Morning Worship: Day three of annual conference began with morning worship. Rev. Michael Cobb of Moundville, Stewart and China Grove UMCs offered the call to worship. Rev. Jenni Hendrix of Bethel UMC gave a prayer of illumination. Deaconess Celeste Eubanks, AWF director of leadership strategies, gave the moving sermon entitled, "Blessed by a Stranger" and based on Luke 24:13-29. She said, "Oh how these men were blessed by these teachings and insights from the stranger." The Huntingdon Student Band, under the direction of Rev. Rhett Butler, led music for this service. At the conclusion of the service Bishop Graves expressed his deep appreciation for Celeste and her ministry.
Standing Rules: Rev. Kathy Knight of Kingswood UMC virtually presented several standing rules changes. Click here to see the changes proposed and approved.
Several awards were given to recognize outstanding leadership and service in the conference. This year's awards ceremony was hosted by Dr. John McWilliams, a lay person from Montgomery FUMC. Cain's Chapel UMC (Deatsville, AL) is the recipient of the Local Church Heritage Award. The One Church Matters Award was given to Bayou la Batre UMC (Irvington, AL) by the AWF Town and Country Commission. Rev. David Goolsby received the Francis Asbury Award for his work with the Auburn University Wesley Foundation. There were two winners of the Harry Denman Evangelism Award. The clergy winner is Rev. Pam Barnhardt of Monroeville UMC. The lay recipient is Jim Hammond of Bellview UMC (Pensacola, FL). Complete award winner bios may be found here. To see today's video, click here.
The AWF Committee on Episcopacy took a brief moment to honor and welcome back Bishop and Nancy Graves to the Alabama-West Florida Conference. A video was shown of memories of the past five year. Click here to see video.
Board of Global Ministries: Roland Fernandes, General Secretary of Global Ministries and UMCOR, joined the conference via Zoom.
Beth Allen and Jessie Spangler presented on behalf of Blue Lake Camp. They updated the conference on the facilities, worship areas and activities. They also discussed the strategic direction and recommendations of the camp as well as how to donate.
Rev. Chris Ackerman and Rev. Bill Kierce co-led the Congregational Development and Disaster Response report. Ackerman shared with the conference about launching a new model of discipleship that does church every day through disaster response, socially responsible housing and entrepreneurial business development. Its discipleship mission is to create a community of daily worship and discipleship and as a result, grow in grace with God.
The Conference Board of Pension and Health Benefits was presented by Tara Sanders, chair. The Pre-82 past service rate was approved by the conference at $821 for retired clergy and $574 for retiring spouses, reflecting a 2% increase. She also encouraged clergy to participate in the UMPIP personal contributions. This report was approved.
Rev. Michael Cobb of Moundville, Stewart and China Grove UMCs presented on behalf of the Commission on Equitable Compensation. The minimum salary presented and approved was $39,000. That is an increase of 2.6% ($1,000) for clergy or 2.1% ($1,175) for churches.
The Conference Trustees presented several items that required a vote. Dr. Olivia Poole, chair, presented on behalf of this board. After explaining the disaffiliation agreement approved by the AWF Annual Conference in 2019, she presented "Transfer of Dexter Avenue Property." It was approved by the voting body.
Mr. Roy Roane, lay member at Gulf Breeze UMC, brought a motion for a Bishop's Decision of Law. Bishop Graves ruled that the action referenced in the motion was constitutional. Click here to read the motion and the previously approved AWF disaffiliation agreement.
View photos from the 2021 Annual Conference session below.
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Chris Echols is available one hour prior to the start of the morning worship services. Contact 912-223-6984. Please only contact him during the appropriate hours.
Watch the conference LIVE from your home or office. The Service of Remembrance and Service of Commissioning will only be live streamed. Clergy and lay members, you will not log onto Zoom for these two worship services.
Wednesday, June 9
-Morning Worship, 8:30am
-Conference Business Session, 9:30am
-Sending Forth Service (following the morning business session)
Get a Copy: DVD copies of annual conference worship services are available for purchase. Click here for the order form.
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Stay connected throughout Annual Conference at www.awfumc.org/ac2021.