District Roundup:
News from the Holston Conference's 12 Districts:

Attorney and environmentalist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. spoke about environmental preservation Feb. 5 at Emory & Henry College. His speech was the highlight of the college's annual Winter Forum, which this year was entitled "Our Place in the Environmental Future." Kennedy Jr. is the son of the late Robert Kennedy Sr. He currently serves as an attorney for the National Resources Defense Council.

Big Stone Gap:
First Pennington Gap UMC reports that its card ministry, led by Betty King, helps the church stay in touch with members who are unable to attend worship. In 2001, the church sent out 890 total cards; 183 of those were mailed in December alone.

Signal Crest UMC is providing home furnishings for a Cuban refugee family. The congregation is working with Brainerd UMC and Brainerd's Hispanic congregation to welcome the family, who is being sponsored by Bridge Refugee Services.

Asbury UMC celebrated the groundbreaking on its new Family Life Center on Feb. 24. The mission statement for the new center is "to help people find Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior and to build the faith of all Christians until we reach unity in the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God." Participating in the ceremony were Superintendent Dindy Taylor and Asbury Pastor Kenneth Scoggins.

Johnson City:
Average worship attendance at Sulphur Springs UMC climbed from 145 in 2000 to 253 in 2001: a 75 percent increase. Church leaders attribute the dramatic rise to the addition of a contemporary worship service in 2001, which averaged 132 in attendance by year's end. Sunday school attendance also increased from 71 to 94.

During the month of February, Mafair UMC "adopted" the oncology unit at Holston Valley Community Hospital. Adult members served snacks and meals to families waiting in the lobby, while youth focused on the patients themselves. For three afternoons a week, youth served up TLC by painting patients' nails, applying lotion to dry hands, delivering balloons and serving tea. "This has a been a wonderful project for them," says youth parent and church secretary Narda Fairweather. "They don't always get to see that side of life."

Sponsored by Cokesbury UMC's youth department, the contemporary Christian duo Lost and Found played to a full house on Feb. 10. More than 1,000 youth and leaders came from as far as Alabama for the sold-out performance, packing Cokesbury's parking lot and Epworth Hall. Lost and Found won a following in Holston after playing at Resurrection in January 2001.

The Blount County Church Plant is moving into its seventh month "with great momentum," says the Rev. Jeff Wadley. "Laying the foundation for all that we do is our Wednesday night prayer group." From that emphasis on prayer, the group had a New Year's Eve worship service attended by 200 adults and 40 children in cooperation with another church plant in the county. They've also had a children's ministry at Friendsville with an average of 125 children on Friday mornings, and one small group recently multiplied into five groups. "Without a name or a building, we've already supported the shoes for Afghanistan project and are currently looking for a place to begin a 24-hour prayer center called the International House of Prayer (IHOP)," Wadley said. A "preview" worship service is planned for Mar. 3, April 7 and May 12. Projected launch date is Sept. 8.

Trinity UMC's winning T-shirt design sold out at 9:30 a.m. Saturday on the second weekend of Resurrection, making it the best-selling shirt in Resurrection history. 2,400 are long gone, but Trinity youth are still taking orders for the "Master's Card" shirts. Visit www.holstonyouth.com or call Jason Stansell at (423) 586-5360.

Oak Ridge:
Beaver Ridge UMC held its annual "King of Fools" pancake supper and election on Fat Tuesday, Feb. 12. Every year, two candidates run for the crown. Parishioners vote with their wallets, donating money for the candidate of their choice. The candidate with the most money wins. This year, Jim Pickel took the throne, ending Brian DaMiano's reign. Amount raised for a mission trip to Mexico: $693.

Like many churches in Holston, First Pearisburg UMC participated in "Souper Bowl Sunday" on Feb. 3, raising funds and food for the needy. First Pearisburg members collected $120 and 62 items of food for the Giles County Christian Service Mission.

The Rev. J.N. and Ella Howard held an open house at the district superintendent's new parsonage on Feb. 24. Mt. Pleasant UMC recently purchased Bibles for Ishe Anesu in Zimbabwe.

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