The Call: July 6, 2021

The Call: July 6, 2021

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Will they return?

With millions of people having stayed home from places of worship during the coronavirus pandemic, struggling congregations have one key question: How many of them will return?

Smaller organizations with older congregations that struggled to adapt during the pandemic are in the greatest danger of a downward spiral from which they can’t recover, experts say. From the AP. Read story.



Churches urged to relaunch, not just reopen 

Thousands of United Methodist churches in the U.S. are coming out from under pandemic restrictions. Church leadership experts have become preachers in this moment, imploring clergy and lay leaders not to miss an opportunity for change. From UM NewsRead story.



UMC to start counting non-binary members

United Methodist congregations in the U.S. will soon have a new way to break down the gender of its members. The General Council on Finance and Administration board has approved revising local-church statistical forms to include “non-binary” alongside the categories of “male” and “female.” From UM NewsRead story.


Honorary degree for long-time E&H chef 

Willie Thompson has worked 58 years in the Emory & Henry cafeteria. The college recently honored the beloved servant with an honorary degree in culinary arts. From Bristol Herald-CourierRead story.


Governor's wife gives out food in Sneedville

Maria Lee, Tennessee first lady, and members of her staff helped Second Harvest and Jubilee Project distribute 200 food boxes to Hancock County families on June 29. From the Citizen Tribune. Read story.



Celebrating 50 years as Trinity organist

Walter Hines recently celebrated his 50th year as organist for a Lenoir City church, after starting to play one summer as a 15-year-old high school student. From the News-Herald. Read story.


Black cemetery recognized as historic site

The Tennessee Historical Commission has announced that Beck Knob Cemetery will be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The 130-year-old cemetery is owned by Hurst UMC in Chattanooga. From Fox 17 Nashville. Read story.


Letter of thanks to the late Evelyn Lawrence

On Juneteenth, Marion police officer Amber Eades wrote a letter to Evelyn Lawrence, a member of Mt. Pleasant UMC, who told the rookie officer stories of her grandmother's life as a slave and the "crying tree" where she often sought refuge. From SWVa TodayRead story.



  Photo of the Week  

On July 1, Holston clergy officially began a new year of ministry. On July 4, some preached in new pulpits at new appointments. Among them is the Rev. Michael Vaughn, who relocated after 13 years at Telford United Methodist Church to Gate City United Methodist Church. Vaughn said he was driving down the road in his new town when his wife Heather said, "Hey, we're on that sign." 


  In Memoriam   

Rev. Bill Hill
Age 67, June 25, 2021, Jacksboro, TN. See obituary.


Rev. Ron Hammond
Age 82, April 19, 2020. See obituary

Service will be at First United Methodist Church, Maryville, Tenn., on July 11 at 4 p.m. Visitation begins at 2 p.m. in the church’s Wesley Hall. Livestream:




Church Street UMC
Summer Lecture Series: July 11-Aug. 1


Annual Conference

Aug. 27: Memorial Service, Ordination Service
Aug. 28: In-Person Session


Holston United Methodist Women
Mission u: July 23-24


Holston Calendar

UMC Calendar



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June 22 edition

June 12 edition


The Call is Holston Conference's weekly newsletter for 850 United Methodist congregations in East Tennessee, Southwest Virginia, and North Georgia. Contact Annette Spence, editor, at

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