A Letter of Gratitude to the WNCC from Bishop Leeland

August 27, 2021

By: Bishop Paul L. Leeland

August 26, 2021
“Thank you” are the words that quickly come to mind as I think of our Western North Carolina Conference and the ministry we shared over the past 5 years.  These words capture the genuine gratitude my wife, Janet, and I feel for the churches, laity, and clergy with whom we were privileged to serve.  We enter this season of retirement with a profound sense of gratitude for your generosity, thoughtfulness, and passion for the Gospel.  So, while we say, “Thank you,” we realize these words will never fully capture the heartfelt and genuine depth of our appreciation.
We are especially grateful for your gift of “The Paul and Janet Leeland Foundation,” established with our Conference United Methodist Foundation to assist the medical and physical needs in Haiti, through Partners 4 New Hope; and the assistance this foundation will offer to UMAR, whose mission is to promote community inclusion, independence, and growth for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities through residential, employment and cultural enrichment opportunities.  Your generosity will allow resources to be offered to these ministries for years and years to come. Thank you!
As I retire, I realize I stand in the shadow of the great bishops before me who served our conference: Bishops L. Scott Allen, Bevel Jones, Charlene Kammerer, Lawrence J. McCleskey, and Larry Goodpaster.  I recognize their contribution and faithful service as I continue to hear the faith stories of appreciation and gratitude for their service.
As your bishop, I embraced the honor to travel the connection to which I was appointed, teaching and preaching the faith of Jesus Christ; convening the churches for mission and ministry; ordaining and appointing the clergy to their respective areas of service. Thank you for this privilege.
During this transition in episcopal leadership, our Western North Carolina Conference extends a renewed and gracious welcome to Bishop Ken Carter, a former pastor of this conference, who returns home after serving The United Methodist Church as President of The Council of Bishops; Chair of The Commission On A Way Forward; and one of the 16 contributors shaping and offering “A Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace Through Separation”.  Welcome home, Bishop Carter.
As I prepared to accept the assignment of our Western North Carolina Conference, I began to pray for our mutual ministry; and as I retire, I offer this same prayer for your continued service: “Almighty God, grant this conference, its leaders, laity, and clergy the Spirit of the Lord; a spirit of wisdom, understanding, of counsel, and strength to do the right things; a spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord” (Isaiah 11:2-3).  Amen.

Click here for a downloadable copy of Bishop Leeland's letter.

Personal Reflections