November 13, 2017/Volume 16, No. 19
A Word from Bishop Graves: Church Shooting
This morning my heart is heavy as we read once again of another act of violence in a church where 26 people were killed and 10 injured. It leaves us with questions of, "Why? When will this stop? When will we lay down our prejudices and come together to change the direction of our country and our world?" I find comfort in these words from Isaiah 40:26-31. “The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth. God never grows weak or weary. No one can measure the depths of God’s understanding. God gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. Even youths will become weak and tired, and young people will fall into exhaustion. But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” More here.
Alabama-West Florida Conference Announces Staff Changes
The Alabama-West Florida Conference announces two staff changes in the finance and connectional ministries offices. Mr. Frank Dunnewind, AWF Treasurer and Director of Administrative Services, has announced his retirement effective December 31, 2017. Mr. Dunnewind has served in this role for nineteen years. Under his leadership, the conference office has increased apportionment giving every year since 2011, moved to its current physical location where the conference owns the property, and has transitioned the conference to direct billing, which was a necessary change that resulted in significant savings. Full release here.
Around the Conference
A Reflection from Dr. Darren McClellan
Dear Friends, It is a Monday to be sure and the sorrow of our nation grows once more in response to another act of gun violence. For the many who gathered yesterday to engage the liturgy of an All Saints Sunday, the horrific reality of yesterday’s shooting at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, TX is an added twist of ironic agony. The people of God gathered to remember and give thanks for the Saints past and present; but who would imagine that the list would grow with such immediacy within the worship hour? Lord, in your mercy…hear our prayer. The witness of the prophet Micah—as well as that of Jesus—reminds us of the perceived disconnect between a lasting vision of peace and the warring madness of our present age. Such dissonance often leads to a crisis of faith. Can God really be trusted in the face of such threat and uncertainty? Are there not extra alternative measures of security that the church ought to consider? Full commentary here.
St. James UMC Reaches Out to Houston After Flooding: Volunteers Still Needed
The Men of the Church Ministry at St. James UMC of Montgomery took nine people to assist Cypress UMC of Houston metro by feeding teams and neighborhoods and helping to rebuild homes. The team aided one family by working two days to replace all the ground floor sheet rock that was destroyed by 40 inches of water that flooded the home when 50 inches of rain fell. Additionally, the team, led by three of the men, fed over 600-700 people in the course of two days as the community gathered each evening for free food and events sponsored by Cypress UMC. The team, led by associate pastor Browning Wood, spent four days with Cypress loving and serving the kingdom of God two months after the floods. There is still much work to be done. Click here to see what needs still exist in surrounding conferences. Photo courtesy of St. James UMC.
Huntingdon Announces Community Leadership Program
(Montgomery, Ala.) - Huntingdon College will form a new scholarship and student learning cohort known as the Community Leadership Program beginning with students entering in the fall semester 2018. For the program, a four-year cohort of entering first-year students interested in helping Alabama communities grow and prosper will be selected. Interested high school seniors may apply for consideration by February 1 at www.huntingdon.edu/community-leadership.
No Greater Gift than a Place to Call Home, White Christmas Offering
(UM Children's Home) - Each year during the Christmas season, we are reminded there is no greater joy for us than giving to others. Since 1930, the White Christmas Offering has enabled Methodists to share their blessings with those whose circumstances in life just haven't been fair. These children and young adults certainly didn't sign up to be in the situation they're in and with your support, they have the hope of a much brighter tomorrow. Click here for more.
Bishops Uphold Values of Mission, Unity, Space, Contextuality in Interim Report on Way Forward’s Work
(Lake Junaluska, NC) - Placing emphasis on the values of unity, space and contextuality - all for the sake of mission – the Council of Bishops (COB) is exploring sketches of three models as possible directions for a way forward for The United Methodist Church over LGBTQ inclusion. With the mission of God through the risen Christ at the core, the bishops this week received an interim report from the Commission on a Way Forward that offered three sketches of models that would help ease the impasse in the church, noting that the power of the Holy Spirit trumps and guides all the church’s activities. The Commission serves the COB, helping prepare the COB to fulfill its mandate to make a recommendation for a way forward to the General Conference. Full release here.
Bishop Carter Elected as President of Council of Bishops
(Lake Junaluska, NC) - Florida Area Bishop Kenneth H. Carter today was officially elected as the next president of the Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church. Bishop Carter will take over from Dakotas-Minnesota Area Bishop Bruce R. Ough effective at the end of the May 2018 meeting.
The United Methodist bishops also elected:
- Louisiana Area Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey as the president-designate. She is currently serving as secretary of the Council.
- North Katanga-Tanzania Bishop Mande Muyombo as secretary. Bishop Mande was elected as bishop early this year. More here.
GC2020 Worship and Music Director Selected
(UMCOM) - Raymond Trapp, Director of Music at Vanderveer Park United Methodist Church in Brooklyn, New York, and New York Annual Conference Music Director for the past five years, has been named Worship and Music Director for the 2020 United Methodist General Conference by the Commission on the General Conference. More here.
UMC Giving is This Month
It’s hard to believe the holidays are right around the corner. That means it’s time once again for UMC #GivingTuesday. On Nov. 28, United Methodists have the opportunity to extend the spirit of giving thanks into the Advent season through gifts to The Advance. Together, we can connect our passions with God’s mission. Through The Advance, United Methodists can give to more than 300 missionaries. Donors also can provide support for more than 600 United Methodist-related projects worldwide. As a partner with The Advance, you provide United Methodists and others with a way to build missional relationships through a designated giving channel they can trust. As always, 100 percent of gifts to The Advance goes directly to the designated project or mission. More here.
Local Church Resources
Prepared for Emergency: Resources for Churches
After the terrible tragedy in Texas last week, many of our churches are considering how they can best prepare for an emergency in their community or congregation and how United Methodists can take a stand against gun violence. This link provides some of the resources available to clergy, trustees committees, church leaders, and others on this topic. Click here for more.
Litany for Thanksgiving: Psalm 100 Amplified
(Washington) - Raleigh Area Bishop Hope Morgan Ward offers a prayer for Thanksgiving based on Psalm 100. Read prayer.
For 2017, Abingdon Press and The Upper Room are introducing nine new studies. Included are studies emphasizing Joseph and creation care, devotions specifically for families and a coloring book. While several of the studies are for churchwide or small group use, all can be used for individual devotions. Also on the list are some favorites from years past. More here.
Global Migration Sunday Resources
The United Methodist Council of Bishops invites the United Methodist church to join in observance of Global Migration Sunday on December 3, 2017. This is the first Sunday of the season of Advent, a time when we remember the coming birth of the Christ child who himself was a migrant. United Methodist congregations in all the places we serve around the world will join voices to pray for our brothers and sisters who are suffering the journey of forced migration. In addition, as a people who pray and act upon those prayers, the bishops ask that congregations gather an offering dedicated to the human suffering inflicted by forced migration. Offerings collected should be sent to the Migration Advance No. 3022144. More here.
revitup!, November 13-15
2017-2020 Spiritual Direction Training, November 13-16
United Methodist Student Day, November 26
Huntingdon College Christmas Celebration, November 30
Global Migration Sunday, December 3
Pensacola District Clergy & Spouses Christmas Dinner, December 5
Baypines District Clergy Christmas Party, December 7
Montgomery Districts Christmas Party, December 7
Appalachian Christmas at Lake Junaluska, December 7-10
GBHEM Scholarship Applications, January 3
Fresh Expressions-Pioneer Learning Community, January 5-6
COSROW Event, January 19-20
Lay Servant Ministries Training, January 19-20
Conference Committee on Lay Servant Ministries Board Meeting, January 27
Baypines District Conference, January 28