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ECD November 2018 Newsletter

Greetings from the District Superintendent

 Dr. Bob Bushong

Some of you remember Bishop Robert Schnase’s book called Five Practices for Faithful Congregations that was published in 2007 and quickly became a helpful resource for local congregations and a tool that has undergirded our collective perception of what defines a vital church.

In a new, revised version of this book Bishop Schnase addresses head-on the “five practices” from the perspective of a “post-attractional era” that requires a significant shift in how we think about ministry. He acknowledges that attractional models of church, those designed to “get people to come to us” are not enough, and we need to shift into a missional approach that “develops ministry that primarily benefits people who are not members of the church, often in places away from church facilities.”

Bishop Schnase’s revised approach to the “five practices for faithful congregations” focuses on developing an intentional outward focus that means “carrying Christ’s love to where people already live and work and play, rather than hoping for people to come to us.”

 He defines our shift in thinking about ministry in these ways:

- “Come to us” ideas must be balanced with “go to them” initiatives.

- Strategies for doing things “better” must be strengthened with ideas of doing things “differently.”

- Teaching people to “do things our way” must be intermixed with “learning new things” from others.

- Doing ministry “for” becomes doing ministry “with.”

- Welcoming guests expands to becoming a newcomer among others.

- Increasing activities “in the church” shifts toward offering ministries “beyond our facilities.”

- Making our church more interesting to others expands to becoming more interested in the spiritual needs and real-life issues of others.

- Receiving people in the spirit of Christ expands to being sent to people around us in the spirit of Christ.

I am often asked why so many churches are declining and even closing. My typical answer is, “Because so many churches are mostly inward focused and myopic in their world views.” In many contexts “church” has become more a place that exists to keep its members happy by meeting their perceived needs than it does to reach outside of itself with the love of God through Jesus to listen to the needs of those “out there” and to the whisper of the Spirit in how to speak God’s love into those needs.

I often tell pastors in the district that their roles are both (1) more important and (2) more difficult than mine: more important because the local church is where the action is when it comes to living out our faith in community; more challenging because we’re living in a time in which we need to figure out how to “be the church” in a world that no longer sees church involvement, let alone church membership, as important or appealing.

I recommend that clergy and lay leaders take a serious look at Bishop Schnase’s most recent book and begin to ask yourselves how to help your church community become intentional about moving outside of itself in new and creative, uncomfortable and risky ways that focus on reaching a world that by and large is no longer inclined to come to us.

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

Kim and I are long-time members of the New Covenant Sunday School class, which Bob Bushong helped start at First UMC Orlando.  We were not part of the founding group, but we joined just a few years later.  As I write this, I’m also preparing to present to that class on Sunday.  We’ll be talking about Fresh Expressions at the district level.

I thought it would be helpful to start out with a definition of Fresh Expressions.  Being a teacher, I know that one of the best ways to define something is to outline exactly what it is not.  In teacher lingo, that’s called giving non-examples.

Here are examples of what Fresh Expressions is not:

1. Fresh Expressions is not a new fad.  Some claim that John Wesley and his first group of Methodists began Fresh Expressions when they went out to preach in the streets, to have fellowship with prisoners, and to bring the love of God to the poor.

2. Fresh Expressions is not a way to get young people to join the church – and support it financially.  The people who come to a Fresh Expressions experience may never walk through the doors of your church, and they may never give a dollar toward the operating costs.

3. Fresh Expressions is not a top-down directive.  Fresh Expressions is a grass-root movement.  The Fresh Expressions groups come from the hearts and passions of church members and local pastors.  However, our bishop, our D.S., and our pastors have many resources to guide and support people in their work to build and maintain a Fresh Expression.

4. Fresh Expressions is not something you do for others.  Fresh Expressions is something you do with others.  It’s not an US and THEM ministry.  We are all part of the body of Christ, and that body extends way beyond the walls of our church.

5. Fresh Expressions is not a quick fix for your community, your church, your city, your country, or your world.  Fresh Expressions is a long-term commitment, totally appropriate for the long-term process of bringing souls into the loving community of Christ as disciples to transform the world!  It takes time to build relationships, establish trust, and nurture a faith.

What is Fresh Expressions then?

Fresh Expressions is a way for us, as United Methodist Christians, to bring Jesus’ love into the lives of our neighbors and fellow community members so that they will feel the joy, joy, joy of that love down in their hearts, the peace from that love like a river in their souls, and the comfort of that love as they lay down their burdens down by the riverside.  We know the old songs and the great old stories, and we tug on the prayer chain in bad times and rejoice with our Sunday school friends in the good times.  Many, many of the people – those we come across every day, in the lunchroom at work, at the grocery store, on the sidewalk, on the kids’ soccer fields – don’t have those songs, they don’t know the stories, they don’t know the love and support of fellow believers in a faithful and loving God.  It’s our job to let them in on what wondrous love it is!  Fresh Expressions is loving people into the fold, right where they are.

Loving the Laity,
Melanie & Kim Lee  

AWAKEN! A Night of Worship & Prayer
November 8 6:30pm - Faith UMC, Orlando

 Ed Coleman

Awaken is an opportunity for the men of the United Methodist Church to gather with other men in the same district to intentionally pray for the church, its leaders, and each other. It’s designed to build unity among men, connect men in regular prayer for their pastor, and to fulfill the mission of the United Methodist Church – “to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” Click HERE for details.

ECD is excited to announce that Ed Coleman is the new UMM President for the district.  If you have questions about the UMM or the men's ministry in your church, please contact him at


Florida Conference Job Opportunity
Program Coordinator

 Photo Credit:  Craig Sava

If you have a passion for our Camp and Retreat Ministry, then becoming the Program Coordinator for the Warren W. Willis Camp and Life Enrichment Center may be your dream job!  This role oversees the Summer and Year-Round Programs of WWW and LEC to enhance, develop and design the experiences we’ve grown up loving.  Click HERE for details. Position closes 11/12/18 


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 9:30am - Noon Solid Rock UMC

Training for members of Finance, Trustees, & Staff Parish Relations Committees will be  December 8.  This will allow committees to start the new year ready to go!  It will also free these folks up to attend other workshops at the ECD Called to Serve on February 9, 2019.  Please note, these committee specific classes will not be offered in February.

Finance - Tony Prestipino, Conference Treasurer
Staff Parish Relations - Dr. Bob Bushong, District Superintendent
Trustees - LaNita Battles, Ministry Protection Director

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.

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 in December.




Spring Clergy Meeting
February 21, 2019 8:30am - 4:00pm First UMC, Orlando

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. 

Around the Conference and Beyond

Early Response Team (ERT) Training
November 9 8:30am - 5:00pm New Covenant UMC, The Villages

Early Response Teams (ERT) are self-contained teams who enter a disaster zone at the invitation of local emergency management officials. ERTs offer a Christian presence and are trained to provide various types of physical, emotional and spiritual assistance to disaster survivors. ERTs are registered with the Disaster Recovery Ministry of the Florida Conference and Disaster Recovery coordinates team placement to get help where it is needed most after a disaster.

ERT training focuses on types, phases and levels of a disaster and explains what is meant by early response. Participants learn the importance of spiritual and emotional care, tarping, flood clean-up, chainsaw safety, team requirements and much more.

Participants are trained by UMCOR-certified trainers and receive a badge identifying them with UMCOR and the Florida Conference.

Participants must be 18 or older and pass a background check

Space is limited to 25 people and registration is required. Click HERE to register.

Special Session of the General Conference
February 2019 - St. Louis

With the Special Session of the General Conference approaching in February 2019, your General Conference delegation from Florida wants to hear from you. Thank you to the 100 or so who attended our special day of listening on Saturday, October 20. For those of you who were not able to attend, we want to offer a web based virtual listening session on Wednesday, November 14, at 10 a.m.
The hour will be shaped by an opportunity for some members of the delegation to listen to you. Delegates will answer submitted questions as we are able, and we will share in a time of prayer together.
To register and get log-in information click here.
To see a list of members of the delegation click here. If you would like to share something with the delegation and cannot join us on November 14, email, and your email will be sent to the all the members of the delegation.
Finally, we hope each of you will consider joining the delegation in Praying Our Way Forward which includes time of daily prayer, email reminders and weekly fasting. For more information click here.
Molly McEntire
Leader of Florida Delegation to General Conference (lay)
Rev. Alex Shanks
Clergy Member of Florida Delegation to General Conference

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
Connect:  November 9-11
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 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!

May 10 - Missional Vital Signs Due

Please remember to submit your Missional Vital Signs (MVS) each month no later than the 10th of the month. Click here to enter stats.

November 8 - Awaken! A Night of Worship and Prayer

Join the men of the East Central District in a night of worship and prayer. A spaghetti dinner will be served at 6:30 pm ($5), followed by worship, an uplifting message, and closing with communion and prayer. Please contact Ed Coleman, East Central UMM President, for further details about this important event for the men of our District.

November 12 - Veteran's Day Holiday

Conference & District Offices are closed.

November 13 - East Central District Church Dashboard Update Day!

All Cluster Church Conferences have concluded and everyone should have updated their Church Dashboard.  The District Church Dashboard Update Day is being held as a reminder for all churches to go into their church dashboard and update their 2019 church leadership.  This is a good time to verify that all the church information is correct. ie. address, directions, service times, etc. Please note:  Regardless of their title, please add  ...

November 22 - Thanksgiving Holiday

Conference & District Offices are closed.

December 1 - Fresh Expressions Vision Day

Join Reverend Michael Beck for this Vision Day and you will leave understanding and visualizing the Fresh Expressions movement. 

December 8 - East Central District Local Church Leadership Training

Finances - Tony Prestipino, Conference Treasurer
Staff Parish Relations - Dr. Bob Bushong, East Central District Superintendent
Trustees - LaNita Battles, Ministry Protection Director

December 20 - East Central District Committee on Ordained Ministry (dCOM)

District Committee on Ministry Meeting Candidates contact Elizabeth Flynn at for appointment.  Materials due November 22.