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GCD February 2019 Newsletter


 From the District Superintendent

Prayers, Presence, Gifts, Service and Witness

As a Pastor, I enjoyed welcoming new members into the United Methodist Church Family through baptism, confirmation, profession and reaffirmation of faith.  This time of welcome asks each person, “Will you uphold the United Methodist Church by your prayers, presence, gifts, service and witness?   The consistent response is, I, will. Personally, I’ve welcomed hundreds of people into a life of faith in Christ and Christian Community.  I’ve watched God use faithful people filled with faults, failures and frailties in amazing ways as we seek to keep and live into our membership vows.    

In a few weeks, the Bishops and the delegates of the Global United Methodist Church will gather for  the called General Conference in St. Louis February  23 – 26th 2019. 

Will you commit again to “uphold” the Bishops and delegates and this entire process in your prayers

Our Resident Bishop Ken Carter posted on the Florida Conference web site important information resources and reflections.  Here is the link to Bishop Carter’s reflections.

We will keep you posted on the decisions of the General Conference.  Thanks for upholding General Conference with your prayers. 

This month, we request your Presence at one of our two upcoming District Training Events both happening on Saturday, February 16th from 9am – 3pm.  Innovation 2019 will focus on equipping pastors and laity to connect, grow and innovate and will be held at Anona UMC.  The link to register for is below in the Newsletter. We also have a day of Creative Worship Design Training with Jason Moore of Midnight Oil Productions.  This training starts at 9am – 4pm will also be held at Anona UMC.  If interested please contact Maggie in the District Office. 

Speaking of Gifts, I want to thank you for your overwhelming generosity and commitment to Connectional Giving.  Gulf Central District Churches paid 89.83% of our Apportionments contributing a total of $4,020,035.66.  We were up 3.89% from last year and had 63 churches pay 100% of their apportionments.  Thank you for being cheerful givers. 

These are just a few ways we can and are living into our membership vows as a District.  I will share more stories next month.  I am grateful for your continued faithfulness to God through our local United Methodist Churches as you uphold the Christ’s church and share your prayers, presence, gifts, service and witness. 

On Mission Together,




Year end Stats due February 8 



Is your church struggling…is your church is stagnant…is your church dying?  Bring your leadership!  Bring your entire congregation!  This is your opportunity to learn and experience some of the best ways to “do church” today!

Innovation 2019 will help your clergy and laity re-tool and re-energize for their call to ministry and service.  Retooling for ways to spread the Gospel in ways that aren’t scary for us (Sharing the Gospel Scares Me to Death) and non-threatening for them (Innovate through the Ancient Art of Storytelling).  Re-tooling for ways to reach your community in new and different ways (Fresh Expressions-the Movement! and Fresh Expressions-Join the Movement!).

Register today @   (register by February 8th to guarantee childcare & translation)


SEEKING STILLNESS: the practice of Christian Meditation

We don’t experience much silence in our lives. Gather together in downtown Tampa to learn more about the practice of meditation.
This Seeking Stillness retreat is for anyone wanting to experience silence in a busy world: from life-long practitioners to those just beginning to explore meditation.
Retreat features talk and instruction from Carl McColman, contemplative writer, speaker, retreat leader and host of pod-cast Encountering Silence.

Friday March 29th 6:00-9:00pm and Saturday March 30th 8:30am-2:30pm (2019)

*7:00am Sunrise meditation walk on the River Walk on Saturday


Friday evening only $25

Friday evening and Saturday with Lunch $49



This retreat will teach contemplation, centering prayer and a variety of different methods, including meditation’s Christian foundation. This experience will help attendees reclaim the heritage of Christian contemplative spirituality through teachings of the Christian mystics, the practice of silent prayer, and the revival of ancient practices like Lectio Divina.

LOCATION: The Portico,  1001 N Florida Ave, Tampa, FL 33602,  813-222-2299


We are pleased to announce the upcoming free event  “The Opioid Crisis and the Faith Community”

Thursday, February 21, 2019
8:00AM – 12:30PM
Anona United Methodist Church
Worship Center
13233 Indian Rocks Rd.
Largo, FL 33774

Featured Speakers include: Gayle Guidash, Pinellas County Health Department; Chief Anthony Holloway, St. Petersburg Police Department; Dianne Clarke, Operation Par; Larry Cooper, Kinship Children’s Home Network; Laurallyn Segur, Eckerd Connects
Come join us for a morning of information and resources about the Opioid Crisis in our Community and how you and the Faith Community can become involved. Continental Breakfast will be provided.

Organized by Family Oriented Concept Unified to Serve (FOCUS)
A collaborative planning team of religious professionals and social service providers committed to working throughout Pinellas County on behalf of Children and Families
For more information contact: Joanne Reich 727-453-5624 or Yaridis L. Garcia, 727-453-5662


Shout Out to Elsa Huff from First Bartow

An amazing 3rd grade teacher, Elsa Huff, at First United Methodist Bartow's School has been taking her class on an "Israelite walk" for 40 years. They hike for about 6 miles in order to teach, along the way, about Israel's journey through the desert. Please, Click here to see the story in the Ledger.

She teaches her students with innovative and experiential methods. She is an outstanding teacher at 72 years of age, still walking the 6 miles with her students. 

This year many of her alums of 40 years are walking again with her.


Reasons For Hope

Friday, April 5 and Saturday, April 6 | St. Paul United Methodist Church | 1199 Highland Ave in Largo, FL

Join us for this two day conference on April 5 and April 6, featuring world-class speakers on topics that will help us tackle tough questions of faith. Whether you’re a dedicated Christian, or you’re still looking for answers, this is a place for you to learn, grow and find Reasons for Hope. Our speakers will cover topics like absolute truth, why God allows evil, the resurrection, and more. If you wish to be more confident in your faith or are looking for new knowledge to help you share the truth of Jesus Christ, we invite you to be inspired by apologetics scholars Krista Bontrager, Dr. Clay Jones,  Rachel Shockey, and John and Laurie Stewart.

Early Bird Registration is $25 until March 2. After March 2, the standard rate is $30. Discounted pricing is also available for groups, students, and more. If you know a non-believer who might be interested in attending, you can purchase their ticket for just $15.

Visit for more information or to register now.


 Around the Conference and beyond


We are in a season of prayer as we approach the Special Session of General Conference in February. Some of you have asked for resources to share information with your local church about the Way Forward so they have accurate information about something that will undoubtedly be covered in the media.

The attached downloadable bulletin insert is a one-page summary that you could use to educate your members the Sundays preceding General Conference. Bishop Carter has also made available this short video (click here) you can share in worship if desired. It is up to you to decide what is most helpful in your context.

Please plan to join us for a live webinar on Friday, March 1, at 11 a.m. for a conversation with Bishop Carter and delegation leaders about the results of the General Conference. We will also provide a similar bulletin insert or video you could use for Sunday, March 3.

If you have questions or need additional resources, please contact Alex Shanks at

Blessings in this time!

Bulletin Insert





Wespath Benefits and Investments developed a partnership with Paychex to provide United Methodist Churches with Payroll and HR solutions for 2019 and beyond. 

Struggling with clergy payroll? UMPIP deductions? Filing quarterly tax forms? Preparing year-end W2s?  This could be a great way to improve your processes!

With this new partnership, Paychex can send 403b/UMPIP contribution information to Wespath to debit you for the corresponding amount, saving you time and ensuring the accuracy of information. 

Paychex will handle your quarterly tax filings and year-end reports.  Managing your payroll can become easier and more accurate and you ensure your church is financially compliant.


All you’ll have to do is report salaries and hours worked and Paychex will do the rest!  You will also receive a 35% discount for the duration of the partnership between Paychex and Wespath.


Jeff Kohl is the designated Paychex/Wespath representative for all UMC churches nationwide. For more information about Paychex payroll, human resources, time & attendance and other services, call Jeff Kohl at (561) 907-7402, email him at or visit


2019 Micro Grants Available

The Fresh Expressions team is excited to announce that there is grant money available for new and existing Fresh Expressions in the Florida United Methodist Conference. The current application window is now open. You can download the application HERE.
We are looking for groups that have a clear vision for their group and a plan for the usage of grant funds. Grants will range from $100 to $1,500. All applications and support letters must be submitted by February 28th, 2019, for consideration. If you have any questions or need to be connected to a learning partner who can provide a letter of support, please contact the Fresh Expressions team at


UMCom has some great webinars, live and recorded for our church leaders.


The Florida United Methodist Church and the African Methodist Episcopal Church, in partnership with our community partner, Florida Impact, will convene in Tallahassee, Florida, on Sunday, March 24-Tuesday, March 26. Our collaboration is entitled Florida Advocacy Days (FAD). We will gather for a time of prayer and learning as we prepare to meet with our legislators and advocate on behalf of children and others: "those who cannot speak for themselves."

The three-day event begins with a dedication of children’s handprints in response to the “Hanging of the Hands” display on Sunday at 4:00 p.m. at the State Capitol. This celebration will be followed by a Sunday worship service at 6:30 p.m. and reception held at FSU Wesley Center in Tallahassee, to which the public is invited.

The Monday gathering will convene at Trinity United Methodist Church. Leaders from the three membership partnerships and others come together to receive data and impact information on areas of need and challenges regarding resources. Experts from several fields and agencies will help shape and inform our messages. Training will be provided in order to prepare us to meet with our legislators and to advocate and call for their accountability on behalf of "those who cannot speak for themselves."

The event culminates with a Tuesday Prayer Breakfast held at Trinity UMC at 7:00 a.m., followed by a group photo, a march to the State Capitol and keeping pre-scheduled appointments with legislators. We conclude our time together with a debrief over lunch at Trinity UMC.

Join your voice with other brothers and sisters in Christ as we gather for FAD in Tallahassee during the Annual Children's Week.

Click here to register and have the opportunity to be a voice for “those who cannot speak for themselves.” Registration is $70 if you register by 1/31/2019 and $80 if you register after. Deadline for registration is 3/1/2019. Registration includes all of the events above, along with Monday and Tuesday breakfast and lunch. The registration cost does not include additional meals, transportation or lodging.

A detailed list of the advocacy issues will be provided soon.

Register and add your voice and make a difference.


Marriage Enrichment Retreats at Lake Junaluska

 We are created for a lifetime of love and intimacy, but relationships can be hard, even for the happiest couples.

Distance, frustration and disconnection can enter through any number of life's events.

Come to a Christian-based marriage retreat at Lake Junaluska to better understand your partner and learn to cultivate a warmer, more joyful and loving relationship.


How to strengthen essential psychological and spiritual foundations for healthy, happy relationships

How to stop rigid negative patterns in communication that lead to frustration and disconnection

How to be more accessible, responsive and engaged in your relationship

How to better understand your partner and help them to understand you

How to share your deepest needs for support, love and affection and respond to those same needs in your partner

Pastoral participants earn 1.5 CEUs for participation in this program. This retreat is perfect for pastors who regularly do marriage counseling, or anyone who wants to strengthen the bond in their marriage.


Marriage Enrichment Program for two people: $350 

Two nights lodging for two people and five meals (Monday breakfast through Tuesday lunch) for two people (required): $319


-           March 10-12, 2019

-           August 18-20, 2019

-           September 29 - October 1, 2019

Learn more at or call 800-222-4930.



Scholarships from United Methodist Credit Union - 4 people between the ages of 17-35 will have the opportunity to win a $1000.00 scholarship within the four conferences.  

Florida UMC Conference
Alabama – West Florida UMC Conference
North Georgia UMC Conference
South Georgia UMC Conference

Deadline to apply is April 30, 2019 and each winner will be notified during the month of prior to each Annual Conference.

2 Ways to apply and Eligibility information here  UMCFCU2019COLLEGESCHOLARSHIP  



Position Title:  
Director of the United Methodist Heritage Center, Florida Conference UMC
Position Status: Part-time
Reports To:  Florida Conference Commission on Archives and History

Position Summary: The Director of the United Methodist Heritage Center serves as both Director and Conference Archivist. He/she is responsible for receiving, describing, arranging, maintaining, researching and preserving all archival and museum holdings depicting the history and heritage of Methodism in Florida, according to professionally-accepted standards.


February’s Health Observance: Heart Health Awareness and National Wear Red Day

Heart Health - Heart Health - Heart Disease - My Healthy Heart booklet - Healthy Heart Diet Supplements

UHC Info At a Glance: Cholesterol Terms

Sharecare: Kiwi to Prevent Heart Disease

Sharecare: Ways to Love Your Heart

National Wear Red Day


February 18                President’s Day
April 19                       Good Friday
May 27                        Memorial Day
July 4                           Independence Day
September 2               Labor Day
November 11              Veteran’s Day
November 28              Thanksgiving
November 29              Day After Thanksgiving
December 24              Christmas Eve
December 25              Christmas Day



February 16 District Learning Event at Anona 13233 Indian Rocks Rd Largo 9AM – 3 PM

February 23-26 Special Session General Conference - St Louis MO 


April 4 – materials due for 1st Provisional attempt meeting May 2

April 25 Clergy Meeting Location Heritage UMC Clearwater 9:30 -2PM working lunch  Click Here to Register


May 2 DCOM Meeting 1st Provisional attempt materials due April 4

May 14 Annual Conference Orientation meeting location St Paul UMC Largo Christian Life Building Click to register

May 16 Annual Conference Orientation meeting location St Andrew's Brandon Sanctuary Click here to register


June 5-8 Annual Conference at Florida Southern in Lakeland


July 11 materials due for 2nd Provisional attempt meeting August 8


August 8 DCOM meeting for 2nd Provisional attempt


September 24 Sexual Ethics Training - (Clergy Only) Location St James - Tampa click here to register

September 26 Clergy Meeting Location Lake Magdalene 9:30 -2PM working lunch


October 17 materials due for November 14 DCOM


November 7 materials due for December 5 DCOM meeting

November 14 DCOM Meeting


December 5 DCOM Meeting