Holston Annual Conference June 16, 2019 Report by Chuck & Debbie Fritts for June 25 FUMCOR Council.
Holston Annual Conference was held June 9-12, 2019 at Lake Junaluska, North Carolina. The theme for this year’s conference was “Healing Hands.” In her “State of the Church” report, Bishop Taylor read Paul’s letter in 1 Corinthians 12 about unity and diversity in the church: “The way God designed our bodies is a model for understanding our lives together as a church. The more I have studied, prayed, and been in meetings about divisive situation we are in, I have been drawn to Paul’s letter to the church in Corinth, she said. Despite disagreements between members, the church can still work together to love people. That’s Christ’s body. That’s who we are. We must never forget that, because God is counting on us.”
The first session of the 2019 Holston Annual Conference began with a members covenant to ‘focus on the mission’ amidst disagreement and ended with a ballot due to the task that was before us. My Personal Covenant With Holston Conference: I covenant to pattern my belief and practice by the life and teaching of Jesus, revealed in Holy Scripture, and seasoned by tradition, reason, and experience. I covenant to focus on the mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. I covenant to pray for clear direction for the United Methodist Church, for Holston Conference, for my district and local church, and for myself. I pray for courage to follow the direction I believe God is leading. I covenant to see every person as beloved by God and created in God’s image. I covenant to treat all with respect by assuming the best in others, speaking the truth with love, and avoiding divisive and hurtful speech or actions. I covenant to work for a fair and just resolution giving every Holston United Methodist a church free of divisive fights and acts that harm our church and our witness.
The Holston Annual Conference kicked off with an Evening Worship Service on Sunday evening. This was the first conference we’ve attended and we came not knowing what really to do or expect. We could have left to go home after this service. It was totally amazing. With the theme of our conference being “Healing Hands,” Monday brought two Awareness Sessions on addiction. Tim Hilton drew on 25 years of active addiction, 14 years of recovery, and over a decade of experience in the drug-and-alcohol-treatment field to speak to the body on the topic “The Addictive Brain.” Later that evening Stephanie Strutner shared her knowledge on opioid addiction as executive director of ASAP of Anderson County. ASAP stands for Allies for Substance Abuse Prevention. These were presentations to make everyone aware that someone with an addiction has an illness that needs helps and treatment just like someone with cancer. Tuesday was a Missions Celebration where we were entertained by The “African Drum” group from Lennon-Seney United Methodist Church. The conference received a ministry update from Nancy Chinzvede, director of Ishe Anesu, who just arrived from Zimbabwe. As part of its Mission Celebration the Holston Conference took an offering of $129,733 to fight opioid addiction. Wednesday Afternoon we were fortunate to witness during a special “Service of Ordination, Commissioning, Recognition and Sending Forth” one of First United Methodist Church’s former clergy, Rachel Witt Carosiello, be presented for ordination as elder. During the course of the Holston Conference, there were several resolutions that were passed with two being of sufficient importance. The first one was a resolution to include “all” minorities on UMC Committees. It specifically addressed the African American, but it’s to include “all’ minorities. The other resolution is included below and it passed 573 – 301.
Resolution: Holston Conference Commitment in Being in Ministry Together:
WHEREAS, the Special Session of the General Conference of the United Methodist Church, convened in February 2019 adopted the Traditional Plan as its way forward. WHEREAS, the Traditional Plan continues to treat UMC LGBTQIA+ members as less than equal members and outlaws same sex marriage. WHEREAS, the traditional Plan creates severely punitive measures for clergy who are gay and clergy who perform same sex weddings. WHEREAS, many persons believe the Traditional Plan has created harm and should be rejected. THEREFORE, Be it Resolved that the Holston Annual Conference disagrees with the decision of the 2019 General Conference in passing the Traditional Plan and grieves for the harm it has caused the body of Christ.
The following are delegates elected at the 2019 Holston Conference. Lay Members elected six lay members and Clergy six clergy members for the General Conference 2020 before proceeding to elect six delegates each for the Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference. Emily Ballard, age 24, was elected the first young adult to serve as the leader of the Lay Delegation. The voting was fraught with delays, mistakes and malfunctions. The vote-counting machine malfunctioned and ballots had to be counted by hand until a replacement was provided the next day.
The delegates elected to serve are: (P) - Progressive (T) - Traditional
** Laity ** General Conference 2020: Emily Ballard (P) Del Holley (T) Anne Travis (P) John Eldridge (P) Donna Mosby (P) Becky Hall (T)
Jurisdictional: Amanda Onks (P) Charles McEntyre (T) Reagan Kelley (P) Jim Gass (P) Nate Roark (P) Leamon Burl Lawson (T)
Alternates: Sam England (P) Dawson Kitts (P)
** Clergy ** General Conference 2020: Kim Goddard (P) Wil Cantrell (P) Paul Seay (P) Mary Thompson (P) Randy Frye (T) Sharon Bowers (P)
Jurisdictional: Lauri Jo Cranford (P) Josh Kilbourne (P) David Graybeal (P) Kristen Burkhart (T) Sarah Varnell (P) Mark Flynn (P)
Alternates: Amy Aycock (P) Caleb Frazier (P)