Main Menu

GCD December 2021 Newsletter

From DS Sharon G. Austin and DS Clarke Campbell-Evans

At its best, the Season of Advent is a time of preparation, coming and waiting, waiting, waiting as we celebrate the birth and return of Christ!  The themes of Advent are Hope, Love, Joy, and Peace; each one is observed on one of the four Sundays immediately preceding Christmas.  Remembering the themes is a different way of thinking about the approximate four-week period of shopping frenzy between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

We all wait for something.  Mike and I are awaiting the birth of our grandchild any day.  When we received the fantastic news of DS Candace Lewis’ appointment to the President-Deanship of Gammon Theological Seminary, Atlanta, GA, Clarke and I waited to begin to serve as interim Co-Gulf Central District Superintendents.  Throughout this year, we have listened and prayed for your ministries and thanked God for your leadership.  We hope that we have made a positive contribution to your ministry journeys.  Now, Clarke and I wait for December 31st to pass the baton, to return to our Conference ministries of Connectional and Justice Ministries and Missional Engagement, respectively.  And as the new year dawns, we will joyfully await the leadership of our new District Superintendent, Emily Hotho.  I had the joy of having Clarke serve as my DS shortly after joining the FL Conference years ago. I have now had the privilege of serving as Emily’s DS for the second time.  She will serve as the DS of all of us, as she leads with wisdom and vision.

We were honored by Bishop Carter’s confidence in asking us to serve the clergy and congregations of this district. We hope we will remain connected to you through the resources of our Conference ministries. 

As we bid farewell, we pray that your ministries would be framed in love and bring the light of the Savior to your parishes.  Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.   Romans 14:9 NIV   

Warmest blessings in the new year! 


Dear friends,

It has been a joy to serve these last nine months in the Gulf Central District.  And on top of that, I got to do it with my friend, Sharon Austin.  Many of you I did not know well before I began, and I enjoyed getting the chance to worship with you and the opportunity to know many of you better.  The thing that amazed me most was experiencing the variety of worship services in churches across the District.  Many churches have done some amazing adaptive work to meet the new demands of how we praise God while meeting the hybrid expectations of a more virtual culture.

I am so delighted that Bishop Carter chose Emily Hotho as the new DS.  She is so gifted and knows many clergy well from her time in the Office of Clergy Excellence.  As I transition back to the work of Missional Engagement, I am delighted to say she will be my Superintendent.

Have a joy-filled Advent, friends!

Grace and peace,


Gulf Central District Holy and Holiday Season Office Closure

The Gulf Central District office will be closed from December 23rd through January 2nd.  The AA and DS email addresses will be periodically monitored, but routine emails, texts, and voicemails will receive responses beginning January 3rd.  We will make every effort to respond to emergencies promptly.


Have you entered your leadership?

If you have not updated already - your 2022 Church Leadership was to be updated on your Church Dashboard by 11/30.  Click HERE for Tutorials on adding leadership, BEFORE you start to update.  All leadership with an end date of 12/31/21 will conclude at the end of the year.  The end dates you enter should all be 12/31/22.  It is not done by the class they are in. We do not want entire committees added, just the chair. We also need key staff positions listed. Please provide the names of their positions and not just “staff”. Be sure to click “I am done” when you are finished.  NOTE:  The Church Dashboard should be updated throughout the year as changes occur.

Charge/Church Conference - THANK YOU - Your attention to detail was appreciated!


How to reach your GCD team beginning 1/3/2022

GCD District Superintendent, Rev. Emily Hotho

GCD Administrative Assistant - Administration/Financial related items - 

Beth Potter - Congregational Vitality -

We continue to work remotely, however, if you need to reach by phone the number is 727-585-1207

Thank you! 


Annual Conference 2022 – Get ready to see one another!

Get ready to see one another!

The Florida Annual Conference 2022 session will be back to an in-person event and will be held on June 9-11 (a general schedule will be released in the new year) on the campus of Florida Southern College in Lakeland. The theme for Annual Conference 2022 will be: Rebuilding the Church, Re-membering the Body: Creating a Spiritual Home for All.

“We have been through an extraordinary season with many complexities and constraints, and all of this has kept us from the joy of coming together, and we likely have taken this gift for granted,” said Bishop Ken Carter. “I am excited about the 2022 Annual Conference, and I believe God will bless us during these days.”
Thanks to vaccinations and proper protocols, we feel confident that an in-person gathering can occur in June of next year. While we will still offer a livestream option for those not able to be present in Lakeland, voting on Conference matters will only be available to in-person lay and clergy members.
As we have for the past two years, your Annual Conference planning team will continue to follow state and local health guidelines, including those of Florida Southern College as our hosts. It is possible that mask-wearing and social distancing may still be recommended so please watch for more details as we draw closer to June.

For questions, please contact

Get AC 2022 updates delivered straight to your phone!

Text "flumc22" to 844-635-1026 to subscribe.

Normal text messaging rates apply. Text "STOP" to opt out. Text "HELP" for help.

Florida Annual Conference Planning Team

Pastors: Please forward this to your lay member(s) to Annual Conference and be sure they are entered on the church dashboard!


The Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church
450 Martin L King Jr Ave, Lakeland, FL 33815


 GCD Anti-Racism

Your District Anti-Racism Team is coming to you.  Yes, as we live into our purpose of “equips and empowers individuals and local churches to challenge racial injustice” we need to hear from you what your church needs to continue the conversation and journey.  A member of the GC Anti-Racism Team will be reaching out to every district senior pastor for a conversation during the next couple of months.  What you share will be critical in helping us support you and the local church.

 Coaching and Mentoring available.  Your District Anti-Racism Team is ready to support you in developing a plan to bring the Anti-Racism Journey to your church.  Contact to get connected.

Need resources and ideas.  Two great ways for you and your church to discover and learn more while to a resource to all as we work to end racism:  

  1. Gulf Central District’s Anti-Racism webpage at A glossary of terms; recommended books, podcasts, documentaries; and information on programs for your whole church are readily available to you. 
  2. Gulf Central District’s open Facebook page, Call to Discipleship-End Racism ( is a great place to plug in.  Historical information, UMC resources referenced and so much more is constantly shared for the curious and for the advocate.



Florida Conference Leadership Academy Registration Now Open!

The Florida Conference Leadership Academy is ready to launch! We first introduced the Leadership Academy to you at our Annual Conference in June. Enrollment begins today! We invite you to get ready for our first cohort lift-off in January 2022. Be sure to confirm your seat and register before the December 17 deadline! The Academy is open to both clergy and laity.  Click here for the enrollment form.  

Why the Leadership Academy? “As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens a friend.” (Prov. 22:17 CEB) This is a prime time for all of us, as friends and ministry leaders both clergy and laity to be sharp and prepared to effectively continue the mission in these rapidly changing times.       

Here are the program objectives: 

  • Provide a context for excellence in leadership development, research, and service for our Florida Conference as we integrate the extensive work of the anti-racism task force.
  • Identify, recruit, and equip interested laity and clergy for courageous and transformational leadership in the local church, district, conference, and community. 
  • Inspire participants to reflect leadership skills that honor and promote diversity, equity, and inclusion while being grounded in an understanding of Wesleyan theology and
  • The history and polity of the UMC. 
  • Provide opportunities for participants to grow in intrapersonal and interpersonal awareness through workshop instruction, class participation, and critical engagement with God, self, and neighbor.

Your registration investment of $75, includes all course fees, assessments, and materials. Also included is admission to the Legacy Museum experience in Birmingham, Alabama planned for the summer.

This program is comprised of six sessions, scheduled bi-monthly (every other month) from January thru October. The sessions will be in hybrid format and will include online coursework, Zoom sessions, and in-person gatherings.  Click here for Proposed dates, times and the proposed topics.

Take our pre-flight tour to check out our learning platform. Then register now to be on the inaugural flight when it takes off in January 2022!

Prepare for the journey! We look forward to learning, growing, and sharing with you. For questions or more information please contact Rev. Latricia Scriven and the team at


2021 - 2022 Native American Ministry Grant Available

The aim of this scholarship, to promote leadership in the Native American Church. 

"Just as the body through one has many parts, so it is with Christ. We're using that as the anchor for Native American Christianity." CONAM advocates for Native American issues and helps provide opportunities for those wishing to become United Methodist ministers or laity. It shares the diverse culture, history, and traditions of Native people.  

The scholarships and grants are intended to strengthen, develop and equip Native American students to attend colleges, schools, or universities affiliated with the UMC's General Board of Higher Education Ministry."

The program is developing and can consist of two grants and two scholarships given annually to Native American students pursuing a degree at an accredited or certified seminary, college, or university.

For Grant/Scholarship criteria and instructions, click here.

To apply, follow this link.

Requirements include:
Applicants must be citizens of the United States or permanent residents and born of an indigenous parent from North, Central, or South America.  To receive a scholarship, they must also be pursuing a degree at an accredited or certified seminary, college or university that prepares students for leadership positions within Christian churches.  To receive a grant, applicants must be admitted and enrolled full-time as a college sophomore or higher.  Applicants must be active and enrolled in seminary to receive a scholarship.

Additional information regarding CONAM can be found at  

Transitioning to a Single Leadership Model?

We have received several last-minute requests for churches to transition from larger, transitional Nominations and Leadership, to smaller, singer-board structures (i.e., Single Leadership Board or Simplified Accountability Structure.

One of the essential early steps is that of consultation with the district superintendent.  The Transition model should conform to the discipline.  Paramount in this change is discernment with the congregation, which needs to understand and approve the transition.  Before a vote can be taken, critical discernment, work, and preparation must occur.

Church and Pastor Annual Profiles
Due by January 31

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. The Church Profile deadline requires it be completed online no later than one week prior to the pastor’s DS consultation, if having. The final date to update the Church Profile is January 31, 2022. 

Pastor Profile – reviewed and updated annually.
All pastors must update their profiles online annually and may begin after December 1, 2021. 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. The final date to update the Pastor Profile is January 31, 2022. 

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 January 31, 2022.


Church Dashboard

Click HERE for the tutorials. Please review these tutorials which answer most questions! 

Are your church worship times correct in the church dashboard? Take a moment to ensure that your worship times are accurately listed in your church dashboard so they are accurate on the Conference website! 

Most of our churches ensure that their websites include updated information for persons seeking to connect with their church.  However, fewer may realize that the Conference also posts worship information for most of our congregations.  Is your church’s dashboard outdated or incomplete?

As communities receive new residents and online viewing expands, accurate information on your church will become an asset for everyone!  Want to see what others see?  Click here and search for your church.  You can review the information and if incorrect, go into your dashboard and make the adjustment.  Cultivate a practice of reviewing the church dashboard on a quarterly basis.

Input your Social Media Links

A section has been added to the church dashboard so it accepts social media links for the following platforms

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • YouTube
  • Instagram
  • Live Streaming

Click HERE for a tutorial (about 2 minutes) on how to enter your links! 


2022 Connectional Giving

 The apportionments for 2022 are now available on the conference website. To access your 2022 apportionment information:

  • Go to the conference homepage:
  • Click on the "Monthly Billing Reports" at the bottom right of the page.
  • Click on the first link on the page, "Click here to download monthly reports."
  • When you choose a Report, there will be a report on the drop-down menu called Apportionments Report 2022. This link will take you to your 2022 apportionments. You will need to know your GCFA Number to pull your report.

Apportionments and End of Year Payments
Apportionment payments for 2021 must be received in the lockbox at Regions Bank or paid online by Monday January 10, 2022.  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 2021 apportionments receipts.  Any payments received after that date will be applied to 2022 apportionments.  Any payments received between January 1 and January 10 must be clearly marked as to which year they are to be applied.

Check the Calendar of Reports Due for upcoming scheduled reports  

Please ensure you are planning to complete and turn in your reports in a timely fashion.  The January reports include:

  • Year-end local church statistics will be available online
  • Pastor Preference for Appointment and Staff Parish Staff Advisory Recommendation
  • 2021 Apportionments - to be paid by Monday, January 10, 2022
  • Church Profile and Pastor Profile - reviewed and updated annually

​The Calendar of Reports Due will be updated with 2022 dates soon.


R-10 and Counting, a comprehensive retirement planning seminar sponsored by the Florida United Methodist Foundation for clergy planning to retire within the next 10 years, will be held Jan. 24-26 at First United Methodist Church in Lakeland (72 Lake Morton Drive, Lakeland, FL 33801).  
Registrations will be accepted until Jan. 7, but participants are encouraged to register early because space is limited to 30 clergy. Spouses are also encouraged to attend.
This popular, annual seminar provides information critical to retirement planning. It covers a range of topics, including what to expect in retirement, clergy taxes, Social Security, pension and benefits, financial planning, health insurance, housing issues, and estate planning. 
Benefits educators with Wespath Benefits and Investments will provide information to help attendees anticipate their retirement income and stay financially healthy in retirement. The Rev. John Peterson CFP®, ChFC®, CASL®, the foundation’s vice president of stewardship and education, will help participants focus on strengthening their financial planning. And experts in Social Security issues, taxes, housing options and insurance will round out the seminar’s agenda. Participants will also have an opportunity to meet one-on-one with a Wespath benefits educator on a first-come, first-served basis.
The program begins Jan. 24 at 1 p.m. and ends Jan. 26 at 12:30 p.m. The cost is $75 for single participants and $100 for clergy attending with a spouse, including meals and materials. Participants must pay for their lodging, but the foundation has negotiated a rate of $258 at the Terrace Hotel for Jan. 24 and 25 and will reserve any rooms needed. Those wanting to take advantage of that rate should include payment with their registration fee.
Although COVID cases have been declining, we are asking all participants to wear a mask during the sessions and in the common areas. We will also be arranging the seminar space to allow for social distancing. We want this time to be informative, but also safe.
Clergy may register online or download the registration form and send it to the foundation offices, attention Nadara Bledsoe. More information is available at R-10 and Counting Seminar or by contacting Bledsoe at 866-363-9673, extension 7113, or


Conference Wide Local Church Training - Save the dates  

The conference is offering Local Church Training over six consecutive weeks in February & March of 2022! Each subject will have three opportunities for you to attend: Tuesdays 2:00pm & 6:30pm and Saturdays 9:00am. The material will be the same for all three opportunities.  Register for the time that is convenient for YOU! 

It will include training on Finance, HR, Trustees, Child & Youth Protection Policy,  Children's Home, Lay Leader, Lay Member to Annual Conference.  Click here for more information.




3-Day Virtual Academy - click here for more information


2022 United Methodist Women Assembly
Orlando Convention Center
May 20-22, 2022



Lands of the Bible Cruise with Guest Speaker Bishop Ken Carter September 22, 2022

Join us along with Guest Speaker Bishop Ken Carter on a 13 day Lands of the Bible Cruise aboard the Celebrity Apex, starting at $4,698* from New York, NY departing on September 22, 2022. Journey to places such as Rome, Galilee, Jerusalem, Ephesus, Bethlehem, Athens, and much more! Click HERE for details.


Holiday Schedule for The Florida Annual Conference

December 24th Christmas holiday - Office closed in observance
December 25th Christmas holiday - Office closed in observance December 27th
January 1st New Years Day - Office closed in observance December 31st
January 17th Martin Luther King, Jr. Day

Gulf Central District Holy and Holiday Season Office Closure

The Gulf Central District office will be closed from December 23rd through January 2nd.  The AA and DS email addresses will be periodically monitored, but routine emails, texts, and voicemails will receive responses beginning January 3rd.  We will make every effort to respond to emergencies promptly.