An overflow crowd gathered on the afternoon of Sunday, August 14, 2016, to say farewell to Bishop and Mrs. Paul Leeland. Clergy, spouses, lay leaders, conference staff and friends of the Leelands were welcomed by the staff and members of Montgomery FUMC. Dr. Paulette Thompson, chair of the AWF Episcopacy Committee, organized the event. Bishop Leeland was assigned as the episcopal leader to the Western North Carolina Conference at the Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference, which was held July 13-15, 2016, at Lake Junaluska, NC.
Dr. Thompson welcomed those in attendance and thanked the Leelands for their eight years of service to the Alabama-West Florida Conference. President Cam West of Huntingdon College offered several remarks and mentioned that the Leelands had been personal friends of theirs for forty years. He also emphasized Bishop Leeland's desire to strengthen ties between the denomination, conference and college. Dr. Robbins Sims, dean of the cabinet and district superintendent of the Montgomery-Opelika District, presented an honorarium on behalf of the extended cabinet to the Stegall Seminary Scholarship Endowment Foundation in the Leelands name. Dr. Philip McVay gave a special benediction at the event. McVay was the first district superintendent Bishop Leeland named to the cabinet under his tenure. He is now the senior pastor at Shalimar UMC.
Thompson presented several gifts to the Leeland including a basket of "Alabama goodies," an empty box for them to fill with cards and letters from our conference and a beautiful keepsake album which contained professional photos shot over the years by Luke Lucas, AWF Communications Specialist.
“It was an honor to attend today’s reception alongside ministry colleagues and friends who traveled from all ends of our conference," said Rev. Angie Long, pastor at Greenville FUMC. "The Leelands have dedicated themselves to us and we are forever grateful for their leadership and friendship. Personally, I have had the honor to participate in Bishop Leeland’s young clergy reading group, which has allowed me to see the conference through his eyes and grow in ministry and faith. We will greatly miss them but know they will bless the Western North Carolina Conference with their love and dedication.”
Bishop Leeland will begin his quadrennial appointment in the Western North Carolina Conference starting September 1, 2016. They will depart Montgomery later this week. The conference will celebrate and welcome Bishop David Graves and his wife, Nancy, at two receptions to be held on September 11 in Montgomery, AL
, and September 18 in Niceville, FL
. An installation service will also be held prior to the September 11 reception. More details are forthcoming.
To see photos from today's reception, click here