises to God and bringing beauty to lonely residents of nursing homes.
Now, news comes from the Youth Ministries Office of two more ways in which the young are leading. They're not only leading the denomination in giving to Youth Service Fund, they're also inspiring Holston churches to meet a goal of providing 20,000 nets to help stop the spread of malaria.
Youth Service Fund
The Rev. Dan Gray, Holston coordinator of youth ministries, learned of Holston's first-place giving to Youth Service Fund in March. The announcement came from the General Board of Discipleship's Division on Ministries with Young People.
"Holston youth contributed $13,269 toward the denomination's fund, representing 30 percent of monies raised by Holston youth," Gray said.
Southeastern Jurisiction conferences dominated the competition. The North Carolina Conference was second with $10,861; South Carolina Conference, third with $10,470; and Virginia Conference, fourth with $9,178.
Holston youth typically learn of "YSF" at Resurrection, Holston's annual gathering of 11,000 youth and counselors each January in Gatlinburg, Tenn. Friendly competitions are held between districts to raise the largest amounts. The winning district claims the "Skillet Award," a funny trophy with smiling eggs and bacon.
"Through the denomination's YSF, grants are given to terrific ministries around the world," Gray explained. "A list is available on our web site."
The grants distributed by the national office are in addition to those awarded by Holston's own Conference Council on Youth Ministries (CCYM). In 2007, Holston youth supported missions such as purchasing Bibles for United Methodists in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Other grants were awarded to Jubilee Project, Appalachian Service Project, and Holston camps.
Total Holston giving to YSF in 2007 exceeded $45,000, Gray said. The 2008 goal, set by the CCYM, is $48,000.
Nothing But Nets
Through a partnership led by the CCYM – with the Children's Ministries Team and the Missions Team – Holston Conference has set a goal of providing 20,000 nets to combat a preventable disease. Gray recently announced that $80,151 – enough to buy 8,015 nets – had been raised in the effort. A report provided on Holston.org's Nothing But Nets page lists the contributing churches and their gifts so far.
"If each Holston church contributed enough nets for all the children and youth on their rolls, we would almost double our goal," Gray said.
Mail checks to: Advance #982015, Holston Project #560, Holston Conference, P.O. Box 850, Alcoa, TN 37701.
Bishop James Swanson expressed his pride for Holston youth in a recent e-mail to the CCYM:
"Hallelujah! Way to go Holston youth! I am so pea-picking proud of you! "