2018 Annual Conference Missional Giving Recipient

published 4/19/2018

The annual conference planning team, directed by Bishop David Graves, is pleased to announce that this year's missional giving recipient for the 2018 Annual Conference special offering is Communities of Transformation.  

Many of you collect special offerings during your worship services leading up to conference. Click here to access a bulletin insert that will help explain the impact this ministry has on our conference and connection. The insert is setup so that you may print this file on a single sheet of paper, front and back, and then trim to have two inserts per page. A promotional video is also available by clicking here. We invite you to show this video during your worship services. 

We encourage you to give generously to this ministry that has made a significant impact on communities throughout our conference. This offering will be collected at the opening worship service on Sunday, June 3, 2018, at Frazer Memorial United Methodist Church.

2018 Annual Conference Information

published 4/18/2018

Annual Conference 2018 is quickly approaching! This year's theme is, "Imagine A Church That's the Hope of the World." 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 James Swanson for the opening worship service and Julia Kuhn Wallace will join us on Tuesday. Mrs. Nancy Graves will be the laity banquet speaker and Mrs. Casey Graves Johnson will be the spouse's luncheon speaker. We are honored to announce that Jarvis Wilson will be leading our music once again. His professional colleague, Keith Wilson of Ben Hill UMC in Atlanta, GA, will join him. Please note several important highlights and changes to annual conference.  

Annual conference is Sunday, June 3-Wednesday, June 6, 2018. The reservation system is available by clicking here. This simplified system is only 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 3, 2018, at 3:00pm. 

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 3. The clergy executive and laity sessions will follow that service. 

This year's missional offering is for Communities of Transformation. We will joyfully collect this offering at opening worship on Sunday, June 3. Click here to access a bulletin insert and video to use in your worship services

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, unanimously approved at last year's conference, 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 4, 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 4. 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 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. 

Your Book of Reports will be sent to your district office and either distributed at a gathering or picked up by each pastor. Please look for instructions from your district office. 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.

Bishop David Graves, Resident Bishop of the Alabama-West Florida Conference, has asked all clergy and lay members to annual conference to prepare for the 2018 session by doing several things. Please read The Anatomy of Peace by the Arbinger Institute and The Church Guide to Making Decisions Together by Thomas Corking and Julia Kuhn Wallace. There is one more opportunity to attend a Courageous Conversation if you have not already done so. You can learn more by going to

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.

We are again anticipating a great response to the request for UMCOR relief kits and supplies. This year we have identified specific supplies for each district to collect. Should you have complete kits, those are also always welcome. A truck from Coleman American will accept donations in the parking lot at Frazer Memorial UMC. We appreciate any group that is willing to continue this ministry and will gladly accept these donations at annual conference. Click here for more

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.

A centrally located hotel in Montgomery has offered the conference a discounted room block. Click here for more information.

New to annual conference this year is 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 3-June 6, 2018!

Mary Catherine Phillips
Director of Communications

Welcoming the stranger: FUMC Pensacola broadens its definition of hospitality by sheltering touring cyclists

published 4/16/2018
(Kari Barlow for AWF Conference) - Julia Stinson and Carlann Scott weren’t sure what they might find when they pedaled up to First United Methodist Church of Pensacola last week.

But the two cyclists, on the last leg of a Baltimore-to-New Orleans trek, weren’t choosy, just worn out and needing a place to crash. What they got—a comfy couch, warm showers, tasty snacks, and privacy in the church’s youth building—had them recommending FUMC Pensacola to fellow cyclists before they even left town.

“It felt really homey, and it was nice to have our space,” says Scott, a 26-year-old nurse from Surrey, British Columbia. They especially liked being able to come and go with ease.

“It was really cool,” says Stinson, a 25-year-old wildland firefighter and urban farmer from Calgary, Alberta. “That was a huge thing—to know we could leave our stuff and it’s safe.”
The women are two of the most recent touring cyclists to experience a new kind of sanctuary at FUMC Pensacola. Since 2013, the downtown church, which sits at the corner of Wright and Palafox streets, has provided overnight shelter to more than 400 travelers pedaling their way across the southern United States.

“I never anticipated that this would be a ministry … but God is doing something beautiful with it,” says Jeb Hunt, an avid cyclist who started the outreach and who works as the creative director at FUMC Pensacola. “So many conversations of faith have come up, and it’s become a really beautiful ministry that is reaching people from all over the world.”

Most of the cyclists are tackling the Adventure Cycling Association’s official Southern Tier route, which stretches from San Diego, California, to St. Augustine, Florida. Hunt, who coordinates the overnight stays, has met cyclists of all ages and walks of life and from six of the seven continents.

He first approached the church about hosting cyclists after he completed the ACA’s TransAmerica Trail—riding from Astoria, Oregon, to Yorktown, Virginia—in the fall of 2013. Near the end of that trek, he stayed at a tiny Baptist church outside of Troutville, Virginia, that offers shelter to cyclists as well as hikers on the Appalachian Trail.

“It had such an impact on me,” Hunt recalls. “There was no one there. They were so trusting, and it was such a beautiful, warm, safe haven on a cold night. … I realized I needed to find a way to give back for all the hospitality that was shown to me.”

The first year, FUMC Pensacola welcomed 75 to 100 cyclists, with most of them sleeping on Hunt’s office floor. The church has since upgraded those accommodations, hosting the weary travelers in its youth building while also adhering to safe sanctuary guidelines and keeping cyclists off the premises when youth functions are underway.

“Many are individuals who have never been to a church in their life or it’s been years since they went to a church,” says Hunt, who often takes the cyclists out to breakfast and has them sign a guestbook. “They’re surprised that we would just open our doors … and some of them are surprised we aren’t preaching at them.”

Listed on ACA’s official maps—and the popular cycling website— FUMC Pensacola has become well known for hospitality and flexibility.

“This time of year, I get two to three calls a day from strangers,” Hunt says. “I’ve been in that situation, and when you hear, ‘Come and stay,’ it’s such a relief. … And it’s just very biblical to welcome the traveling stranger.”

Bishop Names Davis as Director of Connectional Ministries & Conference Secretary

published 4/15/2018

Bishop David Graves is pleased to announce a projected appointment for the role of Director of Connectional Ministries & Conference Secretary. Rev. Ashley Davis, current associate pastor at Woodland UMC in Pike Road, AL, will be appointed in this new role effective July 1, 2018. 

“After an extensive interview process with several highly qualified lay and clergy candidates, a team of seasoned professionals determined that Rev. Davis was the best selection for this appointment. Ashley is very gifted and will bring a multitude of talents to the conference office. The role of conference secretary is quite time consuming and we felt it was best if it was combined into an existing leadership staff position. She will be able to make an immediate, positive impact on our conference and I am looking forward to working with her. I am most grateful to Dr. David Saliba for his leadership in the conference secretary role. He will now be able to focus on the rapidly growing Perdido Bay UMC where his valuable time is needed.” Davis follows Rev. Nancy Watson, current Director of Connectional Ministries, who will receive an appointment back into the local church. 

Rev. Davis is a life-long United Methodist and is a native of Luverne, AL. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Auburn University and a Master of Divinity degree from Emory University's Candler School of Theology. Prior to her service at Woodland UMC, she served in campus ministry at the Troy University Wesley Foundation for eight years. Following her time in campus ministry, she served the Trinity-Wallsboro charge for three years. She is the mother to her 15-year-old son, Will. 

Graves previously announced the appointments of Director of Congregational Development & Vitality and Director of Multicultural Ministries, along with additions to the extended cabinet. He continued, “Our staff is to be commended for staying focused on mission and ministry. We have experienced turnover in several areas and I am so proud of how they chose to look to the future. I believe our brightest days as a conference office and staff are upon us and I cannot wait to see how we can best resource our local churches."

Other local church appointments will be announced at annual conference on June 6, 2018, at the sending forth service.

United Methodist Inner City Mission Awarded Grant

published 4/11/2018
The United Methodist Inner City Mission has been awarded grant funding for their Taylor Park Afterschool and Summer Tutorial Program. Taylor Park is located in the Oakdale-Maysville community near downtown Mobile. On a daily basis, students participate in a variety of activities, including academic assistance and reading intervention by trained teachers, life skills, and personal growth programs. Funding from the Alabama Department of Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention's Children's Trust Fund, the J.L. Bedsole Foundation, and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Alabama's Caring Foundation is being used to implement a program focused on decreasing risk factors and increasing protective factors related to child maltreatment prevention. If you are interested in financially supporting or learning more about this life changing program, please contact Rev. Tonny Algood at 251-432-1122 or visit  

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