February 27, 2017/Volume 16, No. 4

Conference News

2017 Bishop's Day Apart Brings Clergy Together in Dothan

(Dothan, AL) - Over 250 clergy from the Alabama-West Florida Conference gathered today at Dothan FUMC. In years past this event has been held in Montgomery, AL. This event was held at a more central location in the conference to accommodate those in all corners of the conference. Dr. Jim Sanders and his staff welcomed a capacity crowd to the church early in the day. This year's feature speaker was Rev. Jerry Herships from the Denver, CO, area. Bishop David Graves welcomed him to the conference to start the morning. He is an ordained elder and currently leads a church plant called AfterHoursDenver, which focuses on the downtown area and homeless population. In the morning session, Claire Bowen, a lay leader from the North Georgia Conference, led the group in a personality assessment that helps clergy identify how they primarily communicate with their congregations. The assessment identified each person as either an innovator, thinker, realist or feeler. Rev. Herships then walked through the various typical traits of each personality type. Full article here. Click here to see photos from the event

A Word from the Bishop: The Appointment Making Process

(Bishop David Graves) - Greetings to the wonderful people of the Alabama-West Florida Conference:
I have been blessed by my times in the Town Hall/District visits in four of our districts and look forward to my time in the other four districts over the next few weeks. There are many life-changing ministries taking place around this conference. Furthermore, the Cabinet is very much involved in the appointment making process for the next Annual Conference year. As a way of keeping you informed about our process and seeking your prayers, I wanted to share the following....Full message here

AWF Holds Seventh 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 16, 2017, at the Alabama State House in downtown Montgomery. State Treasurer Young Boozer, State Auditor Jim Ziegler, Alabama Supreme Court Justice Lyn Stuart, Associate Supreme Court Justice Kelli Wise, Former Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb, many representatives including Steve McMillan, Rusty Glover, Randy Davis and numerous area United Methodist pastors, United Methodist Women and lay persons gathered to pray for our state. Rev. Ashley Davis from Woodland UMC offered the welcome and blessing. Representative Randy Davis, a staff member at Daphne UMC, also welcomed those in attendance. Rev. Davis encouraged lawmakers to review the handout provided offering Social Principles from the Book of Discipline addressing some of the issues facing them at the present time. More here. Click here to see photos from the day

Around the Conference

Wesley Foundation and Campus Ministry Leaders Meet for Planning Retreat

Leadership Teams from Huntingdon College Campus Ministries, Auburn Wesley Foundation, University of South Alabama Wesley Foundation, University of West Alabama Wesley Foundation, Tuskegee Wesley Foundation, University of West Alabama Wesley Foundation, and Troy Wesley Foundation gathered at Camp Beckwith to learn more about practical ways to serve Jesus on college campuses. Worship was led by Adam Lynn and the guest preacher was Rev. Jeremy Smith from Crosspoint UMC in Niceville, FL. The event was designed to inspire, equip and empower college leadership teams to return to their campuses and serve Jesus in new and exciting ways. Rev. Woods Lisenby, Huntingdon College Chaplain said, "This is the second year we have done this type of gathering, and the overwhelming response from students is that they love the event and want us to continue it in the future. In fact, one of the things that came out of our time together was a desire on their part to do more connectional events together throughout the year. The Huntingdon students had an outstanding time together and this retreat strengthened their bond as a leadership team." 

Springfield UMC Suffers Extensive Fire

Springfield UMC, in the Marianna-Panama City District, suffered an extensive fire and the sanctuary is a total loss. We are thankful that there are no injuries. Flames were reported shortly before 9pm on Sunday, February 26. Dr. Doug Pennington, MPC District Superintendent said, " Although I grieve for those who are hurting at the loss of the sanctuary where they came to Christ or had significant spiritual experiences, I know that the work of God remains when everything else burns up. Word is spreading across the district and the conference where many in the family of God are praying for our brothers and sisters at Springfield. I expect to see God do something great in the wake of this tragic loss." More here

Graves Meets with Pastors Around Conference

Bishop David Graves met with more AWF large-church pastors on Thursday, February 23rd at Daphne UMC. The meeting was a continuation of the on-boarding meetings he held in the fall upon coming to the Alabama-West Florida Conference. Claire Bowen, a lay leader out of the North Georgia Conference, facilitated the meeting. The Bishop answered questions about topics such as the appointment process, church benchmarks and the denomination. At the conclusion of the meeting, clergy asked to pray over Bishop and Mrs. Graves as they continue their ministry in the Alabama-West Florida Conference. This powerful moment was a special ending to a wonderful day of clergy fellowship and collaboration. Bishop Graves also met with female clergy last week and held two listening sessions for the Fellowship of Local Pastors this month in Andalusia and Montgomery. 

Win a Free Fitbit from the AWF Board of Pension & Health Benefits

Would you like to win a FREE Fitbit? The Alabama-West Florida Conference Board of Pension & Health Benefits is kicking off a friendly health competition called Thrive!! 
Here is how you can participate:
1. Establish or join a group of 3-5 fellow AWF clergy persons, spouses or laity on the conference health plan. All persons on AWF Conference health insurance plan are eligible to participate.
2. Elect a team captain and name your group. 
3. Each individual is to set 2 goals. 
Full information here. Click here to see the release video.  

Connectional News

Lewis Center for Church Leadership Announces Transition of Leadership

(Lewis Center) - President David McAllister-Wilson of Wesley Theological Seminary announced earlier today a transition of leadership for the G. Douglass Lewis Center for Church Leadership of Wesley Theological Seminary from founding director, the Rev. Dr. Lovett H. Weems, Jr., to current Wesley faculty member the Rev. Dr. F. Douglas Powe, Jr., effective July 1, 2017. Dr. Weems, Wesley’s Distinguished Professor of Church Leadership, will continue to be actively involved as Senior Consultant at the Lewis Center to write, teach and consult with denominational leaders. Full release here

Annual Conference 2017 to Vote on Five Constitutional Amendments

(UMNS) - General Conference delegates had their say last year. Now, it’s up to annual conference voters to determine whether five amendments will become part of The United Methodist Church’s constitution. In the coming months, the voters will consider changes that address matters of gender equality, inclusiveness in membership, delegate and bishop elections, as well as bishop accountability. To be ratified, a constitutional amendment first requires at least a two-thirds vote at General Conference, which happened in May 2016. Then, it must win at least a two-thirds majority of the total voters at annual conferences around the world. More here

UMCOR Sunday (formerly One Great Hour of Sharing) is March 26

When disaster strikes around the globe—Haiti’s 2010 earthquake or Typhoon Haiyan in 2013—so many watching the drama unfold on our living room televisions feel entirely helpless. How could any one person make a difference in the wake of such widespread devastation? As responders around the globe scramble to help survivors, the United Methodist Committee on Relief, UMCOR, is prepared to act. When you give, you equip Christ’s body to serve in His name. That’s because your generous giving to UMCOR Sunday (formerly One Great Hour of Sharing) is what allows UMCOR to act as the arms and legs of Christ’s church, moving toward the most vulnerable in their darkest days. Convinced that all people have God-given worth and dignity—without regard to race, religion or gender—together we are assisting those impacted by crisis or chronic need. More information here


Lake Junaluska Announces “Love Your #Selfie” Theme for Summer Youth Events

Lake Junaluska, N.C. –  Lake Junaluska has announced the theme for its 2017 Summer Youth Events: “Love Your #Selfie: Appreciating God’s Masterpiece in the Mirror.” The theme was created to inspire youth groups over the course of six events taking place at Lake Junaluska from June 11-July 2. All youth groups are invited to register for the events. Tammy McDowell, the assistant director of program ministries, said the new theme will bring energy to the Summer Youth Events, infusing them with relatable dialogue surrounding insecurities that youth share. “Many youth have self-esteem issues which can be addressed by having a proper view of their beauty and significance,” McDowell said. “By looking through God’s eyes, they will be able to see that their uniqueness is God’s special thumbprint in the world.” More here.  

2017 Lenten Resources Available

Are you or a small group in your church still looking for just the right Lenten resource for the upcoming season? An updated list has been posted to the AWF Website. Several new resources are part of the list, including Tom Berlin's latest book entitled, "Restored: Finding Redemption in Our Mess." Click here for complete list

Seven Ways to Help a New Staff Member Succeed

(Ministry Matters) - I recently received the following message from a pastor friend: I have a new full-time associate pastor starting next week. What suggestions would you give for getting such a person off to a great start? What a great question! I’m so glad someone is actually asking it. Through the years I have hired hundreds of people. I don’t do a lot of things right, but finding good people seems to be one of my strengths. Getting a new person started in a good way is probably equal to finding the right people – especially if we hope to keep them. I can’t say I’m the best at this. I tend to be less hands-on than needed some times. Full story here


Bishop’s Confirmation Retreat, March 3-5

Whom Shall I Send?, March 4

ERT Training Gulf Shores UMC, March 4

Planning Creative and Effective Worship in Your Church, March 5

Marianna-PC District Town Hall Meeting with Bishop Graves, March 5-7

Embrace Evangelism Training, March 6

Conference Lay Servant Training, March 10-11

Wesley Heirs Spring Retreat, March 14

Blue Lake Christian Writers Retreat, March 22-25

Preaching a Relevant Word: Politics, Policy, and the People, March 23-24

UMCOR Sunday, March 26

Demopolis District Town Hall Meeting with Bishop Graves, March 26-28

Fresh Expressions Vision Day, March 30

Baypines District Town Hall Meeting with Bishop Graves, April 2-4

Inspirit 2017 - A Retreat For Older Adults, April 6-8

ARM Cycle of Service, April 21-23

UMCH Steeple 2 Steeple Run, April 22

Dothan District Lay Servant Training, April 28-29


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