We Are Now in the Gulf Central District
Riverview First UMC, along with all other United Methodist churches in Hillsborough County has been placed into the new Gulf Central District. At the Annual Conference, representatives voted to reduce the number of Districts from 9 to 8 resulting in the creation of what we are calling the Gulf Central District. You can find more about the makeup of this new district by watching this You Tube video.
Our new District Superintendent is Rev. Dr. Candace M. Lewis, and our District Vision Coordinator, Beth Potter, is part of the staff of the new district. The District Office is now in Largo, Florida.
Livestream the 2017 Florida Annual Conference
The Annual Conference of the Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church has been completed. The livestreamed recordings of Annual Conference 2017 sessions are available now. Click here to access the plenary and laity sessions.
Growing House Churches in Cuba
The second chapter of the book of Acts describes how the earliest Christian church took hold in uncertain and fearful times.
It says: “They devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. … They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”
Those house churches formed the backbone of the fledgling movement for Christ.
That example is being followed today by believers in Cuba, where despite steady increases in the number of believers and more freedom to openly worship, some government obstacles remain.
The state still prohibits the United Methodist Church from building new sanctuaries; and with thousands of new people in that island nation responding to the word of God, finding a place to gather could be a problem.
But the Cuban people don’t focus on the obstacles. They don’t focus on where they meet. They focus on God. They find a way.
House churches took root in Cuba when crowds wishing to attend the services grew too large for existing sanctuaries. In gathering spots all over the island, six, eight, 10 or a dozen people gather to sing praises, pray, study the scriptures and simply be with fellow believers. They start off as a study group and eventually spread a message of hope and salvation one convert at a time.
The group is called a cell; and, when it outgrows a house, part of the cell may form a new group in a different house.
“It’s the only way for the Methodist church to grow in Cuba,” said Icel Rodriguez, director of Global Missions for the Florida Conference.
The Florida Conference, through financial assistance and missionaries, is helping build many of those houses. George Reed, chairperson of Methodists United in Prayer (formerly called the Cuba/Florida covenant) said a little bit of money raised in Florida can go a long way.
“There is an advance set-up that I basically would call a co-op program,” he said. “The Florida Conference has been instrumental in helping with funds, books and responding to their needs. If a sister church here in Florida wants to help buy a house church, the Conference matches that up to $3,000. That’s $6,000. In eastern Cuba, that will buy a house.”
For more information on supporting house churches in Cuba,