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ECD August 2019 Newsletter

In the District

Greetings from the District Superintendent

 Dr. Bob Bushong

What do we say? What words do we use after last weekend in Gilroy, California and this weekend in El Paso and Dayton? And before these there were Sandy Hook and Charleston and Orlando and Charlotte and Las Vegas and Pittsburgh and – I’m wondering which one or ones I have left out.

As a former college English major I find that sometimes it’s the words from classic literature that say it best in challenging, unspeakable times. For example, words from Tennyson come to mind from In Memoriam, written as he struggled with the death of a very close friend:

But what am I?
An infant crying in the night, an infant crying for the light, 
With no language but a cry.

Sometimes crying is all we can do.

Or as Shakespeare tells us in the final lines of King Lear:

The weight of this sad time we must obey,
Speak what we feel and not what we ought to say.

Speak what we feel: sadness, anger, confusion, fear, rage . . . did this really happen? It’s so surreal. Can it really be true? Surely this is just a bad dream. And then we see the photos and we read the names and stories of those who were killed and those who were injured. 

So what do we say? 

Those of us who are reading this and I who wrote it are different from one another. We’re different shades. We’re different cultures. We’re gay and we’re straight. We’re young and we’re old and we’re middle aged. We’re of different theological and political perspectives. We’re different and yet we’re the same: we’re all part of the human family. And in our differences we are much more the same than we are different.

The late Rueben Job, a pastor and author and bishop in the United Methodist Church once said, “Everyone is God’s beloved child. God does not make the distinctions that we do.” 

What happened in El Paso on Saturday morning in El Paso is being called a hate crime because that’s exactly what it is: it targeted a certain group of people. Specifically it targeted Latino/Latina people. It targeted Mexicans. 

In the end, though, it’ s not only about Mexican people. It’s about all of us. It’s about you, regardless of your cultural background, and it’s about me, because any crime of violence against a targeted group of people is a crime of violence against all of humanity.
Do you remember what was the first commandment given by God recorded in the Scriptures? Read these words from Genesis, Chapter 1 and you’ll see it:

In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, ‘Let there be light’; and there was light.  And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness.

Let there be light. God’s first commandment. Biblical scholars believe that these verses of Scripture originated during Israel’s exile period, a time of hopelessness and despair stemming from the reality that the country had been plundered, the temple ruined, cities destroyed.  

In the beginning, says this text, all was night, darkness, a “formless void.”  And it was into this context that God said, Light, and there came light out of darkness, there came order out of chaos.  

Turn out all the artificial lights in a dark room. Close the shades to keep out all signs of external light. Then light a candle in the room, just one candle, and suddenly the light outshines the darkness. 

We can’t let darkness win. We can’t let hate win. We can’t let narrowness win. 
This is not finally about one person, or one group of persons, or one way of life, or one political expression, or one culture. It’s about all of us who are part of the human family. 

May God mercy upon us. 

Grace and Peace,


Bob Bushong
District Superintendent
East Central District

A Message from Kim & Melanie Lee, District Lay Leaders

 Melanie & Kim Lee

What’s the difference between hearing and listening?  As a teacher, I have found myself asking restless students to listen.  Many times, the individual response from a child is, “I was listening.  Here’s what you said.”  The student then tells me (somewhat smugly) word for word what I just said.  If I delve further, the student and I both realize that he or she was not listening, just hearing.  Hearing is involuntary, a matter of picking up sound waves.  What you hear gets stored, at least temporarily, in your memory.  When someone asks you to respond to a question and you weren’t paying attention, you can recall the words if you focus on your short-term hearing memory.  It’s obvious to the person talking to you, however, that you weren’t listening.  Listening requires intention.

When God called Samuel, Samuel began the experience with simply hearing God.  When a voice repeating his name awakened Samuel in the night, he assumed Eli had called him.  Samuel went to see what Eli wanted.  After this happened several more times, Eli realized God was calling Samuel, and he advised Samuel to answer, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.”   (1 Samuel 3)  When Samuel woke the next time, he answered the voice with those words, and God gave Samuel a life-changing vision.

I see three key points about important conversations from this exchange.

1. God did not waste God’s message on someone who was just hearing, not listening.  As the one talking, I should make sure that the person I’m talking to is actively paying attention.  I can’t expect perfect listening from someone who is busy doing something else.

2. Eli recognized God’s voice and taught Samuel how to respond.  I should be able to recognize clues when someone is talking that indicate it’s time to listen, not just hear.  That’s when I should turn off the TV, put the phone away, or stop doing whatever I’m busy with, and be prepared to really listen.

3. Samuel had to let God know that he was listening in order to receive the vision.  The listener has a responsibility to ensure the speaker that I am ready to give him or her my total attention.

This passage begins with the verse, “The boy Samuel ministered before the Lord under Eli. In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions.” (1 Samuel 3:1)  We could say that for these days too.  God stays constant, always loving.  We are the ones who change.  Perhaps if more of us recognized when God was talking, we would have more visions?  Perhaps if more of us asked the Eli in our life to help us recognize God’s voice, we would know to answer, “Here I am, Lord.  I am listening.”  

Melanie & Kim Lee   

2020 Holy Land Trip with Bishop Carter and Dr. Bob Bushong

Bishop Carter is leading a trip to the Holy Land February 4-13, 2020. Jeanne and I will both be going, and I will be serving as a tour host, inviting specifically folks from the East Central District to come along. 

If you click this link (, you will find an electronic brochure with information about the trip. If you have questions, please shoot them to me in an email ( and I will do my best to answer. If you would like a printed brochure, please contact Claudia ( and she will send you one.


First UMC Eustis joins ministry to homeless young people
Exciting Missional Commitment Step Completed

A major and historic milestone in First United Methodist Church's commitment to the transformation of the community was achieved at the end of July when the church completed the transfer of its north campus property to Forward Paths Foundation for the purpose of providing housing to homeless young people.

In two separate closings, FUMCE transferred three parcels of land totaling 1.58 acres to Forward Paths, which serves young people who are homeless because they have aged out of foster care or who have become homeless due to other family circumstances. Click HERE to continue reading.

ONLINE Deep Dive - School Church Partnerships

There will be a 30-45 minute online Deep Dive about School-Church Partnerships. It will be geared for ALL size churches. August 16 at 10am. Starting those relationships with the school, how to get in the door, what are the opportunities besides supply drives and more. Q&A will follow the presentation. Email Janet Earls if there is something specific that you would like covered. Click HERE for more information and registration.

Lay Servant Ministries
September 20 & 21 - New Horizon UMC, Haines City

All classes require a total of 10 hours attendance. Friday 5:00pm - 8:30pm and Saturday 8:00am - 4:00pm. The cost is $45 which covers materials and food. NOTE: Lay Servant certification expires after three years.

New Horizon UMC
400 Orchid Drive
Haines City, FL

ECD offers Lay Servant training twice a year. Once in the Spring and once in the Fall. Lynn & Jim work hard to move it around the district. They both do this as lay folks and are not paid staff. If your church would like to host a LSM weekend, please contact Lynn Campbell

Select one of the six courses offered. Basic LSM is a pre-requisite to the Advanced Courses. Once the Basic and Advanced Courses are completed, you will be a Certified Lay Servant.

Basic LSM (English) with Lynn Campbell, Co-Director of ECD Lay Servant Ministries
Basic LSM (Spanish) with Wilkins Rodriguez, Certified Lay Servant
Discover Your Servant Profile (English) ♦ This spiritual Gifts, Personal Style and Ministry Passion Assessment course is designed to get the right people, in the right places, for the right reasons, at the right time in our local churches to help maximize their kingdom-building and serving potential. Led by Jim Boesch, Co-Director of ECD Lay Servant Ministries
Shaping the Prayers of the People: The Art of Intercession (English) ♦ At once inspirational and practical, this book empowers and equips laypeople and clergy alike to offer heartfelt, informed, and appropriate prayers on behalf of the people of God. As Samuel Wells and Abigail Kocher say, "Interceding in public worship is a duty. This book is intended to make it a joy." Led by Rev. Kate Ling
Desubriendo y Desplegando Nuestros Dones Espirituales (Spanish) ♦ Para utilizar personalmente o en grupos pequenos encuentra el lugar que te corresponde dentro del cuerpo de Cristo. Cuando conozcas y uses tus dones espirtuales, podras participar en el ministerio que Dios creo para ti personalmente. Sera un ministerio lleno de fruto y satisfaccion. Led by Rev. Dr. Leo Rodgriguez
Conflict Resolution First-Responders (English) ♦ The church needs first responders - people who can help snuff out small flames of conflict before they have a chance to cause harm. This class will equip Lay Servants to intervene and help others through the conflict. Completion of the previous advanced class, Peace-making: Resolving Everyday conflict is helpful but not required. Led by Lennie Burke & Mike Mailman, Certified Lay Servants.

We now offer online registration!

Click HERE to register online and make a payment. NOTE: If you are taking the Basic Course, you will need to print a brochure to complete and have your pastor sign. The completed registration form should be emailed to Betty Sims

Click HERE to print a brochure to mail in with payment.

Questions? Lynn Campbell or Jim Boesch

2019 Annual Church Conference

On Mission Together  is the theme for our 2019 church conferences. The East Central District will hold eight Cluster Church Conferences this fall. Below are the dates/times and name of the host church. Click HERE for the listing of when each church will participate. Charge Conference forms will be on on August 21. 

Oct 13 2pm
Beymer Memorial
Oct 20 2pm
College Park
Oct 27 2pm
Orange City
Nov 3 2pm
First, Mt Dora
Oct 13 6pm
Oct 20 6pm
First, Winter Garden
Oct 27 6pm
CUMC Casselberry
Nov 3 6pm
Pine Castle

Staff Parish Relations Committee (SPRC) Training

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 facilitate. There will be two trainings offered, one in Orlando on December 10 and one in Sanford on December 12. Pick the location or date that is most convenient for you.

Cokesbury offers guidelines for leading your congregation. Click HERE to see the various committee specific resources.

Pastors, SPRC Chairs and Committee members, Lay Leaders, and Lay Members to Annual Conference are encouraged to attend. The training is free to attend, but we would like you to click on the link below and register for the training you plan on attending.

Tuesday, December 10
6:30pm - 8:30pm
Peace UMC
13502 Town Loop Blvd
Orlando, FL  32837
Click HERE
Thursday, December 12
6:30pm - 8:30pm
Lakeside UMC
121 North Henderson Lane
Sanford, FL  32771
Click HERE

2020 EC District Committee on Ministry (dCOM) 

Below are the dates for the East Central District Committee on Ministry meetings. To schedule a dCOM interview, email Elizabeth Flynn, District Registrar at Click HERE to read about the Candidacy Process.

2020 dCOM dates Due Date Purpose Location
Thurs, Mar 19 Feb 20 LP License Renewal Asbury UMC, Maitland
Thurs, Apr 30 Apr 2 Provisional/Certification Asbury UMC, Maitland
Thurs, Aug 20 July 23 Provisional Follow-ups Asbury UMC, Maitland
Thurs, Sept 17 Aug 20 Local Pastor/Recert Asbury UMC, Maitland
Thurs, Oct 15 Sept 17 Local Pastor/Recert Asbury UMC, Maitland
Thurs, Dec 17 Nov 19 LP/Cert/Recert First UMC, Oviedo

Around the Conference and Beyond

Basic Disaster Ministry and Early Response Team Training

The time to plan for a disaster is before disaster happens! The conference offers two different trainings for Disaster Response and they are both free to participants.

Disaster 101: Basic Disaster Ministry Training - You and your church will learn how to respond effectively to disaster in your community in collaboration with other churches, emergency management officials and the Disaster Recovery Ministry of the conference. You will understand the importance of communication and coordination in meeting the needs of disaster survivors and the importance of being the church in the midst of crisis. The part the faith community plays in disaster preparation, response and recovery.

Early Response Team (ERT) - This is a self-contained team invited to a disaster-affected area to provide specialized physical, emotional and spiritual assistance to survivors. ERTs help with specific needs in the early days after a disaster, cleaning out flood-damaged homes, removing debris, placing tarps on home and other tasks as needed, while providing a caring Christian presence.

This 8-hour training is provided by an authorized UMCOR trainer. Participants learn the basics of disaster response, including how to stabilize and secure homes safely, and how to work effectively with survivors and others on the response team. All participants are background checked and receive an identification badge showing their affiliation with UMCOR and the Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church.

The next Early Response Team (ERT) Training is August 10 at Carlson Memorial UMC, Labelle. Click HERE for flyer.

We would love to have each offered in the East Central District. Would your church like to host a training? 
If your church is interested in hosting a training, please contact Pam Garrison to learn more. or  800-282-8011 x148.

Apply for Future Generations Fund Grants Sept. 1-30

The foundation operates under the philosophy that we are all called to be partners in ministry, and one way the foundation strives to be a good partner is through its grant program. The goal is to provide churches and related organizations with a portion of the financial resources they need to offer ministries that transform the world.

In previous years, two ministry grant opportunities were available, but this year we are offering Future Generations Fund grants only, reinforcing our commitment to bolster ministries that nurture the next generations of faithful disciples.

Applications for the grants will be accepted Sept. 1-30. Click HERE for details on the grant program. Questions? Contact Tom Wilkinson, vice president of church relations and new business, at or 863-904-2970 x7105.

R-10 & Counting - Clergy Retirement Seminar
September 9-11 - First UMC, Lakeland

R-10 and Counting, a comprehensive retirement planning seminar sponsored by the Florida United Methodist Foundation for clergy planning to retire within the next 10 years, will be held Sept. 9-11 at First United Methodist Church in Lakeland (72 Lake Morton Drive, Lakeland, FL 33801).  
Registrations will be accepted until Aug. 26, but prospective retirees are encouraged to register early because participation is limited to 30 clergy. Spouses are also encouraged to attend.

Clergy may register online or download the registration form and send it to the foundation offices, attention Nadara Brock. More information is available at R-10 and Counting Seminar by contacting Nadara Brock at 866-363-9673, extension 7113, or

The Conference Table
October 26 10:00am - The Portico, Tampa

The Conference Table is scheduled for Saturday, October 26, at the Portico in Tampa. The morning portion of the Conference Table meeting (10am-noon) will be open to all clergy and laity in Florida to come and hear a presentation from Bishop Carter on "Growing the Center." The presentation will be followed by table discussion. Click HERE to register for this event.

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

SEJ Clergy Women's Event - Unchartered-Adventuring the Wilderness with God

This event is open to all female clergy and candidates. "Like" the Facebook page "Uncharted Conference 2019" for all the updates! Click HERE for flyer.


Winter Conference at Epworth By the Sea, January 26-29, 2020

Clergy are invited to attend the Winter Conference at Epworth By The Sea, January 26-29, 2020. This will be a combined event with the Bishops and clergy of the North Georgia, Mississippi, South Georgia and Florida Conferences. You might talk with some of the over 150 clergy who attended Winter Conference 2019 about their transformative experience. Len Wilson will be the keynote speaker.

Click HERE to register and receive the early bird discount. NOTE: The past event sold out. Don't delay in registering!!