Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Methodist Church in Fruit Cove Takes Relaxed Approach

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Methodist Church in Fruit Cove Takes Relaxed Approach

Article excerpt

Byline: LINDA McDONALD, River Bend Review correspondent

Administrative personnel at River of Life Methodist Church often see deer in the morning when they arrive for work at the church, which is tucked in a grove off Race Track Road.

But nature's stillness belies the liveliness inside the modular buildings that house the Fruit Cove worship center. In a thriving neighborhood, the United Methodist Church has grown a blossoming flock.

The Rev. Kim Cott was brought to Fruit Cove in June 2000 to "plant" River of Life church. She spent that summer visiting area churches and put up signs about an August informational meeting.

The first gathering was that September in Bartram Trail High School, with seven or eight in attendance. In February 2001, at the high school, full-scale worship began with 75 people.

Today, River of Life has 200 members. It moved to its Racetrack Road location in May. The "come-as-you-are congregation," as Cott puts it, worships in suits and dresses as well as shorts, tank tops and flip-flops.

Now, architectural plans hang on the wall of the current sanctuary, as River of Life plans to begin a building campaign, which Cott hopes will be underway within a year.

The pastor also would like to see membership more than double in the next year, and for River of Life to continue to be a bigger force in the community. She said she wants it to be "the community church in Fruit Cove."

"We want the community to know that this is a meeting place for groups. We want to increase our mission and outreach work in Fruit Cove and Jacksonville," she said. "The main reason River of Life is here is to help people find a relationship with God and with God's love and God's grace that is absolutely available to everybody -- and it's just free."

Services include coffee, cookies and donuts. "Gracious hospitality" is a key part of the worship experience at River of Life.

The church uses drama, music, Power Point presentations, video clips and other media to reach worshippers, and Cott said she would like to see even more multimedia incorporated into worship. …

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