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Florida delegates find different highlights at General Conference (May 3, 2004)

Florida delegates find different highlights at General Conference (May 3, 2004)

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

Florida delegates find different highlights at General Conference

May 3, 2004    News media contact:  Michael Wacht*    
407-897-1140     Orlando  {0066}

An e-Review Feature
By Michael Wacht*

PITTSBURGH - Florida Conference delegates consider the issues before them three days into the 2004 General Conference at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center here. Florida's delegation is among 998 delegates and more than 1,000 visitors from across the globe participating in the denomination's highest lawmaking assembly. The gathering ends May 7. Photo by Michael Wacht, Photo #04-0019.
PITTSBURGH  - Three days into the 2004 United Methodist General Conference, delegates have heard opening addresses by Mississippi Area Bishop Kenneth L. Carder and Gloria Holt, a lay person from the North Alabama Conference, heard information about a potential restructure of the general church from the General Council on Ministries, and learned about the financial situation from the General Commission on Finance and Administration.

Delegates have also begun to meet with their legislative committees to work through the thousands of pieces of legislation that will need to be resolved by the end of the day May 7.
In the course of 14-hour days and sometimes overwhelming workloads, Florida Conference delegates are finding different and personal highlights and inspiration at the United Methodist Church's highest lawmaking assembly.
The Rev. Dick Wills, senior pastor of Christ Church United Methodist in Ft. Lauderdale and head of the Florida Conference delegation, said his highlight so far was Holt's laity address.
"It was like a fresh wind of the Holy Spirit," Wills said. "It was very inspirational, passionate and pointed people to Jesus."
Joyce Waldon Bright, Orlando District lay leader and member of Ebenezer United Methodist Church, finds her inspiration in her committee meetings. Bright is part of the Faith and Order committee, which is dealing with issues including Christian unity, matters of doctrine and the church's stance on homosexuality.
"We have the opportunity to hear from persons from all over the country and the world," Bright said, adding the variety of voices is helping her move out of her personal point of view and take a broader look at the church and its issues. "This goes beyond inclusiveness."
The Rev. Jorge Acevedo, senior pastor of Grace United Methodist Church in Cape Coral, said his highlight has been reconnecting with clergy and lay friends, including colleagues from seminary and people he knew when he was a youth pastor.
"The strength of the United Methodist Church is the relational connection," Acevedo said. "At the heart of the Methodist movement is the connection, not the institutional, administrative dimension, but the matrix of interpersonal relationships with other Christ followers."
The delegation's youngest member, Allison Mitchell from Cocoa Beach, said so far she has enjoyed most the fellowship of her youth and young adult peers. She is excited about meeting new young people from across the denomination "who want to bring the voice of our generation" to General Conference.
Mitchell is working on the Discipleship committee, which is focusing on topics including plans for young adult and youth ministries.
The delegates' work at General Conference is just beginning, and delegates are optimistic their experience here will continue to provide highlights and memorable events.
"Wesley always said the best is yet to come," Wills said. "I hope the best hasn't already happened."

For additional coverage of the news and events taking place at General Conference visit the Florida Conference Web site at


This article relates to General Conference.

*Wacht is director of Florida United Methodist Communications and managing editor
of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service. He is also a member of the Florida Conference delegation.