Alabama-West Florida Conference Establishes Discernment Task Force
Under the direction of Bishop David W. Graves, a task force of conference leaders assembled on Thursday, July 11, 2019, at Aldersgate UMC in Montgomery, AL.
In its initial meeting on Thursday, the group began by establishing a behavioral covenant based on Julia Kuhn Wallace’s, “The Church Guide for Making Decisions Together.” The body of leaders is chaired by Dr. David Saliba, senior pastor of Perdido Bay UMC.
Although the task force is in its early stages and still in a self-defining period, the group agreed that their main goal would be to better prepare the people of the Alabama-West Florida Conference for what could come before and after General Conference 2020. This leadership group will look at the best next steps for our conference in the coming months, while still encouraging the conference to remain focused on mission and on making disciples in their corner of the world.
Conversation was centered around commonalities, non-negotiables, possible outcomes and responses/implications of General Conference 2020 related to human sexuality. The group explored what holds us together and makes the Alabama-West Florida Conference unique and also asked the difficult, yet important question many local United Methodist churches use to better define their ministry and priorities, “What would be lost if we ceased to exist?”
“These conversations are challenging yet they offer a glimpse into the many perspectives that are in our conference,” said Bishop David Graves. “I have stated before that we are not of one mind. Yet when we have honest discussions with one another, we deepen our relationships, which in turn allows us to invest in authentic dialogue. I am grateful for the servant leaders in this group.”
Necessary conversation was conducted around accountability, potential plans to be presented at GC 2020, new congregations and expressions of faith, those discerning a call into ministry, structural changes, budgetary projections and implications for general ministries, to name a few.
“I am honored that Bishop Graves asked me to chair this committee of leaders,” stated Dr. David Saliba, task force chair. “The work we are doing to better prepare the Alabama-West Florida Conference is difficult yet necessary. I look forward to working with this group and sharing more about our efforts in the coming months. More than anything, we exist to bring hope and possibilities to those in ministry in this conference.”
The committee members are:
Bishop David Graves
Mary Catherine Phillips
The committee will convene again in August to further their discussions.