CONNECT WITH YOUR REGIONAL NETWORK
Contrary to what you may have heard, the future is bright for the Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church. For the past two years we have been working diligently to set up district Fresh Expressions teams in each of the eight districts.
In the North Central District, our Fresh Expressions team has been working together for four years. In the course of that time, this group of laity and clergy have collaborated with local churches to cultivate approximately 80 fresh expressions of church. Now each of the eight districts has a team somewhere in the process of formation, and cultivator(s) to guide the team in the process of missional mess making.
We wanted to introduce you to those cultivators and provide their contact information. If you believe God is calling you to reach people currently unreached by your church, the district cultivators would love to hear from you. We are here to pray, resource, coach, and support you in the work of being church with new people, in new places, and in new ways…
North West District
Piper Ramsey-Sumner is an Oklahoma-born, Texas-raised pastor’s kid with a passion for lifelong learning, community building, and creating spaces for personal and spiritual transformation outside the walls of a church. She has been involved in Christian ministry for over ten years—working in youth ministry, homeless outreach, and intentional communal living—and is the founder and facilitator of a dialogue-based pub community, Tallahassee Brew Theology.
She is a graduate of Southern Nazarene University in Bethany, OK, earning her Bachelor of Arts degree in Theology with a minor in Biblical languages. Having completed her coursework, Piper will receive her Master of Divinity degree from Iliff School of Theology in Denver, CO this summer. She is a blogger and published author, featured in Women Experiencing Faith (2018, eds. Janel Apps Ramsey and Thomas Jay Oord).
Piper lives in rural Northwest Florida with her husband, Kyle, and her cat, Rosemary. She loves to be outside, garden, run, play music, and talk about theology.
Contact info: email firstname.lastname@example.org. Phone (940) 594-7896.
North East District
Haley Eccles and Kevin Griffin
Rev. Haley Eccles is a Provisional Elder, currently serving as a ministry fellow in North East Florida’s campus ministry, Campus to City Wesley. Haley’s first appointment was in a small, struggling church, where Haley spent much of her time working to build connections and pathways to begin new faith communities in the neighborhood. She began a fresh expression in the form of a book club and learned a lot through the struggles and failures of these attempts to create space for the gospel to be heard by new people in new ways.
Her new opportunities in campus ministry call upon those pioneering skills of connection and taking risks to help connect to students across four college campuses and an online campus. This space has also provided opportunities to cultivate new leaders and encourage teams, as CCW taps into the gifts and passions brought by committed students in the ministry.
Kevin Griffin is the lead pastor of CrossRoad Church (crossroad.church), a United Methodist congregation in Jacksonville, FL. He has been involved with the fresh expressions movement for several years, and he loves to help fresh expressions of church and the inherited church learn to grow side by side. You can reach Kevin by email at email@example.com.
North Central District
Michael Beck is the North Central District Cultivator of Fresh Expressions, Director of Re-Missioning for Fresh Expressions US, and a Cultivator of Fresh Expressions for the Florida Conference. Michael serves as co-pastor of Wildwood UMC with his wife Jill, where they direct addiction recovery programs, a jail ministry, a food pantry, an interracial unity movement, as well as house a faith-based residential substance abuse program called House of Hope. The Beck’s oversee a network of thirteen fresh expressions that gather in tattoo parlors, dog parks, salons, running tracks, community centers, skating rinks, and burrito joints. Michael earned a Master of Divinity from Asbury Theological Seminary and a Doctorate in Semiotics and Future Studies at Portland Seminary with his mentor Leonard Sweet.
He is the author of the Deep Roots, Wild Branches series (book two in press for fall 2020); as well as A Field Guide to Methodist Fresh Expressions; and coauthor of Issachar’s Secret with Dr. Sweet. Jill and Michael currently live in Wildwood. They have a blended family of eight children, four grandchildren, and two pugs. Reverendwild1@gmail.com | 352-203-7258
South East District
Michelle Shrader serves as the Missions Initiatives Specialist for the South East District and is the Lead Pastor at Killian Pines UMC in Miami, Florida. Prior to her time in Miami she served three years as a Missionary Pastor in Cape Town, South Africa and has an extensive background in missional initiatives. Killian Pines UMC began “The Village”—a family based fresh expression of church this past year, and it has reached up to 35 children and their parents, through an off site movie based worship service. Michelle has a heart for God’s ministry to all the world facilitated through the local church and loves helping congregations find their way to the New Song God desires to sing through them in these days we are living in. firstname.lastname@example.org | (305)310-5237
Gulf Central District
Keri LaBrant serves as Cultivator of the Gulf Central District. She is a graduate of Duke Divinity School and a licensed local pastor in the UMC. Captivated by the missional church since 2007, she considers her ecumenical background a blessing and counts as some of her most significant influences the personal discipleship of the Baptist Church, the social justice views of the mainline, the committed community life of the nondenominational world, and the worship-driven heart of the charismatic movement. She loves big mountains, small coffee shops, and having a sunroof in her car. Keri currently serves as pastor (part-time) of Clearview UMC in her hometown of St. Pete and is raising support to pioneer Fresh Expressions in the Downtown and Lealman areas of the city. email@example.com | 727-204-6555
Atlantic Central District
Lou Weber serves as Cultivator of the Atlantic Central District Fresh Expressions team under the leadership of District Superintendent Dionne Hammond. Lou serves as the Executive Pastor of First United Methodist Church of Melbourne. As the Executive Pastor, he leads staff development, operations, finance, Fresh Expressions of Church, and drives the vision and mission of the Lead Pastor, Craig Hammond. With an incredible team of volunteers, he has planted an initial Dinner Church in their local partner elementary school. In the coming months, they are looking forward to planting new Dinner Churches. Lou earned a Master of Business Administration with a specialized focus in Marketing from Florida Institute of Technology and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Palm Beach Atlantic University. He and his beautiful wife Melissa have two children, Louie and Ruby-Cate.
He is currently working with a team of Pastors and Lay people to develop strategies and resources to empower the Atlantic Central District to reach their goal of planting 60 Fresh Expressions of Church.
For more information contact Bruce Kitson at the District Office (firstname.lastname@example.org | 561-876-6423) or Lou Weber
(Lweber@FirstChurchMelbourne.org | 321-626-7186)
South West District
Heather Evans has been a part of the ministry team at Grace Church in Cape Coral for about twenty years now, and that is a journey that has taken many exciting twists and turns along the way. Grateful for every opportunity she's had to lead ministries for people of all ages and backgrounds including, children, youth, and local reach, she serve currently serves as the Director of Reach and Fresh Expressions at Grace Church's main campus.
| 239.574.7161 ext. 235
East Central District
Rev. Caitlin White is the Director of the Wesley Foundation at Stetson University in DeLand, FL and a cultivator of the Fresh Expressions movement in the Florida United Methodist Conference. She primarily works in interfaith spaces, community organizing, and intergenerational ministry with people on the thresholds of faiths: those with one foot out the door of Church and those who are unwilling to come in.