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Countdown to Annual Conference

Countdown to Annual Conference

A comprehensive look at the annual four-day event

Bethune-Cookman Performing Arts Center facade with marquee out front
Annual Conference plenary sessions will be held in the Bethune-Cookman University Performing Arts Center at Lincoln Street and International Speedway Boulevard in Daytona Beach. Photo by John Reeves for Bethune-Cookman.

DAYTONA BEACH – In less than a month, Annual Conference 2015 will be underway, offering nearly 2,000 clergy and lay members a chance to mix church business with a little pleasure in this popular tourist destination.

For the first time since 2011, Florida’s Annual Conference will convene outside of Lakeland, this time at United Methodist-affiliated Bethune-Cookman University (B-CU). The school’s Performing Arts Center and Holmes Business Building will teem with Methodist activity from Tuesday, June 9, through Saturday, June 13, and some of the action will spill over to the Moore Gymnasium as well.

Here’s what you need to know:


I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go. – Psalm 32:8

Most Annual Conference activities take place in the buildings at the northeast corner of International Speedway Boulevard and Lincoln Street. Signs directing motorists to parking lots will be posted in that vicinity. For a map and directions, click here. The Florida Conference website for the event is

Click here for the Annual Conference brochure. Click here for Annual Conference orientation videos, and here for the basic conference agenda. To access the Annual Conference Workbook, click here. The hashtag to particpate in the Annual Conference 2015 Twitter feed is #flumc15,


But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go. – Jeremiah 1:7-8

The theme of this year’s gathering is “Next Generations: Together in the Baptismal Waters.”

In advance of the meeting, Bishop Ken Carter will moderate a Florida Conference "Tweet Meet" from 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 3.

Laity and clergy members of the conference are invited to engage in online conversation about their experiences with intergenerational mentoring and their vision for the “next generations” of The United Methodist Church. Participants will need to have a Twitter account. They can sign up for one for free by going to The hashtag for the meeting will be #flumc15.

During Annual Conference sessions, lay leaders will continue their emphasis on intergenerational mentoring and mission, and young adults will have an opportunity to meet with featured speaker Rev. Adam Hamilton of the Church of the Resurrection in Leawood, Kansas, at 9:30 p.m. Thursday, June 11, in the Wildcat Café.

Aerial photo of busy beach stretching from pier
Participants in the Annual Conference 5K event will run or walk north on the beach, starting from the Daytona Beach Pier. Photo by Susan Green.


And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. – Hebrews 12:1

Annual Conference members and guests will have the opportunity to run, walk or stroll along a 1.5-mile stretch of Daytona’s famous beach, beginning at 6:30 a.m. Thursday, June 11. Participants are looking for sponsors, and proceeds will benefit Imagine No Malaria, the church’s effort to stamp out malaria deaths in Africa.

Participants will gather at Breakers Oceanfront Park and the Daytona Beach Pier and head north. For information and to sign up, click here.


Jesus said, "Take care of my sheep." – John 21:16

More than 200 volunteers are needed to help the meeting run smoothly. Especially needed are hospitality greeters and ushers for the Performing Arts Center. Volunteers also will be needed to distribute voting devices and help attendees assemble materials at the welcome packet table.

Volunteers who are able are encouraged to sign up for multiple shifts so that less training is required, said Janet Kelley, East Central District business administrator who is coordinating Annual Conference volunteer service.

Click here to sign up and to see a list of volunteers needed.


Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles. – Acts 1:26

Voting members will use electronic balloting devices to elect nine clergy and nine lay delegates for General Conference 2016, as well as delegates for the Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference in July 2016 and 14 reserve delegates. The election will take place via rounds of ballots sprinkled throughout the Annual Conference program, starting with the first plenary session at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, June 10, and continuing until all 50 slots are filled.

Performing arts center interior of Bethune-Cookman University
The Bethune-Cookman University Performing Arts Center offers about 2,500 seats, including many designed to accommodate people with disabilities. Photo by John Reeves for Bethune-Cookman.

Nominees who met the announced publication deadline are listed with biographical information in the Annual Conference Workbook. Click here to see the lists of nominees. In addition, for the first time, clergy and lay members will have an opportunity to nominate themselves for election at Annual Conference from 8 to 11 a.m. on opening day, June 10. Click here for detailed information about that process.

A meet-and-greet session for nominees is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. Wednesday, June 10. Laity nominees will be available in the B-CU President’s Banquet Room, while clergy nominees will greet voters in the Moore Gymnasium.


My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. – James 1:2-3

The space allotted for check-in will be smaller than in recent years. Voting members and guests are encouraged to check in early in the Hilton Room at the Holmes Business Building from 1:30 to 7 p.m. Tuesday, June 9. Parking spaces adjacent to the building and accessible from Lincoln Street have been set aside for 15-minute use on Tuesday only to allow check-in and badge pickup. Voting members also can receive their voting devices.

On Wednesday, check-in will remain in the Hilton Room, but voting members will report to the Cub Café, also in the Holmes Building, to pick up their voting devices until noon, when device pickup will move to the Performing Arts Center. Check-in will remain in the Hilton Room on Thursday morning, moving to Guest Services in the Performing Arts Center by Thursday evening.


Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. –   1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

The Prayer Garden will open at 7:30 a.m. Wednesday through Friday in the Holmes Business Center, and attendees may take communion between 7:45 and 8:15 a.m. each day. The Prayer Garden will close at 7 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday and 5 p.m. Friday.

In addition to the quiet space and prayer labyrinth, the Florida Conference Spiritual Formation Team will set up a craft room and invite visitors to make prayer flags following the theme: “This is my prayer for Annual Conference.” The flags will be placed in the hallway outside the prayer room to invite others to come inside, said Jim Cook, Spiritual Formation Team chairperson.

Open lobby area of Bethune-Cookman University Performing Arts Center
Guest Services and ministry display tables will be set up in the spacious lobby of the Bethune-Cookman Performing Arts Center during Annual Conference 2015. Photo by John Reeves for Bethune-Cookman.


He brought me out into a spacious place… -- Psalm 18:19

At 10 a.m. Wednesday, June 10, the laity session will begin in the 2,500-seat Performing Arts Center, and the clergy session will be held in the Moore Gymnasium. All plenary sessions will be held in the Performing Arts Center.

Opening worship is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Wednesday in the Performing Arts Center, where the Service of Word and Table will be celebrated at 7:30 p.m. Rev. Sharma Lewis, superintendent of the Atlanta Decatur Oxford District in the North Georgia Conference, will be preaching. Ushers also will collect the Annual Conference offering at that time. This year, the offering will be divided between Imagine No Malaria and a program that funds trips to the Holy Land for new clergy.

The Florida Conference budget for 2016 will be presented during the 8:30 a.m. program Thursday, June 11. The overall budget is projected to stay flat at $21.4 million. Click here to see a video presentation about the proposed budget by conference treasurer Mickey Wilson, or see pages 122-131 in the Annual Conference Workbook

The ministries of nearly 40 clergy members will be celebrated at a retirement service scheduled for 10:45 a.m. Thursday, June 11. That evening, the B-CU Concert Chorale is scheduled to perform at 7 p.m., followed by the first of three presentations by Hamilton, pastor of the Church of the Resurrection. Hamilton will also speak at 8:30 a.m. Friday, June 12, and during the plenary session that starts at 1:30 p.m. that day.

A memorial service for Florida Conference clergy and spouses who have died since Annual Conference 2014 will be held at 10:30 a.m. Friday, June 12, with Rev. Bob Tindale of Killearn UMC, Tallahassee, preaching.

The call for more than 30 clergy candidates will be celebrated during the Service of Licensing, Commissioning and Ordination at 7:30 p.m. Friday, June 12, in the Performing Arts Center. Bishop Carter will preach.

On Saturday morning, June 13, attendees will convene for the last day of the conference. Members are expected to welcome and formally elect Tony Prestipino as the new conference treasurer, stepping into the role vacated by Wilson’s retirement. The date and location of the 2017 conference also will be determined. 


So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up. – Ephesians 4:11-12

Ministry display tables will be set up in the Performing Arts Center lobby. Because of space concerns, displays will be limited to information tables for various ministries and seminaries. The only vendor space will be assigned to Cokesbury, which will have its traditional assortment of Christian literature and liturgical items on display for conference attendees to browse and purchase.

Also in the lobby will be banners from many churches celebrating milestone anniversaries from 25 to 175 years. More than 35 churches are eligible to display banners this year. A service commemorating all those years of discipleship is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Friday, June 12, in the Performing Arts Center.


Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him. – Psalm 127:3

First UMC, Port Orange, located at 305 Dunlawton Ave., is providing care for children and middle school youths accompanying clergy and lay members to Annual Conference. The preregistration deadline for children was May 15. The deadline for middle school-age children is Tuesday, May 26. For fees and other information, click here for middle school care and here for the younger children’s program.

-- Susan Green is the Florida Conference managing editor.