March 27, 2017/Volume 16, No. 6

Conference News

Bishop Announces District Cabinet Appointments

Bishop David W. Graves is pleased to announce two projected district appointments. As previously announced, Dr. Debora Bishop will become a superintendent effective July 1, 2017. She will be appointed to the Mobile District. Dr. Jeff Wilson, current Mobile District Superintendent, will be appointed District Superintendent to the Montgomery-Opeilka District, also effective July 1, 2017. Dr. Robbins Sims, current Montgomery-Opelika District Superintendent and dean of the cabinet, will receive an appointment into the local church. Dr. Doug Pennington, Marianna-Panama City District Superintendent, has been elected dean of the cabinet to follow Sims after his new appointment. More here

A Word from Bishop Graves: Our Next Steps and the Upcoming Judicial Council Ruling

We invite you to hear an important video message from Bishop David Graves about our next steps and the upcoming United Methodist Judicial Council ruling. Click here to watch videoClick here to read written transcript and to access two relevant informational links.  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.

Alabama-West Florida Conference Announces McClellan as Contract Grant Writer

Bishop David Graves and the Alabama-West Florida Conference are pleased to announce the addition of Mrs. Kristi McClellan as a contract grant writer. Her priority will be assisting the local mission agencies that are currently supported by the AWF conference. As a resource to equip the agencies to seek funding from within their communities, McClellan will work with each agency to help them identify the most appropriate grants for their needs. McClellan has an extensive history with grant writing. She began working with the Girl Scouts of Southern Alabama in 2002, overseeing its grant and outreach programs. She concluded this work in 2010 to complete her Master’s in Public Health but continued to work with non-profit organizations around the country, assisting them with funding opportunities. More here

Around the Conference

Graves: Today’s Church Needs to be the New Testament Church

(Bishop David Graves for The Montgomery Advertiser) - In the midst of the tumultuous political and global situation that we find ourselves in today, there is an increasing need for the Christian Church in America to step forward and be the Church that is talked about in the New Testament, Acts chapter two. We see pockets of those who are being the Church, yet many want to make statements about what is wrong or hammer our local, state and national governments to fix all our problems. All the while, the majority of our churches are declining in membership and witness while becoming irrelevant to our culture. Granted, we do need our local, state and nationally elected leaders to do the right things in helping all people get to a better place. Full editorial here

Office of Communications Receives Four National Photo Awards

The AWF Office of Communications is pleased to receive several awards at the 2017 United Methodist Association of Communicators Gala. Four of our photos were recognized at the yearly event. Three of them received an honorable mention and one was second place in the Class VII-Photography, Division A, Category A. Two are by Luke Lucas and two by Mary Catherine Phillips. 

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

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

Bishop Reflects as Africa University Turns 25

(UMNS) - Africa University will celebrate its 25th anniversary on March 25. In observing the anniversary, Zimbabwe Area Bishop Eben Nhiwatiwa — one the university’s first faculty members — shares his thoughts on this United Methodist-related institution. The Rev. Taurai Emmanuel Maforo did the interview. Read Q&A.

Black Caucus Celebrates 50-year Legacy

(UMNS) - More than 400 members of The United Methodist Church’s African-American membership caucus celebrated the 50th anniversary of its first meeting, even as many speakers addressed work that still needs to be done in fighting racism. The initial 1967 meeting drew about 30 black Methodist leaders to Detroit, to strategize and prepare for the end of racial segregation and the anticipated formation of the new United Methodist Church at the 1968 Uniting General Conference. They planned a National Conference of Negro Methodists for March 1968 in Cincinnati. When that conference ended, they had organized as Black Methodists for Church Renewal. Full release here

Plans Underway to Mark 200th Anniversary of United Methodist Mission

(Global Ministries) - Plans are underway to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the founding of what is today the worldwide mission agency of The United Methodist Church. The observation will include local and global events and help the General Board of Global Ministries prepare for the future of mission. Earlier this month, Global Ministries hosted the first meeting of a Bicentennial Steering Committee, representing all regions of the globe, putting in place steps for word gathering in 2019 to celebrate 200 years of the church in mission and to prepare for the future of mission. Bicentennial activities that will extend across a two-year period, possibly culminating at the church's legislating General conference in 2020. More here

Wespath Changes Retirement Process for 2017

Wespath is currently mailing retirement kits to participants who intend to retire in June or July 2017. A sample kit will was mailed to conference benefits officers on February 9, 2017. In an effort to streamline the retirement process, Wespath will not mail paper applications for benefits (AFBs) or AFB guides to this year’s retirees. The materials provided in the kit will focus on the online process. The online benefits application—available at—customizes applications for benefits so that retirees are only presented information that is pertinent to their unique situations. Retirees may contact the retirement team to request printed forms. More here

Local Church Resources

Communications Audit Available for Local Churches

The Alabama-West Florida Office of Communications has created a Communications Audit for local churches to help evaluate their current communications presence and explore ideas of what more could be done to increase visibility. Whether you have a minimal budget for communications or a team of professionals, it is important these tools work together to enhance your message to current members, staff and potential new members. Click here to access audit

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

Fountain of Love Offering Focuses On Mother’s Day

(Methodist Homes for the Aging) - A mother’s love is as precious as a rare jewel. As we approach Mother’s Day, we hope that your church will celebrate that priceless love through the taking of a Mother’s Day Offering for the Fountain of Love. The Fountain of Love Fund provides financial assistance to older adults living in a Methodist Home retirement community who find that they can no longer pay for their entire care. Because of the support of the Alabama-West Florida Conference and its churches, no resident has ever been asked to leave a Methodist Home due to their inability to pay. Free offering materials and more information is available online here

It's Tax Time! GCFA Offers Discount on Turbo Tax

(GCFA) - The General Council on Finance and Administration (GCFA) is happy to announce a continuation of a relationship with Intuit that allows members of The United Methodist Church to receive a discount on the cost of tax preparation software. When a member visits this website, they can choose the package that best suits their needs. This is a convenient way for members to save on the cost of tax preparation. This offer does not supersede anyone’s need to consult professionals about their tax liability, but it is a way for most people who prepare their own taxes to take advantage of a cost savings.


Fresh Expressions Vision Day, March 30

Blue Lake's 65th Birthday, April 1

Baypines District Town Hall Meeting with Bishop Graves, April 2-4

Inspirit 2017 - A Retreat For Older Adults, April 6-8

A Place at the Table, April 8

Wesley Foundation Board of Directors Training, April 7-8

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


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