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Conference gears up for 2004 annual conference (March 8, 2004)

Conference gears up for 2004 annual conference (March 8, 2004)

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

Conference gears up for 2004 annual conference

March 8, 2004    News media contact:  Michael Wacht*    
407-897-1140     Orlando  {0036}

Bishop says change is good.

An e-Review Feature
By J.A. Buchholz**

LAKELAND - Florida Conference Bishop Timothy W. Whitaker is encouraging attendees and delegates to embrace the new format for the 2004 Florida Annual Conference Event.

"This is nothing we can't handle," Whitaker said. "This is a lot of change, and that's OK. Change is not bad, and we can do this."

The annual conference event will be June 3-6 at Bethune-Cookman College (BCC) in Daytona Beach. The theme is "A Light to the Nations."

One difference between the 2004 annual conference event and previous ones is the location. This year's event is being held outside Lakeland for the first time in many years. United Methodist-related Florida Southern College served as host for the event until attendance became too large for its facilities. In recent years the college has provided housing and meal support for delegates, while the bulk of the business sessions has been held at the Lakeland Center. This year Florida's United Methodists will spend time on the campus of Florida's other denominationally-related school, BCC. The event's plenary sessions will take place in BCC's new Performing Arts Center.

The 2004 event is also a weekend event, beginning on Thursday and ending Sunday. Whitaker said the change will hopefully allow working people who have an interest in the annual conference event to participate at higher levels than in recent years when the event was held during the week. He also said he is delighted the conference will have the opportunity to embrace BCC and celebrate the close relationship between the two entities.

While looking forward to being on campus, Whitaker cautions participants to be aware there may be some small inconveniences.

"We should expect that things will be different," Whitaker said, adding, "The Center for Performing Arts is a beautiful building, and it's going to offer us more variety. This is going to be a significant annual conference."

That significance will also be derived from a number of important issues coming before annual conference delegates, such as reducing the number of districts within the conference and re-organizing the Conference Council on Ministries and camping and retreat ministries.

Along with new business initiatives, items addressed in previous years will again be undertaken. The Children's Harvest will return and assemble school kits as part of the Council of Bishops' Initiative on Children and Poverty. Last year participants assembled 3,000 school kits for children in Angola and raised more than $60,000.

This year the goal is more ambitious. Participants are being asked to assemble 5,000 school kits, and each church is being asked to raise at least $150 during any Sunday offering this month. "Somebody Cares Tampa Bay," an ecumenical Christian charity, has negotiated lower prices for kit materials than last year. The total cost per unit will be $3 less.

Churches should send their offering by check made payable to Florida Conference Treasurer, with Children's Harvest in the memo line, to the Children's Harvest, P.O. Box 3767, Lakeland, FL. 33802. The deadline is April 1.

For more information about the 2004 Florida Annual Conference Event visit


This article relates to the 2004 Florida Annual Conference Event.

*Wacht is director of Florida United Methodist Communications and managing editor
of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**Buchholz is a staff writer for e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.