Policies always have personal consequences, and for Arden Mitchell of Lakeland, a longstanding policy of the United Methodist Church prevented her father from performing her wedding ceremony. When Mitchell married her wife in a religious ceremony in 2012 and then again in 2013 when the state of Florida made same-sex marriage legal, her father, the Rev. T. Glenn Bosley-Mitchell, a United Methodist pastor, couldn’t officiate without risking punishment.
The church’s Book of Discipline – which contains its beliefs and policies – states that “the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching.” It prohibits ministers, deacons and lay pastors from participating in same-sex weddings. The policy also declares that “self-avowed practicing homosexuals” shall not be ordained as ministers and deacons.
Mitchell, 33, a lifelong Methodist and a member of Lakeland’s First United Methodist Church, calls it “unfortunate” that her father was unable to officiate at her wedding.
“It was not ideal,” says Mitchell, who is director of admissions at Florida Southern College. “My dad is very liberal and accepting and vocal about it. … Something needs to happen.”
Something may be about to happen. More
City commissioners need to push hard for a high-speed rail stop in Lakeland when they meet at 1 p.m. today with a representative of Brightline, the company planning an Orlando-to-Tampa train route, Commissioner Justin Troller says. More
Steven Schelmety, 32, was shot and killed at an auto repair shop around 11:30 p.m. Friday, according to Lakeland police. His wife told News Channel 8 he was sitting at his desk and she was nearby. A person police would not identify was wounded in the incident at Artillery Motor Sports, 3609 Century Blvd., in an industrial area across Drane Field Road from Lakeland’s airport. About 30 bullet holes were counted at the business’ entrance.
HOMELESS HELP: A Lakeland family is no longer homeless after receiving a Continuum of Care (COC) grant. The Homeless Coalition of Polk County oversees the COC grant and divides the $1.6 million between the Talbot House, the Agency for Community Treatment Services Inc. Tri-County Human Services Inc., and Wilson House.
HEALTH ALERT: After a third case of rabies was found this week, Polk County health officials are extending the rabies alert area into most of Lakeland. “The alert area roughly comprises a rectangle bordered by the Hillsborough County border on the west, West Socrum Loop Road on the north, Berkeley and Thornhill roads on the east and the Polk Parkway on the south.”
BIKELAKELANDERS: Bicyclists Dale Jacobs and Stuart McMartin completed their 600-mile charity bike ride from the Florida-Georgia line to Key West. The pair raised $21,000 for the Wogan S. Badcock unit of the Boys and Girls Club of Lakeland.
LAWLAKELANDER: Retired Florida Supreme Court Justice R. Fred Lewis joined Florida Southern College as its first Eminent Professor of Law and Letters. Lewis was a student athlete at the school in the mid-1960s.
The city of Lakeland will continue limited spraying to control invasive plants in lakes even as a temporary moratorium halts the bulk of herbicide use in Lakeland lakes, city commissioners were told this morning. More
The city of Lakeland is taking a close look at how much it spends to incentivize business growth and where the dollars come from, after an economic development group suggested changes.
Following a recent presentation by Steve Scruggs, president of the private, non-profit Lakeland Economic Development Council, city commissioners expressed willingness to consider a tactic different than the current incentive of paying cash rebates after the creation of high-paying, highly skilled jobs. More
- A Lawton Chiles Middle School sixth-grader refused to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance.
- A substitute teacher criticized him for his action and the argument escalated.
- School officials say the student made threats, and he was arrested on charges of disruption and resisting arrest.
- The student’s mother wants charges dropped.
- School district officials say the substitute teacher wasn’t aware that students can opt out of the pledge and she won’t be teaching at Polk schools any longer.
- Details at Bay News 9
KINDNESS: To combat bullying, Sleepy Hill Middle School Principal Kathryn Blackburn instituted “Kindness Day” at the school Thursday. The program found a variety of ways for the children to encourage kindness in each other and themselves.
FIRE: Coverage continued of the Lakeland file that claimed the life of Lorretta Pickard. A press conference with County Fire Chief Tony Stravino and Deputy County Manager Joe Halman was held Wednesday. | The Florida Fire Chiefs Association announced they will investigate whether Capt. James Williams properly handled the response to the Nov. 23 fire. | Polk County Fire Rescue released a series of photos from the fire.
Do big fluctuations in your monthly utility bill have you stressed out? Are you tired of guessing what your utility bill will be? Do you dread the summer months knowing your cooling costs are going up? If yes, then Lakeland Electric’s Average Billing Plan might be for you. More
SCHOOL BUS: To give Citrus Connection a chance to apply for state grants to serve two schools that serve profoundly disabled students, their board of directors asked Polk County Public Schools to wait until the 2020-2021 school year to eliminate school bus service to a dozen charter school campuses in the county. Citrus Connection Executive Director Tom Phillips also asked that some schools they serve start at a later time in order to utilize existing routes.
DOG SHOW: It’s “the best time you can have without a poop bag,” said Trent Rowe, the coordinator and vendor chair for this weekend’s Strawberry Cluster Dog Show at Lakeland Linder International Airport’s Sun ’n Fun area. Human admission is free, but it cost $5 to park a car. In addition to the usual dog show grooming competition, there will be retrieving, dock diving, hunting, and tests for handling stressful situations. (The dogs, not the handlers.) The show is Feb. 15 – 18, 8 a.m. to late afternoon each day.
Planning to take in the Tigers at Publix Field/Joker Marchant Stadium/Tigertown? The Detroit Free Press offers a guide to spring training in Lakeland.
Deputy County Administrator Joe Halman and Polk Fire Rescue Chief Tony Stravino defended their crews this morning in a news conference about the events surrounding the death of Loretta Pickard, 76, in a house fire on Rockridge Road. Here’s full video from their news conference:
More coverage: News Channel 8 | Fox 13 News followup | ABC Action News | Bay News 9 | The Ledger