GCFA Board Takes Additional Action on 2021-2024 Budget

published 3/11/2020

(GCFA) - The Board of Directors of the General Council on Finance and Administration (GCFA) met in Nashville on March 9-10. The Board approved the report of the Committee on General Agency and Episcopal Matters that will reduce the proposed budget to the 2020 General Conference by approximately $80.4 million or 16.3%. This reduction is based upon a recommendation from the Economic Advisory Committee (EAC) (whose membership includes economists and annual conference leaders) and the Budget Advisory Team (BAT) (whose membership is the leadership of GCFA, the Connectional Table (CT) and a representative from the General Secretaries Table).  The reduction anticipates a decline in the apportionment base from the budget approved by GCFA in April 2019. The EAC’s updated projection takes into consideration a projected change in local church net expenditures, which are used in the 2021-2024 apportionment formula. Based upon the financial realities facing annual conferences, the EAC thought it was important to bring these considerations into the equation that attempts to quantify the impact already being felt around the issues facing all annual conferences. This reduction means the budget being proposed to the General Conference will be approximately $413,000,000. 

The GCFA Board also approved a recommendation from the Committee on General Agency and Episcopal Matters that would pull $22.0 million of the $80.4 million reduction from the following areas:

  • General Administration Fund - $4.9 million (16.3% reduction)
  • GCFA Fixed Charges - $1.5 million (16.3% reduction)
  • Episcopal Fund - $15.6 million (16.3% reduction)

The remaining $58.4 million reduction will be recommended to the Connectional Table for allocation across the other five general Church funds: Africa University, the Black College Fund, the Interdenominational Cooperation Fund, the Ministerial Education Fund and the World Service Fund. The CT allocations team will meet to respond to these decisions.

Additionally, the GCFA Audit and Review Committee has revised the Local Church Audit Guide and the Frequently Asked Questions for the Guide  The guide serves as a tool to help local churches conduct financial audits.  The guide can be found on the GCFA website.

The next GCFA Board meeting is by conference call at the end of March and another meeting at General Conference. 

Bishop’s Discernment Task Force Continues Work and Seeks Further Input from AWF Conference

published 3/9/2020

The Alabama-West Florida Conference Bishop’s Discernment Task Force met March 2-3 at Montgomery FUMC to continue important work related to 2020 General Conference.
As a part of that vital work, over 400 clergy and laity from around the conference participated at in-person listening sessions that were facilitated by task force members. Due to the overwhelming interest in this meeting, the task force has created an online survey to obtain as much information and data as possible from members of our conference. CLICK HERE TO TAKE SURVEY.
The discernment task force spent intentional time in their two-day meeting to listen and consider all options for the conference. Rev. Tom Berlin and Rev. Keith Boyette presented to the group via video conference and were able to answer questions related to the Protocol and specifics of the Alabama-West Florida Conference.

Because of the volume of information that will be released following general conference, the previously announced tentative date for a special-called session of annual conference, June 27, has been cancelled

. Bishop Graves will be working with the cabinet on an appropriate timeline that will be announced at a later date.
“Each day new information is released related to general conference, the Protocol, and other legislation,” stated Bishop David Graves. “This is a challenge to process the volume of information being distributed in a rapid fashion but I am grateful for the discernment task force and their voices to help our conference move forward. These leaders have prayerfully committed to being transparent with one another while having the best interest of the conference at the forefront of their discussions. I invite you to continue praying for this group as they process these challenging times.”
The task force will continue meeting prior to general conference and will present their work at the 2020 session of annual conference, to be held June 7-9. Resources related to general conference may be found at

AWF Disaster Response Director Releases Information about COVID-19

published 3/9/2020
Friends of the Alabama-West Florida Conference,
By now, most of you are aware of COVID-19, commonly known as the coronavirus. At this time there is no need to panic as the threat remains low. We do have a responsibility to be prepared in the event that the threat level changes. Now would be a good time for your churches and congregations to review and or create preparedness plans. Here you will find an example of a church preparedness plan created by FUMC Port St Joe. Many pastors have already used this as a template and adjusted it to fit their congregations. We have also included several links that could be helpful, including resource from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) as well as the Florida and Alabama State Health Departments. Remember that good hygiene practices such as hand washing are your best defense against germs. Below you will also find a germ prevention flyer that can be posted in your church should you choose to use it.

Alabama Public Health Information
Florida Health Information
CDC: Stop the Spread of Germs Download

Get Your Community- and Faith-Based Organizations Ready for Coronavirus Disease 2019

Example Church Readiness Plan from FUMC Port St. Joe

Rev. Chris Ackerman
Alabama-West Florida Conference Disaster Recovery Coordinator

Emory’s Board of Trustees elects new members

published 3/4/2020

(Emory University) - The Emory University Board of Trustees has elected three new members: Andrew W. (Drew) Evans of Atlanta, executive vice president and chief financial officer, Southern Company; Bishop David W. Graves of the Alabama-West Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church; and Bishop L. Jonathan Holston of the South Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church. 

Evans has served as executive vice president and chief financial officer of Southern Company since 2018, and is responsible for the company’s accounting, finance, business development, investor relations, treasury, and information technology functions. He also serves as Southern Company’s chief risk officer, and he is a member of the company’s management council. Evans was previously president and chief executive officer of Southern Company Gas, as well as chairman of that company’s board of directors.

Evans joined Southern Company Gas, formerly AGL Resources, in May 2002. In addition to serving as president and CEO, he held several other leadership positions, including chief operating officer, chief financial officer, and treasurer.

A graduate of Emory University with a bachelor’s degree in economics, Evans is also a graduate of the Booth/Kellogg program and CEO Perspectives. He serves as chairman of the Grady Health Foundation, and on the boards of Zoo Atlanta and United Way of Greater Atlanta – HomeFirst Atlanta Community Oversight Board. Evans also serves on the energy advisory council of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta.

Graves, an ordained pastor in the United Methodist Church for more than 28 years, was appointed resident bishop of the church’s Alabama-West Florida Conference in 2016. Along with his cabinet and the Board of Ordained Ministry, Bishop Graves formed a 19-member Bishop’s Response Team, which stands ready to support congregations across the Alabama-West Florida Conference in times of crisis. 

A native of Knoxville, Tennessee, he began his ministry at the Fountain City United Methodist Church in Knoxville, and served churches in the Chattanooga and Kingsport areas, including as senior pastor for the Ooltewah United Methodist Church, a large membership church. He was appointed superintendent for the Kingsport District of the church’s Holston Conference, where he served for six years and was dean of the cabinet.

Graves holds a bachelor’s of business administration degree from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and a master of divinity degree from Emory’s Candler School of Theology. 

Holston was elected to the episcopacy and assigned as resident bishop of the South Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church in 2012. Prior to that, he served for seven years as senior pastor of St. James United Methodist Church in Atlanta, and before that as superintendent of the Atlanta-Decatur-Oxford District of the church’s North Georgia Conference.

A native of Griffin, Georgia, he has traveled extensively as a specialist in missions to Ecuador, Uganda, Costa Rica, Haiti, Honduras, Guatemala, Zimbabwe, Kenya, India, China, and Hong Kong. He has served the United Methodist Committee on Relief, the Catastrophic Disaster Response Team, and as the Church World Service Disaster Consultant in Georgia.

Holston holds a bachelor’s degree in religion from the University of Georgia, a master of divinity degree from The Interdenominational Theological Center, Gammon Theological Seminary in Atlanta, and several honorary degrees.

Public health awareness planned for General Conference

published 3/4/2020

(Commission on the General Conference) - The Executive Committee of the Commission on the General Conference is monitoring developments in the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) and will collaborate with public health authorities regarding any recommended health and safety precautions that should be taken to reduce exposure or transmission of illness when the 2020 General Conference meets in Minneapolis, Minn. May 5-15, 2020. 

The Executive Committee is staying on top of any recommendations from the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding travel and planning large events. They will be connecting with the Minnesota Department of Health for additional guidance and working with the Minneapolis Convention Center in planning for the event.

"We will be developing health and wellness related protocols for the meeting site, including promoting preventive measures that attendees can take such as hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette," said Kim Simpson, Commission chairperson. 

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