Conference News

Global Ministries to Commission New United Methodist EarthKeepers

published 11/18/2019
Global Ministries will commission 67 new EarthKeepers from 23 annual conferences in an online service on November 19, 2019 at 8 pm at www.umcmission.org/live.

Lavanda Paul, from Eight Mile, AL, is one of the new EarthKeepers from the Alabama-West Florida Conference. 

This service will affirm the EarthKeepers in their call to the ministry of creation care and will bless their work in their communities. Commissioning online creates the opportunity for all three classes of EarthKeepers trained in 2019 to be commissioned together while minimizing the carbon footprint of the service. It also allows EarthKeepers to participate with family, friends and church community alongside them. Bishop Larry Goodpaster of the Southeast Jurisdiction, Roland Fernandes, Global Ministries COO and UMCOR Executive Director, and Rev. Jenny Phillips, Creation Care Program Manager, will lead the service.

EarthKeepers is a training program to equip United Methodists in the United States for environmental stewardship. Participants spend three and a half days immersed in discussions on theology, United Methodist resources, community organizing, and anti-racism, and then use what they learn to develop an environmental project for their churches and communities. It serves as both a launchpad for people looking to turn an idea into action, and an incubator for people who want to deepen an existing ministry. Participants develop plans in conversation with their peers, troubleshooting ideas and sharing strategies.

This year’s participants range in age from 13 to 83 and are from annual conferences in every United States Jurisdiction. Trainings were held in Philadelphia, Austin, and Chicago.

“Creation is in crisis. Global Ministries EarthKeepers recognize the many ways in which the Bible calls people to participate in the health and flourishing of Creation,” said Rev. Jenny Phillips, Creation Care Program Manager. “EarthKeepers are empowered to turn big ideas into powerful action by developing projects that address urgent environmental concerns in their communities.”

Upon completion of the training, EarthKeepers are expected to launch an environmental project in their communities and can apply for UMCOR grants to support their work. This year’s projects include community gardens, green building programs, waste-management initiatives, and more.

To receive information on 2020 trainings, please email Alicia Stromberg, Sustainable Development Program Assistant, at astromberg@umcor.org.

AWF Clergy Visit Bahamas to Offer Support

published 11/14/2019
Several Gulf Coast pastors from the Alabama-West Florida Conference visited the Bahamas this week to show solidarity after experiencing a category five storm. Rev. Chris Ackerman, Dr. Nathan Attwood and Dr. Geoffrey Lentz visited the devastated area under the leadership of Amie Readdy. Readdy, who is the founder of Capacity Path and was a response leader in the days after Hurricane Michael, coordinated the trip. The team also visited with Stephanie Gottschalk, the Director of Bahamas Methodist Habitat.
 
While on the island the clergy exchanged best practices of disaster response, prayed for one another and engaged with leaders who continue to face the daily challenges of life after a catastrophic storm.
 
The Hurricane Michael leadership team has begun to identify pastors as secondary responders. Rev. Chris Ackerman, director, stated, “After Hurricane Michael, there were moments where as pastors we felt very alone and almost even forgotten.” He continued, “We remembered what it was like to simply have someone sit with us, not expecting anything from us, so that we knew that we were not alone. We wanted to share that with the pastors of the Bahamas. It is impossible to explain just how chaotic and demanding ministry is after a disaster. When you are with other pastors who have been in a disaster you don’t have to try and explain the unexplainable, you can simply look at each other and know. We came to tell them that we see them, they are not forgotten, and they are not alone.”
 
Because the response to Dorian, like Michael, will last years, the hope is to send pastors on multiple upcoming trips.  
 

COB announces bishops' assignments to agencies, boards

published 11/8/2019
(COB) - The Council of Bishops has announced the assignment of bishops to the boards and agencies of The United Methodist Church for 2020-2024 quadrennium. Bishop David Graves of the Alabama-West Florida Conference has been assigned to Finance and Administration. Here are the assignments:
 
AGENCY/POSITION BISHOP
Connectional Table Chair Mande Muyombo
Archives & History Peggy Johnson
New Central Conference bishop
Church and Society Daniel Lunge
LaTrelle Easterling
Sue Haupert-Johnson
3 new bishops
Communications John Wesley Yohanna
New U.S. bishop
Discipleship Ministries Mark Webb
Harald Rückert
Finance & Administration Minerva Carcaño
David Graves
Global Ministries Peter Torio
Joaquina Nhanala
Ruben Saenz
Jonathan Holston
Karen Oliveto
Higher Education & Ministry Sandra Steiner Ball
Eduard Khegay
Laurie Haller
WesPath (Pension & Health) Paul Leeland
Robert Schnase                                                         
Religion & Race Cynthia Moore-Koikoi
New Central Conference bishop
Status & Role of Women Tracy Malone
Samuel Quire
United Methodist Men Gary Mueller
Kasap Owan
Leonard Fairley
UM Publishing House Gregory Palmer
New Central Conference bishop
 
The bishops will begin their assignments at the organizational meeting of each agency or board after the 2020 jurisdictional and central conferences.

UMC agencies provide resources and services that equip local congregations and provide a connection for ministry throughout the world. The agencies also provide essential services and ministries beyond the scope of individual local congregations and annual conferences.

Each agency is governed by a board of directors whose members, both lay and clergy, are elected by jurisdictions and central conferences. Bishops, as assigned by the Council, also share oversight on these boards.

Live in Peace Together

published 10/31/2019
(Kari Barlow for AWFUMC) - Edith Brooks thought she was planning a simple trip to the National Memorial for Peace and Justice in Montgomery for a few of her fellow United Methodist Women members in the Bay Pines District.
 
Then God started working.
 
Before long, prayers were answered, Christians of different races had joined hands and conference funds were secured, resulting in an all-out pilgrimage—via charter bus, cars and vans—to Alabama’s capital city to confront the truth of America’s history regarding slavery and racism.
 
“Certainly, his hand was in it,” said Brooks, who is a member of Morgan’s Chapel UMC in Bon Secour. “There was no doubt about that.”
 
The group of roughly 80 people gathered at River City UMC on Oct. 21—coming from as far away as Gulf Shores and Eclectic as well as Peachtree City, Georgia—for a formal sending forth that included prayers for healing and wisdom and enlightenment. Then they visited both the Legacy Museum on Coosa Street, which sits on a space where enslaved people were once warehoused, and the lynching memorial on Caroline Street.
 
“It was meaningful to me to have the background before I went to the memorial,” Brooks said. “You see some of the very trivial reasons or lies that led to so many people being lynched. … It is hard to soak in and it is hard to listen to.”
 
The memorial is the first in the United States dedicated to the legacy of enslaved blacks, blacks who were terrorized by lynching, those oppressed by racial segregation and present-day people of color who are forced to live their lives burdened with presumptions of guilt and violence.
 
The six-acre site, which blends sculpture, art and design, includes more than 800 6-foot monuments, one for each U.S. county where a lynching took place. The names of the victims are engraved on the columns.
 
After the visit, the UMW group returned to River City UMC for reflection.
 
“We talked about what we had learned and what we were going to do in response,” Brooks said. “We are committed to following through with that.”
 
The many different responses were encouraging and ranged from changing personal attitudes and behavior to starting book clubs, working to abolish the death penalty and serving the incarcerated, she added.
 
“We ended with communion, and we did it by intinction, so there was the image of one cup and one body,” she said.
 
Brooks said the best part about the pilgrimage was God bringing together black and white Christians from different walks of life to visit the memorial together. She was especially thankful for the spiritual guidance of the Rev. John Brooks and his wife, Reda, in planning the trip, Annette Winston for leading the post-visit reflection and the hospitality of Pastor Justin Todd and his staff at River City UMC.
 
“I was so thankful that we did have that participation,” she said. “This is what God wants from us. He wants us to love one another, be kind to one another and live in peace together.”

Open Enrollment for Conference Insurance for 2020

published 10/30/2019
Are you eligible for the Conference health/dental insurance?  Interested?  Have questions?  Contact BeLinda Carnegie at Office (888-873-3127) for answers about eligibility.
  • Become a church-plan sponsor the lay employees
  • Health insurance coverage is administrated through Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama
  • Dental/Vision coverage are administrated through Guardian Company
Open enrollment begins November 11th and ends December 16th.  The effective date of coverage is January 1, 2020.

Active Clergy Coverage Premium Equivalent Rates per month
Individual Coverage (only)                                $875.00
Dependent Coverage (additional)                     $875.00
 
Laity Coverage Premium Equivalent Rates per month
Individual Coverage (only)                                $800.00
Dependent Family Coverage (additional)          $1,210.00
Laity Medicare Supplement*                             $210.00
 
*must meet requirements to enroll.
 

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