The Latest Edition of E-News - Conference Center Opening June 1, Bishop Leeland Joins NCDHHS for COVID-19 Panel, Extended Cabinet Updates, and more

May 26, 2021

E-News - May 26, 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.


WNC Conference offices to reopen June 1, 2021

Beginning June 1, the Western North Carolina Conference Center will again open for employees and the public with appropriately guarded requirements. A new post-infectious disease outbreak plan has been approved and will go into effect that same day. Read more for the full plan and safety guidelines.

Bishop Leeland joins NCDHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen to discuss COVID-19 vaccines in North Carolina

On Tuesday, May 25, 2021, Bishop Leeland joined NCDHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen and NC Rural Center President Patrick Woodie for a panel discussion on COVID-19 vaccines in North Carolina. If you missed their conversation live, you can now watch the video on the WNCC website, Facebook page, or YouTube channel.

Join us for WNCC Connection Points
Join us each evening throughout the week leading up to Annual Conference, June 7-10, for WNCC Connection Points, live webinars connecting us to Christ, each other, and ministry in the world. Live streams will begin each evening at 7 p.m. 
Monday, June 7 - Equity & Justice: Eradicating the Other Pandemic
Join us for an opportunity to get to know Dr. Bill White, Director of the newly established WNCC Department of Equity and Justice Ministries. Learn about Dr. White's passion and vision for this position. 
Tuesday, June 8 - Moving Forward in the UMC
Where do things stand in the denomination and what can we expect in the near future? Bishop Paul Leeland and WNC Delegation Chairs, Kim Ingram and Jennifer Davis, will lead us in this discussion.
Wednesday, June 9 - Theirs Is the Kingdom Documentary Screening and Q&A
View the virtual screening of the new documentary Theirs Is the Kingdom, beginning June 1, which follows the rare creation of a contemporary fresco mural inside the sanctuary of the Haywood Street Congregation in Asheville. On June 9, join Director Chris Zaluski, Artist Christopher Hold, and Rev. Brian Combs for a Q&A webinar.
Thursday, June 10 - Conference Awards Night
Gather with us on this special night as we honor leaders in ministry with the presentations of the Harry Denman Evangelism Award, Francis Asbury Award, Scouting Award, and the Certificate in Church Treasury. 


Extended Cabinet Shares Updates, Prepares for Episcopal Transition
The Extended Cabinet met virtually on Monday, May 17 to continue to align the work of the various ministry areas and districts around the mission of the Conference. Bishop Leeland opened the meeting by expressing gratitude for the work and friendship of the Cabinet during his tenure in Western North Carolina the last five years. With Bishop Leeland retiring and Bishop Ken Carter returning to Western North Carolina as Resident Bishop on September 1, the Extended Cabinet began preparing as we enter this time of transition for the conference.
SEJ College of Bishops calls for special session
The College of Bishops of the Southeastern Jurisdiction of The United Methodist Church, in accordance with ¶521 of the 2016 Book of Discipline, calls for a special session of the jurisdictional conference on July 21, 2021.
United Methodist Agencies 2020 Reports

View the 2020 video reports from United Methodist Agencies including Global Ministries, Church & Society, General Commission on United Methodist Men, and United Methodist Communications.

Grants Available for Local Church Racial/Ethnic Ministries

Grants up to $10,000 will be available this fall from Discipleship Ministries to strengthen leadership training, small groups, worship, stewardship, and spiritual formation in ethnic local United Methodist churches.

Rev. Lynda Ferguson Receiving 2021 Ray of Light Award

Rev. Lynda Ferguson of Asheboro, NC has been chosen to receive the 2021 John A. (Pete) Eberhart Ray of Light Award from Boundless Impact for her leadership in creating inclusive and welcoming congregations, and her legacy of breaking down boundaries in communities across NC where she has served as pastor. The Ray of Light award, which recognizes individuals who exemplify Boundless Impact’s vision of building thriving communities that are intentionally diverse, inclusive and equitable, will be presented to Rev. Ferguson at the inaugural ImagineHub Summit on June 3, hosted by Boundless Impact.

St. Mark's UMC member and rising sophomore at Bennett College receives OZY Genius Award

Marcinia Johnson, sophomore at Bennett College and member of St. Mark's UMC, has been selected as a 2021 OZY Genius Award Winner for her “Anti-gentrification low-income homes for seniors” initiative. Marcinia is one of 10 nationally-selected recipients of the prestigious award. Johnson also serves as a Linda H. McCord intern for the Black College Fund, administered by The General Board of Higher Education and Ministry, and received the prestigious Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship. We offer our congratulations on these accomplishments and look forward to joining Marcinia in the great work she is sure to inspire in the years to come! 

Does Creation Care Ministry Have a Biblical Basis?

Many people view a Creation Care Ministry as a type of special interest or “boutique” ministry, something that is popular now but really has no basis in the Bible. But the theology of creation care is firmly established throughout both the Old Testament and the New Testament. Check out the latest resource from the WNCC Creation Care Team.

News from Hood Theological Seminary
Reverend Dr. Fredrick Bernard Bowman has been named the newest Board Member of Hood Theological Seminary. Dr. Bowman is an ordained elder in full connection with the Western North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church. He provided spiritual leadership, administrative oversight, and organizational direction to several congregations in the Western North Carolina Conference of his pastoral tenure over twenty years. Currently, he is appointed to Extension Ministry of the Western North Carolina Conference serving as District Vitality Associate for the Catawba District.

Hood Theological Seminary celebrated its 2021 Virtual Commencement Ceremony on Saturday, May 15, 2021. Bishop Lawrence L. Reddick III was the 2021 Commencement Speaker. The highlight of the graduation service was the conferring of one Master of Theological Studies degree, twenty-two Master of Divinity degrees, and six Doctor of Ministry Degrees.


Bishop Carter to Lead Western NC
The Council of Bishops has announced that Bishop Ken Carter will serve as the resident bishop of Western North Carolina Conference (Charlotte Area), in addition to his role as resident bishop of Florida Conference (Florida Area) beginning on September 1, 2021. We look forward to welcoming Bishop Carter home to Western NC and fruitful ministry together.

Last week, Bishop Leeland 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. This year's Annual Conference offering is being collected in honor of Bishop Leeland and his wife, Janet, with gratitude for all they have done during their time of ministry with the Western North Carolina Conference. Visit the Annual Conference 2021 Offering Page to make a gift in their honor. 
COVID-19 Guidelines for In-Person Worship & Ministry - UPDATED 5.18.21
The CDC and Governor Cooper have issued new guidance regarding masks, social distancing, and mass gathering limits for those who have been fully vaccinated. In response, the Bishop and Cabinet offer these updated recommendations.

New Leadership Resources
The Leadership Development page has new resources! Three times a year, the resources on the Leadership Development page will be updated. There are 4-5 resources highlighted in each of these areas: Faith & Theology, Innovation & Change, Relationships & Conflict, Leading in Community.  These resources are recommended for leaders needing growth or help in particular areas.  The topics align with the Fruitful Clergy Leadership characteristics.



Faith-Health Connection: “Alzheimer's Prevention - Healthy Brain, Healthy Body"
Friday, June 4, 11 a.m.
 Join PHW for a Faith Health Connection: “Alzheimer’s Prevention and a Healthy Brain, Healthy Body." Courtenay O’Donoghue, Ph.D., Director of Program Services for the Western Carolina Chapter of the Alzheimer’s Association, will lead the presentation. Given the fear and stigma that surround Alzheimer’s and dementia, the subject too often goes unaddressed, yet there are positive, preventative measures to enhance brain health (and overall health) that can be taken.

Please note that this Faith-Health Connection will kick off the Alzheimer Association’s Healthy Brain, Healthy Body, Healthy You Symposium, June 7 – 11, an overview of Healthy Living for Your Brain and Body, and a series of workshops designed to provide more in-depth information and hands-on activities. 

Annual Conference 2021
Save the dates for Annual Conference 2021! 
Connection Points (Zoom Webinars) - Monday, June 7 through Thursday, June 10 
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


JUNETEENTH Freedom Celebration at Lake Junaluska
Saturday, June 19, 2 p.m.
Join the Smoky Mountain District's Justice and Reconciliation for a JUNETEENTH Freedom Celebration on Saturday, June 19th at 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.

Project Agape Virtual Mission Trip
Thursday, July 15, 6 p.m.
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 Trip to Armenia.  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. 



Director of Communications: Melissa McGill

Communications Ministry Assistant: Aimee Yeager