LAKE JUNALUSKA, N.C. – As the music swelled to “In Christ Alone” and “It is Well with My Soul” last night, the singing voices of the Holston Annual Conference also swelled, filling Stuart Auditorium with worship and hope.
In the front row, several clergy who were about to be ordained or commissioned raised their hands in praise. At least one wiped away tears. From the stage, Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett noticed.
“I want to ask you: Is it well with your soul?” she asked, looking down at the front row and smiling. “I know it is, because I had the privilege of sitting on that chair, watching your faces as you heard the music and as you sang.”
Opening worship of the Holston Annual Conference began with an auditorium that was noticeably less full than in past years and concluded with the celebration of clergy taking a next step in serving Christ in The United Methodist Church.
Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett preached on “Making a Difference by Offering Christ Every Day.”
“You are responding to Christ’s love in your life in a way that is a next right step for you,” she said to 16 persons recognized during the Service of Ordination and Commissioning.
Three clergy were ordained as elders: Melissa Kaye Ricketts Malcolm, Amy Suzanne Nutt, and Charlotte Shynellen Nzingah Nyaboke Williams.
Five were commissioned as provisional elders: Teanna Black, Dalton Richardson, Clay D. Holt, Jennifer Spieth, and Jason S. Humberd.
Two were commissioned as provisional deacons: Joy Eastridge and Greta Smith.
Four were licensed as local pastors: Garrett Hammonds, John Rowe and (not present) Mark Reedy and Pam Kiper.
The orders of two clergy were recognized: Bryannelle Rop and Vannessa Trice-Wallace.
Preaching from Acts 9:36-39 and Ephesians 4:11-12, Wallace-Padgett presented four questions for worshippers to consider:
- How did you offer Christ today in words or action?
- To whom did you offer Christ?
- What is a next step for you in growing your intentionality about offering Christ?
- To whom will you offer Christ tomorrow? How?
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Annette Spence is editor of The Call, the Holston Conference newsletter.
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