In Brief — June 28, 2006 {0510}

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

In Brief — June 28, 2006

June 28, 2006    News media contact: Tita Parham* 
800-282-8011    Orlando {0510}

An e-Review News Item

United Methodist Church reaches out to commuters in Florida cities

By Diane Denton**

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The United Methodist Church is taking its “Open hearts. Open minds. Open doors.” message to the streets of Gainesville, Jacksonville, Orlando and Tallahassee with a new outdoor advertising campaign.

This will be the first time the denomination has undertaken a large-scale outdoor advertising campaign, although some local churches have purchased billboard advertising before. The Florida cities are among 15 in six regional locations where the new outdoor advertising strategy is being tested. United Methodist Communications, the denomination’s communication agency, hopes the strategically placed messages on heavily traveled routes will reach thousands of commuters daily.
Despite high gas prices, 96 percent of Americans travel in a vehicle either as a passenger or a driver each week, according to a study by Arbitron Inc. Survey respondents reported traveling in cars an average of about 300 miles per week, with an average daily commute of 54 minutes round trip.   

LAKELAND — A roving Igniting Ministry billboard traveled around the Lakeland area June 1-3 during the Florida Conference's annual meeting. Photo by Caryl Kelley, Photo #06-391.

A total of 68 billboards have been placed in Florida, with eight each in Tallahassee and Gainesville, 23 in Jacksonville and 29 in Orlando. A roving billboard was also driven around the Lakeland area during the “Witness With Power” 2006 Florida Annual Conference Event.

The billboards feature a graphic of the seeds being blown from a dandelion — an act associated with making a wish — along with a message of faith: “If you can wish, you can believe. The United Methodist Churches of (city name). Open hearts. Open minds. Open doors.”
“We want people to know that if they are searching for something to believe in, we invite them to come and grow in faith together with others who care about their wishes, their dreams and their concerns,” said the Rev. Larry Hollon, chief executive of United Methodist Communications. “We hope they will choose to become a part of our faith family.”
The campaign is planned to coincide with the beginning of the summer season — a time when churches often experience a decline in attendance — and seeks to remind both non-church and church members who are vacationing that The United Methodist Church welcomes them wherever they go. Many United Methodist churches plan special activities geared for the season, such as outdoor services, Vacation Bible School, summer camps and social activities.

Cuba/Florida Covenant Task Force elects new officers, reaffirms goals

By Tita Parham

At its biannual meeting in April at the Florida Conference’s Life Enrichment Center in Fruitland Park, the Cuba/Florida Covenant Task Force elected new leaders and reaffirmed the covenant’s goals.

Al Taylor and Jean Woods were elected chairman and vice chairwoman, respectively.

Taylor is a member of Indian River City United Methodist Church in Titusville and succeeds the Rev. Jacquie Leveron, pastor of First United Methodist Church of Deltona, who served as chairwoman for five years. Woods is a member of Boca Grande United Methodist Church. Both have been part of caravans to Cuba to work with sister churches there.

Renee Masvidal Kincaid, a member of Bayshore United Methodist Church in Tampa, will continue as secretary of the task force.

The covenant between the Florida Conference and the Methodist Church in Cuba was signed in June 1997. A task force of members representing each of the Florida Conference’s districts in partnership with Cuba Methodist districts was appointed. The task force works to further the vision and main purpose of the covenant, which is to maintain prayer and support between the laity and clergy of the churches in Cuba and Florida, strengthening the sister relationship that began between the two in the late 1800s.

Of the 221 Methodist churches in Cuba, 148 have sister relationships with Florida Conference churches, leaving approximately one-third without a sister church relationship. The task force’s goal is to have all Cuba Methodist churches paired with Florida churches.

An average of 30 caravans, or teams of Florida United Methodists, have traveled each year for the past nine years to their sister churches in Cuba through the covenant. Team members have taken medicine, Christian literature, clothing and other needed items with them. The visits include times of worship and fellowship so members of both groups can strengthen relationships and learn from each other. 


*Parham is managing editor of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**Denton is staff member in the Office of Public Information at United Methodist Communications in Nashville.

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