Full Recap coming this Thursday! Stay tuned to www.awfumc.org/ac2022 for an an overview of the conference. You may use any content from this review in your local churches.
Morning Worship: The final day of annual conference began with morning worship. Rev. Elizabeth Hinton of Piney Grove and Taylor UMCs lead the spirited Call to Worship. Rev. Jeffery Postell preached a powerful sermon entitled, "Get Out the Boat," based on Matthew 14:22-33. He warmed up the crowd lamenting his nervousness saying, "They asked a black preacher to preach for only 15 minutes." He said, "God will meet your in the midst of the storm." Postell continued by saying, "We must be courageous to audaciously face the unknown and get out of the boat." Rev. Rhett Butler and Laura Aspden from Huntingdon College and Rev. Darrin Isaac from Pt. Washington UMC provided moving music for the service. Bishop David Graves introduced Rev. Postell's mother who was in attendance. He gave appreciation to all of this morning's participants. He told Rev. Postell, "You brought the word of God today. There is great hope in the future of the church." The morning liturgies, as well as the altar, were crafted around the daily themes. Dr. Sam Parkes' creative gifts were on display as the responses and prayers were delivered. Rev. Dana Brady and Rev. Jake Brady gave great effort to ensuring the altar represented our daily worship focus.
Be a Sower Grant: We heard one final report from Rev. Ronnie Bearden of Crestview FUMC. Their ministry began three years ago when they produced video devotional messages based around their stained-glass windows at the church. Thus far, they have posted 22 videos. When FUMC Crestview received their seed money, the began a coffee mug ministry by using the photos of the windows and printing them on coffee cups. They sold them with the understanding that 100% of the profits would go to support their missionary, Pastor Kris and his congregation, in Poland. To date, they have raised an estimated $3,000. He presented the bishop with a "Jesus the Good Shepherd" coffee mug.
Equitable Compensation: Rev. Michael W. Cobb of Moundville, Stewart and China Grove UMCs presented the equitable compensation report. The conference approved the minimum salary at $40,500 for all full-time clergy for 2023, a $1,500 or 3.8% increase from 2022.
The conference established a $7,255,663 million budget for mission and ministry for 2023. The 2023 budget is .55% lower ($40,000) than the previous years. In 2021, 369 churches paid 100% of their apportionments and receipts were 5.69% higher than 2020. Thank you for your faithful giving! The General Conference postponement has caused a delay in the budget and the jurisdictional budget remains unchanged. Annual conference funds decreased by .94%. The recommended district superintendent salary for 2023 is $127,000. The unqualified report will appear in the 2022 journal. This report was approved by the voting body and presented by George Mingledorff, CFA chair and lay person from Aldersgate UMC.
Ms. Suzanne Krejcar, AWF Treasurer, reported that membership stands at 117,611. Professions of faith are up 20%. There are 166 professions of faith apart from confirmation. In-person attendance at worship was 35,188 while online attendance grew, as expected, to 43,824. is approximately 44% of professing membership.
The Great 50 Days: Dr. Nathan Attwood of Marianna FUMC, Dr Jay Cooper of FUMC Montgomery and Dr. Geoffrey Lentz of Port St. Joe FUMC presented on behalf of the Great 50 Days. Dr. Attwood said, "Easter is not just a day, we are Easter people!" Their desire to lead this challenge was based on personal experiences in the Eastertide season. Fifty churches accepted the challenge between Easter and Pentecost. Their initial kickoff was hosted at Blue Lake where they could discern how to reach new people. Attwood said, "It's only doable if God intervenes in a miraculous way." The desire was to reframe the conversation around who they are for vs. against. Dr. Cooper reported that 29 churches made 791 new disciples of Jesus Christ. Six of those churches received 50 or more. Under the leadership of Rev. Amy Persons, Pt. Washington UMC welcomed 33 new members. Rev. Christina Shaver welcomed 30 new members at St. Paul UMC and the numbers go on. Cooper continued, "The strength of our connection and our commitment to the great commission is stronger than ever," He told of Rev. Mike von Keyserling and the people at Sneads UMC. Rev. von Keyserling noted, "We didn't hit 50 but we brought in eight new members, which is four times more than the entire year prior with six months to go." Worship attendance, Sunday School attendance and Wednesday night fellowship increased by 50%. At one point Sneads UMC was reaching 2,000 people on Facebook with only 1,800 people in town! Dr. Lentz invited all in attendance to participate in the 2023 50 Day Challenge and those interested will gather in February of 2023 at Blue Lake Camp. To learn more click here.
New Conference Lay Leader: Bishop Graves gave thanks to Beverly Maddox, current lay leader, and welcomed and introduced Gene Floore of Destin UMC as the new lay leader. Floore emphasize the necessity of lay work in this conference.
Special Recognitions: Bishop Graves recognized Dr. Wesley Wachob of Pensacola FUMC for his years of service as parliamentarian and for coordinating courtesies and appreciations over the years. Wachob was honored at Monday's retirement ceremony. In typical Wesley fashion he lamented the "stupid speeches" he heard at this conference and proclaimed he was getting rid of anything yellow in his house! He concluded by saying, "I really do love you, you will always be in my heart and in my prayers." Bishop Graves also recognized the staff of Alabama State University for their extraordinary hospitality. Bishop Graves and Rev. Ashley Davis collectively gave thanks to the following people for making the conference a success:
-Lay leader, Beverly Maddox
-Bishop Debra Wallace Padgett for her presence and support
-Rev. Ashley Davis, our conference secretary
-Bob Northcutt, conference chancellor and George Parker, associate chancellor -Rev. June Jernigan, retiring assistant to the bishop
-Dr. Jeff Wilson and the Montgomery-Opelika District for the fellowship dinner
-Dr. Jay Cooper of Montgomery FUMC for hosting the commissioning and ordination service
-The lead Alabama State University team
-The worship team
-Aldersgate UMC and Woodland UMC for worship supplies
-Our musicians: Jarvis Wilson and Rev. Darrin Isaac
-Assistant secretaries: Rev. Ralph Wooten of Hebron, Jackson and Wesley Chapel UMCs, Rev. Ashley Wilkinson Meyer of United Ministries, Rev. Clint McBroom of Tallassee UMC and Rev. Sheila Bates of Cokesbury UMC
-Mic runners: Rev. Julie Hare of Auburn UMC, Dr. Hunter Pugh of Brantley and Brunson's Chapel UMCs, Rev. Lucas Tribble of Montgomery FUMC and Rev. Richard Williams of Metropolitan UMC
-Our tellers team
-Chris Echols and his AV team
-Scott Casey from VPoll
-Luke Lucas, photographer
-Golf cart drivers and shuttle drivers
-Peter Hang from Wespath
-The Alabama-West Florida Conference staff
-Rev. Allison Posell
-Mrs. Nancy Graves, our first lady.
Sending Forth Service: Paulette Thompson, lay person from Montgomery FUMC began the service with a heartfelt prayer, Bishop Graves then led the laity and clergy in responsive calls. The four district superintendents read the names of those receiving a new appointment and the district lay leader or a representative offered a prayer for these pastors. Dr. Karl Whiting, Mobile District lay leader, concluded this part of the service with a prayer. The clergy appointments may be found by visiting www.awfumc.org/apt2022.
Episcopal Address: Presiding over his sixth annual conference, Bishop David Graves expressed his heartfelt thanks to those who were instrumental in the 2022 Annual Conference planning and delivered his Episcopal address. He centered his message around Jeremiah 20:7-18. He began by saying, "God is calling us to march and move forward!" Bishop Graves told of a recent meeting that was focused on denominational matters where a clergy person shared with him that everyone should, "Chill out and do you work!" He continued, "When you read the Book of Jeremiah, God called him. His calling led Jeremiah to discover that God called him to not only share a message with the people of Jerusalem, but to shout it because the people still wanted to please God. At least on the surface they said they wanted to please God, but they had turned to idols." He explained that we, too, struggle with idols and, at times, question God like Jeremiah did. One of Graves' most important statements was, "Let me inform you today that no one can change the United Methodist Articles of Religion containing our Doctrinal Standards. This has been in the Book of Discipline since 1808 and originally contained in the 1784 Sunday Service of Methodists. Wesley ensured in our constitution that this could never be changed, the trust clause and clergy process." He also expressed his desire to be a part of a church that has every theological perspective, different races and different socioeconomic statuses. Bishop Graves also announced that he had a personal reckoning after asking people to lead and not leave. He realized that he was not honoring that statement. "I want to do ministry. God called me to win people to Christ and disciple them. God spoke very clearly to me. I am not retiring as a bishop in the UMC this coming year or in 2024. I can serve until 2028 and God is calling me to serve until then, six more years," he stated. He concluded with Jeremiah 29:11. Members of the conference gave Bishop Graves a standing ovation to express their gratitude for his words and leadership.
As published yesterday, the 2023 session of the AWF Annual Conference will be held June 11-14, 2023, in Mobile, AL. Dauphin Way UMC will host the service of commissioning & ordination. Venue details will be announced at a later date.
Conference Musicians: We are most grateful for the gifts of Rev. Darrin Isaac and Jarvis Wilson. Together they provided powerful and spirit-filled music throughout the conference. We look forward to them being on our team again next year.
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 was courage and the offering will go towards clergy health. Click here for the online giving link.
Use the below QR code to give.
View photos from the 2022 Annual Conference session (added daily, all photos by Luke Lucas).
Video archives are available each day via YouTube.
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)
Tuesday, June 14, 2002
Wednesday, June 15, 2022
Stay connected throughout Annual Conference at www.awfumc.org/ac2022.