Bishop's offering to nurture the young spiritually and physically

LAKELAND – Annual Conference 2013 is around the corner, and Bishop Ken Carter has selected three programs to equally share in proceeds from the traditional offering, scheduled to be collected at the Service of Word and Table at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 13.

Delegates from each church are asked to bring the congregation's contributions to the annual conference June 13-15 at The Lakeland Center, 701 Lime St. Make checks out to Florida Conference Treasurer and write "2013 Bishop's Offering" in the memo line. To download a church bulletin insert, click here.

Carter said he had in mind the denomination's drive to recruit young people and recognize the growing diversity in Florida and across the U.S. when he chose the beneficiaries for this year's offering. Here they are:

Stop Hunger Now:

How many meals would it take to feed the world? Hard to say, but this nonprofit organization founded by United Methodist elder Ray Buchanan is closing in on 100 million meals packaged and shipped to hungry families in 76 countries since 2005. Stop Hunger Now's mission is to stamp out world hunger in our lifetime.
The idea is to pack dehydrated, high protein meals that can stand the test of travel and send them to developing countries around the world.

The Florida Conference also is launching a yearlong campaign titled "A Million Reasons." In addition to collecting money for the organization, delegates will be asked to participate in food-packing sessions Wednesday afternoon, June 13, and Thursday morning, June 14. Organizers hope 100,000 meals will be packed and sent to Stop Hunger Now during the annual conference and have set a target of a million meals to be packed and sent to the organization within a year's time.

Information about this ministry is available at

Wesley Foundation at Florida State University:

With approximately 600 college students a year called to mission and worship at FSU's Wesley Foundation, the Tallahassee campus ministry is the second largest of its kind in the U.S. It is recognized as one of the top Wesley Foundation ministries in the nation, said Rev. David Fuquay, director of the Florida Conference Board of Higher Education and Campus Ministry, in an email statement.

Dozens of ministry alumni have gone on to seminary, and hundreds have taken leadership roles in local churches, he said.

"And yet, all of this success in reaching students and making disciples of Jesus Christ on the Florida State University campus is jeopardized by aged, dilapidated facilities that can no longer be maintained," Fuquay said.

An architect hired to study and advise Florida Conference trustees has recommended demolition of the existing three buildings, including a chapel built in 1974, the original 1950s building that is used for offices, meeting space, food preparation facilities and student housing, and a student apartment building.

The recommendation suggested a $10 million construction project, including a multipurpose student center and income-generating student housing complex. A feasibility study is underway that is expected to provide further guidance in August, Fuquay said.

Regardless of what option is pursued at FSU Wesley, it will mean significant capital expenses, Fuquay said.

"The money from the annual conference offering will be the first fruits of an ongoing campaign for adequate facilities for this vital ministry," he said.

Leadership development for young clergy of color:

Bishop Carter recently described this effort with the following statement:
"The Florida Conference is blessed with a rich multicultural diversity. We also understand that our missional health in the future is linked to engagement with an increasingly multicultural complexity, and that this engagement is also related to leadership development.

"We are also aware of the need for intentional processes related to culture, skill development and relationship-building with younger clergy, and within this constituency, younger clergy of color.

'We envision an annual cohort of younger clergy of color, who are clergy members and candidates in the Florida Conference. This cohort will reflect on theological resources, their own leadership strengths and spiritual gifts, the characteristics of the annual conference and the state, and future opportunities for service within the annual conference."

-- Susan Green is the editor of the Florida Conference Connection.

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