A Heart Full of Grace and Soul Generated By Love: MLK Celebration 2019


Our conference gathered on Saturday, January 19 to celebrate the legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in worship, prayer, and homily and through the special recognition of those continuing to carry his dream forward.
Following moving worship with the Livingstone College Gospel Choir, the Rev. Dr. Otto Harris, pastor of St. Mark’s United Methodist Church in Charlotte and Pamela Shoffner, chair of the Western North Carolina Justice and Reconciliation team, presented several awards. 
“Martin Luther King, Jr. is still remembered 51 years after his assassination because he believed the Gospel. The Gospel was not theory to him. He was not perfect, but the Gospel emanated through his life. He made some folks uncomfortable, he made himself uncomfortable. But he lived social justice through direct action. He put legs to his faith,” said Dr. Harris. “There are others who have come behind Dr. King who we have the privilege of honoring today.”
These 2019 Drum Major for Justice Award recipients reflect “a heart of full grace and a soul generated by love,” to quote a Martin Luther King, Jr. sermon entitled “The Drum Major Instinct.”
Rev. Gilbert and Grace Caldwell: A retired clergy member of the Mountain Sky/Denver Conference, Rev. Caldwell was born in Greensboro, N.C. and received his local preacher’s license from the North Carolina Conference. He was also one of the few African American members of Methodist Student Movement in the early 1950’s. He is one of the founders of Black Methodists for Church Renewal and was one of the first presidents. The Caldwells spoke to the gathering via Skype and members of their family accepted the award in their honor.
Rev. Dawn Hand: The Rev. Dawn Hand is a native of Charlotte, N.C. and a member of the Western North Carolina Conference. She is a prominent advocate for social justice and currently serves as the District Superintendent for the Pittsburgh district in the Western Pennsylvania Conference. Rev. Hand also spoke via Skype and her mother Mrs. Ella Hand accepted the award in her honor.
Rev. Miller Carter: The late Rev. Miller C. Carter, Jr. served in the Western North Carolina Conference with a Drum Major Instinct, a heart full of grace and a soul generated by love. His wife, Mrs. Howalina Carter accepted the award in his memory.
Rev. Dr. Stephanie Moore HandMs. Kim ShockleyRev. Dr. Otto Harris also received recognitions of their contributions from the Western North Carolina Justice and Reconciliation team. 
Bill Curry gave the keynote address. Mr. Curry is an inspirational speaker, novelist, former NFL player and member of Peachtree UMC in Atlanta. His homily was followed by Holy Communion and a time of conversation facilitated by Rev. Charlie Rivens, pastor of The Place UMC in Charlotte.
The event was sponsored by the WNCC-Justice & Reconciliation Team (J&R), WNCC Commission on Religion & Race (CORR), WNCC Black Methodists for Church Renewal (BMCR). 

Watch the full celebration.
Save the Date for Next Year: The Western NC Conference MLK Jr. 2020 Celebration will be held on Saturday, January 18 at St. Paul UMC, 2400 Dellabrook Road, Winston-Salem, NC 27105. 

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 hfleming@wnccumc.net.


  • Resources
Follow Jesus. Make Disciples. Transform the World.