Open Doors Resale and Thrift Store Announces Grand Opening

published 9/10/2013

(Mobile, AL) - The Mobile District of the United Methodist Church is pleased to announce the grand opening of the Open Doors Resale and Thrift Store located at 4125 Government Boulevard. The store was established to financially support mission endeavors of the United Methodist Church in the Mobile area. With the economic downturn over the past several years, charitable contributions have severely diminished and impacted those needing assistance.

Rev. Charles Fail, current pastor at New Life United Methodist Church, is helping to lead the efforts of this new endeavor. He said, "We believe that God has led this process. In a changing economy and life of the Church, the resale and thrift store is the best way to ensure that Mobile District mission agencies are funded well. Everyone wins. There are great deals on great items, opportunities for people to serve, and the proceeds enable ministry to the poorest among us."

The store acquired its name from the widely used tagline of the global United Methodist Church, “Open Hearts. Open Minds. Open Doors.” The United Methodist Church and the ministries of the Mobile District are open to all persons, thus the appropriate naming of the facility.

Purchases will directly have an impact on the following agencies:
-The United Methodist Inner City Mission
-The Dumas Wesley Community Center
-The University of South Alabama Wesley Foundation
-The Mobile Metro Jail Chaplaincy Program
-The United Methodist Babies First.

The Open Doors Resale and Thrift Store needs merchandise donations, volunteers, grass-roots advertising, shoppers and prayers! Currently the store is operated 100% by volunteers. There are many ways the citizens of Mobile and surrounding areas can touch lives through this new store.

The Mobile District is one of eight districts of the Alabama-West Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church and is comprised of more than sixty churches and 16,422 members in Mobile and South Washington Counties. For more information about the store including donation information, contact them at or 251.661.5661.


AWF Conference Office Completes Move

published 8/16/2013

The Alabama-West Florida Conference Office has completed its move. E-mail and phone services have been restored. 

The new contact information is as follows:
4719 Woodmere Boulevard
Montgomery, AL 36106
Conference Main Telephone: 334.356.8014
Montgomery-Opelika and Montgomery-Prattville Districts Telephone: 334.239.7329
All e-mail addresses will remain the same. Please call for fax information, if needed.

As various ministry teams packed their offices earlier this week, some items were no longer needed. On Friday, August 23 from 8am-12pm, those items will be available for free at the previous connectional ministries office space located at 100 Interstate Park, Suite 120, Montgomery, AL. If you are in the Montgomery area and would like to stop by, someone will be at the former office to assist you. 

The conference staff, trustees and leaders look forward to hosting a ribbon cutting and open house on Thursday, September 26 from 10am-2pm. More details about this event are forthcoming. Please make plans to attend this celebratory time of fellowship. 

The conference office would like to extend its sincere appreciation to the AWF Board of Trustees for their guidance during this time of transition. 

Foundation Continues to Thrive Through Donor Support

published 8/9/2013

(Meredyth Earnest) - On Thursday, August 1, 2013, the Stegall Seminary Scholarship Endowment Foundation held its annual Dinner of Celebration at the Renaissance Hotel in downtown Montgomery. Nearly 400 supporters - a foundation record - gathered to hear words of thanksgiving from representatives of the 17 seminary students in attendance that evening.

Each year, two extravagantly generous foundation donors underwrite the entire cost of the banquet, ensuring that donations made to the foundation only go directly toward student scholarships. Rev. David Saliba, senior pastor of First United Methodist Church of Greenville, Ala., served as the emcee for the evening. The invocation was given by Brady Baird, pastor of the Summerville Road United Methodist Church in Phenix City, Ala. Baird is a new foundation scholar, and enters Candler School of Theology this Fall.

The highlight of each year’s banquet is the ability for donors to hear firsthand from current seminary students and alumni. This year, four students and one alumna spoke on behalf of the 38 seminary students the foundation currently supports.

Rev. Carolyn Nelson, a native of Prattville, Ala. and foundation alumna, spoke first. Carolyn, currently serving as the associate pastor at St. Luke UMC in Pensacola, Fla., is a graduate of Asbury Theological Seminary. She reminded donors of the importance of the additional benefits their support provides. “The benefits of the Foundation extend beyond financial – they provide special and life giving relationships with donors that provide a connection to home. Through your encouragement, I was able to fulfill the dream God laid upon my heart.”

John Russell, a native of Mobile, Ala., and a current student at Gammon Theological Seminary in Atlanta, Ga., spoke next. Addressing the donors, he said, “Seminary is hard, but this journey is wonderful. I celebrate you on this day. Just continue to do what you do; you’re making a major difference.”

Russell reinforced the idea of partnership between donors and students, saying: “I want to go all the way, and with your support we can go together.”

Woods Lisenby, a native of Dothan, Ala., will begin his third year at Candler School of Theology this fall. He spoke to donors about how their support creates a lasting relationship. “You mean more to me than I can explain. Thank you for being a part of our stories, and letting us be a part of yours.”

Ebb Hagan, a native of Evergreen, Ala. and a student at Princeton Theological Seminary, joined the banquet via a pre-recorded video message. He took the donors on a tour of the seminary and a local church where he interned. Hagan discussed how God had put a call to ministry on his heart, but the real-world financial realities of responding were daunting. “With an undeniable call you have to commit,” he told donors. “It is because of people like you that I’m able to commit to something this big.”

Colby Leonard is a native of Coker, Ala. and a graduate of Huntingdon College. Currently a student at Duke Divinity School, Leonard shared how his experience with the foundation allows him the opportunity to watch God at work through others. “When looking at you, I see people who want to build the church. With whatever gift I have for ministry, I hope to make every one of you proud. It is only because of your generous gifts that I have the opportunity to attend Duke Divinity School. This is an opportunity that my parents – and my grandparents – never even imagined.”

A duet of “You Raise Me Up” was provided by Susan Cooper and Jack Horner, of First United Methodist Church of Montgomery.

Dr. Paulette Thompson, on behalf of the Stegall Seminary Scholarship Foundation board, presented the third annual Spirit of the Foundation Award to Temple Millsap. “This award is designed to give a special recognition to someone whose insight, guidance, and support have furthered the foundation’s capacity to respond to student needs,” said Thompson.

Millsap, who was joined at the banquet by his wife, SuSu, was honored with a standing ovation. “I am speechless. Thank you,” said Millsap when recognized by the crowd. Bishop Paul A. Duffey and Mr. John Bullard are the two previous recipients of the Spirit of the Foundation award.

Introducing the visionary behind the foundation, Rev. Saliba said, “No man has ever worked as passionately or as fervently for a cause without any credit or compensation whatsoever as Dr. Karl Stegall does for the seminary scholarship foundation. He works, he lives, he breathes to support the future of Christ and His church through the education of ministers.”

Dr. Karl K. Stegall, retired Alabama-West Florida Conference pastor and executive director of the Foundation, then took to the stage to share a word with those in attendance. “When we very informally began these dinners in the late 1980s, we had 25 people and tonight we celebrate that we have nearly 400 people,” said Stegall. “However, our job is not finished and I want to challenge you to help me once again.”

Stegall invited the donors to provide a minimum scholarship of $10,000 per year per student. “Will you join me in this effort,” he asked. He went on to share, “I don’t know of a greater investment - I don’t know of a greater feeling that could dwell in your hearts - than that of knowing one day in the future the felling you will know that you have made a financial investment in the life of one of these seminary students who comes to be your pastor.”

In closing, Dr. Stegall introduced Bishop Paul Leeland, resident Bishop of the AWF Conference, to share a few words. “It’s like we’re sitting on the front row of watching what God is doing to build the church,” said Leeland. Leeland then invited each seminary student to join him on the stage as a blessing was said over them.

To view photos of the evening, please click here.

{John Russell, a current Gammon Theological Seminary student, 
speaks to those in attendance.}

Alabama-West Florida Conference Office to Move This Month

published 8/1/2013

(Montgomery, AL) - The Alabama-West Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church is pleased to announce that conference headquarters will be relocating within the Montgomery area. The Conference Board of Trustees, under the leadership of Rev. Debora Bishop, has researched this move for several years. Rev. Bishop stated, "It was our desire to find a location that will be a permanent home for the conference office. We have been renting space for seven years and know that finding a place we can own will allow us to be better stewards of the conference budget. We have diligently explored various options including renovating existing space at a current Methodist facility, building a new site and purchasing an existing office building. The decision to purchase and renovate was made by the members of the Alabama-West Florida Conference in January and is the best fit for the conference in terms of size, price, location and future ministries to our communities."

The new office is located on Woodmere Boulevard in Montgomery and is situated among other professional office buildings. It is convenient to I-85, the Eastern Bypass and Perry Hill Road. In addition to conference staff and the Episcopal Office, the two Montgomery District offices will now be located within this new building.

The official move dates for the conference office are August 14-15. Because the conference computer server is located on site and must move, there will be a brief time where all staff e-mails will be down. Telephone service will also experience a brief outage during these two days. The plan is to be fully accessible by Friday, August 16. A notification will be sent as soon as telephone and e-mail services are fully restored.

The leadership directors of the conference may be reached by cell phone during the move. Those numbers are as follows:
Frank Dunnewind: 334.488.0667
Rev. June Jernigan: 334.324.4820
Rev. Neil McDavid: 251.510.3514
Mary Catherine Phillips: 334.590.5641
Bishop Paul Leeland's calls may be routed through his assistant, Megyn Ard: 334.318.8720.

The new contact information for the conference and Montgomery District offices maybe be found below.
Alabama-West Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church
4719 Woodmere Boulevard
Montgomery, AL 36106
Conference Main Telephone: 334.356.8014
Montgomery-Opelika and Montgomery-Prattville Districts Telephone: 334.239.7329
All e-mail addresses will remain the same. Please call for fax information, if needed.

The conference staff, trustees and leaders look forward to hosting a ribbon cutting and open house on Thursday, September 26 from 10am-2pm. More details about this event are forthcoming. Please make plans to attend this celebratory time of fellowship. 

A Word from the Bishop: Quadrennial Sexual Ethics Training

published 7/26/2013

Dear Colleagues in Ministry:

The Conference Board of Ordained Ministry and I are excited to offer the upcoming quadrennial sexual ethics training this September. I am confident this seminar will broaden our understanding of how we appropriately work within our appointed areas of ministry and interact with our church members.

It is a pleasure to welcome Rev. Dr. Karen McClintock, a United Methodist elder and clinical psychologist to the Alabama-West Florida Conference. She is currently in clinical practice and adjunct professor in the psychology department at Southern Oregon University. Dr. McClintock has worked with a number of our United Methodist Conferences, each offering affirmation for her leadership and understanding of the unique challenges of clergy life.

For your convenience, three dates and locations have been arranged to accommodate your personal schedules: Saturday, September 14; Monday, September 16; and Tuesday, September 17th. Seating is limited to 200 in each setting, so if there is a specific date that is more conducive to your schedule, you may want to register immediately. These dates have been offered to ensure your participation.

You may not be aware, but in the brief time I have served as the Bishop of the Alabama-West Florida Conference, I have received eight complaints of sexual misconduct in our conference. There is one case in legal litigation at this time, and one which is being threatened. In both of these cases the minister and the local church have been named in the lawsuit for the purpose of seeking damages. For this reason, this is one of the very few offerings extended to you that is mandatory. All clergy must participate which ensures our conference, our legal counsel, and our insurance partners that all clergy have received the same information. Pastor Parish Relations Committees (PPR & SPRC) are being notified of this required attendance so they will understand your participation is required.

Dr. McClintock will speak to us about congregations at risk, clergy at risk, and how we might lower the risk of public scandals and litigation.

To register for this event, please go to I look forward to an educational day together in addition to a time of Christian fellowship. As always, I am grateful to you for your faithfulness and fruitfulness in all things; even the things that prepare us for a greater ministry and stronger covenant.

In Appreciation,
Paul L. Leeland
Resident Bishop 

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