April 18, 2016/Volume 15, No. 8

Conference News

AWF Episcopal Nominee Launches Website

Dr. Lawson Bryan, the Alabama-West Florida Conference Episcopal nominee, launched his Website on Friday, April 8, 2016. We invite you to share this link,, with Southeastern Jurisdiction friends. Information cards will be available to help distribute this week. Please join us in prayer for Dr. Bryan and the Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference, held July 13-15, 2016, at Lake Junaluska. 

 2016 Annual Conference Information

Comprehensive information about 2016 Annual Conference was released to the newsletter database last week. If you did not receive the above e-mail, click here to access the information. The 2016 session will be held June 12-15, 2016, at Frazer Memorial UMC. More here

Licensing School Prepares Candidates for Pastoral Appointments

Seventeen certified candidates, along with AWF conference leaders, gathered April 11-18 in Niceville, FL, for the 2016 Licensing School. Under the direction of Dr. Nathan Attwood and the Board of Ordained Ministry, candidates heard from pastors from across the AWF Conference about various ministry areas. The sessions covered topics including pastoral care, congregational vitality, leadership, helping professionals, theology, evangelism and administration, to name a few. Rev. Dave Barkalow, pictured above, is shown leading the group about weddings, funerals and baptisms. 

Around the Conference

Rev. Beth Hood Leads Appreciative Inquiry Sessions

Rev. Beth Hood, pastor in the North Carolina Conference and co-founder of Passion in Partnership, led leaders of the Alabama-West Florida Conference in two sessions focused on Appreciative Inquiry. The event was April 4-5 at Crosspoint UMC. Rev. Rurel Ausley and his team exemplified outstanding hospitality for the two-day event. The Monday session included the conference CORE team and the Board of Laity while the Tuesday session gathered the cabinet and Board of Ordained Ministry. Hood focused on characteristics of a fruitful and effective pastor and covered the overview of the Appreciative Inquiry model, which the 2014-2015 extended cabinet studied in depth with Peg Aldridge. Rev. Meghan Kelley was in attendance and said, "It was helpful to gather with others from the Board of Ordained Ministry at Crosspoint UMC so that we could be reminded of the hard work and time that is necessary to truly cultivate the Kingdom of God. So often we want to see results immediately, but the Kingdom frequently grows slowly and intentionally." 

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

Identity Protection Services through BCBS 

(AWF Fiscal Office) - Since the announcement of targeted attacks resulting in data breaches affecting multiple Blue Plans, both the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama have taken steps to help further protect the information of participants enrolled in the plan offered through the Alabama-West Florida Conference. As of April 4, 2016, Blue Cross members will have access to Identity Protection Services through Experian® at no additional cost to them. Members can log in or register to myBlueCross at to take advantage of this great benefit. This service is offered directly through Experian®. Once you have enrolled in this service, it will continue at no cost to you as long you remain an active member of the AWF Conference health plan covered by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama. Additional information can be found here

Greystone Methodist Pastor Ministered Long Before Gaining the Title

(The Dothan Eagle) - The walk to the pulpit from Rev. Stephanie Cox’s office at Greystone United Methodist Church is pretty far. The long hall passes a few children’s classrooms and finally opens into the back of the worship center. The pulpit is at the front where Cox is on display for the length of the sermon. She gets nervous every time. She finds it funny that God would tap an introvert to be a pastor, where almost everything revolves around interacting with people. More here

Fountain of Love Offering Focuses On Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day, May 8th, has been approved for a Fountain of Love Offering emphasis in 2016. Because of the support of the Alabama-West Florida Conference and its churches, no resident has ever been asked to leave a Methodist Home because of their inability to pay. Last fiscal year the Fountain of Love awarded more than $410,000 to elderly residents in need. A large part of this program’s success is because of the churches that faithfully participate in a Fountain of Love Offering. Thank you, in advance, for making the Fountain of Love a priority in your church! To order free offering materials, click here

Connectional News

Religious Americans Happier, More Engaged

(Pew Research Center) - A Pew Research Center study of the ways religion influences the daily lives of Americans finds that people who are highly religious are more engaged with their extended families, more likely to volunteer, more involved in their communities and generally happier with the way things are going in their lives. Read press release.

2016 Candidacy Guidebook Available

(UMNS) — A new guidebook for candidates for ordained ministry in The United Methodist Church has been released by The United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry. The book, “Answering the Call: Candidacy Guidebook,” is designed for group candidacy mentoring. Read press release.

60 Days of Prayer for General Conference Began March 31 

(UMNS) The Upper Room has created resources for 60 Days of Prayer to help every local congregation pray with the delegates and church leaders for the 2016 General Conference. The 60 days of prayer began March 31 and extends through May 29. The denomination’s legislative assembly is May 10-20 in Portland, Oregon. The prayer guide is available online, as a PDF download and a daily email service. Prayer-bead kits with a commemorative medallion are also available. Get resources.

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


7 Out-of-the-box College Outreach Ideas

(Rev. Jeremy Steele) - It is easy to get in a rut when thinking about ministry to college students. Too often, churches think that to minister to students, they need to have a worship service targeting students or the ability to take them on a mission trip. Though both of those avenues can be successful, they are not the only options. Stay connected with college students with these five out-of-the-box ministry ideas.

Five Reasons Church Announcements Cause Problems

(Thom Rainer) - If your church has never experienced problems with church announcements, there is no need for you to read the rest of this post. If your church is like the 95 percent of congregations that do struggle with announcements, please continue reading. To be clear, I am speaking of verbal announcements made during a worship service. For this post, I am not concerned specifically about the digital announcements that appear on a church website, a screen before or after worship services, or a church newsletter. This issue is all about those times when someone stands up to speak to the entire congregation. More here

United Methodist Insurance Provides Helpful Resource for Local Churches

United Methodist Insurance (UMI), the insurance company for the denomination’s local churches, has provided an easy to use, free resource for local churches that provides a quick glance at insurance concepts to be considered when reviewing insurance policies. The Safety and Insurance Handbook for Churches is the newly released e-book that explains property and liability insurance in clear language and assists church leaders in protecting church assets by having adequate insurance. Click here for book

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


The Right Start, April 19 

AWF Clergywomen's Gathering, April 21

ARM's Cycle of Service, April 22-24

Dothan District Lay Servant Training, April 23

Steeple to Steeple 5K hosted by UMCH, April 23

ARM's Cycle of Service, April 22-24

Dothan District Annual Conference Meeting, April 24

World Malaria Day, April 25

AWF Youth Workers Roundtable, April 28

UMC General Conference, May 10-20

Blue Lake Open House and Free Concert, May 14

Demopolis District Lay Member Orientation for Annual Conference, May 22

UMW SEJ Quadrennial Meeting, June 3-5

2016 AWF Annual Conference, June 12-15


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