Conference News

AWF Holds Eighth Annual Prayer Breakfast for State Officials

published 2/6/2018

(Montgomery, AL) - The Alabama-West Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church Board of Church & Society hosted a prayer breakfast on February 1, 2018, at the Alabama State House in downtown Montgomery. State Auditor Jim Ziegler, State Treasurer Young Boozer, Chief Justice Lyn Stuart, Secretary of State John Merrill, Lynn Beshear with the Department of Mental Health, Former Chief Justice Sue Bell Cobb, President Cam West of Huntingdon College, Jeffrey Williams with the Department of Corrections, many representatives including Steve McMillan, Rusty Glover, K.L. Brown, Randy Davis and numerous area United Methodist pastors, United Methodist Women and lay persons gathered to pray for our state.

Rev. Ashley Davis from Woodland UMC offered the welcome and blessing. Representative Randy Davis, a staff member at Daphne UMC, also welcomed those in attendance. Rev. Davis encouraged lawmakers to review the handout provided offering Social Principles from the Book of Discipline addressing some of the issues facing them at the present time.

Speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives, Mac McCutcheon, also welcomed the attendees and shared with the group fond memories of his time of serving as a lay minister in his church.  He encouraged the group to live as servants and said that no matter how much we talk about a separation of church and state, you can't and should not separate your faith from what you do.

Guest speaker, Bishop David Graves of the Alabama-West Florida Conference, delivered a challenging message to all in attendance based on Acts 4. He encouraged lawmakers and clergy to not just act alone, that they need one another. He outlined some interesting notations of differences from where he came from in Tennessee to Alabama, especially the tax and school systems. 

“This is the second year we have held the breakfast at the State House based on positive feedback we received last year. The location is more convenient for law makers and their busy schedules. The AWF Legislative prayer breakfast continues to be an engaging time of fellowship and prayer between our United Methodist leaders and state officials. The clergy and lay leaders in attendance felt that the opportunity to interact with government officials was worth their time. I'm especially grateful to the fellow AWF Conference Board of Church and Society members for their work,” said Rev. Ashley Davis, board member. 

The breakfast concluded with the closing prayer from Rev. Tim Meadows of Woodland UMC. 

Click here to see photos from the event. All photos by Luke Lucas

A Video Message from Bishop Graves

published 1/30/2018

All clergy and lay members to annual conference are strongly encouraged to watch this video message from Bishop David Graves. There are preparation assignments for both Bishop's Day Apart and 2018 Annual Conference. Click here to view. Click here to read written transcript

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. We invite you to subscribe to these podcasts.

Bishop Graves Sends Greetings from the Holy Land

published 1/23/2018
Bishop David Graves, Resident Bishop of the Alabama-West Florida Conference, offers a brief word from the Holy Land and shares his deep appreciation for setting a record of reaching 90.10% for 2017 missional giving. Click here to view. Video courtesy of Chris Meyer, Communications Director at Cokesbury UMC Pensacola

Commission on a Way Forward prepares updated report to bishops

published 1/22/2018

(Dallas) - The Commission on a Way Forward is nearing the completion of its task of making recommendations of possible ways forward for The United Methodist Church regarding the inclusion of LGBTQ persons in this global denomination.

The 32-member Commission concluded its three-day meeting in Dallas, Texas, on Saturday after reworking sketches of possible models of the future of the denomination that will be part of the final report to the Council of Bishops in May.

Bishop Sandra Steiner Ball, one of the moderators of the Commission, noted that the members who have had six meetings since January last year, are confident that the Commission will succeed in its work.

“The common work of God’s spirit moves in each one of our lives.  The spiritual gifts that are gifted to each of us by God are given to be used for the common good of all people.  It is this Spirit that both unifies us and inspires us to use the diversity of spiritual gifts to be visionaries and to consider the whole realm of what is possible; to dream dreams, big dreams, to the glory of God.”

She said the Commission, in the unity of God’s Spirit, continues to take a fresh look at the church and what is possible.

“We seek a way forward for The United Methodist Church that strengthens and expands Christ’s mission in ways that value and enable the Church to reach more people in different contexts around the world and to minister with faithfulness, humility, creativity, and generosity,” said Bishop Steiner Ball.

Council of Bishops President Bishop Bruce Ough and Area Resident Bishop Michael McKee both addressed the members on Thursday, the first day of the meeting.

“Time is running short and we need to focus. Simple is better than complex. Reasonable detail is better than ambiguity. Fewer disciplinary changes is better than more. Honor the parameters and values of the Mission, Vision and Scope document -  unity, contextualization and enhanced mission,” said Bishop Ough.

Bishop Ough also asked the Commission to provide the Council with a draft theological statement that both informs the structural models and creates a compelling narrative for the models.

Each day of the three-day meeting began with devotions that were led by the moderators, Bishop Steiner Ball, Bishop Ken Carter and Bishop David Yemba, using the 1 Corinthians 12 scripture on the importance of being one body of Christ despite the differences.

In reviewing the feedback from the Council of Bishops, the Commission worked on incorporating the UMC theological foundation in proposed models for the future of the UMC.

“We understand that a way forward must go deeper than structural change and legislative revision.  A way forward for the church draws upon the deep consensus of all that we believe and teach, especially about the grace of God which leads to mission and holiness, “said Bishop Carter as he reflected on the theological work.

“At the same time, we approach this theological work with a ‘convicted humility’—we are grounded in important convictions, and yet we ‘see through a glass darkly,’ in Paul’s words, and so we hold these convictions with humility before God and each other,” he added.

The Commission members also discussed the importance of maintaining the missional focus of the UMC in any future structural changes.

“As the commission continues its efforts to dream anew, it also continues to work to paint a picture of the dream for people in ways they can catch glimpses of and have hope for a wholly and holy way forward that enables the UMC to better reach new people, and more people with the good news of Jesus Christ in all parts and contexts of the world.” Bishop Steiner Ball noted.

With Central Conferences being integral parts of any way forward, the Commission spent time working on how those conferences outside of the United States would be incorporated in any possible structural models in this global denomination.

“We are a global church and every decision we make should be seen in that context,” noted Bishop Yemba as he shared a report on Central Conferences. “As the United Methodist Church continues the struggle on how to find a way forward on the burning issue of human sexuality, we need to continue using our collective wisdom as Connection in order to create space and flexibility that allow central conferences to stay and work together to fulfill our missional mandate.”

Bishop Yemba further noted that: “Many United Methodists outside of the United States would like to see the context be taken into consideration seriously. Whatever models the Council of Bishops will come up with and recommend to General Conference as a way forward, it is expected that such a recommendation will provide space to focus on what unites us and not what separates us as well as what we can say together as basic principles on human sexuality in the light of the Gospel.”

The Commission plans to share its reworked models of possible ways forward with the Council of Bishops next month at a meeting that has been called to specifically hear more from the Commission.

United Methodist Bishops condemn President Trump’s “offensive” remarks against immigrants

published 1/12/2018

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Bishop Bruce R. Ough, president of the United Methodist Council of Bishops, issued a statement today on behalf of the Council concerning remarks reported to have been made by President Donald Trump regarding immigrants. The statement follows:

We are appalled by the offensive, disgusting words attributed to President Donald Trump who is said to have referred to immigrants from African countries and Haiti, and the countries themselves, in an insulting and derogative manner.  According to various media accounts, President Trump made the remarks during a White House discussion with lawmakers on immigration.

As reported, President Trump’s words are not only offensive and harmful, they are racist.

We call upon all Christians, especially United Methodists, to condemn this characterization and further call for President Trump to apologize.

As United Methodists, we cherish our brothers and sisters from all parts of the world and we believe that God loves all creation regardless of where they live or where they come from.  As leaders of our global United Methodist Church, we are sickened by such uncouth language from the leader of a nation that was founded by immigrants and serves as a beacon to the world’s “huddled masses longing to be free.”

Thousands of our clergy, laity and other highly skilled, productive citizens are from places President Trump has defamed with his comments.  The fact that he also insists the United States should consider more immigrants from Europe and Asia demonstrates the racist character of his comments.  This is a direct contradiction of God’s love for all people.  Further, these comments on the eve of celebrating Martin Luther King Day belies Dr. King’s witness and the United States’ ongoing battle against racism.

We just celebrated the birth of Jesus Christ, whose parents during his infancy, had to flee to Africa to escape from the wrath of King Herod.  Millions of immigrants across the globe are running away from such despicable and life-threatening events. Hence, we have the Christian duty to be supportive of them as they flee political, cultural and social dangers in their native homes.

We will not stand by and allow our brothers and sisters to be maligned in such a crude manner.  We call on all United Methodists, all people of faith, and the political leadership of the United States to speak up and speak against such demeaning and racist comments.

Christ reminds us that it is by love that they will know that we are Christians. Let’s demonstrate that love for all of God’s people by saying no to racism; no to discrimination and no to bigotry.

Bishop Bruce R. Ough

President – Council of Bishops

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