BRADENTON, Fla., Jan. 15, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Since its inception in the early 1800s, the Episcopal Church in Florida has adapted to changing times as it reaches out to the community.
That continues today, as the pioneering organization that began dozens of early missions across Florida is now committing to a new effort of planting alternative church groups. To begin the conversation on how best to do this, the church will host a Jan. 19, 2013 conference in Bradenton, Fla., which will bring together those who have successfully created these new communities and those who wish to help start them.
"It is very encouraging to see the church re-capturing an entrepreneurial spirit for planting communities," said The Rev. Eric Cooter, who was hired Jan. 1 to establish new missions in the Tampa, Ft. Myers and Sarasota/Bradenton areas by the Episcopal Diocese of Southwest Florida. These new missions will be reaching out to those not currently attending church in great numbers, including the so-called Millennial generation and Generation X.
The Episcopal Church is part of the worldwide Anglican Communion, also known as the Church of England. In Great Britain, a program called Fresh Expressions has encouraged working with Christians from a broad range of denominations and those outside the traditional church to create new forms of church communities, sometimes outside of church buildings in places like coffee shops. In a time of decreased Sunday attendance, this has resulted in hundreds of new congregations being formed alongside more traditional churches.
The conference will be led by The Rev. Cooter, Diocesan Missioner for the Diocese of Southwest Florida. Cooter was most recently rector of St. David's, Englewood. He has been a leading observer and promoter of the so-called "emerging church" within Southwest Florida; before attending seminary he established street, homeless and Gen X missions in Fort Myers. Leading the discussion will be two who have established Episcopal youth-oriented churches in the new emergent church tradition, namely The Rev. Karen Ward, founding Vicar of Church of the Apostles, Seattle and The Rev. Robert Leopold, of the Diocese of East Tennessee. Also speaking will be Bishop Dabney Smith, head of Diocese of Southwest Florida, which represents The Episcopal Church in Southwest Florida.
The Sat., Jan. 19 conference will be held at Christ Episcopal Church, Bradenton, at Christ Episcopal Church, 4030 Manatee Avenue West, Bradenton, FL 34205. For more information or to register, contact 941-556-0315 or visit the conference website at www.pioneeringministry.org or www.episcopalswfl.org.
About the Diocese of Southwest Florida
The Diocese of Southwest Florida (www.episcopalswfl.org) represents 76 Episcopal congregations and 17 parochial schools from Marco Island north to Brooksville. Part of The Episcopal Church and the worldwide Anglican Communion, the Diocese includes some of the earliest churches in Southwest Florida, as well as some of the newest.
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SOURCE Diocese of Southwest Florida