August 5, 2019/Volume 18, No. 7

Conference News

Resisting Racism Training Announced for AWF Clergy

It is oftentimes an eye-opening, embarrassing, and/or troubling moment when a person realizes they have offended someone with a racist comment or action. Situations like this are often the result of a lack of awareness. In an effort to address and reduce the number of occurrences of unintentional and intentional racism within the Alabama-West Florida Conference, Bishop Graves is requiring all full-time appointed clergy and those part-time clergy whose schedules will allow to attend one of the three mandatory diversity trainings being offered throughout our Annual Conference in the month of September. Click here for more details and registration

Longtime FUMC Port St. Joe Member Celebrates Home Restoration

Mrs. Mary Belin, 94 of Port St Joe. FL, is celebrating her home restoration after Hurricane Michael severely damaged the residence. She started working at age 14 so she could put herself through school and moved into this house after her honeymoon and has lived in the same place for the last 71 years! When Mrs. Belin and her daughter first saw the house after Hurricane Michael, they thought it would be easier to throw a stick of dynamite in the middle of it than repair the home. They cried tears of joy in her living room when they saw the house for the first time after the repairs were completed. Belin’s fellow members of FUMC Port St. Joe were instrumental in completing the home repairs. Dr. Geoffrey Lentz, senior pastor at FUMC Port St. Joe, celebrated with her and prayed over this restored space. “Every church member and resident of Port St. Joe has been deeply impacted by Hurricane Michael,” said Dr. Lentz. “The greatest way we can minister to our members and community is to walk alongside them while they restore their lives and rebuild their homes. We continue to process the pain, grief, and loss while looking ahead to better days in our community. I am so grateful to be a part of a church that is such an integral part of the future of Port St. Joe.” More here

Advent Sermon Training Offered to Emphasize Excellence in Preaching

The Alabama-West Florida Conference continues to align its work around the four conference staff priorities. One of these priorities is, "Teaching, training, and coaching to support excellent preaching so that people encounter Jesus and live out the Great Commission." To support this priority, an Advent planning session for any who fills a pulpit is being offered in early September. Dr. Sam Parkes and Rev. Jeremy Steele will co-lead the one-day training. Click here for more, space is limited! 

Around the Conference

GLORY SIGHTINGS: A day at a time, one overgrown lot at a time

(Dr. Jeremy Pridgeon for the Panama City News Herald) - Glory sightings are not always moments of splendor and grandeur. Sometimes the glory sighting is the stranger in the midst, the person there to lend a hand. On a recent Saturday morning, we were holding a workday at our church as we continue the recovery effort following Hurricane Michael. I joined a small crew that was to work on clearing a triangle block that had tremendous overgrowth and some small debris from the storm. Even though we were out early, the oppressive July heat and humidity were already in full force. As we were getting our tools together, a man on a bicycle drove past and asked if he could help. I said, “Sure!” I introduced myself and he said, “My name is David, like in the Bible.” Glad to have some extra manpower on our project, I said, “Well it’s good to meet you David, like in the Bible!” Over the next couple of hours, David and I worked side by side. We pulled weeds, we picked up pieces of glass and boards. We piled all of the limbs and branches on the sidewalk next to the road for cleanup crews to collect later. And we spent those two hours talking to each other, getting to know one another. More here

Guest Editorial: "Suffering" 

(Nathan Dickson for the Union Springs Herald) - “What can we do with our pain? How might we hold it and work with it? How do we turn the power of suffering toward new life? The way we answer those questions is critical because violence is what happens when we don’t know what else to do with our suffering.” A wonderful writer named Parker Palmer puts those words in an essay about finding hope after heartbreak. We have prisons full of people who were abandoned by one parent or the other as children. Addiction is rampant for people looking to numb or escape a sense of pain in our lives. We lash out. We self-destruct. We become reckless or indifferent when we are suffering and don’t know what to do about it. And so many of us know we are suffering but can’t even pin down what it is we are suffering from at any given moment. More here

Alabama Rural Ministry Crew Leaders Needed for Auburn Freshmen

(ARM) - Auburn Honors Serve Day is Tuesday, August 13 from 8:30am-4:00pm. We need four crew leaders to guide these incoming freshmen at local sites. Two of the student crews will serve with tornado survivors. The 3rd crew will serve in Tuskegee with our veterans' housing renovation and the 4th crew at the Tuskegee Mission Hub (TU Methodist). Please contact Jeremiah Bryan by August 6th- if you would like to help. Auburn Honors Serve Week is called K(no)W Poverty. Incoming freshmen are sent throughout the community to serve and ARM gets to be a part. You can be a friendly face and voice welcoming these new students and introducing them to the AU and ARM Families.

Tanzania Partnership Information Sessions To Be Held Throughout AWF Conference 

The Alabama-West Florida Conference is now in partnership with the Mwanza District of the UMC in Tanzania. There are many different ways you and your church can be involved. We invite you to one of our upcoming information sessions to learn more. All sessions will begin at 3 p.m. Click here for more or here to register for a session

Connecting Neighbors Workshops Scheduled to Help Districts Prepare for Disasters

Are you prepared for the next disaster? We invite you to attend to one of the upcoming Connecting Neighbors workshops and put together a disaster response plan. Be prepared before the disaster strikes, and then be more effective in your outreach to your community after the disaster. Click here to register to attend any of these workshops. Click here to see a brief video

Connectional News

Huntingdon Named among Top 5 Colleges in the Region

(Huntingdon College) - Huntingdon College has been named among the best colleges and universities in the South by College Consensus, a college aggregator that uses student satisfaction as its benchmark. Huntingdon President J. Cameron West was pleased with the notification. “In addition to our ranking at number three in the region, Huntingdon’s student satisfaction numbers placed the College at number two in Alabama and among the top 50 small colleges in the country,” said West. “What better measure of success could there be than the voices of those who sit in our classes and live the Huntingdon experience?” According to College Consensus, “College Consensus is comprehensive. It’s not just one voice stating an opinion—it’s many, many voices, computed objectively and equally. The College Consensus method allows every institution, from the richest and best-known university to the smallest and hardest-working regional college, to demonstrate what they do best. Students who are actually there day to day have as much say about their college as experts who have never visited, making sure that all of those perspectives mean an even playing field for every college and university.” More here

General Conference 2020 Petition Submission Process Opens

(UMNS) - Petitions for consideration by the 2020 General Conference may be submitted to the Petitions Secretary now through September 18, 2019. According to church law, "Any organization, clergy member, or lay member of The United Methodist Church may petition the General Conference...". Detailed instructions for submitting a petition are available on the General Conference website at Petitions must be typed and may be submitted through the General Conference website, by postal mail or fax, or via e-mail to This e-mail address should be used for petition submission only. All other correspondence should be directed to Full details here

UMPH Board Affirms New Digital Initiatives

In its annual meeting in Nashville July 23-24, the Board of Directors of The United Methodist Publishing House (UMPH) endorsed major new initiatives to advance the mission of The United Methodist Church and keep pace with rapidly changing needs of churches and ministry leaders. Approving plans to invest what will exceed $2 million, the Board unanimously endorsed special funding for Amplify (, a multimedia Internet-based platform with content developed through a Wesleyan lens for teaching, training, and making disciples of Jesus Christ. Churches may subscribe to the service, giving an array of their lay and clergy leaders quick access to up-to-date resources from their phones, tablets, laptops, and computers. More here


What’s Next for the United Methodist Church?

(Lewis Center) - Lovett Weems succinctly reviews how the United Methodist Church got to its current dilemma regarding human sexuality, the situation after the Special General Conference, and options for the future. Click here for video

Renfro Grant Application Available

In the 1950's, Judge William E Renfro established a Trust in memory of his beloved wife to assist with the establishment of new churches, particularly within rural areas. Judge Renfro was an active and faithful Methodist and wanted to express his love for his wife and the Church. Because of his generosity, many churches throughout the Southeastern Jurisdiction over the decades have been recipients of the annual Renfro Grant award. The grant process has since been expanded to assist already-established rural churches with building renovations and improvements. Churches in population areas under 10,000 are eligible to apply. This is a competitive grant; applications must be on time and complete, including signatures, in order to be considered. Any church in Alabama-West Florida wishing to apply will submit their application to Susan Hunt at the Conference office by August 16, but you will want to get it to your district office sooner than that for the required DS signature. Click here for the current guidelines. Click here for an application to print and complete by handClick here for an application to complete using a computer Contact Susan at or 334-356-8014 for additional information.


Global Leadership Summit, August 8-9

Connecting Neighbors Workshop - Baypines District, August 10

Tanzania Partnership Information Session - Dothan District, August 11

ERT (Early Response Team) Training - Shalimar UMC, August 17

Marriage Enrichment Retreat, August 18-20

One Day! An Event for Older Adults, August 22

Connecting Neighbors Workshop - Montgomery-Prattville District, August 24

Tanzania Partnership Information Session - Montgomery-Opelika District, August 25

Montgomery - Prattville Clergy Gathering, August 27

SEJ Clergywomen's Conference Early Bird Deadline, August 31

Advent is Coming: A Sermon Series Planning Workshop, September 5

Montgomery COT Volunteer Training, September 7

Connecting Neighbors Workshop - Pensacola District, September 7

Tanzania Partnership Information Session - Pensacola District, September 8

Damage Assessment Training, September 10

Resisting Racism: A Required Diversity Training for AWF Clergy, September 12

Means of Grace | Day Apart for Spiritual Formation (Session 8), September 14

Early Response Team (ERT) Training: Perdido Bay UMC, September 14

Guided Personal Retreat, September 16-18

Tanzania Partnership Information Session - Montgomery-Prattville District, September 22

Resisting Racism: A Required Diversity Training for AWF Clergy, September 24

Resisting Racism: A Required Diversity Training for AWF Clergy, September 26

ARM No More Shacks, September 26-October 1

Connecting Neighbors Workshop - Demopolis District, September 28

Marriage Enrichment Retreat, September 29-October 1


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