Alabama-West Florida Conference Announces Budget Reductions and Restructuring Plans

May 05, 2020
The Alabama-West Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church is undergoing budget reductions and staff restructuring to appropriately plan for financial implications as a result of COVID-19 and the upcoming session of the 2021 General Conference. Based upon recent trends and detailed predictions, the annual conference is seeking to decrease its overall operating budget by as much as 50% by January 1, 2021, in order to continue to be a sustainable and viable annual conference.
The following restructuring plan will be finalized and take effect on September 1, 2020:


  1. The elimination of fourteen staff positions in the conference and districts;
  2. Salary reductions for director-level positions and district superintendents;
  3. Restructuring of existing work in the conference and districts;
  4. Line item budget reductions in most ministry areas;
  5. Reduction of travel and in-person meetings, enabling technology to achieve conference and committee goals. 

“This is the most difficult part of ministry leadership,” said Bishop David Graves. “We value people and talent, but we must prioritize what is needed in the conference and districts to achieve our goals. While it is painful to eliminate gifted staff and reduce ministry resources, we simply cannot continue to operate in a day-to-day mentality; we must appropriately plan for the future of the conference. We celebrate faithful missional giving during this historic pandemic and acknowledge the many churches who have continued their commitment to the conference. This comprehensive plan will ultimately allow more funding to remain in the local churches.”
The details of each staff ministry area are as follows:
Episcopal Office and Office of Ministerial Services
-The role of administrative assistant to the bishop will be eliminated.
-The current administrative assistant to the office of ministerial services will serve both offices.
- The Episcopal office will further reduce expenses, which includes the elimination of all reimbursements to the bishop.
Office of Communications
-The role of communications specialist will be eliminated.
Office of Congregational Development
-The administrative assistant for this office will have reduced hours.
Office of Connectional Ministries
-The director of mission and advocacy position will be eliminated.
-The director of multicultural ministries position will be eliminated and this work will be guided by the current director of leadership strategies.
-The conference operations coordinator position will be part time.
-The two part-time receptionists positions will be eliminated.
The essential work of the positions being eliminated will be managed by current conference staff.
District Changes
-All district administrative assistant positions will be eliminated. There will be two regional offices. The southern region will include the Baypines, Marianna-Panama City, Mobile and Pensacola and districts. The northern region will include Demopolis, Dothan, Montgomery-Opelika and Montgomery-Prattville districts.
-A district administrator for the southern region has been hired. A district administrator will be hired for the northern region. A job description will be posted and applications will be received at a later date.
-Six physical district offices will be eliminated, and all district superintendents will work remotely. In order to maintain a presence in the southern region and northern region of the conference, the current Mobile district office will remain. The northern region office will be housed in Montgomery at the conference office.
-As previously announced, the current Montgomery-Opelika district superintendent will also serve the Montgomery-Prattville district, while other district superintendents will share supervision roles
-Seven districts superintendents will be reduced to four, serving eight districts, by July 1, 2021.
“As much as COVID-19 has challenged us in unexpected ways, we are seeing creative opportunities to do ministry with reduced resources,” Graves continued. “I am grateful for the thousands of ways our current staff has made the conference and district offices better places. Please join me in expressing your appreciation to those who will transition to other opportunities in the coming months, and pray that they will find meaningful and life-giving employment. I also invite you to pray for those who will remain on staff as they will be assuming many more tasks and responsibilities in addition to their day-to-day ministry work. As leaders of the annual conference, we believe that these hard decisions today will enable the work of the annual conference to continue after we have traveled through these difficult seasons.”
The revised budget, including reductions in most ministry areas, was approved by the AWF core team on Thursday, April 23, 2020. That proposed budget will then be before the AWF Conference council on finance and administration for review before a recommendation is made to the 2020 Annual Conference voting members.