LAKE JUNALUSKA, N.C. (June 10, 2019) -- The first session of the 2019 Holston Annual Conference began with a covenant and concluded with a ballot.
After an afternoon of clouds, rain, traffic, registration, fellowship, hotel check-in, the Laity Session and Clergy Session, Bishop Mary Virginia “Dindy” Taylor called the Annual Conference to order at 7 p.m.
Taylor called the Rev. Kim Goddard to the Stuart Auditorium stage. Goddard is the leader of the Holston delegation to General Conference in February 2019.
“You know that we are in a place of division and disagreement,” said Goddard, referring to the days following General Conference and leading to this week’s June 9-12 meeting in Lake Junaluska, N.C.
Goddard said she felt led to create a covenant with Holston Conference to “guide my thoughts and actions during Annual Conference and moving forward into whatever our future is.”
She asked Annual Conference members to share the covenant as well, standing to read it aloud and then holding hands to pray together. “If you cannot embrace all of the covenant, I invite you to embrace all that you can,” Goddard said, as the 2019 delegation stood with her.
During opening worship, Bishop Taylor read scripture from the story of Pentecost from Acts 2.
“There are things to do and places to go in the name of Jesus Christ,” she said. The crowd applauded when Taylor said two truckloads full of supplies were on a ship to Zimbabwe because of the dedicated work of Holston congregations.
Bishop Taylor also acknowledged the division among Holston members and groups.
“We gather more aware of the differences than ever before,” she said. “God does not love us ‘if.’ God loves us, period, and God invites us to embrace that same love for all his children.”
As the Annual Conference prepares to elect delegates to the next General Conference, the first ballot was completed last night following worship. General Conference will be held in May 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
'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.
Contact Annette Spence, editor, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more Annual Conference news, visit Holston.org/ACNews.
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Annette Spence is editor of The Call, the Holston Conference newspaper.