|Bishop Ken Carter|
Dear Florida Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
Some are grateful for the results of the Special Session. And others sought a different outcome. All of this will take some time to process. Human sexuality is a topic on which our people have differing views. As evidenced by the vote of the special session, we are a global church with very different contexts. We were not able to achieve contextual differentiation as envisioned by the Commission on a Way Forward. By a majority vote, we passed the Traditional Plan, with some parts ruled unconstitutional. It now goes to the Judicial Council for review at their next meeting but our existing Discipline language is maintained.
We are a global church. This is a great gift in that God blesses us with diversity and the gospel is lived and shared across cultures. This is a great challenge in that we have different understandings of the LGBTQ community and, indeed, the LGBTQ persons in our own churches.
By a majority, the U.S. church seems to favor the One Church Plan that would have more openly welcomed pastors from the LGBTQ community and allowed for same-sex marriage. And, an overwhelming majority of the Council of Bishops endorsed the One Church Plan.
I am a person of evangelical and orthodox faith and respect those who see this primarily as a matter of scriptural interpretation. I will continue to live my promises of consecration as a bishop by abiding by the Book of Discipline as a resource for oversight and supervision in support of the church’s mission (BOD ¶403).
Some believe the arc of history is moving towards more acceptance of LGBTQ people, not less. Pew Research teaches us that younger generations in the U.S., especially under 45 and more so under 30, will not participate in a church that rejects the LGBTQ community. A letter from United Methodists under the age of 35 was shared at the Special Session, with over 15,500 signatories. A greater number of LGBTQ voices were heard on the floor of the Special Session than ever before. Many of these were younger voices.
I offer the following words to the LGBTQ community:
Please know that you are of sacred worth. You are not the problem. You are not "out there." You are present in our churches. You bless us with your faith and your gifts strengthen the church. And my calling, for you and all people, is to remove the obstacles to your experience of the grace of God, and especially in the life of The United Methodist Church.
I also offer these words to the evangelical community:
Please know that your faith is a great gift to God and to your local churches. Too often, your stances have been misunderstood as driven by hatred, as opposed to being of deeply held faith. Your lives have been changed by the good news of Jesus, and you have a deep desire that others know this grace. Our denomination is blessed by you and needs your gifts in our calling to share God’s love across the world. Our conference includes at every level of leadership evangelicals who are of the utmost integrity.
We remain a denomination that is open to people of all nations, ethnic groups, ages, and sexual orientations. We hope to find better ways to embrace our diversity and be on mission together. Our POV process continues to be a resource available to you.
Despite our differences, we will continue to work together to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world and to share God’s love with all people.
The peace of the Lord,
Resident Bishop, Florida Conference
President, Council of Bishops
United Methodist Church
In the District
A Message from Kim & Melanie Lee, District Lay Leaders
Why Is It So Hard to Trust?
I know that God is trustworthy. I also know that God can do anything! So why do I not trust God? I say I do. I certainly know I should. Still, I worry, which clearly shows I don’t trust God as much as I could.
I sometimes go through a long scenario in my head about a tough conversation I’m planning to have with someone. The “script” keeps me up at night and colors my thoughts during the day. What a waste of time and emotional energy!
God is great. God is good. God loves me. Jesus told me so. I have no need to worry, no need to fret. God can handle even the worst of my problems and invites me to let God have it. Matthew 11:28-30 says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
I know that trusting God to take my heavy burden does not mean abdicating all responsibility. I still have to go through the phone calls, the letters or e-mails, and the manual and emotional labor of getting the work done. What it does mean is gathering in all that joy of the peace from worry.
Paul tells us in Philippians 4:4-9, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 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. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.
When I’ve completely trusted God to handle the outcome, my heart has been light and my mind unclouded by worry. I’ve done that! I’ve been there! I know that God IS trustworthy. God’s will prevails in the end. My worry never adds a single piece of anything to the outcome. All it does is make me upset, agitated, concerned, difficult to be around, and ineffective. Who wants any of that?
Dear Lord, Please give me the courage to give you all my burdens. Help me to embrace the joy that you so freely give. Amen.
Loving the Laity,
Melanie & Kim Lee
Costa Rica Mission Trip with Dr. Bob Bushong
District Superintendent Bob Bushong will be leading a mission trip to Costa Rica September 7-14, 2019. We will be working with Costa Rica Mission (costaricamissionprojects.com) under the leadership of Director Wil Bailey, a North Carolina Conference missionary.
Costa Rica Mission Trip Information Meeting will be Sunday, March 24 2pm at Asbury UMC, Maitland. This meeting will include information about travel, cost, and more details about our in country experience. Please email Claudia Sava email@example.com and let her know if you plan to attend the meeting.
UMW Spritual Retreat
April 6 - Warren W Willis
The East Central District United Methodist Women are hosting their Women’s Spiritual Retreat on Saturday, April 6 from 9:00am to 3:00pm. The theme is: “It Is Well With My Soul”. We are having this one day event at Warren Willis United Methodist Camp. We will be having breakout sessions:
>How Music Influences Your Soul
>Praying the Psalms
>Soul and Soil
>Mission Project (turning plastic bags into plastic yarn).
Annual Conference 2019 set to take place at Florida Southern College
Make plans now to attend Annual Conference 2019 by booking your hotel rooms early. A list of hotels and rates can be found HERE. Housing will also be available at Florida Southern College (details forthcoming).
As you make your plans, the Annual Conference planning team wanted you to be aware of the following:
1) Our theme is “On Mission Together,” and we will welcome Bishop Will Willimon, missiologist Dr. Dana Robert, along with musical leaders Jarvis Wilson and Keith Wilson.
2) Annual Conference will begin on Wednesday, June 5, with clergy and lay sessions at 10 a.m. We will conclude with the Service of Licensing, Commissioning and Ordination on Saturday, June 8, adjourning at 12:30 p.m.
3) We will be voting on delegates to General Conference 2020, with chances to meet delegates Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning.
4) All registration will take place at Florida Southern College, as will the clergy and lay sessions.
5) Florida Southern has added new parking shuttles and golf carts.
6) We will have an air-conditioned tent near Branscomb Auditorium which will be a place to eat and fellowship with other delegates.
Annual Conference is free and open to anyone who would like to go. However, only Lay Members to Annual Conference 2019 will have a vote.
Youth are encouraged to participate and experience Annual Conference. Housing will be on the Florida Southern Campus, and $170 will cover dorm housing (double occupancy) and 8 meals. Register by May 15, 2019. Orientation will be at 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 4th , with housing check in immediately before orientation at 2:00 at Reynolds Hall. All youth must check into housing before orientation. Click HERE for youth information and registration.
Note: This does not make them a Voting Member at Annual Conference.
District Orientations -
Each district will have orientations which will include a report on GC2019, an introduction of nominees for GC2020, a review of how to use the voting equipment, a review of the five resolutions to Annual Conference, a review of the budget, and a review of any other significant issues before the conference.
East Central District Committee on Ministry (dCOM)
The East Central District Committee on Ministry (dCOM) meetings are held at Asbury UMC, Maitland.
Thurs, Apr 11 (materials due Mar 14)
Fri, May 3 (materials due Apr 5) 1st Provisional attempt NOTE: This is a Friday.
Thurs, Aug 29 (materials due Aug 1) 2nd Provisional attempt
Thurs, Oct 17 (materials due Sept 19) LP License Renewals
Thurs, Dec 19 (materials due Nov 21) This meeting will be at First UMC, Oviedo.
Around the Conference and Beyond
Marriage Enrichment Retreats at Lake Junaluska
We are created for a lifetime of love and intimacy, but relationships can be hard, even for the happiest couples. Distance, frustration and disconnection can enter through any number of life's events.
Come to a Christian-based marriage retreat at Lake Junaluska to better understand your partner and learn to cultivate a warmer, more joyful and loving relationship.
WHAT YOU WILL LEARN AND APPLY:
- How to strengthen essential psychological and spiritual foundations for healthy, happy relationships
- How to stop rigid negative patterns in communication that lead to frustration and disconnection
- How to be more accessible, responsive and engaged in your relationship
- How to better understand your partner and help them to understand you
- How to share your deepest needs for support, love and affection and respond to those same needs in your partner
Pastoral participants earn 1.5 CEUs for participation in this program. This retreat is perfect for pastors who regularly do marriage counseling, or anyone who wants to strengthen the bond in their marriage.
Marriage Enrichment Program for two people: $350
Two nights lodging for two people and five meals (Monday breakfast through Tuesday lunch) for two people (required): $319
- March 10-12, 2019
- August 18-20, 2019
- September 29 - October 1, 2019
Learn more at www.lakejunaluska.com/marriage or call 800-222-4930.
Apply Now for the Sinclair Scholarship from FUMF
The Florida United Methodist Foundation is now accepting applications from United Methodist high school seniors for the 2019 Sinclair scholarships, and we need your help to spread the word.
Applicants must be full and active members of a Florida United Methodist church, have a record of church and community service, and have a grade point average of 2.5 or higher or academic performance that indicates ability to succeed in college. They must also be planning to attend a Florida or United Methodist college or university for the first time this fall.
Scholarship awards range from $2,000 to $3,000 and are renewable for up to three additional years for students who remain in good standing. The deadline to apply is March 15.
A scholarship application and instructions about other required documents are available on the foundation’s website. More information is available by contacting Nadara Brock at firstname.lastname@example.org or 866-363-9673, ext. 7113.
Please consider posting and/or sharing the Sinclair Scholarship flyer with students you feel are good candidates for this opportunity, as well as including it in your newsletters or worship bulletins.
Below are several stories related to the scholarship, providing more information about how they benefit and support students:
Scholarship recipients make campus ministry experience a priority
Scholarship recipients have mission-minded focus
Scholarship recipients are driven, thankful
Sinclair Scholarship recipients offer hope for the future
The Florida Annual Conference is Hiring!