Memorial Chapel near Lake Junaluska, NC by Daniel Hass (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

by Daniel Hass (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons.

The Holston Annual Conference met June 11-14, 2017 at Lake Junakuska, NC with the theme Behold.  This is based on Revelation 3:20 which reads: “Behold I stand at the door and knock.  If anyone hears my voice and opens the door I will come in to him and eat with him” (ESV) Bishop Mary Virginia Taylor presiding.  Here are some of my personal reflections.  It is always good to see old friends, both clergy and lay, that you only see once a year.  The worship under the direction of Music Leader Mr. Wesley Rouse and organist Bryan K. Underwood was as inspiring as always.  My favorite part may have been the Pre-Service music Tuesday evening of Lauren Talley.  The preaching was good.  This was the fortieth year I was appointed and the forty second year I attended Annual Conference having gone twice as the Lay Delegate for the Lead Mines Circuit.  The Memorial Service remembering those clergy and spouses who have passed away during the year always touches me.  I enjoy the Retirement Recognition Service as well.  This year there was no Ordination Service as there were no candidates for Full Elder or Full Deacon due to a change in policy by Holston which moved from two to three years the requirement for full time service after being commissioned.


Here are some bullet points of the Conference Actions:

  • Approved the 2018 Budget of $9.07 million with a 6% decrease
  • Approved the Comprehensive Strategic Plan which resized Holston’s districts from twelve to nine
  • Approved a motion to amend the printed agenda to include “New Business.”
  • Approved a resolution calling for a four-week vacation policy for clergy
  • A resolution calling for the church to work to eliminate racism and advocate against immigration policies excluding refugees “on the basis of their religion or national origin” was approved
  • A resolution calling for a moratorium on the practice of online communion was approved
  • Five constitutional amendments passed by the 2016 General Conference were voted on.  These must be voted on by every Annual Conference, so no results of the vote was announced in Holston
  • The Denman Evangelism award was presented to: Youth- Erin Elizabeth Bowman- Mt. Olivet UMC, Galax; VA: Lay-Patsy Dalton-Kodak UMC, Kodak, TN; Clergy- The Rev. Stephen DeFur, Cokesbury UMC, Knoxville, TN
  • The Frances Asbury Award for leaders in higher education was awarded posthumously to Bennett and Evelyn Horton who were members of Church Street UMC, Knoxville, TN
  • Bishop Taylor blessed 8,344 Hand-On-Mission Kits valued at $211,112. 
  • Bishop Taylor also announced a called special General Conference for Feb. 23-16, 2019.  The Conference will hear and act on a report from the “Commission for a Way Forward” during that session.  The Bishops have asked each Annual Conference to hold a season of prayer for this Commission.  Holston was assigned Sept. 24-30, 2017
  • During New Business; a motion to end the leasing or purchasing of the Connexion in Sevierville, TN was ruled out of order.  A motion requesting a written apology from Lake Junaluska Conference and Resort for it’s painful past with race relations was approved.  A motion that any agenda item requiring a vote for action be scheduled at the beginning of a session rather than at the end to allow more time for discussion was approved.
  • The Board of Pension and Health Benefits report was approved with a slight increase in premiums: 2%-4%
  • The report from the Committee on Equitable Compensation moved a 2% raise and was approved
  • The report from the Task Force on Bullying and Harassment of Clergy by laity was approved
  • 19 Local Pastors received their first term licenses; 4 were recognized as Associate Members; 9 were Commissioned as Provisional Elders; 1 was Commissioned as Provisional Deacon