A New Way of Fishing
“He called out to them, ‘Friends, haven’t you any fish?’
‘No,’ they answered. He said, ‘Throw your net on the right side of the boat
and you will find some.’ When they did, they were unable to haul the net in
because of the large number of fish” John 21:5-6
“The need for a digital ministry will not go away once we reopen church buildings.
Most churches need to shift from being a church with online services
to being a church with in-person options” Tony Morgan, The Unstuck Group, 7/30/20
About 8 months ago, our District Operations Leadership Team covenanted to set our alarms daily for 8:20 AM reminding us to pray for our district pastors and churches. My alarm just went off and this was my prayer a couple moments ago:
“God, help our churches throw the nets on the other side of the boat, doing whatever we need to do, fishing in the waters in which you have led us.”
Like many of you, I grew up in the local brick and mortar church: youth group, Sunday morning (and evening) worship, camp, Sunday School ... all of these ministries nurtured me along the journey. But now, we are in the middle of a cataclysmic shift of an outside force that no one imagined. We knew change was already happening in culture and the church – the fishing beds on the left side of the boat have been drying up for a while ... like 50+ years. But now, we cannot ignore it continuing to ‘get by.’ Our eyes are wide open due to COVID. We also have a choice: nostalgically think that “once we get through COVID and return to in-person worship, it will be okay” OR begin fishing on the right side, in new fish beds that are full.
Peter and the disciples planned for Jesus to bring a kingdom where they would assist in ruling. Two of them, James and John, argued who was going to sit on his right side! But then Jesus died and rose again ... everything changed. And in the midst of trying to recalibrate, catching their breath, Peter and the gang return to what they thought was unchanging – fishing. They fish all night, just as they used to, but caught nothing. It was in that moment that Jesus calls out to them to throw their nets on the right side of the boat. They made the choice to listen – and the nets were so full they could barely haul them in.
That choice, to fish in a new way, was not an easy one. They were tired, depleted, frustrated, but they listened to God’s voice. That decision put them on a path of ushering in the Church and sharing the Good News of Jesus with the whole world. It moved the message of God’s love and grace to a new platform. And this is what is happening now.
My prayer is that we will embrace the change, moving through our grief of what was and catch a vision for what is and will be. Our message is the same, but our methods are changing. Thank you for your faithfulness as we, together, follow Jesus into the future. May God bless you +
Grace and peace ~
Bishop Carter, the Cabinet, and the Annual Conference Planning Team are announcing today that the regular session of Annual Conference 2020 will be a virtual only event on Saturday September 19, 2020. We had hoped to be able to host a hybrid event at First Lakeland allowing for some to attend in person and some virtually. After careful discernment and review of the latest information about COVID-19, Conference leaders have determined that we cannot plan to safely gather a large group inside a sanctuary in September. We are learning alongside every other annual conference who are shifting to virtual only large events.
Commissioning and Ordination will be live streamed on Saturday, September 12.
To read more about these changes and the plans for Annual Conference 2020, please visit the Florida Conference Annual Conference webpage by clicking here.
Pre-Annual Conference Orientations will be held for those who are delegates for 2020. Details are available on the Florida Conference website by clicking here.
Dionne is currently preparing a sermon that will be available for download for your church to share with your congregation on the 5th Sunday of August. If your church is interested in receiving the link to download Dionne's sermon, please complete the form at the link below. The link to download the video will be sent to the e-mail address provided on the completed form.
Charge Conference Reports go Live on Monday, August 24, 2020.
This year, all local church Fall Annual Charge/Church Conferences will be held virtually. Later this week, your church office will receive details about dates and times. Our office is providing training/information sessions for those who help prepare the required reports which include:
- Membership Training - Wednesday, August 5 at 10:00 AM l This session is for Membership Secretaries and those who help prepare this report.
- Nominations and Leadership Development - Wednesday, August 19 at 10:00 AM l This will include updates for nominations and District/Conference nominations.
- Charge Conference Reports - Tuesday, August 25 at 9:30 AM l This session will include the changes and requirements for submitting these reports.
To sign up for one or more of these training opportunities, please complete the registration form at the link below.
Our office is in the process of updating contact information for the retired Pastors in the Atlantic Central District. If you are a retired pastor who is not appointed to a local church, please update your contact information by completing the form at the link below. In early September, you will receive information about the Retired Pastor's Report due during Fall Charge Conferences. We are also asking each Retired Pastor to name a United Methodist Church for their Charge Conference Membership. If you have any questions, please contact our office.
We are currently in the process of putting together classes for the fall that will be virtual and may include the Basic Course and Advanced Courses. If you are interested in taking a Lay Servant Ministry Basic or Advanced Class, please let us know by completing the survey at the link below. You will be notified when classes are set. If you have any questions, please contact our office.
Atlantic Central District
Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church
PO Box 1898 l Melbourne, FL 32902
Rev. Dionne C. Hammond, District Superintendent
Paula McDonald, Senior Administrative Assistant l firstname.lastname@example.org
Marilyn Waldis, Administrative Assistant l email@example.com
Bruce Kitson, Church Health Advocate