(Rev. Neil McDavid) - Cultivating fruitful leaders and congregations who make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world is at the heart of our mission in the Alabama-West Florida Conference. One of the ways we are engaging the cultivation of fruitful leaders is through EQUIP LEADER TRAINING, a biblically based, servant leader training resource. The newly formed Academy for Congregational Excellence is leading this effort in partnership with the John Maxwell EQUIP group.
February 17-18 of this year clergy representatives from each district, along with three lay leaders, were led in the EQUIP leader training by Dr. Herb Sadler, Rev. Ron Ball, Rev. John Bonner, Rev. Neil McDavid and Mrs. Kim Bullard. These persons were led through Notebook One in the EQUIP series which focuses on spiritual formation, skill formation, and strategic formation. The twenty persons involved in the training will each lead a group in their local church and/ or district. The focus in these first steps is on leader development in the small membership church. The Equip leader development process is centered on leaders training leaders who train leaders.
We look forward to this leader development process multiplying leaders, thus growing more fruitful leaders and more fruitful congregations who are "making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world."
A capacity crowd filled the beautiful sanctuary of First United Methodist Church, Montgomery on Friday, March 23, 2012 to remember the exemplary life of Bishop Paul A. Duffey.
The service represented the many wonderful attributes and gifts Bishop Duffey shared with thousands of people he encountered over the years as a pastor, district superintendent, bishop but more importantly, friend and mentor.
Bishop Paul Leeland of the Alabama-West Florida Conference gave the greeting and opening words of the memorial service and confirmed what many have said about Bishop Duffey in that he served as a mentor and “advanced Christ and not himself.” He also confirmed how many felt by saying, “He was the most Christ-like man I’ve ever known.”
Bishop Lindsey Davis of the Kentucky Annual Conference represented the Council of Bishops and gave testament to Bishop Duffey’s 32 years on the council (8 years as an active Bishop). He expressed that Duffey’s humble spirit, keen intellect and warm presence made them, as a group, better. “His wisdom was readily known and appreciated. When Paul Duffey spoke, we all listened,“ he said. Davis further expressed, “We learned over the years to trust his judgment.” A theme guests would continue to hear throughout the service.
Rev. Joe Hastings, retired pastor in the AWF Conference, warmly shared of his friendship he and his wife shared with Louise and Paul Duffey over the years. While the ladies enjoyed their time in the UMW, the men would enjoy lunch together at various eateries in Montgomery. Hastings told of one instance where he realized he left his wallet at home to which Duffey responded, "Likely story!"
Associate Minister Rev. David Saliba of First United Methodist Church, Montgomery offered a unique and heartfelt perspective as someone who recently met Duffey in 2006. His first encounter was a phone call from Paul Duffey while a seminary student at Candler School of Theology. Bishop Duffey had received word Saliba would be appointed to serve First Montgomery and wanted to welcome him to the staff and express his excitement of getting to know him. Duffey’s late wife, Louise, also shared this hospitality by writing him welcome notes and by being a constant source of encouragement. Saliba said, “To be with Paul and Louise was like seeing the Proverbs of God in living color.”
One of Duffey’s closest confidants was Dr. Karl K. Stegall, Pastor Emeritus at First Montgomery and Founder of the Stegall Seminary Scholarship Fund. Stegall and Duffey remained the closest of friends even after Duffey moved to his assisted living facility in Gainesville, GA. Stegall gave a humorous witness to Bishop Duffey’s love of etymology. He sincerely shared that Duffey defined greatness, integrity, commitment and selfless service. A profound statement from Stegall that resonated with those in attendance was, “The Word of God flowed through him with clarity and conviction.” He concluded by saying, “He lived fully and he died well.”
Dr. R. Lawson Bryan, Senior Minister at First Montgomery, gave the final remarks before offering a prayer of thanksgiving. He shared that Bishop Duffey was always ready to preach and always ready to pray, noting that one of the most moving sermons he ever heard was at an annual conference ordination service where he filled in at a moment’s notice for someone who was ill—exemplifying that Duffey had a gift to be able to preach so profoundly at any given time.
Dr. Nathan Attwood and Rev. Jay Cooper, Associate Ministers of First Montgomery, delivered prayers and scripture throughout the service. The cathedral choir of First Montgomery, led by Jack Horner and accompanied by Linda Gill, sang a moving version of, “Majesty and Glory of Your Name” by Fettke. “The Lord’s Prayer” was sung by choir member and music professional, Susan Cooper. This arrangement and her presentation of this song is a favorite by Methodists throughout the Southeast.
As the service concluded, the family followed a processional of United Methodist clergy including several visiting Bishops and their spouses. The world of Methodism united on this peaceful morning to celebrate the life of Paul A. Duffey. He would have been humbled and overjoyed at the outpouring of love and kindness bestowed upon him where all agreed we were lucky to have such a good and faithful servant for 91 years. Until we meet again Bishop Duffey, you will be greatly missed.
On behalf of the Alabama-West Florida Conference, we extend our deep appreciation for the prayers and kind words expressed about Bishop Paul A. Duffey. Arrangements were previously announced and can be found here.
Clergy of the United Methodist Church will be named honorary pall bearers for the memorial service and will be seated in a reserved section along with their spouses.
Memorials may be made to:
First United Methodist Church
2416 West Cloverdale Park
Montgomery, AL 36106
(Music Ministry or General Fund)
Stegall Seminary Scholarship Fund
P.O. Box 241661
Montgomery, AL 36124
Paul & Louise Duffey Scholarship
900 Arkadelphia Road
Birmingham, AL 35254
Huntingdon College Fund of Scholarships
1500 East Fairview Avenue
Montgomery, AL 36106
Written condolences may be sent to the family at the below addresses:
Mrs. Melanie Duffey Hutto (David)
P. O. Box 1128
Hendersonville, NC 28793
Mr. Paul A. Duffey, Jr. (Tanya)
5638 Newberry Point Drive
Flowery Branch, GA 30542
Bishop Paul Andrews Duffey passed away Sunday, March 18, 2012 in North Georgia after suffering a brief illness. Visitation will be held Thursday, March 22 at Leak Memory Chapel from 5-7pm and also Friday, March 23 in the fellowship hall of First United Methodist Church, Montgomery at 10am. A memorial service wil be held at 11am in the sanctuary. Clergy of the United Methodist Church will be named honorary pall bearers for the memorial service and will be seated in a reserved section along with their spouses. A private burial will be held prior to the services.
Paul Andrews Duffey began life in Brownsville, Tennessee. After attending the University of Alabama, he finished his degree at Birmingham-Southern College. His alma mater has awarded him an honorary doctorate and elected him a life trustee where he was formerly chairman of the board. He also has been awarded honorary degrees from Union College (LH.D.) and Kentucky Wesleyan College (LL.D.) A Distinguished Service Award was given him by Lindsey Wilson College and the Trustees Award by Sue Bennett College. Huntington College conferred an honorary degree upon him in May, 2000.
While serving a student appointment, Paul Duffey received his M. Div. from the Divinity School at Vanderbilt University. Before finishing his formal education he had already joined the Tennessee Annual Conference where he was ordained deacon and elder, both times by Bishop Paul B. Kern. He served the Chapel Hill Circuit in the Tennessee Conference, then served six different appointments in the Alabama-West Florida Annual Conference: Abbeville; First Church, Marion; Dexter Avenue, Montgomery; First Church, Pensacola: First Church, Dothan; First Church, Montgomery.
In 1976 Paul Duffey was named District Superintendent of the Montgomery District of the Alabama-West Florida Conference where he was serving at the time of his election to the episcopacy by the Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference. He was assigned to the Louisville Area and served eight years. He was also Secretary of the Council of Bishops 1984-1988.
Bishop Paul Duffey and the late Louise Calhoun (1921-2010) were married in Selma, Alabama on June 20, 1944. Their children are Melanie Claire Duffey (Mrs. David N. Hutto, Jr.) and Paul A. Duffey, Jr.
By United Methodist News Service*
7:00 A.M. ET Jan. 25, 2012 | TAMPA, Fla.
The Rev. Jay Williams (left) listens during a panel discussion about clergy effectiveness at The United Methodist Church's Pre-General Conference news briefing at the Tampa Convention Center in Florida. With him are the Revs. Tom Choi (center) and Amy Gearhart. UMNS photos by Mike DuBose.
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Editor’s note: This is a look at issues explored at a recent Pre-General Conference News Briefing in Tampa, Fla. A separate story, Preview to church restructuring debate, focuses on the proposal to restructure the church.
Diverse issues presented at a recent three-day briefing signaled the workload ahead for the lawmaking body of The United Methodist Church, which meets this spring.
More than 300 delegates, communicators and others who will be part of the 2012 General Conferencemet Jan. 19-21 at the Tampa Convention Center, site of the legislative assembly, for a preview of some of the issues they will face April 24-May 4. United Methodist Communications sponsored the event, with involvement and support from other agencies and ministries of the church. This is a brief look at the issues explored.
Leading vital congregations
Proposed changes to the ordination process will eliminate guaranteed appointments, streamline the ordination process and sharpen the focus on making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world, said members of the Study of Ministry Commission in their presentation on clergy effectiveness proposals.
The Rev. Jay Williams, pastor of Glendale United Methodist Church, Everett, Mass., endorsed the plan, which would eliminate the commissioning step, create an orientation to ministry and require conferences to have vocational discernment coordinators.
Guaranteed appointments were introduced in the 1956 Book of Discipline as a way to protect women who received the rights to become ordained at that General Conference, said the Rev. Tom Choi, Hawaii District superintendent, California-Pacific Annual (regional) Conference.
“Racism and sexism haven’t gone away, but we’re in a different place than we were 56 years ago,” Choi said.
Leadership needs to be creative and nimble, said the Rev. Amy Gearhart, senior pastor of Missouri United Methodist Church, Columbia, Mo. She said security of appointment for elders in good standing has become a “barrier to mission.”
In 2010, the United Methodist Sustainability Advisory Group released a report saying there are 784 more pastors than appointments in the denomination. Clergy retirements by 2013 will leave drastically low numbers, if younger clergy are not recruited and encouraged.
Bishop Larry Goodpaster, current Council of Bishops president, discussed the proposal to create a “set-aside bishop” without residential responsibilities.
“It is nearly impossible to be president of the Council of Bishops and lead an episcopal area,” he said.
Some delegates questioned whether a new bishop position, along with the elimination of guaranteed appointments, would shift too much power to the bishops.
Goodpaster emphasized that the General Conference will still be the only voice that speaks for the entire denomination and bishops will remain bound by The United Methodist Book of Discipline.
Representatives of the United Methodist ethnic/racial ministries asked news-briefing participants to see and hear them because often they feel “invisible.”
The Rev. Francisco Cañas introduces speakers during a breakfast with leaders of The United Methodist Church’s ethnic initiatives.
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The denomination’s ethnic initiatives help start new churches and cultivate new leaders to draw more people of color into The United Methodist Church.
“It is our mission to be the church for all people and to bring the great news to each in their own language,” said the Rev. Francisco Cañas, speaking for the ethnic/racial ministries. Cañas is national coordinator of the National Plan for Hispanic/Latino Ministry.
The group expressed concerns with a proposed restructure of The United Methodist Church, which includes a plan to consolidate nine of the denomination’s 13 general agencies into a new United Methodist Center for Connectional Mission and Ministry.
The ethnic initiatives said there was little or no consultation with them about the new structure proposed by the Interim Operations Team, which developed the restructure proposal endorsed by the Connectional Table and Council of Bishops. The Connectional Table drafted the legislation.
“We should have some direct say-so about where we are placed and financed,” said the Rev. Fred A. Allen, national director of Strengthening the Black Church for the 21st Century.
“Pacific Islanders will give their last dollar before they see a church die,” said Monalisa Tui'tahi, executive director of the Pacific Islanders National Plan. “We need your partnership to be part of the family.”
Representatives of the United Methodist Council on Korean American Ministries, Asian American Language Ministry, and Native American Comprehensive Plan also spoke.
Trail of repentance and healing
“What if your greatest hope was also your greatest fear?”
The Rev. Anita Phillips, executive director of the Native American Comprehensive Plan, softly asked that question and stilled the room of General Conference delegates, communicators and agency staff.
An Act of Repentance and Healing for Indigenous Persons will be part of 2012 General Conference on April 27.
A ceremonial space honoring indigenous people by artist Bob Haozous graces the Riverwalk in Tampa, Fla. The United Methodist Church is planning an “Act of Repentance and Healing for Indigenous Persons,” during its 2012 General Conference.
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“I have two identities. I am a Christian, and I am Native American,” said Phillips.
“It is with fear and trembling that I say, ‘yes,’ repentance is possible, and it can be genuine and honest.”
Not far from the Tampa Convention Center, where the legislative assembly of nearly 1,000 delegates from around the world will meet, is a marker in honor of the remains of a small Native American tribe uncovered when the center was constructed in 1987.
“A temple mound stood five stories high and existed before the time of Christ,” said the Rev. Stephen Sidorak, top executive of the United Methodist Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns. Tampa was also thedeportation center for Native Americans and African slaves, he said.
“We have to repent of what we have done and what we have left undone,” Sidorak said.
The committee working on the service has been to the Philippines and other places to gather stories from indigenous persons “wherever United Methodism has spread its blanket on the land,” Phillips said.
“My hope rests in Christ. I claim you as a brother or sister in Christ and ask that you claim me as a representative of the Native American nation,” she said. “It is one of the most important things you will do at this General Conference.”
Worldwide nature of the church
A 20-member Committee to Study the Worldwide Nature of The United Methodist Church considered how to forge deeper connections, establish greater local authority and create a more equitable sharing of power and representation, reported Kansas Area Bishop Scott Jones, who chaired the committee.
The process included consultation with United Methodists from around the world.
“Part of what we heard everywhere was … a desire to have greater equality across the church,” said the Rev. Cathy Stengel, a district superintendent from the Upper New York Annual Conference.
The Rev. Forbes Matonga of Zimbabwe, the committee vice chair, said the denomination must make some changes to bind its members together. “As we were listening, it was very clear that people we met want to remain United Methodist,” he added.
Central conferences outside the United States have the right to adapt the Book of Discipline for their own use, but “nobody knows what is adaptable and what isn’t,” Jones pointed out. The committee has submitted legislation to solve that problem.
The committee’s other legislative petitions focus on the duties of general agencies to be responsive to the world church and continued conversations about a global model for the denomination.
Changes to clergy pensions
General Conference will consider two proposals that would change clergy pensions, shifting more of the risk in retirement preparation from annual conferences to individual clergy.
Mike Bella (left) and the Rev. Maidstone Mulenga join in worship during The United Methodist Church's Pre-General Conference news briefing. A UMNS photo by Mike DuBose.
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The United Methodist Board of Pension and Health Benefitsis asking the denomination’s top lawmaking body to choose between the two options. The first would combine a defined benefit component with a defined contribution component, like the clergy’s current retirement program but with a reduced benefit for clergy and, consequently, a lower contribution for conferences. The second option would be a defined contribution-only plan.
A defined benefit plan provides a monthly pension payment for life, with the employer assuming the bulk of the investment risk. A defined contribution plan — like the 401(k) plans most corporate employees now have — provides an account balance to use during retirement, with the clergyperson assuming most of the risk that the money will not run out in his or her lifetime.
The pension board recommends the first option, which combines a reduced defined benefit component with a defined contribution component.
Either option would reduce the costs to conferences overall by about 15 percent.
“We have a theology of hope, but we try not to build that into our actuarial projections,” said Barbara Boigegrain, the pension board’s top executive.
The proposed changes would not reduce benefits for retired clergy that already are being paid or reduce what active clergy have already earned.
As the U.S. economy improves, more than 40 percent of United Methodist congregations “describe their financial health as good or excellent,” reported John Goolsbey, a staff executive with the denomination’s Council on Finance and Administration.
Still, all levels of the church responded to the recession, he said, by cutting staff, freezing salaries and re-aligning ministries. The downturn affected church endowments and savings, capital projects and giving to mission work.
At General Conference, the finance and administration agency’s main task will be to present a proposed church budget for 2013-16. The agency also submitted 43 petitions.
To facilitate the budget process, the agency established an economic advisory committee, which created three economic scenarios and worked with the projections of denominational agencies, explained the Rev. Pat Youngquist, staff executive.
At $603 million, the recommended budget reflects general reductions of 6.6 percent and marks the first time a budget smaller than that for the previous quadrennium will be presented.
The World Service Fund represents 52 percent of the budget, at $311.6 million. Other categories are Ministerial Education, $105.6 million; Episcopal (the bishops), $90.3 million; General Administration, $8.2 million; Black College, $42.1 million; Africa University, $9.4 million; and Interdenominational Cooperation, $8.2 million.
“Great ministries cannot be done without your support for the apportionments,” A. Moses Kumar, top staff executive of the Council on Finance and Administration, reminded the delegates.
Leading a session on “Holy Conversation about Challenging Issues,” Minnesota Area Bishop Sally Dyck said, “For many people, General Conference is dread-full.
“As a people of The United Methodist Church, we can demonstrate a more excellent way.”
Holy conferencing, or holy conversation, she said, “sets a tone for respectful dialogue and relationship building.” The goal is to have dialogue instead of debate and to find consensus around important matters rather than have “winners” and “losers.”
Minnesota Area Bishop Sally Dyck speaks about the importance of “holy conversation” about contentious issues.
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“We do more political conferencing than holy conferencing,” declared the Rev. Mike Slaughter, lead pastor of Ginghamsburg United Methodist Church, Tipp City, Ohio. Paraphrasing John 16:13, he expressed hope that “the Holy Spirit will lead to things to come.”
The Rev. Bruce W. Robbins, pastor of Hennepin Avenue United Methodist Church, Minneapolis, agreed. “The challenge of holy conversation can be a source of frustration and despair,” he said. He cited the dilemma of being asked to conduct same-sex marriage ceremonies and the two covenants to which he is called — “as an ordained clergy and as a disciple of Jesus Christ.”
The Rev. Thomas Lambrecht, vice president and general manager of Good News, said he experienced holy conferencing in the Wisconsin Annual (regional) Conference’s study of homosexuality and called it “next to impossible at General Conference.”
While some issues may seem impossible to resolve, he said, “it is important to remember how we treat one another, with respect and understanding. Holy conferencing allows us to talk about our deeply held convictions and the reasons we hold them.”
Erin Hawkins, who leads the United Methodist Commission on Religion and Race, said, “We are tasked with sustaining a difficult conversation every day.
“Holy conversation is a commitment to see equity, participation and access to participation.”
Approaching General Conference, said the Rev. Stephanie Hixon, it is normal to feel anxious and somewhat fearful. She is co-executive director of the denomination’s JustPeace Center for Mediation and Conflict Transformation.
“My prayer,” she said, “is that we may know God’s embrace is strong enough, wide enough and tender enough to carry the important conversations that are put before us.”
Asked what they hope to experience about holy conversation from presiding bishops, other delegates and themselves, panel participants listed courage, fairness and respect, honesty, humility and openness to others in the Spirit.
“Will General Conference be dread-full or will it be hopeful?” Dyck asked the audience. “It’s up to you.”
Gathering participants with rousing, contemporary music was the worship team from Van Dyke United Methodist Church, Lutz, Fla.
In his sermon, the Rev. Tom Albin, dean of the Upper Room for the United Methodist Board of Discipleship, focused on the importance of prayer before, during and after General Conference.
“We need the church united in prayer,” he said.
He introduced a resource, “50 Days of Prayer Before & During General Conference 2012.” Electronic communication will make it possible for every local congregation in every part of the world to pray with and for the 988 delegates. Using the Internet and free, downloadable files, every United Methodist will be able to read the same Scripture, share the same insights and pray the same prayer for 40 days before General Conference as well as pray through each day of the conference, April 24 through May 4.
“I know if we listen and God speaks, there will be transformation,” Albin said. “God can answer in amazing ways.”
Preaching on the second day of the news briefing, the Rev. Francisco Cañas challenged participants to find “new forms of being the church.”
Calling for diversity, he said, “To continue perpetuating the old rule of inviting only the people we know, who look and behave like us, will not produce the vitality and diversity that by nature belongs to God’s kingdom.
“As United Methodist people, we find the solid ground of our mission in God’s trust, love and compassion for the entire breadth of humankind.”
*Linda Bloom, Joey Butler, Barbara Dunlap-Berg, Kathy Gilbert and Heather Hahn contributed to this report.
News contact: Maggie Hillery, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.