|News from the Holston Conference's 12 Districts
Since the Crossroads Medical Mission team touched hearts at Annual Conference, four donations have been received totaling about $350. Several inquiries have been made about bringing the mission to new sites. A United Methodist Communications video about the Bristol, Va.-based ministry has won national exposure. Yet money struggles continue for the three healthcare providers who gave up their salaries to serve the medically needy in Southwest Virginia and East Tennessee. Visit crossroadsmedicalmission.org for more information about the ministry based at State Street UMC.
Big Stone Gap:
Station Creek UMC's cemetery dates back to 1834. Two years ago, the cemetery's 1.5 acres were 90 percent overgrown. Since then, parishioners have removed the brush, added 20 truckloads of dirt, and painted grave markings to give the cemetery a fresh new look. A rededication ceremony is planned Aug. 17.
The Evangelism Team at Hixson UMC has designated every 5th Sunday in 2002 as Invite a Friend Sunday. "Members are asked to search out neighbors, friends, and relatives who are not currently attending a church and invite them to Hixson," according to a recent newsletter. The team sets up a "hospitality room" where members and their invited guests can visit prior to worship. Members and their guests also receive vouchers for free Wednesday-night meals at the church. On June 30, Hixson welcomed 11 first-time visitors and 36 return guests.
Cleveland: Brick by brick, youth at Allen Memorial UMC are raising money for a mission project. Church members can buy paper bricks for $10 each to support Project Crossroads in Marion, Va. Each brick requires a dividend of one personal letter about what is happening at the mission, written by a youth member. The bricks are displayed in the church's fellowship hall.
First Johnson City UMC experienced its highest summer attendance in years on June 30 when 327 members and guests participated in "Patriotic Sunday 2002." The early service included a flag-themed drama by the youth; the second service, a "God Bless America" solo. Following worship, the congregation gathered under its new pavilion for American cuisine and ice cream.
Colonial Heights UMC is finishing up the details on a new Welcome Center for newcomers. Members built an L-shaped desk with storage space for ministry brochures, TV/VCR, and bulletin board. The VCR shows videos about the church or activities. Special lighting makes the Welcome Center a focal point of the narthex. In the future, parishioners plan to add a coffee pot and mini-refrigerator to the display.
St. Andrews UMC wanted to do its part for the Legacy of Commitment pensions campaign, so the congregation donated two cemetery lots that had been donated to the church more than 10 years ago. Each lot was valued at about $3,500, "so we believe we more than fulfilled our obligation," according to a church trustee. The lots are located at Sherwood Memorial Gardens in Alcoa, Tenn.
First Alcoa UMC recently took 10 people to Townsend, Tenn., for baptizing in the river. When they got there, the river was overrun with "people on tubes, jumping from ledges, wearing bikinis and drinking beer," said Pastor Joe Green. "Is it OK if we do a baptism here?" Green asked one man. The man politely turned off his boombox, and before long, the riverbank was covered with curious onlookers. As the people from First Alcoa were baptized, the onlookers cheered and applauded. "It was a tremendous witness, right there in the middle of the world," Green said. "Jesus was lifted up, right there in the middle of the world."
Christ UMC says it likes "happy campers." So, for the past five summers, laity have held worship services for campers at Greene County's Kinser Park. The services are held each Sunday at 8:30 a.m. from Memorial Day through Labor Day. "It is marvelous to worship God in the great outdoors," says Lay Speaker Charles Keller. "We have a core of campers who worship with us each week and have become like family to us."
First Oak Ridge UMC's youth choir recently completed its 25th annual summer tour. The 92 members, ages 12-18, and 16 adult chaperones spent eight days performing in states between Oak Ridge and New York City. Their program, "Dance Today With Joy!", included sacred anthems and arrangements of spirituals.
The district is excited about building another Habitat for Humanity house, this time located on Cody Street in Tazewell. Blitz Week is Aug. 19-23. Church members will donate their construction skills, while youth serve as the clean-up crew. Congregations have also been requested to purchase 50 hard hats for $8-$10 each. "This donation would be a gift to Habitat and would continue to be used on other projects," according to the district newsletter.
Thirteen members of Bishop Chamberlain's Extended Cabinet recently went to Galax, Va., to help volunteer laborers build a sanctuary for Door of Heaven UMC. For three days, district superintendents and other leaders laid brick, built a platform for the pulpit, and constructed entry steps and a porch. Door of Heaven is the conference's first Hispanic church, chartered in December 2001.
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