Main Menu

ECD July 2020 Newsletter

In the District

Greetings from the District Superintendent

 Dr. Bob Bushong

Perhaps you’ve heard – or read – this story before. I actually had, but when it came to me via email another time recently, for some reason, perhaps this strange and stressful time that we’re in the midst of, it hit me in a way that it hadn’t before. It caused me to pause and to give thanks for the blessings in life that I often overlook. Perhaps it will do the same for you.  

Here goes . . . 

A group of students was asked to list what each one thought were the present Seven Wonders of the World. Though there was some disagreement, the following received the most votes:

1.  Egypt’s Great Pyramids
2.  The Taj Mahal
3.  The Grand Canyon
4.  The Panama Canal
5.  The Empire State Building
6.  St. Peter’s Basilica
7.  China’s Great Wall

While gathering the votes, the teacher noted that one very quiet student hadn’t turned in her paper yet. She asked the girl if she were having trouble developing her list.  

The girl answered, “Yes, a little. I couldn’t quite make up my mind because there were so many.”

To that the teacher replied, “Well, tell us what you have so far and maybe we can help.”

The girl hesitated and then read her list:

1.  to touch
2.  to taste
3.  to see
4.  to hear

She hesitated again and then added,

5.  to feel
6.  to laugh
7.  to love

It’s true, isn’t it, that some of the real “wonders of the world” are simple realities that we tend to overlook and sometimes even forget. We take them for granted and lose sight of the joy that they bring. The most precious gifts of life often are ones that we can’t buy or create or control. They simply come.

During this unprecedented time in the lives of all of us, in the midst of it may there be times in which you have to opportunity to touch, to taste, to see, to hear, to feel, to laugh, and to love.
Grace and Peace,   


Bob Bushong
District Superintendent
East Central District

East Central District Office

The District Office will be closed during the pandemic. Claudia Sava is available Mon-Fri 8:30am - 4:30pm remotely and will check vm daily. It is best to email her at

A Message from Kim & Melanie Lee, District Lay Leaders

Joining in God’s New Thing in This New Normal

As I was wunning (some walking, some running) in the blazing heat of an Orlando morning, I listened to a podcast that was hosting a discussion with Richard Rohr.  Our district superintendent, Bob Bushong, introduced me to Richard Rohr during a District Leadership Team meeting.  Bob used one of Rohr’s writings as a devotion.  I went home after that meeting and downloaded several of his books.  I’ve been reading Rohr ever since, especially his daily meditations. 

In the podcast, Rohr defined contemplative prayer in the words of William McNamara, who described it as taking “a long, loving look at the real.”  Rohr explained this prayer as gazing at reality, not seeing what you hope to see or seeing what you should see or trying to change what you see, but really seeing what is there, in the moment.  When you see the real, God can ask you to join God in your next journey.  God can take you on to your next new thing.

How do we see everything going on in the world today, just as it is?   Let me share an example Rohr gave in his talk.  He mentioned four or five mothers he has known who gave birth to children with some kind of special need.  He watched the journey that each of them took toward seeing the true reality of their new life.  It took each of these new mothers time to fully understand that their little baby, with all of its variances from what the world considers “normal” was theirs to love and care for completely.  This was the reality of their lives.  Until they understood their reality, they could not move forward authentically.

Can we take a long, loving look at our world today and see the truly real?  Just in this moment, can we spend time with God gazing at reality – the pandemic, our country’s racial tension and political division, climate change, and more – without apologizing for what is happening, without vowing to be part of the solution, without despairing that there might be no hope?  In that moment of our long, loving look, we can ask God to open our hearts to the possible.  We can meditate on Jesus’ words in Mark 10:27, 27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”

I am inspired daily by how our pastors and congregations are seeing the real and joining God in the new and the possible.  They are creating joyful and meaningful services, celebrations, and memorials.  They are planning inspirational VBS sessions for the children. They are connecting people through virtual Bible studies, discussion groups, and meditation groups.  This “new normal” is our real.  God knows what tomorrow brings, and God can use us to join in God’s plans for our world.

Let us know how you and your church are taking a long, loving look at the real and how God is shaping you in that moment.

Loving the Laity,

Melanie & Kim Lee 

Congratulations to all the ECD Clergy who were Licensed, Commissioned and Ordained
at the Virtual Clergy Session June 6!

Local Pastor
Juan Garay - Christ Hispanic UMC, Orlando
L. Paul Lawson - Dundee UMC
Terry Medlin - Lake Helen UMC
Clark McClain - Azalea Park UMC, Orlando
Jon Tschanz - First UMC, Winter Park - Associate
Craig Willson - College Park UMC, Orlando - Associate

Provisional Elder

Nicole Logan - Pasadena Community UMC, St Petersburg - Associate
Jeff Taylor - Edge Memorial UMC, Groveland

Provisional Deacon

Rachel Paul Hartman - Tampa General Hospital

Full Elder
Jim Berlau - Peace UMC, Orlando
Jad Denmark - St Luke's UMC, Orlando
José Nieves - First UMC, Kissimmee

Full Elder transfer from California-Nevada Conference
Jonathan Tarman - Sanlando UMC, Longwood

Blessings to all our Clergy with New Appointments!

Azalea Park UMC, Orlando - Clark McClain
Casa Vida UMC, Wahneta - Rodolfo Martinez Ochoa
College Park UMC, Orlando - Craig Willson
Community Hope Center - Cathy Thacker
Edge Memorial UMC, Groveland - Jeff Taylor (effective January 1, 2020)
First UMC, Eustis - Jay Kowalski
First UMC, Lake Alfred - Victoria Guthrie
First UMC, Lake Wales/Indian Lake UMC, Indian Lake Estates - Esther Robinson
First UMC, St Cloud - Cathy Thacker
First UMC, Winter Park, first associate - Rachel DeLaune
First UMC, Winter Park, second associate - Jon Tschanz
Holistic Counseling Group LLC - Iván Gonzalez
Lake Helen UMC - Terry Medlin (effective February 1, 2020)
Lena Vista UMC, Auburndale - Jeanne Icenhour
Montverde UMC - Bill Delia
Orange City UMC - Ryan DeLaune
Pine Ridge Fellowship - Michael Wycuff (effective April 2020)
Tampa General Hospital (effective August 10, 2020) - Rachel Paul Hartman
University Carillon UMC, Oviedo - Jamie Westlake (effective January 16, 2020)
Zellwood UMC - John Griswold

Attention all clergy with new appointments in the ECD:
There is a Virtual Orientation Meeting on GoToMeeting July 21 at 10am. You received an invitation with the link on June 26. Please email Claudia, if you need the link.

A Zoom Listening Panel for Worship Leaders in The Florida Conference
July 16 10:00am

Please join the Institute for Modern Worship on a Zoom call to pray, share and connect over this challenging season of Covid-19. Design Team members Gabrielle Toledo and Drew Miller will facilitate an open discussion of the joys and pains from live stream, to Quarantine etc. as well as come together in prayer for hope and inspiration. 

If you are interested in participating, please email either, or to receive the Zoom Link.

Commission on Archives and History
East Central District Opening

Do you have a passion for history? The Commission on Archives and History (CAH) is an exciting and rich opportunity to serve the church in a vital way. Each district has a commission member to serve and help preserve local church histories and push forward the work of the Heritage Center. CAH is currently looking for a commissioner from the East Central District. Click HERE for the Archives and History webpage on Click HERE for a job description for commission members.

What is the purpose of a District Commissioner on CAH?

  • The district representative's role in the Annual Conference is crucial; he/she will ensure that vital information is reported back to his/her respective district and the flow of communication is constant.
  • The representative's relationship to all local churches within their district is crucial; he/she will provide leadership, encouragement, and support for the protection and recovery of history at its most important level.
  • The representative's involvement in the wider historical community is crucial; he/she will become and important link in the connectional chain that binds us all.

If you feel you are the "right person for the job", please contact Anita Campbell, Chair of The Florida United Methodist Conference Commission on Archives and History at or 386-734-9224. Check out the Facebook page of the Florida United Methodist Heritage Center!

Each church should have a Church Historian. This person should be listed in your Church Dashboard. Those responsible for updating the church dashboard, please take a minute to verify the leadership is correct. Click HERE for tutorials on how to update the Church Dashboard. Anita will be contacting each church that does not have a historian.

Child & Youth Protection Policy Training (CYPP) Virtually
July 19 2:00pm

Rev. Ryan Frack, Director of Church Relations at the Florida United Methodist Children's Home will lead the first ever Virtual Child & Youth Protection Policy Training for the East Central District. We understand it is hard with social distancing to get everyone trained. We hope this opportunity will be a blessing to you.

The meeting will be held via GoToMeeting. Everyone is asked to register individually. Once you register, you will receive a confirmation email containing information on how to join the online training. Participants will need a camera and mic on their device. Click HERE for the Child/Youth Protection Policy.

Share what your ministry is doing with the conference

If you have short videos showing your ministry in action, youth activities, feeding the hungry, children’s ministry, etc., you can share them with the conference in our Now Playing feature on the home page at  

Videos should be 4 minutes or less. You can share your video with us here:
You can also share your photos on our Photos from around the conference page
Click HERE to submit your photos.

Join the OMT Collective!

Do you have skills in the area of writing, photography, video, graphic design, or curation? We would love to activate those talents and connect you to our shared mission. We believe you can help us create and curate dynamic storytelling content for The Florida Conference.
As we think of new ways to streamline our communications, while at the same time increasing our storytelling capacity, we are convinced that there are talented people all over the Conference that might be willing to use their gifts to help tell the story of our movement.
There is so much good to be celebrated that is happening all over The Florida Conference and we want to make sure we are highlighting it well!
That is where you come in.
If you have the capacity to periodically write a story, curate some resources, shoot photos or video, or make a graphic, would you consider joining the On Mission Together Collective?

Oftentimes, we miss out on great stories of Courageous Leadership, Missional Engagement, and Spirit-Led Innovation because we don’t have a network of storytellers across the Conference set up to capture them. This group of leaders will help shape the stories that we tell in The Florida Conference and use their gifts to bless those who interact with this content.
If you would have any interest in serving in this way, take a moment to fill out our interest form so that we can begin bringing together leaders willing to make an impact through communication: OMT Collective Interest Form
Our goal is for this initiative to be a natural extension of the gifts you are already using and a match to the capacity you have to give.
Thank you for considering, we look forward to connecting with you.

Annual Assessment of Clergy Leadership 

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Cabinet and the Office of Clergy Excellence has agreed to postpone the deadline for annual clergy evaluations for non-moving clergy to September 30, 2020. The completed forms should be emailed to Claudia Sava

The clergy assessment process is available on the FLUMC website under Clergy Excellence

NOTE: This is required for every clergy appointed to the local church. These evaluations are not required for extension ministers or deacons working beyond the local church setting.

Update to 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 at

Annual Conference 2020 Update

Virtual Pre-Annual Conference Orientation  - East Central District's virtual session is August 18 at 7pm. You may attend any of the three that are offered.

Atlantic Central + East Central + South East Districts: Tuesday, August 18, 7 pm
Gulf Central + South West Districts: Thursday, August 20, 6 pm
North Central + North East + North West: Monday, August 17, 6 pm

Annual Conference - The event will take place on Saturday, September 19 from 10:00am to 5:00pm at First UMC, Lakeland. An online option will be available for those unable or unwilling to meet in person. Those who join online will be able to vote. This will be a one day annual conference and the agenda will consist of:  approval of the budget, approval of leadership and committees, election of the Lay Leader, and church closures.

In order to prepare for this one day event, we will need you to register by September 1 to tell us whether you plan to attend in person or virtually. Registration will open on August 1 and close on September 1.

The Laity Session will be held online only on Sept. 12 at 10:00am.

General Conference 2020 - August 29-September 7, 2021

2020 Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference - November 10-12, 2021