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ECD July 2019 Newsletter

In the District

Greetings from the District Superintendent

 Dr. Bob Bushong

Here we are at the start of another new appointment year in the Florida Annual Conference, and I’m very pleased to welcome the pastors below to the following churches. You’ll notice that some are new to the particular church, though not to the East Central District. 

Aloma, Winter Park - Chris Haden
Barnett Memorial, Enterprise - Kevin Evers
Christ Hispanic, Orlando - Juan Garay
Community, DeBary - Mark Abbott
Dundee - Paul Lawson
First, Eustis - Scott Harris
First, Geneva - Joseph Okello
First, Orlando (Lead Pastor) - Vance Rains
First, Orlando (Executive Pastor) - Emily Sterling
St. John's, Winter Haven – Jeanne Icenhour
Peace, Orlando (Moved from Associate Pastor to Lead Pastor)– Jim Berlau
Stetson Wesley & Fresh Expressions – Caitlin White
Trinity, DeLand – Todd Bardin
Tuskawilla, Casselberry – Heather Harding

Seven of these fourteen folks moved within the district. One is “moving” to a different role in the same church. Two of them are coming from other annual conferences. Four of these are part-time appointments, and there are still two part-time appointments that are yet to be filled. 

Paul Hartsfield, a deceased pastor in the Florida Conference who served for many years, and is the father of Matthew and Stephen Hartsfield, two pastors in our Conference who are currently serving, used to write a handwritten note to every pastor who moved into whatever district in which he was serving. I still remember how touched I was to receive Paul’s note to me when I went to my first appointment back in 1981. 

Whether it’s a handwritten note, an email, a text or a phone call, why not reach out to these folks to let them know how glad you are that they are here and how privileged you feel to be serving together with them in the East Central District? After all, we are all in mission together. 

I appreciate all of you, laity and clergy, and the gifts that you bring to the work of the Kingdom through the United Methodist Church.

Grace and Peace,


Bob Bushong
District Superintendent
East Central District

A Message from Kim & Melanie Lee, District Lay Leaders

A Season for Forgiveness and Cooperation

 Melanie & Kim Lee

After attending the Annual Conference in Lakeland last month, Kim and I have had many discussions about the process and the outcome of the voting.  Overall, the annual conference week left us with renewed enthusiasm for our denomination.  The preaching inspired us, the music uplifted us, and the fellowship warmed us. What we regret, however, was this permeating feeling of “us” versus “them.”

In the weeks since the AC, I have followed state and national discussions and proposals for the future of our United Methodist denomination.  Many loving, concerned Methodists, clergy and lay alike, worry about taking sides in a debate that divides us into that “us” and “them” way of thinking.  The constant focus on the human sexuality issue takes our eyes off our true mission, to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.  Respected clergy and laity have explored various plans to help lead us back to our true path, where God wills us to be God’s hands and feet to spread God’s love in this world.

Two Bible verses come to mind for me, as we all take the steps we need to take to get back on our journey.  The first is Luke 6:37-38:

37 “Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

It seems to me we are all spending way too much time judging one another.  THEY are not worthy of being “full” members of our church or our denomination. THEY are not acting like Christians.  THEY are sinners.  And so on.  I believe it’s time to forgive one another and forgive ourselves, as we all ask God’s forgiveness for stepping so far off God’s mission for us.

The other Bible verse that I keep thinking of is Ecclesiastes 3:1: There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.

Now could be the time for our denomination to find an amicable split.  It could be the time to find a uniting compromise.  I don’t know what the future brings, but I know that change is coming.  I feel in my soul that forgiveness on all sides needs to happen first.  We need to bring “us” together with “them” to create the “we” who serve our Savior.

Loving the Laity,
Melanie & Kim Lee   

2019 Annual Conference Highlights
On Mission Together

Click HERE for the Lay Member Summary Report.
Click HERE for 2019 Annual Conference Videos.
Click HERE
for the AC2019 webpage. 
Click HERE to purchase a hard copy of the AC2019 Journal. The deadline to order is July 31, 2019. It will be available as a free download once it is printed.

Congratulations to all the ECD Clergy who were Licensed, Commissioned and Ordained!

Local Pastor
Jeanne Icenhour
- St. John's UMC, Winter Haven, Associate
Rodolfo Martinez - St. John's UMC, Winter Haven, Associate
Wilma Reyes - First UMC, St. Cloud
Chris Tabone - First UMC, Clermont, Associate
Jeff Taylor - Lake Helen UMC

Provisional Elder
Caitlin White - Stetson Wesley and Fresh Expressions

Full Deacon

Mary Downey, Community Hope Center, Kissimmee
Madeline Luzinski, Florida United Methodist Children's Home

Full Elder

Bobby Brooks - University Carillon UMC, Oviedo, Associate
Mike Luzinski - Asbury UMC, Maitland, Associate
Jonathan McCurley - Director: Community Life-Asian Rural Institute, Japan
Emily Sterling - First UMC, Orlando, Executive Pastor

Important dates in the United Methodist Church

General Conference ♦ May 5-15, 2020 ♦ Minneapolis, MN
Annual Conference ♦ June 4-6, 2020 ♦ Florida Southern College, Lakeland
Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference ♦ July 15-18, 2020 ♦ Lake Junaluska, NC
Annual Conference ♦ June 10-12, 2021 ♦ Lakeland

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.

Fall Clergy Meeting
August 22 - Asbury UMC, Maitland

East Central District Fall Clergy Meeting will be August 22 at Asbury UMC, Maitland. Part of our time together will be in service. Feeding Children Everywhere (FCE) will lead us in teams to package meals for hungry children and families. 

All full-time clergy in the local church are expected to attend. If you are not able to attend, email Dr. Bob Bushong and request to be excused. All part time,  lay supply, and clergy beyond the local church are welcome to attend.


9am - noon (All clergy)
Lunch - Optional
1pm - 2pm (Clergy with new appointments) 
Click HERE  to register.

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

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. 

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

Around the Conference and Beyond

Florida Camps and Retreats

We are blessed to have several camps to choose from within the Florida Annual Conference. Most of us know about Warren W. Willis Camp and the Life Enrichment Center in Fruitland Park. Did you know we have more in Florida?



Centenary Camp
is a located 40 miles west of Tallahassee in Gadsden County Florida. Centenary Camp is the perfect place to have a great getaway weekend, for a retreat. We know you will fall in love with the beauty of this camp. Deer and wild turkeys roam the land. Bald eagles and many species of birds make their homes here. 

Riverside Camp & Retreat Center is located in LaBelle, FL on the banks of the Caloosahatchee River. The nearly 150 acres are dotted with open meadows and grassy corridors surrounded by a lush forest of pines, cypress, palms, live oaks and other native species. Riverside is a summer camp, year-round retreat center and RV Park that would love to host you and your next group event. Year round, they can host your small or large group events.

Renfro Trust Fund Grant

The Renfro Trust Fund awards annual bricks-and-mortar grants to small rural United Methodist congregations in the Southeastern Jurisdiction.

The Renfro grant, if you are not familiar with it, “is for the purpose of establishing and supporting United Methodist churches in rural areas of the United States within the Southeastern Jurisdiction of the United Methodist Church. The term “rural areas” shall be interpreted to mean towns of less than 10,000, villages, and open country. Situations described as unusual and challenging and for which insufficient funds are available from other local sources shall be considered as eligible for grants from the Renfro Trust Fund.  Grants will be considered for projects involving new or existing church buildings only, not for parsonages. Repairs required to maintain the structural integrity or soundness of the church building may be included as part of a request. Major equipment directly related to the overall project may be included in a request. Grants will not be awarded for general maintenance on a church building or equipment. Grants for debt reduction will not be considered.  The maximum amount for each grant shall be $5,000.00. Funds are awarded as grants, not as loans.”
The processing and administering of the Renfro Grant is with the SEJ CSGMs (Conference Secretaries of Global Ministries). The Florida Conference deadline for the Renfro application is July 29 and applications should be sent to Icel Rodriguez.  Questions? Contact Icel Rodriguez or 800-282-8011 x346.

Please download both of these documents.  Renfro Trust Guideline 2019 and Florida Renfro Trust Application Form 2019
NOTE: The Florida Renfro Trust Applicaiton form MUST be received by Icel Rodriguez by July 29.

Festival of Wisdom and Grace
Beyond 50 Ministries
August 5-8 - Lake Junaluska, NC

How do we grow deeper roots in our faith,  turning our age into an asset as we cultivate spiritual maturity and strengthen our relationship with Jesus Christ? How do we become the disciples Jesus called us to be?

"Growing Deeper Roots" is the theme and it promises to be a great experience with a lineup of insightful and inspiring speakers, including Richard Gentzler author of "An Age of Opportunity: Intentional Ministry by, with, and for Older Adults." In addition there will be workshops, entertainment, worship, special events, and outings. Yet the pure blessing of the conference is the opportunity to enjoy the scenic North Carolina scenery for a time of rest and relaxation. Join others in the second half of life for a time of inspirational and renewal in the mountains of North Carolina. 

Click on the following promotional items: FWG Poster FWG Brochure
Click HERE
 to go to the Festival of Wisdom and Grace website.

Clergy Day Apart
September 17 - Lakeland

Clergy, mark your calendars for a clergy day apart with Bishop Carter on Tuesday, September 17, from 10:00am - 3:30pm in Lakeland. We will not hold regional gatherings this year, so this is your chance to spend time with Bishop Carter, who will speak about resiliency in the midst of our changing context. We hope all clergy will plan to attend.


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!!