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August 13, 2012 / Volume 11, No. 14 View Online

Conference News

Wesleyan Wisdom: Ala.-W.Fla. Bishop Shares His Leadership Style

(UM Reporter) - United Methodists love our bishops. One of the 1808 "Restrictive Rules" was that subsequent General Conference sessions could not "change nor alter any part or rule of our government so as to do away with the episcopacy." We usually see our bishops in their role as presiding officers and we are aware of their power to send pastors to local churches, but we seldom witness a bishop baring his or her soul. At the 2012 Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference, Bishop Paul Leeland, who was assigned to a second four-year term as leader of the Alabama-West Florida Conference, gave this writer an hour and a half of enlightening conversation about his journey as a Christian, his modus operandi as an episcopal leader, and his vision for the church in his area and across the connection. Full feature here.

Back to School, Back to Church

(Dr. Jeremy Pridgeon) - What would a simple phone call to the members of your church do to ensure the "summer slide" doesn't become a "fall flop?" As I have traveled the district this summer, many of you have mentioned a much higher degree of absenteeism among the congregations you serve. I have thought about this and it may be a positive indicator that people are traveling a bit more, meaning that perhaps the economic conditions have leveled off or are improving. But it does create a challenge to ensure that those who have not been in the habit of coming to church over the past couple of months return to worship. Full commentary here.

Meet the Office of Communications

In the coming editions of the NewsCONNECTION, you will see a ministry team of the Alabama-West Florida Conference featured. We hope you will take a moment to watch the brief videos that will be shared to learn more about the conference staff and how each office can assist you or your congregation. Meet Mary Catherine Phillips and Luke Lucas in the office of communications. Click here to watch.

Six Graduate from Course of Study School at Emory

On Friday, August 3, six Alabama-West Florida pastors graduated from the Emory Course of Study School in Atlanta. Five of these graduated from the Basic Course of Study: Dunford Cole, pastor of the Thomaston Charge (Demopolis District); David Hendrix, pastor of Beulah UMC (Montgomery-Opelika District); Ruth Knights, associate pastor of Gulf Breeze UMC (Pensacola District); Joel Wasson, Jr., pastor of Fairview UMC (Montgomery-Prattville District); and Bobby D. Williams, associate pastor of Christ UMC (Mobile District). Robert (Bob) Brown, recently retired, graduated from the Advanced Course of Study School. Full story here.

Huntingdon College and Birmingham-Southern College Professors Recognized by GBHEM

The General Board of Higher Education and Ministry recently announced its award winners and recognized outstanding teaching. GBHEM provides a certificate and monetary award to the faculty members nominated and selected by their institutions to receive the award. Click here to see winners.

AWF Cabinet August Meeting Summary

(Dr. Jeremy Pridgeon) - Bishop Leeland and members of the Cabinet met this past week in a regularly scheduled session in Montgomery, AL. We celebrate the variety of ministries found across the conference and were able to receive updates on many of these initiatives during our gathering. Amelia Fletcher, Conference Disaster Response Coordinator, provided essential information to guide superintendents in their role when an event occurs within the districts requiring assistance in response and recovery. Additional training has been scheduled for the Cabinet for later in the year. Fred and Laurel Blackwell, leaders of The Circles of Transformation ministry, an effort to eliminate the cyclical nature of poverty, shared about the expansion of this ministry from Dothan into Montgomery, Mobile, and Niceville, FL. They outlined a new aspect of the ministry creating "Circle Congregations" involving churches that take an interest in supporting and encouraging community development in their area. Reverend Neil McDavid, Director of Connectional Ministries, gave an overview of other ministries and programs of the conference, including the SBC 21 - Strengthening the Black Church for the 21st Century event which took place over the weekend. Full review here.

Around the Conference

{Betty Helms addresses the 2012 Cooperative School of Christian Mission at Huntingdon College, August 2-5. To see more photos, click here.}

ACE Missional Track

The Missional Track for the Academy for Congregational Development has a blog! On this blog, participating churches can find resources and updates. There's also a registration page that tells you how your church can be a part of this transformative experience. Go to http://missionaltrack.wordpress.com to read more.

The Journey, "A New Place for New People"

(Rev. Neil McDavid) - July 1, 2011, The Rev. Sean and Sandra Peters were appointed to the growing Crestview, FL area to plant a new United Methodist Church. The church, The Journey, began public worship gatherings at Crestview High School in January of this year and has grown steadily connecting with new families and offering a variety of opportunities to serve within the community. The Journey Java Connection, the thriving church coffee shop on Main Street in Crestview, is a missional outpost for the church and has helped them connect with artists, musicians, local businesses and hundreds of "locals" in creative and innovative ways. Plans going forward include expanding student ministries, developing more small groups, launching more community development ministries, actively engaging in local mission and finding a permanent home for worship celebrations, discipleship and community ministry. The Journey is reaching out to many unchurched people in the Crestview area and making a significant difference in the life of that community. The Journey speaks of itself in this way, "we are not perfect, and we don"t expect you to be perfect either. We are a group of travelers searching for meaning and purpose in this life. We follow Jesus because we believe He offers it to us." Full feature here.

Glory Sighting: Marianna First, Hometown Hero

First United Methodist Church, Marianna, FL was selected as this quarter's "Hometown Hero." This award recognizes community partners who contribute in meaningful ways and making a positive impact on children who need it most. Marianna First has hosted the Quality Parenting Improvement Group, which honors outstanding staff and foster parents, hosted adoption celebrations, and foster parent training. The congregation was also recognized for hosting Christmas dinners for some families in the area that need it most. The Hometown Hero award was created out of the Quality Parenting Initiative, which is a nationwide effort to improve the outcomes of children who are abused or neglected. Congratulations Marianna First!

"Rush upon us, Jesus" Prayed Bishop Leeland in Opening Worship

(NC Conference Christian Advocate) - Bishop Paul Leeland called on members of the North Carolina Annual Conference during the opening worship service of the annual conference to understand ministry not as being in the world to serve God but as being in God to serve the world. Leeland, who remarked that it was a genuine privilege to be back home in North Carolina, based his message on the account in 1 Samuel 16 of David"s anointing by Samuel. He focused on verse 13, which describes the Spirit of the Lord rushing upon David. More here.

Connectional News

Clergy Effectiveness Critical for UMC

(GBHEM) - A pilot project involving about 100 churches attempts to assess how well United Methodist pastors perform while helping churches and clergy join in a covenant that will lead to more effective clergy and more engaged congregations. "Clergy effectiveness is a critical issue for The United Methodist Church and every annual conference. We need clergy who can meet the adaptive challenge of leading churches in a changing world," said the Rev. Meg Lassiat, director of Candidacy, Mentoring, and Conference Relations, Division of Ordained Ministry, General Board of Higher Education and Ministry. Full article here.

Church reaches out after Sikh temple attack

(UMNS) - United Methodists are joining in prayer and reaching out in support of their Sikh neighbors after a gunman"s attack Aug. 5 at a Sikh temple in suburban Milwaukee that left seven people " including the shooter " dead. Oak Creek United Methodist Church, about two miles from the temple, held a community prayer vigil. More than 200 people attended. "The hope is that we can build community and know our neighbors and extend Christ"s grace to those around us " his love and his way of peace," said the Rev. Paul Armstrong, pastor of Oak Creek United Methodist Church. Full story here.


Right Questions for Church Leaders

WASHINGTON, DC " The Lewis Center for Church Leadership has released Right Questions for Church Leaders by Lovett H. Weems, Jr. This booklet was created in response to requests for a collection of questions used over the years in "The Right Question" column of Leading Ideas, the Lewis Center"s free e-newsletter. Weems, director of the Lewis Center, organized selected questions by topic and has made them available in this new collection. The topics covered in Right Questions for Church Leaders are: The Church"s Purpose; Remembering a Ministry"s Purpose; Identifying and Supporting Leaders; Communication; Reaching New Disciples; Seeing Your Church as Others Do; Reviewing Programs; Creative Abandonment; Assessing Differing Directions; Planning; Understanding Your Church"s Identity; Knowing What"s Going On; Making the Most of Meetings; Making Good Decisions; Facing Challenges; and Personal Reflection and Assessment. More information here.

Book Review: Guidance for Living with the Wounds of Grief

(United Methodist Reporter) - One of the most difficult times in a person"s life is the death of a loved one. Dealing with death is a struggle that is different for each person, and there is no right way to grieve. An online search for "grief" yields millions of books on the topic, and with good reason. When the One You Love Is Gone brings a needed offering in this genre: a view of death and grief that breaks the mold of the standard process of grieving and humanizes the act. Full review here.

Job Postings

Part-time Director of Music, Alex City FUMC

Part-time Youth Director, Liberty UMC (Notasulga, AL)

Full-time Youth Pastor, Eclectic UMC

Director of Children's Ministry, Gulf Breeze UMC

Contemporary Worship Leader, Vestavia Hills UMC

Director of Children's Programs, Spring Hill Avenue UMC (Mobile, AL)

Part-time Director of Music Ministries, Brewton UMC

Foster Parent Liaison, UMCH

Children's Minister, Trinity UMC (Opelika, AL)

Director of Children's Music, Ashland Place UMC (Mobile, AL)

Church Administrator, Gadsden Street UMC (Pensacola, FL)

Nursery Coordinator/Preschool Assistant Director, Navarre UMC

Upcoming Events

School of Congregational Development, August 16-19

African-American Women's Leadership Conference, August 23-25

Teaching for Transformation-Leadership of a Small Group, August 25

Designing Women's Luncheon, August 25

Lay Speaking Training, September 8

Prayer Shawl Ministry, September 21-23

Dothan District Gathering, September 24

Deaconess/Home Missioner Discernment, October 5-7

World Communion Sunday, October 7

Wesley Heirs Fall Meeting, October 9-10

Annual Meeting of the Historical Society, October 13

Just Breathe at Epworth by the Sea, October 15-18

UMW Fall Training and Meeting, October 19-20

The Enduring Magic of Eugenia Price at Epworth by the Sea, October 29-November 1

Lake Junaluska Multicultural Conference, November 29-December 1

Fiscal Office Closes for 2012 Financial Records, January 8, 2013

Want more?

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Office of Ministerial Services
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Phone: 334.356.8014
Toll free: 888-873-3127
Fax: 334.274.1052
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Open hearts. Open minds. Open doors.