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The Call

Vol. E18, Number 20

updated: October 8, 2018

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Heard in Holston: Espiritu Santo congregation needs a home

<p>El Ministerio del Espiritu Santo, a United Methodist Hispanic congregation with 200 in worship attendance, is halfway through a six-month lease of a building in Sevierville. The congregation moved out of The Connexion in June and out of First United Methodist Church in August.</p>

El Ministerio del Espiritu Santo, a United Methodist Hispanic congregation with 200 in worship attendance, is halfway through a six-month lease of a building in Sevierville. The congregation moved out of The Connexion in June and out of First United Methodist Church in August.

Oct. 16, 2018 | Briefs from around the conference

It was time for something different. With all the news about hurricane response and the ongoing coverage related to the uncertain future of The United Methodist Church, last week I believed we needed a change of pace for The Call. We needed an uplifting story, and we needed it fast.

Before I could pull out the old story list, Rev. Jeff Lambert called with a great opportunity. (You would be surprised how often those serendipitous contacts happen in my work.) Guess what, Jeff said. The Hallmark Channel was coming to First United Methodist Church in Sevierville to do some taping for a Christmas show with Amy Grant! The church was already decorated for Advent, and bonus – the whole thing was inspired by a ministry that helps low-income families in Scott County and Sevier County.

Perfect! So I did that story, and our readers loved it. If you haven’t read it yet, you should, right now. The story was picked up by United Methodist News Service on Monday.


While I was visiting with Jeff at First Sevierville UMC, I learned that Holston's largest Hispanic congregation was no longer worshiping there as of Aug. 1, but had rented a space a quarter-mile away at 301 Court Avenue.

If you’ll recall from one of our first “Heard in Holston” columns, we announced that El Ministerio del Espiritu Santo had moved into the fellowship hall at First United Methodist in Sevierville on July 1. The relocation followed the Holston Annual Conference’s vote against purchasing The Connexion property, where the Espiritu Santo congregation had resided from September 2016 to June 2018.

“We had to leave Sevierville First as they were starting their fall curriculum, and it would be hard for us to have services there,” says the Rev. Susana Lopez, Espiritu Santo pastor. “The lease to the new building is for six months. We are into our third month there.”

Susana said she has asked Holston’s congregational development committee for financial assistance to buy property for her church, which has three services and about 200 in total worship attendance. (Remember that in June, the Congregational Development Team supported a proposal to purchase The Connexion facility for $5 million, backed by $4.9 million in congregational development funds invested in the Holston Conference Foundation.)

Since the proposal to buy The Connexion was rejected, hopefully there will be another way to help Espiritu Santo find a home soon. "With God all things are possible," Susana says.


Speaking of The Connexion, a nondenominational congregation has moved into the Sevierville facility, no longer leased by Holston Conference. The congregation officially launched on Sept. 30 as Connect Church. (Here's their website.)


Here’s some more news related to our Holston family. The Rev. Isaac Collins, son of the Rev. Tony Collins, was featured in a United Methodist News Service story on Oct. 9. Isaac is pastor at Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church in Charlottesville, Virginia, where the church is offering sanctuary to a woman facing deportation.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement notified Maria Chavalan Sut, an indigenous woman from Guatamela, that she would be removed from the country on Sept. 30. An immigration advocacy group approached Isaac on Sept. 29 with a request that his church provide sanctuary to her.

“Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church is proud to offer sanctuary to Maria,” Isaac said. “We consider her a member of our faith community.”

Isaac grew up in Holston, and his father is senior pastor at Burks United Methodist Church in Hixson, Tennessee.


Two members of our Holston delegation were also quoted by United Methodist News Service on Oct. 10. Comments by the Rev. Wil Cantrell and the Rev. Kim Goddard appeared in the story, “Big crowds for meetings on denomination’s future.” The comments originally appeared in reports on our “delegation discussions” in The Call.

If you haven’t attended one of those discussions in Holston Conference already, there are five more on the schedule. The next one happens this Sunday, Oct. 21, 3:30 p.m., at Christ United Methodist Church in Chattanooga.


Contact Annette Spence, editor of The Call, at


Past columns:

Oct. 2, 2018

Sept. 10, 2018

Aug. 27, 2018