Methodists from all over Mecklenburg and Gaston counties gave up their Sunday naps to come and receive the training necessary to be engaged representatives up in Lake Junaluska.
But the meeting concluded with a kind of worship litany I’d never seen before: a service of remembrance and appreciation as we closed down the Charlotte District of the Conference.
Huh? Are Methodists abandoning Charlotte?
See, for years our Annual Conference was divided into fourteen different districts (and for the last four years, fifteen), usually named for and based out of the leading cities and towns in the western part of the state: cities like Charlotte, Greensboro, Asheville, High Point, and towns such as Marion, Waynesville, and North Wilkesboro. Each district had a full-time District Superintendent as well as office support staff, and gave supervision to roughly 70 churches.
However with the economic downturn and declining membership across the state, it is no longer feasible to support so many “branch offices” of the denomination.
So last year the Annual Conference made the rather dramatic decision to reduce the number of districts from fifteen to eight, and appointed a task force to draw the lines and name the new territories.
As a result, what used to be the Charlotte District is now part of the much larger Metro District. We’ve gone from about 60 churches to 134. The new District now includes Mecklenburg, Union, Cabarrus, Rowan, and Iredell counties.
Other districts have undergone the same kind of expansion both in geography and in number of congregations . . . and, presumably in workload of the Superintendents.
Here’s what the new Conference map looks like:
Farewell to the Charlotte District.
And hello to going Metro.