Western North Carolina Annual Conference

Officiating bishop: Bishop Paul L. Leeland

The Western North Carolina Annual Conference met online June 12, 2021.

The conference came together for a time of worship, reports and an expression of gratitude for Leeland and his wife Janet’s ministry in advance of his retirement effective Sept. 1. Bishop Leeland offered a stirring message on Philippians 1:3-11, celebrating for our partnership in the Gospel from the first day until the last. Voting results have been posted. For the full reports from conference boards, committees, ministries and commissions, visit the program and reports book. 


On June 19 in Stuart Auditorium at Lake Junaluska, Leeland commissioned and ordained the classes of 2020 and 2021 for ministry in The United Methodist Church. Bishop Larry Goodpaster returned to offer messages in the morning commissioning and afternoon ordination worship services. Ordering of ministry in 2020 was postponed due to safety concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.


Offerings at the annual conference totaled $36,249.44, collected in honor of Leeland and his wife for all they have done during their time of ministry with the conference. It will be evenly divided between two important ministries, The Northern Haiti Mission Connection and UMAR. The Northern Haiti Mission Connection partnership supports the work and ministry of Dr. Eugene Maklin and New Hope Hospital.  Working with Haiti leaders, collaborating partners place an emphasis on education, micro-lending, healthcare and clean water initiatives in northern Haiti. UMAR, a ministry founded in western North Carolina, promotes community inclusion, independence and growth for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities through residential, employment and cultural enrichment opportunities. 

The United Methodist Foundation of Western North Carolina has created the Bishop Paul and Janet Leeland endowment fund honoring the Leelands and supporting these two ministries. Donations are still being accepted.

Leading up to the clergy session and annual conference business session, the conference hosted evening Connection Points online webinars with the goal of connecting to God, each other and the world. The topics were:  Equity & Justice: Eradicating the Other Pandemic with the Revs. Bill White, Jr. and Amy Coles; Moving Forward in The United Methodist Church with Leeland and conference delegation chairs the Rev. Kim Ingram and Jennifer Davis; Theirs is the Kingdom documentary screening and Q&A with director Chris Zaluski, fresco artist Christopher Holt and the Rev. Brian Combs, founding pastor of the Haywood Street Congregation; and the conference awards celebration. The recordings are available online.

On June 10, the conference gathered on Zoom to celebrate outstanding leaders in ministry across the conference. 

This year’s award recipients are:

- Francis Asbury Award – the Rev. Larry Jones, campus pastor of the Winston Salem Wesley Foundation.

- Foundation for Evangelism Harry Denman Awards

- Laity – Tim Hoffman

- Clergy – the Rev. Dr. Stephanie Moore Hand, metro district vitality strategist.

- Bishop’s Scouting Award of Excellence – the Rev. Chandler Ragland, Avery’s Creek United Methodist Church.

- The 2020 and 2021 classes of certified church treasurers.



Number of people ordained, commissioned or received into associate membership, and average age:

Commissioned: 14 people, average age 44.

Ordained: 15 people, average age 45.

Number of clergy retired: 59 retired, average age 66.

Membership stands at 257,100, down 3% from the previous year. 

Worship attendance stands at 68,161, down 28%.

Church school attendance stands at 28,297, down 25%.

Christian Formation of all ages stands at 81,025, down 22%.

Professions or reaffirmations of faith for 2020: 1269, down 56% from 2019.

Worshippers engaged in mission for 2020: 55,881, or down 23% from 2019.

Like what you're reading? Support the ministry of UM News! Your support ensures the latest denominational news, dynamic stories and informative articles will continue to connect our global community. Make a tax-deductible donation at ResourceUMC.org/GiveUMCom.

Sign up for our newsletter!


2021 Minnesota Annual Conference

June 22-24, 2021, online and across Minnesota