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Giving to Children's Harvest, conference offering tops $100,000 mark (June 23, 2004)

Giving to Children's Harvest, conference offering tops $100,000 mark (June 23, 2004)

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

Giving to Children's Harvest, conference offering tops $100,000 mark

June 23, 2004    News media contact:  Michael Wacht*    
407-897-1140     Orlando  {0098}

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

LAKELAND — The Florida Conference Finance and Administration office has received more than $100,000 from local churches for the 2004 Children's Harvest and Florida Annual Conference Event offering, with more money continuing to arrive, according to Dr. Randy Casey-Rutland, the conference's treasurer.

Casey-Rutland said the annual conference event offering to date is $64,258, and the amount raised for the Children's Harvest is $50,307. Monies still arriving for Children's Harvest will be used for next year's mission.

The conference event offering will support ministry initiatives in the Eastern Angola Conference of the United Methodist Church, including completing the reconstruction of Quéssua United Methodist Church and providing community-based health care training for the conference.

It's part of Florida's partnership with that conference. Efforts began last year at the request of the Council of Bishops, which asked the Florida Conference to shift its attention to the Eastern Angola Conference after completing fund-raising for the Bishop Cornelius L. and Dorothye Henderson Secondary School in Mozambique.

This year's Children's Harvest will provide 5,000 school kits with backpacks to children reached by the Council of Bishops' Initiative on Children and Poverty and Florida Conference outreach ministries. Volunteers assembled a portion of the school kits June 3 at the annual conference event in front of the Wendell Holmes Building of Bethune-Cookman College in Daytona Beach, the site of this year's conference.

Jim Wilson, coordinator for Tampa United Methodist Centers, said assembling the kits the first day of annual conference went well. "It was a great ministry event," he said. "It was an opportunity for hands-on mission experience at annual conference."

Jill Williams, Children's Harvest's on-site volunteer coordinator, said more than 150 volunteers pitched in and assembled the kits in a short amount of time.

"We had a core group of United Methodist Women and youth groups," she said. "We were done by 3 p.m. We had dedicated participants who were very efficient. I don't think very many delegates had the opportunity to participate, they were so efficient. I think it was very successful."

The 1,500 kits assembled at annual conference will be equally distributed to Halifax Urban Ministries, Jacksonville Urban Ministries and Orlando Outreach Ministries.

The remaining 3,500 backpacks and school kit supplies will be distributed to Christians Reaching Out to Society, United Methodist Cooperative Ministries, Miami Urban Ministries, Wesley House, Florida United Methodist Children's Home, St. Petersburg United Methodist Cooperative Ministries and Tampa United Methodist Centers.

Wilson said the school kits, which would retail for $24 to $35, will be distributed to the ministries by the fall so children will have them before school starts. He said the kits cost about $8 to assemble and contained a Good News Testament. Somebody Cares Tampa Bay and Target provided the supplies at hugely discounted prices, he added.

"Children's Harvest practices good stewardship for producing a high quality product while using scare resources," he said. "It's been fine-tuned over the years."

Melba Whitaker, wife of Bishop Timothy W. Whitaker, has coordinated Children's Harvest for the past several years and led the Children's Harvest Team. The group decided to bring outreach ministry to each annual conference event as a way of highlighting the importance of missions.

At the 2002 Florida Annual Conference Event churches participated in Children's Harvest by donating 2,000 health kits, 730 school kits, more than 200 reams of paper and more than $7,300, which was distributed to Florida Conference outreach ministries and the Methodist Church of Haiti. In 2003, churches gave enough money to purchase 3,000 school kits for the Eastern Angola Conference.

To view daily photos of the 2004 Florida Annual Conference 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