Clergy, laity and friends of the Alabama-West Florida Conference gathered this evening, Sunday, September 18, 2016, at Crosspoint UMC in Niceville, FL, to welcome Bishop and Mrs. Nancy Graves to the area. A service to welcome the Graves was held in the sanctuary and hosted a capacity crowd from around the conference. Many who attended were from along the I-10 corridor in the conference. The Graves’ daughter, Casey, and grandson, Brooks, were special guests in attendance from Kingsport, TN.
Rev. Rurel Ausley, lead pastor at Crosspoint UMC, welcomed those gathered before the worship team, consisting of song leaders, a full choir and a multi-piece orchestra and band, played “This is Amazing Grace,” “It is Well With My Soul” and “Glorious Day.”
Dr. Tim Trent, Pensacola District Superintendent, and Dr. Paulette Thompson, Chair of the AWF Episcopacy Committee, also brought words of welcome. Dr. Thompson emphasized how sacrificial the role of Bishop is in our denomination and the personal dedication it takes to live out this calling.
Bishop David Graves delivered the sermon entitled, “For Such a Time as This” based on 2 Timothy 4: 1-8. He reflected back on his ministry up to this point and spoke of those who were instrumental in his Kingdom work. He reminded those that despite the daily trials and struggles, we must stay focused on ministry and winning people to Christ.
A celebratory reception was held in the Crosspoint UMC Community Life Center. The staff culinary team prepared outstanding hors d’oeuvres for the guests. Crosspoint UMC is known for their radical hospitality and exemplified this by having welcoming team members around the campus to guide guests throughout the afternoon.
This gathering was the second service and reception to welcome the Graves to the conference. Last Sunday, A Service Celebrating the Episcopal Assignment of Bishop Graves to the Alabama-West Florida Conference was held at Montgomery FUMC
. Click here to see photos from the event