Registration Now Open for Winter Youth Retreats at Lake Junaluska


Lake Junaluska, N.C. - Registration is open for Lake Junaluska’s Winter Youth Retreats. From December to February the lake will host five program weekends for middle school and high school youth groups.

This winter marks the first year of a new format for the youth group retreats, as participants will choose their own daytime activity. In the past, the youth events have focused on ski, but this year groups can choose to zipline, do mission work or ski.

“My hope is that as we ski, zipline or serve together, youth will connect the exhilaration of these activities with the heart-pounding, life-changing realization that they are critical players in the continuing story of God,” said Mitzi Johnson, director of programming at Lake Junaluska.

The theme for this year’s winter events, “Embrace Winter. Embrace the Word.,” was inspired by Isaiah 55:10-11—

"For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven ... so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth."

Johnson said she was inspired by this passage from Isaiah because it shows us how God uses winter as an active time of preparing the Earth for a great harvest.

“We tend to think about winter as a passive season when the best we can do is hunker down and get through it,” Johnson said. “But scripture urges us to welcome winter as a time when God drenches us in the Word and prepares us to do all the things we’re called us to do. What better place to embrace both winter and the word than Lake Junaluska?”

The speakers and bands for the Winter Youth Retreats will come from across the Southeast and include Lake Junaluska favorites like musicians Jimmy Atkins and Abbye West Pates and returning speakers like Celia Whitler and Eddie Willis, who runs a summer youth camp called M28 at Lake Junaluska.

Notable new speakers include Chris Sasser, a seasoned family ministries pastor and a lead consultant with Ministry Architects, an organization that helps build sustainable, deep-impact youth ministries across 23 Christian denominations. Another first-timer, Jeremy Steele, will speak during the New Year’s Eve event. He is a Next Generation pastor and senior editor of the Seedbed Youth Ministry Collective and the author of Reclaiming the Lost Soul of Youth Ministry.

The three-night events on New Year’s Eve weekend, Martin Luther King Jr. weekend and Presidents Day weekend include special entertainment such as a New Year’s Eve dance party, a comedian and an illusionist. More information about speakers, bands and entertainers is available online at Groups that register before October 4 will receive free hats for their youth groups. To register, call 800-222-4930 or visit

Lake Junaluska is a place of Christian hospitality where lives are transformed through renewal of soul, mind and body. For more information about Lake Junaluska programs and events, visit  

Lake Junaluska Winter Youth Retreats Schedule:
  • December 29 – January 1: Jeremy Steele (Speaker) and Jimmy Atkins (Worship Band).
  • January 12 – 15: Celia Whitler (Speaker and Worship Band). Featuring comedian John Felts.
  • January 26 – 28: Cecilia Tucker (Speaker) and The Advice (Worship Band).
  • February 2 – 4: Chris Sasser (Speaker) and The Advice (Worship Band).
  • February 16 – 19: Eddie Willis (Speaker) and Abbye West Pates (Worship Band). Featuring illusionist Joshua Lozoff.

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.