Christmas Greetings from Paul and Janet Leeland


Friends and Colleagues: Janet and I wish you and your loved ones a Merry Christmas.  May the joy and happiness we experience this Christmas with those we love be a deep source of enduring gladness reminding us of what is most important in life.  This deep awareness of acceptance and love simply reflects the fruit of Jesus’ birth, that we will know the approval and love of God for us.  Each sign of laughter, gratitude, and thanksgiving is a reminder of God’s joy in extending salvation and eternal love to us through the gift of Jesus, the Word made flesh, the visible image of the invisible God, Emmanuel – God with us. The book of Chronicles tells the story of God’s favor from Adam to the reign of Solomon.  The Canticle of I Chronicles 16:8-12, captures the uncontained happiness of God’s goodness towards us and our natural expression of gratitude for God:

Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name, make known his deeds among the peoples. Sing to him, sing praises to him, tell of all his wonderful works. Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice. Seek the Lord and his strength, seek his presence continually. Remember the wonderful works he has done, his miracles, and           The judgments he uttered.

The emotions expressed in the canticle help us to appreciate the reverence of the magi and shepherds at the birth of Jesus.  In the Gospel of Luke, Elizabeth filled with the Holy Spirit exclaimed with a loud cry at the visit of Mary, “Why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me?”  This is our question also, how is it that the Lord God has come to us?  Christmas reminds us, it is true, God is with us. My prayer is that we will recognize the Presence of God among us each moment; our hearts will be filled with joy; those who preach this good news will be strengthened by wonder and happiness; and that we might live the Gospel life until God’s return in glory.  Elizabeth continues her words of pleasure at Mary’s visit by acknowledging Mary’s obedience to God, “Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled” (Lk. 1:45).  May it be so with us as well – that we might be blessed this Christmas season by God for believing all that has been spoken to us. Merry Christmas, Paul and Janet Leeland

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
Follow Jesus. Make Disciples. Transform the World.