The Call newsletter: May 13, 2022

The Call newsletter: May 13, 2022

What does it mean to be united?

On Sunday, we celebrated our mothers. On Monday, about 280 people celebrated their mother church and the deep desire to go “forward united” with her.

Organized by a grassroots group of clergy and held at First United Methodist Church in Maryville, the all-day Forward United gathering featured several speakers along with panel discussions. One of the speakers was the Rev. Paul Seay, who went home to Abingdon and thoughtfully wrote the commentary featured below, “What does it mean to be united?”

Then came Tuesday, and the big decision from the Judicial Council that many United Methodists have been waiting for: No, annual conferences in the U.S. actually cannot leave the denomination as a unit, at least not under current church law. Some said the ruling was expected but good news. Some did not think it was good news. Read the UM News story below for help in understanding it all.

Meanwhile, our local churches in Holston Conference continue to move forward united with celebrations of history as well as new beginnings. Calhoun United Methodist Church just celebrated more than 200 years together with Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett preaching and several former pastors attending. (Rev. Jodie Ihfe shared this news with me as I was sitting off to the side at the Forward United meeting on Monday. Her pride in her childhood church showed.) 

In the new beginnings department, you should see all the Rev. Will Shewey and Shades of Grace United Methodist Church are accomplishing with their new second campus at the former Community UMC in Kingsport. On May 1, Shades of Grace partnered with an international Filipino-American ministry, Jesus is Lord Church, which they’ll share the premises with. Will is just full of plans and ideas, and I’m looking forward to getting back to Kingsport (the city my own father lived in and loved) to catch up on what Shades of Grace will do next.

Annette Spence
Editor, The Call

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  Top Stories   

Digging through the trash: The struggle to get churches to recycle

It's not uncommon for the choir director at Trinity United Methodist Church to go digging through the trash. He's one of many environmentally-minded folks throughout Holston who are trying to lead their churches to do more to reduce plastics and other waste. From The Call. Read story.


Church court: Conferences can’t exit unilaterally

The Judicial Council, the denomination's top court, ruled that current church law does not allow annual conferences in the U.S. to withdraw from the denomination. The ruling answers questions from the United Methodist bishops, who are dealing with the ramifications of a splintering denomination. From UM News. Read story.


Traditionalist group not going away

The Wesleyan Covenant Association took the lead in creating the new Global Methodist Church, but WCA leaders say their organization needs to stick around and advocate for congregations wanting to leave The United Methodist Church. From UM News. Read story.


The List: Critter UMC 

Sure, there are plenty of Holston Conference churches with "First," "Trinity," or "Wesley" in their names. Only a handful can boast of a name borrowed from the animal kingdom. 

  • Bear Springs UMC | Pearisburg, VA
  • Beaver Ridge UMC | Knoxville, TN
  • Black Fox UMC | Cleveland, TN
  • Doe Valley UMC | Mountain City, TN
  • Elk Garden UMC | Rosedale, VA
  • Panther Springs UMC | Morristown, TN
  • Parrottsville, UMC | Parrottsville, TN
  • Parrott UMC | Parrott, VA
  • Swan Pond UMC | Harriman, TN
  • Fox UMC | Sevierville, TN


Paul Seay: What do we mean by unity?

"Because I am among those praying for The United Methodist Church to remain united, I think it’s worth asking what we mean by unity," says the Rev. Paul Seay. A General Conference delegate, Seay was one of several speakers at the recent "Forward United" gathering in Maryville. From The CallRead commentary.


  Photo of the Week   

At Jubilation, Holston's annual spring retreat for older adults, several graduates of Scarritt College got together for a mini-reunion. In the front row, left to right, are Cathy Lee Phillips, one of the Jubilation speakers, Rev. Lee Padgett, and Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett. Back row: Jan Parker, Mary Katherine Crone, and Rev. Sue Lynn Johnson. Scarritt closed in 1988 and is now home to Scarritt Bennett Center in Nashville, Tennessee. Jubilation was held May 2-4 in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee. 

In Memoriam   

Rev. C.W. Huff, age 80, May 8, Hillsville, Va. See obituary.



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United Methodist Archives & History
May 22: Heritage Sunday. Learn more.

Holston Annual Conference
June 5-8, Lake Junaluska. Find out more.

United Methodist Church
June 12: Peace With Justice Sunday. Get resources.

Holston United Women in Faith
July 22-23: Mission u in Knoxville. More info.

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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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