The Latest Edition of E-News - Bishop Leeland Announces Retirement, Metro District Vaccinates the Charlotte Area, Smoky Mountain District Invites You to Celebrate Juneteenth, and more

May 12, 2021

E-News - May 12, 2021

E-News is an email newsletter sent out by the Western North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church. It contains important news, stories, and events from around our conference. Submit articles for the next e-news. Submit events.


Bishop Leeland Announces Retirement

Bishop Paul L. Leeland has announced his intent to retire, effective September 1, 2021. We express gratitude for Bishop Leeland and his faithfulness in guiding Western North Carolina for the past five years – the four years of the quadrennium plus one additional year due to the postponement of General and Jurisdictional Conferences due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Conference has benefitted from Bishop Leeland’s emphases on collaboration, clergy leadership development, anti-racism efforts, and the planting of new churches. A celebration of Bishop Leeland’s ministry will be held during the virtual Annual Conference on June 12, 2021.

Launching a Non-Profit

This peer learning cohort is designed for clergy and/or laity who are working to develop a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. There are unique aspects of beginning a non-profit as a ministry within a local church. The cohort will share challenges, lessons learned, and best practices.

JUNETEENTH Freedom Celebration at Lake Junaluska

Join the Smoky Mountain District's Justice and Reconciliation for a JUNETEENTH Freedom Celebration on Saturday, June 19th @ Lake Junaluska. The event is free and open to everyone! The day will include worship featuring a keynote address by Rev. Dr. Stephanie Moore Hand, Metro District Vitality Associate, acclaimed storyteller and historical interpreter, Novella Nimmo, and music from gifted musicians in the Western NC Conference. After worship, the community is invited to party on the grounds (3:00 – 6:00 p.m.) with food trucks, inflatables, horseshoes and cornhole, vendors and exhibits, dancing, and family fun.

Saint Matthews UMC's summer garden provides food in the desert

Saint Matthews UMC, in the historic neighborhood of East Greensboro, has the distinction of being the oldest and largest African American church in the Western North Carolina Conference. Now, this church, which is over 150 years old, is doing something new. Their garden ministry is providing healthy nutritional options for their neighbors who live a food desert in Guilford County.

Means of Grace: Metro District - Vaccinating Our Neighbors

In this week’s episode of the Means of Grace podcast, Luke catches up with Rev. David Hockett, Metro District Superintendent, and Rev. Dr. Stephanie Moore Hand, Metro District Vitality Associate, to talk about some exciting things that are happening in their area. They share about churches that are hosting community vaccination clinics, how churches are re-missioning their properties, and the multicultural/multiethnic cohort happening in their district.

ImagineHub Summit on Missional Innovation
You are invited to join the ImagineHub learning network of missional innovation centers first annual ImagineHub Summit the afternoon of Thursday, June 3. 

ImagineHub provides a learning network, training programs and support solutions for churches that desire to reimagine and deploy their space and resources as a means for improving economic empowerment in their community.
Mission Engagement Blog - May 2021
In this month's Mission Engagement Blog, Camille Roddy, Congregations 4 Children Chairperson, shares the story of St. Paul's UMC in Winston-Salem and encourages us to find the stories in our congregations and look at God.
Resilience Resources
Ministry Leaders make a commitment for the long haul.  They are faithful to their call and respond to God with their lives.  Serving the local church is full of joy and it’s really hard.  Changing communities is exhausting and rewarding.  Leading requires constant adaptation, creativity and imagination, and a great deal of hope!  How do ministry leaders persevere? How can they build capacity? The Leadership Development Team shares resilience resources which offer glimpses into what it takes to thrive in the long-term.


2020 State of the Church Report: Blessed is the Church
The United Methodist Church has continued to carry out its mission despite the unique challenges and uncertainties of 2020. That’s according to the new 2020 State of the Church Report produced by the Connectional Table and United Methodist Communications, themed “Blessed is the Church.”

The report uses the framework of the Beatitudes to share a compilation of stories that provide an inspiring look at the ways the church responded in an unprecedented year – which included a global pandemic, renewed calls to end racism, a delayed General Conference and the possibility of a denominational split.

Means of Grace: Green Spaces in Ministry - A Three-Part Series
This edition of the Means of Grace podcast is a three-part series highlighting four ministries in Western North Carolina who are using green spaces in ministry. These ministries meet people where they are and invite them to something new – an orchard, a story walk, a worship service, exercise, a meal. Listen, get inspired, and consider how you might connect the earth and its Creator with the lives of people in your community. It doesn't take much green space to start an innovative and inspiring outdoor ministry! 

Project Agape Virtual Mission Trip
Whether you have traveled with us in the past or simply would like to know more about the work being done by North Carolina Methodists in Armenia, join us for a Virtual Mission on the evening of July 15th.  We will learn about the history of Armenia and Project AGAPE, hear from past mission participants, have a live chat with Project AGAPE board and get an update from the Project AGAPE Country Director, Nara Melkonyan.  The event is FREE to everyone who registers.  
COVID-19 Guidelines for In-Person Worship & Ministry - UPDATED 4.29.21
The Bishop and Cabinet remain committed to our biblical mandate to “love our neighbors as ourselves” and our Wesleyan call to “Do no harm. Do all the good we can. Follow the ordinances (stay in love) with God.” Using Governor Cooper’s latest Executive Order as a guide, the Bishop and Cabinet make these specific recommendations for United Methodist Churches in the Western NC Conference.


Experiencing Fresh Expressions
Saturday, May 15, 2021

Come enjoy a day of interactive learning about Fresh Expressions, new ways of thinking about evangelism, and how you can impact your local community for Christ. Sponsored by the Uwharrie District, Experiencing Fresh Expressions will be held on May 15th at the Mount Shepherd Retreat Center. Learn more and register today!

Redeeming Creation Virtual Conference
Saturday, May 15, 9 a.m.

Join the North Carolina Conference’s first-ever creation care conference, Redeeming Creation. Learn from Duke professors Dr. Jerusha Neal and Dr. Ellen Davis. Celebrate the justice work being done by the Rural Advancement Foundation International. Explore the disconnect between faith and science all from the comfort of your own home.

All Hood Alumni and Friends Symposium to Take Place June 18

The Sixth Annual All Hood Alumni and Friends Symposium will take place June 18, 2021 from 8:45 a.m. – 2:45 p.m. This will be a virtual event hosted via Zoom. The theme will be "Re-Imagining Church: Reboot-Rebound-Recover." There will be a diverse array of speakers discussing numerous topics related to the theme. Registration is required to attend the event.

Annual Conference 2021
Save the dates for Annual Conference 2021! 
Virtual Clergy Session (Private Livestream) - Friday, June 11, 10 a.m. *Clergy will receive more information and a link for this session*
Virtual Annual Conference (Facebook Live, YouTube Live, Conference Website) - Saturday, June 12, 10 a.m.
Ordering of Ministry Service (Stuart Auditorium at Lake Junaluska) - Saturday, June 19 - Commissioning Service, 10 a.m. - Ordination Service, 2 p.m.

Stay up to date with the latest Annual Conference news, updates, and announcements at

Harambee 2021: Apart but Connected!
June 25-26, 2021 - Registration Closes May 21, 2021
The National BMCR Youth Harambee, a retreat sponsored by the national office of Black Methodists for Church Renewal, Inc to celebrate and nurture the gifts, talents, and willing hearts of United Methodist Youth - will be held virtually this year due to COVID-19. As we shift to this virtual method, our registration will also look a bit differently as well. We look forward to seeing you all on June 25-26th for Harambee 2021! Although we will be apart, we will still be connected!

These events focus on helping youth and young adults understand BMCR's history, purpose, and focus on equipping and supporting Christian youth. This event is for youths ages 12-18. 


Director of Communications: Melissa McGill

Communications Ministry Assistant: Aimee Yeager