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ECD January 2019 Newsletter

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,

Bob Bushong
District Superintendent
East Central District

In the District

A Message from Kim & Melanie Lee, District Lay Leaders

 Kim & Melanie Lee

Thoughts to Lead You Forward

Some years close as quietly as the door to a nursery housing a sleeping baby.  Others run toward their end, skidding out of control, and crashing with a loud bang into the wall of the next year.  However 2018 has ended for you, the inevitable march of 2019 has begun.  The new year always comes on time, picking up the mantle of the year before, ready or not, to face the challenges these next 12 months bring for us all.

Here are some thoughts to remember and Bible verses to help you face whatever comes your way this year:

1. You are so loved.  Remember that Jesus loves you.  You are precious to God.  You are worthy of the steadfast love that never fails.  Don’t ever forget you are a beloved child of God.  John 3:16 16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

2. You are not alone.  Jesus stands ready to help.  You don’t have to handle everything by yourself.  You can embrace the deep rest that waits for you when you let Jesus take your load.  Matthew 11: 28-30 28 Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

3. You have purpose.  God has given you so much, including a Great Commission.  Do your best to serve well and faithfully, knowing the results belong to God.  Matthew 28: 18-20 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

When you remember you are loved, you are not alone, and you have purpose, life will be joyful, peaceful, and blessed – even when adversities come, which they will, of course.  May you spend your 2019 walking in the light of God, firmly centered in God’s will for your life and for God’s world.

Loving the Laity,
Melanie & Kim Lee  

Annual Called to Serve
February 9, 2019 - First UMC, Oviedo

Rev. Dr. Candace Lewis

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!

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. 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. 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 have been received by December 31, 2018.

Lay Leader/Lay Member to AC Training
January 19, 2019 - First UMC, Orlando

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 Click HERE to register. 

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. 


Annual Conference 2019 set to take place at Florida Southern College

Make plans now to attend Annual Conference 2019 by booking your hotel rooms early. A list of hotels and rates can be found HERE. Housing will also be available at Florida Southern College (details forthcoming).

As you make your plans, the Annual Conference planning team wanted you to be aware of the following:
     1)  Our theme is “On Mission Together,” and we will welcome Bishop Will Willimon, missiologist Dr. Dana Robert, along with musical leaders Jarvis Wilson and Keith Wilson. 
     2)  Annual Conference will begin on Wednesday, June 5, with clergy and lay sessions at 10 a.m. We will conclude with the Service of Licensing, Commissioning and Ordination on Saturday, June 8, adjourning at 12:30 p.m.
     3)  We will be voting on delegates to General Conference 2020, with chances to meet delegates Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning.
     4)  All registration will take place at Florida Southern College, as will the clergy and lay sessions.
     5)  Florida Southern has added new parking shuttles and golf carts.
     6)  We will have an air-conditioned tent near Branscomb Auditorium which will be a place to eat and fellowship with other delegates. 

East Central District will have a pre-Annual Conference Orientation on Sunday, May 19 at First UMC, Orlando at 3:00pm. Dr. Bob Bushong, Rev. Alex Shanks, and Alice Williams will discuss 2019 Annual Conference and give a report of the 2019 General Conference.

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

Brian Donivan

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.


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

Warren W. Willis Camp Retreats

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

Confirmation Retreat:  February 15-17, 2019, March 1-3 & 15-17, 2019, Sept 27-29, 2019
College Connection:  January 25-27, 2019
Created by God:  April 26-28, 2019

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

Clergy Gathering
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.

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!