2007 annual gathering stresses importance of each generation

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

2007 annual gathering stresses importance of each generation

Jan. 25, 2007    News media contact: Tita Parham* 
tparham@flumc.org    Orlando {0610}
An e-Review Feature
By J.A. Buchholz**
LAKELAND — Florida Conference Bishop Timothy W. Whitaker wants each generation of United Methodists to know they are equally important to the life of the church.

With that goal in mind the theme of the 2007 Florida Annual Conference Event, “From Generation to Generation,” reflects the church’s focus to be in ministry to and with all people.

“The church has always known making disciples of all people means particularly reaching people of every generation,” Whitaker said. “I think today we are more conscious of generational distinctions than we have been in the past. I think it’s helpful to us to be reminded of our responsibility to be in ministry to each distinctive generation.”

Whitaker said the conference emphasis aligns with the Council of Bishops’ theme “making disciples of Jesus Christ for a transformed world” and has additional appeal for him because it incorporates work that has been taking place in the annual conference during the past two years.

“We have a dynamic team that’s working with older adult ministry. We had a wonderful Conference Table on ministry to young adults that was led by campus ministers. We’re concerned about how to reach young adults and to be in the practice of ministry,” he said. “A lot of these issues can be addressed by having focus on the generations, but the focus on the generation does occur within the context of the larger emphasis, which is defined by the bishops’ ‘making disciples of Jesus Christ for a transformed world’ (theme).”

Whitaker hopes the conference event theme will encourage pastors and lay leaders to examine their ministries on the local church level and realize how important it is to focus on each individual generation. He said while some churches are excelling at doing so, others may decide to “shore up” areas in which they are lacking.

Whitaker said some congregations are doing an outstanding job providing ministries to older adults, for example, but there also some not fulfilling their potential in that area. He said that is disturbing because so many Florida residents are older adults. He also feels every congregation needs to evaluate whether it’s being intentional in its ministry to children and youth.

Whitaker says the most difficult areas is ministry to young adults. “One of the things that excites me about the conference is that we have some very effective campus ministries,” he said. “We need to affirm their ministry and learn from them (to help) local churches reaching out to young adults who may or may not be attending college.”

Whitaker said he has invited Dr. Lovett H. Weems of Wesley Theological Seminary to lead Bible study during the conference. Whitaker said in recent months Weems has been outspoken about The United Methodist Church being intentional in its ministry to children and youth.

Agenda items and events that will be part of the annual gathering are still be finalized. More information will be announced in the coming weeks.

This article relates to 2007 Florida Annual Conference Event.
*Parham is 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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