October 16, 2017/Volume 16, No. 17

Conference News

A Video Message from Bishop Graves

We invite you to watch a video message from Bishop David Graves, Resident Bishop of the Alabama-West Florida Conference. Click here to viewClick here to read the written transcriptYou may also listen to this message as an audio-only podcast by clicking here, by searching for "AWFUMC Podcasts" on iTunes or in your preferred podcast player. We invite you to subscribe to these podcasts.

AWF Conference Announces New Event Promotion Guidelines

The Alabama-West Florida Conference cabinet and CORE team have approved new guidelines for promoting events in the conference. This will streamline how information is submitted, where events are promoted and also provides suggestions on how groups can help promote their events. The conference will be sending a survey in the coming weeks to better understand more about when, where and what people are interested in attending. Click here to review document

RIOM Goes Digital

(Kari Barlow for the Alabama-West Florida Conference) - A shift toward digital resources in the Alabama-West Florida Conference is making it easier for newly commissioned ministers to navigate the challenging path to ordination. Conference officials say the decision to make its Residency in Ordained Ministry program accessible through an online portal has resulted in more efficiency and greater connections among the candidates. “It’s how we live now, and it’s how we’re going to live in the future,” said Rev. June Jernigan, Assistant to Bishop David Graves and Director of Ministerial Services. “The Alabama-West Florida Conference is giving our residents this gift. It’s a gift and an investment in them.” More here

Around the Conference

Foley UMC Unites Community with Path to Peace

(Kari C. Barlow for the Alabama-West Florida Conference) - Skeptics were proved wrong in a big way Sunday at Foley United Methodist Church. More than 500 people turned out for “Path to Peace: A Reconciliation Celebration” that united blacks, whites and Latinos from across Baldwin County. “We used every chair that we owned, and there were still people standing up!” said Rev. Dr. Nolan Donald, pastor at Foley UMC. “I would describe it as holy ground.” The two-hour service, which blended worship, prayer and sermons from all three communities, was organized as a demonstration of racial unity founded on the cause of Christ. There were white choirs, black choirs and a Latino worship team, and afterward officers from the Foley Police Department grilled hamburgers and all the fixings for the crowd. Highlights here. Photo courtesy of Foley UMC

Gulf Breeze UMC Offers Up Safe-and-sober Homecoming Event

(Kari Barlow for the Alabama-West Florida Conference) - When high school homecoming dances end, most teenagers are nowhere near ready to call it a night. In Gulf Breeze, there’s a tradition of partying hard in beachfront houses flowing with alcohol and a wide variety of recreational drugs. But for the past four years, high school students active in the Gulf Breeze United Methodist Church youth group have led the fight for a safer alternative. Serving on a planning committee with other church members, they put together an alcohol-free night of fun, food and fellowship that has become one of the hottest tickets in town. “Kids are going to go somewhere after the homecoming game,” says the Rev. Shawn York, executive pastor at Gulf Breeze UMC. “All we’ve done is make it cool to be sober.” More here. Photo courtesy of GBUMC

No Greater Gift than a Place to Call Home, White Christmas Offering

(UM Children's Home) - Each year during the Christmas season, we are reminded there is no greater joy for us than giving to others. Since 1930, the White Christmas Offering has enabled Methodists to share their blessings with those whose circumstances in life just haven't been fair. These children and young adults certainly didn't sign up to be in the situation they're in and with your support, they have the hope of a much brighter tomorrow. Click here for more.  

Connectional News

United Methodists Help, Struggle Amid Wildfires

(UMNS) - First United Methodist Church of Santa Rosa, California, was always a church that helped others in need. After wildfires tore through Santa Rosa on Oct. 9, many in the church were homeless and relying on the help of others. Despite the damage to homes of members, the church still opened its doors as a shelter. “We got a knock on the door at 2 a.m., and had to evacuate immediately,” said the Rev. Blake Busick, senior pastor of the church. Fire embers rained down on Busick and his family as they left their home. Their home was destroyed, as were at least six homes of other church families. Full story here

Mission Teams Needed from Texas to Florida

Alabama-West Florida has received requests for ERTs (Early Response Teams) and mission teams from Annual Conferences affected by recent storms. Coastal communities in Texas, Florida, and South Georgia can all use our help, as can communities affected by Hurricane Matthew last year. Remember that when you are looking for an opportunity to volunteer as a mission team, each requesting annual conference controls the process and coordinates the United Methodist response. Details here

GC Commission Strives to Bring New Efficiencies to Legislative Event 

(Commission on General Conference) - The Commission on General Conference announced that the number of delegates for the 2020 General Conference will be roughly the same as the last. There were 864 delegates in 2016, compared to 988 in 2012. According to the Constitution of The United Methodist Church, the General Conference may have between 600-1,000 delegates. A formula prescribed in the Book of Discipline (¶511.5) determines the number of delegates; however, if the result is above 1,000, then the formula is applied proportionately to achieve an approximate target number set by the Commission. The formula takes into account the total clergy and lay membership per conference, with each conference getting a minimum of one lay and one clergy delegate. Per an amendment to the Book of Discipline (¶511.5) in 2016, the statistics used for calculation of delegates to the General Conference come from the annual conference journals submitted to the General Council on Finance and Administration. Delegate counts per conference will be determined by the Secretary of the General Conference by December 1. For the 2019 special session of the General Conference, delegates from the 2016 General Conference would continue to serve unless an annual conference chooses to have a new election. Full release here. Photo courtesy of Diane Degnan.

Local Church Resources

Agency Partners with Church-software Company 

(GCFA) - Responding to inquiries from local churches about the need for church software to help manage church administrative functions, Church Windows, a leading provider of church management software, is the latest organization to partner with GCFA to support local church ministries. Details here.  

New Book Explores Methodism's Origins

The Publishing Office of the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM) announced the release of a new book, “Encoding Methodism: Telling and Re-Telling Narratives of Wesleyan Origins.” In this work, Ted A. Campbell offers a comprehensive and critically documented account of the founding of Methodism and the distinctive identity of the religious community. Information here

Charge Conference Forms Available Online

2017 Charge Conference Forms are now available online. You may access them through this link or go to our home page and click on the link under Quick Links. Should you have questions, please contact your district office or Lauren in the Episcopal office. Click here to access forms


SEJ Black Methodists for Church Renewal, October 19-21

UMW Spiritual Enrichment Retreat, October 20-22

Prayer Shawl Retreat, October 23-26

At The Table: An Intentional Multi-Ethnic Gathering, October 28

ERT Training, Lynn Haven UMC, October 28

Make a Difference Day, October 28

Pensacola District Conference, November 5

Pensacola District Youth Fused Conference, November 5

revitup!, November 13-15

2017-2020 Spiritual Direction Training, November 13-16

United Methodist Student Day, November 26

Pensacola District Clergy & Spouses Christmas Dinner, December 5

Baypines District Clergy Christmas Party, December 7

Appalachian Christmas at Lake Junaluska, December 7-10


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