Unrelenting Grace and Fresh Expressions of Church
By Michael Beck
Every month, Fresh Expressions United Methodist hosts a series of online learning opportunities. This month, it is our pleasure to host Bishop Ken Carter for a live webinar on Thursday, May 25 at 5:30 p.m., CDT. Bishop Carter will bring his wisdom of Fresh Expressions to provide insights on embracing grace, seeking holiness, and building connections.
Kenneth H. Carter, Jr. was elected a bishop of The United Methodist Church in 2012 by the Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference. He is the resident bishop of the Western North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church. Along with the cabinet, Bishop Carter gives pastoral and administrative leadership to more than one thousand congregations, Fresh Expressions of church, campus ministries, and outreach initiatives in an episcopal area that stretches across the forty-four western counties of the state.
Bishop Carter served as the president of the Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church from 2018-2020, and he was one of three moderators of The Commission on a Way Forward from 2016 to 2018. In addition to his responsibilities with the Western North Carolina Conference, he is bishop-in-residence and a consulting faculty member at Duke University Divinity School. He served as bishop of the Florida Conference from 2012-2022.
Bishop Carter is the author of nineteen books, most recently, Unrelenting Grace (Abingdon, 2023). He has written two books on the Fresh Expressions movement with Audrey Warren: Fresh Expressions: A New Kind of Methodist Church (Abingdon, 2017) and Fresh Expressions of People Over Property (Abingdon, 2020). His editorials have appeared in the Charlotte Observer, Greensboro News and Record, and Winston-Salem Journal. His commentary on Christianity in the United States has appeared in The New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, and on National Public Radio.
Bishop Carter has preached in camp meetings, prisons and jails, college and university chapels, synagogues, megachurches and house churches, and in twenty countries on four continents. He was a local church pastor in the Western North Carolina Conference for twenty-eight years. His ministry at Providence United Methodist Church in Charlotte was described by the American Religious Historian Diana Butler Bass in her book, Christianity for the Rest of Us. In the annual conference, he served as chair of the board of ordained ministry and the committee on episcopacy, and in five delegations to Jurisdictional and General Conferences. He has served on the Board of Visitors of Duke University Divinity School and the Institutional Review Board of the Wake Forest University School of Medicine. He earned degrees from Columbus College, Duke Divinity School, the University of Virginia, and Princeton Theological Seminary. In addition, he is a graduate of Leadership Greensboro, Leadership Winston-Salem, and the Harvard Law School Program on Negotiation.
Bishop Carter’s great hope for the church is that it will rediscover an orthodox Christian faith that offers the radically inclusive grace of God to all people and that calls every follower of Jesus to inner holiness, missional compassion, justice rooted in the gospel, and a hopeful story of transformation. He travels extensively across the conference, preaching in local churches and encouraging lay and clergy leaders.
Bishop Carter and his wife, Pam, have been married for forty-two years. Pam has served as an ordained elder in The United Methodist Church, most recently in disaster recovery, and she has a deep involvement in God’s mission in Haiti. The Carters are blessed with two adult daughters. Liz is married to Yoonie and is a professor of Chinese at Vassar College, and Abby is the chief officer for communications and marketing at the University of Tennessee Southern. Abby and her husband, Allen, are parents of Paige and Natalie, the bishop’s granddaughters.
Bishop Carter will guide us through a consideration of how we, the United Methodist people, may seek to love God and neighbor. He will bring us the courage to break free from isolation, loneliness, and alienation by embracing grace, seeking holiness, and building meaningful connections. Join us as we seek ways to bridge the gap between faith and life and rediscover deep connections of unity and love.
Don’t miss this gathering on May 25 at 5:30 p.m., CDT. Please register at the link below. If you can’t make it to the conversation, you may access a recording afterward via the email you provide.
Michael Beck is the Director of Fresh Expressions United Methodist (FXUM) with Path 1 at Discipleship Ministries.