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 webadmin@flumc.org or click here to use our convenient “Submit a story” form.

Image courtesy of www.ChristianBibleReference.org. Copyright © by Cliff Leitch.

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 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 29, 2017

'The Florida Project': movie about our 'hidden homeless'

Few realize there's a hidden world where homeless families live along U.S. 192 near Disney World. With help from Rev. Mary Downey, executive director of the Community Hope Center in Kissimmee, the film, "The Florida Project," is raising awareness to a complex issue.

November 22, 2017

Prayer feathers, ancient flute, carry voices of Native Americans

November is Native American Heritage Month, and for Dock Green Silverhawk, it's a time to celebrate the past and embrace his own heritage following heart surgery and nearly losing his life. Through the melodies of an ancient flute and a prayer feather, Green and others give thanks to being Native American.

November 21, 2017

Man Cave Renovation Retreat ignites spiritual growth

After 69 years of men's retreats in Leesburg, the Florida Conference recently brought welcome change with a "Man Cave Renovation" gathering Oct. 13-14 at the Life Enrichment Center. A 26 percent increase in attendance over the previous year was reported.

November 20, 2017

Florida holds first Spanish ERT workshop

As the Florida Conference continues to reach out to those facing recovery from the devastation in Puerto Rico caused by Hurricane Maria, an Early Response Training (ERT) for Spanish-speaking volunteers was held recently at FUMC Kissimmee.

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.

November 08, 2017

From ships to desert cold, military chaplains serve 24/7

They serve in desert cold and on ships, often in foreign countries. Military chaplains are in ministry with their parish 24/7. In the words of one chaplain, "we go when and where it matters most."

November 01, 2017

Haitian-born Global Mission Fellows head for Motor City

For recently appointed Global Mission Fellows Lynda Sylvain and Grace Okerson, experiencing Detroit's winter is only one of many challenges they'll face during the next two years.

October 24, 2017

Out of Africa: Mulemena finds mission in Amazon

Travelling 5,000 miles from his home in Zambia, Africa, Charles Mulemena found his life as a missionary serving the people of Belem, Brazil. The area is often referred to as the gateway to the Amazon rainforest.

October 23, 2017

East Central District leads Puerto Rico ministry for Florida

It is estimated that between 250,000 and 500,000 Puerto Ricans will relocate in Central Florida in the aftermath of hurricanes Irma and Maria. The East Central District is leading a conference-wide ministry to provide school supplies and meet basic needs.

October 18, 2017

Delivering 1300 pounds of medicine, supplies to Angola

The Rev. Armando Rodriquez Jr. and his wife, Icel Rodriguez, director of Global Missions, recently delivered 1300 pounds of much needed medicine and supplies to East Angola. Transported with carry-on luggage, the Florida Conference team provided mosquito netting and anti-malaria drugs.

October 12, 2017

She walks in Jesus' footsteps every day

For United Methodist missionary, Rev. Kristen Brown, walking in the footsteps of Jesus is an everyday occurrence. As Methodist Liaison to Israel-Palestine, Brown visits biblical sites and crosses through checkpoints. She prepares Christian leaders to serve churches and society in the Holy Land.

October 10, 2017

'Homeless Jesus' sculpture unveiled at First Miami

A life-sized sculpture was unveiled in a special ceremony held October 1 at FUMC Miami. Titled "Homeless Jesus," the bronze artwork was created by Canadian artist Timothy Schmalz depicting Christ wrapped in a blanket and lying on a bench. The church also began its new mobile shower ministry for the homeless.

October 04, 2017

Florida JFON advocates for least, last, lost

For those seeking asylum in Miami's backlogged immigration courtrooms, the wait can last for five to six years. Rev. Janet Horman, director of Florida's Justice for Our Neighbors (JFON), calls it a legal battle worth fighting.

October 03, 2017

Working for peace and justice in Northern Ireland

Assigned by the General Board of Global Ministries to work at East Belfast Mission, Alison Gilmore returned to her home country of Northern Ireland in 2011. As a mental health counselor, she describes the inner struggle faced by so many to make peace with their past.

September 28, 2017

Shaping the Bright Future of America

Hispanic Heritage Month is a time to celebrate a unique melting pot of cultures and diversity within the Florida Conference. Hispanic and Latino Americans describe the challenge of creating unity within traditional churches without losing the rich diversity of different regions.

September 21, 2017

Florida needs volunteers now!

Volunteers will be needed for team coordination, logistics, call center, work teams and in their local communities connecting to survivors.

September 20, 2017

LEC, Warren Willis house power crews during Irma

It began the Thursday before Hurricane Irma made landfall. Power trucks from as far away as North Carolina rolled into the Life Enrichment Center and Warren Willis Camp as they opened their doors with hospitality. The facility housed up to 800 linemen in the days after the storm hit.

September 19, 2017

Claim form online; Irma information and resources available

New this year, the Florida Conference churches can report Irma damages using an online claim form.

September 19, 2017

Foster Family Event fills backpacks, raises awareness

Eight churches in Brevard County, including three United Methodist congregations, recently participated in the annual Foster Family Event at New Covenant Fellowship Church. Along with filling backpacks for children starting a new school year, this year's gathering helped raise awareness to the needs of foster families.

September 13, 2017

Cleaning up after Irma: steeples, trees, flooding

Editor's Note: Donate here to the Florida Conference Hurricane Irma Fund to help churches and the ...

August 29, 2017

'Feed my sheep' with 16 gallons of soup, sandwiches

At the Kitchen of Clay County near Jacksonville, volunteers from three church denominations feed the hungry Saturday lunch with 12 to 16 gallons of homemade soup, sandwiches and cakes. It's a ministry that began in 2009.

August 24, 2017

Holy grounds connect neighbors through gardens

Churches are connecting with their neighbors with the help of mushroom compost, collard greens, tomatoes and a lot of green thumbs. Whatever the season, community gardens are becoming a hot trend across the Florida Conference.

August 22, 2017

Mobile showers ministry aims to restore dignity

Methodist churches located in urban areas, such as downtown Miami, have recently embraced a new kind of street ministry: mobile showers for the homeless. Pulled with a truck, it's a trend quickly taking hold across South Florida.

August 16, 2017

Stirring in soul: Retired teacher reaches out in Volusia County

Retired teacher Mica Roughton's life changed the moment she reached out to help children and families living in poverty. She's now the volunteer coordinator of a ministry called Food Brings Hope, a program at FUMC of Ormond Beach giving families in a local elementary school physical and spiritual nourishment.

August 11, 2017

Legislator: 'I believe God placed me here to help' fight trafficking

"I believe God placed me here to help," says State Representative Ross Spano, R-Riverview. He is working to toughen laws against human traffickers in Florida. This is the final story in a three-part series on human trafficking.

August 08, 2017

Trafficking: It's 'right here in our backyard'

Deltona artist Jennifer Houdeshell reveals the seamy side of trafficking in Florida that tourists rarely see. She uses her art to raise awareness of the crime: "I wanted to put a face to human trafficking."

August 04, 2017

Back-to-School Blessing

With each new school year comes the excitement and anticipation of a new beginning, a new journey, a new chapter. This video meditation features an empowering blessing, written by the Rev. Marilyn E. Thornton, for individuals or groups to use to lift up those involved in all walks of education. You can share or download this video to use in Sunday school classes, before or during worship or in your home.

August 03, 2017

Grassroots faith-based efforts combat human trafficking

An ordained elder and missionary with The United Methodist Church and members of Sun City Center UMC are working to fight a transnational crime. Florida ranks third in the nation for calls received by the National Human Trafficking Hotline.

July 31, 2017

Science Mike brings religion, science together

Science Mike, aka Mike McHargue, of Good Samaritan UMC in Tallahassee, has become a major phenomenon on the internet. Taking questions on science, faith and life, his iTunes "Top 20" podcast receives 6,500 downloads a day.

July 26, 2017

Summer BreakSpot sites feeding body and soul

Florida Conference churches and schools have stepped up throughout the summer to meet the needs of hungry children. Many have become hosting sites for the Florida Department of Agriculture's Summer BreakSpot program.

July 19, 2017

'Feet to the faith' impacts hearts, minds, social justice

From climate change to violent crimes, poverty and social injustice, most of us would agree the world needs positive change. Can our churches make positive differences in their communities? For the 11 million helped by Florida Conference community ministries since 2009, the answer would be yes!

July 17, 2017

First, Port St. Lucie, battles summer reading slump

In the first of a monthly series about School-Church Partnerships, read about volunteers at FUMC in Port St. Lucie who recently collected 1,005 books for children at an area elementary school.

July 12, 2017

Coffee house ministries brewing Christian spirit

In a throwback to the 1960's, church-based coffee house ministries today are offering teens and young adults something more than fresh brewed beverages. It's a place where God's spirit enjoys a laid back vibe.

July 04, 2017

Out in the wild: the esssence of wilderness ministry

For nearly 70 years, Warren Willis trip camps have offered summer adventures for generations of youth. From climbing steep rock cliffs to hiking deep into Appalachian mountains, they are experiences in nature long remembered.

June 28, 2017

Prayer vigils have transformational potential

In part two of a story about prayer vigils, one church turned to praying on street corners to remember homicide victims, while the other brought unity following tragedy in a Charleston church 600 miles away.

June 21, 2017

Readying for the storm in hurricane season

The time to prepare for hurricane season is now! Disaster Response Coordinator Pam Garrison and others offer helpful information to ensure your church is ready before the storm hits.

June 20, 2017

Breaking bread in Cuba's house churches

Although the Cuban government still prohibits The United Methodist Church from building new sanctuaries, house churches have become a thriving alternative in the island nation.

June 16, 2017

Prayer vigils impact communities

A two-part story on the impact prayer vigils can have on the communities our churches serve begins with revisiting the vigil held for the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando a year ago.

May 31, 2017

Inner city churches

Inner city churches face many challenges, not unlike their congregations. In the first of an occasional series, church leaders from Miami-Dade and Broward Counties discuss their roles and how they are making the best of difficult situations.

May 22, 2017

Virtual gallery reflects homeless perspective

Described as a photography project to bring awareness to the plight of the homeless, My Town: Art from our Homeless Neighbors exhibited 20 juried images at First UMC Lakeland May 5. A photo essay brings the exhibit to readers of FLUMC.org.

May 17, 2017

CONAM bridges gap between Christianity and culture

The Committee on Native American Ministries recently held its annual summit meeting at the Life Enrichment Center in Fruitland Park. Terry Wildman, pastor of Northport Indian UMC in Michigan and a featured speaker at the event, describes his relationship with the American church.

May 16, 2017

U.M. ARMY paints the town, lends helping hands

The U.M. ARMY will march into Sebring June 18-24. Armed with paint brushes and tools, volunteers are lining up for another year of helping those in need in Florida. Lorraine Macpherson, National Growth and Program Manager, says registrations have doubled from those participating in 2016.

May 03, 2017

The Fruitful Field: 'a walk in the woods' with food

In 2008, a once dying church decided to plant a community garden on a vacant lot. Today, that rock-strewn area is called The Fruitful Field, a thriving nonprofit urban farm growing more than 7,500 pounds of fresh food, raising honey bees and hiring at-risk teens.

April 26, 2017

Community conversation addresses climate change

An April 24 Concord Conversation, held in Lakeland, addressed key issues such as climate change, eco-theology and how to promote the stewardship of Mother Earth.

April 25, 2017

'My Town' exhibit features homeless photographers' views

Modeled after similar projects in other cities, the Florida Conference provided homeless persons in Lakeland with Fujifilm disposable cameras and asked them to photograph how they view their town. The project titled, My Town: Art From Our Homeless Neighbors, will hold its opening reception at First UMC Lakeland, May 5 from 1-3 p.m.

April 25, 2017

Native American Ministries Sunday offers empowerment

Native American Ministries Sunday is April 30, 2017. Your gifts are much needed to help seminary students honor and celebrate Native American culture in their ministries. You'll also empower entire congregations in finding new ways to minister to the communities they serve.

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The Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church

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Lakeland, FL 33815

(863) 688-5563 or toll free (800) 282-8011