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e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service


An e-Review News Item | Feb. 23, 2009 {0977}

This series includes:

• Churches invited to assist families with federal program applications
• Certification course for spiritual formation offered
• Volunteers needed to help respond to disaster
• Seminar strengthens food service ministries
• Applications accepted for Harry Denman Evangelism Award
• Team members needed for Celebrate Jesus missions
• Conference offers new e-learning Bible study

• Workshop provides tools to enhance church library ministry
• Church leadership, effective management conference held in Texas
• Churches prepare to receive returning military personnel
• Lenten devotions program makes feeding the hungry a mission
• Free toolkit helps congregations support unemployed workers
• Online course explains Four Areas of Focus
• Conference addresses challenges of putting faith into action
• Opportunities for older adults, grandchildren offered at Georgia conference center
• New Advance project guide now available
• Handouts for the homeless: servant or sucker?
• Upper Room offers ‘Prayers for Hard Times’


Churches invited to assist families with federal program applications

By Erik Alsgaard**

LAKELAND — At the 2008 Florida Annual Conference Event, three goals were adopted in relation to supporting efforts to reduce childhood hunger.

As part of achieving one of those goals, United Methodist congregations are invited to attend a workshop Feb. 27, 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., to become an ACCESS site. The event will be held at St. Luke’s United Methodist Church, 4851 S. Apopka-Vineland Rd., in Orlando.
ACCESS sites are places where low-income families can receive applications and information on such assistance programs as (Women, Infants and Children program), food stamps, Medicaid, TANF (Temporary Aid to Needy Families) and Florida Kid Care, the state’s children’s health insurance program for uninsured children under age 19.

ACCESS sites could simply provide the information or they can set up computer stations with trained volunteers who assist people going through the application processes.
The Florida Conference’s goal is to have at least one United Methodist Church ACCESS site in each district.
Registration and additional information is available by contacting Lynette Fields at


Certification course for spiritual formation offered

By Erik Alsgaard
LAKELAND — “Spiritual Disciplines and Prayer in Christian Ministry” is the title of a new course sponsored by Wesley Theological Seminary and the Florida Conference. This one week intensive course, held at the Life Enrichment Center in Fruitland Park, is March 1-5.

The course is part of the certification process in The United Methodist Church managed by the church’s General Board of Higher Education and Ministry (GBHEM). The certification of educators, youth workers, musicians, evangelists, camp/retreat and spiritual formation directors by The United Methodist Church resulted from a desire of people in these fields to serve the church with excellence.

Certification is the church’s recognition that an individual has met the required standards for academic training, experience and continuing study necessary to achieve and maintain professional excellence.

The course, taught by Melinda Trotti, director of Florida Conference Justice and Spiritual Formation Ministries, fulfills a requirement for GBHEM certification in spiritual formation. The course is open to laity and clergy interested in starting or continuing the certification process.

More information on certification is available at by choosing “Ministry” then “certification studies.”

More information on the class is available by contacting Trotti at


Volunteers needed to help respond to disaster

By Florida Conference Disaster Recovery Staff

LAKELAND — For most people, Tropical Storm Fay is all but forgotten, but for those affected, the long-term recovery process has just begun.

More than 19,000 Floridians registered for assistance from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and 27 counties in Florida received a federal declaration of disaster. As a result, volunteer work teams are needed to help families repair their homes and rebuild their lives.

Teams wishing to help should complete the volunteer team registration form found on the Florida Conference Web site under the Disaster Recovery section. Interested individuals can go to, click on the Disaster Recovery box on left, then choose “Community Arise: Basic Disaster Ministry Training.” Disaster Recovery will then contact each volunteer team to match the skills of the team with existing needs. 

Community Arise: Basic Disaster Ministry Training is an introduction to the unique and important role the faith community plays in disaster mitigation, preparation and response in the United States.

Basic Disaster Ministry teaches people in the faith community how to identify and address unmet needs of all survivors, particularly people who were vulnerable before a disaster. It also teaches how to provide a larger vision of life that includes emotional and spiritual care, as well as physical rebuilding to assist in long-term recovery of those in need.

At the conclusion of the training, each church team will have a practical foundation for how to effectively respond to disaster in its community in cooperation with other churches, emergency management officials and the disaster recovery ministry of the conference. Participants will understand the importance of communication and collaboration in meeting the needs of disaster survivors and the importance of being the church in the midst of crisis.

The conference disaster recovery ministry offers a one-day training based, in part, on “Community Arise: A Disaster Ministry Curriculum.” Church World Services developed the curriculum in collaboration with other faith-based organizations, including the United Methodist Committee on Relief, Lutheran Disaster Services, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, Catholic Charities and others.

There is no cost for this training. Upcoming sessions are March 7, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., at Good Samaritan Church, 3720 Capitol Cir. SE, Tallahassee, 32311; and March 21, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., at North Naples United Methodist Church, 6000 Goodlette Rd., Naples, 34109.

There will also be a volunteer celebration May 29-30 at First United Methodist Church, 336 S. Halifax Dr., Ormond Beach, 32176. Disaster Recovery Ministry looks forward to celebrating with the many volunteers who have given so freely of their time and talents to help those affected by disaster.

This will be a special time of worship, fellowship and workshops designed to inspire, honor and connect with churches and volunteers.

Everyone who has served in disaster ministry from 2004 to the present is invited. More information will be available at


Seminar strengthens food service ministries

By Caryl Kelley**

LAKELAND — Every church has a particular approach to food service, including providing church dinners, youth and children’s group meals, meals to small and large church groups, meals offered for special occasions, such as wedding receptions, and meals provided to groups outside of the church.

There are ways to save and even improve in each area, while strengthening the ministry of the church. 

First United Methodist Church in Lakeland is offering a one-day seminar March 28, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., called “Building Confidence and Taking a Risk” to help churches improve their food service ministries. Mike Stasiak, First United Methodist Church’s director of food services, will lead the seminar.

Stasiak says the seminar is beneficial to all kitchen workers, whether they are volunteers or paid staff or from small, medium or large churches. Stasiak will share some of the methods he has learned in his 30 years in food service to help cut costs while expanding church food service ministries.

Participants will learn how to better utilize people, supplies and equipment to maximize their kitchen ministry efforts. They will be guided through menus, recipes and procedures to enhance kitchen skills.

Seminar topics include menu items, training on better techniques, a hands-on cooking class and ways to stretch a dollar. U.S. Foodservice will provide and demonstrate new products and have products on hand to purchase.

The cost for the seminar is $25 per person. Registration questions should be directed to Stasiak at, 863-701-0591 or

First United Methodist Church in Lakeland is located at 72 Lake Morton Dr., Lakeland, 33801.


Applications accepted for Harry Denman Evangelism Award

By Caryl Kelley

LAKELAND — United Methodists are encouraged to nominate clergy and laity for the 2009 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. The awards are presented annually to a United Methodist clergy and lay person in each annual conference for outstanding work in Christian evangelism.

The awards are named for the late Dr. Harry Denman, distinguished lay evangelist, and made possible by The Foundation for Evangelism, which was founded in 1949 by Denman.

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. Dr. Billy Graham called Denman “my mentor in evangelism.”

The Florida Conference Office of Congregational Transformation sponsors the award. The nomination form and more information are available on the Florida Conference Web site at or by contacting Vicky Tica at 800-282-8011, extension 340, or

The application can be faxed to 863-688-7233. The deadline is April 7.


Team members needed for Celebrate Jesus missions

By Caryl Kelley

LAKELAND — Celebrate Jesus is looking for team members to participate in its upcoming Celebrate Jesus mission events.

The Southwest Florida Mission is June 20-27 and has an application deadline of April 20. The Northeast Florida Mission is July 25-Aug. 1. Its application deadline is May 20.

Celebrate Jesus partners with churches to train and empower them to reach out into their neighborhoods, building relationships with neighbors and businesses and discovering their needs.

A Celebrate Jesus mission involves numerous churches in a geographical area doing servant evangelism, offering God’s love in practical ways to their neighborhoods. This combined effort can be accomplished as a mini-mission (3-4 days) or a full week mission. 

While working with the church for a full year preparing for their mission, volunteers are recruited from across the country to spend a week at a host church helping them to spread God’s love to their community through visitation and acts of kindness.

Individuals interested in participating in the upcoming summer mission weeks may visit for more information.


Conference offers new e-learning Bible study

By Caryl Kelley

LAKELAND — The newest e-Learning class offered by the Florida Conference Online Learning ministry is now available.

Called “Walking in God’s Presence,” the module is a Bible study designed as a scriptural walk to help people recognize the presence of God in everyday life.

This study provides information, scriptures to aid the study, methods to process the scripture and reflections to help in the participant’s spiritual journey.

The conference Online Learning ministry was developed to provide opportunities for leaders in local congregations to gain information and knowledge in a convenient form. Other online classes available through the ministry provide training for lay leaders, lay members, membership secretaries and staff parish relations, finance (including stewardship) and trustees committees. There is also a Bible study called “Where Is The Fruit” and a guide for worship leaders called “Come Let Us Worship.”

Individuals interested in any of the modules may go to and view the short tutorial on how the software works, then choose “learning modules” to select a class and “register” to access a brief registration form that allows conference leaders to know how many people are using this tool.

Feedback on the process or suggestions for other courses should be sent to Carol Sue Hutchinson at


Workshop provides tools to enhance church library ministry

By Caryl Kelley

LAKELAND — Lake Junaluska Conference and Retreat Center in Lake Junaluska, N.C., is offering a church library workshop March 15-18.

The training is designed to help individuals involved in church library ministry improve their services by sharing experiences and resources in a workshop setting. It provides both the experienced and novice church librarian with ideas and tools to enhance the church library as a resource for the congregation and provide ideas for improving the service of the library.

Workshop subjects include organizing a library, physical dimensions, selecting resources, preparing and arranging resources for use, step-by-step processing, promoting the library’s ministry, and dimensions of service, including archives, sources, evaluation, reporting and more.

The workshop, held in the Kern Auditorium at the retreat center, begins with registration at 2 p.m. March 15. At the evening session, participants will visit several libraries. The workshop will conclude at 11 a.m. March 18. Detailed schedules will be available at registration.

The Rev. Arthur W. Swarthout, a certified minister of Christian education, will lead the workshop.

Event packages arranged for this event include housing and nine meals. The cost for a single person in a room is $264. Double room costs are $192 per person. The program fee is $90 per person. Lodging reservations can be made by calling 1-800-222-4930.

On line reservations and event information are available at by choosing upcoming events, spring, then scrolling to church library workshop and lodging.


Church leadership, effective management conference held in Texas

By Bob Pierson**

TULSA, Okla. — Leadership Nexus is presenting its next leadership conference March 24-27 at First United Methodist Church in Arlington, Texas.

The “Church Leadership & Effective Management Conference” will provide insight and training in leadership, management, multi-site ministry, evangelism, worship, discipleship, post-modern culture, children and youth ministry. It features national speakers, workshops, networking, exhibitors, panel discussions, pre- and post-conference sessions, and visits to area churches and ministries.

Speakers and leaders include Bishop Robert Schnase of the Missouri Conference of The United Methodist Church; Bishop Michael Lowry of the Central Texas Conference of The United Methodist Church; Jim Poit, president of the California Graduate School of Theology; Bill Lizor and Betsey Heavner, United Methodist General Board of Discipleship staff; Jane B. Wood, vice president of the Foundation for Evangelism in Lake Junaluska, N.C.; Jack Stephenson, senior pastor at Anona United Methodist Church in Largo, Fla.; Jessica Moffat-Seay, senior pastor at First United Methodist Church in Bixby, Okla.; Len Wilson and Jason Moore, worship artists and founders of Midnight Oil Productions; and many others from a variety of denominations and backgrounds.

Leadership Nexus was created to connect clergy from many denominations with training, consulting and networking opportunities.

A brochure, with a complete list of speakers and workshops and registration information, is available at or by contacting Bob Pierson at or 918-477-7549.


Churches prepare to receive returning military personnel

By JustPeace Staff

WASHINGTON, D.C. — JustPeace and The United Methodist General Boards of Higher Education and Ministry and Discipleship will co-sponsor the annual 2009 Gathering event April 1-2 at the Upper Room Denman Building of the United Methodist Center in Nashville, Tenn. 

This year’s event features “Trauma Healing — Preparing Churches to Receive Returning Military Personnel.” 

Speakers will include Shelly Rambo and Laura Bender. Rambo is assistant professor of theology at Boston University School of Theology and author of “Trauma and Redemption: Witnessing Spirit Between Death and Life.” Bender is a United Methodist chaplain with the U.S. Navy and currently the command chaplain on the USS New York. 

On April 1, Rambo will help participants understand the phenomenon of trauma and its effects on people and communities. She will also help explore how theology informs and is informed by trauma and healing. On April 2, Bender will present ways in which churches can more effectively respond to the needs of returning troops. This will include time together with a panel of military and church leaders.

Participants will receive a draft of materials to be provided to local church leaders to assist them in a healing ministry with returning veterans, with an eye to both their needs and the ability to address these needs. They will also have a chance to add suggestions for improving these materials. The Gathering is open to all. 

This year’s Gathering is the ninth annual event of the JustPeace movement, committed practitioners on the journey of the ministry of reconciliation. Practitioners and friends in the JustPeace Network will attend, as well as staff colleagues of the Nashville agencies of The United Methodist Church, leaders within The United Methodist Church and the Presbyterian Church of America, and military chaplains.

Interested individuals may register online at or by sending an e-mail to JustPeace at that includes an explanation of interest in attending the Gathering and contact information (name, title, mailing address, phone, fax, e-mail address).

The participation fee for this year’s Gathering is $100, which includes a meal April 1 and snacks during the Gathering time. Participants are responsible for their own travel and lodging arrangements. Checks should be made payable to JustPeace and sent to 100 Maryland Ave. NE, Washington, DC 20002.  

JustPeace Center for Mediation and Conflict Transformation is a mission of The United Methodist Church to engage conflict constructively in ways that strive for justice, reconciliation, resource preservation and restoration of community in and through The United Methodist Church and with the church universal. 


Lenten devotions program makes feeding the hungry a mission

By Carol A. Breitinger**

BIG ISLAND, Va. — The Society of St. Andrew is now offering its 2009 Lenten Devotions program, called “Christ’s Marvelous Hands.”

“Through spiritual reflection, prayer and giving, the reader is challenged to take seriously the scriptural injunctions to care for the poor, while also being provided an opportunity to feed our hungry neighbors,” said the Rev. Jennifer Vestal Moore, church relations director for the Society of St. Andrew. “Each day of Lent the reader is introduced to a unique way to see Jesus through His divine, yet human, hands, and is encouraged to reflect and pray about how they might use their hands to be more Christ-like to others.”

An optional “Good Friday Fast” is available for use in conjunction with the daily devotions or as a stand-alone program. 

The Society of St. Andrew’s (SoSA) is a national, ecumenical, nonprofit hunger relief ministry and Advance #801600. It coordinates salvage programs that gather leftover produce from farm fields and backyards. What’s collected is then given to a variety of hunger ministries. During SoSA’s 30-year history it has saved more than half a billion pounds of nutritious food from going to waste, providing 1.7 billion servings of nourishing food to hunger relief ministries. 

Since SoSA delivers fresh food for about 2 cents per serving, a $1 a day donation during Lent ($47) will provide more than 2,000 servings of fresh produce for those who don’t get enough to eat. SoSA’s fund-raising and administrative costs are less than 10 percent, which means that more than 90 cents of every donated dollar goes directly to providing food. 

By a 2008 General Conference resolution, the Society of St. Andrew is an official partner with The United Methodist Church in alleviating hunger in the United States

All materials for the Lenten devotions program are free. Individuals may order a packet and churches can order a sample packet at 800-333-4597, 434-299-594 (fax), or

More information about Society of St. Andrew, its hunger-relief programs and its Lenten devotions is available by contacting 800-333-4597 or


Free toolkit helps congregations support unemployed workers

By Renae Manley**

CHICAGO — The grim news that 524,000 jobs were lost in December and the unemployment rate hit 7.2 percent starkly underscores the need for all sectors of society to support unemployed workers and encourage employers to treat all workers justly in times of economic crisis.

Interfaith Worker Justice (IWJ) recently prepared a Congregational Toolkit on Unemployment and the Economic Crisis, found at, to help unemployed workers.

Available free of charge from the IWJ Web site, the toolkit provides resources that are available to unemployed workers, suggestions on establishing support groups for unemployed workers and worship aids for lifting up unemployed workers and employers in this time of crisis.

“Congregations have always stood by unemployed workers in times of struggle,” said Bishop Gabino Zavala, co-president of IWJ’s board of directors. “These congregational tools help us fulfill our mission of serving God’s people.”


Online course explains Four Areas of Focus

By United Methodist News Service Staff

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A free online course is available on The United Methodist Church’s four key areas of ministry. The self-directed course, “Four Areas of Focus,” is offered by United Methodist Communications until Dec. 31.

The four areas of focus are developing principled Christian leaders for the church and the world, creating new places for new people and revitalizing existing congregations, engaging in ministry with the poor, and combating the diseases of poverty by improving health globally.

Interested individuals my register by going to the Online Learning Center found at and selecting “Four Areas of Focus” from the United Methodist Basics category.

Returning online learners may enter their user name and password on the left side of the login page. New online learners should complete the brief registration form on the right side of the login page and click “register.”


Conference addresses challenges of putting faith into action

By Epworth by the Sea Staff

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. — The Epworth By The Sea board of trustees presents “Bridging the Gap Between Your Career Path & Your Faith Journey.”

The conference, held April 29-May 1, will address the challenges of putting faith into action in the workplace and is specifically designed for current and emerging leaders in secular and religious settings, such as large corporations, small businesses, nonprofit agencies, educational institutions, health-care organizations, volunteer groups, governmental agencies and churches.

The program will be a combination of presentations, including discussion sessions led by a team of leaders from various fields. Additional activities — going to the beach, golfing, playing tennis, fishing, tours and a ropes course for team-building — can be arranged separately. Participating organizations may also schedule extra time for individual retreat activities.

Several members of the same organizational team would benefit, and if possible, it is recommended that spouses and pastors of the registered participants also be included. Registration fees for both spouses and pastors are reduced. Limited scholarships are available for the registration fee for pastors.

More information is available by contacting Epworth at 912-638-8688. Online registration and a brochure are available at by choosing Epworth event schedule and then brochure.

Rates are per person and include lodging for two nights at D. Abbott Turner Lodge, six meals (Wednesday banquet through Friday lunch), a concert and the programming fee. Rates are $317.57 per person, single occupancy; $249.41 per person, double occupancy; $267.57 per pastor, single occupancy; or $199.41 per pastor, double occupancy. Off-campus fees that include program fee, the concert and banquet are included in the event brochure.

Epworth by the Sea is a Christian conference and retreat center overlooking the Frederica River on St. Simons Island, Ga.


Opportunities for older adults, grandchildren offered at Georgia conference center

By Caryl Kelley

LAKELAND — Epworth By The Sea, the Methodist conference and retreat center on St. Simons Island, Ga., is presenting Springtime by the Sea — An Event for Older Adults May 18-20.

Titled “All Creatures Great and Small,” the event includes a reception on Epworth’s grounds, overlooking the Frederica River and the Marshes of Glynn and its wildlife. Participants will have an opportunity to go shrimping on a working shrimp boat and explore the environmental importance of an oyster reef habitat.

Participants will also view a slide show of animals of Africa, learn about the journey of sea turtles in Georgia and experience a raptor flight demonstration by staff from Georgia Southern University Raptor Center.

The cost is $251.08 per adult, double occupancy, and $312.44 per adult, single occupancy. Rates include lodging for two nights, six meals, afternoon reception, registration fee, all event activities and transportation charges.

A registration form and poster with a schedule of events is available at Accommodations can be viewed online at

The conference center is also offering its second annual Grand Camp June 26-29 for grandparents and their school-aged grandchildren.

Special activities include St. Simons Island trolley tours, raptor flight demonstration with experienced falconers from Georgia Southern University, wildlife outreach program, picnic-crafts-bonfire under the live oak trees on Epworth’s grounds, scavenger hunt, African animals slide show and a dolphin tour with drag line. There will also be a service at Lovely Lane Chapel and free time to explore other interests.

Details about Grand Camp are available at or by calling 912-638-8688.

The rate for one adult and one child in a room is $502.44. The rate for two adults and one child in a room is $683.52. Rates for additional children are $137.28 each. Rates include three nights lodging in Pitts or Booth motel, eight meals, tax and all activities listed. Rates do not include free time activities on Saturday or Sunday afternoons.


New Advance project guide now available

By United Methodist Communications Office of Public Information Staff

NEW YORK — Almost a thousand projects and programs in 100 countries are included in the new “Giving Resource Guide” from The Advance, the United Methodist designated mission giving channel.

Subtitled “Strength in Numbers,” the 111-page guide, a magazine-style catalogue, lists approved recipients for the quadrennium, or four-year period, from 2009-2012. It also contains other information on mission support, such as how congregations can enter into Covenant Relationships with missionaries.

The Advance represents “second-mile” mission giving; the “first mile” being mission support included in World Service apportionments to congregations.

Some $39 million is given in a typical year through The Advance for a wide range of mission projects, missionary support, disaster relief and humanitarian service. Funds for the United Methodist Committee on Relief go through The Advance, officially, “The Advance for Christ and His Church.” One hundred percent of every Advance gift goes to the ministry designated by the donor. No administrative costs are taken from the contributions.

“We carefully reviewed hundreds upon hundreds of applicants for Advance designation,” said the Rev. Shawn Bakker, director of The Advance and an associate general secretary of the General Board of Global Ministries. The Advance is part of the international mission agency.

The new giving guide is organized geographically, with a section devoted to general mission topics. It covers all regions of the world except Australia/New Zealand, Canada and scattered parts of Western Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. One can also search for projects by area, country, name or title on the online giving page at

“The contents of the print guide and the online database have been coordinated,” Bakker said. “Donors can go online to get more comprehensive information on projects. They can contribute by several means, including credit card gifts online or by telephone, by check directly to The Advance or through their congregations.”

Both broad ministries, such as new congregation development, hunger, AIDS prevention/treatment or specific projects can be supported through The Advance. One new board ministry this year is the Four Hundred Fund, which is being used to start 400 new congregations outside the United States. A new specific project is Church Labor Advocacy and Solidarity Program in the Philippines. This project provides skills training and capacity-building to seasonal workers who are prohibited from forming unions.

Almost all Advance causes and projects originate on local or regional levels as ministry priorities of those related to needs and possibilities. Applications come through annual conferences and other regional organizations and must have the approval of area episcopal leaders. However, approval as “an Advance” does not guarantee funding. Project goals in the resource guide are just that — goals.

A committee named by the Global Ministries directors oversees The Advance, which operates under financial supervision of the General Council on Finance and Administration and the General Treasurer of the mission agency.

Copies of the guide were mailed in January to all bishops, pastors, associate pastors, diaconal ministers and a wide range of annual conference officers and staff members. Other mailings are planned.

Individuals needing the print guide for their work on congregation, conference or institutional levels may obtain free single copies through United Methodist Communications by visiting its online store at,891,3.aspx or by calling 888-346-3862 and asking for item number 87400308. Individuals may also call Cokesbury at 800-672-1789 and ask for item number 528190.

Other resources and materials related to The Advance are also available at,54.aspx


Handouts for the homeless: servant or sucker?

By United Methodist Communications Office of Public Information Staff

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — It’s happened to most everyone — being approached by someone on the street asking for a handout. They might share a hard luck story, or just plead for spare cash.

What should be done? Ignore them? Hand over some money? Refuse, fearing the money will go for alcohol or drugs? Give only to organized charities that help the poor? What’s the best way to help someone in need without feeling you’ve been taken?

According to the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, approximately 3.5 million people are likely to experience homelessness in a given year.

“People who panhandle come from every social class, all types of backgrounds, but they have one thing in common: they beg because it works,” said the Rev. Beth Lindsay Templeton, who directs Our Eyes Were Opened, a program that teaches people how to make wise and compassionate decisions for helping people in poverty. “While some are victims of failed social policies, economic realities, discrimination and addiction, others bring their situations upon themselves. Pulling oneself up by the bootstraps isn’t as easy as it sounds, but giving people money on-the-spot does not necessarily help them pull out of a cycle that gets them nowhere.”

Ministry with the poor is one of four long-term “areas of focus” for The United Methodist Church. However, many people who want to reach out don’t know the best way to really help.

A new resource from United Methodist Communications provides a five-session, small-group DVD-based study led by Templeton that helps viewers discern appropriate, Christ-centered actions when it comes to addressing poverty on a personal or organizational level.

“Servant or Sucker? Wise and Compassionate Ways to Help the Poor” includes realities of poverty, including the concepts of time, relationships, money and values; a poverty tour; interviews with those who are homeless or poor; interviews with those who have helped and/or have been suckered; and steps individuals can take to be an effective servant without getting suckered.

“As people of faith, we know we are called to reach out to others,” Templeton said. “A lot of us just don’t know how. ‘Servant or Sucker?’ shows, in very practical terms, how to do that.”

The resource can be used by churches, civic and community organizations and individuals to gain insights into various issues related to poverty and giving the poor and homeless what they need rather than what they want.

Templeton says that, ironically, sometimes the best thing to do is tell someone “no” — but there are certain ways to do that. She offers these tips for how to respond to those who are poor and marginalized in a kind, respectful manner that actually does some good rather than harm: find out the person’s name to acknowledge his or her humanity; if a person asks for food give food, not money; and don’t believe everything you hear.

Produced by EcuFilm, “Servant or Sucker?” is now available for $39.95 from United Methodist Communications by visiting, calling toll free 888-346-3862 or e-mailing


Upper Room offers ‘Prayers for Hard Times’

By Jeanette Pinkston
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Upper Room Ministries, a ministry of the United Methodist General Board of Discipleship, has published “Prayers for Hard Times: Words of Faith in a Financial Crisis.”

Edited by Beth Richardson, “Prayers for Hard Times” is designed for individuals, churches and communities trying to keep centered in God while reaching out to all who are suffering during the current economic crisis.
The booklet features 32 pages of meditations from “The Upper Room daily devotional guide,” pertinent Scripture passages, prayers and a Scripture guide in the middle spread that serves as an index to find additional help for times of fear, distress and worry.

The booklets are sold in packages of 20 for $10 and may be ordered online at or by phone at 800-972-0433. The order number is #9998.


News media contact: Tita Parham, 800-282-8011,, Orlando

*Parham is managing editor of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**Alsgaard is director of communications for the Florida Conference.
   Breitinger is communications director for the Society of St. Andrew in Big Island, Va.
   Kelley is subscription manager, photographer and contributing writer for e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
   Manley is organizing director for Interfaith Worker Justice in Chicago, Ill.
   Pierson is executive director of Leadership Nexus in Tulsa, Okla.
   Pinkston is the director of the General Board of Discipleship media relations office in Nashville, Tenn.