Maximize the presence of United Methodist witnesses


By The Reverend Marji Hill, Deacon

In our churches, January is a crucial time for new leaders. Equipping the laity for mission and ministry is often a primary focus in the first few months of the year. This is the time when new leaders who have answered the call and said “YES” are now beginning to ask “HOW?”
Here in far western North Carolina the HOW question is even more difficult to answer, because we have so few resources. But things are changing. While theoretically we know there are plenty of opportunities for the volunteers in our churches to get engaged out in the community, finding them can require the sleuthing skills of Sherlock Holmes. Not only do most people not know what the nonprofits need, they don’t know even know how to reach out and contact them
That is where a cutting edge ministry started by the Hinton Rural Life Center steps in to fill the gap. A brand new volunteer portal database has been created and local nonprofits, schools, and government agencies are encouraged to post their all of their opportunities there. Imagine, if you will, a giant catalogue of volunteer opportunities that you can search online – and if you see one you like, you just click on it. That is what we are trying to build.

The possibilities for youth groups looking for service opportunities are staggering. Skilled retirees looking for a way to serve using their spiritual gifts would be able to find and connect easily. College students with requirements for service hours won’t have to make endless calls before finding something that fits with their busy schedules.

Churches will be able to use the tool as well to coordinate their own volunteer management for special events. Do you need to find volunteers to work shifts at “Breakfast with Santa” or the community garage sale? You can create your own event and keep track of who is coming and when. 

Thanks to a grant from Duke Endowment, this tool will enable the local United Methodist churches (as well as other churches in our area) to maximize the presence of United Methodist witnesses in as many places as possible in this quiet rural place – where the need is great.
Want to know more?  Check out the site at or call Rev. Marji Hill, Deacon at the Hinton Rural Life Center, an SEJ mission institution. 

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.