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Responding to the Ebola Crisis: The Council of Bishops

11/21/2014
 To the People of The United Methodist Church: The Ebola outbreak in three countries of West Africa is one of the most threatening health crises of our day. As of November 7, 2014, more than 13,000 cases had been reported with almost 5,000 deaths. United Methodists are always responsive to human suffering as is the case with Ebola, and our response is without regard to race, nationality or creed. As it happens, Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, the countries most affected, are within...

Alice Lee, United Methodist leader, Dies at 103

11/19/2014
(Sam Hodges, UMNS) - Alice Finch Lee may be a footnote in literary history as the older sister of Harper Lee, author of “To Kill a Mockingbird.” But in United Methodist circles, she’s being remembered as an exemplary laywoman whose service and wise counsel stretched across decades, and could be felt at the local church, conference and general church levels. “She really was a pillar of leadership,” said Dawn Wiggins Hare, a close friend of Lee’s, fellow...

A Call for Prayer: Ferguson, MO

11/18/2014
I’ve preached twice in recent weeks in St. Louis and as I visited in our churches, the tension is palpable as people await the news from the grand jury in the Michael Brown case. Fear runs deep that there will be more violence. The tragedy has left the community on edge as it copes with the anger, frustration, and mistrust felt by so many people following the shooting of Michael Brown by police officer Darin Wilson. The issues involved are far larger than Ferguson, than St. Louis,...

AWF Conference Continues Red Bird Partnership

11/16/2014
(Susan Hunt) As we drove through northern Georgia and Tennessee to get to Kentucky, the trees were breathtaking. The fall colors were at their peak. That seemed like a good sign of things to come for our journey as we headed to the Red Bird Missionary Conference in southeast Kentucky. Sixteen of us from the Alabama-West Florida Conference spent all or some of 2 ½ days in late October with the good people of the Red Bird Conference – praying, conferencing, learning, and building...

Bishops Call United Methodists to Prayer in Human Sexuality Statement

11/7/2014
(UMNS) - Oklahoma City, Okla.: The Council of Bishops issued a statement concerning human sexuality, addressing their diverse perspectives and calling the people of The United Methodist Church to be in prayer, both for their leaders and for one another. The statement reads: As bishops of The United Methodist Church, our hearts break because of the divisions that exist within the church. We have been in constant prayer and conversation and affirm our consecration vow “to guard the...

Mission Agency Prepares for Long-term Integrated Response to Ebola

10/9/2014
October 8, 2014—Since June 2014, the General Board of Global Ministries’ United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) and Global Health unit have been working in collaboration on a global scale to coordinate an integrated approach in response to the Ebola crisis in West Africa. Community education about the disease, health worker protection and psychosocial counseling for affected people and their families are the strategy’s three prongs, said Dr. Olusimbo Ige, of Global...

United Methodist Agency to Reshape Its Global Mission and Ministries

10/7/2014
New York, NY, October 3, 2014—The United Methodist Church’s global mission agency will create a network of offices around the world linked and accountable to headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, beginning in late 2016. Part of the plan requires the approval of denominational financial and program coordinating entities. Directors of the General Board of Global Ministries in a historical action on October 3 voted to set up offices in Africa, Asia and Latin America. A new Georgia-based...

A Word from the Bishop: Reflections on Acts 15

10/5/2014
Bishop Paul Leeland is part of a reading group, initiated by Bishop Ken Carter of the Florida Conference. The group, including many bishops and laity from across the world, are reading one chapter of Luke and Acts, which totals 52 weeks. This allows the group to read one chapter per week and share insight on the readings with one another. Bishop Leeland shares his thoughts below on Acts 15.  Acts 15 provides great insight into our current Church where there has been "no little...

Circles of Transformation: Transforming People, Congregations, and Communities

9/23/2014
(Fred Blackwell) - “I’ve got people now!” So exclaimed Jose Maya, a recent Circles graduate in Dothan, Alabama. Dothan is the pilot site for Circles start-up in the AWFUMC. Maya is typical of those who can benefit from the Circles ministry. He’s struggling to make a living and wants to find a better way forward. After losing his job, he found himself in remedial math classes at the local community college. These classes were needed to prepare him for career...

Imagine No Malara: An Update from the AWF Director of Mission & Advocacy

9/8/2014
(Susan Hunt) - 65,321. That is roughly the population of the city of Dothan, Alabama. That is also how many people in Africa will now have the chance to live because of the effort you, the Alabama-West Florida Conference, have made toward beating malaria through the Imagine No Malaria campaign. We are now 65.3% of the way to our goal of saving 100,000 lives. Imagine No Malaria is the commitment by the United Methodist Church to fight malaria and end deaths due to this completely...

Blue Lake Board of Trustees Announces New Director

9/5/2014
The Blue Lake Camp Board of Trustees are pleased to announce Steve Lewandowski as its new executive director following the recent retirement of Ms. Phyllis Murray.  Steve grew up in Tulsa, OK, where he was heavily involved in his youth group at the First United Methodist Church. It was at summer camp that Steve dedicated his life to the service of Christ. He graduated from Tulsa Edison High School and received both his BS and MS degrees from Oklahoma State University in...

Know Your DS: Dr. Chris Eckert

9/5/2014
The next three editions of the NewsCONNECTION will feature a district superintendent that has not yet been featured before. This edition's spotlight is on Dr. Chris Eckert, Demopolis District Superintendent. What Brought You to the Ministry? The call from God on my heart. I truly feel God called me to be a service to the people in this area of the south. The Best Book I’ve Read About Methodism Is: American Saint: Francis Asbury and the Methodists Favorite Vacation Destination: Two...

Guest Commentary: Dr. Jeremy Pridgeon

8/25/2014
During a sociology of religion class, our professor shared that religious belief and participation helps to hold the elements of life together. As a Christian and a pastor, I would agree but contend that for us as followers of Jesus Christ, he anchors us in the varied, unexpected, unanticipated events of our earthly existence. This weekend has been a reminder of this for me on several levels, dealing with emerging matters that command your time and attention. I am mindful of the saying that...

Know Your DS: Dr. Doug Pennington

8/21/2014
The next four editions of the NewsCONNECTION will feature a district superintendent that has not yet been featured before. This edition's spotlight is on Dr. Doug Pennington, Mobile District Superintendent. What Brought You to the Ministry? I came to faith in college and ended up attending Camp Glory on Perdido Bay where I felt called to ministry. The Best Book I’ve Read About Methodism Is: "The Burning Heart: John Wesley, Evangelist" by A. Skevington Wood Favorite...

Bishop Schnase's Statement on Ferguson

8/19/2014
Dear friends, People have asked about what the United Methodist Church is doing in response to the events in recent days in Ferguson, Missouri, and so I’d like to lift up a few significant points of engagement and offerings of ministry. The Missouri Conference launched a new church start in Ferguson two years ago after identifying the community as underserved by the United Methodist Church. Wellspring United Methodist Church is located two blocks from the area seen frequently on...

QuadW Missional Internship Receives YCI Grant of $86,000

8/18/2014
(Rev. Don Woolley) - The QuadW Missional Internship has been awarded an $86,000 grant from the Young Clergy Initiative, administered by the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM) of the United Methodist Church. This grant will fund expansion of the QuadW Missional Internship into the Western, North Central, and Northeastern Jurisdictions of the UMC. We are grateful and excited about this opportunity to partner with the YCI and United Methodist churches to help young people...

An Invitation To Catapult 2014

8/14/2014
One of the emphases of my address to the annual conference was that every church can be a missional-invitational church. Every church within the bounds of the Alabama-West Florida Conference can embody the God who sends and the God who welcomes. It is from this missional-invitational posture that we can more effectively make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. Today, I want to tell you about how you can learn more about missional life and ministry and what it means...

New Cabinet Meets in Scheduled July Session

8/11/2014
(Dr. Jeremy Pridgeon) - The Cabinet of the Alabama-West Florida Conference met recently in Montgomery. The session was devoted primarily to reviewing the overall mission and ministry of the conference. Bishop Leeland and the district superintendents were apprised of the ongoing work to develop spiritual directors to work with individual clergy and laity, as well as congregations, in areas of spiritual formation and disciplines. Reverend Dan Pezet, the Director of Congregational Vitality,...

The Power of a Small Envelope

8/11/2014
Life-changing moments are expected to happen with the birth of a child, marrying your true love, saying goodbye to a parent, perhaps even being called into the ministry. It’s the unexpected moments and generosity of others that can have a profound impact on one’s life. On the evening of August 7, 2014, a capacity crowd gathered at the Renaissance Hotel in downtown Montgomery, AL, to celebrate a remarkable foundation. The Stegall Seminary Scholarship Endowment Foundation held its...

Know Your DS: Dr. Larry Bryars

8/7/2014
Many of you will remember the spotlight on our eight district superintendents. The next five editions of the NewsCONNECTION will feature a district superintendent that has not yet been featured before. This edition's spotlight is on Dr. Larry Bryars, Marianna-Panama City District Superintendent.  What Brought You to the Ministry? I did not run from ministry. In fact, I was running towards it. In college I was working in a ministry that was seeing people come to know Christ. I had a...
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