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November 9, 2015/Volume 14, No. 21

Conference News

GBGM Missionaries Available to Speak at AWF Local Churches

Alex and Brenda Awad have been serving as General Board of Global Ministries Missionaries in Israel/Palestine, and have been supporting the ministries of Bethlehem Bible College for over two decades. They will be retiring soon, and as they wrap up their service they will be itinerating (traveling) through our conference in early December. They have several open dates on their calendar and are available to come to your church to speak. They arrive in Montgomery on December 3 and will depart from Pensacola on December 12. If your church would like to have these knowledgeable and outstanding missionaries come and speak, please contact Susan Hunt at susan@awfumc.org or 334-356-8014. No group is too small or too large.

Brewton COT Graduates First Class

(Circles of Transformation) - This year, Circles of Transformation Brewton celebrated the graduation of their first round of participants. The six graduates worked hard through twelve weeks of training - building relationships, creating goals, and learning necessary life skills that will help them accomplish their goals. One graduate, Latasha Bradley, has a college education and has had some short-lived successes in life. COT helped her “get unstuck,” as she puts it. “I knew I had to be open to learning new things to be successful in the long-term. [Circles of Transformation] helped me do that.” When asked about COT, Brenda Henry, another graduate, said she initially did not think Circles of Transformation could benefit her. However, she sings a different tune now as she says, “I know my goals will be fulfilled because of this class.” Brewton is thrilled at the success of their graduates and looks forward to continuing to encourage these six women as they achieve current goals and set new ones. COT Brewton has also started their second round of participants and is currently looking forward to a December graduation. 

Poverty No Obstacle to Kentucky Church Serving Ozark

(The Dothan Eagle) - Kylee Collett, 11, paused for a moment and prayed Saturday morning at Ozark’s Steagall Park with 11 other members of her Kentucky church. They donned white “Make A Difference Day” T-shirts and prepared for a full day of work. The folks from Beverly United Methodist Church came to serve the people of Ozark. By the time Saturday was over, they had spread pine straw, cleaned the city cemetery and worked next to several Ozark residents they had just met for the first time. It wasn’t that Ozark needed a church group from southeastern Kentucky to come help. More than 50 residents turned out for the city’s community service day. They spread out in groups and performed service projects throughout the city. However, the people from Beverly did not come to Ozark because there was a need. They came to say thank you and to form a partnership both groups hope will last a long time. In July, a group of members from Ozark’s First United Methodist Church traveled to Bell County, Kentucky–where the small town of Beverly is located–to serve. They did work on a senior center and a small bridge and helped conduct a vacation Bible school. Full story here.

Around the Conference

Glory Sighting: Baird and Marnell Forge Clergy Covenant Group

Rev. Dave Marnell (left in photo) and Rev. Brady Baird (right in photo) are pastors in the Phenix City, AL, area. In their brief tenures at their churches, they have made self care and connecting to other clergy a priority. We learn more in a recent Q & A with the Office of Communications (OOC). 
Q: You approached several clergy in town to form a small covenant group. What was the reaction to those you asked?
Marnell: Nothing but positive. Everyone asked to participate readily agreed that it was a good idea and that they needed a confidential accountability group.
Q: What led you to proactively seek out fellow clergy in your area?
Marnell: After my Walk to Emmaus retreat, I was invited to join a men’s group whose participants were also previous Emmaus graduates. We met every week for 14 years and they are still meeting. It was a nourishing space and place, allowing each of us to share the highs and lows of the week. Based upon the Emmaus model, we opened in prayer, read a devotion and/or scripture, then talked about and our lives under a Christian umbrella of accountability, grace, and love, closing in prayer. Full interview here

Dauphin Way UMC Supports Refugee Ministries

(Mobile,AL) - During late September and early October, Dauphin Way United Methodist Church invited its congregation to make a special offering to support the United Methodist Church's ministry among the refugee crisis in Europe and the Middle East. To date, Dauphin Way has received $8,500 to care for those in need around the world. Dauphin Way’s Co-Senior Pastor Jeff Wilson states, “The recent refugee crisis has become a controversial political topic in many areas. But the care of refugees is a theological issue. It is about living out the biblical call to love our neighbors." Jeff Wilson says he was challenged by the words of Jesus in Matthew 25 regarding the final judgment: ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not take care of you?' Then he (the king) will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ “We believe the refugees fleeing from Syria and other war-torn countries are among ‘the least of these’ in our generation,” explains Wilson. “We have a biblical responsibility to care for them.” Full release here.

AWF Clergywomen Join Colleagues at SEJ Event

Alabama-West Florida Clergywomen gathered at the SEJ Clergywomen meeting at Epworth by the Sea on October 26-29. Rev. Sara Shaver, Dothan District Superintendent, was part of the planning committee. Rev. Olivia Poole attended the event and said, "The clergy women's convocation occurs every four years and seems to come at the time when I need it most. Gathering with other sisters in Christ for worship, community, fellowship and laughter feeds my soul and gives me strength for the journey of ministry. One of the highlights for me was gathering with other women from the AWF Conference for fellowship and community. Reconnecting with colleagues who serve in our area was meaningful to me." Rev. Emily Kincaid also attended and said, "Our time together as clergy sisters could only be described as joyful and life giving. During the two and a half days of the SEJ Clergywomen's Consultation, we spent much time in worship, telling stories, and laughing deeply. We prayed with and for one another and all our fellow colleagues in ministry. We named our struggles and our triumphs and gave thanks for this holy calling God has placed on our lives to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ to all the world. We deepened our friendships with one another, as well as meeting new friends and sisters in Christ. God was present with us as we encouraged one another and were renewed by a time of Sabbath rest."

Clergy Retirement Seminar Registration Open

Are you 50 years or older and still actively serving a local church? Are you thinking about retirement in the next 3, 5 or 10 years? It is not too early to attend this retirement seminar. The Conference Board of Pension and Health Benefits, in cooperation with the Board of Ordained Ministry, is sponsoring the sixth annual pre-retirement seminar on Tuesday, February 2, 2016, and Wednesday, February 3, 2016. The seminar will be held in Pensacola at the Crown Plaza Hotel. Individual retirement projections and consultations with Mr. Ron Coleman of the General Board of Pension and Health Benefits will be conducted during the seminar. As a result of time limitations, participation is limited to the first 20 clergy persons with a paid registration. Don’t delay registering your attendance, the deadline is January 8, 2016. Click here to register or to find more information or, click here for the brochure.

Connectional News

United Methodist Bishops Focus on Adaptive Leadership

(UMNS) - In a time where everything seems to be moving at a bewildering speed, in ways that cause instability, when “the tectonic plates are shifting in deep and profound ways,” the Rev. Dr. Greg Jones says it’s important to focus on the power of the end. “When you stay focused on the end, all kinds of possibilities open themselves. When you focus on the end, it’s not about us, it’s about God,” said Jones, senior strategist for leadership education at Duke Divinity School. By “the end,” he’s referring to the Reign of God to which we are called to bear witness. Jones was addressing the residential bishops of The United Methodist Church, gathered at the Lake Junaluska (N.C.) Conference and Retreat Center in the first of a three-day presentation. Full release here.

Could Reorganizing Agencies Boost Church Vitality?

(UMNS) — Plan UMC Revised, a proposed restructuring of United Methodist general agencies, aims to align denominational resources toward fostering vital congregations. Church members debate whether the plan meets its goals. Heather Hahn reports.

Resources

Thanksgiving and Thanks Sharing: Engage Your Church with Gratitude

(UMNS) — It is a spiritual practice of many religions and a hallmark of Christianity: Showing appreciation for all that we have and the wonderful world God gave us. Laurens Glass of United Methodist Communications offers ideas to bring Christians together in the joyous practice of gratitude. More here

White Christmas Offering Supplies Available to Local Churches

(UMCH) - The White Christmas offering, collected on behalf of the United Methodist Children’s Home, is a heart-felt tradition dating back to the 1930s. During this special season Methodist Congregations across both the North Alabama and Alabama-West Florida Conferences gather generous offerings in support of UMCH’s transformational ministries. Click here to order your supplies.

Advent Resources Now Available

Each year, the Office of Communications publishes an updated list of Advent Resources. That list is available by visiting www.awfumc.org/adventresources. The collection includes group study books, materials for potential visitors and devotions. 

Events

Lake Junaluska Peace Conference, November 12-15

Increasing Active Engagement Conference, November 14

Montgomery-Prattville District Conf. and Leadership Academy, November 15

Children's Ministry Forum, November 17-19

ERT Disaster Response Training, November 21

United Methodist Student Day, November 29

Pensacola District Christmas Dinner, December 1

Dothan District Christmas Party, December 3

Baypines District Christmas Luncheon, December 3

Montgomery Districts Clergy Christmas Party, December 3

 

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