News & Views

The Florida Conference is dedicated to bringing you news stories about United Methodists here and beyond. Whether the news is about the global church or the church on the corner, look for it here. You’ll also find thought-provoking commentaries and opportunities for education and fellowship.

In addition, News & Views is pleased to bring you an interactive Bible crossword puzzle, with new puzzles available weekly. Click here to access this week's crossword puzzle. Have a story to share? Email or click here to use our convenient “Submit a story” form.

Image courtesy of Copyright © by Cliff Leitch.

January 03, 2018

Retreat changes world 'one conversation at a time'

Thirty-five students from different races and backgrounds recently came together at an event called the Converge Retreat, an idea formed by three Wesley Foundation campus ministers. Held at Riverside Camp and Retreat, the session's subject was racial reconciliation.

January 02, 2018

Bishop Carter invites Conference to consider new approach to AC 2018 resolutions

Bishop Carter, in consultation with the Conference Secretary, Annual Conference Planning Team and Committee on Resolutions, plans to invite the 2018 Annual Conference to step away from our normal process of considering resolutions and “remember who we are” by reflecting on key questions of faith.

January 01, 2018

Apportionments due January 12, 2018

Apportionment payments for 2017 must be received in the lockbox at Regions Bank or paid online by Friday, January 12, 2018.

December 28, 2017

'Morning Has Broken' by MonaLisa Twins

The MonaLisa Twins are 23-year-old twins Mona and Lisa Wagner. The young 60’s-influenced band based in Liverpool, UK, started out releasing covers, eventually releasing original songs leading to five albums and millions of YouTube views.

December 27, 2017

A dozen soups for Christmas recovery and cooler weather

After the whirlwind of the holiday season and with the beginning of cooler winter days, soup can ...

December 24, 2017

Merry Christmas!

Luke tells the story of the birth of Christ.

December 22, 2017

Beyond Irma: Recovery continues for 2016 storms, too

The sheer size of Irma and the massive destruction it left behind in September can lead some to forget that current disaster recovery volunteer teams are actually working on helping survivors of three storms: 2016’s Hurricanes Hermine and Matthew and 2017’s Irma.

December 21, 2017

Florida Advocacy Days giving voice Jan. 21-23

Florida Advocacy Days registration is still open for those looking to join the march in Tallahassee, Jan. 21-23. The 2018 gathering will include a focus on social justice, fairness and defending rights of the poor and needy.

December 21, 2017

Love: The Piano Guys play 'Angels We Have Heard on High'

The Piano Guys are an American musical group consisting of pianist Jon Schmidt, cellist Steven Sharp Nelson, videographer Paul Anderson, and music producer Al van der Beek. They gained popularity through YouTube, where in 2010 they began posting piano and cello compositions combining classical, contemporary, and rock and roll music, accompanied by professional-quality videos. In August 2016 the group surpassed one billion views on their YouTube channel, which at that time had nearly 5 million subscribers.

December 20, 2017

God's message unleashed for dog lovers at Paws of Praise

For Rev. Michael Beck, senior pastor at Wildwood UMC, holding church in a dog park on Saturday mornings is another Fresh Expression. "Paws of Praise" offers dog lovers a chance to hear the Word, encourage and listen.

December 19, 2017

YAMM workshop addresses racism, power dynamics

In order to fix a problem, you have to talk about it first. This was the premise behind a recent day-long workshop addressing racism held at Warren Willis Camp. Nearly 50 missionaries and staff members from the Young Adult Missional Movement participated.

December 14, 2017

Bishop Carter's Christmas message

Bishop Carter shares a Christmas message that includes a prayer from the traditional service of lessons and carols and thanks for those who have made gifts to the Hurricane Irma fund and UMCOR.

December 14, 2017

Irma volunteer coordinators: People are still suffering

Three months later, Irma's damage is not always obvious in some areas of the state. Key West International Airport re-opened less than two weeks after the storm, but the island community still looks like a disaster zone.

December 14, 2017

Joy: Seoyeon Im plays 'Joy to the World'

Seoyeon Im is a student at Berklee College of Music, and she was born in Korea.

December 13, 2017

Conference shines light on homeless families

The Florida Conference hosted a special showing of "The Florida Project" film on Dec. 8 at the historic Polk Theatre in Lakeland. The night included a panel discussion about the plight of homeless families in Florida.

December 12, 2017

Lilly Endowment grant awarded to Gator Wesley

Heather and Joel Pancoast, co-directors of the Gator Wesley Foundation, successfully applied for a $50,000 Lilly Endowment, Inc. grant. The funds will help sustain work enabling students to explore future vocations.

December 07, 2017

Connect's social media raises funds for hurricane relief

Nearly 700 young people came together at this fall's Connect retreats at Warren Willis Camp. Demonstrating that social media can be a force for good, students raised more than $14,000 for hurricane relief.

December 07, 2017

Peace: 'Silent Night' by King's College Choir

On Christmas Eve in 1818, a blizzard stranded the tiny village of Ogledorf nestled in the Austrian mountains. That same day the people of St. Nicholas' church found their organ broken. So the priest and organist began composing a song that could be sung without an organ yet beautiful enough to express their Christmas joy.

December 05, 2017

'Florida Project' film assisted by Florida clergy

The Community Hope Center, also known as Hope 192, in Kissimmee is more than inspiration for the recent film release, "The Florida Project." For Rev. Mary Downey, the center represents a lifeline to homeless families facing tough challenges in Central Florida.

November 30, 2017

Discovering spiritual gifts, recruiting young clergy

The Florida Conference has been challenged to double the number of young clergy under age 35. But recruiting millennials is unlike previous generations. In the words of one pastor, "We need freedom to create the ministry we're feeling called to because it doesn't exist yet."

November 30, 2017

Hope: Tasha Cobbs sings 'O Holy Night'

Tasha Cobbs was born Natasha Tameika Cobbs, on July 7, 1981, in Jesup, Georgia. Her parents are Bishop Fritz Cobbs (1954–2014) and Lady Bertha Cobbs. She grew up in the church at Jesup New Life Ministries, which her parents led. These worship services are where she started singing, from her childhood and into her young adult years.

November 30, 2017

Irma recovery will need massive support of volunteers and donors

A photo essay showing the destruction Irma left behind in Key West underscores how massive the storm was and illustrates how large volumes of resources, including donations and volunteers, will be needed to help survivors and their communities recover and rebuild.

November 29, 2017

'The Florida Project': movie about our 'hidden homeless'

Few realize there's a hidden world where homeless families live along U.S. 192 near Disney World. With help from Rev. Mary Downey, executive director of the Community Hope Center in Kissimmee, the film, "The Florida Project," is raising awareness to a complex issue.

November 24, 2017

Donate to Irma Fund on Giving Tuesday, Nov. 28

Support the disaster recovery efforts for the 2.6 million survivors of Hurricane Irma.

November 22, 2017

Prayer feathers, ancient flute, carry voices of Native Americans

November is Native American Heritage Month, and for Dock Green Silverhawk, it's a time to celebrate the past and embrace his own heritage following heart surgery and nearly losing his life. Through the melodies of an ancient flute and a prayer feather, Green and others give thanks to being Native American.

November 21, 2017

Man Cave Renovation Retreat ignites spiritual growth

After 69 years of men's retreats in Leesburg, the Florida Conference recently brought welcome change with a "Man Cave Renovation" gathering Oct. 13-14 at the Life Enrichment Center. A 26 percent increase in attendance over the previous year was reported.

November 20, 2017

Florida holds first Spanish ERT workshop

As the Florida Conference continues to reach out to those facing recovery from the devastation in Puerto Rico caused by Hurricane Maria, an Early Response Training (ERT) for Spanish-speaking volunteers was held recently at FUMC Kissimmee.

November 17, 2017

A Way Forward: general directions from the most recent meetings of the Commission on a Way Forward and the Council of Bishops

Bishop Ken Carter provides a sketch of general directions from the most recent meeting of the Commission on a Way Forward and the Council of Bishops.

November 17, 2017

Bishop Carter's Thanksgiving message: All can help with Irma restoration

The post-Irma journey toward restoration is just beginning. Bishop Carter asks that members of the Florida Conference offer themselves to be used by God in this great work, with our prayers, our financial gifts and our working hands. Please share these video messages with your congregation.

November 16, 2017

'Pure Religion' by Liz Vice

Elizabeth Lorraine Vice is an American gospel music recording artist and musician from Portland, Oregon. Her music career started in 2015, with the studio album, There's a Light, with Ramseur Records.

November 16, 2017

Hurricane Irma claims update: a fast-track to recovery

In an effort to expedite claims filed by churches for damage incurred during Hurricane Irma, the conference is providing a fast-track process to help speed recovery. The system targets churches with less than $50,000 in damages where no flooding was involved.

November 13, 2017

$1 million UMCOR grant offers bridge to Irma recovery

UMCOR recently announced a $1 million grant award to the Florida Conference as a "bridge to recovery" from Hurricane Irma. There were 48 counties in the state that received damage from the storm.

November 09, 2017

'Love Has A Name' by Jesus Culture

Jesus Culture Music is the music label for the Jesus Culture Ministry. Its albums feature the worship of the Jesus Culture band, performing a mix of original and cover songs. Youth worship leaders Kim Walker-Smith, Melissa How and Chris Quilala, long active with the youth group at Bethel Church in Redding, became the core of the Jesus Culture band. Jesus Culture states the purpose of music in their movement is to "ignite revival in the nations of the earth; to compel the Body of Christ to radically abandon itself to a lifestyle of worship; to encounter His extravagant love and raw power."

November 08, 2017

Bishop Carter elected as President of Council of Bishops

Florida Area Bishop Kenneth H. Carter today was officially elected as the next president of the Council of Bishops of The United Methodist Church in Lake Junaluska.

November 08, 2017

Equipping congregations for 'Dinner Church'

As part of the growing Fresh Expressions dinner church movement, Grace Trinity UMC recently hosted a statewide church dinner encounter. Held Saturday, Nov. 4, the event was designed to encourage off-campus ministries modeled after a program that originated in Seattle.

November 08, 2017

From ships to desert cold, military chaplains serve 24/7

They serve in desert cold and on ships, often in foreign countries. Military chaplains are in ministry with their parish 24/7. In the words of one chaplain, "we go when and where it matters most."

November 06, 2017

UMC provides Giving Tuesday resources

The denomination provides Giving Tuesday resources in five languages.

November 03, 2017

Report on the Commission on a Way Forward's most recent meeting

The Commission on a Way Forward has drafted an interim report to share with the Council of Bishops in its task of finding a way forward for The United Methodist Church (UMC).

November 02, 2017

'Prove It' by David Crowder

Few artists have been more successful at blurring musical boundaries than David Crowder. The "Prove It" video is a recent release. Historical facts about the broken chains at the feet of the Statue of Liberty follow the lyrics.

November 01, 2017

Haitian-born Global Mission Fellows head for Motor City

For recently appointed Global Mission Fellows Lynda Sylvain and Grace Okerson, experiencing Detroit's winter is only one of many challenges they'll face during the next two years.

October 30, 2017

'Small steps' changing lives in Fruitland Park

For two decades, volunteers from Community UMC in Fruitland Park have been taking "small steps" to make a difference at the school next door. Many lives--both the children and volunteers--have changed for the better.

October 27, 2017

Six ways the Reformation affects our world

When Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses on Oct. 31, 1517, he hoped to spark a theological conversation about repentance. Five hundred years later, Christians — and not only Protestants — are still living with the changes wrought by the Reformation he started.

October 26, 2017

'He Will' by Ellie Holcomb

Elizabeth "Ellie" Holcomb is an American CCM-folk singer-songwriter raised in Nashville, Tennessee. Her father is noted music producer Brown Bannister, and she was a member of Drew Holcomb & the Neighbors, whose frontman is her husband, Drew.

October 24, 2017

Out of Africa: Mulemena finds mission in Amazon

Travelling 5,000 miles from his home in Zambia, Africa, Charles Mulemena found his life as a missionary serving the people of Belem, Brazil. The area is often referred to as the gateway to the Amazon rainforest.

October 23, 2017

East Central District leads Puerto Rico ministry for Florida

It is estimated that between 250,000 and 500,000 Puerto Ricans will relocate in Central Florida in the aftermath of hurricanes Irma and Maria. The East Central District is leading a conference-wide ministry to provide school supplies and meet basic needs.

October 19, 2017

'Clean' by Natalie Grant

Natalie Grant is a Grammy-nominated Christian vocalist and multi-Dove Award winner. She is from Nashville, Tenn.

October 19, 2017

Fiendishly tasty treats for Halloween season

Methodists' recipes make it easy to supplement manufactured, store-bought candy with homemade deliciousness.

October 18, 2017

Delivering 1300 pounds of medicine, supplies to Angola

The Rev. Armando Rodriquez Jr. and his wife, Icel Rodriguez, director of Global Missions, recently delivered 1300 pounds of much needed medicine and supplies to East Angola. Transported with carry-on luggage, the Florida Conference team provided mosquito netting and anti-malaria drugs.

October 17, 2017

Open Table offers unconventional service

At Belleview UMC on Sunday afternoons, 5 o'clock goes beyond the traditional dinner hour. Church members have formed a Fresh Expression that includes a buffet potluck meal served on china plates with music and a message.

October 12, 2017

'Hills and Valleys' by Tauren Wells

Tauren Gabriel Wells is an American Christian rock and pop artist and the former frontman for the American Christian pop rock band, Royal Tailor, which produced two albums over a five-year career. The band garnered two Grammy nominations and a New Artist of the Year award from the Gospel Music Association's Dove Awards.

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