It took 584 South Carolina United Methodists, about 90 minutes – and one hula hoop.
Delegates to the 2018 Annual Conference joined youth volunteers from around the state in a line that snaked back and forth nine times across a huge exhibit hall at the TD Convention Center in Greenville.
Their objective: To hold hands nonstop while each person in the line slips through the hula hoop – and beat the Guinness World Record of 572.
Bishop L. Jonathan Holston and his wife, Felecia Holston, helped get the hula hoop moving near the front of the line, after which the hoop worked its way around and through members of the Bishop’s Cabinet, pastors, lay leaders and what appeared to be kids as young as 4 and as old as, well, let’s say they’d seen their share of Annual Conferences over the years.
Throughout the effort, participants danced, sang hymns and got to know the people on their right and left a whole lot better.
Congregational Specialist Chris Lynch and other organizers diligently followed Guinness World Record rules as they prepared for and carried out the attempt, which was part of the AC2018 Mission Initiative, by:
- Enlisting two official witnesses, who were not United Methodists or affiliated with the event in any way
- Deploying multiple methods to count participants
- Recording the event on video from multiple angles
- Photographing participants all along the line
Lynch also served as something of a lead cheerleader, encouraging and coaching participants, reminding them of the rules. Other volunteers also worked the line, helping keep spirits high and hands clasped.
In the end, a raucous cheer went up as the hula hoop made its way over the head of one of the youngest participants at the end of the line of 584 exhausted but ecstatic volunteers.
Participants made their way out of the hall certainly relieved, but in high spirits – laughing, smiling and, yes, many shaking hands one last time with new friends with whom they had just spent quite a long time holding hands.