Greetings from the District Superintendent
|Dr. Bob Bushong|
As we start the New Year my thoughts go in lots of different directions. Gratitude is the primary theme, mostly gratitude for relationships that help to shape my life.
Though they are now thirty-five and thirty-eight years old, as a dad it doesn’t seem all that long ago that I was tucking my kids into bed at night, reading them a story, and saying prayers with them.
We had a verse prayer that Jeanne taught them that either she or I, and sometimes both of us said with them every night:
Father in heaven, hear my prayer;
Keep me in thy loving care.
Be my guide in all I do;
Bless all those who love me too.
Then we’d listen to what Robbie and Kimberly called their “thank God time.” And they always had a lot of people/animals/things for which to thank God: their mom and me, each other, their grandparents, our pets, and whoever and whatever else they felt particularly connected with at the time. Those were very special times.
I love connecting with my kids, whatever their ages. It’s an especially great experience, of course, when they’re doing well, but even when they’re not, I want to know what’s going on with them. I want to hear their voices. I want to be able to “be with them” in whatever ways they will allow me to. The role has changed. We don’t read stories and say prayers together at night any more. They’re not around where I can see them and talk with them in person every day. But I’m still their dad. It’s a role that I cherish deeply, one that I always will.
Sometimes I am struck by the parallels between my relationship as father to my children and God’s relationship as father to us. Oh, I know there’s danger in this analogy. It’s certainly far from a precise one. The most obvious shortcoming of this comparison is that I am not perfect as a parent. At age 66, I’m a dad who is in touch with lots of ways in which my own shortcomings and unhealthiness got in the way of being the best that I could be for my children.
Yet I’ve always loved them, no matter what. Despite my shortcomings, I’ve always loved those two babies, those two toddlers, those two children, those two preteens, those two teenagers, those two adults more than I possibly could begin to describe. I’ve always wanted the best for them. I’ve always wanted to do whatever I was able to do to show them my love. I’ve always wanted to “be there” for them, to listen to them and support them, to share with them, to laugh with them, to cry with them.
Again, the analogy in many senses is a weak one, but the depth with which I love my children may be the closest I can come to grasping the depth with which God loves me, and you, and every human being. God is a parent who always wants to be a part of our lives – when things are going well for us and when they’re not – to connect with us, to listen to us. God is a parent whose deep love for us never falters. God always wants the best for us, always wants to “be there” for us, to laugh with us, to cry with us.
The blatant flaw in the analogy, as we have already acknowledged, is that God’s love is perfect love. It has no shortcomings, no weaknesses. It is whole. It is complete. It is pure. It is eternal. As Paul reminds us in Romans 8, its embrace is one from which we can never be separated.
Happy New Year!
Grace and Peace,
East Central District
In the District
Annual Called to Serve
February 9, 2019 - First UMC, Oviedo
Who are the People in your Neighborhood?
Everyone in the Kingdom is Called to Serve! This event is not just for clergy and leaders. It is for everyone! We are excited to announce that Rev. Dr. Candace Lewis, Gulf Central District Superintendent will be our Keynote Speaker!
We will worship together and hear a message from Rev. Dr. Candace Lewis. Then we will break out into workshops. There are 14 different workshops offered and you will select two different ones to attend. We ask you to register for planning purposes.
Click HERE for details and registration.
Click HERE for a complete description of workshops.
This is a FREE event! Registration will close February 6, register now!
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 have been received by December 31, 2018.
Spring Clergy Meeting
February 21, 2019 8:30am - 4:00pm First UMC, Orlando
Building Bridges in a #meToo World
Dr. Elaine Heath, Missional and Pastoral Theologian
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
It is with overwhelming sorrow that the conference Ministry Protection team shares the sudden passing of Brian Donivan, the Florida Conference Senior Claim Specialist. Brian was at home with his wife Sue when he died unexpectedly on Christmas Eve. We ask that you please keep Brian's wife Sue and their sons Ian and Connor in your prayers.
Warren W. Willis Camp Retreats
Check out Warren W. Willis for many opportunities to reflect & fellowship!
Plan Your Own Church Retreat: Who doesn't love WWW? Why not plan your own retreat?
CCYM - Dare to Explore
February 15 - 17, 2019 - Warren W. Willis
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 soon. We can't wait to see you and your team. No matter where you are on your spiritual walk, be prepared to explore!