January 26, 2022
2022 Annual Conference Information
The Alabama-West Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church will hold its 2022 Annual Conference session Sunday, June 12-Wednesday, June 15 at the Dunn-Oliver Acadome on the campus of Alabama State University in Montgomery, AL. The Service of Commissioning and Ordination will be held at First United Methodist Church, Montgomery. This year’s theme is, “In this Season” from Ecclesiastes 3:1 with each day having a specific focus and missional giving recipient. More here.
A Word from Bishop Graves: A New Year
(Bishop Graves) - Greetings to you in this new year. I have hit the ground running in this conference and in the South Georgia Conference. Despite the Omicron variant, ministry continues in numerous ways. There are three things I would like to share with you. Before I do that, I want to express my deep appreciation to the churches in the Alabama-West Florida Conference who continue to faithfully support the mission and ministry efforts of the conference through your apportionment giving in 2021. Even in difficult times you have shown what the United Methodist connection means and I am most grateful. More here.
Special AWF and SGA Clergy Time Apart with April Casperson Announced
Being able to empathize is key for doing ministry and forming caring relationships of any type. Church leadership has been asked to focus on one pressing issue after another in recent years and that has left many of us emotionally depleted and unable to consider or care for others. Rev. April Casperson, ordained deacon serving as Director of Diversity and Inclusion in the West Ohio Annual Conference, will be in conversation with Bishop Graves for his virtual Bishop’s Time Apart on February 15th from 9-11am central time. Bishop Graves and Rev. Casperson will consider some of the struggles we have with empathy currently as clergy and how we might care for ourselves in this season so that we have more to give. Rev. Casperson will share practical exercises for increasing empathy. More information and registration here.
AWF Raises Over $62,000 for Kentucky Conference
Thank you, friends. You continue to display the best of our United Methodist connection by helping others when they need it most. The Alabama-West Florida Conference raised $62,970 to help our brothers and sisters in the Kentucky Conference after the catastrophic December tornados.
Upcoming Deadlines Announced for 2022 Annual Conference
There are several upcoming deadlines related to annual conference. Please make a note of them.
-Any proposed changes to the Standing Rules should be received in writing by the chairperson of the Committee on Standing Rules no later than February 1, 2022.
-Resolutions shall be submitted to the Committee on Resolutions and Petitions by February 15, 2022.
-Materials and reports to be included in the Book of Reports shall be in the hands of the Journal editor no later than February 28, 2022.
More details and contact information may be found here.
Around the Conference
Satsuma UMC Receives Renfro Grant
We are pleased to announce that Satsuma United Methodist Church has been awarded a Renfro Trust Grant for the fall of 2021 in the amount of $4500. The Renfro Trust fund supports churches in rural areas with needed repairs and building projects for the purpose of outreach to their community. Dr. Debora Bishop presented the award to the church on January 16th. Applications for 2022 come out this summer and will be due on August 1st.
AWF Laity Equipping Laity Video Series Released
A complete series of laity equipping laity videos have been released. These videos were coordinated by the AWF Board of Laity under the leadership of Beverly Maddox (AWF Conference Lay Leader) and Celeste Eubanks (AWF Director of Leadership Strategies). Video topics in this series include: lay leaders, church council chair, trustees, SPPRC, finance/church treasurer, mission and outreach, disaster response and lay servant ministries. Please notify chairs of your local church committees about this news series so that they may plan to show these in their early 2022 meetings. Click here for video links.
AWF Small Membership and Rural Church Cohort Seeks Participants
The Town and Country Commission is looking for small membership, rural churches who are interested in participating in a cohort experience around tools for evangelism and reaching out to your community. The cohort would begin sometime in May and work over the course of the year together. We hope to have this cohort fully funded through a grant from the Foundation for Evangelism. Please let us know by February 1st if you are interested in participating in this group so that we can include your church in the grant application. Contact for this cohort is Bill Kierce, email@example.com.
Wespath Saving Grace Wesleyan Financial Course Coming in 2022
The Office of Ministerial Services and the AWF UM Foundation would like to invite all clergy to participate in a new study, "Saving Grace: A Guide to Financial Well-Being". This 9-week study was created from a uniquely Wesleyan point-of-view with clergy and their congregations in mind. The study will be offered on Mondays and Thursdays with the Monday group starting January 24th and the Thursday group starting January 20th. Both will meet from 1:00pm-2:15pm Central Time over Zoom. This is ideal for anyone looking to get a better handle on their own personal finances and those looking for something accessible to use with their congregations. All workbooks and supplies are being covered through a grant and there is a financial incentive to the first 25 participants who complete the study. Leader kits are also available for those looking to use this curriculum in their local churches. Click here to find out more about “Saving Grace: A Guide to Financial Well-Being.” If you would like to participate in this study, click here to register. (Please note that groups are limited to 12 persons.) Please contact Rev. Jenni Hendrix, Director of Ministerial Services, at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions or would like more information.
Lent 2022 Small Group Study on Anti-racism
(Religion and Race) - Faithful Lent: Connecting the Practices of Lent and Anti-racism is a new Lenten resource for congregations to use in a small group setting. The purpose of this study is to make explicit connections between the traditions of Lent and the work of anti-racism without forcing either one to be what they are not. This study has been created with the faith-filled assumption that when we take seriously our Lenten traditions and what is necessary for the work of anti-racism, we find the two complement each other, not compete. Thus, what results is anti-racism work which emerges faithfully from engaging in authentic and tradition-based Lenten practices. Much of this study is organized along with worship-based categories such as scripture reading, scripture reflection, and prayer. More here.
The 5 P’s of Sustainability for Small Churches
(Lewis Center) - Rebekah Simon-Peter says small churches cannot succeed by emulating the megachurch model of programming for every stage of life. She believes that five P’s — people, prayer, provision, partnership, and presence — are key to the sustainability of smaller churches. More here.
United Methodist Higher Education Foundation Scholarships Available
(UMHEF) - Paying for college can be stressful. For many families, affording higher education is the number one factor when deciding where a student can and will attend. UMHEF wants to help make it financially possible for all qualifying United Methodist students to attend a UM-related college, university, or even seminary. UMHEF offers several scholarship opportunities to United Methodist students attending or seeking to attend a United Methodist-related institution of higher education. Last year, UMHEF awarded more than $2.3 million to over 1,000 students. YOU can be one of those scholars! Generally, applications are accepted January 1 – March 1 of each year. More here.
Marianna-Panama City District Conference, January 30
Mobile District Conference, January 30
Baypines District Conference, February 6
Board of Pension & Health 2022 Retirement Seminar, February 8-9
Game Changing Leadership: Understanding Clergy Taxes, February 10
Opening to the Presence of God, February 14-16
Bishop's Time Apart with April Casperson, February 15
UMW Annual Day, February 19
Gammon Theological Seminary, "Navigating Next," now -February 25
2022 AWF Bishop's Confirmation Retreat, March 11-13
Lake Junaluska Marriage Retreat, March 18-20