Cullowhee UMC Highlighted in Faith & Leadership


by Allen T. Stanton in Faith & Leadership (This article was featured by UMNS on Monday of this week) [caption id="attachment_3967" align="aligncenter" width="450"]woodpile-workers_tp Volunteers from Cullowhee United Methodist Church collect and chop firewood and deliver it to homes across the community.[/caption] In conversations with people across North Carolina, I’ve noticed that people speak about rural communities in one of two ways. The first is in idyllic terms, with rural communities romanticized as relaxed, simple and honest places. The second often comes from a place of pity: rural life is seen only as a world of lagging economies, failing school systems and poor access to health care. The truth is, our rural communities do face deep challenges. In my job as the rural church fellow at the Institute for Emerging Issues at North Carolina State University, I spend most of my workweek driving from rural community to rural community, and it’s not hard to spot the many problems. Our rural communities are in decline, young adults are moving away, and rural economies and demographics are in a state of transition. But it is also true that these same communities are places with deep and bountiful assets. I work with churches to increase civic engagement in their communities. I’ve found that if we can tap the right people for the conversation and identify the unique gifts of these communities, then innovative solutions have a way of popping up. As a member of the clergy, I believe that one of the biggest assets of rural communities is the church. Despite the issues that rural churches -- and the rest of mainline Protestantism -- face, they are some of the only viable institutions in these communities. More importantly, they are trusted institutions. According to the North Carolina Civic Health Index, people in North Carolina are more likely to volunteer in the church than in other organizations. Churches are places where people from across job sectors, with varying backgrounds and opinions, all come together for the common purpose of serving Christ. This presents an amazing opportunity for the rural church to engage and strengthen the wider community, which in turn strengthens the church. One example I’ve encountered is Cullowhee United Methodist Church(link is external), a partner church in the Thriving Rural Communities Initiative(link is external). It sits on the side of a mountain in Jackson County, where 20 percent of the 40,000 people live in poverty. Though it likely will never be a megachurch, Cullowhee UMC is viable, with two morning services and an average worship attendance of just over 260. Read the entire article at Faith & Leadership

Resources for Vital Congregations



Lewis Center for Church Leadership

Lewis Center for Church Leadership: Books

Lewis Center for Church Leadership: Serve Your Neighbor

GBHEM Leadership Resources


Living Faithfully: Human Sexuality and the United Methodist Church

Englewood Book Review

Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations

Ted Talks: The Golden Circle

Ted Talks: The Power of Vulnerability

Ted Talks: The Price of Invulnerability

Design Thinking

Meditations on the Ministry of All Christians


Be A Disciple

A Disciple’s Path; A Guide for United Methodist

Lewis Center for Church Leadership: Adult Christian Studies from the Wesley Ministry Network

Traveling Together: A Guide for Disciple Forming Congregations


Living As United Methodist Christians

Methodist Doctrine: The Essentials

Reclaiming our Wesleyan Tradition: John Wesley’s Sermons for Today

John Wesley Sermons: Anthology


Get Their Name

Evangelism & Theology in the Wesleyan Spirit

Canoeing the Mountains

Fresh Expressions

Fresh Expressions: Dinner Church

Lewis Center for Church Leadership: Reach New Disciples

Lewis Center for Church Leadership: 50 Ways to Reach People

Community: The Structure of Belonging


Institute for Emerging Issues

Congregations 4 Children


The Royce and Jane Reynolds Ministry Fund Grants

The Duke Endowment


The Appalachian District Church Vitality Team has been prayerfully seeking ways to help support you and the ministries of your local congregation during this COVID-19 pandemic. Together they have diligently researched and connected with others throughout the conference and our denomination to identify resources and offer them to you. We hope they will be helpful to you and bless you greatly in leading your churches and communities through this unprecedented time. We are very grateful to the District Vitality Team and other contributors for their great work on this resource.
This faithful team has created three documents, two of which you are receiving today. They include:

  • Family Home Worship – designed to help families establish a regular worship space within their homes as well as a time where they can worship together.
  • Tech Strategies – to help guide you in selecting effective tools and resources within your budget to best communicate in the digital world.

We believe these resources will be of great benefit to you. Also know that the District Vitality Team is available to answer any questions you might have in regards to the documents attached. If you have questions, you may email Rev. Howard Fleming at


  • Resources
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