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 08, 2020

“We’re here to give them a little light and a little love”

The HUGS ministry at New Covenant UMC in The Villages makes a joyful noise to those who need to hear it most.

December 18, 2019

A ‘Fresh’ Approach To Ministry At Wildwood

Instead of waiting for people to come to the church, Wildwood UMC is bringing Jesus to where they are.

October 17, 2019

Disney grant to fund ‘Hotels to Home’ ministry

The Community Hope Center, sometimes known as Hope 192, recently received a $75,000 Disney grant that will be used to start a program known as “Hotels to Home.’’

September 17, 2019

Art in the Park is Fresh Expression

Art in the Park is a Fresh Expressions outreach of St. Mark’s Ocala United Methodist Church.

August 29, 2019

‘Hippie Church’ is an open, unstructured and inclusive third place

Rev. George Potter, a substance abuse counselor with Recovery Ministry, thought about starting a fellowship, something open and unstructured, for people who felt excluded or uncomfortable in a traditional setting.

July 30, 2019

Fresh Expressions thriving at New Hope, Brandon

Beginning in late May, New Hope added four new ministries to its Fresh Expressions lineup: a food co-op, Basketball Church, Meet and Walk and a student-led Caffeine and Christ that meets at a local Starbucks.

July 02, 2019

Sanford Picnic Project is a 10-year-old Fresh Expression

Celebrating their 10 year anniversary this August, the Picnic Project is a free community meal held every Sunday that is served restaurant style inside the First United Methodist Church of Sanford.

May 14, 2019

Lifesong, Orlando, receives lemons, makes lemonade

Lifesong’s The Table is a Fresh Expression ministry of the Florida Conference. Fresh Expressions find a different way to form faith communities that reach new people, in new places, by new ways. Some churches host singing at local pubs, kayaking for Christ, bicycling events, or canoeing on a river on a Saturday morning.

May 01, 2019

Faith UMC: reaching new people in new ways in new places

Faith United Methodist Church volunteers lead church in Bay Vue Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Bradenton.

March 12, 2019

Port Orange ministry takes church beyond walls

The story of how Derbyshire Place and a neglected community named Port Orange came to nourish each other brings to mind a quote from beloved children’s book The Little Prince: “What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.”

March 05, 2019

Fresh Expressions: Dinner church feeds body, heart and soul

The dinner church approach, primarily driven by lay leaders, reflects John Wesley’s ministry of going into a community to meet the needs of others.

August 14, 2018

Repurposed church is a Fresh Expression

New Hope United Methodist Church in Brandon took on a weekly meal for the homeless in a run-down church building and transformed it in to a community Dinner Church, reaching out to families who might otherwise never cross a sanctuary threshold.

July 09, 2018

Hoops in a parking lot is a new Fresh Expression

Todd Leclair believed his passion for basketball could turn into a true life-changing experience for others, creating the unity of brotherhood and sisterhood through play.

June 26, 2018

New team to lead Fresh Expressions initiatives

The goal of the Florida Conference is to have at least 500 Fresh Expressions of church in operation by 2025. Rev. Dan Jackson, director of The Vital Church Initiative for the Conference, said he believes it could be sooner.

May 17, 2018

Asbury, Maitland, launches dinner and conversation

“Constellation” is a Fresh Expression that brings young adults together on Monday nights to enjoy food, fellowship and spiritual storytelling.

April 18, 2018

Worship from your paddleboard at 'Adventure Chapel'

Floridians love sunshine and water activities. So, why not bring church worship where the people want to be? This paddleboarding Fresh Expression dubbed Adventure Chapel is doing just that.

March 19, 2018

Food for Thought rebrands, brings 'stories to the table'

Raised in a Southern Baptist church, Associate Pastor Rob Tucker of Suntree UMC wanted to explore a more "grace-filled and personal" God through Fresh Expressions. In what was once a fireside chat on the church lawn, today's Food for Thought brings spiritual messages to tables filled with sushi and other delicacies.

February 28, 2018

Author Brian McLaren helps Collective with 'spiritual migration'

The author of 15 books advocating "a new kind of Christianity," Brian McLaren attended a weekend conference late last fall at The Collective in DeLand. Rev. Ben Collins, calling McLaren an "itinerant inspirer," sparked discussion about relationships between the institutional and the emerging Church.

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

August 07, 2017

Cinema Conversations reel to faith, Christian fellowship

Cinema Conversations is a Fresh Expressions ministry in Leesburg stimulating friendship and talk about the spiritual meaning behind Hollywood films. The group's members discuss films that include "The Circle" and "Wonder Woman."

June 26, 2017

Simple Church model blends dinner, worship and enterprise

Congregants gather for a sacred weekly meal where the conversation serves as the sermon and freshly baked bread provides nourishment, communion and income. Other churches are using their template to replicate the experience.

May 10, 2017

Fresh Expressions grants include surfing pastor, brick oven pizzas

The Florida Conference recently awarded $14,450 to Fresh Expressions startups across the state. Included were an outdoor brick oven and community garden, a college pub group and a Cocoa Beach pastor who brought surfing friends together to talk about "bad religion."

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.

January 24, 2017

Urban Soul reaching new people, in new places, in new ways

Campus to City Wesley Executive Director, Derrick Scott III, is reaching out to young professionals in coffee shops, craft breweries and other venues in the heart of Jacksonville's eclectic urban core neighborhood.

December 07, 2016

Lineage Retreat helping millennials find direction

A group of seven young people from the Tampa Bay region were inspired to help others their age. The result was the Lineage Retreat, held Sept. 23-24 at Warren Willis in Fruitland Park, helping those struggling to find a place in their local churches.

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.

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.”

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 21, 2016

Church can happen anywhere

Spurred on by ReThink Church grants, several Florida churches are taking journeys beyond their brick and mortar traditions to embrace the 21st century-driven changes in the ways churches reach out to their congregations and the communities they serve.

December 29, 2015

Fresh Expressions experiences a year of growth

Listening, loving and serving, building and worship: this is the metamorphosis of forming a new kind of church. Fresh Expressions is an international movement that has us reaching new people in their backyards and moving beyond our conventional buildings, meetings and leaders. It has the mindset of “we’ll come to you.”

November 12, 2015

Gather in His name: Parks, tattoo parlors fair game

A young pastor takes the gospel to the streets – and tattoo shops, burrito restaurants and anywhere else people tend to gather.

June 10, 2015

Fresh Expressions takes root in Florida

Vision Day draws clergy and lay members from across Florida to learn about new ways to form worshiping communities.

December 30, 2014

2014: A year of living missionally

A look back at Florida Conference ministries that took off in 2014.

December 04, 2014

Florida Conference to freshen up for 2015

Conference leaders to seek coaching from Fresh Expressions and Duke Divinity School.

November 18, 2014

Tattoo ministry: a fresh expression of Christian commitment

Wildwood UMC mixes Bible study with body art as some members get cross-and-flame tattoos.

October 22, 2014

Renewing community in a networked society

We need imaginative Christian leaders to develop institutions that can support and sustain the community we now lack.

October 20, 2014

Ministries build relationships before churches

New church plants are less about building sanctuaries and more about helping people find sanctuary together.

April 27, 2014

When disruption comes to church

Leaders in mainline Protestantism need to look beyond the stereotypical congregation to envision new ways of gathering as God's people.

April 03, 2014

A fresh look at church means redefining community

A new working group looks to a British model of church renewal that explores building worship communities without walls.

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