September 23, 2019/Volume 18, No. 10
Hurricane Michael Remembrance Resources Now Available
As previously announced, the Alabama-West Florida Conference is planning intentional time to remember the devastation caused by Hurricane Michael, which made landfall on October 10, 2018. Multiple resources are now available to assist your local church to appropriately remember this disaster in our conference. Details may be found here.
Potential AWF Called Annual Conference Session Announced for 2020
Under the leadership and direction of Bishop David Graves, the Alabama-West Florida Conference has announced a potential special called annual conference session related to General Conference 2020 legislation. This is in addition to the previously announced dates with one revision. At the conclusion of the 2019 Annual Conference session, the dates of annual conference were announced as June 7-10, 2020. The new dates for that session are now June 7-9, 2020. All business of the annual conference will conclude by 5:00pm on Tuesday, June 9, 2020. An additional called conference may be held on Saturday, June 27, 2020, in a centrally located public facility within the bounds of the conference, if needed. Because General Conference 2020 concludes on May 15, 2020, additional time could be needed to properly prepare the conference should a vote of any sort be required. More here.
Hurricane Dorian: How You Can Help
Although the impact on the United States from Hurricane Dorian was less than predicted, we know other areas were not as fortunate. Our prayers continue for our neighbors in the Bahamas and others impacted by the storm. Our conference disaster response team has been in touch with surrounding annual conferences and UMCOR letting them know of our readiness to serve. UMCOR (United Methodist Committee On Relief) has awarded a solidarity grant to Bahamas Methodist Habitat, the Disaster Ministry of the Bahamas Conference of the Methodist Church. Bishop Theophilus Rolle, president of the Bahamas, Turks & Caicos Islands Conference of the Methodist Church, said that the hurricane's force has resulted in "an unimaginable living nightmare" there. More here.
Around the Conference
Panama City Church Gives Generously to Hurricane Dorian Survivors
Lynn Haven UMC (LHUMC), located in the heart of the Hurricane Michael devastation, knows the pain and heartache of losing everything. On October 10, 2018, Michael was relentless with its power. Many members of Lynn Haven UMC lost their homes, business, jobs and their church home. Since last fall, the church has met in the parking lot and now meets at Bay Haven Charter Academy to continue ministry in the best way they can. Just days after the storm made landfall, the church was distributing supplies and meals to their neighbors. After seeing the complete devastation Hurricane Dorian left behind in the Bahamas, the LHUMC family immediately mobilized and identified Bahamas Methodist Habitat as the best way to help. On Sunday, September 8, 2019, LHUMC collected a special offering during communion designated for the Bahamas Methodist Habitat. The church communicated to the members that they would use church mission funds to match their individual contributions up to $2,500. The initial offering was over $8,800; meaning at least $11,300 will be sent to the relief effort. The church anticipates even more money to be collected through online and text efforts. More here.
Local Church Turns Charge Conference Reports into Ministry Celebrations
Charge Conference season is in full force! Many pastors view this as a time of paperwork and a necessary meeting, but others have begun to see this as a time to celebrate ministry and the ways God is working in their local church. Rev. Teresa Seevers of Greystone UMC in Dothan, AL, is doing just this. Dr. Ed Glaize, Dothan District Superintendent, led this annual meeting. The charge conference is defined as the basic governing body of each United Methodist local church and is composed of all members of the church council. All members of the charge conference must be members of the local church. The charge conference must meet at least once per year. The charge conference directs the work of the church and gives general oversight to the church council, reviews and evaluates the mission and ministry of the church, sets salaries for the pastor and staff, elects the members of the church council, and recommends candidates for ordained ministry. It's understandable how such yearly events can become just another task on the calendar. But thanks to pastors like Seevers, these conferences can become a transformational celebration. More here.
Methodist Learning Center re-opening
(The Star) - Most children get some new clothes to start the school year, but the children of the Methodist Learning Center got even more, they have a new facility to celebrate. Their school building was destroyed by Hurricane Michael, but on Tuesday, Aug. 20, the Methodist Learning Center had a ribbon-cutting at their new facility on the corner of 3rd Street and Long Ave. The two buildings conjoined by a playground will house the school for the next few years as a permanent building is rebuilt on the campus of First United Methodist Church of Port St. Joe. Port St. Joe Mayor Rex Buzzett, who assisted in the ribbon cutting, noted, “The future of our city is our children and that is why this new facility is a great addition to our city.” Most of the work to get the building ready was completed by volunteers from United Methodist Churches from Auburn, Al, Midway, NC, and Point Washington, FL. More here. Photo courtesy of The Star.
Phishing Scam Targets Congregations
We have heard from a number of Alabama-West Florida Conference clergy whose congregations have been the target of an e-mail scam. Church members have received fraudulent emails that appear to be from the pastor and ask for help (usually financial help). A common theme is a need for a gift card or urgent help for a loved one. Our Bishop and conference staff have also encountered this issue. If you receive an email that strikes you as unusual, confirm that it's legitimate before you reply. Refrain from forwarding the email to others. Instead, make a quick phone call to the church or write a new email to your pastor or a staff person. If the email is fraudulent, report it as phishing to your email provider and delete the email. Pay careful attention to the sender's address (not just name) as that will help you to identify if the email is legitimate. All AWF staff emails use @awfumc.org. More here.
Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month
(UMNS) - Hispanic Heritage Month is Sept. 15-Oct. 15. United Methodist Communications suggests five ways to celebrate Hispanic-Latino culture and resources for inviting surrounding communities to join in church events. Discipleship Ministries offers a special liturgy month and some suggested activities.
Read five ways to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month
United Methodist Communications resources
Discipleship Ministries resources
How You Can Celebrate Disability Awareness Sunday
(Berta Hurston) - In the Alabama-West Florida Conference, every year we designate a Sunday to celebrate the gifts and graces of persons with disabilities. Sunday, October 20, 2019 was the date selected for this year, but churches may choose to do so on a different date. This special Sunday allows our local churches to acknowledge and show appreciation to those with disabilities. Often times these members are overlooked in our congregations because they are perceived to have limitations. We want to bring awareness that many of these members with disabilities bring a unique perspective to our congregations and can be leaders and contributing members to the United Methodist Church and our communities. More here.
Doing Community Ministry in the Small Church
(Lewis Center) - Sometimes I interact with small congregations that assume that any significant community ministry effort is beyond their reach. They often keenly feel their limitations as they work to keep internal church programs going with limited staff and volunteers. So how could they ever engage the community in any significant way? With the right approach, it is possible for a small group of people to make a big impact. It will take focus and clarity about what you are trying to accomplish, but the small church can make a big impact in the world through partnerships, creative use of resources, and a focus on relational ministry. Small congregations have unique strengths that can result in strong and effective community ministry. More here.
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
Early Response Team (ERT) Training, September 28
Marriage Enrichment Retreat, September 29-October 1
Tanzania Partnership Information Session - Mobile District, October 6
World Communion Sunday, October 6
Vital Conversations, October 8
Vital Conversations, October 10
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
Vital Conversations, October 15
Choir Music Weekend, October 18-20
Connecting Neighbors Workshop - Montgomery-Opelika District, October 19
Disabilities Awareness Sunday, October 20
Guided Personal Retreat, October 21-23
Environmental Justice Seminar, November 4
Connecting Neighbors Workshop - Dothan District, November 9
Tanzania Partnership Information Session - Marianna/Panama City District, November 10
SEJ Clergywomen Retreat, November, 18-21
Lake Junaluska Peace Conference, November 21-24