Opportunities — Sept. 15, 2006 {0547}

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

Opportunities — Sept. 15, 2006

Sept. 15, 2006    News media contact: Tita Parham* 
tparham@flumc.org    Orlando {0547}

An e-Review News Item

This series includes:

n Clergy, laity invited to Conference Table on Christian Conferencing
n Retreat looks at spiritual formation process in local church
n Tampa church offers U2CHARIST
n World Communion Sunday offerings provide scholarship funds
n School of Ministry emphasizes sharing faith in changing world
n Christian Educators Fellowship conference focuses on “loving the sojourner”
n Seminar provides resources for digital storytellers
n Candler holds conference on faith, politics and policy
n Gammon Theological Seminary celebrates 122nd founders’ day and 66th Thirkield-Jones lecture series
n Spiritual transformation retreat helps people reconnect with themselves, God
n “End the Silence: Voices from the Holy Land” conference held in Kansas City
n Resource connects church members to ministries for best fit
n 2006 Reformation Day celebration at Emory
n Choir music weekend scheduled for small and medium church choirs
n Conflict seminar introduces churches to Biblical principles of reconciliation
n Exploration 2006 focuses on youth, young adults experiencing call to ministry
n Survey to help assess ‘State of Church’ for United Methodists

Clergy, laity invited to Conference Table on Christian Conferencing

By Tita Parham

ORLANDO — As United Methodists we don’t have to agree on every subject, but we should respectfully agree to disagree without degrading each other.

That’s the rationale behind the Conference Table on Christian Conferencing Sept. 23 at First United Methodist Church, Lakeland.

This Conference Table is designed to model a process of civil conversation that can be used by conference churches and groups to discuss difficult issues facing Florida’s churches and the church today. The topic of discussion during the session will be homosexuality and the church, recent decisions of the Judicial Council relating to pastoral authority regarding church membership, and the response of the Council of Bishops to those decisions. The goal is that this process of discussion can be implemented in the Florida Conference to help churches and groups constructively deal with difficult issues.

This Conference Table is a result of a motion passed at the 2006 annual conference event referring resolutions dealing with membership, homosexuality, the Judicial Council and the Council of Bishops to a Conference Table for the purpose of designing a process of Christian conferencing.

The session will run from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., with registration at 10:30 a.m. Individuals may register online and view suggested readings at http://www.flumc2.org/page.asp?PKValue=999. More information is also available at http://www.flumc2.org/page.asp?PKValue=824. Lunch is provided at a cost of $7 per person. First United Methodist Church, Lakeland, is located at 72 Lake Morton Drive.

The gathering will also be web cast live for those who are not able to attend so they may access the session as it is happening from their home or office computer. Interested individuals may enter the webcast on the day of the event by visiting the conference Web site at http://www.flumc.org and clicking on the webcast button. Spanish and Creole interpretation will also be available at the gathering.

Visit http://www.flumc2.org/page.asp?PKValue=824 for more information about the history of the Conference Table forums and their intended purpose.

Retreat looks at spiritual formation process in local church

By Tita Parham

ORLANDO — Clergy and laity are invited to learn about the experiences that move a congregation from programming for spiritual growth to corporate practices that bring the congregation into living out their calling to be the heart and mind of Christ in the world at the next Spiritual Formation Gathering Sept. 23 in the Lake Room of the main lodge at the Warren W. Willis Youth Camp in Fruitland Park.
Leader Lucy Wray will share from the book “Becoming A Blessed Church” by Graham Standish. It features a local church that experienced transformational changes in the way “it would be church and trust in the guidance of the Holy Spirit,” according to retreat leaders. 

Wray attends Palm Harbor United Methodist Church, where she serves as lay leader. She is the co-chairwoman of the conference’s Shade and Fresh Water ministry, which is committed to clergy care and wholeness. In addition to being on the Conference Spiritual Formation team, Wray is the new retreat leader for the Florida Five-Day Academy for Spiritual Formation. Wray completed training and has a certificate in spiritual direction and has completed the Two Year Academy for Spiritual Formation and Christ Path.

The gathering is from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. The cost is $30. Participants are asked to bring their own lunch. Reservations can be made by e-mailing Heidi Leab at HLeab@flumc.org.

Tampa church offers U2CHARIST

By Warren Pattison**

TAMPA — Hyde Park United Methodist Church will serve as host of an ecumenical U2 Eucharist featuring the music of Bono and the band U2.

The service is Oct. 1, 7 p.m., at the church, located at 500 W. Platt St., Tampa.

Clergy and musicians from St. John’s Episcopal, Palma Ceia Presbyterian and Hyde Park United Methodist churches will lead the “U2charist” featuring such U2 favorites as “Where the Streets Have No Name,” “Yahweh, Love and Peace (or Else),” “Pride (In the Name of Love)” and “One.”
The service is designed to raise awareness about extreme poverty, hunger and the AIDS pandemic. An offering will be taken to benefit the Bread for the World Institute (http://www.bread.org/), a ONE campaign partner (http://www.one.org/).

Interested individuals may contact Hyde Park United Methodist Church at 813-253-5388 or visit www.myspace.com/u2charist/ for more information.
Bulletin inserts to help churches spread the word about the service are available at http://www.hydeparkumc.org/common/images/PDF/U2_half_sheet_color.PDF and  http://www.hydeparkumc.org/common/images/PDF/U2_half_sheet_BW.PDF or by email at jdinsmore@hydeparkumc.org.
The U2charist has received international media attention for its innovative use of the band’s biblically-rich lyrics and social justice message, for its ability to bring together people of many different generations in a context of worship, and as a tool for raising awareness and empowering communities to respond to the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals (http://www.millenniumcampaign.org/). Every nation in the world has endorsed the Millennium Development Goals to eradicate extreme poverty and global AIDS. Many churches and denominational bodies, including the General Board of Church and Society (http://www.umc-gbcs.org/), have also endorsed them.

World Communion Sunday offerings provide scholarship funds

By General Board of Global Ministries Staff

World Communion Sunday Oct. 1 is a time to be in communion with Christians all over the world. Churches can ‘press on toward the goal’ of serving God in life-changing ministries. When churches take the offering for this special Sunday, the proceeds provide ethnic scholarships for international and U.S. racial and ethnic minority graduate students and scholarships for racial and ethnic minority persons seeking second careers in church-related vocations. 

Fifty percent of the special offering goes to the Crusade Scholarship Program of the General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM). These scholarships enable persons from Asian-Pacific, African, Latin American, Caribbean, European and Middle Eastern countries, as well as from ethnic and racial minorities in the United States, prepare for leadership in mission in church and society. Since the inception of the program in 1944, the Crusade Scholarship Program has funded nearly 4,000 students.

Special World Communion Sunday worship resources can be found at http://www.umcgiving.org/content/sundays/communion.asp, along with a link to a downloadable bulletin insert at http://www.umcgiving.org/content/sundays/WCS_nav/wcslitany05.htm.
This resource includes suggestions for scripture reading, a call to worship and action, a litany of dedication, suggested hymns and lectionary readings.

The General Board of Discipleship also has worship resources on line at http://www.gbod.org/worship/default.asp?act=reader&item_id=16901&loc_id=9,612,32,52. Included there is a link to a worship bulletin for a hymn festival called Celebrate the Holy Mystery. It can be found at http://www.gbod.org/worship/default.asp?act=reader&item_id=17009.

More information about GBGM is available at http://new.gbgm-umc.org/.

School of Ministry emphasizes sharing faith in changing world

By Sylvia Russell and Durwood Foshee**

LAKELAND — Clergy looking for rest and relaxation have a chance to get it at the School of Ministry, Oct. 2-4, at the Life Enrichment Center in Fruitland Park.

Centered around the theme “Sharing Our Faith in an Ever Changing World,” the school draws upon the United Methodist heritage of the holiness tradition of John Wesley and the charismatic tradition of Charles Wesley. Participants will learn and be challenged by a leadership team that models those traditions.

Leaders includes Tony Campolo, Professor Emeritus of Sociology at Eastern University in St. Davids, Pa.; Jorge Acevedo, senior pastor at Grace United Methodist Church in Cape Coral; and the worship team from St. James United Methodist Church in Tampa, led by Patina Ripkey. There will also be a golf tournament and time for exercise and/or rest.
The registration fee for all attendees is $60. Life Enrichment Center accommodations are optional. Housing with single occupancy is $81; double occupancy is $51.50 per person. Housing at the campground/RV is $31. Meals for the weekend are $46.10 per person. A registration form must be completed and registration fee paid regardless of the accommodations chosen. Participants may register online and pay by charge card at https://www.flumc.org/schoolofministryreg.shtml.

A brochure is available online at
http://www.flumc2.org/event_detail.asp?TableName=oEvent_Calendar_EUXQLB&PKValue=89. Interested individuals may also contact Winnie Dean in the conference’s Center for Clergy Excellence at 800-282-8011, extension 134, or wdean@flumc.org, for more information.

Christian Educators Fellowship conference focuses on “loving the sojourner”

By Caryl Kelley**

LAKELAND — This year’s 2006 Christian Educators Fellowship (CEF) national conference Oct. 5-9 has the sojourner in mind.

Nine workshop sessions, with many class choices for Christian educators in every stage of ministry, will feature the themes “meeting the sojourner in our midst, teaching and learning with the sojourner, the sojourner at Sabbath, and blessing the sojourner at the banquet table.”

One workshop is titled “Creating hospitality — an advocacy ministry with refugees and immigrants”; another is “FaithQuakes — unleashing the imagination for ministry with preteens.”

Some of the workshops will be longer seminars, allowing more time to dig deeper into the topic further. Workshop descriptions are listed at http://cefumc.org/uploads/documents/Workshop_Descripts.pdf

The conference is open to any Christian educators, pastors, directors of children or adult ministries, program directors, youth workers, and anyone with a commitment and responsibility for Christian education ministries.

It will be held at the Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference and Retreat Center in Lake Junaluska, N.C. This biennial conference event makes it possible for CEF members to receive continuing education, networking, inspiration and renewal. 

CEF is a national organization of Christian educators who are lay and ordained, volunteer and full time, young and retired and who are serving in churches, agencies, schools and other settings. Its membership is mostly United Methodist, but people of all denominations are welcome to join and participate. Information about how to join CEF can be found at https://secure.umcom.org/cef/memberappsps.asp

Dr. David Otto, professor of Religious Studies at Centenary College of Louisiana, will lead Bible study. The plenary speaker and seminar leader is Joyce Rupp, a well-known writer, spiritual “midwife,” and retreat and conference speaker. She has led retreats throughout North America, as well as in Europe, Asia and Africa. Worship music will be provided by Mark Andrew Miller, director of music and instructor of church music at Drew Theological School in Madison, New Jersey; director of the gospel choir at the Marble Collegiate Church in New York City; and artist-in-residence and director of the gospel choir at Union Theological Seminary in New York.

Costs for the conference are $375 for CEF members, $475 for non-CEF members and $200 for a spouse, retiree or full-time student. There are additional costs for housing and the pre-conference activities.

More information is available on the CEF Web site at http://cefumc.org/interior.asp?ptid=1&mid=6012. A registration form can be found at http://cefumc.org/uploads/documents/Registration%20Brochure%202006.pdf.

Seminar provides resources for digital storytellers

By Caryl Kelley

LAKELAND — Anyone who wants the screen to be a vital part of the worship service will benefit from a seminar provided by Midnight Oil Productions.

The Digital Storytellers One-Day Seminar has been designed to be equally instructional for those wanting to take initial steps in digital ministry and those needing direction to reignite the flame within their ministry.

The session is Oct. 7 at Grace United Methodist Church, 13 SE 21 Place, Cape Coral, and runs from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. There are four seminar classes and a film festival over lunch.

Participants will learn to look at today’s culture and their own ministry differently and better understand that using the screen well means learning more about the world of images and taking steps toward better “image literacy.”

Participants will focus on the creative use of metaphors, graphics and video; strategize models for digital age worship; and learn to be digital artists. They will have the opportunity to participate in a design master class and learn what makes certain images effective. Participants will also experience first-hand the power of working in a team through an interactive team-building session. Teams will begin to put together start-up strategies or discover ideas for keeping the fires burning. New resources, hardware and software, will also be discussed.

Class sessions include: Worship in the Digital Age, analyzing four keys to digital culture and how they affect worship; The Art of Communicating the Gospel, covering art in worship and the power it has to communicate the gospel; Becoming Digital Storytellers, focusing on how to build and create synergy in worship design teams; and Momentum for Digital Ministry, covering everything else, including start-up strategies, a phasing-in strategy for hardware needs, software and content options, suggestions for maintaining momentum with media ministry, and questions and answers.

A detailed agenda is available at http://www.midnightoilproductions.com/seminar/DSAgenda.pdf

The cost of the seminar is $109 per person, $89 per person for groups of two to four people from the same church, and $69 per person for groups of five or more people from the same church. Midnight Oil Plus members can save an additional $20 off the total registration cost. More information about becoming a member and the Plus program is available at http://www.midnightoilproductions.com/plus/.

Interested individuals may register on line at https://www.midnightoilproductions.com/store/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=68&products_id=201. More information is also available by contacting Randy Redecker at Grace United Methodist Church at 239-574-7161 or info@egracechurch.com.

Candler holds conference on faith, politics and policy

By Caryl Kelley

LAKELAND — One month prior to the national elections Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta will address the topic of “Faith, Politics and Policy” at its annual fall conference Oct. 8-10.

Nationally known speakers currently scheduled include Jim Wallis, Sojourners; James Forbes, Riverside Church, New York; Jim Towey, White House director of Faith Based and Community Initiatives; Bishop Minerva Carcaño, Desert Southwest Conference of The United Methodist Church; Susan Pace Hamill, University of Alabama School of Law; and Robert Franklin, Candler School of Theology.

Candler School of Theology will join Candler faculty and state legislators in guiding conference participants through a critical and strategic look at the church’s role in shaping public policy and international relations. The topics addressed include federal faith-based initiatives, health care, immigration, children in poverty, religion and international relations, the role of the church in shaping public discourse, and the federal budget and tax policy, moral documents revealing the true commitments of a nation. Finally, Candler faculty will lead workshops on the political practices of the church, such as preaching as political speech, the creed as political document and worship as political act.

The cost for the full conference, including meals, is $220 if postmarked before Sept. 30 and $270 after that date. All registrations must be received by Oct. 2.

Special funding allows students currently enrolled in an institute of higher education to register for the daily current-student fee. There is no charge for the conference for current students, but meals for are $115.

A brochure with registration form, the daily schedule and fees, a list of speakers and seminar leaders, and housing information can be found at http://www.candler.emory.edu/EVENTS/fallconference06/index.cfm.

Gammon Theological Seminary celebrates 122nd founders’ day and 66th Thirkield-Jones lecture series
By Madelyn Greene**

ATLANTA — Gammon Theological Seminary, The United Methodist component of the consortium of The Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, Ga., will celebrate 122 years of educating and preparing men and women for professional vocations in ministry. 

Established in 1883 in conjunction with Clark University, Gammon is one of 13 seminaries related to The United Methodist Church.

“Religion and Politics in the 21st Century” is the theme for The 122nd Founders’ Day and 66th Thirkield-Jones Lecture Series Oct. 10-12, sponsored annually by Gammon Seminary. Planned activities will focus on the religious and political climate in today’s society.

Bishop James Swanson of the Holston Annual Conference will be the guest speaker for the rededication service for the Gammon Hall Administrative and Student Living Complex Oct. 10.  The Rev. Helen Davis Bell, district superintendent in the West Virginia Annual Conference, will serve as the preacher for the Founders’ Day Worship Service Oct. 11. Bishop Felton E. May, dean of the Harry R. Kendall Mission Center at Philander-Smith College in Little Rock, Ark., will be the Thirkield-Jones Lecturer Oct. 11 and 12.  Dr. Joseph E. Lowery, civil rights and political activist, will be the guest speaker at a banquet Oct. 11. Karen Lowery, a minister of music, will be the guest soloist at the banquet, and the instrumental musical ensemble God’s Tribe will provide music.

Alumni and friends are invited to participate. Registration and hotel information can be found at http://www.gammonseminary.org. The registration form is available at http://www.gammonseminary.org/2005%20FoundersDay/FoundersDayForm2005.doc

Banquet tickets cost $50 per ticket or $500 per table. Tickets may be purchased from Sallie Clemmons at 404-581-0308. Registration information is available by contacting Greene at 404-581-0310 or mgreenegammon@bellsouth.net.

Spiritual transformation retreat helps people reconnect with themselves, God

By Southeastern Jurisdiction Staff

LAKE JUNALUSKA, N.C. — Many people grow up with a gnawing feeling they are not living up to their full potential spiritually — living as pretend selves, rather than authentic or true selves, and feeling wounded, dissatisfied with themselves and God, and emotionally and spiritually deadened.

The Path of Inner Peace and Spiritual Transformation Retreat Oct. 20-23 will help participants establish a daily ritual of quiet time to reconnect with their true selves and the Holy Spirit. The retreat is the beginning of a program of inner study where participants will be given the gift of a small group and soul guide in the Wesleyan tradition. Modern technology will be used to stay in touch in very cost effective, meaningful and soul enriching ways.

Detailed course information is available at http://www.PathofInnerPeace.blogspot.com. The program cost is $245, and housing costs for three nights are $126 (double occupancy) and $195 (single occupancy). The meal cost for three days is $78. Participants staying offsite are asked to pay a $5 per day/person commuter fee.

A registration form is available at http://www.sejumc.org/uploadedFiles/SEJ/Ministries/SEJ_Agencies/IGC/IGC%20Generic%20Registration%20Form.pdf. Individuals may also contact The Intentional Growth Center at 800-482-1442 or Info@IntentionalGrowthCenter.org or visit its Web site at http://www.IntentionalGrowthCenter.org.

“End the Silence: Voices from the Holy Land” conference held in Kansas City

By General Board of Church and Society Staff

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Sabeel (Arabic word for “the way”) Conference is a two-day educational and advocacy conference on the conflict in Palestine-Israel and its impact on Christians living in the conflict.

Held Oct. 20-21 at Village Presbyterian Church in Prairie Village, Kan., the conference offers speakers — experts in Palestinian-Israeli issues — who will address a range of topics on current Middle East politics, as well as effective activism work. The conference will also provide an unparalleled opportunity for American Christians and others to learn firsthand how they can help bring peace to Palestine and assistance to the “forgotten faithful” of the church.

Featured speakers include the Rev. Sandra Olewine, United Methodist liaison in Jerusalem and Bethlehem for nearly 10 years; the Rev. James Wall, a United Methodist and senior contributing editor to Christian Century Magazine; Dr. Jeff Halper, an Israeli Jew nominated for a 2006 Nobel Peace Prize; Phyllis Bennis, a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies; and others.

The conference begins at noon Friday and ends at 6 p.m. Saturday. The costs are $75 for the full program, including Middle Eastern dinner and Saturday lunch, $45 each for Friday and Saturday only, and $40 for students. Hotel accommodations are not included and should be arranged separately by each participant. Hotel suggestions are listed on the registration form.

Registration and additional information are available at http://www.kcsabeelconference.org. Registration may be made on line or through a downloadable registration form found at http://www.kcsabeelconference.org/sabeel-registration-ltr.pdf.

Resource connects church members to ministries for best fit

By Caryl Kelley

LAKELAND — Is your church committed to identifying members for ministry? PLACE is an intentional process to connect church members with purpose-driven ministry, including self-discovery, individualized ministry coaching and tracking from workshop to ministry placement.

PLACE stand for personality discovery, learning spiritual gifts, abilities awareness, connecting passion with ministry and experiences of life.

Church leaders and staff can attend a PLACE workshop and begin helping people find their place in ministry Oct. 21 at Palma Ceia United Methodist Church, 3723 W. Bay to Bay Blvd., Tampa. Registration begins at 8 a.m.; the workshop runs from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

The regular registration cost, including materials, for one to two people is $75 each. The cost for three or more is $45 each. Early registration costs by Oct. 6 are $65 each for one to two people and $35 each for three or more.
More information about PLACE ministries and registering for the workshop is available by calling 877-463-2863, visiting http://www.placeministries.org or contacting Gwen Bigler at gwen@placeministries.org.

2006 Reformation Day celebration at Emory

By Caryl Kelley

LAKELAND — Each year the Candler School of Theology celebrates Reformation Day with special events that culminate in an evening concert. This year’s 19th annual event takes place Oct. 24.

The theme is “Luther and the Poor,” and the schedule of activities includes lectures and music, culminating in an evening concert featuring the Jaeckel organ, a 14-ton, custom-built instrument with 3,605 pipes, and the Schwartz Center for Performing Arts.

At any of these events, participants are invited to contribute a pair of socks to be distributed to the homeless in Atlanta by Candler's Social Concerns Network.

Registration begins at 10:30 a.m., followed by a chapel service by Professor Robert Franklin at 11 a.m. Dr. James W. Curran, dean of the School of Public Health, Emory University, will speak at noon about “Religion, Public Health and the AIDS Epidemic.”

A box lunch can be reserved by calling 404-727-6352 or e-mailing candleralum@emory.edu.

After lunch there will be an organ lecture recital by Timothy Albrecht and a lecture by Professor Emeritus Carter Lindberg, Boston University, titled “The Big Thieves Hang the Little Thieves: Luther on Economics and Poverty.” 

More information is available at http://www.pitts.emory.edu/rckessler/refdayindex.html.

Choir music weekend scheduled for small and medium church choirs

By Southeastern Jurisdiction Staff

LAKE JUNALUSKA, N.C. — Oct. 27-29 is a weekend of singing at Lake Junaluska Conference Center with the Choir Music Weekend for adult choir members and their leaders.

Participants will learn eight new anthems, which will be used in the culminating Sunday morning worship service. In addition to rehearsals, there is instruction in vocal technique, workshops on hand chimes, and conducting and building the church music and worship ministry. The weekend also includes vesper services, a music reading session and talent show.

A handbell choir will also be offered, playing a Level III+ offertory during the Sunday worship service. This choir will rehearse two hours during the weekend, so participants need to be an intermediate- or advanced-level ringer. Those interested in being in the handbell choir should contact Julie Turner at jandjturner@comcast.net prior to the weekend.

Three workshops will be offered Saturday. The list of workshops is found at http://www.lakejunaluska.com/uploadedFiles/SEJ/Ministries/Lay_Ministry/Workshops(1).pdf.

The registration fee is $20 per person; housing and meal costs are extra. Several housing options are available. Housing and meal information are found at the group registration link.

The individual registration form is posted at   http://www.lakejunaluska.com/uploadedFiles/SEJ/Ministries/Lay_Ministry/2006 Fall Choir Registration Indiv.doc. The group registration form is at http://www.lakejunaluska.com/uploadedFiles/SEJ/Ministries/Lay_Ministry/2006FallChoirMusicReservationgroup.pdf.

Information about the worship and workshop leaders is found at http://www.lakejunaluska.com/sejac/ministries_lay.cfm?id=966. Other information is available by contacting Roger Dowdy at rdowdy@sejumc.org or 888-525-3586, extension 710, or Tammy McDowell at tmcdowell@sejumc.org or 888-525-3586, extension 618.

Conflict seminar introduces churches to Biblical principles of reconciliation

By Caryl Kelley

LAKELAND — The Atlantic Central District Congregational Transformation team invites all churches to participate in a church-changing seminar.

“From Conflict to Community” will be held Nov. 10-11 at First United Methodist Church of Melbourne’s Celebrations Café. The session begins at 7 p.m. Friday and ends at 3 p.m. Saturday.

All leaders face conflict. How leaders respond determines if, how and when the conflict is reconciled. Sometimes, the best intentions have unintended negative results. At this seminar, church leaders can get ready to tackle the next conflict in their church with truth and grace. Leaders will learn biblical, practical principles of making peace in the church and turning hurt feelings into genuine reconciliation. The seminar will introduce participants to a biblical way of thinking and acting in conflict. It will also be a time of practical learning, deep insight and specific application.

All church staff, board or leadership team members are encouraged to attend.

Jim Van Yperen, president of Metanoia Ministries, will lead the seminar titled “Biblical, Practical Principles to Achieve Genuine Reconciliation.” Van Yperen is a leader, teacher and skilled facilitator who has served hundreds of pastors and dozens of conflicted churches since 1985, including seven churches as an intentional interim pastor, leading each church out of conflict into a living community of Christ. He has written numerous resources on Christian leadership and biblical community, including “Making Peace: A Guide to Overcoming Church Conflict.”

The seminar is limited to the first 150 people who have paid registration. The registration cost before Nov. 1 for groups of five or less is $100; for groups of more than five there is an additional $10 per person charge. After Nov. 1 the costs are $150 for one to five people and $15 per each additional person over five.

Lunch is $6 per person and is to be paid with registration. Registrations and lunch requests will be accepted at the door at the higher fee. Materials are included in the registration price. There will be a book table with books to purchase. There will be no refunds, but substitutions are allowed. Checks are payable to Atlantic Central District.

More information is available by contacting Dottie Graves at 321-722-3660 or dotnruss@cfl.rr.com. A registration form is available at http://www.flumc2.org/pdf/conflict-to-community.pdf

Exploration 2006 focuses on youth, young adults experiencing call to ministry

By Caryl Kelley

LAKELAND — Exploration 2006: “Dive In — Make Waves” is an informative and discerning weekend of worship, Bible study, prayer, workshops and small group discussions for high-school seniors through 24-year-olds who are exploring a call to ordained ministry.

Presented by the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry Nov. 17-19 in Jacksonville, the gathering is for people who have sensed God might be calling them to ordained ministry, have wondered what ministry in The United Methodist Church is all about or would like help sorting through the issues surrounding a Christian vocation.

There will be two workshops on topics that speak to many questions and interests. Participants will also meet people from across the country who are considering their call to ministry and have an opportunity to talk with people engaged in a variety of ministries.

The weekend is being held at the Hyatt Regency, Jacksonville, beginning at 2 p.m. Nov. 17 at and ending at 11 a.m. Nov. 19. Participants pay travel expenses and a $150 registration fee, which includes hotel expenses, meals and all EXPLORATION events. A limited number of scholarships are available.

The registration deadline is Oct. 6. Registration may be done online at http://www.gbhem.org/exploration. On-site registrations will not be accepted. More information is available at http://www.gbhem.org/exploration/home.html or by contacting Valerie Ealey at vealey@gbhem.org or 615-340-7431 or Winnie Dean in the Florida Conference Center for Clergy Excellence at 800-282-8011, extension 134, or wdean@flumc.org.

Survey to help assess ‘State of Church’ for United Methodists

By United Methodist News Service

United Methodists are encouraged to participate in an online survey to help collect information for the denomination’s “State of the Church” project.

The project is sponsored by the Connectional Table, created by the 2004 United Methodist General Conference — the denomination’s top legislative body — to guide mission and ministries.

The survey can be found at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.asp?u=242972529614 or by going to http://www.umc.org. It may be placed on other official denominational Web sites as well, and United Methodist Communications is sending the link to its e-mail lists.

The Martec Group, a research firm based in Chicago, is collecting information for the State of the Church project. The firm is interviewing bishops, pastors, district superintendents, annual conference treasurers, administrative service directors, connectional ministries directors and designated lay leaders. The first draft of the project report should be completed by the end of the year.

Meera Buck, a United Methodist, is the principal researcher for United Methodist data for Martec. Data will be gathered from church members in the United States, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique, Germany, Switzerland, Russia and the Philippines. The survey will be used as research for the state of the church report, says United Methodist Bishop John L. Hopkins, chairperson of the Connectional Table.

”It seems when agencies of our church do surveys, they tend to do it from that agencies’ perspective,” he said. “The Connectional Table is trying to do something above and beyond any particular perspective, and that is why we went with an outside firm.”

The online survey asks respondents how important certain core beliefs and values are to their spiritual journey and to what extent the church offers opportunities to study, pray about and practice those beliefs.

Survey takers judge how important prayer, worship with others, financial giving, Bible study and working for social justice is to their religious life. They also are presented with a list of issues facing the world today and asked how important it is for the church to focus on each issue. Other questions focus on how the church operates as a connectional system, its organizational structure and the effectiveness of pastors.

Respondents are asked to offer opinions about what the church needs to do to attract young people as members; to voice agreement or disagreement with the official denominational policy on homosexuality; to list their primary reason for becoming a member of the United Methodist Church; and express how hopeful they are for the future of the local church and denomination as a whole.

The survey complements a telephone survey Martec was already doing.


*Parham is managing editor of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**Pattison is director of media and worship arts at Hyde Park United Methodist Church. Russell and Foshee are co-chairs of the 2006 School of Ministry. De Marco is a freelance writer based in Viera, Fla. Greene is director of alumni and student affairs at Gammon Theological Seminary, Atlanta, Ga. Kelley is subscription manager, photographer and contributing writer for e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service. Hodges is on the Virginia Theological Seminary staff. Wright is the information officer for the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries.

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450 Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue
Lakeland, FL 33815

(863) 688-5563 or toll free (800) 282-8011