April 10, 2017/Volume 16, No. 7

Conference News

2017 Annual Conference Information

Annual Conference 2017 is quickly approaching! This year's theme is, "Imagine: By Faith It Can Happen." We are most appreciative to Dr. Larry Bryars and his staff at Frazer Memorial UMC in Montgomery, AL, for hosting us again this year as well as Dr. Jeremy Pridgeon and his staff at Montgomery FUMC for hosting the ordination and commissioning service. This year we welcome Claire Bowen and Dr. Victor Dingus as our teaching session guests. We are honored to announce that Robert McMichael and Jarvis Wilson will be leading our music once again. Please note several important highlights and changes to annual conference. Complete information here

A Word from the Cabinet: Pastoral Appointment Timeline and Reminders

The Alabama-West Florida Cabinet is concluding its third round of appointment making today. Below you will find reminders of dates pertaining to pastoral moves and public announcements about appointments. Beginning April 17, 2017, pastors and churches are free to make announcements about pastoral moves in bulletins, newsletters, on Websites and social media. In light of the stress of moving, the Cabinet has set the following schedule to encourage a smooth and healthy pastoral transition:
May 11, 2017 - The Right Start Workshop
June 18, 2017 - Last Sunday in the current appointment
June 20, 2017 - Moving day  
July 9, 2017 - First Sunday in the new appointment.
This schedule is slightly different from previous years. We appreciate your prayers during the appointment season. We seek God’s guidance in all we do and pray for smooth transitions in the coming months. 

Lay-led Ministry of Montgomery FUMC Reaches Dementia Community 

Five years ago, it all started with a little bit of vision and whole lot of passion. The Respite Ministry at Montgomery FUMC celebrated their successes at a banquet luncheon on Thursday, April 6, 2017. But that banquet was really just a formality to the thousands of hours of care given each week to dementia patients. The real story began when Daphne Johnston felt a call into the ministry. At the age of 35, Daphne was ready to “retire” from her management positions in older adult nursing and retirement care and felt like it was time to do something bigger, better and perhaps more meaningful. Often times you turn to your fellow church members and leaders to seek their guidance with a major life change. She did just that. Full feature here. Click here to see photo gallery

Around the Conference

At the Table Joins Voices in the AWF Conference

Over 85 ethnic believers, both lay and clergy, gathered at the event called, "At the Table" to have intentional conversations about inclusion and unity throughout the Church. The goal of the conversation was to establish commonality, create community and bring clarity of purpose to all our ethnic members and churches within the Alabama-West Florida Conference. Jenn Lusher, AWF Director of Leadership Strategies, said, "This past weekend the Alabama-West Florida Conference, in conjunction with ethnic lay leaders, came together for an awesome time of fellowship and worship! Brothers and sister from all different cultures and walks of life came together to exemplify what it means to be unified in diversity. We would like to convey our gratefulness to Evergreen UMC for hosting us. Many thanks to all who took time out of their busy Saturday to attend our first gathering. We look forward to gathering again in October!" Photos courtesy of Rev. Nancy Watson. 

Fresh Expressions Vision Day Equips Leaders to Reach the Unchurched

In the year 2017, it has become increasingly difficult for churches to find new members. Schedules are overbooked, people are distracted and time seems to be a premium. To offset these challenges, a movement called “Fresh Expressions” is emerging in the United States. What started primarily in the British Methodist Church and Church of England has filtered into the US, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and Germany. The Alabama-West Florida Conference has launched the Fresh Expressions initiative to help churches reach people for Christ. A second Vision Day, in partnership with the North Alabama Conference, was held in the conference to allow churches to learn more about implementing a Fresh Expression and discern if they feel a call to explore this opportunity. The event was held Thursday, March 30, 2017, at Prattville FUMC. Full story here

Passion, Vision, Action: UMW Gather to Hear Clara Ester, Others on a Battle Cry for Advocacy

(South Caroline UM Advocate) - Sometimes, we have to take action to get people to hear our cry. That was the word from Clara Ester, deaconess and racial justice champion, who spoke to scores of South Carolina United Methodist Women Feb. 21 for their annual Legislative Advocacy Day. Ester, from the Alabama-West Florida Conference who is vice president of the national United Methodist Women board of directors and a member of their Racial Justice Charter Support Team, said she is passionate about fighting against injustice. But early on, she realized the promise in the Pledge of Allegiance was not about justice for all but really justice for some—because of poverty, hunger, segregation, racial disparity and a host of other issues. More here

Blue Lake Camp Celebrates 65th Birthday

(Blue Lake) - This past Saturday we welcomed 140 guests for our 65th birthday celebration. Guests were treated to numerous activities like canoeing, archery, guest speakers, choirs and everyone's favorite, Gaga ball! We also had a groundbreaking ceremony on the new program director residence. Pictured are: Judy Callen, board member; Betty Helms, board member; Carroll Mullis, board member; Marvin Vickers, former Executive Director; Jason Thrower, Pastor of Andalusia First UMC; Bishop David Graves; Darren McClellan, Baypines District Superintendent; Steve Lewandowski, Executive Director; Jeff Wilson, Program Director. 

QuadW Missional Internship Seeking Young Adults for Summer Program

The QuadW Missional Internship is an 8-week, paid, summer internship for college-age young adults. The internship will be in at least 10 cities across the US with positions for as many as 100 interns! The interns will experience the rhythms of living in Christian community with one another - eating, praying, studying, worshiping and serving together. Visit the QuadW website here for more information

Connectional News

Observing Holy Week, Easter at Home

(UMNS) - Holy Week and Easter traditionally provide a wealth of opportunities for remembering, meditating and celebrating at church. Adults may set aside time for more intense prayer, study and service. But what do families, especially those with younger children, do at home for Holy Week and Easter? "While many families celebrate Advent in the home, it may be harder to observe Holy Week at home," acknowledged Lynn Gilliam. "After all, it's much easier to talk with our children about the baby in the manger than it is to discuss Jesus' death and the events leading up to it. But just as the observance of Advent helps us to prepare for the celebration of Christmas, observing Holy Week helps prepare us for the joyous celebration of Easter." Click here for more

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

What’s Your Goal for Visitor Follow-Up?

(Lewis Center) - Most churches have follow-up systems in place for first-time guests. If the visitor returns, the churches normally have a way of responding to their increased interest. For many years, the ideal sequence was for someone to visit, return, become more involved, and join the church. Therefore, it was easy to see joining as the goal of all those efforts that began when the guests first visited. More here

Offering Electronic Giving: What Are You Waiting For?

(Discipleship Ministries) - Electronic giving is not the future of charitable giving, it is the present reality. If your church is not offering this as an option for those who attend your church, you are missing out on generous giving. If there have been obstacles to making this option available to your church, we will talk about them in this webinar. Click here to register

Pastoral Transitions Guidelines Posted on AWF Website

If you or your pastor is receiving a new local church appointment within the Alabama-West Florida Conference, the "Pastoral Transitions Guidelines" document has been posted to the conference Website. This document reviews the appointment process, saying goodbye and welcoming a pastor, moving strategies, and personnel policies, to name a few. Click here to access the document


Dothan District Lay Servant Training, April 21-22

United Methodist Men's Advance Spring Meeting, April 21-22

ARM Cycle of Service, April 21-23

UMCH Steeple 2 Steeple Run, April 22

Youth Workers Round Table, April 27

Lay Servant Ministry "Train the Trainer," April 29

ERT (Early Response Team) Disaster Training - Panama City, May 5-6

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


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