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.
A Message from Kim & Melanie Lee, District Lay Leaders
Each Number Prompts Us to Action
The news gives us numbers every day. We become a bit numb to numbers. We try to put faces on the numbers, but the count is so high. We pause, when we remember, to thank God for the lives that we know correspond to each number.
“Thank you, Lord, for this beautiful child of yours. We grieve with the family and friends who mourn her loss. We wish for peace and assurance for those who love him that you now hold him in your hands.”
In the midst of the uncertainty, the pain, and the fear, we look to the one who brings us hope when we suffer. As Paul wrote to the people of Rome,
Romans 5 Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we[a] have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we[b] boast in the hope of the glory of God. 3 Not only so, but we[c] also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; 4 perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
God endures this hardship with us, as God does all our hardships. God does not bring about calamity or trials or suffering. God walks along side us during it all, supporting us when we are exhausted and guiding our steps when we wander. God loves us through the rough times with the love and joy that brings hope, even when darkness threatens to overcome us.
Keep persevering, Friends! Keep loving one another! Keep bringing comfort to those who have lost loved ones! You are the hands and feet of God. God trusts you to bring the love and joy of Jesus Christ to this world in such need of hope. You may be the one on the Zoom call who inspires the group to help a neighbor. You may be the one responding in the Facebook Live service that encourages the one who is downhearted. You may be the one in the group text who brings words of comfort to those who are grieving. God touches lives across the distances, but God needs us to listen and obey, to pray unceasingly, to love our neighbors, to run the good race, and to work to bring God’s kingdom here on earth.
Loving the Laity,
Melanie & Kim Lee
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.
Florida United Methodist Children's Home - Virtual Career Fair
Friday, June 5 -- 1:00pm - 3:00pm
The UM Children's Home is hiring new heroes to work directly with children and youth in several programs. Click HERE for the Virtual Career Fair flyer. For a complete listing of career opportunities and to RSVP, please visit our career opportunities pages at https://www.fumch.org/about-fumch/employment and https://www.cofsfl.org/careers.
Minimum requirements: Applicants must be 21 years or older, have a high school diploma, GED or higher, and be able to pass an extensive background screening. Some positions require applicants to be bilingual in English and Spanish and have a year of experience working with children. Positions at Circle of Friends Services are contract based. See specific requirements for each position at the career opportunities links above. Above all, our applicants need to have a passion to be a positive role model in the lives of children and youth.
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.
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 https://www.flumc.org.
Videos should be 4 minutes or less. You can share your video with us here: https://www.flumc.org/submitvideo.
You can also share your photos on our Photos from around the conference page https://www.flumc.org/photos.
Use the form here to submit your photos https://www.flumc.org/submit-your-photo.
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.
Annual Conference 2020 Update
Clergy Session - The virtual clergy session is Saturday, June 6 beginning at 9:00am. Bishop Carter sent an email to all clergy on May 13 & May 28 with the link to register. Clergy couples need to register and login to the webinar separately. If you did not receive the email, please email Claudia email@example.com to request the email.
Virtual Pre-Annual Conference Orientation - There will be three virtual session to help prepare attendees for this year’s session:
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.
The Laity Session will be held online only on Sept. 12 at 10:00am.
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).
Click here to read about the expectations. If you are interested in serving or learning more, please contact the current Chair, Anita Campbell at firstname.lastname@example.org or ConMin@flumc.org.
The history of the United Methodist Church is precious and the need to maintain it is great. Won’t you consider serving?
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.