York Named Hurricane Michael Response Director

published 10/19/2018
The Alabama-West Florida Conference is pleased to announce that Rev. Shawn York has been assigned to be the Hurricane Michael Response Director. York currently serves as the executive pastor at Gulf Breeze UMC. He will continue to preach on Sundays while serving in this response director role.
Rev. York owned a construction company prior to discerning his call into ministry. He has extensive disaster response experience after leading the flood relief efforts in 2014 in the Pensacola and Baypines Districts and was also instrumental in leading a response team after the earthquake in Haiti in January of 2010.
“After praying that the right leader in our conference would emerge, it was evident that Rev. York was the appropriate person to direct our Hurricane Michael response,” said Bishop David Graves. “The cabinet and I created this position to manage the on-the-ground conference recovery efforts. Shawn is a gifted leader who knows the panhandle area well and has the experience we need to offer our best response. He will be in the Marianna-Panama City District assessing all damaged areas and will work with Rev. Ashley Davis, AWF Director of Connectional Ministries, to ensure our work is efficient, effective and led by the Holy Spirit. I give thanks to Dr. Dan Morris and Gulf Breeze UMC for allowing us to utilize Shawn’s talents in this way. Join me in praying for Shawn as he begins his response work next week.”
York will also work with Mr. Bob Deich of the Louisiana Conference, who led similar efforts after Hurricane Katrina. Deich has graciously offered to share what he learned after the major storm hit the Louisiana Conference in 2005. For more information on Hurricane Michael disaster response in the Alabama-West Florida Conference, visit

AWF Disaster Response to Hurricane Michael: A Glance One Week After the Storm

published 10/18/2018
On October 10, 2018, Hurricane Michael raged ashore making landfall in the Alabama-West Florida Conference. The catastrophic damage is far-reaching and the recovery process will be a long-term effort that the United Methodist Church is committed to leading.
In the past week, we have seen thousands of disciples help storm survivors. The best way we can phrase the response situation is that every day there is a new need and every day there is a new person to help. Thank you to the thousands of people who have stepped up in significant ways in the past week. Here are a few ways the Alabama-West Florida has made an impact.
-We have received a multitude of notes and words of expression from people around the world who are praying for us as we continue to best help those in need. Thank you! 
-Our AWF spiritual directors have prayed over every request received.
Site Visits
-Bishop David Graves and conference leadership have been in the Panama City area and will continue to visit damaged areas in the coming weeks.
-Rev. Rob Haynes has visited the Marianna-Panama City District to assess churches and overall damage. He has also set up some of our initial distribution sites. He continues to communicate with Florida VOAD (Voluntary Organizations Active in Disasters).
-Leaders from Woodlawn UMC have been able to visit many damaged areas to assess immediate needs and communicate that back to the conference. Since cell service has been limited, we have been dependent on them for this and are extremely grateful for their quick mobilization. 
- Ron Toole, Conference ERT Trainer, has visited many churches to assess damage and needs.
Monetary Donations
-We have received an initial $10k UMCOR grant and are in the process of applying for the next grant, which would be $100k. Every penny of these donations will go to help churches, pastors, staff and communities who were affected by Hurricane Michael.
-To date, the Alabama-West Florida Conference has collected close to $200,000 from in-conference collections and online giving.
-Several conferences throughout the connection have pledged their financial assistance. The Florida Conference made a direct appeal and FUMC Ormond Beach has pledged to match up to $500,000
-We have received a $5,000 grant from General Council on Finance and Administration.
- Kristi McClellan, conference grant writer, is in the process of submitting several grants on behalf of our conference that would go to helping specific ministry areas such as feeding programs and clergy compensation. Please contact her if you are aware of specific funding that is available.
-She also secured a corporate donation from Good 360 of a semi filled with personal care items that will be delivered in the coming days. 
UMCOR Kits and Supplies
-Mike Norris mobilized two 53’ semi trucks from UMCOR filled with tornado kits, hygiene kits and flood kits for the Port St. Joe area. Also included are 6,000 school kits that will be distributed in the Marianna-Panama City area.
-A 27’ trailer with similar items was deployed from Decatur, AL, to the Marianna, FL, area. Buckets have also been moved from Dothan, AL to Marianna.
-Heavy duty tarps have been ordered and are necessary to properly cover damaged roofs.
-UMCOR will continue to be a key partner in this relief effort.
Distribution Sites
-Good News UMC and Woodlawn UMC have both served as central command centers for supply collection and distribution. Both have been on the ground immediately after the storm passed. These sites have received supplies, broken down larger shipments, found their own volunteers and have established the first operational structures for response. When possible, operations will be moved closer into the damaged areas.
-Many local churches have delivered thousands of supplies requested to collection sites located throughout our conference or have directly delivered them to affected areas. This effort will continue until the need is significantly reduced.
-The conference has also communicated specific requests of certain areas, such as Port St. Joe, to ensure the correct supplies and delivered and appropriate needs are met.
-The AWF mobile response trailer has been deployed to Woodlawn UMC.
-A 1,400 square-foot plane hanger has been secured to store donations.
ERT Teams and Training
-Since the day after the storm, trained ERT teams have been registering through our online portal. The first call for those in-conference teams came on October 17, as well as untrained volunteers who could distribute supplies and serve food.
-More ERT trainings are scheduled so that we can train as many people as we can since this will be a long-term effort.
-Assessment training is ongoing so that we have as many people as we can in the damaged areas assessing needs.
-Right now teams and volunteers must be self-contained but efforts are being made to find housing options in neighboring districts.
Clergy Care
-In the coming days, each pastor who was affected in some way will be assigned a pastoral friend who will walk alongside them to frequently check in on them, pray with them and help them to continue to assess needs.
-The conference is working on identifying the best group of clergy leaders to partner with clergy in the Marianna-Panama City District.
-The Bishop’s Response Team will be activated in the coming days. This group of caring individuals respond and assist a congregation experiencing a crisis or trauma so that healing can begin. 
-We have begun registering Stephen Ministry teams from around our conference. Stephen Ministers can equip congregation members to provide one-to-one Christian care to people who are hurting.
Insurance and Assessment
-Shelly Slate, Marianna-Panama City District Administrative Assistant, has attempted to make contact with each church and pastor in the district. She continues to update conference leadership on information she acquires. A listing of churches and their status can be found here
-Suzanne Krejcar, AWF Treasurer, has spoken to many pastors and is actively advising them on insurance claims.
-The Alabama-West Florida Conference is committed to helping damaged churches with lost contributions that would normally provide for clergy and staff salaries.
-Efforts are being made to find housing options for displaced clergy and staff.

-The day after the storm, went live so that people wanting to help had a specific Web address to visit. 
-On that site are clickable links for prayer, donations, information on UMCOR kits and registering an ERT team. 
-Frequent updates are being sent with rapidly changing needs along the panhandle of Florida. Those will continue to be sent for the foreseeable future. 
-A photo album of the Bishop's site visit can be found here
-Frequent social media posts are made to provide relevant information and other media stories we have found about our pastors and churches. 
-A clickable district map is being created so that all of the up-to-date need information can be found in one place. 
As we receive information on needs that have changed, we will send an email to those subscribed. To subscribe, click here. We ask for your continued prayers in the days, weeks, months and years to come.

Gift will match up to $500,000 in Hurricane Michael donations

published 10/18/2018

Sisters and Brothers in the Florida Conference,

Thank you for your response thus far to the needs of our brothers and sisters in the United Methodist churches of the panhandle of Florida. Many of you began to receive offerings last Sunday.

I want to share an extraordinary development with you and ask for your continuing generosity. The people of the First United Methodist Church of Ormond Beach have challenged the Florida Annual Conference to help our sisters and brothers in the panhandle through a matching gift up to the amount of $500,000.

Click here to donate. Please make checks payable to The Florida Conference Treasurer, with Hurricane Michael in the notation line, and mail to: Florida Annual Conference, 450 Martin Luther King, Jr. Ave., Lakeland, FL 33815-1522.

As I wrote to you, these offerings will be distributed by Bishop David Graves and the cabinet of the Alabama-West Florida Annual Conference to local churches with the greatest needs.

I give thanks from the depths of my heart for your faithfulness and generosity. I am reminded of Paul’s letter to the Philippians, especially chapter 4. This is the ministry of “giving and receiving” (verse 15), and God will supply every need of ours, and His church, according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus (verse 19).

We ask that all gifts to be matched be given by December 31, 2018.

Please share this invitation. Pam and I plan to give again. We are inspired by this extraordinary gift from God’s people, and we ask you to join us. And, again, thank you!

Ken Carter

Resident Bishop
Florida Conference
The United Methodist Church

Hurricane Michael Disaster Response, October 17, 2018

published 10/17/2018

Many of you have expressed interest in how you can immediately help the survivors of Hurricane Michael. Prayer, monetary donations directly to the conference and supplies are ways you can help now. The United Methodist Church has a history of being in storm-damaged areas for the duration and will be in partnership with the Gulf Coast for years to come. 

Commercial grade tarps larger than 16 x 20, roofing nails and furring strips are in great demand. Our district collection sites are prepared to accept those items in addition to the previously announced supply list

We are now making our first calls for in-conference trained ERT teams who can be self contained (bring your own food, water, gas and either have your own housing/lodging or enter and leave the same day). These teams are needed to clean up debris and tarp roofs. If you can serve in this way, contact Katie Winton at 205.381.2356. There are also several upcoming trainings in the coming days. Click here for information. Assessments are needed in order to apply for our another UMCOR grant. There is an assessment training tomorrow at Ft. Walton UMC. Click here for more

We also need people to serve food and distribute supplies in certain areas (no ERT training required but an ERT-trained leader or participant in the group is needed). If you can serve in this way, please contact Katie Winton at 205.381.2356.

Rev. Britney Toner has published a list of items she is transporting to the Port St. Joe area. Community Life UMC in Gulf Breeze, FL, is collecting these items. 

Stephen ministers will be needed to work shifts to listen and pray with those who have survived this tragedy. Contact Rev. Ashley Davis for more information and to register. 

We will frequently continue to update these needs and communicate that to the conference. Thank you to everyone who is bringing hope and the love of Christ to those who need it most. 

Hurricane Michael Disaster Response, October 15, 2018

published 10/15/2018

You are receiving this email because you are subscribed to the conference newsletter. If you wish to unsubscribe from Hurricane Michael updates, you may do so by following the unsubscribe link. Please carefully select your options so that you are not removed from all conference lists. 

On Wednesday, October 10, 2018, Hurricane Michael came ashore as a category four storm. The Alabama-West Florida Conference is on the ground assessing needs and damage and will continue to respond with short- and long-term efforts. Updates will be sent with prioritized needs. 

1. Prayer is one response everyone can offer. We ask that God will guide these efforts to reach the most people and that we may be a witness to Him through this tragedy. Should you have a specific request, click here and our AWF spiritual directors will be in prayer over your specific need. 

2. Monetary donations are crucial to our response. We have setup a direct online link where you may give to the Alabama-West Florida Conference. 100% of the money will be used in conference for supplies and rebuilding efforts. Kristi McClellan is also actively working on any possible grant money available. 

3. Many local churches want to know how they can immediately provide supplies. Good News UMC in Santa Rosa Beach, FL, has been staging a command center where they are evaluating daily needs. We have set up collection sites in most districts so that drop offs are closer to our local churches. In addition to UMCOR kits, Good News UMC has created a list of most-needed supplies at this time. Click here to access. We are in close contact with Rev. Brad Goode about what is needed most and will continue to update the list as assessments are made. This command center will transition to Woodlawn UMC in Panama City, FL, when they are able to assume this responsibility. The Florida Conference has offered assistance to help our furthermost east areas such as Port St. Joe. We are actively coordinating with them to have supplies delivered to this area as soon as possible. 

4. ERT teams will be a necessity in the coming weeks, months and years. If you have a team ready to help, please register them at this link and Susan Hunt will respond. Click here for upcoming ERT trainings. Because assessments will continue for many weeks, we are holding an assessment training on October 18 at Trinity UMC/Ft. Walton. Prior ERT training (current) is required. Click here for more information on this training

Our district and conference teams will continue to assess needs. Should any pastors have any questions related to insurance or financial needs, please contact the AWF Treasurer at or 334.356.8014. If you know of a specific need from a pastor/church who has limited communication, please have them contact Susan Hunt at 888.942.4477. Click here for the status of churches. You may visit for more information. 

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