May 2, 2016/Volume 15, No. 9

The NewsCONNECTION will not be published on Monday, May 16. Instead, daily updates from General Conference will be sent May 10-20, excluding the day of rest, May 15. 

Conference News

Bishop Honored by Huntingdon College

Bishop Paul Leeland was honored on Friday, April 29, 2016, by Huntingdon College and President Cam West, at the Montgomery Country Club. Leeland was the recipient of the Mary Mildred Sullivan Award. This award is given each year to a non-student member of the college community. Huntingdon College is one of several select southern colleges and universities that presents this award. According to the award guidelines, the recipient should possess spiritual qualities such that the "spiritual standard of the institution may be judged by the character of the person to whom the award is made." Click here for full story. Click here for photo gallery

UM Moscow Theological Seminary President Visits AWF Church

Dr. Sergei Nikolaev, president of the United Methodist Moscow Theological Seminary and E. Stanley Jones Professor of Evangelism, visited Montgomery FUMC over the weekend. Dr. Nikolaev was hosted by Dr. Lawson Bryan and members of the church. While in town he visited historic sites, preached during the two worship services and also visited with Dr. Karl Stegall, founder of the Stegall Seminary Scholarship Endowment Foundation. Nikolaev and Bryan served communion together for both services. Nikolaev was invited by Bryan after meeting him at pre general conference in January. He will continue his journey to Portland, OR, this week for 2016 General Conference. Click here to see photo gallery

2016 Annual Conference Information

The 2016 session of annual conference is quickly approaching and will be held June 12-15, 2016, at Frazer Memorial UMC. Visit for complete information or follow the below links. This year, a new giving option for the missional offering has been implemented to benefit the AWF Disaster Response and Recovery Ministry. 

Brochure of Reports
Special Guests
Award Nominations
Laity Banquet
Missional Giving Offering Insert 
Online Missional Giving
Hotel Information
UMCOR Kit Collection
Working Agenda

United Methodist Lawyers Seminar 

(Bishop Paul Leeland) - The Chancellors for the North Alabama Conference and the Alabama-West Florida Conference are developing a seminar for lawyers which will be focused on church-related legal matters. I believe that this is a very important seminar and that it will benefit the lawyers who help our churches in various situations. I am contacting each of you to ask you to develop a list of lawyers who are members of the church you serve so that they will know about this upcoming opportunity. The Chancellors have worked hard on putting this seminar together. Click here to see full letter

Around the Conference

AWF Youth Roundtable Held at Huntingdon College

AWF youth workers and volunteers gathered on Thursday, April 28, 2016, at Huntingdon College to exchange ideas and share creative solutions in the field of youth ministry. Sessions were facilitated by Rev. Jeremy Steele (Christ UMC, Mobile), Chase Faulk (Frazer UMC, Montgomery) and Caroline Hare (Destin UMC). The new year-long AWF Youth Ministry Cohort was also announced at this event, details can be found below in the next article. Click here for full storyClick here for photo gallery

AWF Youth Ministry Cohort Announced

The Alabama-West Florida Conference is launching a year-long youth ministry cohort. Six times a year a group of youth workers will gather to spend a day pursuing personal holiness and professional excellence. The group spends their time focused on exploring personal spiritual development, troubleshooting real-world ministry problems, and discussing an important book that is relevant to the life and role of a youth worker in a local congregation. The cohort will be facilitated by a veteran youth worker who will act as a personal and professional mentor for those involved in the session. More here

Christ UMC Celebrates Spiller's 37 Years of Ministry

On Sunday, April 24, 2016, Dr. Jeff Spiller and his wife, Norma, were honored at a gathering at Christ UMC in Mobile, AL. Bishop Leeland, former church employees and associates honored Spiller in this video. Click here to see video

Dothan District Office 

The Dothan District Office has moved. The new address is:
256 Honeysuckle Road, Suite 5,
Dothan, AL 36305
The telephone number and e-mail remain the same. 

Portland Bound? We'd Like to Know Your Role in General Conference

Are you attending General Conference 2016 in Portland as a speaker, worship participant, volunteer, or observer? If so, the Conference Communications Office would like to know how you will be involved. Contact Mary Catherine Phillips here.  

Connectional News

Every United Methodist Can Be Part of General Conference 2016

(UMNS) - Not every United Methodist will be a delegate to General Conference, but that does not mean that you cannot participate in all that is happening May 10-20, 2016, in Portland, Oregon. General Conference is the global gathering of The United Methodist Church, and there are plenty of ways for you to be involved. More here

Survey: United Methodist Church Starts Stand Out

(UMNS) - United Methodist new church starts outpaced other Protestant church starts in three of five key benchmarks — average worship attendance, new decisions for Christ and reaching previously unchurched people. LifeWay Research, part of the Southern Baptist Convention, offered these findings based on a survey of 17 U.S. evangelical denominations and church-planting networks. United Methodist Discipleship Ministries, which includes Path1 New Church Starts, has the report. Read press release.

10 Fascinating Facts About John Wesley

(Rev. Jeremy Steele for UMCOM) - Did you know Methodism’s founder wrote a best-selling medical primer? In an article for United Methodist Communications, Jeremy Steele offers this and other facts from the life of John Wesley. Read story.

2016 UMC FCU Scholarship

(UMC Federal Credit Union) - 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 $1000 scholarship each. Click here for more information


God loved. God gave. We love. We give. Apportioned Funds Resource Booklet

(UMCOM) - Use this 16-page booklet to help educate your Sunday school classes, confirmation students and worshippers on the apportionment system of The United Methodist Church. Whether you are a church leader, member or newcomer, you will find it an invaluable resource. It is available free at or by calling 888-346-3862.

Strengthen Christian Faith in Your Homes

(GBOD) - May is Christian Home Month in The United Methodist Church, and this year's theme is “Families: Called to Hope.” Resources from Discipleship Ministries are available to help your congregation develop and strengthen faith in the home and support Christian families in their faith journeys. For worship suggestions, family devotional ideas, retreat plans and congregational activities, click here

Clergy Health & Wellness Initiative Requirements

As of 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


UMC General Conference, May 10-20

Blue Lake Open House and Free Concert, May 14

Demopolis District Lay Member Orientation for Annual Conference, May 15

UMVIM Team Leader Training, Camden UMC, May 21

AWF Youth Ministry Cohort, May 26

UMW SEJ Quadrennial Meeting, June 3-5

2016 AWF Annual Conference, June 12-15

Last Sunday for Moving, Retiring Pastors, June 19

Moving Day, June 21

Huntingdon College Leadership Academy, June 22-24


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