LAKELAND – With unusual speed, Annual Conference members selected a complete General Conference delegation--eight clergy and eight lay delegates--to the United Methodist General Conference next May 5-15 in Minneapolis on Wednesday afternoon.
Those elected include:
Laity: Molly McEntire, Derrick Scott III, Alice Williams, Heather Pancoast, Carlene Fogle-Miller, Judith Pierre-Okerson, Matt Dailey and Antony Larry.
Clergy: Alex Shanks, Cynthia Weems, Brett Opalinski, Magrey DeVega, Clarke Campbell-Evans, Corey Jones, Sharon Austin and Esther Rodriguez.
The message to laity throughout the Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church was both a challenge and a rallying cry.
“Go out and BE church,” the Rev. Dr. Larry Rankin said Wednesday morning at the Laity Orientation of the Annual Conference (AC) at Florida Southern College.
Wrapped around the AC theme “On Mission Together,” the audience was urged to follow “Five Mindsets” as they work for Christ.
“You don’t need to ask for permission,” Rankin said. “Just do it!”
The mindsets are:
Future focus, preparing for God’s future now;
Wesleyan rooted as we embody a legacy of faith, grounded in grace, and committed to action;
Passionate about people, desiring to see each person reach their fullest potential in Christ;
Strengthened by diversity, cultivating and not just tolerating diversity;
Adaptive, responding to change by identifying and seizing opportunity.
Rankin noted that the church is at a critical juncture in its history.
|Members took time out to visit exhibitors in the Expo in Branscomb Auditorium at Florida Southern College. -Photos by Lance Rothwell|
“We don’t know what the future holds for The United Methodist Church,” he said. “But I believe the Holy Spirit will guide us through. God and the laity will prevail.”
Strategic Leadership Team
Over the last year the team has worked on fine-tuning and initiating implementation of its vision, mission and mindsets, and the mission can be summed up in three words: “On Mission Together.”
“Not only is that our tagline and our theme for the Annual Conference, but it has been our focus this year,” said Alex Shanks, Assistant to Bishop Carter.
The Team pursues equipping leaders to make disciples of Jesus for the transformation of communities across Florida and beyond and to cultivate Courageous Leadership, Missional Engagement and Spirit-led Innovation.
“You might ask yourself, what are we doing in our area of the Conference to cultivate one of these three things? What are you doing in your local church to make this a reality?” Some initiatives generated by the Conference over the past year are described below.
|Registration traffic was heavy during Wednesday morning. -Photo by Lance Rothwell|
Over the last month, more than 100 churches and about 6,000 volunteers worked in communities throughout Florida for “On Mission Together” weekends.
Florida also led a collaboration among five conferences while developing a learning experience called M-Lab that serves as a catalyst for innovation and a platform for connecting clergy and lay leaders. Over 500 participants have been trained in the art of design thinking.
And, Bishop Carter initiated a series of podcasts in which he interviews leaders and collaborators and discusses how we can live out our vision.
Lay Leader's report
The Board of Lay Ministries fills a vital need for the Conference, as it focuses on communication and caring ministries of the local church or the larger United Methodist Church.
Members seek to inspire others through witness, leadership and service.
“We need to be who we say we are,” Conference Lay Leader Paulette Monroe said. “It’s time for us to come together in powerful Christian love.”
That power is desperately needed today in these challenging times of conflict and violence, especially by children whose young minds are developing, she added.
Monroe offered words of encouragement to people trying to combat those challenges and further the Kingdom.
“You are not alone,” she said. “You are gifted people. The Board of Lay Ministry appreciates all that you do.”