Friends in the Montgomery-Prattville District,
I hope this correspondence finds you well despite the ongoing pandemic in the world.
Perhaps you read the announcement that the Montgomery-Opelika district superintendent, Dr. Jeff Wilson, will also be serving in this capacity for the Montgomery-Prattville District starting July 1, 2020. To clarify, Jeff will be the district superintendent of both districts, having oversight of all district administrative committees, including the district committee on ministry, district trustees, and other district teams.
Supervision of pastors, work with SPR committees, and charge conferences will be shared among three district superintendents based upon the county in which your church is located. These superintendents will handle pastoral and/or SPRC consultations, including all appointment conversations. All pastors and churches will remain part of the Montgomery-Prattville District, even when direct supervision is provided by a different superintendent. Charges of multiple churches that cross county lines will be notified regarding the district superintendent with supervisory responsibility. The following Montgomery-Prattville county breakdown will assist you in understanding this new model:
Dr. Jeff Wilson: Montgomery County, Autauga County, Elmore County;
Dr. Alan Gantzhorn: Chilton County, Dallas County, Wilcox County, Lowndes County;
Rev. Jean Tippet: Butler County.
As we continue to seek innovative ways to make the best use of our resources, we prayerfully ask for your help in making this plan successful. I invite you to pray for the cabinet as they live into new ways of being servant leaders. Thank you for the many ways you are changing your corner of the world, even in historic times.
Bishop David Graves
Alabama-West Florida Conference
Bishop David Graves, in conjunction with Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett of the North Alabama Conference of the UMC, is recommending the cancellation of all in-person worship and church meetings through (and to include) May 17, 2020. The bishop, cabinet and leadership team will continue to assess when churches may gather again.
“It is in our best interest as a conference to make this recommendation based on the information we have,” stated Bishop Graves. “There are various opinions about when states should begin to reopen, yet it is important that we exercise caution when considering when to reopen church buildings and worship spaces. Because the safety and health of our congregations and communities are a top priority, we are making this recommendation. In addition to this, churches should establish a COVID-19 task force or leadership team to consider the many factors associated with reopening churches."
As previously announced, the 2020 session of the AWF Annual Conference is being postponed until a later date.
Clergy appointments will continue to follow the previously announced timeline and are still effective July 1, 2020. If moving restrictions or complications occur in a specific case, the district superintendent will advise the pastor and church based on the situation.
Should you have any questions on this new date, please contact your district superintendent. Up-to-date information may be found at www.awfumc.org.
Thank you for letting us know how you are doing and ways in which to pray for you. This global pandemic is in many ways both scary and yet uniting as we move through this time together and united in Christ as one Body and one family through the blood of our savior.
In Tanzania we have been dealing with COVID-19 for almost a month now. In that short time we have seen cases continue to rise from 1 to 25 and now over 90 confirmed cases. It has gone from being brought into Tanzania by people traveling abroad to being spread among our population through contact with others already in Tanzania.
We face many challenges with our health care system, our ability to test and trace contacts, and our ability to treat and care for those diagnosed. We thank our government for their quick response in closing schools, canceling events, and reducing the meeting of large groups. However, we are also challenged by the idea of isolation and social distancing with many having to choose between going out to face the coronavirus or facing hunger and starvation at home.
Our churches and faith communities continue to provide hope in this time. Most of our churches continue to meet, but are taking precautions of hand washing, not shaking hands, and not sitting close together at worship services. Our churches are also working on being a source of education to the community by teaching others how to take precautions.
Our President, Dr. John Magufuli, has called for three days of prayer for all people of faith starting on Friday, April 17th and extending to Sunday, April 19th. We will be using this time to fast, study scripture, and pray for the healing and deliverance of our country. We will make sure to pray for you during this time and we invite you to join us during this time in praying about this virus that is spreading around the world, remembering the many vulnerable groups who are in danger both of becoming sick, but also who will suffer from economic challenges and lack of basic necessities during this time.
We are blessed to be together during this time, while separated by a long distance, we are still united in our faith, our love of Christ, and our desire to be in mission to the whole world and to see it transformed through the Body of Christ.
Bishop David Graves has announced one change to the AWF Cabinet. Dr. Jeff Wilson, current Montgomery-Opelika District Superintendent, will also serve the Montgomery-Prattville District, effective July 1, 2020.
Rev. Allen Newton, current Montgomery-Prattville District Superintendent, will receive an appointment into a local church on the aforementioned date.
“In this season of uncertainty, one thing I am grateful for is the leadership of Rev. Newton,” said Bishop David Graves. “Allen has faithfully served the Montgomery-Prattville District and will take numerous gifts and graces into the local church. His family is a blessing to our conference and I look forward to following his ministry.”
As conferences continue to find creative ways to be the best stewards of ministry funds, the Alabama-West Florida Conference will continue to assess how to faithfully focus on our priorities.
“Dr. Jeff Wilson is a highly gifted individual who will strategically serve two districts,” Graves continued. “This model will most likely be something we continue to consider as we streamline our leadership roles. We must continue to be adaptive leaders while staying focused on the mission.”
All other clergy appointments will be published online in early June.
The comprehensive online AWF Easter service is now available in two formats. This service is dedicated to the glory of God and as a gift to the clergy and laity of our annual conference. All eight districts participated in this service–a testament to the fact that we are in this pandemic together.
The HD version is available via Dropbox by clicking here. This file is over 5GB. Therefore, we recommend you use the above standard definition version if you have internet bandwith concerns.
Closed captioning is available for this service on the files.
Our sincere appreciation goes to the churches, clergy and laity who participated in this collective effort so that all may experience the power of the resurrected Christ. This piece was edited and produced by Luke Lucas. Let us continue to pray that Christ will show us new ways to reach new disciples in this challenging time. Happy Easter!
Bishop David Graves
The AWF Cabinet
The AWF Office of Communications