Holston Conference History

Holston Conference History



Holston Conference Historical Society of the United Methodist Church exists to tell the fascinating story of the people of faith in our region (East Tennessee, southwest Virginia, northwest Georgia, and portions of surrounding states) who found the saving grace of our savior, Jesus Christ and attempted to influence their world with their faithful response to his teaching.  A faithful rendering of that story not only tells of successes but also includes times of conflict and despair.  This site is dedicated to the whole story of churches, individuals, districts, and the conference organizations that have made up what we now call the United Methodist Church in the Holston territory.

Holston Conference in 2021. Earlier the territory included western North Carolina, southern West Virginia, a small part of Alabama and the mountainous corner of South Carolina.

Holston’s largest communities are Chattanooga and Knoxville, Tennessee; Johnson City, Kingsport and Bristol, Tennessee; Bristol, Virginia, Wytheville, Virginia, and Abingdon, Virginia. The majority of the conference are small towns and rural areas.

Here you will find resources, articles, and other work from our society.  The society is partnering with the Holston Conference Commission on Archives and History to preserve, interpret and celebrate our history even as we look forward to the future of God’s work in our region.

The name “Holston” is taken from an early explorer who settled on the banks of the river that was eventually named for him.  Early native names for the river are “Hogoheegee” and “Cherokee”.  This river, with three forks (north, middle and south) starts with headwaters in the mountainous sections of Bland and Smyth Counties in Virginia and all three forks eventually merge together, with the south and north fork converging at Kingsport, Tennessee.  From there it winds its way down the Tennessee valley, joining other rivers to form the Tennessee River below Knoxville.


Page's Meetinghouse Marker, Radford, VA

We invite anyone with interest in Holston History of the UMC to join our society.  Dues are $10 per year.  Send dues payable to “Holston Historical Society” to Treasurer Robert L. George, 2960 Highland Dr NE, Cleveland, TN 37312

Historical Society President: Jim Douthat

Treasurer & Conference Historian:  Robert L. George

Holston Conference Archivist:  Ms. Robin Turner. rturner@tnwesleyan.edu

Archives are Housed at: Tennessee Wesleyan University, 423-746-5226.


Heritage Landmarks of United Methodism within the Conference Boundaries: 

Acuff’s Chapel, Blountville, Tennessee (Site of the first Methodist church built in Tennessee)

Edward Cox House, Bluff City, Tennessee (site of the home of the first Methodist to settle in Tennessee)

37 Keywood Marker, Glade Springs, Virginia (Site of the first conference held west of the Allegheny Mountains, May 13-15, 1788)

36 Page’s Meeting House, near Radford, Virginia

70 Mount Gilead Church site and cemetery, Maryville, TN

227 Madame Russell Memorial UM Church and Property, Saltville, VA

268 Pisgah UM Church, Tazewell, VA

361 Sulphur Springs Campground, Jonesborough, TN

498 Thomas Amis House, near Rogersville, TN

499 Ebenezer Church and Cemetery and Earnest Fort House, Chuckey, TN

See complete list of United Methodist Historic Sites 


Acuff’s Chapel, the oldest Methodist Church on Tennessee soil. Blountville, TN

Once in Holston, the Echota Mission site was started at the Qualla Boundary of the Cherokee Nation in Western North Carolina.



W. E. Munsey was born in Bland County, Virginia. His life is noted by an historic marker in Virginia. His name is on a prominent church in Johnson City, TN.


Church Street Church in Knoxville has a wonderful history on their website which you may see at this link: https://www.churchstreetumc.org/history/

St. Paul UMC in Wytheville, VA has a history on their website at this link: https://stpaulumc.church/history

Bethlehem-Wiley UMC Chattanooga, TN. The history of this African-American Church is highlighted at this site: https://tennesseeencyclopedia.net/entries/wiley-memorial-united-methodist-church/

Sand Mountain UMC is located near the Alabama line in Dade County, Georgia.