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ECD February 2021 Newsletter

In the District

Greetings from the District Superintendent

A Prayer from and for Our Hearts

Eternal and loving God, unto to whom all hearts are open, push us to ponder what is in our hearts this week. Our heart – that place in our bodies that is at the core of our being alive, where lay our deepest feelings of love and loyalty, that deep down place where we are fully and completely ourselves.

Though at times our inclination is to close our hearts off to you, nonetheless even if sometimes reluctantly, our hearts are open to you because to remain alive they need your steady care and the wise leading of your Holy Spirit. You are the one who has made us, and in response to being created by you, our hearts are restless until they rest in you.

For some of us our hearts are ruled by anxious desires – for power, for control, for status and recognition. For some it’s for material things, for bigger and better as those things are defined by others, not you. Some of us carry such deep scars of resentment toward those who have hurt us or those who are different from us or those from whom we feel distant and estranged that in our hearts we long to see others get what we see as their due.

Often these places in our hearts our hidden except from you – never from you. You know all that is in our hearts. There is no secret hidden from you – no shame, no burden, no failure, no embarrassment, no disappointment, no deep desire, no sense of alienation and loneliness, no grandiosity, no pride. You know them all. You know and you do not turn away. You know and you embrace us with your love. You know and you forgive. You know and you set us free to begin anew. We marvel, O God, at your pervasive love and your engaging patience.

We present our hearts to you, O God. What we seek, only you can give. We seek the gift of your abiding love and the grace that we need to receive it unflinchingly and unreservedly.

Come, Holy Spirit. Reclaim these hearts of ours. Renew them, re-enliven them, reorient them, realign them, that we might come to approach you with hearts that are open and receptive, honest and undefensive, no longer fearful, and deeply committed to an unreserved faithfulness and obedience to you, as our hearts become eager to love you in return.


Grace and Peace,


Bob Bushong
District Superintendent
East Central District

East Central District Office

I am available Mon-Fri 8:30am - 4:30pm and can be reached at 321-295-8801 and
Claudia Sava
Administrative Assistant

A Message from Kim & Melanie Lee, District Lay Leader

Being the Joyous Ones

 Melanie & Kim Lee

A good friend in my Sunday school class introduced me to, The Happiness Project, by Gretchen Rubin.  In the book, Rubin explores month-by-month resolutions to seek more happiness in her life.  In November, which is the month I just finished reading, one of her goals was to give more positive reviews.  She was focusing on her own tendency to be critical of others and her need to be the devil’s advocate in her conversations.  Rubin realized, after observing people who are more enthusiastic and less judgmental, that giving positive reviews takes humility.  You are much less vulnerable when you throw out sarcasm and cutting remarks than when you are genuinely “ready to be pleased.”

Rubin explores the “joyous ones” mentioned in a prayer attributed to Saint Augustine of Hippo,

“Tend your sick ones, O Lord Jesus Christ;

Rest your weary ones; bless your dying ones;

Soothe your suffering ones; pity your afflicted ones;

Shield your joyous ones.

And all for your love’s sake.”

The line, “Shield your joyous ones,” was curious to Rubin.  Why would the joyous ones need to be shielded?  She realized, after trying hard to curb her critical bent and give positive reviews instead, “It is easy to be heavy; hard to be light.” The average folks rely on the joyous ones to ease their anger and anxiety.  Even though people need the joyous ones, they tend to shoot them down, making fun of what seems to be a Pollyanna-type way of looking at the world.  As a result, it’s quite draining on the joyous ones to keep up their spirits and keep shining their positive light on those around them.  Maybe that’s why St. Augustine asked God to shield them.

In the midst of the sadness, anger, anxiety, confusion, and despair that so many are experiencing these days, how can we as Christians be the joyous ones to those around us?  How can we avoid being drained and dragged down so that we can shine the positive, healing love of God to those around us?  Paul’s words in Philippians come to mind:

Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

If we keep our thoughts focused on excellent things, perhaps we can find our shielding in Romans.

Romans 12:2 “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

The world needs our positive energy.  Our neighbors in despair need our peaceful, loving, listening ears.  Our communities need our kind and helping hands and voices to be examples for good.  Dear Lord, we pray, shield us, your joyous ones, so that we can do your work in such hard times.

Loving the Laity,

Melanie & Kim Lee 

Statistics due February 5

Please visit the Year-End Statistics Instructions website as you begin preparations for reporting your church's end of year statistics.  You will find everything you need for reporting. Please read all instructions, before you begin! Reminder: You are entering 2020 information, not 2021.

  • Instruction Guides
    • Church Guide for EOY and EZRA Reporting (Login Instructions & Password, Payroll Protection Program (PPP) reporting)
    • Church Table Directions (help text)
    • New Church Development and Year End Statistical Reporting
  • Step by Step Overview of the Year-End Reporting Process

The deadline for submitting Year End Statistical Tables is February 5, 2021.

Thank you to the churches that have completed their reporting and those already started. Click HERE to get started!

North Central, North East, & East Central
2021 Annual District Training Week
SPRC, Finance, Trustees, CYPP, & FUMCH Local Church Rep Training

Workers Compensation Payroll Audit

Workers Compensation Payroll Audit is to be completed online annually.  Report actual payroll for calendar year 2020.  Must be completed between February 1 and February 22, 2021. In order to comply with State of Florida requirements related to workers’ compensation coverage, we ask that you complete the brief online payroll survey.  Please review your payroll records (941’s etc.) for the calendar year 2020 and complete the form as accurately as possible.  Please note that your responses will not affect your workers’ compensation insurance costs for 2021 as this updated information is simply required to comply with State of Florida regulations. 

March 31st Reports

The following reports are due to the District Office by March 31. Please send one email with all of your March 31 reports to Claudia Sava Do not mail hard copies.

Report Committee Responsible
Financial Controls, Policies, & Procedures Finance
Document Retention Policy Finance
Clergy Employee Conduct Policy SPRC
Adoption of Employee Conduct Policy SPRC
Annual Parsonage Report Trustees
Child Youth Protection Policy SPRC


The church needs to have a Local Church Employee form signed by each employee and kept in their personnel file. This does not get sent to the District Office.

You can find instructions and other pertinent information by reviewing the Calendar of Reports. If you have made revisions to any of your policies, please send the entire document.

The Fund Balance report is submitted online by Finance. The form is located in your Church Dashboard on the bottom left. Do not send a hard copy to the District Office. Note: The Disaster Recovery Resource Survey is no longer required.

SLI (Spiritual Leadership Inc.)
Free 2-Hour Workshops via Zoom

The Leader's Journey with Rev. Jorge Acevedo and Dr. Bryan Sims
Date: Tuesday, February 9, 2021
Time: 12:00 to 2:00 pm 
Description: Spiritual leaders know the temptation to over-work and burn out. It is not good for the leader or the church. In this workshop, Jorge and Bryan will help church leaders consider the journey from heroic-solo leader to generative team leader.

Teaching Team Workshop with Rev. Jorge Acevedo
Date: Monday, February 15, 2021
Time: 12:00 to 2:00 pm 
Description: For more than ten years, the Grace church pastors and staff have been experimenting and innovating around the craft of message preparation through teams. Yes, even sermons can be developed in teams. This workshop will help churches of all sizes build a Teaching Team.

Mental Skills Bootcamp: Performing at Your Best!
February 10 2:00pm

The Florida Annual Conference rolled out the Employee Assistance Program (EAP) for all our clergy and all the Conference staff as of January 1. Our vendor is Magellan and each month they provide a webinar on a variety of topics. Click HERE for the EAP Benefits webpage.

Mental Skills Bootcamp: Performing at Your Best!
Join this webinar to:

  1. Develop a growth mindset
  2. Maintain motivation and overcome obstacles
  3. Leverage your strengths and the strengths of others

Click HERE to register now.

Worship Deep Dive - Both/And, Maximizing Hybrid Worship For Online and In-Person Experiences
February 19 10:00am OR February 25 6:30pm
Cost - $10

Jason Moore will conduct a Worship Deep Dive (Virtual) this month! This 2.5 hour workshop will delve into strategies for creating powerful transformative worship where no one feels like they're an afterthought. The two dates are repeats of the same information. Attend the one that works for your schedule! Click HERE for a promo video. Click HERE for article on

Who should attend? Clergy & the entire worship team! Click HERE to register now.

It will explore:

  • Re-imagining worship for Both/And
  • How to create interactive Both/And experiences
  • Bringing at-home and in-person audiences together in real time
  • Alternative opportunities for online viewers watching in-person livestreams
  • Repurposing in-person worship for online viewers
  • Strategies for adapting practices for Both/And
  • Avoiding letting your groove becoming a rut
  • And the last 15 minutes for Q & A

2021 Property & Casualty Insurance

As we communicated during the Financial Services webinar on January 7, after rigorous marketing to a litany of excess insurance carriers, the Florida Conference Ministry Protection insurance program saw an 18% increase in insurance premiums over 2020.  The great news, however, is that this increase is not being passed on to the local church!

The 2021 invoices are now online and can be accessed by Clicking HEREChoose "PC/Workers Comp" from the drop-down menu and enter your church's GCFA number. A packet containing insurance information will also be mailed to you in the next few days and will include the invoices and the 2021 Insurance Summary of coverages.

As in years past, if your insurance allocation is paid in full by 2/28/2021, you will receive a 2% discount off the billed amount.

Wesley Brotherhood

The United Methodist Men (UMM) in Florida has rebranded. Wesley Brotherhood is a literal rebirth of our ministry to and through men. We have stripped it down to the discipleship ministry that it was always designed to be and removed all the things that no longer are effective in ministering to men. We are approaching the way we do ministry in a way that will allow us to connect in the future.

​Wesley Brotherhood has created a toolbox of ministry partnerships to bring those resources to men throughout Florida. Whether you are struggling with an addiction or you desire to grow as a husband, father, and friend, let us connect your church or community group with these powerful resources.

Wesley Brotherhood produces a number of unique events geared toward developing relationships among men while building their faith in Jesus Christ. We also recommend equipping and growth events provided by other organizations.

Wesley Brotherhood is partnering and participating with Lakeland-based Wingman Nation Men's Ministry at the Full Throttle 2021 Men's Rally on March 6. Learn more and register now.


John Delaney, President & Co-Founder
Wesley Brotherhood Men's 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.

Pam Garrison honored with FEPA Distinguished Service Award!!

Pam Garrison, the former Disaster Response Coordinator for the Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church, is the recipient of the FEPA 2021 Distinguished Service Award.

FEPA – which stands for Florida Emergency Preparedness Association – noted Garrison's "multiple contributions to the statewide Emergency Management program in Florida during her career."

She retired at the end of 2020 following a career that began when she joined the Conference in January 2005. That was about five months after Hurricane Charley caused an estimated $16 billion in damages to Florida.

It was the first of seven hurricanes that struck Florida in 2004 and 2005, leading to the formal creation of the Disaster Recovery arm of the Conference.

Click HERE to read entire article.

2021 Holiday Schedule for The Florida Annual Conference

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

February 15 President's Day holiday
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

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

General Conference 2020 - August 29-September 7, 2021