(Dr. Jeremy Pridgeon) - Bishop Leeland and members of the Cabinet recently held their first meeting of 2014. There is much to celebrate in the life of the Alabama-West Florida Conference because the Spirit is moving among our congregations and we are developing devoted followers of Jesus Christ across our area. We give thanks for the leadership of clergy and laity who bear witness to the love of God, who inspire others, and who serve with gladness in our communities. The collective effort across the connection reminds us of the tremendous impact we have as United Methodists, underscoring a fundamental belief that we can do far more together than we ever can on our own.
Over the next few months, we will have an opportunity to demonstrate this once more as we take part in the "Imagine No Malaria" campaign. As we join in this General Church initiative, here in our conference, our goal is to save 100,000 lives from malaria through the acquisition of the protective nets used to shield families from the mosquitoes that transmit the disease. Each district is developing ways to encourage congregations to take part in this effort, which will culminate at our 2014 session of Annual Conference in Montgomery. Please encourage your churches to take part over the upcoming weeks. Small groups, Lenten covenant groups, children's ministries, youth ministries, United Methodist Women, United Methodist Men, Sunday School classes, among others can easily participate in saving the life of someone on the African continent. You can find additional resources for use in your church by clicking here.
We continue to promote two studies that we believe have the capacity to lead our churches into greater fruitfulness: The Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations by Bishop Robert Schnase and The Wesleyan Way by Bishop Scott Jones. These studies were featured at recent district conferences and are outstanding resources for helping us to live into greater fulfillment of our mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ. We have the opportunity to hear Bishop Schnase during the Bishop's Day Apart on March 3, 2014, at St. James United Methodist Church in Montgomery. Both clergy and laity are highly encouraged to attend. You can register for the Day Apart here.
During the month of January, two very important administrative matters require attention in our churches. The Year End Report, Table I, II, and III data needs to be submitted to the Conference Office immediately if your congregation has not done so. This data is compiled from across the conference and sent to the General Church, gathered with the information reported from all other annual conferences. Additionally, the preference forms for pastors and Staff-Parish Relations Committees need to be submitted as well as part of the consultation process for the 2014-15 pastoral appointments. Each district superintendent will be reviewing the information submitted for their district. Where a change in appointment is requested, the superintendents will schedule a consultation with the pastor and the Staff-Parish Relations Committee during the upcoming weeks. This is a time of discernment and reflection for our pastors and Staff-Parish Relations Committees, so please pray for one another in this season.
As always, we paused to remember the pastoral care concerns from our clergy families during this session. The sharing of this information is a reminder that there are many personal needs pressing in our clergy even as they seek to serve their congregations and communities. We have brothers and sisters who need healing, who are in grief, who have loved ones facing difficult circumstances and we would do well to offer encouragement and prayers for our colleagues.
We give thanks for a good 2013 and are excited at what God will do through the "people called Methodists" in the Alabama-West Florida Conference in 2014. We affirm a greater sense of connection, the development of clergy and lay leaders in congregational, district, and conference leadership. We are committed to establishing new communities of faith to reach those who are not part of the fellowship of the church. We resolve to fulfilling our role as the "chief missional strategists" for our districts and are grateful for the partnership we have with clergy, laity, and congregations in making this possible throughout our conference. We give thanks to God for the abundant blessings we share and for the privilege of serving together. May we continue to be about the work of Christ in the world in the year ahead!
It is my sincere pleasure to invite you, as clergy and laity, to our Alabama-West Florida Conference “Bishop’s Day Apart for All God’s Servants” which is scheduled for March 3, 2014, at St. James United Methodist Church in Montgomery, AL from 9:00am-4:00pm.
This year, reflecting the growing partnership with laity who are leading our congregations and serving on District Mission Teams, we are inviting both clergy and laity – All God’s Servants – to reflect on living into God’s dream for each congregation.
Bishop Robert Schnase, a United Methodist Bishop currently serving the Missouri Annual Conference, is a scholar, theologian, leader and popular author. Bishop Schnase was ordained a deacon and elder in the Southwest Texas Conference and is a graduate of Perkins School of Theology. As a writer, he’s the author of Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations (2007), Ambition in Ministry: Our Spiritual Struggle with Success, Achievement and Competition (1993), Testing and Reclaiming Your Call to Ministry (1991), and his most recently released book, Seven Levers: Missional Strategies for Leading Conferences (2014). He worked as editorial consultant for the New Interpreters Bible, and has contributed chapters to Weaver and Stapleton's Reflections on Marriage and Spiritual Growth and Grand-Parenting and the Spiritual Journey.
I am confident Bishop Schnase will give insight and inspiration to us as ministers of the Gospel. As we approach Lent we look to God for renewal and spiritual refreshment because we know the best way to strengthen our United Methodist Church is to strengthen our local congregation. In reflecting on the Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations, Bishop Schnase said, “Every Church thinks they are friendly and they are – to the people already there. But Radical hospitality requires looking inward and outward. It stretches us.” We have been blessed by wonderful leaders at this event each year such as Bishop Will Willimon, Dr. Marva Dawn, Dr. Leonard Sweet and Dr. Maxie Dunnam, and now Bishop Robert Schnase.
This does not need to be another seminar where the pastor returns and says, “This was a great event; I wish you could have been there.” This year, we are urging each clergy person to invite a lay member who has influence in your local church so that we may create a sincere conversation on how to live out the mission, vision, and values, within of our church. Bishop Schnase’s teachings are suited for all of God’s servants and would certainly extend hospitality and invitation to all who wish to join us on this day.
To ensure lunch is provided, it is critical to register for this event. To register, click here. The $10 registration fee will cover the cost of lunch and will only be guaranteed to the first 400 participants who register. Once that number is at capacity, you may register to attend at no cost for the event but you will need to find lunch off campus. If you need help in the registration process please call Traci at our Conference Center.
As always, I am very proud of our Alabama-West Florida Conference, for your ministry, and for the Gospel of Jesus Christ you proclaim. May you join me in giving thanks for the words of the Apostle Paul who said, “May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.” (2 Thessalonians 3:5).
Greetings in the name of Christ. As preparations are underway for the 2014 meeting of Annual Conference, June 1-4 at Frazer Memorial UMC in Montgomery, Alabama, the Committee on Standing Rules will be looking at proposed changes to these rules; you will find them listed on pages 17-27 of our 2013 Journal. If you do not have a printed Journal, you may view it online here.
Let me alert you to these upcoming deadlines, which are in our current Standing Rules:
• Any proposed changes in the Standing Rules should be received in writing by the chairperson of the Committee on Standing Rules no later than February 1. You may submit these by e-mail to RWilson@dauphinwayumc.org, or by mailing proposed changes to Robin Wilson, 1507 Dauphin St, Mobile, AL 36604.
• Resolutions shall be submitted to the Committee on Resolutions and Petitions by February 15, except in cases where it can be demonstrated by the author of a late petition that the situation which gave rise to making the petition was not apparent until after the deadline for petitions. The Chairperson of this Committee is Rev. Kathy Knight.
• Materials and reports to be included in the Brochure of Reports shall be in the hands of the Journal editor NO LATER THAN the last Monday in February (Feb 24, 2014). The Journal Editor is Jackie Slaughter. Please send any materials to email@example.com.
If you have questions or changes, do not hesitate to contact me. Thank you for your excellent service to God and for your work for the Kingdom.
Robin C. Wilson
Dear Alabama-West Florida family,
"After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, 'Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.'"
"After they had heard the king, they went on their way and the star they had seen when it rose went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route."
The Advent Season creates an awareness of "waiting" for many things - the gathering of close friends and family; worship services; the sharing of joy and love through carefully selected gifts; and the Second Coming of Christ. For those who continue our everyday habits with little thought to how God is about to intervene in our world, we might reflect on the days of Noah.
Advent is not simply a time to prepare for the celebration of Christ's birth, it is also a reminder that we await the long anticipated return of Christ fulfilling our daily prayer that God's Kingdom will come just as it is in heaven. Perhaps it would indeed reflect the very presence of this Kingdom if we were to act just as if we were already in the Presence of God!
My son, Paul, has been sharing some thoughts with me during the Advent season that he sent to his own congregation. During this exchange he related a news article regarding a "mysterious blast of light." I believe his insights, which follow, are worth sharing.
Last week, while reading the news, I came across an article about a mysterious blast of light in the sky that can be seen near the constellation Leo. The website, star.com, wrote an article on the light, whose headline read, “Brightest Explosion In the Universe Ever Seen Defies Astronomy Theories.”
How appropriate for this bright light to appear in the sky at this time of year. Not unlike some 2000 years ago when the Magi saw something very similar. When the Magi saw the star, they set out from their country to travel from the east to worship the King of the Jews. Their journey took them to Bethlehem, where they met and worshiped Jesus, the Christ Child.
This being the first week of Advent, my thoughts continue to revolve around the journey of the Magi to celebrate the birth of Jesus. Their journey involved preparation. How did the Magi prepare their hearts and minds for the arrival of the Christ Child? How do I do the same?
My hope for this Advent season is that I prepare in a way to see the glory and power of Christ in a new light. A light that may only be described as the “Brightest In the Universe.”
My thanks to Paul and all who remind me that the power of Christ is indeed the "Brightest in the Universe!"
Merry Christmas. May God's Kingdom come just as it is in heaven.
Paul L. Leeland
Resident Bishop, Alabama-West Florida Conference
(Stegall Seminary Scholarship Endowment Foundation) - In September 2013, Dr. Karl K. Stegall dared to write of a bold vision. He said in the Foundation’s quarterly brochure, “With your great encouragement and generosity, I am now dreaming of the day, in the not too distant future, when we might be able to provide a minimum of $10,000 as a cash scholarship for each full-time student, sharply decreasing what they have to borrow.” As donors read those words, God was already making a way for that spoken dream to become a reality.
On December 3, 2013 the Board of Directors of the Stegall Seminary Scholarship Endowment Foundation announced that his dream has been realized. Effective January 1, 2014, all full-time seminary students living on campus (or commuting on a weekly basis) will now receive a minimum of $10,000 per year from the Foundation. Full-time students currently receive an annual scholarship minimum of $6,000.
“This marks a milestone in the progress of the Foundation,” said Stegall. In its earliest years, the Foundation awarded $100 per month or $1,200 per year to students. The announcement of reaching the $10,000 annual level is a watershed moment in the history of the Foundation. One such student who wishes to thank Foundation donors is Duke Divinity School student Ashley Douglas.
“Three years ago, when I was accepted into Duke Divinity School, I had no idea how I would financially support my educational needs to follow God’s call,” she said. “I followed in faith and prayed without ceasing and God has answered those prayers through the Stegall Foundation. Thank you, donors, for supporting students just like me.”
“Seminary is a challenging time in many ways,” said Dr. Nathan Attwood, a Foundation scholarship alumnus now serving in the Alabama-West Florida Conference. “Young families and young marriages are stretched by tremendous demands and financial constraints. The idealism of new ministers encounters the reality of the joys and stresses of congregational leadership. The Stegall Foundation does more than make the financial pressures manageable, as incredibly important as that is. The scholarship allows new clergy families to know that they are not alone and that a community cares and will carry them through.”
“What a leap of faith the donors and board have taken,” said Stegall. “These gifts enable us to do more for the kingdom of God than has been possible up to this point. Past, present, and future seminary students, and their families, from across the bounds of our Alabama-West Florida Conference join me in expressing our deepest thanks to the countless souls who have prayerfully prepared us to reach this milestone.”
Please join us in our mission of preparing the future of the Church. This is an exciting time for the Stegall Foundation and we want you to be a part of it. Tax-deductible donations can be made securely online . To find out more about the Foundation, please read our newest Winter 2013-2014 brochure. Thank you for your continued prayers and support.
Changes to the clergy retirement plan are fast approaching. Have you taken the actions necessary to prepare?
The General Conference 2012 plan changes – which go into effect on Jan. 1, 2014 – will affect clergy in different ways. If you are in the Clergy Retirement Security Program (CRSP), you may need to start or increase your United Methodist Personal Investment Plan (UMPIP) contributions to ensure you earn matching contributions to the CRSP Defined Contribution plan. You may need to increase your UMPIP contributions even more to make up for CRSP Defined Benefit reductions. If you will no longer receive CRSP contributions, you may need to reevaluate your retirement plan and increase your personal contributions. And if you’re near retirement or are retired, you may even have a decision to make about whether to begin Ministerial Pension Plan (MPP) benefits by Dec. 1 so you can annuitize more than 65% of your account balance.
Now is the time to prepare for these changes. Make sure you:
1. Understand what benefits will be available to you as of Jan. 1, 2014, and what personal contributions, if any, you must make to earn those benefits.
2. Know the deadlines for making decisions about your benefits. (For instance, applications for benefit must be received by Nov. 27 to annuitize more than 65% of your MPP account.)
3. Adjust your retirement plan to account for the changes. You may need to increase your UMPIP contributions, reduce your living expenses, or both, to compensate for the changes.
The General Board offers planning assistance through its projection tools—the Retirement Readiness Tool or the Retirement Benefits Projection in Benefits Access (www.benefitsaccess.org)—and personal financial consulting at no charge from Ernst & Young Financial Planning Services.*
Learn more at www.gbophb.org/TimeforAction.
* Updates to the Benefits Access projection tools will not be complete until year end for less than full-time clergy who will no longer be covered under CRSP. Consult with a financial planner at Ernst & Young Financial Planning Services to help plan for the changes.
Come see each of the four segments of Mobile in Black and White, a four-part documentary series on race relations in Mobile, Alabama that is designed to be watched one segment at a time, with each segment followed by a structured community conversation. The community conversations will take place at St. Mark UMC in Mobile.
On four Mondays in March, we will show a segment and hold a discussion:
March 10 Segment 1: Why We Still Need to Talk about Race
March 17 Segment 2: Race in the Twenty-First Century
March 24 Segment 3: Racialized Structures
March 31 Segment 4: Toward Equity
Dinner will be provided.
Please RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 251-342-5861.
You may learn more about Mobile in Black and White at http://mobileinblackandwhite.org
Wesley Heirs will have their Spring Meeting March 11 - 12, 2014 at Blue Lake. The theme is “CELEBRATE LIFE, LOVE, AND LAUGHTER”.
Deadline to register is February 25, 2014.
Ann Johnson’s team will bring snacks for the snack table. There is always food for even dieters and those with diabetes. If interested in bringing your favorite goodies, contact Ann at (334) 446-3086 or email at email@example.com. These snacks help keep those at the game tables full of energy. There is always punch and coffee available.
At 2:00 pm the Executive Committee will meet upstairs Conference Room.
Choir practice time to be announced by Albert Hunt for Tuesday.
Dan Morris, D. S. of the Dothan District, will bring the Memorial Service message.
The Rev. Jon Couey leading the Holy Communion Service
About 20 Wesley Heirs came early on Monday afternoon at the Fall meeting and as planned via email correspondences, either meet at the Gator Café in Baker, FL or go together from Blue Lake after checking in. We try to get to Baker around 5:00. This is great fun and fellowship. If you have another place you wish to eat, that will be alright, too. The Gator Café does have good seafood. Register with the Maddox's, but pay Blue Lake, direct per room rate for single ($27.50)or double (13.75/person) for one night. You will be responsible for meals as none are served by Blue Lake until noon Tuesday.
Below is a registration form.
Interested in leading a mission team, but don't know where to start? There will be an UMVIM (United Methodist Volunteers in Mission) team leader training on Thursday, March 13, 2014, beginning at 8:30 am and ending at 4:30 pm at Montgomery First UMC. Participants will receive a wealth of information on preparing an UMVIM team for service, including such topics as effective project selection, spiritual development, cultural sensitivity for teams, logistics, and finance.
Included in the $35 registration fee is the UMVIM Team Leader Handbook and lunch. This training is open to all United Methodists and satisfies training requirements for leading an UMVIM team. For more information, contact Susan Hunt at firstname.lastname@example.org or 334-356-8014. Register by clicking the "Register Now" button above.
Participants learn the basics of disaster response, including how to stabilize and secure homes safely, and how to work effectively with survivors and others on the response team. This standardized class is required for the basic ERT UMCOR identification badge.
The cost is $15 which includes lunch, ERT manual, and ID badge. Please bring verification of a recent background check with you.
Make checks payable to Spanish Fort UMC, or bring cash.
Churches from throughout the River Region (Montgomery, Elmore, Chilton and Autaugua Counties) come together this day for a focused day of service to the community.
Click here for more information.
Trinity United Methodist Church, a Leading Edge UMC congregation, is now accepting resumes. 4000 member, traditional ministry with stellar, healthy staff in Birmingham, AL.
This position is full-time with great benefit package including UMC pension and healthcare. Salary is competitive and commensurate with experience.
The Director of Children’s Ministry shall serve as an advocate for children as well as enable and encourage ministry to children by developing settings through which they may become disciples of Christ.
The Director of Children’s Ministry shall have ultimate responsibility for nursery, Parents Day Out, Special Class (class for special needs children) and, all children’s programming. Serves in an advisory/support role to the Trinity Child Development Center (our pre-school).
Sunday School, Worship, Seasonal Programs, Summer Ministries, Leadership and Staff Responsibilities, Supervisory
All Resumes and Inquiries to:email@example.com
Find us on Facebook @Trinity United Methodist Church, Homewood
Grimes United Methodist Church is searching for an Administrative Assistant. Part-time position, 20 hours/week. Requires excellent communication and computer skills.
For more information, contact: Jesse Wingate, 334-701-1502 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Grimes UMC is located at 404 Parramore Rd, Dothan.
First United Methodist Church of Dothan is seeking to fill the position of Director of our Weekday Children’s Ministry. The position is a management/supervisory position requiring a high level of independence to give overall direction to the program.
This individual must have leadership and organizational skills, as well as public relational skills and the ability to relate to parents as well as children. A Bachelor’s degree is required preferably with a major in Early Childhood Development or Elementary Education or related field and at least two years experience in teaching or administering a program for pre-school age children.
For more information or to submit a resume, Rudy@fumcdothan.org or 334.793.3555.
Trinity United Methodist Church, a large and growing downtown church, is seeking a full time Director of Youth Ministries. This activity-oriented and age-diverse congregation fosters a healthy sense of belonging. Staff members experience long tenures encouraged by great team work.
Trinity UMC, located in Tallahassee, Florida, is blocks away from the capital and the Florida State University campus as well as within driving distance to two other college campuses. Tallahassee boasts great schools and parks and many cultural opportunities through the community and universities. The youth group at Trinity UMC has doubled in the last seven years and is poised to continue to grow in depth.
Apply now for this position at email@example.com.
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.
Rev. Jay Andrews (currently serving Snowdoun UMC) passed away December 25, 2013.
Visitation was December 28, 2013 at St. James UMC (MGM). Funeral services followed.
Please keep the Andrews Family in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.
Rev. Michael Calumbo, retired, died December 23, 2013, at the age of 97, at his home in the Seagrove Beach area.
He was preceded in death by his wife and one son. He is survived by a son, Jim.
Rev. Calumbo served in the PA conference until he retired, then served primarily in the Mariann/Panama City Dist. in our conference while in retirement.
Visitation was January 7, 2014 at Point Wasington UMC . Funeral services followed.
Please keep the Calumbo family in your thoughts and prayers.