Message from Bishop Wallace-Padgett: 2016 Gathering of the Orders


Dear Friends,

One of the strengths of North Alabama United Methodism is the collegiality among our clergy. Granted, we have our share of differences, disagreements and even divisions. But in my four years as your bishop I have been impressed by the overall respect and appreciation that our clergy show one another. Though we represent a wide range of backgrounds and theological perspectives, we are united by our love for Christ and people as well as our life work of “making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” To reiterate a phrase coined by the South Central Jurisdiction – “We are more . . .”

One way in which “We are more . . . ” is described by our 2016 Gathering of the Orders theme “Harvest and Fruitfulness.” Indeed, North Alabama United Methodism produces more harvest and fruit because of the collective ministry of our clergy, laity and churches.

Some of you may be asking, “What is the Gathering of the Orders?” It is a 48-hour retreat designed for all North Alabama deacons, elders, associate members, local pastors and provisional members. The 2016 Gathering will be on October 16-18, 2016 at Sumatanga Conference and Retreat Center. Plenary sessions will be led by Lead Pastor and Elder Rev. Jorge Acevedo, Executive Pastor and Elder Rev. Wes Olds and Fort Myers Shore Campus Pastor and Local Pastor Rev. Shari Lacey from Grace Church, a multi-site, United Methodist congregation in Southwest Florida with six campuses.

The Cabinet and I encourage all North Alabama clergy to join us for this time of worshiping God, celebrating each other’s lives and ministries, experiencing inspiration and finding new ways to move toward our common mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ. After all, we are more together than we are individually.

Clergy who have not yet registered for the October 16-18 event may do so today by going to Overflow housing is also available in Attalla and Gadsden. Options include: Hampton Inn Gadsden/Attalla 256-538-5222; Fairfield Inn & Suites, 116 Walker Street, Gadsden 256-538-2100; and Days Inn Attalla, 801 Cleveland Ave Attalla 256-538-7861.

Highlights of this year’s Gathering include:

  • A deep dive led by Jorge Acevedo and team into the theme of “Harvest and Fruitfulness”;
  • Celebration of the 60-year anniversary of clergywomen rights;
  • Celebration of the 20-year anniversary of the United Methodist Order of Deacon;
  • Specials meals for local pastors, deacons, clergy women and ethnic clergy;
  • Meetings with each Order and the Fellowship of Local Pastors and Associate Members;
  • Preaching by Rev. Jeremy Auvil, Rev. Sheryl Thornton and Rev. Dedric Cowser;
  • Updates on our Holy Conversation group and Racial Diversity pilot;
  • Free time to walk around the lake, hike, enjoy the rocking chairs, rest and renew;
  • Great food and fellowship with each other!

Yes, we North Alabama United Methodists are “more” at a multitude of levels. We will embody that reality in a few short weeks at the 2016 Gathering of the Orders and Fellowship of Local Pastors and Associate Members. As a result-may we be more and more effective at “Harvest and Fruitfulness.”

As always, it is a privilege to serve as your bishop.

Debra Wallace-Padgett
Resident Bishop
North Alabama Conference

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