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ECD April 2018 Newsletter

Greetings from the District Superintendent

 Dr. Bob Bushong

I’m intrigued by Mark’s announcement of Easter (16:1-8) and how understated it is.

The other three Gospels tell a fuller, more complete, more dramatic story of the Resurrection. In Mark’s Gospel, the big day is Good Friday. Mark builds up to Good Friday for five chapters, beginning with Palm Sunday. The events of Holy Week take up one-third of the Gospel of Mark and he uses only eight verses to describe the Resurrection.

Mark’s presentation of the Resurrection is such an understatement that somebody felt they needed to add to it, and there is a second ending to Mark. The original Gospel concluded with the 8th verse of the 16th Chapter, and the 9th verse begins a second ending. Some of your Bibles note that.

Why would Mark present the Resurrection in such a brief, understated manner? Could it be that the author wanted to make the point that the story doesn’t end there in the first century, that those first eight verses are just the beginning of the story of the Resurrection? After all, isn’t it true that the full Resurrection story is still being written wherever and whenever anyone experiences God’s gift of new life that comes unanticipated, undeserved, unearned, and unexplained?

In Mark's text, the risen Christ "is going ahead of you to Galilee" (v.7), the site of the disciples' first witness and mission. The risen Lord goes before all of his disciples, including us, as we live out the Gospel message.

Our God is always a "go-ahead-of-us God,” ahead of us every step along the way since our creation. The Easter moment celebrates the truth that God always goes ahead of us, wherever life may take us.
The message of the empty tomb doesn’t tell us that followers of Jesus are somehow immune from the challenges and disappointments, from the very real hurt, pain, risk, and danger that are present in this unpredictable world in which we live. Tough things happen, including to people of faith. That’s a certainty. You have a list of examples in your life, as I do in mine.

The empty tomb does mean that ultimately, finally, in the deepest parts of our souls, we can know that the decisive power of this world is the power of God’s love that prevails in an unmistakable and final way.

Mark tells us that the women left the empty tomb afraid. What they soon learn, however, is that they no longer need to be afraid. Of anything, anything in life or in death.

As we move away from the celebration of Easter once again, may we do so with a strong sense that the risen Christ goes out ahead of us in all that we are yet to experience in life, and may we embrace the truth so beautifully articulated by Paul at the end of Romans 8:

 I am sure that there is nothing in life or in death that can separate us from the love of
God in Christ Jesus our Lord.


Grace and Peace,


A Message from Kim & Melanie Lee, District Lay Leaders
Celebrating in Creation

Kim and I were in North Carolina for my spring break, when we got the call that our youngest daughter was in labor in Virginia.  We cut our hiking vacation short, drove nearly 500 miles, and arrived in Richmond in time for our grandson’s birth.  What an incredible blessing!

God invites us to join in creation constantly.  Sometimes that co-creating is subtle, such as working toward a change in ourselves that will bring us closer to God.  Sometimes that joint creation is a new baby, which makes you step back in wonder and awe.  What a loving, trusting God we have!  God allows us the freedom to create life and the trust that we will nurture and teach our little one according to God’s will.

May all parents everywhere have the love and trust for their children as God does for us.  God is our Abba and gives us all the model of perfect parenting.  Whether you are a biological parent, an adoptive parent, an aunt, an uncle, or one of the many villagers helping to raise these children, you are the part of the family of God for these young lives.  What an awesome responsibility! 

My prayer for this new baby and for all children of God is the Joy Verse from Philippians.  Paul expresses the loving trust we have the privilege to draw on every day, in every circumstance.

(Philippians 4:4-7) Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5 Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. 6 Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Loving the Laity,
Melanie and Kim Lee

Lay Servant Ministries


Dear Lay Servants,

Praying this finds you doing well.  We enjoyed an amazing day of training at Oviedo UMC on March 16 & 17. The comments on our evaluation sheets referred to an awesome time of fellowship, sharing, learning and worshipping. (We have included some pictures of our time together)  WOW!  Jim called it “having church, and being church for two days, then to continue in worship on that Sunday..”.  What would it be like if we spent each day as if it was WORSHIP? What if we spent time with each other in fellowship and sharing? Joy, peace, love, kindness, will all be feelings which we would certainly enjoy while being the church.

As we studied, fasted and prayed during Lent and then Holy Week in preparation for Easter, hopefully many if not all of these emotions were shared with those we encountered.  We are truly blessed to know how the story ends, and as Lay Servants, especially us, it is our duty to go TELL! Tell it to those who know and those who don’t know. Recap and recall, and repeat the story to all who we meet. Jesus is alive! Our Savior lives and we worship! It is church, we are at church, we worship as we remember.

Looking ahead…

The District website is now linked into the Conference site and there is a link for our ministry. This allows us to update this site as often as we need. So we encourage you to visit the site frequently.  Click HERE to go directly to the ECD LSM page.  We will use that going forward and not have an article in the District newsletter.

We wish you a most blessed Easter!
Lynn & Jim


Baptism at Florida United Methodist Children's Home, Enterprise

At the beginning of the new year, one of the young men living here at the Children's Home decided that, as he approached his eighteenth birthday, he wanted to begin his independent life as a baptized Christian.  After a time of prayer, consultation, and coordination, he was baptized during a special service at the Enterprise Campus.

The service followed a United Methodist baptismal liturgy, along with worship songs picked by the young man to reflect his relationship with God.  Our Chapel was full of supporters for the baptism, ranging from staff, Board of Trustee members, and other youth here at the Children's Home.  One of the Board members, Rev. Bob Laidlaw, surprised the young man with some water that was taken from the Jordan River, where Jesus was baptized.  The baptism was conducted by Rev. Madeline Luzinski and Rev. Ryan Frack.

Children in foster care have often had some difficulty reconciling a God who loves them with the abuse and trauma they have experienced in their own lives.  Unfortunately, some of the children in our care have also experienced spiritual trauma, thus leading to a negative perception of God.  Through the work of the Spiritual Life department, the children learn about a God who is bigger than what they have gone through.  Baptism at the Children's Home is a special honor, as most children are only with us for a temporary amount of time.  Among their newfound community, they have found a spiritual home here, and baptism allows them the opportunity to proclaim their faith amongst others who will pray for and encourage them.

Dedication Day at the Ranch 2018

During this year, we have seen the construction of both the Chapel and the Counseling and Support Services Center (CSSC) on the campus of the Madison Youth Ranch. Both of these have been the result of years of prayers and support. On May 5, 2018, the Ranch will be hosting Dedication Day at the Ranch to celebrate the official opening of these two new buildings.

The schedule of the day is as follows:
10:30 am – Gates will open, with campus tours commencing.
11:30 am – Program to dedicate the Chapel and CSSC.
12:00 pm – Picnic lunch on campus.
Tours resume after lunch.

The CSSC will provide space for the therapists to provide treatment for the children, as well as meeting & training space for staff. It will serve as the administrative hub of the Madison campus. The Center even includes a storm shelter for the children in case of inclement weather. The Chapel has a multipurpose worship space, allowing for varied worship experiences for the campus. It has an A/V system that will allow for the use of various multimedia resources. Additionally, the stained glass windows in the Chapel tell the story of the Christian faith, inviting the children to see themselves as a part of it.

We hope you will plan to be at this historic day as we celebrate these dreams becoming a reality. In order to accommodate our visitors, we ask that you please RSVP by Friday, April 20, 2018. To RSVP, you may visit, or call 386.668.5088.

Local Church Administrative Staff Appreciation Day
April 12 - Asbury, UMC

Who should attend?  Administrative Assistants, Church Secretaries, Business Managers, and Finance Managers

Dr. Bob Bushong, our District Superintendent, will bring us words of encouragement.
We are excited to have a few others join us:

LaNita Battles, Director of Ministry Protection
Lynn Campbell, Co-Director of Lay Servant Ministries
Lois Durham, Human Resources Administrator
Marilynn Mollica, Director of Human Resources

Topic Ideas?  Do you have a certain topic you want covered?  Email your suggestions to Claudia Sava at

Coffee and fellowship begins at 8:30 am in the Fellowship Hall. To register, Click HERE

The Thirteenth Annual Native American Gathering
April 20-22 - LEC, Fruitland Park

The mission of CONAM is....
To communicate the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the Native American people in a culturally relevant way; disciple Native people in a culturally affirming way; encourage Christ-centered worship in a culturally redemptive way; and facilitate a Native presence in the wider church in a culturally appropriate way.

Click HERE for details and to register.

Alice W. Lockmiller Christian Education Grants & Awards
Deadline is April 30

The Florida United Methodist Foundation is now seeking applications and nominations for the Alice W. Lockmiller Christian education grants and awards, which honor excellence in Christian education for children and youth in pre-kindergarten to 12th grade within the Florida Conference.

The trust also provides a $250 award recognizing an outstanding Christian educator. This teacher award is granted through a nominations process, and the funds are awarded to the teacher for use at his or her discretion.

Nominations and grant applications are due April 30. A committee will review the submissions and choose the recipients.

Click HERE for complete details.  Additional information is available by contacting Tita Parham, the foundation’s director of communications and public relations, at or 863-904-2970, ext. 7106.

Run 4 Life 4 Miler
May 12 - Florida United Methodist Children's Home

The 8th Annual Run 4 Life 4 Miler is May 12th at The Florida United Methodist Children's Home. This 4 Mile Event takes you through the FUMCH and Enterprise.  The goal of this race is to bring awareness to mental health/depression issues and to raise money for programs providing support to those in need. All race proceeds will go to FUMCH and other local suicide prevention programs.

Run or walk...come join us on May 12th!  We would love for you to sign up on team The Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church.   Click HERE for details.  Click HERE to join our team. 


ECD Fall Clergy Meeting
August 16 9:00am - 2:00pm - Asbury UMC, Maitland

Assistant to the Bishop Rev. Alex Shanks will lead a presentation and discussion about the proposal that the Council of Bishops will recommend to the called General Conference to be held in February 2019.* 

Coordinator of Special Ministries Rev. Melissa Cooper will lead a conversation around the topic "Grace across the Generations," focusing on generational identity, ways to connect with others across generations, and how to utilize generational strengths to enhance the ministries of the church.

All Full-time clergy serving in the local church are expected to attend.  If you are not able to attend, please email Bob and request to be excused.  All clergy beyond the local church are welcome to attend.  Click HERE to register.

*Rev. Shanks will lead this same presentation for Laity on Saturday, August 18 at 9:00am at Asbury UMC.  There is no registration required for that day.

Warren W. Willis Camp Retreats & Summer Camp

Check out Warren W. Willis for many opportunities to reflect & fellowship!

Confirmation Retreat: October 5 - 7                   
Connect:  October 19 - 21; November 9 - 11
Created By God:  April 20 - 22
Summer Camp:  June & July

Plan Your Own Church Retreat:  Who doesn't love WWW?  Why not plan your own retreat?

Life Enrichment Center

Want to help create meaningful experiences for your church's families this year?  Want to encourage your parents to be more active in their kids' spiritual lives?  Be sure they know about LECFamily programs!

Dad and Me Weekend - April 13 - 15
Grandparents and Me - June 25 - 28
Family Camp - June 29 - July 1 & July 20 - 22
Mom and Me Weekend - September 14 - 16

 Questions?  Email Asa Quinn    

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 and Alabama-West Florida - will each receive a $1,000 scholarship.  CLICK HERE for complete rules, an application, and full essay submission criteria. Deadline for submission is April 30, 2018.

 If you have any questions regarding the scholarship program, contact us at 866-687-2136.


2018 Annual Conference
June 7 - 9 - Florida Southern College

Remembering Who We Are
Click HERE for the AC2018 webpage.  Hotel and Florida Southern Housing information is there.  Room blocks are almost at capacity.  Please reserve your room soon! 

Tweet with #flumc18 to join the conversation!

East Central District will have a Breakfast for Annual Conference ECD Lay Members to AC & Clergy Members on Friday, June 8th at Trinity UMC, Lakeland.  Click HERE to register.

Youth are encouraged to participate and experience Annual Conference.  Housing will be on the Florida Southern Campus, and $150 will cover dorm housing (double occupancy) and 8 meals.  Click HERE for the AC2018 youth page and to register.  Orientation will be at 1:30pm on Wednesday, June 6 with housing check in immediately before orientation at 12:30pm at Reynolds Hall.  All youth must check into housing before orientation.  Note:  This does not make them a Voting Member at Annual Conference.

Annual Conference is free and open to anyone who would like to go.  However, only Lay Members to Annual Conference 2018 will have a vote.

2018 School of Congregational Development
August 15 - 18 - San Diego, California

The School of Congregational Development is a premier event for United Methodist leaders for equipping conference leaders, clergy, and laity to lead vital, dynamic, life-changing congregations.  There are many workshops to choose from, here are a small sampling:  Growing a Church through Social Justice Ministries, Engaging with the Community, Spanglish:  Ministry to Raise Hispanic/Latino Leaders, Making Disciple Makers, Small Church Checkup, & Developing Impactful Teams.  Click HERE for the full schedule.  Click HERE for more details and to register.

Scholarships available for Racial Ethnic Churches and Small Churches.  To apply for a scholarships, go to Click on SCD 2018 San Diego Scholarship Application.


April 12 - East Central District Local Church Administrative Staff Appreciation Day

Leave your work behind and let the district say, "Thank you for all you do"!  Take this opportunity to connect with other church administrative staff, and share ideas.  Coffee will be ready at 8:30am & the meeting will start at 9:00am. Who should attend?  Administrative Assistant, Church Secretary, Business Manager, & Finance Manager Dr. Bob Bushong our District Superintendent will bring us words of encouragement.  We are excited to have some of our Conference Staff join us.  LaNita Battles, Director of Ministry Protection Lynn Campbell, Co Director of Lay Servant Ministries  Lois Durham, HR Administrator Marilynn Mollica, HR Director Topic Ideas?  Do you have a certain topic you want ...

April 26 - East Central District Committee on Ordained Ministry (dCOM)

District Committee on Ministry Meeting Candidates contact Elizabeth Flynn at for appointment.  Materials due March 28th.  

May 17 - East Central District Committee on Ordained Ministry (dCOM)

District Committee on Ministry Meeting Candidates contact Elizabeth Flynn at for appointment.  Materials due April 19th.  

May 28 - Memorial Day Holiday

Conference & District Offices are closed.

June 8 - East Central District Breakfast at Annual Conference 2018

   Join us at the East Central District Breakfast Friday, June 8th 6:45 am - 8:00 am During Annual Conference 2018 Trinity UMC Lakeland, Florida   Laity and Clergy will have the opportunity to  Welcome New Clergy to the East Central District and Say Farewell to Pastors who are Moving in June.        

July 4 - Independence Day Holiday

Conference & District Offices are closed.

August 7 - East Central District New Clergy Orientation

All Clergy with new appointments in the East Central District are asked to attend this orientation with the District Superintendent, Dr. Bob Bushong.

August 16 - East Central District Fall Clergy Meeting

Assistant to the Bishop Rev. Alex Shanks will lead a presentation and discussion about what the Council of Bishops will recommend to the called General Conference to be held in February 2019.  Coordinator of Special Ministries Rev. Melissa Cooper will lead a conversation around the topic "Grace Across the Generations," focusing on generational identity, ways to connect with others across generations, and how to utilize generational strengths to enhance the ministries of the church. All Full-time clergy serving in the local church are expected to attend.  If you are not able to attend, please email Bob and request to be excused.  All clergy beyond the local church are welcome to attend.