Opportunities — Nov. 22, 2008 {0944}

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

Opportunities — Nov. 22, 2008

Nov. 22, 2008    News media contact: Tita Parham* 
tparham@flumc.org    Orlando {0944}

An e-Review News Item

This series includes:

• Bishop speaks at consecration for new program, worship center
• Churches invited to learn about ministry from the kitchen
• Taize worship workshop makes its way to Fruitland Park
• Asbury Seminary hosts Kingdom Encounter
• Evangelism leaders offer practical ‘hitchhikers’ guide
• Church secretaries strive to be ‘in the know’
• Florida United Methodists celebrate Children’s Week in Tallahassee
• Florida Conference expands e-Learning modules

• Bread for the World offers way to celebrate, share hope during Advent
• Churches celebrate World AIDS Day Dec. 1
• Gospel storyteller singer ‘warms’ winter at Epworth by the Sea
• Human relations day offering supports justice, equality for all
• Resources available for Martin Luther King Day activities
• Online survey seeks responses from clergy spouses
• Igniting Ministry matching grants available for Lent


Bishop speaks at consecration for new program, worship center

By Caryl Kelley**

LAKELAND — All clergy and laity are invited to attend the Dec. 13 open house and consecration of the new Lockmiller Program and Worship Center at the Florida Conference Riverside Retreat.

Florida Conference Bishop Timothy W. Whitaker will lead the consecration service at 11 a.m. Immediately following is an open house celebration on the retreat grounds. Light refreshments will be served.

Those planning to attend are asked to contact Martha Pierce, director of Riverside Retreat, at mpierceriverside@yahoo.com or 863-675-0334.

Riverside Retreat is located at 7305 CR 78 in LaBelle. More information about the camp is available at http://www.flumcamps.org.


Churches invited to learn about ministry from the kitchen

By Erik Aslgaard**

LAKELAND — Churches that operate a food pantry or homeless feeding program and want to use that practice of radical hospitality to end childhood hunger or those that want to see just how much ministry can be done in and from their church’s kitchen are invited to “Ministry from the Kitchen” Jan. 10.

The session will be held at First United Methodist Church in Winter Park with registration beginning at 9 a.m. and the opening session at 9:30 a.m. The cost is $8 at the door.

The day will include Bible study and discussion on hospitality and food, resource materials, lunch and snacks, times for fellowship and networking, presentations from experts, and discussions from church members who have developed fruit-bearing, food-related ministries in their local settings.

Details and registration information are available by contacting Melinda Trotti, director of Florida Conference Justice and Spiritual Formation Ministries, at mtrotti@flumc.org or 800-282-8011, extension 504.


Taize worship workshop makes its way to Fruitland Park

By Melinda Trotti**

LAKELAND — Taize is many things: a small village in southwest France, the name of an ecumenical monastic community in that village, a place that welcomes thousands of young people from around the world each week to experience community and join in prayer, silence and a unique meditative style of singing.

What draws the young (and not so young) to Taize? Why do so many leave Taize, but continue to gather for Taize prayers held on campuses and in churches throughout the world as part of the ‘pilgrimage of hope on Earth’?

Those who would like to experience the meditative prayer and songs of Taize and learn about the community’s commitment to peace and reconciliation and how to prepare a time of Taize prayer are invited to attend a Taize worship workshop Jan. 17, 9:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

The gathering will be held at the Life Enrichment Center in Fruitland Park as one of the Florida Conference Spiritual Formation Gatherings. Sheila George will lead the session.

In her 20s, George said she was deeply influenced by her experiences at Taize, where she stayed as volunteer helping welcome other young people. She was also involved with the welcome and preparation for the Taize Intercontinental Meeting in 1993 in Dayton, Ohio, and assisted the monastery with retreats in the United States and Canada.

George is currently a member of the ministry team at Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church in Lakeland and a founding partner of Illumicom, a communication agency for religious congregations and faith-based agencies and organizations based outside Washington, D.C.

The cost for the event is $25. Participants are asked to bring their own lunch.

More information about Taize worship is available by contacting George at sheilageorge100@hotmail.com. Individuals may register by contacting Heidi Leab at hleab@flumc.org or 800-282-8011, extension 192.


Asbury Seminary hosts Kingdom Encounter

By Tina Pugel**

ORLANDO — Asbury Theological Seminary will host “Kingdom Encounter: Reaching the World” Feb. 2-4 on its Orlando campus.

The conference features plenary and breakout sessions with both keynote speakers and ministry leaders in and around Orlando who are reaching the world for Christ. Attendees will experience vibrant worship and interactive small-group seminars together, and seminary credit and continuing education units will be available.

Keynote speakers are Danny Wuerffel, 1996 Heisman trophy winner and executive director of Desire Street Ministries, and Tyron Inbody, professor emeritus of theology at United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio.

Through its Kentucky, Florida and virtual campuses, Asbury Seminary is a multi-denominational graduate school of theology committed to teaching historic Wesleyan Christianity.

On its Kentucky campus, Asbury offers a variety of degrees, including the Master of Arts, Master of Divinity, Master of Theology, Doctor of Missiology, Doctor of Ministry and Doctor of Philosophy in intercultural studies. Students can earn one-half of the Master of Arts or two-thirds of the Master of Divinity degree on-line. Total current enrollment exceeds 1,600 students, representing 86 denominations and 42 countries. More information is available at asburyseminary.edu.

A complete schedule and conference registration information are available at http://www.asburyseminary.edu/kingdom-encounter/registration or by calling 800-227-2879.


Evangelism leaders offer practical ‘hitchhikers’ guide

By Erik Alsgaard

LAKELAND — Local church members may have wondered how to better share God’s good news in a post-modern, topsy-turvy world. Others may be afraid to even utter the “E” word.

Those who have concerns or reservations about their church’s ministries of evangelism are invited to a daylong series of workshops presenting the “Hitchhikers Guide to Evangelism,” sponsored in part by the Florida Conference Office of Congregational Transformation.

Bill Easum and Bill Tenny-Brittian — two renown leaders in the field of teaching understandable, practical and effective evangelism — will be at Lake Magdalene United Methodist Church, 2902 W. Fletcher Ave., Tampa, Feb. 28 to offer laity and clergy ways to “come to terms” with the “E” word. Onsite registration opens at 8:30 a.m.; the workshops begin at 9 a.m.

The sessions begin with a reminder that while the culture has changed, the church is largely operating as if the community is what it used to be. From there, the conference will explore how effective evangelism is changing, and must change, to reach the growing population of unchurched and never-churched people.

Registration is now open. Early registration before Feb. 7 is $85. Clergy who bring four people attend for free.

More details and registration information are available at http://www.easumbandy.com.


Church secretaries strive to be ‘in the know’

By Caryl Kelley

LAKELAND — Church administrative staff and church secretaries from around the Florida Conference will meet at the Life Enrichment Center in Fruitland Park for the 35th Annual PAUMCS (Professional Association of United Methodist Church Secretaries) Seminar Feb. 27-Mar. 1

Participants will experience a weekend of learning, sharing and fun. “Being in the Know” learning sessions include “Know Your Neighbors: Mission In-Site,” “Know About Your Stress:  Shade and Fresh Water,” “Know Your Mission: Sager Brown,” “Know Your Web Site,” and “Know Your Books: Church Finances,” 

The cost for the weekend, including two nights lodging and five meals, is $150 per person double occupancy or $185 per person single occupancy. 

A brochure and registration form are available by contacting Louise Urquhart at luluadmin@tampabay.rr.com or 863-688-3114. The deadline to register is Dec. 19.

Two love offerings will be taken during the weekend. One will be for Saturday evening’s entertainment, and another will be taken during worship Sunday morning.

Attendees who are a certified United Methodist church secretary will receive one-half of a continuing education unit.


Florida United Methodists celebrate Children’s Week in Tallahassee

By Caryl Kelley

LAKELAND — United Methodists in Florida are invited to participate in an annual opportunity to advocate for children and families in poverty. It’s the Florida Conference Advocacy Days March 29-31 during Children’s Week in Tallahassee.

Members passed a resolution at the 2008 Florida Annual Conference addressing the need for local churches to participate in Children’s Week advocacy. For many years, Children’s Week has raised awareness of the needs of children in Florida to state legislators and others in Tallahassee. This year the Florida Conference is working to increase the number of participants and the effectiveness of the training for advocacy.
Interested pastors and church members may join Florida Conference Bishop Timothy W. Whitaker, Bishop McKinley Young of the African Methodist Episcopal Church and others in Tallahassee to pray for and advocate on behalf of children and families and learn about hands-on ministry to meet the needs of children in Florida.

United Methodists will gather March 29 with Children’s Week participants for the “Hanging of the Hands” in the rotunda of the state capitol, dedicating the tens of thousands of paper cut-outs of children’s hands decorated by children and their teachers. The Children’s Week advocacy dinner and reception to honor and recognize Children’s Week Partners and nonprofit organizations that work to improve the lives of children takes place March 30, 5-8 p.m., at the University Center Club at Florida State University. And March 31 features training on advocacy and specific bills legislators will consider, as well as a luncheon address by Florida state Senator Durell Peaden Jr., a United Methodist. The day begins with a prayer breakfast with Whitaker, followed by visits to legislators’ offices and an afternoon of training in hands-on ministry in local churches.
Church members and leaders are encouraged to attend, bringing a delegation from their churches. 

More information is available by contacting Melinda Trotti, director of Florida Conference Justice and Spiritual Formation Ministries, at mtrotti@flumc.org or 800-282-8011, extension 504, or Nancy Dougherty, Florida Conference Advocacy Days coordinator, at nancycumc@verizon.net.

Links to Children’s Week and advocacy resources are available on the conference mission and justice Web pages at http://www.flumc2.org/page.asp?PKValue=1009. Included are a Children’s Week volunteer form and schedule of events, Hanging of the Hands information, Florida Conference Advocacy Days at Children’s Week bulletin insert, Ministry From the Kitchen information, and the national observance of Children’s Sabbaths® manual.

Registration information for and details about Children’s Week are available at http://www.childrensweek.org/.


Florida Conference expands e-Learning modules

By Erik Aslgaard

LAKELAND — The Florida Conference continues to expand its long-distance, e-Learning opportunities with the introduction of “Come Let Us Worship,” a training module for worship teams and leaders.

The new online module, available at no cost at http://www.flumcelearning.com/, is the eighth component designed to help local churches strengthen their mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

Other modules include trainings for staff parish, trustees and finance committees and lay leader and lay member positions. A Bible study titled “Where is the fruit?” is also available.

“Come Let Us Worship” is a good first step for a local church in taking seriously the practice of passionate worship, one of the five practices of The Methodist Way, according to the Rev. Carol Sue Hutchinson, developer of the e-Learning opportunities.

“Although ‘Come Let Us Worship’ talks about passionate worship, it really isn’t aimed at that particular area,” Hutchinson said. “However, any church that takes this module seriously will be well on their way.”

The module, Hutchinson said, gives the basic responsibilities of a worship team and worship chairperson, as well as information and resources.

More information about the module and others is available by contacting Hutchinson at chutchinson@flumc.org.


Bread for the World offers way to celebrate, share hope during Advent

By Steven Miller**

WASHINGTON, D.C. — As people of the world celebrate Advent’s season of hope, all are invited to share their hope for a world without hunger by sending Christmas cards that benefit Bread for the World’s work to family and friends.

The cards can be found at http://www.bread.org/emails/order-christmas-cards.html

Two designs are offered this year. The first is a photograph of an infant and was taken in the Andes Mountains of Ecuador by Margaret W. Nea, a professional photographer and longtime Bread for the World member. Order information for this card is at http://ga4.org/ct/Pdwignn18XFa/

The second photo, of a shepherdess in Afghanistan, was taken by artist MNI Chowdhury for Majority World, which supports the work of indigenous photographers from developing countries. Ordering information is at http://ga4.org/ct/P7wignn18XFz/

Both cards can be purchased for $10 for a pack of 10.

Additionally, Bread for the World Sunday is an opportunity for churches to renew their commitment to overcoming hunger and poverty. Worshipping communities across the country will join together in lifting their voices on behalf of hungry people. Free resources can be ordered at http://www.bread.org/get-involved/at-church/bread-for-the-world-sunday/.

Books, gifts and resources for all hunger advocates are also available at the Breadstore at http://www.breadstore.org/.


Churches celebrate World AIDS Day Dec. 1

By Linda Bales**

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The theme of the 2008 World AIDS Day Dec. 1 is “Leadership: ‘Stop AIDS. Keep the Promise.’ ” This year marks the 20th anniversary of the celebration.

Since 1988, the face and response to AIDS have greatly changed. While many of these changes are positive, this anniversary offers an opportunity to highlight how much more still needs to be done. The theme encourages leaders at all levels to find a way to stop the spread of AIDS.

“Leadership” highlights the discrepancy between the commitments that have been made to halt that spread and actions taken to follow through with those commitments.

A United Methodist worship service for World AIDS Day is available at http://www.umc-gbcs.org/WorldAIDSDay. Other resources can be found on the General Board of Global Ministries Web site at http://new.gbgm-umc.org/ and the Ecumenical Advocacy Alliance.

World AIDS Day is also an opportunity to promote the United Methodist Global AIDS Fund, an Advance Special that provides funding to many AIDS projects around the globe. One hundred percent of all funds contributed go directly to the projects. Individuals may donate at http://www.umglobalaidsfund.org.

Each annual conference is also encouraged to have an AIDS task force or team that is organized to lift up the issue of AIDS and decide how to spend the money raised through the Global AIDS Fund. Each annual conference keeps 25 percent of all monies raised for local or global AIDS projects. The Annual Conference AIDS Survey on the General Board of Church and Society Web site provides a list of what each annual conference is doing to fight the spread of AIDS. The contact in the Florida Conference is the Rev. Dr. Larry Rankin, director of Global Missions and Justice Ministries, at lrankin@flumc.org.

Global AIDS Fund brochures are available at http://www.umglobalaidsfund.org. Those wanting to order quantities may do so by contacting Donna Brandyberry at dbrandyberry@umc-gbcs.org or 202-488-5641.


Gospel storyteller singer ‘warms’ winter at Epworth by the Sea

By Donna Chisholm**

ST. SIMON’S ISLAND, Ga. — Following his well-received visit in 2008, Epworth by the Sea, the United Methodist South Georgia Conference retreat center, has invited nationally acclaimed singer, humorist and folk-theologian Ed Kilbourne to return for another “Warmth in Winter” event for older adults Jan. 12-14.

This popular artist is known for his collections of moving music, clever humor and insightful monologues. He combines acoustic guitar, keyboards and singing with a story-telling style that has been compared to that of Garrison Keillor, the radio humorist from “Lake Wobegon,” and Jimmy Buffett.

Kilbourne grew up in China, Korea and Japan, where his parents served as missionaries. After finishing his college and seminary degrees in Kentucky, he moved to Atlanta, Ga., and began his career as a United Methodist minister. As his gifts for teaching and performing became more widely known he began to tour the country as a musician and spiritual resource person.

Kilbourne and his wife, Kathleen, a United Methodist minister, now live near Rock Hill, S.C. Kathleen serves as director of the Master of Arts in Christian education at Pfeiffer University.

Kilbourne has recorded 23 albums. His monologues and Gospel stories were published in 2008 under the title “The Gospel According To You.” Those participating in the winter event will hear his new program, “Pilgrims & Prodigals — A Journey of the Heart.”

Accommodations are available at http://www.epworthbythesea.org. Rates are per person and include lodging for two nights, five meals (Monday dinner through Wednesday breakfast, including the low country boil), registration fee and tax. The rates are $221.37 per person double occupancy and $278.17 per person single occupancy.

A brochure with registration information and schedule is available at http://www.epworthbythesea.org/warmth2009.pdf.


Human relations day offering supports justice, equality for all

By Caryl Kelley

LAKELAND — Homelessness, poverty, gangs, violence. Each of these issues plagues the United States and Puerto Rice, but The United Methodist Church is doing something about them Jan. 18.

That day is being celebrated as Human Relations Day, with an offering aimed at making it a day for all God’s children.

The offerings collected will support Community Developers, United Methodist Voluntary Service and the Youth Offender Rehabilitation Program. These efforts aim to heal injustice in the United States and Puerto Rico by encouraging social justice and work with at-risk youth.

The 1972 General Conference established Human Relations Day to “recognize the right of all God’s children in realizing their potential as human beings in relationship with each other.”

Support materials to help educate a congregation about Human Relations Day are available at http://www.umcgiving.org by choosing Connectional Giving Programs, Special Sundays then Human Relations Day.

Included are such resources as special stories, talking points, a children’s sermon and a bulletin insert available for download, as well as a link to the online store where additional free printed resources can be ordered. Resources may be ordered by calling toll free 888-346-3862.


Resources available for Martin Luther King Day activities

By Matt Rosen**

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Children’s Defense Fund (CDF) recently published “When Will We Hear?: Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s Call to End Poverty in America.”

The practical guide was originally developed to offer ideas for worship services, educational programs and community activities in conjunction with the annual National Observance of Children’s Sabbaths® celebration, but many friends and supporters have asked CDF to send additional copies as they plan their activities for Martin Luther King Day Jan. 19.

While great progress has been made since King’s death, America remains an unequal playing field for children. Today, more than 13 million children live in poverty, 9 million don’t have health coverage, and countless others are forced to live in dangerous communities and without adequate education — all of which disproportionately affects minority and poor families. To honor King’s legacy and keep his dream alive, everyone must finish the job that he and so many before him started.

What can faith communities do? The good news is that everyone has the power to make a profound difference. Reflecting on the transformative potential and power of the faith community, King wrote: “(It) was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society.”

Churches and interested individuals may visit the http://www.childrensdefense.org to learn more and learn how other organizations are using the guide to become agents of change for children.

Copies of “When Will We Hear?” may be ordered for the upcoming celebration day or for year-round child advocacy at http://www.childrensdefense.org or by calling 865-457-6466.

More information is available by contacting Matt Rosen at Children's Defense Fund at mrosen@childrensdefense.org.


Online survey seeks responses from clergy spouses

By Linda Bloom**

NEW YORK — The voices of clergy spouses are often not heard by the church.

To remedy that situation, the United Methodist Commission on the Status and Role of Women has posted an online survey on its Web site. The confidential survey will help church agencies determine how they can best support the needs of clergy families, according to Kim Coffing, the commission’s staff executive for education and advocacy.

For years, she explained, the commission “was hearing of the pain of clergy spouses, who are predominantly women, who had offered leadership gifts and skills to the church and were, in general, not compensated for those.”

Spouses who had troubled marriages often “found they were totally without support,” she added, because the denomination’s annual conferences didn’t know of it or how to help.

The survey is a collaborative effort between the commission and the denomination’s boards of Pensions and Health Benefits, Discipleship and Higher Education and Ministries. Survey findings are expected to be released at the beginning of February.

Clergy spouses are concerned about confidentiality, worried about jeopardizing the pastoral appointments of their spouses, and stymied by a lack of resources available to them at different levels of the church, Coffing said.

Five years ago, the commission did attempt to reach clergy spouses, but response was “minimal” to a survey of clergy family members sent out to annual conference commissions on the status and role of women.

“What we did learn from that survey was there is a lot of pain in our clergy spouses’ lives, and there’s a lot of pleasure in being a clergy spouse,” Coffing reported. “We were hearing of the need to tell their story.”

This survey, she believes, is the first being coordinated by church agencies that have relationships with clergy families.

The survey (found at http://www.gcsrw.org/ClergyFamilyandSpouseSurvey.aspx) gauges the spouse’s level of participation in various programs of the local church, asks respondents to rate the support they receive from the denomination and encourages them to tell the church about the experiences of clergy spouses.

Among the survey’s questions are: What do you see as your children’s greatest challenges and/or rewards as being “preacher’s kids?” How isolated from or connected to the church do you feel? What expectations are placed on you as a clergy spouse in the local church?

Because clergy spouses often only receive information through clergy members, notices of the survey were sent to bishops, district superintendents, annual conference leaders and the Women’s Division, United Methodist Board of Global Ministries.

The Commission on the Status and Role of Women also worked with the Board of Pensions to send postcard notices to a random sampling of 1,000 married clergy members. Another 300 postcards were mailed to racial ethnic clergy “so that we could have a healthy sampling from our racial ethnic clergy spouses,” Coffing said, adding those voices were missing from the responses in 2003.


Igniting Ministry matching grants available for Lent

By Igniting Ministry Staff

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — It is not too late. The Igniting Ministry matching grant season for churches is currently accepting 2009 Lent applications. 

This quadrennium there are important changes to the application qualifications, effective immediately.

Before the grant is paid, all applicant churches must be certified as a Welcoming Congregation (or become Year One certified). Certification requirements are shown at http://www.ignitingministry.org/welcoming/getcertified.aspx.

All applicant churches must have participated in Igniting Ministry welcoming training within the past two years or complete same training. Training is defined as the online course, attending or coordinating a training event, or a self-study course using Igniting Ministry training materials, such as “Living Our Promise: Trainer’s Toolbox.” Documentation and/or proof of training is required.

These changes reflect the increased accountability Igniting Ministry will have to demonstrate to the denominational leadership in the next quadrennium.

Based on eight years of results, it is known that matching grant recipients produce better results when combining welcoming and advertising elements. Past evaluations have proven that churches with efforts in one or both certification and welcoming training have a significant increase in attendance.
Grant applications can be obtained at
http://www.ignitingministry.org by clicking on “matching grants.” 
More information is available by contacting Igniting Ministry staff at 877-281-6535 or
IMGrants@umcom.org. Media services and placement are offered at no charge for United Methodist congregations.


*Parham is managing editor of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**Alsgaard is director of communications for the Florida Conference.
   Bales is director of the Louise & Hugh Moore Population Project at the General Board of Church and Society in Washington, D.C.
   Bloom is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in New York.
   Chisholm is a staff member at Epworth By The Sea in St. Simon’s Island, Ga.
   Kelley is subscription manager, photographer and contributing writer for e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service. 
   Miller is director of development for Bread for the World in Washington, D.C.
   Pugel is a staff member in the office of communications at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, KY.
   Rosen is deputy director of Religious Action for the Children’s Defense Fund in Washington, D.C.
   Trotti is director of justice and spiritual formation ministries for the Florida Conference.

Contact Us

The Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church

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

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