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Opportunities — Aug. 20, 2008 {0901}

Opportunities — Aug. 20, 2008 {0901}

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

Opportunities — Aug. 20, 2008

Aug. 20, 2008    News media contact: Tita Parham* 
800-282-8011    Orlando {0901}

An e-Review News Item

This series includes:

n East Central District sponsors a weekend of lay learning
n Peacemaker conference offers insights on reconciliation, healing
n Youth Ministries Connection offers training for student leaders
n Radical hospitality events begin this fall

n Conference provides resources for ministry with Hispanic/Latinos
n Effective church management conference offered
n World Communion Sunday offering helps nurture students to lead
n United Methodist communicators invited to annual conference
n Churches invited to participate in Bread for the World Sunday
n Free digital choir music downloads available
n Study guide offers steps on Darfur involvement
n Handbook for religion communicators available, offered at a discount


East Central District sponsors a weekend of lay learning

By Caryl Kelley**

LAKELAND — Although lay speaking courses were originally designed primarily to train lay speakers, the East Central District has found them valuable for all lay people.

In an effort to provide all who are interested with an opportunity to take advantage of this training, three classes will be offered Sept. 19-20 at Ocoee Oaks United Methodist Church, 201 S. Clarke Rd., Ocoee. Participants will select one of three classes.

Lay speaking training prepares lay people to be in ministry through caring, communication and leadership. The key emphasis of lay speaking is to equip people to teach; do visitation; lead committees, leadership teams and small group ministry; and grow in personal understanding of God’s call on their lives.

The classes include “Lay Speakers are Accountable Disciples,” taught by the Rev. Gary and Kim Shockley. Gary is the lead pastor of Hope Spring United Methodist Church in Ocoee. Class participants will learn about Wesleyan spirituality and the concept of grace.

The Rev. Ernie Post, pastor of Ocoee Oaks United Methodist Church, will lead the second class, “Lay Speakers Discover Spiritual Gifts.” Participants will discern their spiritual gifts and prepare to use them as part of their Christian experience.

The third class, “Basic Lay Speaking,” gives participants the opportunity to learn what it means to be “called” by God and how to use that calling to work for God. Lynn Campbell, East Central District director of Lay Speaking Ministry, will lead the class.

The cost of one class is $45. The registration deadline is Sept. 10. More information is available by contacting the East Central District office at 407-896-2230 or


Peacemaker conference offers insights on reconciliation, healing

By Erik Alsgaard**

LAKELAND — Peacemakers from across the Florida Conference and the nation will gather for “The Power of a Peacemaking Church” Sept. 25-27 at the Caribe Royale Hotel in Orlando.

The conference is designed to provide a variety of teachings, resources and discussion that are conducive to growing as a biblical peacemaker.

Various “tracks” will be offered, including a leadership and women’s track. Pre-conference training events are also available Sept. 23-25, focusing on conflict coaching, reconciling church conflict, mediation training and teaching peacemaking cross-culturally.

Florida Conference United Methodists are being given a special 50 percent discount for attending. Those who are interested may visit for more information and to register by choosing the “Registration” link and adding the discount code “2008FL.”

The Rev. Wayne Wiatt, superintendent of the East Central District recommends participation in the event.

“I have enlisted the assistance of Peacemaker Ministries for several of our congregations embedded in conflict,” he said. “Their ministry … has enabled healing and reconciliation to establish a foothold where conflict and division seemed to be the ‘order for the day.’ ”


Youth Ministries Connection offers training for student leaders

By Caryl Kelley

LAKELAND — The Conference Connection on Youth Ministries will conduct a specialized training for student leaders in grades 6 through 12 and their adult leaders Oct. 3-5.

The Dare 2 C.A.R.E. (Community Advocacy Restoration Evangelism) 2008 Student Leadership Training event will give student leaders the opportunity to connect with other students who are also in leadership roles. It will also provide resources, training and ideas they can take home and use to benefit the ministries of their local churches.

The event will be held at the Holiday Inn International Drive Resort, 6515 International Drive, Orlando. The cost is $110 per person.

The weekend schedule begins Oct. 3 at 6 p.m. with registration at the Convention Center. Online registration is available at

More information is available by contacting Kelly Minter at or 407-694-2167.


Radical hospitality events begin this fall

By Erik Alsgaard

LAKELAND — The Florida Conference is sponsoring five, one-day events in October and November that are designed to help teams of people from local churches think through what it would mean for their congregations to practice “Radical Hospitality.”

These events, the second in a series of five exploring each of the practices of “The Methodist Way,” will provide resources and teaching tools to assist churches in reaching people in their community and the next generation.

In addition to three plenary sessions at each event, each participant will be choose from two practical breakout session.

The cost for one to five people to attend is $125. The cost for each additional person is $20 per person. Lunch and snacks will be provided at an extra $15 per person.
Participants may register at by choosing the “Radical Hospitality” link on the right-hand side of the home page.
The locations and dates of the events are: Trinity United Methodist Church, Tallahassee, Oct. 4; Harvest United Methodist Church, Bradenton, Oct. 24; First United Methodist Church, Lakeland, Oct. 25; United Methodist Church of the Palm Beaches, Nov. 1; and First United Methodist Church, Ormond Beach, Nov. 15.
More information is available by contacting the Florida Conference Office of Congregational Transformation at


Conference provides resources for ministry with Hispanic/Latinos

By Rev. David Ortigoza**

LAKE JUNALUSKA, N.C. — The Southeastern Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church is sponsoring an event Sept. 8-10 at the Lake Junaluska Conference & Retreat Center titled “Non-Hispanic Churches in Ministry with Hispanic/Latinos.”

Church leaders interested in initiating or expanding ministry with the Hispanic/Latino population in their conferences or located in areas of a concentration of Hispanic/Latino families are encouraged to participate.

The workshops and plenary sessions will help participants understand how to work with Hispanic/Latino community in their areas, the cultural background and challenges of this growing population, the tools and resources that are needed and available, how to begin a Hispanic/Latino congregation, and an overview of the strategies, focus and priorities of the National Plan for Hispanic/Latino Ministries.

Participants will also learn how to use lifestyle and life-stage information to understand the community and begin planning ministry.

More information is available by contacting Pam Naplen, administrative assistant, Lake Junaluska Conference & Retreat Center event management, at or 1-828-454-6656.


Effective church management conference offered

By Caryl Kelley

LAKELAND — One of the biggest needs across the church is a better understanding of the task of leadership and management in the local church.

Whether churches and pastors are involved with long-range plans, daily decision-making, recruiting, time management, staff training, fund-raising or money management, both have found that it is crucial to the goals of the local church for the pastor to be an effective manager.

The Rev. Pat Day, pastor at First United Methodist Church in Shreveport, La., and Dr. Robert Pierson of Leadership Nexus will lead the Leadership and Effective Management conference Sept. 23-25 to deal with those issues.

Leadership Nexus is an organization founded by Pierson to provide resources that empower the local church, equip the clergy and laity for leadership, and provide a network for peer learning. The basic functions of Leadership Nexus are to provide training through conferences, consultations, newsletters and information on additional resources.

The conference will feature more than 50 workshops, including Creating Congregation Systems for Ministry, Streetwise Leadership, Evangelism: Planning for Results, Understanding Church Capital Campaigns, The 3 Most Important Management Tools Every Pastor Needs, Does Your Web Site Match Your Mission?

Some of the event’s speakers include Bishop Robert Schnase, episcopal leader of the Missouri Area of The United Methodist Church, the Rev. Jessica Moffatt Seay, senior pastor of First United Methodist Church in Bixby, Okla., one of the largest churches in the United States served by a clergywoman, and the Rev. Tyrone Gordon, senior pastor of the 5,000-member St. Luke’s Community United Methodist Church in Dallas, Texas.

Hotel information, workshop details and more about Leadership Nexus are available at

The conference registration cost is $310 per person. Online registration, workshop lists and schedules are available on the Web site. Reservations can be made by calling 1-800-445-8667. Participants should mention the group code LEM for the group rate of $99 per night.

More information is available by contacting Pierson at or calling Leadership Nexus at 918-477-7549 or First United Methodist Church, Shreveport, at 318-424-7771.


World Communion Sunday offering helps nurture students to lead

By United Methodist Communications

World Communion Sunday, celebrated Oct. 5, is one of six unique Special Sundays created by General Conference to help congregations work with communities, rebuild shattered lives, strengthen self-sufficiency, encourage partnerships, nurture Native American ministries, model peace and justice, provide scholarships and loans for United Methodist students, and more.

Impacting a life, church, community and nation at one time is no easy task. The World Communion Sunday offering does just that, however, by nurturing students to lead today and in the future.

World Communion Sunday gives United Methodists a time to share in the sacrament and then serve God through scholarships for national (racial- and ethnic-minority) and international students. These scholarships enable people from around the world to serve and lead in their home churches and communities by making higher education a reality. Ethnic scholarship recipients study in a wide variety of fields: family pastoral care, Christian-Muslim relations, clinical psychology, peace and governance, crop production, law and more.

Fifty percent of the offering goes to World Communion Scholarships (formerly known as Crusade Scholars) of the General Board of Global Ministries. This program provides scholarships for students of mission partner institutions in advanced studies (master’s or doctoral) preparing them for leadership in church and society. Priority areas of mission include elimination of poverty, expansion of global health, leadership and congregational development.
All people can make a difference for the future by preparing and nurturing the students of today. World Communion Sunday is integral to making a difference.

Support materials are available at by choosing Connectional Giving Programs, then Special Sundays and then World Communion Sunday. Resources provided include a children’s sermon to help in talking to children about World Communion Sunday, a story to help motivate a congregation’s participation in Special Sundays, and World Communion talking points and frequently asked questions.

Also included are a downloadable bulletin insert with the history of World Communion Sunday and worship resources, such as prayer, Bible references and suggested hymns.


United Methodist communicators invited to annual conference

By Tita Parham

ORLANDO — During the annual meeting of the United Methodist Association of Communicators Oct. 14-17 at the Hilton Hotel, Providence, RI, keynote speaker Leonard Sweet will address the question “How Can a Church of Gutenberg Groupies Reach out to a Culture of Googleys?”

Under the theme, “Light the Way,” conference and local church communicators will ponder this question and other issues related to reaching new audiences.
United Methodist Communications General Secretary Larry Hollon will also invite participants to “Rethink Open,” as the church lives out its promise of “Open hearts. Open minds. Open doors.” in new ways.

Workshops for local church communicators include a preview of the movie “Lost in Woonstock,” the story of a homeless man in Woonsocket, a small community 15 minutes from Providence, who was featured in a nationally televised documentary and how that experience changed his life; Web Ministry 3.0: A view of emerging tools and applications; Using Windows Movie Maker for Video Editing; and Church Marketing.

The conference and hotel registration deadline is Sept. 5. An online brochure with costs and registration information are available at under the 2008 UMAC Annual Meeting link on the left-hand menu bar.


Churches invited to participate in Bread for the World Sunday

By Bread for the World Staff

WASHINGTON — Bread for the World Sunday is an opportunity for churches to renew their commitment to overcoming hunger and poverty in God’s world.

On Oct. 19 and other Sundays this fall, worshipping communities across the country will join in lifting up their voices on behalf of hungry people.

This year’s observance of Bread for the World Sunday takes place at a time when soaring prices for food and fuel have created an urgent hunger crisis — both in the United States and overseas. An additional 100 million people have fallen into poverty and are at risk of hunger and starvation.

In the midst of this global hunger crisis, the United States is electing a new president and new Congress. Its citizens have the privilege of electing a leader, as well as the responsibility of using this country’s resources to ensure people have enough to eat — and the opportunity to make a living and feed their families.

The Bible study by Pastor Heidi Neumark found in this year’s Reflection Resource offers insights that will be useful for both sermons and adult education forums. The themes of repentance and return, faith and abundance, can be found in many of the different Gospel readings used throughout the fall worship season.

Churches and worshipping communities across the country are urged to rededicate themselves to ending hunger in today’s world.
All Bread for the World Sunday 2008 materials are free of charge and may be downloaded or ordered. Delivery takes approximately two weeks.

Bread for the World Sunday packets are available and include: Reflection Resource (sent in the same language as the bulletin inserts ordered), Elections Matter handbook, We Are Bread for the World DVD, and English and Spanish bulletin Inserts.

Also available for order are offering envelopes to use for a special collection for Bread for the World and bread bags that can be used in bake sales.

Complete information and ordering information are available at


Free digital choir music downloads available

By Dean McEntyre**

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — During this time of year many choir directors are busy planning the schedule of choir music for the coming year for adults, youth, children and handbells.
For almost 10 years the General Board of Discipleship (GBOD) has made available on its worship and music Web site an increasing number of choir selections, service music, hymns and songs, instrumental arrangements, Psalms, communion music, and more for use in worship at no charge.

Churches can either plan their year of choir music for free from the GBOD site or find selections to supplement their repertoire.

There are links to many music sections, including children’s music, choral music, piano hymn arrangements, Christmas and Advent music, handbell music, responses for choir and congregation, Wesley hymns and more.

All churches have to do is download and print. Permission to duplicate and use in nonprofit worship is included on each piece and must be included on each copy made.

The music is available on the GBOD Web site at by choosing “music” then “music downloads” on the left-hand menu bar.


Study guide offers steps on Darfur involvement

By Wayne Rhodes**
WASHINGTON — A biblically based study developed to accompany a best-selling book on the crisis in Darfur is available to help the Christian community mobilize against atrocities in Sudan.

“Not on Our Watch Christian Companion: Biblical Reflections on the Mission to End Genocide in Darfur and Beyond” is an eight-week study written by Bill Mefford, director of civil and human rights for the United Methodist Board of Church and Society, and Greg Leffel, president of One Horizon Foundation.

The authors, who are receiving no payment for their work, told an Aug. 7 press briefing conducted at The United Methodist Building across from the U.S. Capitol they intended to create a resource that crossed all theological lines in the Christian community.

“We wanted to provide biblical reflections that enable people to think through how to respond to genocide,” Leffel said. “We hope to raise awareness about why it’s right to be involved in this issue in the first place and how to become organized. We tried to link Christian traditions to the wider movement against genocide.”

Mefford said the authors wanted to stay away from abstract, theological detachment. “We tried to make it as personal as possible,” he said, citing stories of Darfur refugees and aid workers included in the study guide. “The most powerful part of the ‘Christian Companion’ is the steps people will take to get engaged.”

Each chapter of the “Christian Companion” constitutes a weekly study designed to guide group discussion and reflection about Darfur and the movement to end genocide. Each session includes a biblical passage for reflection, a lesson applying the passage to Darfur, a weekly action step, and vignettes by refugees, activists and Christians who have awakened to the problem of genocide.

Human rights activist John Prendergast, who wrote the book, “Not on Our Watch: The Mission to End Genocide in Darfur and Beyond” with Academy Award winning actor Don Cheadle, took part in the press briefing. He said the “Christian Companion” is needed now because no audience is more vital and viable than its faith-based target readers.

“Genocide is a crime with no equal, the ultimate crime against humanity,” said Prendergast, co-chairperson of the ENOUGH Project to end genocide and crimes against humanity. During the Clinton administration, he was involved in peace processes in Africa while director of African Affairs at the National Security Council and special adviser at the U.S. Department of State. “Genocide demands response,” he said.

For the first time in history, a mass movement is developing against genocide, according to Prendergast. He pointed out that there was no answer by other nations during Nazi Germany’s Holocaust in the 1930s and 1940s, Pol Pot’s killing fields in Cambodia in the 1970s or the Hutu massacres in Rwanda in the 1990s.

“Despite the mass movement’s growth, genocide rages on,” Prendergast said. “Our goal is to build a permanent constituency among the faith-based communities to address genocide wherever it happens, to help ensure that the United States will do all it can to prevent genocide.”

Leffel and Mefford structured the “Christian Companion” to provide a step-by-step process to get involved through a “reflection/action” format. Leffel said there are steps to follow and also resources to connect to others opposing genocide.

Both authors are graduates of Asbury Theological Seminary. Leffel is president of One Horizon Foundation and co-founder of Communality, a Christian missional community in Lexington, Ky. He holds a doctorate in intercultural studies from Asbury and is author of “Faith Seeking Action: Mission, Social Movements and the Church in Motion.”

Mefford earned a doctorate in missiology from Asbury. In his position with the Board of Church and Society, he works primarily on issues of immigration, refugees, criminal justice reform, and abolition of the death penalty and torture.

“Christian Companion” is available in paperback and sells for $7.50. Copies can be ordered through The Web site includes activities to accompany the resource.

“Christian Companion” was published by The ENOUGH Project in association with the Board of Church and Society and One Horizon Foundation. ENOUGH is a project of the Center for American Progress to end genocide and crimes against humanity. It was founded in 2007 with an initial focus on the crises in Sudan, Chad, eastern Congo, northern Uganda and Somalia.


Handbook for religion communicators available, offered at a discount

By Peter M. Paulsen**

The eternal verities of communication don’t change. All religious communicators must have a compelling story. They must care for and about their audience. They must use media strategically.

Whether new in the field or grizzled veterans, the new edition of the Religion Communicators Council (RCC) handbook, “Speaking Faith: The Essential Handbook for Religion Communicators,” reminds communicators, as well as clergy and other church leaders responsible for communicating to members and the broader community, of the basics.

Lead articles by Kimberly Pace, communications officer of United Methodist General Board of Discipleship and M. Garlinda Burton, United Methodist communicator and interim executive of the United Methodist Commission of the Status and Role of Women, rehearse the need for careful planning and personal attention.

It is, however, also a new age for the communication of religion in North America. What always worked must now work in new situations. Old assumptions no longer necessarily support effective work. Representatives of faith groups are seldom privileged with access to mass media. No longer is a faith group granted the benefit of the doubt when it comes to some crisis. In this new age, established practices need new corollaries and fresh interpretations. Here Faith Speaks makes its best contribution.
Divided into three sections, the handbook gives greatest space to Section II with its focus on the tools of communicating. A chapter on graphic identity not only discusses the theory, it also offers graphics showing how established visual symbols can be reconfigured to more contemporary form. Jeanean D. Merkel, Principal of Illumicon, gives a clear and compelling introduction to Web planning, launch and evaluation. Other chapters break new ground with informed surveys of PowerPoint and a return to the basics of good photography.
The text is peppered with the graphic symbol of a CD. One of the extra benefits of this edition of the handbook is an accompanying CD that provides the various worksheets, forms and guideline materials found throughout the text. Now, it is possible to print one or more copies of a planning guide or a group evaluation sheet without having to cut the handbook or wrestle it into a copier.
Section III points to the future and provides a hint about what will be central in the next handbook edition. Daniel R. Gangler, communication specialist for the Indiana Area of The United Methodist Church, offers a rehearsal of some of the crises the church has faced in recent years and then a reminder that crises stimulate media coverage. His advice — be prepared, have a crisis team ready to go, appoint one spokesperson, take action, show concern, tell the truth, don’t say more than you know — is all common sense, but he puts together that knowledge in various parts and lays out an argument for good crisis management that ought to send everyone immediately to a planning meeting.
Anuttama Dasa, director of communications and governing body commissioner for the International Society of Krishna Consciousness, reminds readers America is increasingly an interfaith community. It is, in fact, that reality which has changed the face of communications in religious organizations. Rather than bemoaning the loss of control that communicators for Christian organizations used to have, Dasa points to the creative opportunities for life-changing and world-changing dialogue. Quoting extensively from policy papers produced across the interfaith spectrum, he calls on communicators to make true dialogue possible by avoiding stereotypes and speaking the Christian version of the truth in love.
Gary R. Rowe, an independent consultant and media producer, brings the handbook to a climactic finish by asking the ‘what if’ questions. Using statistics about future generations, he weaves a picture of a new reality in which information is shared collaboratively, rather than from expert to client, the consumer will create from a variety of information and entertainment sources a personal viewing/interacting schedule, and the perceived barriers among media will disappear.
Rowe makes the point that communicators must have something to say. “Are your messages good stories?” he asks.

Communicators must have a compelling story, appropriate for the audience, and it must be delivered in an accessible way. The old truths stand, but around them is a new set of questions and understandings. “Speaking Faith: The Essential Handbook for Religion Communicators” is a helpful and valuable resource that honors the old and engages the new.

The handbook may be ordered for $16.00 (including shipping and handling) from RCC Handbook, c/o UMR Communications, 1221 Profit, Dallas, TX 75247 or online at


*Parham is managing editor of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**Alsgaard is director of communications for the Florida Conference.
   Kelley is subscription manager, photographer and contributing writer for e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
   McIntyre is director of music resources at the General Board of Discipleship in Nashville, Tenn.
   Ortigoza is the Southeastern Jurisdiction’s director of Hispanic/Latino ministry in Lake Junaluska, N.C.
   Paulsen is formerly of the Candler School of Theology, Emory University.
   Rhodes is director of communications for the Board of Church and Society.