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.

February 26, 2018

Igniting Men roundtable discusses need for racial unity

In an effort to find solutions to end racism, a roundtable discussion was held at a recent Igniting Men conference at Mandarin UMC. Christian leaders addressed a need for racial unity and focused on building relationships that model the love of Jesus.

February 23, 2018

First Naples is welcoming home for Irma recovery teams

When mission teams “move in” at First Church, routines are disrupted, as church and self-help groups shift. But everyone willingly sacrifices, moving elsewhere on campus for a week or giving up amenities such as wi-fi.

February 22, 2018

Parkland tragedy leads pastors to address brokenness

Among stories of deep pain and loss following the recent school shooting in Parkland, United Methodist pastors in Broward County offer "a ministry of presence." For Rev. Vance Rains of Coral Springs UMC, this meant driving to a park to comfort distraught parents on the night of the shooting.

February 20, 2018

New Life founders see new horizons in Zambia

For Rev. Delbert Groves and his wife Sandy, founders of the New Life Center in Kitwe, Zambia 18 years ago, there is still much work to be done in this Central African country. Saying they can't think of "anyplace they'd rather be," planning has begun to build a New Life Center in Livingstone.

February 16, 2018

Bishop Carter invites local churches to remember victims through acts of worship

Bishop Ken Carter calls on our congregations to participate in three acts of worship to remember the victims of the tragic school shootings in south Florida.

February 15, 2018

Camping Sunday celebrates 70 years at Warren Willis

Camping Sunday is Feb. 25th. It was 70 years ago when Warren Willis Camp first became a summer "sacred space" for hundreds of youth. It's a time to reflect on an age when scrapbooks filled with black and white memories.

February 14, 2018

Bishop Ken Carter's statement on Florida school shootings

Bishop Ken Carter issues a statement on the Wednesday school shootings in Parkland, Florida.

February 14, 2018

Disaster recovery going where 'light no longer shining'

Nearly 50 new case managers, construction and volunteer coordinators and one chaplain were recently hired by the Florida Conference through the $1 million UMCOR grant for disaster recovery. The diverse group will help extend outreach efforts for continued long-term recovery from Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

February 13, 2018

Missio Ecclesia studies missional Church, innovation Feb. 22-23

Janet Earls, director of Congregational Vitality for the Florida Conference, said her idea of church changed during a trip to England with Bishop Carter and others three years ago. The place where Fresh Expressions took root provides inspiration to an upcoming Missio Ecclesia conference Feb. 22-23 at FUMC Lakeland. Registration is now open.

February 09, 2018

Conversation template to discuss perspectives on human sexuality offered

To facilitate discussions about preparing for the Way Forward and understanding the differing perspectives regarding human sexuality, a diverse Florida Conference team of clergy and laity has created a structured, conversational experience called “Point of View” (POV).

February 07, 2018

Trudy Novicki shares Florida Impact’s vision and mission

The Florida Conference hosted a Lakeland “friend raiser” for Florida Impact, the 30 plus year-old organization that is dedicated to securing economic justice in our state by reducing hunger and poverty.

February 06, 2018

Largo church goes beyond sanctuary, fosters connections

Reaching out to schools in an impoverished neighborhood, Anona UMC in Largo was named Business Partner of the Year in Pinellas County for a reason. They not only started a community coalition to help school children in need, they've changed lives for the better.

February 02, 2018

Black History Month: African-Americans contributing to the Church

African-Americans are a vital part of the tapestry of The United Methodist Church. They have played important roles in the development of the denomination in the United States since 1758. The denomination provides resources, stories, multi-media features and historical perspective to celebrate Black History Month in February.

February 02, 2018

Wisconsin volunteers repair hurricane-damaged home

Depending on the severity of damage and the stage of recovery, volunteers may be finishing work on a home after its owner moved back in. In this case, the family is living elsewhere, but they made several visits throughout the week to thank the Wisconsin team.

January 30, 2018

Commission moderators: mission as key to Way Forward

In a statement from Bishops David Yemba, Sandra Steiner Ball and Ken Carter, moderators of the Commission on a Way Forward are urging United Methodists to engage in reflections on where they see mission.

January 30, 2018

NFL Hall of Famer Tony Dungy reflects on All Pro Dad

For Tony Dungy, the former NFL player and coach who won two Super Bowls, wins are more about time spent with family. Today, the All Pro Dad program that he helped originate is a vital part of some Florida Conference churches and the lives of fathers and their children.

January 26, 2018

Florida Advocacy Days brings moral voice to state legislators

Carrying a message of hope and persistence for Florida's children in need, this year's Florida Advocacy Days focused on issues that would change lives for the better. Targeted legislation included using civil citations in lieu of jail time for young offenders.

January 25, 2018

New York volunteers tackle Irma's destruction at Big Pine UMC

When Virgil Allmond returned nine days after the hurricane, he walked into the sanctuary and found water three-and-a-half feet deep. Constructed at a higher elevation, the church's dining hall and education building were under about two feet of water. Irma's brown waterline is visible on the exterior walls today, a reminder of the storm's impact.

January 23, 2018

Painting and Parables opens door to creative fellowship

For Rev. Will Wold of Mandarin UMC, using a paintbrush to form a new Fresh Expression offered much more than color on blank canvas. In a gathering at a local brewery in Jacksonville, a group of artists found ways to capture the spirit of a Ukranian folktale, reflect and share fellowship.

January 18, 2018

Youth on a Mission team repairs Irma damage at Big Pine UMC

Youth on a Mission recovery team organizers knew from their connections that conditions in the Keys were worse than the media was portraying four months after Irma hit. After all, debris is still piled everywhere landfill-like near high-end, waterfront homes.

January 17, 2018

Digital church 'meets them where they are'

Sanctuaries without walls take on new meaning when churches turn to digital technology. From live internet chats during services to liturgies performed online a world away, Florida Conference churches are finding new ways to connect worshippers.

January 16, 2018

Florida Impact's Novicki faces stark reality

After one year on the job, Florida Impact President and CEO Trudy Novicki faced the stark reality that there are too many hungry children in the state's welfare system. The former state prosecutor is a leading advocate for those in need.

January 12, 2018

Podcast: Bishop Carter, Rev. Warren on Fresh Expressions

The Lewis Center of Wesley Theological Seminary interviewed Audrey Warren and Bishop Carter about practical ways that Fresh Expressions can help the church reach new people, younger people and more diverse people with the gospel.

January 11, 2018

Matt Redmond: 'Gracefully Broken'

Matt Redman is an English Christian worship leader, singer, songwriter and author now based in Brighton, East Sussex, United Kingdom. An artist for sixstepsrecords, he is also a member and trustee of Compassionart, a charity founded by fellow musician Martin Smith. He has been involved in a number of events for the Passion Conferences and worked with Hillsong London.

January 11, 2018

Mission team mends a hurricane-damaged roof

From start to finish, see how this Concord CARES Mission Team finished repairs to a ...

January 09, 2018

Harvest UMC making the grade in Manatee County

A call to action can mean many things. For volunteers at Harvest UMC in Lakewood Ranch, it was an opportunity to change the lives of young students at a local elementary school. From books to nutrition to college scholarships, this school-church partnership in Manatee County is having a positive impact.

January 09, 2018

United Methodists share MLK’s dream

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was the face of the African-American civil rights movement ...

January 05, 2018

Irma devastation still widespread in Central Florida

“It's a few months after the storm and nobody sees it any more in the news and thinks it's all better,” Days said. “But there is so much work to be done.”

January 04, 2018

Puerto Rican relief receives help from Holston Conference

With many displaced Puerto Rican families coming to Orange and Osceola Counties following Hurricanes Irma and Maria, a district disaster coordinator from the Holston Conference drove 600 miles to deliver school kits and supplies to First Kissimmee UMC.

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.

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