2014 Florida Annual Conference
June 11-14, 2014 in Lakeland, Fla.
Name of conference: Florida Annual Conference
Theme: The Mission of God
Dates of conference gathering: June 11-14
Location of conference gathering: Lakeland, Fla.
Officiating bishop: Kenneth H. Carter Jr.
Thomas Kemper, top executive of the United Methodist Board of Global Ministries, led a discussion about the changing role of missions. Jim Salley, associate vice-chancellor for institutional advancement for Africa University, delivered an inspiring address about AU’s mission followed by a performance by the AU choir. Louisiana Area Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey delivered the sermon for Friday’s ordination service, and the Rev. Pam Cahoon, former executive director of CROS ministries, preached at the service of remembrance. The Rev. Robert Tuttle Jr. led Bible study. Bishop Ken Carter led the Holy Communion service on Wednesday evening
Memorable points or quotes by speakers
Missionaries today “are really going from everywhere to everywhere,” said Thomas
Kemper. He showed audience members a map tracing paths to and from all parts of the globe. “So you can see that there’s a Brazilian serving in Switzerland with a Hispanic-Latino community in Geneva, starting a church, building a church. “Mission now is from the margins. This is true in Vietnam. There are over 150 churches now, only in the last 10 years,” Kemper said. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kemper said he saw people in tears because they were so happy to be sending missionaries to other places, instead of simply receiving them — and thus becoming a true part in the mission movement. Mission work is no longer simply done by other people elsewhere, Kemper reminded the members. “We are in this together,” Kemper said. “Everybody is a missionary. Every Christian has to be a missionary.”
- The conference treasurer reported that local church membership was 262,000 in 2013, down 7,000 or 2.6 percent from 2012. Average weekly worship attendance was down 2,400 or 1.7 percent at 135,400.
- The conference Council on Finance and Administration reported the number of churches paying apportionments at 100 percent was up from 394 in 2012 to 400 in 2013; the percentage paid was 85 percent in 2013, compared to 83 percent in 2012.
- The Council on Finance and Administration’s 2015 budget request is 1.89 percent more than 2014.
Celebrating Partners in Ministry
- Ordination, licensing and commissioning of more than 50 individuals. Ordained: 11 as elders, one as deacon. Commissioned: 18 as provisional elders, two as provisional deacons; No Recognitions of Orders in 2014; Licensed as local pastors: 23.
- 175th anniversary for two churches;150th anniversary for one church; 125th anniversaries for 11 churches; 100th anniversaries for 6 churches; 75th anniversary for one church; 50th anniversaries for 4 churches, and 25th anniversaries for 3 churches.
- 34 clergy retired.
- Ministries of six churches were recommended for discontinuation.
Strategic Leadership Team Report
In the fall of 2013, a Strategic Leadership Team task force presented nine recommendations that were then reviewed and approved by the Strategic Leadership Team, Council on Finance and Administration’ and the Cabinet. These include continued work by the conference treasurer’s office around district financial controls, standardization of district apportionments and the creation of an investment committee. It will include (into the future) work on property management and evaluation of properties in transition, working with mission congregations, and helping churches who are struggling to be sustainable into the future. In evaluating the new conference structure and the overall fulfillment of the mission and vision, members of the Strategic Leadership Team met with each conference office or director to discuss and discover resource alignment. Continued work and evaluation of resource alignment will be needed into the future. The team is excited about a new project from our Bishop that would center on “creating fresh expressions” through identification and multiplication of “third places.” (http://freshexpressionsus.org)
The bishop’s offering will be distributed equally to two areas. Scholarships for students at Africa University. This is a United Methodist-related institution that provides higher education and opportunity to students who otherwise would not be able to afford it. The scholarships will go to students in the university’s Institute of Peace, Leadership and Governance and the School of Theology. Young adult missional movement. The initial plan calls for three missional sites to be chosen in Florida and up to 12 young adults selected for yearlong mission projects. The participants will live in the community to be served; they’ll have a “rule of life,” and they will have spiritual direction and leadership training built into their year of service. This is seen as an opportunity to equip young adults to be the Christian leaders of the future.
— Gretchen Hastings, director of connectional relations in the Florida Conference