Healthy Church Academy enrollment opens this fall (July 6, 2004)

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

Healthy Church Academy enrollment opens this fall

July 6, 2004    News media contact:  Michael Wacht*    
407-897-1140     Orlando  {0104}

An e-Review Feature
By J.A. Buchholz**
LAKELAND — There's been a lot of talk about the number of Florida Conference churches needing transformation, and members of the New Church Development and Congregational Transformation offices have designed a program to help churches in their transformation journey.
It's called the Healthy Church Academy (HCA), and preregistration for courses beginning January 2005 opens this fall.

HCA will provide tools for new church development and congregational transformation and life-long training for clergy and laity in making disciples of Jesus Christ.
The Rev. Kendall Taylor, director of the Office of Congregational Transformation, said HCA's goal is clear—"…to equip laity and clergy for the work of new church planting and transformation of existing congregations. These congregations will have 'The Great Commission' DNA."
HCA courses will include "Growing a Healthy Church," "The Church as Global Mission," "The Church: Order vs. Disorder" and "Leading Change in the Church." Class size is expected to be between 20 and 40 people
Courses will be held at the Leesburg Life Enrichment Center, Asbury Theological Seminary's Orlando campus and around the state to make them easily accessible. The cost per course will be about $220 to $250, which includes overnight lodging and meals as required. It does not include textbooks.
The Rev. Dr. Larry Rankin, director of the conference's Missions Ministry team, will serve as HCA dean. He said the courses will give clergy and laity guidance in assisting their churches through the transformation process.
"All of the courses are aimed at addressing the issues of positive change and transformation," Rankin said. "For churches that are interested in learning how to answer the question of how to transform, the HCA may give them some answers."
Rankin said seminary professors, conference pastors and laity with expertise in subjects will lead the courses. He said HCA will not exemplify traditional learning settings, but use hands-on practice.
"We're not talking about professors who will give information and expect the learners to regurgitate it," he said. "The instructors will be very much engaged in experiences clergy and laity will bring with them. We want people to bring their difficulties and their dreams for their churches."
The Rev. Mont Duncan, director of New Church Development, said HCA will make a difference in the conference.
"The conference will be impacted by having pastors and laity skilled in leading change in a local church to become more effective in outreach to unchurched persons in its community and trained in starting new communities of faith to reach the increasing number of unchurched persons in Florida," he said.
Rankin said success in the short-term will be measured by how churches are transformed.
"These courses are not just classes that you store in your head and don't use," he said. "We want clergy and laity to go back to the local church and transform the local church. People can really produce tangible results from the HCA. That's our hope and prayer."
Eventually HCA will expand to include learning opportunities from other groups that embrace the mission and vision of the conference, Rankin said.
Taylor said HCA may change, but it is here to stay.
"The courses will evolve and new ones will be added as we discover what is needed in local churches to succeed, either as a new church plant or a transforming congregation," he said. "This is intended to be a long-term ministry of the annual conference in support of local churches."
For more information contact Rankin at 1-800-282-8011, extension 131, or

This article relates to the New Church Development and Church Transformation.

*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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