February 2019 District E-Notes

posted on February 11

February 2019 District E-News

Confessions, Celebrations, Christmas Gifts and Conversations 

1 Confessions    Let me begin this first Smoky Mountain District Newsletter of 2019 by confessing that I did not realize until a few weeks ago that this is the very first District-wide communication you have received since you received a new District Superintendent and a new District Administrator. In a meeting of laity and clergy leaders a few weeks ago, I discovered that our district communications were not getting to the district. If you are interested in all of the factors involved such as the upgrade to the Conference database and the fact that our Smoky Mountain database was somehow not connected or updated, please feel free to ask me. Otherwise, please accept my apologies for not realizing this much sooner. This is another item to add to my “New DS: Things I didn’t know I didn’t know” list. If you discover someone who does not receive this SMD newsletter and would like to be added to our email list, please send Beth bchristopoulos@wnccumc.org their email address.


2 Celebrations   It has been a holy privilege to join with you in ministry and mission, as followers of Jesus Christ, in the Smoky Mountain District. As many of you have heard me say, the day after I learned from Bishop Leeland the possibility of this new ministry journey I started including in my morning ritual this prayer: “Dear God help me to Do No Harm and to not mess up the good things that are already happening among the people called United Methodist in the Smoky Mountain District.” In my first seven months with you, I have seen many good things of God happening in our churches and communities. I have been blessed and encouraged by the strong leadership among our laity and clergy.


3 Christmas Gifts   Before I started as your new District Superintendent, I received a very early Christmas gift when Sherrie Schork decided to delay her retirement as Church Vitality Strategist until the end of 2018. Truthfully, I had no idea at that time, how valuable and instrumental to my new role and ministry this gift, Sherrie, would be to my transition and to the Smoky Mountain District. A few weeks before Christmas, I received another early Christmas gift when Sherrie told me that she had decided to delay her retirement until the end of the conference year, June 30, 2019. Sherrie has a deep love for the churches and communities in our district. I am very grateful that she is continuing in her role of supporting, strengthening and resourcing churches in our district.


4 Conversations   Over the past few months, many of our churches and various groups of clergy and laity have been involved in Healthy Conversations and Listening Sessions about a Way Forward and the Special Session of General Conference scheduled for February 23-26. At our Cabinet meeting last week, Bishop Leeland shared his plans to prepare a video with members from our WNCC delegation to be broadcasted to our Conference on Friday, March 1st, after the Council of Bishops have met to discuss the results of the decisions made at the Special Session. You will receive more details about this in a few weeks. Bishop Leeland has made plans to visit the Districts in March and April. You are invited to attend any of these locations. We are making plans to live stream the March 3rd event to two locations in the Smoky Mountain District. We will communicate those details, as soon as the locations are determined. Bishop Leeland’s schedule:

  • March 3, 2:00 p.m. at First UMC Hendersonville – Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountain Districts

  • March 10, 2:00 p.m. at Assurance UMC in Huntersville – Metro District

  • March 16, 10:00 a.m. at Main Street UMC Kernersville – Northern Piedmont and Yadkin Valley Districts

  • March 31, 3:00 p.m. at St. Luke’s UMC in Hickory – Catawba Valley and Appalachian Districts

  • April 6, 10:00 a.m. at Central UMC in Albemarle – Uwharrie District

May we, connected by the love and grace of Christ, join with Christ in praying for unity (John 17:20-26),


Resident Bishop - Paul L. Leeland 

Linda Kelly - District Superintendent

Sherrie Schork - Church Vitality Strategist

Beth A. Christopoulos - Office Administrator

Smoky Mountain District - Western North Carolina Conference

of the United Methodist Church

125 N. Lakeshore Drive, Lake Junaluska, NC 28745

website:  http://www.smokymountaindistrict.org/


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