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ECD June 2019 Newsletter

In the District

Greetings from the District Superintendent

 Dr. Bob Bushong

A Prayer from and for Our Hearts 

Eternal and loving God, unto whom all hearts are open, push us to ponder what is in our hearts this week. Our heart – that place in our bodies that is at the core of our being alive, where lay our deepest feelings of love and loyalty, that deep down place where we are fully and completely ourselves.

Though at times our inclination is to close our hearts off to you, nonetheless even if sometimes reluctantly, our hearts are open to you because to remain alive they need your steady care and the wise leading of your Holy Spirit. You are the one who has made us, and in response to being created by you, our hearts are restless until they rest in you. 

For some of us our hearts are ruled by anxious desires – for power, for control, for status and recognition. For some it’s for material things, for bigger and better as those things are defined by others, not you. Some of us carry such deep scars of resentment toward those who have hurt us or those who are different from us or those from whom we feel distant and estranged that in our hearts we long to see others get what we see as their due. 

Often these places in our hearts our hidden except from you – never from you. You know all that is in our hearts. There is no secret hidden from you – no shame, no burden, no failure, no embarrassment, no disappointment, no deep desire, no sense of alienation and loneliness, no grandiosity, no pride. You know them all. You know and you do not turn away. You know and you embrace us with your love. You know and you forgive. You know and you set us free to begin anew. We marvel, O God, at your pervasive love and your engaging patience.

We present our hearts to you, O God. What we seek, only you can give. We seek the gift of your abiding love and the grace that we need to receive it unflinchingly and unreservedly.

Come, Holy Spirit. Reclaim these hearts of ours. Renew them, re-enliven them, reorient them, realign them, that we might come to approach you with hearts that are open and receptive, honest and undefensive, no longer fearful, and deeply committed to an unreserved faithfulness and obedience to you, as our hearts become eager to love you in return. 


Grace and Peace,


Bob Bushong
District Superintendent
East Central District

A Message from Kim & Melanie Lee, District Lay Leaders

We Methodists Sing Our Faith!

 Melanie & Kim Lee

I’ve had the enriching opportunity to stand in for Rev. Rodney Wallace at Broadway UMC in Orlando a couple of times this May.  The first sermon I gave focused on our fears.  The Bible tells us so many times to fear not, yet we still have trouble trusting enough to set our fears aside.  The second sermon was more of a talk.  I explored the theology in our Methodist hymnal.  I focused on the hymns that Charles Wesley wrote.  During preparations for my lesson, I realized that not only did our hymns brim over with theology, but they were fully intended to teach the theology to a group of commoners eager to have a personal relationship with the Lord.

In researching my topic, I was surprised to discover that scholars believe Charles Wesley wrote more than 8900 hymns and poems.  Incredible!  He wrote them after his conversion, which came during a mission trip with Moravian missionaries, well after he was ordained a deacon and priest of the Anglican church.  John Wesley wrote many hymns too.  They both intended to teach their Wesleyan theology through the hymns they sang.

Early Methodists learned the hymns by rote, two lines at a time.  They had time for only two hymns in a worship service, one before the sermon and one after.  (Very methodical, right?)  If people demonstrated a gift for singing, they were invited to attend a music class, where they learned to sing more hymns.  They were expected to take those hymns to the streets to sing to the working people in the square.  The Wesleys thought that sermons converted people and that hymns reinforced their beliefs.  However, hymns in the streets could also lead people to the faith.

When we sing those old hymns, lustily – as John Wesley advised, do we really listen to the words?  Bishop Carter wrote about the Wesleyan theology of grace and said that one hymn, “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling,” presents all three types of grace: prevenient, justifying, and sanctifying.  Take a moment to meditate on the second verse.

Breathe, O breathe thy loving Spirit
into ev'ry troubled breast;
let us all in thee inherit,
let us find the promised rest:
take away the love of sinning;
Alpha and Omega be;
End of faith, as its Beginning,
set our hearts at liberty.

Enjoy your hymns, and allow yourself to connect with your Wesleyan roots.

Loving the Laity,
Melanie & Kim Lee   

Costa Rica Mission Trip with Dr. Bob Bushong

District Superintendent Bob Bushong will be leading a mission trip to Costa Rica September 7 - 14, 2019. The East Central District Team will join Wil Bailey, the Director of Costa Rica Mission Projects. Wil is a North Carolina Conference missionary. The cost will be $1,000. Click HERE for trip and travel information. Click HERE for the Costa Rica Mission Projects website.

This trip is open to clergy and laity in the district. The first payment was due June 2. We have extended the date to June 15. Click HERE to register online and make a payment. 

Annual Conference 2019 - Florida Southern College
On Mission Together

June 5-8, 2019

Florida Southern College
111 Lake Hollingsworth Dr.
Lakeland, FL 33801

Click HERE
for the AC2019 webpage. 

East Central District laity & clergy are invited to an ice cream social Wednesday, June 5 9:00pm - 10:00pm in the Charles T Thrift building, Thrift Alumni Room.

Tweet with #flumc19 to join the conversation!

Annual Conference is free and open to anyone who would like to go.  However, only Clergy and Lay Members to Annual Conference 2019 will have a vote. Click HERE for the Voice and Voting Guidelines.

If you are using the digital workbook and supplement. Please download them to your device, before getting to Annual Conference. Click HERE for the workbook. Click HERE for the supplement.

JFON 5K in Orlando
June 22 - Falcon's Fire Golf Club, Kissimmee

An opportunity for supporting justice ministries is right on your doorstep!  On Saturday, June 22 at 6:30 a.m. there will be a 5K run/walk to support Florida Justice for our Neighbors.  It is the Superheroes 5K Run for Justice at Falcon’s Fire Golf Club in Kissimmee, Florida.  One of the two beneficiaries of the race will be Florida Justice for Our Neighbors.  You can sign up to run/walk or simply send a donation to JFON.  Just last month, Florida JFON hired an immigration attorney to be located out of the Community of Hope Center of Osceola County.  JFON is growing and needs your support!  JFON is a national organization under UMCOR that, through its local sites, offers free legal assistance to immigrants.  

Click HERE to register for the run.
Click HERE to make a donation.   
Questions? Contact Rev. Michelle Shrader

Basic Disaster Ministry and Early Response Team Training

The time to plan for a disaster is before disaster happens! The conference offers two different trainings for Disaster Response and they are both free to participants.

Disaster 101: Basic Disaster Ministry Training - You and your church will learn how to respond effectively to disaster in your community in collaboration with other churches, emergency management officials and the Disaster Recovery Ministry of the conference. You will understand the importance of communication and coordination in meeting the needs of disaster survivors and the importance of being the church in the midst of crisis. The part the faith community plays in disaster preparation, response and recovery.

Early Response Team (ERT) - This is a self-contained team invited to a disaster-affected area to provide specialized physical, emotional and spiritual assistance to survivors. ERTs help with specific needs in the early days after a disaster, cleaning out flood-damaged homes, removing debris, placing tarps on home and other tasks as needed, while providing a caring Christian presence.

This 8-hour training is provided by an authorized UMCOR trainer. Participants learn the basics of disaster response, including how to stabilize and secure homes safely, and how to work effectively with survivors and others on the response team. All participants are background checked and receive an identification badge showing their affiliation with UMCOR and the Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church.

The next Early Response Team (ERT) Training is June 15 at First UMC, Ft. Pierce

We would love to have each offered in the East Central District. Would your church like to host a training? 
If your church is interested in hosting a training, please contact Pam Garrison to learn more. or  800-282-8011 x148.

Fall Clergy Meeting
August 22 - Asbury UMC, Maitland

East Central District Fall Clergy Meeting will be August 22 at Asbury UMC, Maitland. All full-time clergy in the local church are expected to attend. If you are not able to attend, email Dr. Bob Bushong and request to be excused. All part time,  lay supply, and clergy beyond the local church are welcome to attend.


9am - noon (All clergy)
Lunch - Optional
1pm - 2pm (Clergy with new appointments) 
Click HERE  to register.

Lay Servant Ministries
September 20 & 21 - New Horizon UMC, Haines City

SAVE THE DATES! We are ready to welcome you to the Fall Lay Servant Classes. These are the courses being offered. The registration will be available soon.
NOTE: Lay Servant certification expires after three years.

Basic LSM - English - Led by Lynn Campbell, Co-Director of ECD Lay Servant Ministries
Basic LSM - Spanish - Led by Wilkins Rodriguez Soto, Certified Lay Servant

Advanced Courses

Shaping the Prayers of the People - Led by Rev. Kate Ling
Network Spiritual Gifts - Led by Jim Boesch, Co-Director of ECD Lay Servant Ministries
Resolving Conflict on the Spot - Led by Lennie Burke & Mike Mailman, Certified Lay Servants
"Discovering and Deploying Our Spiritual Gifts".  -  Led by Rev. Dr. Leo Rodriquez
“Descubriendo Y Desplegando Nuestros Dones Espirituales”.

Questions? Lynn Campbell or Jim Boesch

Bishop Carter's Invitation to 2020 Holy Land Trip

Clergy and laity are invited to join Bishop Ken Carter and Dr. Bob and Jeanne Bushong, for 10 days in the Holy Land, departing February 4, 2020. You will walk the shores of the Sea of Galilee, study the scriptures in the synagogue in Capernaum, pray on the Mount of Beatitudes and renew your baptism at the Jordan River. 

Click HERE for more information and registration. Click HERE to download the brochure. 

Around the Conference and Beyond

a worship leader retreat  the WELL
June 13-15 -  Life Enrichment Center

Join church and worship leaders from around the Florida Conference for a two-day Worship Leader Retreat, Thursday, June 13 to Saturday, June 15. This event is sponsored by the Florida Chapter of the Fellowship of United Methodists in Music & Worship Arts.

Presenters for this event will be Todd Fields, Rev. Melissa Cooper, Joshua Smith and Jeremy Hearn. Worship leaders will be Drew Miller, University Carillon UMC, and Gabrielle Toledo, FUMC Orlando.

Todd Fields is the founder of Worship Circle, a ministry that exists to let worship leaders know they are loved and not alone. Leaders from all over the world join online small group community with a veteran leader of their choice for life changing experience and training.

Todd has led worship for more than 25 years alongside the ministries of Billy Graham, Charles Stanley, Louie Giglio, Andy Stanley and others. He travels both in the US and internationally leading worship and helping churches develop the worship component of their services.

Register NOW for this opportunity to hear Todd's message and have a chance to talk with him in an intimate, small group setting. Click HERE for more information and to register online.

Renfro Trust Fund Grant

The Renfro Trust Fund awards annual bricks-and-mortar grants to small rural United Methodist congregations in the Southeastern Jurisdiction.

The Renfro grant, if you are not familiar with it, “is for the purpose of establishing and supporting United Methodist churches in rural areas of the United States within the Southeastern Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church. The term “rural areas” shall be interpreted to mean towns of less than 10,000, villages, and open country. Situations described as unusual and challenging and for which insufficient funds are available from other local sources shall be considered as eligible for grants from the Renfro Trust Fund.  Grants will be considered for projects involving new or existing church buildings only, not for parsonages. Repairs required to maintain the structural integrity or soundness of the church building may be included as part of a request. Major equipment directly related to the overall project may be included in a request. Grants will not be awarded for general maintenance on a church building or equipment. Grants for debt reduction will not be considered.  The maximum amount for each grant shall be $5,000.00. Funds are awarded as grants, not as loans.”
The processing and administering of the Renfro Grant is with the SEJ CSGMs (Conference Secretaries of Global Ministries). The Florida Conference deadline for the Renfro application is July 29 and applications should be sent to Icel Rodriguez.  Questions? Contact Icel Rodriguez or 800-282-8011 x346.

Please download both of these documents.  Renfro Trust Guideline 2019 and Florida Renfro Trust Application Form 2019
NOTE: The Florida Renfro Trust Applicaiton form MUST be received by Icel Rodriguez by July 29.

Festival of Wisdom and Grace
Beyond 50 Ministries
August 5-8 - Lake Junaluska, NC

How do we grow deeper roots in our faith,  turning our age into an asset as we cultivate spiritual maturity and strengthen our relationship with Jesus Christ? How do we become the disciples Jesus called us to be?

"Growing Deeper Roots" is the theme and it promises to be a great experience with a lineup of insightful and inspiring speakers, including Richard Gentzler author of "An Age of Opportunity: Intentional Ministry by, with, and for Older Adults." In addition there will be workshops, entertainment, worship, special events, and outings. Yet the pure blessing of the conference is the opportunity to enjoy the scenic North Carolina scenery for a time of rest and relaxation. Join others in the second half of life for a time of inspirational and renewal in the mountains of North Carolina. 

Click on the following promotional items: FWG Poster FWG Brochure
Click HERE
 to go to the Festival of Wisdom and Grace website.

Clergy Day Apart
September 17 - Lakeland

Clergy, mark your calendars for a clergy day apart with Bishop Carter on Tuesday, September 17, from 10:00am - 3:30pm in Lakeland. We will not hold regional gatherings this year, so this is your chance to spend time with Bishop Carter, who will speak about resiliency in the midst of our changing context. We hope all clergy will plan to attend.


Summer Youth Events at Lake Junaluska

Bring your youth group to Lake Junaluska this summer for worship, spiritual growth and adventure in the mountains of Western North Carolina. Every event includes energized worship with great speakers and bands, small groups, vespers and workshops. Youth also can choose to participate in mission projects and recreational activities such as rafting, ziplining or swimming. Find more information at
Event 1: June 15-19 – Rev. Andy Lambert with Jimmy Atkins and the Light ’Em Ups and a talent show, outdoor movie and Sunday morning worship in Stuart Auditorium
Event 2: June 20-23 – Rev. Juan Huertas with Abbye West Pates and a talent show
Event 3: June 23-27 – Guest speaker Stephanie Caro with Abbye West Pates and a talent show and outdoor movie
Event 4: June 27-30 – Rev. Janjay Innis with Zachariah Suggs and illusionist Josh Lozoff
Event 5: June 30-July 3 – Rev. Jeremy Steele with Zachariah Suggs and illusionist Josh Lozoff
Event 6: July 10-14 – Rev. Kevin Wright with Jimmy Atkins and the Light ’Em Ups and a talent show and comedian

Appointed Clergy serving in the Florida Annual Conference
Do No Harm: Mandatory Quadrennial Sexual Ethics Training

All clergy who are serving under episcopal appointment within the Florida Conference must attend one of the upcoming sexual ethics trainings this fall to remain in good standing. This includes ALL clergy serving in extension ministries, retired clergy serving under appointment, all deacons, elders, licensed local pastors (part time and full time). diaconal ministers and lay supply who are assigned to lead a church. This is required even if you have recently attended the Sexual Ethics training at Right Start or are scheduled to do so this coming May. A different curriculum will be covered in the quadrennial training. Certificates will be provided to those who complete the full 5 hours of training. A copy of your Certificate will be placed in your clergy file.

When & Where? You may attend a session outside of your appointed district.

  • Tampa at St. James UMC on Tuesday, September 24
  • Jacksonville at Mandarin UMC on Thursday, October 3
  • Gainesville at Trinity UMC on Wednesday, October 9
  • Plantation at Plantation UMC on Tuesday, October 22
  • Orlando at St. Luke's UMC on Wednesday, November 6

SEJ Clergy Women's Event - "Unchartered" Early Bird Registration ends August 31

Registration is Open! Share the website link far and wide to every SEJ clergywoman you know, so we can get the word out! Also, encourage them to "Like" the Facebook page "Uncharted Conference 2019" for all the updates!

June 5 - Annual Conference

June 5 - East Central District Ice Cream Social

June 11 - East Central District Board of Building & Location

June 22 - Superheros 5K Run for Justice!

July 2 - Clergy Moving Day

July 4 - Conference & District Office Closed

August 22 - East Central District Fall Clergy Meeting

August 29 - East Central District Committee on Ordained Ministry (dCOM)

September 2 - Conference & District Office Closed