There is a Balm in Gilead


Rev. Amy Vaughan, pastor of Marvin UMC, took having Bible study in a bar to the next level when she decided to team up with Rev. Mike Collins, pastor of Emmanuel Lutheran Church, and brought Hops and Hymns to downtown Lincolnton. Rev. Amy had been attending Wild Goose Festival for years and was first introduced to the concept of hops and hymns there. She remembers looking around at the festival and seeing everyone singing along, even those who had grown up in the church but left because they felt excluded and unwelcome. At Wild Goose, she saw that they hadn’t had a chance to sing these songs in years yet were filled with joy and happiness to have the chance to do it again in such a safe and welcoming space. She had been to Hops and Hymns events in Gastonia and had assisted a congregation doing it in Davidson, so decided to give it a try in Lincolnton. When Untapped Territory opened in Lincolnton, she thought the landscape and atmosphere of downtown Lincolnton was changing and could be open to an event like this. After a year or two of talking about doing this with Rev. Mike, they met at Untapped Territory to meet with the business owners, still new to the community, and got the ball rolling. They contacted musicians they knew who would be willing to come out and play for free. They rehearsed for about an hour before it started, but Rev. Amy said that step might not be necessary for some events, depending on the number or type of musicians. There were Methodists, Lutherans, and participants from neither of the churches who happened to be at Untapped that night. They ended up having Hops and Hymns twice, once in the spring and once in the winter - both times outside. They were planning to move indoors once Untapped opened up more space, but with COVID, plans have changed, and everything is on hold. 

Rev. Amy contacted friends who had done this in the mountains and at the beach to get song books and then adapted and modified what they had with Rev. Mike. At the first event there were 70 people in attendance and 50 at the second one, though it was much hotter out on the evening of the second one. Rev. Amy is hoping that once they are able to start doing this on a more regular basis, they will build up a group of regular folks. Because so many people were in attendance it resulted in good business for the taproom, good business for Good Wood pizza (the to-go pizza place that delivers to the taproom), and great for the community. Everyone who was part of this event volunteered their time, so if you have a connection with a local bar or brewery, some friends who are musically inclined, and someone who can print the song books, this would be a great event to host in your own community. An event like this helps show those in the community that Christians can have fun and not be judgmental about drinking beer and wine. It may not lead to more attendance at your church, but it might change the minds of those in your community about organized religion. And, as churchgoers may know, those hymns tell the story of God’s love that sinks in deeply, whether you realize it or not. Rev. Amy recommended partnering with other churches in your area to put an event like this on, especially if you can reach across denominational lines, as that helps to build community and strengthen your town.

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.