A Word from Bishop Graves: 2021 Charge Conference Season

July 20, 2021

As we move into the second half of 2021, all of us continue to shift, pivot, and adapt our leadership to win people to Jesus and make disciples for the transformation of our corner of the world. A few constants remain like the Atlanta Braves bullpen continuing to disappoint, afternoon rain showers, and charge conference season.
Like all of last year, the 2021 charge conference season was very different. We learned a lot. We learned new ways of meeting and more efficient ways of conducting church business while honoring the outstanding work of the local church. As I shared in my clergy meetings on May 24 and June 5, as well as in my Episcopal Address at Annual Conference, the cabinet and I desire to focus all of our energy on celebrating ministry and discipleship. Let me update you on a few critical items.
Charge conference forms will be 100% online. The forms will be available no later than August 15 and will be due by October 4. An email with complete instructions for this system will be sent to each pastor in charge. This will allow six weeks for you and your church to collect the requested information and to also troubleshoot any technical questions you may have. Please note, all completed forms will be due by October 4, regardless of the date of your charge conference. Forms will not be accepted through mail.
Charge conferences will be held in a variety of formats as determined by your district superintendent. The vast majority of charge conferences will be done via zoom and clustered with other churches. Charge conferences will run October 14-November 30, and district superintendents will produce the charge conference schedules for their districts no later than September 15.  
During the month of August, I highly encourage you to spend intentional time working on your church leadership nominations. This is such an important disciplinary task that shapes the health of your church. Prayerfully consider how you can identify gifted members within your church, paying careful attention to diversity of race, gender, age and special abilities and gifts. This work should be finalized by the middle of September to meet the October 4 deadline.   
I believe that Zoom and other online platforms are helpful tools at times, especially for church leadership meetings that take less than two hours.  At other times, in-person gatherings are essential to accomplish our shared work.  Either way, as we remain aware of the threat of Covid as well as honor the gift of people’s time, I am certain that online meetings are here to stay. 
I am grateful for your willingness to adapt to this new way of doing charge conferences. We received wonderful feedback from last year, including limiting the number of forms. We want to fulfill our charge conference responsibilities while seeking to honor your time and effort, while also celebrating ministry as the primary purpose for our gathering together.

In Christ,
Bishop David Graves
Resident Bishop
Alabama-West Florida Conference