Smoky Mountain District Newsletter March 2023

posted on March 22

As a spiritual leader on the margin, Rev. Jae Lee has led people from the edge.
From the Edge* will become a voice for diverse perspectives and encouragement among the Smoky Mountain District's churches and leaders. In addition, Jae may ask the district lay and clergy leaders to write a short article from our edges.

 Welcome New Perspectives! 

Twenty-five years ago, I came to the U.S. as an international student. At that time, I was a college instructor teaching English literature in South Korea and needed to improve my spoken English to become a better teacher. When I arrived in Brevard, the western North Carolina mountains looked like obstacles I had to overcome because I had to adjust to a foreign land. I had to learn everything from the basics and felt like an outsider.

I have been in cross-racial and cross-cultural appointments in the United Methodist Church for twenty-one years. Early on, I lacked pastoral confidence and pushed myself to the edge while serving predominantly white congregations. Even though I was born at a Methodist parsonage in South Korea and lived my faith in the Wesleyan tradition, serving in a U.S. church setting was an intimidating challenge.

Then I chose to change perspective. I intentionally placed myself at the edge, claiming it as a hopeful space for my spiritual growth and a place of inspiration for a Christ-called leader. Rethinking my boundaries began a transformation in my ministry.

Boundaries are the edges of the center of our lives. Where our boundaries touch becomes a sharing space where you and I can meet. Boundaries distinguish our territories from others; simultaneously, they become spaces of shared experience and values among us. In these hopeful spaces, we can share our lives, deepen our common understanding, and create new possibilities for solidarity.

I invite you to rethink your boundaries as a Christian leader. We inherited an understanding that conventional leadership comes from the center. The center is often considered an efficient location because leaders can easily see, communicate, and lead all others from the center. For years, the church served as the activity center of our local communities. Many "first" or "central" churches are located in the center of our towns and cities, indicating the significance and influence of the church in the American context.

We now share an awareness that conventional church leadership no longer works that way. Perhaps, if we get honest with ourselves, it could have worked better, to begin with. If we stay in the center, not only are we in a privileged space, we will be surrounded by privileged people who have a voice, look like us, and are long-time churchgoers. At the center, we miss opportunities to meet strangers, the lost and the forgotten to fulfill our call to ministry.

How can we move to the edge? Where do we locate ourselves? It begins with welcoming new perspectives. For example, embrace your edge or boundary as a creative leadership location. Then, outside your church office or committee meetings, hang around on the boundaries, such as coffee shops, local brewers, homeless shelters, food pantries, community centers, local jails, or nursing homes.

As you welcome new perspectives, you will have the courage to leave your church office behind and meet people in the context of their everyday lives. With that bold first step, you enter a shared space between others and you. In conversations with others on boundaries, you may find your true self and genuinely experience Jesus Christ, who still wanders and seeks out ordinary people on edge.

Dear friends, I expect you to yearn for the church that reflects Jesus' radical ministry. That kind of Christian leadership comes from the edge. I invite you to rediscover your boundaries. Be fluid in your leadership locations. Don't abandon the center but seek new opportunities, leading from the periphery.

If you have remained in the center with your leadership approach, I encourage you to be bold and take the first step into a creative distance from your familiar places. Just as travel gives us new insights, we must leave our usual leadership position and social location and see our ministries, relationships, and working dynamics from different angles.

Creative distancing is an intentional journey toward the edge. It is a spiritual discipline for us to seek out the marginalized, voiceless, and forgotten. Creative distancing is more than an effective leadership strategy. Through creative distancing, we may become transformational leaders who earnestly meet strangers, build relationships with not-haves, and deepen our relationships with Jesus Christ on edge.

Locating ourselves on the edge or boundary, we encounter many people not in the church on Sundays. Organic faith-sharing will occur as we develop relationships with people on edge. Following Jesus on edge, we can build contextual relationships, share our stories with new audiences, and truly listen to others for mutual learning and growth. "Organic" or "grassroots" evangelism will birth on boundaries. A new movement of faith begins at the edge.

Friends, meet me at the boundary. Dance with me on edge. Dancing is an active expression of our spirit and body. Dancing on edge is the imaginative leadership that liberates us to serve and love freely out of our boxes. While dancing on edge, we may experience injury, pain, and hurt. However, it is not a failure but a growing process because we will learn and mature through the pain. 

You may remember the "butterfly effect," which means a seemingly minor occurrence may cause a much more significant impact. If two or more of us dance on edge, it will gradually grow and impact the whole community. That is why we must dance together with our intentional efforts to live our faith with our words and actions on boundaries. We will experience God's kingdom in our local communities by dancing together on edge.

Will you join me?
Blessings and peace, Jae

Our Bishop, Ken Carter, will spend two days in the Smoky Mountain District, listening to diverse voices from various leaders in our district.

Here are two options to join in the conversation with our Bishop.
Please make plans to attend! 

 April 2, Sunday

• 11:00am – 2:00pm: Bishop preaching and having lunch with Native
   American UM members at Cherokee UMC
• 4:00pm – 5:30pm: Bishop will meet with lay and clergy at First UMC, Franklin
• 6:15pm – 7:15pm: Bishop will meet with the Wesley Foundation at WCU at       
  Cullowhee UMC

April 3, Monday

• 8:00am – 10:00am: Bishop will have breakfast and conversation with leaders
  of non-profit organizations at Lake Junaluska
• 11:00am – 2:00pm: Bishop will meet with lay and clergy at Central UMC, Canton -     the members of Central will provide a light lunch, Fellowship Hall parking is located
   behind the church

Join us for the next session of Re-Evangelism
and get in on this great adventure! 

Grassroot Evangelism in Our Local Context

"Understanding and Practicing
Grassroot Evangelism"

Spring Session  - April 30 - May 2, 2023
(Starting with Sunday Evening Dinner through Tuesday Lunch)

Hinton Rural Life Center in Hayesville

Re-Evangelism pursues to become a collaborative movement of lay and clergy by renewing our hearts for our neighbors with the Good News. It is not only a movement that should encourage church growth but a spiritual renewal among United Methodists. By revisiting Early American Methodists in our mountain communities and confronting our realities with courage and faith, we will restore our passion and love toward God and others.

Timeline for Re-Evangelism:
Second Evangelism Session April 30 - May 2, 2023
Evangelism Pilgrimage to South Korea in the early fall of 2023,
Third Evangelism Session in the winter of 2023.



The cost includes two nights stay and six meals at Hinton! 

$30 for Smoky Mountain District Clergy and Laity
and $80 for anyone in the WNC Conference!

If you need assistance with the cost,
please contact Angela at

This discounted cost is possible through a generous grant from 

Please register by April 14th! 

Click HERE to Register for the Spring Session Today! ?

Smoky Mt’s Lay Servant Ministries will offer a polity course on
April 15th and 29th at Sylva First UMC from 9:00am-3:00pm.

The cost for this course will include the book and a complimentary light lunch for both Saturdays. The price for both days is a total of $35.00. 

Register for Living Our Beliefs HERE! ?

This course will explore the history, heritage, beliefs, mission, and culture of the United Methodist Church – whether you are a newcomer or a longtime member – you will understand what makes us distinctive as United Methodist Christians. Finally, we’ll explore the unique gifts of theology and Wesleyan traditions.
From District Lay Leader, Dr. Pati Graham: On another note, I would like to
dispel any myths associated with these classes. To become a certified lay
servant, you only need the foundation and one advanced course. This polity course is one of the advanced courses being offered this year. Under no circumstance
does it mean the district will call you to preach behind the pulpit or require you
to go to another church. However, if you are a local church lay leader, you are strongly encouraged to become certified as a lay servant or speaker. In the
book of discipline, under paragraph 251f states, “The lay leader is urged to
become a certified lay speaker.” 
Because you represent the voice of the
laity within your church, you must at least know the basics to be equipped
to comply with the responsibilities needed to fulfill this position. 


On March 25 at 10 a.m the United Methodist Men of Maple Grove UMC are hosting a breakfast for all: women and men, girls and boys, featuring a devotional, prayer and a sharing by Patsy Davis. 
Patsy is the CEO of what is the most high-impact social services ministry in Haywood County.  She has an intriguing and fascinating personal story in that she was raised underprivileged and is a wonderful example of how different social service programs and ministries can make a real difference in people's lives. 
The breakfast with feature scrambled eggs, biscuits, gravy, sausage, bacon and
hot apple sauce.  The cost:  a donation thrown into the hat!  This is best breakfast deal in Waynesville and will assuredly draw attendees closer to Christ. 
Come one and're expected and will be warmly welcomed!
(79 Maple Grove Church Rd. Waynesville)  

Make Plans to Attend This Great Event
at Bryson City UMC on April 6th! 

“Breaking Bread”
 A Historical Reenactment of the Last Supper

Bryson City United Methodist Church is excited to present a historical reenactment of the Lord's Last Supper. As most Christians are aware, Jesus had ridden into Jerusalem on a donkey to celebrate a festival with his disciples called the "The Feast of Unleavened Bread." However, before the evening finished, Jesus was betrayed by one of his followers.

Early in the service, the audience will be aware that this will not be the typical rendition of this meal. DaVinci's interpretation of the biblical meal has been presented in the past. The setting of this reenactment is designed to portray the Last Supper as it would have been experienced in the days of Jesus’ own ministry.

A cast of actors from four different ecumenical backgrounds have been preparing for two months for this event. Costumes, relics, foods, and even the dining room table's preconceived design were considered when developing the set design. The simplicity of the set reinforces the theology of Christ as being a humble place to gather for a meal.

One unique component to this extraordinary drama is the opportunity for the audience to literally become part of the last meal. The Last Supper service will allow the audience to share in the meal, recite a prayer with Christ, hear traditional and contemporary Jewish songs sung in Hebrew, and lastly be part of a foot-washing with the disciples, if viewers choose to do so.

This service promises to be filled with spiritual blessings and experiential opportunities for all who take advantage of this beautiful service.

Everyone is invited to attend and be part of the Lord’s Supper. This service will be held on Thursday, April 6 at 6:00 pm at the United Methodist Church in the Fellowship Hall located at 76 Academy Street. There is no cost to attend.

For more information, you can contact the church office from 10am-Noon Tuesday-Friday at (828) 488-2680.

Andrews UMC Sonrise service will be at the top of Schoolhouse Hill over looking the town of Andrews. It will begin at 7:15 AM (sunrise is at 7:11 AM in Andrews). Bring a lawn chair, dress for the weather, and bring your favorite hot beverage. In case of rain, the service will be in the sanctuary.
Following, there will be a continental breakfast in the Family Life Center (Gym).
A traditional Easter service will be in the sanctuary at 11 AM.
All are welcome.

Come hear Joy on Monday, April 10 at 1 p.m. in the
fellowship hall of Maple Grove UMC

The greatest event of next month is Easter but another important event in the life of our district is the visit of a professionally trained, UMC funded, full-time United Methodist Methodist Missionary:  Deaconess Joy Prim.  Maple Grove is blessed in that Joy is one of our conference's own.  (   Joy's call to be a servant of the church came from her Yadkinville, NC UMC roots. After professional training and vows to serve Christ only, she serves now in Hong Kong at St. John's Cathedral, engaging in  pragmatic, hands on ministry to migrant workers.  Many of you know that migrant workers in that area are frequently exploited by human trafficking  and\or become near slaves.  Come hear Joy on April 10 at 1 p.m. in the fellowship hall of Maple Grove UMC (79 Maple Grove Church Road, on Russ Ave. .14 mile from Junaluska).  Listen as  she shares her story of a how woman from Yadkinville, NC wound up being the hands and feet of Christ in Hong Kong, to the "least and lost" in the world.  We are thankful to the Women United in Faith at Maple Grove for sponsoring this event with refreshments and remember,  the event is for all, men and women, young and old.  This kind of event can be so inspiring that some may wish to make arrangements for school age children in their life to be given an official, excused absence from classes to attend with you.  We hope to have a strong Maple Grove turn out as we also are seeking that involvement from our district and the district's Women United in Faith.


IFD316 – Spiritual Warfare: The Battle Is Real

The spiritual battle that surrounds us is real. The Bible explains that evil spirits/fallen angels exist and are determined to turn us away from God, corrupt our lives, and intervene persistently to disrupt our faith.  

Are you armed? What tools do you have to stand against Satan, the liar and deceiver? Learners will examine and claim these tools that are part of the full armor of God, found in Ephesians 6:11. The author of our required reading says “Being clothed in God’s armor keeps the battle where it belongs…in the hands of our powerful God.”  
Be prepared to stand against demons of darkness, the corruption of His most Holy, and the forces that are lurking to trap you. You can stand against the devil’s schemes. 

Learners will need to obtain this book:  Spiritual Warfare and the Armor of God The Battle is Real… The Victory is Sure by Luanne Botta

Donna LiPuma, one of Smoky Mountain's Certified Lay Ministers, is teaching this course on Be a! 

For More Information and to Register Click HERE ?


Love's Chapel United Methodist Church
is looking for a pianist! 

Paid Pianist for 11am Sunday Morning Services
Contact Martha Humes at 828-506-9989 or
for more information!

Franklin First United Methodist Church
is seeking to hire someone for their Children's Ministry!

Franklin First United Methodist Church is seeking the right person(s) to take their ministry with children and families to new levels. The position is currently a 30 hour a week position. As we are looking for the best, either one position or two positions of roughly 10-15 hours with one focusing on ministry within the church and another focusing on ministry in the community will be considered. FUMC is a vibrant downtown church with an emphasis on ministry both within and beyond the walls of the church. The church is proud to be inter-generational, with a history of strong ministry to children and their families. Making a commitment to helping address the needs of children out in the community, the church is ready to go that next step in a larger way. With both a strong staff and strong leadership from church members, we are excited about the possibilities ahead!

For more information, see the attached job description. Applications
will be accepted until the position is filled.
Please send a letter of interest along with a resume to Rev. Margaret Freeman, Minister of Discipleship,  

Andrews United Methodist Church
is seeking to hire a piano accompanist for its Choir Position! 

Requires excellent piano skills and ability to follow director.
Must be available Wednesday evenings for one hour rehearsal and
two Sundays a month for anthems during worship. Additional rehearsals
may be required on occasion. Organ playing ability a plus! 
Salary: $300/month

Send resumes to

Submit artwork to

Smoky Mountain District Newsletter March 2023