Greetings to the wonderful people of the Alabama-West Florida Conference:
I have been blessed by my times in the Town Hall/District visits in four of our districts and look forward to my time in the other four districts over the next few weeks. There are many life-changing ministries taking place around this conference.
Furthermore, the Cabinet is very much involved in the appointment making process for the next Annual Conference year. As a way of keeping you informed about our process and seeking your prayers, I wanted to share the following:
1. The appointment process is all about mission. The 2016 Book of Discipline ¶338 shares that "itinerancy is less about moving from church to church and more about proclaiming the Gospel in as many places as we can beyond our sanctuaries. Itinerancy is moving to the places where the people are." Some of the core values we will be working with are fruitfulness of ministry, leadership and vision, missional initiatives, and metrics (professions of faith, worship attendance, and discipleship participation). The Cabinet will seek to make pastoral assignments that will create the best matches, call forth our gifts, and help the local church.
2. The Cabinet and I began discussing the appointment process this past December. In our January meetings, we began looking at possible appointments around graduating seminary students, large membership churches, cabinet, and openings due to retirements. Moreover, we talked at length around diversity in our appointment making. It was a great spirit-led discussion. We did not make any projections, but committed our discussions to prayer. During December and January, pastor consultations took place and churches have submitted their reflections to their District Superintendents.
3. We now move into the projection phase of our process. The Cabinet will meet this week, February 15-17, where some projections will be made. Discussions will follow with pastors and Staff Parish Relations Committees. Our time of prayer focus will continue.
4. The Cabinet will meet again on March 13-17 to continue our time of discussion, prayer, projections, and more prayer. We will meet again April 5 and 6, seeking to finish the projection phase. No public announcements will take place around projected appointments until April 17th.
5. Keep in mind that all appointments are projections until we adjourn Annual Conference on June 7th. To be frank with you, we will be working the appointment process until Annual Conference.
Each year we deal with complex issues around pastoral appointments. Prayer, time, discussion, and more prayer is needed to do God's best work through us. I hope this will be helpful to you as we do this most important work. I will update you as we move forward.
Bishop David Graves