Smoky Mountain District Newsletter June 2023

posted on June 29

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.



I know you’re tired of discussing this topic as we, United Methodists, have struggled with human sexuality for many years. Helping the disaffiliation process in the Smoky Mountain District, I have learned that many Christians seek God's Will in difficult biblical texts on homosexuality. That is why I am inviting you to a six-week study series. This reflective Bible study on homosexuality encourages us to take a courageous step toward others, meeting each other in the middle. As we go deeper into the Word of God, we will also experience God in a more peaceful and hopeful space.
Everyone is egocentric and ethnocentric due to our spatial, chronological, and cultural boundaries. We are limited in knowledge and experience, and there are so many things we need to learn. This Bible study may not provide “the answer,” but seek the Will of God by meeting others in the middle. As a cross-cultural person, I realized our boundaries between different people are not a clear-cut line. Instead, they are shared space with one another.
Bishop Ken Carter says that “The Bible does not lead us to have positions. It gives us a warm heart with the love of God and a love for others.” By reading the Word of God, we seek the heart of God, who cares for us and wants us to be faithful and loving people. Through the study, I invite you to meet others in the middle, grow your understanding of God’s Will, and cultivate a spiritual garden in your heart for God and others. 
As I expect you to experience a transforming event through this study, I pray you may discover who you are as a beloved child of God and a church community. I have selected four Scripture readings from the Bible about homosexuality and read them through the lens of tradition, reason, and experience.
To hear the voices of the triune God in the sessions, I will use “Praxis Bible Study,” which consists of reading, meditating, praying, and contemplating. Please let me know if your church community wants to be part of this reflective Bible study. This is my invitation: Take a first step toward the edge with your curiosity and boldness and keep a learner’s attitude to embrace new insights and perspectives in Christ Jesus. Transforming is not our job, but God’s work, and I look forward to witnessing what God is doing among us.
Summer is a season for growth. If your church is interested in joining this six-week learning session and growing our warm hearts for God and others, please contact our district office. It will be a beautiful season of reading, meditating, praying, and contemplating the Word of God so that we may come closer to God and others, live out the Word daily, and become a more Christlike body together.
Peace and blessings, Jae

Email our district office at

Bishop Will Willimon
(retired-Alabama/West Florida) 
will be preaching at Highlands UMC
this Sunday, June 25th.  
Service times are 9:09am and 11am

There will be a Q & A session with Bishop Willimon
from 10:00am - 10:30am.

All are welcome!!


Disaffiliation Update: 
To be considered for participation in the 
November 4, 2023 Special Session for disaffiliation
please submit your letter of intent by July 1, 2023
Documents required prior to disaffiliation vote, outlined
in the attached disaffiliation checklist, must be submitted
by August 15, 2023. Following these requirements,
the church conference for the disaffiliation vote
must be held by September 15, 2023.
 Please call the district office for more info. 

District Lighthouse Congregations

Lighthouse Congregations are local churches in the WNCC that are particularly equipped to welcome anyone whose church has closed or disaffiliated. If you find yourself in these circumstances, a Lighthouse Congregation may be just what you need to fulfill your desire to Remain-UMC. Consider these United Methodist faith communities a resting place, with people who will care for you while providing a haven of peace and grace.  

Lighthouse Congregations will:
1) Provide a welcoming place to belong during this time of grief and transition, which might be for just a season, or for a lifetime. This includes a safe space with caring relationships, listening hearts, and unconditional love within a congregation that is confident it is remaining in the UMC.  

2) Offer ministry opportunities in which to engage – or not. There will be no pressure.

Worship: Providing worship opportunities, whether online or in person. These services will intentionally engage and welcome new people into their midst. They will also include the sacraments of communion and baptism.  
Discipleship: Creating space to learn and grow through small group gatherings, Bible studies, and prayer opportunities.  
Mission: Inviting fellow United Methodists into opportunities to serve through hands-on ministries. These might include anything that involves making a difference and sharing the love of God with others.

3) Organize local Remaining UMC groups by proactively finding and connecting with individuals and groups displaced by disaffiliating churches.

4) Connect individuals or groups with Conference and District resources to help them discern their next steps as they consider a new church home.  

Whether you are an individual or a group of people who have become displaced or churchless because of closing or disaffiliation, Lighthouse Congregations will be there for you during this difficult time. As you consider what is next, specific pathways from which you may choose will continue to emerge as the Conference, Districts, and local churches come together to be The Connection at its best.

Lighthouse Congregations are part of the UM Collective Movement, which seeks to be a connecting space for those who find themselves displaced because of disaffiliation. Its mission is to provide care, a place to belong, and tangible pathways to explore the next steps for those on this challenging journey. The UM Collective is an online community that will connect you with real people for anyone who might be wondering about different ways to remain United Methodist. For more information, visit

Please join us for a film premiere this Sunday!
Free dinner included!

Please register by tomorrow!!
(just for meal prep purposes)


After years of judgment and rejection one family wondered if they’d ever find a place to belong. An invitation to a church bonfire changed everything.

Join Cindy Bradley and Cindy Payne as they share their story of finding connection in a time of isolation and the surprising ways God creates new life and ministry through invitation.  

First UMC - Waynesville
566 South Haywood Street
Waynesville, NC 28786

Sunday • June 25th • 6:00pm

Please register HERE
so we can get a count for the meal! 


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! ?

Photos from Conference


Crabtree UMC
is seeking a Music Director!

The Music Director will be responsible for developing and presenting a quality music program that will enhance and complement the worship services. The music director will involve as many youth in all aspects of the music program as possible.
Worship service is at 11:00am on Sunday. The choir meets one evening a week to practice. Crabtree UMC primarily uses the United Methodist Hymnal and also occasionally uses the Celebration Hymnal.  Our Choir currently has 8-9 members.
Salary based on experience.
For more information, contact Julie Sawyer, PPRC Chair
Resumes can be mailed to:
 Crabtree UMC
Attention Julie Sawyer
5405 Crabtree Rd.
Clyde NC  28721

Or emailed to:

Rockwood UMC
is seeking a choir director!

Please email Pastor Eric Hill at
for more information 

Shady Grove UMC
is seeking a part-time Accompanist!

Open to temporary or occasional commitments as well!!!
Doesn't have to be every Sunday! 

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.

Wesleyanna UMC
is seeking a pianist!

Wesleyanna UMC is looking for someone to play a prelude, offertory, and postlude, and accompany three lectionary-based hymns every Sunday. $75/Sunday. The sanctuary piano is available during the week for rehearsal. Start immediately!

Please contact Jean Carr at 828-243-7998 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

Smoky Mountain District Newsletter June 2023