Update 5 p.m., Dec. 7:
In-kind donations are no longer being accepted at the 149 Cates Lane, Pigeon Forge location. Instead, deliver to Smoky Mountain Jubilee Donation Center (across from Titanic), 2115 Parkway, Pigeon Forge, TN 37863. Hours: Monday-Sunday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Financial donation options: (1) Give online at Holston.org/Wildfires (2) Write checks to "Holston Conference" with "Wildfire" on the memo line. Mail to: Holston Conference Wildfire Relief, P.O. Box 850, Alcoa, TN 37701.
ALCOA, Tenn. (Dec. 3, 2016) – United Methodist leaders are rejoicing that the buildings they feared had perished in the Gatlinburg fire escaped with minor damage.
They also released a new list of needs while canceling the previous list of needs.
“All of the church buildings in Sevier County and throughout the district are still standing,” said the Rev. Charles Maynard, Maryville District superintendent. “The amazing one is that First Gatlinburg is intact with only minor damage. All parsonages survived. “
For days, Holston Conference leaders worried that the parsonage where the Rev. Dan Moore and his wife lived -- and the rental house where the Rev. Edna Lopez’s family lived -- had been destroyed.
The Sevier County wildfire started late Nov. 28 and had killed at least 13 by Dec. 2, according to the Knoxville News Sentinel.
On Friday, Moore and Lopez were allowed into the area by TEMA to see and photograph their homes.
“Our church is standing, the church parsonage is fine, and our home is fine,” Lopez reported. “Our pet fish are living!”
Lopez and her husband, Marvin, are pastors of the Hispanic congregation at First United Methodist Church of Gatlinburg. Moore is senior pastor at the Gatlinburg church.
First Gatlinburg UMC was organized in 1938 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2007.
Maynard announced the buildings' survival to pastors of 64 churches in the Maryville District yesterday in an email that also provided an updated list of needs.
“We put out a call for items for firefighters. We now have plenty, and this is not needed any more,” Maynard said.
The new list, effective immediately, will meet “immediate needs," he said:
Stage 1 baby food
Stage 3 baby food
Diaper rash cream
Baby shampoo/ wash
Infant/ children’s medicine
Portable phone chargers
Depends (adult diapers)
Benadryl (adult and children’s)
Clear or mesh backpacks
Zyrtec (allergy medicine)
The items will be accepted at the Alcoa Conference Center (217 S Rankin Rd, Alcoa, TN 37701) during office hours, Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. The office phone number is (865) 690-4080.
Donations also may be delivered to Pigeon Forge Distribution Center at 149 Cates Lane, Monday through Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and Sunday 1-4 p.m.
Also needed are “financial resources to help our people and congregations in these next weeks and months,” Maynard said.
On Dec. 2, online donations received through Holston.org had exceeded $10,000, staff members said. (How to give online.)
Donations of supplies continued to arrive at the Alcoa Conference Center until late Friday, including a load of towels for firefighters.
“The kindergarten and first grade classes at Foothills Elementary School asked each child to bring a towel to donate to school with them today,” said Julie Graham, receptionist. “So we have a big bag of towels here in the lobby from them. Very sweet.”
Gatlinburg church reaches out to forgotten population (The Call, 8/21/2009)
Annette Spence is editor of The Call, the Holston Conference newsletter.