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ECD April 2019 Newsletter

In the District

Greetings from the District Superintendent

 Dr. Bob Bushong

At this point in Lent as I look toward the empty tomb, once again I have turned to the writing of Frederick Buechner for material that helps me reflect and appreciate and stand in awe. Here’s a piece of what this thoughtful theologian has to say in his book, Whistling in the Dark:

The Gospels are far from clear as to just what happened. It began in the dark. The stone had been rolled aside. Matthew alone speaks of an earthquake. In the tomb there were two white-clad figures or possibly just one. Mary Magdelen seems to have gotten there before anybody else. There was a man she thought at first was the gardener. Perhaps Mary the mother of James was with her and another woman named Joana. One account says Peter came too with one of the other disciples. Elsewhere the suggestion is that there were only the women and that the disciples, who were somewhere else, didn’t believe the women’s story when they heard it. There was the sound of people running, of voices. Matthew speaks of ‘fear and joy.’ Confusion was everywhere. There is no agreement as to the role of Jesus himself. Did he appear at the tomb or only later? Where? To whom did he appear? What did he say? What did he do?

It’s not really much of a story when you come right down to it, and that is of course the power of it. It doesn’t have the ring of great drama. It has the ring of truth. If the Gospel writers had wanted to tell it in a way to convince the world that Jesus indeed rose from the dead, they would presumably have done it with all the skill and fanfare they could muster. Here there is no skill, no fanfare. They seem to be telling it simply the way it was . . .

The symbol of Easter is an empty tomb. You can’t depict or domesticate emptiness. You can’t make it into pageants and string it with lights. It doesn’t move people to give presents to each other . . .

He rose. A few saw him briefly and talked to him . . . there is nothing left to say . . .

The story of Easter is a simple, non-descript story that has changed the nature of life and death. It’s a story about the power of God over all that is, including death. It’s a story that has changed the world. It’s a simple story that will evoke from us on Easter morning a simple two-sentence responsive greeting:

                                                                        He is risen!

                                                                        He is risen indeed!

Grace and Peace,


Bob Bushong
District Superintendent
East Central District

A Message from Kim & Melanie Lee, District Lay Leaders

 Kim & Melanie Lee

Is God Really That Big?

There is nothing like travel to help you see a glimpse of people and nature the way God sees them.  Kim and I spent my spring break in Peru.  We had never been to South America, although I had studied about the countries extensively in high school.  (Thank you, Senora Pinkston and Senora Nobles!)  We had a fabulous time, eating amazing food, seeing incredible scenery, and meeting extraordinary people.

One theme we noticed throughout the country is the people’s enormous pride in their culture.  This country has a history steeped in tradition.  Unfortunately, much of the physical evidence of that culture was damaged by the onslaught of the Spanish Conquistadores.  So many engineering feats of the Incan civilization were dismantled to create churches.  The Spaniards used the very stones of the Incans to build their churches, either on top of the Incan temples or nearby.  The Spaniards knew the Incans would come to their temples to pray, and so they made sure that when they arrived, they would be praying inside or toward a Catholic church instead.  The Spaniards thought they were converting the natives to Christianity.  They weren’t.

The Incans created an incredible “irony” curtain.  The Spaniards must not have been looking very closely or they would surely have shut it down.  In each of the churches we visited, there was evidence of the Incans fighting back with their religion, within the religion that was being forced upon them.  The Spaniards had sent some talented Incans to Spain to learn painting with the masters.  They were to return and paint paintings to decorate the incredible Catholic churches being built around Peru.  The Incan painters went to Spain, learned the art, and returned to paint for the cathedrals.  The beautiful, wall-scale paintings of Biblical scenes, however, revealed the snake, panther, and condor of the Incan people, surreptitiously inserted among the saints in these church paintings.  Obviously, the Incans were not converted to Christianity.  They came to the cathedrals to worship their own gods, the snake (of the underworld), the panther (of our world), and the condor (of the heavens).  Where was God in all of this?

What if God is everywhere?  What if God is in everything?  What if God is all knowing, all loving – to all God’s people at all times, to everyone no matter where they are from or what they believe?  Can your God be that big?  Can you be that big?  It’s a real challenge for us because we are only human.  We want God to be in our back pocket, ready to be pulled out like a Gideon Bible in the drawer of our hotel room.  What if our God can’t fit into that Bible?  What if our God is ready and able to envelop all the people of the world, including those we don’t think God should include?  (They’re different from us.  They’re sinners.  They’re pagans. Etc.)  What if we are not in charge?  It’s really mind blowing to think that God really loves ALL.  Perhaps we should too?  It’s a tall order, a tough commandment.  Love thy neighbor as thy self.

Loving the Laity,
Melanie & Kim Lee  

Central Florida Urban League Panel on Race and Religious Prejudice
The Goveland Four - Where do we go from here?

The Central Florida Urban League, supported by an array of other community organizations including the Interfaith Council of Central Florida, is hosting a major event to address racial and religious prejudice.  The event will be held on Tuesday, April 16, at St. Mark AME Church 1968 Bruton Blvd Orlando. The event is free and the public is invited. If you plan on attending, please Click HERE to register for this free event. Click HERE to print flyer.

Child Youth Protection Policy 

The conference updated the policy last year. Local churches and conference-affiliated ministries are asked to review and update policies using this template. Please submit a complete copy of the policy AND the Annual Review & Renewal Signature page to Betty Sims by April 30.

Annual Assessment of Clergy Leadership
Due May 31

Each year United Methodist clergy are to engage in a process of assessment of effectiveness.  A team from the Florida Conference Board of Ordained Ministry has worked diligently to provide clergy and local church Committees on Staff Parish Relationships with a set of tools that will assist in that process.  It is the hope that each clergy and each SPRC will take this process seriously so that our clergy continue to grow in effectiveness toward our mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

Click HERE for all the forms needed to complete the process. The completed forms should be emailed to Betty Sims

Online Deep Dive - Children's Ministry in the Small Church

Announcing the first Online DEEP DIVE – specifically for the small church (under ~100).
This two-part webinar will be brief and bright with tips and resources for making an impact in your children’s ministry in the small church community. Bob McLeary will be our guest presenter, sharing ideas of starting S.M.A.L.L. What to do if you prepared a lesson for 3 children and 8 show up? How to balance planning with reality and frustrations, and more. Send questions you may have about the webinar or a question you’d like Bob to address to 
Dates:   Thursday, April 25th from 11:30am – 12 noon with time for Q & A
                Thursday, May 2nd from 11:30am – 12 noon with time for Q & A
Who should attend? Anyone connected to children’s ministries in your church.
Each session will have free resources shared and during the last session, we will have a live drawing for 5 churches to receive the new Cokesbury fall curriculum: Deep Blue One Room Sunday School Kit (value $73.49 each).

Mission Trip to UMCOR Sager Brown
October 27 - November 1
Informational Sessions April 28 & May 5

Would you like to go on a mission trip-one that doesn't require a passport, shots, or hard labor? A team is being formed to travel by bus to Baldwin, LA. The United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) has a large Depot there where supplies donated by churches are prepared for shipment to disaster areas. The dorm and dining hall facilities on campus can handle up to 200 volunteers a week who do jobs on campus and in the community.

If you are interested in gathering information or participating, there will be two informational sessions at First UMC 142 E Jackson St Orlando. These sessions will take place on Sunday, April 28 at 9:30am and Sunday, May 5 at 9:30am.

If you are able and would like to attend, or, you would like more information about the Mission trip, please call the church 407-849-6080 or Mary Maxwell 954-707-1514.

Run 4 Life 4 Miler
Florida United Methodist Children's Home
May 11

The 9th Annual Run 4 Life 4 Miler is May 11 at The Florida United Methodist Children's Home. This 4 Mile Event takes you through the FUMCH and Historic Enterprise.  The goal of this race is to bring awareness to mental health/depression issues and to raise money for programs providing support to those in need. All race proceeds will go to FUMCH and other local suicide prevention programs.

Won't you be part of our Team - The Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church?   Click HERE to register online.  Be sure to click on "Join Group/Team" & register on our team! Click HERE to print a registration form to mail.

Run, walk, or sponsor a child to participate!
We are one conference, let us come together as the UMC and help prevent suicide! 

Lay Servant Gathering
May 11 - Sanlando UMC, Longwood

Lay Servants, Lay Leaders, Lay Members to Annual Conference and any Laity leader in the Local Church - you are invited to join Lynn Campbell and Jim Boesch for a gathering! In response to YOUR requests and for "next steps" after the Lay Leaders gathering. Please join us on Saturday,  May 11 at Sanlando UMC, Longwood.

Click HERE to register now.

Questions? Lynn Campbell

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.  The first payment of $250 is due June 1, 2019. 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. If you are interested, please email Betty Sims

Annual Conference 2019 - Florida Southern College

Click HERE for the AC2019 webpage. Hotel and Florida Southern Housing information is there. Rates expire the first week of May 2019 or when the room block is sold out.

Tweet with #flumc19 to join the conversation!

East Central District will host an Ice Cream Social for East Central Church/District Lay Members to Annual Conference, ECD Clergy and their families. It will be on Wednesday, June 5 from 9pm - 10pm at Florida Southern. Click HERE to register.

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.


Youth are encouraged to participate and experience Annual Conference. Housing will be on the Florida Southern Campus, and $170 will cover dorm housing (double occupancy) and 8 meals. Register by May 15, 2019. Orientation will be at 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 4th, with housing check in immediately before orientation at 2:00 at Reynolds Hall. All youth must check into housing before orientation. Click HERE for youth information and registration.

Note:  This does not make them a Voting Member at Annual Conference.

District Orientations -

District orientations will include a report from two delegation members regarding GC2019, an introduction of nominees for GC2020, a review of how to use the voting equipment, a review of the five resolutions to Annual Conference, a review of the budget, and a review of any other significant issues before the conference. Orientation videos will also be available.

East Central District will hold theirs Sunday, May 19 at First UMC, Orlando at 3:00pm. There is no registration, everyone is welcome to attend. Click HERE for the complete list of all the District orientations throughout the conference.

Fall Clergy Meeting
August 22 - Asbury UMC, Maitland

Save the Date for the East Central District Fall Clergy Meeting. It will be from 9am - noon. There will be an optional lunch available.

The Clergy new to ECD will be asked to stay for a meeting from 1pm - 2:30pm.

Registration will open soon.

Lay Servant Ministries
September 20 and 21 - New Horizon UMC
Save the Date! 

Click HERE for article in Spanish.

A wonderful time of Fellowship!

For where two or three are gathered together as my followers, I am there with them.”  Matthew 18:20

Twenty-three laity from several churches in the East Central District attended the Lay Servant Ministries Basic and Advanced Lay Servant Training at First United Methodist Church of Tavares. For many this was a first - time experience of what can and does happen when believers gather.  Facilitators included, Rev. Kate Ling and Rev. John Fisher.

“Spirit filled, diverse and powerful”  is how Dr. Leo Rodriquez described the weekend. Dr. Leo served as one of the facilitators for the Advanced class in Spanish, and one participant shared the following experience:

“The time to discover and deploy our spiritual gifts in the United Methodist Church and in the World is now. That was the main lesson nine of us had during our Spiritual Gifts class with Dr. Leo Rodríguez this last Lay Servant Ministry training event at Tavares UMC.  We learned that we have, at least, three spiritual gifts:

1. One, that we know and enjoy using

2. One, we know, but avoid using it because of how we feel, or, what others might think or say

3. One that we have not yet discovered. We learned that the latter emerges in times of adversity and crisis. Click HERE to continue reading.

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

The Fourteenth Annual Native American Gathering
April 26-28 - Warren W. Willis Family Camp

The Conference Committee on Native American Ministry (CONAM) has been active within the Florida Annual Conference since 2005. Growth and progress has been steady as we continue toward our goal of positioning a Native American Ministry representative in each District and Our Mission: “To communicate the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the Native American people in a culturally relevant way; disciple Native people in a culturally affirming way; encourage Christ-centered worship in a culturally redemptive way; and facilitate a Native presence in the wider church in a culturally appropriate way, while building our ministry by having a Native American representative in not only every District, but every local church in the FAC.” 

A Gathering is held each April to bring together Native Americans throughout the Florida Conference. This year’s annual Gathering is April 26-28, 2019 at the Warren Willis Family camp in Fruitland Park, Florida. Click HERE for more information and registration.

Questions? Please contact Ed Taylor, CONAM Chair

Apply Now for UMC FCU Scholarships for College Bound Students

The Florida United Methodist Connectional FCU is once again offering scholarships to 17-35 year-old college-bound students in our connection. Four winning applicants, one from each of our four conferences - Florida, North Georgia, South Georgia, & Alabama-West Florida - will each receive a $1,000 scholarship. Click HERE for complete rules and full essay submission criteria. Deadline for submission is April 30, 2019. Click HERE for the application.

If you have any questions regarding the scholarship, call 866-687-2136. 

Warren W. Willis Camp

Check out Warren W. Willis for many opportunities to reflect & fellowship!

Confirmation Retreat:  Sept 27-29
Created by God:  April 26-28
Rooted: September 16-17
Summer Camp

Plan Your Own Church Retreat
:  Who doesn't love WWW?  Why not plan your own retreat?

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

Director of the United Methodist Heritage Center

Director of the United Methodist Heritage Center serves as both Director and Conference Archivist. He/she is responsible for receiving, describing, arranging, maintaining, researching and preserving all archival and museum holdings depicting the history and heritage of Methodism in Florida, according to professionally-accepted standards. Click HERE for the complete job description.

There are several more opportunities throughout our conference in the local church. The more churches that post on this website, the more useful it will be for all of us!

Click HERE
for staff openings.
Click HERE for free items.
Click HERE for items for sale.

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