The Rev. Timothy Scott Holder celebrates 25th anniversary as a priest and pastor

Published 9:45 am Thursday, December 22, 2022

The Reverend Doctor Timothy Scott Holder, priest and pastor at St. Thomas Episcopal Church of Elizabethton, is celebrating his twenty-fifth year in the ministry. Ordained a priest in the Episcopal Church December 17, 1997, at the Cathedral Church in the Advent in Birmingham, Ala., Holder, formerly active in state and national politics, has served parishes in Birmingham, the South Bronx of New York, New Jersey and now home in Tennessee where he has served at St. Thomas for eight years.
“To be home with family in the Appalachian mountains where my ancestors began to settle 250 years before is a dream come true. I feel as if it’s ‘Appalachian spring’ with sunshine and life bursting out all over,” Holder shared. “Looking back, my journey before returning home in 2015 prepared me to be who I am today. I find it inexpressible at times, my heart filling with gratitude and great love for such a blessed life and vocation. The Church and my congregations have given me untold friendship and mercies in ways I could have never imagined. African American, Latinx, and LGBTQ+ families showed me their sacrificial love in Alabama and throughout my career. Rappers in the South Bronx of New York taught me through their rhyme and ‘Word!’ that we must stand tall for our tradition and blood. Today, Appalachian generations guide and care for me through our dedication to family, promise of faith, natural beauty surrounding us everywhere, and the most beautiful music anywhere in the world,” Holder shared.
The pastor-priest has published and spoken widely. He is a 1977 graduate of Happy Valley High School in Elizabethton, served as a Page in the United States House of Representative in his junior year, 1971. Holder received a Doctor of Ministry from Virginia Theological Seminary along with a Graduate Certificate in Appalachian Studies from East Tennessee State University in 2021. He is a 1997 graduate of Harvard Divinity School and the University of the South at Sewanee in 1977. His work with and among young generations in the South Bronx of New York and across the country is celebrated in the book, Disciples of the Street: The Promise of a HipHop Church (Church Publishing, 2006.)
Holder was awarded the “First Decade Outstanding Alumnus Award” by Harvard Divinity School celebrating his work in Birmingham and New York in 2005 and is a 2005 recipient of the “Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Leadership Award” by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. His forthcoming book is titled “Street and Altar: Stories and Theologies.”
Holder closed with a letter to his congregation last Sunday morning with these words: “A wise mother of the faith recently observed, ‘Father Tim, you have to be strong to hope.’ You, my friends and beloved, are strength and hope. Thank you and God bless you forever. What a fellowship, what a joy divine…”
Holder is the son of the late John and Ruth Scott Holder, who were natives of Elizabethton. John was a lover of gospel singing and most sports, and Ruth was a caring and loving nurse. His sister and brother-in-law are Mike and Diane Houser of Elizabethton.

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