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Biweekly Digest

Biweekly Digest

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

Biweekly Digest

Jan. 30, 2004    News media contact:  Michael Wacht*    
407-897-1140   Orlando  {0016}

January 30, 2004
Biweekly Digest PDF Version click here

Paisley youth members lay hands on the sick through prayer blankets
[Jan. 21, 2004 {0010}]

PAISLEY - The junior youth members at Paisley United Methodist Church can turn an ordinary blanket into an extraordinary work of art with soothing powers that some say can heal the sick. The blanket ministry at the church began less than a year ago when a child at a local elementary school was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. One of the co-directors of the junior youth decided the group would pray for the child, as well send a tangible sign of their love by dipping their hands in vibrant colors of fabric paint and placing them on a blanket. The blanket was then delivered to the child. That's how the blanket ministry began more than 100 blankets ago. Today, requests come to the church through friends and strangers alike. "We sent a blanket to a rabbi in Israel," said Claire Puertas, co-director of the junior youth. "It's just unbelievable. It's amazing that what started out just to lift people up, to let them know we were praying for them, has turned into this." full story

Church invites congregation, community to discover purpose in life
[Jan. 26, 2004 {0012}]

FORT MYERS - Members of First United Methodist Church, Fort Myers, were among those from more than 4,450 churches in more than 20 countries who searched last fall to answer the question most people have asked at some point, "What on earth are you here for?" Their journey lasted 40 days and focused on the popular book "The Purpose Driven Life" by Rick Warren. The Rev. Jim Rosenberg, senior pastor at the church, said members were excited to be among the 2.5 million people that joined with Saddleback Church in California, sponsor of the campaign, to read and discover their purpose in life. He said it was a very intense spiritual campaign centered in small group settings with people sharing what they had read. Members and non-members met at the church, in homes or public places to discuss the book. Rosenberg said 25 people joined the church and two people were baptized as a direct result of small groups reading and sharing from the book. "We wanted to touch lives," Rosenberg said. "It's about growing the kingdom, not the church." full story

Churches large and small urged to make missions a priority
[Jan. 27, 2004 {0013}]

ST. PETERSBURG - Florida Conference members were challenged to step outside their comfort zones and minister to their community and the world at the Jan. 14 Conference Table meeting, held at First United Methodist Church here and focusing on global mission. The Conference Table was created in 2002 as a venue for clergy and laity to discuss the connectional life and current context of the United Methodist Church in Florida. Dr. Paul Chilcote, professor of historical theology and Wesleyan Studies at the Orlando campus of Asbury Theological Seminary, said United Methodists must remember that Methodism began as a renewal movement and urged attendees to reclaim the inherited legacy of John and Charles Wesley. "We have exchanged mission for maintenance," said Chilcote, who, with his wife, spent several years working in Africa. "Our energies should not be turned in on ourselves. If we do that, the church dies and fails to understand its purpose for being the light of the world." Task force members presented a model that enables churches to delve into global mission or enhance their mission ministries. The Rev. Dr. Larry Rankin, director of the Florida Conference Council on Ministries' Missions Ministry, suggested churches that don't know where to start their mission ministry should consider participating in any of six conference-wide initiatives.full story

 Zambia missionary says life is a mission field
[Jan. 28, 2004 {0014}]

LAKELAND - Delbert and Sandy Groves were perfectly content to reside in Winter Park, worship at Aloma United Methodist Church there and toil away at their publishing company until an African missionary turned their world upside down when he spoke at their church in 1981. After learning of the need for commercial publishing machinery and publishing machinists Delbert Groves was asked if he would consider living and working in Africa. One month later the missions committee at Aloma United Methodist Church presented him with two planes tickets to Africa to get an idea of what he could expect working there. Today, the couple is living and working as missionaries in Zambia. "It's about others. It's about the people in the pews," Delbert Groves said. "I want to work myself out of a job. Missions is all about planting the seed of Jesus Christ in people..." One thing Groves says he has learned while in Africa is that God is universal. "It doesn't have to be the American way or the European way," he said. "As long as Christ is the center, it doesn't matter the color, culture or tongue. We just have to let God be God." full story

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*Wacht is director of Florida United Methodist Communications and managing editor
of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.