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August 29, 2003


Bishop's Corner

Global Mission Focus

By Bishop Timothy W. Whitaker

One of the intentions of the Conference Table is to develop a strategy for the global mission of the Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church.

Much of our imagination and energy has to be devoted to enabling local congregations to become effective in making disciples of Jesus Christ. Through the offices of New Church Development and Congregational Transformation the Florida Conference is learning how to reproduce healthy congregations by enabling them to be “mother churches” and how to transform existing congregations to be focused upon mission rather than mere maintenance. However, we might become myopic if we focus so much upon the ministry of congregations to their local communities and neglect the global mission of the whole church to the whole world. A congregation that is not participating in the global mission of the church is not going to be healthy if health is measured by the Great Commission of Jesus Christ to make disciples of all nations.

Presently, there are many congregations involved in the global mission of the church through their complete support of connectional giving, sponsorship of a missionary overseas and sponsorship of United Methodist Volunteers In Mission (UMVIM). Moreover, in the Florida Conference we are engaged in a covenant with The Methodist Church in Cuba and a partnership with the East Angola Conference through the Episcopal initiative known as Hope For the Children of Africa. What we need to do is assess our present commitments and plan for the future so that all of us in the Florida connection of The United Methodist Church are involved in a common global mission. It is always permissible for ambitious congregations to embrace other additional global mission projects.

If there is any annual conference that should be noted for its global mission it is the Florida Conference. We are an immigrant society with major cities that are international in their populations and commerce. I have suggested that one way we might serve the whole connection and strengthen our own commitment to global missions is by starting a Center for Global Mission in the Florida Conference. A truly missionary church is one that listens to the call of God through Jesus Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit in its own indigenous community and also around the globe.

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