September 2021 E-News

posted on September 01

Smoky Mountain District E-News - September 2021

From the Edge*

"Do You Know My Name?"

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 encouragements among the Smoky Mountain District's churches and leaders.  Jae may ask the district lay and clergy leaders to write a short article from our own edges.

“Do you know my name?” It is an easy question. I do hope you know my name, Jae Lee. I am humbled to serve pastors and churches in the Smoky Mountain District. I am grateful for your welcome and look forward to working with you for God’s kingdom missions.

As you know, I’m an Asian-American, more specifically, a Korean-American. A hyphenated title explains my identity as a cross-cultural person. I was born and raised in South Korea and came to this country as an adult. As a transplanted immigrant, I had to learn many things from the very beginning, and my journey has not been easy. At the same time, it has helped me being equipped with an intentional learning attitude. For example, while you learned English as your first language – maybe someone might claim that your first language was Southern - and acquired it with natural ways by listening to your parents or grandparents at home, I had to study it at school. An intentional learning attitude has become a discipline, and I am more than willing to learn about you, your family, church, and local communities.

I have another hyphenated title. Many of you know me as your District Superintendent, but I have another name as District Missional Strategist. As a DS-DMS, I would like to work with you to create, develop, and expand God’s missional works in our district. Your pastor is the pastor-church missional strategist who works at the frontline, and I will serve and assist with district and conference resources.

For our missional priority, we have a great team at Smoky Mountain District. Nicole Jones as District Vitality Associate, will focus on the church’s revitalization and dynamic missions; D’Andre Ash as District Communications Coordinator will help local churches share their stories with surrounding communities; and Kara Miller as District Administrator will support local churches with her administrative skills.

Above all, I have another name, pastor. I will visit your church and share the good news of Jesus Christ. At the same time, I will pray for pastors, your families, your churches, and your lay leaders as you work hard for the kingdom of God.

I plan to meet all our district clergy in person or via zoom in September. Through our meeting, I anticipate knowing your names and renewing our identities as the servants of Christ Jesus, who were called and sent for God’s kingdom in the Smoky Mountain District. Let’s begin to serve by knowing our names!

Blessings and peace, Jae

Haywood County Flooding Report

by Rev. Brandon Lazarus
Pastor, Morning Star UMC (Canton)

The morning of Tuesday, August 17, I woke up to a light rain.  I thought it was odd because although we’ve had a lot of rain this summer, it usually rains in the afternoon and evening.  As the day went on the rain never stopped.  By the early afternoon it had shifted from a light rain to a heavy rain.  By 3:00 p.m., we noticed the roads were beginning to flood.  Then calls began coming in of bridges being washed out.  Our phones went off with alerts “get to high ground, flood levels rising.”  Schools had closed early to get kids home but for some of the bus routes it was too late.  Some buses were stranded.  Fortunately, first responders were able to safely recover all the children.  That evening the rain finally stopped.

The next morning the sun came out and the sky was beautiful as if to say, “sorry about yesterday.”  Clergy from all around Haywood County hopped on a Zoom call to get updates on the damage.  Peter Constantian, the pastor at Long’s and Cruso UMCs was out checking on his members who live in the hardest hit areas of Cruso. The photos he sent were a rude awakening of the destruction that had swept through our small town.  While most avoided loss of life, there were many that were not as fortunate when it came to their homes and belongings.  Entire campgrounds and trailer parks were destroyed.  Homes were picked up off their foundations and carried into corn fields.  We didn’t know what to do.  We didn’t know where to start. We clergy spent the day calling and checking in on members and encouraging everyone to check on their neighbors.  We took inventory of who was affected and what kind of support they needed.  Many were without water and/or power so supply runs were made as needed.  Some folks went to work mucking out their homes immediately.  Others were too afraid to even return home.


In the days since the storm hit, we learned that 5 people died in the storm.  In the beginning, there were over 60 people missing so while we mourn the 5 who were lost, we are thankful that most of those missing were located alive.  We are fortunate in Canton that we have an ecumenical missional network that allowed us to organize and mobilize quickly to get out into our community to help assess needs and get folks connected to the resources they’ve needed. Some of the clergy have also put on their boots, grabbed a shovel or sledgehammer, and helped families muck out and demo their homes.


While the destruction came quickly, the reconstruction will come slowly.  While we’re working to help meet people’s physical needs, we know that the most important work that we have to do right now is offer prayer, a listening ear, and compassion.  I have been humbled to see the ways neighbors have supported neighbors.  One family I visited just yesterday admitted that they’re proud people who aren’t going to ask for help but after this storm they still might not ask for it, but they’ll at least accept it when offered.  I, on the other hand, am not too proud to ask.  While the exact needs will be a moving target, we know that we need funds.  Funds can be donated through the WNCCUMC Disaster Response: Flooding in Western NC page or directly to First United Methodist Church in Waynesville.  These funds will go directly to the needs on the ground.  Volunteer teams will also be needed as the work progresses, but you’ll need to be patient.  We’re a small town full of small churches so too much help at once could lead to creating more of a problem than addressing one.  I ask that you learn from the people of Canton and love your neighbor, however you are able.


The Council of Bishops has announced that Bishop Ken Carter will serve as the resident bishop of Western North Carolina Conference (Charlotte Area), in addition to his role as resident bishop of Florida Conference (Florida Area) beginning on September 1, 2021 upon Bishop Leeland's retirement. We look forward to welcoming Bishop Carter home to Western NC and fruitful ministry together. 

Bishop Carter shared this message at the time of the announcement on May 15:

This weekend it was announced that I will begin to serve as bishop of two annual conferences, Florida and Western North Carolina, as of September 1, 2021.  This was the recommendation of the Southeastern Jurisdiction Committee on Episcopacy, the SEJ College of Bishops, and the Council of Bishops.

I will begin my tenth year in Florida this fall. I have been blessed by you and sense there is important ministry before us:  supporting vital local churches, dismantling racism, clergy health and resilience, and proclaiming the message of the continuing United Methodist Church as our way of sharing the grace of Jesus Christ with the people of our communities and beyond.

I will begin serving the Western North Carolina Conference. This is my home conference, one that supported and confirmed my calling to the work of a bishop. At the same time, I have been away from the conference for nine years, and so I will enter into a time of deep and active listening to and sharing with leaders across the conference in the fall.   

To serve both annual conferences, Florida and Western North Carolina, will require a model of shared leadership, flexibility and residence in both areas. I thank Jennifer Davis, Kim Ingram, Molly McEntire and Alex Shanks, who serve on the SEJ Committee on Episcopacy. I am grateful for the faithful leadership of Bishop Paul Leeland.  I thank you all for your faith in me and for our partnership in the gospel (Philippians 1. 5). I will give myself wholly to this work, and I ask for your prayers; indeed, I depend on them. I am excited about the future and claim the promise:  “God is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3. 20).  


Updated masking recommendation:

Due to the increasing COVID-19 spread verified by the data revealed on the CDC’s Community Transmission Map (see below), the Bishop and Cabinet are strongly recommending the wearing of masks at all indoor ministry activities, including worship.  We also recommend that pastors and church leaders consider offering outdoor worship and alternative ministry activities to protect children and other vulnerable persons. This update strengthens the guidelines issued on July 28, 2021. 

County Transmission Data & Map
Beginning Aug. 6, 2021, NCDHHS will transition to using the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s COVID-19 Community Transmission Map to monitor COVID-19 activity in North Carolina counties. This map is updated daily and uses a combination of total cases per 100,000 population and percent positivity in the last 7 days to measure the level of community transmission in counties. Key metrics from the CDC and North Carolina are showing increasing COVID-19 spread. Getting vaccinated as quickly as possible is critically important to slow the spread of the virus.
CDC guidance recommends that everyone wear a mask in all indoor public spaces if you live in areas of high or substantial levels of transmission as defined by the CDC Community Transmission Map until more people are vaccinated and viral transmission decreases. As of Aug. 4, that is 98 out of 100 counties.
The data in the CDC map should be used by individuals, businesses and community organizations, and public officials as a tool to understand how their county is faring and to make decisions about actions to take to slow the spread of the virus.
There are critical actions we can all take to slow the spread of COVID-19, regardless of the level of community transmission in your county. Individuals, businesses, community organizations, and public officials all have a responsibility to take these recommended actions, in addition to following the requirements in existing Executive Orders and NCDHHS guidance.
Counties in high and substantial areas of COVID transmission according the CDC need to do even more to slow the spread of COVID-19 in their communities; counties should encourage vaccination and follow all CDC and NCDHHS guidance for slowing the spread of COVID-19.

Please also continue to be mindful of the current CDC recommendations for post-exposure protection.

Download a copy of the updated COVID-19 Guidelines for In-Person Worship and Ministry.  Find resources for online and in-person worship and ministry during COVID-19 here.



Disposable Face Masks & Hand Sanitizer Available

The Committee On Relief has received a large quantity of disposable face masks and hand sanitizers through the local non-profit Restore Global. Masks can either be picked up on Tuesdays from 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. at the Mission Response Center or will be mailed out on Wednesdays (Distribution will begin August 31st).




I write to let you know Still Waters Landing (Our Church Farm!) is expanding its production capability and ministry reach.  Last year we held more teachings than any other year, we deepened our relationship with public schools, and now we host The Still Place (a respite home for families with terminally ill children) bi-weekly.  Our aim this year is to increase our donations to Matt's Ministry Food Bank to bi-weekly.  The need is clear.  Over 120 families receive meals from Matt's weekly.  So much of the "fresh" food they receive is beyond its freshness.  We want to alleviate this by providing the hungriest in the community access to the highest quality food.  You can help by adopting a bed of fresh produce for a growing season or one of our pasture raised Berkshire pigs.  This allows us to increase our giving and move toward ministry sustainability.  The attached flyer gives more information.  Should you or your church/group adopt a produce bed or pig, we'll email picture updates and let you and your church know about the difference your help makes.  Thank you for your consideration.  Please call me if you have any questions or concerns and check out our work at

Rev. Bryan Wilson
Senior Pastor Oak Forest and Hickory Stand UMC
828 342 3466

Peachtree UMC (Maggie Valley) 
will be hosting a
9/11 Memorial & Gospel Sing
September 11-12, 2021.

The event will be held outdoors under a large tent.

If you have questions or need more information,
please contact Rev. Jon Snyder
at either or 574-904-4096.

 Job Opening

Shady Grove UMC on Jonathan Creek Road in Waynesville is seeking an organist or pianist for their 11:11 a.m. service on Sunday mornings.  Responsibilities include coordination with the choir director on hymn selection and playing during Sunday morning services.  If interested, please email Pastor Jason Smith at



Due to rising COVID delta variant cases, conference leadership has made a new guideline for conference and district gatherings:


Ministries sponsored by the Conference or Districts will limit all in-person, inside gatherings to a maximum of 25 persons, meeting for no more than 2 hours, until the statewide NAAT positivity infection rate is below 7.5%. Persons at these gatherings must wear masks and socially distance themselves as much as possible. 

This guideline does not apply to local churches. It only applies to conference and district ministries, meetings, and gatherings. Because the Antiracism Ethics Training is affected directly by this new guideline, we will shift from in-person to virtual workshops for this fall.

The objectives and the content of the virtual workshop will be the same as the in-person model. However, the structure, delivery, and length of the virtual workshop are tailored to meet the needs of a variety of learners while utilizing the opportunities and diminishing the restrictions associated with an online learning environment.

The Virtual RISE! Workshop is an eLearning course which includes self-paced lessons, online small group discussions, and scheduled Zoom meetings spanning approximately 12 days with the following format:

Day 1     Orientation Session via Zoom (evening)
Days 2-5     Four Self-Paced Lessons via eLearning Platform
Day 6     Two 3-hour Zoom Sessions (morning and afternoon)
Days 7-11      Two Self-Paced Lessons via eLearning Platform
Day 12     Two 3-hour Zoom Sessions (morning and afternoon)


We are offering six more options for Virtual RISE! Workshops through the end of this year. Below you will see a complete listing of the workshops and their corresponding dates. The Virtual RISE! Workshops are NOT district-specific so you can choose any virtual workshop with dates that will work for you.


Fall 2021 Virtual Training Options







 Register For a Fall 2021 Virtual Training Here

If you previously registered for one of the cancelled in-person trainings, you will need to complete a new registration in order to participate in a virtual training or a future in-person training.  You can use the payment code sent to the email you provided in your previous registration to register for another training at no additional cost.


The cost for participants is $100 per person.  Please read the Q&A below for more information on the cost and refunds.

Antiracism Ethics Training Q & A

Who is required to participate in the training?  ALL clergy under appointment in WNC and all certified lay ministers/lay supply pastors under assignment in the WNCC are required to attend a two-day session by June 2024. WNC clergy under appointment in other annual conferences (whether to a church or extension ministry/appointment beyond the local church) are encouraged to try to come to WNC for a training event.  You will be required to do quadrennial ethics training.  If you cannot get to WNC for this training, you will need to find a similar training event and send it to Rev. Kim Ingram for approval PRIOR to registering or participating.

Why should a lay person and clergy attend the training together?  This workshop is designed for clergy and laity together. It is essential for each pastor to identify a key lay person to attend it together with him/her as a partner in advancing the work of antiracism. Find a lay person who is supportive of antiracism efforts and who has influence in the congregation/organization. 

Can clergy and laity participate in separate training sessions because of scheduling conflicts for the laity, etc.?  Yes, even though it is ideal that they attend the same session together.

Who will conduct the training?  The training will be facilitated by RISE! (Race: an In-Depth Spiritual Examination) trainers.  Learn more about RISE! here.

Why do I have to pay for the training?  Payment by credit card is required at the time of registration.  To adequately address the topic of antiracism, this training is more extensive than the trainings of previous quadrennia. If the church where the clergy serves has continuing education funds budgeted, this could be a good use for those funds. We understand that cost can be a barrier for some to participate. Thanks to the generous grant from The Duke Endowment and the support from the Board of Ordained Ministry, Justice and Reconciliation Team, and WNCC Districts, the fee has been reduced considerably. 

If an emergency arises and I’m unable to attend, are the fees refundable?  Contact your district office if you are unable to attend. Your fees will be refunded and you will need to register for future session. You may still be charged an additional $15/day for your meals and snacks at that session.

If an emergency arises and I’m unable to attend a Zoom session, what do I do?  Contact your district office if you are unable to attend.

Will there be a certificate of completion?  A certificate will be given to each participant at the end of the training and your participation will be recorded with the conference and district.

Will there be any follow-up training or resources?  A Virtual Reflection and Prayer Meeting (VRPM) and a Priority Planning Session (PPS) will be offered after each District's training workshop to help the congregations/organizations that the clergy and laity serve to engage in further antiracism work. Look for specific information for your District's offerings in the attached document "WNCC Antiracism Ethics Training Process" in the registration confirmation email. Also, RISE! Team will offer opportunities to register and engage in Online Discussion Groups."

Spiritual Renewal Grant for Clergy and Lay Ministry Professionals

This season of ministry has been hard on leaders and many are exhausted, discouraged, and in need of time away.  The WNCC Leadership Development Team wants to help nurture the spiritual growth of clergy and ministry professionals, as they nurture the spiritual walks of others. This could be through a renewal retreat or by engaging with a Spiritual Director.  Ministry leaders (clergy and lay professionals) who sign up for a Spiritual Renewal offering, and pay a personal investment of $50 toward the experience, are eligible for up to $500 to cover the cost of registration, fees, and lodging/travel expenses.  Funds are available because of the generosity of churches who pay their apportionments.
Spiritual Renewal Grant for Clergy and Lay Ministry Professionals, Fall 2021 (


Fall Offerings from the
Office of Ministerial Services

Available now: Offerings to help develop your capacity to lead and to add tools to your toolkit.  Please review them carefully to see if they meet your current needs.  Several include laity.  Please send information directly to laity who might be interested and offer to all laity through a newsletter or other communication.   The costs are reduced thanks to the generosity of local church giving.  Click on the links to learn more.

Developing and Implementing an Outward Mindset

In a nutshell: Diminishing conflict by helping us see one another as creations of God and not objects.
For: Laity or clergy (individual participation)
When: 5 offerings this fall throughout the conference
More? "Developing and Implementing an Outward Mindset"


 Post-Pandemic Game Changers Cohorts

In a nutshell: Becoming a vital, relevant and fruitful church following the pandemic.  Follows 8 characteristics outlined in Kay Kotan’s book.
For: Church Teams (preferred) and clergy can participate alone
When: one evening a month for 8 months plus monthly coaching
More? Post-Pandemic Game Changers Cohorts



In a nutshell: Have a problem to solve or a question to answer?  Want to create something new? This experience creates space for innovation, creativity, and collaboration.
For: Laity and/or Clergy, preferably in teams of 3 or 4
When: an evening in September, an evening in October, 2 days in November
More? M-LAB Western NC


Racial Healing and Reconciliation Learning Cohorts

In a nutshell: Leaders who want to encourage racial healing in their context
For: Church teams of laity and clergy
When: one evening a month for 9 months and work in between meetings.
More? Racial Healing and Reconciliation Learning Cohort

Coming Soon: Preaching Cohort led by Rev. Dr. Mary Brown, pastor Sylva UMC, in-person for leaders in the western half of the conference.  Spiritual Renewal Grants up to $500 for clergy and ministry professionals FLOURISH to consider your last 8 years of ministry and consider your next 8. 


Graphical user interface

Description automatically generated with medium confidenceRELaunch Playbook Webinar Recording

In a nutshell: A recording of the webinar with Kay Kotan in order to help churches get back into the swing of ministry following the pandemic. 
For: Church ReLaunch teams or leadership teams or church staffs
More? The Ultimate ReLaunch Playbook Webinar Recordng

Kara Miller

125 N. Lakeshore Drive
PO Box 1269

Lake Junaluska, 28745

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