Bishop Names Three District Superintendents to AWF Cabinet

published 3/16/2014

(Montgomery, AL) - Bishop Paul L. Leeland is pleased to announce three new district superintendents to the Alabama-West Florida Conference appointive cabinet. Rev. John Brooks, Dr. Larry Bryars and Rev. Sara Shaver will begin their new appointments as superintendents starting July 1, 2014.

Rev. John Brooks will serve as district superintendent for the Montgomery-Prattville District and currently serves as pastor of Metropolitan UMC in Montgomery, AL. Before serving there he was appointed to St. Paul UMC in Pensacola, FL. Brooks was ordained as an elder in the AWF Conference in 1997. He is a graduate of Jackson State University in Jackson, MS, and received his seminary degree from Gammon Theological Seminary at the Interdenominational Theological Center (ITC) in Atlanta, GA. He and his wife, Reda, have been married for 34 years and have five children and seven grandchildren.

Dr. Larry Bryars currently serves as lead pastor of Shalimar UMC in Shalimar, FL, and will be appointed to the Marianna-Panama City District. Bryars' previous appointments include Bay Minette First UMC, Church Street UMC in Selma, AL, Epworth UMC in Phenix City, AL, Aldersgate UMC in Montgomery and then became the district superintendent of the Montgomery-Prattville District. Larry received his BS degree from the University of South Alabama, a Master of Divinity from Asbury Theological Seminary and a Doctorate of Ministry from The Theological School at Drew University. He was ordained as an elder in 1981 and served as a delegate to general and jurisdictional conferences. He and his wife, Vicki, have three sons. Rev. Gary Daniel has effectively served as the Marianna-Panama City district superintendent since 2010 and will retire at the end of June.

Rev. Sara Shaver is serving as senior pastor of Monroeville FUMC, Monroeville, AL, and will be appointed to the Demopolis District. Shaver was ordained as an elder in the AWF Conference in 2005 and has previously served Capitol Heights UMC in Montgomery, Trinity UMC in Equality, AL, Jay UMC in Jay, FL, and Dalraida UMC in Montgomery. She is a graduate of the University of Tennessee and Candler School of Theology, Emory University. Rev. John Bonner, current Demopolis district superintendent, announced his retirement earlier this year and has faithfully served on the cabinet since 2008.

Dr. Philip McVay, current Montgomery-Prattville district superintendent and dean of the cabinet, will be appointed as lead pastor of Shalimar UMC. He has been in his current appointment since 2009 and has been a tremendous asset to the Montgomery-Prattville District.

"It is an honor to welcome John, Larry and Sara to our appointive cabinet. All three have demonstrated fruitful and effective leadership and will help guide our conference in the coming years. I consider it a privilege to welcome these three to conference leadership and look forward to our partnership in ministry. We give thanks to God for the years of service Rev. John Bonner and Rev. Gary Daniel have given to our conference. I know you will join me in thanking them for their dedication to this calling. I also extend my deepest gratitude to Dr. Philip McVay for his exceptional work on the cabinet and in his district. Please join me in prayer for those experiencing change during this appointment season."

Metropolitan UMC and Monroeville FUMC will receive new appointments in the coming weeks. For more information about the Alabama-West Florida Conference, please visit


{Pictured above left to right: Rev. John Brooks, Dr.
Larry Bryars and Rev. Sara Shaver.}

Lisenby Named by Bishop as Huntingdon College Chaplain

published 3/14/2014

(Montgomery, AL) - Bishop Paul L. Leeland of The Alabama-West Florida Conference, in partnership with Huntingdon College President J. Cameron West, is pleased to announce the appointment of Mr. Woods Lisenby to Huntingdon College as Chaplain of the College, effective June 1, 2014.

Lisenby is currently serving Prattville First United Methodist Church as the director of contemporary worship. He is a 2011 graduate of Huntingdon College with a religion major where he was a leader in the Campus Ministries program. Woods has been approved to be commissioned as a provisional elder at the upcoming session of annual conference in June, 2014, and will graduate from Candler School of Theology, Emory University, in May. He was a member of Dothan First United Methodist Church before attending Huntingdon and is married to the former Brianna McClure, also a Huntingdon graduate.

"I am excited to announce this appointment that will continue to strengthen our conference ties with Huntingdon College. Woods is a proven, energetic leader who can nurture and foster relationships with students and faculty on campus at one of our finest Methodist institutions. It is crucial that the United Methodist Church engage with students during these influential years in their lives," Leeland stated.

For more information about the Alabama-West Florida Conference, visit



January Cabinet Synopsis

published 1/31/2014

(Dr. Jeremy Pridgeon) - Bishop Leeland and members of the Cabinet recently held their first meeting of 2014. There is much to celebrate in the life of the Alabama-West Florida Conference because the Spirit is moving among our congregations and we are developing devoted followers of Jesus Christ across our area. We give thanks for the leadership of clergy and laity who bear witness to the love of God, who inspire others, and who serve with gladness in our communities. The collective effort across the connection reminds us of the tremendous impact we have as United Methodists, underscoring a fundamental belief that we can do far more together than we ever can on our own.

Over the next few months, we will have an opportunity to demonstrate this once more as we take part in the "Imagine No Malaria" campaign. As we join in this General Church initiative, here in our conference, our goal is to save 100,000 lives from malaria through the acquisition of the protective nets used to shield families from the mosquitoes that transmit the disease. Each district is developing ways to encourage congregations to take part in this effort, which will culminate at our 2014 session of Annual Conference in Montgomery. Please encourage your churches to take part over the upcoming weeks. Small groups, Lenten covenant groups, children's ministries, youth ministries, United Methodist Women, United Methodist Men, Sunday School classes, among others can easily participate in saving the life of someone on the African continent. You can find additional resources for use in your church by clicking here.

We continue to promote two studies that we believe have the capacity to lead our churches into greater fruitfulness: The Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations by Bishop Robert Schnase and The Wesleyan Way by Bishop Scott Jones. These studies were featured at recent district conferences and are outstanding resources for helping us to live into greater fulfillment of our mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ. We have the opportunity to hear Bishop Schnase during the Bishop's Day Apart on March 3, 2014, at St. James United Methodist Church in Montgomery. Both clergy and laity are highly encouraged to attend. You can register for the Day Apart here.

During the month of January, two very important administrative matters require attention in our churches. The Year End Report, Table I, II, and III data needs to be submitted to the Conference Office immediately if your congregation has not done so. This data is compiled from across the conference and sent to the General Church, gathered with the information reported from all other annual conferences. Additionally, the preference forms for pastors and Staff-Parish Relations Committees need to be submitted as well as part of the consultation process for the 2014-15 pastoral appointments. Each district superintendent will be reviewing the information submitted for their district. Where a change in appointment is requested, the superintendents will schedule a consultation with the pastor and the Staff-Parish Relations Committee during the upcoming weeks. This is a time of discernment and reflection for our pastors and Staff-Parish Relations Committees, so please pray for one another in this season.

As always, we paused to remember the pastoral care concerns from our clergy families during this session. The sharing of this information is a reminder that there are many personal needs pressing in our clergy even as they seek to serve their congregations and communities. We have brothers and sisters who need healing, who are in grief, who have loved ones facing difficult circumstances and we would do well to offer encouragement and prayers for our colleagues.

We give thanks for a good 2013 and are excited at what God will do through the "people called Methodists" in the Alabama-West Florida Conference in 2014. We affirm a greater sense of connection, the development of clergy and lay leaders in congregational, district, and conference leadership. We are committed to establishing new communities of faith to reach those who are not part of the fellowship of the church. We resolve to fulfilling our role as the "chief missional strategists" for our districts and are grateful for the partnership we have with clergy, laity, and congregations in making this possible throughout our conference. We give thanks to God for the abundant blessings we share and for the privilege of serving together. May we continue to be about the work of Christ in the world in the year ahead!


Bishop's Day Apart for All God's Servants, an Invitation from Bishop Leeland

published 1/23/2014


It is my sincere pleasure to invite you, as clergy and laity, to our Alabama-West Florida Conference “Bishop’s Day Apart for All God’s Servants” which is scheduled for March 3, 2014, at St. James United Methodist Church in Montgomery, AL from 9:00am-4:00pm.

This year, reflecting the growing partnership with laity who are leading our congregations and serving on District Mission Teams, we are inviting both clergy and laity – All God’s Servants – to reflect on living into God’s dream for each congregation.

Bishop Robert Schnase, a United Methodist Bishop currently serving the Missouri Annual Conference, is a scholar, theologian, leader and popular author. Bishop Schnase was ordained a deacon and elder in the Southwest Texas Conference and is a graduate of Perkins School of Theology. As a writer, he’s the author of Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations (2007), Ambition in Ministry: Our Spiritual Struggle with Success, Achievement and Competition (1993), Testing and Reclaiming Your Call to Ministry (1991), and his most recently released book, Seven Levers: Missional Strategies for Leading Conferences (2014). He worked as editorial consultant for the New Interpreters Bible, and has contributed chapters to Weaver and Stapleton's Reflections on Marriage and Spiritual Growth and Grand-Parenting and the Spiritual Journey.

I am confident Bishop Schnase will give insight and inspiration to us as ministers of the Gospel. As we approach Lent we look to God for renewal and spiritual refreshment because we know the best way to strengthen our United Methodist Church is to strengthen our local congregation. In reflecting on the Five Practices of Fruitful Congregations, Bishop Schnase said, “Every Church thinks they are friendly and they are – to the people already there. But Radical hospitality requires looking inward and outward. It stretches us.” We have been blessed by wonderful leaders at this event each year such as Bishop Will Willimon, Dr. Marva Dawn, Dr. Leonard Sweet and Dr. Maxie Dunnam, and now Bishop Robert Schnase.

This does not need to be another seminar where the pastor returns and says, “This was a great event; I wish you could have been there.” This year, we are urging each clergy person to invite a lay member who has influence in your local church so that we may create a sincere conversation on how to live out the mission, vision, and values, within of our church. Bishop Schnase’s teachings are suited for all of God’s servants and would certainly extend hospitality and invitation to all who wish to join us on this day.

To ensure lunch is provided, it is critical to register for this event. To register, click here. The $10 registration fee will cover the cost of lunch and will only be guaranteed to the first 400 participants who register. Once that number is at capacity, you may register to attend at no cost for the event but you will need to find lunch off campus. If you need help in the registration process please call Traci at our Conference Center.

As always, I am very proud of our Alabama-West Florida Conference, for your ministry, and for the Gospel of Jesus Christ you proclaim. May you join me in giving thanks for the words of the Apostle Paul who said, “May the Lord direct your hearts to the love of God and to the steadfastness of Christ.” (2 Thessalonians 3:5).



Upcoming Deadlines in Standing Rules

published 1/22/2014

Greetings in the name of Christ. As preparations are underway for the 2014 meeting of Annual Conference, June 1-4 at Frazer Memorial UMC in Montgomery, Alabama, the Committee on Standing Rules will be looking at proposed changes to these rules; you will find them listed on pages 17-27 of our 2013 Journal. If you do not have a printed Journal, you may view it online here.

Let me alert you to these upcoming deadlines, which are in our current Standing Rules:
• Any proposed changes in the Standing Rules should be received in writing by the chairperson of the Committee on Standing Rules no later than February 1. You may submit these by e-mail to, or by mailing proposed changes to Robin Wilson, 1507 Dauphin St, Mobile, AL 36604.

• Resolutions shall be submitted to the Committee on Resolutions and Petitions by February 15, except in cases where it can be demonstrated by the author of a late petition that the situation which gave rise to making the petition was not apparent until after the deadline for petitions. The Chairperson of this Committee is Rev. Kathy Knight.

• Materials and reports to be included in the Brochure of Reports shall be in the hands of the Journal editor NO LATER THAN the last Monday in February (Feb 24, 2014). The Journal Editor is Jackie Slaughter. Please send any materials to

If you have questions or changes, do not hesitate to contact me. Thank you for your excellent service to God and for your work for the Kingdom.


Robin C. Wilson

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