Conference News

AWF Conference Launches Resource Page

published 7/20/2017
"Where do I click?" "I can't find the forms." "Can the conference office help me with this?" These are common questions the staff of the Alabama-West Florida Conference hears often. As a result of feedback from clergy and laity, a dedicated Resource page is now live on the Website. By visiting www.awfumc.org/resources, Web users will find resources ranging from forms to videos to tools and much more. 

"This is a significant new offering in our conference," said Rev. Nancy Watson, Director of Connectional Ministries. "Our conference staff's primary goal is to serve our 600+ churches. This will enable churches to better find what they need in less time. I am thankful to the staff for recognizing the need and implementing the design and functionality of the page." 

The page, which was launched in early July, will be frequently updated and managed by Susan Hunt, AWF Director of Mission and Advocacy. The goal was to identify the most frequently visited pages of the conference Website and organize them into one area. Conference staff will monitor what links receive the most hits to better know what people are looking for. 

"We continue to evaluate what we do and how we do it so that our time and resources are most effectively used to better serve our churches, and thus, the Kingdom," Watson stated. 

 

UMICM Receives Grant From Children's Trust Fund of AL

published 7/18/2017
The United Methodist Inner City Mission (UMICM) is proud to announce that they are a recipient of a $90,000 grant from the Alabama Department of Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention. The $90,000 grant is for two years of program activities. The primary goal of UMICM's proposed program is to decrease risk factors and increase protective factors related to child maltreatment prevention in 150 Kindergarten - Twelfth graders attending year-round programming at Taylor Park Community Center in inner-city Mobile. The secondary goals of the program are to enhance life skills, improve school performance and increase overall well-being. "This grant will provide a portion of the funding needed for UMICM to offer essential and life-changing opportunities for students in Taylor Park," Rev. Tonny Algood, the Executive Director of UMICM, said. "We are excited that the Children's Trust Fund selected the United Methodist Inner City Mission to receive this grant funding so that we can continue the important work at Taylor Park." Additional funding and volunteers are needed to ensure a successful program. For more information about UMICM, please contact Rev. Algood at 251-432-1122.
 

A Word from Bishop David Graves

published 7/14/2017

We invite you to watch a video message from Bishop David Graves, Resident Bishop of the Alabama-West Florida Conference. Click here to viewClick here to read the written transcript

You may also listen to this message as an audio-only podcast by clicking here, by searching for "AWFUMC Podcasts" on iTunes or in your preferred podcast player. We invite you to subscribe to these podcasts.


A Word from Bishop Graves: Health Care for All People!

published 6/23/2017

As we prepare for the July 4th remembrance holiday, there is a great debate going on in our country around health care. It seems that we have been in a standoff around this issue for many years. In my opinion, the spiral began when mental health care was drastically cut years ago. We have paid the price for this in many ways.

Some have benefitted from the present plan while soaring costs and insurance companies dropping out of exchanges are causing a lot of present issues for others. The newly proposed health care plan seems to lessen benefits to the poor and the aging. Yet, to be honest with you, due to the complexity of the bill, it’s difficult to evaluate exactly what is being proposed. It is so complicated, I wonder if our congressional leaders understand either.

What I do know is that Jesus tells us in Matthew 25 that we should provide health care to all people. Jesus is not so specific to use the phrase, "health care," but says when you provide needs to the least of these, you have given unto me. This is enough for me. Furthermore, as United Methodists, we believe and advocate health care for all people. The United Methodist Board of Church and Society is presently working on this behalf and our Social Principles proclaim this right.

Therefore, the people called United Methodists of the Alabama-West Florida Conference, will you join me in praying that we can get to a better place with health care for all people? Pray for our leaders who will vote on a health care bill sometime after the July 4th break. Pray that both Republicans and Democrats can work together to do what is right in providing affordable health care for all people.

It is time to get beyond a partisan health care bill; we need a health care bill for all people. Again, I ask you to join me in your prayers and circles of influence to this end. Take a moment in your worship services this weekend to pray for our country, our leaders, and the upcoming health care legislation. I am praying that the best is yet to come around health care for all people! Let us not look back with regret because we felt this was too hard. It is hard, but by faith, it can happen. 

In Christ,
Bishop David Graves
Resident Bishop, Alabama-West Florida Conference


'It was always important'

published 6/22/2017
Alabama Chief Justice Lyn Stuart makes church family a top priority
 
(Kari C. Barlow for the Alabama-West Florida Conference) - Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Lyn Stuart loves the view from her office window, which overlooks historic River City United Methodist Church on Dexter Avenue.  
 
“It’s a beautiful old church with beautiful stained-glass windows and a really, really tall steeple with a big cross on top of it,” she said. “I just love having that be what I look at.”
 
On Thursday, she happily joined family and friends inside that beloved sanctuary for a special service celebrating her recent appointment as well as the appointment of Associate Justice Will Sellers. Gov. Kay Ivey appointed Stuart in late April following the resignation of former Chief Justice Roy Moore. Ivey tapped Sellers to serve in the open associate justice seat held by Stuart.  
 
The service, planned by Rev. Jay Cooper, pastor of FUMC of Bay Minette and Stuart’s home congregation, drew dignitaries and local officials from across Alabama.
 
“There is something special about being able to stand here and gather at midday as a congregation of believers for worship and the sacrament of Holy Communion,” Cooper told the congregation. Several UMC clergy from the Montgomery area—Rev. Virginia Kagoro of River City UMC, Dr. Larry Bryars of Frazer Memorial UMC, Dr. Lester Spencer of Saint James UMC and Rev. Richard Williams and Dr. Brian Miller of Aldersgate UMC—also participated, serving communion and offering prayers.
 
For Stuart, that connection to other Christians is a blessing that has shaped her entire life. The Atmore native, who was raised Presbyterian, can’t remember a time when church was not a significant part of her life. “I came from a family where we were at church every time the doors were open,” she recalled. “It was always important.” Stuart joined the UMC in 1984 when she and her husband, George, settled at FUMC of Bay Minette. More than 30 years later, they remain active members. In fact, Stuart still teaches the same adult Sunday school class that she started in 1985. “We’ve aged together! It started as a young adult class,” she said. “They are my closest friends and they are like family. … We pray for each other all the time.” One of her greatest joys is cooking Wednesday night church dinners, which she does with a team of volunteers on a rotating basis. “It’s very rewarding to me,” said Stuart, whose popular dishes include chicken divan, roasted tomato soup and grilled pork tenderloin. “I think that’s a gift I have, and it’s a gift I use to benefit the church.”
 
Staying connected to church family is one of the many ways she keeps her busy life on an even keel. “You have to work at keeping things in balance,” said Stuart, who also enjoys “playing in the dirt” but laments not having a green thumb. “I do acknowledge that I am a bit of a workaholic, so I have to save time for other things.” When she is at work—leading the judicial branch of Alabama state government—Stuart doesn’t hesitate to turn to God for guidance. “In my court, we always pray before we meet, and we take turns praying,” she said. “… I always pray that God will give us wisdom and discernment to make the right decisions.”  
 
Click here to see photo from the service. To read Chief Justice Lyn Stuart’s biography, go to http://judicial.alabama.gov/Bios/stuart.cfm
 
Read more of our conversation with Chief Justice Lyn Stuart:
 
Q: Did you always want to be a lawyer and a judge?
A: No, neither! I wanted to be a juvenile probation officer, and I knew that from the time I was, probably, early high school. That’s really what I studied to do. I actually have a double major from Auburn in sociology and education. … I just wanted to work with young people, and I thought juvenile probation was the way to do it. But there were very, very few opportunities in the state of Alabama. It was just not realistic that I would be able to get that job. So I took the LSAT, the law school admission exam, pretty much on a lark and did well on it. I applied to law school and was admitted to both Alabama and Cumberland, and Alabama gave me a small scholarship.
 
Q: What’s the most challenging thing about being a judge?
A: The most challenging part is trying to keep your personal feelings separate from trying to make decisions based purely on the law and the facts. That’s just something you have to do. It’s something you have to do from the beginning. It’s a given, a requirement. If you can’t do that, then it’s really not the job for you.
 
Q: What’s it like campaigning for an elected judgeship?
A: It’s interesting. Alabama is a really big state, but it’s a beautiful state and it has wonderful people. And that’s the part I really like about (campaigning)—getting to see the state and meet all the people.
 
Q: What do you like about being a member of the United Methodist Church?
A: I like that we are very welcoming and open to all people. And I guess I like that we are just sort of middle of the road.
 
Q: What advice do you have for young women?
A: I say this often when I speak to young women. I truly believe that you can do anything that you want to do with God’s help, as long as it’s part of his plan. … And that requires a lot of prayer!
 
Q: Do you have a favorite scripture?
A: Yes. Philipians 4:4-9.
 
Q: What’s your favorite place in Alabama?
A: Home. Baldwin County!
 
Q: How long have you been married and where did you meet your husband, George?
A: 36 years. I had already finished law school, and I met him in Gulf Shores at a Fourth of July party his parents were giving. His parents and my parents had been friends for years and sort of lost contact and then re-established contact. I was studying for the bar exam and should have never been at that party!
 
Q: And the rest is history?
A: And the rest is history—that’s exactly right!

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