January 25, 2016/Volume 15, No. 2

Conference News

Alabama-West Florida Conference Saves 100,000 Lives Through Imagine No Malaria

(Montgomery, AL) - The Alabama-West Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church has reached its goal of saving more than 100,000 lives, thus raising over one million dollars for Imagine No Malaria. The conference initiative began in January of 2014 under the leadership of the AWF Core Team. Both missional offerings collected at 2014 and 2015 Annual Conferences were for Imagine No Malaria. A record-setting offering of $322,600 was presented at 2014 Annual Conference. An additional $91,602 was collected at the Opening Worship service of 2015 Annual Conference. Ms. Sheri Altland, Campaign Director for Imagine No Malaria, was in attendance at this service and commended the conference for its efforts. She also complimented the eight districts of the conference on implementing a model and example for 32 other conferences currently engaged in Imagine No Malaria work. Full story here. Photo by Mike Dubose, UMNS

Bishop's Day Apart Registration Now Open

The annual Bishop's Day Apart will be held Monday, February 22 at Aldersgate UMC in Montgomery, AL. Dr. Tom Long, Bandy Professor of Preaching at Candler School of Theology, is the guest speaker. Registration is required to attend. You may choose to eat on or off campus. Click here to register. Note that the conference PayPal system is currently down. You may mail a check or bring money with you to the event if you are eating at Aldersgate UMC. 

COT Announces New Name and Branding

Exciting change is underway for Circles of Transformation. As of January 1, 2016, Circles of Transformation is now Communities of Transformation! This process of rebranding began in late 2015 when COT Coordinator Laurel Blackwell and the community VISTAs and Coordinators met together in Montgomery, Alabama, to envision the future of COT. Together they discussed how much the ministry has changed since the founding of the pilot site in Dothan, Alabama, in 2013. One of the biggest takeaways from this meeting was how deep the relationships in each of the six communities have grown. Each community has become a diverse gathering of people from varying walks of life. Yet each person is valued, trusted, respected, welcomed, encouraged, challenged, and loved. Many in the communities have expressed how their COT community has become their family, bringing them out of a place of isolation and despair. According to Laurel Blackwell, Coordinator of COT, “Communities of Transformation more accurately describes what we do as a ministry.”

AWF Office of Communications Receives Six UMAC Awards

The Alabama-West Florida Conference was recognized by the United Methodist Association of Communicators by receiving six awards on Tuesday, January 20, 2016, at its annual meeting. Over 400 entries were submitted from around the connection for ten categories. Awards received were:
-First Place in the Publicity and Advertising Single Piece Category, Communications Audit
-First Place in the Web Design Category, AWF Website
-First Place in the Photojournalism Category, AME Service Photo (above)
-Second Place in the Photojournalism Category, Annual Conference Communion
-Third Place in the Web Design Category, District Subpages Websites
-Third Place in the Branding Category, WhyI'mUM logo
Pictured above is the 1st place award-winning photo, by Luke Lucas, taken at the St. John AME prayer service held in Montgomery, AL, after the deadly shootings at Mother Emmanuel in Charleston, SC. 

Bishop Morris, Strong Leader and Preacher, Dies at 78

(UMNS) - Retired United Methodist Bishop William Wesley “Bill” Morris died Thursday morning, Jan. 14, having suffered a massive heart attack at home, the Tennessee Conference reported. Morris, who was 78, led the Alabama-West Florida Episcopal Area from 1992 to 2000. He was the first African American to hold that post, and made news in 1998 when he was among the clergy officiating at the funeral of George Wallace, who had by then often apologized for defending segregation as Alabama’s governor. More here

Early Response Teams Still Needed for Elba Flood Cleanup

Volunteer Cleanup Teams are still needed in Elba, AL, as a result of severe flooding in December. Only the team leader is required to be ERT badged and certified. Local teams and out-of-area teams are welcome. Comprehensive information is available at Dr. Cory Smith, AWF Director of Connectional Ministries, visited the Elba area last week with Rev. Michael Lawler, pastor at Elba FUMC. Smith and Lawler toured damaged homes and presented gifts cards to families with immediate needs to use in the coming weeks. There are currently 50 families who are without a home, and for the next two weeks case managers will meet with these families to assist in the management of work teams. Please continue to pray for the community of Elba as they recover from this natural disaster. 

Around the Conference

Save the Date: Toxic Charity Author to Visit AWF

The Alabama-West Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church and Communities of Transformation will be hosting Robert Lupton, advocate of those living on the margins and author of the transformative book Toxic Charity, March 5-6, 2016. Lupton will be speaking on building fruitful ministry with the poor. He will be speaking on two separate occasions:
-March 5, 2016: Daphne UMC in Daphne, Alabama
-March 6, 2016: Aldersgate UMC in Montgomery, Alabama
These events are free of charge and open to the public – all churches, denominations, and communities are invited! For more information, contact Heather Allen at or click here. 

Dumas Wesley Appeal Seeks to Meet Urgent Needs

(Dumas Wesley) - “My name is Peggy, I am 49 years old and I am homeless. Please let me re-phrase–I am no longer homeless thanks to Dumas Wesley’s transitional housing program... My life has been a mess for a long time and there are so many opportunities here for me to be able to help myself become strong and independent. I’m writing this letter to thank you for everything you’ve done to make this possible. You’ll never know how much I appreciate this...My goal is to be one of the success stories. May God richly bless and keep you.” Peggy represents the thousands of individuals who receive life-altering services from the Dumas Wesley Community Center in Mobile, Alabama. Dumas Wesley’s mission is currently jeopardized by their urgent need for roof repairs. On behalf of the Mobile District and the Alabama West-Florida Conference, we are asking you to please consider making a donation to Dumas Wesley so they may continue to serve under-resourced individuals like Peggy in 2016. We thank you for your prayerful consideration and support of Dumas Wesley’s ministry. Click here to see complete letter

Fountain of Love Offering Focuses On Mother’s Day

(Methodist Homes for the Aging) - For many of us, our parents and grandparents hold the most important positions in our lives. We celebrate these family members on special days during the year, reflecting on their influence in our lives and to show love, appreciation, or special remembrance. That is why Methodist Homes has chosen Mother’s Day for a Fountain of Love Offering emphasis in 2016. The Fountain of Love Fund provides financial assistance to older adults living in a Methodist Home retirement community who find that they can no longer pay for their entire care. Because of the support of the Alabama-West Florida Conference and its churches, no resident has ever been asked to leave a Methodist Home due to their inability to pay. More information here

Nominations for New AWF Conference Lay Leader

Dr. Steve Furr, Alabama-West Florida Conference lay leader, has announced the formation of the Board of Laity nominating committee that will consider candidates for the next conference lay leader. This person will take office immediately at the end of the next annual conference session in June 2016. Persons interested in potentially serving as the conference lay leader may contact Frank Moore, committee chair. He can be reached by email here or by calling 334-618-2104 (cell) or 334-598-2103 (home). You may also contact Frank if you would like to nominate someone for this position. For timing purposes, the committee will complete its work by April 4 in order to have the nomination results for the meeting of the Conference Nomination Committee on April 21.

Connectional News

United Methodist Leaders Gather in Portland to Prepare for General Conference 2016

(UM Reporter) - General Conference delegation chairs, annual conference communicators, and directors of connectional ministries have gathered today at the Oregon Convention Center to receive information and build relationships in preparation for May’s United Methodist General Conference. The Pre-General Conference briefing, sponsored by United Methodist Communications, brings church leaders together every 4 years to hear from United Methodist agencies and advocacy groups about plans for the May meeting. Click here for more

General Conference to Consider Rule Change to Facilitate a Process for Christian Conferencing

(UM Reporter) - Participants at the 2016 Pre-General Conference Briefing got a hands-on look at a new proposed small group process for Christian conferencing, proposed for use by the Commission on General Conference for the 2016 General Conference. The General Conference, the top-level legislative body of the church involving delegates from throughout the world will be meeting in May at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland. Today’s presentation outlined the process proposed for Rule 44, a new means of deliberation that moves away from Roberts Rules of Order toward a more conversational process of decision-making. Full story here


2015 Journal Available Through

The 2015 Journal is now available online for purchase through Copies are $25 and will ship directly to your preferred location. Click here to order the Journal

10 Ways to Embrace Confusion in 2016

(Ministry Matters) - Our seven-year-old grandson, Ezra, thrives on routine. When he spent last week at our house, I had yogurt available for breakfast. Because it wasn’t the Go-Gurts he is accustomed to, Ezra refused to eat anything. Then I tried to offer him Cheerios, but it wasn’t the kind of Cheerios Ezra likes, so he wouldn’t eat them, either. Like many children, he was unwilling to try anything new. Ezra is just like the church! We become so attached to the way we’ve always done things that even when statistics remind us that what we’ve always done is no longer working, we refuse to imagine a different future and accelerate our own decline. More here

United Methodist Connectional FCU 2016 Annual College Scholarships

Are you or do you know a member age 17-35 who is attending or planning to attend college and attend church in in one of the four conferences? If so, please let them know about your Credit Union's college scholarship program. Four winning applicants, one from each of our four conferences, Florida, North Georgia, South Georgia and Alabama-West Florida will receive a $1,000 scholarship each. More here


Meltdown 2016, January 29-31

Clergy Retirement Seminar, February 2-3

Baypines District Lay Servant Training, February 5-6

Elementary Winter Retreat, February 5-7

Blue Lake Sunday - Demopolis District, February 7

Legislative Prayer Breakfast, February 11

One Day: “Loving and Laughing on the Way to Church", February 13

Bishop's Confirmation Retreat, February 19-21

Bishop's Day Apart, February 22

COT Hosts Robert Lupton, March 5-6

Wesley Heirs Spring Meeting, March 8-9

Lay Servant Training Academy, March 11-12

River Region Great Day of Service, March 12


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