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.

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."

September 12, 2017

Young clergy reflect on changing church landscape

Five young clergy from the Florida Conference, all under age 35, reflect on ministering to congregants in the 21st century; the changing landscape and future of the Church.

August 14, 2017

Celebrating history: 'Well done, good and faithful servants'

Four conference churches--Mount Pleasant (Gainesville), St. Catherine, Bronson and First, Bartow--celebrate 150-year anniversaries in 2017.

July 24, 2017

Becoming fishers of young men

Many United Methodist Men units in the United States struggle to reach younger men. The group’s recent National Gathering at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Indianapolis featured advice for how these groups can become fishers of millennials.

May 24, 2017

Despite the times, Haitian worship is joyous

The flow of Haitian refugees into the U.S. was compounded in 2010 when the country was devastated by a major earthquake that left 1.5 million people homeless. In 2017, Southeast District Superintendent Rev. Cynthia Weems describes Haitian Churches in the Florida Conference as joyful and challenging.

May 01, 2017

Four-year strategic plan bringing new churches

In the midst of a four-year strategic plan to develop new churches, Rev. Dan Jackson, director of New Church Development for the Florida Conference, is preparing for a new phase in the initiative. In 2018, at least nine churches are targeted for new starts.

April 04, 2017

"From the Steeple to the Street"

The North Central district is holding a pioneering event encouraging congregations to step outside their sanctuaries for one day. Led by district superintendent Rev. June Edwards, thousands are being asked to go out in their communities April 8 to pray, observe and listen.

April 03, 2017

Trend: Churches are creating gallery spaces for art

With a few inexpensive moves to turn bare walls into venues, churches are using visual displays for a range of purposes. Some complement lessons taught in worship. Others bridge cultural divides with the secular world.

February 24, 2017

Pulpit exchanges preach justice and love

Stories of the 1960's, dynamic praise singing and marches through city streets marked the inaugural pulpit exchange of the Florida Conference.

February 24, 2017

Series begins on 'Building the Beloved Community'

With this occasional series on churches’ hard work of reconciliation and redemption, the conference will feature stories about interfaith community dialogues and activities, ecumenical initiatives to build bridges among us, “Reclaim the Common Good” conversations, church efforts to address immigration issues, churches growing the beloved community dialogue beyond the walls of the church, etc.

February 21, 2017

The state of intergenerational ministries

It's perhaps an understated fact. The numerical measurements of congregational vitality in churches across America are not looking up. In the first of a two-part series, Melissa Cooper, program coordinator of the Life Enrichment Center, focuses on the state of intergenerational ministries today.

February 15, 2017

Folklore and family form country churches

Log cabins, handmade quilts and steak supper pick and grins are all part of the fabric of country churches. Follow the back roads to a story about churches located in rural areas of Florida.

February 14, 2017

Children's ministry roundtables create connections

Children's ministry roundtable meetings are described as essential to knowing the pulse of what is happening in local churches. With meetings held in November and again in February, children's ministers are looking for ways to create more sustainable ministries.

February 10, 2017

Appointment-making in a time of mission: 2017

“The Florida Conference Appointive Cabinet has met this week in Lakeland, Florida. The meetings have included prayer, discernment, silence, assessment of the gifts of clergy and discussion of approximately sixty congregations (one-tenth of the whole) who are anticipating transitions. We share these core values with you to let you know about how we do this work, and we request your continued prayers." --Bishop Ken Carter

January 26, 2017

Commission on a Way Forward holds organizational meeting in Atlanta

Conversations ranged from reflection on challenges, hopes and concerns to the current state of what’s happening in the church to the meaning of unity to practical questions about how the Commission will go about its work and the processes and strategies that will be used to structure that work and meet the target dates.

January 10, 2017

Young adult summit mirrors Silicon Valley

A focus on involving young adults in the church is no surprise, but bringing millennials into an organization's decision-making process offers innovation and shades of Silicon Valley.

January 09, 2017

Florida churches plan to observe MLK, Jr. Day

In a day of both celebration and remembrance, churches throughout the Florida Conference are commemorating the legacy of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. with dance, speeches and interfaith activities.

January 04, 2017

Season's traditions included ugly Christmas sweaters

Among the many celebrations held at Florida Conference churches during the holidays, one old tradition has taken on a new wave of popularity. From Star Wars to Queen Elizabeth, ugly sweater parties in 2016 re-defined art on clothing.

December 21, 2016

Churches embracing children on Sunday mornings

In a continuation of our series on intergenerational ministries, members of two conference churches discuss how bringing children into Sunday morning worship services has helped bring families closer together.

December 20, 2016

When Christmas falls on a Sunday

Performing plays, concerts, candlelight and late-night Christmas Eve services, many churches find added challenges when Christmas falls on a Sunday. This story looks at several churches throughout the conference and how they plan to celebrate one of the most important days on the Christian calendar.

December 14, 2016

Intergenerational ministries blossom in Florida

This is the first of a two-part series on intergenerational ministries. Church members that include young and elderly are forming special friendships as ministries become more inclusive.

November 30, 2016

Members of Gator Wesley dare to imagine

Members of Gator Wesley Foundation dared to imagine what's next at the Next2016 biennial college ministry conference held in Atlanta. UF students recently joined hundreds of young people from across the country.

November 15, 2016

Bikers, pastors and MAD DADS walk together

During 2016, homicides have set a record pace in Jacksonville, Fla. From prayer vigils at murder scenes to motorcycle rides, a church and local activists from a group called MAD DADS are doing something about it.

October 18, 2016

Tallahassee church unites art and soul

Good Samaritan UMC incorporated the arts into its church mission. Today, the thriving program has 150 students and 14 instructors leading the way for many with special needs.

October 16, 2016

What I learned at VBS this summer

A pastor charged with teaching a third grade VBS class realized she was learning not only from the children but with them, by openheartedly engaging in the activities meant for kids.

October 14, 2016

Posting with a purpose on social media

Members of Southside UMC of Jacksonville are sharing their "life of faith with the world" on social media by posting, tweeting and liking. It's all part of a national event being called Social Media Sunday.

October 04, 2016

Churches discover time capsules and hidden messages

A Hyde Park UMC renovation leads to hidden prayers, while FUMC of Lake Wales finds a surprise discovery of two time capsules -- one dated back to the 1940's.

August 08, 2016

Economics and the emerging church

Many congregations dream of being places of radical welcome, but that vision is not sustainable through tithing alone. It’s time to think differently about how to accomplish such work, writes the executive director of Leadership Education at Duke Divinity.

August 08, 2016

Young people work toward change concerning racism

Resources for youth ministry and race conversations are available from several United Methodist agencies.

July 05, 2016

Survey provides insight into what seekers want from church

Spiritual growth and community top the list.

June 30, 2016

Quadrennial training theme: Leading into the future

The first Quadrennial Leadership event included presentations by Dr. Lovett Weems, as well as breakout work sessions for committees and leadership teams of the Florida conference. A link to videos and the slide presentations of Weems' sessions is in the story.

June 13, 2016

Reclaiming the distinctive gifts of a small church

Few places in the U.S. support the conditions for small churches to act like big churches. So they have an opportunity to focus on the activities that both foster the particular gifts of the congregation and make a distinctive witness to the community, writes the executive director of Leadership Education at Duke Divinity.

June 08, 2016

Quadrennial Leadership Day on June 25

Bishop Carter invites conference committee members to participate in a Quadrennial Leadership Day on June 25. The keynote speaker will be Lovett Weems of the Lewis Center for Church Leadership at Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C.

June 07, 2016

New welcome centers encouraging connections

While the new centers provide extra space for churches to expand their outreach, do missions work and, in some cases offer a good cup of coffee to the flock before and after worship services, the main focus is to create space that fosters connections and makes new members comfortable.

May 17, 2016

Collective is firing up the 'nones' and 'dones'

In a former newspaper office building in the middle of Deland, Fla., Christ is at work in a coffee house atmosphere where musicians play and the passion of a thirty-something pastor fires up the “nones” and “dones.”

April 12, 2016

Treasure hidden in a field

"So what do you think will happen at the General Conference?” I’m often asked that question. Underneath are a variety of unspoken emotions: fear, anxiety, sadness, anticipation, excitement. It’s a question that’s voiced this year, perhaps with a greater sense of urgency, but it’s one we have asked before.

April 05, 2016

Promoting the ‘culture of the call’

Jacksonville’s Mandarin UMC promotes the culture of the call to ministry.

March 30, 2016

Fresh Expressions video competition launched

Could your Fresh Expressions ministry use an extra $1,000? Here's an opportunity exclusively for Fresh Expressions in Florida.

March 14, 2016

Losing the home court advantage

The end of the home-court advantage is result of our own flaws -- we must confess, more honestly, our sins -- and it is the inevitable consequence of modernity and, more recently, post-modernity. Modernity wondered how Christianity could be true; post-modernity asked how Christianity could be authentic. Taken together, the faith seemed out of sync with culture.

March 04, 2016

Hundreds turn out for ‘Real Ideas’

Those arriving at the Real Ideas Conference at Van Dyke Church in Lutz came with different aspirations.

February 29, 2016

Pitching in for the home(less) team: North East District

United Methodists join nonprofit organizations and borrow ideas from other Florida church members to tackle an enormous socioeconomic issue in their community.

February 26, 2016

You’re welcome: tips for greeting visitors this Easter

Children's drawings, like this one of a visitor and a cross on Easter morning, can warm the ...

February 19, 2016

Putting Christ back in Christianity

Missio Ecclesia, a three-day gathering focused on missions, draws more than 200 from across the Florida Conference.

February 11, 2016

‘We’re not just talking’

A life-sized sculpture depicting Jesus sleeping on a park bench creates a buzz outside a Tampa UMC. Church leaders hope the artwork will lead to concrete action.

January 02, 2016

Local church learning communities

Design of a conference learning organization goes beyond the traditional classroom.

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