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ECD April 2022 Newsletter

Greetings from the District Superintendent

As we enter the month of April and the days leading toward Easter, here are some thoughts to ponder, some thoughts on empathy, influenced by words from Henri Nouwen, whose writings for many years have been pointing me to a deeper understanding of God:

“When we ask ourselves which persons in our lives demonstrate empathy, it is likely that it will be those who, rather than giving advice or solutions, instead have chosen to share in our joys and our pain, our woundedness and our healing, with a warm and tender spirit. It is the ones who can be silent with us in a moment of confusion or distress, those who can sit with us in a time of grief and celebrate with us in our resurrection moments. It is with these that we have a sense that they are feeling what we are feeling right along with us.”

The God of the Incarnation, the God who became flesh in the person named Jesus, the God who suffered and died on a cross, the God who overcame death through the empty tomb, that is the God who never leaves us alone, the God who is feeling what we are feeling right along with us.

As Paul puts it in his letter to the Romans, Chapter 8: There is nothing in life or in death that can separate us from the love of God through Jesus Christ our Lord.

And guess what? We don’t have to wait until Easter to experience and celebrate that Truth.

Grace and Peace, 


Bob Bushong
District Superintendent
East Central District

East Central District 
Florida Conference of the UMC

PO Box 4064
Enterprise, FL  32725

Claudia Sava, ECD Administrative Assistant is available Mon-Fri 8:30am - 4:30pm by phone 321-295-8801 or email


District Gatherings on The Continuing United Methodist Church

The Florida Conference Cabinet will be hosting District Gatherings over the next several weeks all over the state. These meetings will not be livestreamed or recorded. Here in the East Central District, Dr. Bob Bushong will be hosting the following:

To find the full schedule CLICK HERE

These gatherings are meant to provide information to laity and clergy about what is happening in the larger United Methodist Church and to assist you as leaders in guiding your congregations during this time.

This is the perfect time for your church leadership to come and learn information about what is before us: postponement of the General Conference until 2024 which means no changes to the Book of Discipline, the launch of the Global Methodist Church (and the process for disaffiliation for those who choose to exit), a vision for the a vision for the Continuing United Methodist Church, and the ways to thoughtfully discern next steps in leadership and witness with patience and grace during this season.

Please share this information with your congregations and invite your members to attend with you.  You may also want to share this video link from Bishop Carter - Living in Connection in a Season of Waiting. If you missed the Laity Webinar on March 20, you may watch it here - Laity Webinar. Click HERE for the Q&As from the Laity Webinar.
The Conference Board of Laity has a webpage -  On this page you'll find weekly updates from our Conference laity along with podcasts and other resources and information.  

The Future of The United Methodist Church
Rev. Alex Shanks

 Rev. Alex Shanks

Rev. Shanks, Assistant to Bishop Carter, will speak at St. John's UMC on The Future of the UMC. Clergy and laity are invited to attend.

April 19
6:00pm - 7:00pm
St John's UMC
1800 Cypress Gardens Blvd
Winter Haven, FL  33884

Below are the links to watch the presentation remotely.

Church Site:

March 31st Reports

There are seven "March 31st Reports" that were due March 31. If you have not submitted them yet, please have one person from your church send all reports in one email to Claudia Sava at  If you have made revisions to any of your policies, please send the entire document. Click HERE for the 2022 Calendar of Reports Due throughout the year.

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)

  • April 6: How to talk to People about Race I (Including laity, clergy, family, children, and people we disagree with)
  • 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

Annual Assessment of Clergy Leadership
Due May 31

There is ONE online form that the clergy and SPRC chair both complete online and submit online!! Be sure to read the letter from Rev. Sara McKinley and to watch the video on the link below.

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. Continuing Education is completed in conjunction with the Annual Assessment above. 

Note: This is required for every clergy appointed to the local church. Even if you have a new appointment, the pastor and SPRC are expected to complete it. This exercise will be helpful for the church and pastor as they transition.

This process is fully electronic and you do not have to print and send a hard copy of the evaluation to the district office.

A Conversation with Kate Bowler

Join Bishop Ken Carter for a virtual conversation with New York Times bestselling author, Duke University professor, and incurable optimist, Kate Bowler. They will discuss her book No Cure for Being Human (And Other Truths I Need to Hear) written after Kate was unexpectedly diagnosed with Stage IV cancer at age 35. Learn more about Kate at

2022 Conference Wide Local Church Training!
Zoom Meetings

There were over 1,400 people throughout The Florida Annual Conference who participated in the six weeks of Conference Wide Training! Some of the materials have been posted to the Local Church Training webpage. Click HERE to view.

A Note from your District Lay Leader

 Debbie Mitchell, District Lay Leader


I want to encourage you to join me on Saturday, April 23 to participate in the Cost of Poverty Experience (COPE) at the First United Methodist Church in Orlando.  This three-hour experience, sponsored by the EC District and presented by Poverty Solutions Group offers a glimpse into the lives of low-income individuals and families living in our community.  It is a look into the obstacles that are faced, the decisions that are made, and the consequences that impact these families every day.

When you register you will be assigned an interactive role within a family unit and navigate a month in their life trying to pay bills, work and feed your family.  I participated in a similar experience a few years ago and found it meaningful and enlightening. 

Please click on the register now button in the COPE article below.  There is no charge for the experience, but please bring an item to support United Against Poverty.  You’ll find some suggestions below.

I hope to see you on April 23.


Debbie Mitchell
East Central District Lay Leader

Cost of Poverty Experience
First United Methodist Church Orlando
April 23 9:00am - 12:00pm

The East Central District is sponsoring The Cost of Poverty Experience (COPE).  This event is open for the first 120 people to register. The cost of admittance is an item for United Against Poverty. Click HERE to see what they need. They prefer canned vegetables, instead of canned potatoes. In addition to diapers, they need wipes. They do not need Ensure. Click HERE to learn more about United Against Poverty.

An immersive poverty simulation designed to offer a glimpse into the lives of low-income individuals and families living in our communities.

Many organizations and communities across the nation use COPE to work more effectively with low-income families. COPE gives participants and volunteers an opportunity to experience poverty firsthand through the eyes of real families. The experiential nature of this training helps organizations and communities more deeply understand the complexities of poverty, paving the way for addressing the issues of poverty more comprehensively.

COPE is a tool that will help your team:

  • Deepen their understanding of the realities of poverty in America.
  • Improve practices and approaches to better engage low-income individuals and their families.
  • Build partnerships with the broader community to improve outcomes for low-income families.

Annual Conference 2022 - Get ready to see one another!

Click HERE for the AC2022 webpage. You will find the schedule for clergy and lay members to annual conference. Annual Conference is free and open to all. However, only clergy and lay members to annual conference who are present may vote.

There will be a Pre-Conference Orientation Webinar on Thursday, June 2 at 6:00pm. 

Get AC 2022 updates delivered straight to your phone!
Text "flumc22" to 844-635-1026 to subscribe.
Normal text messaging rates apply. Text "STOP" to opt out. Text "HELP" for help.

Youth Ministry Institute

Youth Ministry Institute is a partner with the FLUMC and its ministries to and with young people. YMI's primary purpose is strengthening the Church by guiding leaders in children's and youth ministry towards excellence. They offer certification, coaching, and hiring services {assisting churches with finding the best fit for their open children's/youth positions}, but they also have a great deal of free content!  

On their website you'll find links to blog articles and podcast episodes that may be helpful to youth and children's ministers. They have free content about helping teens keep their faith after high school, isolation and loneliness in teens, and so much more. 

If you have questions, please contact Maresi Brown and she will connect you with someone who may assist you.

United Women in Faith
(formerly known as United Methodist Women )

CHANGE: you either love it or you hate it, but it will happen and you cannot avoid it. I am Anne Winn, the President of the East Central District United Women in Faith. On March 3, 2022 the National organization United Methodist Women announced worldwide that we have a NEW name. We are rebranding our organization. We have a new logo, a new Mission Statement, refreshed literature, refreshed ways of being. But what has not changed is our focus. We are an organization the serves women, children and youth. We are an organization that will always be involved in social action issues such as repression of the rights of the underserved, protection of the environment, and continuing our commitment to our Mission Organization (locally, statewide, nationally, and internationally).

Why this sudden change? Well, it’s not a sudden change but has been in development for several years.

FYI, organizations, just like humans, have a developmental growth and development cycle. These cycles begin as seeds and then progress through times of changing development to include adulthood and ultimate to a time of lesser productivity. This might sound dire, but for United Women in Faith, this change that we are experiencing is a rebirth. This rebirth is a vital part of our carrying out the Mission of our organization. 

It is time for us (Church leaders and United Women in Faith), to trust God. He/She will always steady the boat and guide the boat. We may not like it or understand it, but life doesn’t stand still, it keeps moving forward. I choose to embrace this rebranding. I do this because I love United Women in Faith and want to continuing serving my commitment to God through this organization.

Click HERE for the April Trumpet Sound. Click HERE for the Mission Study flyer. The Mission Study will be April 30 from 10:00am - 2:30pm at First UMC, Clermont.

If you have questions about United Women in Faith, please email Anne Winn or the leadership team If you are interested in receiving the latest event updates in the East Central District, please sign up at

Magellan member Momentum Engagement Campaign and Webinar
April is Stress Awareness Month

Click HERE for Magellan's April newsletter.

MONTHLY THEME EMPLOYEES Achieving your retirement goals Thoughts about your retirement may not be top-of-mind each day, but they should be a high priority when it comes to your life planning. The reliability of Social Security funding now appears uncertain, so it’s up to you to build your retirement nest egg. Learn more in this month’s newsletter.

MONTHLY WEBINARS EMPLOYEES Overcome Exhaustion and Burnout | April 13 Join this webinar to: • Summarize what is causing feelings of fatigue and burnout. • Recognize the symptoms of burnout. • Identify practices to help restore emotional health and wellbeing. Register HERE

FINANCIAL WELLNESS MONTHLY WEBINARS Your Debt-Free Game Plan | April 12 Register here: 12 pm ET | 3 pm ET Debt is one of the biggest obstacles keeping Americans from reaching financial goals, so this class encourages you to prioritize debt management. But it doesn’t stop there! We’ll also go over specific debt reduction strategies and help you explore a plan that you can sustain. We will also review how to write and follow SMART goals, so you can leave this class motivated and more confident about reducing your debt.

GETTING & KEEPING GOOD CREDIT | April 28 Register here: 12 pm ET | 3 pm ET Credit scores influence personal finances in more ways than most people realize. Whether it’s your auto insurance premium or the interest rate on your mortgage, you want your credit score to be deemed “excellent”. We’ll discuss the criteria that determines a credit score, as well as how to establish new credit, how to recover from credit challenges, and best practices for maintaining an excellent credit


Ukraine UMC has created a crisis committee, to oversee all the foreign support that is coming in through the Advance #14053A “Eurasia In Mission Together - Ukraine and Moldova”.
The money channeled through this Advance will arrive on the Ukraine UMC church account and decisions on how this would be used, will be taken by this crisis committee that includes some pastors (including the previous DS) as well as lay leaders. Weekly reports will be made to Ullas Tankler who is the Global Ministries representative for Europe, Eurasia and North Africa. This gives us confidence to work through the Advance directly with Ukraine.
TO HELP UKRAINIAN REFUGEES OUTSIDE OF UKRAINE going to neighboring countries such as Poland, Slovakia, Romania or Hungary, contributions to UMCOR will assist in this endeavor. Use Advance #982540 on the site if giving online.

By Phone:  Credit card gifts can be accepted by phone. Call toll free: 888-252-6174 to make your gift.
Again, designate your gift for one of the Advance mentioned numbers.
By Mail:  On the check or supplement letter give the following information on accompanying letter:

The Advance number;
Make your check payable to ADVANCE GCFA.
Send your check to:
Advance GCFA
P.O. Box 9068
New York, NY 10087-9068

Resources Worth Sharing:

Free Printable Scripture Wall Art:

Podcasts: Those suggested are available wherever you get your podcasts (Spotify/Itunes). Just so you know, some are UMC and some are not. We can certainly learn from others while keeping our UMC Wesleyan theology. Look at the podcast’s list of episodes for topics that hit home for you. Listen. Then, check out some of their other episodes. 

Licensed Local Pastors Connection

The first meeting was over Zoom on March 30. The consensus was that the meetings will be every 4th Wednesday from 10:00am - 11:00am. The next meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, April 27 at 10:00am. If you have questions about the Licensed Local Pastor's Meetings, please contact Dr. L. Paul Lawson at

Missional Vital Signs Reporting Changes

The last two years have seen many changes for our Conference and our world. From closing our doors and having 100% virtual services, parking lot services, conference call services, to a hybrid model of both online and in-person, and now moving toward gathering our congregations in-person again, our churches have truly risen to the challenge of meeting people right where they are.

During what was thought to be a few weeks or few months, now 2 years later, we have been using a modified reporting for your church's Missional Vital Signs - to easily collect and report only the basics during this time. In order for us to have a complete picture of the vital and amazing work our churches are doing, our Mission Vital Signs system has been updated with some welcomed changes. We anticipate the changes to be ready to launch in April and you will be receiving more information about that soon.

In preparation for this, please make sure that your church dashboard is up to date by next week, especially for your MVS reporter. Simply go to your church dashboard and verify the correct email for the MVS reporter. The church dashboard will be the main way you will be reporting.

Thank you for all the work that your churches are doing (even throughout a worldwide pandemic) to bring Christ to your communities.

Janet Earls
Director Church Vitality and Leadership Development

2022 Holiday Schedule for The Florida Annual Conference

The conference and district offices will be closed the following days.

April 15 Good Friday
May 30 Memorial Day
June 19 (Observed June 20) Juneteenth Independence Day
July 4 Independence Day
September 5 Labor Day
November 11 Veteran's Day
November 24 Thanksgiving Day
November 25 Day After Thanksgiving
December 24 (Observed December 23) Christmas Eve
December 25 (Observed December 26) Christmas