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Biweekly Digest (April 23, 2004)

Biweekly Digest (April 23, 2004)

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

Biweekly digest

April 23, 2004    News media contact:  Michael Wacht*    
407-897-1140   Orlando  {0062}

April 12 - April 23, 2004
Biweekly Digest PDF version click here

Hispanic Assembly elects new officers
[April 14, 2004 {0057}]

LAKELAND - The Hispanic Assembly has been energized and equipped with new officers to begin the next quadrennium. The group met March 6 at Good Shepherd United Methodist Church in Lake Placid to elect the new leaders and begin the next phase of the organization. The Hispanic Assembly is composed of Hispanic churches and missions in the conference. Its goal is to promote unity within the Hispanic community, celebrate and plan ministries, and interpret and promote conference ministries to the Hispanic community. The Rev. Edwin Santos, the Florida Conference Council on Ministries' director of Hispanic Ministries, said the Hispanic Assembly and his office both want to accomplish a higher level of visibility and participation of Hispanics throughout the conference and vow to work together in the coming years. "We both want a balance of leadership in the conference," Santos said. "It's very important that there is real integration and not just a few Hispanics in positions." Santos said Hispanics will feel more comfortable about seeking conference leadership roles as more receive Hispanic training from the Hispanic Institute and other sources. "The conference has the commitment, the structure is there, and all we have to do is integrate," he said. full story

Old and new come together at 2004 event
[April 16, 2004 {0059}]

LAKELAND - The Rev. Kevin James Sr. said he and the other members of the 2004 Committee on Annual Conference Program worked hard to get the agenda for the 2004 Florida Annual Conference Event just right. James is St. Petersburg District superintendent and dean of the Florida Conference Cabinet. The annual conference event is June 3-6 at Bethune-Cookman College (BCC) in Daytona Beach. Its theme is "A Light to the Nations." This year's event is being held outside Lakeland for the first time in many years. That's not the only difference, however. James said the conference, like some of the proposals to be presented during the event, is in transformation mode. "This is a period of transformation for the entire conference. We will be in a new location, in a new campus facility and doing annual conference in a new way. The proposals [coming before delegates] to restructure the conference is a sense of that newness," James said. This year will also offer delegates an opportunity to live their faith by taking part in a mini-Celebrate Jesus mission June 4. Delegates will canvass neighborhoods and business areas close to the college. Churches unable to participate are encouraged to donate bottled water, canned soft drinks and light bulbs needed for the mission, which will also include a Family Fun Day on Daytona Beach. Churches can set up booths and share their ministries, games or other activities. A live band and free hotdogs will complete the day. Other conference event highlights include: 1). Children's Harvest, which will assemble 5,000 school kits as part of the Council of Bishops' Initiative on Children and Poverty (BICAP) to benefit outreach ministries. Each church was also asked to raise at least $150 during a special Sunday offering; 2). Small group discussions for delegates before voting; and 3). Eastern Angola Annual Conference Bishop José Quipungo preaching June 3 during the communion service. Quipungo is working to make sure The United Methodist Church has a vital role in his country's future. The Florida Conference has vowed to help in that effort at the request of the United Methodist Council of Bishops. full story

Hungry children the focus of Florida legislation
[April 21, 2004 {0061}]

LAKELAND - Florida Conference Bishop Timothy W. Whitaker said local congregations should mobilize in support of Florida legislation that would provide a hot meal to more than one million needy children during the summer months. Whitaker and Representative Ron Greenstein (D-Ft. Lauderdale), Senator Steve Wise (R-Jacksonville) and Bishop Larry M. Goodpaster of the Alabama-West Florida Conference held a joint news conference at the Florida Capitol March 29 to highlight the Children's Summer Nutrition bill. Whitaker and Goodpaster attended as representatives of the United Methodist Council of Bishops' Initiative on Children and Poverty (BICAP) and concerned leaders of the state both bishops serve. The Alabama-West Florida Conference includes the area of Florida west of the Apalachicola River. The bill requires that at least one summer food program be operating in each school district for at least 40 days during the summer months and located within five miles of an elementary school where 50 percent or more children are eligible for free or reduced-price school meals by the summer of 2005. Whitaker said informed United Methodist Christians should educate themselves about the issue. "Local congregations should mobilize to reach out to children in their neighborhoods," Whitaker said. "Churches should care about the making of public policy." The program is not being implemented in some counties, and Whitaker encourages United Methodists to contact their superintendent of education to determine if their church could become a feeding site if a school or other organization is not willing to operate the feeding program. Whitaker also encouraged members to make sure they are doing everything in their power to ensure their churches are child-friendly and welcoming. He suggested using the "A Church for All God's Children" checklist as a guide, found at on the conference Web site    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.