Men of Holston Conference assemble a hand-crank cart as a part of the international PET (Personal Energy Transportation) project based in Columbia, Mo. Photo courtesy of The Call.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. –– Holston Conference men packaged 10,104 dehydrated meals for Stop Hunger Now prior to an August 13-14 conference at Cokesbury UMC in Knoxville. Other men assembled 10 hand-crank carts for people disabled by disease and war in Benin, Africa.
The “Calling All Men” conference featured Pittsburgh Area Bishop Thomas Bickerton, Dr. Tyrone Gordon, pastor of St. Luke Community UMC in Dallas, and Holston Area Bishop James Swanson Sr.
The spokesperson for Nothing But Nets, Bickerton asked the 365 attendees, “If we can eliminate malaria deaths in the United States, why can't we do the same for Africa? He urged the men to raise money for malaria nets and the "Imagine No Malaria" campaign.
“Every 30 seconds, an innocent child in Africa dies of malaria,” Bickerton said, pausing periodically to announce the total number of children who had died thus far during his presentation. “The reality is that every one of God's children deserves the same chance our children have.”
“It does me good to see men praise God,” said Gordon during one of three worship services that included Christian rock by the Concord UMC praise band. Gordon encouraged men to “turn their wounds into worship.” He referred to the story of David, “who had trouble keeping his hands to himself, his pants on, and his zipper up.” (2 Samuel 6:12-20)
“Can I be real in here?” Gordon asked. "I believe David became a worshiping man because he realistically faced his demons and confronted the issues in his life.”
“Expose your spirit to the healing of God,” Gordon said. “Don't ever let your faults turn you into a failure.”
Swanson concluded the two-day event with Holy Communion and the continuing emphasis on a man's need to turn his problems over to God.
“Your theme is 'You are Not Alone,'” Swanson said, waving to the stage backdrop. “Quit acting like you are alone. Learn to turn some things over to the Lord. We try to fix everything ourselves instead of allowing the Lord to fix it.”
Seven workshops were offered on Saturday, highest attended were “Dealing with Difficult People, Spiritually and Professionally” led by the Rev. Ron Matthews, and “Growing Spiritual Giants” led by Gordon.
This article is adapted from the August 16 issue of The Call, the newspaper of Holston Annual Conference