The Florida Conference is home to hundreds of local churches, ministries, clergy and lay members dedicated to making a difference in the world. Check out the stories below to see how they are sharing ideas and making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
Palma Ceia UMC's iMatter program, which includes a unique sensory room with soft music, lights and calming images, was initially formed to meet the needs of those with special needs. Today, it's described as a "multi-ability community that embraces everyone."
A new outdoor Farmer’s Market has enthusiasts checking out the fresh produce, seafood, baked goods, homemade foods and handmade crafts and other goodies every Wednesday in the Town of Montverde’s Kirk Park.
Inspired by Bishop Ken Carter's recent call-to-action, members of Trinity UMC, Tallahassee, marched on the Florida State Capitol to support the voices of student protesters.
Including visits from a Hollywood director and inspiration from a famous author, FUMC St. Petersburg attracts hundreds of tourists each year. But this is not a story about films and books. Ten stained glass windows installed in 1926 provide a glimpse into American artistry at its finest. A team of docents tells their story.
Just in time for Florida's Celebrate Literacy Week, News 6 (Orlando) featured an outreach effort that's getting results in our schools.
For Shari Fling of Peace UMC in Orlando having too much "stuff" can be a good thing. Through events called gift shares, Fling helps provide "priceless" shopping experiences to church and community members.
For Joining Hands Mission UMC in Holiday, serving breakfast for those in need is a way of life. The church parking lot is filled with griddles, gas stoves and waffle irons every Sunday morning.
A recent two-day revival in Wildwood was held to help break down racial divisions. For Rev. Michael Beck, senior pastor at Wildwood UMC, the "Unity Movement" event was part of an ongoing mission that began eight years ago.
For Paige Long, co-director of music ministries at Palm Coast UMC, playing the flute is no ordinary task. Included in her repertoire is an instrument called the double contrabass. It weighs 30 pounds, stands over 8 feet tall and has 22 feet of tubing.
At St. James UMC in St. Petersburg, a monthly food pantry is held in its fellowship hall. Serving an area covering eight zip codes, the pantry offers a way through tough times for those with limited income.
For Harry "Skip Wilson, the retired vice president of Tampa Electric Company and member of New Hope UMC in Brandon, being awarded Community Hero by the Tampa Bay Lightning was a complete surprise. On Jan. 9, a check will be presented to a local Family Promise organization in his honor.
Thirteen members of the Advent LifeGroup at Killearn UMC in Tallahassee found inspiration with a 16 by 20-inch canvas, some paints and the book "A Jane Austen Devotional" by Thomas Nelson. Together, they painted Christmas.
Challenged by hurricanes, floods, wildfires and earthquakes, UMCOR faced a difficult year in 2017. Organizational changes are offering greater efficiency in delivering supplies.
Seminole Heights UMC has always been a hub for community gatherings. With recent events that involved a serial killer in the eclectic Tampa neighborhood, the church has found new ways to make a difference.
Central Florida's Sager Brown Mission Team recently dedicated a newly constructed gazebo to the memory of Ed Cepull, who founded the team and served at FUMC in Orlando for more than 40 years.
Sleeping on cardboard boxes and in cars and tents, members of CrossRoad UMC in Jacksonville recently hosted an event called Cardboard City. The chilly and sleepless night helped raise awareness for homeless families.
They've been cooking up a taste of home for 17 years! Every Sunday at First Church Melbourne an authentic Filipino potluck meal is enjoyed by friends and family. The savory delights of their home country offer good food and fellowship.
When Rev. Roy Terry of Cornerstone UMC heard a Category 5 hurricane could be headed toward Naples, he and his family really had no choice. They evacuated all 18 of their horses to Georgia.
For Jan Richardson, an artist, writer and ordained minister in The United Methodist Church, images and words often come together to form reflections about life. Through a poem titled, "Enduring Blessing," she offers a heartfelt message for All Saints Day.
He's been described as a "casual dressing, Harley riding, high sacramentalist." For Rev. Greg Freeze of FUMC in Spring Hill, combining a passion for motorcycles with his church seemed like a great idea. The end result was a ministry called "Bible, Bikes and Breakfast."
When the power went out during Hurricane Irma, the Childs Park neighborhood in south St. Petersburg came together and found a way to feed 600 residents. Many were without power for nine days.
Crossing a bridge from the island to the mainland makes all the difference for members of St. George Island UMC. Working outside their comfort zone, volunteers are helping county jail prisoners change their lives.
The power, value and blessings of the connection are seen in this photo essay featuring many of our Florida churches who reached out to those in need.
Joining a nonprofit called SendMeMissions, FUMC Wauchula opened their kitchen and food lines for nearly 600 linemen, first responders and volunteers working recovery efforts following Hurricane Irma.
For Suntree UMC in Melbourne, devastation in the Florida Keys became personal. The pastors at Big Pine Key and Key West UMC, the Revs. John and Terri Hill, are former pastors at Suntree.
Described as an ardent crusader of human rights and civil liberties, recent legislation designated a Winter Park railroad bridge as the "Reverend Kenneth C. Crossman Bridge" in his honor.
The disaster response team at the United Methodist Church of Sun City Center has been responding to hurricanes for many years. Always on the ready, volunteers bring tents, sleeping bags, love and prayers.
Rev. Matt Kern, associate pastor at Saint Paul's UMC, brings his own brand of rap music to sermons, baptisms and even funerals.
The annual Epic End-of-Summer Bash was held recently at FUMC in Chiefland. The gathering, which was attended by nearly 1,000 parents and children, helped fill 650 backpacks with much needed school supplies.
In a close-knit community of small businesses and 1920's bungalows, a neighborhood association offers a landscaping makeover to Seminole Heights UMC.
For artist Renee Schneider, who started ArtWorks in 2003 as a ministry of St. Luke's UMC in Orlando, painting has taken on a new dimension. It has formed windows of hope to nearly 1,000 children living in poverty or situations of neglect.
Palm Coast UMC is hosting its sixth annual Football Sunday services August 20. Those kicking off their seasons with church and faith include Bethune-Cookman University, Palm Coast and Matanzas high schools.
In the midst of historical preservation, a Gainesville architect had to begin by piecing together a puzzle to learn how the First United Methodist Church in Gainesville looked more than a century ago.
Gathering parts purchased at a local audio store, Dave Klaiber and his son Dan invented a system that is helping one church's hearing impaired Sunday School listeners. One in three Americans age 65 and older have hearing loss in at least one ear.
The General Board of Higher Education and Ministry recently announced its 2017 Young Clergy Initiative Grant awards. The Florida Conference's Young Adult Missional Movement (YAMM) received $100,000.
Fifteen years ago a retired NASA engineer and his wife started a car care ministry in Titusville. From brake jobs to water pumps and spark plugs, customers are still lining up Saturday mornings for a service that runs like a well-oiled engine.
In the five years we have done this trip, 96 different people have come with us to work, 46 have come twice, 26 have come three times, 13 have come four times, and there are nine that have come on all five trips.
When Rev. Merrill Frailey was first appointed to serve at College Park UMC in the Orlando area, she felt like the church was "closing in on itself...trying to survive." Then came new life with a place called the Little Red House.
First United Methodist Church in Ormond Beach held a Maker Fun Factory Kids Adventure week June 26 to 30. This story posted by the Ormond Beach Observer offers a photo gallery of the event.
The Naples News reports that Estero United Methodist Church recently began work on a $4.5 million expansion. The church first opened its doors in 1915.
Leaving the spotlights of Broadway behind, Jenny Logus, artistic director of a dance program at FUMC Winter Park, joined a program called Studio 150 in 2015. It's a career move that has children in Florida reaching to new heights.
In an article reported by the South Florida Times, Christ Church in Ft. Lauderdale recently joined with FAU's Christine Lynn College of Nursing and Holy Cross Hospital to provide free foot care to the homeless.
It began in 2012 as a worm farm producing garden compost and fishing bait. Today, the program called Exceptional Entrepreneurs offers 17 developmentally disabled adults productive opportunities.
The Florida United Methodist Children's Home recently dedicated a new aquatics center and held a groundbreaking ceremony for two new buildings, a chapel and Counseling and Support Services Center.
Mandarin UMC in Jacksonville recently marked its first anniversary for the Fresh Expression Beer and Hymns. Blending conversation, craft beers and singing at a popular brewery, the program offers people a chance to experience Christian fellowship.
Ben Collins, director of the Fresh Expressions experiment called The Collective, gathers material for his Sunday sermons from what he calls "the spiritually curious." It all begins on Tuesday afternoons at a local coffee house.
The Portico, a downtown campus of Hyde Park UMC focused on "conversation, connection and community change," offered its "big reveal" April 2. On display was a fully renovated sanctuary and new coffee shop three years in the making.
A charity run in Jacksonville has provided nearly 150,000 meals over three years for Rise Against Hunger recipients in developing nations. This year's 5K race by CrossRoad Church UMC included corporate sponsors and meal packaging.
Referred to simply as Tuesday Morning, a homeless ministry at Ocala First UMC has evolved into a changing-lives mission. The ministry currently offers everything from bike repairs and free haircuts to hot meals and legal services.
A date night at Community of Hope UMC in Loxahatchee offered fine dining cooked by a professional chef, games and strategies for success in marriage. An event held in February included 80 couples and free child care.