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Opportunities — March 15, 2006 {0458}

Opportunities — March 15, 2006 {0458}

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

Opportunities — March 15, 2006

March 15, 2006    News media contact:  Tita Parham*    
800-282-8011     Orlando {0458}

An e-Review News Item

Families invited to support Children's Week events in Tallahassee

By Caryl Kelley**

LAKELAND — Parents, children, professionals, community leaders and concerned citizens will gather to share valuable knowledge and information about children's issues during this year's Children's Week in Tallahassee March 24-April 4.

Many advocacy groups use this annual week of events to speak with legislators about issues relating to the needs of children in Florida. Florida Conference Bishop Timothy W. Whitaker will be a featured speaker at a press conference April 4 at 11 a.m., asking legislators to give special priority to children.

The press conference and celebration will take place in the Capitol Rotunda and Courtyard and will include guest speakers, children's activities and entertainment for families. The celebration includes many tables of information on needs and services involving children.

The "Hanging of the Hands" is a special tradition during the week and is intended to remind lawmakers the state's children are the future of Florida. Sunday school or preschool classes from across Florida are encouraged to participate. Children are invited to make construction paper cutouts in the shape of hands, then decorate and string them together to be hung vertically from ceiling to floor throughout the Florida Capitol. Small posters (8.5x11 or 11x14) can also be sent.

All artwork must be submitted by March 24 to Children's Week, c/o Kids Incorporated, 1170 N.E. Capital Circle, Tallahassee, FL 32301. Volunteers are needed to assist with the hanging of the hands. A volunteer form is available on the Children's Week Web site at

Event schedules, lists of local coordinators and other information about the week are available at or by contacting Jason Zaborske, Children's Week statewide coordinator, at 850-251-7274 or

14th Conference Table examines role of laity

By the Rev. Dr. Anne Burkholder**

What does "church work" mean in this new apostolic age? What causes people to care about ministry in the first place? How and where is lay mobilization working?

The 14th Conference Table April 1 at First United Methodist Church, Sebring, will strive to answer those questions and more.

The session, held from 9:30 a.m.-3 p.m., is designed to engender lively conversation about the roles and expectations of the laity in personal discipleship and congregational life.

In contrast to the traditional view of the clergy-laity relationship in which clergy are defined as those who do ministry and laity as those to whom ministry is directed, David Lowes Watson, one of the guest speakers at the next session of the Florida Annual Conference, lays out a compelling argument that the clergy should be about the business of preaching and teaching the laity and the laity should be about the work of pastoral ministry in the church, community and world.

Watson grounds his argument in sound Wesleyan historical and theological research, in addition to the reality that in light of the 21st century world in which we live, it is the laity who come in daily contact with persons who are not Christian, and therefore, have the opportunity to be witnesses to the love of Jesus Christ in ways pastors cannot. 

The gathering will also address the expectations appointed and resident leaders of congregations should have of each other and how to move toward new ways of identifying people for leadership in the life of the church.

The session will be web cast live for those who are not able to attend. Interested individuals may enter the webcast on the day of the event by visiting the conference Web site at

Those who plan to attend are asked to register by going to the conference Web site at and clicking on the Conference Table link or going directly to

Course helps churches meet worship fundamental

By the Rev. Dr. Larry Rankin**

Worship is at the center of the life of all Florida United Methodist congregations, but can worship be exciting and life changing? How can churches make worship vital and transformational so seekers and disciples feel renewed and empowered to minister in a hurting world? 

The Florida Conference's Healthy Church Academy is offering congregations a means to enliven and create worship that transforms. HCA 1401 "Worship and Praise for Transformation" is a one-day workshop May 20, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., at Indian River City United Methodist Church in the Atlantic Central District, 1355 Cheney Hwy, Titusville, FL 32780.

Ron Wilson, Kathleen Peterson and the church's worship and praise team will lead the session. For nearly 10 years this team has been creating weekly worship experiences where people meet God in powerful ways. The team works with contemporary and traditional worship styles to reach people for God.

The course offers participants tools to create and celebrate sustainable worship and praise week after week. It is designed to give worship leaders and worshipers a theological and biblical foundation for planning and leading worship to draw people closer to God. Participants will learn how to organize worship teams and how to plan successful worship each week.

The course is also a resource to help churches in meeting the worship goal that is part of the ministry fundamentals Bishop Timothy W. Whitaker recently expressed and urged all churches to meet. An explanation of the fundamentals is available at

Churches are encouraged to register their worship team or those interested in worship if there is no worship team. Passion and purpose is all that is required. Skills can be taught.
Tuition is $60 per person and includes materials, lunch and refreshments. Partial scholarships are available upon request. The session provides eight contact hours of continuing education.

Interested individuals may register at or by e-mail at

If HCA 1401 is too far in the future or there is a schedule conflict, churches may request a session be held in their district by e-mailing Larry Rankin at Rankin will work to bring the course and any others to interested districts to suit their learning and transformation needs.

HCA is a ministry of the Florida Conference that is responding to the challenge of assisting all congregations in becoming healthy, making disciples, reaching seekers for Jesus Christ, and deploying lay and clergy ministers for mission. 

Annual Conference offering highlights global connections

By Bishop Timothy W. Whitaker**

LAKELAND — Florida Conference churches have an opportunity to contribute to a "grand offering" that will be taken at the "Witness With Power" 2006 Florida Annual Conference Event June 1-3.

The offering highlights the global connection of The United Methodist Church across the world, particularly Florida's connection with Angola, Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as Florida's children.

Sixty percent of the offering will strengthen the ministries of the East Angola Conference and the partnership between the East Angola and Florida conferences. The East Angola Conference continues to recover and thrive during a time of peace after 28 years of civil war. Previous annual conference offerings have helped rebuild structures at Quéssua, an area that was once a thriving missionary and spiritual center of The United Methodist Church in Angola. Construction has been completed on Quéssua United Methodist Church, the mother church of Angolan Methodism. Bicycles have been distributed to pastors, sewing machines to working mothers and medicines to the clinic in Malange. Additionally, gifts have helped bring two young men, Alcides Martins and Francisco Cautama, from Malange to live in Florida and learn skills that will strengthen the communication and administrative ministries of the East Angola Conference. Many Florida congregations have been privileged to hear their stories and Christian testimony.

Last November, three health-care workers led a community health-care worker seminar in both the East and West Angola conferences. Coordinated by Dr. Laurinda Quipungo, wife of East Angola's Bishop José Quipungo, more than 40 village health-care workers were trained in health education and preventive care. The impact of this training, made possible by Florida Conference offerings, will have an overwhelming affect on the health and quality of life among Angolan families. The trained are now becoming the trainers so that health care and education can produce healthy families across the East and West Angola conferences.

Thirty percent will be given to the "Encounter with Christ in Latin America and the Caribbean" (Permanent Fund No. 025100). This Advance fund was established during the 1992 General Conference as a response to an appeal of the Methodist Conferences of Latin America and the Caribbean in the face of grave economic and political turmoil. Its purpose is to provide income that will financially support the mission outreach of evangelical Methodist churches in that region. Today, the fund is more than $1 million strong. Invested funds provide grants for leadership training and education, missionary endeavors, and evangelism and new church development. As the fund grows, more grants will be distributed, strengthening this growing region of Methodist Christianity.

Ten percent will be invested in Florida's children through the Council of Bishops' Initiative on Children and Poverty and Florida Conference Children's Harvest. This ministry touches the lives of more than 5,000 at-risk children and youth who receive backpacks and school supplies that are distributed by 10 outreach ministries of the conference and supporting congregations. 

Florida United Methodist congregations are encouraged to respond by communicating these "grace-filled" opportunities to all church members. A special day(s) can be selected to give congregations the privilege of responding generously. Checks should be written to the Florida Conference Treasurer with "2006 AC Offering" on the memo line. Checks should be brought to the "Witness With Power" 2006 Florida Annual Conference Event.

Bulletin inserts for the offering are available for download on the conference Web site at

"Externally Focused Church" author leads East Central District training

By the Rev. Marilyn Beecher**

ORLANDO — Eric Swanson, co-author of "The Externally Focused Church," will lead a seminar in the East Central District April 22, 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m., at First United Methodist Church, Deltona.

Swanson calls congregations to "turn from self-preoccupation to the mission of being salt and light in our communities." The number-one characteristic of declining congregations is a loss of contact with their surrounding community and an inward focus, he says.

"Externally focused churches ask for a little from many people, not great things from a few," Swanson says in his book.

Church groups attending the training will receive two copies of "The Church of Irresistible Influence" with a study guide for church leaders. Co-written by Robert Lewis and Rob Wilkins, the book challenges churches to build bridges to their communities.

Registration is $90 per church for up to five people and $20 per person over five. The fee includes the training, lunch and two books.

Individuals may register by contacting Marilyn Beecher at 407-897-7046 or The registration deadline is April 19.

Unique summer internships available for ethnic young adults

By the Rev. Neal Christie**

Each year the General Board of Church and Society offers a unique summer internship to nurture professional leadership for social justice advocacy, organizing and education in The United Methodist Church.

During the past 20 years, hundreds of young adult leaders have been challenged by this experience. Both church and society now benefit from an internship that combines work, worship and life in Christian community in Washington, D.C.

Applicants for the Ethnic Young Adult Summer 2006 Internship must be between the ages of 18 and 22 and of Asian, African-American, Hispanic, Native American or Pacific Islander heritage, representing the five ethnic caucuses of The United Methodist Church.

Applicants must have an interest in exploring issues of public policy, social justice advocacy and social change. They should be in good academic standing at their college or university if currently enrolled, demonstrate evidence of their concern for social justice through their extracurricular activity and academic study, and have some history of involvement in their church and/or community. If employed full-time, applicants must show active leadership and participation in their local church and community and an involvement in social justice activities.

Each intern must be highly self-motivated, able to function effectively within a professional atmosphere, exercise good decision-making skills, feel comfortable working in a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic urban environment and be willing to participate in group activities.

Interns are expected to return to their schools, churches and communities with an increased commitment to working with and on behalf of marginalized groups in society and a willingness to share their experiences with other people from their community, school and/or church.

The eight-week internship offers a $1,500 stipend. The application deadline is March 20. Interested individuals may contact the Rev. Neal Christie at 202-488-5611 or for an application and more information.

Spring event will focus on 'Caring for God's Creation'

By United Methodist News Service

A training event in April will help churches and individuals respond to an often-overlooked area of stewardship, yet one that has roots in Genesis: The call to care for the earth and its resources.

The event, "Caring for God's Creation," will be April 20-22 at the Lake Junaluska (N.C.) Conference and Retreat Center. It is open to "anybody who's interested in caring for the earth," said Loy Lilley, event coordinator and Good Word Resource Center director at Lake Junaluska.

"In a time when many are complacent about the environment, a new emphasis can assist the church in taking leadership," said Jimmy L. Carr, executive director for the United Methodist Church's Southeastern Jurisdiction, with offices in Lake Junaluska. "Local church members will learn effective ways of being stewards of creation, allowing them to be the best disciples possible."

"The earth is our home," Lilley said, "and we need to learn how to take better care of that home given us by God."

The event is sponsored by the United Methodist Women of the Southeastern Jurisdiction, the Ministry Team of the Southeastern Jurisdiction and the Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center. People and churches from any of the United Methodist Church's other geographical areas are welcome, Lilley said.

This is the first of what will be multiple events focused on stewardship of the earth. "We're looking at care of the earth so that it can be more sustainable, and we'll be moving next year to what we can do (about) the causes of what's happening to the earth," Lilley said.

Eleven workshops (each offered three times) will cover such subjects as sustainable agriculture, earth care and Christian spirituality, simpler living, earth care and Bible basics, political advocacy, practical ideas for saving energy, and saving water.

Climate change will be one of the issues addressed. "There are those scientists who say, 'Don't worry about it, it's just a cyclical thing and there's nothing we can do about it. It's happened before and it's going to happen again, so don't worry about it,' " Lilley said.

He said individuals living on an island in the Pacific, where the water level is rising, or in Greenland, where the glaciers are melting, are concerned, however. News reports have stated Greenland's glaciers are melting at a more rapid rate than previously believed.

Keynote speakers include: Tom W. Mann, a United Church of Christ minister who has taught Hebrew Bible at Princeton Theological Seminary and recently wrote "God Of Dirt: Mary Oliver And The Other Book Of God;" the Rev. Miriam Burnett, vice chairperson of the National Council of Churches USA's Justice and Advocacy Commission and a practicing physician and associate minister at Victory AME Church in Atlanta; Bishop Kenneth Carder, professor of pastoral education at United Methodist-related Duke Divinity School in Durham, N.C., who served as the leader of the United Methodist Church's Tennessee and Mississippi annual (regional) conferences; and Freeman Owle, a Cherokee storyteller and speaker.

Participants will also learn about resources available in local areas and how to develop a Creation Care Ministry at the annual conference, district and local church levels.

The program fee is $85 per person and $195 for a team of three. More information is available at under "Events Calendar," then "Caring for God's Creation." Details are also available by calling Lilley at 828-454-6750.

Resources available for Christian Home Month in April

By Caryl Kelley

LAKELAND — Families of all kinds and a common faith are "Called to Peace" in 2006. That is also the theme for this year's Christian Home Month in April.

The General Board of Discipleship of The United Methodist Church provides many resources to be used by family ministry leaders and teams in local congregations and family life council chairpersons/coordinators.

The Web site at offers a complete recommended resource list for family ministries. There is also a link to the 2006 Christian Home Month: Families Called to Peace publication, with articles on peaceful living in the home, worship service resources, a retreat model with suggestions for a family camping weekend and a planning calendar with monthly suggestions for activities that support ministries with families.

Printed copies of the Christian Home Month resource are also available from the Family, Life-Span & Latino Ministries Office, General Board of Discipleship, toll-free at 877-899-2780, extension 7119, or

Health and Wellness conference empowers health ministries

By Jim F. Truitt**

NEW YORK — The second annual health and wellness conference sponsored by the General Board of Global Ministries Health and Wellness Congregational Health Ministries team is Oct. 8-11 in Memphis, Tenn.

The focus of this year's conference, "Empowering Ministries of Health: Transform, Mobilize Advocate," will provide how-to tips for those working for health and wellness in their annual conferences and local churches.

Conference speakers include Bishop Sally Dyck of the Minnesota Annual Conference speaking on "Caring for Clergy;" Bishop Felton May, retired and dean of the Harry R. Kendall Science and Health Mission Center at Philander Smith College, speaking on "Strategies for Motivating Congregations, Leaders and Pastors;" and Bishop Hope Morgan Ward of the Mississippi Annual Conference speaking on "Belonging to God."
The Rev. Dr. Gary Gunderson, senior vice president of Health and Welfare Ministries, Methodist Healthcare, will give the keynote address, "Boundary Leadership." Sheridan B. Smotherman, coordinator for Congregational Health Ministries, Church Health Center, Memphis, Tenn., will speak on "Assessing the Health Needs of Congregations and the Assets and Graces of the Church." Rev. Dr. Scott Morris, executive director and founder of Church Health Center, will speak on "Wesley's Ministry Mandate."

More information is available at or by contacting Jim Truitt at 253-630-1268 or

Epworth Institute offers classes for young United Methodist clergy

By Patricia L. Miller**

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — United Methodist clergy have gathered each year at Epworth Institute for an intense week of study, worship, fellowship and recreation. The 2006 Epworth Institute will be held July 9-14 at the Oakwood Retreat and Conference Center in Syracuse, Ind.

The Epworth Institute, sponsored by The Confessing Movement of the United Methodist Church, is primarily for United Methodist clergy under age 45 with a minimum of two years full-time ministry under appointment; however, all are welcome.

The purpose of the Epworth Institute is for young United Methodist clergy to be grounded in solid Wesleyan theology, educated in the sound academic foundations beneath Wesleyan theology, afforded the opportunity to develop networks of mutual support and provided high-quality continuing education.

Classes are conducted each morning, afternoons are open for recreation and family activities, and worship takes place each evening.

The 2006 faculty includes Dr. Elmer M. Colyer teaching "Wesley's Trinitarian Vision of the Christian Faith," Dr. William R. Bouknight teaching "The ABC's of Preaching" and Dr. Randy L. Maddox teaching "Wesley's Holistic Theology of Salvation." Bishop James E. Swanson Sr. of the Holston United Methodist Conference will preach each evening.

Tuition is $149. Spouses of students are welcome to attend all sessions. Child care will be available for children ages 2 and older. Registration and scholarship information may be obtained by phone at 317- 356-9729; mail at 7995 East 21 Street, Indianapolis, IN 46219; e-mail at; or visiting

2012 United Methodist General Conference Moves to Tampa

By Stephen Drachler**

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Citing a church policy regarding meeting in cities that are home to professional sports teams with Native American names, The United Methodist Commission on the General Conference has retracted its selection of Richmond as the site of the 2012 General Conference and named Tampa as the new meeting site.

The 2012 General Conference will be held April 25-May 4 in the 600,000 square-foot Tampa Convention Center.

At the time of the initial selection, commission members were unaware that Richmond is home to the Richmond Braves, a minor league baseball team affiliated with the Atlanta Braves.

The General Conference is The United Methodist Church's top legislative body. Every four years nearly 1,000 delegates from around the world gather to set church law and vote on hundreds of issues related to church life. The 2004 General Conference took place in Pittsburgh.

A resolution passed by the 2004 General Conference called for United Methodist agencies and organizations to avoid holding meetings and events in cities that sponsor sport teams using Native America names and symbols. "The United Methodist Church rejects the use of Native American names and symbols for sport teams and considers the practice a blatant expression of racism," the resolution stated.

"We reviewed many issues when considering the finalists, but the name of the minor league sports team never came up in our discussions," said Gail Murphy-Geiss of Centennial, Colo., chair of the Commission on the General Conference. "We had earlier eliminated Atlanta from consideration because it was home to the major league baseball team, the Braves.

"When the minor league Braves issue was quickly brought to our attention after the original announcement, we believed we were obligated to revisit the issue.

"We are sad for the great United Methodists in Virginia who were excited about hosting the General Conference, but are pleased to take a strong stance against teams with offensive names. However well intended, sports teams named after Native Americans demeans the heritage of native peoples. They perpetuate unhealthy and unfair stereotypes."

Murphy-Geiss said the commission is working with the Rev. Alan Morrison, business manager of the General Conference, to develop detailed written procedures and policies to help the commission consider future sites, including reviews of cities' major and minor professional sports team names.

Tampa was a finalist in the original search process for the 2012 General Conference. When the commission reopened its search, negotiations resulted in Tampa offering the strongest proposal, Murphy-Geiss said.

The 10-day gathering is expected to attract about 1,000 delegates and 4,000 others to the Tampa area and will generate approximately $20 million in anticipated direct spending.

Tampa is a part of the Florida Annual Conference, which is second in size only to Virginia. There are 728 local churches with more than 332,000 members in the conference.

Handel's "Hallelujah Chorus" available for free download

By Dean McIntyre**

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A free download of the voice parts of the "Hallelujah Chorus" from Handel's Messiah is available in Sibelius, PDF and PowerPoint for projection at,823.

The music has been transposed down to the key of C Major and re-scored in hymnal harmonization, rather than choral scoring for congregational singing. All notes and text are the same as Handel's original music, so it will work even if the music has to be played in the original key of D Major from the choral score. Some keyboard cueing is also provided. The PowerPoint version can be projected for congregational singing.

More information can be obtained from Dean McIntyre at 877-899-2780, extension 7073, or


*Parham is managing editor of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
** Kelley is subscription manager, photographer and contributing writer for e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service. Burkholder is director of the conference's Connectional Ministries office. Rankin is director of the global mission and health and wholeness ministries of the conference's Connectional Ministries office and dean of HCA. Whitaker is bishop of the Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church. Beecher is director of the East Central District's Church and Community Connection. Christie is assistant general secretary for education and leadership formation at the General Board of Church and Society, Washington D.C. Truitt is on the leadership team at the General Board of Global Ministries Health and Welfare, New York. Miller is executive director of the Confessing Movement within The United Methodist Church. Drachler is executive director of public information at United Methodist Communications in Nashville, Tenn. McIntyre is director of music resources at the General Board of Discipleship in Nashville, Tenn.