Opportunities — Oct. 31, 2008 {0933}

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

Opportunities — Oct. 31, 2008

Oct. 31, 2008    News media contact: Tita Parham* 
tparham@flumc.org    Orlando {0933}

An e-Review News Item

This series includes:

• Couples ‘walk with Jesus’ at spiritual retreat

• United Methodists encouraged to collect offering for Student Day
• The Advance launches e-newsletter on designated mission giving
• Guilt free chocolate available for the holidays
• Advent devotions, cards emphasize hunger mission
• Disney, Universal employees share ways to be creative in ministry
• Large churches gather for spiritual renewal
• Mountain T.O.P. seeks volunteers for 2009
• Quadrennial conference ‘focus’: ministry for children
• Enough Project launches campaign to raise hope for Congo women


Couples ‘walk with Jesus’ at spiritual retreat

By Caryl Kelley**

LAKELAND — The Florida Conference United Methodist Men are sponsoring two couple’s retreats in March at the Life Enrichment Center in Fruitland Park.

Themed “Walking With Jesus,” the retreats offer couples the opportunity to spend time away from their everyday responsibilities so they can focus on each other and God. Each weekend features challenging inspirational speakers, music and group discussion.

Retreat leaders for the first weekend March 13-15 are the Revs. Philip Short, senior pastor at First United Methodist Church, Stuart; Jaquie Leveron, associate pastor at Good Shepherd United Methodist Church, West Palm Beach; and Tom Farmer, retired Florida Conference pastor. Ross Kimura will lead music, and Don Taylor will share his insight into the Jewish roots of Christians as leader of the weekend’s enrichment opportunity. Leveron will lead the discussion group option, titled “The Power of Forgiveness.”

Retreat leaders for weekend two March 20-22 are John Riley and the Revs. David Stauffer, senior pastor at Faith United Methodist Church, Ft. Myers, and Debbie Nelson, pastor at Ridge Manor United Methodist Church. Lenee Schroeder will lead the music, and the discussion topics are spiritual disciplines and self care. The enrichment opportunity is “Women of the Bible,” a dramatic portrayal of 12 characters in the Old and New Testaments.

The cost for each weekend, including room and meals, is $279 per couple staying at the Life Enrichment Center. Fees for the family campground and for Saturday only are posted at the Florida United Methodist Men’s Web site at http://www.ummflconf.org/, under retreat information and then 2009 Couple’s Spiritual Retreat.

More information is available by calling toll free 877-815-3692.


United Methodists encouraged to collect offering for Student Day
By Florida Conference Staff

Gifts from United Methodists on United Methodist Student Day Nov. 30 prepare students to unite faith with knowledge. 
Each year, the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry awards scholarships and loans to students attending United Methodist and other accredited colleges and universities through the United Methodist Student Day offering. In addition, a portion of the United Methodist Student Day offering is returned to each annual conference for merit scholarship awards to students of its choosing.
For many students, financial assistance is critical to attaining higher education. Each year, tuition costs and the number of applicants to college increase, furthering the need for more financial assistance. The goal of United Methodist Student Day is to provide assistance to everyone who needs it.
Information and support materials about United Methodist Student Day can be found at http://www.umcgiving.org/site/c.qwL6KkNWLrH/b.3595593/k.A832/Special_Sundays.htm.
More information about this Special Sunday or scholarships offered by The United Methodist Church is also available by contacting Kelly Moore, associate director of the Florida Conference Board of Higher Education and Campus Ministry, at kmoore@flumc.org or 800-282-8011, extension 142.

Florida Conference churches that observe a tradition of Fifth Sunday offerings for the Florida United Methodist Children’s Home are asked to please consider lifting up both of these worthy causes for special offerings on the same day or remember them on separate Sundays.


The Advance launches e-newsletter on designated mission giving

By General Board of Global Ministries Staff

NEW YORK — The Advance for Christ and His Church has a new monthly electronic and online newsletter to encourage United Methodist designated mission giving and report to church members on projects they may already be supporting.

The e-newsletter was announced at the annual meeting of directors of the General Board of Global Ministries of The United Methodist Church in Stamford, Conn., Oct. 13-17. The Advance is part of the international mission agency. It channels 100 percent of each designated gift to hundreds of ministries around the world.

“We want United Methodists to know more about how Advance gifts are used and more about the many opportunities for giving,” said the Rev. Shawn Bakker, Global Ministries associate general secretary responsible for The Advance.

The first issue reports on Grace Children’s Hospital in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, linking its work to the Children’s Sabbath, observed in mid-October.

Each month, an Advance advocate will be highlighted to demonstrate how he or she supports mission through The Advance. This month the “advocate” is Winsome Wright of The Advance, whose choice is Kissy Maternity Hospital in Sierra Leone.

The newsletter also offers information on ways congregations or individuals can support United Methodist missionaries.

“This is not intended to be an exhaustive monthly publication,” Bakker said. “Rather, it is a reminder of opportunities to support mission financially, but also to pray for mission projects, personnel and partners in the global work of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”

The first Advance e-letter can be accessed online at http://new.gbgm-umc.org/Advance/resources/news/advancinghope.


Guilt free chocolate available for the holidays

By Michelle Brooks**

BOSTON, Mass. — Equal Exchange, United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) and the General Board of Church and Society (GBCS) of The United Methodist Church have partnered to raise awareness about Fair Trade this holiday season.

Fairly traded products provide small-scale farmers a fair living wage and an opportunity to break out of the cycle of poverty. The three organizations have created an educational resource to increase awareness of the UMCOR Coffee Project and the need for United Methodists to advocate with their wallets and voices for better working conditions and prices for cocoa farmers throughout the world.

Now, mini-chocolates can be purchased at http://www.equalexchange.coop from the Equal Exchange Interfaith Store.

“After my 3-year-old and I went trick-or-treating, I sorted her candy. I found a post card in her bag encouraging me to buy fair trade chocolate,” said Susan Burton, director of the United Methodist Seminar Program at GBCS. “I realized that was another way that I could put my faith into action, and I wanted to make this opportunity available to United Methodists.”

GBCS joined the partnership between UMCOR and Equal Exchange to encourage people of all ages to buy Fair Trade.

The continuing practice of forced child labor on cocoa farms in West Africa, where 70 percent of the world’s chocolate is sourced, has been a well-documented problem. As an alternative, Fair Trade Certified cocoa is monitored — from the farmers to the store shelf — by independent, nonprofit, certifying organizations. FLO International and TransFair USA guarantee that no child labor or forced labor was used in the production of cocoa, the cocoa was bought directly from a democratically controlled cooperative of small scale farmers, and the farmers are paid enough money to support their families with food, education and other essentials.

Global poverty is one of the four focus areas of The United Methodist Church. This initiative offers United Methodists an opportunity to increase awareness of systems contributing to global poverty in their churches and beyond by handing out fair trade chocolate and a post card with additional information and resources to support fair trade products. Many local United Methodist churches already serve Equal Exchange’s Fair Trade products because they recognize their ability to participate in ending the exploitation of child slave laborers on cocoa farms.

Fair trade chocolate can be purchased for churches, family and friends this holiday season through UMCOR’s 100-Ton Challenge (http://www.umcorcoffee.org) currently underway. This campaign began on World Fair Trade Sunday May 10, 2007, and encourages United Methodists to support purchases of fair trade products from Equal Exchange through the UMCOR Coffee Project partnership.

More information may be obtained by contacting Michelle Brooks at 202-488-5632 or mbrooks@umc-gbcs.org.


Advent devotions, cards emphasize hunger mission
By Carol A. Breitinger**
BIG ISLAND, Va. — Finding Christ in the chaos of Christmas can be daunting. That’s why the Society of St. Andrew (Advance #801600) offers an Advent devotional program that helps Christians navigate the secular maze that envelops the Advent season.
Through Scripture, daily devotions and prayers in the Society of St. Andrew’s (SoSA) Advent booklet, readers discover new ways to bring Christ to the center of their lives, as well as reflect on and share in the work and mission of Jesus.
From the differing perspectives of contributing clergy and laity, this year’s theme, “Finding CHRISTmas,” focuses on ways to nourish the spirit. The program also provides an opportunity to feed hungry neighbors.

SoSA is a national nonprofit hunger-relief ministry that saves 20 million to 30 million pounds of fresh, nutritious, excess produce each year that will go to waste for various marketing reasons. This food is then distributed to critical service agencies across the country at no cost to the agencies or the hungry people they serve.
During Advent, SoSA asks participants to reflect on the scriptures and devotions and join in the ministry to feed America’s hungry by making a financial donation. Last year donations made through SoSA’s Advent devotional program provided more than 1.2 million servings of food to the hungry. This year the need is even greater because of the country’s current economic difficulties, which affect those who have the least far worse, hurting their families at the most basic level.
All materials for the Advent devotional program are free of charge. Individuals may order a church sample kit or a personal packet at http://www.endhunger.org/advent.htm, 800-333-4597 or church@endhunger.org.

SoSA also offers the opportunity of honoring a family member or friends through a gift donation in someone’s name. Donors will receive SoSA’s alternative 2008 Christmas card.

The annual Christmas Gift Donation Cards are available at http://www.endhunger.org/card/thecard.htm. Each $12 Gift Card in honor of someone special feeds about 800 people.

SoSA will send cards to the donor for any personalization and mailing, or it will mail the exclusively designed Christmas card to the recipient announcing the generous gift in his or her name.

More information about the Society of St. Andrew and its hunger-relief programs is available at http://www.endhunger.org or sosausa@endhunger.org.   


Disney, Universal employees share ways to be creative in ministry

By Bob Pierson**

TULSA, Okla. — The words “creativity” and “ministry” are not usually seen in such close proximity, but interested church people can plan to visit Orlando in January and learn to be creative in ministry.

Leadership Nexus’ third conference on creativity is being offered in Orlando Jan. 6-9 in cooperation with committed Christian staff members of Walt Disney World and Universal Studios who want to encourage and share the most creative possibilities that can revitalize the local church.

Leadership Nexus is an organization founded by Dr. Robert Pierson to provide resources that empower the local church, equip the clergy and laity for leadership, and provide a network for peer learning.

Among those helping are the Rev. Dr. Bill Barnes, senior pastor at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, Orlando; Ben Adams, director of emerging arts at St. Luke’s; Jennifer & Kevin Brassard, former Disney and Universal employees currently working as entertainers at Disney; Alice Bass, actress and author of “The Creative Life: A Workbook for Unearthing the Christian Imagination”; and other leaders and creative people who love the church.

There will be a group learning time and workshops on various methods of developing, adapting and using creativity in a church or ministry setting.

The cost of the conference includes a one-day pass to the Disney parks for directed observation of the creative elements used there and how they are effective and transferable. More information is available at http://www.leadershipnexus.net/orlando.html.


Large churches gather for spiritual renewal

By Southeastern Jurisdiction Staff

LAKE JUNALUSKA, N.C. — Pastors and leaders of larger churches are invited to the Southeastern Jurisdiction (SEJ) Larger Church Consultation for Spiritual Renewal Jan. 21-23 for a time of inspiration away from their everyday responsibilities.

Larger churches are those that have or are growing toward a membership of 1,000 or more and an average worship attendance of 400 or more.

Drs. Susan Muto and Stephen Martyn will lead the three-day gathering. Muto is the author of more than 90 articles and 16 books, including “John of the Cross for Today” and “Womanspirit.” She is also a teacher and leading scholar of the literature of spirituality. Muto is the former director of the Institute of Formative Spirituality at Duquesne University, where she taught as a full professor in its master’s and doctoral programs. She is currently executive director of the Epiphany Association, a nonprofit ecumenical center dedicated to spiritual formation.

After serving as a United Methodist pastor for 28 years, Martyn took his leadership experience in the local church and beyond to Asbury Theeological Seminary. He has served congregations in Northwest Texas; Bethel Park, Penn., Albuquerque, N.M.; and Lexington, K.y. He has also served as the first spiritual director for the Kentucky Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church. Martyn has served in multiple spiritual formation and congregational leadership settings in the United States and abroad through conferencing, teaching, writing and preaching.

The spiritual renewal event is coordinated by Lake Junaluska Ministry Events at the Lake Junaluska Conference & Retreat Center, but it will be held at Epworth by the Sea in St. Simons Island, Ga.

There will be a fireside chat Thursday evening of the event with Bishops Dick Wills, Marion Edwards and Ray Chamberlain.

The cost for the event package, including registration, lodging (single/double) and six meals, is $375 per person and $490 per couple.

One continuing education credit unit will be awarded for attendance at all scheduled plenary and small group sessions. A cost of $5 will be charged at registration.

A brochure is available at http://www.lakejunaluska.com by clicking “upcoming events,” then calendar and scrolling to Jan. 21. Interested individuals may register online registration or by calling 828-454-6656.


Mountain T.O.P. seeks volunteers for 2009

By Samantha Tashman**

ALTAMONT, Tenn. — Mountain T.O.P. (Tennessee Outreach Project) is now accepting applications for its SpringBREAKOUTreach, Youth Summer Ministry (YSM) and Adults In Ministry (AIM) programs for 2009. AIM will celebrate its 20th anniversary in 2009.

The programs allow volunteers to make a difference in the lives of families from the Cumberland Mountains of Tennessee, either through home repair or youth programming.

Mountain T.O.P.’s 2009 camp season will begin with SpringBREAKOUTreach, which offers college-age students, church youth groups or any other group of willing volunteers the opportunity to spend their spring break in ministry. This flexible program includes two days of work for Cumberland Mountain families and two days of work on Mountain T.O.P. camp facilities. The program is less structured than Mountain T.O.P.’s youth and adult ministries and can include optional activities like exploring local caves, hiking or completing the low ropes challenge course located at Mountain T.O.P.’s base camp.

“In four days of work, we put a tin roof on a building that was approximately 25 feet by 40 feet, we got about halfway done a smaller tin roof, we framed up a wall, finished some more tin roofing, put in our windows, hung one small room of drywall, puttied and sanded that room,” said Steve Frankenfeld, who first attended SpringBREAKOUTreach while a freshman at Messiah College. “We basically kicked butt.”

Frankenfeld had such a positive experience that he later returned to Mountain T.O.P. as a summer staff member. “I also am planning on leading a trip from Messiah to Mountain T.O.P. this coming spring,” he said. “Hopefully, I can help others have the same incredible experience that I did.”

SpringBREAKOUTreach camps will be offered between Feb. 15 and Apr. 18.

During the summer of 2009, the Youth Summer Ministry (YSM) and Adults In Ministry (AIM) programs will take place.

In the YSM program, volunteers in small work teams participate in minor home repair projects for mountain families in need or conduct day camp activities for children from isolated mountain communities. In the evenings, they gather for worship and to share the good news about what took place at their individual work sites during the day.

AIM programs place adults on major home repair work teams or as volunteers in one of two children's programs: Kaleidoscope, an arts camp for special needs children, and Summer Plus, an enrichment camp for teenagers from the mountains. Volunteers of both genders and all skill levels, from novice to expert, are needed in each of the three programs. Anyone and everyone is welcome.

Julie Reeves of City Road Chapel United Methodist in Madison, Tenn., participated in a fall AIM weekend in 2008.

“I saw God (that) weekend,” she said. “He was in the eyes of a 3-year-old girl, who, 10 seconds after meeting me, jumped into my arms and hugged me. He was in the smile of an 8-year-old girl, who grinned for two whole days and told me she loved me, a complete stranger.”

Two week-long AIM events will be held in 2009: Jun. 21-27 (home repair and Summer Plus) and Jul. 5-11 (home repair and Kaleidoscope). Weekend AIM home repair events will also be held during the fall.

Established in 1975, Mountain T.O.P. is an interdenominational ministry affiliated with the Tennessee Conference of The United Methodist Church. Volunteers in 2008 came from 100 different churches and 11 different denominations; the United Methodist volunteers alone represented 25 different annual conferences.

More information about the SpringBREAKOUTreach, YSM and AIM programs, as well as applications for 2009 camp events, can be found on the Mountain T.O.P. Web site at http://www.mountain-top.org, by e-mailing info@mountain-top.org or by calling 931-692-3999.


Quadrennial conference ‘focus’: ministry for children

By Caryl Kelley

LAKELAND — Those in ministry for children are invited to attend the FOCUS 2009 quadrennial conference July 21-24 in Indianapolis, Ind., and a pre-conference July 20. The theme is based on the scripture “fearfully and wonderfully made” from Psalm 139.

The primary audience for FOCUS includes local church staff and laity involved with children’s ministries, including Sunday school teachers and weekday ministry staff, district and conference staff, coordinators of children’s ministries, seminarians, and clergy.

Attendees will experience innovative workshops, unique worship, inspiring preachers, dynamic speakers, relevant resources and networking opportunities that will support them in creating, renewing and revitalizing ministries locally and globally. An extensive resource center and the Cokesbury bookstore will also be available. Activities for children and youth of families in attendance are planned.

Descriptions of the FOCUS workshops and leaders and registration information are available at http://www.gbod.org/ministries/children/focus2009/default.asp.

The Rev. Dr. Leanne Ciampa Hadley is one of the event’s featured preachers. She is an ordained United Methodist elder and a specialist in the area of children’s spirituality. She is also president and founder of First Steps Spirituality Center. In December 2007 she received her Doctor of Ministry in spirituality and children and teens from United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio.

Through listening to and learning from children and teens over the course of 25 years, Hadley has developed healing methods that set First Steps apart. Her one-on-one time with children makes her ministry one that is “hands-on” rather than just a “study of.”

On-line registration is now open, with an early bird fee of $260 if the registration is received by Dec. 31. There is also a standard fee of $290 for registrations received between Jan. 1 and May 31 and a late fee of $330 for registrations received June 1 or later. A day pass is $100. The pre-conference seminar is $90. There is a cancellation fee of $50.

Child care and youth programs will be available for a nominal fee. A list of local attractions is available on the FOCUS 2009 Web site.

Questions about FOCUS 2009 should be sent to Melanie Gordon, director, Younger Children’s Ministries, Family, Life-Span and Latino Ministries Team, Discipleship Ministries Division of the General Board of Discipleship of The United Methodist Church, at http://www.gbod.org/ministries/children; 877-899-2780, extension 1762; or http://blogs.gbod.org/younger_children/.


Enough Project launches campaign to raise hope for Congo women

By Candice Knezevic**

WASHINGTON — With the situation on the ground in Congo further deteriorating and senior United Nations leaders calling for more peacekeepers to help restore order, an array of advocates, policymakers and celebrities have come together to launch the Enough Project’s “RAISE Hope for Congo” campaign (http://www.raisehopeforcongo.org/).

Because the women of Congo have hope, they are fighting for a better future for themselves, their children and their country. But they want help and need to know they are not alone. And so the Enough Project (http://www.enoughproject.org/) has launched the RAISE Hope for Congo campaign.

To protect and empower Congolese women and girls, the campaign will work to raise awareness about the crisis, the resulting widespread sexual violence against women and girls, and the solutions that are necessary to end the conflict. It will work to increase news coverage of the conflict in eastern Congo, build a movement of activists that can advocate effectively for change, and influence and change policy on the Congo through promotion of the 4Ps — peace, protection, punishment and prevention — the four ingredients necessary to end the mass violence against women in Congo.

Interested individuals can stay up to date by visiting http://www.raisehopeforcongo.org. Educational tools about the conflict and its impact on women and girls, toolkits that provide advocacy and media tips, and videos, podcasts and other interactive tools are also available on the site.


*Parham is managing editor of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**Brooks is director of digital communications at the General Board of Church and Society in Washington.
   Breitinger is national communications director of the Society of St. Andrew in Big Island, Va.
   Kelley is subscription manager, photographer and contributing writer for e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
   Knezevic is campaign manager for RAISE Hope for Congo, The Enough Project.
   Pierson is executive director of Leadership Nexus in Tulsa, Okla. 
   Tashman is program manager of recruiting and public awareness for Mountain T.O.P in Altamont, Tenn.

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