Conference News

A Word from the Bishop: DACA

published 9/5/2017

To the People of the Alabama-West Florida Conference,

As we enter the recovery phase of Hurricane Harvey and prepare for Hurricane Irma, along with Tropical Storm Jose forming in the Atlantic Ocean, we continue to navigate the immigration storms of our nation. Many of our Hispanic brothers and sisters in our AWF Conference Churches are living in fear. An executive order has been handed down by President Trump to rescind Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and is being turned over to Congress for a six month review, which adds to this storm of fear. I know that DACA most likely needs adjusting, but to eliminate it puts many children at risk.
I am calling on all of us to be in prayer for the right decisions to be made around this matter. The United Methodist Immigration Task Force has put out a helpful document that I encourage you to use as a resource. Our prayers, our voices, and our actions are most important to living out Jesus' “Great Commandment” and our United Methodist Social Principles.
Today, let’s place this situation, along with many living in the storms of hurricanes, in our prayers.
In Christ,
Bishop David Graves
Alabama-West Florida Conference

Alabama-West Florida Congregations Are Becoming More of What God Calls Them to Be

published 9/5/2017
Throughout all of church history, there has never been a time when a healthy, faithful, effective congregation has been more needed and necessary. It is clear that the leadership of the AWFUMC believe to the core of their being that they are at the right time to be a faithful and an effective community of faith to have a promising future. The Conference leaders have determined in this moment of time to encourage and inspire this core belief and equip the congregation to practice the appropriate approaches and strategies that will fulfill their potential and meet the world’s needs.

AWFUMC has begun to equip these faithful congregations to imagine what God desires. Congregations throughout the Conference boundaries are living into the Next Steps Ministry Now (NSMN), a tool and process to equip congregational leaders to imagine.

Congregations in the Montgomery-Opelika, Marianna-Panama City, Baypines, and Dothan Districts are living into the NSMN process of four basic questions upon which to reflect and address. These questions include:
  • Who are we? (The question of identity) 
  • Why do we exist? (The question of purpose) 
  • Who are our neighbors? (The question of location)
  • What is God’s will for us? (The question of the next right step).
These four basic questions are answered through gathering information, sharing stories, reviewing geographic and demographic data, and networking within the community.  They serve as input for reflection and discernment then planning. This is likened to a pilgrimage for these leaders and for the at-large congregation. The pilgrimage is a leadership process and gets people to a place they would not get to on their own.

We Methodists have the structure, connection, message, and people to make disciples and transform communities. Congregational leaders are leaping into imagination action, considering the emerging community context, their legacy, and their missional task so that their discernment and planning are fruitful and they achieve the harvest they seek. Their legacy and story in their community leverages their unique distinctiveness right where they are located. 


A One-year Reflection with Bishop David Graves

published 8/31/2017

We celebrate the one-year anniversary of Bishop David W. Graves being assigned and installed to the Alabama-West Florida Conference. Hear more from him in this interview with Mary Catherine Phillips, AWF Director of Communications, about his first year and his hopes for our conference. 

Click here  to see the interview. We invite you to share this on social media and with your local churches. You may also listen to this message as an audio-only podcast by clicking here, by searching for "AWFUMC Podcasts" on iTunes or in your preferred podcast player. 

A Word from the Bishop: Praying our Way Forward

published 8/30/2017

The denomination-wide "Praying Our Way Forward" initiative launched on New Year’s Day 2017 with 75 weeks of focused prayer for The United Methodist Church. Each annual conference will take one week to have intentional prayer for the mission of The United Methodist Church to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world and for the work of the Commission on a Way Forward. The effort began in the North Carolina Conference and will conclude in the West Angola Episcopal area in June 2018. The Alabama-West Florida Conference's week of prayer will be September 11-15, 2017

Click here or on the below video frame to hear a special request from Bishop Graves about how local churches can participate in this meaningful week. Click here for a written transcript of the video

A Request from Bishop Graves: Special Harvey Relief Collection this Sunday

published 8/29/2017


It is hard to believe the news coverage coming out of Texas and the ongoing catastrophic flooding from Hurricane Harvey. My heart breaks as the stories continue to be reported about how lives are changing as a result of this storm. Please join me in praying for the people in Texas and that the United Methodist Church may best respond so that we may be a blessing. Our conference will respond through the collection of requested items and ERT teams. If you are part of a team, you may find out more information through Susan Hunt

The most immediate way you can act and respond, in addition to praying, is through financial donations. I am asking each church in the Alabama-West Florida Conference to take a monetary collection in your worship services this weekend. Those collections may be sent to the conference office with "Hurricane Harvey-Texas Disaster Response" in the memo line. 

Thank you for making this national tragedy a priority in your local church. I am grateful for each of you and your ministry. Together, we are better though our connection. 

With Deep Appreciation,
Bishop David Graves
Alabama-West Florida Conference 

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