Message from Bishop Wallace-Padgett: Seven Impressions from the 2022 North Alabama Annual Conference
Two weeks ago we convened in Huntsville for our 2022 North Alabama Annual Conference. It was great to be together in person again! I left the experience with several positive impressions.
Impression #1: The Von Braun Center continues to be an exceptional place to host annual conference. Though they were in the midst of some renovations, the hospitality and comfortable accommodations created a positive atmosphere for our worship, business and work.
Impression #2: The worship was powerful. We had many opportunities to praise God together, thanks to: 1) an outstanding Service of Licensing, Commissioning, Recognition, Restoration and Ordination planned by the Board of Ordained Ministry chaired by Dr. Bill Brunson, 2) a variety of quality musicians and groups coordinated by Nancy Beard, 3) beautiful liturgy and flow prepared by our worship team chaired by Rev. Sarah Smoot and Dr. Nathan Carden, and 4) strong preaching and teaching by Bishop David Graves, Rev. Kelly Clem and Rev. Terry Bentley.
Impression #3: The Conference theme “Disciples Celebrating Discipleship” is descriptive of our focus as an Annual Conference. This was clear from the opening worship service to the adjournment of annual conference. It was evident in the reports, teaching, preaching and generous offering of $62,803.22 for Ukraine refugees. North Alabama consists of disciples who celebrate discipleship. As a result, we are changing the world.
Impression #4: North Alabama clergy and laity debated with skill, respect and grace. Though we did not agree on every matter, we listened well to each other and honored the various perspectives presented. As the presiding bishop, I want you to know how grateful I am for the way you approach debate.
Impression #5: North Alabama clergy and laity enjoy being together. Even though we are in a difficult time when some are in the process of disaffiliation- smiles, hugs, laughter and positive energy infused the Conference from start to finish.
Impression #6: Though some of our congregations will be disaffiliating at our called December 10, 2022 Annual Conference and others in 2023, many of our North Alabama United Methodist churches will make the journey into the future together. The North Alabama Conference of the United Methodist Church will continue to include churches and clergy from the full range of theological perspectives.
Impression #7: The NAC3 team gave hope to persons from various theological perspectives in envisioning distinct streams of traditional, centrist and progressive United Methodist laity, clergy and churches continuing in the North Alabama Conference. These streams are valuable and will be honored not only with words, but our actions of providing space so that each can function in ways that align with their core convictions within the parameters of The Book of Discipline. More details about this will be coming from the NAC3 team soon. (NAC3 is an acronym for North Alabama Conference committed to Christ, Community and Clarity).
There are more impressions I have about the 2022 North Alabama Annual Conference. However, since seven is considered a perfect number in Scripture, I’ll conclude this blog now. In short, I loved being at the 2022 North Alabama Annual Conference with you.
As always, it is a privilege to serve as your bishop.
Holston and North Alabama Conferences