In the District
Greetings from the District Superintendent
|Dr. Bob Bushong|
I was in a conversation with several others early one morning recently, and the conversation moved toward our spiritual lives. As has happened so many times, I found myself engaged in a dialogue about the busy-ness of life in today's world, and how difficult it is to find the time for personal study and prayer. And of course, I could relate to the point being made.
As I was reflecting on the morning conversation later in the day I was reminded of the piece below that someone gave me many years ago. I’m not sure whom to credit, since no author is cited. I read it periodically, as an important reminder:
I got up early one morning
and rushed right into the day;
I had so much to accomplish
that I didn't have time to pray.
Problems just tumbled about me,
and heavier came each task.
"Why doesn't God help me?"
He answered, "You didn't ask."
I wanted to see joy and beauty,
but the day just became more bleak;
I wondered why God didn't show me,
He said, "But you didn't seek."
I tried to come into God's presence;
I used all my keys at the lock.
God gently and lovingly chided,
"My child, you didn't knock."
I woke up early this morning,
and paused before entering the day;
I had so much to accomplish
that I had to take time to pray.
As I re-read this piece I was reminded once again of the importance of prayer . . . of conversation with God about what is going on in my life, of seeking guidance and direction, of receiving strength and hope, of listening to the quiet voice of the Holy Spirit speaking into my heart, of lifting up others who are suffering in one way or another, of offering gratitude and thanksgiving to God for all of life’s joys and blessings.
By the time I had finished reading, I was convinced once again . . . "I had so much to accomplish that I had to take time to pray."
Grace and Peace,
East Central District
East Central District Office
The District Office will be closed during the pandemic. Claudia is available Mon-Fri 8:30am - 4:30pm remotely and will check vm daily. It is best to email her at email@example.com.
In-Person Worship Optional after June 15th
The Florida Conference Re-Launch Task Force along with Bishop Carter and the Cabinet met this week and decided to allow churches to consider resuming in-person worship after June 15th on a limited basis according to the following guidelines. Before proceeding, we ask that you be sure to have read carefully and completely our FLUMC guidelines, the CDC guidelines, the article “Why reopening church is different”, the FAQ document, and the Governor’s Plan for Florida’s Recovery.
Please continue to offer on-line worship. It is important that vital worship opportunities are readily available for people in your church who are not ready to return to your campus. Recent surveys suggest that more than 70% of your regular church attendees may choose to stay home at this time. Many of our vital churches have decided to wait and resume in-person worship until July or August and we fully support these plans.
Our strong recommendation is that churches consider lower risk in-person worship opportunities like outside worship (with appropriate social distancing, wearing masks and a consideration for heat exposure) and drive-in worship (with participants staying in their vehicles - see guidelines here.)
Here are seven key things to keep in mind:
1. This guidance could change. If the number of new cases or the infection rates begin to increase, this guidance will be revisited and further guidance will be given, including a new request for no in-person worship during a spike in cases.
2. The decision will vary according to your church context. Churches should carefully follow the guidance of your city and county officials and investigate the rate of infection in your area. Churches should consider the state of preparedness of your church, the size of your congregation, the number of vulnerable persons in your setting, the availability of cleaning supplies, and more. The decision to resume in-person worship should be made by a team of leaders that includes the pastor.
3. Persons in vulnerable populations (in the state of Florida this has been defined as persons over the age of 65 or those with underlying medical conditions) are encouraged to stay home. This guidance is consistent with the guidance from the federal and state government and the CDC.
4. At all times people must maintain at least six feet between family groups. We believe in most indoor settings this could cap your capacity between 15% to 25% of what your space typically holds. In order to do this safely, you will need to have a registration system in place with spaces set aside for visitors.
5. Clearly communicate the guidelines in multiple ways to every person who enters your space. It is helpful to see this as a covenant between all participants. Guidelines should be in writing. Have clear signage as people enter spaces. Announce the guidelines at the beginning of each gathering. Have a clear plan in place for visitors and those who may not want to follow the guidelines. Be able to communicate why you are reopening should the media be present, and take pictures showing how you are following the guidelines.
6. Remember these simple reminders: Monitor your symptoms – Stay Home if you are sick – Wash your hands – Maintain social distance – Wear masks.
7. Have enough cleaning supplies to thoroughly clean your facilities before, during, between and after gatherings. Items should be removed from pews, offering plates should not be passed, and communion should be served in a modified way.
Here are three areas of higher risk that require conversation and coordination:
1. All persons should wear a mask or cloth face covering. Not wearing a mask puts everyone around you at a higher level of risk. We address masks further in our FAQ.
2. Our conference task team believes congregational singing is a higher risk activity. This is based on a high level of agreement among scientists and singing experts (view CDC research on singing). We address singing further in our FAQ.
3. Ministry to children and youth in this time is a higher risk activity. Before schools reopen, it may be that many churches encourage families to worship together. Children and youth ministry must follow the CDC guidelines. This will require additional volunteers, volunteers wearing masks, daily checking of temperatures, and more. Social distancing is difficult for younger children to understand. Any church planning to do children or youth ministry should send their specific plan of how they intend to follow the CDC guidelines to their District Superintendent. All children and youth ministry must also follow our Child and Youth Protection Policy.
As a final reminder, outside groups who use church facilities should follow the same guidelines we have published. All outside groups must provide a certificate of insurance, which includes the local church as an Additional Insured, and sign an agreement that states their willingness to abide by these guidelines. Outside choral groups are strictly prohibited at this time.
The above and linked guidelines are the minimum requirements for Florida United Methodist Churches. Churches may add to these guidelines but may not subtract from these guidelines.
March 31 Reports - EXTENDED TO May 31 are now past due
The deadline for March 31 Reports was moved to May 31. The following reports are now past due.
- Financial Controls, Policies & Procedures Annual Review - Finance
- Document Retention Policy - Finance
- Clergy Employee Conduct Policy - SPRC
- Adoption of Employee Conduct Policy - SPRC
- Child / Youth Protection Policy - SPRC
- Annual Parsonage Report - Trustees
- Fund Balance Report is completed and submitted through your Church Dashboard.
We realize it is more difficult at this time. Please email completed reports to Claudia Sava firstname.lastname@example.org as soon as possible. For detailed instructions on reports, please review the Calendar of Reports.
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. For those clergy who are moving, their evaluations will likely need to be conducted virtually and must be completed by June 30, 2020. The completed forms should be emailed to Claudia Sava email@example.com.
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 March, April, & May 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Conference Commission on Archives and History
Do you have a passion and interest in history? If so, the Conference Commission on Archives and History is looking for YOU! This Commission meets twice yearly (in January and then in June at Annual Conference).
The history of the United Methodist Church is precious and the need to maintain it is great. Won’t you consider serving?