Morning Worship: Each day of annual conference will begin with morning worship. Dr. Kitsy Dixon preached a challenging sermon titled, "I Remember When Christ Saw Me" based on 1 Corinthians 13:8-12. She noted several times so that all in attendance understood, "To move forward in what God has called us to do in his Kingdom we must reflect on where was I when God saw me, delivered me and set my feet on the solid foundation of the ground." Rev. Scott Hohn offered the Call to Worship. Music from this morning's service was provided by Dr. Darrin Isaac, director of music at Pt. Washington UMC. He led a beautiful anthem called, "Known." In keeping with tradition, Bishop Graves recognized Dr. Dixon and gave thanks for her words from this morning and her ministry. Her mother, Linda Dixon, was in attendance from Mississippi and was recognized by the bishop and greeted by conference members.
Business Session: After joining our voices together in the traditional singing of, "And Are We Yet Alive?" Dr. Jeff Wilson, district superintendent of the Dothan and Montgomery-Opelika Districts, welcomed everyone on behalf of the host district. Dr. Quinton Ross, president of Alabama State University, brought joyful and heartfelt greetings on behalf of our host location. Rev. Ashley Davis, AWF conference secretary and director of connectional ministries, led the conference in approving the bar, secretarial staff, journal, agenda and consent agenda. The standing rules and petitions and resolutions were presented and will lie on the table overnight. Resolutions three and four were withdrawn from the authors and will not be addressed tomorrow. Resolution number two was also withdrawn by the authors and will not be addressed tomorrow. Resolution five was previously withdrawn. Rev. Davis gave her report of the nominations. Additional names were brought to the floor. by Dr. Lester Spencer of St. James UMC. After several motions and speeches for and against, Bishop Graves determined that further discussions would continue on Tuesday. We welcomed Scott Casey from Vistacom/VPoll. Casey is coordinating the electronic voting via mobile phones.
Be a Sower Grant: A highlight of this year's conference will be the "Be A Sower Grant" testimonies from local churches from within the conference. In May of 2021, Bishop Graves called all clergy together to a family meeting. As part of his address, he offered every church with a representative present a check for $231 to either fund an existing or new ministry. We will hear updates from five churches over the course of the conference about how they used this seed money. This morning Rev. Meghan Kelly and Rev. Wes Kelly presented on behalf of Clanton FUMC explaining how their seed grant was used to develop a preschool program for the community with a special video from four-year-old Stella who has a heart for Jesus and spreading God's love. Rev. Gordon Carnes presented in the afternoon session on behalf of Oak Grove UMC. He told the conference about how his church used the grant money to buy a karaoke machine to preach outside to a biker community where they play music, have a sermon and feed the attendees.
Service of Remembrance and Holy Communion: Thirty-eight clergy and clergy spouses who passed since the 2021 AWF Annual Conference session were remembered today during the Service of Remembrance and Holy Communion. Bishop David Graves offered the opening prayer and Rev. Allison Posell delivered the inspiring and uplifting sermon entitled, "Present Before." It was based on Genesis 1:1-3; Romans 8:38 & 39. Posell said, "We have confidence knowing that God, who began the good work with each of them, will carry it to completion, through us, until the day of Christ Jesus." She continued, "Grief can hang on with great tenacity and can prevent us from pursuing or experiencing trust and warmth in relationships while surrounded by reminders." Each individual name was read aloud by Dr. Mike Pearson & Rev. Jean Tippit, AWF district superintendents. Dr. Debora Bishop and Dr. Jeff Wilson, also district superintendents, lighted a candle for each person we remembered today. Communion was served during the special service. Jarvis Wilson and Dr. Darrin Isaac led the congregation in special music during the service. Kate Berry and Sadie Sease from FUMC Montgomery prepared our hearts for worship with a beautiful rendition of "For Good." They were accompanied by Dr. Josh Coble. The AWF Commission on Archives and History hosted surviving family members at a special luncheon at the conclusion of the service. To see photos from this service, click here.
Laity Report: Beverly Maddox presented the laity report and highlighted the work of the laity in the conference and brought greetings from the board of laity. As part of her report videos were shown about the changes the United Methodist Women (now United Women in Faith) and United Methodist Men (offering a resource called United Men's Ministry) have undergone in the past year. Beverly is stepping down from the conference lay leader position after conference and said, "Folks, we have shared a lot of moments." She focused on God's response to an event. We are grateful to her for her years of service and dedication.
Lamentation of Harm to Boy Scouts: Rev. June Jernigan, Suzanne Krejcar, Allen Dunham (AWF UMM president), Vaughn Nichols (director of scouting) and Beverly Maddox presented on behalf of their committee. They presented a brief history of scouting before Suzanne presented that the Alabama-West Florida Conference will contribute $390,180 towards the $30 million settlement. Beverly Maddox offered a prayer before the conclusion of this presentation.
Lamentation of the History of Racism in our conference: Rev. Jackie Slaughter talked about the work of the dismantling racism committee in our conference. Together the body sang a spirited version of, "Lord, I Want to Be a Christian." Rev. Katrina Paxson of Beulah UMC led a responsive call to worship. Cathy Givan, Montgomery-Prattville lay leader, presented the detailed and informative racial history in the conference. Kristi McClellan reported on the history and goals of the AWF Coalition for Disrupting and Dismantling Racism. Click here to read. Rev. Alan Gantzhorn of Eufaula FUMC presented the closing liturgy. Rev. Jack Hinnen of Gadsden Street UMC concluded the service with a prayer.
Board of Ordained Ministry Report: Dr. Jim Sanders spoke to the conference on behalf of the board of ordained ministry. He introduced those on the board and in the office of ministerial services. Sanders also walked through the six characteristics of future leaders and reviewed the board's mission.
Local Pastors: Those local pastors receiving their license for the first time were introduced and recognized by Rev. Dunford Cole of Campground and Rutledge UMCs and greeted by Bishop Graves and Rev. Ashley Davis during today's afternoon business session. Bishop Graves spoke several words of gratitude to this group. He said, "Without our licensed local pastors we wouldn't be able to supply about 30% of our churches in the Alabama-West Florida Conference."
Commissioning & Ordination Recognition: Those approved for commissioning and ordination as deacons and elders were introduced by Rev. Kathy Jorgensen and Dr. Brian Miller of Aldersgate UMC. A brief word about each of the honorees was given. This group was confirmed by their clergy peers at the May virtual clergy executive session. Bishop Graves asked Wesley's historical questions to those being ordained and the voting body approved the group.
Extension Ministers: Rev. Amy Persons of Pt. Washington UMC gave a brief introduction to members of our annual conference who are in extension ministry (appointments outside the local church). Each in attendance introduced themselves and briefly told of their appointments. This time is always a highlight of the conference as we are able to see the many areas our clergy reach beyond the bounds of the conference.
Retiring Clergy Recognized: Twenty-three clergy were recognized upon their retirement by Rev. Persons during today's order of the day. Together, these twenty-three clergy have 653.5 years of service in our conference! The retirees are:
Travis Barnes, III
Audna Lee Bateman
Presley “Butch” Cousins
Lynn Smilie Nesbitt
Click here to read more about the retiring class. Those in attendance from the retiring classes of 2020 and 2021 were also recognized due to COVID Zoom conferences.
Local Church Disaffiliations: Four local churches were brought before the voting body for disaffiliation from the United Methodist Church. Dr. Olivia Poole of St. Luke UMC, Enterprise, began this report. A request for a Bishop's decision was requested by Ralph Peterson, lay delegate of Gulf Breeze UMC. This request suspended this work until tomorrow.
Celebrate UMC Event: Huntingdon College hosted a capacity crowd in Ligon Chapel for the Celebrate UMC event. The event was a joyful reminder that the United Methodist Church is at work in powerful ways throughout the world. Rev. Tom Berlin, lead clergy delegate from the Virginia Conference, was the guest speaker. His use of warped boards clamped to true boards was an impactful illustration that Jesus is “true, right and dependable,” and that the UMC remains a dynamic agent of sanctification in bringing disciples into alignment with Jesus Christ. Several clergy gave powerful testimonies about being in the UMC. A video greeting was given by Bishop Graves. A recording of the event will be available at a later date. Our sincere appreciation is extended to President West and the staff of Huntingdon College for welcoming many to their campus.
Service of Commissioning & Ordination: The Service of Commissioning and Ordination was held this evening in the sanctuary of First United Methodist Church in Montgomery. The congregation represented family members and special friends of those being commissioned and ordained. Prior to the start of the service, the cathedral choir of Montgomery FUMC presented worshipful music led by Dr. James Seay and accompanied by Dr. Josh Coble. The service included the commissioning of three provisional elders and the ordination of one deacon in full connection and four elders in full connection. Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett, resident bishop of the Holston and North Alabama Conferences, preached a sermon entitled, “The Right Season to Make Disciples," based on Matthew 28:16-20.
She complimented the conference theme and spoke of various weather seasons, sporting seasons and liturgical seasons and challenged the ordinands and commissionees by saying, "Every day we are called to bring our best game as followers as Christ." She continued by saying, "We understand we are in a season, it's a hard season in so many ways. These being commissioned and ordained on this evening are not faint of heart by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, I want to say to you that you are signs of hope.....you are evidence of one of the greatest truths of Christian living." She profoundly noted that it is always the right time to make disciples. A special offering was collected for the Ministerial Education Fund. To see photos from tonight's service, click here.
Robert “Tripp” Gulledge
Deacons in Full Connection:
Elders in Full Connection:
AWF Missional Offering: To celebrate this year's theme of, “In this Season” from Ecclesiastes 3:1, each day had a specific focus and missional giving recipient. Today's focus is, "In this season of reflection." The offering will go towards restoration in the Boy Scouts of America settlement and the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) in our conference: Tuskegee University Wesley Foundation and Alabama State University Wesley Foundation.
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View photos from the 2022 Annual Conference session (added daily, all photos by Luke Lucas).
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Opening Worship, Sunday June, 12, 2022
Monday, June 13, 2002
Service of Commissioning and Ordination (it is listed on the right side under related videos)
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