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Opportunities — July 22, 2005 {0335}

Opportunities — July 22, 2005 {0335}

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

Opportunities — July 22, 2005

July 22, 2005    News media contact:  Tita Parham*    
800-282-8011     Orlando {0335} 

An e-Review News Item

Tampa church hosts Companions in Christ leader training event

By Ann Lee Earnshaw**

TAMPA — The Companions in Christ series is holding a one-day training event for leaders Aug. 6, 8:15 a.m. to 3:45 p.m., at Hyde Park United Methodist Church here.

The training provides leaders with an in-depth experience of the 28-week resource and trains them in the distinctive leadership skills needed when leading formational groups.

The series from Upper Room Ministries brings a transforming small-group experience to congregations. The majority of in-depth Christian studies offer knowledge about scripture, prayer or other areas of faith, but the Companions in Christ series provides a journey into the essential elements of the Christian faith by inviting participants into a deeper experience of the Christian life.

As the journey unfolds, participants discover classic and contemporary spiritual practices that enrich their interaction with scripture, prayer, God's call and spiritual guidance. The practices form, rather than inform, participants and encourage them in inner and outward expressions of faith.

For more information or to register visit

Retreats provide relief for clergy families working with hurricane recovery

By Tita Parham

ORLANDO — Three major hurricanes hit the state nearly a year ago, but clergy families still working to help people in their communities recover have a chance for some respite.

Shade and Fresh Water is offering three "Safe and Protected Space" retreats for clergy families in the midst of recovery from hurricanes Charley, Frances and Jeanne. They will be held at the Life Enrichment Center in Leesburg Sept. 9-12, Oct. 28-31 and Nov. 11-14.

The retreats are a time for clergy and their families to join others who have experienced the same storm in a time of sharing, support, prayer, creative expression and restoration in order to be renewed for continued service. Five retreats have been held to date.

"What was good about the weekend was that we were allowed to specify what our needs were and to take as much down time as we wanted, without expectations to conform to a prefabricated agenda," a participant of a previous retreat said. "At least three of the four participating were exhausted. ... The Holy Spirit broke through with wisdom and insight where I needed it most. ... The Holy Spirit showed up, and there is not much more that we can ask for than that!"

The retreats can accommodate members from eight clergy families — the pastor by him- or herself, the pastor and spouse, or the clergy family. Participants will arrive for dinner on Friday and return home midday on Monday. 

Shade and Fresh Water is a ministry of the Florida Conference that provides opportunities for individuals and their families who are professionally associated with the Florida Conference to have a time away for restoration of body, mind and spirit. Shade and Fresh Water currently serves individuals and families through four ministry areas: personal retreats, relocation workshops and retreats, divorce in the clergy family and clergy kids.
For more information contact Trudy Corry Rankin at 863-682-2810 or

Men have chance to grow, get away

By Tita Parham

ORLANDO — The Florida Conference United Methodist Men are providing an opportunity for men to focus on their spiritual growth during any of three upcoming retreats.

Themed "Why Me? Why Now?" the retreats will be held at the Life Enrichment Center (LEC) in Leesburg Oct. 7-9, 14-16 and 21-23.
The retreats provide "an opportunity for Christian men to get away from their routines, be in the company of other Christian men and be filled with the Holy Spirit through uplifting music and messages by people who have a pretty good idea of what we all face on a daily basis," according to retreat literature.

The retreats feature personal morning devotions, enrichment sessions, music, times for prayer and leisure activities.

The cost for the program, five meals and lodging is $115 per person at the LEC or $99 per person at the Warren W. Willis youth camp. Participants may also stay at the Family Campground for a $25 per person registration fee, plus $31 per camp site. Meals are not included. Those staying offsite pay $25, not including meals.

For more information, including a listing of leaders for each retreat, and to download a registration form visit or call 877-815-3692.

Disciple Bible Study training offered in Tampa

By Sue Barnes**

TAMPA — Cokesbury is offering one-day and two-day Disciple training seminars in Tampa at Hyde Park United Methodist Church Aug. 11-12.

One-day training seminar options include three programs: Disciple 1: "Becoming Disciples Through Bible Study," an in-depth 34-week study of the Bible on Aug. 12; "Christian Believer," a 30-week study of the classical doctrines of the Christian Faith on Aug.11; and "Jesus in the Gospels," a concentration on the portraits of Jesus that emerge from the four Gospels on Aug.12. 

Clergy and laity interested in leading one of these programs at their church are encouraged to attend.

A two-day training seminar option for Disciple 1 is also available Aug. 11-12. This longer training is designed for those who have never participated in the Disciple program or who would like a more hands-on training experience.

Each one-day seminar is $100, and the two-day Disciple 1 seminar is $150. All seminars include lunch and training materials.

Disciple, now in its 18th year, has reached more than 1.5 million people worldwide. Disciple begins with a 34-week foundation study, "Becoming Disciples through Bible Study," and continues with the second, third and fourth Disciple phases, each going deeper into selected portions of the Bible.

The Disciple study encourages members to bring their experiences and struggles to scripture; develops a congregation nourished by scripture and committed to live as disciples; shapes a congregation's identity as people of God through a shared knowledge and understanding of the whole biblical story; and connects the biblical story to a congregation's ministry and mission.

For more information about Disciple or to register for training visit or call 800-251-8591.

Churches encouraged to participate in Purpose Driven campaigns

By Rev. Robert Driver-Bishop**

LAKE FOREST, Calif. — The Purpose Driven campaigns are working, and they have the numbers to prove it.

More than 2,000 United Methodist churches have now participated in the 40 Days of Purpose campaign. Results show attendance, number of new small groups, ministry involvement and tithing increasing by 20 percent, 59 percent, more than 18 percent and 20 percent, respectively. They stand in stark contrast to national polls indicating many established churches are in decline.

40 Days of Purpose is not a program to fill up space on an already cluttered church calendar. The campaign is a process of establishing a Biblical foundation for church health that has a lasting impact on congregations participating in a campaign, their communities and the Kingdom of God. It is designed to help members discover their real purpose in life, leading to a new sense of community and desire to serve each other.
The Purpose Driven Web site at provides examples of what God is doing at churches throughout the country that are embracing the simple message, "A great commitment to the Great Commandment (Matt. 22:37-40) and the Great Commission (Matt. 28:19-20) will produce a great church."

Purpose Driven ministries now provides campaign materials supporting the United Methodist common lectionary cycle. A complete campaign description and video are available at A list of United Methodist churches that have participated in the campaign is also available at

Churches that have completed the 40 Days of Purpose are encouraged to investigate the next step, 40 Days of Community, at

Interested churches may register for 40 Days of Purpose online at for $400. United Methodist conferences that fully support the campaign can receive much lower rates.
The 40 Days of Purpose fall campaign date is Oct. 8, and the registration deadline is July 29.

Discounts available for Purpose Driven resources

By Rev. Kendall Taylor**

LAKELAND — Purpose Driven Ministries of Saddleback Church is offering discount pricing to United Methodist congregations for its complete resource kit for 40 Days of Purpose and/or 40 Days of Community.

The normal cost of 40 Days of Purpose for a church with an average of 200 in worship is $500. The price when registering for the following campaigns using the codes provided is $100.

n October 2005: Oct. 8-Nov. 20; register by July 29; code - 20UNMETH.

n January 2006: Jan. 15-Feb. 26; register by Nov. 4; code - 154UNMETH.

n February 2006: Feb. 26-April 9; register by Dec. 16; code - 147UNMETH.

n April 2006: April 30-June 11; register by Feb. 17; code - 155UNMETH.
The special pricing for 40 Days of Community is $300 per church using the following codes: September 2005 - 54UNMETH; October 2005 - 56UNMETH; January 2006 - 148UNMETH; February 2006 - 150 UNMETH; and April 2006 - 151UNMETH.

For more information and to register online, go to

Seminar provides in-depth opportunity to view NCD

By ChurchSmart Resources Staff
LAKELAND — Church leaders are encouraged to participate in the "Color Your World with NCD" seminar Oct. 7.

Christian Schwarz, the developer of Natural Church Development (NCD), will lead the seminar at Peace United Methodist Church, 13502 Town Loop Blvd, Orlando, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Check-in is 8-9 a.m.

Schwarz will be traveling to Orlando and seven other U.S. cities to share what God is doing around the world through Natural Church Development (NCD) principles. NCD coaches, pastors of churches that have utilized the NCD process, individuals who serve on a church health team or anyone interested in learning about the NCD process should attend this half-day seminar.

In 1996 ChurchSmart Resources introduced NCD. Initial research identified eight characteristics of healthy churches, a key element of the NCD process. It was determined that healthy churches were growing churches and churches could improve their health dramatically by working to improve the one characteristic of the eight that needed the most improvement - their minimum factor.

As of December 2004 ChurchSmart Resources has collected data in 30 languages from 60 countries, surveyed more than 35,000 churches and one million participants, and received more than 95 million responses. The conclusions are the same as discovered from the initial research, but in addition to research data ChurchSmart has complied a collection of stories and testimonials of how God is changing lives and churches around the world.

Schwarz says: "What is the church? The church is people. What determines the health of the church? The health is expressed through the heads, hands and hearts of those people. How can we increase the health of a church? By enhancing the health in our heads, our hands, and our hearts."

The purpose of this seminar is: to bring the stories to life, to examine how people can be drawn closer to the triune God, and for participants to experience all that God has planned for his or her life. Participants will learn how to motivate and mobilize their fellow church members to apply the NCD principles in their personal lives, their small groups and, ultimately, in the life of the church.

Each participant will receive a free copy of "Color Your World with Natural Church Development." It approaches discipleship through three complementary modes of experiencing God.

The book will not be available for sale to the general public until after the October tour is completed. Special quantity discounts will be given on orders placed at the seminars.

The cost of the seminar is $20, which includes the program book. The seminar is limited to 350 participants

Register by phone at 800-253-4276 or on line at

National Council of Churches seeks signatures to protest Darfur genocide
By J.A. Buchholz**
NEW YORK — The National Council of Churches (NCC) is striving to gather 400,000 signatures to protest government-sponsored genocide in Darfur.

According to a release posted on the NCC Web site, an estimated 400,000 people have died in Darfur since 2003. More than 2.5 million have lost their homes during destruction of villages by government forces. In September 2004, the Bush Administration described the situation in Darfur as genocide.
The NCC, along with Africa Action, Save Darfur and other humanitarian groups, is calling upon the United States to act now to help end the violence and deterioration of the country. The groups have set a goal of gathering 400,000 signatures by Sept. 9 — a year after President George Bush declared genocide is taking place in Darfur.

The NCC urges people to send a message to President Bush at to remind him of the desperate need for U.S. intervention.
The NCC, founded in 1950, is the leading force for ecumenical cooperation among Christians in the United States. The NCC's 36 Protestant, Anglican and Orthodox member denominations include 45 million persons in more than 100,000 local congregations in communities across the nation.

GBGM hopes program will create friendships and mission experiences
By Kelly Martini**

NEW YORK — The Women's Division and Mission Volunteers of the General Board of Global Ministries (GBGM) are forming a partnership that will enable women from the United States to build friendships and experience mission for one to two weeks in Zimbabwe, Uruguay, Cambodia, Sierra Leone or Cote D'Ivoire.

The goal of the program, called Ubuntu eXplorers, is to enable women from the United States to understand and share the daily life, struggles, culture, challenges and opportunities of women from one of these countries. It will give members from the one-million member United Methodist Women a first-hand look at the programs and projects supported by their annual giving of approximately $20 million.

The program will begin April 2006 with a first trip to Zimbabwe. Trips to Uruguay in August and Cambodia in September will follow. In 2007, trips will be made to Sierra Leone and Cote D'Ivoire.

"Ubuntu" is an African word and proverb meaning, "I am human because you are human." According to Ubuntu psychology, "Sharing ourselves and our gifts with others optimizes our collective and individual humanity. Even in the sharing and the giving, the individual or 'other' group receives the gifts and the glories of humanity."

Jeanie Blankenbaker, assistant general secretary for Mission Volunteers, says the idea of Ubuntu eXplores came as an answer to a prayer from Grace Musuka, coordinator of women's work for The United Methodist Church in Zimbabwe.

"A couple of years ago, Grace asked me if it would be possible sometime for just women to come to Zimbabwe to worship with her women, to share in laughter and cry in sadness, to enjoy each others' company in Christian love, as sisters of faith, letting the women in Zimbabwe know they were not alone," Blankenbaker explained. "When we called Grace to ask if she'd still like us to come, she immediately said, 'Can you come yesterday?'

"To see this come to fruition through the Ubuntu Explorers, not only in Zimbabwe, but in other sites ... is exciting and a wonderful testament to United Methodist Women," she says. "We look forward to this partnership with the Women's Division and United Methodist Women."

Karen Prudente, executive for international opportunities with the Division, said grassroots women's organizations, supported by United Methodist Women, will host the visitors. 

"Participants will learn about the cultures of the area, travel, pray, sing, cry, teach, work, listen and tell stories, and engage as Christian sisters," she explained. "They will visit and have a mission experience at institutions such as schools, clinics, women's training centers, hospitals, nurseries."

The experiences will differ depending on the trip chosen.

"Ubuntu eXplorer volunteers might teach at a workshop where local women exchange tips on Bible Study and devotions, basic health and nutrition, artisan crafts, singing and liturgical dance," Prudente said. "Ubuntu eXplorers will be asked upon their return to share their mission and faith experience with their local church, UMW unit, district, conference, schools of Christian mission, work location and other organizations."

Team leaders for the first three pilot programs have been selected by the Division and Mission Volunteers, and team members of 10-12 women from across the United States, with at least one young adult member, will be recruited. Before the trip, team members will have a day of orientation in New York City. 

Costs will be less than $2,500 (inclusive of airfare, local transfer and immigration fees, room and board, local host arrangements and workshop expenses, and a $200 registration fee toward a pooled fund for Ubuntu scholarships). Additionally, team members will be asked to provide one suitcase of resource materials suggested by the host organization.

For more information and registration forms, go to or Interested women may also call Mission Volunteers at 212-870-3825 or the Women's Division at 212-870-3911.

The Mission Volunteers program area provides support and resources for all global mission volunteer programs, including United Methodist Volunteers In Mission. The Women's Division represents United Methodist Women, a one-million member organization whose purpose is to foster spiritual growth, develop leaders and advocate for justice. It supports programs and projects in the United States and more than 100 countries.

Last chance to order 2005 Florida Annual Conference Journals

By Caryl Kelley**

LAKELAND — There is still time to order journals for the 2005 Florida Annual Conference Event, held June 2-5 at the Lakeland Center.

Regular bound journals are $35, journals on compact disc are $15, and journal directories are $12.

The order form is posted at Orders can be made on line or by printing a copy of the order form and mailing it to the conference offices.

For more information, contact Cary Kelley at 800-282-8011, extension 115.


*Parham managing editor of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**Earnshaw recently retired as director of spiritual formation at St. Luke's United Methodist Church, Windermere. Barnes is on staff with Cokesbury Seminars. Driver-Bishop is the liturgical church coordinator for Purpose Driven Church. Taylor is director of the Florida Conference Office of Congregational Transformation. Buchholz is a staff writer with e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service. Martini is the communications director/information officer for the Women's Division, General Board of Global Ministries. Kelley is director of the Florida Conference Resource Center.