Greetings from the District Superintendent
| Dr. Bob Bushong
As the old parable goes . . .
There was a time when all the angels where gathered about the heavenly throne for a discussion. Things were in a mess down on earth. The Creator had become terribly concerned about the state of the Creation – wars, fighting, famine, bloodshed, jealousy all over the place.
“I’ve tried everything,” God shared. “I have spoken to them some of the most beautiful words they could ever hope to hear. Think of the glorious Psalms, the hymns, the poetic passages of Isaiah. They love to read about peace and goodwill, but they don’t like to do what they need to do in order to live it!”
God continued, “Then I sent them the prophets. They love Isaiah, the promises of release from their sufferings, freedom from their exile. They felt challenged by Jeremiah and the others. But do they follow the precepts of the prophets about justice and righteousness rolling down like waters? Hardly ever!”
There was widespread discussion of the sad state of affairs on earth. Many of the angels – Gabriel, Michael, and others had been on earth on many an occasion. They had seen for themselves the sources of God’s lament and shared God’s concern.
“I think the only thing left is for one of you, a member of the heavenly court, to go down to earth,” God continued. “Live with them, not just for a moment, but every day. Get to know them, become one of them, live with them, let them get to know you. Only then will heaven’s intent be truly communicated to them. Only then will they take notice of the great gap between the way they have been living and the way they were created. Only then will we be able to reveal to them who I created them to be.”
The angels stood in awkward silence. They had been to earth before, to deliver messages from God or to effect some momentary intervention in human affairs. They weren’t about to volunteer for long-term duty in such a murderous, difficult place.
The silence lasted for what seemed like an eternity. Finally, God broke the silence. Quietly, determinedly, but without resignation or bitterness and with a deep heart-felt sense of compassion, God said, “Then I will go.”
And that’s what God did.
As once again we begin the season of Advent; as we do our decorating and our baking; as we engage in parties and sending cards; as we eat too much and perhaps drink too much; as we live into our role in a consumerist culture and buy, buy, buy; don’t forget the parable. Don’t forget the message. Don’t forget the Truth of the Incarnation. Don’t forget that the point of it all is the gift of God’s love.
Grace and Peace,
East Central District
In the District
A Message from Kim & Melanie Lee, District Lay Leaders
Kim & Melanie Lee
As we close the door gently on Thanksgiving, with hearts filled with gratitude, we turn expectantly toward Christmas and the coming of the baby Jesus. Kim and I spent Thanksgiving week in NC, hiking in the woods and enjoying the cold weather and colorful leaves. There’s nothing like walking among trees and rocks to help my heart focus on the One who created it all. Nature in all its faces carries the touch of God: the beautiful colors, the complex patterns, the perfectly integrated webs of life. I guess I’m a bit like Maria in Sound of Music. The hills fill my heart with song and my soul with hope and love. Some would call it a thin space for me, a place where God and I come close. I’m so grateful for being able to walk in the woods, pray through a hike, and love my God and the world God has shared with me.
This journey toward Christmas, which most of us have made many, many times, somehow seems like a new trek every year. We hear the old stories with young ears. We learn of the harrowing and exhausting trip of the mother and father of our dear Lord. The startling and frightening account of the lowly shepherds, and the adventure of the faithful and mysterious Wise Men. Once again, we live it anew with the wide-eyed wonder of children of God. We know how this story ends, and yet, we are incredibly hopeful for the world on this Silent Night. We feel the love of God reverberating through the fibers of our being as we sing the old carols and hold our candles high. What an incredible God we have and to what a joyous group of fellow believers we belong!
How can we possibly keep this wonder and joy and hope and love to ourselves? Obviously, we can’t, and we’re not supposed to. The Great Commission is our United Methodist mission as well. Go out and make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. OF THE WORLD! (P.S. You need to go where they are. They may be in parks, in restaurants, in bars. Find them! Bring them to Jesus – if not to church. Love them, heal them, make them feel worthy – because they are.)
Loving the Laity,
Melanie & Kim Lee
ECD Board of Building & Location
The ECD Board of Building & Location have three meetings planned in 2019. If your church needs to come before the board, please email the Chairperson, Rev. Owen Stricklin email@example.com and copy Claudia Sava firstname.lastname@example.org to make the request and state what the church is planning. The meetings will be at 4:00 pm on the following dates:
January 10, 2019
March 7, 2019
May 9, 2019
2020 Self-Nomination Process is Open
The planning and preparation for the 2019 session of the Florida Annual Conference is well under way. During the 2019 session, we will also be electing Lay and Clergy members to represent our Annual Conference as delegates to the 2020 General and Jurisdictional Conferences. Being elected to serve as a delegate is quite an honor that carries a lot of responsibility.
Who can be elected as a delegate to represent the Florida Annual Conference?
The Florida Annual Conference uses an on-line self-nomination process. Anyone who: (1) senses the leading of God to serve as a delegate, (2) who meets all of the Disciplinary eligibility requirements, (3) who successfully completes the self-nomination process before the February 15, 2019, deadline or (4) who successfully completes the self-nomination process during the Lay or Clergy Sessions on the first day of Annual Conference, can have their name placed on the ballot for election at the 2019 Annual Conference Session in Lakeland, Florida.
How do I know if I’m being called to serve as a delegate? Let me suggest the following:
• Begin with a time of prayer and reflection. Explore your thoughts and feelings with God. Ask God for the wisdom and understanding to know how best to serve.
• Take time to study the issues affecting The United Methodist Church, our Annual Conference, our congregations, and our world. What are the social, spiritual, theological and moral concerns which need to be addressed by our denomination?
• Ask someone whom you trust to help you to discern whether your gifts and skills, intuition and insight, learning and leadership have prepared you to serve as a delegate at this time.
• Reflect deeply on one of the required essay questions. As a delegate, what particular things could/would you do to help The United Methodist Church to fulfill its purpose and mission around the world?
• After having done all of the above, and sensing God’s call to serve, place your name on the ballot by completing the self-nomination process found on the Conference website. Click here to access it. The on-line nomination process will remain open until midnight on February 15, 2019. If you have questions about the eligibility requirements or the self-nomination process, call, write, or email me using the information below. I will assist you in every way possible.
Beth Gardner, Annual Conference Secretary
Local Church Leadership Training
December 8 9:00am - 12:45pm Solid Rock UMC
Join us on Saturday, December 8 for committee specific and CYPP Training!
9:00am Fellowship and Light Refreshments
9:30am - 11:00am
Sound Financial Practices 101 - Tony Prestipino, Conference Treasurer
This class will cover tax related regulations including issues such as W2, 941, 1099, Payroll and other accounting and finance issues relevant to those first-timers or for those wanting a refresher course.
Staff Parish Relations Committee - Dr. Bob Bushong, District Superintendent
Pastors, Lay Leaders, SPRC Chairpersons and Committee members are strongly encouraged to attend this important training event.
Trustees - LaNita Battles, Ministry Protection Director
As servant leaders and the "Keepers of God's House" trustees are charged with a wide variety of responsibilities in managing church property. Join us for an interactive discussion about the top issues and responsibilities faced as you fulfill your call of leadership and provide support to the vision and mission of your church: Managing Local Church Property.
11:15am - 12:45pm
Child Youth Protection Training - LaNita Battles, Ministry Protection Director
The Florida Conference has made changes to the policy that has been in place since 2009. This session will review the Conference's comprehensive strategy for providing a safe, nurturing environment for our children and youth. The changes to the policy will be covered in this session. All churches must update their church policy to reflect these changes and submit a signed adoption agreement by April 30 stating that those working with children and youth have been CYPP trained.
Sound Financial Practices 201 - Tony Prestipino, Conference Treasurer
This class will cover the following topics: Accounting Best Practices, Controls, Auditing Requirements, Apportionment Calculations and a time for Questions and Answers.
This event is free, we ask you to register for planning purposes. Click HERE to register.
Cokesbury sells Committee guideline books for several of our committees. Click HERE to view and order.
Church and Pastor Annual Profiles
Due by February 1, 2019
Church Profile – reviewed and updated annually.
These forms are to be reviewed and updated annually by all church SPR Committees and all clergy in the Florida Conference. All church SPR Committees must update online annually and may begin after December 1, 2018. The Church Profile deadline requires it be completed online no later than one week prior to the pastor’s DS consultation if they are having one.
Pastor Profile – reviewed and updated annually.
All pastors must update online annually and may begin after December 1, 2018. The Pastor Profile deadline requires it to be completed online no later than one week prior to the DS consultation. Though you may not anticipate a move, it is important that both the Pastor Profile and Church Profile be current and up to date at the first appointment-making session of the Cabinet. The reports should be an honest reflection of the pastoral ministry and the profile of the church.
Click HERE for the detailed instructions for accessing both the Church and Pastor Profiles. Follow the step by step instructions to access the appropriate profile. The final date to update Profiles is February 1, 2019.
2018 Connectional Giving Deadline
Apportionment payments for 2018 must be received in the lockbox at Regions Bank or paid on line by Friday January 11, 2019. This is not a postmarked by date but is the last day by which monies must be received in the Conference or our bank lockbox to be included in 2018 apportionments receipts. Any payments received after that date will be applied to 2019 apportionments. Any payments received between January 1 and January 11 must be clearly marked as to which year they are to be applied.
All apportionment payments should be accompanied by a completed Remittance Report. Click HERE for the report or Click HERE to pay online on the conference website.
Any amounts due for Ministry Protection and Health and Benefits at the end of the year will continue to show as outstanding on your statement in 2019. To ensure proper processing of these payments and avoid errors, payments should contain the following information on the check, check stub or statement:
• Church Name
• GCFA Number
• Invoice Number (include all letters and any 0’s)
• Allocation amounts for each invoice
When mailing payments to Regions take note of the billing address for each of these types of payments. The last 4 numbers after the zip code are different for each and very important to include to ensure your payment is processed properly.
To be considered a 100% connectional church in the Florida Annual Conference Journal, 100% of 2018 apportionments must be received by January 11, 2019, and all outstanding Ministry Protection and Health and Benefits obligations must be received by December 31, 2018.
Help! My pastor and Leadership/Nominations Committee have asked me to serve as the Lay Leader/Lay Member to Annual Conference in my local church. What are my duties, when do I serve, how do I serve? Do you know that in a small church you may serve in both roles? On Saturday, January 19, 2019, please join other Lay Leaders and Lay Members for a time of worship, sharing, learning, and fellowship. Bring your questions, come with your experience and yes please, invite your Pastor as we explore the ways you have been tasked to serve in the local church and beyond. So, what about YOU? Come, hear about some leadership skills/tools to help you on your Faith walk to better equip your to serve. Brunch will be served. This event will be led by the ECD Co-Directors of Lay Servant Ministries, Lynn Campbell and Jim Boesch.
Questions? Contact Lynn Campbell email@example.com. Click HERE to register.
Annual Called to Serve
February 9, 2019 - First UMC, Oviedo
Rev. Dr. Candace Lewis
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. Dr. Candace Lewis, Gulf Central District Superintendent will be our Keynote Speaker!
Details and registration will be available soon!
Building Bridges in a #meToo World
Dr. Elaine Heath, Professor of Missional and Pastoral Theology, Duke Divinity
Jeanine Sparks, licensed professional counselor
ECD clergy serving full time in the local church are expected to attend. If you absolutely cannot attend, please email Dr. Bob Bushong and request to be excused.
All clergy in the Florida Conference are welcome to attend.
2019 Florida Minimum Wage
The Florida minimum wage is increasing to $8.46 per hour, effective January 1, 2019. Please Click HERE for the minimum wage poster for 2019. This needs to be posted for all employees to see.
Around the Conference and Beyond
Active Threat Safety Seminar
In keeping with our core value of safety and security and to address the continuing instances of tragic shootings around the country, The Florida Conference Ministry Protection Department is offering a free training event for local churches.
We were fortunate to be able to schedule four events before year’s end with one of the pre-eminent active threat training experts in Florida.
Who can attend? Pastors, assistant/associate pastors, youth pastors/leaders, business administrators, trustees, church secretaries, daycare directors and staff, security team members, church ushers/greeters, and anyone else at the local church who is interested in safety. There is a seating capacity for each site, so registration (below) will be on a first-come, first-served basis. You will receive an electronic confirmation of your registration. Deadline to register is December 10. Click HERE for details. Click HERE to register.
Professional Administrators of United Methodist Connectional Structure
February 16, 2019 - LEC
If you are in an Administrative role in the local church, we hope you will join us at the 45th Annual Seminar of the Florida Chapter PAUMCS. This seminar offers a chance to renew and refresh at the Life Enrichment Center in Fruitland Park. We have a great day planned for you that includes information, rest & relaxation. Registration beings at 7:30am in the Lee Pearson Building. The seminar will be from 8:45am - 4:00pm. Click HERE for the details and registration form. Questions? Contact Lynn Campbell firstname.lastname@example.org.
Warren W. Willis Camp Retreats
January 29 - February 1, 2019 - Epworth By The Sea
In lieu of our Clergy Gathering which had been tentatively scheduled October 23 - 24, 2018, we are inviting you to attend the Winter Conference at Epworth By The Sea, January 29 - February 1, 2019. This will be a combined event with the Bishops and clergy of the North Georgia, Mississippi, South Georgia and Florida Conferences. Dr. Tod Bolinger, author of Canoeing The Mountains, will be the keynote speaker.
Be sure to register soon as we expect this to be a sold out event.
Click HERE to register. Click HERE for the flyer.
Dare to Explore is a student leadership retreat for students by students. This is a great event to bring your student leaders (or those whom you'd like to become students leaders) to, in whatever form that takes in your local church. For some that is their whole youth group, for others it is a core group of student leaders. The registration is $90 per person. Click HERE for the Dare page. Registration will open in October. We can't wait to see you and your team. No matter where you are on your spiritual walk, be prepared to explore!
Join us on Saturday, December 8 for committee specific trainings. Training on SPRC, Finance, Trustees, & CYPP will be held.
District Committee on Ministry Meeting Candidates contact Elizabeth Flynn at email@example.com for appointment. Materials were due November 22.
Conference & District Offices are closed.
Chairperson - Rev. Owen Stricklin - To come before the Board, the pastor must email Rev. Owen Stricklin firstname.lastname@example.org
and copy Claudia Sava email@example.com
to make the request and state what the church is planning.
Help! My pastor and Leadership/Nominations Committee have asked me to serve as the Lay Leader/Lay Member in my local church. What are my duties, when do I serve, how do I serve?
Creativity: Orlando is a hands-on workshop for leaders who know that we can’t keep doing church the same old way - it’s time we get creative!