June 5, 2018
Morning Worship: Day three of annual conference began with morning worship and Holy Communion. Jerrod Dorminey and the Frazer Praise Band provided moving music for this service. Rev. Chris Kelsey, a deacon at Auburn UMC, gave the Call to Worship and prepared the table for communion. Rev. Sheila Bates of Dauphin Way UMC presented the dynamic scripture reading, Luke 13:10-17, and offered the challenging sermon message entitled, "The Tipping Point." Rev. Rudy Olivo of Lynn Haven UMC presided over communion. Bishop Graves gave the sending forth and commented that, "folks, we just had church!" Bates was given a standing ovation at the conclusion of her message.
Morning Space for Grace Session: The morning business session was opened with a video highlighting 30 years of Episcopal leadership in the Alabama-West Florida Conference. Click here to see video (thank you to Dr. Wesley Wachob and Jeb Hunt of Pensacola FUMC for their assistance with this video). Bishop David Graves and Julia Kuhn Wallace led clergy and lay members through a session called, "Space for Grace" where an opportunity was provided for members to discuss the three plans that will be presented to General Conference 2019. Bishop Graves informed those in attendance about where the Commission on A Way Forward and the Council of Bishops were on the recommended plans to the special-called General Conference 2019 session. Since the full plans will not be released until July 8th, he walked through highlights in a prepared video. Click here to see video.
Trained facilitators, many from Courageous Conversations, shepherded small groups in two sessions. Each group had the opportunity to discuss two of the three models using the questions:
1. As you consider this pathway forward, what can you affirm or support? What draws you to this idea?
2. As you discuss this model, what concerns or questions do you have?
3. Does this model advance the public mission of the church to make disciples for Jesus Christ? (What might it accomplish?)
Wallace is a full-time church consultant and the former Director of Small Membership Church and Shared Ministries at Discipleship Ministries and the author of "The Church Guide for Making Decisions Together." This book, along with "The Anatomy of Peace" by the Arbinger Institute, was assigned reading for all members by Bishop Graves. Wallace then led clergy and lay members, who were asked to sit together by district, in small group time. Bishop Graves introduced the ten clergy and lay delegates to General Conference 2019. The time concluded with a prayer for the delegates and the singing of, "It Is Well With My Soul."
Spouse's Lunch: Casey Graves Johnson, daughter of Bishop and Mrs. Graves, was the guest speaker at the spouse's lunch held at Montgomery FUMC. Her talk was entitled, "God's wise ways" based on Romans 11:33-36. The lunch was decorated with a lemon theme and she tied her message to that theme by saying, "Trust God that nothing exceeds God’s sovereignty–when life gives us lemons, God makes lemonade." As a pastor's kid, itinerant moving pushed her out of her comfort zone and in hindsight she can see the goodness of God in tough times. In 2012, her father, Bishop David Graves, was not elected to the episcopacy and was then appointed to the Kingsport District. Casey's mother, Nancy Graves, ended up working in a school system where her boss was Casey's to-be mother in law. After proclaiming she would never move to Kingsport, she's now lived there five years! We extend our sincere appreciation to Montgomery FUMC for hosting this lunch.
Business Sessions: The afternoon business session was opened with a video from Birmingham-Southern College. At the conclusion of the video, President Linda Flaherty-Goldsmith offered a prayer to start the session. Huntingdon College also presented a video and President Cam West gave a prayer. Various reports were given throughout the afternoon from the Standing Rules Committee, Resolutions and Petitions, Connectional Ministries, and Academy for Congregational Excellence, to name a few. Details on some of these reports are below. The 2018 Missional Offering for Communities of Transformation has received $54,329.00 thus far. $1,793 was collected for the Ministerial Education Fund at last night's Service of Commissioning & Ordination. Thank you for your generosity!
Proposed Constitutional Amendment: At last year's annual conference, the voting members voted on five amendments from General Conference 2016. After amendment one was not passed, it was discovered that the language was inaccurate and a revote was required. Click here to read the corrected proposed amendment. The amendments could be discussed but could not be amended. There were two speeches in favor and no speeches against before voting took place. The collective results will be announced at a later date.
Resolutions: Several resolutions were presented to the annual conference voting body at today's session. A Resolution Calling for the Renaming of the Third Monday in January by the State of Alabama was approved. A Resolution Concerning the Equality of Women was approved. Many in the conference signed this petition and stood with Rev. Meghan Kelley and Rev. Olivia Poole, authors of the resolution. A Resolution Concerning Predatory Lending in Alabama was approved. A Resolution Supporting Youth Involved in Youth Led Movements was approved. No amendments were made, therefore, the resolutions stand. All four approved resolutions may be found here.
US Disaster Response Award: Rev. Yollande Yambo, African Regional Representative from the General Board of Global Ministries, presented the Alabama-West Florida Conference with the US Disaster Response Award. The conference received this award for our work through the advance helping areas in the world that have suffered after natural disasters.
Local Church Heritage Award: Milton FUMC is the recipient of this award. The award is presented by the AWF Historical Society for churches who perform outstanding work in preserving and celebrating their history. This year the churched commemorated 150 years and has a wonderful presence in Santa Rosa County, FL.
One Matters Award: Red Hill UMC and Guy’s Chapel UMC are the co-winners of this award given by the AWF Town and Country Commission. Rev. Lance Eiland of Church Street UMC presented this award and showed a video explaining why just one person or one church can make a significant impact on our denomination. The churches will also receive a $1,000 award to assist in their discipleship efforts.
Francis Asbury Award: Rev. Lisa Pierce received the Francis Asbury Award today, presented by Rev. Scott Hohn of Eufaula FUMC. Rev. Pierce serves as the director of Alabama Rural Ministry, based in east Alabama.
Denman Evangelism Award: There were two winners of the Harry Denman Evangelism Award. The clergy winner is Dr. Matt Mobley of Mulder Memorial UMC. The Lay recipient is Merrily York, a staff member of Gulf Breeze UMC, and clergy spouse to Rev. Shawn York.
Alice Lee Award: This award goes to someone who was inspired by Alice's service and has chosen a path of service of their own. This year's recipient is Dr. Shirley Woodie of Ozark FUMC.
Scouting Awards: The Scouting Cross and Flame Award was given to Roger Mixson and Charles Phillips. These two men have been an integral part of Troop 123 at Headland UMC, which was chartered in 1991. Headland UMC is the recipient of the Bishop's Scouting Award.
Susanna Wesley Award: Frank Moore, AWF UMM President, presented the fourth annual Susanna Wesley Award for Excellence. The recipient of this annual award is Dr. Shirley Woodie of Ozark FUMC. She brought the house to their feet by saying, "If I had known you would have been so nice to me I would have gotten old a lot earlier!!!"
UMC Federal Credit Union Scholarship: Atkins Webb of Marion UMC was presented a $1,000 scholarship on behalf of the United Methodist Federal Credit Union. Jonathan Curtis presented the award from the credit union.
Connectional Ministries: Celeste Eubanks, AWF Director of Leadership Strategies, delivered the Connectional Ministries report. She updated the conference on the various ministries making an impact in Alabama and West Florida including Courageous Conversations, Tanzania missional work, A Place at the Table, Youth Cohort, Hispanic/Latino Ministries, grant writing By Kristi McClellan for the mission agencies, Communities of Transformation, and QuadW.
Hispanic Translation Services: For the second year at conference translating devices were available for Hispanic clergy and lay during business sessions. Cinthia Denisse Leon Garcia provided translation services allowing our Spanish-speaking brothers and sisters to be more engaged at conference. Listening devices were also provided for those who are hearing impaired.
Laity Banquet: Under the leadership of Beverly Maddox, the laity celebrated their work at the annual banquet. A highlight of the evening was the entertainment by The Abide Worship Band of Cokesbury UMC in Pensacola, FL. Frank Moore, outgoing president of the United Methodist Men, was inducted into the Society of John Wesley. The Mary Ellen Bullard Leadership Address was given by Mrs. Nancy Graves, wife of Bishop David Graves. She talked about her call in life to be a pastor's wife. Living a life of challenges and changes, she can look back and see God's perfect plan. While Bishop Graves was in seminary in Atlanta, there were hard years raising small children that challenged her faith. She credited a Walk to Emmaus for instilling in her the need for a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, not just being a Christian.
UMCOR Relief Kits: Tomorrow is the last day to bring your UMCOR relief kits and supplies to the truck in the parking lot. All assembled and unassembled kits and supplies are welcome. The truck will be open to receive the kits and supplies Wednesday from 7:30am-11:00am.
View photos from the 2018 Annual Conference session (added daily, all photos by Luke Lucas).
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Remaining Streaming Schedule
All sessions available at www.frazerumc.org/live and all times are CDT.
Wednesday, June 7
-Morning Worship and Communion, 8:30am
-Conference Business Session, 9:30am
-Sending Forth Service, 11:00am
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