The Call to Cook is an award-winning food and faith blog published by the Holston Conference of the United Methodist Church, based in Alcoa, Tennessee. The editor and writer is Annette Spence.

I was never set apart to be a chef or an employed cook of any kind. I’m too nervous, too dependent on recipes, and can’t remember a lot of details in my head. I’m not even particularly creative. I get red-faced when I think about some of the mistakes I’ve made and meals I’ve served over the years. I honestly can’t say I’m gifted in the kitchen.

Oh, but I still love working with and being around food. I love to read recipes and cookbooks, plan menus and parties, and set a table. I feel “strangely warmed” whenever I walk into a kitchen, from the big camp kitchens to the cozy grandma kitchens. My favorite free-time thing to do is try a new recipe or cook up a batch of macaroni and cheese or a homey casserole to deliver to somebody.

My name is Annette Spence, and The Call to Cook is also one of my favorite things. This food and faith blog was created in July 2019, as I tried to think of new ways to share the stories of Holston Conference. For the last 20 years, I’ve served as editor for Holston Conference, which includes 850 United Methodist congregations in East Tennessee, Southwest Virginia, and North Georgia. When I started this job, I was editor of a black-and-white newspaper named The Call. Over the years, The Call has evolved into an e-newsletter with related social media. The Call to Cook carries on Holston’s story tradition in a new way.

Almost all of our churches are involved in preparing food or feeding people in some way, and so creating The Call to Cook was a very natural thing to do. The story possibilities are endless! It’s not only exhilarating to share the good news of a luxurious lasagna for mourners or a street buffet for the homeless. It also feels like a very Jesus-like thing to do, when you think of how food and the table are prominent in his teachings.

I’ve always got a long list of all the foods I want to cook (and taste) and all the stories I want to write. Let me know about your ideas and stories, so I can keep the list going! My email address is annettespence@holston.org.

Annette Spence
January 2021

Speaking of favorite things, I love weekends at Norwood United Methodist Church in Knoxville, Tennessee, when I get together with friends and family to cook and serve 150-200 free drive-thru meals to our neighbors!

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