|Annual Conference 2002 Delivers Business, Pleasure, Worship & Leftover Chicken
UNDER THE THEME, "Reflecting the Light," an estimated 1,600 clergy and lay leaders representing 931 congregations in East Tennessee, North Georgia and Southwest Virginia gathered in Lake Junaluska, N.C., for the 2002 session of Holston Annual Conference. In addition to reports in the June 21 edition, here are highlights of the June 9-12 event.
- Calling the escalating cost of health insurance "a real dinosaur," Board of Pensions Chair Bill Lawson explained its impact on Holston's future financial status. He also emphasized that pledges from the Legacy of Commitment pensions campaign must be received in order to fully fund pre-1982 pensions.
- The conference voted to approve "statement of relationship covenants" between Holston Conference and Tennessee Wesleyan College, Emory & Henry College, Hiwassee College, Holston Home, and Asbury Centers. The covenants, as explained by Asbury Centers Director Bernie Bowman, are "written understandings that we have no legal obligation to each other, but we're very happily affiliated."
- The conference voted to adopt Judicial Council revisions of the Ministry Design, an organizational structure for the Holston Annual Conference. The revisions were recommended by the denomination's highest judicial body in October 2001.
- The conference voted to approve the Stewardship Ministry Team's recommendations on equitable compensation: a 3.5 percent increase in pastoral salaries for the year 2003.
- The conference voted to approve resolutions closing the following four churches: Mt. Pleasant, Abingdon District; Mt. Herman, Cleveland District; Pellissippi, Oak Ridge District; and Pounding Mill, Tazewell District.
- The Committee on Resolutions recommended non-concurrence of a proposed resolution to condemn same-sex marriages in Duke University Chapel, on the basis that the Book of Discipline already defines the denomination's philosophy of homosexual issues. The conference voted to adopt the committee's recommendation. The resolution
- The Rev. David Brannock received the first Freeman Leadership Award of Holston Conference, presented by the United Methodist Men. Brannock, pastor at First White Pine UMC, Morristown District, was selected for encouraging ministries of men in evangelism, missions and spiritual growth.
- The Mustard Seed Award for small membership churches was presented to Red Hill UMC, Cleveland District. Red Hill's pastor is the Rev. Carolyn Braddy.
- On behalf of United Methodist Publishing House, the Rev. J.N. Howard presented a a check for $1,5513 to the Legacy of Commitment pensions campaign.
- The Francis Asbury Award, for fostering United Methodist ministries in higher education, was presented to Lu Ellsworth, president at Appalachian School of Law and member of Appalachian Prayer Fellowship, Big Stone Gap District.
- The Harry Denman Evangelism Award was presented to lay members Linda Comer and Howard Smith of Bookwalter UMC, Knoxville District. The clergy Denman Award was presented to the Rev. Stephen Burkhart, pastor at Grant's Chapel/George Street UMC, Morristown District.
- Evelyn Laycock, Holston layperson and Bible teacher, was presented the 2002 Philip Award by the National Association of United Methodist Evangelists.
- The audience stood to applaud the Rev. Raymon White, conference secretary, after hearing that Bishop Chamberlain had contributed $1,000 toward a chair in White's honor. The chair is part of a $1.3 million renovation of Stuart Auditorium including air conditioning and 1,000 new seats.
- Roger Redding, Holston Conference Foundation director, captivated audience members with his personal testimony and an appeal to use wealth to fund ministry: "If some of us tithed our estates to ministry, can you imagine what would happen?"
- In addition to sermons and Bible studies delivered by prominent United Methodist ministers Jerome King Del Pino and Bishop Richard Wilke, Holston's own Rev. Kim Goddard and Rev. Larry Trotter wowed the crowd with their messages. The Rev. Eddie Fox, Holston minister currently serving the World Methodist Council, delivered a camp meeting style sermon to a packed house on the final night.
- During an uplifting Missions Festival, missionary Bill Humbane of Ishe Anesu announced that a Zimbabwe school built with 2001 conference offerings is nearly complete. Maria Humbane thanked the conference for hands-on missions kits providing food, school supplies and clothing for Zimbabwe children.
- Conference members heard an emotional presentation by physicians operating Crossroads Mobile Medical Mission, based out of State Street UMC, Bristol, Va. The audience stood to applaud Paul Derden and partners Tim Schwob and Rex Boggs after hearing how they gave up their salaries to care for the medically underserved.
- Bishop Ray Chamberlain tickled funny bones with drama during the last day's Sending Forth Service. After numerous attempts to get Gabriel to connect him to God by telephone, Chamberlain gruffed, "Gabriel gets on my nerves sometimes."
- In a presentation by Legacy of Commitment campaign leaders, the Rev. Rae Mullins rode his bike down the aisle and Chair Leonard Fant boo-hooed into a handkerchief, pretending the goal hadn't been met. Campaign leaders later announced that pledges totaled $8,001,287, surpassing the $7.8 million marker.
- Participants marveled at how the food could be so bad (leftover Chinese chicken and succotash for $7 during one Terrace meal), the scenery, so beautiful ("There is nothing prettier than these mountains," commented Board of Pensions Chair William Lawson).
- "Sometimes people need a little bit of offending, and it works."
Anna Chrysostomides, age 16, testifying to the way controversial Resurrection speaker Shane Claiborne inspired her youth group. She is a member at Central Radford UMC, Wytheville District.
- "Thanks, folks. I'm out of here."
Leonard Fant, after receiving a certificate of gratitude for his service as the Legacy of Commitment Campaign chair.
- "It would have been great to follow the Legacy of Commitment by saying we're going to remove the liability from the 2003 budget. But you wouldn't want us to do it unless we had the resources to do it."
Mai Bell Hurley, Council on Finance & Administration president, recommending that a $3 million liability for pre-1982 pensions be removed from the 2004 budget, pending receipt of campaign pledges.
- "Frankly, we need it, and even more frankly, I think we're worth it."
Ottallee Winegar, insisting that $600 for a ministers' wives retreat be returned to the 2003 budget. The funds were approved.
- "It's the government picking on the weakest citizens, clear and simple."
The Rev. Mike Feely, pleading for church leaders to campaign and vote against a Tennessee state lottery in November.
- "The trucks gave me a special kind of feeling when they blew out there."
Liberian missionary Herbert Zigbou, referring to two tractor-trailers carrying supplies to ships destined for African missions. The trucks sounded their horns from the parking lot during a special Missions Festival send-off.
- "There is an urgency to reflecting the light of Christ É we don't really think about the fact that people who die without Christ are lost."
Discipleship Team Chair Jean Henderson in her closing speech on June 12.
- "This smells like old-fashioned prejudice to me. It stinks to high heaven."
Bishop Ray Chamberlain, on congregations who say they will not accept female pastors.
As of June 14, totals received for:
- In-Conference Missions: $88,441
- Change for Children: $40,847
- Annual Conference costs: $5,290
- Bishop's gift to Cuba: about $9,000
- Value of hands-on missions kits: $161,035
- Hands-on kits requested: 1,071
- Kits collected: 3,950
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