This Sunday, please don’t be troubled when your pastors aren’t waiting at the door to see you after worship. They will all be headed to Frazer United Methodist Church in Montgomery, AL for this year’s Alabama-West Florida (AWF) Annual Conference.
Annual Conference is the yearly gathering during which pastors and church members (about 1000 in total) from every United Methodist congregation in our region (which covers the southern half of Alabama and the panhandle of Florida) celebrate new souls won for Christ, new visions of the Kingdom, and new life in communities throughout our corner of the world. Every year we pray and worship and talk together; we approve candidates for ordination and hear from the various ministries that are supported by our connection together.
Here are just a few of the things we do better together:
- Approving and ordaining new pastors to serve our churches.
- Supporting Blue Lake Camp (the hallowed site of Dauphin Way’s own Family Camp each year).
- Disaster Response: After a flood, tornado, or hurricane, you can count on United Methodists to be the first on the scene and the last to leave.
- Higher Education: Huntingdon College, Birmingham-Southern College, and the Wesley Foundation college ministries all depend upon their connection to the United Methodist Church.
- Equitable Compensation: These two-to-three-year grants provide support to churches that need help bringing in a full-time pastor who could help them find new life and ministry in their community.
- Partnership with Tanzania: The United Methodist Church supports missionaries all over the world, and the Alabama-West Florida Conference has the special privilege of partnering with our sister conference in Tanzania as we send regular teams to help train and equip pastors in reaching their own people for Jesus.
- Appointing clergy: Annual Conference always ends with the Bishop making the official announcements about where each pastor will serve for the coming year. In the very old days, these announcements were often a surprise, but now they are made and made public well in advance. We are happy to report that all our pastors are being re-appointed to Dauphin Way.
The theme of this year’s Annual Conference is "Come to the Table" and it will have a distinctive Dauphin Way flair to it. Bishop Mike Watson (Dauphin Way’s Senior Pastor from 1990-2000) will preach at the ordination service while Rev. Kathy assists in the ordination of new deacons (she is the chair of the Order of Deacons). Rev. Michael and Dr. Woods stand as sponsoring mentors for some of the new pastors at that same service. Colleen Hicks (organist) and Jere Thomas (vocalist) will present the anthem at Monday’s memorial service, and Kimi Oaks will offer an opening prayer on Tuesday morning. Rev. Michael will also be preaching in the final worship service of the week on Wednesday.
And through it all, our member delegates — Mark Berte, Lynn Byrd, and Kimi Oaks — will be watching and praying and voting on behalf of our congregation. After the year everyone has experienced, there is not much in the way of big issues or major decisions on the agenda for us here in Alabama-West Florida… but that makes the commitment of our delegates all the more worthy of our thanks.
All of these connections are a testament to the remarkable leadership and gifts throughout our congregation that Dauphin Way, and it is an even greater credit to that we know better than go it alone. We are proud of the connection that God continues to use to "reform the nation and, in particular, the Church, and spread scriptural holiness over the land."
If you would like to learn more about the Annual Conference - or even watch online - you can find everything you need at awfumc.org/ac2021, and through it all, we hope you will be praying for our Bishop David Graves, our District Superintendent Debora Bishop, our pastors, and our lay delegates. Pray that God will be glorified and the kingdom spread through all that is said and done, and especially through all that we do at Dauphin Way.