In the District
Greetings from the District Superintendent
|Dr. Bob Bushong|
One of my favorite movies is The Shawshank Redemption. It’s a powerful study of the human condition, of relationships, of good and evil, of life in the face of adversity, of the testing of the human spirit, of faith and hope.
Tim Robbins is the main character in the film, a quiet banker named Andy Dufrensene who is convicted of two murders that he did not commit and condemned to a separate life sentence for each murder. For twenty years, Andy works toward his day of escape from bondage. Through all the trauma of his experience he has never given up hope. Then comes the day he’s been waiting for.
It’s a powerful scene as Andy makes his way through the bowels of the prison, literally swimming through the stench of human waste carried through the sewer pipes. He moves through five hundred yards of sewage – five football fields length of pipe – in order to make his way to freedom.
As Andy slides from the sewer pipe into the cleansing refreshment of the summer rain, his experience is one of coming to new life from an experience of death – as he rips off the shroud of his years of trauma, as he is washed and made clean, as he grabs hold of the freedom inherent in new life, in a fresh start, in the transformation of the past.
In a very real way, Andy experiences resurrection. He slides from the darkness of his life of only moments before into the bright dawn of a new day, a new reality, a new future. He is freed from captivity. He is released from that which has kept him from an experience of the fullness of life. He is redeemed.
That’s the message of Easter, my friends. Jesus, and through Jesus, we ourselves, slide into the bright dawn of a new day, a new reality, a new future. We are released from that which has kept us from the fullness of life. We are redeemed.
One of the many great lines in The Shawshank redemption is when Andy is talking to his good friend, Red, played by Morgan Freeman, about his life in prison. At one point he says, “Hope is something inside that they can’t take away.”
Reflecting on that statement later, Red says, “Hope is a good thing – maybe the best of things – and no good thing ever dies.”
My prayer for you, my friends, during this challenging time for all of us, is that your life is filled with the hope of Easter, the hope that never dies.
Grace and Peace,
East Central District
East Central District Office
The District Office will be closed to help flatten the curve. Claudia will work Mon-Fri remotely and will check vm periodically. It would be best to email her at email@example.com.
A Message from Kim & Melanie Lee, District Lay Leaders
Now Is the Time to Spread Hope and Love!
This morning, our sermon at First UMC Orlando focused on Psalm 121. Our lead pastor, Dr. Vance Rains, reminded us that in this difficult time, we need to keep our eyes fixed on God. Take a moment to read the psalm.
A song of ascents.
1 I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
where does my help come from?
2 My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
3 He will not let your foot slip—
he who watches over you will not slumber;
4 indeed, he who watches over Israel
will neither slumber nor sleep.
5 The LORD watches over you—
the LORD is your shade at your right hand;
6 the sun will not harm you by day,
nor the moon by night.
7 The LORD will keep you from all harm—
he will watch over your life;
8 the LORD will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.
Our choir sang an anthem based on this psalm not too long ago. Its words stir your soul, especially when blended with a beautiful melody. This is a lovely rendition of the anthem. https://youtu.be/r_8O_4B5kvs
Keeping focused on God will turn us toward others because that is what God’s love does for us. God uses us to love others and to spread the hope of being loved as a child of God. We all need that hope right now.
What are you doing to keep your eyes on God? How are you turning that faith that can move mountains outward to help others? It would be very easy for us all to shelter in place and cocoon ourselves away from the world right now, but God calls us to be God’s hand and feet in the world. It IS possible to stay safe and still reach out to others. Be proactive and creative.
• Call people you would normally visit.
• Make a meal and leave it at a front door. (Ring the bell!)
• Get together with a virtual face-to-face call.
• Offer to buy someone groceries, and then drop them off.
• Play a game with someone through a Zoom meeting.
• Write a letter to someone who is lonely.
We would love to hear your stories!
Loving the Laity,
Melanie & Kim Lee
March 31 Reports - EXTENDED TO May 31, if needed!
The deadline for March 31 Reports has been moved to May 31, if you need it. If you don't need more time, please send them in! Please submit the six reports together in one email to Claudia Sava firstname.lastname@example.org. Originals should remain in the church offices as the District Office shreds all documents once they are scanned. If you have any questions, please email Claudia Sava.
Note: The Disaster Recovery Resource Survey is no longer required.
Explanation of Reports and Committee Responsible
- Fiscal Responsibility & Management Policy Review & renew annually. Each year, submit a signed copy of the one page Financial Controls, Policies & Procedures and the Document Retention Policy.
- Fund Balance Report - Submit online through your Church Dashboard. Do not send a hard copy to the District.
- Clergy Employee Conduct Policy ALL appointed clergy must submit this to the District each year.
- Adoption of Employee Conduct Policy Submit this report showing that you have adopted the ECP and have a Employee Conduct Policy signed on each employee. The signed Employee Conduct Policy form must be kept in their personnel file. This does not get sent to the District office.
- Child / Youth Protection Policy Review & renew annually. Submit a signed copy of this report. Should the policy undergo major revisions, submit a complete copy. Click HERE for the Ministry Protection page.
- Annual Parsonage Report Review & renew annually. If your pastor does not live in it, we still want this completed. If you don't own a parsonage, please write N/A and submit it.
Annual Assessment of Clergy Leadership
Annual Assessment of Ministerial Effectiveness & Goal Setting. 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. The report is due to the district office every year by May 31. (Continuing Education is now completed in conjunction with the Annual Assessment above.) The completed forms should be emailed to Claudia Sava email@example.com.
NOTE: This is required for every clergy appointed to the local church. It has been available since January and is due May 31. Even if you have a new appointment, the pastor and SPRC are expected to turn one in. This exercise will be helpful for the church and pastor as they transition.
For detailed instructions on reports, please review the Calendar of Reports.
Update to Missional Vital Signs Reporting
As with other times of disruption, like our Florida hurricane season, we are giving guidance with reporting Missional Vital Signs for the next 2 – 3 months. I will keep this brief.
• If you have data not entered for February or before, please email your district office
• March and April (possibly further) will have a temporary link to report only a few key data points
- This will be emailed to all active clergy appointed to a local church and the assigned Missional Vital Signs Reporter as entered on your church dashboard. Please check that the email for the MVS reporter to verify it is correct.
- Only 1 person from a church will be reporting
- The MVS page will also have directions
So much of church is in person, collecting data in areas where we are not gathering - just doesn’t make sense right now. We want to make reporting easier, not harder.
1. AWA (Average Worship Attendance): You may have data for the 2 or 3 weeks of March (5 Sundays in March), enter those numbers. Enter 0 if you did not meet or do not have the numbers. We are assuming that you are not meeting physically the last two weeks of March.
2. Online Viewing: If you are meeting virtually, enter the numbers as best you can gather. The main thing is to be consistent. Here is a link with helpful directions for collecting data for Online Viewing and Facebook Live. (Click here)
3. Giving: Use the same as what you have always counted. You may now have online giving, texting to give, or mailed in giving. While safe distancing may make this challenging, please do your best to follow the practices already in place for collecting donations and making deposits.
- This number is the total amount given to God’s church for budgeted operating and capital expenses and missional purposes in addition to or part of the budget. This includes all contributions received by pledged and unpledged giving, loose plate offerings, and funds given for capital debt, building or repairs, or special offerings to ministries beyond the church (UMCH, youth mission trip, Africa University, Habitat for Humanity, Storm Recovery or a sister congregation in Cuba or Angola).
- Excluded are interest income, memorial bequeaths, facility use fees, income from child care, adult day care ministries, thrift stores, pumpkin patches and similar fundraisers, as these do not reflect the financial generosity of the congregation.
4. Reaching Out: Please share with us one or two narratives -
- How are you reaching out to your church family?
- How is your church reaching out to the community?