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Issue 9, Fall 2012

A Message from our AWF Lay Leader

It"s hard to believe we are already entering the fourth quarter of 2012. 2013 will be upon us shortly. It"s time to finish the year strong and build a strong foundation for next year. To do so you might want to read the accompanying resolutions of Jonathan Edwards. Written in the early 1700s they are just as appropriate today. The resolutions are organized according to topic.

Our featured article looks at the Academy for Congregational Excellence. This is one of the most exciting new developments in our annual conference. Look to hear more details in the near future. Dr. Herb Sadler is leading this new endeavor.

Do not forget that the third Sunday in October is Laity Sunday. In the calendar section there is a link that will take you to some information that you can use for that important day.

We have several new members of our Board of Laity. Under the Laity in the News section we will introduce you to several of our new conference lay leaders as well as at-large members of our board.

I don"t know about you but I hate snakes. The only good snake is a dead snake. Last night while Lisa and I were out walking in the neighborhood somebody had just ran over a large rattlesnake. My idea is to kill them first and then to find out what kind of snake they are later. Therefore you need to read the excerpt from our book review that talks about praying for rattlesnakes. It"s an unusual prayer done by a peculiar preacher.

Steve Furr, M.D.
Conference Lay Leader

Upcoming Events

There are several upcoming laity events in our conference. Click on an event to learn more.

-Laity Sunday, October 21, 2012. Click here to learn more and to download a PowerPoint as a resource.
-Dothan District Super Sunday
-Lay Speaking Ministry Training Opportunities
-United Methodist Men Annual Advance 2013 with Eddie Fox
-United Methodist Women Events for 2012-2013

Methodist Moments

Methodist Moment #3

Did you know... That the church council is the primary governing body within each local United Methodist Church? It is responsible for planning & implementing a program of nurture, outreach, witness, and resources of the church. It is tasked, among its many other responsibilities, with the duty to envision, plan, implement and evaluate the mission & ministry of the church. The elected membership of the church council (elected by the charge conference) is made up of persons who represent the program ministries of the church as well as a number of at-large members as determined by the charge conference of the church. The pastor & church lay leader are ex-officio members of the church council.

Methodist Moment #4

Did you know... That John Wesley, the earthly founder of the United Methodist Church, was never ordained as a Methodist Preacher? He was born in Oxford, England in 1703, the 15th child of 19 children born to Samuel & Susanna Wesley (including two sets of twins. Four children died as infants). His mother, Susanna, was one of 25 children. His father, Samuel, was an ordained priest in the Anglican Church (Established Church of England). John & his brother, Charles (born 1707), were both ordained as priests in the Anglican Church and remained so until their deaths (Charles in 1788 & John in 1791). Neither brother ever gave any consideration to leaving the denomination in which they were ordained.

Featured Article: Academy for Congregational Excellence

(Dr. Herb Sadler) - The 2011 session of the Alabama-West Florida Conference authorized the creation of a new agency to provide leadership development for clergy and laity. This new agency is named the Academy for Congregational Excellence (ACE). Among its first actions was to send out a survey asking: what do church leaders need to become more effective? As a result of survey responses, 5 initiatives have been identified and ACE will be working in these 5 areas:

1. Building Effective Leadership Teams
2. Preaching Excellence
3. Missional Church
4. Clergy Self-Care
5. Basic Leadership Skills

Both laity and clergy identified "building effective leadership teams" as the number one need. Here are two exciting programs designed to address this need. Full article here.

Book Review

On This Day Devotional: 365 Amazing and Inspiring Stories about Saints, Martyrs and Heroes by Robert Morgan.

I previously highlighted Robert Morgan"s books that focus on the history of hymns. This daily devotional focuses on some heroes of the faith. It"s easily laid out in a daily devotional reading. There are both familiar and unfamiliar stories. It will enhance your faith as well as give you a great background as to what many of our forebears went through in proclaiming the gospel. Below is one of my favorite of the devotionals.

The Peculiar Preacher, January 9

The Lord gives each of us a unique personality, and his choicest servants have sometimes been, well, peculiar. "Uncle" Bob Sheffey was among them. Sheffey was born on Independence Day, 1820. When his mother died, an aunt in Abingdon, Virginia, took him in. There, over Greenway"s Store, he was converted on January 9, 1839. He was 19. Feeling the call to preach, he dropped out of college and started through the Virginia hills as a Methodist circuit rider preaching the gospel. He did it oddly. For example, one day he was called to a cabin on Wolfe Creek. He had previously tried to win this family to Christ, but without success. As he rode up this time, things were different. A member had been bitten by a rattlesnake. There seemed little hope. Entering the house, Sheffey sank to his knees and prayed, "O Lord, we do thank thee for rattlesnakes. If it had not been for a rattlesnake they would not have called on You. Send a rattlesnake to bite Bill, one to bite John, and send a great big one to bite the old man!" He is well-remembered for prayers like that. An acquaintance said, "Brother Sheffey was the most powerful man in prayer I ever heard, but he couldn"t preach a lick." Once, encountering moonshiners in the mountains, he dismounted, knelt, and offered a long prayer for God to "smash the still into smithereens." He rose, smoothed his trousers, and continued his journey. A heavy tree fell on the still, wrecking it. The owner rebuilt it, and Sheffey prayed again. This time a flash flood did the job. His prayers were honest, down-to-earth, and plain-spoken"even routine prayers like grace at meals. Once, being entertained in a neighborhood home, he was asked to offer thanks. Sheffey, who loved chicken-and-dumplings, said, "Lord, we thank Thee for this good woman; we thank Thee for this good dinner"but it would have been better if the chicken had dumplings in it. Amen." Robert Sheffey"s unorthodox prayers and sermons ushered many mountaineers into the kingdom and earned him the title the Peculiar Preacher. Each of you has been blessed with one of God"s many wonderful gifts to be used in the service of others. So use your gift well. If you have the gift of speaking, preach God"s message. If you have the gift of helping others, do it with the strength that God supplies. 1 Peter 4:10-11.

Laity in the News

Click here to see our new members on the board of laity.

-Michael Ard, Bay Pines District Lay Leader
-David Bowen, Montgomery-Prattville District Lay Leader
-Clara J. Ester, Mobile District Lay Leader
-George Mingledorff, Montgomery-Opelika District Lay Leader
-Juddy Stephenson, Marianna-Panama City District Lay Leader
-Barbara Boland, At-large Member
-Dr. Cameron Joan Martindale, At-large Member
-Frank Moore, At-large Member
-Patrick (Pat) Shuburd, At-large Member

E-mail the Lay Leader
Dr. Steve Furr

The Alabama-West Florida Conference Laity Link is the official newsletter of the board of laity.

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