“People look at the outward appearance but God looks at the heart”
- I Samuel 16:7
“Create in me a pure heart, O God,
and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me from your presence
or take your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation
and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.”
- Psalm 51:10-12
“Do not be conformed to this world
but be transformed by the renewing of your mind”
- Romans 12:2
Every person is a child of God and a person of worth. Racism is evil and is infecting our country. As followers of Jesus, we cannot tolerate what has occurred and we cannot see these recent deaths of black people – George, Amad, and Brionna - as individual incidents but instead a system of racial evil and inequity. As followers of Jesus, our individual and collective call is to root out anything that is not of God and to work for transformation. It means deep, long gazes into our individual attitudes, actions and beliefs. It means submitting to the leading of the Holy Spirit for repentance and change. It means prioritizing the Kingdom of God over the kingdoms of this world. It means working toward systemic change.
Last Sunday night, I participated in the “I Can’t Breathe” Prayer Vigil in Melbourne. It was a time when over 200 people came together, wearing red for Pentecost, lamented and prayed. It was a good first step. But on Monday morning, after watching the morning news, I found myself despondent and depressed not sure how to move forward. When I have felt this way in the past, I know to begin with listening to God. On Wednesday afternoon, about 20 of our clergy and district operations leadership team came together for a virtual hour of prayer. Since then God has brought me some opportunities to join in the transformation process which I hope will yield fruit. What steps are you taking to be the change? How is God speaking to you?
A word about rage:
When my son Connor was nine, he was bullied in our neighborhood. There were a group of about 8 boys ranging in age from 9-13. When we first moved into our home, several years earlier, the boys all played well together. Baseball, street hockey, football, and manhunt were the favorites. Connor was one of the youngest of the group. As I got to know the group of boys, I saw some bullying. But not until my son was the target did I understand how serious the pain was. It created brokenness in my very social little boy. One day something happened, and Connor came in our house and was in a rage. His pain was palpable. He wanted to break things. He was yelling at me because he didn’t know what to do with his anger. He felt rejected. He wanted revenge. He was hurt. And if I had let him, Connor would have broken anything he could get his hands on. It was in that moment that I understood a lot of things: broken people break things.
We live in a broken world. I am broken and you are broken. In my broken moments, when I have been hurt and my pain has overtaken my rational thinking, I have lashed out at that person who has caused me pain and said the very thing that I knew would hurt deeply. Have you ever done that? You were so mad, so enraged, so overwhelmed about something said or done to you that you chose to “let it fly?” When I have witnessed that in someone else, I know it was not right or good, but I attempt to hold it and seek understanding. That’s the place I’ve been trying to stay as I’ve witnessed physical damage that has taken place when peaceful riots have become, for some, opportunities for destruction.
As we walk through these next few days and weeks, still dealing with COVID-19 wondering how things will be in 30 days from now, and now searching for our response to the racial injustice of our country, I pray that the fresh winds of the Holy Spirit, experienced that day in Jerusalem, will blow through our hearts, minds, lives and churches like never before. We hold onto the promise that our God is the God of resurrection and new life. Out of the ashes God is making all things new.
May God bless you +
In light of the postponement of the General and Jurisdictional Conferences due to the Coronavirus Pandemic, Bishop Ken Carter will continue to serve as the Resident Bishop of the Florida Conference through the Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference which has been rescheduled to November of 2021.
Bishop Carter commented, “I am very honored and grateful to continue in ministry with the Florida Conference. Of course, the pandemic has created a sense of urgency, as local churches, pastors and lay leaders are very focused on offering worship, pastoral care, mission and opportunities for discipleship in a time of unprecedented constraint. I consider it a gift to continue serving with really faithful and wonderful people. And I trust that God will give us everything that we need in the time ahead."
The assignments were made in a consultation between the Southeastern Jurisdictional Committee on the Episcopacy and the Southeastern Jurisdictional College of Bishops. The Florida Conference Committee on the Episcopacy also gave feedback. Molly McEntire and Alex Shanks serve on the jurisdictional committee and chair the annual conference committee. The assignments were made in fulfillment of The Book of Discipline, paragraphs 407 and 408.
Molly McEntire shared: “During this time of unprecedented challenges Bishop Carter’s leadership is more important than ever. His continued appointment as the Episcopal leader of the Florida Conference is essential. This is not the time to disrupt this deeply important relationship. Thank you to Bishop Ken and Reverend Pam Carter for serving the Florida Conference.”
Alex Shanks added: “We are grateful for all the ways Bishop Carter has led us these last eight years and believe the next year and a half will be a blessed time of extended leadership as we continue to adapt to the changing realities in our world and our church. We give God thanks for this continued assignment!”
SAVE THE DATE for our Leadership Training Event on Saturday, November 14, 2020. This event will feature Fresh Expressions.
Working with church leaders to develop new expressions of Christian community is the passion of Chris’s life. In addition to his role as National Director of Fresh Expressions US, he serves with the Baptist General Association of Virginia in the area of growth and venture development. He also serves as National Director for both Ecclesia, a US network of missional churches, as well as Missio Alliance. Previously, he served as pastor of New Life Christian Fellowship, a large university congregation in Blacksburg, Virginia and has been involved in the planting of three new congregations. Chris holds a D.Min. in Missional Church Leadership from Fuller Theological Seminary. He lives in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania with wife Rachel, daughter Elliana and son Jase.
Our goal is to have a team from every church in our district participate in this leadership training event. So add the Leadership Training Event to your calendar, and invite your team to join you on Saturday, November 14, 2020!
This team is requesting representatives from our district to serve. If you have anyone in your church who has a passion and interest in history, please ask them to contact our office at firstname.lastname@example.org. This team meets twice a year (January and June). We will send those interested the expectations and conference contact information. Thank you!
Clergy Session - The virtual clergy session is Saturday, June 6, 2020 beginning at 9:00 AM. Registration is required. Clergy couples need to register and login to the webinar separately. If you did not receive the email, please email Paula at email@example.com.
Virtual Pre-Annual Conference Orientation - There are three virtual session options to help prepare attendees for this year’s Annual Conference session:
- North Central + North East + North West: Monday, August 17, 202 at 6:00 PM
- Atlantic Central + East Central + South East Districts: Tuesday, August 18, 2020 at 7:00 PM
- Gulf Central + South West Districts: Thursday, August 20, 2020 at 6:00 PM
Annual Conference - Saturday, September 19, 2020 from 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM at First UMC, Lakeland. An online option will be available for those unable or are hesitant about meeting in person. Those who join online will be able to vote. This will be a one day Annual Conference and the agenda will consist of:
- Approval of the budget
- Approval of leadership and committees
- Election of the Lay Leader, and church closures.
The Laity Session will be held online only on September 12, 2020 at 10:00 AM.
There are so many good things happening in our communities to share the love of Jesus!
Here are just a few:
- First - Vero Beach - distributing ready-to-eat meals to homeless individuals as well as delivering MRE's to homeless in their campsites around the county, conducts food drives to support the Salvation Army and has contributed over 12,000 pounds of food, and provides food sacks to be distributed to needy families with children.
- First - Melbourne - partnering with three organizations in Melbourne to provide food for those in need. Non-perishable food items are collected each week for the South Brevard Sharing Center, food is distributed every Monday at 2:00 PM through Interfaith Affiliation of Brevard and Voluntary Organization's Active in Disaster (VOAD), and 3,200 hot meals are distributed on Tuesdays through a partnership with United in Thanksgiving and Interfaith.
- Grace Community - partners with Feeding South Florida to provide food for the community.
Want to share what your church is doing to help your community? Complete the form in the Million Meals Effort section below.
The Bishop's Offering for Annual Conference 2020 will go entirely to feeding the hungry across the state. Churches will be asked to take up a special offering for Annual Conference. Date will be determined.
The Conference will be partnering with local organizations and church food pantries that feed the hungry. If your church has a food pantry, partners with local organizations, or has a dinner church that feeds the hungry, we ask that you complete a "Million Meals Effort" form by clicking here so we can share what your church is doing with the Conference.
We will also be sharing what your church is doing with our District. If you submit photos or video for the AC District and the Florida Annual Conference to use on social media, website, and newsletters, you are certifying that you have written permission from all in the photo in accordance with the Child and Youth Protection Policy.
We hope you will join Bishop Carter and the Florida Annual Conference in feeding the hungry in our state!
Dear Camp and Retreat Families,
The Florida Conference camp and retreat ministries have transformed the lives of campers, participants, guests, staff, and volunteers for over 70+ years. Today, we write to you in the midst of one of the most challenging times our camping community has faced. Yet we know, God's steadfast love extends to us as we adapt to this new world.
After much prayer and careful consideration, the Board of Camps and Retreat Ministries have made the challenging decision to suspend our summer programs at all Florida Conference sites—Centenary Camp, Riverside Camp & Retreat Center, and Warren Willis Camp & Conference Center for the 2020 season. This decision includes traditional overnight summer camp, day camps, and Mission Riverside.
This decision is difficult and unprecedented. We truly believe that camp provides a unique opportunity for people to experience the transforming love of God in the context of Christian community. We mourn the loss of that opportunity this summer.
We are devoted to providing a safe environment that allows for social, emotional, and spiritual growth as campers. We consulted guidelines from the American Camp Association, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Florida State Department of Health. It became clear that their recommendations for social distancing, PPE, sanitization, and quarantine protocols would need to be in place for summer programs to run. These measures would force new challenges on campers and staff and would not allow for the nurturing environment on which our programs rely.
Even with these new protocols in place, health and safety are not something we can confidently provide this summer in the pandemic context. While our staff are trained and have the experience to keep our community safe during normal camp activities, we are not all trained medical professionals. Even with our best efforts, the risk to our communities is too high. We decided to suspend summer programs to protect our campers and staff, and every guest, volunteer, parent, sibling, and grandparent connected to our broader community. Our Board decided to follow John Wesley's edict to "Do No Harm."
Those who have already registered and made a payment toward a program will be contacted by their site by the end of next week to discuss their options going forward. The four options are:
Apply funds to next year's deposit: Turn your refund into a deposit for next summer.
Donate your deposit to help support the continued work of camp.
Refund and donate: Do both! Consider taking a partial refund and making a partial donation. Let us know how you would like your payment divided.
We know this is disappointing news, and we share in your disappointment. This summer will look like no summer any of our sites has ever seen. The loss of summer program for this year has already begun to cause our hearts to grieve. But God's steadfast love and faithfulness extend to our communities just as it has to all generations before us, and just as it will to generations of happy campers for years to come. We draw now on God's strength as we choose to keep our communities as safe as possible, and we pray for every member of our extensive network of Florida Conference families every day. We are so grateful for the love and support we receive from you and will do all we can to love and support you in whatever ways we can during this time. We can't wait to see you all again: safe, happy, and healthy.
The Florida United Methodist Conference
Board of Camps & Retreat Ministries and Staff
This year, The Florida Chapter of The Fellowship of United Methodists in Music and Worship Arts (FUMMWA) is offering free workshops from June 7 - 11, 2020. After COVID-19 forced the cancellation of their in-person workshop, their design team immediately began planning a virtual event. There will be nine live sessions that will be a treasure trove of information on how to communicate, worship, work, make music, and learn in this new environment. A lot of great resources and ideals will be shared throughout the virtual workshops. There will be ideas for our current pandemic lifestyle and for the future when we are able to worship together again. For details on who should participate and to register, please click here.
The Florida Conference updates information on the website regarding COVID-19 on a daily basis. Please check back often for the most up-to-date information. There you will find various topics including:
For more information about these areas,
please visit the Florida Conference website by
Safety Evaluation Requests
As part of the continued emphasis on loss prevention and safety awareness at the local church level, the Florida Conference has implemented a formal risk control evaluation program. This is a value added service provided by the insurance program at no cost to the local church.
Highlights of this program include:
- Fire and life safety evaluation
- Risk and hazard identification
- Procedural review and analysis
- Written report with cost-effective recommendations
- Risk control and safety training seminars
- Church committee consultations
- Security assessments
- Playground safety assessments
If you are interested in learning more about the safety evaluations, please visit the Florida Conference website by clicking here.
If you have any questions about the information provided, please contact our office. Thank you!
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
2065 18th Avenue l Vero Beach, FL 32960