The Bishop met with his Cabinet on April 3-4 in Montgomery to continue working on this year's appointments. As the flowers and trees bloomed around us, so did our time together. Bishop Leeland began by asking for prayer requests from each district and this was followed by a heartfelt prayer for all dear to us across the conference. Each day began with inspiring devotionals which connected us with Holy Week themes and our core value that our work is of God.
As we continued our appointive work, great attention was given to the mission of the Church... "The making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world." Time was spent on seeking how to better align our conference and churches to bear fruit in the future. In addition to the hope of aligning around fruitfulness, the gifts and particular needs of pastors were deeply considered. Also, significant time was given to the appointments and needs of our smaller churches and part-time local pastors. In addressing some of the needs of our conference, both challenges and opportunities became part of our deliberations. On day two, Bishop Leeland again paused for prayer reminding us that our work is of God and that fruitfulness is our hope across the Alabama-West Florida Conference.
Also on day two, the extended cabinet met with the appointive cabinet and many exciting reports were offered and greeted with enthusiasm. First, the cabinet celebrated all the plans for new churches, restarts, and new sites which are beginning to blossom across our conference. As many as ten new communities of faith have been formed or are being planned in the Alabama-West Florida Conference. Second, early indications reveal that giving is up in each district so far in 2012. Third, we continued to plan regarding asking every church in the Alabama-West Florida Conference to participate together in becoming vital congregations by measuring worship attendance, baptisms, small groups, people sent out in mission, and dollars toward mission. One idea that was especially exciting was to create an in-conference narrative option utilizing stories from the Vital Congregations site. The narrative would allow churches to express in their own words "glory sightings" of how how they see Christ at work in their church. An overall plan will be worked on by a sub-team of the cabinet and presented to our churches when completed. Overall, our Bishop and Cabinet are hopeful that we in the Alabama-West Florida Conference are beginning to see some hopeful signs of new life and that we are moving into a new era of fruitfulness. We will meet again in May following General Conference and continue preparations for Annual Conference.
Philip McVay, on behalf of the Cabinet