Frequently Asked Questions

What is the toll-free phone number for the Alabama - West Florida Conference?


Does my church need a music license?

If your church is using music with words printed in the bulletin, you need a CCLI license or another music license.

The Christian Copyright License allows you to reproduce the words to music covered under the licensing agreement on overhead projectors, in PowerPoint presentations for multi-media worship, or in your bulletin. You may find out more about the CCLI license at is a new copyright licensing venture that offers a multi-publisher annual copyright reprint license for churches. The OneLicense list of publisher-members already reads like the "who's who" of church music publishing, with new publishers signing on every month.

This Internet-based operation allows churches to obtain one-time or annual licenses and rto eport all titles used directly on the impressive website. License fees are equitably based upon the size of the congregation. Find out more at

Where can I find a copy of Bishop Leeland's biography?

In "The Bishop's Corner":

Where can I find the direct bill information in the 2010 Brochure of Reports?

Page 89. It is report no. 4.

When did the Alabama-West Florida Conference decided to collect health insurance premiums and pension contributions through a direct bill?

The 2009 AWF Annual Conference, upon the recommendation of the Conference Board of Pension and Health Benefits, voted to change to this method of collecting payments for pension and insurance costs beginning January 2011. The board studied the move for a number of years before bringing the recommendation before the entire conference.

How can my church save money on software, computers and peripherals?

You may want to check out the savings available by ordering software, computers and other products through the United Methodist Communications' TECHSHOP. Significant discounts are offered to United Methodist organizations on products supplied by Microsoft, Dell, Apple, Insight and Cisco. Go to their web site at

As a result of direct bill, did our local church apportionments go down?

Yes, in most cases.  The local church will still need to pay the health insurance premiums and pension contributions directly through the billing system, but the apportionment amount of most churches was reduced.

Will direct bill cost our local church more or less money?

About half of our churches will likely see a decrease in the total cost (apportioned amount + direct bill amount).  About a third of our churches will likely see costs remain stable or see a manageable increase. The remainder of the churches likely will see an increase in costs.

What should the local church do if they have not been paying their apportionments in full, but will now be required to provide the health care premiums and pension contributions for their minister(s)?

The local church will need to place the health insurance premiums and pension contributions for their clergy in their local church budgets.

What if the local church determines it cannot afford to make these required direct bill payments?

If the local church cannot afford to make the required health insurance premiums and pension contributions for their minister(s), they may need to think about sharing the cost with another church which would also share their minister on the same charge.

The local church can also request to become part-time, which will decrease the amount for pension contributions since the salary would be lower.  Part-time appointments may also request to no longer offer health insurance. 

A local church should discuss their options with the District Superintendent.

How will a multi-church charge receive a direct bill? How is their monthly charge figured?

Let's imagine there are three churches on the charge: Church A, B, and C. Add the total apportionments of all three churches. (A+B+C = X )  Divide A/X for Church A. Divide B/X for Church B. Divide C/X for Church C. The total percentage should be 100. Multiply the total monthly bill by the percentage for each church to determine the amount each church will pay. This formula works the same for health insurance and pension billing.

Are we the only Annual Conference collecting health insurance premiums and pension contributions through direct billing?

No.  In fact, many Annual Conferences have been collecting health insurance premiums and pension contributions through direct billing for a number of years.

How have we been collecting our health insurance premiums and pension contributions for our conference clergy up to this date (2010)?

We have placed all insurance premiums and required pension contributions for our clergy in the apportionments of the Annual Conference.  These apportionments were then sent to each local church on an annual basis. In a model of greater transparency, local churches will now receive the direct bill for their clergy (and, if applicable, lay employee) benefits to accurately see the total cost of the benefit.

What financial impact will direct billing have on my local church?

In addition to substantially reducing the AWF Conference budget, many churches will see a reduction in the amount of money they must raise each year. Churches that have not been full participants in the connectional giving system have placed the burden of the cost of their clergy benefits on the other churches of the conference. 

For those churches who have not fully participated in the connectional giving system (i.e. funding the cost of their clergy benefits at 100%), it will mean they will now need to raise more money in order to pay the health insurance premiums and pension contributions that sister & brother churches have been paying for them in the past.


But, Direct Bill seems to be opposite of our connectional system. Isnt this what the church should do? Allow those who can afford to pay do so for those who cannot afford to pay?

Yes, and this is exactly what we have been doing.  However, the number of churches who say they cannot pay their apportionments is increasing, while the number of churches that do pay apportionments has been decreasing.  At this rate, only a few churches will be paying for the churches which claim they are unable to pay their apportionments. In order to best fund mission and ministry, a change is needed.

What is the AWFUMC database privacy policy?

 To see the policy in full, click here

Do other denominations have property and casualty captives?

Yes.  From the Assemblies of God and Seventh Day Adventist to the United Church of Christ and Roman Catholic dioceses, captives have become important mechanisms through which the church controls her destiny by assuming some risk, accumulating significant capital (that otherwise would go to the insurance carrier as profit) and building strong risk management systems to minimize the risk of loss overall.  A captive enables a church to do ministry and to do it as the church envisions it without ministry having to be shaped or limited by the concerns of a for-profit insurance carrier.

What is an authorization form (pertaining to background checks)?

An authorization form is a form that gives the church permission to run a background check on a person. If you are registered with Trak-1 you may use the one they provide or you may adapt the one in the Conference Safe Sanctuaries policy and procedure for your use.

Why did our apportionment go down but our direct bill went up? We were paying 100% of our annual apportionment.

Until now ,there was no direct billing for clergy benefits. Unless a church had lay employees on our plan there was no direct bill to “go up.”  Lay employee participation did not impact the billing process either positively or negatively from the perspective of the local church.

Some churches who have faithfully participated in connectional giving at 100% will find that their direct bill amount has made their overall cost rise. Because there was no direct bill in the past, occasionally churches that were participating in the connectional giving system at 100% were still not actually covering the total benefit cost of having clergy leadership.

Do we need to have permission to put people's photos on our church website?

Since most church events are public, you do not need to obtain permission to take people's photos. If you are concerned about permission, then get it if you are going to use a photo of an individual. However, if you are using a group photograph taken at a public event, you do not need to obtain permission.

However, you do want to have a policy about how you identify children and youth. One suggestion is to not identify children ages 3 or younger by name, identify older children by first name only. Adults may be identified with full names. If you are taking photos of children with special needs, you may need to obtain permission.

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