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 13, 2019

Coalition fights central east coast homelessness

According to the Volusia/Flagler County Coalition for the Homeless, a nonprofit agency, the area’s homelessness has decreased by 70 percent since 2012.

January 22, 2019

Abide 21: Community unites through prayer

Fourteen congregations from Avon Park to Lake Placid, Sebring and smaller communities along the way have joined an ecumenical movement called Abide 21. It consists of 21 days of prayer and fasting from Jan. 6-27.

January 21, 2019

Homeless ministry grows from humble beginnings

Like most acts of kindness, it began with a small idea. Two decades ago, members of Tampa’s affluent Hyde Park United Methodist Church noticed that homeless people were gathering for shelter under a nearby expressway. They were hungry. Why not give them something to eat?

January 07, 2019

Cooperative Ministries: a contemporary mustard seed

United Methodist Cooperative Ministries has grown into a five-county organization serving more than 15,000 people each year, working with approximately 20 local churches and other agencies.

January 02, 2019

Church answers call to foster care crisis

Though the crisis can seem hopeless, a local Palm Beach County church, Community of Hope, adopted the motto, “Everyone can do something,” and has begun slowly and carefully to put care and concern into action.

December 17, 2018

Playing music can connect children to God

“We want to teach children how to play music to help them better connect with God,” program founder Gary Brosch said. “I wanted to give them a gift that keeps on giving.”

December 04, 2018

St. John's is re-purposing a community mission

Four miles from Winter Haven's St. John’s United Methodist Church, in unincorporated Wahneta, a community mission, Casa Vida, is being re-purposed. Rev. David Averill, pastor at St. John’s, is helping transition missions like Casa Vida that are at the end of their life cycles.

November 28, 2018

School fills need for speech, occupational therapy

Carol Hilson never imagined how much of a role speech and occupational therapy would play in the preschool at Community Methodist Church in Fort Pierce when she began the program 30 years ago.

October 18, 2018

Missionary inspired by Brazilian churches’ vibrancy

“When you go to Africa, Asia and South America, in as much as people have knowledge, they understand the importance of God. They might not be practically involved in the church, but they have the belief that without God they are nothing. People in need grow closer to God than people who have plenty.”

October 08, 2018

Clean water in Cuba flows from Agape-Church partnerships

Venice-based Agape Flights, a Christian missionary program that sends charitable goods to many foreign lands, is partnering with the 43 United Methodist churches in Florida’s Southwest District to provide desperately needed water filtration units for Cuban churches.

October 04, 2018

Mosaic provides Brevard’s first cold-weather shelter

In addition to giving people a safe, warm place to stay, Mosaic Palm Bay UMC’s shelter is an opportunity for the Brevard Homeless Coalition, an umbrella organization of about 75 agencies, to provide aid for people who are otherwise living on the streets.

October 01, 2018

East Angola mission delivers on saving lives

“It’s literally life and death,” said Rev. Armando Rodriguez, who serves as the pastor at First United Methodist Church in Bartow. “There are people dying for lack of medicine. It would be a sin not to help.”

September 05, 2018

Churches, Family Promise battle Central Florida homelessness

In the shadow of Walt Disney World, which calls itself the happiest place on Earth, there is another, far-different story taking place.

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.

August 09, 2018

Churches intentional about being school stakeholders

Long before the school summer recess reached its waning days, United Methodist churches throughout Florida were planning events, organizing services and collecting supplies to prepare students in need for the upcoming year.

August 07, 2018

Children’s Home expansion creates outreach opportunities

Dreams for the 20,000 square foot building include developing a support system for young parents and creating community service projects for children who have aged out of the program.

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.

July 02, 2018

Mission U to build on covenant relationship

Mission U takes place at Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach July 12-15 and is open to all wishing to study the covenant relationship practiced by The United Methodist Church.

June 25, 2018

Churches approach 'Brain Fitness' intergenerationally

College students see that what textbooks say about dementia isn’t what people living with dementia are; they can be contributing members of the community for a long time. Club members, many of them doctors, lawyers and businesspeople, mentor the students and feel a sense of accomplishment.

June 19, 2018

Churches bridge the summer hunger gap for children

About 21 percent of Florida children are considered “food insecure,” meaning they do not have regular access to healthy food, according to the federal government. To combat that during the school year, these children receive free breakfast and lunch at school. In the summer, feeding programs provide nourishment.

June 14, 2018

UM ARMY is transforming for young adults on mission

Working with elderly, low-income and disabled homeowners in Gulfport, this June young adults will be painting, doing minor floor repairs, working on siding and debris cleanup, among other things.

May 28, 2018

CROS Ministries celebrates 40 years of collaboration

One of the greatest successes has been the transformation of people's lives, from the volunteers to the people we serve. To be able to touch a person's life is an honor and privilege. We are the hands and feet of God, bringing God's love into reality for those struggling with daily living.

May 21, 2018

Florida team ministers in Brazilian Amazonia

Using a Methodist-owned boat turned floating clinic, doctors, nurses and other helpers navigated tributaries to the Amazon River and offered health clinics to indigenous populations. All photos by Rev. Armando Rodriguez.

May 21, 2018

ZOE empowers orphans, vulnerable children in Africa

ZOE ’s approach has proven that children living in poverty also hold the greatest capacity to create lasting solutions for themselves, their families and their communities.

May 08, 2018

New missional connection brings disciples from Argentina to Florida

The missional roots of the Florida Conference are growing a new discipleship network with Argentina.

May 01, 2018

A heart for things to be just and right in the world

UMC members from churches around Hillsborough County, joining with the interfaith group Hillsborough Organization for Progress and Equality (HOPE), focus on a few issues each year that they believe need immediate attention.

April 17, 2018

'Rough Cut Men' offers no-holds-barred testimony, hope

Faced with what was literally a life-defining moment, David Dusek met God on top of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. Today his ministry, Rough Cut Men, is creating bonds through straight-up testimony and trusting relationships.

April 10, 2018

Sanford outreach: 'more blessings than we give out'

Beyond the town's eclectic shops and 19th-century architecture, Sanford, Florida, has people in need. Churches, a nonprofit with a professional chef and other volunteers have joined to spread gospel through action.

April 04, 2018

Alachua interfaith coalition responds to past hatred

Responding to former evangelical Pastor Terry Jones' burning of the Quran in 2010, Alachua County churches and other organizations formed a coalition to create change. They recently completed their sixth Habitat for Humanity Interfaith Build Day.

March 27, 2018

Churches 'show up to be Jesus' in Jacksonville's inner city

Churches in Jacksonville are often challenged to define the role of faith in ministering to disadvantaged neighborhoods. Rev. Juana Jordan, who grew up in the city, says it's really a matter of "showing up and being Jesus" to those in need. Two pastors and one layperson talk about listening and offering a presence in the inner city.

March 27, 2018

Parkland March 'deeply grounded in the way of Jesus'

Christ Church Pastor Brett Opalinski said it was like "sitting across the table from someone and hearing their story of pain." Congregants from the Fort Lauderdale church joined 30,000 others, March 24, in the "March for Our Lives" in Parkland. It was a moment to remember 17 students and faculty who died Feb. 14 and to voice a need for change in current gun legislation.

March 21, 2018

Methodist students detour spring vacations for Hurricane Irma recovery

United Methodist Students at Marshall University sacrificed their spring break for power tools and grout to help Big Pine Key recover from Hurricane Irma.

March 21, 2018

Miracle Village story takes center stage off-Broadway

For nearly four weeks, New York theater-goers received an intimate look at life in Pahokee, thanks to an off-Broadway play, "America is Hard to See." A talented cast portrayed the heart and soul of Miracle Village, a place where many of its residents are convicted sex offenders.

March 13, 2018

Parkland tragedy, heart for change inspires '5000 Letters'

Calling the Parkland tragedy a "burning bush moment," Bishop Ken Carter and Florida Conference churches went beyond prayers and vigils and formed a letter-writing campaign to federal and state lawmakers. The 5,000 Letters initiative achieved its goal, but many consider it just the beginning for needed change.

March 07, 2018

Prison ministries offer unconditional love, spiritual freedom

For the pastor of a church in Oviedo, it started with a simple letter to a prison inmate. When her words were returned with a heartfelt reply, both lives were changed. Prison ministries throughout the Florida Conference offer unconditional love and support. One volunteer calls it a "ringside seat to miracles."

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.

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 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 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 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.

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 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 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.

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 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 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.

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