The Latest Edition of E-News - Cabinet & Staff Changes, Updated COVID-19 Guidelines, AC2021 Virtual Choir, and more

March 24, 2021

E-News - March 24, 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 Cabinet, Staff Changes

Bishop Leeland announces the following changes to the cabinet and conference staff:

  • Rev. Dr. Carl Arrington has announced his retirement effective July 1, 2021. 
  • Rev. Lory Beth Huffman will succeed Carl as the District Superintendent of the Appalachian District.
  • Rev. David Hockett will be appointed as the Teaching Pastor at Davidson UMC, effective April 1, 2021.
  • Rev. Dan Pezet will be appointed as District Superintendent of the Metro District, effective July 1, 2021.
  • Rev. Rob Hutchinson will succeed Dan as the Director of Church Development, also effective July 1, 2021.
COVID-19 Guidelines for In-Person Worship & Ministry - UPDATED 3.24.21

Yesterday, Tuesday, March 23rd, Governor Cooper issued an easing of Covid-19 restrictions. 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 Executive Order No. 204 as a guide, the Bishop and Cabinet make these specific recommendations for United Methodist Churches in the Western NC Conference.

COVID-19 Update to CARES Act, PPP, Employee Retention Credit

As previously announced, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) passed in March 2020 contained an incentive that encourages employers to retain—rather than terminate—employees despite current economic constraints due to COVID-19.   The recently passed Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (CAA) extended the ERC into the first two calendar quarters of tax year 2021 and made significant changes, including increasing the credit amount and making it available to more employers. The ERC available for the first two calendar quarters of 2021 is summarized.

Bishops Reconsider May 8 Special Session of General Conference

The Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church met on Monday, March 22, 2021 in an additional meeting to consider pressing matters related to the Council’s work. After much conversation, the bishops reached a decision that in the best interest of the church at this time, they would cancel the Special Session of the General Conference which was set for May 8, 2021.

Join the Annual Conference Virtual Choir!

The Worship Committee for the 2021 WNC Annual Conference is creating a virtual conference choir for the opening hymn. Singers of any age from WNC are invited to video record themselves singing the hymn, “And Are We Yet Alive.”

Laity Preaching Cohort

This course provides laity who already have experience in developing and delivering sermons additional insights into the art and practice of preaching. Participants will learn from the experience and feedback of other laity while being guided by an experienced instructor.

Means of Grace: Reimagining Connectionalism with the Appalachian District

In this week’s episode Luke Edwards sits down with Carl Arrington, District Superintendent of the Appalachian District, and Gloria Hughes, District Vitality Associate. They share about some exciting things happening in the district. In particular, a weekly Zoom call where clergy in the district have found support and courage to learn in this challenging season.

A Few Words about Innovation: A Few Words with Mark DeVries

What's the first thing to know about innovating in your ministry context? Rev. Meg Gaston spends a few minutes with our colleague Mark DeVries of Ministry Incubators to learn some of the tools and tips he's picked up along the way. Click here to watch this 15-minute video.  Innovating in the WNCC? Let us know! Visit  to tell us you’re out there.

Conference Staff Celebrates National Puppy Day

Enjoy a midweek smile and meet our furry family members for National Puppy Day.


Litany of Lament for One Year of COVID-19
After one year of the COVID-19 pandemic in America, we find ourselves in a spiritual place where we need spaces and words of lament. Rev. Stacey Lundy, associate pastor for adult discipleship and pastoral care at First United Methodist Church - Salisbury, NC, offers us this grace-filled gift.
WNCC Second Sunday of Easter Service
On the Sunday after Easter, the Western NC Conference will offer a conference-wide virtual worship led by our District Superintendents, with music and liturgy from pastors and churches around our conference, and a homily from Bishop Leeland. Clergy and worship leaders, take a much-needed break after the Lenten season and worship with friends around the conference.
Youth Ministry Survey
Please take a moment to complete a very brief survey to let the Conference Council on Youth Ministry (CCYM) know what you'd like to see from them in the coming year.
Means of Grace: Wisdom for the Journey with Mary Ana Smith
In this episode, Melissa talks with Mary Ana Smith about her podcast for young women called Wisdom for the Journey. Mary Ana addresses topics like body image, perfectionism, social media, mental health and much more in an authentic, accessible way for teen girls. You’ll hear clips from several of her episodes and you may recognize some familiar voices – several WNCC clergy women have been guests on Wisdom for the Journey including Mary Ana’s mom Rev. Toni Ruth Smith, Rev. Sally Queen, Rev. Sarah Watkins Davis, Rev. Carrie Wright and Rev. Susan Heafner-Heun.



WNCC Christians Engaged in Faith Formation (CEF)
Thursday, March 25, 10 a.m.- 12p.m.
We are excited to begin our work on intentionally connecting people who are leaders in faith formation, especially during our current times.  Be on the lookout for more information that is forthcoming.

United Methodist Seminary Fair
Thursday, March 25, 3 p.m.

Are you a United Methodist who is applying to seminary? Are you interested in vocational ministry or further study in theology or religion? Register for this (FREE) virtual seminary fair with each of the 13 United Methodist theological schools. The event will take place via Zoom.

ReConnect NC Faith Gatherings
Tuesdays (10 a.m.) and Thursdays (12 p.m.) in March and April
Join the Institute for Emerging Issues' ReConnect Faith Gatherings every Tuesday morning and Thursday afternoon in March/April. We're so excited to continue the themes from our ReConnect for the Future Forum that faith leaders asked for, including "Digital Inclusion: IEI's BAND NC program and opportunities for faith communities" (March 30), and "Facilitating across lines of difference" (April 6).

Hood Theological Seminary Center for Chaplaincy March 2021 Didactic
Tuesday, March 30, 10-11:30 a.m.
The Center For Chaplaincy at Hood Theological Seminary, Salisbury, North Carolina, presents via online gatherings: “Keeping It Real: Mental Health In the Church and Community During the Season of Pandemic and Beyond.” 2 CEUs will be offered for the session. This didactic will be titled Sacred Reciprocity: How Chaplains and Clergy Care for Themselves and Others During a Pandemic and Beyond. 

The event is being hosted online via Zoom. There is no registration fee; however, registration is required. The deadline to register is March 29, 2021.

LSM Training: "Transformational Prayer"
Sundays, April 11 through May 2, 2-4:30 p.m.
The Catawba Valley District will offer a 4-week Lay Servant Training course, "Transformational Prayer", held via Zoom. This course is open Conference-wide and will be based in part on the book Transforming Prayer by Daniel Henderson.  
This course qualifies as an Advanced Lay Servant course. Attendance on all four Sundays is required to complete the hours needed for certification. No exceptions can be made. Note: Completion of the Basic Lay Servant Course is a prerequisite for this course. Deadline for Registration is April 8, 2021.

Racial Healing and the Gospel of Reconciliation
Saturday, April 24, 9 a.m. - 12 p.m.
ONE SESSION REMAINS! Please note, the final session will be held on a Saturday to accommodate those who cannot participate during the week. Registration is required and spaces are limited.

Rooted in 2 Corinthians 5:16-20, this workshop will teach reconciliation as spirituality, highlighting biblical examples of reconciliation and our call to be ministers of reconciliation as followers of Christ. With this theological foundation, participants will learn practical strategies for the Church to live out our role in the reconciliation process.


Director of Communications: Melissa McGill

Communications Ministry Assistant: Aimee Yeager