Dear Holston Family,

In an ever-changing world, the one constant in 2020 is the love of God and the mission of those who follow Jesus. Hebrews 13:8 tells us, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” God is still creating, Jesus is still saving, and the Holy Spirit is still transforming. Thus, the church is alive! 

The drive and determination of the churches of the Holston Conference to share the message of Jesus has never been more evident. From Alexander Memorial in rural Tazewell County, Virginia taking out 112 pre-packaged meals each Thursday; to Camp in the Community offering virtual programming and sending churches, who signed up, materials for crafts and lessons; to Wesley Memorial in Cleveland, Tennessee hosting a virtual mental health forum featuring three mental health professionals where people could ask questions and receive information; to so many others, God is clearly at work! 

During this unprecedented time our pastors and local church staffs have worked nonstop to provide for the basic needs of our people in so many creative ways, including offering online services. I cannot thank all of our Holston folks enough for the way they have served so faithfully.

Leaders throughout Holston have worked prayerfully and carefully to make plans allowing our churches to share God’s love while also keeping the community safe. As the situation around us changes and as we learn more about the pandemic itself, and as we continue to look to medical insight, we continue to evolve our approach. 

After several meetings with the COVID-19 Task Force, I am excited to announce, that with safety measures in place, churches are now able to offer outdoor opportunities for worship, service, and connection. Be sure to re-read pages 16-17 of the Taking Steps Forward Faithfully and Safely – Second Edition for guidelines on safe outdoor worship and now, gatherings. 

While I still look forward, with an expectant heart, to the time when we can gather safely indoors, I hope these outdoor opportunities will help our churches feel connected and full of hope that the best is, indeed, still to come. These opportunities include worship, small groups including youth, adult, and older adult, scouting, and recovery programs. Your District Superintendents and I are looking forward to visiting these outdoor gatherings. However, please remember your District Superintendent must approve all plans for these meetings. 

I look forward to seeing the creativity of the Holy Spirit unleashed in and through the Christians of the Holston Conference as you love and serve your communities well in these challenging days. I am so proud of all you have done this year, and I can’t wait to see what God has in store for the days to come.

God’s love, mercy, and grace is always more than sufficient, 
Mary Virginia Taylor
Resident Bishop
Holston Conference of
The United Methodist Church