Smoky Mountain District Newsletter May 2023

posted on May 15

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.

District Lighthouse Congregation May 2023 Update

As you know, this past Saturday, close to 200 churches disaffiliated from our Conference. Most of us have struggled with the decision in our own churches. It has been a hard process and the need for people to find a safe space and healing presence is a critical need. That is the reason that the Lighthouse Congregation concept was born.

The basic concept is Lighthouse Congregations welcome hurting people and give them a holy space to heal. The underlying message that Lighthouse Congregations communicate and live out is “We love you. We care about you. We’re here for you.” It is a message we believe will be relevant not only for today but for other crises that will come (and we all know, they will come).

This movement is centered on those displaced United Methodists and their spiritual health and well-being - not a competition between our existing churches. We are seeking to faithfully find ways to do no harm. It is important to understand that choosing to be a Lighthouse Congregation is for the benefit of our remnant brothers and sisters, and others in our community that have been harmed by their churches - NOT for the benefit of our existing churches.

According to Rob Hutchinson, Director of Church Development, “There are many WNCC UMCs that have chosen not to be Lighthouse Congregations - but wholeheartedly have embraced practicing the unique hospitality that is required to be one - that is providing a safe place, loving care, and an empathetic understanding for those persons who have experienced their home church choosing to disaffiliate. These churches are full of kind, loving, and caring people.”

But we do hope that your church will consider being a designated Lighthouse Congregation. The process of becoming a Lighthouse Congregation is simple. Some of the churches in the Smoky Mountain District have already done it. To learn more visit: Lighthouse Congregations (

If you have any questions about becoming a Lighthouse Congregation, please contact me at 828-736-5295 or

Thank you for being a blessing to God’s people!
Wayner Dickert


Franklin FUMC has extra copies of several books that have been very well received in recent studies. If you are interested in purchasing any of these at a bargain cost of $5 each for either individual or group use, please contact Kimba at

  • Jeremiah and Lamentations - Basic Bible Commentary - we have 17 copies
  • Open Road: The Adventure of a Breakthrough Prayer Initiative (Sue Nelson Kibbey) -   10 copies
  • Leadership 2:0 (Bradberry and Greaves)  - 13 copies
  • The Difficult Words of Jesus (Amy-Jill Levine) - 4 copies
  • Everyday Contemplative:The Way of Prayerful Living (l. Roger Owen) - 2 copies
  • You Are Never Alone (Max Lucado) - 2 copies
  • Everybody Always (Bob Goff) - 5 copies




Because of the more aggressive and confrontational tactics we hear about today in other denominations, evangelism has developed a bad connotation. Doors are shut hurriedly, phone calls end abruptly, and emails are left unanswered. After all, isn't this a task better handled by the pastor?

Perhaps it's time to re-examine John Wesley's model of evangelism as a whole, natural circle - where it's a communal beginning point rather than a solitary end. The central motive of authentic evangelism is: Having received a message that's made all the difference in our lives, we desire to share that message with others in the hope it will transform their lives as well. Wesley models an evangelism that reaches out, welcomes, invites, nurtures, and speaks to both head and heart. "Faith-sharing is about creating relationships. How we are in relationship to God, who can transform us into new beings. How we are in relationship to our neighbor, whom we must love like ourselves."

This day-long event will help develop the deep connection between John Wesley's thoughts, Charles Wesley's hymns, scholarly thinking about evangelism and biblical understandings of the gospel - all in relation to the needs, concerns, and hopes of everyday people." From this practical study, we will learn to live a faith-sharing life that demonstrates the transforming power of loving God and neighbor.

Lunch is included.
Free shirts will be given to the first thirty individuals who sign up early.

Participants who wish to receive credit for this event for laity certification are asked to purchase the book from the district office and read it in advance. In addition, those individuals will be required to do a poster presentation later in the afternoon about ministries in their own church that create relational opportunities with their church and/or community. 

Click Here to Register for this FREE Event! ?


Introducing the Good Neighbor Experiment
Faith in Rural Communities is partnering with The Neighboring Movement based in Wichita, KS, to bring the Good Neighbor Experiment to churches in North Carolina.
The Good Neighbor Experiment is a four-month learning cohort that takes Jesus' call to love your neighbors literally and seriously. How well do you know the people who live in the immediate area around your home? How would your life be different if you knew those people better and could support one another? How could those individual, personal relationships transform your church? Help your congregation move from inauthenticity to joy, from draining program management to relationships, and from scarcity to abundance using the tools of asset-based community development.
The program includes:
  • Four weeks of worship service resources (scripture and hymn recommendations, sermon outlines, children's moment illustrations, and more)
  • Fifteen weeks of small group study with practical applications to help the members of your church get to know their neighbors better
  • Monthly coaching with a trained coach while in the program, with access to additional support once you complete the program
  • Invitation to six virtual events with other churches from across the country also participating in the cohort
Interested? The next cohort is launching July 16! The full cost for the program is $1,000, but scholarships of up to $500 are available. Faith in Rural Communities does not want cost to be a barrier that keeps the members of your congregation from these transformational tools.
Questions? Contact Andrew Hudgins, Faith in Rural Communities program associate, at
Click Here to Apply

The Council is excited to introduce you to one of our newest staff members, Carrilea Hall. Carrilea joined us as West Regional Associate Director for Partners in Health and Wholeness. Read more about Carrilea:

I’m Carrilea Hall, and I am excited to join the North Carolina Council of Churches and the Partners in Health and Wholeness team as the West Regional Associate Director. Social justice has always been a central component of my faith and calling and is what inspires me about the work of the Council.  

Educationally, I struggled to decide between the faith and health sectors. I was enrolled in Physician’s Assistant school when I changed course and decided to go to seminary. In seminary, I began to lean into how these two disciplines–faith and health–could intersect, and in fact, should intersect. This dual interest of faith and health led me to spend a summer in Kenya with a small group of graduate students from Emory studying Religion’s Role in Public Health and Development. Since then, I have continued to lean into and learn from the interconnectedness of the sacred and the secular in a world that often prefers things to be black/white, either/or. This is why I am thrilled to join the Partners in Health and Wholeness team!

I am ordained in the United Methodist Church and served 5 years in a local church setting in Statesville. My background also includes camp ministry, Children’s Hospital Chaplaincy, prison ministry, international missions, and work with persons who are differently abled. For the past couple of years, I have been in the full-time role of parenting both our biological children and foster children. The experience of being a therapeutic foster parent has opened my eyes to things I can never “unsee” and deepened my commitment to social justice, health, and the sacred work of healing and wholeness.

Having spent most of my life in western North Carolina, I am honored to join in the work of PHW to bridge faith, health, and social justice in the western part of the state. Don’t hesitate to reach out, I look forward to connecting with you!

Shady Grove UMC
is seeking a part-time Accompanist!

Shady Grove UMC is looking for someone to accompany hymn singing
and provide music during our 11AM traditional service. This is a Sunday
morning only position. The congregation sings primarily from the United
Methodist Hymnal, but also enjoys songs from The Faith We Sing. 

Someone who can play both the piano and organ is preferable, but not required.
The position pays $100 a week. For an additional $20 a week, the position
can also include setting up for our weekly online video. (This is not a
required component. Training will be provided.)

Shady Grove is a small congregation located in the beautiful Jonathan Valley area. The church has committed to remain United Methodist and
is a Light House Congregation. 

Please contact Rev. Sharon Davis at, 828-508-2257.

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

Smoky Mountain District Newsletter May 2023