Opportunities — Oct. 27, 2006 {0565}



e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service
      
 

Opportunities — Oct. 27, 2006

Oct. 27, 2006    News media contact: Tita Parham* 
800-282-8011  
tparham@flumc.org    Orlando {0565}

An e-Review News Item

This series includes:

n Palm Harbor church is site of nationally televised program;
n Children’s ministry workers invited to fall conference;
n An evening with Emory University’s Candler School of Theology set for Jacksonville;
n United Methodist Student Sunday offering helps provide scholarships;
n 16th Conference Table focuses on ways to support, resource clergy;
n Conference launches online learning module for trustees;
n Florida Conference ‘reflections’ now showing;
n Igniting Ministry training in Florida helps churches live out promise of campaign;
n Bible study on social justice, spirituality available for Advent;
n Discipleship Resources offers new Africana Worship Book;
n United Methodists invited to fight HIV/AIDS with essay, visual arts contest;
n Youth to ‘splat’ through cultural, spiritual, global event; 
n Junaluska offers winter programs for youth, adults;
n UMC.org offers preview of new Web site, asks for feedback.


Palm Harbor church is site of nationally televised program

By Caryl Kelley**

LAKELAND — Palm Harbor United Methodist Church will be the site of the nationally televised “Thrive” program for the CCN (Church Communications Network) Nov. 4.

Renowned speaker Kay Arthur will be joined by Rebecca St. James, who will be providing praise and worship. Other speakers will be Valorie Burton, Shannon Ethridge, Lois Evans, Liz Curtis Higgs, Lynne Hybels, Constance Rhodes and Priscilla Shirer.

The theme will be “Intentional relationships: Balancing the connections in your life.” The program runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and the cost is $39. Box lunches will be available.

Individuals interested in attending should contact Palm Harbor United Methodist Church at 727-785-7487, Donna Vail 727-781-8900, contact@phumc.net or dvail2@tampabay.rr.com for registration and detailed information regarding the events.


Children’s ministry workers invited to fall conference

By Caryl Kelley

LAKELAND — The United Methodist Association of Preschools (UMAP) invites all teachers, directors, children’s ministers any anyone interested in children to its annual fall conference Nov. 3-5 at the Warren W. Willis Youth Camp and Life Enrichment Center in Fruitland Park near Leesburg.

The theme for the conference is “Pieced Together — Wonderfully Made.”

Keynote speakers will include: Fran Henry, a life and business coach who works with people to create happy, healthy and wealthy lives; Lisa Murphy, “The Ooey Gooey Lady”; and the Rev. Dr. Wayne Wiatt, superintendent of the Florida Conference’s East Central District. Wiatt received his Doctor of Ministry from Emory University where his thesis, “Children in Worship: Participation Through Creative Dramatics,” studied the many ways children can be included in leadership in a worship setting.

More information about UMAP and a registration form for the conference are available at http://www.umapfl.com.

The cost (including five meals) is $105 for UMAP Gold Seal Accredited members, $120 for regular members and $130 for non-members.

Several pre-conference workshops will be held Nov. 4, 2-5 p.m. Costs are extra. UMAP’s “New VPK Standards” workshop will be free. The high and low ropes courses are $15 and $20, respectively. Connecting Curriculum with The Arts is $5.

The housing fee is per night: $25.75 at the Life Enrichment Center (LEC), $17.75 at the Warren W. Willis Youth Camp and $15 at the Family Campground. LEC room prices are for double occupancy. If a roommate is not requested, one will be assigned. Housing descriptions and pictures can be found at http://www.umsummercamp.org under the facilities link for either the Warren W. Willis Youth Camp or LEC links.

More information is available by contacting Sue Loncaric at 941-366-9522 or earlycarecenter@verizon.net.


An evening with Emory University’s Candler School of Theology set for Jacksonville

By Rachel Small

Emory University’s Candler School of Theology is providing “An Evening with Candler” at a number of churches around the Southeast to encourage potential seminary students to look to Candler for their seminary training. The next of these events will be held Nov. 16, 6-8 p.m., at First United Methodist Church, Jacksonville.

The event brings together prospective students in the Jacksonville area for dinner, fellowship and information about the Candler admissions process and financial aid. “There will be opportunities not only to learn about Candler, but to also learn about theological education and what it may mean to be called to ministry,” said the Rev. Shonda Jones, dean of admissions. “We hope it will be a start of an ongoing relationship with individuals as they discern how God is calling them.”

There will also be a presentation by Candler faculty member Dr. Tom Long, Bandy Professor of Preaching.

Alumni of Candler and ministers are welcome to attend and encouraged to bring guests interested in pursuing a graduate theological education.  More information is available by contacting Jena Tenley at jtenley@emory.edu, calling 404-727-6326 or by visiting http://www.candler.emory.edu/ADMISSIONS/jacksonville_dinner.cfm.  An RSVP is required.  First United Methodist Church is located at 225 E. Duval at Newnan St., Jacksonville, 32202.

Candler School of Theology is one of 13 United Methodist seminaries in the United States. It offers programs leading to master of divinity, master of theological studies, master of theology, and doctor of theology degrees. For nearly two decades Emory has been named one of the country’s top 25 national universities by U.S. News & World Report.


United Methodist Student Sunday offering helps provide scholarships

By Caryl Kelley

LAKELAND — Six times throughout the year United Methodist congregations celebrate churchwide Special Sundays with offerings. One of those special Sundays is United Methodist Student Sunday Nov. 26.

In 1866 a special fund was established for the advanced education of Sunday school children and the educational preparation of persons for the ministry and missionary service.

The 1940 General Conference established Methodist Student Day with a churchwide offering. The 1968 Uniting Conference continued this connectional student-aid program to be funded by the United Methodist Student Day offering.

These offerings will help furnish scholarships and loans for students attending United Methodist-related and other accredited colleges and universities. Support is critical to the survival of these important ministries and for sharing God’s gifts around the world.

Resources to help congregations highlight this special Sunday are available at http://umcgiving.org/content/sundays/UMSD_nav/student_moreinfo.asp. They include a bulletin insert, posters and fliers in English, Spanish and Korean languages. More information about the day is posted at http://umcgiving.org/content/sundays/UMSD_nav/student.asp.

Worship resources, including a call to worship, litany of dedication, prayer and suggested hymns and lectionary readings, are found at http://umcgiving.org/content/sundays/05%20Images/UMSD/UMSDWorRes.jpg.


16th Conference Table focuses on ways to support, resource clergy

By Pam Garrison**

LAKELAND — All clergy and laity are invited to attend the Florida Conference’s 16th Conference Table: Excellence for Ministry — A Focus on the Agenda for the Center for Clergy Excellence Nov. 28 at St. James United Methodist Church in Tampa.

The session will focus on the creation of a system that enables clergy to be resourced and supported throughout their ministry. The Rev. David Dodge, executive director of the Center for Clergy Excellence, is chairman of this Conference Table's planning team, and Dr. Greg Jones, dean and professor of Theology at Duke Divinity School, will be the guest speaker and facilitator. The session begins at 10:30 a.m. with registration and ends at 4 p.m. Lunch will be provided at a cost of $7 per person.
 
The mission statement of the Florida Conference states, in part, that the conference is to be a vital connection that is a part of God’s transformation of the world by … calling, transforming and supporting … clergy leaders for the church. In response to this mission the Center for Clergy Excellence, formerly the Division of Ministry, was created.

In addition to administrative functions that support Florida Conference clergy in their ministry, the center seeks to provide opportunities for individuals to explore a call to ministry and, for those called, to receive appropriate opportunities for training. All of these activities focus on developing opportunities for clergy to grow in their understanding of what it means to live vitally in community with one another.

Dr. Jones serves as the 11th dean of Duke Divinity School and is widely acknowledged as a scholar and church leader, especially in areas of Christian vocation and strengthening the church and its ministry.  He has written or edited 13 books and writes a regular column for The Christian Century magazine, for which he is also an editor-at-large. Discussions at this Conference Table will be shaped around Dr. Jones’ book “Resurrecting Excellence: Shaping Faithful Christian Ministry,” co-written with Kevin R. Armstrong, and “God’s Potters” by Jackson W. Carroll.

More information on the Center for Clergy Excellence is available at http://www.flumc2.org/page.asp?PKValue=270. More information on the Conference Table and a form to register for the event are posted at http://www.flumc2.org/page.asp?PKValue=1043. Individuals who have difficulty registering online may contact Pam Garrison at pgarrsion@flumc.org or 800-282-8011, extension 148.

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 Conference Table link.


Election-year Christian principles study available from National Council of Churches

By Caryl Kelley

LAKELAND — The National Council of Churches (NCC) USA hopes all Christians — from liberals to conservatives — will study and apply a guide it has released that includes 10 principles for evaluating candidates this election year. The study guide is available at http://www.ncccusa.org/electionyearprinciplesguide.pdf.

According to the NCC Web site “our Christian faith compels us to address the world through the lens of our relationship to God and to one another. Public discourse is enhanced as we engage civic leaders on the values and ethics affirmed by our faith. At the same time, religious liberty and the integrity of our democracy will be protected as candidates refrain from using faith-based organizations and institutions for partisan gain.”

NCC offers 10 principles to those seeking to accept the responsibility that comes with holding public office: 1). War is contrary to the will of God, 2). God calls us to live in communities shaped by peace and cooperation, 3). God created us for each other, and thus our security depends on the well being of our global neighbors, 4). God calls us to be advocates for those who are most vulnerable in our society, 5). Each human being is created in the image of God and is of infinite worth, 6). The earth belongs to God and is intrinsically good, 7). Christians have a biblical mandate to welcome strangers, 8). Those who follow Christ are called to heal the sick, 9). Because of the transforming power of God’s grace, all humans are called to be in right relationship with each other and 10). Providing enriched learning environments for all of God’s children is a moral imperative.

The guide offers program suggestions, Bible references and study questions relating to the 10 principles. These principles were developed by the NCC USA’s justice and advocacy commission and approved by the NCC’s executive committee. More information is available at http://www.ncccusa.org.


Conference launches online learning module for trustees

By Tita Parham

ORLANDO — The Florida Conference recently launched its third online learning course designed for individuals serving on trustees committees.

Church members interested in learning more about their responsibilities as a member of a trustees committee may access the learning module by clicking on the e-learning link at http://www.flumc.org.

The training modules are designed for novice computer users, as well as those who have more experience using the latest technology, and the site provides an online tutorial to help participants get started.

The goal of the online learning ministry is to give leaders in local congregations opportunities to gain information and knowledge in an easily accessible and convenient way. Coordinators also hope the ministry will provide learning resources to a greater number of people. The online courses will be an option for church members who can’t attend or wait for similar training offered in their district or around the conference.

Other training modules also available through the e-learning link focus on the responsibilities of staff pastor parish and finance committees (for members involved in dealing with church finances, including stewardship and connectional giving).

For more information about the courses, to provide feedback on the process or suggestions for courses contact the Rev. Carol Sue Hutchinson, director of Congregational Life Ministries for the conference’s Connectional Ministries office, at chutchinson@flumc.org or 800-282-8011, extension 140.


Florida Conference ‘reflections’ now showing

By Caryl Kelley

LAKELAND — The first streaming video series, “Reflections, Annual Conference 2006,” is now available for viewing on the Florida conference Web site at http://www.flumc2.org/page.asp?PKValue=947#. 

This nine-episode series recalls the 2006 Florida Annual Conference Event from the perspective of both clergy and laity. The episodes will be posted on the conference Web site for the next several months.

Conference leaders and staff hope the reflections will be a reminder to Florida United Methodists of the value of the United Methodist connection. They also hope the views and information shared will prompt thoughtful reflections, encourage personal prayers for the church and inspire members to action.

Three episodes are now available. Episode 1 features Florida Conference Bishop Timothy W. Whitaker commenting on the 2006 gathering. In Episode 2 Icel Rodriguez, assistant director of the conference’s Global Missions and Justice Ministries office, provides information about the Haiti/Florida Covenant, approved by members at the annual gathering. Episode 3 features the Rev. Dr. Anne Burkholder speaking about the resolutions brought before the body at the annual event.

Future episode topics and release dates are: Episode 4: The Ministry of the Laity (Oct. 25), Episode 5: Youth Involvement (Nov. 22), Episode 6: Storm Recovery and Conference Finances (Dec. 13), Episode 7: 50th Anniversary of The Methodist Church Granting Full Clergy Rights to Women (Jan. 24), Episode 8: The East Angola/Florida Partnership (Feb. 21), and Episode 9: Our Prayer Life (March 28).


Igniting Ministry training in Florida helps churches live out promise of campaign

By Caryl Kelley

LAKELAND — To make the benefits of The United Methodist Church real, church members must live the promise of “Open hearts, Open minds, Open doors.”

An Igniting Ministry training event this January will help local churches achieve that goal.

Members interested in developing a more welcoming lifestyle both inside and outside their church are invited to attend the “Living our Promise” Igniting Ministry seminar Jan. 13, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the Life Enrichment Center (LEC) in Fruitland Park near Leesburg. Registration begins at 8:30 a.m.

The session is designed for congregations that are new to Igniting Ministry and those who have been involved since the media and welcoming ministry began in 2001. Congregations that have not received certification as a “Welcoming Congregation” are encouraged attend.

The training will be led by three national trainers from other conferences and is co-sponsored by the Florida Conference communications ministry and United Methodist Communications (UMCom) in Nashville, the communications commission for the denomination. The cost is $40 per church, plus $10 per person for lunch and snacks.

Igniting Ministry is a national media and outreach ministry spearheaded by UMCom that began in September 2001. The initiative includes placing television commercials, or spots, created by an advertising agency in Nashville and featuring The United Methodist Church on national cable channels — CNN, Lifetime, TBS, Discovery and others — three times a year (back-to-school time and Advent and Lenten seasons).

The theme of the ministry is: “Our hearts, our minds and our doors are always open. The people of The United Methodist Church.” It is also expressed: “Open hearts. Open minds. Open doors. The people of The United Methodist Church.” Either variation of the slogan is included on all advertising materials and ministry resources.

More information about Igniting Ministry is available at http://www.flumc2.org/page.asp?PKValue=748.

Interested individuals may register for the training at http://www.IgnitingMinistry.org or by contacting the national Igniting Ministry offices at 877-281-6535. Overnight accommodations are available at the LEC Jan. 12 at a rate of $34.50 per person, double occupancy, or $51.50, single occupancy. Breakfast on Saturday is included. Room reservations may be made by contacting Holly Forcier at the Florida Conference center at 800-282-8011, extension 149, or hforcier@flumc.org


Bible study on social justice, spirituality available for Advent

By General Board of Church and Society staff

WASHINGTON, D.C. — As the new liturgical year begins Dec. 3, the General Board of Church and Society (GBCS) invites United Methodists to join its Advent Bible study, “What You Can Do.”
 
The six-part study explores the call to social justice and spirituality found in the Revised Common Lectionary for Year C. The study begins with the first Sunday of Advent Dec. 3 and is scheduled to run through the baptism of the Lord Jan. 7.
 
The study is designed to help people think about what they can do individually and corporately to help those in need in some way in their neighborhood and the broader community. Each two-page guide includes a brief Scripture analysis, questions for reflection, suggestions for action and a personal reflection to spur discussion. Each sessions takes about 45 minutes to an hour. A leader guide is included with suggested time breakdowns.
 
The study was developed by Boston University School of Theology student Lisa Jo Bezner, who served as an intern at GBCS. Student interns from Wesley Theological Seminary and Perkins School of Theology are writing subsequent weekly studies to cover the entire liturgical year.

The study and materials are available on the GBCS Web site at http://www.umc-gbcs.org (type Advent in the search function to find the specific link).


Discipleship Resources offers new Africana Worship Book

By Dean McIntyre**

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Discipleship Resources announces the publication of The Africana Worship Book. Based on the church year, this resource offers prayers, liturgies, calls to worship, choral readings, creeds and other resources.

The Rev. Jeremiah Wright of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago wrote, “In perhaps what is the most refreshing worship resource that I have seen in 39 years of ordained ministry, this book will serve not only ‘this present age’ (to use the words of Charles Wesley), but will also serve unborn generations … .”

William B. McLain of Wesley Theological Seminary wrote the foreword. In addition to general editor Valerie Bridgeman Davis and associate editor Safiyah Fosua, contributors to the collection are Eugene Blair, Carolyn Dandridge, Joseph Daniels, Junius Dotson, Catrina Harrison, Sherrie Dobbs Johnson, Kwasi Kena, Toni Payne, Tony Peterson, Ciona Rouse, Lillian Smith, Marilyn Thornton, Tim Warner and Stacey Cole Wilson.

Bishop Gregory Palmer wrote: “The rich material in this book offers to the church both roots and wings. Worship communities of every hue can use the Africana Worship Book with great profit.”

The book includes a CD-ROM congregations may use in the preparation of printed orders of worship. All worship resources in the book are available in a cut and paste format for ease of use.

More information about the book is available at http://www.upperroom.org. Other information about United Methodist worship can be found at http://www.umcworship.org.


United Methodists invited to fight HIV/AIDS with essay, visual arts contest

By Liberato C. Bautista**

NEW YORK — The 2006 essay and visual arts contest themed “Scale Up, Lighten the Burden” focuses on the global fight against HIV and AIDS and United Methodist participation in this fight.

A Bible study written on the theme will be the basis for both the essays and the visual arts. The study is found at http://www.umc-gbcs.org/un. Adults are invited to participate in the essay contest; the visual arts contest is for youth and children.

Adult participants are encouraged to join or organize a group to study together the four-session Bible study on HIV and AIDS and what the Bible and Christian faith teach us in combating this disease and the stigma arising from it. Essay entries must focus on one of the sessions by responding to that session’s final questions. Contest judges will look for entries that demonstrate learning from group study and reflection. Essays must be typed double space, preferably using MIcrosoft Word, and not longer than 10 pages. Winning participants must be ready to send their entries in electronic format via e-mail. Contestants should wait to be informed of their win before sending entry via e-mail.

Children and youth participants in the visual arts contest will be judged on the basis of their interpretation of any of the focuses of the four-session Bible studies. Adults and workers with youth and children are encouraged to work with children and youth in exploring the many themes found in the Bible study and express these themes in visual art forms.

All participants must send their entries without any written reference on the essay or on the visual art about their name or identity. For identification, a unique set of any six numbers and letters chosen by the participant must be written on the entry. This unique identity ensures fairness in judging. Entries will be judged on the basis of the entry’s own merits and not who has submitted it. For the essay, the unique identification must be written on the upper right corner of the first page. For the visual art, it must be written on the back of the entry.

To identify entries at the end of the judging, participants must write the following information in a one-page sheet and enclose it in a sealed envelope labeled only with the participant’s unique identification. This should include the unique identification number, participant’s name, street address, telephone number for contact of the winning contestant, e-mail address, name and address of local church, name and signature of local pastor, and date.

Entries and the sealed envelope should be mailed to: Liberato Bautista, Attn: Essay and Visual Arts Contest, 777 UN Plaza, Suite 11F, New York, New York 10017 USA. Contestants may write their return address on the mailing envelope but not their name. All entries must be postmarked no later than Dec. 1 and received at the above address no later than Dec. 15. Winning entries will be announced in early January 2007.

Prizes for adult essay contest are $400 for first prize and $150 for honorable mention. Youth visual art contest prizes are $300 for first prize and $150 for honorable mention. For the Children’s visual art contest, first prize is $300 and honorable mention is $150.

More information is available at http://www.umc-gbcs.org (type contest in the search function to find the specific link).


Youth to ‘splat’ through cultural, spiritual, global event

By Linda Green**

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The word “splat” is usually associated with a wet, slapping sound, but for the more than 10,000 United Methodist youth from across the world expected to attend Youth2007, the word will mean “Seek, Pray, Learn, Act, Teach.”

The largest quadrennial youth event of the United Methodist Church will be held July 11-15, 2007, in Greensboro, N.C. Participants will experience God through multiple ministerial, cultural and spiritual opportunities.

Led by a design team of nearly 30 youth, young adults and youth workers from across the country, the event is sponsored by the Division on Ministries with Young People at the United Methodist Board of Discipleship.

“Youth2007 is about transforming lives and sending youth back to their communities as stronger disciples of Jesus Christ,” said the Rev. Karen Greenwaldt, top executive at the board.

Throughout the five-day event, the mornings will be devoted to seeking God and praying together in worship, large group Bible study and music. Participants will be learning about their faith while hearing preaching and teaching.

Groups will spend the afternoons in youth interest workshops and in praise and worship. A full evening will feature a concert for all participants. At the conclusion of the event, youth will be challenged to return to their communities and put their faith into action by teaching others what they've learned.

In addition to worship and workshops, the participants will have opportunities for mission service projects across the Greensboro area as well as options to serve on site at the event. Individuals and groups will be able to participate in interactive destination centers to dive deeper into the event's theme while also building community.

Beyond worship and workshop opportunities, a full Expo Center will be open for youth and youth workers to network, gather and purchase resources, and return equipped to strengthen their churches and communities.

People interested in volunteering during Youth2007 may download a volunteer application. Volunteers are members of groups who will already be in attendance at Youth2007, but would like to get there early or leave late to help set up, or just want extra responsibility while on site at the event. Volunteers may sign up at http://www.Youth2007.org, the event’s official Web site.

Bishops Minerva Carcaño of the Phoenix Area, Linda Lee of the Wisconsin Area and Scott Jones of the Kansas Area are confirmed speakers. Other leaders will include the Rev. Kathleen Baskin-Ball, pastor of Suncreek United Methodist Church, Dallas, the Rev. Michael Williams, pastor of First United Methodist Church, Hendersonville, Tenn., and Ray Buckley, director of connectional ministries for the Alaska Missionary Conference.

Registration is open at http://www.Youth2007.org. Participants who register before Dec. 1 will pay $165 per person. Reduced registration costs apply for participants coming from the Western Jurisdiction, central conferences or those traveling farther than 1,600 miles each way. The reduced rate will be $140 before Dec. 1 and $175 after that date. The event’s Web site provides full event and registration information.

More information may be obtained by contacting Dayna Schoonmaker, Youth2007 office coordinator, at 877-899-2780, extension 7190, or Youth07@gbod.org.


Junaluska offers winter programs for youth, adults

By Lake Junaluska staff

LAKE JUNALUSKA, N.C. — Lake Junaluska Conference Center is again offering several annual winter programs for youth and adults.

Hitting the slopes and hearing God’s call

All youth groups are invited to visit North Carolina for “Lift-Off 2007,” Dec. 29-Jan. 1.

This youth ski package includes worship, fellowship, skiing, a relevant contemporary spiritual message and a Christian music concert. The theme for Ski Junaluska 07 is “THAW: Hearing your call, changing your world.” THAW stands for thinking, hearing, action and worship. Details are available at http://www.sejumc.org/sejmyp/events.cfm?id=770

Packages are for groups of 10 or more and include skiing at either Cataloochee (http://www.chataloochee.com) or Wolf Laurel (http://www.skiworlsaurel.com) ski areas.

The ski packages include lodging, meals, skiing and programming. Junaluska staff members provide the planning so youth groups can enjoy the experience.

Lodging, program and meal packages start at $103 per person for a one-night/one-day program. The cost for those in the group who are not skiing is $103 per person for a two-night/one-day package. Details are provided at http://www.lakejunaluska.com/lakej/packages.cfm?id=169. Prices vary according to the lodging choice and number of days of stay.

Groups may register by mail or fax. A group registration form is available at http://www.lakejunaluska.com/uploadedFiles/Lake_Junaluska/Packages/Lift_Off_Registration_Form_2007.pdf

Questions about the youth ski packages should be directed to Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center at 800-222-4930, http://www.lakejunaluska.com or http://www.sejumc.org

Lake Junaluska offers Appalachian Christmas

The annual Appalachian Christmas event will take place Dec. 8-9 and feature Dr. Dennis Swanberg, the Cockman Family and Junaluska Singers.

The package include accommodations, meals and concerts by the Junaluska Singers Dec. 8 at 7:30 p.m. and The Cockman Family (http://cookmanfamily.com) Dec. 9 at 7 p.m. A Junaluska crafts show featuring local crafters displaying and selling their crafts takes place Dec. 9.

The featured event will be Dr. Dennis Swanberg (http://dennisswanberg.com) in
concert Dec. 9 at 8 pm. Swanberg, otherwise known as “the Swan,” has been called America’s Minister of Encouragement because of his work lifting hearts and leading people to a richer life through his “one of a kind” humor.

The cost for three nights is $84.00 per person/double occupancy. The two-night package is $142 per person/double occupancy. Groups can add a trip to the Biltmore estate (http://www.biltmore.com/) for $37 per person.

Interested individuals may register by calling 800-222-4930 or visiting http://www.lakejunaluska.com/uploadedFiles/Lake_Junaluska/Packages/Appalachian_Christmas_Reg_Form_2006_pdf.pdf to download a registration form.


UMC.org offers preview of new Web site, asks for feedback

By Diane Denton**

NASHVILLE, Tenn. —  United Methodist Communications is asking visitors to UMC.org, the official online ministry of The United Methodist Church, for feedback on a cutting-edge redesign of its Web site.
 
The home page of http://www.umc.org offers a sneak peek at a few of the innovative features that will be offered on the new Web site, scheduled for a full launch in early 2007. Six online surveys provide opportunities for users to offer comments and opinions for consideration before the site is finalized.
 
“Our goal is to make it easier for people to connect to the church and to each other through technology — to provide a digital front door to the church. Throughout the development process, we have sought to listen to what it is that users want in a Web site and to provide the tools, resources and content to meet those needs,” said the Rev. Larry Hollon, chief executive of United Methodist Communications. “We want to know if we’re meeting their expectations.”
 
The sneak peek showcases: Our People — Meet some of the people of The United Methodist Church and read their stories of faith, Find a Church — Reach out to seekers in your community by showcasing your primary ministries, Living Prayer Center — Send prayer requests to covenant prayer groups around the world, Spiritual Gifts — Discover your spiritual gifts using an online assessment tool, Ask InfoServ — Get your questions answered through the denomination’s official information service, and Search — Quickly find the information you are looking for using the Google search device.

The sneak peek offers just a sample of what’s to come over the next few months. Users can sign up for e-mail updates letting them know when new features are added.
 
In addition to providing feedback, local churches are asked to update and personalize individual church listings available at Find-a-Church. Users can search the database of churches by geographic location, congregation size, language and ethnicity. Local congregations can use this feature as an evangelism tool by adding details about their worship schedule and activities, words of welcome, photos of the church and pastor, membership statistics, an interactive map and driving directions, and more.


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*Parham is managing editor of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**Kelley is subscription manager, photographer and contributing writer for e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service. Small is interim director of communications at Candler School of Theology, Emory University Garrison is manager of the Florida Conference Storm Recovery Center and Igniting Ministry coordinator. McIntyre is director of Music Resources, The General Board of Discipleship, Nashville, Tenn. Bautista is assistant general secretary for United Nations and International Affairs and the main representative to the United Nations of the General Board of Church and Society of The United Methodist Church. Green is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in Nashville, Tenn. Denton is director of United Methodist Communications’ office of public information




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