Annual Conference 2019 is quickly approaching! This year's theme is, "This We Proclaim." We are most appreciative to Dr. Larry Bryars and his staff at Frazer Memorial UMC in Montgomery, AL, for hosting us again this year as well as Dr. Jeremy Pridgeon and his staff at Montgomery FUMC for hosting the ordination and commissioning service. This year we welcome Bishop Tracy Smith Malone from the East Ohio Conference for the opening worship and commission and ordination services. Sean Dietrich from "Sean of the South" will be the laity banquet speaker and the spouse's luncheon speaker. Jarvis Wilson and Keith Wilson will be leading our music once again. Please note several important highlights and changes to annual conference.
Annual conference is Sunday, June 2-Wednesday, June 5, 2019. The reservation system is available by clicking here. This simplified system is needed if you or members in your group wish to reserve a meal or participate in the Biometric Health Screening. On-site registration will open on Sunday, June 2, 2019, at 3:00pm.
Whether you are a new or a returning member to annual conference, the conference has released an Annual Conference overview video. Please take a few minutes to watch this presentation.
We will begin each day of annual conference with worship and communion. Many people throughout the annual conference will be involved in this holy time. Our own clergy will be preaching at all worship services. To see the working agenda, click here. Note that opening worship will begin at 6:00pm on Sunday, June 2. The clergy and laity sessions will follow that service.
This year's missional offering is Teaming with Tanzania. We will joyfully collect this offering at opening worship on Sunday, June 2. Click here to access a bulletin insert and video to use in your worship services.
We will utilize electronic voting devices to elect delegates to the 2020 General Conference. An informative video has been released about this topic. Please arrive early as your device must be obtained as you enter Wesley Hall (not registration). Also note that Bishop Graves could call for a vote at any time during a business session. Your attendance is important. We will not use these devices for other votes during conference. Also note that there will be a business session on Tuesday evening, June 4. This is new for our conference.
There are several remaining pre-conference briefings in the districts. Click here to see the schedule. These meetings will cover important information for lay and clergy members to annual conference. Your attendance is highly encouraged.
We are excited to invite choir members from around the conference to participate in the Opening Worship Mass Choir. Choir directors who are interested in bringing members to participate should contact Wayne Sigler at Frazer Memorial UMC. Details about the evening and music selection information may be found here.
Meals will again be served at Frazer Memorial UMC for Monday and Tuesday lunch as well as the Laity Banquet on Tuesday evening. The cost for lunch is $8.50. Please make a reservation by clicking here if you plan to eat meals on campus, attend the spouse's luncheon (tickets are limited) or attend the laity banquet. Traditional group breakfasts/lunches may also choose to have their gatherings on campus and will arrange their own catering. If you are in charge of a group or special lunch and need room space, please click here to register your group.
Frazer Memorial United Methodist Church is offering child care for most sessions of annual conference. The Frazer nursery will be open 30 minutes prior to the sessions. Montgomery FUMC will provide nursery care for the ordination/commissioning service and spouse's luncheon. Both facilities offer this care for nursery- and elementary-aged children, except where designated. There is no charge for child care. Child care can be reserved here.
Youth pages have always been a part of our annual conference and we appreciate their presence, energy, and assistance! Students, ages 12-18 and active members in the United Methodist Church, are eligible to serve as pages at annual conference. Youth pages extend lay leadership and we appreciate their participation. Click here to apply.
Please note the ordination and commissioning service will again be a combined service this year. It will be held Monday, June 3, starting at 7:00pm at Montgomery FUMC.
In order to be good stewards of the conference budget, we will again forego printed worship bulletins for several services. Instead, a downloadable "Guide to Annual Conference" PDF will be provided several weeks before annual conference. In it will be worship bulletins, pages that were previously bag inserts and other relevant notes. You may wish to access it on your computer, tablet or phone, or print a hard copy on your own to bring with you. Printed worship bulletins will be provided to family members at the memorial service as a keepsake. The traditional ordination/commissioning service bulletin will be a printed version, as usual.
Should you or your agency wish to submit a digital "insert," it must be laid out and submitted no later than May 3. It will go in the "Guide to Annual Conference" behind the agenda and worship bulletins that will be electronically distributed to all clergy and lay delegates. All inserts must be one page, 8.5 x 11 submitted as a PDF to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please do not submit a brochure repurposed. Digital inserts should be a general overview of your ministry. No late submissions will be accepted. All submissions must be affiliated with the United Methodist Church.
The working Book of Reports is available as a downloadable link on the conference Website. The final file will be uploaded in the coming days. Should you wish to order a hard copy, that link will also be available soon. It is essential that you review this publication before arriving at annual conference. Should you choose the PDF download option, it is recommended that you download it from the conference Website before arriving at annual conference. As we confirm more cost-effective methods to print/distribute our conference journal, we will provide an updated link with information and instructions for ordering as soon as it is available.
Alabama-West Florida boards and agencies have been given priority for the limited number of available display spots. To reserve a table or exhibit display, click here. Should there be openings, our conference registrar will contact you in order of request. Requests must be affiliated with the United Methodist Church.
As a reminder, we encourage you to prayerfully consider nominating someone for one of our conference awards: The Alice Lee Award, Jane Walker Scholarship Award, Francis Asbury Award, Harry Denman Evangelism Award, One Matters Award and the Local Church Heritage Award. Click here for more information.
Several hotels in Montgomery have offered the conference a discounted room block. Click here for more information.
Again we welcome volunteers to annual conference. Click here for a volunteer registration link. If you are attending conference as a spouse or guest and would like to help, we welcome your service.
We look forward to seeing you at annual conference in Montgomery, AL, June 2-June 5, 2019!
Mary Catherine Phillips
Director of Communications
A New Era of Leadership: Tuskegee University and AWFUMC Celebrate Inauguration of First Woman President at Tuskegee University
Rev. Audrey Rodgers, Director of the Tuskegee Wesley Foundation;
Rev. June Jernigan, Assistant to the Bishop and Director of Ministerial Services;
Rev. John Brooks, Director of Multicultural Ministries;
Rev. Ashley Davis, Director of Connectional Ministries;
Deaconess Celeste Eubanks, Director of Leadership Strategies;
Dr. Jeff Wilson, Montgomery-Opelika District Superintendent;
Rev. Robin Wilson, Senior Pastor of Opelika FUMC;
Rev. John Russell, Pastor of St. John United Methodist Church;
Rev. Richard Williams, Associate Pastor of Aldersgate UMC.
Proceeds from the gala generated more than $600,000 in scholarships for promising students at Tuskegee University. Specifically, the Alabama-West Florida Conference's participation in this historic event provided two Tuskegee Wesley students with funds that have allowed them to finish the spring semester without debt. The scholarship also helped the Tuskegee Wesley Foundation strengthen the relationship between the Alabama-West Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church and Tuskegee University by continuing the UMC tradition of investing in the educational and spiritual development of students.
Notably, the Methodist church paid for the education of famed Tuskegee scientist, George Washington Carver, whose experiments and discoveries with the peanut and soybean helped to propel the southern economy for years to come. Carver became a lifelong Methodist because of the investment and the support of the Methodist Church during his collegiate years. The students of the Tuskegee Wesley foundation have the same potential as George Washington Carver, and I am certain that the seeds the AWFUMC has sowed in their spiritual and educational development will yield the next lay and clergy leaders of the United Methodist Church. Partner with us as we continue to develop the next lay and clergy leaders by donating to the Tuskegee Wesley Foundation at https://www.tuwesley.org/donate. It takes a village to create and fund the education of the next George Washington Carver.
Rev. Lisa Pierce, current Director of Alabama Rural Ministry (ARM), has been named as the Lee County United Methodist Disaster Response Director. Pierce is an ordained deacon in the conference and has served as the ARM director since 2013. “This was an obvious selection,” stated Dr. Jeff Wilson, Montgomery-Opelika District Superintendent. “Lisa is a gifted individual who not only knows how to compassionately respond to people in need but also a leader who is a seasoned veteran in working with under-resourced communities and building strategic community partnerships.” She will continue to serve as the Director of ARM while also offering her gifts to the Lee County tornado survivors.
The Lee County response is classified as long term, meaning the UMC will be in the area as long as there is a need. She will work with Rev. Ashley Davis in the Office of Connectional Ministries and will utilize resources from the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR). Churches who are interested in sending teams or partnering with this relief effort can contact Lisa at email@example.com.
Tippit currently serves as the Discipleship Pastor at Christ UMC in Mobile, AL. Her previous appointments include St. Francis Street/West Wilmer/Whistler as an associate, Grace UMC in Mobile and Bonifay UMC. She was ordained as an elder in 2016. She served as a youth minister for twenty years in the Alabama-West Florida Conference before answering her call into pastoral ministry. Tippit completed her undergraduate studies in communications at the University of South Alabama and received her Master of Divinity from Asbury Theological Seminary. She is married to Keith and they have two adult daughters; Amy (Adam) and Ashley.
Glaize currently serves as senior pastor of Fairhope UMC. His previous appointments include Beulah UMC, Montgomery FUMC as an associate, Tallassee FUMC and Brewton FUMC. He was ordained as an elder in 1994. Glaize completed his undergraduate work at Huntingdon College; received his Master of Divinity from Candler School of Theology at Emory University and earned his Doctor of Ministry from Columbia Theological Seminary in Atlanta, GA. Glaize was awarded the Denman Evangelism Award in 2001. He is married to Rev. Alecia Glaize, who serves as a deacon in the conference. They are the proud parents of Anna Grace and the late Curtis. Anna Grace is a seminary student at Yale Divinity School and is a candidate for ministry.
“It is an honor to announce these two servant leaders as incoming district superintendents,” stated Bishop Graves. “Rev. Tippit and Dr. Glaize bring outstanding leadership skills to the cabinet and I look forward to seeing the positive impact they will have on the ministries in their respective districts. Please join me in expressing our deep appreciation to Dr. Darren McClellan and Rev. Sara Shaver for their dedication and faithfulness to the cabinet. They will certainly be a blessing to their new churches.”
The appointments to Christ United Methodist Church and Fairhope United Methodist Church will be announced with other clergy appointments at a later date.
While many people are preparing for Spring Break and the Lenten season, critical disaster relief work continues in Lee County. The afternoon of March 3, 2019, will forever be remembered as the day where lives were lost and, for those left standing, permanently changed. VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster) reports that 199 homes were destroyed, 108 received major damage, and 251 incurred minor damage. In the midst of this devastation, The United Methodist Church continues to help lead the tornado relief work, which is primarily based out of the Montgomery-Opelika District and the Lee County churches.
“As with any natural disaster, the national news is now focused on other stories; but for those who live in the area, the devastation is very real,” stated Dr. Jeff Wilson, Montgomery-Opelika District Superintendent. “The district has utilized local and national resources to respond in the most appropriate ways. We are lucky to have strong community leadership in east Alabama, so this relief effort has been a partnership of many organizations, including the United Methodist Church.”
Response from within the Montgomery-Opelika District
- Several United Methodist pastors from the Lee County area responded the evening of March 3, providing crucial pastoral care to survivors and grieving families. These pastors continue to provide care and support as recovery moves forward.
- District churches continue to provide generous care and capable leadership through pastoral care, overnight shelters, work teams, supplies, food, coordination, and financial support for survivors.
- Alabama Rural Ministry, a United Methodist Ministry based in Macon and Lee Counties, has deployed staff and volunteers to assist in the effected areas.
- District churches and East Alabama Medical Center are working to locate and furnish temporary housing for survivors.
- Rev. John Fox, District Disaster Response Coordinator, is working with churches and emergency agencies to coordinate our United Methodist response.
- Many of our local pastors are working closely with the East Alabama Medical Center as it seeks to coordinate relief efforts through “MEND: Rebuilding Lee County One Life at a Time.”
United Methodist Support from the Annual Conference and Beyond
- Churches from around the conference responded with immediate supply needs the week of the storms. Churches are also sending working teams to clear debris and begin clean-up work.
- A special offering was requested on Sunday, March 10th. All funds collected from this offering will go towards immediate and long-term relief.
- Bishop David Graves called for prayer in various regional meetings in the days after the storm.
- Conference leadership visited the area on Friday, March 8. Bishop Grave and the cabinet are making plans to visit next week, as well.
- The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) sent a trailer of supplies and issued a $10,000 grant in the days after the storm. They are also providing supplies as requested by the District Disaster Response Coordinator.
- A representative of UMCOR visited the Lee County area on Friday, March 8, to have a better understanding of the damage.
How You Can Help
- Continue praying for those in Lee County and for our response efforts.
- Financial donations are the number one way you can help. Checks may be sent to the conference office with a notation of “Lee County tornadoes” in the memo line.
- At this time, additional supplies are not needed.
- Churches wishing to send teams for day trips are asked to visit leecoema.com. Because the response is rapidly changing, please check this site before sending a group. Currently, all groups must register with EMA on the day of their trip and receive wristbands for admittance to the disaster area.
- Smaller groups of five or less people can contact Rev. John Fox, District Disaster Response Coordinator, at John.Fox@aumc.net to connect with a local work team.
- Teams seeking overnight accommodations can contact Rev. Lisa Pierce at firstname.lastname@example.org for availability.
The response to the Lee County tornado will be another long-term recovery ministry in the Alabama-West Florida Conference. As we partner with UMCOR and churches throughout our conference, we believe our connection will be an important part of rebuilding lives and homes. Additional questions can be directed to Rev. John Fox, District Disaster Response Coordinator, at John.Fox@aumc.net, or Dr. Jeff Wilson, District Superintendent, at DSMontOp@gmail.com.