Lineup of Internationally known preachers announced for Lake Junaluska Summer Worship Series


LAKE JUNALUSKA, N.C. — All are invited to attend the Summer Worship Series at Lake Junaluska from June 10 to August 5. The Summer Worship Series includes spirited traditional worship services led by internationally known preachers on Sunday mornings.

Most services begin Sundays in Stuart Auditorium at 11 a.m., with a prelude by the Lake Junaluska Singers at 10:45 a.m. This year two special services will be held in the evenings at Memorial Chapel and the amphitheater by the Lake Junaluska Cross.

The theme for this year’s Summer Worship Series is “Stories on the Lakeshore.”

“In the Gospels, the lakeshore is a place of transformation,” said Rev. Mitzi Johnson, director of programming at Lake Junaluska. “It’s on the mountainous shores of the Galilee that followers of Jesus are called, taught, healed and sent out to serve. Lake Junaluska provides an ideal setting for hearing the challenging stories of Jesus with fresh ears.”

Nine guest speakers will come to Lake Junaluska to preach this summer, including Rev. Dr. Clarence G. Newsome, who served as the former president of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, Ohio and Rev. Ginger Gaines-Cirelli who recently became the first woman to serve as senior pastor at the historic Foundry United Methodist Church in Washington, D.C.

The 2018 Summer Worship Series begins with a special kick-off service held in Memorial Chapel on June 10 at 7 p.m. The service is led by Dean of Memorial Chapel Susan Slye Giles, a retired elder of the Western North Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church.
On July 15, an outdoor service will take place at the Lake Junaluska Cross amphitheater led by Bishop Lawrence McCleskey. McCleskey plans to preach the story of Jesus walking on water, a story of doubt and faith, perfect for an evening lakeside setting.

During the closing worship for the Western North Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church on June 24, Bishop Paul L. Leeland will speak in Stuart Auditorium. Tracy Radosevic, dean of the Academy for Biblical Storytellers, will elaborate on a story in which Jesus breaks every social convention to heal a woman on the margins of society on July 1. Radosevic is particularly fond of mining biblical narratives for their humor and their often-overlooked feminine inspirations.

"The Gospel stories that form the heart of this summer's worship series highlight some of the grandest themes of Jesus' teachings,” said Johnson. “For each of these themes, we've chosen preachers who interpret the ideas boldly with words and in their lived ministry. Their daily lives lend authenticity and power to their messages so that the lakeshore continues to be a place of transformation just as it was in Galilee all those years ago."

The summer worship series also includes Taizé services of prayer and song on Monday evenings at 8 p.m. in Memorial Chapel June 18 to August 6 (excluding July 2). The service, modeled after the Taizé Community in France, has a casual atmosphere encouraging participants to slow down in the midst of their fast-paced lives.  Simple meditative songs, scripture, candlelight and silence are characteristic of this service.
All services at 11 a.m. unless otherwise noted, with a prelude by the Lake Junaluska Singers beginning at 10:45 a.m. 
  •          June 10 - Rev. Susan Slye Giles, special kick-off event at Memorial Chapel at 7 p.m.
  •          June 17 - Rev. Dr. Clarence G. Newsome
  •          June 24 - Bishop Paul L. Leeland, 10 a.m.
  •          July 1 - Rev. Tracy Radosevic
  •          July 8 - Rev. Carol Howard Merritt
  •          July 15 - Bishop Lawrence McCleskey, at the amphitheater under the Lake Junaluska Cross at 7 p.m.
  •          July 22 - Rev. Dr. Carl Frazier
  •          July 29 - Rev. Juan Huertas
  •          August 5 - Rev. Ginger Gaines-Cirelli
Rev. Susan Slye Giles
June 10, 2018 - 7 p.m., Memorial Chapel
Dean of Memorial Chapel Rev. Susan Slye Giles is a retired elder in the Western North Carolina Conference. She is a graduate of Hood Theological Seminary and a Lake Junaluska resident. She is married to Rev. Sandy Giles and they have two adult children and three grandchildren.
Rev. Dr. Clarence G. Newsome
June 17, 2018
Rev. Dr. Clarence G. Newsome is the former president of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, Ohio. He is the past president of Shaw University and previously served as dean of the School of Divinity at Howard University. He was a member of the Duke Divinity School faculty for eight years. Dr. Newsome is a triple Duke alumnus, receiving a Bachelor of Arts in religion in 1972, a Master of Divinity in 1975, and a doctorate in religion in 1982. He is married to Lynne Platt Newsome, and they have two adult daughters.
Bishop Paul L. Leeland
June 24, 2018
Bishop Paul L. Leeland is resident bishop of the Western North Carolina Conference of The United Methodist Church. Previously, he served as bishop of the Alabama-West Florida Conference for eight years. He also served in the North Carolina Conference for 33 years, including as the superintendent of the Goldsboro district, assistant to the bishop and director of ministerial relations. In 2007, he was the recipient of the Red Shoe Award, presented by clergywomen of the North Carolina Conference for “encouragement and support of women in ministry through advocacy, appointment, mentoring and friendship.”
Rev. Tracy Radosevic
July 1, 2018
Rev. Tracy Radosevic, dean of the Academy for Biblical Storytellers from Maryland, has taught, preached and performed all over the world since 1991. She serves as an adjunct professor at East Tennessee State University and as artist-in-residence at Mt. Vernon Place United Methodist Church in Baltimore, Maryland. Radosevic enjoys telling any and all stories that make her audiences look at usual occurrences in unusual ways and is particularly fond of mining biblical narratives for their humor and their often-overlooked feminine inspirations. She has a doctorate of ministry in spirituality for transforming community from Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington D.C., a master's degree in storytelling from East Tennessee State University and another in religious education from Duke Divinity. Learn more at
Rev. Carol Howard Merritt
July 8, 2018
Rev. Carol Howard Merritt is the award-winning author of Tribal Church: Ministering to the Missing Generation, Reframing Hope: Vital Ministry in a New Generation, and Healing Spiritual Wounds: Reconnecting with a Loving God after Experiencing a Hurtful Church. A Presbyterian (USA) minister for two decades, Howard Merritt studied at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Texas and is known for serving churches with a deep commitment to the poor and disenfranchised. She is a regular writer at the Christian Century and a founder and host of UNCO, an open-space “unconference” that attracts church leaders across denominations and generations. Howard Merritt lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee with her pastor-activist husband, Brian Merritt, and their daughter, Calla.
Bishop Lawrence McCleskey
July 15, 2018 - 7 p.m., Lake Junaluska Cross amphitheater
Bishop McCleskey is a graduate of Duke University, Duke Divinity School and Princeton Theological Seminary. He currently serves as chair of the Division of Higher Education of the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry. McCleskey was elected to the episcopacy in July 1996, and prior to his election, he served 33 years as a member of the Western North Carolina Conference, where he was appointed to churches with memberships from 35 to 3,700 members. He is married to Margaret Fowler McCleskey and they have three children.
Rev. Dr. Carl Frazier
July 22, 2018
Rev. Dr. Carl Frazier is a native North Carolinian and (at least) a seventh generation Methodist.  A graduate of Duke Divinity School and Princeton Theological Seminary, he has served churches in the North Carolina conference since 1980. His service to the General Church includes three delegations to the General Conference, four to the Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference and membership on the Board of Directors of The United Methodist Publishing House (as chair from 2012-2016). He has authored the Table Talk study for Cokesbury, was book review editor for the North Carolina Christian Advocate and has published several articles. Additionally, he has served on a number of conference boards and agencies. He is husband to Mary-Ellen, father to daughters Elizabeth (and her husband Jason O'Quinn) and Ellen and Pop to JP.
Rev. Juan Huertas
July 29, 2018
Rev. Juan Huertas is lead pastor of Grace Community United Methodist Church in Shreveport, Los Angeles, and a graduate of Candler School of Theology. A native of Puerto Rico and a spiritual director, Huertas loves writing about discipleship as empowerment to transform our neighborhoods, cities and world, and is a frequent contributor to and He is married to Shannon Perry Huertas and is a father of three.
Rev. Ginger Gaines-Cirelli
August 5, 2018
In 2014, Rev. Ginger E. Gaines-Cirelli became the first woman to serve as senior pastor of the historic Foundry United Methodist Church in Washington, D.C. Her ministry has encouraged spiritual growth and engaged discipleship—emphasizing radical hospitality, shared ministry, spiritual practices and solidarity with the poor and oppressed. Gaines-Cirelli contributed to and served on the editorial board for The Common English Bible (CEB) Women’s Bible. A life-long United Methodist, Ginger regularly presents as a featured theologian, teacher and speaker at local, district, conference, jurisdictional and international connectional events.

To learn more about the Summer Worship Series, visit

Lake Junaluska is a place of Christian hospitality where lives are transformed through renewal of soul, mind and body. For more information about Lake Junaluska programs and events, visit


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
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