WESTERN NORTH CAROLINA ASSOCIATION
Welcome to the Western North Carolina Association — one of three Associations of the Southern Conference of the United Church of Christ. Comprising 65 churches in four program districts, WNCA is led by professional staff working with specialized commissions and committees — all working together to strengthen the spiritual and community life of people and congregations across the Association.
In the UCC, each Association maintains the authority to ordain ministers and grant ministerial standing for their region. When an individual seeks to be ordained to ministry in the UCC, the candidate engages in a lengthy period of discernment that includes their local sponsoring church, the Committee on Ministry (COM), mentors and advisors, seminaries and peers. The candidate’s last discernment partner is the Association itself, when Association delegates gather in an Ecclesiastical Council. The process works as follows —
- The COM holds the responsibility of shepherding a candidate through their discernment process and ensuring all requirements for ordination have been met, including but not limited to assessments, polity requirements and pastoral ethics, and boundary training.
- When the committee is satisfied that a candidate has a call to an authorized ministry and is qualified based on the Marks of Ministry, the COM will recommend the candidate to the Association for their approval.
- At that time, an Ecclesiastical Council will be announced no less than 45 days in advance of the called meeting. Each church of the WNCA will be invited to send voting delegates to the Ecclesiastical Council based on the number of delegates allotted at the annual WNCA meeting.
- At the called Ecclesiastical Council, the COM will present a motion that the Member in Discernment (MID) be approved for ordination pending a call. The committee will then present the candidate to the voting delegates, sharing relevant materials and articulating their thinking as to why the candidate should be ordained. Delegates then will be invited to engage the candidate in a theological conversation regarding their discernment journey as well as the Marks of Ministry by which the UCC discerns competencies and call. All delegates will need to be familiar with the Marks of Ministry before the Ecclesiastical Council commences.
- After this conversation has come to a close, the question will be called and the delegates will be asked to vote on the COM’s motion that the candidate be approved for ordination pending a call. If the outcome of the vote is No, the candidate’s MID status is terminated, either with or without bias. If the vote is Yes, the MID is Approved for ordination pending call and may begin to circulate a UCC Ministerial Profile.
The WNCA COM is currently walking through the discernment process with a number of candidates, several of whom are ready to move toward an Ecclesiastical Council in the coming months. If you have any questions about the process, feel free to reach out to COM Co-Chairs The Rev. Jim Luck and The Rev. Tamara Franks, or to WNCA ACM The Rev. Colleen Samson.
Over 140 attendees representing two-thirds of WNCA churches gathered at Abernethy Laurels for the WNCA Annual Meeting. With worship interwoven throughout the day, the morning offered educational presentations and music from Mt. Hope UCC’s choir and musicians, while the afternoon included the annual business meeting and election of new leaders. A few highlights —
- Those present gave $1,503.65 in offering to Florence recovery efforts — twice the usual offering collected at previous meetings — and churches brought 182 Clean-Up Buckets for the Southern Conference Florence Clean-Up campaign
- WNCA launched an ongoing Disaster Response Task Force — and you can participate
- We celebrated that 36 of our 65 churches have paid 100% or more their 2018 dues — click here to see where your church stands — and the seven churches that have so far contributed $1,400 toward the 2018 salary supplement for our Minister of Church Affairs voted at the 2017 annual meeting
- Presenters addressed three important topics: sustainability, doing new things in worship, and serving the community. The Rev. Dr. Nancy Ellett Allison has shared her Sustainability slide deck, and recommends the book Faithful Metrics: a field guide to measuring ministry without missing the moments by Peggy Hahn (published by waytolead.org).
- We welcomed ReNewal Fellowship, led by The Rev. Roger Billingsley-Hayes, as a member congregation.
- The Association passed the 2019 budget, and applauded The Rev. Dr. Edward Davis for finding a way to restore the salaries of Ministers for Church Affairs to their previous levels.
- The body also passed a modest bylaws change, and elected a slate of new leaders.
- Participants received info to take back to their churches — and the PDF version is here
Visit the Annual Meeting page to view meeting documents — including the budget and elected nominations slate. And mark your calendar now for two 2019 events: the March 2 WNCA Education Day and the October 5 Annual Meeting — both of which will be held at Abernethy Laurels.
The Western NC Association is building a Disaster Response & Recovery Team — people and churches who want to participate in or support direct work on-the ground, helping people recover from disaster and restore some normalcy to their homes and their lives. Even if you can’t travel, you can support this work in a range of ways. Complete the form you’ll find here bit.ly/DisasterTeam to share your interests and your skills!
In response to the impact of Hurricane/Tropical Storm Florence, the Southern Conference is sponsoring a Clean-Up Campaign — a drive to supply 500 Clean-Up Buckets to people seeking to recover. Click the button to learn how you and your church can help!
On October 8, the first in an ongoing series of free, monthly webinars begins! Each month, WNCA subject experts will offer programs on topics ranging from church budgets to mental health to end-of-life planning. You’ll need to register in advance to receive the webinar link — then you can join the program from any web browser or smartphone.All one-hour webinars begin at 6:00pm. Have a topic you’d like to see covered? Drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.All one-hour webinars begin at 6:00pm.
On March 3, over 80 members of churches across the WNCA met at Abernethy Laurels to explore what it means to Love Your Neighbor. Using a World Cafe discussion style led by The Rev. Tamara Franks of High Country UCC, the gathered body developed a great list of ways to love our neighbors. Check out the results of their discussions — just click the PDF link to the right.
Saturday, March 3, 2018
9:00 AM – 2:00 PM
$10 including lunch & refreshments
Learn more about putting your faith in action — both as an individual and as a church! Join us for the annual WNCA Education Gathering featuring one of the UCC’s Three Great Loves: Love of Neighbor!
All are welcome to this gathering, which will include lunch, worship, and a celebration of the ministry of The Rev. Jerry Rhyne, our retiring WNCA Minister for Church Affairs.
- We’ll start at 9:00am with coffee, pastries and fruit
- We’ll learn from short presentations & engage in roundtable discussions
- We’ll share a deli sandwich lunch (vegetarian & gluten-free options available)
- You’ll come away with stronger skills and better answers to questions like —
- How do I relate to my neighbor in divisive times?
- How does my faith call me to love my neighbor?
- What practices can I engage in to show my love of neighbor in my wider community, the WNCA, the world?
And we’ll imagine the practices we can explore for loving our neighbor our ourselves — right in our own neighborhoods.
At its October 7, 2017 annual gathering, the Western North Carolina Association celebrated its golden anniversary with stories from pastors and leaders who have served the Association for many years, with reflections from Millennial clergy, and with a challenge for the future from Conference Minister Edward Davis.
The meeting also featured two brief educational presentations. The Rev. Craig Schaub of Parkway UCC highlighted the UCC’s environmental ministries and shared the video below —
The Rev. Cheri Lovell offered a brief overview of crisis communications for churches, and provided the following handouts —
- Crisis Communications presentation (with speaker notes)
- Press Releases & The Media handout
- WNCA press release regarding Bethany UCC (Winston-Salem)
After lunch, the body conducted the business of the Conference, approving the 2018 budget, receiving reports from the Commission on Ministry and other groups, and electing the nominated slate of officers. The meeting ended with worship, communion, and affirmation of the newly-elected leaders. Among the meeting highlights —
- Welcome of Sacred Souls Community Church (Charlotte) into the Association
- Acceptance of a motion by The Rev. Colleen Samson to add a line item to the 2018 budget providing $6,000 to supplement the income of WNCA’s Minister for Church Affairs (MCA); and accepting Rev. Samson’s offer to lead a committee to raise an additional $6,000 to return MCA compensation to the level provided before the 50% reduction determined by the Southern Conference in the spring of 2016.
- Celebration of the 125th Anniversary of Trinity Reformed Church (Conover)
WINSTON-SALEM, NC — The leaders of historic, rural Bethany United Church of Christ said they were stunned to receive the emailed resignation of their pastor, Robert W. Lee IV, a few days after he denounced white supremacy at the Aug. 27 MTV Video Music Awards. On Sunday, September 10, the congregation voted to accept Lee’s unexpected resignation.
With no members of the governing council tuned into the VMAs, the leaders of Bethany only became aware of any conflict when Pastor Lee emailed his resignation to governing council chair Jerry Clodfelter a few days after the program aired.
“I was headed out of town when I received Pastor Lee’s email,” said Clodfelter, “so I respectfully declined his resignation and asked him if we could discuss his desire to resign when I returned. No one at Bethany was aware any problem existed, and we were unprepared for the media attention. To the knowledge of the governing council, no one at Bethany had an issue with Pastor Lee’s statements on television.”
Founded in 1789 as one of the earliest Reformed congregations in North Carolina, Bethany’s ministry focuses on Sunday worship. The church supports the social justice advocacy for which the United Church of Christ is known in the region and beyond.
“Bethany was so pleased to have found Pastor Lee,” said The Rev. Jerry Rhyne, Minister for Conference Affairs in the Western NC Association of the Southern Conference of the United Church of Christ. “Small churches like Bethany — churches that want to grow into a fresh future — can offer young ministers a wonderful opportunity to explore their vocation and spread their wings. We remain hopeful that Bethany will find the right woman or man to continue their legacy.”
Lee, 24, a recent graduate of Duke Divinity School and descendant of the Confederate General, had been invited by MTV to introduce the mother of Heather Heyer, the woman who died on August 12 from injuries sustained while counter-protesting the white nationalist Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, VA. Since accepting in May the part-time call to lead this small congregation, Lee’s leadership and preaching had been well-received by the congregation. Lee was working on becoming credentialed in the progressive United Church of Christ, with his congregation’s full spiritual and financial support.