2008 delegation gets influx of younger members



e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service
      
 

2008 delegation gets influx of younger members

June 15, 2007  News media contact: Tita Parham*
800-282-8011 
tparham@flumc.org  Orlando {0687}

An e-Review Feature
By J.A. Buchholz** and Tita Parham

LAKELAND — Of the 66 people elected earlier this month to represent the Florida Conference at the 2008 General and Southeastern Jurisdictional conferences, either as delegates or reserves, about half served as delegates to the denominational and regional conferences in 2004.

The 2008 delegation is also about as equally diverse as the 2004 delegation in terms of the ethnicities represented, with a similar, nearly even split between men and women.

There is one notable difference, however. More delegates to the upcoming conferences are younger than 30.

Members consider which nominees to elect during a vote at the 2007 Florida Annual Conference Event. Photo by Caryl Kelley. Photo #07-0604.

Elections for the 2008 conferences began June 6 at the 2007 Florida Annual Conference Event in Lakeland. Although the process lagged at times, with several ballots resulting in no elections for either clergy or laity, the full slate of delegates was elected just a few hours before the conference ended June 9.

Thirteen clergy and 13 laity were elected to represent the Florida Conference at the General Conference in Fort Worth, Texas, April 23-May 2. An additional 26 clergy and laity were selected to represent Florida at the jurisdictional conference in Lake Junaluska, N.C., July 16-19.

The first two clergy and laity elected to the jurisdictional conference will also attend General Conference as alternate delegates, and General Conference delegates will attend the jurisdictional conference. Fourteen additional clergy and laity — seven each — will serve as reserve delegates to the jurisdictional conference.

There was a strong emphasis at this year’s conference event to involve more youth and young adults, as mandated by members at the 2006 conference. More than 100 members between the ages of 15 and 30 attended as part of a first-time youth/young adult delegation. That push carried over into the election process, especially among laity. Members elected seven of the eight nominees younger than 30.

Among clergy elected to the conferences, either as delegates or reserve members, five are African-American, three are Hispanic and one is Haitian. The age group most represented is the 50 to 59 age bracket, with 17 delegates. Eleven delegates are ages 40 to 49, three are 30 to 39 and two are in the 60-plus category.
 
Among the laity elected five are African-American, four are Hispanic and two are Haitian. Three of the delegates are younger than 21, and there are four in each of the 21 to 29, 30 to 39 and 40 to 49 age ranges. The 60-plus category is the most highly represented, with 10 delegates, but the 50-somethings aren’t far behind with eight.

Of the delegates elected, 32 are women and 34 are men. The delegation also includes eight delegates who represent four families — two delegates per family.

A number of the delegates elected to the upcoming General Conference are veterans of past conferences. All of the clergy elected this year were elected in 2003 — 10 as delegates to the 2004 General Conference and three as delegates to the 2004 jurisdictional conference. Of the lay delegates elected this year, five attended the 2004 General Conference and one served as a jurisdictional delegate. The lay delegation for the 2008 jurisdictional conference includes the most new faces, with 10 first-time members. The jurisdictional clergy delegation has eight first-time delegates.

Several times throughout annual conference members addressed the assembly, stressing the importance of an inclusive delegation representing the conference.

The Rev. Bill Fisackerly IV wanted to be certain older clergy were not omitted. At one point in the process, Fisackerly, pastor of Gulf Cove United Methodist Church in Port Charlotte, reminded the assembly no clergy older than 60 had yet been elected.

Walter Dry, a member of First United Methodist Church, Spring Hill, and newly-elected delegate to the 2008 General Conference, talks with a member during a meet-the-nominees time before elelctions and the first business session of the 2007 Florida Annual Conference Event began. Photo by Greg Moore. Photo #07-0605.

“I wanted to be sure that some of the older clergy who mentored me and brought me into the church were not forgotten,” he said after the conference. “I think their wisdom, combined with the energy of youth and young adults, makes the church stronger.”

Fisackerly said he was pleased with the diversity of the delegation and that it represents “some very good people and ones who are going to hold faithful to God’s scripture.”

One of those people is Sarah Mitchell, 17. She was the second layperson elected to the jurisdictional conference, which also means she will be an alternate to General Conference. After a brief meeting of the delegation immediately after the annual conference event ended, Mitchell said she didn’t know what to expect or what was expected of her, but was eager to learn.

She’ll be able to learn a lot from her sister, Allison, who is also a delegate. The elder Mitchell — by two years — was the second layperson elected to General Conference. She is also a past delegate, having represented the conference at the 2004 General Conference. She was 16 then. Allison said she is ready for the challenges that lie ahead for her and her sister and the whole delegation.

The Rev. Jorge Acevedo, the first clergyperson elected, said he is both humbled and honored to represent the conference. This is his third time serving as a General Conference delegate.

“We have a fair number of younger laity delegates,” said Acevedo, pastor at Grace United Methodist Church in Cape Coral. “I’m very excited about this.”

The Rev. Clark Campbell-Evans of St. Paul’s United Methodist Church in Tallahassee is equally thrilled with the results and that members of the conference reached out to the younger generation by electing them.

“I walked away from annual conference this year with a tremendous sense of hope,” said Campbell-Evans, who was also a delegate to the 2004 General Conference. “I’m impressed with the trust delegates placed in the young people … and preparing them to be lifelong leaders in the church.”

While excited to be delegates, both men know preparing for and participating in General Conference will be grueling.

Acevedo said it’s important that all delegates prepare themselves spiritually, referring to the two weeks of General Conference as a “trying, pressure cooker” type of experience.

“It’s a politically charged environment, and you must have people to pray for you, the delegation and the church,” he said. “You can read all of the vast material, but if you’re not ready spiritually, it can eat you up. You have to have your spiritual A game.”

Campbell-Evans agreed. He said the General Conference experience is all encompassing, from the moment delegates step onsite until General Conference ends.

During his first experience as a delegate, Campbell-Evans said he made the mistake of giving all the material and resolutions the same attention and importance when he should have focused more of his energies on certain issues. He said he devoted time to some issues that were never considered.

“I think being spiritually prepared is the absolute most critical thing to do,” he said. “You have to offer yourself to be a servant of God and of the church as a whole. While you are there so many things come at you.”

Campbell-Evans said he is looking forward to community building time with other delegates to strengthen their ties and get to know each other better.

The Rev. Sue Haupert-Johnson, pastor of First United Methodist Church, Cape Coral, and a first-time delegate, is also excited about the upcoming experience, but equally glad to have an entire year to prepare for General Conference.

Disney Weaver, a young adult General Conference delegate, is fairly certain he knows what to expect in the year ahead because he served as a delegate to the 2004 General Conference. He said he will utilize the insights and strategies he learned during that experience, adding he still remembers what he considers the best thing about being a delegate then. Something a bishop said during one of the sessions turned an old saying upside down for him.

“It was not give until it hurts, but give until it heals,” he said. “It made an impact on me and has stuck with me.”

2008 delegates elected

Bill Walker (standing), conference lay leader, and younger members listen to the discussion during a meeting of the Florida Conference's delegation to the 2008 denominational and jurisdictional conferences. Photo by Greg Moore. Photo #07-0606.

Clergy elected to General Conference are: the Revs. Jorge Acevedo, Grace United Methodist Church, Cape Coral; Jim Harnish, Hyde Park United Methodist Church, Tampa; Sue Haupert-Johnson, First United Methodist Church, Cape Coral; David Dodge, director of the conference’s Center for Clergy Excellence; Debbie McLeod, superintendent of the South East District; Anne Burkholder, director of the conference’s Connectional Ministries office; David McEntire, United Methodist Church of the Palm Beaches; Dan Johnson, Trinity United Methodist Church, Gainesville; Bob Bushong, First United Methodist Church, Winter Park; Geraldine McClellan, superintendent of the North Central District; Candace Lewis, New Life Community United Methodist Church, Jacksonville; Clarke Campbell-Evans, St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, Tallahassee; and Phil Roughton, Christ Church United Methodist, Fort Lauderdale.

Lay delegates elected to General Conference are: William “Bill” Walker III, conference lay leader, First United Methodist Church, Winter Park; Allison Mitchell, young adult member, First United Methodist Church, Cocoa Beach; John “Jad” Denmark, young adult member, Anona United Methodist Church, Largo; Mary Alice Massey, Southside United Methodist Church, Jacksonville; Rodney Akers, First United Methodist Church, Seffner; Jeannie Jacques, St. Mark’s United Methodist Church, Lakeland; Joyce Waldon Bright, Ebenezer United Methodist Church, Orlando; Walter Dry, First United Methodist Church, Spring Hill; Teresita Matos, Christ Hispanic United Methodist Church, Orlando; Disney Weaver, young adult member, First United Methodist Church, Haines City; Judith Pierre-Okerson, Norland United Methodist Church, Miami; Mickey Wilson, Florida Conference treasurer; and William “Russ” Graves, First United Methodist Church, Melbourne.

Clergy elected to the Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference are: the Revs. Catherine Fluck Price, Harvest United Methodist Church, Bradenton (alternate to General Conference); Wayne Curry, superintendent, Gulf Central District (alternate to General Conference); Preval Floreal, Grace Haitian United Methodist Church, Miami; Moses Johnson Jr., Simpson Memorial United Methodist Church, Jacksonville; Mont Duncan, director, Florida Conference New Church Development office; Terri Hill, Suntree United Methodist Church, Melbourne; Marta Burke, Fulford United Methodist Church, North Miami Beach; Annette Pendergrass, First United Methodist Church, Ormond Beach; Wayne Wiatt, superintendent, East Central District; Joe MacLaren, University Carillon United Methodist Church, Oviedo; Jeff Stiggins, director, Florida Conference Congregational Transformation office; Migdalia “Lia” Icaza-Willetts, First United Methodist Church, Tampa; and Vicki Walker, Hyde Park United Methodist Church, Tampa.

Clergy reserve delegates are: the Revs. David Brazelton, Mandarin United Methodist Church, Jacksonville; Rinaldo Hernandez, La Nueva Iglesia Mission, Hialeah; E. Tracy Hunter, Lakewood United Methodist Church, St. Petersburg; Kevin James, Palma Ceia United Methodist Church, Tampa; Walter Monroe, Stewart Memorial United Methodist Church, Daytona Beach; Melissa Pisco, The Studio, Coral Gables; and Lawrence “Larry” Rankin, director, Florida Conference Global Missions and Justice.

Lay delegates elected to the Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference are: Jacob Lupfer, young adult member, First United Methodist Church, Kissimmee (alternate to General Conference); Sarah Mitchell, youth member, First United Methodist Church, Cocoa Beach (alternate to General Conference); Paulette Monroe, Stewart Memorial United Methodist Church, Daytona Beach; Melanie Fierbaugh, young adult member, First United Methodist Church, Lutz; Oscar Negron, Nueva Vida United Methodist Church, Pembroke Pines; Martha Gay Duncan, First United Methodist Church, Lakeland; Suzanne Zipperer, Port Charlotte United Methodist Church; John Dowell, First United Methodist Church, Tampa; Jeffrey Stricklin, youth member, First United Methodist Church, DeLand; Barbara Stricklin, First United Methodist Church, DeLand; Aggie Reed, Ebenezer United Methodist Church, Miami; Pam Alexander, First United Methodist Church, Port Orange; and Carol Mack-Harrell, Ocala West United Methodist Church.

Lay reserve delegates are: Janet Kelley, First United Methodist Church, Ormond Beach; Nora Madan, Wesley Hispanic United Methodist Church, Miami; Ellen Lyons, Saint Paul’s United Methodist Church, Tallahassee; Bud Fowler, Aloma United Methodist Church, Winter Park; Eduardo Rodriguez, Coral Way United Methodist Church, Miami; Marian Goodman, Anona United Methodist Church, Largo; and William “Bill” Fackler, First United Methodist Church, Jacksonville.

Videos, photos, summaries and additional information about the conference event are available on the Florida Conference Web site at http://www.flumc.org.

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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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