NEWS FROM YOUR DISTRICT
Abingdon: On Tuesdays, 10-12 volunteers at Virginia Avenue UMC gather to bag supplies for the food bank that opens the following day. The volunteers work through the morning and then share lunch and Bible study. On Wednesdays, about 125- 150 families line up for food distributed by Virginia Avenue's pantry from 10 a.m. to noon. The Rev. Connie Huffi ne says about 20-30 new families show up each month.
Big Stone Gap: Superintendent Dennie Humphreys preached at Jonesville UMC from Sunday through Wednesday of Holy Week. The theme was "Listening to Jesus." Special music was provided by Ewing Circuit's praise band including the Rev. Harry Layell. The Rev. Bobby Dunford of Jonesville Parish played guitar on another night.
Chattanooga: On Palm Sunday, kids at Christ UMC receive plastic eggs. They're asked to fi ll the eggs with loose change and to bring the eggs back on Easter. Big baskets in the atrium are provided for re-collecting the eggs, according to Becky Hall. The money goes to Change for Children, Holston's program for needy kids. This year, Christ raised $400, "but besides the actual money, the eggs make people aware of the program," Hall says. "It's a good mission education tool."
Cleveland: On the first Sunday in March, a five-gallon bucket was placed in each West Side Parish church with a challenge to fi ll the bucket with change. On the last Sunday in March, the three congregations joined for worship and weighed the buckets. Savannah UMC's bucket weighed 47 pounds; Mt. Zion, 46 pounds; East View, 43 pounds. Total raised for One Great Hour of Sharing: $571.
Johnson City: Centenary UMC is collecting poptops from aluminum cans to benefi t Johnson City's Ronald McDonald House. According to church member Kathy Jones, the aluminum in pop-tops is high-quality material for recycling. Pop-tops also are more easily stored than aluminum cans.
Kingsport: Colonial Heights UMC recently launched a new ministry, Clothes of Compassion. Volunteers renovated a house in the community where they offer clothes that are "marginally priced," according to Associate Pastor Kathy Hale. They're testing to see which days are optimal for opening. So far, Friday and Saturday mornings seem to work out because "people like to shop on weekends," Hale says.
Knoxville: After Emily Hooper heard Shane Claiborne speak at Resurrection 2002, she was on fi re to become a missionary. "It's pretty much all I've thought about," says the 17-year-old member at Beulah UMC. This summer, she's getting her feet wet on a mission trip to Guatemala to work in orphanages. "I'm excited and a little nervous," she says. "I know it won't be all peaches and cream, but I'm ready to get dirty."
Maryville: Wears Valley UMC recently broke ground on a new Christian Family Life Center. The 4,500- square-foot building will provide eight Sunday school classrooms, a youth assembly area, fellowship hall and new kitchen. Completion is expected in fall 2003. Price tag: $185,000-$200,000.
Morristown: The missions committee at Trinity (Greeneville) UMC is raising money for a Liberian man, Steve Geegbe, who lives in a refugee camp in Ghana. War destroyed his home and took the lives of his parents. Yet, "his eyes are still bright with hope," the Rev. Mark Clark told his congregation. Steve is a United Methodist who yearns to go to college. He will soon begin a computer class requiring him to walk two hours each way from camp to a training center. "He will have no time to work for his food," Clark says, so parishioners are asked to give to a fund that will help care for Steve.
Oak Ridge: When the choir director at St. Mark UMC took sick leave, the choir surprised her by cleaning and painting the choir room and buying new choir chairs. They've also brought meals and done other nice things for Suzanne Johnson, who is recovering from breast cancer. One choir member gave her a hat to replace the wig she's been wearing since chemotherapy. "The wig is too hot when I'm directing, so I end up throwing it off." The hat is more comfortable, she says.
Tazewell: A few Saturdays ago, the Rev. RuthAnne Henley began a search for a baptismal record in the Ceres Circuit parsonage basement. As she searched each box, she set them on top of a metal desk. She left the boxes until Monday until she could complete the search. But on Sunday morning, a storm sent six inches of water flooding into the basement. Some clothing, a trunk and two wooden desks were damaged. "But all of the irreplaceable church records were safe and dry," Henley reports. "Our charge could have lost a large bite of history. I am grateful to the Lord for protecting the records."
Wytheville: The Rev. Leroy Henry is a native of St. Kitts in the eastern Caribbean, but he has lived in the United States since 1995. He has served as a pastor in Jamaica, Antigua and Aruba now he's serving the Pulaski Parish. On Feb. 28, Henry joined 37 people from other countries to become a U.S. citizen through naturalization.