Greetings from the District Superintendent
There’s a line toward the end of a book by author Colum McCann with which I resonate: “People think they know the mystery of living in your skin. They don’t. There’s no one who knows except the person who carts it around her own self.”
I plan to keep that quote easily accessible as a reminder of that truth.
Why would I do that? Because, while I’m not proud of this, there are times when, quietly inside myself I can be quite judgmental of others. That’s particularly true when it comes to people with whom I disagree about matters that I consider to be very important. It’s easy for me to make assumptions about such people, including about their motivation and their intent, what they’re thinking and feeling, things that I can’t possibly know with certainty.
When it comes to people with whom we disagree about important matters, perhaps McCann’s quote is a good reminder for all of us who live in this in between time in the United Methodist Church.
Actually, an even better example of a quote for us to remember is this:
“When the Pharisees gathered together, one of them asked Jesus a question to test him: ‘Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?’ He said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.’” Matthew 22:34-40 NRSV
Grace and Peace,
East Central District
East Central District
Florida Conference of the UMC
PO Box 4064
Enterprise, FL 32725
Office Hours: Monday - Friday 8:30am - 4:30pm
Claudia Sava, Senior Administrative Assistant may be reached by
email or phone.
Letter from Bishop Carter on Judicial Council Ruling
We have some good news for anyone seeking more clarity and understanding about the rules for churches wishing to disaffiliate, due to their beliefs over LGBTQ issues.
For several months, we had been waiting for the Judicial Council of the United Methodist Church to rule on how to conduct such departures. And the good news is the Council just confirmed the exact process. Here is a link to the ruling: Click here.
Please let me step back a moment. For those not steeped in the mechanics of United Methodism, the Judicial Council is like the U.S. Supreme Court of our faith. It is comprised of nine United Methodists from around the world – several attorneys, pastors, lay leaders, editors of the Book of Discipline and former law school deans. All serve as volunteers. They are diverse in their backgrounds, gender, race and geography. They meet twice a year to interpret issues regarding the Book of Discipline to help bring clarity and instruction to the faithful.
The question before the Council was to clarify the applicable and proper language within the Book of Discipline for churches who wish to disaffiliate to follow, and the respective responsibilities everyone has amid the process.
The Judicial Council ruled that the clear answer is set forth in Paragraph 2553 of the Book of Discipline, which contains a step-by-step recipe to handle timing, apportionments, property transfer, pension payments, insurance and other factors. This is proper, as mature Christians share responsibility.
Somewhat ironically, it was leaders in the conservative wing of our church who originally wrote Paragraph 2553, perhaps as they envisioned it was progressives who would depart the church. Instead, the opposite is happening, and some conservative leaders are now claiming that Paragraph 2553 is too onerous. In fact, they filed a lawsuit in the government courts seeking to avoid 2553.
They even sued individual pastors and trustees, which we find especially inappropriate (and even cruel) as these are faithful people who are volunteering their lives and livelihoods to serve others. The state court procedures require us to file a response to that lawsuit. And we will do so soon.
Indeed, we will ask the state court to dismiss the lawsuit because both Florida courts and the U.S. Supreme Court have for decades consistently ruled with a “deference” or “neutral” approach – that churches like ours have ecclesiastical liberty to settle our property issues internally – guided by the highest authority within our own denominations. We now have a fresh ruling from the Judicial Council that reaffirms exactly that.
Still, amid this new clarity, we also want to make one thing clear on behalf of the Florida Conference: Within the bounds of Paragraph 2553, we extend an open hand of friendship to those churches and leaders seeking to disaffiliate. Our trustees, superintendents and the Episcopal office want to join in a dialogue with you to make this departure as painless, as graceful and as reverent as possible. That door to that dialogue has always been open and remains so now. We hope you will join us in that dialogue.
The Peace of the Lord,
Resident Bishop, Florida Conference
Fresh Expressions Meeting
Rev. Ben Collins invites you to join him on September 7 from 10:00am - 11:30am for the first monthly hybrid district cultivators meeting. You can join him at First UMC Orlando or join in on Zoom.Email Ben with your Fresh Expressions needs, ideas and contributions.
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)
- 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
2022 Annual Church Conferences
Dr. Bob Bushong will preside over individual church conferences which will be held at 17 different host locations. The church conference will last no longer than one hour. Click HERE for the instructions. Be sure to download the Conference and East Central District specific forms. Click HERE for the current schedule. BOD P248 All professing members of the local church present at the church conference may vote.
- Click HERE for the ECD Instructions.
- We are not asking for a Senior Pastor's Report.
- The following reports are to be emailed to Claudia Sava at least one week prior to your CC: ECD Voting Matters Agenda, 2023 Clergy Compensation form(s), Housing Resolution(s), and Accountable Reimbursement Policy (ies). Signatures are not required at this time. Click HERE for Claudia's email address.
- Deacons beyond the local church and Extension Minister's Annual Reports are NOT part of Charge Conference forms. Their Annual Reports are due December 31 of each year. Click HERE for the Office of Clergy Excellence page with those details.
- Clergy who do have reports due to be turned into their Charge Conference for the Fall Annual Charge Conference are:
Report of the Retired Clergy
Report of Clergy on Honorable Location
Report of Clergy on Voluntary Leave of Absence
I am your East Central District contact for The Florida Conference Creation Care Task Team. We do an EPG/Eat, Pray, Grow monthly meeting by Zoom and Facebook on the 4th Tuesday from noon - 1 pm. We have resources on Creation Care for you and your church. If you have an interest or are already doing creation care, please make sure that you connect with your pastor and lay leadership so that your name and contact information is on the charge conference nomination form.
Thank you and blessings in what you do,
Alma B. Manney
Florida Minimum Wage Increase September 30
The Florida minimum wage increases to $11.00 an hour on September 30, 2022. In November 2020, Florida voters approved changes to the state's minimum wage, which gradually increased from $8.65 and hour and will reach $15.00 an hour by September 2026. To comply, employers must implement the following hourly minimum wage schedule for non-tipped employees:
|Effective Date||Florida Minimum Wage|
|September 30, 2022||$11.00|
|September 30, 2023||$12.00|
|September 30, 2024||$13.00|
|September 30, 2025||$14.00|
|September 30, 2026||$15.00|
September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month
Creating Hope Through Action
This year’s theme is ‘Creating Hope Through Action,’ it reminds people that there is an alternative to suicide and aims to inspire confidence and light in all of us. The materials talk about our actions and that no matter how big or small, they may provide hope to those who are struggling. Preventing suicide is often possible, and everyone can help. As a member of society, a child, a parent, a friend, a colleague, or a neighbor, we can make a difference to someone in their darkest moments. We can all play a role in supporting those experiencing a suicidal crisis or those bereaved by suicide.
The Creating Hope Through Action toolkit provides your organization with a variety of tools and resources to raise awareness and educate people about how they can help prevent suicide.
Click the button above to access the BIPOC Mental Health Awareness Month files. Once on the webpage, scroll down to the Special Campaigns section to download the following:
- Educational Flyer
- Digital Sign
- Zoom Background
- Employee Email Template
Rooted Training Event
For Youth, Children, & Family Ministry Workers
September 26 & 27
Rooted is designed to connect leaders to each other, to innovative and inspiring training, to resources, and most importantly, to God.
Rooted is the "can't miss" event for anyone involved in Children, Youth, and Family ministry. Whether you are brand new to ministry, a long-time veteran, on the church payroll, or volunteering your time, you will find valuable time in the worship, classes and community at Rooted.
Rooted is proudly hosted by the Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church, the Warren Willis United Methodist Camp and Conference Center, and the Youth Ministry Institute. Click HERE for more details.
Kairos Prison Ministry
Would it benefit your churches and communities if more members in you churches were serving in some volunteer capacity in prison ministry? Well mark your calendar! And come to our upcoming Social.
KAIROS COMMUNITY SOCIAL is for all Kairose Sisters, their guests and those interested in Kairos. A very special day is planned with FUN, FOOD, MUSIC, GAMES and lots of information on the future of our Council.
WHEN: Saturday, September 24, 2022 at 10:15 a.m.
WHERE: Spring Life Church, 9344 Spring Hill Dr. Spring Hill
Everyone is welcome. If you want to know more about this beautiful ministry, PLEASE JOIN US.
This event will be catered and we want to be sure to have food for all to enjoy. RSVP by September 15 to Sister Susan Hibbs by
email or call 727-366-2116.
If you cannot make it, but have questions. Please
email Alexandra Vaughan or visit the Kairos website Kairos of Florida - Welcome (kairosfl.org).
ECD Fall Clergy Meeting
Sanlando UMC, Longwood
All Full-time clergy serving in the local church are expected to attend. If you are not able to attend, please email Dr. Bob Bushong and request to be excused. All clergy beyond the local church are welcome to attend. Details & registration will be out soon!
The New Season: Post-Covid Ministry Beyond the Internet
October 17 & 24
The technological and ministry innovation that followed the pandemic wave was both a blessing and burden. So much of our ministry expectations switched to online and tech-based ministry. While this is not bad, it does not take into consideration the churches without the technology, people, or calling to sustain these ministries.
This two-week webinar series with Dr. Jonathan LeMaster-Smith will explore creative ministry that does not require high-speed internet or a complex recording setup. Instead, it provides the tools to explore the new realities of your congregation and community. From this, you can create new ministries and tweak traditions to build a future for your churches and communities.
Questions? Contact Rev. Sarah Campbell
Approved by dCOM, Headed to BOOM!
Have you been approved by dCOM and headed to BOOM? Congratulations!! You are all set to go!
Would you like some help with your paperwork and/or the interview process? There are two opportunities for you to get some tips and we wanted to be sure you knew about them. These are optional workshops held over Zoom.
|Paperwork Session||Interview Pep & Practice Session|
|Wednesday, November 16||Wednesday, January 11|
|1:00pm - 4:00pm||1:00pm - 4:00pm|
This is a time for you to join, ask questions, and hopefully relieve some stress that you might have around this process. The team is there to help, support and encourage you through this process. If you are interested in joining, please register below.
Staff Parish Relations Committee (SPRC) Training
November 17 7:00pm
The Annual East Central District Staff Parish Relations Committee (SPRC) Training Event will provide you with the effective tools needed in your responsibilities. Dr. Bob Bushong our District Superintendent will lead the meeting. Debbie Mitchell our District Lay Leader and Claudia Sava, Senior Administrative Assistant will participate.
Cokesbury offers guidelines for leading your congregation. Click HERE to see the various committee specific resources.
Pastors, SPRC Chairpersons and Committee Members, and Lay Leaders are encouraged to attend this important training event. Click on the button below to sign up to attend this important meeting. This meeting is especially important to those who have just been elected to this new leadership role effective January 1, 2023.
Lay Leader and Lay Member to Annual Conference Meeting
Does your title sometimes feel unclear? Do you often wonder how others with the same title function? Some titles are a mouthful now are they not? Are you newly elected after Charge Conference to any of these roles? Have you been serving and still have questions? Do you have thoughts on how best you can serve your church? What about your own faith walk? Would you like to explore your strengths and what you can bring to the table?
I would love to have you join me, Debbie Mitchell, District Lay Leader on Saturday, December 3 to unpack these and other queries as we work together to craft a vision to help us serve. The Lay Servant Ministry leaders, Jim Boesch, Randy Nunley and Lynn Campbell, are coming alongside me and together we will explore leadership strategies and guidelines to help in your role. Please register for a time of worship, fellowship, growth exploration and unpacking of some gifts and truths to help us along this journey.
Cokesbury sells the Lay Leader/Lay Member Guidelines. This is a great reference to have on hand. You may purchase it HERE.
Email Debbie Mitchell, East Central District Lay Leader
2023 EC District Committee on Ministry (dCOM)
East Central District Committee on Ministry meetings are all at Asbury UMC, Maitland on Thursdays. To schedule a dCOM interview,
email Elizabeth Flynn, District Registrar. Click HERE to read about the Candidacy Process.
|2023 dCOM Dates||Due Date||Purpose|
|February 23||January 26||LP License Renewals|
|May 4||April 6||1st Provisional Interviews|
|August 17||July 20||Provisional Follow-ups|
|November 9||October 12|
Missional Vital Signs Reporting Changes
Missional Vital Signs (MVS) for the local church is newly updated (April 2022). It important to remember that these numbers represent people and the vitality of the local church. They are indicators of the behaviors that produce them, and this tool can be used to discern the health of the church – what works, what does not, where should we make changes, and most importantly, how can we bring more disciples to Christ? The local church should continuously be aware of their MVS’s so that they may evaluate and make adjustments. Healthy churches are aware of their stats and can quickly adapt.
This information is gathered weekly and may be reported weekly or monthly through the church dashboard online by the “MVS Reporter” designated by the church and updated in the church dashboard. There is now the ability to enter missing data over the previous two years.
If your church receives funding (equitable compensation) that is contingent on turning in your data by the 10th of the month, know that you have grace. We sent an email with that explanation to those churches.
Please click here for a helpful video overview and guide sheet of the New MVS Weekly Reporting site.
Explanation of MVS’s
MVS data gathering sheet (PDF)
MVS Weekly Reporting Guide Sheet (PDF)
Tracking Online Video Views (PDF)
2022 Holiday Schedule for The Florida Annual Conference
The conference and district offices will be closed the following days.
|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|
Click on the dates below for details