October 7, 2019/Volume 18, No. 11
New Benefits Added for AWF Active Clergy and Conference Staff
The Alabama-West Florida Conference Board of Pension and Health Benefits is pleased to announce new benefits at no cost to you starting January 1, 2020, for eligible clergy and conference staff. Rev. Steve Reneau, Pension and Health Board President and BeLinda Carnegie, Conference Benefits Officer, offer initial details in this video. Click here to view or on the image below.
Great! So what do I need to do to take advantage of this?
- You do not need to do anything. Eligible clergy and staff will automatically be enrolled in both plans at no additional cost. Clergy spouses will be enrolled in the CHC Wellness Program.
- If you would like to learn more about these new benefits, plans for upcoming Webinars and trainings will be announced soon.
- Please check the BOPH Website for brochures related to the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) and the CHC Wellness Program. Click here for additional information.
AWF Clergy Trained on Ways to Resist Racism
Racism. It’s a word many do not seek to learn more about. Whether it is how a person was raised, cultural influences or simply not having resources to properly ask the tough questions, these necessary conversations are not always a top priority for clergy and congregations. Three days of the busy September calendar in the Alabama-West Florida Conference were dedicated to training hundreds of clergy about this sensitive topic. Rev. Michelle Ledder was asked to lead the training called, “Resisting Racism: A Required Diversity Training for AWF Clergy.” Ledder is the General Commission on Race and Religion (GCORR) Director of Diversity and Anti-racism. More here.
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. Copyrighted photo by Mark Wallheiser of Getty Images.
Around the Conference
Conference Grant Helps Congregation Serve Local School
(Kara Witherow for the AWF Conference) - A few loads of laundry, dozens of bags of groceries, and a lot of love have helped revitalize and invigorate Metropolitan United Methodist Church. They’ve also helped meet some tangible needs of Davis Elementary School’s students and families. The congregation has long had a desire to serve its Montgomery neighborhood, and when Rev. Richard Williams was appointed to the church in July, they told him as much. “They shared with me that they want to help children and those in need,” Rev. Williams said of the Metropolitan UMC congregation. “I was told that the congregation wanted me out in the community and that they wanted people to know that the congregation loves them. They want to be the church, to be the hands and feet of Jesus.” After meeting with Davis Elementary School principal Tori Infinger, Rev. Williams and the congregation got to work. As they learn of needs, they aren’t content just to pray, he said. More here.
Bishop Visits Gulf Coast to Celebrate Ministry
Bishop David Graves has spent significant time in recent weeks along the Gulf Coast to celebrate ministry and give thanks for the work our clergy and laity are doing in their corners of the world. In addition to visiting with churches who were survivors and helpers during Hurricane Michael, Bishop Graves visited with Rev. Chris Terrell, who serves as the Chaplain at the U.S. Naval Base in Pensacola, FL. Bishop Graves attended a Blessing of the Wings held for twenty Naval Flight Officer (NFO) graduates. The service has origins in the Naval Aviation community going back to the days of WWII. He had the opportunity to meet some of the command leadership of Training Air Wing Six at the service, as well as tour the National Naval Aviation Museum where the NFO graduation ceremony was held. We give thanks for the many ways our clergy are involved in the military for are grateful for their service.
Vital Conversations: Meaningful Conversations on Race Start This Week
As a follow up to the Alabama-West Florida Conference clergy "Resisting Racism" Diversity Training, Vital Conversations are being held in three locations in the coming days. These conversations will be open to all clergy and laity and will be focused on race, culture and justice. Celeste Eubanks, AWF Director of Leadership Strategies, will facilitate relevant questions to help educate and inform our conference about ways progress can be made on these topics. Registration is encouraged but not required and all are welcome. Individual date links to register are below under events.
Pastor Appreciation Month Celebrated in October
(UMNS) - Pastor appreciation month is held annually in October. One of the best ways we can support our pastors and show them our appreciation is to regularly pray for them. But it can be difficult to know exactly what we should pray for. To help get started, we’ve assembled fifteen areas of pastors’ lives and ministries where they would value your prayers. Click here for more.
Methodists in Bahamas cope with Dorian's trauma
(UMNS) - The Rev. Kenneth Lewis, a Methodist superintendent in Grand Bahama, has experienced numerous hurricanes, but Hurricane Dorian was exceptionally devastating. Two Methodist denominations in the Bahamas are responding to immediate needs and worrying about the hurricane's psychological impact. Read story.
"God is With Us" Celebrates Advent Season
God Is With Us, originally published in 2016 by Rev. Robin Wilson, invites you to explore your longing for God's presence through a study of the lectionary Bible readings for Advent and Christmas. The hope of Advent is the fulfillment of that longing; we await the coming of Jesus as Immanuel, God With Us. Each week's Scriptures call us to praise God as we actively await the coming of Christ and prepare our hearts and lives for his arrival. Through the readings, we hear the invitation to claim and celebrate the new hope we have in Jesus Christ. Click here to order.
Laity Sunday Celebrates Ministry of all Christians
Laity Sunday celebrates the ministry of all Christians. On Laity Sunday (this year, October 20, 2019) we embrace our shared vocation (lay persons and clergy) to proclaim, grow in, and embody the good news of saving love in Jesus Christ. As we welcome and offer the good news of Jesus to all, we commit to grow in love and respond to a world that needs God’s life-mending, justice-creating grace. Therefore, go (with hope) through purpose! Click here to view the Laity Sunday 2019 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.
Three Strategies for Leading Beyond Your Blind Spots
(Lewis Center) - How many times have you attempted to cross a lane of traffic and ended up with a horn blaring in your ear? Almost every driver has had this experience because of the “blind spot” — that danger zone where other vehicles can approach unseen unless you turn your head to look for them. Just as we have a blind spot while driving, we also have blind spots when it comes to leadership — those traits or characteristic that diminish our leadership capacity that others see but we cannot quite see in ourselves. More here.
Wesley Heirs Retreat, October 7-9
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
Laity Sunday, October 20
Disabilities Awareness Sunday, October 20
Guided Personal Retreat, October 21-23
Dothan District Lay Servant Training, October 25-26
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
AWF Historical Society Old Fashioned Christmas Meeting, December 5