DON'T LOOK NOW, but Holston Annual Conference is less than two weeks away, to be held June 8-11 at Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center in western North Carolina. Are you ready?
Most of the information you’ll need is available at AC.Holston.org or will be provided when you arrive and register at Bethea Welcome Center. In the meantime, here’s an alphabetical primer for Holston’s biggest meeting of the year. #holstonac14
A is for “Always,” this year’s theme, based on Hebrews 13:8. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.”
B is for Bible. Please bring your Bible to all sessions, along with the “Book of Reports” (download at AC.Holston.org) and “Worship Book” (provided at Annual Conference).
C is for Carter, as in the Rev. William Carter. The retired pastor from Johnson City and author of numerous books on theology will preach for Monday afternoon’s Memorial Service.
D is for Deaconnesses, celebrating their 125th anniversary in the United Methodist Church. Becky Louter, executive director of the denomination’s office for Deaconesses, Home Missionaries and Missioners, will speak on Monday morning.
E is for Exhibits. At least 43 informational displays are waiting for your attention in Harrell Center auditorium, including the mobile Cokesbury Bookstore and Muslim Outreach Team. (Pssssst. Some exhibits have candy.)
F is for Finance. The 2015 proposed budget will be presented on Monday morning. Questions? The Council on Finance and Administration will offer a Q&A session at Monday noon in Terrace Auditorium. The budget vote happens on Tuesday morning.
G is for Giving. Members will give their offerings for Change for Children and Stop Hunger Now (see “S,” below) on Tuesday morning. The South Sudan education offering will be collected on Tuesday night.
H is for Hands-on Project (and Horn). For weeks, our congregations have collected life-sustaining supplies for Zimbabwe and Liberia. On Monday morning, members will celebrate the send-off of two or three truckloads of these goods with the traditional blast of the truck horn!
I is for Instagram. The Holston communications staff has assembled a volunteer team to ramp up social-media coverage. Tim Kobler will create a new Instagram following. Ronnie Collins is our designated Twitter Master.
J is for … Well, duh. It’s Jesus.
K is for Korsak. Slava Korsak, a finalist on “Ukraine’s Got Talent,” will sing twice at Annual Conference – on Tuesday morning during the communion service and on Tuesday night during the Missions Celebration.
L is for Livestream. If you can’t attend (or your lake rental is too comfy to leave), you can still watch Annual Conference from a distance. Find a link to the livestream at AC.Holston.org.
M is for Musical Monday. “The Circuit Rider’s Wife” will be presented by a team from First Cleveland United Methodist Church on Monday night at 7 p.m.
N is for "Nice." That’s what you’ll say when you see who’s helping to serve Holy Communion. On Sunday, it’s the new ordinands. Monday: parents and their children. Tuesday: youth.
O is for Ordination. The Ordination Service will be combined with the Sending-Forth Service on Wednesday at 9 a.m.
P is for Perspiration. There will be an awful lot of sweatin’ during the 5K Run/ 1 Mile Walk on Tuesday at 7:15 a.m., beginning outside Stuart Auditorium. It’s all for a good cause; 185 go-getters have already paid registration fees to benefit the South Sudan Education offering.
Q is for Quit. (Please don’t quit reading this article.)
R is for Registration. If you didn’t register online by May 23, you will be asked to register via the available computers once you arrive at Annual Conference. Registration will be held at Bethea Welcome Center (located just inside the Lake Junaluska entrance) on Sunday from 2 to 8 p.m. On Monday and Tuesday, registration will be held in the Harrell Center (Susan Todd Lounge) from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
S is for Stop Hunger Now. On Tuesday at 1:30 p.m., volunteers will join at Kern Youth Center to package 10,000 dried meals for hungry people all over the world. Donations of at least $5 per person are requested to offset the $2,500 project cost. Visit StopHungerNow.org for more info.
T is for Taylor. Bishop Dindy Taylor will preside at her second Holston Annual Conference as resident bishop. She’ll also preach on Sunday night and Wednesday.
U is for Unveil. Holston’s new website design will be unveiled during the Communications presentation on Monday afternoon. The website goes live at Holston.org on July 15.
V is for Video. If you didn't attend a pre-conference briefing in your district, this 30-minute video, narrated by Stella Roberts, will bring you up to speed.
W is for Water. Bring your reusable water bottle to Stuart Auditorium, where fresh water will be available to keep you moist.
X is for EXtensions Ministries Breakfast, scheduled for 7 a.m., Tuesday, in Terrace, Room 316. Elders in “extension ministries” are appointed beyond the UMC (not in traditional pastorate roles) and include chaplains, campus ministers, teachers, missionaries, and district superintendents.
Y is for Youth. The Conference Council on Youth Ministries will host “Youth Night” at Shackford Hall on Monday following evening worship. (Y is also for “Yea!”)
Z is for Zzzzz. We hope that Annual Conference is so inspiring and uplifting, you won’t be doing this during the sessions.