LAKE JUNALUSKA, N.C. (June 8, 2016) -- Annual Conference huffed and puffed through a stacked schedule yesterday that started with a 7:30 a.m. sprint around the lake and ended with a missions celebration concluding at 9:30 p.m.
They not only accomplished a lot, they received their marching orders to go and make disciples.
Five members of the Conference Strategy Team shared personal experiences along with information behind why they believe Holston is ready to transform to meet the needs of a changing world.
The closing speaker, the Rev. Micah Nicolaus, spoke of how Holston Conference has helped change his life, providing education, training, experience, and support for his ill son, who recently experienced healing.
“If you don’t think God is in the transformation business, then why are you here today?” Nicolaus shouted.
During the evening service, Rev. Brooke Atchley spoke of the Elk Garden School Ministry and how Holston’s “Children in Poverty” mission had provided inspiration and grant money to reach a rural community.
“When you go home, you’re going to find somewhere to serve,” she said. “We have the opportunity to transform lives.”
> More than 70 runners and 110 walkers participated in an early-morning 5K/ one-mile fundraiser for children in poverty. Winning the 5K: the Rev. Robert Kariuki Nyaga, pastor at John Wesley-Charles Wesley UMC in Bristol, Va., and the Rev. Nicole Krewson, associate pastor at Church Street UMC in Knoxville, Tenn. (See photos.)
> Bishop Richard Looney’s Bible study examined the second part of Psalm 40. His message included his own singing ( “Oh, how I hate to get up in the morning”) and bugle calls. “You’re not going to sleep through eternity,” he said. “You’ve got to get up. You’re going to see the one who gave his life for you.”
> The Retirement Recognition, celebrating 28 clergy, featured a video with their parting comments. The Rev. Jimmy Lee Horn shared his hope for young preachers: “I pray you will preach with courage, power, and boldness, because there is a course to run and a fight to fight -- and always keep the faith.”
> The truck carrying the ocean container stuffed with supplies for Liberia arrived in Lake Junaluska, giving the annual conference the opportunity to celebrate with a blast of the horn. Value of the supplies for Liberia and Zimbabwe totaled $221,334, according to Rev. Tom Hancock, missions chair. (Download totals..)
> The Francis Asbury Award for higher education was presented to the Rev. David St. Clair, Abingdon District.
> The Committee on Higher Education and Ministry report featured seven students, representing three conference colleges and four Wesley Foundations, who shared how collegiate ministry changed their lives.
> About 60 volunteers bagged 14,000 pounds of potatoes during a Society of St. Andrew “crop drop” during the lunch hour. The potatoes will be distributed to area pantries and Holston groups feeding the hungry.
> The Annual Conference voted against (366 to 308) a resolution that would increase vacation time for full-time pastors under appointment, following a 40-minute discussion and voting process. The current vacation guidelines for pastors, which still stand, are: 0-5 years, 2 weeks; 6-10 years, 3 weeks; 11+ years, 4 weeks. (See page 198 in “Book of Reports.”)
> The 60th anniversary of full ordination rights for women was recognized during the Board of Ordained Ministry report. Also recognized was the 20th anniversary of full membership for ordained deacons in the United Methodist Church.
> Twenty-four persons were licensed as local pastors. “All of us send you forth with our love and prayers and God’s blessing,” Bishop Dindy Taylor said.
> The Board of Pensions and Health presented a new health insurance plan for 2017 with two options (available at AC.Holston.org). Nancy Fitchpatrick, chair, announced that annual physical exams will be required of participants to avoid a $900 annual penalty in higher premiums. The report was approved.
> The Committee on Equitable Compensation’s recommendation for a 2 percent increase to minimum salary requirements for full-time pastors in 2017 was approved.
> David McLain, chair of the Board of Trustees, said that Hiwassee College made $250,000 in payments to Holston Conference this year, reducing the balance on a loan to $1 million.
> McLain also said the Maryville episcopal residence recently sold for $395,000, with a closing date of June 14. Excess from the sale (after expenses) will be invested in a Holston Conference Foundation account. The interest will be used to provide a housing allowance for Bishop Taylor, he said. The report was approved.
> Church Mutual, which covers workers’ compensation, property and liability insurance for Holston, presented a $76,763 dividend check to the conference.
> The Rev. Roy Howard received the first-ever R.N. Price Award for Archives and History.
> The Denman Evangelism Award was presented to the Rev. Jason Roe, Maryville District (clergy); Julie Hays, Broadway UMC, Maryville District (lay); and Drew Dunn, Bear Springs UMC, Tazewell District (youth).
> Rev. Ray Amos Jr., chair of the Witness Ministry Team, reported that 1,742 professions of faith were reported by Holston’s 883 churches in 2015. So far in 2016, 840 professions of faith have been recorded.
> The Council on Finance and Administration’s proposed budget of $9.4 million was approved. The vote was preceded by a 30-minute discussion about the need for a conference staff raise; doubt about how the conference spends money; need to trust CFA decisions; underfunding of general church apportionments; and cost increase of information technology equipment in the Alcoa Conference Center.
> The Discipleship Team reported the creation of a new African-American Ministry Task Force. Glenna Manning, chair, also offered information about Holston’s first hosting of the Upper Room’s Academy for Spiritual Formation at Emory & Henry College, July 24-29.
> The Appalachian Trail Outreach Ministry Team announced their first-ever intern, Nathan Anderson from the Virginia Conference, who will build partnerships with other annual conferences and divinity schools.
> The Rev. Randy Pasqua of Holston Conference Camp and Retreat Ministries reported a 2015 summer camp attendance of 2,025, with 218 campers making first-time professions of faith and 691 renewing their commitments to Jesus Christ.
> Forty-six months after the Buffalo Mountain Camp flood, Camp Bays Mountain hosted 43 campers in the Tri-Cities this week, Pasqua said. The upper 500 acres of Buffalo Mountain Camp was sold earlier this year to the Nature Conservancy. The remaining 100 acres is under contract and expected to close this month, he said.
> Pasqua also spoke of his vision for 2017: for every rising 5th grader in Holston congregations to attend camp as part of their faith journey.
> Susan Montgomery of the Outreach/Advocacy Team announced “Welcoming Communities” training for congregations hoping to reach immigrants and refugees: Sept. 9 at Washington Pike UMC, Knoxville, Tenn., and Sept. 10 at the Unity Center, Cleveland, Tenn.
> Holston Annual Conference 2017 is set for June 11-14 in Lake Junaluska, N.C.
Visit TheCall.Holston.org for the final Annual Conference report and follow-up coverage.
Download complete Wednesday edition (Holston Annual Conference 2016)
Annette Spence is editor of The Call, the Holston Conference newspaper.