January 29, 2018/Volume 17, No. 2
Initial 2018 Annual Conference Details Announced
Annual Conference 2018 will be held June 3-6 at Frazer Memorial UMC in Montgomery. Our theme is, “Imagine: A Church That's the Hope of the World” based on Ephesians 1:18-19. The missional offering will go to Communities of Transformation, a ministry that was launched out of the Alabama-West Florida Conference in 2011. Bishop David Graves will be sharing more in a video release tomorrow about some preparation work he is requesting of each lay and clergy member to conference. Please watch for that video release. Other initial information related to conference may be found in the links below.
Changes to Standing Rules Deadline
Resolutions Submission Deadline
Submit entires for the Book of Reports to Rev. Jackie Slaughter
Bishop Graves Sends Greetings from the Holy Land
Bishop David Graves, Resident Bishop of the Alabama-West Florida Conference, offers a brief word from the Holy Land and shares his deep appreciation for setting a record of reaching 90.10% for 2017 missional giving. Click here or on the image below to view. Video courtesy of Chris Meyer, Communications Director at Cokesbury UMC Pensacola.
Around the Conference
Auburn UMC Responds to Houston Cleanup Needs Months After Storm
Team members from Auburn UMC served in Houston, TX, helping friends, senior adults and families rebuild from Hurricane Harvey. The team of ten from Auburn UMC teamed up with 27 others from Orchard Park, NY. Together the team of 40 handled roofing, shingles, drywall, painting, water lines, clean up and were able to serve together with homeowners. The teams partnered with Fuller Center Disaster Builders and had the best hospitality from friends residing at Clear Lake United Methodist Church outside of Houston! Thank you Auburn UMC family and Clear Lake UMC community for your prayers, love, kindness and encouragement. Courtesy of Auburn UMC.
Bishop Graves: Do No Harm
(Bishop Graves for The Montgomery Advertiser) - The Bible teaches us that God’s world is one world. In these days of debating immigration laws, like DACA, where soon over 800,000 people living in the United States are at risk of being deported, racist remarks from governmental leaders and sexual harassment in the workplace to labeling of people living in a hole, we have divided ourselves even further. In the Social Principles of the United Methodist Church we are called to “commit ourselves to the rights of men, women, children, youth, young adults, the aging and people with disabilities; to improvement of the quality of life; and to the rights and dignity of all persons” (Social Creed, paragraph 166). Click here for full commentary.
Disabilities Sunday Designated in the AWF Conference
Sunday, February 25, 2018, has been designated as Disability Awareness Sunday in the Alabama-West Florida Conference. As United Methodists, "We recognize that God made all creation and saw that it was good. As a diverse people of God who bring special gifts and evidences of God's grace to the unity of the Church and to society, we are called to be faithful to the example of Jesus' ministry to [and with] all persons." (¶140, The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church 2012). More here.
2020 General Conference Delegate Distribution by Annual Conference Now Available
(UMNS) - In December 2017, the Secretary of the General Conference publicly released information about the number of delegates assigned to the annual conferences within each jurisdiction and central conference for the 2020 General Conference. As directed by The Book of Discipline 2016, delegate counts for individual annual conferences were sent to the bishop and annual conference secretary of each. The full list was not made available at that time pending the completion of notifications and acknowledgements of receipt. The distribution of delegates by annual conference is now available online. More here.
Commission on a Way Forward Prepares Updated Report to Bishops
(Dallas) - The Commission on a Way Forward is nearing the completion of its task of making recommendations of possible ways forward for The United Methodist Church regarding the inclusion of LGBTQ persons in this global denomination. The 32-member Commission concluded its three-day meeting in Dallas, Texas, on Saturday after reworking sketches of possible models of the future of the denomination that will be part of the final report to the Council of Bishops in May. More here.
Bishops, Agency Respond to #MeToo Movement
(UMNS) - As allegations of sexual misconduct rock the U.S. from the sets of Hollywood to the halls of Washington, United Methodist leaders acknowledge that the church also has seen such abuses of power. In a joint statement released Jan. 23, the Council of Bishops and the Commission on the Status and Role of Women “strongly encourage and support the reporting of sexual misconduct, including sexual harassment allegations within the church.” More here.
GBHEM Scholarship Deadline Announced
The 2018 Fall Scholarship Application is now open until March 7th. As a reminder, all United Methodist students can apply as long as they meet the criteria found here. The application can be found by visiting www.gbhem.org/scholarshipapplication. Please encourage all of your United Methodist Students to apply for these opportunities as they can be considered for a General Scholarship, United Methodist Allocation, and a Conference Merit Award all with one application.
GCFA Legal Services Department Offers Update on Housing Allowance
(GCFA) - As we mentioned previously, on October 6, 2017, U.S. District Judge Barbara B. Crabb of the Western District of Wisconsin found that 26 U.S.C. § 107(2) violates the establishment clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. At that time there were still two issues to be decided, the remedy and whether or not the decision would be stayed pending any potential appeals. Judge Crabb issued an order on December 13, 2017, addressing these two issues. She enjoined the IRS from enforcing section 107(2), which is the section permitting a housing allowance for ministers of the gospel, but she stayed the injunction until 180 days after either the conclusion of any pending appeals or the failure to file an appeal by a party. This means that the clergy housing allowance is still available while any appeals are pending. We will keep you updated on the appeals process. Click here to read the analysis of the earlier ruling from the Legal Services Department of GCFA and view the most recent update. Should you have any questions, please feel free to contact the Legal Services Department of GCFA at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Local Church Resources
A Letter to Churches Seeking New Members
(Lewis Center) - After visiting several churches, Lyda K. Hawes offers candid observations for congregations seeking new members, including "No public humiliation. No stalking. Remember us. And tell us what you really believe." More here.
Book Explores Hope, Resurrection for Church
(GBHEM) - A new book by the Rev. William B. Lawrence explores the meaning of requiem as a voice of hope. In “A Methodist Requiem: Words of Hope and Resurrection for the Church,” the church historian writes that requiem heralds the promise of resurrection. He explores how this can help Christians be confident and remain unshaken by the challenges faced by faith communities and as a denomination. The United Methodist Board of Higher Education and Ministry published the book. Read press release.
Four Ways to Engage Busy People
(Lewis Center) - The Rev. F. Douglas Powe, director of the Lewis Center for Church Leadership, suggests ways to help those with significant time constraints serve as church leaders. Read commentary.
Huntingdon Leadership Academy Registration Opens, January 29
ERT Training-Trinity UMC, Ft. Walton, January 31-February 1
2018 Legislative Prayer Breakfast, February 1
UMVIM Team Leader Training-Lynn Haven UMC, February 3
Black Methodists for Church Renewal Sunday, February 4
Predatory Lending Seminar, February 5
Planning for Your Retirement, February 6-7
Huntingdon College Black History Month Arts Event, February 8
Growing the Culture of Generosity in Your Church, February 8
"Becoming a Healthy, Growing Church" Conference, February 9-10
Means of Grace | Day Apart for Spiritual Formation (Third Session), February 10
LeadUP: Missional Leadership Retreat for Youth, February 16-18
Candler: Religious and Scientific Perspectives on the Future of Life, February 17
Bishop's Day Apart: The Health of Our Relationships, February 20
AWF United Methodist Women Annual Meeting, February 23-24
Disabilities Awareness Sunday, February 25
All Shall Be Well, February 25-March 1
Lake Junaluska Peace Conference, March 1-4
Bishop's Confirmation Retreat 2018, March 2-4
Baypines District Lay Servant Training, March 2-3
Small Membership Church Summit 2018, March 2-3
Lay Servant Training at Trinity UMC, Ft. Walton Beach, March 9-10