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ECD April 2021 Newsletter

Greetings from the District Superintendent

It’s Holy Thursday morning as I write this. “Hmmm,” some will say. “Holy Thursday. That sounds Catholic to me. I’m used to hearing ‘Maundy Thursday’ in the United Methodist Church.”  

Actually that person would be correct. I’ve come to prefer the adjective “holy” because for me it describes best this day that initiates the reenactment of the Passion of Jesus Christ that begins with Jesus’ Last Supper with his disciples, continues through his intense suffering, culminates with his death on the cross, and cannot be understood without the story of the Resurrection.  

It’s a particularly holy time, these few days each spring. People of faith are remiss if we don’t choose some time between today and early Sunday morning to reflect on this amazing act of God, who chose to be born into the world as a human being named Jesus as God’s ultimate way to reach humanity with the power of God’s gracious eternal love.  

I spent some extended time yesterday in the sanctuary of one of our churches reflecting on the powerful story that we are moving into today and some more time in my office this morning. Yesterday my mind and my heart wandered to specific people in my life for whom I am deeply grateful. This morning the internal wandering led directly to what we are asked to remember and celebrate together over these few days. During that time I felt drawn to a small children’s book written for a parent to read to his or her child. As I share the brief text of the book with you, I invite you to read it as if God were speaking the words to you. If you do that, I believe you will hear the real meaning of this holy time.  

Written Nancy Tillman, the book is called Wherever You Are

I wanted you more than you will ever know, so I sent love to follow you wherever you go. It’s high as you wish it. It’s quick as an elf. You’ll never outgrow it . . . it stretches itself! 

So climb any mountain . . . climb up to the sky! My love will find you, My love can fly! Make a big splash! Go out on a limb! My love will find you. My love can swim!  

It never gets lost, never fades, never ends . . . if you’re working . . . or playing . . .or sitting with friends. You can dance ‘till you’re dizzy . . . paint ‘til you’re blue . . . There’s no place, not one, that my love can’t find you.  

And if someday you’re lonely, or someday you’re sad, or you strike out at baseball, or think you’ve been bad . . . just lift up your face, feel the wind in your hair. That’s me, my sweet baby, my love is right there.  

In the green of the grass . . . in the smell of the sea . . . in the clouds floating by . . . at the top of a tree . . . in the sound crickets make at the end of the day . . . “You are loved. You are loved. You are loved,” they all say.  

My love is so high, and so wide and so deep, it’s always right there, even when you’re asleep. So hold your head high and don’t be afraid to march to the front of your own parade.  

If you’re still my small babe or you’re all the way grown, my promise to you is you’re never alone. You are my angel, my darling, my star . . . and my love will find you, wherever you are.  

When have a few minutes sometime this weekend, read Romans 8:38-39, and I think you’ll understand why I’m asking you to do that. 

Grace and Peace in these holy days, 


Bob Bushong
District Superintendent
East Central District

East Central District Office - NEW mailing address!!

East Central District 
Florida Conference of the UMC
PO Box 4064
Enterprise, FL  32725

I am available Mon-Fri 8:30am - 4:30pm by phone or email
Claudia Sava
Administrative Assistant

A Message from Kim & Melanie Lee, District Lay Leader

Turning toward Contentment and Gratitude

The elementary PE coach at my school sends out health-related emails to our staff, passing along helpful information from our insurance to encourage healthy habits.  Recently, I read about a free course on overcoming burnout caused by long-term stress, and I signed myself up for the 8-module course.  I found it fairly stressful to finish the 8 modules in the allotted time, which is a bit ironic!  I took away some very useful information I had heard before about journaling and gratitude.  Sometimes you need to hear the same words but at a different time in your life.

Those words popped up again in Sunday school, as our class finished our Lenten study, Words of Life, by Adam Hamilton.  Our class discussed gratitude journals, which is something we studied back in 2016.  I actually led that class back then and passed out small composition books to everyone.  I completely forgot about those.  Obviously, I did not keep up my journal.  Hamilton reminded us that keeping a gratitude journal focuses us on our gifts from God and away from any envy or covetousness that might seep into our souls.  Gratitude turns us away from what we perceive we do not have toward thankfulness for what we do have.

Paul said it well in Philippians 4.  “I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12 I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”

God generally works in my life by bringing the same issue into my path over and over again, until I notice and take action.  I am beginning my gratitude journal again as I write this.

Dear Lord, I am grateful for your people returning to your house!  On Palm Sunday, our sanctuary opened again for in-person worship, and it was electrifying!  Sometimes you don’t know what you’ve been missing until you get it back.  So many of us were moved to tears to see the congregation return after so many months of online worship.  The attached picture is from my seat in the choir loft.

As we celebrate our risen Lord, we should focus our thoughts on giving thanks for the freedoms that we enjoy as forgiven spirits.  Thank you, Lord, for the freedom to enjoy the days basking in your love and sharing your word to those who need assurance and encouragement.  Thank you, Lord, for the hope of always knowing that you love us unconditionally despite our flaws and protests.  We love you; we need you; we thank you.

Loving the Laity,

Melanie & Kim Lee 

Annual Conference 2021
A Community of Love & Forgiveness
June 11-12, 2021

Click HERE for the AC2021 webpage. You will find the schedule for AC2021 for clergy and lay members to annual conference.

Pre-Conference workshops will be held over Zoom and are open to everyone, not just voting members. Click HERE for a description of the workshops listed below.


  • Poverty Solutions Group Bread for the World's Racial Wealth Gap Virtual Learning Simulation
  • Innovation 2021 Embrace the Journey: Becoming the Beloved Community
  • Fill the Table Equip, Engage, Empower Your Community
  • Financial Services Financial Controls in an Online World/2022 Conference Budget
  • Learning Together Sharing Best Practices for Innovative Ministry During COVID-19
  • One Church, Two Languages Ministry Model

Are you interested in becoming an East Central District At-Large Lay Member to Annual Conference 2021? Click HERE to submit your name to serve as a District at-large Lay Member to Annual Conference 2021. You will be notified, if you have been selected.

April is National Stress Awareness month

Work-Life Simplify your life

April is National Stress Awareness month, a great time to focus on identifying and reducing unnecessary stress in your life. That way, you can become more productive and get more out of every day. Work-Life is available 24/7 to provide support and tools to help. Access Work-Life for information on:

  • Stress management resources
  • Time management and organizational skills
  • Planning for major milestones
  • Locating summer care

Getting help online is easy! From webinars, live talks and audio to articles and downloadable guides, Work-Life provides insights and information to help you simplify your life. Click HERE for the April newsletter.

Overcoming Stress and Burnout │ Wednesday, April 14 
Click HERE to register

Join this webinar to:

  1. Define the difference between stress and burnout
  2. Discuss the cause of stress and burnout
  3. Learn lifestyle changes and coping strategies to manage stress and prevent burnout

Immigration Clinics with Florida Justice For Our Neighbors

Free legal immigration screenings and advice from FLJFON attorneys. The only thing you need is a device (computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone) that can access Zoom and a stable internet connection, we will help with the rest!

April 17 (TPS Only)
April 28
May 21


Click HERE for flyer in Spanish
Click HERE for flyer in English

You must register for the date you wish to participate. Questions? Contact Katelyn Dino or Camila Feltrin

Ministry of Spiritual Direction Program for clergy
Informational Meeting May 4 7:00pm

The Center for Spiritual Formation is beginning a new class for the Ministry of Spiritual Direction Program beginning September of 2021. The program is offered over a two-year period and can be participated in either fully online or in person. The program is intended to assist those who participate in sharpening listening skills, bring clarity to areas of giftedness, and acquire the tools and practices essential to caring for souls in love.

YEAR ONE: focuses on the history, traditions and models, Biblical roots and theological foundations of Spiritual Direction. It highlights the differences between psychological counseling and Spiritual Direction and demonstrates a contemplative approach to God. YEAR two: focuses on the actual practice of Spiritual Direction: developing listening and assessment skills; becoming familiar with displacement and projection, transference and counter-transference; acquiring a working knowledge of the life-stages of faith development; cultivating an increased awareness of the power of prayer and healing; and learning the importance of supervision.

Please visit and view the following document for further information. Click HERE for flyer. Click HERE to register for the May 4 informational meeting.

Run 4 Life 4 Miler
Florida United Methodist Children's Home
May 15

The Run 4 Life 4 Miler begins and ends on the campus of the Florida United Methodist Children's Home in historic Enterprise, Florida. The 4 mile course is on magnificent oak canopy roads along the shore of Lake Monroe. It is one of the most uniquely beautiful areas and race courses in Central Florida.  

The goal of this race is to bring awareness to mental health/depression issues and to raise funds for programs providing support to those in need. It is also in remembrance of those who were overwhelmed by their struggles and felt suicide was their only option. All race proceeds will go to the Children's Home and other local suicide prevention programs.  

Join 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! 

Run, walk, or sponsor a child to participate!
We are one conference, let us come together as The Florida United Methodist Church
Bring awareness to mental health & suicide.

East Central District of United Methodist Women

Never have those words been put to the test than in the past several months as United Methodist Women, joined the rest of the world, both within the church and elsewhere, as we were called upon to do things differently- outside of the norm- getting outside of our comfort zone, as a virus struck forcing us to no longer have the security of what we considered normal. Well, wasn't that the way we should have been handling how we serve children, youth and women all along? We were forced to meet people where they are, find ways to reach those who we had not seen or heard from in a long time; and it appears to have WORKED! 

United Methodist Women of the EC District, took on the challenge of "not normal" and held our District Annual Meeting, Leadership/Training event, Spiritual Retreat among other things and did them all successfully via ZOOM; which now appears to be our new normal.

From a monthly book club, to planned Mission study groups, we have accepted new roles and ways to reach our existing units and continue to open the circle to dormant and new units as we invite them to join in the fellowship and the Mission work which goes on in spite of a pandemic. 

You are invited to visit our website at for information on upcoming events, to see and connect with the members of the Leadership Team and get acquainted with what this organization has to offer. There is a place for you and we look forward to seeing you.  

Please check the District website and the UMW websites for news and information as we look ahead.

Be blessed, 
EC District Leadership Team, United Methodist Women 

You are invited to a virtual event presenting the Charter for Racial Justice 
Sponsored by East Central District United Methodist Women.
Presented by the North Central District United Methodist Women

May 1, 2021
10 am until 12 noon
Click HERE to register

March 31st Reports past due

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

Annual Assessment of Clergy Leadership
Due May 31


Finally! It is here! The new and revised Annual Clergy Evaluation Form! 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 now 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 NEW process is fully electronic and you do not have to print and send a hard copy of the evaluation to the district office.

Clergy/Students Can Now Apply For Grants
Deadline is April 30

The PASSING THE TORCH FUND, a collaborative grant program between the Florida United Methodist Foundation and Florida Conference, is now accepting applications for two grant opportunities.
The fund awards grants that provide financial assistance to Florida Conference clergy in full connection who are planning to take renewal leave. Up to $10,000 per grant may be awarded.
The fund awards a seminary scholarship to a qualified student of color and culture who is planning to enter United Methodist ministry.
Applications for both grants will be accepted until April 30.
Complete the application online (under #4 Passing the Torch). For more information, please contact Holly Finley, Office of Clergy Excellence, at or 800-282-8011, ext. 134.
The Passing the Torch Fund was launched in 2015 to provide training, financial assistance and leadership development support for conference clergy and those preparing for ordained ministry in the Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church.
It is administered by the Office of Clergy Excellence and funded by the Florida United Methodist Foundation and conference Board of Pension and Health Benefits.
In addition to the grant opportunities, individuals ordained deacon or elder in full connection will receive $5,000 from this fund at annual conference to help alleviate educational debt. The fund also supplements the Ministerial Education Fund assistance provided to clergy and cooperative grant efforts through the Office of Clergy Excellence.
More information about recipients of the grants and how the fund has been used is available through these articles:
Clergy scholarship recipients have passion, hope for future church
Grants help clergy dream big, focus on God’s call
Helping the helpers
Scholarship helps candidate fulfill passion for ministry

Apply Now for UMC FCU 2021 Scholarship
Application deadline:  April 30, 2021

 What you need to know:

  • $1,000.00 awarded to one person from each of the United Methodist Conferences (Florida, Alabama -West Florida, South Georgia, North Georgia)
  • Application Open: January 1 - April 30, 2021
  • Previous Winners are ineligible to apply
  • UMC FCU Members are eligible to apply. Applying online to become a UMC FCU member is easy. Eligibility Requirements  ( Be a Member of a UM Church, or Work for a UM Church or Organization within the four (4) conferences listed above, Have a family member who is already a member of UMC FCU)
  • Click HERE for application and essay information
  • Don’t wait to apply (Applying early does not increase your chances of winning… it’s just good to get things done as soon as possible)   

Should you have any questions, please contact anyone at the United Methodist Federal Credit Union 863-687-9725.

Warren W Willis Summer Camp

Classic Overnight Camps
Experience a high-energy, life-changing week at one of our seven weeks of classic overnight camp. Rising 4th-grade students through recently graduated seniors are invited to jump-start their faith while making lifelong friendships and unforgettable memories on beautiful Lake Griffin. Click HERE for details.

The scholarship application deadline has been extended to May 1. Click HERE for details and to download the application.

Webinar for Clergy on Church Finances
Thursday, May 20
9:00am - 10:30am

All clergy are invited to join a free webinar on Church Finances with Lovett H. Weems, Jr. and Ann A. Michel, authors of Generosity, Stewardship, and Abundance: A Transformational Guide to Church Finance (to be released in early May, 2021) Click HERE to preorder the book.

2021 Florida Minimum Wage

The Florida minimum wage increased to $8.65 per hour, effective January 1, 2021. Click HERE for the minimum wage poster that must be posted for all employees to see. Click HERE for state posters. Click HERE for federal posters.

Modified Missional Vital Signs Reporting

While churches are not meeting in person due to COVID-19, The Florida Conference will use a Modified MVS reporting model. Click HERE for instructions and to report MVS.

If you have data not entered for February or before, please complete the Monthly Data Gathering Chart for each of those months and email it to Claudia Sava at

2021 Holiday Schedule for The Florida Annual Conference

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

April 2
Good Friday holiday
May 31
Memorial Day holiday
July 5
Independence Day holiday
September 6
Labor Day holiday
November 11
Veteran's Day holiday
November 25-26
Thanksgiving holiday
December 24
Christmas holiday
December 27
Christmas holiday
December 31
New Year's Day holiday