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2004 Florida Annual Conference Event begins at Bethune-Cookman College (June 3, 2004)

2004 Florida Annual Conference Event begins at Bethune-Cookman College (June 3, 2004)

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

2004 Florida Annual Conference Event begins at Bethune-Cookman College

June 3, 2004    News media contact:  Michael Wacht*    
407-897-1140     Orlando  {0085}

Conference begins with separate sessions for clergy and laity.

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

DAYTONA BEACH — Blue skies and crowded parking lots greeted attendees at the 2004 Florida Annual Conference Event here in Daytona Beach.

The annual gathering began today at Bethune-Cookman College (BCC) and will end Sunday.

The theme is “A Light to the Nations,” honoring Eastern Angolan Bishop José Quipungo who is visiting the conference and preaching at the worship services tonight and tomorrow. Florida and Eastern Angola established a relationship through the Council of Bishops’ Initiative on Children and Poverty and Hope for the Children of Africa that officially began in January 2003 when a three-person team from the Florida Conference traveled to Angola for two weeks. Tonight’s offering will go to help the Eastern Angola Conference.

The theme also focuses the conference on its call to servant ministry.

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 was held at the Lakeland Center. This year Florida’s United Methodists are spending time on the campus of Florida’s other denominationally-related school, BCC. The event’s plenary sessions are taking place in BCC’s new Performing Arts Center.

The clergy and laity sessions began at 10 a.m. inside the Performing Arts Center. The clergy session was closed to the public.

Terrell Sessums, conference lay leader, welcomed the laity, and singer Paulette Monroe led participants in singing “This is the Day,” “Surely the Presence” and other hymns.

Gail Christy-Jones, president of Florida Conference United Methodist Women, led the morning prayer and Mary Alice Massey, delegate to the 2004 General Conference and former Florida Conference lay leader, gave a brief overview on how to be recognized by Florida Conference Bishop Timothy W. Whitaker during the plenary sessions.

Russell Graves presented the Board of Lay Ministry officers to be elected during the session. Elected without opposition or discussion were William (Bill) Fackler, Jacksonville, secretary; Aggie Reed, Miami, treasurer; Donna Maynard, St. Petersburg, female representative of a conference committee; Robert (Bob) Grizzard, Lakeland, male representative of a conference committee; John Dowell, Tampa, older adult representative and Emily Bell, Tampa, youth representative.

2004 General Conference delegates Joseph Ha, Betty Sue Mason, Nelida Morales and Bill Walker gave a brief overview of the committees on which they served during the recent quadrennial gathering and legislation that was passed during the event. There was a brief question and answer period following their reports.

Fabolon Pradel, a laity delegate and member of Grace Haitian United Methodist Church, said after the laity session he was most interested in the church’s stance on homosexuality affirmed at General Conference and was taking notes to share with his church members when he returned home. He said it was his first visit to the campus and thought it was “beautiful.”

Equally impressed with the campus was Ella Jones, a lay delegate and member of Trinity United Methodist Church. “It’s very nice here,” Jones said. “I think this is going to be a good conference. I’m excited to be here.”

To view daily photos of the event’s activities and business 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