August 19, 2019/Volume 18, No. 8
Alabama-West Florida Conference to Remember Hurricane Michael
October 10, 2018, changed the lives of thousands as well as the landscape of the beautiful states of Florida and Georgia. The Alabama-West Florida Conference is home to numerous churches that received significant damage in addition to many clergy and church member residences that were devastated. The conference is inviting all churches in Alabama and West Florida to participate in this time of remembrance. “We will never forget the fear of watching a category five hurricane descend on our conference,” said Bishop David Graves. “The residents of Panama City, Port St. Joe, Mexico Beach, Marianna and many surrounding inland communities suffered significant property loss and experienced trauma that will remain with them for the rest of their lives. Sadly, these communities continue to lose neighbors when the trauma becomes too much for some to handle. As a conference, it is imperative we all recognize and remember this catastrophic event. This conference continues to walk alongside residents of the gulf coast through the Hurricane Michael Recovery program. I am so grateful for a talented team that is dedicated to helping those impacted by the storm rebuild their homes and lives. Despite all of our denominational heartache, our disaster response program, with the help of UMCOR, exhibits what is best in our connection.” Full release here.
Rovira Announces Retirement for Fall 2019
Ms. Marth Rovira, Coordinator of Hispanic and Latino Ministries, has announced her retirement, effective November 1, 2019. Rovira has faithfully served in this role for twelve years and has been a dedicated advocate for this ministry. “I am grateful for Martha’s commitment to the Alabama-West Florida Conference Hispanic and Latino Ministries,” said Bishop David Graves. “She has a heart for those in our conference who are often overlooked. There are many challenges in developing and implementing Hispanic and Latino Ministries in our churches and she has been an outstanding resource for our clergy, the cabinet and me. I wish her the very best in retirement and am thankful for her ministry.” More here.
Stegall Foundation Celebrates 12th Annual Dinner of Celebration
(SSSEF) - On Thursday, August 8, 2019, the Stegall Seminary Scholarship Endowment Foundation celebrated its 12th year in ministry at the annual Dinner of Celebration. The banquet, held at the Renaissance Hotel in downtown Montgomery, welcomed approximately 400 students, alumni and supporters. Including those in attendance were some of the seminary students and course of study students being supported by the Foundation during the 2019-2020 school year. Each year, two extravagantly generous donors underwrite the entire cost of the banquet, ensuring that donations made to the foundation are allocated for scholarships. Rev. Robin Wilson senior pastor of Opelika (Ala.) First United Methodist Church, served as the evening’s host. The invocation was given by Rev. Jay Cooper, senior pastor of Montgomery First United Methodist Church. Mrs. Mabs and Mr. James Seay performed duets of “The Prayer” and “You Raise Me Up.” More here. Click here to see photos by Luke Lucas.
Around the Conference
Two female pastors in Chatom share calling, friendship
(AU College of Liberal Arts) - According to the Rev. Dr. Holly Morales, the United Methodist Church cares extensively about social principles, equal justice, and equal rights. This may be why the Methodist Church has been ordaining women for more than 50 years. Some within the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church also believe women have a place at the pulpit as well. Formerly called the Colored Methodist Episcopal, CME is an historically African American church founded within the Methodist denomination. At the United Methodist Church and the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church in Chatom, two women pastor and lead churches. Chatom UMC, 20 School St, is led by the Rev. Dr. Holly Morales. Cooper Lewis CME Church, 170 Martin Luther King Ave, and is led by the Rev. Hazel Kirksey. More here.
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.
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!
Zimbabwe lay leader dies at 63
(UMNS) - Betty Spiwe Katiyo — a United Methodist laywoman from Zimbabwe who held many leadership positions throughout the global church — died suddenly Aug. 10 after leaving the Commission on General Conference meeting in Lexington, Kentucky. Katiyo, 63, had spent the last night of the meeting in Lexington enjoying a tour of Asbury Theological Seminary and having dinner with several members of the commission. The commission met Aug. 7-9. The Rev. Beth Ann Cook, a 2019 General Conference delegate from the Indiana Conference and member of the commission, learned of the passing of her friend while she was traveling to Africa. “Betty was an amazing, strong woman of God. I deeply valued her friendship and prayers. She exuded love for Jesus and others. She was a strong voice for empowering women and Africans in our General Conference legislative process,” Cook said. “She stood unashamedly for orthodoxy and passing the faith once received to future generations.” More here. File photo by Paul Jeffrey, UM News.
UMC Bishops agree to ask Judicial Council to review Special Session votes
(COB) - The Council of Bishops, in response to a request from the Commission on General Conference, has voted to ask the Judicial Council to rule on the implications of the invalid votes discovered during the independent investigation of the 2019 Special Session of the General Conference held last February. Click here for statement.
Plans for 2020 General Conference Nearing Completion
(UMNS) - In their final meeting before the 2020 General Conference, the Commission on the General Conference came together on August 7-9, 2019, in Lexington, Ky. to complete plans for the quadrennial legislative event. Kim Simpson, who has been serving as Secretary of the Commission, was elected chairperson to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of former chairperson Duncan McMillan. Vice-chair Mujinga Kashala was not able to attend the meeting and declined to assume the office of chair by succession. The Rev. Gary George was elected as the new secretary of the Commission. The 2020 General Conference will see changes in the Daily Christian Advocate, which will be fully digital and available through a Daily Christian Advocate website. The Advance Daily Christian Advocate will still be printed as well as items in the daily editions that need to be voted on, but the proceedings of the General Conference, delegate lists and news articles will be on the website only. Improvements to the website include highlighting items that are currently being discussed so they are easy to find. More here.
Four questions to make your worship more millennial-friendly
(Rev. Jeremy Steele) - The millennial generation is conspicuously absent from churches across the United States. Beyond concerns for sustained church health as millennials opt out, this generation's absence means they miss out on the transforming grace, peace and support the body of Christ offers. While the church may be experiencing the aptly millennial-inspired FOMO (fear of missing out), there are simple steps churches can take to be more inviting to young- to early middle-aged adults. An ebook I wrote for The United Methodist Church addresses this topic in depth. More here.
50 Ways to Improve Your Annual Stewardship Campaign
(Lewis Center) - Church members who make pledges give substantially more than those who do not, and congregations that seek annual financial commitments have significantly higher levels of overall giving. These 50 tips will help you maximize giving by improving your annual financial campaign. More here.
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
Game Changing Leadership, September 5
Game Changing Leadership, September 6
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
Tanzania Partnership Information Session - Mobile District, October 6
United Methodist Women Spiritual Enrichment Retreat, October 11-13
Connecting Neighbors Workshop - Marianna/Panama City District, October 12
Tanzania Partnership Information Session - Baypines District, October 13
Choir Music Weekend, October 18-20
Connecting Neighbors Workshop - Montgomery-Opelika District, October 19