Message from the NAC3 Team: Season of reflection and renewal

January 12, 2023

Happy New Year Friends!

With the New Year often comes new resolutions, promises and plans – whether that be starting healthy habits, creating more balance, strengthening our spiritual anchors or something else. This is because we usually view the new year as a time of reflection and renewal of our commitments to ourselves and to others. So what does that mean for us here in the North Alabama Conference?

“I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in earnest prayer to God on my behalf, [. . .] so that by God’s will I may come to you with joy and be refreshed in your company.”  Romans 15:30,32

We ask that you join us in this season of reflection and renewal. The past few years have been no doubt tiresome, and yet we are nonetheless filled with joy as we look back at what we have accomplished together and consider what else we can do. We are The United Methodist Church, but what does that mean? For us, The United Methodist Church believes in the authority of the Bible, and that the Bible is the inspired word of God. As the Book of Discipline notes, Methodism did not arise in response to a specific doctrinal dispute, despite the existence of ongoing theological controversies, “[t]heir task was not to reformulate doctrine. Their tasks were to summon people to experience the justifying and sanctifying grace of God and encourage people to grow in the knowledge and love of God through the personal and corporate disciplines of Christian life.” Further, The United Methodist Church models Jesus – we find strength in and love one another despite any differences. We are guided by our shared purpose, building disciples and growing God’s kingdom.

In that regard, we start the new year by renewing the promises previously made by this team for the North Alabama Conference. We will:

  1. Continue to follow our polity as set forth in the Book of Discipline;
  2. Not demonize one another over differing beliefs;
  3. Never seek to punish or coerce – financially or otherwise – for a spirit-led decision to withdraw or remain; and
  4. Respect existing convictions and views, including during appointment processes.

We also remind you of some of the values that guide the NAC3 Team as we continue to meet each month:

  1. Belief in Sanctification;
  2. Focus on creating transformative environments for disciple-making in the many existing cultures of North Alabama;
  3. Clarity and accuracy in information sharing; and
  4. Shared vision formed through respect for differing perspectives.

So what comes next? Now we must roll up our sleeves and dig in together, as many groups and congregations have been doing across the Conference. While some have begun forming new congregations and worship experiences, there is much work to be done and it cannot be done without you. We need not only your prayers and support, but your skills, ideas, and shared vision. While there may be lingering uncertainty, we truly believe that renewing our focus on discipleship will lead to a stronger, connectional church. We pray that God directs our path and trust that with Him as our navigator, we are certainly headed in the right direction.

“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.”  Proverbs 3:5-6

NAC3 Team
Bishop Debra Wallace-Padgett
Rev. Brian Erickson, co-chair
Gail Hiett, co-chair
Danette Clifton
Rev. Sherill Clontz
Rev. Dedric Cowser
Rev. Tony Johnson
Lisa Keys-Mathews
Rev. Joy Morgan
Ambria Lankford
Rev. Rick Owen
Rev. Tom Parrish
Craig Robertson
Rev. Donald Smith
Rev. Keith Thompson

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