The Big Question

How do we, as the Western North Carolina Conference, hope to make more and stronger African-American disciples? A partial answer to this question includes...


  • making our United Methodist Churches with primarily African-American constituents more vital
  • strengthening African-American leaders, both clergy and lay, through continuing education and formation events
  • working to undo the past history and current realities of racism within the church and society
  • helping United Methodist Churches with predominantly Caucasian membership become more multicultural

Read about all these efforts and more in this issue of PROCLAIM!


"How to Put Your Church at the Center of Your Community"
is the theme of the March issue of PROCLAIM!
African-American Ministries 


The February issue of PROCLAIM! centers around African-American Ministries. The Reverend Phyllis Coates is the Convener for African-American Ministries in the Western North Carolina Conference. Contact Phyllis at 336 299-3866 or at Other members of the WNCC African-American Ministries Team include George Coates, Pamela Blackstock, Loretha Graves and Larry Fitzgerald.

Vitality in the African-American Church 


Congregational Vitality Strategists Stephanie Hand and Luke Lingle, Director of Discipleship Ministries Jennifer Davis and Uwharrie District Superintendent Sam Moore have been involved in a number of conversations about vitality in the Black Church. Stephanie recently convened a Think Tank at the United Methodist Foundation in Huntersville made up of a small but representative group of pastors. They celebrated the historic strength and importance of our African-American churches, looked frankly at the possibilities and challenges they face today, and began to envision what steps we need to take in order to move us toward a hopeful future. Stephanie looks forward to sharing the results of those discussions at a later date, information that will be important to all United Methodists in our conference. If you have thoughts to share with Stephanie, contact her at 704 535-2260 or

2015 Convocation for Pastors of Black Churches 

The Justice and Reconciliation Team gave partial scholarships to help 15 clergy to attend the Convocation for Pastors of Black Churches this January. The stated goal of the Convocation was, "resourcing congregations with catalytic tools for rekindling FIRE in worship, pastoral leadership, the congregation and community toward relational, missional and transformational experiences/ encounters with Jesus Christ." Held in Atlanta every two years, and sponsored by the United Methodist Publishing House, this year's event had more than 450 participants. In addition to great time of connection and inspiration, the participants from our conference learned many valuable lessons that will shape their work in ministry in the days to come. Read more...

WNCC Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration


In his "Letter from a Birmingham Jail," Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said the church of today should be more like the church depicted in Acts, not merely reflecting the surrounding values of the culture but transforming them. Rather than mere thermometers, we are called to be thermostats. Building on this insight, the theme of this year's conference MLK, Jr. Celebration was "Changing the Atmosphere: Be Not Conformed, Be Transformed." Read more...

Multi-Cultural Churches


In addition to more vital predominantly African-American UM congregations, another key component to reaching more African-Americans is by creating more vital multi-cultural ones.  

  • If you are hoping for that transformation in your church consider the upcoming workshop with Mark DeYmaz at Crossroads UMC on Saturday, February 28. DeYmaz is "pastor of the Mosaic Church of Central Arkansas, a multi-ethnic and economically diverse church where men and women from more than thirty nations currently worship God together as one."
  • You may know that Good Shepherd UMC in Charlotte, which Talbot Davis pastors, is one of our largest churches in the WNCC. You may be surprised to learn that it's also one of the most diverse. Davis talks about both the theological convictions and practical steps that have helped them achieve this diversity in this recent blog post.
  • Another strategy being deployed in our conference to encourage multi-cultural churches (especially in the Northern Piedmont District) is making more cross-racial appointments. You'll be able to read more about the blessings and challenges of cross-racial appointments in the May issue of PROCLAIM!
Black Methodists for Church Renewal

Do you know about Black Methodists for Church Renewal?  "BMCR is the organized Black caucus of the United Methodist Church. We are one of the United Methodist denomination's five U.S.-based ethnic caucuses.  BMCR represents and is dedicated to more than 2,400 Black United Methodist congregations and approximately 500,000 African American members across the United States."   Read more about the national movement, including details of their upcoming general meeting in Orlando by clicking hereWe also have a healthy local chapter here in our conference.  Please follow these links to read about our WNCBMCR leadership for 2015 and their general meeting dates. 

Could Your Church Use $500?


We are looking for stories of how local churches have experienced a mutual blessing by hosting another worshiping congregation in their facilities. These stories will be featured in the March issue of PROCLAIM! which is all about how to put your church at the center of the community. The three churches with the best stories will each receive an award of $500 to help them continue to be hospitable. The deadline for consideration is Saturday, February 28. Read more about how to apply for the Good Neighbor Award here.

PROCLAIM! is the monthly e-newsletter of the WNC Justice & Reconciliation team.  It is emailed to all conference clergy and to laity upon request.  Please feel free to share with others.  To subscribe to PROCLAIM! or to comment, please contact Matt Smith at
"He has sent Me to PROCLAIM freedom
to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind,
to set free the oppressed, to PROCLAIM
the year of the LORD's favor!"