Worship: Sundays @ 8:15, 9:40, 11:00 am | Wednesdays @ 6:35 pm
Dear Friends:

Next week marks an important opportunity for United Methodists across the Florida Conference.

Last summer, after divisiveness primarily around the subject of human sexuality threatened our future together as a denomination, a call was issued to create the Commission for a Way Forward. A group of 32 clergy and lay leaders, representing nine countries and diverse perspectives, was asked to serve on the commission. Two persons from Florida, our resident Bishop Ken Carter and the Rev. Jorge Acevedo, serve on the commission. Their primary task is to prepare a recommendation for how, while acknowledging our differences, we might be able to find a common witness that would enable United Methodists to remain united in the mission of making disciples for the transformation of the world.

As a way of supporting and encouraging their work together, the United Methodist Council of Bishops launched a parallel movement entitled "Praying Our Way Forward." During Phase 1 of the movement, every bishop vowed to pray 15 minutes daily over a period of four months for the church and the work of the commission. January 2017 marked the launch of Phase 2, a 75-week period during which every conference in the denomination would take responsibility for one week, asking members in every church in their conference to be in prayer that week.

Next week, February 26-March 4, is the time assigned to the Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church for prayer. As your pastors, Catherine, Aaron, Lenora, and I all encourage you to participate in this prayer effort. It occurs to me that a witness of unity in the midst of diversity would be significant at this moment in history, not only for our church but for our nation and for our world. When we live as a people who are characterized first and foremost by our mutual love and respect for the divine image that is in everyone, it has the power to bless and transform. It also carries the tremendous potential to draw curious onlookers near...people who are weary of discord and division...and invite them to join us in following the way of Christ.

Just before he went to the cross, Jesus prayed for his disciples, saying:

"I pray they will be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. I pray that they will also be in us, so that the world will believe that you sent me." (John 17:21)

May it be so.

Grace and Peace,

To learn more about the "Praying Our Way Forward" movement, go to www.umcprays.org.

As you pray, if you have concerns about which you would be comforted by speaking with a pastor, you can respond to this message. One of us will be glad to be in touch with you.