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Wednesday - October 22, 2014
Renewing community in a networked society

A large-church pastor is worried about the health of his church. Small groups seem to be working fine, and the overall worship is fine. What is missing, though, is the sense that the congregation is a community capable of moral and spiritual formation.

The pastor’s worry reflects far more than the circumstances of one congregation, or even of congregational life more generally. It reflects the disappearance of the crucial “middle rings” that are central to healthy communities that nurture and sustain vibrant personal life.

Middle rings are what Marc J. Dunkelman describes in his book “The Vanishing Neighbor” as the heart of community in American life. Inner rings describe our most intimate relationships, with families and close friends; outer rings describe casual acquaintances. Middle-ring relationships are the people with whom a person “is familiar but not intimate, friendly but not close.” They are central to fostering a sense of vitality as well as nurturing those “meaningful disagreements” that shape a healthy body politic.

Typically, this middle ring comprises no more than 150 people, because of the limits of our brains. For much of American history, our middle-ring relationships have been formed through a “townshipped” model. This was as true for congregations as it was for our broader civic ecology.

Dunkelman notes, though, that profound changes in American life have transformed the ways we navigate and imagine the rings of our lives. Dunkelman highlights three broad categories of changes that are upending American community: the technological and economic revolutions of the last 60 years, the explosion in American mobility and the evolution of our lives at home.

These changes have affected the inner and outer rings, in many ways actually enhancing them. For example, social mobility has made people more reliant on intimate relationships, whether family members or close friends. Indeed, studies of cellphone usage show that the majority of our calls are to three to five people in our most intimate, inner rings.

The digital revolution makes it easier for us to maintain connections to casual acquaintances in our outer ring of relationships. It also makes it easier for us to establish new acquaintances through affinity groups and to connect even more broadly via social media. These outer-ring relationships can mobilize significant movements, such as the tea party on the right or the Occupy movement on the left.

Yet Dunkelman argues that such movements are not capable of addressing our yearning for the sustainable community found in middle-ring relationships. Those relationships have receded in the new social patterns of American life, leaving us feeling fragmented and isolated, even with healthy inner- and outer-ring relationships. We are missing a sense of community; in Dunkelman’s memorable image, the middle rings have become missing rings.

The danger in such a diagnosis is to become nostalgic and wistful, longing for “the good old days” of townships and community. But there is nothing that accounts for a longing for the good old days quite as much as a bad memory. Those forms of community were far from perfect, and wistfulness is likely to lead us to imagine a time that never was. Nostalgia for “townships” would be as counterproductive as it would be ineffective.

But it would be equally dangerous to ignore the challenges we face or to assume that we can adequately address those challenges through inner- or outer-ring relationships. The large-church pastor rightly senses that something is missing in the congregation he serves. Young adults also rightly sense that current institutions are failing them and us, and that new patterns are needed. But we are unsure what to do next.

Why? Dunkelman points to the pervasiveness and depth of the challenges:

A transformation of American community has come to affect everything from our propensity to innovate to our capacity to care for one another. It has disrupted our social institutions as much as it’s thrown a wrench into our politics. Without notice, a quiet revolution over the course of several decades upended the foundation that girded the very pillars -- government, businesses, banks, schools -- in which the public has lost faith. Its effects, which explain nearly every frustration listed above, run deep and wide.

Can we chart a future that is adaptive to the deep trends of our culture and nurtures middle-ring relationships?

Charting such a future will be challenging. As Dunkelman notes, we need to be honest with ourselves: “Simply reinforcing flailing institutions that have worked for decades, or tinkering at reforms around the edges, won’t fix our problems.” Those institutions aren’t working anymore in the ways we need them to.

Yet Dunkelman is also hopeful: “If we take a fresh look at what a networked society does and doesn’t do well, we can map out a plan to develop institutions that compensate for what we now lack.”

We will need the fresh imaginations of leaders of Christian institutions, and Christian leaders of institutions, in order to map out such a plan. Nurturing such imaginations will require clear-eyed diagnoses like Dunkelman’s, as well as the cultivation of “border crossing” relationships across sectors and across other divides among us.

And here senior pastors might be exceptionally well-positioned to provide vision and leadership -- IF we embrace the realities of a networked society AND offer a “traditioned innovation” approach to community and institutions.

Congregations and other forms of Christian community can and should gather people across divides, focus on forming relationships that bear witness to the fullness of God’s reign, and embrace issues across sectors and institutions that, sadly, currently exist more as silos than as networks (including the church).

The Fresh Expressions movement is one example of a Christian experiment that is helping to renew middle-ring relationships. Some of these fresh expressions have emerged out of larger congregations, addressing the gap between intimate small groups and the rather anonymous outer ring of the whole congregation; other fresh expressions are entrepreneurial startups in which hybrid forms of face-to-face and online gatherings connect people to each other in new ways. And yet others are crossing boundaries to work across sectors to serve and renew neighborhoods, especially in underserved areas.

Diagnosing our challenges without lapsing into nostalgia is critical, as is recognizing that we do not currently have the institutions we need to support and sustain middle-ring community. As we sow seeds of new and renewed forms of community through creative experiments and transformed imagination, let us also develop and renew institutions so those seeds will grow into full blossom.

Courtesy of Faith & Leadership www.faithandleadership.com. Photos courtesy bigstock.com. The opinions are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position or policy of the Florida Conference.

Monday - October 20, 2014
Honoring the Sabbath like a command

It seems that, as Christians, we still take the Ten Commandments seriously. Murder, stealing, adultery, idolatry, lying—all of these are named in that list God gave to Moses on the mountain (Exodus 20), and, by and large, we still acknowledge that to break these commandments is wrong.

But what about the fourth commandment—the commandment about observing the Sabbath?

"Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy." (Exodus 20:8-11)

It’s one of the original Ten Commandments that God gave to his people—an order to remember the day that God rested and obey Him by doing likewise. God didn’t offer this repetitive rest as a suggestion that might be good for us—He gave it as a commandment. It’s something God valued so much that He set it in stone.

We aren’t under the law anymore: Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection freed us from the burden of having to fulfill the law. We don’t have to live in perfect alignment with the law in order to have right relationship with God. However, that doesn’t nullify the goodness of the commandments in the first place. Christ came to fulfill the law for us, but not to abolish it (Matthew 5:17). The rules written in stone were good gifts from God to His people—and they still are.

And, let us also remember that our freedom from this burden of having to fulfill the law—a freedom purchased with the costliest price of Christ’s life—doesn’t give us license to live however we please (Romans 6). We live under grace; we live as God’s people. So here’s why, I think, we need a re-imagining of the call of God to “remember the Sabbath and keep it holy” in our lives—and why we still need to take this commandment seriously.

When we take one day out of every week to rest, we are acknowledging that God is God and we are not. Ultimately, our ability (or our inability) to rest shows us how much we trust (or don’t trust) that God is in control. When we press the pause button on our striving and realize that the world continues spinning just fine without our work, we are tangibly acknowledging that God is the maker and sustainer of our lives. And if we struggle to close the computer or stay away from the office, we can then see more clearly where we have a hard time trusting Him—and where we struggle to recognize that we really aren’t in control of the world, or even in control of our own lives.

I started observing the Sabbath nine years ago, while I was in college. Now, as a wife, mother and teacher, there is always another load of laundry, always another class to prepare for. And certainly, there is always something “productive” that I could choose to do on our Sabbath. But this pattern of working and resting, week after week, has formed in me a sense of trust and peace that I did not experience prior to engaging in the discipline. It has helped me release my death grip on control.

I look forward to the Sabbath now—not as a day to play catch-up—but as a day where I can focus on being grateful simply to be alive. I spend time with my family without an agenda. I take a nap. Sometimes I walk, sometimes I read. Mostly, I do things that I love, things that help my soul unwind and attend to God’s presence in my life. And I have experienced a deep freedom in learning to say no to the continual pressure to work and produce.

God’s command to His people to keep the Sabbath holy was given out of the deep love He has for His children. He knows how we are formed (Psalm 103:14), how much work we can handle and how we need time to “be” rather than “do.” The Sabbath is a reminder that my days are ordered by God, not by me. It is a reminder that while there will always be more to do, there will not always be more time on this earth. It is a reminder that I am finite, that I need rest, and that God cares for me enough to help me rest.

There’s a wrong way to go about this, of course. If we make observing the Sabbath all about rules and regulations, as the Pharisees did, we are going to miss God’s heart behind it. Jesus pronounced that “the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27), and so we keep the Sabbath holy because the Sabbath is a gift to us from God, not because we are trying to please Him. Christ has already done that on our behalf. He did the greatest work of reconciling us to God through His sacrifice on the Cross, and therefore we don’t have to work our way to God.

When we cease from working one day a week, it points us to the deeper truth that in Christ, we can cease from our striving. We can trust in all that He has done for us.

And we can rest.

Courtesy Relevant Magazine www.relevantmagazine.com. Photos courtesy Bigstock.com. The opinions are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of the Florida Conference.

Friday - October 17, 2014
Leaving traditional churches might be a good thing

The rise of the “spiritual but not religious” in America has created a lot of conversation among Christians over the last two years. Now one pastor and activist is arguing that the trend might be a good thing. Kelly Bean is former pastor of Third Saturday Organic Community and coplanter of Urban Alley, a egalitarian intergenerational intentional community in north Portland, Oregon. She is author of “How to Be a Christian Without Going to Church,” which explores the benefits of alternative forms of worship. Here we discuss her message and whether it jibes with the Bible’s teachings.

RNS: It is understandable that some people don’t want to wake up on Sunday mornings and listen to a preacher talk past them. But Christians are still called to be a part of the church, so is going lone wolf really an option?
 
KB: Let me push back a bit. It is one thing to state a warning about the lone wolf syndrome as a statement of fact, and it is another to use it as a response or a rebuke to people who may be feeling for a variety of reasons that they have no alternative but to leave church as they have known it. I hope that those who read my book will hear me loud and clear when I say, “Please, DO NOT GO IT ALONE.”
 
Click here to read the entire interview. Courtesy of Religion News Service. Photo courtesy of Bigstock.com.
Tuesday - October 14, 2014
Florida Conference Connection has news for you

Click here for the latest headlines from the Florida Conference. From missions to ministries to leadership opportunities, there's always something going on.

You'll also find our classifieds, information about people and churches on the move and news feeds from the United Methodist News Service and the United Methodist Committee on Relief.

It's also the place to submit a story or subscribe to blogs. Visit us here.

Annual Conference
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Annual Conference 5K Run
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Thursday, June 12, 2014 at 6:30 am - Lake Hollingsworth - Lakeland, FL

The inaugural Florida Annual Conference 5K is an opportunity to unite our Clergy and Lay Members of the Annual Conference - and connect with the greater Lakeland community - in an initiative to promote faith and fitness in a 3.1 mile fun run/walk around beautiful Lake Hollingsworth. 100% of the proceeds from the 5K will go towards our Annual Conference's support of the Imagine No Malaria campaign. Join this race towards greater health - for ourselves and for our sisters and brothers around the globe.

PACKET PICK-UP & RACE INFO:
Pre-Race Packet Pick-Up ~ Wednesday, June 11 at The Lakeland Center (8 am to 6 pm)
Race Day ~ Thursday, June 12 at Florida Southern College (corner of Ingraham and Lake Hollingsworth Drive, across from the Florida Southern College Wellness Center)
5:30 am Packet Pick-up & Registration
6:15 am Late Registration Ends
6:30 am 5k Start!!!

CLICK HERE to register

      

 

 

 

Group Meals Alphabetical
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Click Here for Group Meals by Day and Time

All events below require advance reservations and payment.
 
Asamblea Hispana/Hispanic Assembly Dinner
College Heights UMC, 924 South Boulevard, Lakeland, 33803 
Friday, June 13, Dinner 5:00 PM
To register contact: Mercedes Andrades, mercyc004@yahoo.com

Asbury Theological Seminary
Dr. Timothy Tennent, President of Asbury Seminary, featured speaker
The Lakeland Center, Room Hollingsworth A
Thursday, June 12, Dinner 5:00 – 7:00 PM
Cost of meal: $24.00 per person
Reservations Deadline:  Monday, June 2, 2014
Payment Deadline:  Monday, June 9, 2014
To register contact Bill Tillmann: bill.tillmann@asburyseminary.edu or 407-760-8665

Black Methodist for Church Renewal
The Lakeland Center, Sikes J
Friday, June 13, Lunch 12:00 PM
Cost of meal: $25.00 per person
Reservations Deadline:  Monday, June 2
To register contact: Gertrude Stewart, gjarrett38@aol.com

Candler Club (Florida)
Contact:  Sarah Miller; sarah.miller@flumc.org
Abuelo’s Mexican Food Embassy
3700 Lakeside Village Blvd
Lakeland, 33803
Wednesday, June 11, Lunch 11:45 PM

Celebrating Our Beloved Community
Contact: Sandy Voigt, flumc-sw@flumc.org
The Lakeland Center, Sikes K
Thursday, June 12, Lunch 12:00 PM
Cost of meal: $20.00 per person
Reservations Deadline:  Monday, June 2
To register click here:

Clergy Mates
Contact: Tasha Smith, flumc-se@flumc.org
Florida United Methodist Center, 450 Martin Luther King, Jr. Ave.
Third Floor Conference Room
Friday, June 13, Breakfast 9:00 AM
Cost of meal:  $0.00
Reservations Deadline:  June 2
To register click here:


Clergy Women
Contact: Anne Butcher; abutch413@yahoo.com
The Lakeland Center, Sikes J
Wednesday, June 11, Dinner
Cost of meal: $23.00 per person
Reservations Deadline:  Monday, June 2
To register click here:

Council on Finance and Administration (CFA)
The Lakeland Center, Morton
Friday, June 13, Lunch
Reservations Deadline:  Monday, June 2
To register contact:  Sue Bennett, sbennett@flumc.org

Deacon/Diaconal Ministers
The Lakeland Center, Lake Parker D
Thursday, June 12, Lunch 12:00 PM
To register contact Winnie Dean, wdean@flumc.org
Cost of meal: $17.00 per person
Reservations Deadline:  Monday, June 2

Duke Divinity Alumni
Guest Speakers: L. Gregory Jones and Susan Pendleton Jones
Contact:  Katie McNichol, mkmcnich1@gmail.com
The Lakeland Center, Sikes I
Wednesday, June 11, Lunch 12:00 PM
Cost of meal: $22.00
Reservations Deadline:  Monday, June 2
To register click here:

East Central District
Contact:  Janet Kelley, jkelley@flumc.org
Trinity UMC 715 Cornelia Ave., Lakeland, 33815
Friday, June 13, Breakfast 6:45 AM
Reservations Deadline:  Monday, June 2
To register go to https://florida-reg.brtapp.com/EastCentralDistrictBreakfastatAnnualConference2014 .

Educational Opportunities Tours
Contact: Kathy Bouchard, kbouchard@travelwithus.com
The Lakeland Center, Sikes F
Friday, June 13, Lunch 12:15 PM
Cost of meal: $0.00
Reservations Deadline:  Friday, June 9
To register contact: kbouchard@travelwithus.com

Extension Ministry
Contact:  Aaron Rios, arios@flumc.org
The Lakeland Center, Parker
Saturday, June 14, Breakfast 7:00 AM
Cost of meal:  $15.00
Reservations Deadline:  Monday, June 2
To register click here:

Fellowship of Associate Members and Local Pastors
Bishop Ken Carter, featured speaker
Contact: Susie Horner, susie.horner@flumc.org
Trinity UMC, 715 Cornelia Ave., Lakeland 33815
Thursday, June 12, Dinner 5:15 PM
Cost of meal: $17.00
Reservations Deadline:  June 2
Payment Deadline:  June 2
To register click here:

Florida United Methodist Evangelicals
Contact:  Rod Groom, rod.groom@gmail.com
United Methodist Temple, 2700 S. Florida Ave., Lakeland, 33803
Thursday, June 12, Lunch 12:00 PM
Cost of meal: $15.00
Reservations Deadline:  Monday, June 2
Payment Deadline:  Monday, June 2
To register click here:

Florida United Methodist Foundation, Inc.
Learn about our new investment offerings and meet Fund Manager Bob DiMeo
Contact: Nadara Brock, nbrock@fumf.org
The Lakeland Center, Sikes J
Wednesday, June 11, Lunch at 12:00 PM
Cost of meal:  $0.00
Reservations Deadline:  June 2
To register click here:

Haitian Ministry Committee
Contact:  Rosemary Gagliardi, rbgaglar@att.net
Florida Southern College Cafeteria, Lakeland, 33801 
June 13, Breakfast – 6:30 AM
Cost of meal: Individuals pay for their own meals

Historical Society
College Heights UMC, 924 South Boulevard, Lakeland, 33803 
June 11, Dinner – 6:00 PM
Cost of meal: $15.00
Reservations Deadline:  Thursday, June 5
Payment Deadline:  Thursday, June 5
To register contact Nell Thrift, thriftmail@aol.com

Lay Servant Ministries
Contact:  Rod Groom, rod.groom@gmail.com
United Methodist Temple, 2700 S. Florida Ave., Lakeland, 33803
Friday, June 13, Lunch 12:00 PM
Cost of meal: $12.00
Reservations Deadline:  Monday, June 2
Payment Deadline:  Thursday, June 2
To register click here:

Methodist Federation for Social Action (MFSA)
United Methodist Temple, 2700 S. Florida Ave., Lakeland, 33803
Thursday, June 12, Dinner 5:30 PM
Cost of meal: $15.00 adults; $13.00 children
Reservation Deadline:  Monday, June 2
To register contact:  Marta Burke, martabee@aol.com, 305-975-2032

Reconciling Methodists
Contact: Martha Rutland, Martha.rutland@vitas.com
Fred’s Southern Kitchen
2120 Harden Blvd., Lakeland, 33803; 863-603-7080
Friday, June 13, Dinner 5:15 PM

Retiree Luncheon
Contact:  Lois Durham, ldurham@flumc.org
The Lakeland Center, Sikes H
Friday, June 13, Lunch 12:00 PM
Cost of meal: $10.00
Reservations Deadline:  Monday, June 2
To register click here:

South West District
Contact: Sandy Voigt, flumc-sw@flumc.org
Florida Southern Alumni Room, Charles Thrift Alumni Center
Florida Southern College
Thursday, June 12, Ice Cream Social 8:30 – 10:00 PM

United Methodist Connectional Federal Credit Union
The Lakeland Center, Lake Parker C
Friday, June 13, Lunch 11:45 AM – 2:00 PM
Reservations Deadline:  Friday, June 6
To register contact:  Renea Hazelbaker at reneacu@verizon.net or 863-687-2136

United Theological Seminary
Contact: tmmercury@yahoo.com
The Lakeland Center, Lake Parker C
Wednesday, June 11, Lunch 11:30 AM – 1:30 PM
Cost of meal: $15.00 - $16.00
Reservations Deadline:  Monday, June 2

To register click here:

Youth Ministry Luncheon
Contact:  Joel Pancoast, jpancoast@flumc.org
First UMC – Lakeland, 72 Lake Morton Dr., Lakeland  33801
Thursday, June 12, Lunch 12:00 PM
Reservations Deadline:  Thursday, June 2
To register click here:
 

News
Friday - October 24, 2014
ESOL ministries: a good fit for Florida

It was on a boating trip with friends that Rev. Cherie Chapman opened her heart about a mission she had prayed would find a home at her church: teaching English to those who spoke another language, also known as ESOL.

On the trip with her was Bonnie Taylor. She had taught ESOL classes in Connecticut for several years before moving to Fort Myers and joining Tice UMC. She told Chapman she had prayed for God to lead her back to that mission. 

Adult tutoring three children of different races
In a state that's becoming home to a growing number of immigrants from Latin America and the Caribbean, helping newcomers learn English can be a powerful gift to enhance their future. Photo from Bigstock.com.

Within a week, the prayers of both women were answered.

Two Spanish-speaking women came to Tice UMC, where Chapman is pastor, looking for English language classes.

"God just put everything in place," Chapman said.

Five years later, Tice is among Florida Conference churches reporting the blessings of changing lives and opening doors for people who have been marginalized by language barriers. Some host programs at their church, while others volunteer off-site or pool their resources with neighboring churches to offer the gift of English to others.

The program at Tice started with a handful of students meeting twice a week and has expanded to include free family and adult classes several times a week. The church also has partnered with the Literacy Council Gulf Coast and adopted the council’s Carol DeJoy Moms & Tots literacy program.

About 30 to 35 women attend Moms & Tots, and 15 to 30 people attend adult evening classes. Many are migrant workers and day laborers, often from Guatemala, who live near the church and work in the Immokalee area.

"We are in a very poor neighborhood," said Chapman, whose church counts about 120 worshipers on Sundays. "(ESOL students) are walkers. They walk to wherever they are going. They are lucky if they have a bicycle. Transportation is something they aspire to but not something they often attain." 

Mothers with kids in strollers raise hands to respond to a teacher in English class
Classes that help immigrants with children learn English, like this one at Grace Place near Naples, prepare families for school and doctor's office conferences, as well as better employment opportunities. 2012 file photo by Susan Green.

Depending on attendance, four to six tutors help with classes. At Moms & Tots, mothers take classes while their kids go to day care and their own ESOL program tailored to children. The families are hungry for education.

"Education is a key to not being a day laborer," Chapman said. "They see this much more clearly than our native folks."

Meeting community needs

That’s also true for immigrants who settle in the northwest part of Florida. Watching people use newfound English skills to land better-paying jobs is among the rewards of ESOL ministry for Pat Striplin, a member of Killearn UMC, Tallahassee.

A retired educator, she has organized ESOL classes for Spanish-speakers at Greensboro UMC in neighboring Gadsden County since 2008. The ministry recently tapped some French-speaking volunteers to help teach English to a growing number of Haitian residents.

More than 30 volunteers from four churches participate on a rotating basis. Each Thursday evening, they board a bus to Greensboro, about 45 minutes away, and spend two hours tutoring about 50 adults and children from a largely rural community with a high illiteracy rate.

“Our goal is to help them learn English in a Christ-centered environment,” Striplin said.

Volunteers come not only from Killearn but Good Samaritan and Chaires United Methodist churches and a Baptist church, all in Leon County. Classes follow a curriculum tailored to varying skill levels. State-certified teachers lead each class but depend on others to help English learners become comfortable with speaking a non-native language. 

Greensboro UMC photo of sanctuary
Volunteers from three United Methodist churches and one Baptist church in Leon County travel to Greensboro UMC in a rural community to help Spanish- and French-speaking immigrants learn English. Florida Conference file photo.

“They need conversational skills to help them as they shop or go to their child’s school (for parent-teacher conferences) or go to the doctor,” Striplin said.

Volunteers at Greensboro and the other churches take turns providing food that is served before classes, Striplin said, and sometimes students bring a dish from their native country.

Across the state, in Jacksonville, Faith UMC is another church reaching out to an immigrant community, this time mostly Cuban refugees. The congregation began English classes about two years ago.

Jacksonville is home to one of several federally funded refugee resettlement programs managed by the state. By agreement with Cuba, up to 20,000 Cubans migrate annually. Other immigrants come from Haiti, Russia, Myanmar (also known as Burma), Burundi and Iraq.

Faith UMC provides worship services in Spanish, as well as space for refugees from Myanmar to hold worship and special events.

"It's a wonderful fit," said church volunteer Donna Glasner. "We seem to have led our congregation to embrace refugees."

A church of about 80 Sunday worshipers, Faith relies on volunteers and donations to conduct weekly classes for about five students.

"We are a bunch of non-teachers," Glasner said. "Nobody is trained as a teacher or in ESOL. It's just volunteers trying to help people in the community who need to improve English skills."

Glasner bought the book "ESOL for Dummies" to aid tutors. Classes are taught in English only, though on occasion Google is used for translations, Glasner said.

“It's a real blessing to be able to get to know people as they go through classes," she said.

Better language skills, better life 

Donna Glasner, left, with student Zonia Cruz in ESOL tutoring at Faith UMC
Donna Glasner, left, helps Zonia Cruz, originally from Cuba, improve her English skills at Faith UMC, Jacksonville. Photo from Faith UMC.

Grassroots efforts from churches of all denominations and local nonprofit organizations can help fill education gaps, said Jan Setzekorn, literacy services director at UMCM Suncoast, formerly known as United Methodist Cooperative Ministries, in the Florida Conference’s Gulf Coast District. The agency's literacy sites include Wesley UMC and Pasadena Community Church in St. Petersburg and Manatee UMC, Bradenton. Anona UMC sponsors classes in Largo, along with Pinellas Park Library and Highpoint YMCA.

Suncoast supports programs aimed at ending poverty. Volunteers can train to be tutors there, as well as at the Literacy Council Gulf Coast.

"We look at it from the standpoint of Methodism, which believes in helping people in need whether they have money or not," Setzekorn said. "It (literacy) is the most incredible way to change a life beyond anything I could ever imagine. It's almost like having a magic wand."

For many, ESOL classes can be about economics. "Anyone who speaks English is going to make more money," Setzekorn said. "If your hope is for citizenship, it's a requirement."

Suncoast aims to teach family members together and intentionally provides sites where clusters of immigrants have sprung up in order to overcome transportation issues.

"School systems are starting to recognize the value of grassroots programs," Setzekorn said. "We can work with students who might not ever walk into a large building. We don't expect them to come to us. We come to them. We meet their needs.”

For volunteers in the Greensboro UMC outreach, many of whom work all day before boarding the bus for the ESOL program, the rewards are worth the effort. People chat excitedly about the families they are getting to know. Children who began in the program in 2008 have now grown into teenagers able to help in the ministry, Striplin said.

“When we get on that bus (to return to Tallahassee), everybody is tired, but they’re just so energized because it’s been a fun evening,” she said. “It’s just a real blessing.”

At Tice, the outreach has yielded life-changing rewards for givers and receivers. By the measure of whether the church would be missed if its doors ever closed, Chapman said, "Our community would notice. Absolutely they would notice. It's changed us."
 

-- Kathy Steele is a freelance writer based in Tampa. Susan Green is the managing editor of Florida Conference Connection.

Monday - October 20, 2014
Ministries build relationships before churches

What do crockpots, coffee shops, sports bars and yoga have in common?

For a 21st century evangelist, they can all be a part of New Church Development.

Anything that brings people together, then bonds them together, can pave the way for a relationship with Jesus Christ, say today’s church planters. 

Older couple listening to speaker at outdoor venue
Above, Bill and Barb Furlong, left, and Stacy Collins enjoy Collective's Easter service at Cafe DaVinci in DeLand. Below, Robbie Carelli and Michael Furlong lead musical worship in a small, casual setting at Collective, a new church initiative in DeLand. Photos from Collective.
Two musicians singing in coffee house setting

For example, a group of people who ride bicycles together may regularly include a stop to discuss a Bible passage, said Rev. Dan Jackson, New Church Development director for the Florida Conference.

“For these people, that’s church,” he said. “It isn’t necessarily in the steepled church of years past.”

In fact, Jackson predicted that new church starts actually involving new congregations in new buildings will be rare for the Florida Conference in years to come. More common will be second-site worship groups that remain under the wing of a healthy church but meet at a different time and place – possibly even in commercial eateries and coffee houses -- drawing people of similar interests together.

The strategy is expected to dovetail with another disciple-making effort being launched in the conference, tentatively called Fresh Expressions. Rev. Audrey Warren, pastor of Branches UMC, Florida City, and a co-convener of the initiative, said Florida Conference leaders will meet Nov. 17-18 with Virginia-based Fresh Expressions US to discuss the possibility of a formal partnership.

In the meantime, some conference members already are practicing what they preach. Warren cited a ministry in North Florida, where Methodists take tents, crockpot meals and a guitar to a trailer park and worship with residents there.

At her own church, she leads Yoga Chapel, a spiritual experience that combines scripture and exercise.

“It’s building relationships,” she said. “That’s really what Fresh Expressions starts with – listening to and building community.”

Jackson likens his task to the mission field of old, when Christianity was young and largely in the hands of a firebrand preacher called Paul. Today’s climate requires church planters to target not only lapsed Christians but the huge number of people who have no faith or church experience at all.

“We’re nearing the point of starting over in nurturing people in their faith,” Jackson said. “How did we do it in the beginning? …We’re continually looking for ways we can take the gospel to where the people are.”

Part of his job, he added, is to help district leaders realize “we’re not simply a grant-giving operation, but we want to be directly involved in planning and bringing new church starts to fruition.”

Sometimes that means working with existing congregations that are growing to determine if the results can be transplanted elsewhere.

“I believe our future as a conference is in finding what’s working and then capitalizing on that,” Jackson said.

The conference also is investing more in preparing new clergy for the challenges of church planting in today’s culture, he said. New church planters typically will spend at least a year in ministry in a healthy congregation, then another year in planning for an off-site disciple-making ministry before launching the effort.

Church planters also receive training through a series of seminars under the New Church Start Academy program, which began in August.

Targeting the outsider

Dan Jackson headshot"We’re continually looking for ways we can take the gospel to where the people are.”


-- Rev. Dan Jackson,
 New Church Development

Jackson is no stranger to preaching outside traditional church walls. As a pastor in the West Ohio Conference several years ago, he led Bible study in a bar for three years.

The ministry started as a joke, when a member of the church’s men’s group asked how he could get more men to attend church.

“Someone said, ‘Bet if we had it at Ralphie’s (they would come),’” Jackson recalled, referring to a popular sports bar in the community.

Jackson saw the genius behind the jest. “The first night we ran a men’s Bible study there, we had 40 men,” he said, adding that customers saw the discussion group and moved to join in.

Some churches, like University Carillon UMC, Oviedo, on the edge of the University of Central Florida campus, have managed to draw younger crowds by offering praise band services at times other than Sunday morning. Still others are experimenting with interactive, online services.

One of the challenges of new church planting methods listed by Jackson is getting traditional worshipers to understand that the newcomers may never gravitate toward the age-old customs of coming to Jesus.

“Every time I was at a local church and I would start some kind of new, targeted worship, where over time we had people who were patrons of the bar become regular attendees of Bible study … I’d have someone say, ‘As people mature in their faith, they’ll want to come to the real worship.’”

Jackson said one way of growing in faith is to accept that these alternative worship styles are no less authentic than the traditional Sunday morning experience many Methodists grew up with. 

“If the goal of a church (new or established) is to do mission better or more imaginatively in order to attract more people to an existing church, it isn’t a fresh expression. The aim of a fresh expression isn’t to provide a stepping stone into an existing church, but to form a new kind of church that steps out in its own right.”

-- From freshexpressionsus.org

Among budding expressions to watch is Collective, a Sunday night worship experience that meets in a former newspaper outpost in DeLand that has been outfitted to resemble a casual eatery. Jackson described an eclectic blend of furniture, including a couch, coffee tables and high-top tables with chairs.

“You feel like you walked into a lounge someplace,” he said.

The atmosphere is meant to create a feeling of intimacy that works only in a small setting. That poses some challenges for financial support, Jackson pointed out.

“It only works if you can get a low-cost facility continually,” he said.

Though meeting on its own, Collective, billed as a “misfit faith community” on its website, is supported by the long-established First UMC, DeLand.

The community’s pastor, Ben C. Collins, didn’t grow up going to church but found his faith as a high school student attending a Baptist church. He answered a call to ministry in college, working as a Baptist youth minister while attending Stetson University. He later became exposed to Wesleyan teachings at Asbury Theological Seminary.

Collins said he had a “rough time” early on as he pursued traditional preaching, and he thought he was leaving church ministry a few years ago. He began meeting with a group of people for Bible study at his home, then at a local bar.

“I guess I’ve kind of always known that the underside of people who wouldn’t show up in church on a Sunday morning were the people I was called to connect with … those people with one foot out the door and those hesitant to come in,” Collins said.

About a year and a half ago, he had his clergy credentials transferred to the Florida Conference and joined the First UMC staff in DeLand, with the express mission of nurturing Collective, which now attracts about 80 people to weekly worship. The ministry also counts followers in Portland, Ore.; Los Angeles; Washington, D.C.; and Nashville, Tenn., among online participants who regularly participate in the offering.

The Sunday evening experience appeals to people as eclectic in their backgrounds as the furniture in the worship space. Some are former Catholics, Episcopalians and Quakers, and at least one has followed Buddhist traditions and likes the inclusion of meditation in the service. A few people had no religious background before finding Collective.

Many work weekends, particularly late-night Saturday shifts that make Sunday morning church a challenge, Collins said. Others simply prefer not to break up their weekend with worship attendance.

The ministry has attracted some young families and a surprising contingent from the older generation, with the oldest being 84, Collins said.

“One of the unique things we have identified is that we’re definitely, markedly millennial in our theology and philosophy,” he said.

“The single common thread … the thing they identify with is they’re sort of looking for a place that’s specifically not pretending to have all the answers.”
 

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

Wednesday - October 15, 2014
Haitian Methodists hunger for knowledge
 Sunday school children in yellow shirts raising hands, looking animated
Sunday school children in the Methodist Church of Haiti need lesson materials, which are being developed by missionary Sharon Harbottle. Photo from the Christian Education and Evangelism ministry in Haiti.
 
Sharon Harbottle, center, with her husband, John, to her left, meet with vistors and native young adult leaders in Cange. Photo from Rev. Beth Bostrom.
 
Sharon Harbottle, left, listens to schoolchildren in Haiti as Ruth Gomez, left background, of the FIU-MDC Wesley Foundation mission team looks on. Photo from Rev. Beth Bostrom.


Today’s Methodist missionaries to Haiti arrive by plane and carry access to God’s word in their smartphones, but in many ways the mission field has changed little since the first Wesleyan preachers from England stepped on the island about 200 years ago.

Poverty, language barriers, scarcity of resources and logistical challenges greet modern-day evangelists like Sharon Harbottle and her husband, Dr. John Harbottle, of the Methodist Church of Great Britain. Now two years into a three-year stint in Haiti, the two shared their experiences with listeners at the Florida United Methodist Center in Lakeland last week.

The Florida Conference has had a covenant relationship with the Methodist Church of Haiti since 2006. In addition, many Florida congregations last year helped address the nutrition needs of that impoverished country by participating in Stop Hunger Now food packaging events.

But food is not the only critical need for the people of Haiti.

“These people are hungry, and they’re waiting,” Sharon Harbottle told listeners Friday at the Methodist Center. “They’re hungry for knowledge and more learning.”

She is a former high school teacher and lay preacher with a degree in theology who has been developing Christian curricula for adults and children in Haiti. Her husband, a physician, has been working to organize the efforts of a network of 11 Methodist-affiliated clinics in Haiti, eight of which are currently operational. Keeping the facilities supplied with the appropriate medications and staff for each community being served has been a challenge, he said.

This past summer, the Florida Conference Institute of Preaching answered a call for help in training local Methodist pastors in Haiti, partnering with Sharon’s ministry and United Methodist Volunteers in Mission. The result was a two-day preaching seminar led by Dr. Ed Phillips from Emory University’s Candler School of Theology and Rev. Courtney Smith, a church pastor and Candler graduate.

The institute team traveled to Petit-Goave, Haiti, about 40 miles southwest of Port-au-Prince, expecting to coach about 75 pastors. Instead, they found more than 90, some of whom drove up to eight hours to attend.

Both Sharon and Rev. Pam Carter, a veteran of missions to Haiti, were touched by the appreciation shown by the preachers who attended.

“We were amazed at how overcome the preachers were with emotion,” Sharon said.

“You would have thought it was Christmas when they were given their certificates” for completing the training, Carter said.

In addition to instruction and individual critiques of sermon delivery, the pastors received resources translated into their native Creole language and gift bags of toiletries and bookmarks.

Two more seminars are planned for January in Port-au-Prince, targeting another 175 pastors. Even after that, less than half the approximately 600 preachers active in Haiti’s Methodist Church will have received the training.

Most church pastors in Haiti come from the ranks of laity, Sharon explained. Only 15 of the country’s 230 Methodist churches are shepherded by ordained clergy. Pastors often have few written resources to help in sermon preparation, and they must contend with frequent power outages as they craft and practice their presentations.

The Harbottles’ ministry includes a printing press, which cuts down on production costs for the specialized training materials Sharon produces, but there are still significant expenses. In addition to the Institute of Preaching program, she also has written two Sunday school books for teachers and is working on books for children and youth. 

Dr. John Harbottle provides instruction to two Haitian nurses
Dr. John Harbottle works with Haitian nurses at one of the Methodist-affiliated clinics to improve operations and ensure health care for the community. Photo from John and Sharon Harbottle. For information on this ministry, click here.

Revs. Paul Massingill, Wesley Foundation director at Florida International University and Miami-Dade College, and Beth Bostrom, campus chaplain and Wesley director at the University of Miami, have taken student mission teams to Haiti, where they observed the Harbottles in action.

Both pastors said they were impressed with the Harbottles’ skill and enthusiasm for coaching local Methodists in leadership skills that will help them address needs in the surrounding community once the missionaries are gone.

In addition to helping with Christian education, Sharon works with local church leaders on such duties as stewardship reports. John works with nurses and clinic administrators to improve budgeting, inventory and operations methods so that the facilities can continue to serve local healthcare needs.

“John and Sharon made a really strong impression (on visiting students) as to what it means to respond to a call,” Massingill said, adding that students from Florida typically are struck by the dramatically different living conditions of people inhabiting a place so close to their home state.

“It’s always very eye-opening for the students to go and spend some time there,” Massingill said.

Bostrom said she has taken two mission teams of students to Haiti, where they spent most of their time in the village of Cange. There they visited a hospital and met with young adults who organized a program that offers educational enrichment in art, music and sports to about 100 young people in the community.

In January, the Harbottles joined the group to hear from the young Haitians in charge how they determined the need and built the ministry. Bostrom said they were interested in ideas to motivate others toward leadership roles in Haiti.

“It’s really a joy to know them,” Bostrom said. “They have such a passion for their work, as well as compassion. … Their work is about supporting and empowering the (locals), which is the only sustainable method of ministry.”

The Harbottles expect to return to England in May and report to church leaders there. They hope to extend their mission work in Haiti after that.
 

Want to learn more?

Click here to read about Sharon Harbottle's work with Christian Education and Evangelism in Haiti and how you can help.

Click here to read about Dr. John Harbottle's work with the Haiti Health Program and how you can help.

Click here to read a United Methodist Volunteers in Mission report on the Harbottles' ministry in Haiti.

 

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

Tuesday - October 14, 2014
What's the UMC position on Halloween?

Scarecrow atop a pile of pumpkins at Poinciana UMC, Miami Springs
Pumpkin patches like this one at Poinciana UMC, Miami Springs, are a fall mainstay at many Florida Conference churches.
The United Methodist Church does not have an official statement or position regarding Halloween. Church members are free to make their own decisions about participating in Halloween activities.

Many local churches offer safe alternatives to traditional door-to-door trick-or-treating. Fall festivals, trunk-or-treat events and pumpkin patch sales can serve as community outreach as well as raise money for missions or youth ministries.

Click here to see Florida Conference churches that have posted seasonal events to the conference website

Others turn the focus to more on giving than receiving. Collecting for UNICEF or giving Fair Trade chocolate are ideas for using the occasion to "treat" or give to others

Click here for more ideas from United Methodist Communications.

(Teaser photo on the Florida Conference Connection home page from Wesley Church, West Melbourne.)

Friday - October 10, 2014
Make a difference, make a friend
at Mission Impact

DAYTONA BEACH – It’s an idea that sprang from the laity session of Annual Conference 2013, when attendees agreed to reach out to someone of a different generation.

Conference Lay Leader Russ Graves followed up on it a year later, at Annual Conference 2014, encouraging members to save the dates of Jan. 16-17, 2015, for a “Make-a-Friend” event intended to foster intergenerational relationships.

Graves said his intent was to encourage others to share in the rewards he experienced by reaching out to young people he didn’t know.

“Young adults have changed my life,” he said, describing how spending time with those born many years later recharged his outlook and ministry. “It is almost as exciting as discovering Christ for the first time.

“There is a side of young adults that helps us reconnect with when we were younger and … when our dreams were bigger and our desire was stronger to make a difference, before the world got hold of us and said, ‘You can’t do that.’” 

Photo of Bethune-Cookman University sign
Bethune-Cookman University, founded on a concept of mission and community service, will host Mission Impact Florida, an intergenerational event Jan. 16-17. Photo from Bethune-Cookman University.

The initial idea has crystallized into Mission Impact Florida, a two-day gathering at Bethune-Cookman University that will combine the idea of an intergenerational get-together with an emphasis on missions. Adults of all ages from across the conference are invited.

“The aim still is an intergenerational event,” said Kylie Foley, who is organizing Mission Impact Florida for the Florida Conference. Foley also is the Florida field coordinator for Imagine No Malaria, a United Methodist campaign that aims to wipe out the mosquito-borne illness in parts of the world where it still exists. Imagine No Malaria will be a key focus of Mission Impact, along with local projects in the Daytona community, and $10 of each attendee’s $20 registration fee will go to the anti-malaria campaign.

“It’s a great segue to say, 'Make a friend, but make a difference,’” Foley said. “Mission is for all people, without exception. … Mission is not just a trip, but it’s everyday life.”

The two-day event, scheduled for the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend, will begin Friday, Jan. 16, with evening worship and then a “Camp Out to Stamp Out” event featuring s’mores and games, sponsored by Imagine No Malaria. Also that evening, Derrick Scott III, a Florida Conference campus ministry director for Jacksonville colleges, will combine his talents with musicians from across the conference in a concert for the event.

The following day will include short presentations by Rev. Dr. Harold Lewis, director of Justice and Multicultural Ministries for the Florida Conference; Heidi Aspinwall, the conference’s Young Adult Missional Movement director; and Rev. Erwin Lopez of the Central Florida Wesley Foundation.

Florida Bishop Ken Carter also is scheduled to speak Saturday, and a young adult panel will discuss missions as well. Musical groups from Bethune-Cookman also are scheduled to perform.

After the presentations, participants will be given the option of attending a missions-related workshop or heading out in the Daytona area for a specific mission opportunity. Halifax Urban Ministries, a homelessness prevention and assistance agency, and Derbyshire Place, a ministry aimed at helping low-income families, are among destinations for Mission Impact attendees.

Graves, a Bethune-Cookman trustee, said university leaders heard about the conference’s goal of encouraging intergenerational relationships and offered to host an event.

Rev. John Baldwin II, presidential policy adviser at Bethune-Cookman, said the idea carried a natural appeal for a school where the motto is “Enter to learn. Depart to serve.”

“When our founder started this school, she started it to empower people in the community to build a healthier community and to contribute their assets to the community around them,” Baldwin said, referring to Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune. Bethune’s original training school for girls, founded in 1904, blossomed into a college and later a university after affiliating with The United Methodist Church in 1924.

The university is encouraging student participation and offering civic engagement credits that some students need to graduate, Baldwin said.

Graves said local congregations will lend support by making church campuses available for people who want to save on lodging costs by bringing cots, air mattresses or sleeping bags. And at least one local hotel has agreed to provide a discounted rate to those who mention “Mission Impact” when they book a room.

The lay leader said he also wants to encourage young people to approach their elders and invite them to the event. Older adults, fearing rejection, seem less likely to make the first move, he said.

“The older adults are scared of it.”

Sharing in mission work provides the ideal icebreaker and puts both generations on an equal footing for cross-mentoring, Graves said.

“We don’t want them instructing,” he added. “We don’t want them saying, ‘Come to my church and be like us.’ This is about relationships for … Kingdom-building.”

Graves said intergenerational relationships will continue to be a concept promoted at Annual Conference 2015, scheduled to be held June 10-13 on the Bethune-Cookman campus.

For Mission Impact Florida information and registration, click here.

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

 

Thursday - October 9, 2014
GBHEM task force tackling clergy debt concerns

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- New findings from the United Methodist-affiliated Seminary Indebtedness Task Force reveal that the average educational debt for United Methodist seminary graduates has reached $49,303.  

“Based on median annual conference compensation for new clergy, we now know that many of our clergy are well beyond the nationally recognized critical level (10 percent of income) for manageable debt,” said Allyson Collinsworth, executive director of the Office of Loans and Scholarships at the General Board of Higher Education & Ministry (GBHEM), which appointed the task force. 

The figure for average student debt is calculated by combining the average Master of Divinity program debt for United Methodist students, $35,761, and the average undergraduate or prior-to-seminary debt of $13,542. The figures were taken from data supplied by 13 United Methodist theological schools.

“Currently in the U.S., college students have a trillion dollars of educational debt. The task force is bringing our institutions and annual conferences together to look at this issue, which is affecting our clergy and their families,” Collinsworth said.

Locally, the Florida Conference received a $50,000 grant this year through the United Methodist Young Clergy Initiative to develop an educational program aimed at debt reduction for clergy members. The program is expected to start in December. 

Based on information compiled in July, active, full-time provisional elders and deacons with one year or less of service in the church earn a median total annual compensation  -- salary plus housing allowance or parsonage amount -- of $49,742, according to data analyses collected from the General Board of Pensions and Health Benefits. This includes a median annual base salary of $38,000.

"Seminary debt is keeping young, innovative clergy from being able to take risks in their ministry -- the very same risks, in fact, that a 21st century church needs to be making," said Tyler Sit, recent seminary graduate and church planting resident at Urban Village Church in Chicago. 

New calculations estimate the critical level of student debt for United Methodist new full-time clergy to be around $35,500. This figure assumes earning the median annual compensation for new clergy, putting the FinAid-recommended 10 percent of gross monthly income toward student debt and the ability to repay the debt in a 10-year standard plan at a 6.8 percent interest rate.

“Using data supplied by seminaries, we have painted a clearer picture of the debt facing our clergy and seminarian students. Now we need to create discussion, cooperation and resourcing among the levels of the church that can combat this problem,”  Collinsworth said.

"Seminary debt is keeping young, innovative clergy from being able to take risks in their ministry -- the very same risks, in fact, that a 21st century church needs to be making."
-- Tyler Sit, Urban Village Church, Chicago

GBHEM staff and task force members shared the current calculations at a recent joint meeting of seminary financial aid directors, project managers for Lilly Endowment grants, two seminary presidents and boards of ordained ministry (BOM) staff from 18 annual conferences. Seven United Methodist seminaries were among 67 across the U.S. that received money from the Lilly Endowment as a part of its initiative to address economic issues facing future ministers. 

Root causes discussed by the group included the financial realities of the cost of seminary, loan availability and access, lack of financial literacy, process and timing for students to identify themselves as candidates for ordination and additional pre-seminary debt. Solutions brainstormed at the meeting included creating a financial literacy element in the group candidacy or vocational discernment process to provide information on funding resources as part of the group study. This, however, would be aimed at declared candidates on track to be certified and would help only those who identified their call to ministry early.

Other ideas included a greater emphasis at seminaries on financial training/counseling about debt limits and fiscal realities. Annual conferences could partner with seminaries to contact prospective students and include education about regional funding in the recruitment process. Others wanted more support from the district committee level in the discernment process, moving a conversation about the reasonable maximum debt for clergy into a local context.

Legislation approved at General Conference 2012 recommended that GBHEM form a task force to address financial assistance and seminary debt for certified candidates for ordained ministry. The Seminary Indebtedness Task Force is a subset of the GBHEM Young Clergy Initiative.

Seminary representatives at the meeting expressed need to receive Ministerial Education Fund checks at the schools before students pay tuition bills, which would avoid odd short-term borrowing, and a hope to be involved earlier in the ordination process via candidacy retreats or discernment spaces. Annual conference BOM staff members spoke of the need to streamline data collection and identify persons from their conference who are actively enrolled in a seminary.

Overall, meeting participants rallied behind a call for greater consistency and clarity across the connection about what debt limits are for candidacy and ordination, as well as when credit checks are required in that process. Sit advised students, “Don't try to run away from your debt. Ask questions ... about your financial status until you are absolutely confident in how you are going to scratch out debt before it interferes with your ministry.”

The Seminary Indebtedness Task will give a final report to the Council of Bishops and the Connectional Table in 2015 and to the 2016 General Conference.

The task force will also lead discussions on United Methodist clergy debt at the following upcoming events:

  • Oct. 12-14, Association of United Methodist Theological Schools, Claremont (Calif.) School of Theology;
  • Nov. 5-7,  National Association of United Methodist Foundations, Asheville, N.C.
  • Nov. 19-21, Consultation on Theological Education, hosted by GBHEM, in San Diego.
  • Dec.4, GBHEM and Wesley Theological Seminary in Washington, D.C., will facilitate a joint conversation with four  annual conferences (Baltimore Washington, Pennsylvania Delaware, Susquehanna and Virginia) on clergy debt and, specifically, how seminaries and annual conferences can work together for the students they share.

Contact Allyson Collinsworth for more information about the Seminary Indebtedness Task Force.

-- Nicole Burdakin is an editorial and production assistant, Office of Interpretation, General Board of Higher Education and Ministry. Susan Green, Florida Conference Connection managing editor, contributed to this story.

 
 

Monday - October 6, 2014
Singles mingles, a ministry idea
for the ages

Christy Hayashi recently kicked off a singles ministry at First UMC, Port Orange, with a dance-off contest that rocked the house to a Christian beat.

Nearly 170 single adults 18 and older came together for a good time. Hayashi hopes to give singles a place to mingle in a safe environment each month. The ministry is an idea she began thinking about nearly two years ago. 

Senior woman and younger woman close together giving thumbs-up sign
A singles ministry can target a particular age or interest group or offer activities appealing to people of all ages and walks of life. Photo from Bigstock.com.

"I want it to bring people off the streets and into the church community so they see there is more to it," says Hayashi, who is First UMC's church secretary and the singles ministry's director.

"You can unite and talk more about God, and also there is actually fun at church."

She has a passion for reaching out to single adults who might feel alone or disconnected from church life. It is something she knows firsthand.

Hayashi is a single mom who was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis several years ago.

"I have come through a lot, but it has brought me closer to God," she says. "If you can stay strong and go through things and stick together you can get things done."

That is the message of First UMC's ministry, "Singles Helping Singles."

Singles ministries are something the General Board of Discipleship would like to spread to more churches. The UMC agency serves as a leadership and training resource for all church ministries and new church development.

Hayashi's efforts are one example. At Sun City Center UMC, church member Ellie Passino is heading up a singles ministry for senior women who live on their own and sometimes face limited options for transportation. 

Young people turn out for dance contest at Port Orange singles ministry
People of all ages turn out for a dance contest sponsored by Singles Helping Singles at First UMC, Port Orange. Photo from Christy Hayashi.

It can hold them back not only in church attendance, but in getting out and being with friends.

So on every third Tuesday of the month, the members of SWAG, or Single Women Always Going, make a special effort to venture outside their southern Hillsborough County retirement community for lunch.

Out of necessity, Passino and a friend, Ann McMullen, are designated drivers.

"There is hardly anyone else who will drive out of this area," says 88-year-old Passino.

Some never drive at all, unless it's in a golf cart. Sun City Center is known for its cart traffic that zips along the streets and beats a path of convenience to nearby golf courses, shops, grocery stores, pools and any of dozens of on-site activities.

The women mix it up among restaurant choices. Brandon, about 20 miles to the north, is about a far as the group usually ventures. 

"We have a good time talking," Passino says.

Passino puts a notice in the church's monthly bulletin as a reminder of the date and time.

Fun and companionship are the ministry’s purpose, but church officials -- and Passino -- see a broader mission of making singles welcome at church and opening doors to friendships.

These ministries can help strengthen ties to the church and to their faith.

"We have a good time," Passino says. "It's been a chance for me to meet these ladies, which I would never have done going to church. We've formed a nice friendship." 

Hispanic dad on an outing with preschool-age son
Some singles ministries target the needs of single parents, while others may focus on seniors who find themselves without a companion in late life. Photo from Bigstock.com.

Passino says SWAG's members, around 10 to 20, increase as Sun City's "snowbird" residents settle in to enjoy Florida during fall and winter.

United Methodist Communications offers a how-to guide on creating singles ministries, and the denomination's General Board of Discipleship provides some resources at its website, www.gbod.org. Click here for the adult ministries page, and then click in the box for "adult singles."

One requisite for a successful ministry is finding a leader with communication and organizational skills. Social activities should be age-appropriate, whether for young, old or a blend of generations. And sensitivity may be needed for singles who are coping with a recent divorce or death of a loved one.

Matchmaking is something the board cautions against. If friendships should deepen into love, they should happen naturally, the board advises.

Hayashi is very clear about her church's ministry. "It is not a dating site or dating group," she says.

The dance-off drew a mixed crowd ranging from late teens to the 40-somethings who enjoyed pizza and a band. The top three dancers won cash prizes. Child care was provided for single parents.

The ministry’s next outreach will be an Oct. 10 get-together at Jakob's Well in Daytona Beach, a Christian-based coffee shop and bookstore with live music on weekends. Anyone age 18 and older is welcome.

The idea is to find places where singles can enjoy themselves in a Christian atmosphere, Hayashi says, adding that people want someone to talk to and a place to go.

"People are in need. Some people get lonely. They want to fill the void," she says. "I've seen it all the time. I want to reach out to people. I was there once."

-- Kathy Steele is a freelance writer based in Tampa.
 

Friday - October 3, 2014
It's back! Giving Tuesday set for Dec. 2

Logo for When Methodists Are United with date Dec. 2NEW YORK -- The United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries has announced that on Dec. 2, 2014, it will match up to $1 million in gifts made online to any project through The Advance as part of UMC #GivingTuesday.

Marie Kuch-Stanovsky, who chairs the communication and development committee of Global Ministries’ board of directors, expressed enthusiasm about last year’s record $6.5 million raised online through The Advance on UMC #GivingTuesday.

“It was a wonderful sign of commitment and extravagant generosity, maximizing the impact of thousands of United Methodists coming together on one day to transform the world.”

Directors approved allocating matching funds dollar for dollar up to the first $1 million in gifts to Advance projects received online on Dec. 2, between 12 a.m. EST and 11:59 p.m. Kuch-Stanovsky explained that to stretch the matching funds, a maximum of $2,500 per individual gift to a project will be dispersed as matching funds and a project may receive a maximum of $25,000 in matching funds.

The board president, Bishop Hope Morgan Ward of the North Carolina Conference, also announced that in the spirit of “healthy competition,” Global Ministries is “preparing a special Advance award to be given to the annual conference that raises the most funds online through The Advance on UMC #GivingTuesday 2014.”

'When Methodists Are United' campaign

Ellen Knudsen, director of Advance projects for Global Ministries, said that while people give through The Advance throughout the year, “having one day when Methodists are united in supporting The Advance reinforces the spirit of cheerful Christian giving.”

UMC #GivingTuesday is part of an international movement that builds on the recent U.S. shopping traditions of Black Friday, Local Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. It offers an opportunity to start off the holiday season by giving instead of getting through supporting organizations that have been researched and approved by the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries. And 100 percent of all gifts made through The Advance are given directly to the designated project.

For example, thanks in part to gifts made last year on UMC #GivingTuesday, the Tanzania Provisional Conference of the North Katanga and Tanzania Episcopal Area purchased of 15 acres of property in Dar es Salaam. The property will be home to a new United Methodist Church mission center for the conference that will support ministry projects in Tanzania.

In Haiti, Advance project HAPI built the Feilsane Health Center with gifts made through The Advance on UMC #GivingTuesday. HAPI hired local people for construction and electricity. Funds also equipped the delivery room with Hil-Rom birthing beds. Deaconess Valerie Mossman-Celestin says that “Felisane Health Center not only benefits health but economics, as people in a mountainous, rural community find access to care without incurring costly transportation.”

Through The Advance, United Methodists can give to more than 850 United Methodist-related projects worldwide. Donors can also provide support for any of more than 300 missionaries. Together, the projects meet a range of needs, from helping survivors cope with natural or civil disasters to helping communities build churches, feed and educate children, and equip hospitals and clinics.

Since its founding in 1948, The Advance has helped channel more than 3 million gifts totaling more than $1 billion to thousands of projects and ministries.

Global Ministries offers resources to promote and share the UMC #GivingTuesday campaign at www.umcmission.org/givingtuesday.

To make a contribution, donors will go to www.umcmission.org/give on UMC #GivingTuesday, Dec. 2, and donate online to any of the hundreds of projects and missionaries listed there. To search for projects, click here.
 

Wednesday - October 1, 2014
Take inviting photos of your church
Diverse group of people greeting one another at First UMC, Miami
In addition to technical aspects, photos that reveal the personality and fellowship of a church, like the one above from First UMC, Miami, or photos that help online visitors picture themselves in worship, like the one below from Trinity UMC, Tallahassee, are good choices for church websites. Home page teaser photo from First UMC, Coral Gables.
Worship service at Trinity UMC, Tallahassee

According to the adage, a picture is worth a thousand words, and in today's image-driven culture, a photograph might be what brings visitors to your church.

If you have shopped for a house online, you probably have noticed the difference between a house advertisement with great photos and one without. Most likely, a house advertised with bad photos will not initially make your list. A house with great photos will get your second and third look and, perhaps eventually, a visit.

A church is the same. People will likely envision themselves within a church, imagining themselves in various church settings. They want to see how they might fit into a congregation's culture. Photos of a church taken without care or consideration of who might look at them could convey a negative message.

For tips and techniques to take the best photos of your church, click here.

 

 

 



-- Gavin Richardson is a writer for United Methodist Communications.

Blogs
Wednesday - October 15, 2014
Chaplain Steven Souders receives presidential award
Steve Souders headshot
Steve Souders

Congratulations to Cmdr. Steve Souders, command chaplain of the Naval Station Mayport in Jacksonville, who recently was awarded the President's Meritorious Service Medal for his work in 2011-14 as director of the Mayport Ministry Center.

According to a prepared statement about the citation, Souders led a ministry center that delivered proactive pastoral care to 5,000 sailors and their families associated with 19 ships, including 6,700 instances of pastoral counseling, along with worship and religious education events, community relations projects, training sessions and burials at sea.

"Commander Souders' exceptional professionalism, personal initiative and loyal devotion to duty reflected great credit upon him and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service," reads the statement signed by Rear Admiral P.A. Gumataotao.

Souders recently reported to Dr. Wayne Wiatt, Clergy Excellence director at the Florida Conference, that he has been named command chaplain of the naval station's chapel. The position includes coordinating pastoral care for 70 tenant commands, homeported ships, personnel and their families.

Tuesday - October 14, 2014
Debunking the myth of the social media expert

If you’re anything like us here at FLUMC, you’ve probably felt discouraged by a big drop in your church’s organic reach on Facebook.

It’s no secret that Facebook is moving closer to a pay-only model. And reality has hit home now that they’re asking everyone, including nonprofits and churches like us, to pay money to interact with the communities we’ve rallied together online.

This new challenge makes it clear that there is no such thing as a social media expert who can predict every curveball that the social media game has to throw at us. After all, Facebook is a public playground, and we are only permitted to play by their rules.

Over at churchjuice, Jerod explains how even someone with his level of experience can be derailed by sudden game changes like this, and what he learned from his mistakes. Read more!

Tuesday - October 7, 2014
Timing is everything

You’ve put together some great content that’s fresh and original and you’re ready to share it with your fans and followers.

But wait one second! What time is it right now?

Have you considered if this is the absolute best time to post? Sharing content when your church members aren’t even online won’t do you much good. By the time they login your content will be buried under a pile of newer content.

The obvious solution is to only post when most of your followers are online. But how are you supposed to know when that is?

There are some excellent tools available to help you figure that out. They’ve done a great job explaining exactly how this is done over at RazorSocial. Read more!

Tuesday - September 30, 2014
Make a human connection with your followers

An active follower is a great thing to have on your team. Having people interact with your page in any shape or form is a sign that you're doing something awesome with your social media account. But that doesn’t mean you can’t take it a step further.

Social media isn’t just about getting information to people. It’s a way to connect with people authentically—to let them know that your church is made up of people just like them. It’s a conversation!

So start talking back. Once someone becomes active on your site, engage with them however possible. Look at the content they share with you, whether it be in the comments or on their public accounts.

If you’re interested in learning more about how you can make a strong connection with an active follower, our friends at Church Marketing Sucks put together some great tips for inspiring your Twitter fans. With a little tweaking, most of these tips can apply to other social media platforms as well. Click here to check out their post!

Thursday - September 25, 2014
Mission Service Opportunities through Generation Transformation

Generation Transformation (GT) applications are now available for 2015 young adult mission opportunities. Generation Transformation is an initiative of the United Methodist General Board of Global Ministries offering service opportunities for young adults ages 18-30. With three different mission tracks to choose from, GT offers a program to fit the mission desires of all who wish to serve. “Generation Transformation is for all who are willing to go, and ready to respond to God’s call,” says Rachel deBos, a Mission Interpreter for Global Ministries.

Generation Transformation is a movement of young adults using their faith to address injustice and work for systemic change around the world. It is often said that United Methodist missionaries go “from everywhere to everywhere,” making GT truly a global initiative.

“Global Ministries is committed to offering mission service opportunities for young people all around the globe,” says Judy Y. Chung, who leads missionary services. “As young people are mobilized to serve in mission, integrating faith and justice, the movement will inspire and transform the world.”

Three different programs offer a variety of options for young adults who are interested in missionary service:

1.     Global Mission Fellows sends young adults ages 20-30 out of their home context for two years of mission service. This is a faith- and justice-centered opportunity that grew out of the historic US-2 and Mission Intern programs. The Global Mission Fellows aim to engage with local communities, connect the church in mission and grow in personal and social holiness. “The program’s revised structure will better reflect the Global Ministries mission to ‘connect the church in mission,’” writes Elizabeth Chun Hye Lee, the program’s executive secretary. “Local United Methodist leaders — lay leaders, pastors, missionaries and/or campus ministers — will provide mentorship and support, helping Fellows navigate opportunities and challenges that arise when pursuing a life of mission.”

2.     Global Justice Volunteers is a short-term service opportunity for young adults ages 18-30. Small teams of volunteers spend 10 weeks during June, July and August exploring the links between faith and social justice. They work with grassroots organizations around the world.

3.     Individual Volunteers offer individuals and couples the flexibility to volunteer for a period of two months to two years. Volunteers serve at placement sites all over the world, including the United States. Every effort is made to accommodate placement preferences.

Generation Transformation is changing the world one young adult missionary at a time. 2015 service applications are now available. The priority date for submission is Oct. 15. If you’re a young adult committed to working for justice through faith, or know someone who is, you’re encouraged to apply now and share these opportunities throughout your network! These programs develop strong young leaders who are committed to building just communities and a peaceful world.

Learn more about Generation Transformation at www.umcmission.org/GT or email gmfellows@umcmission.org. Follow @umcmissionGT on Twitter for program updates. Please keep these young adults in prayer along with the communities they will serve. Financial support can be made through Advance #13105Z.

Media contact: Melissa Hinnen, Director of Content & Public Information, mhinnen@umcmission.org

Please share this blog with your friends by using the email icon in the upper right corner of the page (the icon looks like an envelope). New readers can subscribe here. To unsubscribe, send your full name and e-mail address to dataupdates@flumc.org with the subject line “Unsubscribe-Global Missions Blog.”

Tuesday - September 23, 2014
How to revive your church's Twitter

Has your church not been as successful on Twitter as you’d hoped? Maybe you’ve seen another church getting a lot of headway recently, and you just can’t seem to figure out what they’re doing right and what you’re doing wrong.

There’s no reason to be hard on yourself. Twitter is an odd egg, and you aren’t the first church to have problems cracking it.

Recently, our friends at churchjuice put together a list of 5 common pitfalls that church’s get stuck in when starting up a page. These include:

  1. Not completing your profile
  2. An inconsistent personality or voice
  3. Automated content that wasn’t written for Twitter
  4. A lack of variety in your tweets
  5. Not sharing or talking with others

If you feel you’re guilty of any of these read more at churchjuice.com.

Tuesday - September 16, 2014
Using technology for the ministry of the Gospel

Pastor Greg Laurie is a notable pastor (Harvest Christian Fellowship, Riverside, California) and evangelist with Harvest Crusades that has held large-scale outreaches since 1990. He was interviewed by Brendan Stark (Web Director at Harvest) in a keynote address at the CITRT (Church IT Roundtable) Regional event back in March 2014. Pastor Greg Laurie shared his value as a pastor for using technology, the Internet, and social media, and how they must be used for the ministry of the Gospel.

Click here to listen to the podcast and access other great resources by Social Media Church.

Tuesday - September 9, 2014
Getting started on Pinterest, Tumblr and Foursquare

By Evan LePage

 

The following is an excerpt from A Guide to Getting Started on Social Networks by HootSuite University. The guide teaches businesses how to leverage nine popular social networks to better connect with customers and prospects. Part 3 of this series covers Pinterest, Tumblr and Foursquare.

Download The Guide

With a growing number of social networks, it can be difficult to determine where businesses should put their attention and resources. As as each social network is different, they each require their own content and engagement strategies for their unique audiences.

Unique audiences definitely applies to Pinterest, Tumblr and Foursquare, three social networks that fall outside of the social media strategies of most businesses today. Each of these three networks serves an engaged audience with particular tastes. Though they don’t have as many users as Facebook or LinkedIn, their users are extremely engaged and passionate – meaning tons of opportunities for your brand.

Pinterest

Pinterest has over 70 million users. With over 2.5 billion monthly page views, it has become one of today’s top social networks. Pinterest allows individuals to organize images and videos into personalized visual collections, known as Pinboards. Users can then create pinboards from design inspirations and their favorite products, and browse through public pins and follow boards created by other users.

When using Pinterest, consider the following:

  • Because the average Pinterest user spends over 15 minutes on the the site per visit, Pinterest can provide significant value to businesses looking for a simple tool that engages customers effectively.
  • Pinterest is perfect for contests as the network encourages user-generated content. For example, with photo-pinning contests, businesses can get their followers to pin photos showcasing creative uses their products.

Use Case

Airbnb, an online vacation rental website, recently launched a contest where they gave a free trip to one of their Pinterest followers. To enter the contest, followers were encouraged to pin images of all the destinations they wanted to travel. By tagging Airbnb in each pin, followers were entered into the content, and by sharing their pinned images on other social networks, they increased their chances of winning. Not only did Airbnb see an increase in followers on Pinterest, their contest was shared across other networks like Twitter and Facebook.

Tumblr

Tumblr is a publishing platform that is home to 160 million blogs. With its easy to use blogging platform, Tumblr exemplifies the power of social sharing, and provides businesses with a powerful publishing platform.

Tumblr allows businesses to share as well as follow other blogs. Brands are able to take advantage of the user-friendly platform and tell their story through text, photos, links, and videos.

When using Tumblr, consider the following:

  • Tumblr is a free platform that is easy to use, providing a place where businesses can easily host their company blog or website.
  • Businesses can make their Tumblr page their brand’s content hub where sales and marketing share photos of new products, infographics or other types of promotional content.

Use Case

The news website, Mashable, uses the Tumblr platform for their company blog, where they share behind-the-scenes company culture, helping to build their online community and following.

Foursquare

Foursquare is a mobile geolocation app that allows people to “check in” to different types of venues, such as restaurants, retail businesses and other popular locations. Once a user arrives at a destination they can use their Foursquare app on their mobile phone and ‘check in’. Popular with young professionals, Foursquare helps to create connections between individuals, their friends, and the places they like to go.

For businesses, Foursquare offers a unique opportunity for businesses to localize marketing efforts and deepen customer connections. With over 1.6 million businesses using Foursquare’s merchant platform, businesses can create or claim a listing on Foursquare, allowing them to gain recognition and connect with their customer base.

When using Foursquare, consider the following:

  • Foursquare is an effective tool for listening to the tips and feedback that customers are leaving for the businesses they check into.
  • Businesses can support sales and marketing initiatives by sharing or featuring certain products.
  • Businesses can also create ‘specials’ for that will pop up for nearby Foursquare users acting as an incentive to visit one shop over another.

Use Case

Luxury hotels like the Wynn Las Vegas use Foursquare as a tool to help their hotels improve their overall service. Recently they had a promotion on Foursquare that encouraged guests to ‘check in’ to the hotel’s profile on Foursquare. Once checked in, guests were invited to enjoy a complimentary glass of champagne.

To learn more about today’s top social networks, and discover what you need to know for your business to get started and excel with social media, download the Guide to Getting Started on Social Networks today.

Courtesy www.hootsuite.com.

 

Tuesday - September 2, 2014
17 reasons to rethink your Facebook strategy

By Olsy Sorokina | Courtesy Hootsuite

 

Have you been slacking off when it comes to updating your brand’s Facebook Strategy? Have you been working with the same strategy since before the introduction of Timelines? You’re not alone.

Facebook is constantly adding and optimizing new features to keep up with the fickle desires of its audiences and keep its spot as a leader in the world of social media. Some of these additions, such as the introduction of the cover photo, are obvious from the start. Other changes take a while to register, and can work against your brand’s social media presence without you realizing it. In order to avoid this, and to make sure your social media strategy is up to date, here are several Facebook features introduced over the past 3 years that you need to understand to keep your Facebook strategy fresh.

1. Profiles are personal, and Pages are professional
Keeping a Facebook profile for your business is not only outdated, it violates Facebook’s Terms of Services. There are countless advantages to a Page for your business; it makes building a relationship with a fan or a customer effortless, as they are only required to ‘Like’ a page to start receiving updates from your brand. Pages also get the perk of Facebook Insights, a free analytics feature that track the results of your Page on the network.

2. Facebook now has verified accounts
Following the example of Twitter and Google+, Facebook now allows you to sport the prestigious blue checkmark that verifies your brand’s account. It’s recommended that your brand’s Page goes through the verification process, which often only involves putting a link to the official website in the description, and making sure the “About” section is completed. Verified accounts are more likely to appear in the Suggested Content field on the users’ News Feeds, which is helpful for your Facebook strategy as it means your Page is more likely to be seen by potential fans.

3. Over 50% of Facebook users are mobile
Facebook boasts over one billion users and more than half of these use the mobile platform. Facebook Mobile app has a permanent spot on top of the free app charts for both iTunes Store and Google Play. Make sure to optimize your updates for mobile, and make sure all your shared external links lead to mobile-friendly pages—so you don’t scare off half of your potential audience!

4. Users do judge the Page by its cover
There is no excuse for disregarding your Facebook Page’s cover photo in 2014. Introduced in 2011 along with Facebook’s Timeline, a cover photo is a great way for customers to get to know your brand: you can use it to encourage link visits, advertise an upcoming event, or simply get new visitors to ‘Like’ your page. Some tips to keep in mind: make it colourful, center- or right-align your cover photos for better mobile optimization, and try to keep it light on the text.

5. Younger users have larger audiences
Despite all the talk about teenagers abandoning Facebook for greener social media pastures, recent research confirms that users in the 18-29 age group still make up a large part of the social media audience. They also generally have bigger circles: the median number of Facebook friends for this age group is 300, the largest among other groups. If you want to expand your audience, find out what the kids are up to these days—they are a tough crowd to crack, but once you reach them, they will be your biggest fans.

6. ‘Passion pages’ are a gold mine for referral traffic
Facebook users often express their interests through Page Likes, instead of explicitly including their passions in profile descriptions. Enter passion pages: Facebook Pages that include the words “I Love” or “I Like” in their names. Create one for something your customers are bound to love—for example, if your brand specializes in outdoor gear and you’re based out of British Columbia, “I Love BC Outdoors” could be a great passion page for you. How does it benefit your brand? If you include a link to your brand’s page or website, this is a great way to refer potential customers and create new fans.

7. People use Facebook for the lulz
Multiple studies released around Facebook’s tenth anniversary agreed on this as the most common reason to use the social network: users log in to get some laughs. Sure, people share facts about their lives, but those also get more ‘Likes’ if the update happens to be funny. Don’t be afraid to incorporate a little humour into your Facebook strategy: make your updates informative and entertaining (like this post, for example).

8. Content related to current events is more visible
Facebook is one of the leading tools for sharing news, and it has developed a lot of features to take advantage of this fact: (mostly) spoiler-free ‘Trending’ sidebar, suggested content, and related links. The latter is especially useful for social media managers: if you share content related to the news of the day, it is likely to get more audience engagement. Don’t be afraid to connect your content to the big news of the day, and then share it with your Facebook fans.

9. #Hashtagged posts reach bigger audiences
So you’re a pro at using hashtags in tweets, but feel weird about doing the same for Facebook updates? Facebook has officially introduced clickable hashtags last June to make it easier to track discussions online, so if you haven’t done so already—join the trending conversations.

10. Explicitly shared app content is more visible on News Feeds
It’s a great idea to link all your social accounts, but make sure you don’t get complacent with your posting habits. Your audience is more engaged with explicitly shared content (i.e. third-party app content intentionally cross-posted to Facebook)—and Facebook modifies the News Feed to include more explicitly shared third-party app posts. This means that if you manage your brand’s Twitter and Facebook accounts, instead of automatically having all your Tweets copy to Facebook updates, you should manually select which ones you share. This also prevents you from the pitfall of overwhelming your fans with too much content.

11. A picture’s worth a hundred text updates—photos increase engagement and reach
One of the modifications for Facebook’s News Feed includes fewer “text-based updates” from Pages. This means that your posts are more likely to reach a wider audience if you illustrate them with photos. If your brand is design-savvy, you can include original visual content to accompany your updates, to follow Kraft Dinner’s example.

12. Instagram + Facebook = Social Media Success
If your brand also has an Instagram account (and it really should!), you can take advantage of the modifications by including photos from your brand’s Instagram in Facebook updates. Now that the popular image-sharing app lives under the Facebook umbrella, it should be a seamless inclusion into your Facebook strategy. Instagram is a great visual tool to engage your audience on their smartphones—as we’ve just mentioned in #3, half of your fans are probably using the mobile Facebook app already, so the switch between the two is very likely.

13. Video posts can reach a larger audience—if users find them interesting
Facebook recently made changes to its News Feed to reflect users’ video-watching habits: those who watch more videos will see more video material on their feed, which means frequently watched videos will have a significantly larger reach. If we haven’t stressed video use for audience engagement enough, this is yet another reason to do it—especially on Facebook.

14. Slingshot is Facebook’s newest video app
Since videos are a great way to engage your social media audience, why not try Facebook’s answer to Snapchat, a newly introduced instant video app Slingshot? It works similarly to the popular ephemeral video apps, but has a bonus reciprocal feature: the users can’t see your video until they share something in return. Slingshot has the potential for a great two-way conversation between you and your brand’s fans.

15. Like Ads help promote your Page
A ‘Like Ad’ is Facebook’s non-invasive way to promote Pages on users’ News Feeds. It functions the same way as tagging one’s friends in photos or updates: similar to this, a Like Ad shows up in the News Feed of the person whose friends liked a page or a post. There are a few ways to build your Facebook audience using Like Ads, with some requiring an investment of as little as $20 or less to boost posts to hundreds of users.

16. Storytelling ads result in more page visits
A recent study sponsored by the social media giant discovered that Facebook users are more likely to visit the page if the advertisement tells a story. Storytelling means ‘sequencing’ the ad, which entails a series of separate ads that tell the story of the brand, explain the product, and only then invite the user to visit the page. We have always encouraged making storytelling a part of your social media strategy, and the latest research provides more support for our call.

17. Hiring? Facebook is full of educated job seekers
Research shows that graduates in search of their first post-college jobs are incredibly active on Facebook. Graduates are almost twice as active on Facebook after they walk across the stage as they were during their studies, and they discuss their job hunts and interviews extensively. Consider dipping into this large pool of educated young minds if your company is hiring, or wants to find out what happens in young graduates’ lives.

More at www.hootsuite.com.

 

Classifieds
Friday - October 24, 2014
Principal

First United Methodist Church is seeking a new Principal to lead our pre-school through 8th grade Christian school located in Homestead, Florida.  First United Methodist Christian School is a ministry of the First United Methodist Church of Homestead whose goal is to provide the community a Christian education under Christian leadership and a loving, supportive community for students, staff, and families to enable students to excel intellectually, spiritually, and socially. Our school was established over 50 years ago and continues to be known for its outstanding Christian education in our community. We currently have 275 students with 36 teachers and assistants and 5 office staff.  Our school provides an aftercare program and has summer camp.


Interest and qualified candidates can send resumes to School Board Chairman Tim Horton, shrlhorton@gmail.com or 2450 SE 5th Ct, Homestead, Fl 33033
Position Title:  Principal - First United Methodist Christian School

Position Category:  Administrative – 12 months

Responsible For:  Managing the daily operation of the pre-school to 8th grade and the supervision of all staff of First United Methodist Christian School (FUMCS).  He or She is appointed by the School Board to implement the mission and education operating policies of FUMCS.  Accountable to the SPPRC and SB, the Principal is the spiritual and educational director who provides day-to-day direction and operational practices that represent a consistent and effective model of integrity, efficiency and accountability.  The principal reports to:  First United Methodist Church of Homestead, Pastor, Staff Pastor Parish Relations Committee (SPPRC) and School Board (SB).

SPIRITUAL QUALIFICATIONS:

•    Publicly profess to be a believer in Jesus Christ and have a lifestyle that reflects a maturity and intimacy with God.
•    Be a member of a Church, preferably a United Methodist Church.
•    Has an authentic and growing relationship with Jesus Christ as evidenced by a strong, clear personal testimony.
•    Possess personal humility.
•    A servant-leader whose conduct exemplifies Biblical principles.
•    Committed to the mission of achieving excellence by educating students spiritually, morally, and academically through cultivating Christian values and promoting Christian service.
•    A genuine excitement and passion about Christian leadership.
•    Able to lead in a Godly manner.

PROFESSIONAL QUALIFICATIONS:

•    Any 4 year degree from an accredited college with a least nine (9) college credits in Early Childhood.
•    A CDA and a minimum of five (5) years of teaching or directing experience.
•    A Staff and Directors Credential Certificate issued by the Department of Children and Families.
•    Preferably a Graduate level degree in Administration.
•    Preferably be certified to teach and/or administrate in the State of Florida.
•    Pass a Level 2 FDLE Screening and background investigation.
•    FUMCS reserves the right to have an individual to submit to drug testing if needed.
•    Experience in Christian school administration desirable, but not required.
•    Demonstrated supervisor leadership.

PERSONAL AND GENERAL QUALIFICATIONS:

•    Ability to create and lead effectively in a team environment.
•    Ability to mentor other leaders builds teams and creates a supportive work environment.
•    Confident – an inclusive decision-maker when confronted with challenging issues and concerns.
•    Enthusiasm, appreciation and commitment for the school’s mission.
•    Proven strength in interpersonal skills and human resource management.
•    Natural talent to meet people easily and cordially; comfortable with people representing diverse backgrounds.
•    A professional demeanor, while at the same time, developing close relationships with parents, staff and community.
•    Has a healthy level of self-confidence combined with Biblical humility.
•    Ability to think strategically and to analyze complex situations.
•    A problem-solver who can engage appropriate parties in the development and implementation of solutions.
•    Possess insight into contemporary culture and the challenges facing children, youth and Christian education.
•    An innovative practitioner of ways to invoke educational programs and administrative processes that engage parent and staff support while fostering desired student outcomes.
•    Ability to extend beyond philosophy and theory to invoke practical application.

DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES:

EDUCATIONAL LEADERSHIP AND SCHOOL MANAGEMENT:

•    Provide leadership to a planning process designed and intended to assure the school’s readiness and ability to provide a sound, relevant and spiritual educational experience for students.
•    Lead the Staff and School Board in planning for the school’s continuing educational growth and spiritual maturity as highly respected Christian institution.
•    Oversee all academic, extra curricula and student programs to achieve a complete Christian education experience.
•    Establish and promote goals for Staff that results in every student achieving to his/her fullest academic and personal potential.
•    Recruit Staff whose philosophies match those of the school.
•    Develop and apply strategies to continuously improve Staff professional development, salaries and benefits.
•    Develop and implement appositive reinforcing system for evaluating effective teaching, strengthening the curriculum and encouraging professional development.
•    Provide the leadership and management skills necessary to maximize the efforts of Staff and students in an environment conducive to spiritual and educational enhancement, growth, and achievement.
•    Evaluate virtual and technological education as a tool for enhancing the academic offering of FUMCS.
•    Remain abreast of educational trends.

COMMUNICATION:

•    Serves as the primary spokesperson for First United Methodist Christian School.
•    Be committed to maintaining excellent relationships with parents, staff, and students, First UMC Homestead, SPPRC, School Board and the Parent Teacher Fellowship.
•    Promote a warm Christ-centered atmosphere within the school.
•    Maintain a high profile by being visible and attending school events to build awareness, strengthen parent relations and encourage support of the school.
•    Provides leadership in promoting development and implementation of curriculum.
•    Provides strong, collaborative leadership to ensure consensus on future direction.
•    Involvement in the daily life and activities of students by personally recognizing their achievements and sharing in their successes as well as their problems and concerns.

ORGANIZATIONAL SETTING:

•    Ensure compliance with accrediting and school membership agencies.
•    Establish objectives and procedures to ensure operational efficiency.
•    Ensure compliance with local, state, and federal agencies and guidelines.
•    Ensure that the school’s staff adheres to all personnel policies, procedures and guidelines.
•    Ensure that the classrooms, building and playgrounds are safe for our students and staff.
•    Ensure that all necessary repairs are performed to keep the school and grounds in good repair. Major building repairs/concern – Trustee Committee.  Ordinary wear and tear issues – School maintenance staff.
•    Develop, maintain, and update as required, a School Safety Plan.

OTHER DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES:

•    Implement established school  policies and collaboratively review and make recommendations for change to the School Board.
•    Keep the School Board fully informed of needs as they affect educational operations.
•    Review and support the activities of the Parent Teacher Fellowship and parent volunteer groups.
 

Wednesday - October 22, 2014
Director of Children/Family Ministries

Seeking FT Director of Children/Family Ministries in Polk, Hillsborough, Pinellas area. 

Qualifications:
Experienced director, professional, degreed, familiar with workings of UMC

Expertise:
Children
-years of experience
-public education/church
-curriculum creation, planning, implementing
-event planning
-drama, music, dance
-teaching

Support
-volunteer training
-team training
-parent interaction
-creation of new programs
-completes projects
-organized
-creative
-computer proficient

General
-devoted follower of Christ
-passionate about children and family ministry
-team player
-easy to work with

Information
-Resume
-Letters of recommendation
-References

Tuesday - October 21, 2014
Part-Time Office Receptionist

Fulford United Methodist Church

Job description – Office Receptionist – Part Time

The office receptionist is responsible to welcome visitors/church members in a positive and courteous manner that reflects the Christian principles of the Church.

Key Responsibilities:
-    Develop and coordinate volunteer ministries for the office/church ministries
-    Identify and respond to the specific needs expressed by visitors/church members
-    Process all phone calls, maintain supply rooms in an orderly manner
-    Attend staff meetings

Duties:
-    Proof, edit, process, and sometimes compose office publications and correspondence in a professional manner
-    Maintain attendance records in computer and process all weekly prayer requests and related material
-    Prepare baptismal certificates
-    Assist and/or prepare weekly bulletins when necessary
-    Compose, record, and process all phone tree messages including maintenance of all phone records
-    Prepare and update all leadership and staff directories
-    Place, unpack, and distribute all orders for the office, janitorial needs, and copy machine supplies
-    Contact various contractors for repairs or new services
-    Order flowers for services as needed
-    Assist committee chairs with copying, composing, and printing
-    Prepare pick up list for bus and distribute to driver for Sunday bus ride program
-    Any other duties deemed necessary by the Pastor of Staff Parish Committee

Qualifications:
-    A minimum of a high school diploma or equivalency
-    Strong organizational and communication skills
-    The ability to speak and write professionally
-    A working knowledge of Microsoft Office and the ability to learn other related software
-    Long term commitment to the position
-    Spiritual maturity in the Christian faith and supportive of the United Methodist Church
-    Pass the United Methodist Church Child Protection Policy and background check/finger print that the church will pay for and conduct
 

Tuesday - October 21, 2014
President - The Florida United Methodist Foundation

Foundation Begins Presidential Search

LAKELAND, Fla. — The Florida United Methodist Foundation has officially begun a search for a new president. To assist prospective candidates in the application process, the Foundation has prepared a recruitment announcement, which describes the position, the requirements and expectations, and the process for filing an application.

The new president will lead the Foundation in implementing its strategic plan, adopted in 2013, and in fulfilling its mission of strengthening the ministries of United Methodist churches and agencies by promoting comprehensive Christian stewardship through education, consulting, development and financial services.

Prospective candidates should possess a bachelor’s degree and 10 or more years in senior leadership. Preferred qualifications include an advanced degree in a relevant profession, such as business, law or religion and experience in the areas of marketing, finance, church administration, strategic and long range planning, volunteer coordination and theology.

To access a recruitment announcement or to submit an application electronically please contact The Novak Consulting Group at thenovakconsultinggroup.com/jobs. Applications must include a cover letter, resume, five-year salary history, and a list of three to five professional references. The deadline for applications is Nov. 17, 2014.

Tuesday - October 21, 2014
Wooden Paper File

Wooden paper file for wall mounting. Great for 8.5x11 documents.

Wednesday - October 15, 2014
Director of Children's Ministry - Cordele, GA

Cordele First United Methodist Church, the largest church in our multi-county region, is an 1100 member church with a worship attendance averaging 550+ up from 250+ in the last two years. We anticipate having a worship attendance averaging 750+ within two more years. Cordele is a growing community that is located in southwest Georgia. It is the largest city in a thirty-mile radius. We are located two hours south of Atlanta and 90 minutes north of the Florida border. Our unique geographic placement provides for some truly exciting ministry opportunities in a very hurt and broken world. We are a multi-congregation church with four worship services: traditional, contemporary, Spanish-language contemporary, and Soul Food. The church has sixteen staff including three pastors (lead, Hispanic, and discipleship), three ministry staff (youth, children, and music), four support staff (administrative, communications, financial, and facilities), accompanists, nursery workers, and janitorial staff who all form a team. We are currently seeking a Director of Children's Ministry. If you would like to be a part of a ministry team that is making a difference in a non-homogenous community please send us your resume’ along with salary requirements. The successful candidate will:
-be passionately in love with Jesus and his Church
-have a clear call and commitment to evangelizing and discipling children
-want to work in an intentionally diverse multi-cultural context
- be an outside-the-box thinker with desire to see youth and their families transformed by Christ
-be a team player with proven track record

The Director of Children’s Ministry will provide staff support to shepherd, evangelize, and equip the children (birth-5th grade) of Cordele First United Methodist Church to train them as Kingdom citizens to be light in a dark world. He/she will oversee all ministries for children and give leadership to the development, planning, publicity and oversight of the education ministries for the life stage. They will lead, train, and recruit an entire network of adult volunteers in the Children’s Ministry from nursery through 5th grade.. They will serve other ministries as needs and interests arise. They will also be responsible for assisting the Lead Pastor with pastoral care concerns for the congregation.
QUALIFICATIONS
1. Must be a passionate follower of Jesus Christ and a member of a church in good standing.
2. Must live an exemplary life before those served. Humility, teachability, loyalty and personal holiness are of utmost importance.
3. Must understand and support the church purpose, priorities, vision, and guiding principles. As a staff member, heart and mind must be committed to serving others, supporting the staff and cultivating team ministry.
4. Must demonstrate leadership, effective people skills and a consistent desire and ability to train and liberate others to minister.
5. Must be a self-starter with motivation to follow through with limited supervision.
6. Must be continually pursuing personal growth in Christ and exercise of personal gifts and abilities.
7. Must be able to support the Lead Pastor and complement his or her ministry with enthusiasm and wisdom.
8. Must be a real team player who thrives on interaction and works well with both staff and church members.
9. Must have a heart for outreach and a passion to see that both the people and the structures under oversight reflect this passion in practical ways. The primary calling must be to make disciples.
10. Preference will be given to college and/or seminary-trained individuals.
WORK SCHEDULE
Full-time staff are expected to serve the needs of the ministry without compulsion
and with joy. As a guide, at least 50 hours per week should be customary. A regular plan of office time and “off” time will be made with the Lead Pastor.
PROSPECTIVE RESPONSIBILITIES
1. The Director of Children’s Ministry will provide leadership for major discipling ministries to children (birth through 5th grade: nursery, children’s Sunday school, mid-week and Sunday children’s programming. This person will focus on giving guidance, providing accountability, and recruiting & developing leaders for these ministries.
a. This position will help leadership of these ministries focus on the kind of disciples being produced, not simply on the kind of inputs they are giving in their ministries.
b. This position will help leadership of these ministries in providing appropriate curriculum, planning, purchasing, advertising, and communication strategies.
2. The Director of Children’s Ministry will provide strategic and hands on leadership for all children’s ministries by:
a. continually developing and equipping a ministry team to oversee all ministries related to this life stage and will have a strong presence with them in the ministry. This position will view their ministry position as a people developer, both in discovering/leading the ministry team and in the ways that they lead children and their parents.
b. making outreach a high priority in the ministry structures and encouraging it in the lives of those who are already involved at CFUMC.
3. The Director of Children’s Ministry will provide overall leadership and support for children’s Sunday School ministries, giving direct oversight and encouragement to the teachers and leaders within the Sunday school ministry through training, development, and recruitment.
4. The Director of Children’s Ministry will provide overall leadership and support for our nursery and pre-school aged ministries giving direct oversight and encouragement to the nursery staff and all volunteers, their training, development, and recruitment.
5. The Director of Children’s Ministry will coordinate any and all aspects of our Safe Sanctuaries child protection policy and make sure it is properly administered and followed. This position will giving leadership to planning and programming for training and recruiting volunteers and taking them through the Safe Sanctuaries training and clearance process for all ministries within the congregation.
6. The Director of Children’s Ministry will provide overall leadership for all programming for children including VBS, Wednesday nights, monthly events, outreach programs, Sunday school, and others areas as needed and assigned. Additionally, the administrative details of the Wednesday night family night supper program will be their responsibility as well as planning for Family-wide and Church-wide fellowship events
 

Monday - October 13, 2014
Assistant to the Director

Assistant to the Director
Trinity Learning Center of Trinity UMC, Lighthouse Point has an opening for an Assistant to the Director.
This person would work with the Director ensuring the day to day operations of the center.  This person must be a team player and have agenuine love for the ministry of children, and a love for the Lord.
•    Leadership qualities
•    Personable and outgoing
•    Flexible and dependable
•    Knowledge of DCF documents and requirements
•    Must have a CDA or FCCPC and experience working in a childcare setting.
•    Effective clerical and computer skills


Please email your resume to info@trinitylearningcenteronline.com or fax to 954-941-3240
P.O.C. Mrs. Storm Suydam, Director of Trinity Learning Center
 

Monday - October 13, 2014
Director of Youth Minitries

Waukeenah United Methodist Church of Monticello FL is seeking a passionate and committed Christian for the position of Director of Youth Ministries. This is a part time position (approximately 20hrs a week) and will lead 5 – 10 youth (6th – 12th grade).

Waukeenah UMC is dedicated to provide the best for the youth ministries of the church and the community. A job description will be provided to each applicant for review. Waukeenah UMC is located 20 miles East of Tallahassee and 12 miles South of Monticello, on Hwy 27.  The Youth meet every Wednesday from 6:00 – 7:30pm and every Sunday evening at 5:00 until 6:30. Waukeenah UMC is offering a competitive salary and educational benefits for the right person.
 

Friday - October 10, 2014
Christian Preschool in Tampa Seeking Afterschool Teacher

We are looking for a qualified Afterschool teacher to join the team. Applicants should enjoy teaching children in a Christian environment. Must have 45 hours Child Care certification or be willing to complete the hours during the first 90 days of employment. Please email resume to resume507@aol.com or fax to (813)236-5932

Conversations
Monday - October 27, 2014
Intergenerational worship is like Thanksgiving dinner table

Thanksgiving dinner, with everyone seated at the table.

That’s the image that popped into Steve Jones’ head five years ago when a search committee at First Presbyterian Church in San Mateo, California, asked him what intergenerational worship should look like.

“It occurred to me that it should be like Thanksgiving dinner at grandma’s house,” Jones said. “There may be a dish that you may not like, but there will be something that everyone will like. The point is not whether everyone likes all the food. The point is that everybody experiences the dinner together.”

Jones got the job, director of music and worship. Ever since, he’s worked with the church’s pastor and other congregation leaders to serve the needs of everyone at their table. That includes worshippers “of all ages and at all stages,” he said -- children, teens, young adults, middle-agers and seniors.

The goal, Jones said, is to help everyone pray, sing, study the Bible, receive the sacraments and enjoy fellowship in a way that “all are drawn into a fulfilling experience of God’s presence.” To do that, he said, everyone has to show up willing “to give up a little of what they prefer in order to worship together.”

Not every day -- not even every Sunday -- is “grandma’s Thanksgiving dinner” yet at First Presbyterian, but the church has made great strides toward intergenerational worship. Fueled in part by a Vital Worship Grant from the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, they’ve boosted the participation of all ages at the Sunday service, launched a weeklong children’s camp on worship, started a church-band mentoring program, published a pew booklet on worship and held a churchwide worship workshop.

Together, these and other measures are creating not just a culture of intergenerational worship at First Presbyterian San Mateo but an intergenerational church, said the Rev. Shannon Pappas, the pastor and head of staff.

“We’re trying to be a congregation that loves and appreciates across generations,” Pappas said. “We encourage everyone to meet people of different ages, develop relationships, and to do that in intentional ways outside of worship as well.”

The efforts are starting to pay off, Jones said. Friendships and mutual accountability are developing between young and old. Members of the adult choir have been “adopting” youth choir members, becoming prayer partners and, in turn, modeling intergenerational ministry for the rest of the congregation.

Where generations can mingle

Sure, members still often seek out their contemporaries at services and other events. But more intergenerational mingling is evident, for example, at youth worship nights, worship conferences, picnics and the church’s ministry at a local nursing home, where children, teens and adults sing and visit the patients together, Jones said.

To Annette Tornborg, the congregation’s elder for worship, church is a natural place where generations can mingle.

“A community of Christ is unique in our culture, because it’s the only place where five generations regularly get together,” she said.

Not long ago, some of those generations -- the younger ones -- were starting to disappear from First Presbyterian. When Pappas came to the church in 2008, it was a graying congregation, with membership heavily weighted toward people in their 70s and older.

The focus on intergenerational worship wasn’t so much a choice as a necessity, Pappas said.

“We could have become a church of only older people, but that’s a road to a long, slow passing away,” he said.

Faced with similar demographics, many congregations add a contemporary service to draw in young people. But First Presbyterian took a different path. Instead of offering separate traditional and contemporary services, they sought a middle ground, a single service that drew from both approaches.

“We decided to seek a third path, something between not changing and changing radically,” Pappas said. “We wanted something creative, something faithful, something good that met a variety of perspectives and needs, something relevant to many people across five generations.”

What they got was a blend of traditional and contemporary worship, a mix of stained glass, sacraments and creeds, hands-in-the-air praise songs, videos and a worship band. A typical service might begin with a traditional hymn, followed by a classical choir anthem or a black gospel number, then a choral version of the Newsboys’ latest hit, then back to Bach or Beethoven.

What really sets the service apart

“We’re not trying to prove a point,” Jones said. “We’re trying to illustrate that just as all people have a place in the kingdom, so do different musical styles when presented well.”

But what really sets the service apart are the people leading and participating in it.

“Every Sunday we balance the leadership on the platform to include members of different ages,” Pappas said.

Many are musicians or singers, members of the youth and adult bands and choirs. Others have speaking parts, leading prayers and reading Scripture. On any given Sunday, people on the platform range in age from 12 to 80, Jones said.

“We’re making a special effort not only to have people of all ages attend together but also be represented on the platform,” Jones said. “The children are not there to be cute or the seniors as a token. All are valid, and all are accepted.”

About 500 people, including 320 members, participate in the life of the church. Leaders attribute some recent growth to “a terrific children’s department,” but new families seem to be attracted to a church that tries to integrate all generations.

A combined service has its challenges, Jones said. Separate traditional and contemporary services are much easier to plan and execute.

“The most obvious challenge is the fact that younger people and older people enjoy very different music styles,” he said. “Selecting music is a constant balancing act.”

But the congregation may have the biggest challenge.

“The congregation has to approach it with the mindset that they aren’t there to get their own recipe,” he said. “They are there to be with the family and wait until their favorite food comes along. It’s a different mindset and a different paradigm.”

With young people participating in the service, the congregation must also understand the difference between performance and worship. Worship is not the school play or a recital.

“When someone small and cute recites Scripture or sings, people want to applaud, as though it were a performance,” Jones said. “Yet applause can pull people away from the focus of why we are here -- so some teaching goes along with this.”

Building bridges with music

Ironically, music -- the very thing that can so divide young and old -- has been the key to First Presbyterian’s efforts to create intergenerational worship, building bridges across generations.

Members of the adult and youth choirs and bands take part in the weekly service, as do guest musicians from the community. For the past five years, the youth band has also led a weekly Thursday service.

“Music has been a draw for a lot of people,” said Kelley Evans, who attends the church with her family. Jones, she said, does a fabulous job blending classical, traditional and contemporary music, offering “something for everyone.”

Tornborg echoes the importance of music in intergenerational worship.

“Music helps kids understand lots of things we do in worship,” Tornborg said. “It teaches them about liturgy and about how a worship service is put together.”

By participating in the youth choirs and bands and attending the summer Kids’ Worship Adventure camp -- a weeklong camp that teaches children in grades K-6 the principles of worship -- the church’s young people learn by doing. By middle school or high school, they are skilled enough to be on the platform on Sunday morning.

Evans’ daughters Katie, 15, and Megan, 13, have participated in Sunday worship at First Presbyterian. Both play in the youth and adult bands and have attended and taught music at Kids’ Worship Adventure.

Megan, who plays guitar and ukulele, especially enjoys taking part in the Sunday service. Katie, who plays guitar, said that a highlight of her week is being with band members of all ages.

“It’s good to use my talent to please God and to teach younger students,” she said. “And it’s also good to have teens play music with adults, because we learn from them.”

The young musicians don’t just learn how to play better when they are taught and mentored by older members. During rehearsals, the older musicians share techniques and discuss equipment, but they also share stories about their lives.

“We foster mentoring among members of our bands and vocal groups and our worship team,” Tornborg said. “They are listening and hearing each other, praying for each other and helping each other.”

Worship farm team

Programs such Kids’ Worship Adventure and the music mentoring are like a minor-league “farm team,” cultivating and nurturing a new generation of talent, Tornborg said.

“You have to build a farm team, not leave it to chance that young people will be an active part of the church community,” Tornborg said. “If you want to get youth involved in Sunday morning worship, make them stakeholders.”

Many are already moving up to the big leagues. As members of the youth band have grown up, many have joined the adult band. Jones also mentors young people who stay in the band past high school and feel called to full-time worship ministry.

Recruitment begins early. During the Kids’ Worship Adventure, the youngest campers -- Wee Worshippers -- are introduced to music in the Instrumental Petting Zoo, where they can sample a variety of instruments. The youngsters also learn worship songs and how to play recorders, handbells and ukuleles. Older students study drums, keyboards and guitars.

The musical instruction helps train the children as worship leaders and teaches them “to glorify God with their gifts and talent,” Jones said. Each day at camp, the youngsters lead a 30-minute worship gathering, and the week closes with a 45-minute worship service led by children for families and friends.

The church has also worked to educate members and visitors about intergenerational worship, publishing a booklet called “How We Worship Together.” Available in every pew, the booklet explains the importance of having children in worship and describes in simple language each element of the service.

“This book says, ‘Welcome, this is what we believe and this is what we value,’” Tornborg said.

Funding for the booklet came from a Vital Worship Grant from the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The church received the award, for almost $13,000, in mid-2013 and completed the one-year grant cycle a few months ago. Tornborg and Jones served as project directors for the grant.

The money also funded a weeklong visit from Friends of the Groom, a Christian theater company that did a residency at last summer’s Kids’ Worship Adventure. The troupe taught campers -- and later, participants in a churchwide workshop -- how to present Scripture through drama, mime and recitation.

Vital and engaging worship

The Calvin Institute has awarded some 700 Vital Worship Grants to congregations, universities, hospitals, nursing homes and seminaries since 2000. Last year, it awarded $300,000 to nearly 30 organizations. Recipients are not required to use the money for intergenerational worship, though the program does encourage such efforts.

“For worship to be vital and engaging and significant in a healthy church, it’s best that it be inclusive of all generations,” said the Rev. Kathy Smith, the associate director and program manager for grants programs at the Calvin Institute.

Church has always included people of all ages with a wide variety of gifts, Smith said. Intergenerational worship is about including the gifts of all in leading and participating in worship.

Beyond the programs that the Vital Worship Grants make possible, there is another benefit that many recipients don’t anticipate, Smith said.

“We’re told all the time that the money helps but that it was the accountability that made a difference,” she said. The grants force recipients to think deeply about their projects and what they are trying to achieve.

Tornborg agreed, saying that the grant gave First Presbyterian vision and focus:

“It gave us intentionality for our vision of intergenerational worship and why it had to be, not a stand-alone effort, but part of a trajectory.”

Those benefits became even clearer last February, when the church held an all-church worship workshop to evaluate how the grant has impacted services and the congregation’s understanding of worship.

Robert Nordling, a former music director at the church and a former professor at Calvin College, led the workshop. About 60 people, from age 11 to 82, attended. If feedback from the participants is any indication, members have learned much about both worship and themselves.

As one participant noted, “We are more alike generationally than we think.”

Even so, much work remains to be done, Jones said.

“First Pres hasn’t ‘arrived’ -- we’re on an ongoing adventure,” he said. “But the overarching lesson is that it is possible for some churches to have a shared family worship experience.”

Just like at Thanksgiving dinner.

Courtesy of Faith & Leadership www.faithandleadership.com. Photos courtesy Bigstock. The opinions are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position or the policy of the Florida Conference.

 

 

Friday - October 24, 2014
Steps for attracting people in your community

A marketing and web design veteran offers eight steps to attract people in your community in a compelling way:

1. Identify people groups in your community based on their passions.
Most people in your community are not thinking about going to church. But what are they thinking about? What are they passionate about? What are they excited to pour their time into when they get home from work? Get a diverse group of people in your church to brainstorm…you will quickly come up with a dozen or more groups of people.

2. Who can your church most effectively reach?
Let’s be realistic. You can’t effectively reach all of these groups. The way you reach a Harley-Davidson fan is typically different from the way you reach a gardener. Your church is uniquely equipped to reach some of these groups very effectively. This has a lot to do with the personality of your church. Pick a few of these people groups that overlap with the people already attending your church, and/or the people you as a leader are passionate about attracting. Before we continue, many churches have tried steps one and two, and then built outreach events accordingly. That’s why we often see church softball leagues, motorcycle rallies and Super Bowl parties. These activities are good, but they don’t usually speak to people at a deeply emotional level. As a result, you end up with the second best softball league, motorcycle rally, or Super Bowl party in town.
 
That’s why step three is so important. I don’t see churches doing this:
 
3. Learn what keeps these people up at night.
Do you want to reach your community at a deep level? Identify what keeps them up at night. What are those deeper emotions that drive them to obsess over their motorcycle, climbing a corporate ladder, or never-ending home improvement projects? What chronic problems do they deal with in their lives? These fears & problems will vary a bit from each group you identified in steps one and two. Sometimes it relates to the passion (e.g., parents worrying about their kids) but usually the thing they pour their time and passion into is just a facade for what keeps them up at night. Step three may make you uncomfortable. I understand. But advertisers are capturing the hearts of consumers by speaking to them at a deeply emotional level. They tell them that the thing they are selling will make them happy. Advertisers do it in a manipulative and deceitful way way, but you can do it without manipulating or deceiving. Don’t lose sight of the fact that you are sharing the Gospel! You have something to share that will actually transform their lives!
 
4. Develop practical biblical teaching.
In step three you identified a chronic problem or fear that these groups of people face. What does the Bible say about this topic? If you’ve listed a problem or fear in step three that you don’t think the Bible addresses in a practical way, then you probably are still listing symptoms instead of root problems.
 
Pick one of these fears or problems. Prepare a multi-week teaching series, and make sure that each week offers its own practical action steps, as well as benefits for attending. Each part of the series should include specific action steps that will help them with the thing that keeps them up at night.
 
5. Don’t water it down.
It may be tempting to dilute your teaching to make it more more seeker-friendly. But if you hit on a problem that speaks to them at an emotional level, they want all the information they can get. Consider showing them the tip of the iceberg and point them toward additional resources through scripture, and trusted Christian authors. People who think scripture is irrelevant have probably never discovered that there are practical answers to the specific problem they face.
 
Now that the teaching is developed, it’s time to re-engage your advertising campaign! But your ads will no longer talk about your church. You are about to earn their attention in a compelling way.
 
6. Design advertising that speaks to these people at an emotional level.
Focus on what keeps them up at night, and the practical outcomes of your teaching. Make a promise about what practical benefits they’ll get for taking action. By the way, your call to action should probably not start with visiting your church. We all know that’s a risky proposition for some. This leads to step seven.
 
7. Create a marketing funnel.
You need to create “baby steps” that people can take before they step foot in your church. Don’t require people to visit your church to start learning about solutions to their specific problem. Instead, earn their trust with some practical teaching on your website that will help them even if they never visit your church. This will help earn their trust and prove that you are a credible source of information. Yes, effective baby steps will get more people in the pews for your teaching series. But it will also get many more people interacting with you through your website, even if you don’t know who they are there. I will write more about how churches can use marketing funnels in a future article.
 
8. Make your advertising more targeted.
Billboards and direct mail are fine, but you should supplement them with more targeted forms of marketing. In steps one and two, you identified groups of people who have specific interests and passions.
 
Did you know that using Facebook you can advertise to these folks in a targeted way? For example, there are more than one million people in the U.S. who “like” Harley- Davidson on Facebook. And despite the rural community where I live, 1,540 of them are within driving distance of my church! You can run targeted, local Facebook ads that tie your message to their passions, and you only pay when someone clicks.
 
Thousands of ads are running at this very moment that suggest random products or activities will fill the void in consumers’ lives. The ads get results because they speak at a deeply emotional level. When we begin to understand this, it suddenly seems silly to run ads that differentiate your church from other churches.

Article courtesy www.churchmarketingsucks.com. Billboard photo on home page via Wikimedia Commons, click here for the source. The opinions are those of the author's and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of the Florida Conference.

 
Wednesday - October 22, 2014
Renewing community in a networked society

A large-church pastor is worried about the health of his church. Small groups seem to be working fine, and the overall worship is fine. What is missing, though, is the sense that the congregation is a community capable of moral and spiritual formation.

The pastor’s worry reflects far more than the circumstances of one congregation, or even of congregational life more generally. It reflects the disappearance of the crucial “middle rings” that are central to healthy communities that nurture and sustain vibrant personal life.

Middle rings are what Marc J. Dunkelman describes in his book “The Vanishing Neighbor” as the heart of community in American life. Inner rings describe our most intimate relationships, with families and close friends; outer rings describe casual acquaintances. Middle-ring relationships are the people with whom a person “is familiar but not intimate, friendly but not close.” They are central to fostering a sense of vitality as well as nurturing those “meaningful disagreements” that shape a healthy body politic.

Typically, this middle ring comprises no more than 150 people, because of the limits of our brains. For much of American history, our middle-ring relationships have been formed through a “townshipped” model. This was as true for congregations as it was for our broader civic ecology.

Dunkelman notes, though, that profound changes in American life have transformed the ways we navigate and imagine the rings of our lives. Dunkelman highlights three broad categories of changes that are upending American community: the technological and economic revolutions of the last 60 years, the explosion in American mobility and the evolution of our lives at home.

These changes have affected the inner and outer rings, in many ways actually enhancing them. For example, social mobility has made people more reliant on intimate relationships, whether family members or close friends. Indeed, studies of cellphone usage show that the majority of our calls are to three to five people in our most intimate, inner rings.

The digital revolution makes it easier for us to maintain connections to casual acquaintances in our outer ring of relationships. It also makes it easier for us to establish new acquaintances through affinity groups and to connect even more broadly via social media. These outer-ring relationships can mobilize significant movements, such as the tea party on the right or the Occupy movement on the left.

Yet Dunkelman argues that such movements are not capable of addressing our yearning for the sustainable community found in middle-ring relationships. Those relationships have receded in the new social patterns of American life, leaving us feeling fragmented and isolated, even with healthy inner- and outer-ring relationships. We are missing a sense of community; in Dunkelman’s memorable image, the middle rings have become missing rings.

The danger in such a diagnosis is to become nostalgic and wistful, longing for “the good old days” of townships and community. But there is nothing that accounts for a longing for the good old days quite as much as a bad memory. Those forms of community were far from perfect, and wistfulness is likely to lead us to imagine a time that never was. Nostalgia for “townships” would be as counterproductive as it would be ineffective.

But it would be equally dangerous to ignore the challenges we face or to assume that we can adequately address those challenges through inner- or outer-ring relationships. The large-church pastor rightly senses that something is missing in the congregation he serves. Young adults also rightly sense that current institutions are failing them and us, and that new patterns are needed. But we are unsure what to do next.

Why? Dunkelman points to the pervasiveness and depth of the challenges:

A transformation of American community has come to affect everything from our propensity to innovate to our capacity to care for one another. It has disrupted our social institutions as much as it’s thrown a wrench into our politics. Without notice, a quiet revolution over the course of several decades upended the foundation that girded the very pillars -- government, businesses, banks, schools -- in which the public has lost faith. Its effects, which explain nearly every frustration listed above, run deep and wide.

Can we chart a future that is adaptive to the deep trends of our culture and nurtures middle-ring relationships?

Charting such a future will be challenging. As Dunkelman notes, we need to be honest with ourselves: “Simply reinforcing flailing institutions that have worked for decades, or tinkering at reforms around the edges, won’t fix our problems.” Those institutions aren’t working anymore in the ways we need them to.

Yet Dunkelman is also hopeful: “If we take a fresh look at what a networked society does and doesn’t do well, we can map out a plan to develop institutions that compensate for what we now lack.”

We will need the fresh imaginations of leaders of Christian institutions, and Christian leaders of institutions, in order to map out such a plan. Nurturing such imaginations will require clear-eyed diagnoses like Dunkelman’s, as well as the cultivation of “border crossing” relationships across sectors and across other divides among us.

And here senior pastors might be exceptionally well-positioned to provide vision and leadership -- IF we embrace the realities of a networked society AND offer a “traditioned innovation” approach to community and institutions.

Congregations and other forms of Christian community can and should gather people across divides, focus on forming relationships that bear witness to the fullness of God’s reign, and embrace issues across sectors and institutions that, sadly, currently exist more as silos than as networks (including the church).

The Fresh Expressions movement is one example of a Christian experiment that is helping to renew middle-ring relationships. Some of these fresh expressions have emerged out of larger congregations, addressing the gap between intimate small groups and the rather anonymous outer ring of the whole congregation; other fresh expressions are entrepreneurial startups in which hybrid forms of face-to-face and online gatherings connect people to each other in new ways. And yet others are crossing boundaries to work across sectors to serve and renew neighborhoods, especially in underserved areas.

Diagnosing our challenges without lapsing into nostalgia is critical, as is recognizing that we do not currently have the institutions we need to support and sustain middle-ring community. As we sow seeds of new and renewed forms of community through creative experiments and transformed imagination, let us also develop and renew institutions so those seeds will grow into full blossom.

Courtesy of Faith & Leadership www.faithandleadership.com. Photos courtesy bigstock.com. The opinions are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the position or policy of the Florida Conference.

Monday - October 20, 2014
15 lessons from 17 different church bulletins

Recently I emailed some friends and asked them to grab their bulletins from their weekend services at their church and mail them to me. I was overwhelmed when just over 100 that arrived in my mailbox or email! It was so fun looking in at what’s going on at so many churches across the country. I asked for this bulletins because I wanted to learn from what other churches are doing to regularly communicate with their people through this channel. I’ve picked out some of the pieces that stood out to me and provided them here for you to check out as well. How are you leveraging your bulletin (or program … or worship folder … or whatever you call it) to communicate with your people? I hope these inspire you to reconsider how you can make it better … I know it did for me! [You can download all 17 bulletins in one ZIP file.]

Courtesy Rich Birch. Visit his website, UNseminary, at www.unseminary.com. The opinions are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of the Florida Conference.

Monday - October 20, 2014
Honoring the Sabbath like a command

It seems that, as Christians, we still take the Ten Commandments seriously. Murder, stealing, adultery, idolatry, lying—all of these are named in that list God gave to Moses on the mountain (Exodus 20), and, by and large, we still acknowledge that to break these commandments is wrong.

But what about the fourth commandment—the commandment about observing the Sabbath?

"Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy." (Exodus 20:8-11)

It’s one of the original Ten Commandments that God gave to his people—an order to remember the day that God rested and obey Him by doing likewise. God didn’t offer this repetitive rest as a suggestion that might be good for us—He gave it as a commandment. It’s something God valued so much that He set it in stone.

We aren’t under the law anymore: Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection freed us from the burden of having to fulfill the law. We don’t have to live in perfect alignment with the law in order to have right relationship with God. However, that doesn’t nullify the goodness of the commandments in the first place. Christ came to fulfill the law for us, but not to abolish it (Matthew 5:17). The rules written in stone were good gifts from God to His people—and they still are.

And, let us also remember that our freedom from this burden of having to fulfill the law—a freedom purchased with the costliest price of Christ’s life—doesn’t give us license to live however we please (Romans 6). We live under grace; we live as God’s people. So here’s why, I think, we need a re-imagining of the call of God to “remember the Sabbath and keep it holy” in our lives—and why we still need to take this commandment seriously.

When we take one day out of every week to rest, we are acknowledging that God is God and we are not. Ultimately, our ability (or our inability) to rest shows us how much we trust (or don’t trust) that God is in control. When we press the pause button on our striving and realize that the world continues spinning just fine without our work, we are tangibly acknowledging that God is the maker and sustainer of our lives. And if we struggle to close the computer or stay away from the office, we can then see more clearly where we have a hard time trusting Him—and where we struggle to recognize that we really aren’t in control of the world, or even in control of our own lives.

I started observing the Sabbath nine years ago, while I was in college. Now, as a wife, mother and teacher, there is always another load of laundry, always another class to prepare for. And certainly, there is always something “productive” that I could choose to do on our Sabbath. But this pattern of working and resting, week after week, has formed in me a sense of trust and peace that I did not experience prior to engaging in the discipline. It has helped me release my death grip on control.

I look forward to the Sabbath now—not as a day to play catch-up—but as a day where I can focus on being grateful simply to be alive. I spend time with my family without an agenda. I take a nap. Sometimes I walk, sometimes I read. Mostly, I do things that I love, things that help my soul unwind and attend to God’s presence in my life. And I have experienced a deep freedom in learning to say no to the continual pressure to work and produce.

God’s command to His people to keep the Sabbath holy was given out of the deep love He has for His children. He knows how we are formed (Psalm 103:14), how much work we can handle and how we need time to “be” rather than “do.” The Sabbath is a reminder that my days are ordered by God, not by me. It is a reminder that while there will always be more to do, there will not always be more time on this earth. It is a reminder that I am finite, that I need rest, and that God cares for me enough to help me rest.

There’s a wrong way to go about this, of course. If we make observing the Sabbath all about rules and regulations, as the Pharisees did, we are going to miss God’s heart behind it. Jesus pronounced that “the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27), and so we keep the Sabbath holy because the Sabbath is a gift to us from God, not because we are trying to please Him. Christ has already done that on our behalf. He did the greatest work of reconciling us to God through His sacrifice on the Cross, and therefore we don’t have to work our way to God.

When we cease from working one day a week, it points us to the deeper truth that in Christ, we can cease from our striving. We can trust in all that He has done for us.

And we can rest.

Courtesy Relevant Magazine www.relevantmagazine.com. Photos courtesy Bigstock.com. The opinions are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the policy or position of the Florida Conference.

Friday - October 17, 2014
And that is grace...

It’s interesting how the word “grace” gets used a lot, even by those who don’t necessarily consider themselves religious. It’s a favorite name for a character that represents someone who is a gift to us — I’m thinking about Bruce’s girlfriend Grace in Bruce Almighty, or Eli’s reassuring encounter with a woman named Grace in the second season of the TV series Eli Stone.

You can probably cite many more examples of characters named Grace in different movies, television shows, and books.

We like to put flesh-and-blood on the notion that we are recipients of some great gift that arrives unexpectedly and is given freely. Someone or something that comes into our life and significantly changes it for the better in some ways.

But what is grace? Who is grace to us?

You get hurt. You get a great disappointment. You find someone there ready to hold your hand in your lowest moment. And when someone else is in the same spot, you hold their hand.

That is grace.

You make a bad decision and suffer the consequences (we‘ve all been there). You make what seems to be a good decision and it has unintended consequences (we‘ve all been there, too). Some people are there with you through it all, no matter what it costs them. They think that you are worth whatever price has to be paid to be with you. And you are willing to pay the price to be there for them, too.

That is grace.

You feel lost and alone. You begin to despair about whether you can get your life together. You feel trapped. You feel inadequate. And yet you find others who remind you that you are amazing. They make you see the possibilities of each day. And you end up doing the same for them.

That is grace.

You think that if anyone knew the real you, they wouldn’t like you. You hide parts of yourself from others. And then you find that there are those who want to get to know those parts of you and appreciate them and celebrate them with you. And you want to do the same with them.

That is grace.

You realize that life is limited. You lose sleep over the realization that you’ll never achieve all of your dreams. Someone comes along to remind you that you’re never alone in your worries and concerns. They tell you that you are perfect just as you are. And you are inspired to remind others of it, too.

That is grace.

Something joyful happens. You realize how incredibly fortunate you are just to be alive, to be part of this amazing creation. You recognize that others want to be there to celebrate with you and to be happy with you. And you want to smile and celebrate with them.

That is grace.

You love others for who they are, and you are loved for who you are.

That is grace. For them and for you.

You can add your own examples of how grace touches our lives. You probably know many, many more.

Grace leads you to the source of grace. It reminds you that every day is another opportunity to be touched and changed by love in some way. A love that’s a gift, pure and simple, given without any condition whatsoever. No requirements, no strings attached. Because that‘s how love works.

Simply because you are worth it.

Grace is a reminder that you are worth it.

Period. No qualifiers.

It also reminds you that you are grace for others, too. You are that hand that is ready to hold another’s hand, that hug that the other person needs, that reassuring presence when their life seems to be falling apart.

And they are that for you, too.

That is grace.

Courtesy of Sojourners Magazine www.sojo.net. The opinions are those of the author's and do not necessarily reflect the position or policy of the Florida Conference.

Events
Monday - October 27, 2014
New Church Start Academy

New Church Start Academy is a ministry of New Church Development. The program is for pastors who are leading new churches, second sites of existing churches or targeted expansions of existing churches throughout the Conference.

Tuesday - October 28, 2014
NE District Imagine No Malaria Information & Training

Imagine No Malaria is the extraordinary effort of the United Methodist Church to combat death and suffering from malaria, a preventable and treatable disease mostly affecting children in sub-Saharan Africa. Florida is joining our denomination with our efforts to save 250,000 lives this next year from malaria. Through prayer, advocacy, and giving we hope to bring our churches and communities together to heal in the name of Christ.

We are looking for "Africates" (Advocates for Africa, where 90% of the malaria burden is) all over the state who are willing to learn about Imagine No Malaria and how we are making a difference in the world in the healing name of Christ. We invite at least one clergy and layperson from each church to attend our training, but please spread the word to anyone interested and passionate about this transformative campaign.

Trainings will be an overview of how Imagine No Malaria works and how you can use INM as a tool to strengthen your church and community relationships as we end death and suffering from malaria. Trainings will be about 1.5 hours long and refreshments will be served. We request that you pre-register, however, walk-ins are also welcome!

For more information on Imagine No Malaria, please visit www.imagineflorida.org or contact INM Coordinator Kylie Foley at kfoley@flumc.org.

Click here to register today!

Tuesday - October 28, 2014
NE Imagine No Malaria Information & Training

North East District Imagine No Malaria Information & Training For Local Church Clergy & Laity

How can you imagine a world with no malaria if you already believe you live in one?

 

  www.imagineflorida.org

Thursday - October 30, 2014
NE District Clergy Team Meeting

 

NE District Clergy Team Meeting
                     Thursday, October 30, 2014 at 9:00AM
Riverside Park UMC
819 Park Street
Jacksonville, FL 32204
 
We are looking forward to seeing all Clergy under appointment on Thursday, October 30th at Riverside Park UMC. Your attendance is required. If you are unable to attend, please contact the District Superintendent at ds-ne@flumc.org
We will begin at 9:00AM with morning refreshments, fellowship and worship.  Please register your attendance.
 
Thursday - October 30, 2014
SW District Imagine No Malaria Information & Training

South West District Imagine No Malaria Information & Training
How can you imagine a world with no malaria if you already believe you live in one?

This event is open to everyone!


www.imagineflorida.org

Friday - October 31, 2014
Trunk or Treat

2014 Trunk Or Treat At South Shore United Methodist Church




South Shore United Methodist Church is getting into the Halloween spirit again this year by offering car trunks full of candy decorated in zany Halloween scenes, popcorn and family-friendly movies, hay rides and more.

A fun, free, and safe event where families can enjoy the festive decorations in the car trunks, trick-or-treat and get into the Halloween spirit.

An event that the whole community can come and enjoy.


Candy donations are accepted!!
Saturday - November 1, 2014
NC Lay Servant Ministries Training Fall 2014

Saturday, November 1 and Saturday, November 8, 2014 (both days required)
9:00 am – 4:00 pm

Forest United Methodist Church
17635 Florida 40
Silver Springs, FL 34488
(352) 625-4004

COURSE FEE AND INFORMATION  

                         
Basic Course $40.00
Advance Course $40.00 (Each One a Minister or The Worship Workshop [1st 20 applicants)

Fee includes: class text and meals for both sessions.
8:30 Registration/continental breakfast
9:00 session begins

*Participant must complete the basic course before enrolling in an advanced course.

* Please register online. Then print your registration and mail it, with your check (payable to North Central District), to the address at the bottom of the registration form. If you do not have computer access, just mail your registration.  

For additional information contact:
Sherri Woodstuff, Director Lay Servant Ministries    or    North Central District Office
352-465-7204                                                                         352-789-6981
woodstuj@bellsouth.net                                                       flumc-nc@flumc.org

Registration form must be mailed by October 22 for participant to receive assignment and book prior to first class.

Thursday - November 6, 2014
34th Annual Clergy Mates Retreat

Friday - November 7, 2014
Spiritual Response Team Training - Florida Conference Center - November 7 & 8, 2014

 Spiritual Response Team Training

Spiritual Response Teams (SRT) are faith-based, on-going teams specially trained to provide spiritual and emotional care following disasters. SRTs reach out from the faith community to help disaster survivors connect with spiritual, emotional and basic life resources. Teams and individuals may serve in a variety of disaster environments depending on the needs of the affected community. Training is provided by UMCOR. There is no cost for this training.

Training will begin at 2:00 PM on Friday afternoon and run until 8:30 PM. Dinner will be provided. Training will finish on Saturday, 8:30 AM - 10:30 AM.

If you are in need of overnight accommodations, we will arrange those for you at the conference rate of $40 per person for double occupancy/$80 per person for single occupancy. This includes Friday night accommodations and Saturday breakfast at the Fairfield Inn Plant City, approximately 10-15 minutes from the conference center. Be sure to select that option on your registration form and make your payment. If you need other payment arrangements, please contact Pam Garrison.

NOTE: SRT volunteers must complete Disaster 101: Basic Disaster Ministry Training before they are credentialed. Volunteers may take the SRT training before completing basic; however, credentials will not be issued until both trainings are completed.

You must be 18 years old to participate and a background check is also required and completed by the conference.

If you have questions, please contact Pam Garrison: pgarrison@flumc.org or (800) 282-8011 ext. 148.

Districts
Atlantic Central
9015 Americana Road Ste. 4
Vero Beach, FL 32966-6668
phone: (772) 299-0255
flumc-ac@flumc.org
East Central
PO Box 4232
Enterprise, FL 32725
phone: (386) 259-5756
flumc-ec@flumc.org
Gulf Central
1498 Rosery Rd East
Largo, FL 33770-1656
phone: (727) 585-1207
flumc-gc@flumc.org
North Central
1135 E Fort King St
Ocala, FL 34471
phone: (352) 789-6981
flumc-nc@flumc.org
North East
1415 LaSalle Street
Jacksonville, FL 32207-3113
phone: (904) 396-3026
flumc-ne@flumc.org
North West
P.O. Box 13766
Tallahassee, FL 32317-3766
phone: (850) 386-2154
flumc-nw@flumc.org
South Central
202 W Reynolds St.
Plant City, FL 33563
phone: (813) 719-7270
flumc-sc@flumc.org
South East
536 Coral Way
Coral Gables, Fl 33134
phone: (305) 445-9136
flumc-se@flumc.org
South West
2049-B N. Honore Avenue
Sarasota, FL 34235
phone: (941) 371-6511
flumc-sw@flumc.org