Response from Bishop Paul L. Leeland to Judicial Council


April 19, 2017 Dear Colleagues of our Western North Carolina Conference: Following the election of Karen Oliveto as a Bishop of The United Methodist Church, the Judicial Council was requested by the South Central Jurisdiction for a declaratory decision regarding the constitutionality of the election.  In anticipation of the Judicial Council’s response, to be released the end of April, we are cognizant of a mixture of emotions and opinions. We often acknowledge the General Conference is the only authorized body to speak for the church and therefore a declaratory decision from the Judicial Council will not change and cannot change The Book of Discipline.  The Judicial Council, according to our Book of Discipline, ¶ 56, has authority “to determine the constitutionality of any act of the General Conference…and any act of a jurisdictional or central conference.”   Many of us realize the decision of the Judicial Council will convey their own perspective and will offer their reasoning.  The work of the Judicial Council will reflect a specific response and will offer a specific request, but regardless of the response The Book of Discipline will not change. I believe our clergy, like the Council of Bishops, are committed to the unity of the church and the thriving of its mission.  For this reason, I find myself seriously praying, and I invite you to pray, for the Commission on a Way Forward.  I believe the Holy Spirit, our Counselor, Comforter, Guide, and Teacher, is already present and working in the midst of our labor on behalf of the church. Bishop Bruce Ough, President of the Council of Bishops is working with the Council of Bishop’s Director of Communications; our UMCom staff members; and Bill Waddell, our Council of Bishop’s chancellor, to prepare a statement to the Church that will be released as soon as possible after we receive the Judicial Council’s decision.  As the Council of Bishops offer a pastoral word to the Church, I encourage our clergy to offer a non-anxious, hopeful word to their congregations, reminding them that the Church is the Body of Jesus Christ and we serve Christ in all things and in all times. Paul L. Leeland Resident Bishop, Charlotte Area

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.