Category: News

Laity Sunday is October 15th

Laity Sunday in the United Methodist Church is on October 15, 2017 and the Board of Laity of the WNCC invites all congregations to celebrate the ministry of the laity on this Sunday.

Methodism has long celebrated and recognized the ministry of the laity.  In the early days of American Methodism, the laity served and maintained congregations between visits of the circuit riders.  Today, lay people are at the front line of daily ministry in our congregations and in our communities.

Quadrennial themes are set by the Association of Annual Conference Lay Leaders and approved by the board of directors of Discipleship Ministries.  Here you can fine resources surrounding this year’s theme of “Go therefore with hope through hospitality”:

We are all called to be ministers. Some are called to ordained ministry – to order the word, celebrate the sacraments.  Others are called to non-ordained ministry within the church and others to less obvious places.  But, we are each called.  And we make up the Priesthood of All Believers.

Here’s an excerpt from a sermon by Rev. Meredith Wende at First UMC in Wharton, Texas that beautifully expands on this concept.

In the old covenant, the priesthood was confined to a special family chosen by God; in the new covenant, the priesthood is made up of every member of the Body of Christ. There are no longer some who hold this role and others who don’t. There are no longer some whose roles are sacred and others whose roles are ordinary. There are no longer some who channel God’s mercy to the world and others who don’t. The priesthood of 1 Peter–the priesthood of the new covenant–is made up of all believers.

This means that the Christian is a creature that was designed for ministry. If all Christians are part of a royal priesthood, then every Christian is called to be in ministry. Every Christian is called to the job description of the priests of old: channels of the holy to the ordinary, channels of the sacred to the mundane, channels of God to the world. Every Christian is called to be in ministry, because every Christian is a part of a holy priesthood.

Every Christian is called to find the particular outlet in his or her life in which God needs a priest. Every Christian is called to find the particular outlet in his or her life in which God needs someone to bring the holy to the ordinary.

That’s the reason for the priesthood of all believers. If we do not live out the ministry for which we were created, we will wind up spiritually dead. If we do not find the ministry of meaning and substance to which God is calling us, we may find ourselves looking for life after death, but missing the life before death.

As laity, we should be asking what’s my ministry? What is the outlet to which God is calling me? Where am I being asked to bridge heaven and earth? Where am I being called to bring the holy to the ordinary?

As the Board of Laity, we honor every lay person in our conference and we celebrate your ministry in The United Methodist Church!

Racial Awakening

By Rev. DeVere Williams

He was as black as the coal he shoveled into the sooty basement furnace of the old school.

Lanky and strong, he was polite but quiet as he went about his duties at a deliberate pace. In his late fifties or early sixties, he was the custodian at the Randleman Elementary School. We may have nodded at each other, but we never spoke. I knew practically nothing about him; still he was the black person I knew best during my formative years in the foothills of central North Carolina.

My home county of Randolph and the neighboring county of Guilford, once heavily populated by Quakers, some of whom conducted the Underground Railroad, were nevertheless stereotypical of the South of the 1940s and 50s.  No African-Americans (a term unheard of then) lived in the town limits of Randleman, a blue-collar, agriculture town of about 2,000.  I grew up Methodist, but previous generations of my family had deep roots in the Society of Friends. I never heard my folks or, indeed, many townspeople talk much about racial relations one way or another.

I don’t recall ever seeing blacks shopping in town, and the prevailing attitude was “they have their place and we have ours.” Blacks were mostly called “colored” but occasionally I heard the “N” word.

The larger neighboring cities of Greensboro and Asheboro had bigger black populations. A couple of times as a teen-ager, I rode with my buddies through black neighborhoods in these cities and yelled racial slurs. I harbored no hatred or dislike for black people, but I was a naïve, thoughtless kid going along with other thoughtless kids in acts of senseless, hurtful sins of racism. I deeply regret and I am ashamed of those despicable acts.

I graduated from high school on a Friday night in June of 1960 and left the following Monday morning for Air Force basic and technical training at bases in Texas. The Air Force was integrated, but my fellow trainees were overwhelmingly white.

However, one of my two basic training instructors was black and my squadron commander at tech school was black. This was a novel situation, but I focused on their rank and authority, and don’t recall any feelings of prejudice. At least subconsciously, I began to grasp the injustice of racism and the horrendous atmosphere prevalent in the South and in other parts of America.

My technical school class consisted of ten white airmen and three African-Americans. We studied together, lived in the same barracks, ate together, and drilled together, but when we were awarded a few hours of free time, we segregated ourselves by color.

I did have several light conversations with Neal, a black classmate from Elizabeth City, North Carolina. We both planned to take a bus home for our thirty-day leaves before reporting to our duty stations. I suggested we travel together.

Neal was reluctant. Neither of us had ever had a friend or associated with a person of another race. We hadn’t talked about segregation or racial issues, but Neal knew something that I didn’t. Neal knew what it was like to be black in America.

But he eventually agreed to my travel suggestion. As our three-day trip progressed through mostly small-town America, Neal was uneasy sitting beside a white boy. He didn’t know what to expect, nor did I.

We wore our new Air Force dress uniforms and were proud of the single stripes on our sleeves. But what became obvious in the first miles was that some fellow passengers didn’t see two young servicemen, rather they saw a black boy and a white boy sitting side-by-side, flouting the convention of the day.

Anyone familiar with the abominable history of those times, especially before the Civil Rights Movement shifted into high gear and before Federal Civil Rights legislation was passed, understands why Neal had serious reservations about traveling with me.

We sat about halfway down the aisle and while Neal’s anxiety was obvious, we didn’t talk about it. Mostly we just got nasty looks and heard people whispering about us as they nodded in our direction. Some shook their heads in disgust.

But the most  intense and threatening part of the journey occurred when the bus pulled into the station in Montgomery, a hot bed of KKK activities and inhumane attacks by police who used night sticks, water cannons, and vicious dogs against innocent black citizens.

It’s been more than a half-century, but I vividly recall my anguish and apprehension at that station in Montgomery. Neal sat in the window seat and as the bus slowed to a stop, he slid down so as not to be visible from the outside, but part of his head could still be seen by people milling around the station. We saw people pointing in our direction and apparently talking about what they should do about us. Neither of us dared get out of our seats for the twenty minutes or so we were there. The tension was palpable, and I was afraid some of the bigots would drag us off the bus and beat us. .

But I think disgust and anger overwhelmed my fear. Never in my young life had I experienced such sympathy for someone as I did Neal at that moment. “Oh, God, it is so very, very wrong that we fear for our lives simply because his skin is black and mine is white and we chose to sit side-by-side.” Both of us were destined for long overseas assignments. But the racists didn’t see military men, but rather two smart-alecky kids defying their way of life. It was also apparent that some black people didn’t approve of our companionship. They didn’t need another incident to stir the simmering pot of bigotry.

My friend and I were relieved when the bus chugged out of the station. We continued to encounter nasty stares and a few pejorative comments as the bus continued on from Montgomery  to Greensboro, where Neal stayed aboard for his trip to the coast, and my family picked me up for my leave at home in Randleman.

That long-ago bus trip awakened me to the raw cruelty of racial prejudice and discrimination. Neal didn’t need the trip to know what I didn’t.

Thankfully, attitudes have improved since then. Neal and I could travel together today without the disapproving atmosphere of 1960.  But over my years as a Methodist pastor, I sometimes wonder just how far we’ve come when I look out on Sunday mornings on an all white congregation.

Rev. Williams is a retired associate member of the South Carolina Annual Conference. He and his wife Cynthia live in Maggie Valley. He serves Fines Creek UMC near Waynesville as a retired supply pastor.


PAST UPDATESWeekly-Update--Post-Tag

Here are the major changes for the past two weeks to the website (a busy Friday last week kept the editor out of the office).  What did you miss?







Media (weekly)

Enews Archive (bi-weekly)

Lay Servant Ministries



Latest ENews: View the August 15th edition
Next issue is August 29, 2017
See the past issues at the ARCHIVES

Conference Blog

Conference Blog 2.0– this week’s blog
Nancy Rankin- Reclaiming the Ministry of the Laity


UMCom produces “Embrace Love” resources

United Methodist Communications, headquartered in Nashville, Tennessee, has been busy this week after the events in Charlottesville last weekend.  Below are a number of resources that you can use in your churches and small groups for discussing the issues of racism and reconciliation.

  1. They developed several articles, listed below, which cover the incident but also provide help and guidance on various fronts.

2. View the full page ad in The New York Times and USA Today from August 16th.

3. They created video ad spots on denouncing racism. View the :60 video and :30 video. (Consider sharing these through social media).

4. They launched a comprehensive landing page at that provides up-to-date content on the response from across the church, including resources and helpful tips.

5. They distributed Bishop Ough’s statement and press release widely within the church. We shared UMW’s statement on PR Web.

6. They created/posted a “Love one another” meme at The United Methodist Church Facebook page Sunday night, which had reached nearly 1.4 million people by Thursday and garnered more than 167,000 engagements. We followed it up with a Facebook video campaign that launched yesterday. So far, it has reached more than half a million people and the video has been viewed 241,000 times.


Call to Prayer

Call to Prayer
The Board of Laity

Western North Carolina Conference 
The United Methodist Church

The Board of Laity of the Western North Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church does not condone hatred, bigotry, violence, prejudice or any form of oppression in the lives of all God’s children. We reject the hateful actions and rhetoric of hate groups.  We believe the transforming power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ is where we strive to reconcile and heal those who have suffered and those who have committed these hateful and hurtful acts.  We are committed to work to ensure that, just as every person is equal in the eyes of God, all are equal on earth.

With heightened awareness brought on by the events that transpired in Charlottesville, VA this past weekend and occur throughout the world on a daily basis, The Board of Laity is requesting that all members: laity and clergy, join us in a week of prayer beginning Sunday, August 20. Pray for justice for all who suffer from hatred, bigotry, violence, injustice and forms of oppression and that the eyes and ears of those who bring this suffering may be opened to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

We have listed specific prayers for each of the 7 days. To begin this time of prayer, we ask that you intentionally read the “Renunciation of Sin and Profession of Faith” from our Baptismal Covenant and pray for the renewal of your covenant.

Renunciation of Sin and Profession of Faith

On Behalf of the Whole Church, I ask you:
Do you renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness, reject the evil powers of this world, and repent of your sin?
I do.

Do you accept the freedom and power God gives you to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves?
I do.

Do you confess Jesus Christ as your Savior, put your whole trust in his grace, and promise to serve him as your Lord, in union with the church which Christ has opened to people of all ages, nations and races?
I do.

Day 1: Pray for the victims that were injured and the souls of those who lost their lives in the events in Charlottesville and for victims throughout the world. Pray for their families and loved ones that they are surrounded in Jesus’ loving arms and are comforted in some small way.

Day 2:  Pray for those who have hardened their hearts toward fellow human beings through acts of bigotry, hatred and violence. Pray that their eyes be opened and hearts softened toward those that are different than them because we are all Children of God.

Day 3: Pray that God’s grace and comfort surround those that have lost loved ones to acts of violence and racism.

Day 4:  Pray that those affected by Racism and acts of violence remain hopeful knowing that God stands with them in the midst of their suffering and God’s grace, love and mercy will strengthen them as they overcome injustice.

Day 5: Pray that as Children of God, we are able to put aside our differences and strive for hearts and souls that allow for conversation, understanding and for the path toward healing to begin.

Day 6:  Pray Ephesians 2: 14-16:

For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility.

Day 7:  That God continues to keep these acts of hatred and bigotry on our hearts so that we may strive to shine the light of Jesus Christ through our thoughts, words, deeds and witnessing.

Grace Break offerings coming up


Nine times out of ten, renewal leaves are not sought after by clergy or their district leaders until a crisis situation.  We at Big Sigh Ministries are changing the conversation from burnout crisis to prevention and ministry resilience with our GRACE BREAK program. Through this informative program, we help clergy dream and plan ahead for renewal leaves; we educate church Staff and Pastor Parish Relations Committees as to the unique numerous stressors clergy face, the real threat of compassion fatigue in their clergy, as well as the win-win benefits when a pastor takes renewal time away and returns refreshed, renewed, rested and re-connected with God.

Here’s How:


GRACE BREAK:  Planning Your Renewal Leave.  This workshop helps pastors begin to dream about time away for renewal, grounds Sabbath and renewal leave practices in scripture, helps pastors identify compassion fatigue and other life stressors they might be experiencing, provides tools for planning, implementing and communicating renewal leaves with one’s church leaders, District Superintendent, and family, and leads pastors on their way to reconnecting with God through extended Sabbath practices.  Due to a generous grant from the WNCC Leadership Development Team, the cost to clergy is only $25 to participate in one of these events.  All 2017 workshops will be held at the Catholic Conference Center in Hickory, NC, from 9am-3pm.  Please register and pay online, or complete the form on back and mail to Big Sigh Ministries.

Tuesday, September 12th (Registration deadline:  September 2nd)

Tuesday, October 3rd (Registration deadline:  September 19th)


GRACE BREAK:  Caring for Our Pastor.  This is a small group study written by Big Sigh Ministries’ founders, Reverends Jack and Jacqueline Tookey.  This weekend study includes topics such as:  Jesus’ Pattern for Ministry, External and Internal Stressors and Pressures of Ministry, Compassion Fatigue, Ministry Resilience, Christian Accountability and the Nuts and Bolts of Renewal Leaves.  Jacqueline and Jack can come to your church or district (if several SPRC/PPRCs come together) and facilitate this study.  Please contact Jacqueline at to schedule your leadership team for this small group experience.


Churches and pastors who complete the GRACE BREAK programs can jointly apply for Renewal Leave micro-grants:  $1300 for three-month pulpit supply and $500 towards the pastor’s leave expenses.  These micro-grants are available on a limited basis.  Please contact Jacqueline for more information.

Download Flyer

Lake Junaluska to be featured on UNC-TV

Lake Junaluska, N.C. – Lake Junaluska will be featured on UNC-TV’s program “North Carolina Weekend” on Thursday, August 17 at 9 p.m., and again on Friday, August 18 at 7:30 p.m.

North Carolina Weekend is a program that showcases the best things to see and do across North Carolina, including historic sites, festivals, music, restaurants and places to stay.

The segment on Lake Junaluska will feature some of guests’ favorite things to do when they stay at Lake Junaluska, including the Lake Junaluska Singers, the historic boat tours that take place during the summer, the gardens, and the lakeside hotel, The Terrace. It will also touch on the history of Lake Junaluska.

“We are honored to be featured on UNC-TV as one of the best places to visit in North Carolina,” said Jack Ewing, executive director of Lake Junaluska. “There is so much to see and do in this area, and we hope that being featured on North Carolina Weekend will encourage people to stay and recreate at Lake Junaluska.”

The segment will convey that everyone is welcome to stay in Lake Junaluska’s hotels, vacation rental homes or other lodging, whether they are coming with a group or coming on a vacation.

After the segment premiers, it will also be available online at

Lake Junaluska is a place of Christian hospitality where lives are transformed through renewal of soul, mind and body. For more information about Lake Junaluska programs and events, visit

Preview Video:

Vienna Boys Choir at First UMC, Charlotte on October 18

First United Methodist Church in Charlotte is hosting the Vienna Boys Choir on Wednesday, October 18th at 7:30 pm.

The program for the evening is called “Bella Italia.” It is a program of popular and classical compositions from Italy, to include classical pieces by Vivaldi, Rossini, Verdi, Mascagni and other Italian composers, along with such popular favorites as ​Santa Lucia, ​​O sole mio, ​​Volare, and more.

This Gothic Revival-style church built in 1927 is known for it acoustics which have earned it a reputation as one of Charlotte’s premier destinations for live performances, from Handel’s Messiah to visits by The St. Olaf Choir and the Charlotte Symphony.

Since 1926, the Vienna Boys Choir has undertaken around 1000 tours in 97 different countries; in that time, the boys have sung more than 27,000 concerts. There are currently 100 choristers between the ages of nine and fourteen, divided into four touring choirs. They give around 300 concerts each year, attended by almost half a million spectators around the world. Together with the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra and the Vienna State Opera Chorus, the boys provide the music for the Sunday Mass in the Imperial Chapel, as they have done since 1498.

Tickets are for sale at or by phone at 704-732-1000.​

​Free parking in the church garage.  Parking for church buses is available by prior arrangement with First UMC Charlotte (​