Connectional Table gathers for quarterly meeting


  The Connectional Table met on Saturday, April 8th at the United Methodist Foundation in Huntersville for its spring meeting. After a strategic meeting in January focusing on the process and goals for the upcoming quadrennium, the spring gathering focused on alignment of teams and looking at new strategic initiatives of the body. Bishop Leeland led off the meeting reminding the team of its purpose and its vision to be the collective wisdom of the conference leadership, by considering these questions:
  • How can we constantly adjust our vision and mission for the good for the conference?
  • Where do we see alignment and where we can work together?
  • Where do we see fruitfulness in the conference?
  • Where do we need to place our resources to make the biggest impact in the conference?
We heard a report from an ongoing initiative that was set in place at the November 2016 meeting. A task force on “A Way Forward” was devised to look at dealing proactively with issues that may come about after the anticipated 2019 called meeting of General Conference and the reports from “A Commission on A Way Forward.”  That work will be ongoing. We continued discussion on a primary initiative that developed during the January meeting.  As the Connectional Table, we see for the coming years, a focus on Christian formation that includes: 1) an external focus, 2) a blending of Wesley’s personal and social holiness, 3) increased focus on developing opportunities for partnership of clergy and laity that 4) takes seriously our communities and context, and is 5) based in local communities of faith. Before our summer meeting, each ministry team in the conference agreed to explore their alignment with this initiative, and how they can lead into the future with the five focus areas above. A new initiative was introduced by Rev. Luke Edwards of King Street Church in Boone, NC.  This came out of the work of the Church Vitality Team over the past several months. Edwards outlined the vision of Fresh Expressions of Church and its basic definition: “A form of church for our changing culture established primarily for the benefit of people who are not yet members of any church.” Focusing on roughly 40-60% of the population that will never enter the doors of an established church, Fresh Expressions communities engage their context in low cost, lay driven, and nimble ways that can be supported and planted by traditional “anchor” churches. A proposal to join in a partnership with Fresh Expressions US, as have other United Methodist conferences, was presented to the body.  After a fruitful discussion, the Connectional Table affirmed the motion that came from the Church Vitality Team and the conference will join this partnership in 2017. To learn more about Fresh Expressions, make plans to attend the Vision Day scheduled for May 6th at First UMC in Salisbury. The Mission Engagement Team led a discussion on “Connection to Abundant Health”, one of the four primary focus areas of the denomination for the quadrennium (this replaces the “Imagine No Malaria” initiative that we participated in from 2012-16). They will be pursuing a relationship with Medika Mamba (“Peanut Butter Medicine” in French creole) to support their mission of improving the health of over 1 million malnourished children in the coming years. Reports from a number of the groups completed the meeting.  A core focus of this time was on alignment with our mission and vision as a conference and how we can better streamline our processes, improve our communications and organization, and work together to make world transforming disciples. The next meeting of the Connectional Table is scheduled for Saturday, July 22nd.

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