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Opportunities — Dec. 23, 2005 {0417}

Opportunities — Dec. 23, 2005 {0417}

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

Opportunities — Dec. 23, 2005

Dec. 23, 2005    News media contact:  Tita Parham*    
800-282-8011     Orlando {0417}

An e-Review News Item

Katrina Tax Relief Act gives tax benefit

By Randy Casey-Rutland**

LAKELAND — The Katrina Emergency Tax Relief Act provides certain tax benefits for cash gifts made by individuals to a charity, such as a United Methodist church, before the end of 2005.

Typically, tax deductions for charitable gifts are limited to a percentage of the taxpayer's overall income. The Katrina Tax Relief Act suspends these limitations for gifts of cash made to a charity after Aug. 27, 2005, and before Jan. 1, 2006. While the contribution does not have to be designated for Katrina relief, it does have to be made in cash and to qualified charities, such as a church.

For more information, consult the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), a professional advisor or on the Florida Conference Web site.

North Central District offers leadership training for small churches

By North Central District Staff

GAINESVILLE — The North Central District is sponsoring "Developing Effective Leadership in the Small Church" Jan. 14, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the Life Enrichment Center in Leesburg.

The session is a Net Results Workshop and will be led by Tony Pappas.

The registration cost is $35 per person (including lunch and snacks) or $100 per church (for 5 attendees), plus $7.60 per person for lunch and snacks. On-site registration is $40 per person, plus $7.60 for lunch and snacks

To register or for more information contact the North Central District Office at 352-376-6353 or

East Central District offers Early Response Team training

By Tita Parham

ORLANDO — Teams from local churches interested in receiving training on early response after a disaster are invited to attend an Early Response Team training Jan. 14 at Coronado Community United Methodist Church, 201 Peninsula Ave., New Smyrna Beach, 32169.

Attendees will receive a disaster response manual, certification and credentials identifying them as early responders for the Florida Conference. The training will focus on the types, phases and levels of a disaster and explain what is meant by early response. It will also cover spiritual and emotional care, support from the United Methodist Committee on Relief, faith-based response in disaster, and team leadership needs and equipment.

Coordinators of disaster relief efforts strongly recommend work groups be trained as early response teams. After intensive training early response teams enter a disaster zone after search and rescue operations have ended, according to the United Methodist Committee on Relief Web site. The teams deploy geographically and do what's needed to make homes safe and secure, such as tarping roofs, removing water and mud from homes, and removing trees and other debris.

The fee to attend the training is $15 per person. To reserve seating contact the Florida Conference Storm Recovery Center at 800-282-8011, extension 149.

Event aims to energize youth workers
By Tita Parham

ORLANDO — Even the most veteran youth worker can find it difficult handling youth ministry without a team of support. In between the sports events and meetings with parents on Sunday afternoons, a community of encouragement is essential and available.

To help fill the support-group gap, youth workers are encouraged to get connected at the 2006 Florida United Methodist Youth Ministry Forum Jan. 25-28 in Orlando.

The four-day event offers specialized training that brings together youth ministry professionals seeking nourishment in their faith, growth in their ministry and an opportunity to experience God in worship. The Forum offers educational sessions in application, spiritual formation and theology taught by leaders who address the practical and challenging issues youth workers face on a daily basis. 

This year's featured speaker is Chap Clark, associate professor of Youth, Family and Culture at Fuller Theological Seminary. The featured musical guest is Bebo Norman. The Georgia-born performer's 2002 album "Myself When I Am Real" topped Billboard's Heatseekers chart and yielded back-to-back Top 5 radio hits with "Great Light of the World" and "Falling Down." The Central Florida worship band Whoever Shows Up (WSU) will also participate.

For more information about registration and class listings, visit or contact Mike Standifer at or Heather Pancoast at

Annual weekend for Clergy Kids set for early January

By J.A. Buchholz**

LAKELAND — The last weekend in January marks a special time specifically set aside for children of clergy.

The 2006 Clergy Kids weekend is Jan. 27-29 at the Warren W. Willis United Methodist Youth Camp. Children to high school seniors are encouraged to participate.

There are tracks for infants through pre-school, kindergarten through first grade, second through third grade, fourth through fifth grade, sixth through eighth grade, and ninth through 12th grade.

The cost is $70 for individuals or $210 per family. A brochure and application may be downloaded from the conference Web site at

For more information contact the Rev. Mark and Marie Becker at 352-331-7396 or Amy Vigil at 941-722-2361.

2006 Institute of Preaching helps clergy 'cross boundaries'

By Institute of Preaching Design Group

Times are different. Ways to reach new generations of believers must also be different. That is the focus of the "Crossing the Boundaries" 2006 Institute of Preaching Feb. 13-15 at Plantation United Methodist Church in the Fort Lauderdale area.

Clergy grew up, came to Christ and responded to the call to licensed and ordained ministry in the last days of Christendom. Churches were planted with the mindset of "Build it and they will come." People did, but that's no longer the case. A majority of the next generations are exploring spiritual traditions other than Christianity, according to Barna research.

Clergy were also trained to prepare their sermons in the study, surrounded by books, and preach from the pulpit, surrounded by a community steeped in church traditions and Christian values. That has also changed.

Preaching must now "listen into the speaking" beyond the church. How can clergy listen? Where, and to whom, do they go? How do clergy cross the boundaries that separate church and culture, as well as training and the urgent task of preaching to new generations?

Philip Yancey and Linda McCoy will help participants explore those questions.

Philip Yancey grew up in a strict, fundamentalist church where God seemed more like an abusive parent than a loving father. He writes about his spiritual journey in such best-selling books as "Disappointment with God" and "Where is God When it Hurts?" More recently he has written "The Jesus I Never Knew" and "What's So Amazing About Grace?"

Yancey has written for a wide variety of magazines including Reader's Digest, Saturday Evening Post, National Wildlife and Christianity Today and earned graduate degrees in communication and English from Wheaton College and the University of Chicago.
Linda McCoy became a member of St. Luke's United Methodist Church, Indianapolis, in 1969. She became a student pastor to the congregation in 1982 and a full-time associate pastor in 1985.

In September 1995 she helped begin The Garden, a satellite ministry of St. Luke's designed to reach people looking for a non-traditional experience. In January 2003, The Garden added a sister site, The Garden at Oak Hill. These two communities currently reach nearly 800 people weekly.

McCoy is also author of a book of sermons titled, "It's News to Me! Messages of Hope for Those Who Haven't Heard," and co-author of volume 2 of Abingdon's "Igniting Worship: Helping and Serving."

For more information visit on the Florida Conference Web site or contact Tim Smiley at Plantation United Methodist Church at or 954-584-7500.

East Central District offers training on developing church vision

By Tita Parham

ORLANDO — Dr. Reggie McNeal, author and consultant, will lead a session designed to help church leaders develop a vision for their church.

Titled the "The Present Future," the daylong event will be held Feb. 18, 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m., at First United Methodist Church, Deland. It is sponsored by the East Central District's Healthy Church Initiative, which helps churches within the district become and remain healthy, vital congregations.

McNeal will focus on what he calls six tough questions for the church and tackle the "truisms" many church leaders believe about churches: If you build the perfect church they will come, growing a church will automatically make a difference in the community and better planning will take a congregation where it wants to go.

McNeal will help participants discover new realities for the church, such as replacing church growth with kingdom growth, developing disciples instead of church members, focusing on spiritual formation rather than church programs, and shifting from prediction and planning to preparation for challenges.

Elders, deacons, board members and leadership teams are encouraged to attend.

McNeal is the director of leadership development for the South Carolina Baptist Convention. He counsels local churches, denominations, seminaries and colleges, and parachurch organizations in areas of leadership development. He is also author of "The Present Future," "A Work of the Heart," and "Revolution in Leadership."

Registration is $60 per church for up to eight people and $8 for each additional person. A catered lunch will be provided for $6 per person. Individuals may register by calling 407-893-7300 or by e-mailing Michelle Zink at Pre-registration is strongly encouraged.

22nd Annual Leesburg Women's Retreat continues with "Crossroads"

By J.A. Buchholz**

LAKELAND — Women who are seeking a faith-filled weekend, combined with vibrant speakers and energetic music, should seek out the 22nd Annual Leesburg Women's Retreats.

The four weekends, Jan. 20-22, Feb. 3-5, Feb. 17-19 and March 3-5, will be held at the Life Enrichment Center in Leesburg.

The spiritual weekends are designed to provide women a time to intentionally turn away from responsibilities such as children, families and jobs and look for opportunities to encounter Jesus Christ face-to-face. Women are encouraged to see how God brings them to different crossroads in their lives and helps orchestrate life-changing events.

The keynote speaker for the Jan. 20-22 weekend will be the Rev. Candace Lewis, pastor of New Life Community United Methodist Church in Jacksonville. The music leader will be Donna Allen, and the Bible study leader will be Maisie Hartsfield. The devotional leaders will be Kwabea Reed and Susan Wade.

The keynote speaker for the Feb. 3-5 weekend will be the Rev. Terri Hill, pastor of Suntree United Methodist Church in Melbourne. The music leader will be Sue Sommer, and the Bible study leader will be the Rev. Beth Fogle-Miller. The devotional leaders will be the Rev. Barbara Potter, pastor of Trinity United Methodist Church in Tallahassee, and the Rev. Altheria Lenon, pastor of Zion United Methodist Church in Ocala.

The keynote speaker for the March 3-5 weekend will be the Rev. Sue Haupert-Johnson, pastor of First United Methodist Church, Cape Coral. The music leader will be Diane Anders, and the Bible study leader will be Deborah Nelson. The devotional leaders will be Pat Waytovich and Denise Carpenter.

The keynote speaker for the March 3-5 weekend will be the Rev. C.J. Walter, pastor of Cokesbury United Methodist Church in Margate. The music leader will be Maureen Still, and the Bible study leader will be Sarah Baldridge. The devotional leaders will be Wilma Hamilton and Mary Best.

The program fee is $35. There are additional costs for housing and meals.

Churches are encouraged to send their applications together because it will enable organizers to better group people from one church in the same lodging; however, due to the size of the retreats, there is no guarantee group members will be placed together.

For additional information or to download the brochure and application visit

Camps and retreat ministry offers upcoming events

By Florida United Methodist Camps and Retreat Ministry Staff

The Florida United Methodist Camps and Retreat Ministry is offering a number of new retreat and conference events in the upcoming months. They are especially for Florida United Methodists and open to other interested persons in the Southeast.

* Encounter with God (for adults, Jan. 20-22; for older youth grades 9 and up, Feb. 24-26):
Encounter with God events are designed to enhance participants' relationship with God as they learn how to live a more devotional life. The focus is on meditation, creative expressions (art, writing, music), various forms of worship and times of silence. Group experiences will be balanced with times of solitude and reflection. These will be held at the South Florida United Methodist Camp.

* Liturgical Art Experience with Phillip Cox-Johnson (Feb. 9-11):
Phillip Cox-Johnson creates worship settings for workshops, annual conferences and events around the world. He will share his expertise in worship arts with individuals or groups from churches who would like to incorporate scarves, banners, flags and more into their worship design.  The workshop will cover a variety of design techniques — wax resist, batik, painting — as well as the overall methodology of creative worship design. The cost, including material for one project, is $200 per person. The workshop begins with dinner Feb. 9 and ends with worship in the evening Feb. 11. This event will be held at the South Florida United Methodist Camp.

* Weekend Conference on "The Spirituality and Ethics of Food" (Feb. 10-12; including two nights, five meals and snacks):
Through conference speakers, workshops, films and displays, this event will help participants explore issues of food, spirituality and ethics in their daily lives. It will focus on how to re-connect with food and the inherent health that comes from a healthy diet and lifestyle, as well as examine the ethics of eating food grown in ways that exploit vulnerable people and damage the topsoil, pollute water tables and require the fuel needed to ship food from one state, region or continent to another. The session will touch on labor issues, migrant farm workers, organic farming, gardening for health and conservation. This event will be held at the Life Enrichment Center (LEC) in Leesburg.

* Mid-Week Retreat:  Ira Progoff's Intensive Journaling Workshop (Feb. 12-18; three sessions):
The Progoff Intensive Journal Workshop is a series of carefully designed writing exercises led by a certified program leader who is a professional in the area of ministry, psychology, counseling, social work and other fields. Dr. Ira Progoff, a contemporary of Dr. Carl Jung, said, "The Intensive Journal method is not journal keeping, not introspective diary keeping, and it isn't writing therapy ... it is the full scale active method of personal life integration for continuous and cumulative work." The program is appropriate for people with a Christian background and those working with issues of healing and spirituality coming from other traditions. It helps participants access their inner creativity, as well as teach them how to help their clients, parishioners and students do the same. Continuing Education Credits will be provided for social workers, counselors, chaplains, clergy and others.

For more information or to register for any of these events call 1-866-UMCAMPS or visit

2005 Journal now available online

By Diana Herchig**

LAKELAND — The 2005 Annual Conference Journal is now posted on the conference Web site at

CD-Rom and print versions of the Journal will be shipped the first week in January to those who placed an order. Conference directories will be shipped mid-January.

Delivery of the 2005 Journal is later than usual this year because of efforts to ensure the accuracy of clergy records. While transferring data to the conference's new database, staff discovered numerous inaccuracies in clergy records, causing a delay in printing the clergy directory, statistical sections and, subsequently, the entire Journal. 

Because the clergy and statistical information is obtained from several sources, churches are asked to help ensure the accuracy of that information by notifying of any discrepancies in their records. A brief description of the error or discrepancy, along with the name and a phone number of the person requesting a correction, is needed.

For more information about the Journal contact the data management office at 800-282-8011, extension 102.

Applications are now being accepted for the Harry Denman Evangelism Award

By J.A. Buchholz

LAKELAND — United Methodists are encouraged to nominate clergy and laity for the 2006 Harry Denman Evangelism Award.

The Denman award began in 1980 to recognize both clergy and laity whose outstanding spiritual efforts have led others into a relationship with Christ.

Harry Denman was born Sept. 26, 1893, in Birmingham, Ala. He is most remembered for his leadership of the Board of Evangelism of the Methodist Church.

The application deadline is March 1.

The award is sponsored by the Florida Conference Office of Congregational Transformation. For more information visit

Igniting Ministry offers matching grants for roadside signs

By Florida Conference Igniting Ministry Team

Need a new sign?

The Matching Grant office of Igniting Ministry in Nashville is offering matching grants to churches that want to buy electronic roadside signs.

The Stewart sign company, used exclusively by Cokesbury, has agreed to give a 10 percent discount to any church buying a sign and mentioning Igniting Ministry.

Churches interested in applying for a grant should call the Igniting Ministry matching grant office at 877-281-6535. For sign information and pricing contact Donna Steinmetz at Stewart Signs at 800-237-3928 (mention Igniting Ministry).

To learn more about Igniting Ministry contact the Rev. Tim Ehrlich, chair of the Florida Conference Igniting Ministry team, at 727-391-4769.

Older Adult Ministry grants are available

By Carolyn W. Dandridge**

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The United Methodist Committee on Older Adult Ministries has limited funding for grants supporting older adult ministries.

The grants are designed to assist United Methodist congregations, districts and annual conferences, including United Methodist related institutions, such as nursing homes, in developing and implementing older adult ministries.

The maximum amount of any single grant is $2,500. Grant applications must be submitted on or before Jan. 15 for the 2006 grant year. The grant application may be downloaded at

For additional information and a grant application contact Teri Kline by mail at the Center on Aging and Older Adult Ministries, General Board of Discipleship, P.O. Box 340003, Nashville, TN 37203-0003, by phone at 1-877-899-2780, extension 7177, or by e-mail at

Women are asked to 'stand in the gap' for those impacted by this year's storms

By Kelly C. Martini**

NEW YORK — United Methodist Women in the Gulf Coast region have said they won't be able to meet their pledge to mission.

As a result, women in other states have an opportunity to make up the difference and help those conferences meet their 2005 obligation by making a special pledge.

Conferences hard hit include Alabama-West Florida, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, Rio Grande, North Texas, Rio Grande, Texas and Southwest Texas.

In recent months, United Methodist Women all over the country have responded with remarkable generosity to the needs of all affected by the hurricanes. Now, every member of United Methodist Women is encouraged to give $1 over and beyond her pledge to mission, resulting in nearly $1 million in support for women in the hurricane-affected areas.

The Women's Division of the General Board of Global Ministries will divide the pledge according to need and in discussion with conference leaders. The Women's Division will use pledges to empower women and children in these conferences, in the United States and around the world.

The Division will continue to receive contributions to the special offering directly and through the normal channels of district and conference treasurers. The money will apply to the conferences' pledge, as well as their administration and membership development budgets so that United Methodist Women can continue their work where they are, as well as fulfill their pledge to mission. Any surplus beyond these needs will go to national mission institutions in the affected areas.

Special pledges should be sent to the Women's Division, 475 Riverside Drive, Number 1503, New York, NY 10115 or district treasurers.

For more information contact Andréa Hatcher, treasurer, Women's Division, at or 212-870-3740.

Visiting Emory professor presents unique lecture

By Peter M. Paulsen**

ATLANTA — Dr. John Witte, Jonas Robitscher Professor of Law and Ethics at Emory University's Law School and 2005-06 McDonald Distinguished Visiting Professor in the study of Jesus and Culture, will present the McDonald Lecture Feb. 9 at 4:30 p.m. in Cannon Chapel on the Candler School of Theology campus in Atlanta.

His title is "Freedom of a Christian: Protestant Contributions to Modern Religious Liberty and Human Rights." A reception will follow in Brooks Commons.

The newly established McDonald Lecture and the Visiting Professorship that goes with it are a serious attempt to consider the impact Jesus has on culture and to approach the issue of Jesus from a non-theological perspective. There is a description of the professorship at

Additional information about Witte may be found on his faculty page at

For more information about the event visit the Candler Web site at or Paulsen 404-727-4481 or

National Pastors Convention assembles in San Diego

By J.A. Buchholz

EL CAJON, Calif. — The 2006 National Pastors Convention promises to be a memorable event.

Held Feb. 22-25 at the Town and Country Resort and Convention Center in San Diego, the event will strive to nurture the soul and engage participants in meaningful conversations with colleagues from throughout the United States.

The individual early bird registration of $295 ends Dec. 31. After that date individual registration is $350 and due by Jan. 31. The rate for spouses is $195; for those who have attended a past convention, $295; for full-time seminary students, $195; and for a church team of at least five people from the same location, $275.

A list of speakers and more information can be found at

Gulf Coast remains in crisis

BATON ROUGE, La. — "Don't forget us!" was the parting plea of Rabbi Stanton Zamek of the Beth Shalom Synagogue in Baton Rouge, La., late last month to religious leaders who had traveled to the gulf region to assess how the faith community can best help the shattered area.

Zamek was part of a presentation hosted by the Interfaith Alliance following release of its video and print report "Day 56: A Report from the Interfaith Alliance's Post-Katrina Baton Rouge Listening Tour."

The report includes reflections by John Hill, environmental and economic justice director for the General Board of Church and Society (GBCS), who was a participant on the listening tour. The report also includes opportunities for action with local organizations in the affected region.

To foster continued reflection and action in response to the ongoing struggles in the Gulf region, GBCS has produced a teaching tool called "After the Storm" available for download at

New online resource helps for survivors of disaster

By Kwasi Kena**

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — "Stories for Survivors" is a collection of Bible stories with discussion questions created for survivors of disaster. The stories are told without extensive commentary in order to allow personal and group discovery of the spiritual truths in each text that are most relevant to the needs of people who are in crisis and transition.

Survivors of disaster are forced to deal with grief, post-traumatic stress and displacement issues. In a disaster few people pause to pick up an armful of books or sermon notes. Hearing and discussing Bible stories encourages people in crisis to see their unique challenges as stories of faith, struggle and perseverance.

For those recovering from disaster, the holidays, like Thanksgiving and Christmas, can stir up unwanted grief and emotions. The first Bible story set from the "Stories for Survivors" collection is designed to help survivors journey with God through their first Christmas season following disaster.

Small groups, Sunday school classes and home fellowships can all use the stories. They are also appropriate for family devotions and as a narrative preaching resource.

"Stories for Survivors" was initiated as a joint project between the General Board of Discipleship (GBOD) and Jack, Doris and Sam Day of Bible Storytelling Inc. It can be found on the GBOD evangelism Web site at


*Parham is managing editor of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**Herchig is director of the Florida Conference data management office. Buchholz is a staff writer for e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service. Casey-Rutland is Florida Conference treasurer and director of financial services. Martini is the communications director/information officer of the Women's Division, General Board of Global Ministries. Paulsen is director of communications at Candler School of Theology, Emory University. Kena is the director of Evangelism Ministries at the General Board of Discipleship. Dandridge is the communications coordinator for the communications and marketing unit of the General Board of Discipleship.