Children’s Harvest highlights work of outreach ministries (May 19, 2004)

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

Children’s Harvest highlights work of outreach ministries

May 19, 2004    News media contact:  Michael Wacht*    
407-897-1140     Orlando  {0078}

An e-Review Feature
By J.A. Buchholz**

LAKELAND — Melba Whitaker believes God calls United Methodists to be concerned about more than just a person’s spiritual life.

Whitaker, coordinator of the Florida Conference’s Children’s Harvest ministry and wife of Bishop Timothy W. Whitaker, said responding to the physical needs of children is what United Methodists are called to do. “As a Methodist I believe God calls us to be concerned not just with a person’s spiritual life, but their physical life, as well,” she said.

Whitaker first thought of coordinating the Children’s Harvest as a way of meeting people’s physical needs during a visit to Tampa United Methodist Centers (TUMC). It was a day she says she won’t forget for two reasons. It was Sept. 11, 2001, and she was awestruck at the amount of outreach being done at TUMC.

“I was very impressed with what they do. Some people may not realize all the good they do,” she said. “Thousands of children are being helped by outreach ministries. Outreach ministry is very important to so many people.”

LAKELAND — Delegates at the 2003 Florida Annual Conference Event help assemble school kits as part of the gathering’s Children’s Harvest outreach ministry. A total of 3,000 kits were sent to the Eastern Angola Conference. Photo by Michael Wacht, Photo #04-0024.

Whitaker decided to bring an outreach ministry opportunity to each annual conference event as a way of highlighting the importance of missions. At the 2002 Florida Annual Conference Event churches participated in Children’s Harvest by donating 2,000 health kits, 730 school kits, more than 200 reams of paper and more than $7,300, which was distributed to Florida Conference outreach ministries and the Methodist Church of Haiti. In 2003 churches gave enough money to purchase 3,000 school kits for the Eastern Angola Conference.

This year’s Children’s Harvest will provide 5,000 school kits with backpacks. Volunteers will assemble the kits June 3 at the 2004 Florida Annual Conference Event in front of the Wendell Holmes Building of Bethune-Cookman College. They will be distributed to children reached by the Council of Bishops’ Initiative on Children and Poverty and through the Florida Conference’s outreach ministries.

“We wanted to focus on Florida outreach ministries,” Whitaker said. “I think when we come together we should do some type of ministry, and annual conference is a great place to have a missions project.”

Missions this year is at home, Whitaker said. “We purposefully wanted to target our energies on children in the Florida conference,” she said. “Next year maybe we will do a project with Haiti.”

To volunteer to assemble school kits contact Jill Williams at or 386-304-2951. For more information about the 2004 Florida Annual Conference Event visit


This article relates to Outreach and the 2004 Florida Annual Conference Event.

*Wacht is director of Florida United Methodist Communications and managing editor
of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**Buchholz is a staff writer for e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.

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