June 15, 2015/Volume 14, No. 11

Conference News

2015 Annual Conference: In Brief

The 2015 Alabama-West Florida Annual Conference was held May 31-June 3 in Montgomery, AL, with the theme, "The Great Commission: Nurturing Disciples." Bishop Paul L. Leeland, presiding over his seventh annual conference session since becoming the resident bishop, welcomed clergy and lay members to Frazer Memorial UMC in Montgomery. Click here for full recap

New Pastor Press Release Now Available for Local Churches

The AWF Office of Communications has released a fillable and sample press release for local churches to use who are receiving new pastors. We encourage church leadership to send a release on behalf of your church to local newspapers, TV and radio stations. It is best to send press releases in the body of an e-mail with a clear contact name and phone number should a media outlet have further questions–attachments are not recommended. A personal note requesting the release be used is also helpful. Click here to download the fillable Word document release and here for the pdf exampleContact Mary Catherine Phillips should you have questions

Six Examples of Effective Wesleyan Evangelism

(UMNS) - Grandparents eagerly share pictures of their grandchildren. Puppy owners gush about their pooch’s adorableness. Still, many Christians struggle to talk about their most important relationship — the one they have with God. The good news is that many United Methodists are very effective at sharing the Good News of God’s transforming love. Their experiences show that evangelism need be neither intimidating nor intrusive. AWF's Matt Langford is one of six persons featured in this article

Around the Conference

Tallassee First UMC Collects Imagine No Malaria Offering at VBS

The children of Tallassee First UMC proudly collected over $1,000 dollars for Imagine No Malaria during its summer Vacation Bible School. The theme was, "Everest: Conquering life's challenges with God's mighty power." The children learned about malaria being a silent killer and how $10 saves a life. Seven groups of various aged children brought an offering each day. Because the children collected over $1,000, all seven groups were able to make a pie creation to put in the faces of Rev. Dric Williford and Cory Eckstein, pastor and director of youth ministries. The youth volunteers were instrumental in the success of VBS this year, almost equaling the number of adult volunteers. Tallassee First UMC is proud to save 102 lives for Imagine No Malaria! 

Dumas Wesley Center Celebrates Four High School Graduates

( - Dumas Wesley Community Center honored four Mobile high school seniors who grew up participating and volunteering at the center. The graduates credit the community center, founded in 1903 by United Methodist Women, with setting them on the right path. Kelli Dugan reports for

Alabama-West Florida Conference Sponsors Youth Pastors/Directors Roundtable

Youth Pastors and Directors from several churches around the conference met recently at Crestview FUMC to connect, learn, and share youth ministry ideas. The Youth Pastors/Directors Roundtable is open to all persons serving in a local church youth leadership role. It is self-directed and facilitated as topics for discussing and sharing come from the roundtable participants. This is the second roundtable held in the conference, the first being last year at Huntingdon College. The participants value the sense of community and connection shared in this experience as well as appreciate the learnings from one another that can be used in their specific ministry context. Rev. Jeremy Steele, Next Generation Minister at Christ UMC, and Caroline Hare, Director of Student/Young Adult Ministry at Destin UMC facilitated the discussion. For more information about the roundtable, please contact the Conference Office of Connectional Ministries.

Methodist Homes Announces Mrs. Wesley Manor 

(MHA) - The new Mrs. Wesley Manor, Peggy Key, was truly excited to be chosen as this year’s queen. It was even more exciting to have her family present when she was announced as the new Mrs. Wesley Manor. Mrs. Key has been a resident of Wesley Manor for a little over a year. Before moving to Wesley Manor, she said she needed assistance and she chose Wesley Manor to be near her family. “This is my home. They make me feel loved. They are also my family,” Mrs. Key said. The annual pageant is part of National Nursing Home Week and this year’s “Bring on the Fiesta” theme centered on celebrating quality of life with resident-centered activities.     

Life Stories: Paul Parker Lived Life in Pursuit of Happiness

( - It was two days past the one year anniversary of their first date that Paul Parker and the Rev. Laura Parker became husband and wife. "Something clicked immediately," Laura said of their courtship, which set the stage for their nearly 20-year marriage. "We never stopped holding hands. Paul loved being my husband, and I never doubted for one minute that I was loved and cherished."
It was under somewhat unusual, yet serendipitous, circumstances that Parker met his beloved Laura. In 1995, he was participating in the spiritual renewal program, Walk to Emmaus, where Laura was on the clergy staff. They were introduced through mutual friends and at the close of the retreat, he gave her a call. Click here for full story

2015 Journal Orders

As we continue to be good stewards of our resources, we are exploring new ways to print and distribute the 2015 Conference Journal. This means you will not order and purchase your Conference Journal as you have before. This year, our Journals will be printed and distributed by Once the 2015 Journal is complete and uploaded to Amazon, a link will be provided to place orders. We will provide that link once it is available.

Connectional News

Eleven Questions for Getting to Know a New Congregation

(Lewis Center) - I believe that one of the most important gifts a new pastor can give to the congregation in the first year and beyond is to be clear about not knowing. Be open and curious. Lead with questions. Learn as much as you can. A method I have used is to interview congregational leaders and others who wish to be interviewed. Using this simple interview process really helped me understand a new congregation. It is important to interview a broad representation of leaders using the same or similar questions. Note that I say interview them. Use the interview as a springboard for conversation. There is nothing like a face-to-face conversation to get to know people and help them get to know you. You will see their body language, sensing the emotions behind their responses. They will see that you are really interested in their perception of their congregation and their suggestions for you. Further, you can ask good follow-up questions or skip questions as appropriate. Click here for full article

"Middle Methodists"

(IUMC/Bishop Coyner) - There is a lot of talk these days from the “right” and the “left” about how our United Methodist Church is likely to split over issues like same-gender marriage and homosexuality. Some groups have actually issued statements threatening to leave, others have called for “amicable separation.” Some warn that if we don’t change our stance on homosexuality there will be trouble, others warn that there will be trouble if we do change our stance. It is clear that many see the upcoming General Conference of 2016 as a decisive time in the life of our denomination. Click here for more

Commission Looks at Where Women Seminarians Serve

(UMNS) — The General Commission on the Status and Role of Women looks at who enters seminary, what their vocational goals are and where they are in their first two years of ministry in a new report of Women by the Numbers. The report found that women make up nearly half of all students entering seminary. Read the full report.

Research Study Shows Church Values Differ

(UMNS) — In the United States, perceptions of the denomination's values differ by a United Methodist's role and experience. What has a high degree of importance to a pastor may be of much less significance to a lay member. But most United Methodists agree that an emphasis on God's grace is important. These are some of the findings of a new quantitative study by United Methodist Communications conducted in November-December 2014. Read press release


Resources for Father's Day

(UMNS) — The third Sunday in June is Father's Day, a special day for dads in the United States. United Methodist Discipleship Ministries offers prayers and other devotions to help churches honor fathers. Click here for resources

Book of Discipline Updates Distributed

(UMNS) — The United Methodist Publishing House is distributing corrections to the Book of Discipline, the denomination's book of law and teachings. The most significant corrections reflect a Judicial Council ruling in April that restores the conference committee on investigation in dealing with complaints against clergy. 
Read UMNS on the ruling and see corrections in English.


Featured Event: revitup!

New to ministry? Or have you been around a while? Looking for new ideas? Trying to figure out the best approach? Want to be energized? Inspired? Informed? Put yourself at the top of your list! Plan to attend revitup!...For a Lifetime of Ministry! October 5-7, 2015. Click here for more

Last Sunday for Current Appointments, June 21

Music and Worship Arts Week, June 21-26

Moving Day, June 23

Grand Camp at Epworth by the Sea, June 26-29

Transition Sunday, June 28

First Sunday in New Appointment, July 5

Candidacy Retreat, July 17-18

Beginning Pastors Workshop, July 17-18

Pensacola Welcome Reception for New DS, July 19

Pensacola District Clergy Welcoming Dinner, July 21

Montgomery-Opelika District Summer Clergy Gathering, July 23

Festival of Wisdom and Grace, July 27-30

Montgomery-Prattville District Clergy Summer Gathering, July 30


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