The North Alabama Annual Conference continued Tuesday morning by opening with worship. Cheryl Tolbert led those gathered in music and Bishop Lindsey Davis gave the morning message.
During the message, Bishop Davis shared that the landscape in the United Methodist Church has changed and all Annual Conferences are planting new churches. He noted leadership is key in planting churches and shared qualities he has learned are necessary in church planters.
These included qualities such as a passion for evangelism, flexibility, creativity, not afraid to risk failure, trustworthiness, integrity, spiritually mature, personal holiness, being a tither, and willingness to teach stewardship.
Noting that both clergy and laity can be church planters, he shared a story of a small church that was on the verge of closing. At their request, he appointed the District laity to take over the church. They brought it back to life and reached many people in the community with the gospel. Eventually the District Lay Leader became a licensed local pastor and became the pastor of the church.
As the message closed, Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett shared the Conference goal of starting at least 16 new congregations this quadrennium.
The morning business began with the report from the Board of Ordained Ministry. Rev. Rick Owen recognized this year’s retiring class. He noted that this year’s class of retiring clergy contributed approximately 490 years of ministry.
The Retirees include
Retiring pastor Rev. Sam Huffstutler continued the tradition of the retiring class passing a Bible to the class of newly ordained Elders by presenting a Bible to Rev. Miriam Smith saying, “Preach the Word.”
The Conference voted on a recommendation from the Board of Ordained Ministry and the Ministerial Integrity Committee which resolved that all clergy under appointment, including lay speakers, be required to allow BOOM to obtain a background check every four years as part of their refresher ministerial integrity training. The cost of the check will be built into the training fee.
Rev. Kenny Baskins questioned why credit checks were not part of the recommendation. After discussion, BOOM agreed to research this and report back to next year’s Annual Conference.
The Council on Finance returned to the stage to discuss the 2015 budget. Rev. Ken Dunivant withdrew his motion from Monday as the Council agreed to study his proposal over the next year to understand the impact the proposed change to the Conference budgeting process will make.
A motion passed for the Council on Finance to have the budget ready by May 1 next year.
The 2015 budget was then passed as proposed.
The Conference heard a report on this year’s special offering for Imagine No Malaria. Charlie Carlton, campaign coordinator for the Conference’s Imagine No Malaria effort reported on Sunday the Conference collected $251,129.22 for Imagine No Malaria. This is the largest Annual Conference special offering in our history. This means North Alabama has raised $911,035.96 toward our $1 million goal to save 100,000 lives.
The Conference heard a report from Conference United Methodist Men president Tony Wallingsford who presented the importance of local church’s having strong ministries for men.
The Conference Commission on the Status and Role of Women presented the Annual Louise Branscomb Barrier Breaker Award. This year three people were honored. An honorary award was given to Belle Carlisle who has been on staff at Urban Ministry and served meals to thousands of people as the Director of Urban Ministry's Community Kitchen for more than 31 years. Cindy Castro was recognized for helping Lineville First UMC and the greater community expand their outreach to families of children with special needs especially families of children with autism. Activities include monthly support meetings, a summer camp and a new baseball league. The final recipient was Dr. ML Roberts, Jr. a member of Trinity UMC in Tuscaloosa. Dr. Roberts has not only served as a leader at all levels in the North Alabama Conference, but he played a role in the integration of the University of Alabama.
The Conference spent time in worship during the Annual Memorial Service remembering those clergy and clergy spouses who have died in the last year. Rev. Don Neal preached the sermon during the service.
Those remembered were:
In the afternoon, the Conference heard the report of the Board of Higher Education and Ministry. Conference Director of Campus Ministries Creighton Alexander explained that campus ministry is part crisis management, relational counseling and missional training. He shared the missional model for North Alabama Conference campus ministries. He then introduced Greer Fawley who shared her powerful testimony and how the connection with those in campus ministry led her to now be in campus ministry.
Linda Holland presented the Conference Nominations Report. The report was accepted as presented.
The Conference heard from the Board of Trustees and the Interim Executive Director of Sumatanga. They thanked the Conference for their support and offered hope for the Conference camp. Interim Executive Director Lee Padgett also shared that thanks to a donor, Sumatanga has $50,000 in scholarships. He added, “no camper should be turned away this summer. “
The Conference Commission on Archives and History shared their report. They recognized this year’s Wheeler Award for Church History recipient John Mark “Bruno” Hughes for his work on the new pictorial memoir of Camp Sumatanga “Rest and Vision.”
Following a dinner break, the Conference joined together for a Celebration worship service. During the service, worshippers celebrated the 50,000 meals volunteers packed earlier in the day working with Stop Hunger Now. Bishop Lindsey Davis preached the sermon for the evening worship and the praise band from the Church at Cahaba Bend led music.
The evening ended with the annual Mission 2 Gather 5K run and 1 mile fun walk. Proceeds of this fundraiser benefit the Mission 2 Gather mission agencies and mission congregations of the North Alabama Conference working together to engage persons in mission and ministry to those in need. The top three finishers in the 5K were Rev. Brian Erickson, Rev. Ian Conerly and Rev. Dave Barnhart. The fastest walker of the evening was Rev. Lyle Holland. Among the Cabinet, Rev. Sherill Clontz crossed the finish line first as a walker. Rev. Lewis Archer was the first Cabinet member to complete the 5K.
Annual Conference continues on Wednesday morning at 8 a.m. As members enter the coliseum you are asked to be seated according to the church and district you will serve in the new Conference year. Look for signs indicating the section reserved for your district. If your district is seated upstairs and you cannot climb stairs, you may sit on the floor in a section near your district. Please note: During the Sending Forth Service, Communion will be served in the same way as in the Opening Celebration—at serving stations located throughout the coliseum.