ALCOA, Tenn. (April 7, 2018) -- The 872 congregations of Holston Conference have been living into a new organization of nine districts with new names since January 2018.
However, the United Methodist Women (UMW) of Holston Conference decided to hold off on reorganizing from 12 districts to nine until January 2019.
Lynice Broyles, Holston UMW president, says the group’s leaders have been praying about and preparing for the changes, which involve about 10,000 total UMW members in east Tennessee, southwest Virginia, and north Georgia.
“Holston Conference UMW has a ‘District Redistricting Team’ appointed, and they have been working diligently to make this a smooth and unified transition,” Broyles said.
“I have met with three districts as they gathered together to discern how they could smoothly transition,” she said. “At the last meeting I attended, I was even more excited when I left than the first time I attended. This group of ladies had worked through their presidents and nominations chairs to bring together a slate of officers for the coming year.”
In a recent letter to all Holston United Methodist Women, Broyles acknowledged “apprehensions” about the reorganization of members who have shared many years together in district relationships. Yet she said she believes these changes could provide opportunities for growth “not only in our Christian faith” but also for UMW who will now be working with new members.
Margaret Denney, whose UMW membership will soon change from the former Maryville District to the new Smoky Mountain District, agreed that the careful work preceding the transition will make it smoother. She explained that although the districts will change in shape and membership, UMW activities will remain the same.
“I think so much of the way our United Methodist Women is set up and the way we oversee everything, there is a lot of stuff that will stay the same,” said Denney, a member of Mountain View United Methodist Church in Knoxville.
“We will have the same types of activities for coming together, programs, things that everyone is familiar with … There will be enough familiarity for people to not feel off-put, but hopefully with the infusion of new blood, we will have new things that people will be excited about,” she said.
Denney noted that a few churches from the former Maryville District are now included in another district, while the new Smoky Mountain District gained churches and UMW members from the former Knoxville and Oak Ridge Districts.
“We kind of get stuck in our own boats, shall we say, and we do the same things over and over,” Denney said. “I’m looking forward to fresh input from people that I haven’t heard from before … I think we will all have something to share with one another that we haven’t done in our own districts in the past. Maybe it will encourage other people to join us because they are tired of the ‘same ole same ole.’”
Broyles wants all of the UMW districts to make time in their final 2018 meetings to pray for unity in the upcoming changes.
“My challenge to all is to make a commitment that you will write and say a prayer each week, beginning now through December 31, [and] that we will accept the transition of districts with unity,” she said.
“My next challenge is for the newly formed districts to welcome the new churches with open arms and ask them to attend your events that are planned for the remainder of the year,” Broyles said.
Holston Conference United Methodist Women will meet within their 12 districts for the last time during Annual Meeting, Sept. 15-16 at MeadowView Conference Resort and Convention Center in Kingsport.
“United Methodist Women are deeply committed to saving our women, youth and children from human trafficking, drug addictions, domestic violence, and teen suicides along with many other missions,” Broyles said.
Corrina Sisk-Casson is a Deaconess Home Missioner based in Holston Conference.
Letter from Broyles to all Holston UMW (August 2018)