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Gulf Central - May Newsletter

A Message from your District Superintendent 

District Superintendent 

Emily Hotho 

In the 1920’s in a small town in Germany, two brothers, Adolf and Rudolph Dassler, became business partners, operating an athletic-shoe business out of their home.  Adolf, Adi, designed and made the shoes, while Rudolph, Rudi, was the outgoing salesman.  They were incredibly successful.  But then, a rivalry developed. 

The rivalry escalated; so much so that the brothers split the company in 1948, creating two brands. Adi’s became Adidas.  And Rudi’s, first he tried to call Ruda, but then changed to the more athletic-sounding Puma.  They built competing factories on opposite sides of town and as their brands grew, almost everyone in town worked for one company or the other. There were local businesses that served only Adidas or only Puma people. Dating or marrying across company lines was forbidden. And their town became known as “the town of bent necks” since people first looked at which company’s shoes you were wearing before deciding to talk to you. 

I've used this story as an illustration before when preaching about conflict, division, and Christian community, and it popped back into my mind today.  The issues in our churches, denomination, and world are significant and I don't want to minimize them.  And. yet, I also don't want us to become "people of bent necks" who are so focused on judging others for what "side" they're on that we are not open to conversation or community.

The Global Methodist Church launched on May 1. We will vote on a handful of disaffiliations this year at Annual Conference (less than 2% of our Conference's total churches.). Other churches and pastors are still discerning and deciding how they will proceed.  I don't feel particularly anxious about that.  I wish the new denomination well.  And I'm looking forward to remaining United Methodist with the vast majority of you who will stay.  

As I travel around our District - Pinellas, Pasco, Hillsborough, and Polk counties, I see lots of people and places who need the Church.  They need food, school supplies, and other social services that churches provide.  They need friendship and community in a world filled with loneliness and judgment.  They need hope and joy and peace.  They need the gospel, the good news of Jesus. 

As we move throughout our daily lives, I hope we can all remember to keep our eyes up, our gaze in front of us.  Don't be the "people of bent necks," looking down to judge whether someone is an Adidas-wearer or a Puma-wearer.   Eyes up.  God has work for us to do.  And I'm praying for a spirit of unity and peace throughout our churches and District as we do that work.  



May Details and Due Dates 

May 31

Annual Assessment of Ministerial Effectiveness & Goal Setting for All Clergy. The clergy assessment process is available on the FLUMC website under Clergy Excellence. Appointed Clergy and the Staff/Pastor Parish Relations Committee should meet annually to complete this process. The report is due by May 31 each year. Continuing Education is completed in conjunction with the Annual Assessment above. This process is fully electronic and the report is submitted online. Do not print and send a hard copy of the evaluation to the district office.

Gulf Central District Office Information

Office Location: St. Paul UMC, 1498 Rosery Rd. NE, Largo, FL 33770.  Staff work a combination of in-office and remote hours. 

Office Phone: 727.585.1207

GCD Team: Rev. Emily Hotho, Katelyn Dino, Beth Potter (Congregational Vitality Specialist), Deb Digman 

Clergy District Meeting 

May 4th 10:00 AM - 2:00 PM

 Bay Hope UMC




Join us for a fun day of fellowship with fellow clergy in the gulf central district. There will be a time of worship and a sermon from the district superintendent. 

After you have enjoyed some time lunching with your fellow clergy friends at the upcoming Clergy Meeting, find the table with a few of Gulf Central’s Anti-Racism Team members.  We want to hear from you about the conversations, questions, next steps, etc. that are happening in your churches-what’s working and what’s not.  Let us learn from you AND help/support/coach you  and others in your anti-racism efforts.

We are so excited to see everyone there! Please register here 


Conversations on Race

Join us for a monthly half-hour conversation with various speakers and share your thoughts about anti-racism efforts in our Conference. Hosted by The Beloved Community. CLICK HERE for more information.

Webinar Schedule (All sessions begin at 12 noon)

  • May 4: How to talk to People about Race II (Including laity, clergy, family, children, and people we disagree with)
  • June 1: What is MLK’s “Beloved Community?” I
  • July 6: What is MLK’s “Beloved Community?” II
  • August 3: The History of Race in Florida I
  • September 7: The History of Race in Florida II
  • October 5: How to Implement Anti-Racism Ministries I
  • November 2: How to Implement Anti-Racism Ministries II
  • December 7: Celebrating Anti-Racism Ministries in the Florida Conference

Register HERE

New Appointments

Bishop Kenneth Carter and the appointive cabinet of The Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church, in consultation with the clergy and authorized lay leaders of the local churches, announce the following projected appointment changes, to take effect July 1, 2022.  This act of ministry is in fulfillment of paragraphs 425-429 of the 2016 Book of Discipline. For a reflection on the core values employed in the process of clergy appointments to churches, click here

Let us lift these clergy, their families and the local churches in prayer, in the hope that we will more fully participate in our mission— “to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world” (Book of Discipline, ¶ 120). 

Let's celebrate all those coming in and give thanks to those who have served in our district.  Click HERE for the complete list of Full-Time appointments.

Annual Conference

Annual Conference 2022 will be June 9-11 in Lakeland FL

Please ensure your church has their dashboard up to date with Church Lay Members to annual conference. If you are registered as a Church or District Lay Member to Annual Conference and have not received any communication from the district or conference please contact Katelyn Dino at

Clergy Session

We are looking forward to seeing you at the Clergy Session on Thursday, June 9 in the sanctuary at First, LakelandPlease be advised that registration for clergy will only be available in the lobby/narthex area of the sanctuary at First, Lakeland and will open at 8 am and close promptly at 10 am on Thursday. If you are unable to register prior to 10 am, you will not be admitted to the clergy session.  


  We regret that we cannot delay the start of the clergy session due to lines at registration, so please arrive early. We will close registration promptly at 10 am. Clergy will be able to register at Florida Southern College after the clergy session concludes.

One Board Leadership Model Training 

Have a One Board Leadership Model?  Looking to move to it? 

 More churches are looking to reduce their administrative committees AND MEETINGS.  Saving time on committees means more time for ministry.  But, how to start? 

Join us Saturday May 14 from 9am-1pm as the Gulf Central District hosts Kay Kotan, author of Mission Possible, A Simple Structure for Missional Effectiveness.  Kay is a leading authority and coach in helping churches move to a productive and effective one board model.

Pastors and church leaders are asked to join this virtual workshop together.  (If you need help setting up ZOOM at your church, please contact by May 6th.)  Kay will share processes, tools, insights, and tips.  During this highly interactive workshop, she will move you into “zoom breakout sessions” to start/continue the work of moving to a one-board model.

Registration is required.  Sign up today AND, purchase your copy of Mission Possible  HERE. You’ll want read it beforehand and have it available during the workshop.

Have questions?  Call Beth Potter @ 813-220-5379.

Register Now for Warren Willis Summer Camp

Summer Registration Now Open at Warren Willis Camp. Classic overnight camps last 6 days (5 nights) for rising 4th graders through graduating 12th graders.  There is a new tiered pricing this year.  See here for more information, and share this information with your Children's and Youth Ministry leaders.  

Clergy and Employees May Qualify for Student Loan Forgiveness

Clergy and employees of not-for-profit organizations engaged in faith-based work may benefit from recent changes to the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) Program.

Wespath is offering a one-hour webinar led by Scott Filter, a senior advisor in the Office of Students and Young Consumers at the U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, on Monday, May 9 at 2:00 p.m. Central time, and again on Wednesday, May 11 at 12:30 p.m. Central time, to help organizations and their staff understand the PSLF Program and application process.

The Department of Education recently issued a limited waiver of the provisions for PSLF qualifications; however, applicants must act by October 31Use this document to help spread the word about this important opportunity.

Looking for Help or a New Insight with Marketing or Communications?

Consider the two options below provided my UMC Resources 

Taking the Nest Step- A Learning Week Program 

Time is running out to register for Taking the Next Step, a weeklong learning experience focused on boosting your communication skills. During the week of May 9-13, we will feature subject matter experts and communication professionals looking to share their knowledge on a wide range of topics affecting church leaders. All material will be recorded and available for participants to watch on their own schedule.

Resource UMC's marketing and promotional services, training, and coaching 

Our menu of services can be tailored to fulfill specific needs of individual churches. After completing an application and discovery process, churches may be offered services such as social media consultation and audits; website development and SEO optimization; advertising, branding/logo assistance; stationery and business card design; and much more. APPLY HERE

Church Administrator Weekly Call

Are you a church administrator / office manager?  This weekly Zoom call is a chance to connect with others in a similar role to ask questions and get support.  Church Admins throughout the Gulf Central District meet weekly at 10:30 AM on Wednesdays. Please contact for the Zoom link.  

Follow the Gulf Central District on Social Media

Instagram (new!) - @flumc_gc

Facebook - Gulf Central District of the Florida Conference UMC 

GC District Clergy Group on Facebook 

Resources and Learning Opportunities 

Resource UMC See the website designed just for you and your church! Countless resources and articles on 25+ topics! Click HERE for access. 

Lay Servant Ministry classes offered this Spring.  Visit the FL Conference Lay Servant Ministry webpage. Download the new 2022 Lay Servant Ministries Catalog

Table talk Anti Racism Team  - Join us for a monthly half-hour conversation with various speakers and share your thoughts about anti-racism efforts in our Conference. Hosted by The Beloved Community. Click here for more information. 

Other News  

Lands of the Bible Cruise with Bishop Carter -  Join us along with Guest Speaker Bishop Ken Carter on a 13 day Lands of the Bible Cruise aboard the Celebrity Apex, starting at $4,698* from New York, NY departing on September 22, 2022. Journey to places such as Rome, Galilee, Jerusalem, Ephesus, Bethlehem, Athens, and much more! Click HERE for details.   

Employment Opportunities 

First UMC Bartow is looking to hire a Church Secretary/Treasurer. Please see here for the full job announcement Job+Opening+Secretary+-+Treasurer.docx