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June 20, 2003



Delegates tackle resolutions, other business

LAKELAND — While delegates to the 2003 Florida Annual Conference Event spent time worshipping and fellowshipping, they also focused their attention on handling conference business.

Delegates approved adopting five categories reflecting the life stages of churches and eight characteristics of a healthy church proposed by the Office of Congregational Transformation.

Delegates also approved the Conference Commission on Archives and History’s revised plans to build the Florida Conference Heritage Center at the Life Enrichment Center in Leesburg, instead of the Conference Center in Lakeland, providing considerable cost savings.

The anticipated budget is $890,000 to build and furnish the center and provide five years of operating costs and two years of part-time staff.

The commission has already collected $500,000 in pledges for construction of the facility, slated to begin by December 2004. Commission members have pledged to raise the additional money needed so funds will not be required through the conference budget.

Bishop Timothy W. Whitaker consecrated 90 summer camp counselors for their service this summer to thousands of campers at the Leesburg Retreat Center. Whitaker also blessed the conference’s district Hispanic Ministry coordinators.

The Conference Capital Commission has identified priority capital and endowment needs for the conference totaling an estimated $12.3 million and determined that establishing a development office within the Florida United Methodist Foundation is the best approach for seeking funds for current and future needs.

Delegates approved the commission’s recommendation to create a conference-level steering committee to oversee capital and endowment funds and its budget request of $163,800 for staff and promotional material.

Delegates also approved new conference vision and mission statements presented by the Conference Table and Bethune-Cookman College in Daytona Beach as the location for the 2004 Florida Annual Conference Event.

Delegates approved a number of resolutions calling for:

  • any conference or local ministry that relates to children and youth in its programming to create and implement a Child and Youth Protection policy by next year’s annual conference session, using guidelines provided by the Conference Council on Ministries’ Church and Society Ministry team;
  • continued support of the National Hispanic Ministry Plan;
  • construction of a 500-square-foot prayer chapel at the Leesburg Life Enrichment Center, with associated costs provided by anonymous donors;
  • support of a living wage so employers will provide wages that decrease employees’ needs for governmental subsidies; and
  • support of a resolution to the 2004 General Conference that calls for every annual conference to have a director of communications.

Three new churches chartered: the Tampa District’s CrossRoads United Methodist Church and the Melbourne District’s Grapevine United Methodist Church and First Haitian United Methodist Church, Ft. Pierce.

Five new church starts were approved and two Hispanic missions were approved to move from part-time to full-time status effective June 1, 2003. They are:

  • Nueva Vida, Ocala, Leesburg District;
  • First Hispanic, Clearwater, St. Petersburg District;
  • Hope (second campus), New Port Richey, St. Petersburg District;
  • South St. Petersburg Mission, St. Petersburg District;
  • Celebration, Gainesville, Gainesville District;
  • Oak Leaf, Jacksonville, Jacksonville District; and
  • The Lighthouse, Coconut Grove, Miami District.

Delegates approved closing five churches.

A total of 14 elders, two deacons in full connection, three local pastors, two associate member/deacons, and one member of another denomination retired this year.

Several offerings were collected. A total of $4,793.64 was given during the ordination service for ministerial student scholarships, and $122,000 was given to the Florida Conference’s Council of Bishops’ Initiative on Children and Poverty task force (BICAP).

Seventy percent of the BICAP offering will be used to help rebuild Quessua United Methodist Church in the Eastern Angola Conference. Founded by Methodist missionaries, the church was destroyed more than 20 years ago during Angola’s civil war.

Florida Conference churches also provided funds to buy supplies for 3,000 school kits that will go to the Eastern Angola Conference.

The Board of Lay Ministry collected $3,382 to complete its pledge of $25,000 for the proposed Heritage Center.

Conference presents lay, clergy awards

LAKELAND — Each year the conference recognizes clergy and laity who have shown leadership in evangelism and education.

  • The 2003 Frances Asbury Award for extraordinary contribution to United Methodist ministries in higher education was given to the Rev. William Yeager, former pastor/director of University United Methodist Church and Student Center in Gainesville.
  • The Grindheim-Sims Award is presented to the pastor of a congregation with 250 people or less who shows gifts in winning persons for Christ. This year’s award went to the Rev. Vance Rains, former pastor at Grapevine United Methodist Church in Port St. Lucie.
  • The Eulalie Ginn Outstanding Leadership Award was given to students Stephanie George, Florida A&M University; David Duncan, Florida Southern College; and Rebecca Kruse, Stetson University.
  • The Denman Awards are presented to one clergy- and one lay person who demonstrates excellence in evangelism ministries. The laity award was presented to 10-year-old Brittany Cott, a member of River of Life new church start in Jacksonville. The clergy award was presented to the Rev. Douglas Kokx, pastor of First United Methodist Church, Clermont.

    Photo by Michael Wacht

    Brittany Cott was awarded the Denman Award for excellence in evangelism. The 10-year-old was praised for her efforts to share Jesus with friends and successfully invite them to attend church with her.
  • The Alice Lockmiller Award for excellence and creativity in Christian education was given to Helen Thomas, a member of Allendale United Methodist Church in St. Petersburg and a preschool teacher for 50 years

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