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2011 Alabama-West Florida Annual Conference

Alabama-West Florida Annual Conference
June 5-8, 2011, Montgomery, Ala.

The 2011 AlabamaWest Florida Annual Conference met with the theme "Living the Mission." Bishop Paul L. Leeland, presiding over his third annual conference session since becoming the resident bishop, welcomed clergy and lay members to Frazer Memorial United Methodist Church.

Prior to this year's gathering, Bishop Leeland urged the churches of the conference to receive a special offering for new church development. The people of the Alabama-West Florida Conference responded by contributing more than $32,000.

The 2011 annual conference session opened June 5 with a mass choir of more than 200 voices from throughout the conference. Bishop Alfred Wesley Gwinn Jr. of the North Carolina Conference delivered the sermon, "Storm Tossed."

Two deacons and 16 elders were ordained as members in full connection, and two associate members were recognized at the ordination service on June 6 at First United Methodist Church of Montgomery. Two provisional deacons and 13 provisional elders were commissioned during the service on June 7 at Frazer Memorial United Methodist Church. The average age of ordination is 35.

Twenty-six clergy and clergy spouses who died in the past year were remembered during a Service of Commemoration and Holy Communion.

Eighteen clergy retiring this conference year were honored on June 6. Together, they represent 481 years of combined service to The United Methodist Church.

The conference was blessed by the leadership of several guest speakers. The Hon. Sue Bell Cobb, chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, gave the 3rd Annual "Mary Ellen Bullard Leadership Address" during the Laity Banquet. Dr. P. Alice Rogers, assistant professor in the practice of congregational leadership at Emory University,led the conference in two morning Bible studies. Dr. Lovett H. Weems Jr., distinguished professor of church leadership anddirector of the Lewis Center for Church Leadership atWesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C.,led two teaching sessions.

The following delegates were elected to the 2012 General and jurisdictional conferences.

Lay delegates elected to General Conference: Dr. Steve Furr, Jackson, Ala.; Judge Dawn Hare, Monroeville, Ala.; Gip Kingry, Dothan, Ala.; Beverly Maddox, Robertsdale, Ala.; Frank Dunnewind, Montgomery, Ala.; and Robert Powell, Dothan, Ala.

Lay delegates elected to the Southeast Jurisdictional Conference: Pat Luna, Santa Rosa Beach, Fla.; Susan Hunt, Montgomery, Ala.; Clara Ester, Mobile, Ala.; John Croft, Andalusia, Ala.; Paulette Thompson, Montgomery, Ala.; and Edna Williams, Tuskegee Institute, Ala.

Lay delegates elected as alternates to jurisdictional conference: Gene Floore, Destin, Fla.; Helen Edwards, Selma, Ala.; Harold Faulkner, Montgomery, Ala.; and Bill Hill, Thomasville, Ala.

Clergy delegates elected to General Conference: Dr. Larry Bryars, Shalimar, Fla.; the Rev. Rurel Ausley, Niceville, Fla.; the Rev. Robin Wilson, Mobile, Ala.; the Rev. Allen Newton, currently of Panama City, Fla., moving to Montgomery, Ala.; the Rev. Tonya Elmore, Mobile, Ala.; and Dr. Lawson Bryan, Montgomery, Ala.

Clergy delegates elected to jurisdictional conference: the Rev. Frederick Outlaw, currently of Daphne, Ala., moving to Montgomery; the Rev. David Goolsby, Auburn, Ala.; Dr. George Mathison, Auburn, Ala.; the Rev. Ralph Sigler, Dothan, Ala.; the Rev. Jeff Spiller, Mobile, Ala.; the Rev. Lester Spencer, currently of Montgomery, Ala., moving to Gulf Breeze, Fla.

Clergy delegates elected as alternates to jurisdictional conference: Dr. Jeremy Pridgeon, Pensacola, Fla.; Dr. Tim Thompson, Montgomery, Ala.; the Rev. Jackie Slaughter, Montgomery, Ala.; and the Rev. Doug Pennington, Panama City, Fla.

A total of 17 resolutions and petitions were presented in front of the conference. Twelve were passed and five were not. Those that passed, listed by resolution number and title, were:

#1 The University Project of Claremont School of Theology
#2 Retaining the Ban on Homosexual Unions
#3 Retaining Language Barring Ordination of Practicing Homosexuals
#5 A Stance Against Indebtedness
#7 Resolution Regarding the Jewish People and Anti-Semitism
#9 Just Representation
#10 Just Representation Disciplinary Petition
#14 Retain Language in Social Principles
#15 The Training of Non-Christian Religious Leaders by United Methodist Schools of Theology
#16 Withdrawal of United Methodist Organizations as Members of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice
#17 A Resolution Concerning Treatment for Addictive Behaviors

The conference also:

  • Participated in a relief kit drive for the United Methodist Committee on Relief yielding more than 3,700 relief kits.
  • Established an $11.429 million budget for mission and ministry for 2012, up slightly from 2011. The increase is due in large part to the salary support for new church start-ups.

Membership stands at 146,752 down 2,051 from the previous year. Worship attendance stands at 66,384, down 4 percent. Church school attendance stands at 28,742, down 8 percent.

--Mary Catherine Phillips