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ECD November 2020 Newsletter

In the District

Greetings from the District Superintendent

Why is worship important?  

Dr. Bob Bushong

Some of you come to worship, whether it’s online or in person, just about every Sunday because worship is an integral part of your life. Others of you come irregularly or even sporadically because you have some particular need or issue in your life that needs attention. Still others of you come irregularly, if at all, because at this point in your life worship isn’t a priority for you.  

So, back to my question – Why is worship important?  

Worship is important because if it’s not at the center of who we are and of what we do as a church – and as individual persons of faith – if worship is not at the center of our corporate and individual lives – we are not likely to remain on track when it comes to following the leading of God’s Spirit for the life of our church or for our individual lives.  

Strong statement?  Yes, it is. And true.

Look at the history of people of faith as recorded in the scriptures, and you’ll see that when the people of God get fuzzy and luke warm and loosey goosey about worship, when they get off track about the central place of worship in their lives, it leads to dissension and conflict and disobedience. It leads to a loss of spiritual passion, to a shallow understanding of the nature of God, to self-centeredness and to hardened hearts.  

Worship is the main event in the life of the church. It’s what makes us unique. Worship is at the center of our community life. It’s at the core of all that we are and do. Passionate, Spirit-led worship and a strong and healthy spiritual life go together. We won’t have one without the other. 

Worship is about God. It’s not about me. It’s not about you. It’s not about our getting our needs met. It’s not about our preferred style. It’s not about our personal tastes. If we are open to it, we will get something out of worship every time we participate, no matter where that is or what style the service, but worship is not primarily about what we get out of it. Worship is about God.  

When we gather for worship we encounter the presence of the Living God. We declare God’s greatness, God’s goodness, God’s mercy, God’s glory with our heart and our soul and our mind and our strength. And we give thanks.  

Why is worship so important? It really is the main event in the life of the church. Don’t miss it.

Grace and Peace,


Bob Bushong
District Superintendent
East Central District

East Central District Office

I am available Mon-Fri 8:30am - 4:30pm and can be reached at 321-295-8801 and
Claudia Sava
Administrative Assistant

A Message from Kim & Melanie Lee, District Lay Leaders

Quadrennial Training – Well Worth the Time

 Melanie & Kim Lee

Kim and I attended the Conference Table/Quadrennial Training in October, and we were inspired by the speakers and the folks who attended.  Bishop Carter began the training with grace and wisdom, focusing on some of his initiatives: Anti-Racism, Fill the Table, Clergy Care, and Church Vitality.  The keynote speaker was Bishop Carter’s good friend, Bishop Gregory V. Palmer, from the Ohio West area.  Bishop Palmer gave a moving talk about racism and “all of our isms that bedevil us” in the United Methodist Church.  He emphasized how important it is to tell our stories.  Rev. Sharon Austin told Bishop Palmer that the participants on Zoom were virtually giving him a standing ovation after his inspirational presentation!

The laity were inspired by our new Conference Lay Leader, Alice Williams.  She started her talk with a fun video about wearing masks, a parody on a song from “Hamilton,“ created by the Wesley Foundation at UCF.  Click here, if you’d like to see it.  She couldn’t help but dance a little bit during the video, which is very Alice!  Kim and I are looking forward to being a part of what God will do through Alice to create innovative ways for us to connect the laity to the clergy.  Clergy and laity are all part of the church and should find new ways of supporting one another.

Alice’s words made me focus on Clergy Care, one of Bishop Carter’s major initiatives.  How are we supporting our clergy?  In these days of online services, pastors are experiencing more stress than ever, without the in-person support of an engaged, in-person congregation.  It’s very important that we give our clergy the encouragement and undergirding they need and deserve.

Here are some ways to support your pastors from

  1. Build up your pastor with words of affirmation.
  2. Show kindness to your pastor.
  3. Encourage your pastor to fellowship with other pastors.
  4. Pray for your pastor.
  5. Be gracious.  Realize that pastors are also humans who need patience, love, and understanding, just like their brothers and sisters in Christ to whom they are ministering.

Bishop Carter reminded us at the Quadrennial Training that our church is still alive and vital.  We are still baptizing babies, confirming teenagers, and caring for our elderly.  We are still reaching out into the community to bring God’s love to the marginalized.  Healthy and supported clergy are a critical part of the body of Christ. So are you!  Never forget that you are a vital part of the church!  Remember, every voice counts, and every story matters.

Loving the Laity,

Melanie & Kim Lee 

2020 Annual Fall Charge Conference

We are in the home stretch - 47 down and 15 to go!! 

The church must update their Church Dashboard within one week of your Charge Conference to reflect the 2021 leadership. Click HERE for Tutorials on adding leadership, BEFORE you start to update. Email is how the conference and district communicates with church leadership.

Will you have a new leadership role in 2020? Are you wondering what that means?
Cokesbury sells Guidebooks for $3.99 for many different leadership roles in the United Methodist Church. Click HERE to see what they offer.

Join Fill the Table for the November #HungerAwarenessChallenge

Join us for the month of November and take on the #HungerAwarenessChallenge. Each day has an action step you can take to learn more about food insecurity and get involved! Click the image to download and share! Learn more about our initiative to feed 3 million Floridians by Sept. 2021 at

Detecting Disinformation 
for pastors and church leaders

The Florida Conference is offering four live online sessions on misinformation and the media. The first two have already taken place and may be viewed by Clicking HERE. The remaining dates are November 5 and 12 at 3:00pm. Click HERE to register.

Over four sessions you will learn how to separate online fact from fiction, how to detect fake images from the real thing and how to know when that “perfect sermon illustration” is really social media rumor and nonsense.

You will discover the hidden metadata that travels with every image and document and you will learn new words like “algorithm” and understand how these programs determine what shows up in every Google search or on your social media feed.

We promise these sessions will be practical, highly interactive and useful, regardless of your online and digital acumen. And for once you will be on a Zoom call that is fun!

The sessions are led by Al Tompkins, an award winning investigative journalist who trains journalists around the world. He also happens to be the husband of United Methodist pastor, Rev. Sidney Tompkins. The Tompkins are members of Pasadena Community UMC in St. Petersburg, Florida.


I have the privilege of working with Pastors Aldo Martin, Rusty Belcher, and Alberto Buster on the Florida/Cuba Initiative called Methodists United in Prayer.  Each year we work to raise the Salary Sustenance Support of over 90 pastors in both the Las Tunas and Holguin Central Districts in Cuba. For $300.00 USD a year, we can double the pastor’s monthly salary.

You think this global pandemic has been hard on our families and churches? You can’t be able to imagine how hard things have been on the Cuban people.  It’s been hardest on the pastors, as they are having to scrounge for many of the daily necessities that we have at our fingertips, or in our refrigerators and kitchen cupboards.   

Despite the current Covid reality, God is growing the Methodist Church in Cuba. We are blessed to be involved in this ministry. We are making arrangements now to get the Salary Sustenance Support to our Sister District Offices.  We thank you for supporting the church, pastor, and family in eastern Cuba.

If you can, please send in your 2021 Salary Sustenance Support by December 10th, so that we can get it to Cuba in January.  Please make out checks to “UCUMC,” clearly mark them “Cuba,” and send to:

University Carillon United Methodist Church
Attn: Cuba Pastor Support
1395 Campus View Court
Oviedo FL 32765

Thank you for joining God where God is at work.
Rev. Chris Akers

East Central District Lay Servant Ministries

When? January 29 & 30 6:00pm - 8:00pm and February 5 & 6 9:00am - 1:00pm
Where? ZOOM
What? Lay Servant Ministries' Basic Course facilitated by Lynn Campbell & Randy Nunley 
              Discover Your Servant Profile facilitated by Jim Boesch

SAVE the DATE! Our LSM team is in the planning stages for 2021. Details will be out soon.

Questions? Contact Randy Nunley 407-595-2648 or Jim Boesch

Candidacy Retreats

January 8 and 9, 2021 - Deadline December 1, 2020
July 8 and 10, 2021 - Deadline June 1, 2021

Please see the Candidacy Retreat Checklist to ensure all necessary items are completed. The checklist outlines all the steps need for Candidacy.

2021 East Central DCOM Dates

Meeting Due Date Purpose
Thursday, March 18 February 18 LPRs
Thursday, April 15 March 4 Recerts/LPs
Thursday, May 6 April 8 Provisional/Certs
Thursday, August 19 July 22 Provisional follow-ups
Thursday, November 18 October 21 Certifications

DCOM Chair: Rev. Chris Jones
DCOM Vice Chair: Rev. Jenn Stiles-Williams
DCOM Registrar: Elizabeth Flynn
DCOM Meeting Location: Asbury UMC, Maitland 

For information how to begin the Candidacy process, Click HERE.

Staff Parish Relations Committee (SPRC) Training
Thursday, December 10 7:00pm via ZOOM

The Annual East Central District Staff Parish Relations Committee (SPRC) training event will provide you with the effective tools needed in your responsibilities. Dr. Bob Bushong our District Superintendent will facilitate. 

Cokesbury offers guidelines for leading your congregation. Click HERE to see the various committee specific resources. 

Pastors, SPRC Chairpersons and Committee Members, and Lay Leaders are encouraged to attend this important training event. Invite those who will be joining the team on January 1, 2021. Click HERE to register.

2021 Connectional Giving

The apportionments for 2021 are now available on the conference website. To access your 2021 apportionment information:

  • Go to the conference homepage:
  • Click on the "Monthly Billing Reports" at the bottom right of the page.
  • Click on the first link on the page, "Click here to download monthly reports."
  • When you choose a Report, there will be a report on the drop-down menu called Apportionments Report 2021. This link will take you to your 2021 apportionments. You will need to know your GCFA Number to pull your report.

Paychex—Payroll-Processing and Tax-Compliance Solutions

Since June 2018, Wespath has partnered with Paychex to help provide an option for our churches who might be looking to move payroll-processing and tax-compliance solutions to an outside vendor.

  • Paychex knows how to suppress the Medicare and Social Security taxes for the employer’s portion
  • Paychex knows how to complete the W2 for the clergy appropriately.
  • Paychex understands the clergy housing allowance, housing exclusion, healthcare stipends, taxable earnings, non-taxable earnings, deductions as pre-tax, after-tax or Roth deductions for the United Methodist Personal Investment Plan. 
  • Paychex will automatically send your UMPIP deductions each pay period to Wespath for you.

Paychex has more than 45 years of experience, and currently serves more than 1,000 United Methodist Church ministries. The company has expertise managing withholdings, payroll via direct deposit or check, tax compliance, and timely deposits and filings, in addition to providing custom reports for financial review and facilitating UMPIP contributions. Plus, UMC organizations receive a discount of 35% on Paychex services!

Paychex invites you to visit their virtual booth to learn more about the services they offer.

Click here to view a video featuring Jeff Kohl, the head of the partnership with Wespath, explaining what services are available from Paychex.

How to Get Started Saving 35% on Paychex Services

  • Online—go to and fill out the contact form.
  • By phone—Call the UMC's Account Supervisor, Jeff Kohl, at 1-800-313-0767 and provide code 5704 for a 35% discount.

If your organization is already using Paychex but has not completed a benefits integration with Wespath, complete and return the Addendum.

Ministry Partner Program of the General Council on Finance and Administration (GCFA)

Church administration is challenging! You have so much on your mind.

Need some help?

GCFA’s United Methodist Ministry Resource Guide features strategic ministry partners who can ...

  • Provide for basic church needs with discounted office supplies or building products 
  • Help you increase tithing and find possible additional income sources
  • Upgrade your data management making it easier to report on your church’s finances, attendance, and membership
  • And more!

Vetted based on the Church’s social principles, the cost savings from these partners can be budgeted back into your church’s ministries. Take some of the stress out of administering your church.

Festival of HOMILETICS
"Preaching for the Future Church"
May 17-21, 2021 Virtually

The church is in decline. We need to adapt to survive.

Can the church recapture what it was in the first century -- a distinctive community willing to stand against the status quo, to confront the ways of empire, and to embody the gospel?

Together, we'll explore how the promise of the gospel gives hope and shapes ministry for the church now and in the future. 

There are two ways to participate:

  1. Watch for free: Four to five prerecorded video sessions will be available each day-no cost required.
  2. Purchase a recording package: Gain full access to bonus material and watch sessions at a later time. Bonus materials include additional speaker presentations, live workshops, learning opportunities, and exclusive vendor connections. Receive CEU credit.

Click HERE to register.

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

General Conference 2020 - August 29-September 7, 2021

Should General Conference go virtual?