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New Covenant United Methodist Church hosts district celebration

New Covenant United Methodist Church hosts district celebration

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

New Covenant United Methodist Church hosts district celebration

July 19, 2005    News media contact:  Tita Parham*    
800-282-8011     Orlando {0333} 

NOTE:  This article was produced by the Daily Sun and appeared in that publication July 11.

An e-Review Feature
By Glenda Sanders**

THE VILLAGES — The Mount Pleasant United Methodist Chuch Male Chorus sings a song during A Celebration of Worship July 10 for the North Central District at New Covenant United Methodist Church in The Villages. Photo courtesy of the Daily Sun, Photo #05-213.

THE VILLAGES — New Covenant United Methodist Church hosted a celebration of the newly formed North Central District of the Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church July 10, welcoming clergy and members from 96 churches and missions from Leesburg to Gainesville and Mt. Dora to the Gulf Coast.

Many of the churches involved in the celebration were instrumental in the founding of the New Covenant church during its formative stage.

"We're here as a church because of all these churches," said the Rev. Lois Barnum, associate pastor at New Covenant. "The exciting thing is that a new church can host such a gathering at a place they helped to build."

The two-hour service was a celebration of both the diversity and unity in the district, which includes small missions, as well as huge, established congregations and sizes in between.

The Rev. Pierre Jacques Jean-Gilles, pastor of a Haitian congregation that meets at First United Methodist Church of Eustis, offered a prayer in French Creole, and the Rev. Eduardo Cortez read a passage from Romans in Spanish.

"It is always good to know that God hears us in our native language," said the Rev. Geraldine W. McClellan, district superintendent. "What a joy it is to be in this district."

McClellan challenged those assembled to identify the individual gifts offered to them by God and use those gifts for the church.

"We have many gifts, only one body," she said of the district. "We are called to use those gifts. This is not a job for the Lone Ranger."

She pointed out that even the Lone Ranger was not alone, but worked with his friend, Tonto. "No single person can do the work of God all alone," McClellan said.

McClellan said God's gifts are often taken for granted, but that to truly worship God, individuals must offer their gifts back to God.

"The body (of the church) is only complete when all of us put our gifts to use," she said. "A healthy church is made up of many kinds of people with many different gifts. What we do share is deeper than anyone can imagine. God can use us in a mighty way, but he can only use us if we are willing to be used."

An outstanding program of music included soloist Jan Lavin and clarinetist Bob Watkins from New Covenant and several performances by the Mount Pleasant United Methodist Church Male Chorus. Directed by Blanch Jackson-Robbins, the chorus led into McClelland's inspirational speech with a rousing rendition of "Please Order My Steps, Lord" and an impressive solo by Rudy Porter.

The Rev. Mike Fordham, pastor of Community United Methodist Church in Fruitland Park, said the newly formed district celebrated "a new beginning in a new church."

Fordham noted the way that diversity in size and culture within the district were acknowledged in the service.

"The diversity we have — they really celebrated that well," Fordham said.

"The only thing we can say is, 'Wow!' " said the Rev. Gary Bullock, senior pastor at New Covenant. "We are pleased to have all these folks here."

Glenda Sanders is a features writer with the Daily Sun. She can be reached at 753-1119, extension 9245, or at


This article relates to Conference Transformation.

*Parham managing editor of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**Glenda Sanders is features writer with the Daily Sun.