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Opportunities — Feb. 3, 2005 {242}

Opportunities — Feb. 3, 2005 {242}

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

Opportunities — Feb. 3, 2005

Feb. 3, 2005    News media contact:  Michael Wacht*    
407-897-1140     Orlando  {0242}

An e-Review News Item

Healthy Church Academy offers lessons in transformation using NCD's eight characteristics

By the Rev. Dr. Larry Rankin**
LAKELAND — As congregations diagnose their health, pastors and lay leaders are asking, "If the conference is encouraging our church to be healthy, how do we go about doing it?"
Healthy Church Academy (HCA) offers learning for transformation for churches, laity and clergy. The first class HCA 101 "Growing a Healthy Church concluded January 29, at the Asbury Theological Seminary, Orlando with 27 conference lay and clergy leaders and 33 Asbury seminarians.

HCA is sponsored by the offices of New Church Development, Congregational Transformation and Connectional Ministries of the Florida Conference.

The prerequisite for taking HCA courses is that during 2005, learners must register for and take HCA 101 Growing a Healthy Church. However, learners can take other courses prior to taking one of two remaining offerings of HCA 101. Learners must register and make a deposit on either the March or September HCA 101 class, then they may register and attend other courses at any time in 2005.
HCA courses assist congregations in addressing the results of the "Congregational Category Survey," which measures the lifecycle of a church, and the "minimum factor" from the Natural Church Development (NCD) Eight Quality Characteristics survey. Pastors and lay leaders find guidance for planting new churches.

A list of HCA courses for 2005 and 2006 and how they relate to the NCD Eight Quality Characteristics and the life cycle of a church is available on the HCA Web site at The courses are also listed by numbers. By locating the quality characteristic that is the minimum factor of a church, church leaders choose the HCA courses relevant to their "minimum factor," then go to the Web site to find out more and register for those courses. Learners may browse and register for the courses of their choice online.  Location, lodgings, tuition and faculty are also listed. 

Courses only offered in 2006 include:
1. Empowering Leadership
HCA 101 Growing Healthy a Church
HCA 301 The Church Order vs. Disorder
HCA 302 Leading Change in the Church
HCA 401 Leadership Development
*HCA 901  Care of the Pastor

2. Gift-oriented ministry
HCA 201 Global Mission
*HCA 501 Making Disciples
HCA 1301 Stewardship

3. Passionate spirituality
HCA 1201 Spiritual Formation

4. Functional structures
HCA 301 The Church Order vs. Disorder
HCA 302 Leading Change in the Church
HCA 1001 New Church Planting Strategy
HCA 1002 Natural Planting Development
HCA 1101/1102 NCD Coaching Preparation
HCA 1302 Church Management

5. Inspiring worship service
HCA 801 Indigenous Worship

6. Holistic small groups
*HCA 501 Making Disciples
HCA 1201 Spiritual Formation

7. Need-oriented evangelism
HCA 201 Global Mission
*HCA 501 Making Disciples
*HCA 601 Outreach Methods
*HCA 701 Servant Evangelism
  HCA 1001 New Church Planting Strategy
  HCA 1002 Natural Planting Development

8. Loving relationships
HCA 201 Global Mission

NCD coaches, district superintendents and the offices of New Church Development and Congregational Transformation can recommend courses that benefit congregations with their transformation.

Courses coming up in February and March include: HCA 101 Growing a Healthy Church, HCA 301 The Church: Order vs. Disorder, HCA 302 Leading Change in the Church,  HCA 1301 Church Stewardship,  HCA 1302 Church Management and HCA 1201 Spiritual Formation and Disciplines. There is plenty of room. Registration is open by visiting the website or by calling the Dean's office, 1 800-282-8011, extension 131 or 182.

All courses are offered at least twice and meet at local church campuses across the state and the Life Enrichment Center. Each is taught by at least two faculty. One teaches theory and the other practical applications. Some of the faculty are members of the Asbury Theological Seminary Faculty and Adjunct Faculty, the rest are conference laity and clergy, with experience in their fields of study. A number of the courses will be offered in Spanish. Simultaneous translations in Creole are available by request. 

Additional courses will be added to meet the needs of the saints and the churches.   
Healthy Church Academy exists to serve the church of Jesus Christ in the Florida Annual Conference “by equipping congregations for the task of making disciples of Jesus Christ” (Conference Mission Statement).

Transform your life, transform your church, and register!

Conference Table examines cluster communities

By Michael Wacht*

ORLANDO — The 10th gathering of the Florida Conference's Conference Table is Feb. 26 from 9:30 a.m. until 2 p.m. at University Carillon United Methodist Church in Orlando.

This gathering will deal with establishing Cluster Communities in the Florida Conference. It is part of the Connecting for Transformation proposal approved at the 2004 Florida Annual Conference Event.

Lunch will be served. The cost is $7.

This gathering of the Conference Table will be the first broadcast live via the Internet. Anyone with a computer and broadband Internet connection will be able to view and participate in the Table discussions. This will open the conversation to laity and clergy throughout the conference without the time and expense of traveling.

For more information or to register visit

Clergy invited to visit Wesley sites on study retreat

By Retreat Coordinators

Mr. and Mrs. B.W. Simpkins, longtime United Methodist Christians, were impressed in a new way with the breadth of the Wesley family's influence during visits to Wesley sites in England. In response, they were determined to establish the Wesley Study Retreat.

As stated in the establishing resolution passed by the Florida Annual Conference in May 1991, "The purpose of this retreat would be to educate, inspire, and challenge clergy in the Florida Annual Conference to rediscover their understanding of the Wesley's, so as to better equip themselves for evangelistic outreach through proclamation and social action."

Through the Simpkins' gift, perpetual funding is provided for clergy and their spouses, if married, to travel to England to experience firsthand the Wesley's contribution to the Christian church. Mr. and Mrs. Simpkins believe the experience will enable clergy to capture the spirit of the Wesleys' evangelistic preaching, gifts and skills for themselves.

A selection committee appointed by the Wesley Study Retreat Trustees annually chooses as many as five clergy applicants to receive retreat scholarships. The scholarships cover most of the cost of transportation, hotels and meals for the 10-day trip for the clergy person and his or her spouse, if married. The cost of the trip is approximately $3,000 per person, and participants are asked to contribute $600 each toward the cost. In addition, each traveler is responsible for the cost of several meals not included and any incidental expenses.

The selection committee works to select representative applicants on the basis of age, years of service, gender and ethnic background, as well as expressed interest in and goals related to this type of educational experience. Applicants must have completed at least five years in full-time pastoral appointments and have at least five years of service remaining before retirement.

The schedule includes visits to selected Wesley sites of religious/historical interest, presentations and lectures, as well as ample unscheduled time for personal study, sightseeing and leisure. Additionally, the group leader will provide opportunities for devotional reflection and community building. Those wishing to earn continuing education credit may do so by submitting a written report to their district superintendent upon returning.

The retreat is scheduled between May and September. At least every two years the retreat is scheduled during the summer months, recognizing that many spouses are teachers or have other employment that could limit travel to those months. The deadline for application is March 1, and scholarship recipients will be notified by April 1. Application may be made online at by selecting the application link or by contacting the office of the Conference Registrar, P.O. Box 3767, Lakeland , FL 33802.

For more information contact the Rev. Jorge Acevedo at, the Rev. Dr. Keith Ewing at, Bishop Bob Fannin at, the Rev. Debbie McLeod at or the Rev. Phil Roughton at

Florida United Methodist Foundation seeks scholarship applicants

By Suzanne McGovern**

LAKELAND — The Florida United Methodist Foundation is accepting applications for the Sinclair Scholarship for United Methodist Youth.

The scholarship seeks to foster academic and spiritual growth for new generations of church leaders by helping high-potential United Methodist students attain a four-year undergraduate degree at a college or university in Florida.

Applicants must be full and active members of the United Methodist Church and must demonstrate strong academic ability and leadership in church and community activities. The deadline to apply is March 4.

Applicants must provide a copy of their high school transcript and an essay describing their involvement in church, community and school activities, plus three letters of recommendation, including one from the applicant's senior pastor, associate pastor or youth director. Application forms and complete scholarship guidelines are available at

The Sinclair Scholarship is endowed by a bequest from the estate of the late Aileen C. and Carson F. Sinclair, members of John Wesley United Methodist Church in Tallahassee. It is renewable for up to four years and currently assists students at Bethune-Cookman College, Florida Southern College and the University of Florida.

For more information visit the Web site or call 800-282-800, extension 106.

Georgia church offers mission trip to Brazil

By Janice Buchholz**

LAKELAND — Mount Zion United Methodist Church in Marietta, Ga., invites interested churches and individuals to join a mission trip to Recife, Brazil, to begin construction of a church for a vibrant congregation of 250 in an impoverished neighborhood. The total cost of the project is $110,000.

The first phase, beginning in April, is building the foundation of the church in the northeastern part of the country. In addition to construction, participants will probably also be involved in Vacation Bible School for children and lay leader training for adults. The trip is April 22 to May 1.

Commitment to participate must be made by Feb. 28. For more information contact Carol Yates at  770-642-0041 or

Christian groups focus National Advocacy Days on more complete vision of moral values

By the Rev. Leslie Tune**

WASHINGTON, D.C. — With a new presidential term, a new Congress and a renewed interest in how faith and politics intersect, hundreds of Christians are planning to descend on Capitol Hill for the third annual Ecumenical Advocacy Days for Global Peace with Justice, March 11-14.

More than 30 faith-based groups, including the United Methodist General Board of Church and Society, are sponsoring or supporting this year's Ecumenical Advocacy Days, which will provide church leaders, laypersons and others interested in advocacy with a mix of worship, music, prayer, issue briefings, plenary speakers and advocacy training workshops, capped with visits to U.S. Senators and Representatives or their key staff.

Participants will gather to assert to their representatives it is time for a new vision of U.S. policy that includes a much more complete understanding of moral values. During the last presidential election, media attention focused on moral issues related to abortion and same-sex marriage. This gathering affirms moral values include building a just global community that nurtures peace, alleviates poverty, and protects the integrity of God's creation.

"At this crossroad in our nation's history, it is critical that we speak out as people of faith against those things that we believe are immoral and sinful. We believe that the Bible clearly mandates that we act as peacemakers, uplift those who live in poverty and take care of God's creation," said Rev. Dr. Bob Edgar, General Secretary of the National Council of Churches USA. "We will be calling on lawmakers to enact foreign and domestic policies that reflect these moral imperatives."

The 2005 Ecumenical Advocacy Days will highlight the urgency of pursuing sensible and peaceful solutions to conflicts, as well as the need for aid, debt and trade policies that benefit impoverished people worldwide.

Bishop Vashti McKenzie, presiding bishop of the African Methodist Episcopal Church and the first woman to be elected to the bishop's council, and Elder Rick Ufford-Chase, moderator of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), are among the speakers who will address the cadre of Christian leaders and laypersons who are expected to participate in this event.

Also addressing the participants will be Dr. Maryann Cusimano Love, a professor at Catholic University of America and a U.S. foreign policy and international affairs expert; and, Baldemar Velasquez, the founder/president of the Farm Labor Organizing Committee, which recently settled a labor dispute with Mt. Olive Pickle Company following more than five years of public action.

This year's theme, "Make All Things New," is based on God's promise, as recorded in the Bible, "See, I am making all things new" (Revelation 21:5) - and is developed in eight learning tracks. Participants will attend workshops that examine U.S. policy, and the things that would make for renewal, regarding Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Latin America, global economic justice, global security, eco-justice and U.S. domestic issues.

In 2004, more than 600 advocates representing a wide range of churches and organizations worldwide gathered for Ecumenical Advocacy Days. Because of local, national and global crises, organizers are expecting an even stronger turnout this year.
Pastors, ministers, seminary students, laypersons and others in the faith community are invited to register. For more information and to register, go to, or email or call 202-544-2350.

Seminary offers day, evening for exploring degree programs

By Wesley Theological Seminary staff

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Wesley Theological Seminary invites individuals interested in exploring masters-level graduate programs to attend "Wesley Days" for prospective students March 16, 5-9 p.m., or April 5, 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. 

Persons not ready to choose a degree program may begin taking classes as non-degree "Special Students" and transfer the credit into a degree program. Persons hoping to begin their studies in the Fall 2005 semester are encouraged to apply early (by Feb. 15) for advantages in merit scholarship and specialized programs.
Wesley Days are opportunities for those who will be ordained elders or deacons and lay leaders in churches and other ministry settings to explore seminary education. Each day includes an overview of the various degree programs, financial assistance and admissions procedures. Prospective students can also attend a chapel service, talk with professors and current students, and tour the campus. 

The Wesley Days are free, but reservations are requested. To register or for additional information on academic programs contact Herbert Coleman, Director of Recruitment, Wesley Theological Seminary, 4500 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC  20016-5690; 202-885-8659 or toll free at 800-882-4987, extension 1; FAX: 202-885-8585; or

Wesley Theological Seminary is one of the largest of 13 United Methodist seminaries. It serves a student population that is diverse in both ethnicity and denominational affiliation. The majority of Wesley Seminary's students are candidates for the Master of Divinity degree, with ordained ministry as their vocational objective. Wesley also offers several special study options.

Upper Room Books provides Lent resources

By Upper Room Ministries Staff

The season of Lent is fast approaching. During this time of soul-searching and reflection, Upper Room Ministries recommends new resources for the journey.

The newest Lenten book is Peter Storey's "Listening at Golgotha: Jesus' Words from the Cross." Born out of Storey's ministry in South Africa, the book contains meditations on the seven times Christ spoke from the cross, reflection questions and prayers.

"Traveling the Prayer Paths of Jesus," a six-week study, helps group participants gain insight into the prayer life of Jesus by exploring the times and places in which he prayed.

Another six-week study, "Sensing the Passion," examines Christ's passion through the five senses and provides a fresh understanding of Jesus' last days and crucifixion.

These are only a few examples of Lenten resources offered by Upper Room Books. Order online through Feb. 11 to receive a 20 percent discount. Use code BKANN53. The offer is good for online purchases only.

For more information visit

Plan now to attend Family Camp
By Ed Cepull**

The Florida Conference Family Camp will offer its Presidents' Weekend Family Camp February 18-21 at the family campground across the road from the conference youth camp, adjacent to the Life Enrichment Center.

Some of the weekend events include a Gospel music program by Dan Schall from Pennsylvania; working on repairing, improving and maintaining the campground facilities; a Sunday pot-luck dinner; and a music program with a variety of songs by Mike Keedy from Bartow.

Camping fees are $13.25 per night for water and electric and $15.50 per night for full hookups.  The $5.00 registration fee is waived for first-time campers.

This event is one of the four family camping events sponsored each year by the Florida United Methodist Conference. One of the purposes of family camp is to provide an opportunity for worship, recreation, sharing, fellowship, and enjoyment of the outdoors with fellow Christians in an attractive, safe and clean setting. The four family camping events are held at the camp ground at Leesburg during the following long holiday lweekends: Presidents Day in February, Memorial Day in May, Labor Day in September and Thanksgiving in November.

For more information or to register contact Marietta King at 863-533-5769 or


*Wacht is director of Florida United Methodist Communications and managing editor
of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**Rankin is dean of the Florida Conference Healthy Church Academy. Cepull is Family Camp secretary. Buchholz is staff writer for e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service. McGovern is associate vice president, Planned Giving-Communications, for the Florida United Methodist Foundation. Tune is with the National Council of Churches.