September 5, 2017/Volume 16, No. 14
Alabama-West Florida Conference Responds to Hurricane Harvey
Thank you for the many responses we have received already from people who are willing to volunteer to help people in Texas and Louisiana. We are in frequent contact with UMCOR personnel and the Disaster Response leadership of the conferences affected by Hurricane Harvey. The long-term recovery work will go on for many months and years so you have not missed your opportunity to provide assistance. Some areas are at least two weeks away from accepting outside volunteers. If your church collected a special offering this past Sunday, thank you! More here. We are carefully monitoring the track of Hurricane Irma and encourage local churches to review these documents now. Photo courtesy of Cokesbury UMC, Pensacola.
A Word from the Bishop: Praying Our Way Forward
The denomination-wide "Praying Our Way Forward" initiative launched on New Year’s Day 2017 with 75 weeks of focused prayer for The United Methodist Church. Each annual conference will take one week to have intentional prayer for the mission of The United Methodist Church to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world and for the work of the Commission on a Way Forward. The effort began in the North Carolina Conference and will conclude in the West Angola Episcopal area in June 2018. The Alabama-West Florida Conference's week of prayer will be September 11-15, 2017. Click here or on the above video frame to hear a special request from Bishop Graves about how local churches can participate in this meaningful week. Click here for a written transcript of the video.
A One-year Reflection Interview with Bishop David Graves
We celebrate the one-year anniversary of Bishop David W. Graves being assigned and installed to the Alabama-West Florida Conference. Hear more from him in this interview with Mary Catherine Phillips, AWF Director of Communications, about his first year and his hopes for our conference. Click here or on the above video frame to see the interview. We invite you to share this on social media and with your local churches. 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.
Around the Conference
Bishop Graves: Hate, Racism Causing Eclipse of the Spirit
(The Montgomery Advertiser) - This past Monday, it seemed like everyone was outside or watching television to get a glimpse of the solar eclipse. Many traveled great distances to be in the pathway of the totality resulting in traffic jams, sold out hotels and great business for restaurants (especially Krispy Kreme and the eclipse doughnuts). What a blessing it was to see the people of the United States coming together to enjoy something unifying and positive. In this case, it was a solar eclipse, where people from all walks of life came together looking towards the heavens. Full commentary here.
Alabama-West Florida Congregations Are Becoming More of What God Calls Them to Be
Throughout all of church history, there has never been a time when a healthy, faithful, effective congregation has been more needed and necessary. It is clear that the leadership of the AWFUMC believe to the core of their being that they are at the right time to be a faithful and an effective community of faith to have a promising future. The Conference leaders have determined in this moment of time to encourage and inspire this core belief and equip the congregation to practice the appropriate approaches and strategies that will fulfill their potential and meet the world’s needs. AWFUMC has begun to equip these faithful congregations to imagine what God desires. Congregations throughout the Conference boundaries are living into the Next Steps Ministry Now (NSMN), a tool and process to equip congregational leaders to imagine. More here.
Bishops Commit to Anti-racism Work
(Atlanta) - The Southeastern Jurisdiction College of Bishops has announced plans to share a story a month, starting in September, about anti-racism work in the jurisdiction. “It is our prayer that this sharing will increase courage and strengthen community,” the bishops said in a letter. More here.
COB President Appeals for Prayers and Disaster Relief Support
(COB) - Council of Bishops President Bishop Bruce R. Ough is urging all United Methodists to pray and offer support to the victims of the flooding in the Gulf Coast and the mudslides in Sierra Leone. In his letter issued on Friday, September 1, Bishop Ough said the heart-rending images from the floods in Texas and the mudslides in Sierra Leone should move all Christians into helping fellow brothers and sisters in the disaster areas. Click here to read letter.
Enlisting Tech, Boats for Houston Rescue Efforts
(UMNS) - The pleas were heartrending, made by frightened people stranded by Hurricane Harvey, as rising floodwaters ravaged the Houston and Beaumont area.
“Elderly taking in water rapidly. Waist deep. Please assist.” – 77-year-old man.
“Please help me and my 4-month-old, are in the attic.” – 24-year-old man.
“Dialysis patient. Last dialyzed last Wednesday.” – 85-year-old woman.
But help was on the way, thanks to the efforts of three young men, two of them lifelong members of Chapelwood United Methodist Church in Houston. When flooding began on Saturday night, Aug. 26, Matthew Marchetti witnessed the chaos and confusion as he helped with rescue efforts. Houston’s 911 system was completely overwhelmed; volunteer rescuers were arriving but had no way to quickly locate victims. More here.
How to Avoid Ministry Burnout: Take Care of Yourself!
(UMNS) - As a pastor, you help take care of the congregation. But who takes care of you? Unfortunately, the task often still falls upon the pastors themselves. So, how can you help yourself and other leaders in your congregation avoid the stress and resulting burnout often associated with church leadership positions? More here.
Local Church Resources
Character-development Curriculum Available
(UMPH) - The United Methodist Publishing House announces a new resource, “Love in a Big World,” a curriculum designed to help young people turn from risky behaviors and choose to live faithfully through meaningful encounters and conversations with caring adults. The curriculum focuses on character development for kindergarten through eighth grade. More here.
Resources for Hunger Action Month
(Society of St. Andrew) - The Society of St. Andrew is offering downloadable resources for Hunger Action Month in September, including a daily calendar for prayer and action, weekly newsletter and bulletin announcements, children’s sermons and hunger-focused study resources. See resource page.
Charge Conference Forms Available Online
2017 Charge Conference Forms are now available online. You may access them through this link or go to our home page and click on the link under Quick Links. Should you have questions, please contact your district office or Lauren in the Episcopal office. Click here to access forms.
Montgomery COT Taste and See Event, September 5
Deacon’s Day Apart with Bishop Graves, September 6
AWF Clergywomen's Fall Day Apart, September 7
Mobile COT Taste and See Event, September 7
Partners in Preaching Registration Deadline, September 8
Academy for Spiritual Formation Five Day Academy, September 10-15
Marianna-Panama City District Lay Servant Training, September 16
Pensacola District UMW Day Apart, September 16
One Day-An Annual Ministry for Adults 50 , September 16
AWF Children & Youth Ultimate Training Event (UTE), September 16
United Methodist Social Principles Seminar, September 18
AWF Historical Society Meeting, September 21
Evergreen COT Taste and See Event, September 21
Marianna-Panama City Lay Servant Ministries Training, September 23
ERT Training Dothan District, September 23
ERT Training - Atmore UMC, September 24
Dothan District Fall Gathering, September 25
Pensacola District Lay Servant Ministries Training, September 30
World Communion Sunday, October 1
Mid-career Retirement Seminar, October 5
Pensacola District Lay Servant Ministries Training, October 7
Baypines District Day Apart, October 7
Healing Ministries Workshop (CBOD) Crestview, October 7
Healing Ministries Workshop (CBOD) Montgomery, October 8
Wesley Heirs Fall Gathering, October 10-11
SEJ Black Methodists for Church Renewal, October 19-21
UMW Spiritual Enrichment Retreat, October 20-22
Prayer Shawl Retreat, October 23-26
At The Table: An Intentional Multi-Ethnic Gathering, October 28
Pensacola District Conference, November 5
Pensacola District Youth Fused Conference, November 5
2017-2020 Spiritual Direction Training, November 13-16