Morning Worship: An addition to the agenda this year is to begin each day with morning worship. Bishop David Graves made this addition so that the conference session would start with a sense of Holy time and carry that worship-filled spirit throughout the day. Robert McMichael and Jarvis Wilson, guest musicians, prepared our hearts for worship with favorite hymns. Rev. John Brooks, Montgomery-Prattville District Superintendent, preached his sermon based on Luke 6:43-45. Rev. Gillian Walters of Montgomery FUMC offered a responsive reading and a moment of reflection and challenge. A special time of prayer at the altar in Wesley Hall was offered before the business of the day began. Bishop Graves affirmed Rev. Brooks' ministry as did the members of the annual conference with a standing ovation.
Service of Remembrance and Holy Communion: Thirty clergy and clergy spouses who passed since the 2016 AWF Annual Conference session were remembered today during the Service of Remembrance and Holy Communion. Bishop David Graves offered the opening prayer and Rev. Ralph Sigler, Founder and Leader Pastor of Harvest Church UMC, delivered the inspiring and uplifting sermon entitled, "Things Above" based on Colossians 3:1-4 and Ephesians 3:20-21. He mentioned that, "We need to honor them, they don't need us to honor them." Sigler explained that we often look to others for validation but Jesus is the One to affirm us. He felt that if our loved ones could talk back to us after their death they would say, "I'm fine. Don't worry about me." Sigler continued with, "I don't believe that anyone who has gotten to Heaven would want to come back." He disputed the common opinion that Heaven is a boring place. A capacity crowd remembered those who gave many years of service to the conference. Each individual name was read aloud by Rev. Olivia Poole of Mt. Zion UMC. A candle was lit for each person we remembered today. Robert McMichael and Jarvis Wilson provided comforting music through their rendition of, "His Eye is on the Sparrow." Jerrod Dorminey, Worship Leader at Frazer UMC, shared remembrance music as communion was served. Surviving family members were hosted at a special luncheon by the AWF Commission on Archives and History. To see photos from this service, click here.
Business Session: After joining our voices together in unison in a worship medley and the traditional singing of, "And Are We Yet Alive?" Dr. Darren McClellan, Baypines District Superintendent, and his wife, Kristi, welcomed everyone on behalf of the host district. Each business session throughout the conference will start with a video story of a district glory sighting. These video messages depict the fruitful ministries making a direct impact on communities in our conference, with many of them being small membership churches. Click here to watch the Baypines District video, featuring Marlow UMC, here to watch the Demopolis District video, featuring the Pine Hill Charge and the Dothan District video featuring Cottonwood UMC. Dr. David Saliba, AWF Conference Secretary of Peridido Bay UMC, led the conference in approving the bar, secretarial staff, journal, agenda and consent agenda. Rev. Joe Bullington with EO Tours was offered a point of personal privilege to invite members to join Bishop David Graves on a trip to the Holy Land in January of 2018. Click here to see a promotional video. As part of the afternoon business session, Dr. David Saliba presented his nominations report, which was approved by the members. Bishop Graves took several moments to introduce the conference chancellor, Alan Livingston, and the new associate chancellor, Bob Northcutt. At the conclusion of this afternoon's session, it was announced that $43,987 has been collected thus far for the 2017 AC Missional Offering, benefitting the local mission agencies. You may still donate by seeing Frank Dunnewind or texting to give.
Laity Report: Beverly Maddox, AWF Conference Lay Leader, updated the conference in regards to the work of the laity and emphasized the partnership of clergy and laity. She called on Debbie Bell, AWF UMW Chair; Frank Moore, AWF UMM Chair; and David Bowen, AWF Director of Lay Servant Ministries. They updated those in attendance about their respective areas of work. As a fun moment to conclude the report, Maddox challenged four laity vs one clergy to nail a board to demonstrate the laity supporting clergy. In an unexpected turn the sole clergy person, Dr. Tim Trent, won the challenge!
Committee on Episcopacy: Alexis Tibbetts of Shalimar UMC, chair of the Episcopacy Committee, presented her report and welcomed Bishop and Mrs. David Graves to their first Alabama-West Florida Annual Conference session. She invited Mrs. Graves to the stage and presented a gift and flowers to her. The conference expressed their thanks to them at the conclusion of the report.
The Commission on the Way Forward: A video was shown to the members, which will be shown to all annual conferences, providing an update to the work of this group. Bishop Graves reminded those in attendance of the dates of the special called session, which will be held February 23-26, 2019, in St. Louis, MO. He encouraged everyone to stay focused on Jesus and see the unseen–that we can make a tremendous difference in our corner of the world.
Church and Society: Pat Luna of Pt. Washington UMC presented an update from the AWF Committee on Church and Society. Last year a resolution related to the bullying of LGBTQ persons was referred to a committee. As a result, Courageous Conversations, a three-session participatory event, was born out of this committee. Dr. Scott Hughes has been the facilitator from the General Board of Discipleship and is the author of "Courageous Conversations." A free download of this book may be found here. The goal of these conversations was to create dialogue to truly to listen and learn from one another. Luna feels that as a result of these conversations we have built unity and trust.
Commissioning & Ordination Recognition: Those approved for commissioning and ordination as deacons and elders were introduced by Rev. Allison Posell and Dr. Brian Miller, of Aldersgate UMC in Montgomery, AL. A brief word about each of the honorees was given. This group was confirmed by their clergy peers at last evening's clergy executive session. Bishop Graves recognized Dr. Karl Stegall and his work for the Stegall Seminary Scholarship Endowment Foundation, which assists seminary students with their financial debt. He was honored with a standing ovation. Those serving on this board were also honored for their service. Bishop Graves mentioned how this first class of ordinands will always be special to him.
Local Pastors: Those local pastors receiving their license for the first time were introduced and recognized by Rev. Susan Beeson of Cain's Chapel UMC and greeted by Bishop Graves during today's afternoon business session. Three persons who have completed Course of Study and Advanced Course of Study were also recognized in this afternoon's session.
Extension Ministers: Members of our annual conference that are in extension ministry (appointments outside the local church) introduced themselves and briefly told of their appointments. Bishop Graves offered a prayer for those serving around the world on our behalf.
Retiring Clergy Recognized: Twenty-one clergy were recognized upon their retirement by Rev. Kathy Knight during today's order of the day. Together, the following clergy have 617 years of service in our conference. Bishop Graves gave a heartfelt prayer honoring this group in a new season of life. Rev. Libba Stinson spoke on behalf of the retiring class. Back by popular demand was the "passing of the torch." Stinson presented a stole to Rev. Woods Lisenby, who was ordained as an elder in full connection this evening, signifying new leadership in the conference. The retirees are:
Susan Lee Beeson
Gerald (“Jerry”) Caryl- Gordon
Harold Caserta Jr.
Philip Duncan Craddock
Edward J. Dealer
Charles H. ("Chip") Hale
Ruth M. Knights
Jody Hanna Kranz
Freddie L. McCain
David E. McVay
David A. Murray
Randal Mack Woodham
"Lift High the Cross" was sung in unison celebrating this dedicated group. A reception was held Monday afternoon in honor of the retiring clergy.
Service of Commissioning & Ordination: The Service of Commissioning and Ordination was held this evening in the sanctuary of First United Methodist Church in Montgomery. The congregation represented family members and special friends of those being commissioned and ordained. Prior to the start of the service, the cathedral choir of Montgomery FUMC presented worshipful music led by Dr. James Seay. The service included the commissioning of one provisional deacon and five provisional elders and the ordination of two deacons in full connection and six elders in full connection. Bishop David Graves preached a sermon entitled, “Be All That God Called You to Be," based on Matthew 28: 18-20. He asked those being commissioned and ordained to remember where they came from and challenged them to be all God called them to be by doing several things. He explained to first, stay in love with Jesus–ministry is best accomplished when you do it as a team and said, "Surround yourself with people who are better than you." Next, learn to be a great communicator and listening is crucial to that. Discipline yourself so that no one else has to do so. Don't just work hard when you need to, work smart. Graves stated, "Success is having the right person in the right place at the right time. When you need help, ask for it." Change is a must. Finally, handle success like you handle failure citing you can't control what happens but you can control how you handle it. A special offering was collected for the Ministerial Education Fund. To see photos from tonight's service, click here.
James Waltrip Bradford, II
Rhett Sims Butler
Bradley Davis Chamblee
Tara Camille Chamblee
James Thomas Irby
Elizabeth Fulmer Sullivan
Deacons in Full Connection:
Julie Robertson Hare
Amande Kelly Messer
Elders in Full Connection:
Clifton Jason Borders
Brandon Lee Bures
Woods Bradshaw Lisenby
Alice Danielle May
Evan Hunter Pugh
Quadrennial Pictorial Directory: This year we will host Color Craft to produce our quadrennial pictorial directories. They will be photographing clergy and conference leadership today and tomorrow in rooms 3013/3015. Click here for times. All clergy, conference staff, district administrative assistants and district lay leaders should have their photo taken. The Episcopal office highly recommends all clergy have their photo taken. These photos will also be used on our clergy finder section of the conference Website.
Biometric Health Screenings: Tomorrow is the last day to take advantage of the Biometric Health Screenings in the Cokesbury Room at Frazer Memorial UMC. The hours are 8:00am-2:00pm. This is offered as a part of our health and wellness initiative designed to help you maintain good health. For more information, click here.
UMCOR Relief Kits: Bring your UMCOR relief kits and supplies to the truck in the parking lot during annual conference. All assembled and unassembled kits and supplies are welcome. The truck will be open to receive the kits and supplies during these hours:
View photos from the 2017 Annual Conference session (added daily, all photos by Luke Lucas).
Watch selections of the 2017 Annual Conference LIVE from your home or office.
Remaining Streaming Schedule
All sessions available at www.frazerumc.org/live and times are CDT.
Tuesday, June 6
-Morning Worship and Communion, 8:30am
-Conference Business Session, 9:30am
-Teaching Sessions with Claire Bowen and Dr. Victor Dingus (following morning business session)
-Conference Business Session, 1:30pm
Wednesday, June 7
-Morning Worship and Communion, 8:30am
-Conference Business Session, 9:30am
-Sending Forth Service, 11:00am
Get a Copy: CD and DVD copies of many portions of annual conference are available for purchase. Click here for the order form.
Follow the action of the conference live. New this year is a custom Snapchat Geofilter! It will be available throughout conference. Find the photos and share with us on various social media platforms. Don't forget to tag it with #awfac17.
Hashtags: Use #awfac17 to join the Twitter conversation and to tag your Instagram photos.
Stay connected throughout Annual Conference at http://www.awfumc.org/ac2017.
Navigate the conference Website easier by downloading the free AWF app! Scan the above QR code to download. Available for iPhones, iPads and Droid mobile devices.