Clergy - General Conference: David Graves (leader), Kim Goddard, Sandra Johnson, Carol Wilson, Wil Cantrell, Randy Frye
Clergy - Jurisdictional Conference: Mark Flynn, Paul Seay, Dennie Humphreys, Eddie Fox, Jerald Russell, Lauri Jo Cranford (Alternates: Kristen Burkhart, Catherine Nance)
Lay - General Conference: Del Holley, Emily Ballard, Becky Hall, John Tate, Robert Lockaby, Karen Wright
Lay - Jurisdictional Conference: Joyce Moore, John Eldridge, Charlotte McKee, Carolyn Kidd, Anne Travis, Sam England (Alternates: John Powers, Justin Haynes)
LAKE JUNALUSKA, N.C. (June 11, 2015) -- The Annual Conference completed its election at 9:30 last night, after joining in worship and taking an offering for local children in poverty.
The long and busy day also ended with completion of two mission projects, an approved budget for 2016, and decisions on three resolutions and one petition.
The Rev. Susana Lopez, pastor at El Ministerio del Espiritu Santo in Sevierville, preached during evening worship, sharing her personal story as a child in poverty. When a teacher noticed she only had two dresses, Mount Zion United Methodist Church in Comers Rock, Va., reached out to her family with love and assistance, she said.
"This church did more for this family than they could ever imagine,” Lopez said. “They were engaged in their community.”
After Lopez’ message, the Annual Conference collected a total offering of $150,366 that will benefit children in poverty within Holston’s communities, according to Treasurer Rick Cherry. Members who have additional offerings today may take them to the Stuart Auditorium information desk.
The “children in poverty” mission emphasis will continue throughout the year with Bishop Dindy Taylor’s challenge for each worshipper to give at least $10 and 10 hours of service.
“This Annual Conference is a kick-off for year-long participation,” Taylor said.
Church members may find more information, give, or record their service hours at ACoffering.Holston.org.
> Total offering for Change for Children reached $54,692 by late last night, according to Cherry. Members with additional offerings may take them to the Stuart Auditorium information desk today before departing. Change for Children offerings are designated for children’s ministries in Africa and in Holston Conference.
> Eighty volunteers joined in a Stop Hunger Now event, packaging 10,152 meals at Kern Youth Center yesterday afternoon, according to the Rev. Michael Sluder, mission director. An additional 80 volunteers bagged 13,800 pounds of potatoes for the Society of St. Andrew project held at the outdoor gym. Potatoes were distributed to Holston groups who will take them to the hungry in their communities, providing about 40,000 servings, Sluder said.
> The Annual Conference approved a $9.7 million budget for 2016, reflecting a 10 percent cut in the requested budget to offset shortfalls and unrealized income. After the vote, Cherry said that he and the Council on Finance and Administration will “set a committee to study our current funding plan and make necessary changes to help increase revenue.”
> The Annual Conference approved a resolution to “reduce the abuse of clergy by laypersons,” with an amendment recommended by the Committee on Petitions and Resolutions. The amendment calls for the appointment of a task force (with clergy, lay, male and female members as well as representatives of the Board of Ordained Ministry, resident bishop and a district superintendent) to create a plan to address the issue of clergy abuse.
> With a count of 531 to 227, the Annual Conference voted in favor of a motion to “table indefinitely” a petition to the General Conference to revise language in the Book of Disciple regarding homosexuality. The vote followed an emotional 50-minute discussion including eight people at the microphones who spoke for or against the motion and the issue.
> The Annual Conference voted in favor of a resolution for “consideration of child care,” requiring planning and publicity of conference and district events to include discussion and information about child care in an effort to be more inclusive of families and children.
> The Annual Conference voted against a resolution to reduce the tithe portion of the local church’s conference giving to a maximum of 7.5 percent.
> The Board of Trustees reported that seven properties (churches and parsonages) were sold in 2014. A $1.4 million “revolving line of credit” was extended to Hiwassee College, “secured with real property,” said David McLain, chair. The Board of Trustees commissioned a “feasibility study” of the Alcoa Conference Center for current space and program needs, resulting in a $1.6 million renovation and upgrade plan. “We will only move forward as funds are available,” McLain said.
> The Annual Conference approved the Committee on Equitable Compensation’s recommendation for a 2 percent increase to clergy minimum salary requirements. A $195,300 budget was also approved.
> Bishop Taylor signed a covenant between Holston Conference and Asbury, Inc., continuing the mutually beneficial ministry relationship.
> General church officials expressed appreciation to Holston Conference for giving $7.147 million to United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) over the past decade and for paying 100 percent of the general church apportionment during 2011-2014.
> The Annual Conference approved a resolution discontinuing Petros United Methodist Church in Oak Ridge District. Morley Memorial UMC has merged with Ingles Chapel on the Ewing Circuit in Big Stone Gap District, according to the Rev. Charles Maynard in the “Cabinet Report.”
Annette Spence is editor of The Call, the Holston Conference newspaper.