(Dr. Jeremy Pridgeon) - Throughout the world, the church shouted "Hosanna!" and waved palm branches commemorating the Triumphal Entry of Jesus into the Holy City of Jerusalem. I had the privilege today to preach at the St. Luke United Methodist Church in Pensacola, taking part in their observance of Palm Sunday at the beginning of this Holy Week. The congregation received 16 new members today, four of whom were baptized as they professed their faith in Christ. Pastors from across the district have shared with me the very strong attendance in their services this morning.
This week, crowds will make their way into sanctuaries across our district and conference to remember events that transpired nearly 2,000 years ago. I personally am preaching on Holy Monday and Maundy Thursday and I know all of you are busily preparing to lead worship several times in the upcoming days. My prayer is that God will be glorified through our efforts to make the message of Christ known in this season.
I shared this morning that one of my struggles has always been how a crowd could turn on Jesus so quickly. There are certainly explanations for this, such as Jesus' refusal to declare the tax unlawful and his base of support being angered with his response to the point they realized he was not going to establish a political kingdom. But one idea put forth by Dr. James Fleming that I resonate with is the possibility of their being two crowds: a Sunday crowd shouting "Hosanna" and a different Friday crowd shouting "Crucify Him!" This approach leaves us with a simple question: What do we do with Jesus? The truth of the matter is, there are still two crowds today, one shouting "hosanna" and another yelling "crucify." Every generation has to answer for themselves on what they will do with Jesus.
Before we declare ourselves to always be in the "Hosanna" crowd however, we too must remember that even Jesus' closest companions - his disciples - denied him and deserted him as his death on the cross drew near. We all have had moments where we lived in ways that made us look much more like the Friday crowd than we would care to admit. But as Bishop Will Willimon notes in his book Why Jesus?, our sin is not the end of the story. This is God's story and God is faithful; his steadfast love endures forever.
As we walk with Christ this week - as long as we can before we, like Peter and the others bail, or like Judas, we betray him - I pray we would sense Christ's passion for us and the world anew in a deep and meaningful way. Let us remember that God's steadfast love endures forever. And when we find ourselves at the foot of the cross on a Friday afternoon, when the skies are dark, and it seems that death has had the final say in this story, may we have the faith to keep watch and pray. Not to give it away, but God's steadfast love endures forever - and not even death will be able to stop it.
Celeste Eubanks, chair of the Open Doors, Inc. board of directors, has announced the first distribution of funds in support of community ministries in the Mobile District of the United Methodist Church. On February 18, 2014, the board approved recommendations by the Distribution Committee for allocating $20,000 in funds generated by the Open Doors Resale and Thrift Store in 2013.
“This distribution of funds is very important to the store volunteers,” stated Sarah Doyle, chair of the store committee. “We have been working very hard since December 2012 to meet this objective. The only reason we have the store is to help fund community ministries of interest to Methodists.”
Community ministries supported by the first distribution are:
Babies First Program of the United Methodist Children’s Home
Dumas Wesley Community Center
Community Outreach, West Wilmer United Methodist Church
Metro Jail Ministry of the Mobile Area Interfaith Conference
United Methodist Inner City Mission
Wesley Foundation, University of South Alabama
In addition to the distribution of funds to these organizations, the Open Doors board created a trust fund that will provide perpetual support for Methodist supported community ministries.
The board is considering a second distribution in the summer 2014, dependent on available funds by that time. In addition to current recipients, it is anticipated that other organizations and churches providing community ministries will have an opportunity to apply and be considered for an allocation.
Open Doors, Inc. was founded in 2012 as a strategy for generating support for Methodist community ministries and other programs of interest to Methodists in the Mobile District. The “Methodists on Mission” theme provides a focus for living the Gospel and teachings of the church.
The Open Doors Resale and Thrift Store began with a Christmas Shop at St. Mark United Methodist in December 2012, followed by monthly sales at Pleasant Valley United Methodist for April, May, June and July 2013 before moving to its full-time location at 4125 Government Boulevard in August.
Rev. Charles Fail is credited with founding the store under the banner of Open Doors, Inc. He retired from full-time duty as a pastor in January and now serves as the store director with responsibility for building and maintaining support in the Methodist community.
“We are just getting started,” continued Sarah Doyle. “The store has had remarkable support by Methodists and is well received by the community in general with a continuous flow of donations and shoppers. Our store volunteers have been a tremendous part of the store’s success. We need more volunteers to help us reach full potential with donations, merchandizing and sales.”
Information about Open Doors, Inc. is available at www.opendoorsal.org. Information about the store is available by request at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 251.661-5661.
(Montgomery, AL) – Bishop Paul L. Leeland announces that Dr. Chris Eckert has been appointed as the District Superintendent of the Demopolis District of the Alabama-West Florida Conference, effective July 1, 2014.
Currently serving as the senior pastor of Ozark First United Methodist Church, Eckert was ordained as an elder in the AWF Conference in 1991. His previous appointments in the conference include the Pike Circuit, associate at Dothan FUMC, Denton Road UMC, Hartford FUMC, and Greenville FUMC.
“We are excited to have Chris as a fruitful and faithful addition to our appointive cabinet and the Demopolis District. He has proven his leadership abilities in his previous appointments and we look forward to him joining our leadership team in ministry,” Leeland said.
Dr. Eckert received his undergraduate degree from Huntingdon College, attended seminary at Candler School of Theology at Emory University and received his doctorate of ministry from International Theological Seminary. He is married to the former Keri Prather and has one child, Hayes.
Rev. Sara Shaver, who was previously announced as the new Demopolis District Superintendent, is now appointed as District Superintendent to the Dothan District. Rev. Dan Morris, current Dothan District Superintendent, will receive a new appointment into the local church. Rev. John Brooks will serve as the new Montgomery-Prattville District Superintendent and Dr. Larry Bryars will serve as the new Marianna-Panama City District Superintendent.
All other clergy who will be assigned a new appointment will receive calls starting Monday afternoon, March 31, 2014. For more information about the AWF Conference, visit www.awfumc.org.
Annual Conference 2014 is quickly approaching! This year's theme is the second part of the SEND Model many in the conference have adopted. It is, "The Great Commission: Engaging Disciples." We are most appreciative to Dr. Tim Thompson and his staff at Frazer Memorial UMC in Montgomery, AL, for hosting us again this year as well as Dr. Lawson Bryan and his staff at Montgomery FUMC for hosting the ordination service. This year we welcome Dr. Elaine Heath from Perkins School of Theology and President J. Cameron West of Huntingdon College. Please note several changes to annual conference.
First, note that annual conference is Sunday, June 1-Wednesday, June 4, 2014. Registration is now available by clicking here. You only need to register if you are making a purchase or reservation (meal reservations, journal/clergy directory purchase or nursery reservations). Attendance is expected of all clergy and lay members.
This year's missional offering is Imagine No Malaria, aligning our conference with our ongoing initiative to save 100,000 lives. Imagine No Malaria is an effort of The United Methodist Church to eliminate malaria deaths in Africa by 2015. Achieving this goal will require a comprehensive approach to fighting this disease, on a larger scale than all previous efforts. We will joyfully collect the final portion of this offering at opening worship on Sunday, June 1. In order to track our conference progress, please submit your first portion the week after Easter.
Meals will again be served at Frazer Memorial UMC for Monday and Tuesday lunch as well as the Laity Banquet Tuesday evening. Please make a reservation by clicking here if you plan to eat meals on campus or attend the banquet. Traditional group lunches may also choose to have their gatherings on campus and will handle their own catering.
Please note the ordination and commissioning services will be two separate services this year. The ordination service on Monday, June 2, will start at 7:00pm. The commissioning service will be held at Frazer Memorial UMC on Tuesday, June 3, at 1:30pm.
In order to be good stewards of the conference budget, we will again forego printed worship bulletins for several services. Instead, a downloadable "Guide to Annual Conference" pdf will be provided several weeks before annual conference. In it will be an agenda, worship bulletins, pages that were previously bag inserts and other relevant notes. You may wish to utilize it on your computer, tablet or phone, or print a hard copy on your own to bring with you. Printed worship bulletins will be provided to family members at the memorial service as a keepsake. The traditional ordination services bulletin will be a printed version as usual.
Should you or your agency wish to submit a digital "insert," it must be laid out and submitted no later than April 15. It will go in the "Guide to Annual Conference" behind the agenda and worship bulletins that will be electronically distributed to all clergy and delegates. All inserts must be one page, 8.5 x 11 submitted as a pdf to email@example.com. No late submissions will be accepted. All submissions must be affiliated with the United Methodist Church.
Your Brochure of Reports will be sent to your district office and either distributed at a gathering or picked up by each pastor. Please look for instructions from your district office.
Alabama-West Florida boards and agencies have been given priority for the limited number of available display spots. The deadline for their response is April 15. Other pertinent inquiries may go to firstname.lastname@example.org to be placed on a waiting list. Should there be openings, she will contact you in order of request. Requests must be affiliated with the United Methodist Church.
As a reminder, we encourage you to prayerfully consider nominating someone for one of our conference awards: The Alice Lee Award, Jane Walker Scholarship Award, Francis Asbury Award, Harry Denman Evangelism Award and the Local Church Heritage Award. Click here for more information.
Blocked rooms, some with special rates for hotels in Montgomery, have been posted. Check out www.awfumc.org/ac2014 for updates.
We look forward to seeing you at annual conference in Montgomery, AL, June 1-4, 2014!
Mary Catherine Phillips
Director of Communications
(Montgomery, AL) - Bishop Paul L. Leeland is pleased to announce three new district superintendents to the Alabama-West Florida Conference appointive cabinet. Rev. John Brooks, Dr. Larry Bryars and Rev. Sara Shaver will begin their new appointments as superintendents starting July 1, 2014.
Rev. John Brooks will serve as district superintendent for the Montgomery-Prattville District and currently serves as pastor of Metropolitan UMC in Montgomery, AL. Before serving there he was appointed to St. Paul UMC in Pensacola, FL. Brooks was ordained as an elder in the AWF Conference in 1997. He is a graduate of Jackson State University in Jackson, MS, and received his seminary degree from Gammon Theological Seminary at the Interdenominational Theological Center (ITC) in Atlanta, GA. He and his wife, Reda, have been married for 34 years and have five children and seven grandchildren.
Dr. Larry Bryars currently serves as lead pastor of Shalimar UMC in Shalimar, FL, and will be appointed to the Marianna-Panama City District. Bryars' previous appointments include Bay Minette First UMC, Church Street UMC in Selma, AL, Epworth UMC in Phenix City, AL, Aldersgate UMC in Montgomery and then became the district superintendent of the Montgomery-Prattville District. Larry received his BS degree from the University of South Alabama, a Master of Divinity from Asbury Theological Seminary and a Doctorate of Ministry from The Theological School at Drew University. He was ordained as an elder in 1981 and served as a delegate to general and jurisdictional conferences. He and his wife, Vicki, have three sons. Rev. Gary Daniel has effectively served as the Marianna-Panama City district superintendent since 2010 and will retire at the end of June.
Rev. Sara Shaver is serving as senior pastor of Monroeville FUMC, Monroeville, AL, and will be appointed to the Demopolis District. Shaver was ordained as an elder in the AWF Conference in 2005 and has previously served Capitol Heights UMC in Montgomery, Trinity UMC in Equality, AL, Jay UMC in Jay, FL, and Dalraida UMC in Montgomery. She is a graduate of the University of Tennessee and Candler School of Theology, Emory University. Rev. John Bonner, current Demopolis district superintendent, announced his retirement earlier this year and has faithfully served on the cabinet since 2008.
Dr. Philip McVay, current Montgomery-Prattville district superintendent and dean of the cabinet, will be appointed as lead pastor of Shalimar UMC. He has been in his current appointment since 2009 and has been a tremendous asset to the Montgomery-Prattville District.
"It is an honor to welcome John, Larry and Sara to our appointive cabinet. All three have demonstrated fruitful and effective leadership and will help guide our conference in the coming years. I consider it a privilege to welcome these three to conference leadership and look forward to our partnership in ministry. We give thanks to God for the years of service Rev. John Bonner and Rev. Gary Daniel have given to our conference. I know you will join me in thanking them for their dedication to this calling. I also extend my deepest gratitude to Dr. Philip McVay for his exceptional work on the cabinet and in his district. Please join me in prayer for those experiencing change during this appointment season."
Metropolitan UMC and Monroeville FUMC will receive new appointments in the coming weeks. For more information about the Alabama-West Florida Conference, please visit www.awfumc.org.
(Montgomery, AL) - Bishop Paul L. Leeland of The Alabama-West Florida Conference, in partnership with Huntingdon College President J. Cameron West, is pleased to announce the appointment of Mr. Woods Lisenby to Huntingdon College as Chaplain of the College, effective June 1, 2014.
Lisenby is currently serving Prattville First United Methodist Church as the director of contemporary worship. He is a 2011 graduate of Huntingdon College with a religion major where he was a leader in the Campus Ministries program. Woods has been approved to be commissioned as a provisional elder at the upcoming session of annual conference in June, 2014, and will graduate from Candler School of Theology, Emory University, in May. He was a member of Dothan First United Methodist Church before attending Huntingdon and is married to the former Brianna McClure, also a Huntingdon graduate.
"I am excited to announce this appointment that will continue to strengthen our conference ties with Huntingdon College. Woods is a proven, energetic leader who can nurture and foster relationships with students and faculty on campus at one of our finest Methodist institutions. It is crucial that the United Methodist Church engage with students during these influential years in their lives," Leeland stated.
For more information about the Alabama-West Florida Conference, visit www.awfumc.org.
April has proved to be a busy month for the people of the Alabama-West Florida Conference and we have received feedback that it is not the best time to have the event, SEED CAST – GROWING A CULTURE OF GENEROSITY. With this in mind, we are going to postpone the event to the early fall.
We know that this event is important in the life of the Church, and we want it to be as successful as possible. We are currently working with our speakers to choose a date in the early fall that will allow us to keep the same structure, cost, and great speakers. We will have the new date soon.
Grace and Peace,
Conference Board of Discipleship
Division of Stewardship Chairperson
The Conference Board of Discipleship, Division of Stewardship, presents SEED CAST: GROWING A CULTURE OF GENEROSITY April 25 - 26, 2014 at First United Methodist Church in Pensacola, FL.
What is SEED CAST? Seed Cast 2014 is a conference about generosity. There are many misunderstood concepts surrounding faith and finances. What if we took a step back and rethought our approach to finances as a church? This conference is going to explore growing a culture of generosity in our churches, where we acknowledge that God has been generous to us, and we are called to live into God’s image.
Conference Objectives? Participants will gain two practical ideas that they may implement in their churches within one year:
Who should attend? Pastors, Lay Leaders, Members of the Finance and Stewardship committees, and anyone who wants to learn about living a generous life. In other words, this event is open to all clergy and laity!
Keynote speaker will be Dr. Clayton Smith, Executive Pastor of Generosity at The Church of the Resurrection (COR). Dr. Smith gives leadership to COR's operating, strategic mission and capital campaigns, memorial committee, and Foundation Board. He also directs the Pathways to Ministry program and assist candidates for ordained ministry.
Workshop presenters will be: Dr. Henry Roberts (retired, Alabama-West Florida Conference), Ken Sloane (Director of Stewardship and Connectional Ministries, General Board of Discipleship), Brent Spicer (Dave Ramsey), Dr. Clayton Smith (COR), Dr. Robbins Sims (District Superintendent, Montgomery-Opelika District, Alabama-West Florida Conference), and Pat Luna (Compass Consulting, LLC; Alabama-West Florida Conference).
Click HERE for a full packet of information.
CEU"s awarded in the amount of 0.8.
For ERT team members whose UMCOR badges are expiring, this class reviews the concepts and guidelines of the basic class and provides updates on disaster response procedures as a whole. New photo and new background checks are required, along with this class in order to be recertified.
The cost is $20 which includes lunch, ID badge and background check. Make checks payable to Convenant United Methodist Church.
To register, contact David Clark at 334-545-9533 or email@example.com.
The Dothan District will host a Spring District Gathering April 28, 2014 at Grace Park Community Church beginning at 6pm. Brochure of Reports to the 2014 Annual Conference will be distributed.
We will have a very high spirited program presented by a group from Harvest called “Harvest Blend.” Click to hear a sample of Harvest Blend -http://www.harvestdothan.com/content/content.cfm?coid=46984 .
Below is a downloadable flyer.
For more information, please contact the district office 334.792.4259.
The Dothan District will host a Spring District Gathering April 28, 2014. Brochure of Reports to the 2014 Annual Conference will be distributed.
More details are forthcoming.
For more information about this meeting, please contact the district office 334.792.4259.
Hamilton Mill United Methodist Church (HMUMC) is a young and rapidly growing church in the Hamilton Mill suburb north of Atlanta an area known for its excellent schools and nationally recognized park systems for running, walking, and family leisure. HMUMC is seeking a full-time Director of Student Ministries (DSM) to lead the student ministry by encouraging, equipping, and empowering students (6th -12th) to grow as disciples who lead others to Jesus Christ, by nurturing a sense of clear Christian identity in students and by teaching and supporting parents to do the same. The DSM will join a team of student ministry staff and dedicated volunteers to implement a vision and long-term goals for the student ministry.
A strength of the student ministry is the relationships that make up the community through a strong small group ministry that students and small group leaders find valuable, life-giving and deeply personal. One result from these relationships is the spiritual depth of the students. Students grow through worship, small groups, large group teaching, service, and retreats. The student ministry isn’t interested in merely making converts. Instead, it is focused on making fully devoted disciples of Jesus.
The responsibilities of the DSM are:
Qualified candidates should have at least 5 years of ministry experience with a minimum of 3 years in leadership preferably in a large church and be strong in relationship building, communication, administration, ministering to parents and team building. Candidates should also have a proven track record of success in empowering, developing and equipping a large team of volunteers. This person should be theologically aligned with HMUMC and exhibit professionalism.
Interested candidates should send a cover letter and resume to firstname.lastname@example.org.
St. Mark United Methodist Church, a 650-member suburban congregation in Columbus, GA, is seeking a creative and collaborative full-time Director of Music Ministries to grow our blended worship ministries and equip our staff, volunteers, and congregation as we encounter God, encourage one another, and engage our world.
Serious candidates will have strong personal faith; proven communication and organizational skills; experience working in a multigenerational church setting with choir, orchestra, and sound/media technology; and an undergraduate degree in music (performance or education).
Submit resume and references to the Search Committee at email@example.com.
Are your ready to grow? Are you looking to expand your ministry and take on the challenges of helping shape the spiritual lives of children and motivate their families to build a biblical foundation that will last a lifetime? If so, take a look at what Cannon United Methodist Church has to offer. Cannon UMC is hiring a Minister to Children and Families. More....
Christ United Methodist Church is a vibrant, large-membership church in Mobile, Al. It is our passion to be always reaching, growing, and serving so that we help people become fully-devoted followers of Jesus Christ.
Youth are a priority in our church as we understand that as we minister to them, we are challenging and nurturing the next generation of the church. We are seeking someone to join our Next Generation ministry team (0 years - young adults) to lead our High School ministry. This person must have a passion for Jesus as well as a passion for teens and the ability to work well on a team.
The qualified candidate will have:
If you feel you meet these qualifications and would like to apply, please download a copy of our application and questionnaire from our website (http://www.christumcmobile.com/jobs) and submit them with your resume and cover letter to firstname.lastname@example.org .
First United Methodist Church, Demopolis is a welcoming, Christ-centered church, and is seeking a Director of Youth Ministries. Our church has 864 members with a very supportive congregation. Our youth are hungry for spiritual growth, service oriented, and heavily involved in local community.
The Youth Director will have a solid faith and love of Jesus Christ, and an ability to communicate a need for a personal relationship with Christ to our teens. The well-qualified candidate will be a strong Disciple, and possess a heart for discipling youth.
The Director will build on our current success and continue to expand our small group studies, Sunday morning worship, Sunday school, missions and fellowship. The Director will coordinate Wednesday and Sunday night youth programming, mission trips and spiritual retreats, as well as other special events.
Please submit your resume, salary requirements, and a minimum of three references to Janice Holemon, Church Administrator, First United Methodist Church, 200 E. Decatur Street, Demopolils, AL 36732, or email email@example.com.
Dr. Rex M. Mixson passed away on Sunday, March 16, 2014 in Dothan Alabama surrounded by his family.
Rex was a retired United Methodist Minister, having served over fifty years. He was the pastor of churches throughout south Alabama and northwest Florida, including churches in Ozark, Selma, Pensacola, Enterprise, Panama City and Marianna. In addition, he served as the District Superintendent of the Pensacola and Troy Districts. He was committed to serving God and others. He was a graduate of Troy University and received the honor of Alumnus of the Year in 1973. His legacy will be carried on by others for generations through the lives of countless people to whom he ministered and mentored.
Rex is survived by his wife, Jo Dismukes Mixson, of Taylor, Alabama and his three children and their spouses, Steve Mixson of Tampa, Florida, Martha and Steve Wakefield of Alpharetta, Georgia, and David and Sue Mixson of Madison, Alabama. He was also the proud grandfather of six adoring grandchildren, Amy Mixson Warters, Kristin Mixson, Jackson and Reagan Wakefield, and Maddie and Drew Mixson. He was also proud to become the great-grandfather of Bradley Warters, the newest addition to his family. Rex is also survived by his brother and sister-in-law, Don and Pat Mixson of New Brockton, Alabama. His family will forever be grateful for his guidance, direction and unconditional love.
Rex was blessed to also have an extended family that truly became his family after his marriage to Jo Dismukes Mixson. Rex loved Richard Dismukes, Geary Dismukes, and Sheila Segrest, all of Taylor, Alabama. He loved their children and grandchildren as his own. What an incredible blessing they were to him.
Rex was predeceased by his wife of 56 years, Margaret Davenport Mixson and his parents, Earl and Nora Mixson.
The family will receive friends at the funeral home on Wednesday, March 19, 2014 from 4 to 6 PM.
A service to celebrate Rex’s extraordinary life will be held at 12:00 noon, Thursday, March 20, 2014 at Ozark First United Methodist Church with Searcy Funeral Home and Crematory directing.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorials be made to The Old Tabernacle Cemetery Fund, 11592 Hwy. 51, New Brockton, AL 36351 or Ozark First United Methodist Church, 167 E. Broad Street, Ozark, AL 36360.
Rev. Glen Pugh, pastor at Aldersgate United Methodist Church in Montgomery, AL, died March 5, 2014.
A lunch was served in the Aldersgate Christian Activity Center March 8, 2014. Visitation followed in the Sanctuary. Funeral servicesl began at 2:00pm CST.
Please continue to keep his wife, Carla, their children, Hunter and Hillary, the Aldersgate United Methodist Church family, and churches he previously served in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.
We are sorry to report the death of Rev. Doug Seymour. Rev. Seymour ( retired) passed February 6, 2014. Funeral services were held Feburary 15 at Good News UMC. Interment was February 17 at Barrancas Naval Base.
We are sorry to report the death of Rev. Charlie Belflower. Rev. Belflower died January 29, 2014. Rev. Belflower was currently serving the Midway Circuit in the Dothan District.
Visitation will be held February 1 at Chapman Funeral Home (Eufaula) beginning at 3 until 6pm. Funeral services will be February 2, 2014 beginning at 2pm CST at Georgetown Baptist Church, Georgetown, GA. Flowers will be accepted.
Carrie Lynne Chandler Reece, age 36, born in Mobile, AL and a resident of Bay Minette, AL died Thursday, December 26, 2013 at North Baldwin Infirmary. She was currently serving as the pastor at Summerdale United Methodist Church.
She is survived by her husband, Judson Benjamin Ben Reece of Bay Minette, AL; her parents, Michael W. and Cathy Little Chandler of Bay Minette, AL; her sister, Catherine Michelle Chandler Jones of Spanish Fort, AL and her mother-in-law, Ethel Vandyke Reece of Bay Minette, AL.
Funeral services were held December 30, 2013 at the First United Methodist Church in Bay Minette with Reverend Cory Smith and Dr. Henry Cox officiating. Burial followed at Pine Grove Cemetery. The family received friends prior to the service.
Pallbearers included A.J. Keith, Frank Atchison, Matt Jones, Chad Stewart, Wade Stewart and Johnny Resmondo.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to Pilots for Christ, P.O. Box 707, Monroeville, AL 36461 or to Summerdale United Methodist Church, P.O. Box 176, Summerdale, AL 36580.
Funeral arrangements by Norris Funeral Home, 402 E. 2nd St., Bay Minette, AL 36507, 251-937-9596.