In the District
Greetings from the District Superintendent
Dr. Bob Bushong
Perhaps you know of Leslie Weatherhead’s framework for understanding the will of God that he describes in his insightful little book entitled simply The Will of God.
Weatherhead breaks this complex issue into three simply defined dimensions: God’s intentional will, God’s circumstantial will, God’s ultimate will. In essence, Weatherhead maintains that God has an intentional purpose in all situations that sometimes is thwarted by circumstances that God has not caused, including decisions made by people. God’s creative Spirit works through the circumstances in ways that result in God’s will ultimately prevailing.
I had a conversation recently with someone who is struggling with a tough experience in his life that has him wrestling with the age-old issue of theodicy with questions such as of “Where is God in this?” and “If God is love, then how can such things happen in life?”
As I listened to this person verbalize his genuine and deep theological struggle, I remembered a letter that I received many years ago that fits well with Weatherhead’s understanding of God’s circumstantial will, that is, the way in which God works creatively through sometimes painful and tragic circumstances.
The letter is from someone whose son was killed in the September 11, 2001 attack on the Pentagon. This mother who lost her son wrote to share with me the following story:
We had a wonderful letter recently from a friend of our son’s. Our son Dan had visited the friend’s young boy who was suffering from leukemia and provided emotional support to their family. Last month their nine-year-old son succumbed to this disease. His twelve- year-old sister was having a hard time. Not only was she mourning the death of her brother, but she expressed her sorrow that there wouldn’t be anybody in heaven that he knew since all of their grandparents were still living. Then she suddenly remarked, ‘But Dan will be there to greet him!’ The parents said that a child’s faith had brought comfort to them, and they hoped it would to us. Indeed it did to all our family, and we felt it to be God’s grace that Dan’s ebullient spirit lives on for that young girl and gave her hope.
Here’s an example of God’s circumstantial will at work – the creative Spirit of God powerfully present in a tragic situation that God certainly did not cause to enable something positive and creative and life-giving to occur in spite of and even in the midst of that tragedy.
Paul says it best in Romans 8:28: “God works all things together for good for those who love God.”
That does not mean that all things that happen are good and creative and positive. It does mean that the God of creation and love will work creatively in and through all things – even those painful realities and experiences in life that God does not cause and in the midst of which God grieves along with us – in order to create something positive and meaningful out of them.
When we are open to the power of God’s movement in our lives, we will see those things and in them we will see and experience the creative and loving power of God.
Grace and Peace,
East Central District
A Message from Kim & Melanie Lee, District Lay Leaders
Melanie & Kim Lee
Called to Create Change!
I had the privilege of preaching at Broadway UMC at the end of September. My message had a call to action for people to be changemakers and social influencers to save our planet. My heart soars when I read about Greta Thunberg and her leadership in igniting indignant fires in the souls of young people all over the world to fight for climate justice. They will not wait for the adults in control to decide it’s time to put climate change at the top of their to-do lists. They are demanding that politicians act NOW.
Our UMC Social Principles on The Natural World obligates us as United Methodists to care for the Earth and preserve it for future generations. It states, “All creation is the Lord’s, and we are responsible for the ways in which we use and abuse it. Water, air, soil, minerals, energy resources, plants, animal life, and space are to be valued and conserved because they are God’s creation and not solely because they are useful to human beings. God has granted us stewardship of creation. We should meet these stewardship duties through acts of loving care and respect.”
This past July, 200-250 United Methodists gathered at a summit in Nashville to explore responsible and faithful ways to fight global warming. According to an article by Jim Patterson, Nashville UM reporter, “Big and painful changes in a short window of time are the only way to preserve planet Earth’s ability to continue hosting human life. That was the consensus at the 2019 United Methodist Creation Care Summit.” Click HERE to read the entire article.
Elizabeth Chun Hye Lee, UMW executive for economic and environmental justice asks, “Are we being bold enough in caring for God’s creations?” “Will we engage in nonviolent civil disobedience if that is what we sense God calling us to do?” “Let’s . . . wear our hats proudly as United Methodists and . . . cut our dependence on the legalized drug of fossil fuels and instead be fueled by clean and renewable energy that advances justice and equity for all.”
How can you help? Commit to making inconvenient changes in your life. Get those in your sphere of influence to make changes too. Become a nagging bee in the bonnet of your legislators, community leaders, pastors, family, friends, and neighbors. Don’t take no for an answer. Be the changemakers God calls us to be to heal God’s world!
Loving the Laity,
Melanie & Kim Lee
October is Pastor Appreciation Month!
October is Pastor Appreciation Month, and October 13 is designated as Pastor Appreciation Day.
The life of a United Methodist pastor is filled with a variety of responsibilities. They preach, teach, visit, counsel, lead, consult, communicate, budget, clean, and so much more.
Pastoring a church is not a job that can be done well under the pastor’s power alone. Every pastor relies heavily on God’s guidance, strength and peace as they live into their call.
One of the best ways we can support our pastors and show them our appreciation is to regularly pray for them. But it can be difficult to know exactly what we should pray for. To help get started, we’ve assembled fifteen areas of pastors’ lives and ministries where they would value your prayers.
1. Spiritual lives
Our pastors’ spiritual lives are important to their finding the wisdom, strength and guidance necessary to lead a church. Pray for your pastors’ growth as a disciple of Jesus Christ, as the Holy Spirit works through them to serve your congregation and community.
2. Time management
With all of their responsibilities, United Methodist pastors need to become masters of their calendars. John Wesley knew this back in the 1700s. He instructed the preachers, “Never trifle away time.” Pray for your pastors to use time wisely, including blocking out occasions for Sabbath rest, prayer, work and family.
Click HERE for all 15 areas that pastors would value your prayers.
2020 Holy Land Trip with Bishop Carter and Dr. Bob Bushong
Bishop Carter is leading a trip to the Holy Land February 4-13, 2020. Jeanne and I will both be going, and I will be serving as a tour host, inviting specifically folks from the East Central District to come along.
If you click this link (https://adobe.ly/2JXeIou), you will find an electronic brochure with information about the trip. If you have questions, please shoot them to me in an email (email@example.com) and I will do my best to answer. If you would like a printed brochure, please contact Claudia (firstname.lastname@example.org) and she will send you one.
2019 Annual Church Conference
On Mission Together is the theme for our 2019 church conferences. The East Central District will hold eight Cluster Church Conferences this fall. Below are the dates/times and name of the host church. Click HERE for Charge Conference Forms.
The Senior Pastor's Report, Voting Matters Agenda, 2020 Appointed Clergy Compensation, Housing Resolution, & Accountable Reimbursement Policy are due (unsigned) one week prior to your conference. Please email them to Betty Sims email@example.com. The completed Church Conference packet with all signed documents will be turned in at your Cluster Church Conference. Please turn in copies. Once the district reviews and scans the documents, they will be shredded.
All 2020 leadership should be updated into your church dashboard within 7 days of your Church Conference. Click HERE for Tutorials on adding leadership, BEFORE you start to update.
Fall Local Church Representative (LCR) Workshop
November 16 - Florida United Methodist Children's Home
The Local Church Representative (LCR) plays a pivotal role in connecting the Children's Home with the local church. This Fall, we will hold two workshops for LCRs which will take place on both the Enterprise and Madison campuses of the Florida United Methodist Children’s Home. LCRs are invited to attend this workshop, whether or not it is held in your particular district. The identical workshops will include an overview of the ministry of the Children’s Home, as well as an overview of the role of the LCR. There will be an opportunity to learn about the various resources we have available to support our Representatives. We will cover the 2020 Day on Campus festivities, as well as the opportunities for connection that the event brings.
North West District
November 14, 2019
Madison Youth Ranch Chapel
East Central District
November 16, 2019
Florida United Methodist Children’s Home
RSVPs are vital in allowing us to accommodate for parking and refreshments. We kindly ask that you RSVP for the event no later than Wednesday, November 6th.
Please call Trista Calvin with any questions and RSVPs at 386.668.4774 ext. 2296 or email at Trista.Calvin@fumch.org.
Day on Campus 2020 - Save the Date!
March 28, 2020
Staff Parish Relations Committee (SPRC) Training
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. There will be two trainings offered, one in Orlando on December 10 and one in Sanford on December 12. Pick the location or date that is most convenient for you.
Cokesbury offers guidelines for leading your congregation. Click HERE to see the various committee specific resources.
Pastors, SPRC Chairs and Committee members, Lay Leaders, and Lay Members to Annual Conference are encouraged to attend. The training is free to attend, but we would like you to click on the link below and register for the training you plan on attending.
Annual Called to Serve
February 22, 2020 - First UMC, Oviedo
Make plans now to attend the Annual ECD Called to Serve event. This day is for everyone to come together to worship, learn and grow together. We are excited to announce that Rev. Annette Stiles Williams, Senior Pastor at Suntree UMC will be our Keynote Speaker!
Details and registration will be available in December.
2020 Connectional Giving
The apportionments for 2020 are now available on the conference website. To access your 2020 apportionment information:
- Go to the conference homepage: http://www.flumc.org
- Click on the "Monthly Reports" tab at the bottom right of the page.
- Click on the top link under Monthly Billing reports: "Click here to download monthly reports."
- When you choose a Report, there will be a report on the drop-down menu called 2020 Apportionments Report. This link will take you to your 2020 apportionments.
Around the Conference and Beyond
Young Adult Missional Movement (YAMM)
You can put more young adults into mission service!
The Young Adult Missional Movement is seeking more support to expand the mission service program. Currently, YAMM has 7 houses in 4 districts but plans to expand into every district as support and recruiting allows.
Churches, small groups, or individuals can add the YAMM program to their annual mission giving and help engage more young adults in more communities. Whether it's $1,000 annually or a love offering, all you support will make a difference. Utilities, transportation, health care costs, etc are all on the rise.
Gifts can be mailed to the conference office, designated for YAMM or made securely online: Click HERE
YAMM's year-long mission program no longer receives apportionment funding after the initial three year start up period. Since it was formed, there have been 75 alumni who served in 30 teams over the past five years.
Questions? Heidi Aspinwall firstname.lastname@example.org 305-733-4420
The Conference Table
October 26 10:00am - The Portico, Tampa
Clergy & Laity are invited
The Conference Table is scheduled for Saturday, October 26, at the Portico in Tampa. The morning portion of the
Conference Table meeting (10am-noon) will be open to all clergy and laity in Florida to come and hear a presentation from Bishop Carter on "Growing the Center." The presentation will be followed by table discussion. Click HERE to register for this event.
Bishop's Clergy Day Apart
December 10 10:00am - 3:00pm
The Bishop's Clergy Day apart originally scheduled for September, has been rescheduled for Tuesday, December 10. All clergy from Florida are invited to attend the December 10 event from 10am to 3pm in Lakeland. The focus will be on "God is With Us" and spiritual preparation during the season of Advent.
Guidelines for Grant Application Submission, Review and Endorsement
The opportunity to serve a connectional church is a missional blessing as we share and effect ministry on every level of the Church. The opportunity also carries responsibilities. One of the responsibilities is the process by which we apply for grants. Boards, agencies, Commissions, and all of our United Methodist entities rely on us to conduct due diligence in the review and endorsement of funding requests.
Below please find a reminder of our Conference guidelines implemented in 2014. Click HERE to see the process outlined on the FL Conference website. Please note that the following process represents our best opportunity to evaluate and endorse grant applications in a timely manner:
1. The grant application must be signed by the pastor (or Extension Ministry director) in charge. By her/his signature the pastor or Extension Ministry director) in charge indicates that s/he is aware of the grant application and is in agreement with its contents.
2. The grant application must then be signed by the district superintendent. In doing so the superintendent is giving his/her endorsement that this is a valid request and that the congregation (or ministry) making application is in a strategic place to fulfill the objectives of the request.
3. After the above two signatures are secured the application must be forwarded to the Conference Director of Connectional Ministries no later than thirty (30) days previous to the deadline for application to be mailed to the grantors. Applications received with less than thirty (30) days for processing will not be completed.
4. The Director of Connectional Ministries will review the application and may solicit review from appropriate Conference staff personnel who have expertise regarding the nature of the grant application.
5. Upon reaching a decision of affirming and signing the application, the Director of Connectional Ministries will then request that the other required signatures be affixed to the application. In order they would be:
a. The Treasurer of the Florida Conference (if required by the grant)
b. The Bishop of the Florida Conference
c. If the Bishop is unavailable, the Assistant to the Bishop will provide the needed endorsing signature
6. Upon the completion of the above steps the completed application will be returned to the pastor in charge where upon s/he will forward the application to the appropriate granting body.
Thank you for assisting us in becoming better stewards of UMC resources and fellow travelers with you on the journey of implementing vital ministries!
Connectional and Justice Ministries
Winter Conference at Epworth By the Sea, January 26-29, 2020
Clergy are invited to attend the Winter Conference at Epworth By The Sea, January 26-29, 2020. This will be a combined event with the Bishops and clergy of the North Georgia, Mississippi, South Georgia and Florida Conferences. You might talk with some of the over 150 clergy who attended Winter Conference 2019 about their transformative experience. Len Wilson will be the keynote speaker.
Click HERE to register. NOTE: The past event sold out. Don't delay in registering!!
Florida United Methodist Heritage Center
We are excited to announce - we now have a Facebook page! We created the page to showcase the rich and dynamic history our Conference has preserved and cherished throughout our almost 175 years as a Conference.
If you've never been to our United Methodist Heritage Center, located on the campus of Florida Southern College in Lakeland, your "tour" can start on Facebook. The archives have countless pictures, artifacts and interesting collections that need to be seen right? Well, we want to make sure that you AND members of your church can easily access and marvel at all the beautiful and sacred archives we have, so we created this Facebook page just for you!
Will you please share this link with your congregation and ask them to "Like" it, so that our great connection can be in touch with our sacred past? Reflecting and studying our past can only help us as we look to the future and all that God has in store for us. Click HERE for our Facebook page.
Thank you for your help in spreading the word and we look forward to connecting with your congregation through this page.
Mrs. Anita Campbell, Chair
Florida United Methodist Conference Archives Commission
Rev. Judi New, Archivist
Florida United Methodist Conference
General Conference 2020
Minneapolis, Minnesota - May 5 - 15
Florida Delegation General Conference 2020
General Conference 2020 Website
Beymer Memorial UMC, Winter Haven - HOST
Sanlando UMC, Longwood - HOST
College Park UMC, Orlando - HOST
First UMC, Winter Garden - HOST
Orange City UMC - HOST
Community UMC, Casselberry - HOST
First UMC, Mt Dora - HOST
Pine Castle UMC, Orlando - HOST