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Annual Conference workshops start today

Annual Conference workshops start today

Signs at The Lakeland Center list today's events for Annual Conference 2013. Photos by Susan Green.

LAKELAND – Florida United Methodists took over The Lakeland Center Tuesday in preparation for Annual Conference 2013.

The event kicks off today at the center, 701 W. Lime St., at 2 p.m. Wednesday, June 12, with registration and an afternoon of preconference workshops. Ministry Expo will open at 2 p.m.

Wednesday afternoon also offers the first of several opportunities to join volunteers packaging meals for Stop Hunger Now, a hunger relief organization with United Methodist roots.  Volunteers will assemble again Thursday morning, starting at 8 a.m. The goal is to package 100,000 meals during Annual Conference as a prelude to a yearlong target of a million meals. To register for a time, click here.

With a theme of "Becoming Disciples of Christ," the event promises to be different from years past, with less time spent on department reports and more on hands-on participation by delegates and guests.

New this year will be a change in Ministry Expo. About half The Lakeland Center's exhibit hall will be set aside for The Gathering Area, where people can go to learn about Florida Conference ministries in a relaxing, informal setting instead of lining up in front of booths. 

Welcoming Area at Ministry Expo
Ministry Expo is a hub of activity, with the informal Gathering Area for ministry exhibits, above, and commercial vendors like Cokesbury bookstore, below.
Cokesbury setting up Annual Conference

The other half will feature exhibitors' booths, including Cokesbury's traveling bookstore. Workers were busy Tuesday setting up displays of Bibles, copies of The Book of Discipline and works by Rev. Jim Harnish of Tampa, the event's keynote speaker, as well as by Bishop Ken Carter and well-known United Methodist pastor Adam Hamilton of Church of the Resurrection, Leawood, Kansas.

Annual Conference sessions will start with laity and clergy sessions at 10 a.m. Thursday. To view the event agenda, click here. To download the workbook, click here. For those who wish to view the proceedings from afar, click here for live-stream video.

Following is a list of locations for some of the most commonly sought events:

• Registration, Wednesday and Thursday: Inside Ministry Expo until 1:30 p.m. Thursday, then moving to Guest Services, Lakeland Center lobby

• Ministry Expo, including Cokesbury and other vendors: Exhibit Hall

 Plenary sessions, starting 10 a.m. Thursday: Jenkins Arena

• Clergy session, 10 a.m. Thursday: Youkey Theater 

• Workshops, starting 2 p.m. Wednesday: Sikes Hall, Lake Parker and Lake Hollingsworth A room

• Stop Hunger Now, Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning: Training, Lake Morton Room; packaging, Sikes Hall-F.

• Prayer Garden: Lake Hollingsworth B Room off Sikes Hall

• Ordination and Licensing: 7 p.m. Friday, Youkey Arena.

-- Susan Green is the editor of Florida Conference Connection.