Print This Document
Monday - August 25, 2014
Guest Commentary: Dr. Jeremy Pridgeon

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 "ministry occurs in the interruptions" and am quite aware that as pastors often our most effective ministry takes place in those moments where the normalcy of life has been significantly altered.

When you consider that our own lives are subject to the certain changes of life, and extend that into the congregations and communities we serve, it is a given that at any point in time there is someone under your pastoral care who is trying to come to terms with some disruptive event. The scale of these events is wide-ranging: an unbudgeted expense, the loss of employment, the death of a pet, an unfavorable diagnosis, the breakup of a relationship, sick children, the loss of a friendship, relocating to a new area, a spouse receiving news of deployment, a child starting school or leaving for college.... The list goes on and on. I remember my friend and mentor, Dr. Karl Stegall, sharing at First United Methodist Church of Montgomery on several occasions that "If you preach to those who are hurting, you'll always have a congregation."

There is so much taking place in our area, in our denomination, across our country and throughout our world. The 24-hour news cycle keeps our heads spinning at a dizzying pace and the headlines are constantly changing: earthquakes, ISIS, Afghanistan, domestic violence, North Korea, poverty, war in the Middle East, same-sex marriage and court battles, elections, Obamacare, celebrity marriages and divorces, "reality" television stars... It can be, and at times it is, overwhelming. And in those moments, I am reminded that Christ is present in the chaos of life and holds all things -- that is, ALL things -- in his care.

In preparing for an upcoming Cabinet gathering, I have been reading Christ, My Companion based on a portion of the Prayer of St. Patrick. I offer that prayer to you as you begin your week, filled with both the anticipated and unexpected demands of ministry, hopeful that it will provide a source of inspiration and assurance for you as you serve:

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

Thank you for your leadership and I pray that we all stayed centered in Christ as we seek to minister in the frenzied, hurried world in which we live.

Blessings and peace,


Thursday - August 21, 2014
Know Your DS: Dr. Doug Pennington

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 Vacation Destination:
Mountains and woods

Instead of being a minister, I almost was:
College professor

One of the goals for my district is to:
Start a new African American church

What is one challenge you see for your district:
Turning around declining churches

What do you like best about serving the AWF Conference?
Longtime friendships

What do you do in your free time.........the little there is!
Grandkids, hunting, shooting sports

Most people don’t know that I can:
Teach firearms courses

The most important thing I’ve learned since my first appointment is:
Jesus said "feed my sheep" not "skin my sheep"


Tuesday - August 19, 2014
Bishop Schnase's Statement on Ferguson

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 television news in recent days. The congregation has offered services of prayer and reconciliation and provided meeting space for community and church leaders. Under the leadership of Rev. Willis Johnson, the church has been on the forefront of efforts to ease tensions, offer consolation and prayer for those who grieve, and to seek the truth about the events that led to the death of Michael Brown.

Let me strongly suggest that you listen to the following National Public Radio interview with Rev. Willis Johnson for the program All Things Considered. The interview and the accompanying photograph are powerful, and they bear witness to the courage and faith of United Methodists on the front lines as they engage issues of race, anger, fear, and a longing for reconciliation.

I would also draw your attention to the article by Heather Hahn of the United Methodist News Service. Her article highlights the involvement of other United Methodist Churches in the St. Louis area and from across Missouri that have reached out with volunteers to help with educational ministries for children and youth during the time that the Ferguson schools have been closed. The Missouri Conference Office of Mission, Service, and Justice has also offered support and volunteers to help with such basic tasks as clean up and support for those businesses that have been looted or suffered damage. Heather’s article can be found at

United Methodist voices, including that of the Missouri Governor Jay Nixon (an active United Methodist himself), have sought to de-escalate rather than to intensify, to work toward peace and justice rather than to avoid, blame, or ignore.

We continue to hold in our prayers all those who have most personally and painfully been affected by the violence, and we continue to look for opportunities to serve and to bring a ministry of healing to a community that has been deeply hurt.

We ask for your support. If you are looking for a way to engage positively, I invite you to correspond directly with Rev. Johnson at Wellspring United Methodist Church in Ferguson:
Facebook: Wellspringchurchstl
Twitter: WellspringSTL or FWillisJohnson
You may also contact the Missouri Conference Office of Mission, Service, and Justice Ministries: 573-474-7155

Yours in Christ,
Robert Schnase



Monday - August 18, 2014
QuadW Missional Internship Receives YCI Grant of $86,000

(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 explore their calling. This exploration will happen in a missional context where young people will live in Christian community while serving God in some of our most challenging communities. Our hope is to raise up leaders who will lead the church into the mission field that surrounds us, making a real difference in the lives of others as they share the love of Christ in word and deed.

The QuadW Missional Internship was founded through the hard work of United Methodists across the Mobile District and through the generous support of the QuadW Foundation ( This foundation exists to honor the life and memory of Willie Tichenor, who lost his battle with osteosarcoma at the age of 19. The name “QuadW,” or “WWWW,” stands for “What Would Willie Want?” In answer to that question, the internship reflects Willie’s love of mission and his desire for others to experience transformative mission for themselves. The QuadW Missional Internship (formerly “3.0”) just finished its sixth summer in Mobile, Alabama and has now expanded to Montgomery, Pine Bluff (AR) and Kansas City (MO and KS). We are very grateful to the Young Clergy Initiative for this opportunity to launch the internship in new places around the country.

To read the full GBHEM release, click here

Thursday - August 14, 2014
An Invitation To Catapult 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 that the Church is sent into the world. CATAPULT (, one of the leading missional leadership conferences in our region, will be held on September 15-17 at Cornerstone UMC in Auburn. During your time at CATAPULT, the community sessions will allow you to hear from leading practitioners and thinkers of the missional movement, providing inspiration and challenge. The breakout sessions will focus on providing you practical ways to engage and serve your neighbors.

Community session speakers will be Jorge Acevedo and Arlene Jackson (Grace United Methodist Church, Fort Myers), Alan and Deb Hirsch (Forge), Romal Tune (author, God’s Graffiti), Rob Wegner (author, Missional Moves), and Mike Frost (author and missiologist). You will find new ways to love, serve, and reach your neighbors through the insights of these engaging speakers and the movement of the Holy Spirit within you.

The emphasis at CATAPULT is action. Because of the high number of registrations in past years, CATAPULT has been able to give back a part of its registration fees in the form of missional grants, which have helped to launch more than 10 ministries within the bounds of the Alabama-West Florida Conference over the last four years. More will be launched in 2014. I hope you will be there so that more and more we might embody the missional impulse of our God.

With Deep Appreciation,
Paul L. Leeland

Monday - August 11, 2014
New Cabinet Meets in Scheduled July Session

(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, shared with the gathering about his work with congregations to assess their current context in ministry in an effort to determine what steps are necessary in order to help the church take the next best step for their particular situation. Martha Rovira, Director of Hispanic Ministries, updated the superintendents on the work of our pastors who are working with our Hispanic brothers and sisters throughout our area, highlighting the increasing growth of the number of Hispanic persons in the conference as a tremendous opportunity for ministry.

Susan Hunt, Director of Mission & Advocacy, shared of the tremendous response to the "Imagine No Malaria" campaign. The goal of the conference is to save 100,000 lives on the continent of Africa. To date, the people of Alabama-West Florida have raised the funds necessary to save the lives of over 63,000 people! We are closing in on our goal and we will be identifying ways through the rest of this year to encourage individuals and congregations to support this effort in the ongoing work to eradicate malaria.

Reverend Neil McDavid, Director of Connectional Ministries, provided an update on the flood recovery in the Florida panhandle and Baldwin Co., AL following the April event. UMCOR provided a $100,000 emergency grant request and we anticipate additional resources being used to help rebuild lives and homes over the next 18 months. We continue to live into the Comprehensive Plan of Inclusiveness, seeking to start a new African American congregation each year, as well as looking for ways to begin new faith communities, either through developing campuses of existing congregations or new church starts, as these efforts prove most fruitful in helping to reach new persons.

Support for the conference connectional giving is up 1.8% year to date over 2013, continuing a trend that we have seen now for several years. This is encouraging and we are grateful to the pastors and congregations that are fully participating in the budgetary covenant set by our brothers and sisters of the annual conference. Thank you!

The Academy for Congregational Excellence, directed by Reverend Ron Ball, is planning another year of learning opportunities for clergy in the areas of preaching and leadership. Catapult will be held next month and we look forward to welcoming Dr. Jorge Acevedo as the presenter.

The Cabinet also outlined their work for the coming year, which will include training for all superintendents and extended cabinet members as coaches to work with clergy and laity in their respective congregations. This year-long process will enable us to better connect with our districts and guide leaders in our communities to help them see opportunities to connect the church with the world around them.

Additionally, the Cabinet has attended the Five Day Academy at Camp Sumatanga, devoting time to their own formation and development, seeking to model spiritual leadership for the annual conference. This was a timely gathering as there was opportunity to welcome the four new district superintendents: Dr. Larry Bryars, Reverend Sara Shaver, Reverend John Brooks, and Dr. Chris Eckert to the Cabinet who began their work on July 1st.

This new conference year is a source of hope and opportunity for our churches in the Alabama-West Florida Conference. We pray that God will bless our efforts to be faithful witnesses from the Gulf Coast to central Alabama, from the Georgia line to the Mississippi line and beyond, wherever our people go to serve throughout the world. Thank you for your leadership in your respective communities and for making a difference in the lives of those who live and call our area home! 

Tuesday - September 2, 2014
Pensacola District CORE Team Meeting

The Pensacola District CORE Team will meet at the district office at noon. Lunch will be provided, so if you cannot attend please inform the district office, (850) 434-0118. 

The Pensacola District Officers and Meetings page is here.



Thursday - September 4, 2014
Conference CORE Team Meeting
The Conference CORE Team will meet on Thursday, September 4, 2014 at Blue Lake.  Coffee gathering will begin at 9:00 am; business will begin promptly at 9:30 am. 
Lunch will be served.
Please RSVP your attendance/non-attendance and you will/will not stay for lunch.
If you have any questions, please contact Rev. Neil McDavid 334.356.8014.


Thursday - September 4, 2014
Seminar on VA Long Term Care Benefits
Wartime Veterans, Surviving Spouses, and Family Members are invited to attend a fact filled seminar on VA Long Term Care Benefits.  The event will be held at Wesley Gardens Retirement Center on Thursday, September 4, 2014 beginning at 6:30 pm.  
Call Sara Matulia at (334) 272-7917 to reserve seating.
Attached below is a flyer.
Hosted by the Wesley Gardens Retirement Community and VA-USA, a Division of The National Center for Long Term Care 
Saturday - September 6, 2014
Lay Servant Training - Shalimar UMC

Pensacola District Lay Servant Ministries is offering Lay Servant Ministry Training two consecutive Saturdays in September. The training will be held September 6 & 13, 2014, 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., at the Family Life Center of Shalimar United Methodist Church, 1 Old Ferry Road, Shalimar, FL 32579. Registration deadline is August 25.

Click here for the flyer registration form.


Saturday - September 6, 2014
Lay Servant Training - Shalimar UMC

Pensacola District Lay Servant Ministries is offering Lay Servant Ministry Training two consecutive Saturdays in September. The training will be held September 6 & 13, 2014, 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., at the Family Life Center of Shalimar United Methodist Church, 1 Old Ferry Road, Shalimar, FL 32579. Registration deadline is August 25.

Click here for the flyer registration form.

Sunday - September 7, 2014
Blue Lake Sunday

Blue Lake Sunday will be held on September 7, 2014.  

More details are forthcoming.


Friday - August 29, 2014
Director of Chancel Choir - Trinity UMC (Ft. Walton Beach, FL)

Trinity United Methodist Church (Ft. Walton Beach, Florida) is accepting applications for the position of Director of Chancel Choir.  This position is available immediately. 

Experienced applicants should either have a music degree and/or equivalent experience. 

This position is part time, with responsibilities including leading music for two Sunday services and special services, directing the Chancel Choir, and others as indicated in the job description . 

A complete job description is available by contacting the church at the email address below. 

Salary is negotiable, depending upon experience. 

Please send resume (including references), etc., to: Attn: Kevin Shular, Trinity United Methodist Church, 403 Racetrack Rd. N.W., Ft. Walton Beach, FL, 32547" or fax: 850-862-1103 or email to:

Monday - August 25, 2014
Part Time Child Care Worker - Mulder UMC

The Mulder Memorial United Methodist Church in Wetumpka, Alabama is now accepting applications for a part-time Child Care Worker for Kindergarten through 5th grade. Interested persons must possess a love for pre-school and elementary age children. Sunday evening hours, 4:00 - 7:00 pm, will be required.

Applicants must be 18 years of age or older. 

Please contact Mara Holden, Director of Children's Ministries ( for more information or an application.  


Monday - August 25, 2014
Part Time Children's Ministry Director - Pace UMC

First United Methodist Church of Pace, FL has a job opening for a part-time Children’s Ministry Director. 

Please email resumes to .


Friday - August 22, 2014
Director of Youth Ministries - Brewton FUMC

First United Methodist Church of Brewton, AL is seeking a fulltime director of youth ministries.  The job involves ministering  to youth ages fifth grade through college and helping them grow in their faith in Jesus Christ.  A college degree and knowledge of the United Method Church’s belief’s and polity are required.

If you are interested in the applying for the job, or would like more information, please contact Dr. Ed Glaize at 251867-8051 or email at

Click HERE for a full job description.


Tuesday - August 19, 2014
Part Time Nursery Assistant - Port St. Joe UMC

First United Methodist Church of Port St. Joe, FL is seeking a part time nursery assistant to care for children ages 0-5 during Sunday School, Sunday worship services, Sunday nights, Wednesday nights, Friday mornings, and other church events as required.

Please submit a resume, contact information for at least 3 references and a cover letter to Atten: Nursery Position or P.O. Box 266 Port St. Joe, FL 32457 Attn: Bobbi Lassiter. 

Rev. Bobbi Lassiter
Associate Pastor
FUMC of Port St. Joe
(850) 227-1724 

Friday - August 15, 2014
Office Manager - St. Mark (Mobile, AL)

St. Mark United Methodist Church is seeking an Office Manager 9am – 1pm Monday through Thursday.

Click HERE to see the full job description.

Send resume, which includes three references to:
Rev. Matt O’Reilly
St. Mark United Methodist Church
439 Azalea Road
Mobile, AL 36609


Friday - August 22, 2014
Hale - Lowell Edgar

Rev. Lowell Edgar Hale (retired) passed away Friday, August 22, 2014.  

The viewing will be held today, August 28, 2014 6pm to 8pm at Mowell’s Funeral Home (180  Jeff Davis Drive, Fayetteville, GA). Funeral services will be held tomorrow, August 29, 2014 at 2pm at Fayetteville First UMC (175 East Lanier Ave., Fayetteville, GA).  

Family hour/visitation will be on Saturday, August 30, 2014 at the Community Funeral Home in Sylacauga, AL beginning at 12 noon until 2 PM.  Burial will follow at 4 PM  at Pleasant Hill Baptist Church (2108 Pine Grove Road Sylacauga AL; a community of Odena).

He is survived by his wife, Martha.

Please keep the Hale Family in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time. 


Saturday - August 16, 2014
Perry - James

James B. Perry, age 79, of Demopolis, died August 16, 2014. Services were held Monday, August 18, 2014, at First United Methodist Church of Demopolis with Rev. David Willis and Rev. Gary Perry officiating and Kirk Funeral Homes Demopolis Chapel directing.

He was born December 19, 1934 in Roanoke, Al. to the late James and Martha Williamson Perry.

He was preceded by his parents, James and Martha Williamson Perry.

He is survived by his wife, Bess Stockton Perry; daughters, Kathy (Randy) Morgan of Demopolis, Tammy Brown of Mobile, and Melissa Zorn of Lakeland, Fl.; sons, Jason (Janna) Perry of Spanish Fort, Jimmy (Brenda) Perry of Fairhope, Shane (Vickey) Perry of Spanish Fort; brothers, John Thomas Perry and Gary R. Perry of Opelika; grandchildren, 18; great-grandchildren, 7.

In lieu of flowers memorials may be made to American Heart Association National Center, 7272 Greenville Avenue Dallas, Tx., 75231 or the United Methodist Church, 200 East Decatur, Demopolis, Al.



Saturday - August 9, 2014
Jordan - Dennis Jerry

The Rev. Dennis Jerry Jordan, 64, of Lynbrook Drive, Brewton, passed away Saturday evening, August 9, 2014, at his residence after an extended illness. 

Funeral services were held on Tues., August 12, at 11 a.m., from the chapel of Craver's Funeral Home with Brother Stevie Cooper and Brother Ron Headley officiating.  Entombment will follow at a later time in Glory Hill Cemetery with Cravers Funeral Home of Brewton directing.

He was a native and life-long resident of Brewton and was an ordained minister with UMC Ministries.  He was a 1968 graduate of T. R. Miller High School and Jefferson Davis Community College.  He was also a graduate of Andersonville Theological Seminary and also had attended The University Of Alabama.

He is survived by his devoted wife of 39 years, Frankie McCall Jordan of Brewton; son, Chad (Lindsey) Jordan of Pensacola, Fla.; sister, Barbara Jordan of Brewton; three grandchildren, Jason Jordan of Cantonment, Fla., and Samuel Connor Jordan and Hailey Elizabeth Jordan of East Brewton.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Ealom and Dru Ethel Jordan.

The family asks that you kindly omit flowers and instead, make memorial contributions in the name of “The Rev. Dennis Jerry Jordan” to International Fellowship Of Christian & Jews In Russia, P O Box 96105, Washington, D.C. 20090-6105 or online at or by phone at 1-800-486-8844. 

Thursday - June 12, 2014
Burrell - Clarence

Rev. Clarence Burrell, age 76, of Sawyerville, died June 12, 2014, at home. Services werre held Saturday, June 21, 2014, at Bass Tabernacle Christian Methodist Episcopal Church in Akron. Burial followed in Jackson Chapel Cemetery with Gandy Funeral Home directing.  He is survived by his wife, Brenda. 


Monday - June 9, 2014
Kicklighter - Hampton

We are sorry to report the death of Rev. Hampton Kicklighter (retired).  Hamp died June 9, 2014.

He is survived by his wife, Suzy.

Visitation will be held Thursday, June 12, 2014 at First United Methodist Church, Montgomery beginning at 1:00 PM.  Funeral services will follow at 2:00 PM.

Please keep the Kicklighter Family in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time. 

Saturday - June 7, 2014
Hendricks - Robert

Robert Edward Hendricks, of Santa Rosa Beach, Florida, died at home June 7, 2014 on his 83rd birthday. He was born to Eugene and Mary Dozier Hendricks in Jay, Florida, the youngest of nine children.  Robert graduated from Pensacola Junior College in 1951, Troy State Teachers College in 1952, and Emory University Candler School of Theology in 1956.

As a student, Robert entered the Methodist ministry and served as pastor of several Methodist Churches in Alabama. Upon graduation from seminary, he entered the U.S. Air Force Chaplaincy. After training at Lackland AFB, Texas, he served at McClellan AFB, California; Elmendorf AFB, Alaska;  Eglin AFB, Florida; the Air Force Academy, Colorado; Ramstein AB, Germany; Keesler AFB, Mississippi; Hickam AFB, Hawaii;  Norton AFB, California; Scott AFB, Illinois; Langley AFB, Virginia; and Eglin AFB again, from which he retired in 1986.  Upon retirement, he became the pastor of The Community Church of Santa Rosa Beach for seventeen years and retired from that position on December 31, 2001.

Robert, who became known as Bob when he entered the Air Force, married Barbara Ann Rodgers of Pine Level, Alabama, in June 1954.  They have three children: Rodger Eugene, Christine Roberta, and Lynn Ann.

Bob is survived by his wife; Barbara; his son Rodger and wife Linda of Archer, Florida; daughter Christine of DeFuniak Springs, Florida; and daughter Lynn and husband Gregory Porter and their sons Seth, Brice, and Justin of Daphne, Alabama.  His sister Frances Kilpatrick of Huntsville, Alabama, also survives, along with several nieces and nephews.

Bob was preceded in death by two brothers who died in childhood and another who died in infancy, as well as three other brothers and a sister.

A Memorial Service will be held for Bob at the Point Washington United Methodist Church on Saturday, July 12, at 11 AM, followed by a reception in The Stephen Center.  In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Point Washington UMC, 1290 North Highway 395, Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459 or The Community Church, POB 1723, Santa Rosa Beach, FL 32459.


Monday - August 25, 2014
The NewsCONNECTION, August 25

Click to view the whole newsletter

Monday - August 11, 2014
The NewsCONNECTION, August 11

Click to view the whole newsletter

Monday - July 28, 2014
The NewsCONNECTION, January 28

Click to view the whole newsletter

Monday - July 14, 2014
The NewsCONNECTION, July 14, 2014

Click to view the whole newsletter

Thursday - June 26, 2014
Focus on Mission, June 2014

Click to view the whole newsletter

Monday - June 23, 2014
The NewsCONNECTION, June 23, 2014

Click to view the whole newsletter