Lay Ministry Blog: God at Work in Portland


The work of your North Alabama Delegates and Alternates to the 2016 General and Jurisdictional Conferences has been ongoing for two years -- since our election at the 2014 North Alabama Annual Conference. Over the last two years we have held ten Delegation Meetings either in Cullman at Cullman First United Methodist Church or in Birmingham at the United Methodist Center.

North Alabama Delegation Members include the following:

Steve Lyles
Scott Selman
Zac Riddle
Carol Toney
Charlie Carlton
Pat Meadows
Emily Chastain
Judy Poole
Keith Russell
Donald Johnson
Reid Turner

Robin Scott
Dale Cohen
Mary Bendall Henley
T. K. Kufarimai
Glenn Conner
Robert Sparkman
Mark Parris
Julie Holly
Wade Griffith
Richard Stryker

I asked each of the Delegates to give a sentence or two of positive moments or positive things they witnessed or experienced in Portland, Oregon, during General Conference.

Positive moments from General Conference 2016:

  • Spending two weeks with good UMC people, who are in love with God
  • In subcommittee and in committee, there were deep conversation about all issues where people sought to understand each other
  • Enjoyed having many meals together as a delegation. Enjoyed the African worship on Sunday of General Conference and the influence they have on the church
  • Enjoyed sharing meals and time with the delegation and talking about how we disagreed, but still respecting one another
  • Enjoyed sharing time with African delegates and talking about Church with them and the differences and commonalities
  • Deaconess/Home Missioner Consecration, and having fruitful discussions… saw a little more best than worst
  • Impressed with the spirit of collegiality in Church and Society 2 and not get into arguments in the legislative committee work
  • It was a really good time and a lot of experiences and good work in my subcommittee (drug and alcohol abuse, ministry with those who are suffering and dying).
  • Impressed by the 14 year old girl from Indiana who raised money to build clean water wells, and how she can make that kind of difference and how we can do the same if we applied that same kind of passion
  • A Legislative Committee stopped to pray for another committee (with health issues raised) and they prayed and sang for 20-30 minutes. It was a Church around the world in action in prayer.
  • The African worship service had a real sense of the movement of the Spirit.
  • People are afraid of words, but not afraid of practice (Committees used Rule 44 even without passing it). There is power in the naming. There is also so much work being done when we aren’t paying attention. There is more to what we are doing than what we are not doing.
  • Celebrations were always the high point. Committees gathered to pray for others away from Portland; there is so much more happening in the life of the Church than General Conference.
  • Anticipation of our Bishop returning to North Alabama for 4 more years.
  • Looking forward to an update on the Commission on Human Sexuality the Council of Bishops who is commissioned to work on this issue for the next two years. There is a lot of work going on in identifying the process and scope of the commission. The Council of Bishops will continue to work on the framework of the process and scope or naming the commission who will work on this mandate from the Delegates to General Conference.

This group of Delegates and Alternates will now assemble in North Carolina next week (July 13-15) for the Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference at Lake Junaluska.

The main task of the 2016 Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference is to elect five new Bishops for the Southeast as there are five Bishops retiring this year.

The five retiring bishops are

  • Bishop James King serving the South Georgia Conference and originally from Ashland, Alabama;
  • Bishop Mike Watson serving in North Georgia - he will be retiring to Birmingham and will be associated with Canterbury United Methodist Church;
  • Bishop Lindsey Davis serving the Kentucky and Red Bird Missionary Conferences;
  • Bishop Larry Goodpastor serving the Western North Carolina Conference; and
  • Bishop Young Jin Cho from the Virginia Conference. Bishop Cho was the guest speaker at the North Alabama Conference this June.

We are thrilled that Dr. Robin Scott is an episcopal candidate from North Alabama. Dr. Scott was affirmed by the North Alabama Annual Conference in June of this year. Good luck Robin!

Below is a list of all the episcopal candidates the Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference will prayerfully consider next week.

For more comprehensive information about these clergy as well as the business of Jurisdictional Conference go to the website: and click on 2016 Jurisdictional Conference.  (Also, live streaming of all sessions will be available. I invite you to watch online.)

I want to offer a special thanks to Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett for her support of the Delegation. I appreciate the many times she participated and advised the work of this group.  Thanks also to Director of Communication Danette Clifton who has provided support in every phase of the work of the Delegation.

This Delegation was elected by the members of the North Alabama Annual Conference in 2014 and will continue to represent North Alabama until delegates are elected to the 2020 General Conference, which will be in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Grace and Peace for the North Alabama Conference,
Steve Lyles
Conference Lay Leader

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