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PET Project yields life-changing ‘mobile device’

By Susan Green, Special Contributor… Imagine a waiting list of 100,000. On it are people whose legs never existed, never worked right, were destroyed by accident or just plain wore out from grueling physical labor. People with eager faces, others who barely dare to hope, all waiting to be lifted up. And that list covers […]

RVers work for parking at UM camps in Florida

By Susan Green, Special Contributor… FRUITLAND PARK—Keeping the peace can be hard, even labor-intensive. The pastoral settings of the camps and retreat centers operated by the Florida Conference might look natural, but they don’t stay that way without human intervention. They require groundskeeping, housekeeping and structural maintenance. All that upkeep can run up quite a […]

Churches find washing feet a way to capture hearts

By Susan Green, Special Contributor… MIAMI—The annual tradition of washing the feet of the homeless at First UMC, Miami, is grounded in the story of Jesus bathing the feet of his disciples. The church’s start came in the early 1990s, when a homeless, barefoot woman was electrocuted in a rainstorm. If she’d just had rubber-soled […]

Breaking a barrier – Community partners help church fill special needs

By Susan Green, Special Contributor… TAMPA, Fla.—The first blow came when Sally DePalma heard the diagnosis: Her daughter Leah, then 2 years old, has autism. The second came when Ms. DePalma sought comfort and refuge with her family at church and discovered that, even there, life would never be the same. At the request of […]

BMX bike show helps to X out bullying

By Susan Green, Special Contributor ZEPHYRHILLS, Fla.—When Julie Nipp, director of children’s ministries at First UMC, Zephyrhills, heard about a teenager trying to hang himself after being mercilessly taunted at the local high school, she couldn’t stop thinking about ways to tackle the problem of bullies. Somehow that led to her and First UMC’s student […]

Sun, wind, spray—and grief: UM mom creates place for military vets to deal with loss

By Susan Green, Special Contributor… RUSKIN, Fla.—Anne Hasler remembers the despair in her friend Kelly’s voice during a late-night phone call, and the simple words: “I’ve lost him.” It was a call no mother wants to make that followed a call no mother ever wants to receive—the notification of her soldier son’s death in combat. […]

Church plant seeks to rebuild community

By Susan Green, Special Contributor… ORLANDO, Fla.—Step into the cavernous worship hall of South Street Ministry and you’ll hear the sounds of childish chatter, pounding basketballs, and teachers or coaches guiding their flocks through the daily lesson. A polished gymnasium floor and basketball hoops have replaced the former carpet and pews. But the stained-glass windows—now […]

Revised covenant will speed recovery in Haiti

By Anne Dukes, Special Contributor… LAKELAND, Fla.—One of the last official acts for Bishop Timothy Whitaker before his retirement was signing a revised Haiti-Florida Covenant in front of hundreds gathered for the final day of the 2012 Florida Annual Conference. The Rev. Gesner Paul, president of the Methodist Church of Haiti, joined Bishop Whitaker at […]