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2014 Western North Carolina Annual Conference

June 19-22, 2014 at Lake Junaluska, North Carolina

The Western North Carolina Conference met June 19-22 at Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center in Lake Junaluska, North Carolina.

Bishop Larry Goodpaster, resident bishop of the Charlotte Area presided over his sixth session of the Western North Carolina Annual Conference. This year’s theme was “Celebrating Generosity.”

Guest speakers for the event included:

  • Bishop Jonathan Holston of the South Carolina Conference, who preached at the Thursday evening service and the Ordination Service on Saturday evening.
  • The Rev. J. Cam West, president of Huntingdon College, Montgomery, Alabama, who preached at the opening service and led a Bible Study on Friday afternoon.
  • The Rev. Jan Davis, pastor of First United Methodist Church, Rowlett, Texas, who led Thursday afternoon’s Bible Study and preached at the Commissioning Service on Friday morning.

During opening worship, West challenged the conference with his sermon titled: “We May Be a Little Crazy, But Here We Are…Again.”  

“We may seem crazy — out of our minds, if you will  — to look around this auditorium today and realize, ‘Here is our hope; here is what, and who, make living worthwhile; here is what, and who, in the dark hours make life endurable.’  As impossible as it may seem that such a mixture of people as us can forge a life of mercy and forgiveness, of abundance and generosity, of peace that passes all understanding, nevertheless here we are because Jesus has summoned us here.  And we came.  Packed into Stuart Auditorium... again.  To forge this life together we call Church... again.”

At the evening service on Thursday, Bishop Holston preached a stirring sermon on Matthew 4:12-23, titled: “An Offer You Can’t Refuse.” Jesus came to bring light and call followers and even chose fisherman with an offer they could not refuse.

“I believe Jesus is making an offer to the Western North Carolina Conference tonight, that you cannot refuse… . He’s reminding us first of all, that people want to be a part of something greater than themselves, all of us in this room want to be part of something greater… . We want something greater than ourselves because we have a God who gives to us greater, abundantly, giving to us generously, we ask and we receive.”

At the Commissioning Service on Friday morning, the Rev. Jan Davis shared from the theme that permeated the conference, her sermon “More Than Enough.”

“In The United Methodist Church, in our denomination, we encounter times of scarcity, times it is wonderful to be a United Methodist, and times it can be downright frustrating to be a United Methodist. Times of abundance and times of scarcity… . It’s those moments when we give ourselves fully and completely, pour ourselves out for God and God uses us. It is this amazing, wonderful impossible thing that God does, God uses us.”

Highlights of the conference business:

  • The conference set a record at the opening service of worship with an offering of more than $91,000 dollars for Imagine No Malaria. This was the largest single offering ever taken in the past 25 years. With the offering on Sunday morning, the conference raised $109,315.52, which surpassed the $100,000 goal set by Bishop Goodpaster in April.
  • Members of the conference leadership teams used a variety of media and visuals to report on their work and its relationship to our vision of “Following Jesus, Making Disciples and Transforming the World.”
  • Disciple Dialogues were held on Thursday afternoon that broke the conference into eight smaller groups around themes of mission, stewardship and generosity.
  • The conference established a budget for 2015 of $16.457 million for mission and ministry, which is an increase of 1.89 percent (and includes a reallocation of $369,462 from district apportionments into the conference budget).
  • Approved the establishment of a covenant partnership between the Western North Carolina Conference and the Central Congo Annual Conference.
  • Established the minimum compensation for Elders and Deacons in Full Connection as $39,000 dollars.

Other items of note:

  • A conversation on “The Future of the United Methodist Church in America” was held on Saturday afternoon (not a part of Conference business). Led by Bishop Goodpaster and a panel of clergy and laity consisting of: Andy Langford, Talbot Davis, James Howell, and Shannon Sherfey, they discussed issues of schism and human sexuality that have been a part of recent news and media reports. There will be further panel discussions that will be held across the conference in the next 6 months.
  • C2LJ (Cycle to Lake Junaluska) was a 160-mile trek that began June 16th and ended on June 18th prior to the clergy session of conference. Involving more than 20 clergy and laity, the trek raised more than $3,500 for campus ministries.
  • The Emory Club 5K was held on Thursday morning before the opening session. 170 participants raised more than $1,700 dollars for Imagine No Malaria.

A complete archive of all annual conference business and news can be found at:

At the conference, there were four provisional deacons commissioned and seven deacons ordained (another was ordained as a courtesy to the Yellowstone Conference); 19 provisional elders were commissioned and 19 were ordained (and, one clergy had their orders recognized from another denomination). Also, the conference received one clergy into associate membership, and 38 clergy retired at this session of annual conference. Further, the conference celebrated the lives of 30 clergy and diaconal ministers and 35 spouses who died in the previous year.

Membership stands at 286,074, down less than 1 percent from the previous year. Worship attendance stands at 113,711, down 3,927. Church school attendance stands at 49,036, down 3,618 from the previous year.  Baptisms stand at 2,941, down less than 1 percent.

The number of young adults in Christian formation groups and other adults in Christian formation groups increased from the past year. The number of United Methodist Volunteers in Mission teams sent increased by 208 percent. The amounts paid for local and community work through United Methodist Women was $2,153,136 and through United Methodist Men was $1,540,639.  

Clergy appointments for 2014-15 can be found online at:

The 2015 session of the Western North Carolina Conference is scheduled for June 17-21, 2015 at Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center.

Michael Rich, web & communications manager, Western North Carolina Conference