It’s hard to believe that I haven’t communicated with you here on the website since Good Friday, especially since I have communicated with you via FaceBook. We have not been together in worship in-person since March 8. This means that we have been stumbling through online worship for the past 6 weeks with who knows how many more weeks there are to come.
No matter what Governor Kemp says, Bishop Taylor is indicating that we stay closed for the time being and that she is depending upon the best information from science and medical professionals to inform us as to when it might be safe for us to come together for worship in the sanctuary and even though I miss seeing you all, I fully agree with the Bishop and the Cabinet in this regard. However, when we once again can worship together, I propose that we throw one major celebration. I think that we will all be ready for it.
Let me update you on a few things:
- Annual Conference has been postponed. Last night, Bishop Taylor indicated that a decision has been made to hold a virtual meeting of the Annual Confernce in late June. How that will look is still being determined. Whatever this means, Marvin Mills and I will be representing you at this meeting. More information will be coming soon.
- With the postponement of Annual Conference, we will not be collecting items for our Annual Mission Offering or for our Hands on Mission Project. There is a possibility that we will do something in the Fall. I will keep you informed as that information is made available to us.
- The postponement also means that there will not be a collection for the Change for Children offering that is traditionally given at Annual Conference. This will not be a problem for us since we collect our Change for Children offering throughout the year. We make periodic deposits with the Conference Treasurer throughout the year and we will continue to do so.
- Although no final decision has been made, there is a very strong possibility that we will suspend our camping ministries in the Holston Conference for this year due to the complications that COVID-19 brings to us. Our Conference Camping Ministry is a major outreach that will unfortunately take a financial hit this year. Given that Conference Camping is one of the things that we get right, I hope that we can come back stronger as we work through this crisis.
- I think that I have told you that General Conference has been postponed. This was originally scheduled in Minneapolis in May of this year. The postponement was forced upon us when the Minneapolis Convention Center cancelled all events through the week after General Conference would start. The Committee on General Conference is proposing a date in mid 2021 for the rescheduled General Conference meeting in order to accommodate the needs of coordinating 850+ delegates from around the world. This change also pushes back the Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference which selects and assigns Bishops to our Annual Conferences. Bishop Mary Virginia Taylor is set to retire this year. How this will affect Holston is still to be seen.
- Thank you for your continued financial support of our ministries. We may not be meeting together, but our expenses continue. I would invite you to consider giving online via debit/credit card or through your bank account. You can even set up recurring giving so that you offering can continue on a schedule that you choose even if you are not present on Sunday morning. Click here for information on our secure online giving option.
- Finally, thank you for being the church while we continue to figure out how to do church. You are taking care of one another and continuing to reach out to the community. Way to go!
Each year at Annual Conference, the opening hymn is one that Charles Wesley wrote in 1749 and has been used as the opening hymn of Annual Conferences since 1780. The hymn is And Are We Yet Alive and the opening stanza is:
And are we yet alive,
And see each other’s face?
Glory, and thanks to Jesus give
For his almighty grace!
The sound of nearly 2000 voices raised together in Stuart Auditorium at Lake Junaluska as we open Annual Conference is a sound that I will miss this year. Lake Junaluska is holy ground where you can feel the presence of God in special ways. In the same way, I miss being with each of you in worship and other events. I look forward to the day when we will once again “see each other’s face.”
Know that I am praying for you and I thank you for your prayers for me as we navigate these uncharted waters together. I am proud to be your pastor.