Friday, March 8

ALCOA, Tenn. — We’ve seen recent stories in the secular media, featuring Holston Conference churches and members:

Bishop Dindy Taylor watches General Conference proceedings from the bishops’ section on Feb. 26, the final day.

United Methodists News Service continues to do a stellar job, following up on developments since General Conference adjourned Feb. 26. Here are a few:

Send your emails to Tim Jones, communications director, or Annette Spence, editor.

Thursday, March 7

ALCOA, Tenn. — We’ve got two new posts for you.

What happened in St. Louis” gives you an overview of proceedings at General Conference from a Holston Conference seat.

“The hardest part of the conference for me was knowing that there would be no winners, only losers, regardless of whichever plan had the most support,” said delegate John Tate. Read the story.

Holston delegates consult during a break on Feb. 26, the final day at General Conference in St. Louis. From left to right: Rev. Sandra Johnson, Rev. Carol Wilson, Del Holley, Rev. Kim Goddard.

We’re also sharing what we hope will be one of the first among many commentaries from Holston Conference members in response to General Conference:

“Few can imagine what it’s like, sitting in a parked car for an hour, as your child tells you they are going to hell for how they feel about love.”

Rev. Mark Kilbourne

Read Rev. Kilbourne’s Commentary: My Child Has No Home in the UMC.

Send email to Tim Jones, communications director, or Annette Spence, editor.

Wednesday, March 6

ALCOA, Tenn. — Five days after the conclusion of General Conference, about 2,600 Holstonians gathered to pray and learn how decisions made in St. Louis would affect their local churches.

Under the name 3/3@3, all of Holston Conference’s nine districts gathered in churches simultaneously on Sunday, March 3 at 3 p.m. The meeting was planned by Holston leaders prior to the special session of General Conference, held in St. Louis Feb. 23-26.

“I love the idea that after this General Conference, we are able to meet as an annual conference at nine different locations to have an opportunity to share info with you about happened, particularly the legislation,” the Rev. Kim Goddard, delegation leader, said in an informational video. “And as importantly, what we want to do today … is worship and be reminded of just who we are.”

We asked nine “reporters” to share what happened in each of the district locations. Read the story.

Here is the 30-minute informational video (below). Visit for links to download the video.

Sunday, March 3

ALCOA, TN. (11:40 a.m., March 3) — Today, United Methodists in each of our nine districts will meet at 3 p.m. to pray and learn more about what happened at General Conference. We’ve got reporters stationed at each location and will share feedback soon.

Find out where your district is meeting.

Yesterday, we shared this story of how Holston pastors are responding to their communities following the actions at General Conference:

“Whether we are drowning in grief or beating our chests in triumph, the world is still broken. In the grand scheme of things, most of the world hasn’t even blinked at the General Conference proceedings.” Read “What can I say?”

Kim Goddard and Del Holley look up from their work as delegates representing Holston Conference on Feb. 25 in St. Louis.

The Rev. Tim Jones, communications director, continues to provide encouragement and information through our email newsletter, GC News. You can find a list of those editions here.

We’ve seen several follow-up stories in our local media. Here are a couple:

Friday, March 1

ALCOA, Tenn. (8 p.m., March 1) — The president of the Council of Bishops, Bishop Kenneth Carter, released the following pastoral letter today:

James does not call us to identify the sins of one another. He calls us to confess our sins to one another, and to pray for one another, so that we may be healed. Our mutual prayer and confession is for a larger purpose: our healing. And our healing is for an even greater purpose: that we might be “repairers of the breach” (Isaiah 58:12).

Bishop Kenneth Carter, president, Council of Bishops

Congregations are asked to share the complete letter during Sunday worship, March 3.

Also on March 3, please make plans to attend 3/3 @ 3 for worship and delegate briefings in each of Holston’s nine districts. See March 3 at 3 p.m. locations.

Please pray for God’s church, our leaders, our members, for those who are grieving, and our delegates.

Holston Conference delegation 2019 — Front row, left to right: Karen Wright, Carol Wilson, Emily Ballard, Becky Hall. Second row: Wil Cantrell, Bob Lockaby, Paul Seay (alternate). Third row: Mark Flynn, Kim Goddard, Sandra Johnson, Joyce Moore (alternate). Back row: Del Holley, John Tate, Jerry Russell (alternate), Randy Frye.

Thursday, Feb. 28

ALCOA, Tenn. (9:15 p.m., Feb. 28) — We’ve got a lot wrap-ups to share with you, and so many ideas about what what we need to do beyond that.

A short time ago, Holston Conference released its summary, along with The United Methodist Church’s Official Statement.

“While we passed the Traditional Plan, it also became clear much of this material was not fully prepared to be in compliance with our constitution or supported by the committee on central conferences.” Read the Holston email.

Here are United Methodist News Service wrap-up stories:

“Beneath the Arch that symbolizes the U.S. Gateway to the West, more than 820 General Conference delegates worked to open a gateway in the denomination’s longtime homosexuality debate.” Read GC2019 maps uncertain way forward

“United Methodists tried to come to terms with a General Conference that was meant to unify but instead underscored divisions and had all sides acknowledging a high level of pain.” Read Conflict defines General Conference aimed at unity

Here are wrap-ups from the Rev. Wil Cantrell, delegate and associate pastor at Concord UMC:

Final reflections: Existential threats and a pathway to peace

A letter to my fellow United Methodists

We are working on sharing with you words our pastors are saying to their communities to convince them they are still welcome, despite the possibility of new rules.

We are assigning “reporters” to each of our nine districts for 3/3 @ 3 p.m. These district gatherings will be held Sunday, March 3, for sharing of worship and information. See locations by district.

We are talking to the local media — trying to share accurate information and reinforce our mission.

We are looking for ways to “see all the people” and represent all the voices in our beautiful Holston Conference.

More is coming soon. In the meantime, here is a prayer shared by the Rev. Don Hanshew with Holstonians who were present in St. Louis, moments after General Conference adjourned. See video below:

Wednesday, Feb. 27

ST. LOUIS (4:45 p.m., Feb. 27) — United Methodists throughout Holston Conference are assessing the news from General Conference while searching for how the decisions and uncertainties will affect their ministries.

We’ll share more information, stories, photos, and videos with you in the days to come. We’ll do our best to be fair and provide accurate information. We ask for your patience and honest comments so that we can all work through the next several days. Contact Tim Jones, communications director, or Annette Spence, editor. 

Follow United Methodist News Service for immediate story updates. Also see the Rev. Wil Cantrell’s blog: The Limits of Legislation & the Limitless Love of God.

Here also is a commentary from the Rev. Brad Scott, pastor at Trenton United Methodist Church in Trenton, Georgia: “After GC2019, do you need a soul cleanse?” Read Brad Scott’s blog.

The Rev. Tim McClendon of South Carolina leads delegates in a prayer before a Feb. 26 vote to strengthen church policies about homosexuality. The General Conference voted to approve the Traditional Plan, which strengthens penalties for LGBTQ clergy and prohibits same-sex weddings. UMNS photo by Paul Jeffrey

Tuesday 11:00 p.m. (CST)

ST. LOUIS (Feb. 26) — After hours of delaying tactics by opponents, the United Methodist General Conference 2019 delegates passed The Traditional Plan 438 to 384.

See General Conference passes Traditional Plan by UMNS

Each night of General Conference, we have asked Holston delegates to share their responses to the day’s actions. We have shared all those received. Here are today’s responses:

Rev. Randy Frye

I came to St. Louis troubled by the story of Acts 10 and seeking to discern if this was another Acts 10 moment. I deliberately chose to listen and learn.

While I ultimately chose the Traditional Plan, I’m not convinced it is a way forward. It’s going to result in more frustration and probably defiance. If it didn’t require so many constitutional amendments, I would have chosen the Connectional Conference Plan for it allowed us to remain a Methodist family in three separate strands.

My heart aches because of the pain so many are feeling tonight, and my prayer is that healing will come as we focus on our mission of making disciples and changing lives.

Becky Hall uses an electronic device to cast a vote. Photo by Paul Jeffrey, UMNS

Becky Hall

Today was the hardest day yet. So much hurt and harsh words and lack of respect and orderliness. With the disappointment of those who wanted the One Church Plan in addition to those who saw their Simple Plan get eliminated, as well as the Connectional Conference Plan, it was a stressful day.

Although the Traditional Plan prevailed, which made many delegates sigh relief, it still has many components that will be challenged.

I will be glad to get back to Holston, the conference I love.

Tuesday 3:30 p.m. (CST)

ST. LOUIS (Feb. 26) — No new plans have been adopted yet at General Conference. Adjournment is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. CST.

Remember that all church members are encouraged to attend 3/3 @ 3p.m. These are meetings in each district for members to worship and receive information from delegates about General Conference.

The Rev. Kim Goddard, delegation leader, also asks church members to attend their regular Wednesday meeting and Sunday worship. “Whatever you do, don’t miss church,” she says. “You go there and you be with the people who have become for you the church.”

See 3/3 @ 3 p.m.District Worship & GC Briefing schedule

Tuesday 2:45 p.m. (CST)

ST. LOUIS (Feb. 26) — Updates on today’s activities at General Conference.

Delegates approved the first legislation of the special General Conference, passing measures that affect pension liabilities and the implementation of changes in central conferences. See Delegates pass first legislation by UMNS

General Conference delegates still have work to do to assure that all the proposed legislation approved Feb. 25 for a final vote conforms to the denomination’s constitution. See Court to GC2019: Legislation needs more work by UMNS

Other actions:

A point of order call to refer allegations of bribery for votes to committee on ethics passed, 417-388.

Amendment to definition of “self-avowed practicing homosexual” definition failed, 605 to 203.

Holston delegate Emily Ballard (far right) stands with young United Methodists in speaking about a unity statement signed by more than 15,000.