Dear Holston Friends,
“Let us approach the throne of grace with boldness,
So that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
This Covid-19 Pandemic continues to challenge us in ways we cannot imagine. Our pastors find themselves torn between the desire to reopen our churches, resume corporate worship, and continue to follow the governmental mandates to socially distance ourselves from one another. The governors of Georgia and Tennessee have announced they are ready to loosen stay at home orders and allow businesses to reopen in the near future while continuing to follow CDC guidelines of no groups larger than 10 persons. Governor Ralph Northam of Virginia is urging widespread testing for the virus before he will ease the stay at home restrictions that are in place until June 10, 2020.
Listening to the news, I hear the recurring theme from healthcare professionals that they are looking at data rather than announcing a date to reopen their areas. I am thankful for the faithful conference staff that strives to assist our local churches to be in ministry in their communities while doing their best to do no harm. In this unparalleled time, the ministry of the Church is more important than ever. I along with the Extended Cabinet yearn for the time we will be able to safely gather together again in our church buildings. At this time, we do not have enough information about this deadly Covid-19 virus to reverse the previous mandate without endangering the safety of our church families and communities by allowing our churches to reopen. We will continue assessing the situation within our conference bounds and will reopen as soon as we feel it is safe.
I want to commend the conference staff who met today to imagine doing the upcoming annual conference in a new, “we’ve never done it that way before” approach. In light of this global pandemic, the Holston Annual Conference, that was to meet June 7-10, 2020 at Lake Junaluska, NC, has been postponed and will be rescheduled as a Virtual Annual Conference on Saturday, June 27, 2020, at 1:00 p.m. Our theme for annual conference is “I Love to Tell the Story.” There will be a pre-Conference briefing on June 7 to discuss all materials and procedures for our Virtual Annual Conference. Additional information and announcements will be coming soon.
Moving day, across the conference, will be Wednesday, June 24, 2020, and the Pastor’s last official Sunday to preach in their current appointment will be June 13, 2020. Pastors will be paid through June 30 from their present appointment. The first Sunday to preach in their new appointment will be July 5.
During this season of Eastertide, let us rejoice and be glad we serve the risen Savior who goes before and protects us in these uncertain times.
God’s Grace, Mercy, and Peace are always sufficient,
Holston Conference of
The United Methodist Church