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ECD March 2021 Newsletter

Greetings from the District Superintendent

I’m often aware of how much stronger the inclination is for followers of Jesus to focus on the judgment of God than it is to embrace the grace of God. This rings true for many of us in terms of how we view others, especially those with whom we disagree and those who are making what we view as poor or flat out wrong choices. We see that reality operating today, both as it relates to the secular political sphere and to the current state of the church, specifically our United Methodist Church.

My experience as a pastor for over forty years reminds me that often this inclination toward nurturing a judgmental spirit within us also plays out as it relates to ourselves.

Do you sometimes find yourself being harder on yourself than you are even on others? Do you sometimes minimize or even forget the truth of scripture that portrays the loving, grace-filled, forgiving nature of God as it relates to you?

I came across this poem entitled “And God Said Yes,” from an anonymous author. It’s a word that speaks to me, and I have a feeling that it may also speak to many of you. Perhaps you will even hear a word of grace from God as you allow it to speak into your life:

I asked God if it was OK to struggle with who God
 wants me to be even at this point in my life

  and God said of course it is

I asked God if it’s OK to slack off every now and then
  and God said I think you need to

I asked God if he’ll help me let go of what I need to let go of
  and God said I’ve been there doing that

I asked God if being myself is good enough
  and God said my goodness – who else are you going to be?

I asked God to forgive me even when I can’t forgive myself
  and God said I already have.

Grace and Peace,


Bob Bushong
District Superintendent
East Central District

East Central District Office - NEW mailing address!!

East Central District 
Florida Conference of the UMC
PO Box 4064
Enterprise, FL  32725

I am available Mon-Fri 8:30am - 4:30pm by phone or email
Claudia Sava
Administrative Assistant

A Message from Kim & Melanie Lee, District Lay Leader

Paring Down and Letting Go

 Melanie & Kim Lee

Simplifying your life can mean cutting responsibilities that drain your energy.  It can mean moving past relationships that lead you away from your authentic path.  It can mean releasing the grip that sentimental possessions have on you so that you can walk more freely into your future.  It can also mean putting first things first and clarifying your purpose.  I am sure it can mean more.  Whatever it means to you, simplifying your life can be difficult, if not painful, in the process and enormously freeing and life-giving in the result.

Kim and I have been downsizing for what seems like an entire season.  We are moving to a much smaller home that will allow us to live less encumbered by our “stuff.”  Granted, we are fairly attached to our stuff.  I am particularly attached because I have inherited a good portion of my stuff from generations of my family.  There’s my great-grandmother’s hand-painted china, my grandmother’s silver, my mother’s crystal, my father’s Air-Force uniform, and the list goes on.  A larger portion of our stuff was generated by our children.  I think I have saved every school paper my children ever wrote their names on.  In clearing through and sorting out, I have been going through the necessary process of separating the memories of the people and events from the stuff.  I have been working hard to find appropriate homes for everything, but I know not everything will end up where it will be valued by someone else.  That is very sad to me, but again, it is stuff – not the people who owned it, the children who created it, or the memories embedded in it.

I am setting my sights on the light at the end of the tunnel, when our stuff no longer ties us to a large home, with too large a carbon footprint for two people.  We will have a sense of peace that comes with simplicity in your surroundings.  I know we will be following more closely Jesus’ words in Matthew,

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  Matthew 6:19-21

May the Lord lead us all toward that simpler life that Jesus led, keeping focused on what is truly important, love of God and love of neighbor.  Please pray for us as we go through this journey.

Loving the Laity,

Melanie & Kim Lee 

Statement from Bishop Carter on the Postponement of General Conference & Special Sessions of the Jurisdictional Conferences

February 25, 2021

To the People of The Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church:

Blessings to you friends, in the name of Jesus Christ our Savior, who journeys with us in these days of Lent toward a garden and a cross, and then an empty tomb and a risen life!

I write to share the news released today of the upcoming General and Jurisdictional Conferences. We live in an unprecedented season. COVID has changed how we work, gather, travel, eat meals, worship, see our families and friends. This week we noted that 500,000 Americans and 30,000 Floridians have died of COVID. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayers!

This has disrupted the denominational gatherings held every four years that we know as the General and Jurisdictional Conferences. The Commission on the General Conference and the Council of Bishops have released the new dates for these gatherings, which are linked here and here. In addition, a Frequently Asked Questions document is provided here.

Three brief words:

  1. The setting of dates for two General Conferences and two Jurisdictional Conferences over the next eighteen months allows the elected delegates, half laity and half clergy, the opportunity to serve the church which has called them. The setting of these dates is very healthy.  

  2. The scope of work in the General and Jurisdictional Conferences will be done first in a minimal way, accomplishing what is necessary and what is possible, in 2021. The in-person General and Jurisdictional Conferences, in 2022, will take up the weightier matters which can most appropriately be done when we are together. A fundamental value in the call of the May, 2021 General Conference in particular was equity. It is simply not fair to make long-term decisions about the future of our denomination when many delegates across the world do not have equal access to technology.  

  3. We now have a sense, God willing, of a timetable for the next faithful steps in our denominational life. I encourage us, in this interim season, to focus on our most important commitments—to vital and sustainable local churches, on a path back to in-person gatherings; to the work of antiracism as a core matter of discipleship, mercy and justice; and to the health and resilience of our clergy leaders.

For those who want to learn more about the General and Jurisdictional Conferences, the FAQs provide accurate and helpful information.

I am in prayer for you, and I depend on your prayers. Be encouraged and stay safe!

The Peace of the Lord,

+Ken Carter
Bishop, Florida Conference
The United Methodist Church

District At-Large Members to Annual Conference

Annual Conference 2021 will be held via Zoom. Click HERE for the AC2021 webpage which will be updated as information is available.

Are you interested in becoming an East Central District At-Large Lay Member to Annual Conference 2021? The Cabinet has given the Districts Guidelines regarding Lay Members to Annual Conference. 

  • No more than three voting members from one household
  • No more than five at-large members from one local church
  • Click HERE for the Discipleship Ministries explanation on Lay Member to AC


  • Pre-Annual Conference Gathering is Sunday, June 6 3:00pm - 4:30pm for all Clergy and Lay Members to Annual Conference
  • There will be some optional events June 7 - 10
  • You are not automatically a Lay Member to AC because you were last year. Please complete the form, if you want to be considered again.

Click HERE to submit your name to serve as a District Lay Member to Annual Conference 2021. You will be notified, if you have been selected.

Three Commitments:

A Missional Plan for Congregations and Clergy in the Post-Covid Florida Conference
By Bishop Ken Carter & Alice Williams, Lay Leader Florida Conference

This week our nation paused to acknowledge the deaths of over 500,000 known persons to COVID-19, and our state acknowledged the deaths of over 30,000 persons. At the same time we are beginning to see large number of persons vaccinated, especially those most vulnerable to the disease. As winter passes into spring, and as the virus continues to subside, we begin to think about the post-COVID church and what it will mean for us to live into the new normal as Christ's disciples called to bring hope and healing to the world. Click HERE for complete article.

Join the Easter Virtual Choir!
Deadline is March 5

Be a part of The United Methodist Church Virtual Easter Choir!
Last year we created an opportunity for United Methodists worldwide to join in a Virtual Choir Easter video.

The virtual choir brought people together from different countries, congregations, and communities, providing the sense that we are united even in the midst of a pandemic.

We are announcing a new opportunity to be a part of a worldwide video for Easter Sunday.

Congregations from all around will be able to use these vides in their upcoming Easter worship services and post to social media.

Click HERE for details.

Lay Servant Gathering
Thursday, March 25 7:00pm - 8:30pm 

Everyone who has completed the Basic &/or an Advanced Lay Servant class is invited to join us for this FREE event over Zoom. This is not a training event for certification.

Why should you go?

  • Fellowship
  • Exchanging ideas
  • Sharing new and learned tools to help you in your faith walk and service with and for others

COVID-19 showed up and changed the way we had to do ministry. Much has been done to facilitate how we gather for worship and other events. However, what about YOU? How are you handling this change? How have you been able to serve in your small groups, Bible study or other ministry groups? Have you found a way? Would you like to share what has worked for you and hear how others are doing? Above all let us gather for a conversation in a "safe space". While we are all on the same journey, some are on a canoe, some on a yacht and some may just be swimming without a paddle. Join Jim, Randy, and Lynn as we share about being on this journey together while we continue to serve God's people. So pack your laughter, tears, wishes, how tos and anything else you have and let us spend sometime together. Please register today! We are excited about being with you! 

Questions? Jim Boesch or Randy Nunley

Day on Campus
Florida United Methodist Children's Home

Mark Your Calendars: Children’s Home’s (Virtual) Day on Campus, March 27th!

Each year, one of the most special days in the life of the Florida United Methodist Children’s Home is Day on Campus. This eagerly anticipated event provides us with the opportunity to both thank our faithful churches and ministry partners and highlight all of the wonderful things God is doing through the ministry here. Normally, we open our gates and welcome guests to celebrate the ministry they have helped to make possible. However, we know that this is not a normal year, and churches and ministries have adapted their work in a way that continues to prioritize health and safety. We have also had to adapt, and we are very excited that we will be holding Day on Campus as a virtual event this year! This will allow us to continue the annual tradition of lifting up the Children’s Home ministry, while also ensuring people can engage from the safety and comfort of their own homes.

Day on Campus will be held virtually on Saturday, March 27. It will be broadcast on our Facebook page, and will also be accessible on our YouTube channel following the event. Similar to the standard program, the virtual event will feature updates from our President & CEO, board chair, and key staff. It will also highlight testimonials from individuals, 2020 award winners, music from our children and staff, and a virtual tour. Our mission has continued to guide the ministry, even in the midst of a pandemic, and we are excited for you to celebrate the ways in which God continues to do great things through the many ministries of the Children’s Home.

For more information on how to view the event, as well as ideas on how to engage, please visit our Facebook page and stay tuned to our email communications. Any questions can also be sent to Thank you for your continued partnership in serving children!

March 31st Reports

There are seven "March 31st Reports" coming due on...March 31st! I have put in ( ) the committee that is typically responsible for completing the reports. Please have one person from your church send all reports in one email to Claudia Sava at

  • Child Youth Protection Policy adoption (SPRC) - Review and renew annually. Submit a signed copy of the (1) Annual Review and Renewal Document. Should your policy undergo major revisions, submit a complete copy of your policy. Click HERE for the Child Youth Protection page on the Ministry Protection webpage.
  • (2) Clergy Employee Conduct Policy revised April 30, 2015 (SPRC) - Each year, clergy receive the entire policy. Submit the last page with the clergy's signature.
  • Employee Conduct Policy revised April 1, 2013 (SPRC) - Click HERE for the Church Employee Conduct Policy. The church needs to have a Local Church Employee form signed by each employee to keep in their personnel file. The district does not get these forms. The district receives the one page (3) Adoption of Employee Conduct Policy.
  • (4) Annual Report on the Parsonage (Trustees) - Review and renew annually. If you have a parsonage, submit the entire report. If you have a parsonage and the pastor is not living in it, we still need the report. If you do not have a parsonage, please print the first page, write N/A across the page and submit that one page.
  • Financial Controls, Policies, & Procedures (Finance) - Review and renew annually. Once in compliance, submit the (5) Annual Review and Renewal Document and the (6) Document RetentionShould your policy undergo major revisions, submit a complete copy of your policy. Click HERE for the Fiscal Responsibility & Management page of the Finance webpage.
  • (7) Fund Balance Report (Finance) - This report is found in your Church Dashboard on the bottom left. Please enter your 2020 balances and remember to click "Submit Fund Balance Data". This is submitted online. Do not send the Fund Balance Report to the district.

You can find instructions and other pertinent information by reviewing the Calendar of Reports. If you have any questions, please let me know.

Annual Assessment of Clergy Leadership
Due May 31

Finally! It is here! The new and revised Annual Clergy Evaluation Form! There is ONE online form that the clergy and SPRC chair both complete online and submit online!! Be sure to read the letter from Rev. Sara McKinley and to watch the video on the link below.

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. Continuing Education is now completed in conjunction with the Annual Assessment above. 

This NEW process is fully electronic and you do not have to print and send a hard copy of the evaluation to the district office.

East Central DCOM:

District Superintendent: Dr. Bob Bushong
DCOM Chair: Rev. Chris Jones
DCOM Vice Chair: Rev. Jenn Stiles-Williams
DCOM Registrar: Elizabeth Flynn

2021 Dates


Due Date


Thursday, March 18

February 18


Thursday, April 15

March 18


Thursday, May 6

April 8


Thursday, August 19

July 22

Provisional follow-ups

Thursday, November 18

October 21










For information how to begin the Candidacy process, click here.
For information on DCOM responsibilities and training materials, click here.

Clergy/Students Can Now Apply For Grants
Deadline is April 30

The PASSING THE TORCH FUND, a collaborative grant program between the Florida United Methodist Foundation and Florida Conference, is now accepting applications for two grant opportunities.
The fund awards grants that provide financial assistance to Florida Conference clergy in full connection who are planning to take renewal leave. Up to $10,000 per grant may be awarded.
The fund awards a seminary scholarship to a qualified student of color and culture who is planning to enter United Methodist ministry.
Applications for both grants will be accepted until April 30.
Complete the application online (under #4 Passing the Torch). For more information, please contact Holly Finley, Office of Clergy Excellence, at or 800-282-8011, ext. 134.
The Passing the Torch Fund was launched in 2015 to provide training, financial assistance and leadership development support for conference clergy and those preparing for ordained ministry in the Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church.
It is administered by the Office of Clergy Excellence and funded by the Florida United Methodist Foundation and conference Board of Pension and Health Benefits.
In addition to the grant opportunities, individuals ordained deacon or elder in full connection will receive $5,000 from this fund at annual conference to help alleviate educational debt. The fund also supplements the Ministerial Education Fund assistance provided to clergy and cooperative grant efforts through the Office of Clergy Excellence.
More information about recipients of the grants and how the fund has been used is available through these articles:
Clergy scholarship recipients have passion, hope for future church
Grants help clergy dream big, focus on God’s call
Helping the helpers
Scholarship helps candidate fulfill passion for ministry

Apply Now for UMC FCU 2021 Scholarship
Application deadline:  April 30, 2021

 What you need to know:

  • $1,000.00 awarded to one person from each of the United Methodist Conferences (Florida, Alabama -West Florida, South Georgia, North Georgia)
  • Application Open: January 1 - April 30, 2021
  • Previous Winners are ineligible to apply
  • UMC FCU Members are eligible to apply. Applying online to become a UMC FCU member is easy. Eligibility Requirements  ( Be a Member of a UM Church, or Work for a UM Church or Organization within the four (4) conferences listed above, Have a family member who is already a member of UMC FCU)
  • Click HERE for application and essay information
  • Don’t wait to apply (Applying early does not increase your chances of winning… it’s just good to get things done as soon as possible)   

Should you have any questions, please contact anyone at the United Methodist Federal Credit Union 863-687-9725.

Modified 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 Sava at

2021 Holiday Schedule for The Florida Annual Conference

The conference and district offices will be closed the following days.

April 2
Good Friday holiday
May 31
Memorial Day holiday
July 5
Independence Day holiday
September 6
Labor Day holiday
November 11
Veteran's Day holiday
November 25-26
Thanksgiving holiday
December 24
Christmas holiday
December 27
Christmas holiday
December 31
New Year's Day holiday