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The Call

Vol. E18, Number 19

updated: September 24, 2018

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Heard in Holston: Good news outweighs the bad

By Annette Spence

<p>"Together, our kiddos funded and packed and prayed over 130 hygiene kits," says Jessie Buttram of Fountain City United Methodist Church. "As Jesus said, the Kingdom of Heaven surely belongs to the littlest of these."</p>

"Together, our kiddos funded and packed and prayed over 130 hygiene kits," says Jessie Buttram of Fountain City United Methodist Church. "As Jesus said, the Kingdom of Heaven surely belongs to the littlest of these."

Oct. 2, 2018 | Briefs from around the conference

This is a conflicted time in Holston Conference and The United Methodist Church – and yes, in our country. Every day we hear about groups and individuals who are more public in their witness to disparage others than their witness for the love of Christ. We can’t agree on what it means to love each other, so we pay lip service to love while acting in ways that seem anything but.

Yet, so much of the news in Holston Conference is really good news! Last week I received an email from Jessie Buttram, director of communications at Fountain City United Methodist Church, who shared what their children's ministry did to help Carolina neighbors struggling with the aftermath of Hurricane Florence.

“We had all tiny hands on deck, folding towels and washcloths, sorting combs and nail clippers, bundling band-aids, pairing soap and toothbrushes, and stuffing the whole kit into Ziploc bags,” Jessie said.

Many of you will immediately recognize that the kids were packing UMCOR “hygiene kits,” because so many of you have packed them yourself. In the last few weeks, at the same time I read about (or wrote about) this fight-to-the-end that’s going on over human sexuality in our church, Holstonians were knocking themselves out to collect relief supplies to help their coastal brothers and sisters. In our last report on Holston’s hurricane response, we shared that about 3,500 hygiene kits and 1,800 cleaning kits have already been delivered in three separate runs to eastern North Carolina.

How about that witness?

I’ve been holding on to some other good news for you, from the Morristown area. Do you remember the Hands-on Mission Project that Holston does every spring for Zimbabwe and Liberia? Last June, about 53 buckets full of cleaning supplies would not fit on the trailers bound for Africa. A few weeks later, the Mountain View District discipleship team began discussing ways to help the Hispanic families disrupted by the huge ICE raid that happened at a Bean Station meat-processing plant on April 5.

“I contacted HOLA Lakeway to see what was needed and how we might respectfully supply that need,” says the Rev. Marta Cogburn. She was told that “funds are scarce for disrupted families, especially for cleaning supplies.”

In August, Marta overheard about the availability of the 53 buckets and worked with conference staff and Mountain View volunteers to transport the cleaning supplies to HOLA Lakeway for the families.

I love the photos on the Mountain View District Facebook page, which brought this good news to my attention in the first place. “Is that just a coincidence, or are we a part of something much bigger than ourselves?” the Facebook page asks.

That’s a good question for all of us.

Contact Annette Spence at


Past columns:

Sept. 10

Aug. 27

Aug. 8