Meet the North Alabama Conference Delegation

May 24, 2023

Many changes have occurred since the North Alabama Annual Conference held elections in 2019 for representatives to the United Methodist General Conference (4 clergy, 4 lay) and Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference (General Conference delegates plus additional 4 clergy, 4 lay).  Due to the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, General and Jurisdictional Conferences have been postponed and rescheduled several times.  At long last, the postponed 2020 General Conference is set to meet on April 23 – May 3, 2024, in Charlotte, North Carolina, and the Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference (SEJ) will meet July 10-13, 2024, at Lake Junaluska, North Carolina.

During the past few years, nine of North Alabama's 20 delegates and alternates who were elected at the 2019 Annual Conference have either withdrawn from the delegation, the United Methodist Church or both.  While the current delegation members will continue to serve and represent North Alabama, several delegation vacancies will be filled by additional delegates to be elected at the 2023 Annual Conference.

North Alabama has a self-nomination process as part of its delegate elections. Here are those clergy and laity who self-nominated by this year's May 15 deadline. Full details, instructions and an explanation of the delegate election process will be given to Annual Conference voting members in the upcoming weeks.

Since 2019, the North Alabama Conference delegation has been meeting and seeking ways to be responsive to God’s direction for The United Methodist Church. There is a positive, hopeful spirit among the group and they have expressed many hopes and dreams for the future.  The current delegation invites members of the North Alabama Conference to learn a little more about them and to keep in touch through the group’s email address

It is hoped that during the upcoming year, there can be a spirit of open communication and sharing of perspectives and vision for the future of The United Methodist Church through General and Jurisdictional Conference delegates.

Meet the Delegation:

Rev. Dedric Cowser (pastor of Center Grove UMC) is the delegation head. He has sought to lead the church prayerfully and by the power of the Holy Spirit to be a prophetic witness for Jesus Christ and he encourages not only through words but also actions. Under his leadership, delegation members have been encouraged to pray together, discuss matters candidly and to listen to each other within and beyond the delegation. Dr. Cowser also serves as the North Alabama Annual Conference Secretary. He will become the senior pastor of Trinity UMC in Huntsville in July.
Former Conference Lay Leader Steve Lyles, says, “I was elected to represent the laity of the North Alabama Conference and to the best of my ability interpret and vote on the changes in the Discipline that will lead to the strengthening of the United Methodist Church in serving God.” Steve is a member of Alexander City First UMC in the Southeast District. He has served on previous General and Jurisdictional Conference delegations, as well as, on numerous North Alabama Conference and SEJ committees.
Rev. Kelly Clem (retired elder), who is serving a fourth term on the General Conference delegation, offers her perspective:  “It is a holy privilege to serve alongside this diverse delegation and to be part of the United Methodist Church as we weather the storms of life together.  I have high hopes for the future of the United Methodist Church and pray that this time of disruption will bring forth new growth for the Kingdom in ways we might never have imagined.”  During her career in ministry, Kelly has served as a pastor, GBGM missionary, new church planter and District Superintendent.
Pat Meadows, a member of Pleasant Hill UMC in Bessemer, is a retired attorney who has served on the North Alabama General Conference and Jurisdictional Conference Delegations for seven consecutive terms. He says, “It is a privilege and high honor to serve our conference alongside so many wonderful and skilled leaders who represent our church. I have great hope for the future of our church. We have been elected to do our best for our church. I believe we will be successful in our efforts. God will lead us on every step of this journey.” 
Rev. Sherri Reynolds, (incoming pastor of Gadsden First UMC), “As a delegate representing the North Alabama Conference, my vision is for a forward focused, hope-filled Church, considering opportunities rather than obstacles. Jesus invited his followers to share about him and make disciples. Jesus reminded his followers that the primary command is to love God fully and neighbor as self. These continue to be our call and commission, and a foundation to move forward and refocus as the Church.”  Sherri has served as the Southwest District Superintendent since 2018.
Precious Kufarimai is a member of St. Paul UMC in Triana. She is a young adult serving for her first time on the delegation.  She has been serving as a GBGM Global Mission Fellow in Miami, as part of the 2021-2023 Global Mission Fellow cohort.  Global Mission Fellows is a United Methodist program for young adults ages 20-30 that places them in new contexts for mission experience and service. The program has a strong emphasis on faith and justice. Precious is the daughter of Revs. T.K. and Adlene Kufarimai.
Rev. Tiwirai "T.K." Kufarimai (pastor of St. Paul-Triana) says, “As a delegate of the North Alabama Conference to the General and Jurisdictional Conference, I am praying for God's leading and direction in all we do. I invite the whole conference to pray for us.”  T.K serves as chair of the North Alabama Conference Evangelism Team and as a member of the Conference Board of Ordained Ministry.  He served as a delegate to the 2016 General and Jurisdictional Conferences.
Gail Hiett is a lifelong United Methodist. She is a founding member of a newly forming United Methodist community of faith in the Mountain Lakes District called Abundant Grace. Gail has served as the Mountain Lakes District Lay Leader for many years and also currently serves as co-chair of the NAC3 Team.

Rev. Mary Henley (incoming Associate District Superintendent for the South Central District) shares her enthusiasm:  “I am honored to represent the North Alabama Conference of the United Methodist Church and our gospel message of faith, hope and love. I’m heartened by the transformative work of our collective church in so many places and in so many ways.” Mary served as a delegate to the 2016 General and Jurisdictional Conferences.
Rev. Sheri Ferguson (Ministry Health Coordinator through the Board of Ordained Ministry) says, “I have never taken for granted the sacred opportunities given to me to live out a part of my vocational call to journey with hurting congregational systems. I am an alternate delegate to General Conference in May 2024, and I take it seriously that I have been entrusted with this sacred responsibility. It is my hope that our North Alabama United Methodist Conference will be able to embrace the ethos that our differences make us better and that everyone can experience welcome in our churches.”  Sheri is an ordained Deacon.
Rev. Brian Erickson, (pastor of Trinity UMC in Homewood) is a clergy member of the delegation. Trinity UMC is a multi-campus congregation and is is one of the largest churches in the conference. Brian was recently elected as chair of the Order of Elders and also serves as co-chair of the NAC3 Team. 

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