June 20-23, in Lake Junaluska, North Carolina
Contributors: Melissa McGill, The Rev. Juston Smith, Megan Jones, Neill Caldwell.
Resident Bishop Paul L. Leeland presided over the Western North Carolina Annual Conference, June 20-23 at Lake Junaluska, N.C. The conference theme was “Trust and Obey.” For this quadrennium, Bishop Leeland designed the themes around the four parts of the Great Commission found in Matthew 28:19-20, “Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything that I’ve commanded you. Look, I myself will be with you every day until the end of this present age.” Thus, the theme breakdown for this quadrennium becomes: “2017 - Baptize, 2018 - Teach, 2019 - Obey, 2020 - Go.”
During opening worship, Bishop Ruben Saenz, Jr. of the Great Plains Annual Conference, offered a sermon entitled “The Long View,” based on Genesis 11:31-12:5b. Bishop Janice Riggle Huie, who currently serves with the Texas Methodist Foundation, led the Friday evening teaching session on “Leading in the Midst of Change.” At the Celebration of Life worship service, Catawba Valley District Superintendent the Rev. Angela Pleasants preached on “Resurrection Life.” The Rev. Dr. Ken Walden, president and dean of Gammon Theological Seminary, shared a message entitled “Leading the Church in a Diverse World” at the Black Methodists for Church Renewal luncheon.
Reconciling Ministries Network led a pride march from their luncheon to Stuart Auditorium in addition to their annual Friday evening worship service. The Western North Carolina Evangelical Association hosted the Rev. Chris Ritter as the keynote speaker of their dinner gathering.
Fifteen elders and one deacon were ordained, nine were commissioned as provisional members, and 40 were licensed as local pastors in the tradition-laden Ordering of Ministry service. Guest preacher Bishop Mike Lowry of the Central Texas Annual Conference based his sermon on the Great Commission in the final chapter of Matthew’s Gospel, the “Those who wait upon the Lord” passage from Isaiah Chapter 40, and words from the hymn “Trust and Obey,” tying into the conference theme.
The Western North Carolina Conference also recognized 39 retirees with a combined 941 years of ministry as the dates appear in the records of the conference secretary. We celebrate the faithful service of these ministers and friends.
WNC 2020 General and Jurisdictional Delegations
*Age 35 or younger
Clergy Delegation for GC2020
Kim Ingram, Amy Coles, Jeremy Troxler, James Howell, In-Yong Lee, Ashley Crowder Stanley, Shelly Webb, Carter Ellis*, Darryl Dayson*, Josh Sherfey
Laity Delegation for GC2020
Jennifer Davis, Amy Johnson, Greg Huffman, Lynne Gilbert, Emma Austin*, Havaleh Havelka*, Shannon Sherfey, Helen Ryde, Lynette Whitaker, Linda Linfors.
Clergy Delegation for SEJ2020
David Hockett, Sally Queen, Sam Moore, Veranita Alvord, Uiyeon Kim*, Lory Beth Huffman, Elizabeth Coppedge-Henley, Stephanie Moore Hand, Julia Trantham*, Sarah Belles*
Laity Delegation for SEJ2020
Tonya Lanier, Dana Lyles, Sandra Hieronymus, Caroline Wood, Kathy FitzJeffries, Amy Devore, Matt Sink*, Erin Betlej*, Tom Jordan, Megan Jones*
Clergy Alternate Delegates
John Boggs, Lynda Ferguson, Ben Carson
Laity Alternate Delegates
Timothy Kincaid, Coley Hooker, Wade Loftin
The conference discussed six petitions during the session on Saturday afternoon. The full text of the petitions can be found in the supplement beginning on page 56.
The first was regarding gender discrimination in appointments (Petition 17). The Rev. Andrea McCumber, who submitted the petition, spoke to it. The petition requested that the bishop and cabinet take a more proactive role in facilitating gender equity in regards to clergy placement, specifically by affirming the position of open itinerancy for clergy regardless of gender and communicating that position to staff parish relations committees. This petition passed by a show of hands.
Brian Mateer, an at-large lay member of conference from the metro district and the chair of the WNCC Mission Engagement Team, spoke to Petition 18, regarding the establishment of a child advocacy team, which would “promote equity, opportunities, and well-being for all children in Western North Carolina.” Petition 18 passed by a show of hands.
The next petition proposed that the clergy adopt a similar procedure to the one the laity currently follow regarding self-nomination to be considered for election to General and Jurisdictional Conference, rather than voting for candidates from an approximately 1,200-member field. The Rev. Jonathan Gaylord submitted and spoke to Petition 19, which passed by a show of hands.
Petition 20 suggested that the Western North Carolina Annual Conference recommend that the General Conference explore a jurisdictional conference plan as a potential approach to the current divisions within The United Methodist Church. This approach is one of many that might offer a way to consider cultural contexts as our church approaches issues of human sexuality. The Rev. Jeremy Troxler spoke to the petition, which passed with 754 votes for and 554 votes against.
The Rev. Kelly Carpenter of Green Street United Methodist Church in Winston-Salem spoke to Petition 21, which resolved that the Western North Carolina Annual Conference petition the General Conference in 2020 to remove the language in the Book of Discipline referring to the practice of homosexuality as “incompatible with Christian teaching.” The Petition passed with 692 votes for and 481 votes against.
The conference voted to extend the time of the session to allow the group to discuss Petition 22. Petition 22 was a statement of opposition to the Traditional Plan as passed by the Special General Conference of 2019. The original petition was submitted by Mary Z. Longstreth, who spoke in support. A substitute petition was submitted by The Western North Carolina Annual Conference representatives to UMC Next, the full text of which can be found below. The substitute petition was accepted, and passed with 564 votes for and 328 votes against.
Here is the full text of the substitute petition, Endorsing the Commitments of UMC Next and Supporting the Full Inclusion of All People:
WHEREAS, more then 600 laity and clergy leaders from every annual conference in the United States met May 20-22 at the United Methodist Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas, for an event entitled UMC Next. The event’s purpose was to explore faithful responses to the Traditional Plan that was adopted by the 2019 special session of General Conference.
WHEREAS, John Wesley’s first rule for early Methodists was to do no harm and enactment of the Traditional Plan continues and amplifies harm already done by the church to LBGTQIA+ United Methodists and their families.
WHEREAS, in our baptismal vows we promise to “resist evil, injustice and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves.”
WHEREAS, there was a clear consensus from those in attendance at the UMC Next event about the four commitments essential to the future of The United Methodist Church.
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the Western North Carolina Conference formally affirm the statement and four commitments of UMC Next:
“We believe these commitments are essential to a hope-filled future for the global Methodist movement as we make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”
1. We long to be passionate followers of Jesus Christ, committed to a Wesleyan vision of Christianity, anchored in scripture and informed by tradition, experience and reason as we live a life of personal piety and social holiness.
2. We commit to resist evil, injustice and oppression in all forms and toward all people and build a church which affirms the full participation of all ages, nations, races, classes, cultures, gender identities, sexual orientations and abilities.
3. We reject the Traditional Plan approved at General Conference 2019 as inconsistent with the gospel of Jesus Christ and will resist its implementation.
4. We will work to eliminate discriminatory language and the restriction and penalties in the Book of Discipline regarding LGBTQ persons. We affirm the sacred worth of LGBTQ persons, celebrate their gifts, and commit to being in ministry together.
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we urge local United Methodist congregations of the Western North Carolina Conference to ensure that LGBTQIA+ persons are welcomed and included in the membership and leadership of the local churches, to encourage members of the local congregations to be inclusive of all people and to have an open dialogue about the actions of the 2019 General Conference, the Traditional Plan and these four commitments.
Submitted by: The Western North Carolina Annual Conference representatives to UMC Next:
Lynette Whitaker, laity, Winston Salem, N.C.
The Rev. Carter Ellis, clergy, Greensboro, N.C.
Kasey Kelly, laity, Waynesville, N.C.
The Rev. Darryl Dayson, clergy, Asheville, N.C.
The Rev. Uiyeon Kim, clergy, Charlotte, N.C.
The Rev. Joy Moss, clergy, Asheville, N.C.
The Rev. Mary Brown, clergy, Andrews, N.C.
The Rev. Keith Turman, clergy, Waynesville, N.C.
The Rev. Josh Noblitt, clergy, Atlanta, Ga.
The Rev. Lory Beth Huffman, clergy, Boone, N.C.
The Rev. Ashley Crowder Stanley, clergy, Asheville, NC