Dr. Otto Harris to Lead Diversity Initiative


Dr. Otto Harris will lead the Comprehensive Plan of Inclusiveness, a conference-wide initiative centered around promoting diversity in Western North Carolina. This effort is the result of a grassroots movement emerging from a variety of places in our conference, from our churches, pastors, episcopal office, and cabinet, to continue and strengthen our work of living into our calling to be an inclusive church, and to address the changing demographics of our communities. 
“In our current environment, we need to have conversations about racism and to hear the voices who speak out. It’s also important that we do more than condemn racism when we see it, we need to be in engaged in creative, strategic, and constructive steps in helping to move us forward into a more integrated society,” shared Bishop Leeland. “It’s easy to condemn it. It’s more difficult to pour our energy into doing something about it.”
“In hearing this vision, I believe this is a way the Church can be intentional about leading transformation in our communities to reflect more of what God has for God’s people,” said Dr. Harris. 
Dr. Harris is the senior pastor of Saint Mark’s United Methodist Church in Charlotte and is an ordained elder in the Western North Carolina Conference. He has a bachelor’s degree from the North Carolina A&T State University, a Master of Divinity degree from the Hood Theological Seminary, and a Doctor of Philosophy degree in Educational Studies with a concentration in Cultural Studies from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Dr. Harris is a veteran of the United States Marine Corps. He also serves as an adjunct faculty member of the Hood Theological Seminary along with numerous leadership positions in our conference and denomination. 
Nine teams are being formed to address the unique aspects of how we can continue to become a more just and inclusive conference. These teams will work to address topics including educational work around racism, seminary visits, the appointment process, church staff positions, brief internships for seminary students, and changing neighborhoods. 

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.