Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you? Show us your unfailing love, Lord, and grant us your salvation. I will listen to what God the Lord says; he promises peace to his people, his faithful servants—but let them not turn to folly.
-Psalm 85: 6-8
The Alabama-West Florida Conference cabinet and staff directors spent the week of July 10th
at Lake Junaluska. This team collaborated with other conferences in the Southeastern Jurisdiction and participated in a book study on, “Strengthening the Soul of Your Leadership” by Ruth Haley Barton.
“This was a productive use of our time as we seek to understand our role as conference leaders in these changing times,” stated Bishop David Graves. “After turning the page from fear and division to looking ahead to mission and ministry, our intentional time with other conferences allowed us to better define what the Alabama-West Florida Conference needs from us in the next few months. It was a gift to build relationships with leaders from neighboring conferences and collaborate with them to explore how we can better share resources.”
The AWF leadership team dedicated time each day to defining new priorities for the conference around the theme, “Revive Us Again.” With the help of Claire Bowen, a renowned United Methodist conference and church consultant, participants engaged in deep conversation to better understand how best to lead the conference in a season of healing and renewal. After prayer and exploratory time together, the team established the following.
In the coming months, the Alabama-West Florida Conference leadership, including staff, cabinet and others serving in conference leadership positions, will:
- Define a strategy for open itineracy by reclaiming who we are as United Methodists.
- Implement a program for churches to develop a process of spiritual formation through tools such as Disciple Bible Study.
- Develop practices for healthy clergy and healthy congregations.
- Continue to support the AWF New Ministry Strategy team and its work.
Each priority will have a leadership team to ensure the necessary work is accomplished and communicated to the conference. These teams will work in tandem with the bishop, cabinet and staff to offer a deeper definition to these important needs.
Graves continued, “We expect to hear from the Southeastern Jurisdiction task force on shared Episcopal areas in January of 2024. Instead of waiting for the next big announcement, our team wanted to be proactive in leading this conference in a fruitful way where clergy and laity felt empowered and supported. Now is the time for revival in our churches and now is the time for leaders to step into the next chapter of United Methodism.”