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In Brief (April 8, 2004)

In Brief (April 8, 2004)

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

In Brief -- April 8, 2004

April 8, 2004    News media contact:  Michael Wacht*   
407-897-1140     Orlando  {0055a}

An e-Review News Item

United Methodists encouraged to send items to Haiti

By J.A. Buchholz**

LAKELAND - Haiti may no longer be in the forefront of the national news, but the war-torn country is still very much on the hearts and minds of Florida Conference United Methodists.

Violence and strife have become a way of life for many Haitians since the abrupt, forced departure of former Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in mid-February after months of political unrest. Amid the chaos and confusion of the aftermath, many find themselves without the daily basics for living.

Hallendale Haitian United Methodist Mission in the Broward Palm Beach District is accepting donations that will be shipped to the Methodist Church of Haiti later this month. The church is partnering with Grace Haitian United Methodist Church in Miami, which is also collecting items to restock the shelves of the Methodist Church of Haiti. United Methodist pastors in Haiti will receive and distribute the items to their members throughout the country.

The Rev. Luc Dessieux, pastor of Hallendale Haitian Mission and brother of the president of the Eglise Metodiste d'Haiti, the Rev. Raphael L. Dessieux, said he has received some donations from churches in Leesburg and Miramar, but more are needed to fill the 40-foot container the church wants to ship by April 22.

"There is a severe lack of food in the country," Dessieux said. "We are asking for non-perishable food such as sugar, flour, rice and beans. We are asking for school supplies such as pencils, paper and pens. Over-the-counter medication and clothing in good condition can also be put to good use."

Dessieux, a native of Cap Haitian, a town about a half hour plane ride from Port-au-Prince, said he loves his homeland, despite its turbulent existence.

"The country has a lot of problems," he said. "It is a very complicated situation. Things are still not stable."

Dessieux is appealing to United Methodists to respond with items or monetary donations to fund the cost of renting and transporting the $3,000 container to Haiti.

"We are thankful for everything we receive," he said. "We just want to help."

The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) is doing what it can during the current crisis. It supports several projects in Haiti, including a hot lunch program for the Methodist schools, Grace Children's Hospital and community agricultural programs. Help can be offered by making donations to a Haitian Advance or to the Haiti Civil Emergency Advance Number 418325 for emergency relief.

In order to restock bare medical and pantry shelves in Haiti, Grace Haitian United Methodist Church in Miami is collecting needed food and medical donations, including Advil, rubbing alcohol, aspirin, bandages, bed sheets, blankets, cotton balls, gauze, Ibuprofen, medical gloves, Motrin, peroxide, soap, sterilizer, syringes, towels of varying sizes, Tylenol and vitamins. Food items requested include canned and powdered milk, dry beans, rice, shortening, spaghetti and V-8 juice.

Any items or donations should be mailed to Grace Haitian United Methodist Church, 6501 N. Miami Ave., Miami, FL  33150, or Hallendale Haitian United Methodist Mission, 220 S.W. 6th Ave., Hallandale, FL 33009-5322.

Ewing to serve as interim Miami District superintendent

By J.A. Buchholz**

LAKELAND - Florida Conference Bishop Timothy W. Whitaker recently announced the Rev. Dr. E. Keith Ewing will be appointed interim superintendent of the Miami District following the 2004 Florida Annual Conference Event June 3-6.

Ewing, who is currently assistant to the bishop, will succeed the Rev. Clarke Campbell-Evans who is being appointed as senior pastor of a local congregation. An interim superintendent is being appointed because a proposal for a new district structure is being presented at the 2004 conference event.

"I have the highest confidence in Keith's abilities as a superintendent of the Church," Whitaker said. "He has demonstrated his skills during his successful tenure as both the superintendent of the Jacksonville District and the assistant to the bishop. He is a friend with whom I have close communication. The Miami District will be in good hands."

Whitaker also had kind words for Campbell-Evans.

"I am grateful to the leadership that Clarke has given to the Miami District and to the cabinet," Whitaker said. "During his tenure as superintendent he has educated the Florida Conference about the importance of our Church's ministry in the beautiful, dynamic and international city of Miami. He has initiated important new strategies of mission. He has also fulfilled his tasks with integrity and diligence. His presence will be missed on the cabinet."

Ewing will begin serving as interim superintendent following his retirement at the 2004 conference event. He will join the Rev. Jim Maxfield, a retired clergyperson, who will become interim superintendent of the Lakeland District.

Igniting Ministry releases its first Hispanic TV commercial

By Nancye Willis**

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (UMNS) - The United Methodist Church is sharing its message of "open hearts, open minds, open doors" with one of the fastest-growing segments of the U.S. population.

"No Estas Obligado" ("You Don't Have To") is the denomination's first Spanish-language television commercial since the official launch of Igniting Ministry, its media effort in September 2001. The 30-second ad is airing on the Telefutura and Telemundo Spanish-language cable networks March 24-April 11, Easter Sunday.

The commercial emphasizes acceptance of and service to others as a choice, rather than a requirement, and showcases ways to do so. "No tiene que aceptar a todos...Nosotros lo hacemos porque queremos" ("You don't have to accept everyone...We do it because we choose to"), it advises.

Because the Hispanic/Latino community has been shown to be generally comfortable with traditional church language, a pastor delivers lines and a church setting is prominent. 

Igniting Ministry is aimed at raising awareness of the denomination through a series of cable television commercials and other advertising.

"'No Estas Obligado' represents the first time the United Methodist Church has spoken so intimately through public media with this significant segment of the U.S. population," said the Rev. Larry Hollon, top executive of United Methodist Communications, which administers the denominational media effort. 

Developed by United Methodist Communications in collaboration with a Dallas-based Hispanic ad agency, "No Estas Obligado" also had the input of an advisory committee of Hispanic United Methodist church leaders.

Hollon said preliminary research conducted by United Methodist Communications revealed both concerns of Latino adults, ages 25-54, as well as appreciation for what the United Methodist Church has to offer.

"This ad encourages viewers to become part of an accepting and affirming church community, and it empowers them to create that community," he said. "It offers them connection with the people of the United Methodist Church as a community with open hearts, open minds and open doors."

Telefutura and Telemundo were chosen for the advertising because of their combined viewing audience of more than 18 million adult Hispanic TV viewers in the United States. The two networks draw the highest percentage (39 percent) of prime-time Spanish-speaking viewers in the United States.

Projections released March 18 by the U.S. Census Bureau indicate that, by 2050, the U.S. Hispanic population will increase by 188 percent, to 102.6 million, or one-quarter of the expected total U.S. population of 420 million.

"No Estas Obligado" is close-captioned and will also be available in an English-language format. Both are tagged with the Web site, where users can find information to help them locate United Methodist congregations in their areas.

It will air during the campaign's established Easter, back-to-school and Christmas flights. Those seasons were chosen because they represent times people are most receptive to spiritual messages.

English-language ads are also airing on 18 cable networks, as part of the church's national media campaign, a four-year, $20 million effort. More than 92 million television viewers have seen the commercials since 2001.

"No Estas Obligado" is available for viewing on the denomination's Web site, Downloadable images from the commercial are available at


*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. Willis is editor for the Public Information Team at United Methodist Communications in Nashville, Tenn. (her article was first distributed March 24 by United Methodist News Service, Nashville, Tenn.).