MC hosts Presbytery of East TN conference, 'Loaves and Fishes'

MC hosts Presbytery of East TN conference, 'Loaves and Fishes'

March 2, 2012
Contact: The Presbytery of East Tennessee

Maryville College will host the Loaves and Fishes 2012 Experience, an education and church leadership conference organized by the Presbytery of East Tennessee. With the theme “Food for the Soul,” the event will be held March 16-17 at the Clayton Center for the Arts and is open to all with pre-registration.

The conference is designed to bring well-known and respected speakers and workshop leaders to the East Tennessee area to “feed” members and friends of the East Tennessee Presbytery churches, as well as neighboring communities.

“Food is integral to our faith journey, and it is a topic that is important for everyone because we all depend on food for our survival. We want to explore ways that we can make more faithful choices regarding food,” said the Rev. Liz Peterson, chair of the Loaves and Fishes Experience committee. “From healthier eating habits to better care for the hungry in the Knoxville area to more environmentally friendly gardening practices, we believe that our attitude toward food is directly related to our spiritual well-being. But perhaps most importantly, it is around the proverbial dinner table that boundaries disappear, wonderful conversations are held and meaningful relationships are nurtured. We hope that people will see this event as an invitation to gather in this spirit of openness, and to make a real difference in our corner of the world."

To kick off the two-day event, registrants are invited to join in the Welcome Table on Fri., March 16 at 5 p.m. at New Providence Presbyterian Church in Maryville. The Welcome Table is a ministry of New Providence Presbyterian Church that is open to “offer a hot meal and a little celebration to everyone who comes in the door.”

Maryville College alumnus the Rev. Bryan McFarland, a singer/songwriter and hunger action advocate for the Salem Presbytery, is the music leader for the event. McFarland, whose contemporary influences include James Taylor, Bruce Cockburn and David Wilcox, will present a concert at 8:30 p.m. Fri., March 16 in the Ronald and Lynda Nutt Theatre.

The keynote speaker for the event is the Rev. Dr. Lise Worthington, pastor of Blooming Grove United Church of Christ in Blooming Grove, N.Y., and chef and minister of food and faith at Stony Point Conference Center in Stony Point, N.Y. She leads “Graze on Faith,” a traveling food mission and ministry that calls all congregations to “revisit table fellowship and the love affair between food and faith.” Worthington will speak at 7 p.m. on Fri., March 16 in the Clayton Center for the Arts’ Ronald and Lynda Nutt Theatre.

The Saturday morning worship service will be led by the Rev. Thomas Daniel, the organizing pastor of Kairos Church, a PC(USA) New Church Development (NCD) in downtown Atlanta. Daniel, who will address the group at 9 a.m. in the Ronald and Lynda Nutt Theatre, was the 2007 recipient of the Harrington Prize, an inter-denomination award for preaching.

The Loaves and Fishes 2012 Experience offers more than 30 workshops on Sat., March 17 by distinguished writers, clergy, artists and a variety of presenters with church-related expertise. Workshop titles include “Eat and Be Satisfied: Bringing the Message of Loaves and Fishes to Life in Haiti,” “Enhancing the Spirituality of our Children,” “The Wonder of Food in the Bible,” “Delicious Meals on a Shoestring Budget” and “Food Matters!”

Special activities for children are also scheduled, and a marketplace, which will include demonstrations and displays from local food growers and hunger ministries, will be set up throughout the event.

The Presbytery of East Tennessee includes churches from the Georgia state line at Hamilton County, north to LaFollette and east to Knox and Sevier counties. Approximately 75 Presbyterian Church (USA) congregations are included in this Presbytery. Maryville College is one of 64 colleges and universities in the United States affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA) through a voluntary covenant relationship with the Presbytery of East Tennessee. Many faiths are represented in the student body.

“Maryville College is delighted to host the 2012 Loaves and Fishes: Food for the Soul,” said Kathleen Farnham, director of church relations at Maryville College. “We hope that clergy, lay leaders and members from all local faith communities will join the churches in the Presbytery of East Tennessee as we gather together to celebrate, worship, learn and serve.”

The cost to attend the two-day event is $40 for adults 18 and older; $20 for youth ages 12-17; and free for children 11 and under. For those who would like to attend the Friday night events only, admission is one non-perishable food item for Second Harvest Food Bank of East Tennessee. Registration is required for all events, and the deadline is March 9.

For more information, please visit the Presbytery of East Tennessee website at or call 865.688.5581.

Maryville College is ideally situated in Maryville, Tenn., between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Knoxville, the state's third largest city. Founded in 1819, it is the 12th oldest institution of higher learning in the South and maintains an affiliation with the Presbyterian Church (USA). Known for offering its students a rigorous and highly personal experience that includes an undergraduate research requirement, Maryville College is a nationally ranked institution of higher learning that successfully joins the liberal arts and professional preparation. Total enrollment for the fall 2016 semester is 1,197.