An interview with the Annual Conference Office
What excites you about Tampa?
Chris Douglas: It’s one of the most beautiful places we’ve had Annual Conference because it’s surrounded by palm trees and water.
Jon Kobel: It’s a great vacation spot. People can bring their families and enjoy fishing excursions or riding paddle boats or E-boats.
Debbie Noffsinger: We should have sunshine and warmth for at least part of Annual Conference. Also, dolphins have been spotted right outside the convention center.
Is there anything special about the hotels or conference center?
Chris: The convention center is smaller than in past years, so we’ll fill the whole building and it will be an intimate gathering. It will also be easier to get around the convention center.
Jon: For hotels, these are the lowest rates we’ve had in nine years, and they are available up to three days after Conference.
What are the must-see sights and attractions in Tampa?
Chris: My favorite is the Henry B. Plant Museum that was built in 1890 and has been beautifully restored. It’s gorgeous and you can learn a lot about the culture of that time.
Jon: We’re selling tickets fordolphin tours, which are really neat. You can also enjoy a stroll on the river walk or ride a street car (for half price with your Conference badge) to the historic Ybor City.
Debbie: There’s also the aquarium, children’s museum, and the history center close to the convention center. We highlighted other options in our recent e-mail blast too.
What restaurants would you recommend?
Jon: You can’t talk about Tampa without mentioning the Columbia Restaurant. It has wonderful, authentic Cuban food, and traditional flamenco dancing may be seen in the evening. I also recommend the Oxford Exchange. It’s the coolest eclectic restaurant with interesting food, a tea emporium, and a coffee center.
Chris: There’s also a place called Channelside (just a five-minute walk away) that has several restaurants. There’s Mexican food, Thai food, and my favorite pizza place.
Is anything unique about this year’s gathering?
Chris: Sunday evening will feature biblical storytelling and music by Ken Medema and Ted & Co.
Jon: The Sunday insight sessions will specifically focus on equipping people with tools to enrich their own lives and serve their churches.