DeEtta Rivens travels and learns with Episcopal secretaries in Holy Land


In mid-2016, the Episcopal Secretaries of The United Methodist Church were offered the opportunity to have their 2017 annual training in the Holy Land. The General Council on Finance and Administration (GCFA), which also administers the Episcopal Fund that pays for episcopal office expenses and bishop salaries, budgets some of its funds to provide professional training for Episcopal office support staff.  Each participant also paid a discounted rate to attend.  GCFA, working with corporate sponsor Educational Opportunities (EO), developed an 8-day tour and mission opportunity for the group.  Nineteen Jurisdictional and seven Central Conference Episcopal Secretaries made the journey from February 1-8.  Three members of the Professional Association of United Methodist Church Secretaries (PAUMCS) were also on the trip. On the tour, the group visited the birthplace, ministry sites and burial place of Jesus.  Educational Opportunities provided experienced and knowledgeable tour guides to share the story of the Holy Land. One day of the trip focused on an educational and work project in the area. Members of the group participated in a mission opportunity at Hope School, a Christian secondary school serving Bethlehem.  While there, they worked with the teachers and staff of the school.  They also met and interacted with the children of the Hope School. Mrs. Mary Bradley, Episcopal Secretary for the Upper New York Annual Conference said, “I want to thank GCFA for the opportunity to go on this trip with Educational Opportunities.  It was an amazing experience to walk where Jesus walked.  This trip helped increase my faith and remember the true reason that we serve God in our ministry roles as support to our Episcopal leaders.” Mrs. DeEtta Rivens, Executive Administrative Assistant to Bishop Leeland said, "I thank GCFA for the opportunity and coordination of our time in the Holy Land.  This year’s annual training of the Episcopal Secretaries was an incredible journey as we walked together upon the foundation of our administrative ministry.  It was a humbling experience to actually see, touch, and walk the land of the bible.  These memories will forever be etched in my mind.  My bible study and reading will never be the same.  I left the Holy Land enriched spiritually and emotionally."    

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.