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RESTORE Food Pantry is open from 10 AM until Noon every Tuesday and Thursday.  Do not come onto the property before 10:00 AM.  The RESTORE Food Pantry is an Equal Opportunity provider for all eligible recipients regardless of race, age, or gender.

On Tuesdays, recipients can also enjoy hot meals in our Fellowship Hall--courtesy of Metropolitan Ministries.

On Thursday, recipients can also receive fresh produce and/or frozen food courtesy of Feeding Tampa Bay.

Disaster Recovery Kit Collection
The headlines involving disasters in the past five weeks are happening almost daily. From flash flooding in eastern Kentucky which resulted in nearly 40 deaths, to nearly 10 inches of rain in 24 hours in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, to major flooding and a water crisis in Mississippi. This doesn’t include the fires, tornados, and other disasters our conferences and UMCOR are responding to on a daily basis

The FLUMC Disaster Recovery Ministry continues to collect cleanup kits and menstrual hygiene kits. For information on the items needed for the cleanup kit, how to assemble the kit, and important notes, please click here. For information on how to assemble a menstrual hygiene kit, items needed for the kit, and important notes, please click here.

The following drop-off locations are available for those who have collected kits. Please be prepared to assist with unloading your kits and taking them to the desired location at the church For the Gulf Central District, the collection point is at Hyde Park United Methodist Church in Tampa, from 8:30 AM to 12:00 PM. Your contact at Hyde Park is Vicki Walker whom you can reach at vwalker@hydeparkumc.org.

Zoe Empowers Travels to Kenya
This past June, a group of 18 from the Florida conference went to Kenya to visit ZOE Empowers including members from Gator Wesley, First UMC of Lakeland, Good Samaritan (Tallahassee), First UMC of Homosassa, Beach Fort Myers, and Cypress Lakes UMC. All these churches have created a partnership with ZOE Empowers.

Our team ranged in age from 13 to 80. It was incredible seeing the impact the ZOE Empowers children had on the entire team. The organization “empowers orphaned children and vulnerable youth with the solutions to move their families beyond extreme poverty—for good. Zoe Empowers is a global network of local organizations equipping vulnerable youth through a three-year, community-based, indigenous-led program. When young people are empowered by a supportive community, they can lead their own journey from extreme poverty to self-sufficiency, eliminating the need for endless aid.”

We were able to meet brand new groups that our churches are partnering with. Gator Wesley and Good Samaritan recently partnered together with a brand-new empowerment group. They were able to spend time with them to encourage them, pray with them, and visit their new businesses and homes – a life-changing moment for all.

Since 2017, Florida United Methodist churches and individuals have partnered with over 127 groups representing more than 11,000 children – children who were once beggars and are now bosses. Together the Florida United Methodist churches/ministries that are partnering with ZOE Empowers are not only changing the lives of these children but entire communities. Florida United Methodist Churches and Florida United Methodist Wesley Foundations are coming together with ZOE Empowers to equip vulnerable children to overcome life-threatening poverty for good. What a thing to celebrate! If you are interested in hearing more about ZOE Empowers or ways to partner, contact Molly McEntire at mmcentire@flumc.org.

“We make a living by what we get: we make a life by what we give back.” (Winston Churchill) Think about how you are applying this to your stewardship within RUMC. Our Stewardship campaign begins in October. Think about how you are ready to share your time, talent, and tithes on behalf of Jesus and your church!
Shades of Grace
The red brick storefront at 313 E. Sullivan Street in Kingsport, Tennessee, doesn’t look much like a place of worship. But make no mistake: All kinds of church are happening inside this century-old, 5,000-square-foot building, the kind of ministry that spills out the doors and attracts others’ attention as it makes its way across town.

Folks at Shades of Grace United Methodist Church are among those United Methodists globally who engage in a theology that has echoed through the decades in The United Methodist Church's rich tradition of mission. They welcome strangers, feed the hungry, clothe the poor, heal the sick and listen and befriend those people who find themselves on the margins.

“We’re seeing with our Jesus eyes,” says Dr. Joe Smiddy, a Shades of Grace UMC church member. “We are proceeding with the assumption that everyone can make a small step,” Smiddy shares. “Whether it’s substances, faith, mental illness, or loneliness, we can take their arm and help them to take a small step. And those small steps can lead to larger steps.”















Smiddy, now a retired physician, volunteers five days a week at Shades of Grace UMC, often connecting people with medical services, helping make and serve meals and finding homes and jobs for people who need them. “I jump up, kick the sheets off every morning and say, ‘Lord, what are we doing today?’ Why would I go play golf? Why would I go fishing? Where else would I be but at Shades of Grace?” Smiddy asks enthusiastically.

As Shades of Grace UMC, now in its ninth year as a church plant in the Holston Conference, has served its neighbors, others have joined in. The city’s police department is a strong partner, picking up items to keep in their vehicles to share with those they might encounter. The City of Kingsport hired a licensed social worker, a liaison between the area’s underserved population and the government and community resources who works closely with the church. And 65 regional churches partner with Shades of Grace UMC by providing funds, food, and other items. One local church, Immanuel Lutheran Church, donated burial plots to bury people who don’t have someone to bury them. To-date, Shades of Grace UMC’s pastor, the Rev. Will Shewey, has performed more than 100 funerals for “the unclaimed.”

“Dumbfounded” is how Steve Wells, lay leader and founding church member, says he often feels when seeing how God works at Shades of Grace UMC. “There are times when I’m in the kitchen making sandwiches using hot dog buns and I’ll say, ‘Lord, I wish we had a few loaves of bread’ and somebody knocks on the door and comes in with six loaves of bread,” he recounts.

“The miracles that happen – and they are miracles,” Wells emphasizes. “When you pray for something, and it happens, and you see it...I truly see God at work.”

Crystal Caviness, United Methodist Communications

To finish this inspiring article, go to this link.


Small Church Technology Grants
The pandemic forced many congregations throughout the Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church to quickly reinvent themselves. Often, that meant investing in technology to stream live services and to improve the lighting and sound in their sanctuaries.

The problem was that many small rural churches didn’t have the finances to buy the necessary equipment. To alleviate that burden, the special Bishop’s offering at Annual Conference was dedicated to providing those churches with money they could use to help with that cost.

The offering netted $27,524.05, and it didn’t take long to see the overall need. The Conference received more than $86,000 in requests for computers, upgraded digital cameras, microphones, monitors, and software. Leaders suspect that's just the tip of what's needed throughout the Conference.

“Churches that may not be as connected to the information that is available may not have known about this opportunity,” Conference Director of Congregational Vitality Janet Earls said. “The need is probably triple.” While the need remains great, those churches that did receive help say it made a difference for them. For instance, Trinity UMC in Lake City received $5,000 for improved live-stream equipment, including upgraded lights and sounds.

“We are delighted to receive this grant to expand our reach beyond the walls of the church,” Pastor Pamela Green said. “Although we are a small rural church, this equipment allows us to reach throughout the world to proclaim the message of Jesus Christ. We are very grateful to the Conference for enabling us to reach out to a wider audience in need of hearing the gospel of grace and inclusion. While we may not see them in person, we never know where the ripples of our message will go. We just know someone will hear it who needs to hear it.”

Pastor Green said the church streams its services in a nearby prison, where about 400 people regularly participate in online worship. “This allows the light of Christ to shine into dark places such as the hearts of those who experienced losses of any kind and our brothers and sisters who are incarcerated,” she said. “Without this necessary equipment, our message would remain within our four walls.”

Riverview First UMC Finance Chair Mike Plett said his church ordered a new camera and projector with its $1,000 grant and a new projection screen with money from another source. “We’ll probably have all that in place in a month or so,” he said. “We’re trying to make it possible for a single person to do our live-streaming and recording, and we want to improve the quality of what people see on the screen. We’ve got people that come in from New York and one group that comes in from Miami. We have a time of prayer concerns at the beginning of the service. We use YouTube, so people can enter their information through that platform, and we can relay their prayer requests. One of the people in New York recently had cancer surgery, and we were able to pray for him.”

Although the grant money has been exhausted, the Conference continues its work to provide smaller churches the assistance they need.

Earls launched Worship Warehouse last year to help churches that needed music and other items for their services. She just expanded that site to include a tech swap, a place to buy, sell, or trade technology equipment. “We’re doing the best we can with what was donated, and it will help those churches who received the funds. It will give them a leg up,” Earls said. “We also provided recommendations on where to find the funds, fund-raise, and where to buy the equipment. We gave them some excellent resources.”

Joe Henderson, News Content Editor, FLUMC.org