(Dr. Philip McVay) - Do we remember what was happening ninety days ago? Ninety days ago would have been Memorial Day Weekend and Annual Conference was just around the corner. In the twinkling of an eye the summer of 2012 has now vanished as a shooting star and left Labor Day in the wake. What will happen significant the next ninety days? The weather will cool down, school will be in full session, football season, church opportunities, a national election, and 2013 will be here in a flash! Before the next ninety days vanish like summer how can we make the most of them? Is there a way to add meaning and slow down our lives and move into 2013 with readiness? Prayer is a great starting place.
I would like to invite you and your church to make the next ninety days a season of prayer. There are approximately ninety days from Labor Day to the beginning of Advent, December 2. This season offers a great opportunity to become more intentional in our personal prayer life. The setting aside of time everyday for prayer can change the whole day, week, and season.
What have we to lose by setting aside some time each day in prayer? Is there not everything to gain? After all, what is life without prayer? Dwight Moody would answer..."too much business on too little capital." John Wesley would say...."God does nothing but by prayer, and everything with it." E.M. Bounds would add..."The praying ones want all that God has in store for them. They are not satisfied with anything like a low religious life, superficial, vague and indefinite." All of the spiritual giants hold in common the supreme difference prayer does make in a life.
In regard to making the next ninety days matter most for our church, I would like to invite pastors and laity to take the initiative to form a team and pray. This new team of three to seven people is invited to pray specifically how the church can..."make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world." One option is for the new team to begin by praying through these disciple making questions each time they meet.
-Does our congregation understand what it means to make disciples of Jesus Christ? Can we pray for God to guide us to the honest answer? Can we be open to learn and do what it takes to make disciples?
-Are we open to pray along with the other churches of our district and annual conference about making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world for ninety days? And trust God will lead us to a fruitful place?
-What specifically do we need to pray about in seeking God's leading in making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world? Are there obstacles to remove? Doors to open? Do we need courage?
-Is God calling us to begin something new to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world? How is the Spirit directing?
As the ninety days progresses, there are resources available to provide more information about "making disciples" and launching something new in 2013. You can find this information on the awfumc.org website, on a facebook page entitled AWF prayer initiative, and on our TheMontgomeryDistricts.com website. After ninety days of praying churches are asked to assess are they ready to STEP UP (sharpen the focus of disciple making with existing ministries), STEP OUT (launch something new like a mission team, worship service, or even a new church), or GO FORWARD with whatever you discern God is calling you to do.
May the next ninety days be some of our best because we took the time to pray! If you have not prayed today, there is no time like the present to begin and to invite a team to pray with you soon about making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world!
I have spoken at length with the Mississippi Disaster Coordinator, Wayne Napier. He is putting me in touch with the Seashore District Disaster Coordinator. At this time there are families that have been moved to three different shelters and will not be home any time soon. In parts of the state, water is still rising. The situation with the breech in the southern Mississippi dam is still tenuous. He does not think that any sort of teams can be used before next week.
I have offered our manpower, our cleaning buckets (which he will most likely need) and other basic supplies and at this time has not requested anything. Assessments are scheduled for Monday. The affected areas are working with their VOAD groups (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster) and are functioning as they should.
I have also been in touch with the Louisiana Conference coordinator, Darryl Tate. We are on standby there.
Be assured that we are in response as a conference to the disaster of Hurricane Isaac, but only in ways that will be helpful. We do not want to add to their problems by responding in ways that they do not need or request.
Prayer is powerful and at this time is the most helpful way for us to respond. However, as they work through the weekend and do assessments, Wayne is sure that our teams will be needed.
If you have been through ERT Training, you may want to review the issues involved with removing water damage. He also feels that some of the properties will be under water for at least a couple of weeks, so those properties may be condemned.
Your churches can also put together UMCOR cleaning buckets to replenish supplies that have already been sent or will be sent soon. For information on how to put a cleaning bucket together, click here.
Thank you for your concern and prayers during this time.
Alabama-West Florida Conference Disaster Response Coordinator
Several years ago the Alabama West-Florida Conference designated the second Sunday in September as Camping Sunday* to give attention to your wonderful ministry at Blue Lake Camp and to recognize our dedicated volunteers and partners.
We encourage you to participate on Sunday, September 9, 2012, with churches across the conference to share this ministry with your congregations.
We just completed another exciting summer season, with over 2,000 campers attending many different camp sessions. Our vision of ministry continues to grow as we develop more specialized programs for adults, families, those with special needs, and those seeking spiritual renewal and formation.
Click here to see a wonderful video produced for us by a local church, and perfect for informing your members of the many ways Blue Lake is a vital part of the mission of this conference. Please feel free to download and use anytime; for worship, church dinners, and special programs.
We are also including a bulletin insert encouraging a special gift/pledge to the camp for operations, scholarships, and other needs. Many churches have already done special Blue Lake events this year, and we thank you.
If you have not, consider that your church will be excited to learn of the growth and vision and important ministry that is part of your outreach because of Blue Lake Camp.
If you would like a presenter on hand for any service or program, please contact Phyllis Murray or Jonathan Langston at 334-222-5407.
Thanks always for your support.
*Conference Journal – Fund Raising and Collection Policies – for Blue Lake improvement and volunteer recognition.
(Su Ofe, Montgomery, AL) - Huntingdon College President J. Cameron West announced today that two scholarships have been established to honor Huntingdon alumna Pearl Norton Jackson (Mrs. Alto L.) of Clio, Alabama. The scholarships were established by Mrs. Jackson's daughter, Caroline Jackson, of Arlington, Virginia. The Pearl Norton Jackson Endowed Scholarship and the Pearl Norton Jackson Gift Scholarship will be awarded to students of high achievement who are majoring in mathematics.
Mrs. Jackson, a 1939 Huntingdon College graduate and mathematics major, won the College's Margaret Read Scholarship Medal for earning the highest four-year academic grade point average (4.0) in her class.
After graduation, Mrs. Jackson taught math, science and English for two years at Capitol Heights Jr. High School in Montgomery and for another two years at Clio's Barbour County High School. For the next two decades, she supported her four children in attaining academic excellence. In 1966 she accepted the newly-created position of Title I Supervisor for the Barbour County School System, assisting teachers in 24 schools in teaching "new math" to students. At age 57 she earned her Master of Science degree at night and continued in her supervisory position until retirement at age 74.
A life-long resident of Barbour County, Mrs. Jackson taught the youth Sunday School class at Clio United Methodist Church and, until age 90, served as church treasurer.
Preference for the scholarship recipients will be given to those majoring in math who are Barbour County residents and active members of United Methodist churches in the Alabama-West Florida Conference. Incoming freshmen who have earned grade point averages of at least 3.0 are eligible to be considered for the Pearl Norton Jackson Endowed Scholarship. A 3.3 grade point average is required for the Pearl Norton Jackson Gift Scholarship.
Daughter Caroline Jackson recalls, "When I entered Huntingdon as a freshman in the 1960s, professors who had taught Mother warmly welcomed me as 'Pearl's daughter.' Mother's devotion to Huntingdon and her friendships made there have continued over her lifetime. At 94, Mother is happy that these scholarships can enable other students to experience the joy of Huntingdon."
President West said, "We are delighted to partner with Caroline Jackson to honor the beautiful life of her mother. These two scholarships will be a continuing reminder of Mrs. Jackson's love for Huntingdon."
Huntingdon College, grounded in the Judeo-Christian tradition of the United Methodist Church, is committed to nurturing growth in faith, wisdom, and service and to graduating individuals prepared to succeed in a rapidly changing world. Founded in 1854, Huntingdon is a coeducational liberal arts college. The College motto, "Enter to grow in wisdom; go forth to apply wisdom in service," is inscribed in stone above the front door of John Jefferson Flowers Hall. Ranked in the top tier of regional colleges by U.S. News and World Report and consistently listed in the Princeton Review's "The Best Colleges: Region by Region," Huntingdon has for two years been recognized on the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
At this point, I am most thankful for the reports I have received from our district disaster response coordinators. Although Hurricane Isaac has not entirely made its way through our conference, it appears we will not have much damage to report at all. Praise God for this! However, as most of you know, other conferences are experiencing uncertain times. Please pray for those at this time. Louisiana and Mississippi are still in the midst of the storm on the seven-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina.
Tim Trent reported that the Baldwin County advisories have been lifted but they are still under tornado watches. There is some flooding and they have responded to some requests for tarps yesterday north of Spanish Fort. This request came from VOAD. Cory has checked on the pastors in the south end of the district and has received no word of any particular needs. He feels the district is in good shape. Phyllis Murray, Director of Blue Lake Camp, was contacted about housing power companies but that has not been needed since the storm went west. They did house a conference pastor and his family/pets that evacuated. Blue Lake Camp is available should electrical or volunteer teams need housing from other conferences traveling into the region.
Marianna/Panama City District
Woody Bollinger and Gary Daniel sent e-mails last night to all clergy. They have not received any responses of any damage or needs at this time.
Ron Baughman reported that it has been raining since last night but the localized flooding is the same as with a normal storm. There are 1,100 residents in Theodore without power. It should be restored by 5:00pm today. Dauphin Island is without power due to an unmanned sail boat hitting a line. Alabama Power will have this restored soon.
Chris Perry has not heard of any needs for chainsaw teams within the AWF Conference. If another conference needs this service, he will notify our trained chainsaw teams.
Alan Gantzhorn stated that there was no significant damage, just minor flooding.
I have contacted Wayne Napier in the Mississippi Conference to let him know we are on standby should he need resources or ERT teams that we do not need in our conference (which would be minimal). I have also contacted the Florida Conference and they seem to have what they need in house at this time. I have not formally contacted the Louisiana Conference since the storm is still in the area but will as soon as it is appropriate to do so. As always, I will make sure we are welcome and invited before we send teams. Based on the slow movement of the storm, I don't expect the request to deploy trained teams before Friday at the earliest. If you have a team, stay tuned and be on standby. I have asked our district coordinators to report into me tomorrow morning via e-mail. We do not anticipate the need for further conference calls unless there is damage due to the extended rains.
Future communications correspondence will only be sent to our database of trained teams. This information will also be posted on Facebook. This means if you have a trained team the conference is not aware of, it is important you let Susan Hunt know by sending her a list to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for your concern, care and prayers during this uncertain time. It is a blessing to serve this wonderful conference. If we have learned anything it is that we are prepared for the next disaster.
Alabama-West Florida Conference Disaster Response Coordinator