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They’ve arrived: 2 churches go boldly into 2011

December 13, 2010


Holston’s Congregational Development office has even more reason to celebrate the holiday season as two congregations take historic flights into the future.

On Sunday, Dec. 12 in Maryville District, Sycamore Tree United Methodist Church will become a chartered congregation in a special service, sealing the deal as a full-fledged UM church.On Sunday, Jan. 2, First Hillsville UMC in Wytheville District will officially launch its second campus, the downtown “Out of the Box Worship Center.”Both events are landmarks in Holston’s quest to start 15 new churches in five years (2009-2014) and revitalize several existing congregations, according to the Rev. Richard Edwards, Holston director of congregational development.

By chartering, Sycamore Tree completes an eight-year journey since its was planted in partnership with Fairview UMC in 2002, with support from Holston. The founding and current pastor, the Rev. Jeff Wadley, reports that the church has baptized 69 people, taken 39 trips to the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina, and bought and renovated a building – “without debt on a $125,000 project.” Sycamore Tree has 200 persons on the roll with an average attendance of 150. (

Out-of-the-Box started in October 2008 as a downtown storefront youth ministry led by First Hillsville’s associate pastor, the Rev. Ronnie Collins. Within 18 months, weekly events were drawing between 60 and 100 youth – some who later found their way to the church building on Sunday morning. With coaching and grant support from Holston, Out of the Box has aquired a new building and is set to offer “A New Worship Experience for Carroll County” on the first Sunday of January. Collins will lead the new congregation. (

Out of the Box is counted as the third launch in Holston’s 15-church goal – “and our first church in Virginia,” Edwards said.

The first two were Cokesbury UMC’s West campus in the Oak Ridge District and The Remedy in Maryville District.

Source for this article The Call

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