First United Methodist Church

A Year In Review: Communications

In an effort to improve church-wide communication, the Marketing and Communications team implements on-going communication through a variety of tools. Here are four shifts we made in 2018 that will continue to be priorities in 2019. 

1. We refocused the weekly e-newsletter, the Monday Memo, that includes short descriptions, sort-ed by pillar, for the week’s activities. Each week the content varies based on the life of our church family. For instance, if you’d like to hear last week’s sermon, you’ll find a link in the Monday Memo. If you want to donate to hurricane victims, you’ll find a link in the Monday Memo. If you’d like to learn more about joining the choir, joining a Sunday School class, finding a Connect Group to join, all of this information is in the Monday Memo. It is intended to be something you can read while you’re waiting in line in car pickup or waiting on hold on the phone. Look for it every Monday.

2. The Thursday at 3 is another weekly e-newsletter that offers stories about specific ministries with-in our church. Here you can find out how successful the last mission trip to Kenya was, or how the Florida United Methodist Conference defines the “Way Forward”. This is something to read when you have time to explore, or when you’re looking for more information. Look for this every Thursday.

3. To increase communication and transparency across the 28 ministries, we needed to shift away from the space limitations of the old bulletin. And, we wanted to make our bulletins strictly a worship tool to enhance your Sunday experience. We’ve taken out all of the announcements that were historically in the bulletin and created our Monthly Newsletter. This Newsletter allows ‘our whole church family to know what our whole church family’ is doing. It’s a one-stop shop for church information. A printed copy is available the first Sunday of each month from the ushers and in the narthex and lobby the remaining Sundays. A digital version is also available online at www.fumcwp.org. Pick one up and plug the important dates into your calendar for the month so you don’t miss anything!

4. Finally, there is Realm. What is Realm? Ministry isn’t about being in the church office or by the door on Sunday morning. It’s about meeting needs-wherever and whenever we are called to serve. Realm has changed how we use technology in ministry. It’s not geeky or complicated. It’s approachable, useful, and a part of everyday life. It’s on the screens you normally use and avail-able whenever you need it. Need a call from a Pastor? Send a message on Realm. Will you be late to choir rehearsal? Send a message on Realm. Want to know get to know your child’s Sun-day School teacher? Send a message on Realm. Looking for a bible study, book club, yoga class, Connect group? You can find this all on Realm. And, the Monday Memo, Thursday at 3, Monthly Newsletters are all on Realm, too! If you’re not receiving Realm messages, email [email protected] and a volunteer will help you get connected.

As you can see, we’ve been strategic looking for ways to help us all feel more connected. In addition to these four priorities, we have developed a robust amount of procedures, processes, and guide-lines to help our 28 ministries and 4 pillars maximize their communication efforts. We leverage on-going communication tactics through social media (Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram) as well as YouTube to ensure we are meeting people where they are at digitally. Consider, for instance, the purpose of this very report. This annual report serves as an overview of the vision and strategic direction of our church family and the ministries that support that vision. In addition to the website, we are excited to be able to offer a comprehensive report for folks interested in what our church family is all about. Wow, this is a lot of strategic and exciting work! If you’re interested in joining our team please email Sarah Skidmore, Director of Marketing and Communication, at [email protected].

~Karen Roby, Marketing & Communications Lay Chair

Embracing Our Calling to Welcome All

According to the great theologian and teacher Richard Rohr, this is one saying that is found uniformly in all four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John: Anyone who welcomes you welcomes me; and anyone who welcomes me welcomes the one who sent me. Rohr writes, “This is meant to utterly reshape our understanding of who God is and where God is. Of who we are and where we are.” Over this year’s summer and fall seasons, seventy-nine FUMCWP church leaders participated in two powerful Diversity workshops facilitated by Barbara Thompson of UCF’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion. “The ABC’s of Diversity” provided a mirror and understanding of the deep wellspring of rich variety of thought, heritages, legacies, and experiences that exists within our church community. “The Power of Hidden Biases,” the second workshop, was an advance workshop that offered insights, awareness and knowledge of those cultural constructs and biases that can inflict unintentional harm on ourselves and others.

~Tonya Tolson, Diversity Committee Chair

Below are meditations from those participants who were moved by these two workshops:

  • The segment of the training that addressed hidden biases was powerful, particularly the video of the young children and the dolls. It seems that we are all impacted by the subtle and not so subtle messages of society that we receive from our youngest age.  And from an early age they can become part of our thinking, our belief system. ~ Elizabeth Bosserman

  • I enjoyed and learned from our group sharing their experiences and stories. It is always good to be reminded about implicit biases and the situations shared were good examples and heartbreaking. The scenario of young children who were black picking the white dolls was eye-opening and scary. This scenario was a replication of study done a long time ago which served as part of the rationale for Brown vs the Board of Education.  Hard to believe that things have not changed in 50 +years.   Hopefully I will be more sensitive and aware of those implicit biases in my interactions within the church and the larger community. ~ Lee Cross

  • The Diversity Workshop was a meaningful and thought-provoking experience. It was especially helpful in sharpening my awareness of my hidden, “benign” biases.  My intention is to be more aware of them, to “self-talk” my way through dealing with them and to govern my thoughts, feelings and behaviors accordingly.  It is a big challenge but I hope through conscious awareness, intention and prayer, I can work my way through them.  Thank you for providing this opportunity to grow in personal awareness and to effect change in perception and behavior. ~ Arnetta Rodgers

  • Our ministry is geared toward religiously unaffiliated millennials and we found ourselves in a situation where the leadership was vastly white and wealthy …and our young leaders are not! At first, we were thrilled at the diversity God laid at our feet and then quickly realized we are ill equipped to journey authentically with them (and ourselves!).  The FUMCWP diversity workshop gave us a safe place to explore our brokenness, acknowledge our natural (but often harmful) biases, and begin to dialogue about the ways power and privilege could be acknowledged and shared in healthy ways for the growth of the kingdom of God, as well as the deepening of our own souls. Good stuff! Gospel stuff! ~ Michele Van Son Neill

  • Christian leaders are not neutral. Dr. Gomez, Dean of the School of Business and Leadership at Regent University speaks of how Christian leaders are to live in community loving others while not compromising our values. The experience of the Diversity Workshops hosted at First United Methodist Church of Winter Park (FUMCWP) this fall highlighted this theme. We worship a God who is not limited by human imagination, and God’s handiwork is more creative than human cognition. God blesses each person with unique strengths, spiritual gifts, and innate characteristics.  It is at the intersections we must cling to the biblical principles of compassion, love, and humility.  We face these intersections in all areas of life – work, social settings, family life, and church ministries.  Consider findings from Gallup Research that speak to the unique gifting within each of us.  Further, Strengths Based Leadership by Tom Rath highlights the need for well-rounded teams opposed to well-rounded individuals.  As FUMCWP seeks to be a vibrant family, our culture must be one that proclaims, ‘We are precious in God’s sight.’  The Diversity Workshops provided a safe space for individuals to dialogue within a context that not only spoke of the need for diversity but further – the need for inclusion.  Let all hear the message of Christ’s love for all people. ~ Sarah Skidmore

  • Sometimes our history, upbringing, or pursuit for perfection creates a veil we live behind and we assume we have to keep operating in our relationships and routines in the same way we always have.  We assume our treatment of others and the judgements we secretly (or openly) carry, should and must be true – because without them, our sense of power and prestige will crumble.  It is when we dig deep, carving out the time for intentional and vulnerable conversation, that a veil might be lifted- a new way might be discovered.  This heavy veil of history, upbringing and perfection that casts an opaque shadow on others is ONLY lifted through education – the education we receive from listening to another’s story, or an open-face experience with someone you formerly judged deeply and incorrectly.  The UCF Diversity and Inclusion workshops were that much needed and appreciated education I needed to lift that heavy veil.  I felt joy and liberation in speaking openly and plainly about stereotypes and assumptions, and how these keep me or another from living fully into who God calls us to be.  I so deeply appreciated an opportunity to have real and hope-filled conversation about how we might become more open, aware, and loving as a church family. ~ Annette Snedaker

  • The popular social scientist and storyteller Brené Brown recently said that the requirements for Courage are: “Uncertainty, Risk, and Emotional Exposure.” Another vital ingredient is what Barbara Thompson of UCF’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion miraculously edifies, the sacred and safe space to speak truth and to tell stories as medicine.  Barbara also has the uncanny and lovable ability to disarm us while opening up our hearts and minds to the fuller acceptance of ourselves and others. This is her ministry.  These are some of her gifts, and I believe we will forever be changed by her body work.  How will I personally apply what I learned in these two workshops?  I now check myself for my own implicit biases, in order to dislodge those imbedded prejudicial programs in my unconsciousness.   In addition, I will continue to commit to modeling compassion, kindness, and forgiveness, however and wherever possible, living deeper in the response and less in the knee-jerk reactive.  Knowledge, awareness, prayer, and contemplation are the bridges to God’s Flow, God’s Love.  ~ Tonya Tolson

A Year In Review: Vibrant Family Pillar

The Vibrant Family Pillar has seen a phenomenal beginning in 2018. As a group, we have grown in Christ as we seek to complete His mission on our church. We have examined and aligned with the goals given to us by Leadership Council and keep spiritual awareness consistently in our sights.  We have added, and continue to add new members on our committees. We have even officially added a new ministry-Brain Fitness Club this year. I am eager to share highlights of our year together.

Our newest ministry, Brain Fitness Club, has enhanced their program with new spiritual opportunities, a partnership with Central Florida Community Arts, and collaborative experiences with the Methodist School for Early Education (MSEE) and our dance ministry, Studio 150. The interactions of these ministries highlight our pillar’s goal to embrace intergenerational possibilities within our church family.

The Diversity Committee, another new venture for our church, has been hard at work identifying their goals and forging ahead to build diversity awareness in our church.  They have sponsored workshops that have sharpened ideas and allowed us to challenge ourselves to embrace the diversity of not only our church but also the world outside.  This committee has gone above and beyond to serve in the image of Christ.

Our dance ministry, Studio 150, is working with other groups and ministries in our church. This dance school has helped us live into our vision by creating a spiritual presence for students who are members of our church and of the community.  Classes are offered not only for the young, but also for adults as well.

MSEE is constantly refining and expanding the opportunities they offer the students and their families.  They have grown their parent outreach programs and reorganized their board.  Their Fall Festival and Breakfast with Santa are examples of activities that provide multigenerational opportunities for families to connect.

As our Congregational Care Team reorganizes and reshapes itself in light of our vision, the possibilities are endless!  The committee is open to ideas and exploring the needs of our congregation.

Health and Wholeness continues to support our congregation in opening our eyes to the responsibility of maintaining our environment and ourselves on a Christ-like way. Their focus encompasses the physical, mental, spiritual links that create the chain of health and wholeness.

Act II encourages our members over 55 to seize the opportunities that growing older can bring with engagement and service.   Activities include breakfast and dinner get-togethers once a month and interesting and thought-provoking programs several times a year. Service is a key aspect of this ministry in places like The Oaks and Ronald McDonald House.

Trinity Christian Academy (TCA) is officially part of our church!  It will be housed in the newly renovated space on the Reeves property.  Its dynamic program serves infants through age 5, and offers day care.  Their new location will offer them opportunities to grow in numbers as well as possibilities.

The Vibrant Family Pillar is taking advantage of building on God’s grace as we attempt to live and serve in the image of Christ.  The best part of our story is people!  Adults embracing challenges, children singing, playing, and dancing, seniors enjoying life and contributing skills and ideas, members passionate about each other, health care, and the environment-all tied into their passion about their faith.

~Lynn Striepe, Vibrant Family Pilar Leader

Center for Creative Discipleship

On Nov. 28, the Discipleship Team reached a halfway point on its Pilot Test of the Center for Creative Discipleship. The team will take a hiatus during December to review the last three months. We will resume in January, with Pathway Guide David Witwer modeling the habit of Listening, followed in February by Pathway Guide Dr. Debra Edgar’s journey through the habit of Learning, and ending in March with Pathway Guide Pastor Jayne Rideout challenging the Pilot Pilgrims to adopt the discipleship habit of being Sent. The evaluation data from all six modules will be analyzed by the team and a report will be presented to the Passionate Seekers Pillar on the findings.

Women’s Advent Dinner

These ladies certainly know how to put the “merry” in Christmas! We had so much fun last night laughing with comedian Juanita Lolita, who uses her gift for comedy as a testimony to her faith, and remembering the reason for the season. Thank you to Lee Anne Grimsley Leerdam, Sandy Amy Franks, Jayne Rideout, and your entire leadership team for the gift of laughter last night. Congratulations on a great event! I’m so glad I got to spend time with all these special ladies…especially my mom!