Change of Plans ... And God’s Purpose
“When it was time to leave, they returned to their own country by another route,
for God had warned them in a dream not to return to Herod.” Matthew 8:12 NLT
Life does not go according to our plans. The Israelites called for a king, wanted to be like the other nations, and did not think being a nation guided by Yahweh “was enough.” It’s funny isn’t it when “not enough” becomes our driving value? God relented and after the debacle with Saul, ordered Samuel to head to Bethlehem to consecrate the next king. After arriving in this small town where not much was happening and heading to Jesse’s home, Samuel incorrectly thought that he found the man for the job – Eliab, Jesse’s oldest son. Samuel learned that his plans were not God’s purpose ... God looks at the heart and not the outward appearance.
And so, the search went on, Samuel listening to God, going in a different direction than expected and finally requesting Jesse to bring in his last son – David – the shepherd boy. And God spoke to Samuel:
“Up on your feet! Anoint him! This is the one” (I Samuel 16:12b The Message)
Samuel’s obedience to God’s voice – a change in the plan – ushered in a new future for Israel filled with God’s purpose.
Another group of world leaders did the same thing 2000+ years ago. The Magi – who followed the Star and worshipped Jesus the Messiah in His humble dwelling - listened to God when God changed their plans. They had been ordered by King Herod to return to Jerusalem with the news of what they discovered but, in a dream, was told to return “to their own country by another route.” Their obedience to God’s voice ushered in a new future for all of eternity. God’s purpose is being realized.
Today, we are living in a season when our best laid plans continue to change. From small interruptions in our daily routines like car problems, canceled flights, and computer issues to large uncontrollable outside forces like Omicron, tornadoes, wildfires, illness, and death, things do not go the way we planned. The question is how are we going to respond? Right before God told Samuel to head to Bethlehem where he discovered David, Samuel was distraught – Saul’s reign imploded. God encouraged Samuel to stop mourning, fill his flask with anointing oil and go to Bethlehem. In other words, follow Me. Follow God. Surrender and submit to God’s purpose. That’s what my 2022 resolution is – hard because I already know that my plans will not go as I intend! How about you?
I hope to see you at Thrive! Building the Local Church on Saturday, January 22, 2022 at Suntree UMC in Melbourne! Right now, that’s our plan but we will continue to ask what God’s purpose is. COVID is throwing us another loop for sure so we shall see! Stay tuned!
May God bless you as you begin 2022!
Grace and peace ~
We are excited about the upcoming "Thrive!" Leadership Day event. Planning is underway for our time together. We will begin with worship and the keynote speaker followed by interactive breakout sessions, then a large group gathering to close our day together. Mark your calendar now and plan to join us!
"Thrive!" Leadership Day
Saturday, April 2, 2022 (NEW DATE)
9:00 AM - 12:30 PM
Keynote Speaker: Rev. Matthew Hartsfield, Bay Hope Church
Host Church: Suntree United Methodist Church - Melbourne, FL
Our hope is that every church in our district will ask a team to join us. Registration is now open. Child care will be provided for those who pre-register.
Breakout sessions include:
- Digital Ministry and Your Church
- Fresh Expressions of Church
- Loving, Learning, Leading: Healthy Spiritual Leadership for Health Churches
- Recovering Student Ministry: What does success in Student Ministry look like moving forward?
- Be the Bridge - Pursuing God's Heart for Racial Reconciliation
- Discipleship Pathway
- Accelerating Generosity in 2022
- Well Done, Faithful Servant
- Creating an Effective Communication Strategy
- God's Visions for Justice Ministry
- Identifying and Training Church Leaders
January 13 and 14, 2022
Grace Church l Cape Coral, FL
Feeling spiritually fatigued as a leader? Running on empty?
Maybe it's time for a change.
Spiritual Leadership Conference exists for leaders like you. Together, we will spend two full days discovering what it looks like to lead from the abundance of God's grace and presence in our lives.
Individual and Group tickets are available.
Click here to for more information and to get tickets for the Spiritual Leadership Conference 2022.
The Florida Conference is offering Local Church Training via Zoom over six consecutive weeks! Each subject will have three opportunities for you to attend: Tuesdays 2:00 PM or 6:30 PM and Saturdays at 9:00 AM. The material will be the same for all three opportunities.
Please share these training dates with your ministry teams at your local church and ask them to save the date for the trainings that apply to their team. Each individual can register for the time that works best for them.
Church Profiles are to be reviewed and updated online annually by the SPR Committees and all Clergy in the Florida Conference. The church profile update should be completed at least one week prior to the DS consultation, if needed, but no later than January 31, 2022 for all churches.
Pastor Profiles are updated online annually and may begin after December 1, 2021. The Pastor Profile deadline to complete is at least one week prior to the DS consultation, if needed, but no later than January 31, 2022.
Both the Church Profiles and the Pastor Profiles should be an honest reflection of the pastor ministry and the profile of the church.
Click here for detailed instructions on accessing both the church and pastor profiles. Please follow the step-by-step instructions to access the appropriate profile. If you have any questions about either of these profiles, please contact the District Office.
Year-End Statistics Reporting Begins January 3, 2022
Please visit the Year-End Statistics Instructions website as you begin preparations for reporting your church's end of year statistics. You will find everything you need for reporting:
- Users and Passwords have been reset (refer to church guide)
- Instruction Guides
- Church Guide for EOY and EZRA Reporting (Login Instructions & Password)
- Church Table Directions (help text)
- New Church Development and Year End Statistical Reporting
- Step by Step Overview of the Year-End Reporting Process
Online reporting begins January 3, 2022. The deadline for submitting Year End Statistical Tables is February 4, 2022.
The information you share gives the GCFA, district and the conference an opportunity to see how the churches have prospered in the last year.
Go to the Year-End Statistics Instructions website to get started!
The Florida Annual Conference 2022 session will be back to an in-person event and will be held on June 9-11, 2022 (a general schedule will be released in the New Year) on the campus of Florida Southern College in Lakeland. The theme for Annual Conference 2022 will be: Rebuilding the Church, Re-membering the Body: Creating a Spiritual Home for All.
“We have been through an extraordinary season with many complexities and constraints, and all of this has kept us from the joy of coming together, and we likely have taken this gift for granted,” said Bishop Ken Carter. “I am excited about the 2022 Annual Conference, and I believe God will bless us during these days.”
Thanks to vaccinations and proper protocols, we feel confident that an in-person gathering can occur in June of next year. While we will still offer a livestream option for those not able to be present in Lakeland, voting on Conference matters will only be available to in-person lay and clergy members.
As we have for the past two years, your Annual Conference planning team will continue to follow state and local health guidelines, including those of Florida Southern College as our hosts. It is possible that mask-wearing and social distancing may still be recommended so please watch for more details as we draw closer to June.
For questions, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Join Bishop Ken Carter, Guest Speaker, on a 13-day "Lands of the Bible Cruise" aboard the Celebrity Apex. The cruise departs from New York, NY on September 22, 2022 with fares starting at $4,698*. Journey to places such as Rome, Galilee, Jerusalem, Ephesus, Bethlehem, Athens, and much more!
For details, visit the Educational Opportunity Tours website at http://www.eo.travelwithus.com/tours/pf22092222a/#.YZLJlmDMLze.