Main Menu

Opportunities — Jan. 15, 2006 {0428}

Opportunities — Jan. 15, 2006 {0428}

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

Opportunities — Jan. 15, 2006

Jan. 15, 2006    News media contact:  Tita Parham*    
800-282-8011     Orlando {0428}

An e-Review News Item

Christian Unity week set for Jan. 18-25

By United Methodist News Service

NEW YORK — United Methodists will join other Christians Jan. 18-25 to celebrate the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.
This year's theme, "Where Two or Three are Gathered in My Name ... ," Matthew 18:20, is intended for reflection on Jesus' invitation to gather in his name and on the meaning such gathering holds for the unity of the church and the renewal of the human community.

The United Methodist Commission on Christian Unity and Interreligious Concerns and Bishop William Oden, the ecumenical officer of the denomination's Council of Bishops, are encouraging United Methodists "to enter into this period of prayer and meditation as we seek the unity of Christ's Church."

Local church leaders are also encouraged to use the Sunday of that week to interpret "the meaning and work of the ecumenical movement." The denomination is involved with such ecumenical bodies as the National Council of Churches, the World Council of Churches, the World Methodist Council, Churches Uniting in Christ and the Commission on Pan Methodist Cooperation and Union.

Materials for the week have been jointly prepared by representatives of the World Council of Churches and Roman Catholic Church since 1968. The week is traditionally celebrated Jan. 18-25, although other dates are sometimes chosen in the Southern hemisphere.

Prepared for 2006 by an ecumenical group in Ireland, the materials mark a consciousness "of the rich spiritual heritage of Ireland with its roots in ancient Christianity," according to the WCC materials.

The choice of the Irish churches also represents the realization that Christians "have been caught up and ensnared in the conflicts and tensions which have shaped Irish life in past centuries. There are deep wounds that have been caused or made more painful by Christian divisions."

Besides drawing attention to Jesus as the source of unity, the Irish group wanted to demonstrate that "two or three coming together in Christian mutual love" can help build relations between divided peoples and communities as well as larger initiatives for peace.

"It is often the case that small gatherings, local relations and friendships can have a powerful impetus in creating a spirit of peace and reconciliation," the introduction to the materials noted. "Many experiences in Ireland's recent history bear witness to this."

The prepared materials can be found online at and include the biblical text, introduction, ecumenical worship service, biblical reflections and prayers for each of the eight days, additional prayers from Ireland and information on the ecumenical situation in Ireland and previous themes since 1968.  

Ecumenical event celebrates week of prayer and unity, focuses on those in need

By Janice Buchholz**

TALLAHASSEE — An ecumenical prayer service and legislative conference on Medicaid and affordable housing will be held at Trinity United Methodist Church in Tallahassee Jan. 20 as part of the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity Jan. 18-25.

The program will include an ecumenical worship service, luncheon and panelists from religious and political arenas. Invited guests include representatives from the Florida House of Representatives, Florida Legal Services, Florida Housing Coalition, United Way of Florida, Florida Impact and the Florida Catholic Conference.

The event will highlight the witness common to all Christians "to love God with all your heart, mind and soul and your neighbor as yourself." Participants will gather in prayer to give thanks for the saving work of God in Christ Jesus and remind people of the need for reconciliation both in the church and world. Participants will also learn about the needs of people in Florida and ask Christians and the larger community how the Spirit is being used for the well-being of all.

The topics for this year's legislative conference were chosen because of their significant impact across all of society. The special legislative assembly in December 2005 authorized a pilot program in Broward and Duvall counties to address looming Medicaid deficits by allowing private insures to offer special HMO's (health management organizations) for Medicaid recipients. Many questions swirl around this controversial investment of public dollars in the marketplace solution for caring for the poorest of the poor.

Additionally, growth management issues impact Florida everywhere. A growing problem is affordable housing for those at the lower end of the economic scale. The recent spate of hurricanes has exacerbated the problem of low-wage workers or those on fixed income finding affordable housing in reasonable proximity to work, schools and community. What does it mean for Florida communities to include significant low-income housing in "hot," new housing developments? Speakers and panelists will help clear away the ideological rhetoric to look at the critical issues involved.

A $10 fee payable at the event is requested for the luncheon and afternoon conference. Individuals interested in attending are asked to pre-register by e-mailing as soon as possible so organizers will be able to adequately prepare.

The Florida Council of Churches is sponsoring the event in cooperation with Florida IMPACT and the Florida Catholic Conference.

HCA kicks off second year, offers new round of Healthy Church classes

By the Rev. Dr. Larry Rankin**

LAKELAND — The Florida Conference Healthy Church Academy (HCA) is beginning it second year and again offering its HCA 101: Growing a Healthy Church classes Feb. 3-4 and March 3-4 at Asbury Theological Seminary in Orlando.

Both sessions must be taken to complete the course, which provides 32 contact hours and is worth three continuing education units.

Growing a Healthy Church is the only required HCA session. It is designed for clergy and laity who would like to recognize and grow a healthy church. It provides the theological and Biblical foundation for being the church, a practical understanding of a healthy church, and tools to develop or reclaim a vision and mission as a church and communicate and integrate healthy church strategies into the life of a church and its community.

The cost is $240, which includes learning materials, daily lunch and two refreshments. Scholarships are also available so that no one will be turned away due to a lack of resources.

The course will also be offered Sept. 8-9 and Sept. 15-16 at the Life Enrichment Center in Leesburg.

Asbury seminarians may take HCA 101 as an independent study, as well as any other HCA course, for up to nine hours of independent study credit. Students may register with the Asbury admissions office.

HCA is the creation of the Florida Conference offices of New Church Development, Congregational Transformation and Connectional Ministries. All courses are for laity and clergy. Congregational teams are especially welcome.

HCA courses are linked to a church's life cycle and Natural Church Development minimum factor and support the various leadership roles in the church. Courses are provided at churches throughout the conference and the Life Enrichment Center in Leesburg. All are designed to help new congregations form and existing ones transform.

Churches are encouraged to invite HCA coordinators to work with them and design classes and workshops that fulfill the congregation's transformational, disciple making and outreach needs. Churches are also encouraged to suggest a course idea to be offered in 2006 that will address learning needs.

Lodging, registration and additional HCA course information is available at

Please direct all inquiries to the Rev. Dr. Larry Rankin, HCA dean, at 800-282-8011, extension 131, or

Conference Tables focus on resolving conflict, tapping into campus ministry

LAKELAND — Two upcoming Conference Tables will tackle conflict within the church and meaningful ministry to college students.

Resolving conflict

Conflict is powerful. It can traumatize and divide a church or bring strength and unity.

But what is healthy versus unhealthy conflict? How do churches in the Florida Conference handle conflict and crisis? Is more education and training needed? Can the conference offer additional resources and new strategies for managing conflict? Would specially trained intervention teams be helpful to local churches, or should the conference consider hiring professional assistance to manage conflicts and crisis in the local church?

These are the issues that will be addressed at the Conference Table Feb. 1, 10 a.m.-2:30 p.m., at Hyde Park United Methodist Church in Tampa.

The session will feature discussion between participants and a panel of clergy and lay professionals. Panel members will help define issues related to conflict in the church and identify possible steps to begin healing and healthy conflict resolution. They will also gather input from participants about the ability of local churches to effectively manage conflict and the role the conference can play in helping churches meet that challenge.

Listening to participants will be an important part of the day, according to the Rev. Wayne Curry, superintendent of the Gulf Coast District and a member of the Conference Table task force.

"The initial question is, 'How do we define the problem? What's the X?' " he said. "Emphasis will be given to the listening process, asking, 'Where does it hurt?' and 'Why?' "

Small group discussions will focus on building community, consensus making, behavioral covenants and active listening skills.

The church in ministry to students

What is the culture and climate of today's collegiate communities? What are the needs, emotionally, mentally and spiritually, of today's student? How has the church responded to this mission field, and what is it doing no to minister to these students? How can the church reach the collegiate community with the message of Jesus Christ in the future?

These are the issues that will be addressed Feb. 25, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., at University Carillon United Methodist Church in Oviedo.

The day will include worship, experiencing college life, discussion and several opportunities to learn about resources and gain insight related to the ministry and mission of collegiate ministry.

Dr. Steve Moore, scholar in residence for "A Foundation for Theological Education" and former vice-president of Asbury Theological Seminary in Kentucky, will help participants identify the cultural context of the collegiate community and the environment that shapes students today. Participants will then discuss the development of campus ministry in the Florida Conference and the state of the conference's seven campus units and two United Methodist colleges. Finally, participants will discuss future opportunities for growth and the role the local church can play in ministry to the collegiate community. This discussion will be facilitated by the Rev. Denny Heiberg, senior pastor of Grace United Methodist Church in Gainesville, as he introduces participants to the vibrant college ministry that resides in his church.

Information gathered from Conference Table participants will be essential to the future direction of the conference Board of Higher Education and Campus Ministry and the ministries and campuses it serves.

Go to the Florida Conference Web site at for more information about these upcoming Conference Tables or to register to attend. Both gatherings will be Web cast live for individuals who are not able to attend. To access the webcast go to the conference Web site the day of the events.

Credit Union invites UMs to grand opening celebration

The Georgia Florida United Methodist Credit Union invites all Florida United Methodists to a grand opening celebration Feb. 6 at 9 a.m. at the credit union's new Florida offices at 500 South Florida Ave., Suite 515, Lakeland.

Visitors will tour the facilities, and brunch will be provided. Special guests include Bishop Timothy W. Whitaker and other officials of the credit union and Florida United Methodist Conference.

As part of the festivities a special grand prize will be given away at the end of the week. Visitors may register for the drawing during the tour or may stop by the credit union offices any time during the week of Feb. 6.

Individuals who would like to attend the grand opening are asked to RSVP by Feb. 2 at 863-687-2136 or 866-687-2136.

Foundation seeks applicants for Sinclair Scholarship
By Suzanne McGovern**

LAKELAND — The Florida United Methodist Foundation Inc. is accepting applications for the 2006 Sinclair Scholarship. 

The scholarship is awarded annually to one or more United Methodist student leaders who will be attending a Florida college or university in the fall. Selection is based upon academic achievement, church involvement and community service. 

The scholarship is awarded to incoming freshmen and renewable for up to four years. Guidelines and application forms are available on the foundation Web site at The deadline for applications is March 6. 

For more information contact Suzanne McGovern at 866-363-9673, extension 103.

Award-winning group performs in Clearwater

By Rev. Fred Ball**

CLEARWATER — The singing group Acapella will perform at Skycrest United Methodist Church here Feb. 12 at 6 p.m.

Tickets are $15 each and may be purchased at Christian bookstores or by calling the church at 727-446-2218. 

Acapella's latest release, "Heaven and Earth," has been named Best Religious Album of 2005.

Pine Castle United Methodist Church invites clergy to time of renewal

By Tita Parham

Pine Castle United Methodist Church invites clergy to attend its Holy Spirit Encounter March 5-8 for a time of reflection, renewal and rejuvenation.

Participants can expect four days of "seeking the face of God" during times of prayer, worship, preaching, teaching and healing. The goal is to connect with others of like mind and heart and confirm that "we are not alone" in God's call to bring about transformation of today's culture through Jesus Christ.

Speakers will include the Revs. Perry Dalton, Springfield United Methodist, Panama City; Jackie Leveron, First United Methodist, Deltona; and Blake Lorenz, Pine Castle United Methodist, Orlando; Harry and Cheryl Salem, Salem Family Ministries, Tulsa, Okla.; Beverly Lorenz and other guests.

"Many times I have fallen on my face before God, worn out and exhausted by the demands of ministry from my own self-centeredness, fears, worry ... ," said the Rev. Blake Lorenz, pastor of the church. "We became pastors because of our love for Jesus and desire to follow Him and to serve Him.  Without realizing it, we can lose our first love and forget why we were called.

"Empowered by the Holy Spirit (after the Encounter), pastors will again proclaim the Gospel with fresh fire. Most of all, God will be glorified."

Registration for the Holy Spirit Encounter, which is free, as well as pertinent information about the event and nearby hotels is available at

There will be a day of prayer and fasting Jan. 19 and Feb. 9 in preparation for the Encounter. Clergy are asked to join in those days at their churches.

Candler offers scholarships to divinity students

By Peter M. Paulsen**

ATLANTA — Candler School of Theology is offering scholarships through the Sherman Scholarship program.

The full-tuition scholarships are awarded to incoming United Methodist master of divinity students who are preparing for pastoral ministry and who demonstrate academic ability and commitment to biblically-based, evangelical ministry.

Qualified students from the Florida Conference are given preference for Sherman Scholarships, although qualified United Methodist students from all conferences are encouraged to apply.

The Sherman Scholarship application deadline is March 1. Additional information and scholarship applications are available on the Candler Web site at

"Rebuilding" is theme for SEJ communicators annual conference

The disaster and destruction from the 2005 hurricane season has prompted the Southeastern Jurisdiction United Methodist Association of Communicators (SEJ-UMAC) to adopt the theme "Rebuilding" for its upcoming annual gathering.

The SEJ-UMAC meeting will be held Feb. 22-24 in Hattiesburg, Miss., giving communicators the chance to experience the destruction wreaked by Hurricane Katrina and offer their personal help through hands-on mission opportunities available in conjunction with the meeting.

SEJ-UMAC invites everyone working or interested in the field of communications within the United Methodist Church at every level — local church, district, conference, jurisdictional — to participate in their 2006 annual meeting. The gathering has been structured to help communicators rejuvenate energies, enhance skills, boost association membership, unify efforts, ignite imagination, link assets and resources, develop confidence, increase effectiveness, network with other communicators, and gain new perspectives.

"Local church and district communicators, as well as conference communicators, are encouraged to attend this meeting," said Carol Breitinger, SEJ-UMAC's interim president. "The program has been designed to bring communicators at every level together around common communications needs."

Workshops titles include Building Circulation/Readership, The Ultimate Crisis Plan, Digital Ministry in a Digital World, PhotoShop for Advanced Users and PhotoShop for Beginners.

The Rev. Shane Stanford, director of Stewardship and Discipling Ministries for the Mississippi Conference, will lead the opening worship. Shane is chairman of his conference's communications commission and author of "The Seven Next Words of Christ: Finding Hope in the Resurrection Sayings," which will be published by Abingdon Press in February.

Mississippi's Bishop Hope Morgan Ward will conduct the closing worship service. Ward is believed to be the first woman to lead a mainline denomination in Mississippi and is the second female bishop elected to serve in The United Methodist Church's Southeastern Jurisdiction. She previously served the North Carolina Annual Conference as superintendent of the Raleigh District, director of Connectional Ministries and a local church pastor.

Half-day and full-day opportunities for hurricane recovery work in the Hattiesburg area will be determined closer to meeting date so SEJ communicators can provide the most needed services at the time.

A brochure with full meeting details, daily schedule and registration form is available online at Scroll down to "CommTools-for the Web" and click on "Southeastern Jurisdiction United Methodist Association of Communicators Annual Conference." The link to the brochure and registration form is at the bottom of the article. Click on "Register Today."

Those interested in attending are encouraged to register for the meeting and make their hotel reservations by Feb. 8. Hotel information is provided in the brochure.

Candler celebrates Black History month with unveiling of book on hymns, poetry

By Peter M. Paulsen

ATLANTA — Candler School of Theology, Emory University, will host one of two national introductions of "Beams of Heaven: The Hymns of Charles Albert Tindley," a book and CD compilation of the hymns and poetry of Charles Albert Tindley, Feb. 8 at 11 a.m.

The event, tied to Black History Month, includes a special worship service and lecture/discussion in Cannon Chapel on the Emory campus. James Abbington, associate professor of music and worship at Candler and one of the major contributors to the book and CD, will provide leadership. Other guests include Carlton "Sam" Young, emeritus professor of church music at Candler, and ST Kimbrough, associate general secretary for mission evangelism at the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries.

Tindley, 1865-1933, was a self-educated son of slave parents, writer, poet, pastor, theologian and social activist who gave voice to the cries and hopes of his generation in his sermons and his songs. He is known as the 'father of African American hymnody,' 'progenitor of African American gospel music' and 'prince of preachers.'

SOSA provides free Lenten devotions

By Carol A. Breitinger**

BIG ISLAND, Va. — Many stories in the Bible involve people at a crossroads in their lives. At these junctures they find they must decide whether to travel in God's direction or choose a different path.

"CrossRoads," a free Lenten devotions program offered to individuals and churches by the Society of St. Andrew (SoSA), Advance Number 801600, asks the reader to reflect on the choices made by these Biblical people. It also guides readers into reflecting on their own choices as they follow Jesus' journey toward the cross and resurrection.

Lent is the season for Christians to engage in disciplines that sustain and refresh and give full expression to their faith. Lent and Easter call them to remember the mystery of redemption in Christ and to more fully participate in his life-giving spirit.

In keeping with these traditions, SoSA invites individuals and congregations to participate in this program of spiritual reflection, prayer and giving. Each participant or family will receive a devotional booklet of reflections and prayers. They are also asked to share in SoSA's national hunger-relief ministries by making a personal Lenten donation that will be used to feed hungry Americans.

An optional Good Friday Fast is available to supplement the "CrossRoads" Lenten devotions or as a stand-alone program of spiritual renewal and giving.

Sample starter kits are available at no cost or obligation for review before placing a congregational order. Orders can be placed online at, by e-mail at or by phone at 800-333-4597. After reviewing the program, orders should be placed by Feb. 13 to ensure delivery before Ash Wednesday. SoSA asks that churches help them remain good stewards of their resources by ordering only what they will use.

During the past three years the SoSA Lenten Devotions Program has experienced significant growth in the number of churches participating and the amount of donations contributed to feed the hungry. The 2005 Lent program was directly responsible for providing 3.6 million servings of fresh, nutritious produce to hungry Americans, a 28.4 percent increase over the previous year's results. The results of the 2004 program were significantly higher than the previous year, providing 2.6 million servings of food.

SoSA is a national Christian non-profit hunger-relief ministry feeding the hungry through its Potato Project, Gleaning Network and Harvest of Hope programs. More information is available at

United Methodist TechShop offers computer, software savings

Imagine a computer that is designed, preloaded and configured around the needs of the local United Methodist Church — a high-quality computer loaded with all of the best office software, United Methodist resources and tools to manage a church office right out of the box.

TechShop can do just that. It allows United Methodist churches to acquire hardware and software from such providers as Microsoft, Macromedia, Adobe and IBM.

TechShop has saved the denomination more than $15 million through its charity licensing program since 2000.

TechShop and United Methodist Communications are pleased to offer such a computer as part of Digital Solutions. Both a desktop and laptop computer are available along with optional monitor, printer and projector add-ons. Pre-loaded computers are also available.

For more information visit

GBCS offers opportunity to support bishops' call to end war

By Tita Parham

The General Board of Church and Society of The United Methodist Church (GBCS) is inviting United Methodists who support the "A Call to Repentance and Peace with Justice" statement to add their name to a list posted on the GBCS Web site.

The statement was signed by 96 United Methodist bishops and calls for an end to what the bishops call an "unjust and immoral invasion and occupation of Iraq."

As of Jan. 3 more than 4,000 people had added their names. GBCS General Secretary Jim Winkler would like to gather 10,000 names and submit the document to members of Congress, the president and others.

Individuals who would like to add their name may do so at


*Parham is managing editor of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**Paulsen is the director of communication at Candler School of Theology, Emory University. Rankin is director of the global mission and health and wholeness ministries of the conference Connectional Ministries office and dean of HCA. Buchholz is a staff writer for e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service. Ball is the pastor at Skycrest United Methodist Church, Clearwater. Breitinger is the director of communications for SoSA. McGovern is associate vice president of planned giving and communications for the Florida United Methodist Foundation.