Main Menu

Opportunities — Feb. 18, 2005 {0251}

Opportunities — Feb. 18, 2005 {0251}


Opportunities — Feb. 18, 2005

Feb. 18, 2005    News media contact:  Tita Parham*    
407-897-1140     Orlando  {0251}

An e-Review News Item

United Methodist Cooperative Ministries celebrates 30th anniversary with annual praise concert

By Kennesha N. Buycks**
CLEARWATER — United Methodist Cooperative Ministries (UMCM), in celebration of 30 years of service to the Clearwater and Tampa areas, will host its Second Annual Praise Concert Feb. 25, 7-9 p.m., at Anona United Methodist Church in Largo.

The two-hour concert, featuring God's Country, Acts 29, Generation and The Ninevah Project, four local musical groups, will benefit UMCM's mission work throughout Pinellas and Pasco counties.

"This is our kick-off event for our 30th-year anniversary. The concert features wonderful musical groups from various churches. Everyone is invited! All donations will go toward maintaining our dozen programs that will help persons most in need in our local communities," Executive Director Donna Ratzlaff said. "Last fiscal year UMCM provided care for over 12,000 individuals, thanks to church and community support and the hard work of 1,130 volunteers."
This year's concert celebrates the accomplishments of UMCM during the past year and recognizes the devotion and great undertaking volunteers, staff and community members have dedicated to the ministry over the years.

"UMCM was begun by several pastors who believed that United Methodist churches working together could have a tremendous impact on our community in bringing about 'social holiness' in a way that could not be accomplished individually," Ratzlaff said.

In keeping with the vision of the ministry's founders, UMCM has formed partnerships with many civic and other nonprofit organizations, such as Coordinated Child Care, READ Pinellas, St. Vincent de Paul Society, Asian Neighborhood Family Center, Pinellas County WORKNET and others that share the common goal of eradicating illiteracy, homelessness, powerlessness and hopelessness.

Because of UMCM's commitment to excellence and service during the past 30 years, more than 100,000 people have been touched by the dedication of program volunteers like Christopher Lee, a current Children of the World Preschool volunteer.

"Volunteering here is a great way to give back to the community and to become a better person as a whole," Lee said.

In July, the current St. Petersburg District will become part of a new district called Gulf Central. UMCM will then expand its services to 14 counties, reaching as far as Crystal River and Bradenton.

"God counts on people to bring God's love and help to communities," Ratzlaff said. "That's what our various programs all strive to do — build bridges between diverse groups and transform lives by sharing God's love with all people, person-to-person, church-to-church, community-to-community."
UMCM was founded in 1975. It provides direct social services, ranging from ministries to the homeless to a variety of educational opportunities for refugees, immigrants and school children in Pinellas and West Pasco counties. The mission of UMCM is to assist and support local United Methodist Churches "... in ministry in their communities and to give expression to the love and compassion of our Lord Jesus Christ to persons facing adversity in life ... through service, advocacy and education."

For more information about UMCM and its ministries visit its Web site at Anona United Methodist Church, the concert location, is located at 13233 Indian Rocks Road, Largo



Spiritual Formation team offers next monthly gathering, Five Day Academy

By Tita Parham*

ORLANDO — Conference laity and clergy are invited to attend the March session of the newly formed Spiritual Formation monthly gatherings, as well as the fifth annual Five Day Academy in April, both coordinated by the Florida Conference Spiritual Formation Team.

The upcoming monthly session, "A Day of Silence," is March 18 and will be facilitated by Charles Butler.

The monthly sessions are designed to inform and/or transform individuals who intentionally desire spiritual growth/formation. Each session is held from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Life Enrichment Center (LEC) in Leesburg. The cost is $30, and participants are asked to bring their lunch.

The fifth annual Five Day Academy for Spiritual Formation is April 24-29 at the LEC. This year's academy will focus on recovery for people spiritually drained by hurricane storm recovery.

The academy is a time of spiritual renewal and discovery through academic presentation, personal reflections and communal sharing; an opportunity for intentional spiritual growth in a disciplined, accepting community; a sharing of spiritual growth in covenant groups; and a time for healing, according to academy literature.

Presenters are Dick and Elise Eslinger, who will speak on the topics "The Community of Hebrews and the Community of Today" and "Worship and Eucharistic Spirituality," respectively.

Dick Eslinger is professor of worship and preaching at United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio, and director of the Center for Worship, Preaching and the Arts. He is author of seven books on preaching, including the most recent, "The Web of Preaching," and has served as pastor of several local churches and on staff of the General Board of Discipleship in the area of worship.

Elise Eslinger is director of United Theological Institute for Applied Theology, including outreach and continuing education, and United Seminary's Institute for Applied Theology, which includes centers for worship, urban outreach, leadership formation and continuing education for ministry. She has also served on the staffs of the Florida Conference and General Board of Discipleship in the worship area and in local churches in music and worship.

Registration is limited to 65 participants. The total cost is $525, which includes tuition, meals and lodging in single occupancy rooms, with bath and all linens provided.
To register for the monthly gathering, contact Carol Sue Hutchinson at For more information about the gatherings visit To register for or for more information about the Five Day Academy visit or contact Hutchinson by e-mail or at 800-282-8011, extension 140.
To share ideas or volunteer to serve contact Martha Clark, Spiritual Formation team leader, at or 813-988-4655 or Dr. Trudy Corry Rankin, coordinator of the Formation gatherings, at or 863-682-2810.



Conference offers scholarships for students

By e-Review Staff

ORLANDO — The Board of Higher Education and Campus Ministry is offering two scholarships to active United Methodist Church members who will be in college or seminary this year. The scholarships are the Conference Merit and McMurray awards.

The Conference Merit Award must be given to a Florida United Methodist student who plans to attend or attends a United Methodist-related college, university or seminary. The McMurray Award may be given to a Florida United Methodist student who plans to attend or attends any institution of higher education. 

The scholarship committee will review the applications and base their decision on grade-point average, community and church service, career choices, recommendations, student's comments and financial need. For the past several years, the scholarship committee has awarded five to six scholarships of $500 to $1,500 each.

Please visit the Florida Conference Web site at and click the link for Connectional Ministries, then the link for the Board of Higher Education and Campus Ministry. A PDF of the application is available for download at

For more information contact Kelly Moore in the Higher Education and Campus Ministry office at 800-282-8011, extension 132, or



Tampa church serves as site for 'Contagious Church' conference

By Tita Parham*

ORLANDO — Van Dyke United Methodist Church in Tampa is a host site of one of six "Contagious Church" Conferences scheduled this year.

The conference is offered through the Willow Creek Association and will be held at the Tampa church April 15-16.

The event is designed to help lay and clergy leaders "communicate your faith naturally and effectively, help your church become more evangelistic — no matter its size, style or location, and catch a vision for purposefully growing a church that reaches friends, neighbors, coworkers and family members," according to conference literature.

Speakers include: Mark Mittelberg, executive director of evangelism for the Willow Creek Association, co-author of "Becoming a Contagious Christian" and author of "Building a Contagious Church;" Garry Poole, key evangelism leader at Willow Creek Community Church, author of "Seeker Small Groups" and the "Tough Questions" series and co-author of "Experiencing the Passion of Jesus;" Ricky Bolden, former lineman with the Cleveland Browns, chaplain for several NFL teams, conference speaker and national trainer of the "Becoming a Contagious Christian" course; and Thor Ramsey, Christian comedian and "family-friendly entertainer."

The conference kick offs with a session titled "The World's Greatest Cause: Why Nothing Matters More Than Reaching Lost People" by Bill Hybels, founding and senior pastor of Willow Creek Community Church near Chicago, Ill., and author of "Courageous Leadership" and "The Volunteer Revolution."

For pricing and more information contact Jodi Carroll, executive director of communications at Van Dyke United Methodist Church, at or 813-963-3983, extension 138, or visit



Training event aims at changing church lifestyles

LAKE JUNALUSKA, N.C. — "Living Our Promise," an Igniting Ministry training event, aimed at helping local United Methodist congregations learn about marketing themselves and honing their welcoming skills, will be held May 20-21 at The Good Word Resource Center, Lake Junaluska.

The training session offers three training tracks, using the resources and ideas of The United Methodist Church's Igniting Ministry media campaign. A unique feature of the event at Lake Junaluska is the opportunity for church leaders to attend either Friday or Saturday and cover the same material. Churches may also attend both days, gathering information from different tracks on each day.

"These training options will help more of our churches connect with Igniting Ministry and equip a greater number of local congregations to effectively share messages of hope, comfort and inspiration in their communities," said the Rev. Larry Hollon, top executive of United Methodist Communications, which coordinates the campaign and the training sessions.

Leading the session is the Rev. Larry Homitsky, Council Steward of the Western Pennsylvania Annual Conference; Dawn M. Hand, director of communication for the Western North Carolina Annual Conference; and Emily Reece, national training manager for Igniting Ministry at United Methodist Communications.

"Living up to the promise of 'Open hearts. Open minds. Open doors.' takes constant effort and attention," said Loy Lilley, director of the Good Word Resource Center and local host for the event. "Church leaders who want to motivate their congregations to keep reaching out into the community with active welcoming and inviting ministries will find support and lots of ideas at this event."

The three tracks allow churches to participate in the event regardless of previous knowledge or experience with the ministry. Each person attending will choose one track per day, starting in the morning and concluding in the afternoon. Those attending both days can participate in one track Friday and another Saturday. Teams can maximize their participation by attending all three tracks across the two days of the event.

The tracks are:

n Starting Out — includes an overview of the basics of welcoming, inviting and discipling. It also introduces the campaign's "Planning Kit," a collection of resources intended to guide a congregation in setting up a local advertising and welcoming effort.

n Moving On — offers existing Igniting Ministry teams and leaders new ideas, plans and training options and introduces a small-group video study series, "Beyond 30 Seconds: Developing a Welcoming Congregation."
n Living Up — is aimed at helping churches interested in reshaping their community identity find ways, individually and corporately, to live up to the "open hearts, open minds, open doors" promise expressed in the denomination's commercials.

Local churches are encouraged to send a minimum of three church leaders, including the pastor, to the sessions. The registration fee is $40 for each participating congregation, which covers the cost of one or both days. There is also a $15 per person, per day charge for lunch and snacks. The deadline for registration is May 6.

Those interested in securing overnight accommodations at Lake Junaluska in conjunction with this event may call 888-222-4930. Mention "Igniting Ministry" when making room reservations to receive special event pricing for rooms. All lodging reservations must be made by April 20.
Igniting Ministry is designed to support and encourage local churches to become active partners in reaching out to unchurched people and creating renewed enthusiasm among members. The May 2004 General Conference authorized United Methodist Communications to continue coordinating Igniting Ministry and creating the commercials being used.

More information on the training event and additional components of the effort are available from the Web site at or the Igniting Ministry offices at 877-281-6535.



Children's Home opens doors for visitors

By Tita Parham*

ORLANDO — The Florida United Methodist Children's Home invites members of the Leesburg, Tampa and St. Petersburg districts to its Day On Campus March 19.

Each year the Children's Home invites Florida United Methodists to the campus to meet staff and residents, tour the campus, enjoy a program of music presented by the children and have lunch together.

The Day on Campus are rotated among the conference's districts enabling all Florida United Methodists to see one of their United Methodist ministries in action.

For more information church members in the designated districts should contact their minister or church Children's Home representative or the Children's Home at 386-668-5088.



Mission trip to Bahamas open to conference

By Tita Parham*

ORLANDO — Interested individuals are invited to participate in a one-week mission trip to Eleuthera, Bahamas, April 2-9. Organizers are planning to take 12 to 15 people "for our first trip."

The cost is projected to be approximately $895. Participants are being accepted on a first-come basis.

Interested individuals should contact Dan Markle at 239-466-7484 or the Rev. David Beers, Florida United Methodist Volunteers In Mission coordinator, at 305-247-3769 or



Arts at St. Johns presents next events

By J.A. Buchholz**

LAKELAND — The Arts at St. Johns, located at St. John's Church, 4760 Pinetree Drive in Miami Beach, is designed to encourage, present and provide a forum for all forms of the arts, with a special emphasis on the diverse traditions of the communities in South Florida and the newly emerging art forms that represent the blending of cultures, races, beliefs and ethnicities in the global community.

It also works to encourage the arts as a medium for bringing social, spiritual and personal healing transformation and reconciliation.

Upcoming events include:

Actors Night Out with the Fantasy Theatre Factory March 7 and 8, 8 p.m. Local actors will read scenes from selected plays. There is no charge.

"All Dressed up and Somewhere to Go" Miami Gay Men's Chorus March 18, 8 p.m. The cost is $15 to $55. For more information visit

Third annual Women and Culture Festival, co-sponsored by Community Arts & Culture and Amnesty International, March 26, 4-10 p.m.

Concert with Generica, early French and Spanish renaissance music, March 31, 8:30 p.m. The cost is $15.

For more information call Mo Morgen at 305-751-0501or visit



Epworth Elderhostel offers study of the Wesleys

By Cindy Doehring**

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. — Epworth by the Sea, the Methodist Conference Center for the South Georgia Conference, is offering "The Wesleys in Colonial Georgia: St. Simons Island and Savannah" March 6-11.

The session examines the life of John Wesley, emphasizing his work in Georgia from Savannah to St. Simons Island. Participants are invited to take a St. Simons Tour and discover where Wesley lived and ministered, as well as spend a day in Savannah to see where he landed and served the new colony.

The Rev. R. Harold Hipps of Nashville, Tenn., who has served on the staff of the General Board of Education of the United Methodist Church for 25 years, will lead the study.

A second course will explore great hymns of the faith, including many written by Charles Wesley, as participants examine hymn texts and participate in group singing. The Rev. Ken Fansler and Director Mary Lu Norris of South Carolina will lead this experience.

Tuition is $465 and $530 for double and single occupancy, respectively. The program number is 8165. To register, call 877-426-8056 and provide the program number and date.

For questions about Epworth by the Sea programs contact Cindy Doehring at Epworth at 912-638-8688 or or visit the Epworth Web site at




*Parham is managing editor of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**Buycks provides communication support for United Methodist Cooperative Ministries. Doehring is Elderhostel director at Epworth by the Sea Methodist Conference Center, St. Simons Island, Ga. Buchholz is a staff writer for e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service