February 27, 2018
As a lay member to the 2018 annual conference, you will represent your local church and all of its members. With this leadership role comes great responsibility. You are responsible for honestly representing various and diverse voices in your congregation and making decisions on their behalf. Part of this responsibility requires that you be as prepared as you possibly can prior to arriving at conference. That means reading your book of reports, studying for any possible votes and this year, it means reading two books and attending a Courageous Conversation event in your area. This year, more than ever, we must be willing to listen to one another with open hearts and minds. It does not mean we have to persuade other’s opinions or change our own, but we must be trained to listen and engage with one another in productive dialogue and responses.
I am asking that each lay member to conference attend one of these sessions. The Courageous Conversations project is aimed to help us move from skepticism to curiosity and even openness to encounter God’s grace. Courageous Conversations is a toolbox that local churches can use to inspire and encourage the church and individuals to stay at the table when the anxiety and emotional turmoil is painful.
We believe Courageous Conversations provides a faithful way to listen and learn more about one another in an appreciative style and in a safe space. Click here to see a list of locations throughout the conference.
This video of Rev. Allen Newton and Dr. Debora Bishop, two superintendents on my cabinet, might better explain our goals. I highly encourage you to attend. Should you have questions, Susan Hunt in our conference office is available and happy to assist you. Please register for an event close to you so that the host church can prepare for the correct number of attendees. Thank you for being diligent in this request and I look forward to seeing you at conference!
Bishop David Graves
Alabama-West Florida Conference