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.

December 09, 2019

Online services become “a church within a church”

Streaming options help share the message of Christ beyond the Sanctuary walls.

December 02, 2019

Conference starts ministry in women's prison

The United Methodist Church committed to bringing the gospel of Jesus to inmates at Lowell Correctional Institution.

July 10, 2019

Conference is planting a church in women’s prison

Bishop Ken Carter began discussions three years ago about starting a United Methodist church inside the Lowell Correctional Institute in Reddick, about 15 miles north of Ocala. It houses about 3,000 women, the largest female prison population in the United States.

July 04, 2019

Lay ministers are key to congregational care

Certified Lay Ministers serve to enhance the quality of ministry, much like the class leader did in early Methodism, through service in the local church.

June 21, 2019

The path to increased pastoral agency

Pastors serving in congregations have much more freedom in their daily work routines than teachers ...

April 25, 2019

No matter size or location, congregations need care

Congregational Care Ministries (CCM) is a program aimed to empower lay people to work alongside their ministers. They perform services such as hospital visits, leading grief and divorce groups and even administering communion to home-bound people.

February 06, 2019

Messy Church focuses on intergenerational worship

The Messy movement is catching on throughout the United States. It’s not like church as most people understand it, but the goal is the same—glorify God through worship and fellowship.

December 19, 2018

Hospitality, trust and reweaving the fabric of community

At a time when the social fabric is frayed, the church has an important role to play in reweaving community, drawing on the practices of hospitality and trust, says theologian and professor emeritus of Christian ethics Christine D. Pohl.

December 10, 2018

Take a 'Deep Dive' in 2019 to explore best practices

The Florida Conference Office of Congregational Vitality is set to expand its new Deep Dive initiative in early 2019 with the aim of rolling out workshops in the north, south and mid-conference regions.

December 06, 2018

'Sky is the limit’ for school-church partnerships

More than 100 people representing 34 churches participated in school-church training on Sept. 29 at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Orlando.

November 29, 2018

Church is part of Cedar Key's safety net

By focusing on providing outreach and missions to the changed fortunes of the city, Cedar Key UMC is considered by some as “the church of the community.”

October 22, 2018

New churches intentional about serving their demographics

Launching new churches takes a lot of time, work, organization and more than a little innovation. But for Dan Jackson, director of the Vital Church Initiative for the Florida Conference, it’s about going where people are to share the love of Christ.

October 15, 2018

November marks Native American History Month

The Committee on Native American Ministries organized the first Native American Gathering in 2006 at the Life Enrichment Center in Fruitland Park near Leesburg. The April 2019 event is expected to draw more than 70 attendees.

October 03, 2018

October is Pastor Appreciation Month

Editor's note: Pastor Appreciation Day is October 14. Some of you may know that October is ...

September 24, 2018

Creation Care is economic, social justice issue

On a national level, UMW is speaking out on issues like greenhouse gas emissions, which are warming the planet and is bringing attention to the fact that environmental issues are a social justice issue, as well, because it has a greater impact on lower-income and indigenous people.

September 17, 2018

Churches share ideas for Creation Care ministries

Churches can save a lot of money and do something environmentally responsible by switching from plastic plates, utensils, bottled water and shopping bags, as well as paper products, especially for routine events like church dinners.

September 11, 2018

‘God’s Renewed Creation’ even more relevant today

Congregations are expressing their commitment to environmental issues through Creation Care, a ministry of the Florida Conference to educate and inspire Methodists to action on behalf of the planet.

July 31, 2018

New Covenant growth spurs planting of new campus

New Covenant United Methodist Church’s Lake Deaton campus is located on a 10-acre site in the fast-growing Wildwood area of The Villages. Initial development will include a 26,600-square foot multipurpose building.

July 17, 2018

The Portico celebrates one year of serving the community

The re-purposed former First UMC Tampa campus is bustling with activity as an event venue that happens to have a church service on Sunday nights.

June 05, 2018

Innovative approaches boosting church vitality

A rich mixture of good news is sweeping across the Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church, from a land sale that will bring in ministry-boosting resources, to new churches and mergers designed to strengthen outreach and attendance.

May 22, 2018

FUMC Tavares school partnership is jammin’

The church just completed its third year of Jesus and Me, the JAM program, with about 70 students from Tavares Elementary School. Parents get in on the fun and fellowship, as well, through what the church calls FX Family nights.

April 14, 2018

Appointment-making in a time of mission: 2018

“The Florida Conference Appointive Cabinet 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

April 12, 2018

Leaps of faith: Florida Conference churches on fastest growing list

According to an annual report by church growth strategist Len Wilson, three Florida Conference churches are among the 25 fastest growing large United Methodist churches in the U.S. This story looks at what they're doing right and how they're serving their respective communities.

April 02, 2018

Two is better than one: Historic churches form covenant

Two Jacksonville churches were steeped in history but faced financial and structural challenges. They formed a unique covenant and now share a sanctuary on Sunday mornings, along with bills for utilities, insurance and lawn care.

March 13, 2018

Bay Hope multiplies disciples, expands with multisite campus

Bay Hope Church, located in the Tampa Bay area, will expand to a new multisite campus with a grand opening ceremony March 18. Serving Westchase, Town 'N Country and Citrus Park, the expansion includes a $500,000 facelift of the former Wellspring UMC campus.

March 06, 2018

Church in a high-rise: FUMC Miami reinvents, rebuilds

Steeples and bell towers will soon be a thing of the past at FUMC Miami. In an innovative move to reinvent itself, the church plans to transform its place of worship and relocate to an ultramodern 64-story high-rise on Miami's famed Biscayne Boulevard.

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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