Conference News

Hurricane Sandy Response

published 10/30/2012

The response to Hurricane Sandy is still in the emergency/rescue stage, but UMCOR is already a caring presence in the area and hard at work preparing for the next stages of recovery and relief. Click here to see how UMCOR is responding.

You can immediately give $10 to UMCOR's disaster response fund by texting the word RESPONSE to 80888. Or click here to donate online. You can also mail a check to the fiscal office, made payable to Alabama-West Florida Conference, marked "Hurricane Sandy Relief, Advance #3021787".

We will send more details in the days and weeks to come about additional response efforts and how your church can assist.



Alabama Rural Ministry Offers Two Service Opportunities

published 10/1/2012

Alabama Rural Ministries Summer Opportunity
Are you looking for a meaningful summer opportunity where you can experience and share Christ’s love in service to others? Alabama Rural Ministry (ARM) is seeking young adult Christians with a heart to serve the “least of these” and to work with youth groups coming to do home repair or work with our summer day camps. Be forewarned, the work is demanding. The hours are long. Time off is rare. Where’s the reward? God will move in your life like never before! You will meet incredible people who are ON FIRE for Christ and youth who are really excited to hear the news you have to share. You’ll experience diversity and love by joining a new community of peers, youth, families and children. God will test you and sustain you as you learn to see and serve others through the eyes and love of Christ! If this sparks a desire for you serve in this way, to be a missionary in Alabama for two months, then we ask you to prayerfully consider joining our team. Each staff member receives a $1,700.00 base scholarship, and is given the opportunity to raise their salary to $4,000.00 through individual fundraising. Compensation also includes a $20/week stipend, housing, travel reimbursements and most meals. Check out ARM’s website at www.arm-al.org where you will find Summer Staff Applications, pictures and more details about our ministry. Summer Staff Applications are due by December 15th. Please contact Kim Dixon if you have any questions, serve@arm-al.org.
To download a staff application, click here

Mission Camps
Alabama Rural Ministry’s (ARM) mission camps are filling up FAST!!! Don’t miss your chance to serve with our home repair and day camp ministries. ARM offers camps and opportunities for groups to do missions in rural communities of Alabama. We host junior high, high school, college, and adult groups from all over the United States for week long, extended weekend trips, and weekend retreats. ARM has three objectives: 1) Extending Christ’s love to underserved families through home repair. We feel all homes should be safe, warm, and dry. 2) Building relationships that cross cultural, racial, and age barriers. We work closely with the homeowners to learn their stories and build relationships. 3) Providing Christian education, academic education, and a Christian witness to children at our day camp. ARM can only meet these objectives with the help of groups, like yours, that are willing to show Christ’s love with their actions. If you are interested in serving with us please check out our website www.arm-al.org. Here you will find information, registration forms and a breakdown of our costs. If you have any questions contact Kim Dixon at serve@arm-al.org or at 334-501-4ARM.
To download a brochure, click here.


United Methodist Children's Home Opens Birmingham Office

published 9/27/2012

Birmingham, AL--The United Methodist Children’s Home (UMCH), a 120-year-old child care agency based in Montgomery, Alabama, announces the addition of Rebecca Morris and Lara Wheeler to its newly organized Birmingham Office of Marketing and Development located in the UMC North Alabama Conference Center on the campus of Birmingham-Southern College.

Dr. Blake Horne, CEO of the United Methodist Children’s Home is pleased to announce the new staff and office, “We are thrilled to have Rebecca and Lara join our team here at UMCH. They bring a wealth of experience, creativity, and resources to the table as we seek to advance our most important mission, caring for all God’s children in Alabama and Northwest Florida.”

Rebecca Morris joins as Director of Marketing and External affairs. Most recently she worked in a trade association as the Community Liaison for the membership where she focused on community and federal relations. Rebecca says “The United Methodist Children’s Home does so much good for the children it serves, and I am thrilled to help bring awareness to the organization. The Children’s Home has a long, storied history. I want my children, along with the next generation to understand and know how the organization has served those in need.” Rebecca Morris has called Birmingham home for the last twelve years. She is married to Ben Morris, and they have three elementary school age boys. They attend Canterbury regularly and look forward to joining the membership in the fall.

Lara Wheeler joins the Birmingham office as Director of Development. Lara, who most recently served in nonprofit as the Development Director of Pathways in Birmingham, has a true passion for serving those in the community whose needs are often overlooked. “I feel blessed to have this opportunity to combine my heart for serving those in need with my skills in fundraising and development,” says Lara. She is looking forward to connecting with and serving church members and Children’s Home supporters across the North Alabama Conference and the Alabama West-Florida Conference. Lara lives in Columbiana with her husband, Taylor Steele where they are members of Columbiana United Methodist Church.

Rebecca and Lara join staff members Cherry Johnson and Robert Powell who have both served the United Methodist Children’s Home for several years. Cherry has been named Communications Manager and will continue to provide public relations and outreach services for the Children’s Home from the Birmingham office. Robert Powell, lifelong advocate for the United Methodist Church and the Children’s Home, will continue serving as Development Associate in the Alabama/West Florida Conference.

About the United Methodist Children’s Home

The United Methodist Children’s Home of Alabama and Northwest Florida has been assisting children and families in crisis since its founding in 1890. Based in Montgomery, UMCH’s ministries include residential group homes for children and Babies First, which provides young mothers and their babies with a safe place to live and grow. Additionally, UMCH administers foster care and adoption home services, as well as family preservation and support services designed to keep families united whenever possible. These ministries are available to all in need regardless of religious affiliation. Each year UMCH transforms the lives of hundreds of children and families through its faith-based programming. For more information visit the UMCH website at www.umch.net or call 800-239-3575.


 

{Pictured left to right: Rebecca Morris and Lara Wheeler}


AWF Cabinet September Meeting Summary

published 9/20/2012

(Dr. Jeremy Pridgeon) - The Cabinet of the Alabama-West Florida Conference met in a regularly scheduled session last week at the Conference Office in Montgomery. We continue to affirm the work of our local churches in the ongoing effort to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world and celebrate the "glory sightings" where congregations are experiencing fruitful, vital ministry engaging their communities in mission and service throughout the conference. Superintendents shared these stories with each other and continue to explore ways of making these known across the connection in an attempt to point toward examples of what we would hope to see taking place even more frequently in our churches.

In our monthly Incubator experience, in addition to prayer for and with one another, we spent time reflecting on the SEND model for ministry in the conference. With identifying spiritual leaders as our focus, we reviewed all of the ministry areas of our conference to determine the primary function of this area. Ministries were grouped base on whether the main function was Seeking, Engaging, Nurturing, or Deploying leaders. Categorizing these ministries helped us to clarify the purpose of these initiatives as they related to the life of the conference as a whole.

We spent time reviewing ministries of the conference and celebrating the ways these efforts are making an impact on our congregations and communities. Reverend Neil McDavid, Director of Connectional Ministries, updated the Cabinet on the CIRCLES of Transformation program that seeks to break the cycle of poverty. CIRCLES is at work in Dothan, Mobile, Montgomery, AL and Niceville, FL and will continue to expand their reach in our connection. The Cabinet reviewed the Comprehensive Plan for Inclusiveness that will help us to identify areas of the conference where we can better engage ministry with all of God's children through intentional focusing on nurturing faith communities in predominately African-American, Hispanic, Korean, Native American communities along with other ethnic groups that reside in the bounds of the conference.

We continue to give thanks for evidence of greater support for connectional giving, noting a 2% increase year-to-date. We are hopeful this is a sign that some economic stability is being experienced after several years of difficulty for our churches.

Discussion was held about priorities to identify during the upcoming charge conference season, including an emphasis on "turn-around leadership" where some of our congregation have become stagnant or are in decline. Conversation will be held with the leadership of these churches as to how we might be best able to reengage mission and ministry in these communities in the upcoming months. Emphasis on identifying ways to ensure timely recording of the Year End Reports from local congregations was also discussed. The reports are due on January 31, 2013 and we are shooting for 100% from Alabama-West Florida. An update was given by Reverend June Jernigan on the upcoming shift to group mentoring for candidates for ministry, a change adopted by the 2012 General Conference.

We want to again focus attention on the need for our congregations to place emphasis on their ministry zone. Bob Farr, Director of Congregational Excellence for the Missouri Annual Conference, identifies this zone as the two-mile radius extending from the location of your church. His assessment is that churches must permeate this area with their influence to establish a base from which to serve the larger community beyond this zone. We would encourage pastors and leaders to think through how visible their churches are in the ministry zone. The people who live in these zones are given to us by God and are ours to reach for the sake of the Kingdom. Let us share with each other the ways we can effectively minister to these persons and claim every soul for Christ in the communities that are found in the annual conference! With grateful appreciation for the faithful work of our clergy and laity, and with the expectation that God will move in our midst, we anticipate God continuing to use the congregations of the Alabama-West Florida Conference to make a difference in the Kingdom!


 


ERT Team Registration Now Open in LA Conference

published 9/6/2012

Friends,

We have received word that the Louisiana Conference has started registering Emergency Response Trained teams to respond to damage by Hurricane Isaac. If you have a current ERT badge (ie. have completed the UMCOR ERT course in the last three years), please start making plans within your local churches by beginning to form teams and collect materials.

Please visit the registration page at the Louisiana Conference website by clicking here or going to http://www.la-umc.org/pages/detail/1761.

There is a cost associated with the response effort. Teams are needed for construction and gutting of houses. Please check the above link for more details.

Blessings, 
Amelia Fletcher
Alabama-West Florida Conference Disaster Response Coordinator


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