June 26, 2017/Volume 16, No. 11

Conference News

2017 Annual Conference: In Review

The 2017 Alabama-West Florida Annual Conference was held June 4-7 in Montgomery, AL, with the theme, "Imagine: By Faith It Can Happen." Bishop David Graves, presiding over his first annual conference session since becoming the resident bishop, welcomed clergy and lay members to Frazer Memorial UMC in Montgomery. A capacity crowd attended the Opening Worship Service of the 2017 Alabama-West Florida Annual Conference session, which was held Sunday evening, June 4, in the sanctuary of Frazer Memorial UMC in Montgomery, AL. Full recap here. Click here to access archived sessions of annual conference

Milton First Celebrates 150 Years of Ministry

For 150 years, the people called Methodists have connected people to God and people to people through Jesus Christ in Milton, Florida! A celebration of this ministry and mission of First United Methodist Church was held on Heritage Sunday, May 21. The theme of the day was “Great is Thy Faithfulness.” In his sermon, “Through These Doors,” Bishop David W. Graves reminded the congregation that the saints who had gone before were stepping stones on which the future of the church was built and continues to this day. District Superintendent The Reverend Timothy R. Trent introduced Bishop Graves and  assisted in the leading of prayers and the affirmation of faith. The members of the children’s, youth, and chancel choirs sang uplifting, majestic music accompanied by the church organist and those playing hand bells, flutes, a saxophone, and a trumpet. Special Guests included former pastors, other clergy, a historian of Santa Rosa County, and representatives of the Milton City and Santa Rosa County governments. More here.

Safe Sanctuaries Training Video Released by AWF Trustees


(Sue Bell Cobb) - As the Chair of the Alabama-West Florida UMC Conference Safe Sanctuaries Committee and a former juvenile judge, I am reaching out to you because of your position of leadership at your United Methodist Church. As a member of the Conference Board of Trustees, I know that the Trustees are indeed proud of our record of caring for and protecting our children and vulnerable adults. In an effort to ensure that none of our local churches are mired in the controversy of abuse allegations, your Conference Board of Trustees has endeavored to amend, with Conference approval, our Safe Sanctuaries Policy and Minimum Standards so that the content can be more understandable and easier to implement. Click here for more. Click here for video.  

Around the Conference

A Word of Thanks from Bishop Graves

(Bishop David Graves) - To the clergy and laity of the Alabama-West Florida Annual Conference: I want to take this opportunity to express my appreciation for the spirit-led, inspirational, incredible, and over-the-top annual conference that we shared together last week. Words cannot begin to express my appreciation to our planning team, preachers, worship leaders, and presenters who made this annual conference the best that I have ever been a part. More here

Glory Sighting: Gulf Breeze UMC VBS Raises Money for Local UMC Ministry

Gulf Breeze UMC was blessed by the presence of over 450 children and 178 volunteers at their Vacation Bible School the week of June 12. The church selected Richards Memorial UMC as the recipient of its student missional offering. The children raised $3,500 in four days! GBUMC matched their efforts and presented Rev. Robin Nobles with a check during the closing service on Friday, June 16. Rev. Nobles explained that this gift would provide 3,500 hot meals in the Brownsville Community. Rev. Shawn York stated, "I am so proud of these children and the hard work they demonstrated for this ministry. It is certainly a worthwhile group to support. They impact so many lives in the community that it was not a difficult decision who should be the missional offering recipient. They reflect the love of Christ to those who need love and support." 

Glory Sighting: Ausleys Recognized as Outstanding Asbury Alumni

Rev. Lisa Ausley and Rev. Rurel Ausley were honored at a dinner over the weekend in Wilmore, KY, where they received the Distinguished Alumni Award. This award is designed to honor alumni who in their personal lives and public ministries exhibit the Asbury values of a theologically educated, sanctified, spirit-filled, evangelistic ministry to spread scriptural holiness across the world. The Ausleys are pictured with Dr. Sandra Gray, Asbury University President. Congratulations to the Ausleys for this award and for tirelessly working for the Kingdom. 

We Welcome Your Feedback

We appreciate the outpouring of responses related to annual conference. If you have not yet completed the post-conference survey, we invite you to share your feedback. The annual conference planning team carefully reviews every comment and suggestion so that the 2018 session can be even better! Click here to take the survey

Photo Submissions for Quadrennial Pictorial Directory

We are excited to work with Color Craft Directories this year for our quadrennial pictorial directory. They will be available late summer. Many of you had your photos taken at annual conference, we appreciate it! If you are clergy and were not able to stop by the booth, you may send a high resolution, professional headshot photo to All submitted photos will be included in the back of the directory. Please, no camera phone photos.

Join Bishop Graves in a Holy Land Pilgrimage

This is your invitation to be a Tour Host and invite your people to join you in a rich spiritual journey into God's Word. As you know, Educational Opportunities Tours works through pastors, church staff, and lay leaders who will serve as Tour Hosts to invite their people to Christian travel. In every church there is probably someone who has had a lifelong dream of visiting the Holy Land and walking in the footsteps of our Lord. But most will never realize that dream unless someone they know and trust says to them, "I'm going to the Holy Land, and I'd love for you to join me." There's a wonderful ministry in this - a twofold blessing. First, you bless the pilgrim by your making their journey possible, and then you will find great delight and blessing as you watch them make wonderful discoveries and grow in God's Word on their journey. More here. Click on the above image to see a promotional video

Connectional News

New UMC Handbook Now Available

(UMCOM) - The new United Methodist Church Handbook for this quadrennium is available, providing a detailed overview of the denomination’s beliefs, mission, structure and history. The handbook is a free, go-to resource for anyone in search of information about The United Methodist Church and is helpful for leaders and new members. “The United Methodist Church Handbook is one of the most appreciated resources generated in the church, and rightly so,” said Ken Sloane, Director of Stewardship and Connectional Ministries at Discipleship Ministries. “Whether it’s a question about our theology of grace, new annual conference boundaries, or how money from the Ministerial Education Fund is spent, you will look here first.” Details here

Being a Pastor’s Kid: ‘I wouldn’t trade it for anything’

(UMNS) - Not many know what it’s like to be raised by a United Methodist pastor. To find out, we asked some PKs (pastor’s or preacher’s kids) from across the connection to share their experience as TOs (theological offspring). More here

The Benefits of Being in Church Choir

( — When John Wesley preached to the choir, he had some valuable advice: “Above all, sing spiritually.” Christopher Fenoglio reports on the spiritual and health benefits experienced by United Methodist choral members. Read story.

Local Church Resources

Better Than You Can Imagine Released

Most people want to make a difference, but they feel inadequate. In Better Than You Can Imagine, Patrick Quinn shares four truths:
1. You have a gift that only you can give.
2. Someone has a need that only you can meet.
3. Joy is the journey where the gift and the need collide.
4. The journey will break you; but it will also make you.
Through story and biblical insight, Quinn helps readers apply these truths to their lives. Whether it’s time, money, or talent, everyone has something extra to give to others—and God has even more joy to give back. Click here to learn more.

50 Ways to Increase Worship Attendance

(Lewis Center) -  Worship attendance is vital to the mission of the church. Our free "50 Ways" tip sheet provides practical strategies to help you improve the attendance of current members; invite new people to attend worship; make your church visible and attractive; welcome worship guests warmly; and make worship accessible to newcomers. More here


First Sunday in New Appointment, July 9

Welcome Reception for Rev. Dr. Jeff Wilson, July 16

2017 Cooperative Mission u Event, July 21-22

Beginning Pastor's Workshop, July 28-29

Blue Lake United Christian Ashram, August 4-6

ERT (Early Response Team) Training, Dothan District, August 5

Festival of Wisdom and Grace, August 7-10

2017 - 2020 Spiritual Direction Training, August 14-17

Means of Grace | Day Apart for Spiritual Formation, September 2

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

United Methodist Social Principles Seminar, September 18

Dothan District Fall Gathering, September 25


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