2006 annual conference scales back to three days

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

2006 annual conference scales back to three days

Sept. 14, 2005    News media contact:  Tita Parham*    
tparham@flumc.org     Orlando {0363}

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

LAKELAND — It may feel like the 2005 Florida Annual Conference Event just ended, but organizers are already hard at work planning next year's gathering - but with a twist. The session will be held over three days instead of four.

The 2006 Florida Annual Conference Event is June 1-3 at the Lakeland Center. Its theme is "Witness With Power," and it will feature a strong emphasis on the ministry of laity.

Florida Conference Bishop Timothy W. Whitaker said the session will be just three days for two primary reasons: to avoid ending the event that Sunday, which is Pentecost Sunday, and time restraints placed on the conference by the Lakeland Center.

"I really believe that the great festival of Pentecost should be celebrated fully in our local congregations," Whitaker said. "Therefore, I think pastors and local lay leaders should be back in their own churches."

Whitaker said the conference theme, which is derived from the first two chapters of the Book of Acts, will help delegates spiritually prepare for the "special day of Pentecost."

In addition to wanting to avoid meeting on Pentecost Sunday, the session will be shorter because the dates chosen were the only ones available at the Lakeland Center within a reasonable time frame, according to Whitaker.

"It does give us a chance to experiment with the three-day annual conference. Other annual conferences hold theirs in three days, and some people think we should try," he said. "I'm not saying that annual conference will be limited to three days in the future. It does give us a chance to evaluate what the strengths and weaknesses will be."

Whitaker said a reduced number of days would not work well during some years, such as those requiring attendees to elect the conference's delegates to General Conference. He also acknowledged there are other years when it might be appropriate to hold a three-day conference.

"We will learn a lot," Whitaker said of next year's gathering, adding it will require cooperation and discipline to accomplish the work of the church.

Overall, Whitaker said he is optimistic the conference can be successfully convened in the days allotted.

"If other annual conferences can do it, I think we should be able to do it," he said.


This article relates to the 2006 Florida Annual Conference Event.

*Parham 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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