Main Menu

Countdown to Annual Conference 2018

Countdown to Annual Conference 2018

All plenary sessions for the 176th session of the Florida Annual Conference will be held at Branscomb Auditorium on the campus of Florida Southern College in Lakeland. Pre-conference workshops are scheduled for Wednesday, June 6, at First UMC in Lakeland, 72 Lake Morton Dr., Lakeland, 33801.

The annual conference, themed “Remembering Who We Are,” is June 7–9, and it is partly a 50th-year celebration of the formation of The United Methodist Church in 1968 with the union of the Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren Church.

Following are information and links that will help orient you to the event.

Checking in at Annual Conference.

Getting there and orientation

The Florida Conference website for the event is There are links on this site for accessing the Annual Conference workbook, brochure, orientation videos and the basic conference agenda. For a map of the Florida Southern campus, click here. Access via mobile or tablet, and save a copy to your phone or tablet or print one before arrival.

The hashtag to participate in the Annual Conference 2018 Twitter feed is #flumc18.

Most Annual Conference activities take place in the area around Branscomb Auditorium.

Check-in information

Clergy and lay members can pick up their badges at First UMC Lakeland beginning Wednesday, June 6, at 9:30 a.m. The complete registration/check-in schedule and locations are posted in the Workbook, as well as online. Note that clergy registration on Thursday morning only will be at First Lakeland. Laity registration opens at 8 a.m. in the Honeyman Pavillion at Florida Southern on both Thursday and Friday. Retired clergy may have badges printed at the check-in booth.

Pre-conference workshops

This year’s annual conference includes pre-conference workshops at First UMC Lakeland, Wednesday, June 6, from 1:30 - 4:30 p.m. Available topics and speaker’s bio information are available here. For a map for the route between Florida Southern and First Lakeland, click here.

Prayer Garden at a previous Annual Conference. -Photo by Cindy Skop

Wednesday: A special night of worship

Beginning at 7 p.m. at First Lakeland, a Love Feast will begin the celebration of “Remembering Who We Are.” It will be a night of conversation around the table, scripture reading, testimony and worship. Together we will take time to remember who we are, report on how God is at work in our present and look forward with trust and hope to our future together.

Worship will be in the Fellowship Center of First Lakeland, and music will be provided by the Florida Southern College worship team. Worship will be followed by an 8:00 p.m. reception.

Prayer Garden

The Prayer Garden, located in Room B 203 near the auditorium, will be open Thursday and Friday, June 7-8 at 7:30 a.m. with communion available both days. Spiritual direction registration will be available on site.

Volunteers needed

Volunteer opportunities will be available from Wednesday, June 6, through Saturday, June 9. Click here for more information and to register.


The 2018 expo will be conveniently located music rooms 208 and 210. Expo hours are:

  • Thursday, June 7, 7:30 a.m.  – 7:30 p.m.
  • Friday, June 8, 7:30 a.m.  – 7 p.m.
  • Saturday, June 9, 7:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.

Thursday’s sessions

At 10 a.m. on Thursday, June 7, the clergy session will meet at First Lakeland, while laity orientation begins in Branscomb Auditorium. At 1:30 p.m., the opening plenary session with worship will take place in the auditorium.

After a dinner break, Bishop Sue Haupert-Johnson will lead a worship service with communion at 7:30 p.m. in the auditorium. She was assigned as Episcopal Leader of the North Georgia Conference in 2016. She served several large churches in the Florida Conference and was the North Central District Superintendent of the Florida Conference from 2013 -2016. The service will include the Bishop’s offering.

Florida Conference Archives open house

The Florida Conference Archives will host an open house Thursday afternoon from 5 to 7:30 p.m. in the McKay Archives Center at the corner of Johnson Avenue and Frank Lloyd Wright Way. Refreshments will be served. There will be an Evangelical United Brethren exhibit, local church artifacts and special gifts will be available.

Bishop’s offering

The Bishop’s Offering for Annual Conference 2018 will be divided evenly between ZOE Ministries and funding for training laity and clergy in innovative forms of evangelism.

ZOE Ministries
According to global research, 385 million children are living in extreme poverty throughout the world. The debilitating results are disease, hunger, exploitation, abuse, illiteracy, and hopelessness. ZOE’s approach has proven that children living in poverty also hold the greatest capacity to create lasting solutions for themselves, their families, and their communities.

By investing in local, indigenous leaders in seven countries on three continents, ZOE’s distinctive, holistic international development model provides the vital relationships, training, and resources to empower young participants to overcome the isolation and stigmatization associated with extreme poverty. We are blessed to be able to assist Zoe Ministries in empowering children and youth to become self-reliant and able to give back to their communities and churches.

Training Laity and Clergy
“As I move about the annual conference, I consistently see our churches engaged with their communities in new and exciting forms of evangelism,” Bishop Ken Carter said. “Training our laity and clergy in creative and contextual ways of reaching out will be essential to sustaining and creating vital churches in the future, and in reaching new people with the gospel of Jesus Christ.”

Annual 5K run/walk

The Florida Annual Conference 5K is returning to its inaugural sight around Lake Hollingsworth at Florida Southern College. This run/walk event is in its fifth year. This is an opportunity to unite our clergy and lay members of the annual conference in an initiative to promote faith and fitness in a 3.1-mile run/walk.

Rain didn't stop 2017's 5K participants. -Photo by Lance Roth

The race will begin across Lake Hollingsworth from the Nina B. Hollis Wellness Center. It will finish across Lake Hollingsworth Drive from Branscomb Auditorium.

One hundred percent of the proceeds from the 5K will go toward our Annual Conference's support of the Hurricane Irma Recovery.

This year we will, once again, have a competition to see which district will have the most registrants/participants.

Pre-race packet pick-up will be Wednesday, June 6, 4 p.m.–7 p.m., at First Lakeland by registration.

On race day, Friday, June 8, meet at the Nina B. Hollis Wellness Center under the tent; 6:15 a.m. is same day pick-up and the 5K starts at 6:30 a.m. Click here to register.

Friday sessions

Friday’s plenary session opens with special speaker Dr. Paul W. Chilcote, a Professor of Theology at the Dunnam Campus of Asbury Theological Seminary in Orlando. He has been involved in theological education on three continents and helped launch two new institutions: Africa University (Zimbabwe) and Asbury Theological Seminary (Florida). More recently he served as academic dean and professor of Historical Theology & Wesleyan Studies at Ashland Theological Seminary in Ohio.

At 10:30 a.m. there will be the Memorial Service with special speaker Rev. Dr. Geraldine McClellan. She is the former District Superintendent of the North Central District of the Florida Conference and a native Floridian from East Palatka, Florida. Rev. McClellan is the pastor of Mt. Pleasant United Methodist Church in Gainesville, Florida. She holds the distinct honor as the first African-American woman to be ordained in the Florida Conference.

The afternoon session opens with the retirement service and anniversary celebrations and will conclude with a Way Forward presentation and discussion.

Friday evening, special music will be provided by the Heavenly Brothers of Grace Haitian UM Mission in Miami. Worship music will reflect the theme of “Remembering Who We Are.” Bishop Gregory Palmer will be the special speaker. He was assigned as Episcopal Leader of the Ohio West Area on September 1, 2012. Bishop Palmer served as president of the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry from 2004 to 2008 and president of the Council of Bishops from April 2008 to May 2010.

Saturday sessions

The service of Licensing, Commissioning and Ordination and Fixing of Appointments is scheduled for 10:30 on Saturday in Branscomb Auditorium and the conference will conclude at 12:30 p.m.


For a video summary of our finance and administration items click here. Budget details are also available in the Workbook.

Youth schedule for the annual conference
Youth are encouraged to participate and experience annual conference. Register by June 1. Orientation will be at 1:30 p.m., June 6, with housing check-in immediately before orientation at 12:30 at Reynolds Hall. All youth must check into housing before orientation. Click here for more information.