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ECD March 2020 Newsletter

In the District

Greetings from the District Superintendent

 Dr. Bob Bushong

(Confession here: This column is the same one I used last year around this time. Each year at the beginning of Lent I go back to what Frederick Buechner, one of my favorite contemporary theologians and authors, writes about Lent. I do that because I find it to be so challenging, so convicting, so deeply meaningful, and it invites me into Lent in a way that adds a level of depth for me to this season of the church year. I hope it does that for you too.) 

Once again, we find ourselves in the season of Lent, that forty-day period between Ash Wednesday (February 26 this year) and Easter (April 12) viewed in the church as a time for spiritual discipline that leads to the celebration of the resurrection of Jesus. It’s a time for prayer and fasting, a time for study and reflection, a time for worship and introspection.

Frederick Buechner describes Lent in this way:

After being baptized by John in the river Jordan, Jesus went off alone into the wilderness where he spent forty days asking himself what it meant to be Jesus. During Lent, Christians are supposed to ask one way or another what it means to be themselves.

What does it mean to be a Christian – to be ourselves as followers of Jesus – anyway?

I received an email from a friend who is reading C.S Lewis’ Mere Christianity for his morning devotional time, and this morning he read these words from that thought-provoking little book:

Most of us are not really approaching the subject [of Christianity] in order to find out what Christianity says: we are approaching it in the hope of finding support from Christianity for our own views.

That’s a statement worth pondering. How many of us approach Christianity in a way that asks it – asks the faith itself, rooted as it is in the life and teachings, the death and resurrection of Jesus – what it expects of us? How many of us on a daily basis go to God in prayer and ask God to show us what God wants us to learn, to say, to do, to think, to accomplish, to share, to sacrifice, to forgive, to let go of, to hang on to, to risk on that particular day? How many of us base daily decisions that we make about how we spend our time and our money on the claim of Christ on our lives? 

Jesus is clear that his expectation is that we follow him. How often do we really consider – I mean really consider – what it might mean truly to follow Jesus?

Buechner suggests six questions for us to ask ourselves during Lent as a way of getting at the heart of what this season – and the life of faith – is all about:

-    If you had to bet everything you have on whether there is a God or whether there isn’t, which side would get your money and why?

-    When you look at your face in the mirror, what do you see in it that you most like and what do you see in it that you most deplore?

-    If you had only one last message to leave to the handful of people who are most important to you, what would it be in twenty-five words or less?

-    Of all the things you have done in your life, what is the one you would most like to undo? Which is the one that makes you happiest to remember?

-    Is there any person in the world, or any cause, that, if circumstances called for it, you would be willing to die for?

-    If this were the last day of your life, what would you do with it?

Heavy questions? Yes. Unsettling? For me, they are. Nonetheless they are questions worth spending some time with, questions that have to do with life and death, with values and priorities, with what’s really important in this journey called life. To answer these questions is to begin to understand who we are, who we are becoming, and what we are failing to become.  Again, heavy? Oh my, yes. But after all, ours is the faith whose primary symbol is the cross.

Grace and Peace,   


Bob Bushong
District Superintendent
East Central District

A Message from Kim & Melanie Lee, District Lay Leaders

Thank you to all of you who joined Kim and me in our Called to Serve sessions last month!  We enjoyed meeting the Lay Leaders and others who attended the Lay Leader Boot Camp.  We could feel God in our midst as we discussed the gifts and responsibilities of being Lay Leaders and explored how to serve God in our role in our churches.  We, as Lay Leaders, serve our congregations and communities side-by-side with our pastors, and we do that even better when we bind together with other Lay Leaders across the conference to encourage and support one another and share stories and strategies.  (Lay Leaders: Please join our Facebook group, East Central District Lay Leaders.  It’s a place to share your successes and find help in your struggles.)
Here are some of the takeaways from the training:
1.    Laity have an important role in the life of the church!
2.    Lay Leaders should feel confident in their ability to carry out their responsibilities.  Their pastors and nominations committee members chose them because they see the gifts and graces in them that are necessary to play this important role.
3.    Lay Leaders cannot sit back and wait for their pastors to pass the ball.  They need to take the lead to ensure that clergy and laity work together toward their common goal.
4.    The community outside the church depends on laity to get the job done.  Lay Leaders should seek opportunities to take their congregation’s mission out into the field, and then they should lead the way out that door!
5.    Lay Leaders need to be proactive in meeting often and regularly with their pastors.  Developing and strengthening that relationship is foundational to being the laity/clergy team the church and community need.
Next month, we’ll share more about our second session, Being in Ministry with Everyone.  Thank you to Markita Cooper for being our secret guest speaker!  We all gained some great insight into truly integrating our churches so that they reflect all of God’s children.

Loving the Laity,

Melanie & Kim Lee    

March 31 Reports

The following reports are due to the District office by March 31. Please submit the six reports together in one email to Claudia Sava Originals should remain in the church offices as the District Office shreds all documents once they are scanned. If you have any questions, please email Claudia Sava.

Note: The Disaster Recovery Resource Survey is no longer required.

Explanation of Reports and Committee Responsible


  1. Fiscal Responsibility & Management Policy Review & renew annually. Each year, submit a signed copy of the one page Financial Controls, Policies & Procedures and the Document Retention Policy.
  2. Fund Balance Report - Submit online through your Church Dashboard. Do not send a hard copy to the District.


  1. Clergy Employee Conduct Policy ALL appointed clergy must submit this to the District each year.
  2. Adoption of Employee Conduct Policy Submit this report showing that you have adopted the ECP and have a Employee Conduct Policy signed on each employee. The signed Employee Conduct Policy form must be kept in their personnel file. This does not get sent to the District office.
  3. Child / Youth Protection Policy Review & renew annually. Submit a signed copy of this report. Should the policy undergo major revisions, submit a complete copy. Click HERE for the Ministry Protection page.


  1. Annual Parsonage Report Review & renew annually. If your pastor does not live in it, we still want this completed. If you don't own a parsonage, please write N/A and submit it.

Annual Assessment of Clergy Leadership

Annual Assessment of Ministerial Effectiveness & Goal Setting. The clergy assessment process is available on the FLUMC website under Clergy Excellence. Appointed Clergy and the Staff/Pastor Parish Relations Committee should meet annually to complete this process. The report is due to the district office every year by May 31. (Continuing Education is now completed in conjunction with the Annual Assessment above.) The completed forms should be emailed to Claudia Sava

NOTE: This is required for every clergy appointed to the local church. It has been available since January and is due May 31. Even if you have a new appointment, the pastor and SPRC are expected to turn one in. This exercise will be helpful for the church and pastor as they transition.

For detailed instructions on reports, please review the Calendar of Reports.

Lay Servant Ministries
March 20 & 21 - Community UMC, Casselberry

Spring LSM training is THIS month!! 

Register for any ONE of our six classes:

Basic LSM (English) with Rev. Jeanine Clontz, Senior Pastor, Flagler Beach UMC
Basic LSM (Spanish) with Israel Suarez, Certified Lay Servant

Advanced Courses
Discover Your Servant Profile (English) ♦ Led by Jim Boesch, Co-Director of ECD LSM
Shaping the Prayers of the People: The Art of Intercession (English) ♦ Led by Rev. Kate Ling
Desubriendo y Desplegando Nuestros Dones Espirituales (Spanish) ♦ Led by Revs. Carmen & Leo Rodgriguez
Conflict Resolution First-Responders (English) ♦ Led by Lennie Burke & Mike Mailman, Certified Lay Servants.

Click HERE for the brochure to print and mail in. Click HERE to register and pay online.

East Central District Committee on Ministry (dCOM)

 Elizabeth Flynn
dCOM Registrar

dCOM Chair:  Rev. Chris Jones
dCOM Vice Chair: Rev. Jenn Stiles-Williams
Click HERE to read about the Candidacy Process.

For more information or to schedule an interview, email Elizabeth Flynn

EC dCOM meetings are held on Thursdays at Asbury, UMC in Maitland. 

EC 2020 dCOM Due Date Purpose
March 19 February 20 LP License Renewal
April 23 March 26 Provisional/Certification
August 20 July 23 Provisional Follow-ups
September 17 August 20 Local Pastor/Recert
October 15 September 17 Local Pastor/Recert
November 19 October 22 LP/Cert/Recert

Florida United Methodist Children's Home

Every year, hundreds of friends and family come to the main campus for a special open house, called Day on Campus. Day on Campus includes tours of the Enterprise campus, special performances, resident testimonies, a picnic lunch and wonderful fellowship with others from across the state. If you would like to be part of Day on Campus, Click HERE to register. Questions? Trista Calvin or (386) 668-5088. 

East Central District Meeting
April 16 - 10:00am - 11:30am - Asbury UMC, Maitland
April 16 - 7:00pm - 8:30pm - Peace UMC, Orlando

Rev. Alex Shanks will share about General Conference 2020, the various plans (including A Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace Through Separation) and legislation and resources for how churches can prepare their congregations.

Everyone (clergy & laity) are invited to join Dr. Bob Bushong and Rev. Alex Shanks. There will be two meeting locations offered in the East Central District on April 16. Attend the one that is best for you. Click HERE for the other locations.


Annual Conference 2020
Florida Southern College
June 4 - 6, 2020

Make plans now to attend Annual Conference 2020 by booking your hotel rooms early. A list of hotels and rates can be found HERE. Housing will be available at Florida Southern College (details forthcoming).

Click HERE to register for the Florida Annual Conference 5K.

VOLUNTEERS are always needed. Annual Conference could not happen without ushers and greeters! The link to volunteer will be on the Annual Conference 2020 website as soon as it is available.

District Orientation - May 26, 7:00pm at Asbury UMC 220 Horatio Ave Maitland, FL  32751
All Clergy & Lay Members to Annual Conference are asked to attend this pre-Annual Conference Meeting. Esther Rodriguez, Alice Williams, & Bob Bushong will give a report on the results of General Conference 2020. Esther and Alice are both Delegates to General Conference. There will also be information on Annual Conference 2020. All laity are welcome to attend.

Celebrating & Equipping the Small Church
April 25 - 9am-1pm - First UMC, Sanford

REIMAGINE the vitality & impact of a small church in their community!

Small churches have something unique to offer their community and their members! In a society that often overtly tells us that bigger is always better, how can we imagine the small church as a gift rather than a hindrance? Join us for a workshop on April 25 from 9am to 1pm at First UMC Sanford focused specifically on the health, assets and thriving of small congregations. The time will be focused on discovering the beauty and giftedness of small congregations, and using those assets to discover each congregation's unique call in our communities. Click HERE for event flyer.

Rev. Allen T. Stanton is the Executive Director of the Turner Center at Martin Methodist College. Before coming to Martin Methodist College, he served as the pastor of a small United Methodist Congregation in North Carolina. Prior to serving in the local church, he served as the Rural Church Fellow at the Institute for Emerging Issues, a non-partisan public-policy think tank at N.C. State University. At the Turner Center, Allen focuses on how rural churches can become leaders in economic and community development and building strong community partnerships. Allen has written for a variety of publications, including Practical Matters, Faith and Leadership, and Ministry Matters. He holds an MDiv from Duke Divinity School, where he was a Thriving Rural Communities Fellow, and a BA from Wake Forest University, and lives in Pulaski, TN with his wife, Abby, and their daughter, Paige. 


Rev. Meghan Killingsworth is co-pastor at First United Methodist Church of Sanford and director of Crave Sanford, an organization that empowers change makers through spiritual formation and professional development. After some years of work in the social services sector, Meghan felt called to ordained ministry with a special desire to see the people of God equipped to pursue justice and to be fully who God has called them to be in their neighborhood. Her passion is to bring different folks together and help empower the local church to be a change agent in the community for the sake of the Kingdom. Meghan’s favorite Wesleyan theological concept is prevenient grace: how cool is it that the Holy Spirit is already way out ahead of us and we just get to respond?! She is married to David, the other Co-Pastor at First Sanford, and mama to Moses. 

The Florida Annual Conference Website

Have you seen the new website? It is still at If you don't find what you need, access the Where Is It menu at the top of the page. If you are still stuck, send an email to Claudia Sava and I will find it!

Does your church have an event they want to share? Each church may submit their own events for the calendar. Click HERE to see the church events and then click on "Submit an Event".

Does your church have a position they need filled? Click HERE for Staff Openings and then click on "Submit a Classified Ad". Classified Ads are also where you will find free items, items needed, and items for sale.

The more churches that use these features, the more helpful it will be for all of us!

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 2020 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 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 put their faith to work
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

 Apply Now for UMC FCU Scholarships for College Bound Students

The Florida United Methodist Connectional FCU is once again offering scholarships to 17-35 year-old college-bound students in our connection. Four winning applicants, one from each of our four conferences - Florida, North Georgia, South Georgia, & Alabama-West Florida - will each receive a $1,000 scholarship. Click HERE for complete rules and full essay submission criteria. Click HERE for the application with all the details. Deadline for submission is April 30, 2020.
Questions? Call 866-687-2136.

Common Spaces Between Us
Nurturing the Good in the Midst of Difference

By Rev. Melynne Rust

"It is my hope that in the midst of polarizing differences this book will encourage us to explore ways to recognize, honor, and nurture the good in one another." Rev. Melynne Rust is a Deacon in Full Connection in The Florida annual Conference of The United Methodist Church. Click HERE for a flyer. Click HERE to purchase your copy.

Missional Vital Signs

Remember to submit your Missional Vital Signs (MVS) each month no later than the 10th of each month. Click HERE for explanation and to enter your MVS.

Annual Called to Serve 2020

A BIG Thank You to everyone who gave up their Saturday morning to come out to fellowship and learn with others in our conference. We had a great Called to Serve event with about 250 people from around The Florida Annual Conference! Thank you to the staff and volunteers at First UMC, Oviedo for their hospitality! We are thankful to Rev. Annette Stiles Pendergrass who was out Keynote Speaker, Rev. Patina Ripkey for leading worship and all of our facilitators. Click on an image below to enlarge it.














Around the Conference and Beyond

2020 Summer Pastoral Ministry Internship Program 

The Office of Clergy Excellence, a Connectional Ministry of the Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church, sponsors the Summer Pastoral Ministry Internship Program. This program is for young adults, ages 18-26, who are interested in exploring ordained ministry through 10-week summer internships at United Methodist Churches and other approved extension ministry settings within the Florida Conference. These internships seek to provide a holistic, hands-on experience in pastoral ministry within a variety of areas of responsibility and under the guidance of a supervisor.

Click HERE to access the 2020 Summer Pastoral Ministry Internship Program Application.

The deadline for applications is April 30, 2020.

2020 Key Dates
•Internship Program: Monday, May 25, 2020 through Friday, July 31, 2020
•Intern Training Day: Friday, May 22, 2020 (Interns and Supervising Pastors)
•Intern Reflection Day: Monday, August 3, 2020 (Interns Only)

Additional information for Interns

Additional information for Pastors

If you have questions, please contact Holly Finley at or Sara McKinley at or by phone at 863-688-5563, ext 134.

General Conference 2020
Minneapolis, Minnesota - May 5 - 15 

Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace through Separation

What is the General Conference of the UMC?

Florida Delegation General Conference 2020

General Conference 2020 Website

Comparison of Proposals to General Conference 2020

Licensing School 2020
May 11 - 22, 2020

Licensing School 2020 will be held at Florida Southern College May 11 through May 22, 2020. Click HERE for the link with the requirements for licensing school, the tentative schedule and the application. 

Please note the cost has changed due to the fact that we have been losing money on this for some time now. It will be $900 per person and $700 for those who are Certified Candidate in the Florida Conference. There is no additional paperwork needed for the $200 reduction in costs. Compared to other schools we are charging significantly less.

Warren Willis United Methodist Camp & Conference Center

Created by God: May 1-3
Creative Spirit: June 29- July 4
Grandparents and Me: July 27-30
Serve: November 6-8; November 13-15
Summer Camp: June 8 - July 25
Yoga Retreat: May 1-3

Lake Junaluska Summer Youth Events

Bring your youth group for an unforgettable retreat in the North Carolina mountains! Each event features an empowering speaker, worship band, workshops, small groups and opportunities to add mission work and outdoor recreation such as rafting or ziplining. Jimmy Atkins and the Light 'Em Ups Worship Band will perform all summer. Click HERE for more information.