From appointments to shootings: Our top 15 stories of the year

From appointments to shootings: Our top 15 stories of the year

Youth group from First Sweetwater UMC experiences tragedy.


ALCOA, Tenn. (Dec. 30, 2015) -- In Holston Conference, it's tough for any story to break into the list of traditional favorites, which in the last 15 years has consistently included clergy appointments and controversy.

Yet in 2015, Holston readers were clearly moved by news of a drowning during Resurrection (see #2, below) and were curious about mistakes we make when dealing with the poor (#5).

At least one of the stories emerging from our cities and mountains would go on to become one of the denomination's biggest ministry successes of the year. Shades of Grace, the new homeless congregation in Kingsport (#12), not only inspired an UMTV video and donations from all over the nation, but will appear in Outreach Magazine this spring.

Sadly, the mass-shooting epidemic striking communities all over the world and dominating international media made a stop in Chattanooga. When military personnel were gunned down at two facilities on July 16, Hixson United Methodist Church reached out to one of the grieving families, and Holston's related stories represented United Methodists throughout the world.

Bishop Dindy Taylor chose "local children in poverty" as our 2015 mission emphasis, and it's encouraging to see one of the related stories represented in this year's top 15. If you're interested in the others, visit for print as well as video testimonies.

It's also encouraging to see that, despite the ugly and discouraging voices competing for our attention, Holstonians still love to laugh. I'm thankful for pastors like Rev. Steve Doyal (see #8) and Rev. Charles Maynard (see #9) who haven't forgotten the power of humor. I vote for more stories with joy in 2016.

-- Annette Spence (editor) 


 TOP 15*

1. Bishop announces 2 new superintendents (March 26)


2. Sweetwater church grieves loss of parent during youth trip to Gatlinburg (Feb. 5)


3. Bishop names connectional ministries director (April 10)


4. Appointment week: Pocket shawls remind cabinet of prayers (March 17)


5. Poverty Summit: 4 mistakes made by church members (Sept. 2)


6. Delegation endorses Graves for bishop nominee (Sept. 21)


7. Team continues 'discovery process' for Holston's future (Dec. 2)


8. Clergy moving day: 'Box flaps are the devil's fingers' (June 30)


9. Preaching in the mountains: 5 lessons from storytellers (Aug. 16)


10. CrossFit clergy gain muscle, lose muffin tops (Jan. 5)


11. Clergy Gathering commentary: 'We need more holy conversations' (March 2)


12. New church with curious name discovers forgotten community (May 25)


13. Kingsport churches give $217,000 Xmas offering for South Sudan (Jan. 19)


14. Annual Conference final report: $205,058 for children's ministries (June 18)


15. 'Heartache for hometown': Churches respond to Chattanooga shooting (July 18)




The list is generated by data reports provided by Constant Contact, our email newsletter host, and does not include information from social media. 



Annette Spence

Annette Spence is editor of The Call, the Holston Conference newspaper.

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