Don't look now, but the Holston Annual Conference is flying toward its registration kick-off at 2 p.m., Sunday, at Lake Junaluska Assembly.
The June 10-13 meeting will be attended by about 1,920 clergy and lay members representing 897 churches and 12 districts in east Tennessee, southwest Virginia, and north Georgia.
This week, hundreds of churches are dropping off their Hands-on Mission Projects at district collection points in preparation for the annual meeting. Conference staff members are scurrying to put the finishing touches on every worship service and pack the last boxes for the truck departing the Alcoa Conference Center on Friday.
In the meantime, here's a list of things you might want to know about the defining meeting that gives the institution its name:
1. See you Sunday at 6. Clergy and Laity Sessions have been held on Monday morning for the past few years. This year, lay members will meet at 6 p.m. Sunday at Stuart Auditorium. Clergy will meet 6 p.m. Sunday at Shackford Hall. Here's the entire schedule for easy download. (Register at Bethea Welcome Center, located just inside the Lake J entrance, as early as 2 p.m.)
2. It's been moved to Monday. Ordination and Commissioning Service is a highlight of Annual Conference. This year, the ceremony involves 15 elders, one deacon, 13 provisional elders, two provisional deacons, and four associate members. Instead of Sunday night, the service begins Monday night at 7 p.m. Download the Worship Book for details.
3. Take the money. Take your church offering for Vietnam to the Monday morning session in Stuart Auditorium. Take your church offering for Change for Children to the tent outside the auditorium on Tuesday between 8 a.m. and noon. Take your checkbook or cash so you can give personally and generously to these two offerings as well as other opportunities to be announced!
4. Take other stuff, too. Please take your "Book of Reports," "Worship Book," and Bible to all Annual Conference sessions. On Monday afternoon, take a bell -- or find a bell app on your smart phone -- to the 2 p.m. Memorial Service. (Apps available at AC.Holston.org.) Take a refillable water bottle to Stuart Auditorium, where water will be available.
5. Move it. The Board of Pensions is promoting Healthy Holston with short walks scheduled each day at 7 a.m. and 5 p.m., beginning Monday morning. They're calling it ... are you ready? ... BOPing Along. A clergy group is also organizing a 5K run on Wednesday morning at 7 a.m. For all of these active activities, meet outside Stuart Auditorium.
6. Special is as special does. A lot of special things happen at Annual Conference outside of Stuart Auditorium. That's why you should check out the Special Events schedule for breakfasts, luncheons, reunions, and other special opportunities to connect with special United Methodists. Highlights include Monday's Peace With Justice Luncheon with Bill Mefford of the General Board of Church and Society and Wednesday morning's Christian Education Fellowship breakfast (7 a.m., Lambuth International Room).
7. Hit the high notes. Music is more varied this year, with Wesley Rouse of Fairview United Methodist Church as music director, two youth choirs, and a praise band with brass in the mix. On Sunday night, Crossfire from Burks UMC will get the party started 15 minutes before 7:30 worship begins. On Monday afternoon, the Seymour UMC Youth Handbell Choir will play for the Memorial Service. On Wednesday, the Fairview UMC Youth Choir will sing for the Sending Forth Service. Other scheduled choirs are from Mount Moriah Parish, First Bluefield, and Bristol (First UMC, Anderson Street, Addilynn Memorial, State Street).
8. One last Swanson Fest. Much of Tuesday will be devoted to celebrating the ministry of Bishop James Swanson and his wife, Delphine, who are expected to be reassigned to another annual conference in July, effective Sept. 1. There will be two opportunities to greet the Swansons: at 3 p.m. and after the evening celebration, both outside Stuart Auditorium.
9. News, news, news. The Call is all ready to go again, with a newspaper each day of Annual Conference available at registration on Sunday and by 8 a.m. Monday through Wednesday at Stuart Auditorium. Other ways to get Annual Conference news:
Annette Spence is editor of The Call, the Holston Conference newspaper.