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Pre-conference classes help members live ‘Methodist Way’

Pre-conference classes help members live ‘Methodist Way’

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

Pre-conference classes help members live ‘Methodist Way’

May 7, 2008     News media contact: Tita Parham* 
800-282-8011    Orlando {0848}

An e-Review Feature
By Erik J. Alsgaard**

LAKELAND — This year’s annual conference event isn’t just a time of business. It’s also a time of learning.

Using a “Pirates of the Caribbean” theme, Kalon Stiggins, worship director at Community of Faith United Methodist Church in Davenport, shares tips and strategies on creating worship services that give people the opportunity to experience God. The focus was passionate worship, one of the five practices of The Methodist Way. The class was taught as part of a series of workshops on the five practices held a day before the 2007 Florida Annual Conference Event began. Photo by Greg Moore. Photo #08-0841.

On May 28, a day before the business sessions of the “Living The United Methodist Way” 2008 Florida Annual Conference Event begin, 15 classes designed to help Florida United Methodists gain a deeper understanding of what it means to live The Methodist Way will be offered at the Lakeland Center. Two of the classes will be in Spanish, and one will be in Creole.

The 2008 Florida Annual Conference is May 29-31 at the Lakeland Center.

“We want to make sure that these classes are the best continuing education events that people can participate in,” said the Rev. Dr. Jeff Stiggins, director of the Florida Conference’s Congregational Transformation office and sponsor of the learning opportunities.

The classes, he said, are designed to help both laity and clergy learn more about the five essential practices of The Methodist Way. Christ calls every congregation to follow these practices, he said, in order to fulfill the mission of “making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.”

“Everybody knows that our mission is to make disciples for the transformation of the world, but what does that mean?” Stiggins said. “These five practices offer a practical-as-potatoes way to discover what it means for a church to make disciples.”

Classes will be offered three times during the day — at 2:30, 4 and 6:30 p.m. — and are free of charge, Stiggins said. Teams from local churches are encouraged to attend, whether or not they are members to the annual conference event.

Participants are encouraged to learn about all five practices, either by attending an overview session in English, Spanish or Creole or having each member of their church team attend a different class.

“Going to only one class is like grabbing one piece of an elephant,” Stiggins said. “If you grab just the ear, well, you know about the ear. We need to learn and understand and implement all five practices to have a healthy sense of what it means to make disciples.”

The 90-minute workshops will offer participants practical “how-tos.” “We know that every church, every community, is different,” Stiggins said. “How each church lives into The United Methodist Way is up to them.”

The classes will be led by teams of laity and clergy whose congregations excel at living into a particular practice. Each class is designed to both ground the practice in Scripture and help participants imagine practical ways of effectively living into the practice. 

The Rev. Matt Berryman, senior pastor at Avondale United Methodist Church in Jacksonville, leads communion at the “Passionate Worship: Divine Inbreaking” event April 11-12 at Trinity United Methodist Church in Gainesville. The event focused on the passionate worship practice of The Methodist Way and was repeated several days later at United Methodist Church of the Palm Beaches in West Palm Beach. Photo by Erik J. Alsgaard. Photo #08-0842.

Leadership and times for the classes include:

  •  “Passionate Worship”: the Rev. Jim Harnish and Warren Pattison (Hyde Park United Methodist Church, Tampa), 2:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.
  •  “Radical Hospitality”: the Rev. Doug Kokx (First United Methodist Church, Clermont), 2:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.
  •  “Intentional Discipleship”: the Rev. Lyndol and Joanie Loyd (LifeSong United Methodist Church, Orlando), 2:30 p.m. and 4 p.m.
  •  “Salty Service”: the Rev. Alex Shanks and Fred Scarborough (Christ Church United Methodist, Ft. Lauderdale), 4 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.
  •  “Extravagant Generosity”: Jeff Stiggins (conference staff) and Kalon and Lesley Stiggins (Community of Faith United Methodist Church, Davenport), 2:30 p.m. and 4 p.m. 
  •  “English/The Five Practices – Overview and Next Steps”: Phil Maynard (conference staff), 2:30 p.m. and 4 p.m.
  •  “Spanish/The Five Practices – Overview and Next Steps”: Liana Perez-Felix (conference staff), 4 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.
  •  “Creole/The Five Practices – Overview and Next Steps”: Phil Maynard with Jeannie Jacques translating (conference staff), 6:30 p.m.

Six different workshops will be videotaped by Florida United Methodist Communications and posted at after the annual conference has concluded.

The “overview and next steps” class is new this year, Stiggins said. This class will give participants an overview of all five practices of effective congregations and assist participants to: 1). Determine where their congregation is in the congregational lifecycle, 2). Assess their congregation’s readiness for transformation, and 3). Begin imagining appropriate practical next steps they might take in strengthening how their congregation lives into the five practices.

Participants are encouraged to register online for their classes at Advanced registration is used only for purposes of planning. Anyone may attend.


*Parham is managing editor of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**Alsgaard is director of communications for the Florida Conference.