February 22, 2016/Volume 15, No. 4

Conference News

Famed Author and United Methodist Harper Lee Dead at 89

Nelle Harper Lee, famed author of "To Kill A Mockingbird" passed away today, February 19, 2016, in her hometown of Monroeville, AL at the age of 89. Lee was the youngest of four children and was born on April 28, 1926. Her sister, Alice Lee, preceded her in death in 2014 and was one of the most active women in the Alabama-West Florida Conference. She was very involved as a lay person and was a delegate to numerous general conferences. Click here for full articleShown in photo left to right: Alice Lee, Dawn Wiggins Hare and Harper Lee at at Alice's 95th birthday party. Photo courtesy of The Press Register/Connie Baguette. 

Clergy Health & Wellness Initiative Requirements

Beginning January 1, 2016, the Alabama-West Florida Annual Conference Board of Pension & Health Benefits launched the Health and Wellness Initiative Program. The goal of the program is to encourage our pastors and their dependents to live healthier lifestyles by providing them with personal health information, screening and coaching, thus helping the Conference to reduce and control the cost of health insurance claims. Clergy members on the conference active health insurance plan are required to complete the HealthQuotient and Biometric Screening by August 31, 2016. Dependents, retired clergy and their dependents and employees who are on the annual conference health plan are not required to complete the HQ and Biometric Screening but are welcome and encouraged to participate. Complete information here

Steele Named AWF Youth Liaison

Rev. Jeremy Steele, Next Generation pastor at Christ UMC in Mobile, AL, is now also serving as the Alabama-West Florida Youth Liaison. He will continue his current appointment while he assumes this new leadership role. The Office of Communications spoke with Rev. Steele about youth ministry. 
Q: The Alabama-West Florida Conference is excited to bring back a leader to manage youth ministry. You have been retained to be the liaison for our conference and serve as a point person for this ministry area. What are your plans for this new role and what are some ideas you have to connect youth directors and leaders across our conference?
I am going to be spending time helping coordinate and provide training for youth workers in our conference that will allow them to both grow in personal holiness and professional effectiveness as a youth worker. We are going to do that in three ways. Full Q and A here

AWF Holds Sixth Annual Prayer Breakfast for State Officials

(Montgomery, AL) - The Alabama-West Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church Board of Church & Society hosted a prayer breakfast on February 11, 2016, in the fellowship hall of Montgomery First United Methodist Church. Alabama Supreme Court Justice Lyn Stuart, State Auditor Jim Zeigler, former Supreme Court Justice Sue Bell Cobb, State Treasurer Young Boozer, many representatives, including Randy Davis, Jim Patterson, KL Brown, Howard Sanderford, Harry Shiver, and Jack W. Williams, and numerous area United Methodist pastors, United Methodist Women and lay persons gathered to pray for our state. Full story here

AWF UMCOR ERT Teams On Stand-by After Tornado

To all who have been through UMCOR's Early Response Team training, please be on standby for response in Century, FL. A tornado went through Century on Monday, February 15 and destroyed 30 homes and damaged more, and also damaged Century United Methodist Church. There is major damage to the church and is most likely not salvageable. The church has found a temporary place to worship. The community is not open to volunteers at this time, but some assistance is likely needed in the days and weeks to come. Amelia Fletcher, conference disaster response coordinator, is in contact with the local emergency organization leaders, and we will keep you posted as we learn more. Click here to see pictures and read more from a local media outlet. Click here to see interior photos of the church post storm damagePhoto courtesy of

Around the Conference

The People of Dauphin Way United Methodist Seek to Eat Simply so that Others May Simply Eat

(Scott Tindle) - Following two successful campaigns aimed at helping the “least of these” the congregation of Dauphin Way United Methodist Church now seeks to use lent to “eat a little more simply so that others may simply eat.” Over the 40 days of lent the congregation is scaling back its dining options and meal choices while setting aside the financial savings from this program to provide food for both local organizations as well as foreign aid groups who feed the needy. Full story here

Author Robert Lupton to Speak in AWF Conference

Just how should we respond in compassion and love to those who ask the church for help? Come learn from others who are doing just that. Hear from Bob Lupton, author of Toxic Charity. Bob has spent his entire career serving those who do not have sufficient resources. But, Bob has a very different strategy than most churches. You will also have an opportunity to learn about Communities of Transformation (formerly known as Circles of Transformation). He will be in Daphne, AL on March 5 and Montgomery on March 6. Click here for more information or download a bulletin insert here.   

Joel Ncaharuri, Missionary Itineration, to Visit AWF Conference 

Joel Ncaharuri is a Global Ministries missionary serving in Cameroon. He will be itinerating through the Alabama-West Florida conference March 29-April 6. He is available to speak to any church, small group, Bible study class, UMW circle, mission committee, or other church group. You will hear from him about the amazing growth of the United Methodist Church in Cameroon. Contact Susan Hunt at 334-356-8014 or, to get your church on his schedule, which is filling up quickly.

Wesley Manor Holds Groundbreaking Celebration

Dothan, AL – Wesley Manor, a retirement community of Methodist Homes of Alabama and Northwest Florida, will begin a construction and renovation project to accommodate the new generation of baby boomers coming into retirement in the next few years. Several Dothan District leaders and other local dignitaries were on hand for a ceremonial Groundbreaking Celebration on February 12 along with more than 150 people who crowded the front lawn of the property on the unseasonably bright and sunny day. Participants in the event included Rev. Sara Shaver, Dothan District Superintendent; Dr. Jerry Dooling, former Dothan District Superintendent who is serving Sylvan Grove UMC; Dr. Jim Sanders, Senior Minister of Dothan First UMC; Dothan Mayor Mike Schmitz; and Houston County Commission Chairman Mark Culver. Full release here

Connectional News

AWF Churches Awarded Rethink Church Grants

The Rethink Church program through United Methodist Communications awards three types of grants each year: Community Event Grants, Digital Advertising Grants, and New Church Start Grants. The churches listed below took part in one of these grant opportunities in 2015.
Digital Advertising Grants:
Fairhope UMC (Fairhope, AL)
New Hope UMC (Theodore, AL)
Orange Beach UMC (Orange Beach, FL)
Crestview First UMC (Crestview, FL)
Grace UMC (Mobile, AL)
Saraland UMC (Saraland, FL)
Shalimar UMC (Shalimar, FL)
In addition, Centro Missionaro Fort Walton (Fort Walton, FL) was awarded the New Church Start grant. 
Many resources are available at

Should We Go From Two Worship Services to One?

(Lewis Center) - Just as some churches are adding worship services, others are considering reducing the number of worship times they offer. The most common circumstance is a church that traditionally offered two Sunday morning services and is considering replacing that pattern with a single worship experience. Here is how someone recently described their situation:
For years we have had two Sunday morning services. However, increasingly on special occasions, everyone worships together in one service. The energy felt in these services is leading some to push for more frequent combined services or simply going to one service for every Sunday.
Let’s use this case to examine several leadership considerations to explore before reducing the number of services, whether occasionally, routinely or permanently. Full commentary here

Publishing House Board Names Next President

(UMNS) — The Rev. Brian K. Milford has been selected to be the next president and chief executive officer of the United Methodist Publishing House. Milford is the Publishing House’s United Methodist Church book editor and chief content officer. He will officially assume office in October after Neil Alexander retires as president and publisher. Read press release.


2015 AWF 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

One Great Hour of Sharing Resources

(UMNS)  - United Methodist Communications is providing new resources for pastors and lay leaders to use in promoting One Great Hour of Sharing, which will be Sunday, March 6, this year. Offerings on this Special Sunday support the administrative costs of the United Methodist Committee on Relief. See resources.

Lent Quiz: Test Your Knowledge of the Season

See how much you know about the traditions and symbols of Lent & Easter by clicking on the questions below. Please return each weekday during Lent for a new question. We encourage you to share the link to this page with others, too. Good luck! Click here for quiz

Events & Deadlines

Save the Date: 5-Day Academy for Spiritual Formation

This event will be October 16-21, 2016, at Camp McDowell and is sponsored by the AWF Conference, the North AL Conference, The Upper Room, and The Episcopal Diocese of AL. Faculty presenters are Dr. Amy Oden (Former Dean of Wesley Theological Seminary and Professor at St. Paul Seminary) and Bishop Kee Sloan (Bishop of The Episcopal Diocese of AL). The theme is God’s Welcome - The Spirituality of Hospitality. Contact Pat Luna for more information. 

ERT Training Camden UMC, February 27

COT Hosts Robert Lupton, March 5-6

One Great Hour of Sharing, March 6

Wesley Heirs Spring Meeting, March 8-10

Lay Servant Training Academy, March 11-12

River Region Great Day of Service, March 12

UMW Spiritual Enrichment Retreat, March 18-20

Lead Up! Youth Mission Leadership Practicum, April 1-3

United Methodist Men's Annual Advance, April 1-2

Inspirit 2016, April 7-9

Blue Lake Christian Writers Retreat, April 20-23

ARM's Cycle of Service, April 22-24


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