In the District
Greetings from the District Superintendent
|Dr. Bob Bushong|
The Land Remembered is a novel centered on the life of a pioneer Florida family in the 1860s with a narrative that continues the lines of that family up through the 1950s. It’s a book that pulls the reader into the characters – who they are and what makes them tick, as well as the interrelationships among them. It was a thoroughly enjoyable read for me.
In one scene on a hot summer day the family is on a cattle run from an area east of Ft. Pierce to an area just north of Ft. Myers, a long journey in those days. It’s steamy hot and they come across a refreshing spring and decide to camp next to it for the night.
Soon, off in the distance they see a herd of deer clearly eager to get to the spring and likely waiting until dark, when these humans are asleep, to make their way there. The family deduces that there are other animals out there as well – raccoons, bears, wolves, large cats – waiting until dark to come to the spring and they begin to discuss how to keep them away so they won’t harm the cattle.
Finally the matriarch of the family speaks words of wisdom:
You can’t blame the animals. They get thirsty too, and it’s their water, same as ours. We can fill the barrel and the buckets and leave. What difference does it make if we camp here or a few miles further on?
They do exactly as she suggests. Later that night the teenage boy in the family sneaks away from their camp to go observe what is happening at the spring, and here’s how the narrative describes what he saw:
The first forms that visited were deer, and they were soon replaced by the smaller vague bodies of foxes and rabbits and raccoons. [Then came] a procession in groups of their own kind: wolves, bears, a mother panther with a litter of cubs, all passing each other without comment, drinking and disappearing into the night. There were no growls of anger, no warnings to move away, no snarling flashes of superiority – deadly natural enemies seemingly under a truce understood only by themselves, sharing equally a thing they all must have to survive.
That description of a group of animals reminds me of the vision of the prophet from
The wolf shall live with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the kid, the calf and the lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them.
Who knows? If that’s a possibility for a group of wild animals, perhaps it’s also a possibility for human beings of different races and nationalities and religions and lifestyles and languages and customs and perspectives.
Indeed it is, but only through Christ. Only through Christ.
Grace and Peace,
East Central District
A Message from Kim & Melanie Lee, District Lay Leaders
We Are Methodists!
The Judicial Council has ruled on the constitutionality of the Traditional Plan. In response, Mainstream UMC announced that UMC is officially anti-gay. Reconciling Ministries vows to continue its resistance and keep living into biblical obedience. Adam Hamilton plans to host a conversation in Kansas City about how we proceed. In our district, many lay members will gather at St. Luke’s on May 4 for updates on the issue and to discuss the upcoming Annual Conference.
Methodists are diverse. Methodists are diligent. We are all trying our best to be obedient. Where do we go from here? How do we follow God’s will? How do we respect those brothers and sisters who disagree with us and still stand up for what our souls deem as true?
John Wesley began this radical Christian path that we follow. As Methodists, we reach out toward the edges of society and fold them into God’s herd of sheep. Some sheep stay quietly in the nearby pasture and graze close to home. Other sheep seek the distant pastures, wandering far from the fold. The shepherd never forgets any of them. The shepherd spends the time and effort to bring them back – all of them – every night. God’s love envelops all God’s people, every single one, all the time. And so should we.
The staff and laity of churches in our district cannot ignore that we are at a crossroads in our denomination’s history. They cannot keep doing their everyday activities, without understanding the bigger picture their actions are painting. At some point, they need to take stock of their congregations and define the face of their church to set their path forward.
God’s love is so much larger than a denomination. God’s love is so much larger than any man-made interpretation of a religion. God’s love is for ALL. That’s a radical thought. That’s a freeing way of life. That’s the Good News! Spread the Word!
Loving the Laity,
Melanie & Kim Lee
Run 4 Life 4 Miler
Florida United Methodist Children's Home
The 9th Annual Run 4 Life 4 Miler is May 11 at The Florida United Methodist Children's Home. All race proceeds will go to FUMCH and other local suicide prevention programs.
Won't you be part of our Team - The Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church? Click HERE to register online. Be sure to click on "Join Group/Team" & register on our team!
Run, walk, or sponsor a child to participate!
We are one conference, let us come together as the UMC and help prevent suicide!
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. The East Central District Team will join Wil Bailey, the Director of Costa Rica Mission Projects. Wil is a North Carolina Conference missionary. The cost will be $1,000. The first payment of $250 is due June 2, 2019. Click HERE for trip and travel information. Click HERE for the Costa Rica Mission Projects website.
The next Costa Rica Mission Team meeting is June 2 at Asbury UMC at 2pm. Click HERE to register online and make a payment. The first payment is due June 2. We ask that everyone who is planning on being on the Mission Team plan to attend this meeting and register as soon as possible.
This trip is open to clergy and laity in the district. Questions? Contact Betty Sims firstname.lastname@example.org
Fall Clergy Meeting
August 22 - Asbury UMC, Maitland
East Central District Fall Clergy Meeting will be August 22 at Asbury UMC, Maitland. All full-time clergy in the local church are expected to attend. If you are not able to attend, email Dr. Bob Bushong and request to be excused. All part time, lay supply, and clergy beyond the local church are welcome to attend.
9am - noon (All clergy)
Lunch - Optional
1pm - 2pm (Clergy with new appointments)
Click HERE to register.
Around the Conference and Beyond
a worship leader retreat the WELL
June 13-15 - Life Enrichment Center
Join church and worship leaders from around the Florida Conference for a two-day Worship Leader Retreat, Thursday, June 13 to Saturday, June 15. This event is sponsored by the Florida Chapter of the Fellowship of United Methodists in Music & Worship Arts.
Presenters for this event will be Todd Fields, Rev. Melissa Cooper, Joshua Smith and Jeremy Hearn. Worship leaders will be Drew Miller, University Carillon UMC, and Gabrielle Toledo, FUMC Orlando.
Todd Fields is the founder of Worship Circle, a ministry that exists to let worship leaders know they are loved and not alone. Leaders from all over the world join online small group community with a veteran leader of their choice for life changing experience and training.
Todd has led worship for more than 25 years alongside the ministries of Billy Graham, Charles Stanley, Louie Giglio, Andy Stanley and others. He travels both in the US and internationally leading worship and helping churches develop the worship component of their services.
Register NOW for this opportunity to hear Todd's message and have a chance to talk with him in an intimate, small group setting. Click HERE for more information and to register online.
Clergy Day Apart
September 17 - Lakeland
Clergy, mark your calendars for a clergy day apart with Bishop Carter on Tuesday, September 17, from 10:00am - 3:30pm in Lakeland. We will not hold regional gatherings this year, so this is your chance to spend time with Bishop Carter, who will speak about resiliency in the midst of our changing context. We hope all clergy will plan to attend.
Summer Youth Events at Lake Junaluska
Bring your youth group to Lake Junaluska this summer for worship, spiritual growth and adventure in the mountains of Western North Carolina. Every event includes energized worship with great speakers and bands, small groups, vespers and workshops. Youth also can choose to participate in mission projects and recreational activities such as rafting, ziplining or swimming. Find more information at www.lakejunaluska.com/summeryouth.
Event 1: June 15-19 – Rev. Andy Lambert with Jimmy Atkins and the Light ’Em Ups and a talent show, outdoor movie and Sunday morning worship in Stuart Auditorium
Event 2: June 20-23 – Rev. Juan Huertas with Abbye West Pates and a talent show
Event 3: June 23-27 – Guest speaker Stephanie Caro with Abbye West Pates and a talent show and outdoor movie
Event 4: June 27-30 – Rev. Janjay Innis with Zachariah Suggs and illusionist Josh Lozoff
Event 5: June 30-July 3 – Rev. Jeremy Steele with Zachariah Suggs and illusionist Josh Lozoff
Event 6: July 10-14 – Rev. Kevin Wright with Jimmy Atkins and the Light ’Em Ups and a talent show and comedian