April 25, 2017/Volume 16, No. 8
Bishop Releases Statement Prior to Judicial Council Ruling
Greetings! As we live in the glow of Easter, the Gospel of Matthew concludes with Jesus reminding us, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” The Great Commission-Matthew 28:18-20. Let us all keep these words as our focus next week when the United Methodist Judicial Council will make the long-awaited decision on the July 2016 election, consecration, and assignment of Bishop Karen Oliveto in the Western Jurisdiction. The Judicial Council meets April 25-28. Complete statement here.
A Word from Bishop Graves
Bishop David Graves released a video message on Monday, April 24, 2017. He discusses the upcoming Judicial Council ruling, annual conference, the small membership church summit and many other topics. Click here to view. Click here to read the written transcript. You may also listen to this message as an audio-only podcast by clicking here, by searching for "AWFUMC Podcasts" on iTunes or in your preferred podcast player. We invite you to subscribe to these podcasts.
2017 Annual Conference Information
The 2017 session of annual conference is quickly approaching and will be held June 4-7, 2017. Visit www.awfumc.org/ac2017 for complete information or follow the below links.
Missional Giving Offering Insert & Video
UMCOR Kit Collection
Biometric Health Screening
Lusher Named AWF Director of Leadership Strategies
The Alabama-West Florida Conference, under the leadership of Bishop David Graves, is pleased to announce the naming of Jennifer (Jenn) Lusher as Director of Leadership Strategies. Her priority will be to help align the resources of the conference with the mission, vision, challenge and declared priorities of the conference. These priorities include supporting and assisting all churches to be invitational and missional regardless of size or geographic location. Lusher will serve as a liaison between the local church and the annual conference. She will also provide oversight to lay leadership training, with special attention to inclusivity and diversity. Full release here.
Around the Conference
Hispanic Ministries Envision the Future at Listening Session
Hispanic/Latino pastors, laity and conference leaders gathered Sunday, April 23, 2017, at Spanish Fort UMC to engage in converstion with the Bishop. The barriers of language, culture, perception and history were replaced with the hope for a new sense of ministry together, for the sake of all. Approximately 100 people were in attendance in what proved to be an inspirational exchange of listening, encouragement, conviction and prayer. Rev. Nancy Watson, Director of Connectional Ministries, stated, "We are making intentional efforts with our ethnic ministries to seek ways to hear their voices more. The Hispanic/Latino churches are an important and growing population in this conference and a priority is to connect with these leaders to understand their needs. We look forward to announcing specific ways that we can better connect with them in near the future." Photo courtesy of Rev. Nancy Watson.
Huntingdon Leadership Academy Seeks Participants
The Huntingdon Leadership Academy will be held June 25-30 for rising high school juniors and seniors. Bishop David Graves strongly encourages you to evaluate who you can send from your local church to be a part of this unique event. Click on the above image or here to see video.
Bracelet Provides Reminder That We Are Called to Model Integrity
(Bishop David Graves for The Montgomery Advertiser) - Integrity. Over the last two weeks, the people of Alabama and the rest of the nation have been following the information reported around the resignation of former Alabama Governor Robert Bentley. What started as a new beginning in 2010, centered on trust and integrity, turned very ugly around misuse of campaign funds, a marriage ending after 50 years, and a moral failure. Key ingredients that erode trust and take away integrity can take years to rebuild. As my grandfather taught me many years ago ... trust is earned, not given. So, here we are again, reeling from the aftermath of failure. Moreover, Robert Bentley has appeared to show no remorse in public. Only the facts have now come forward, and he has apologized in that same vain. He has received a lot of criticism for the tone he has taken. More here.
UMC Bishops Call Special Session of General Conference for 2019
The Council of Bishops (COB) has called a Special Session of the General Conference of The United Methodist Church (UMC) to be held February 23-26, 2019, in St. Louis, Missouri, USA. In announcing the call, COB President Bishop Bruce R. Ough said the Special Session will be held in accordance with Division Two - Section II - Article II of The Constitution of The United Methodist Church as recorded in Paragraph 14 of The Book of Discipline (2016). The purpose of the 2019 Special Session of the General Conference will be "limited to receiving and acting on a report from the Council of Bishops based on the recommendations of the Commission on a Way Forward." Complete release here.
United Methodists Mourn with Coptic Church
(UMNS) - The Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church is grieving with the Coptic Orthodox Church over the recent terrorist bombings that targeted Coptic churches in Egypt, killing at least 47 people as members celebrated Palm Sunday. The bishops expressed sympathy and solidarity in a letter to Coptic leaders. Read release here.
SEJ College of Bishops Releases Q and A About the Judicial Council
Many in the church are anticipating the upcoming Judicial Council ruling on the Western Jurisdiction’s recent election of a married lesbian bishop, Bishop Karen Oliveto. Some are hopeful the Judicial Council will rule the election unconstitutional because of the United Methodist Church’s clergy standards. Others expect the election will be upheld as valid since the nominee was in good standing in her Annual Conference at the time of the election. Though opinions are being offered from a variety of sources, no one will know with certainty the outcome until after the Judicial Council meets and rules on April 25-28, 2017. This Q and A is designed to give background to help interpret the meaning of the Judicial Council decision once it is made. Full Q and A here.
Local Church Resources
5 Out-of-the-box Ideas for Men’s Ministry
(Rev. Jeremy Steele for UMCOM) - It's time to get creative with your United Methodist Men's ministry. A Pew study has confirmed what churches have seen for years. "In the United States, for example, women are more likely than men to say religion is 'very important' in their lives (60% of women vs. 47% of men), according to a 2014 Pew Research Center survey. American women also are more likely than American men to say they pray daily (64% vs. 47%) and attend religious services at least once a week (40% vs. 32%)." More here.
Religion and Race offers grants
(GCORR) - The United Methodist Commission on Religion and Race, the denomination’s racial justice agency, is seeking to fund innovative United Methodist initiatives that disrupt racism and xenophobia. The agency’s CORR Action Fund is making available $750,000 for U.S. grants for 2017 to 2020. The agency will begin accepting applications in May. The deadline is August. Details here.
Native American Ministries Sunday is April 30
(UMNS) - Native American Ministries Sunday on April 30, 2017, is one of The United Methodist Church's six special Sundays designated by General Conference to recognize and support particular ministries annually with a special offering. This observation focuses the attention of church members on the gifts and contributions of Native Americans to society and the denomination. Polly House has the story for Interpreter magazine. Read story. Get resources.
Youth Workers Round Table, April 27
Lay Servant Ministry "Train the Trainer," April 29
Native American Ministries Sunday, April 30
ERT (Early Response Team) Disaster Training - Panama City, May 5-6
Soul Care Retreat, May 8-10
The Right Start Workshop, May 11
Webinar for Local Church Leaders in Finance & Stewardship, May 11
Small Membership Church Summit, May 19-20
2017 Annual Conference, June 4-7
Last Sunday in Current Appointment for Moving Pastors, June 18
Pastoral Moving Day, June 20
Huntingdon Leadership Academy, June 25-30