Celebrating New Beginnings

July 20, 2021

By: Aimee Yeager, WNCC Associate Director of Communications

For more than a year the WNC Conference Center, like so many buildings around the world, was quiet - a place normally bustling with activity forced into stillness by the realities of COVID-19. Tuesday morning, however, the walls once again reverberated with laughter and joy as the conference staff celebrated the ministry of Bishop Paul L. Leeland and welcomed three new district superintendents, Rev. Lory Beth Huffman (Appalachian), Rev. Dr. Hyung Jae Lee (Smoky Mountain), and Rev. Dan Pezet (Metro). 


Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Bishop Leeland's term in Western North Carolina was extended by one year, totaling five years of service to the United Methodist churches in the Western NC Conference. During the celebration, staff members offered words of gratitude for Bishop Leeland's "prayerful and pastoral leadership."


Bishop Leeland shared his plans upon retirement to "spend more time with [his] wife, family, and friends" and to intentionally leave space in his life (and on his calendar) for discernment and rest as he navigates this new beginning. Bishop Leeland closed his remarks to the staff saying, "I will always support the United Methodist Church. I will support the work and ministry of our pastor and support the leadership of my bishop. I love the United Methodist Church."

Rev. Kim Ingram and Rev. Annalee Allen, Director and Associate Director of Ministerial Services, closed the celebration asking the staff to lay hands upon or extend hands towards Bishop Leeland as prayers of gratitude and blessing were offered on his behalf. 

Following Bishop Leeland's retirement celebration, the Office of Ministerial Services hosted Rev. Huffman, Dr. Lee, and Rev. Pezet for ministerial training as they step into their new roles as district superintendents in the Western North Carolina Conference. As we celebrate these new beginnings, we offer gratitude for all God is doing in and through the United Methodists of the Western North Carolina Conference.