The 2017 Annual Conference concluded Saturday, June 10, with the Service of Licensing, Commissioning and Ordination for 51 persons. Twelve elders and one deacon were ordained. There were 14 provisional elders and two provisional deacons commissioned. Twenty-two local pastors were licensed.
|Voters reviewed and voted on four resolutions during Saturday's proceedings.|
Preceeding the ceremony, Rev. Jorge Acevedo recited a solemn prayer remembering the Pulse Nightclub anniversary and the loss of 49 lives one year ago. He asked those present to become the instruments of God's love, mercy and grace remembering souls lost and to bring comfort to those whose hearts were still broken.
In other business, four resolutions were passed Saturday morning. Included was a resolution encouraging Florida Conference members to provide opportunities for education, mobilization, public witness and to advocate for public policies against mass incarceration.
Another measure approved aims to protect our rights to peacefully address issues of injustice through boycotts, divestment and sanctions. There is currently a wave of legislation nationwide that would penalize these non-violent justice seeking actions. The assembly also voted to support “Black Lives Matter” in our communities by sharing awareness and offering our congregations as safe spaces and sanctuary for conversations and dialogue on race relations and inclusion.
A final resolution approved was entitled “Combating the Erosion of Human Dignity.” This resolution asked that conference churches value the dignity and worth of all humans through acts of hospitality, compassion, mercy and grace. Bishop Carter asked that members of the conference continue discussions on these kinds of issues throughout the year in our churches and communities, particularly pertaining to race relations.
The blood drive—honoring victims of the 2016 Pulse Nightclub massacre—on Friday collected a total of 34 units. According to BloodSource.org, as many as three lives can be saved by each unit of blood donated. The expo service project packed 400 bags of school supplies for children.
Participants in this year's Bridge Builders service project in the Expo packed nearly 400 bags of school supplies for children in need, and the supplies will be distributed in the fall.
|A blood drive was held at this year's annual conference to honor the victims of the Pulse Nightclub massacre that occurred one year ago.|
The Bishop's offering totaled $85,752.62. The funds will be distributed equally between the Cuban Pastor Pension Initiative, developing a pension fund for Cuban pastors based partially on years of service, and the Abundant Health for Haiti offering, supplying much needed medications and food for children in Haiti, one of the most poverty-stricken nations worldwide. Additional donations were made to the Ministerial Education Fund on Saturday. It raised $3,962.92.
Alex Shanks, assistant to the Bishop, announced that the 2018 Annual Conference will take place at Florida Southern College, June 7-9. Keynote speakers will include Bishop Gregory Palmer and Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson.
Friday Afternoon Plenary Session
Friday afternoon’s session included a celebratory march of church banners marking anniversaries during afternoon proceedings. Anita Campbell, chair on Archives and History, announced 16 churches commemorating 25 to 150 years dating to 1867.
Tony Prestipino, chief financial officer, announced budget reductions for 2018. Budget requests are 2.19% less than 2017. The conference celebrated paying Africa University apportionments at 100%.
Mark Becker, president of the Florida United Methodist Foundation, announced $52,000 was raised last year toward the Future Generations Fund. The fund helps to relieve the financial burdens of campus ministries. He also stated $24.7 million in loans were offered through the Florida United Methodist Development Fund to support new church construction, repairs and other needs.
|Bishop Carter announced that there will be additional town hall meetings in 2017 beginning in September. This year's theme will be "Growing in our Trust of God."|
Friday Evening: Spirit of Revival
Music and celebration filled the Sabal Ballroom Friday evening, beginning with the Spark Youth team of the Florida United Methodist Children's Home. In the words of the organization's new President and CEO, Kitwana McTyer, the past year has brought "transformational hope to more than 1,000 children. The will of God is in everything we do."
The Children's Home was approved as this year's resolution of relationship, an annual recognition of valued partnerships with one of the Florida Conferences many Christ-based ministries.
Two additional resolutions were voted on as well. A measure calling for an end to the death penalty in Florida and recommending that individual conference churches and members support advocacy goals toward this goal passed.
An additional measure supporting the belief that both born and unborn children be equally loved by God and God's church, did not pass.
Bishop Carter announced town hall meetings would take place during 2017 with the theme, "Growing in our Trust of God." The first of these gatherings is scheduled at Hyde Park United Methodist, September 24, in Tampa.
Friday evening services concluded with a rousing and enthusiastic service and sermon from Bishop Pereira of Cuba. The night included a full-house singing rendition of Happy Birthday to Bishop Pereira.