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GCD September 2021 Newsletter

From D.S. Clarke

Dear friends in the Gulf Central District,

If you are reading this near the day we emailed out this newsletter, we are right at one year away from the currently-planned, postponed General Conference scheduled to meet in Minneapolis, MN from late August through early September of 2022. My fellow interim co-DS, Sharon Austin and I are both delegates to that meeting.*  We are very aware that there is no guarantee that the General Conference will be able to meet in 2022 given the ongoing pandemic, but we are hopeful that there may be a way for the church to convene a General Conference to address the many issues before our denomination.

The most prominent issues before the Church are the consideration of the Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace through Separation that preserves the United Methodist Church but also allows for those who wish a more homogenous, traditionalist or progressive expression of the church to leave gracefully with their properties and pensions, and other legislation such as the Christmas Covenant which affirms connectional relationships rooted in mission, respect for contextual ministry settings and legislative equality for regional bodies of the church. But while Sharon and I both support these pieces of legislation in principle, we are aware from watching General Conferences over the years that there is no guarantee these pieces of legislation as originally written will be adopted by the delegates.

As I have visited churches across the District and talked with pastors and lay leaders there are a lot of questions about how to handle the possible decisions that churches may face. So here are some thoughts about the healthiest ways to wade into these conversations:

  • Pray for the United Methodist Church. During this time of discernment and decision-making, the prayers for all involved are an important part of helping us all place before God our church and its future.
  • Growing Disciples of Jesus remains the Most Important Part of our Work. It is our purpose, and it is for the transformation of the world.
  • Treat one another with respect and love. The prevailing issue of the church's stand on human sexuality isn't just an issue we debate. This is about the lives of LGBTQ people in our churches, in our families, in our neighborhoods. I have been in meetings where derisive, mean-spirited things were said about people in the room and about people perceived to have a differing view. It was reported that a leader of the Wesleyan Covenant Association had tomatoes thrown at his car when he was inside the church making a presentation. In the UMC baptismal vow, we acknowledge that we are a community of love and forgiveness. May that be paramount as we wade into these waters.
  • Take your time. Some are wanting to rush these decisions but that would be unwise. We don't know what legislation will pass yet and having the implications clearly defined will be important before any decisions are made.
  • No vote by your church may be needed. The current Protocol legislation allows churches who wish to remain in the continuing United Methodist Church to do so without a vote if the Florida Conference remains as well. We have been a big tent denomination for a long time and while some of our friends may leave, the continuing United Methodist Church will likely remain with a (slightly-less) broad theological spectrum.
  • Be wary of scare tactics. There are some who are trying to say that traditionalists will be victims of a witch-hunt to punish them for their views. Look carefully at the appointments that have been made over the last couple of years and I think you will see the tremendous respect represented in the way that pastors of all theological views were appointed to churches that match who they are. That is what makes for a healthy appointive process. The Bishop and Cabinet would want to continue that, and I am proud of our work.
  • Encourage an open process at your church. It is not healthy for a small group of people to go off and meet with the WCA or those advocating for the continuing UMC in secret and not invite everyone to those meetings. When that happens, the process lacks integrity and angers the ones not invited.  One side of the story gets told without allowing for healthy dialogue. If people are invited to make presentations on the various options, make sure everyone is invited and video tape their presentations to put up on your webpage for everyone to access. Don't allow anonymous leafleting to be handed out nor placed on car windshields, nor emailed. These kinds of anonymous practices don’t give opportunity for critical dialogue about the issues. They are simply propaganda organized by people with an ax to grind.
  • Make sure all the sides are represented. When a blog article was written by Good News (a traditionalist group), Adam Hamilton (a moderate) responded thoughtfully countering some of the claims that were made. Our own Dan Johnson, the former chair of the Board of Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, KY, responded to Maxie Dunham, former President of Asbury, and they had a healthy dialogue, despite their differing views, via their open letters. Help your leaders get exposure to these and other resources.
  • Keep us in the loop.  There is no need to start these conversations right away, given the fact that there are likely years before your church will have to decide.  But if your church is starting these conversations, please keep Sharon, Emily and I informed so we can help you access resources and answer questions.

May God's grace surround all our efforts toward a fresh ecclesiology in these months and years to come.

Grace and peace,


*A full list of the lay and clergy members of the Florida Conference delegation can be found here:

Charge/Church Conference Schedule & Information

We have reached the time of year when we begin planning and hosting
Charge/Church Conferences.  As last year, we will hold most of our Conferences

CLICK HERE see the GCD Charge/Church Conference schedule, including date/time/Presiding Elder.  Please review carefully.  WE THANK THE PRESIDING ELDERS, especially those presiding over more than one Charge/Church Conference!

CLICK HERE to reach the 2021 Charge/Church Conference home instruction page.
CLICK HERE for the GCD forms. Make sure you read ALL form instructions carefully, they should answer your questions.

The following unsigned forms/reports must be submitted to the District via email by the date on the charge conference schedule Agenda, Membership Audit, Senior Pastors Report, Appointed Clergy Compensation Report, Housing Resolution, Accountable Reimbursement, Local Church Committee on Nominations & Leadership, Annual Report of Finance Committee, Annual Report of Board of Trustees. 
Don't delay in starting the paperwork, many have been revised.  Please do not submit your paperwork late.

REMINDER - we continue to work remotely, email your forms.  If you have an issue, contact the District office at to discuss.


The Office of Clergy Excellence has a short report for retired pastors who are not under appointment.  Click HERE to access the form. If you are not participating in any ministerial functions, please just add your contact information, church name where your charge conference relationship is held & sign. We simply want to keep in touch with you! The report is to be submitted to the church where your Charge Conference relationship is held.  Please submit the report to your church in time for them to submit it with their Fall Charge/Church Conference paperwork. 

Since the 7.2 magnitude earthquake in Haiti on August 14th, 2021, they have experienced at least five aftershocks.  Haiti's Civil Protection Agency said Sunday that the death toll from the earthquake has grown to 2,207, with 344 people still missing. 12,268 people were injured and nearly 53,000 houses were destroyed by the Aug. 14 quake.

Hospitals were already overwhelmed with Covid-19 patients, and now with some damaged during the earthquake, their healthcare system is even more strained.  The need is so great, that they are having to airlift patients, through Haiti Air Ambulance, to hospitals over two hours away.  One of those hospitals, New Hope Hospital in Plaine du Nord, has been a ministry partner with the conference. Dr.Eugene Maklin MD recently wrote these words “We ( a team of 5) will be in the south this week to help the earthquake victims there. People don't stop calling us asking for help. We will distribute hygiene kits, etc, and do 2-3 mobile clinics there. I will share pictures while I'm there this week. We will start bagging things for the trip tomorrow. Please say a prayer! Usually, we see 50 and up patients on a daily basis.” We are sending them money to care for the patient who was airlifted from the areas hit by the earthquake and for their mobile clinics.

The current need is financial support through donations made by visiting

The financial support will allow us the opportunity to provide on the current, frequently changing, needs on the ground.

We are also sending support to Eglise Methodiste d Haiti, The Methodist Church of Haiti, is supporting the recovery efforts with food, medical supplies through our clinics, materials for temporary shelters, and water filters for  their water.

We are in conversation with other partners on how we can best support them. For more information check out our Haiti Florida partnership page You will be able to see the amount of money raised/donated, information on our partners, resources, and frequent updates.

“We claim these promises. God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble (Psalm 46). And Jesus is with us in the midst of the storm (Mark 4). May we draw near to God and to one another in a spirit of generosity toward our neighbors in a moment of crisis and with faith that God will provide.”

Bishop Ken Carter  (Update 8/24/2021) 


 Earlier this summer, we invited you to meet in person with Bishop Carter at one of four locations in September or October. Due to the rise in Covid-19 cases and recognizing that much of the State of Florida is considered an area with “substantial or high transmission,” we will instead be hosting two Zoom webinars. Your previous registration (if any) will be cancelled and you will need to re-register at the links below. The two webinars will be the same and you only need to attend one. 

Bishop Carter Fall Clergy Meeting: A Dialogue with Scripture (Luke 10:41-42)
"Calling, Focus, and The One Thing That is Necessary"

Thursday, September 16 OR Tuesday, October 12
10:00 - 11:00 am

Luke 10:41-42:
The Lord answered, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things. One thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the better part. It won’t be taken away from her.”

Bishop Carter will share and engage in dialogue with clergy around the question: What is our focus as an annual conference? Or said differently, what is the one thing that is necessary? (Luke 10:41).In preparation, participants are asked to give thirty minutes to a reading of Luke 10:25-42 (which includes the Good Samaritan parable and the Mary and Martha passage) and reflect on the following four questions:
 + What word or phrase resonates with my spirit in this season? 

+ What is this teaching of Jesus calling me to do? 

+ What is this teaching calling our annual conference to be? 

+  What is the one thing that is necessary in the present moment? 

When registering, participants will be asked to give their response to the “one thing that is necessary in the present moment.” These answers will frame the reflection shared by Bishop Carter. 

Register here for webinar on Thursday, September 16, 10 - 11 am 

Register here for webinar on Tuesday, October 12, 10 - 11 am

These webinars are limited to active and retired clergy. You will receive a Zoom email confirmation after your clergy status has been verified by staff.

If you have questions, please contact Shannon Redden in the Episcopal Office

Clergy Serving a Church / Extension Ministry

You should have received or will receive an email asking you to take a moment to review/update your contact information in our database.  The email will contain a link that is only for you, do not forward.  Click the link and update your contact information not later than September 13th.  Your assistance is greatly appreciated!



When requesting the recommendation, please include the following in your email:

  • Your full name
  • Your clergy track
  • Current classification
  • Classification you are applying
  • Email your request to  

We are aware that the deadline for DS to submit the recommendation is October 1st; however, we want to prevent backups with our other work and the demands of unforeseen situations. Thank You

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.


Boy Scouts of America and The Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church

From Bishop Carter, Chancellor Mark Hanley and Treasurer Craig Smelser

Dear Churches:
Last October, the Cabinet and I informed you that the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on February 18, 2020. The BSA is seeking to resolve all victim sexual abuse claims asserted by scouts and former scouts against the BSA and its local councils and to continue forward with its mission.
To give United Methodists a presence in the process, to make sure our interests were adequately protected, an “Ad Hoc Committee” comprised of several Conference Chancellors and other denominational leaders was organized. The Committee retained outside bankruptcy counsel to represent the interests of our chartered organizations in the bankruptcy proceedings. 
The Committee believes our interests are not adequately protected under the current Plan of Reorganization. This may change, but until future developments become more certain, the Committee’s advice is to limit exposure to future claims and continue its work within the confines of the bankruptcy proceedings.  CLICK HERE TO READ THE REST OF THE PUBLICATION and link to the Facilities Use Agreement.


Church Dashboard Access

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

  • You access the dashboard from the same place as before. It is at the top row of
  • All passwords have been reset to your GCFA number. The Username and Password are your GCFA number. Once you change the password, share it with others who access your church dashboard.
  • We know that all of the data did NOT transfer correctly. Please review all sections of your church dashboard and edit accordingly.

Are your church worship times correct in the church dashboard?

Take a moment to ensure that your worship times are accurately listed in your District 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.

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! 


This year's Rooted Training Event is being held  September 27-28 and is going to have great opportunities for connection, learning, and great conversation about ministry and life. We have a great line-up of speakers, some valuable workshops, and conversation starters. Rooted will be a hybrid event. Attendees will be housed at the Warren Willis Conference Center. Our in-person attendees will share in site specific programming options, with COVID safe protocols in place. Those attending the event on-line will be given access to our Zoom rooms for workshops and worship experiences. Registration and event information can be found at


Lay Servant Ministries update

With the swell of COVID infections, several districts have modified or postponed their scheduled September/October Lay Servant Ministries classes.  Due to this situation, the continuing education requirement for Certified Lay Servants/Speakers has been (once again) extended through Annual Conference 2022.  To stay current on what your District has planned, visit our website or contact your District Director.

Still – we know how truly motivated our Lay Servants are – electing to take advantage of a few Zoom classes offered this summer by our instructors.  We want to encourage all Lay Servants/Lay Speakers/Lay Ministers to make use of the myriad of approved LSM on-line courses at  We hope you will rise to the challenge and keep your much-needed skills fresh and sharp to support our clergy and congregations.

District Directors:

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it,  and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.  All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work. - 2 Timothy 3:14-17

United Methodist Women

The 2021 Calendar

Sept. 10-12 - Spiritual Enrichment Retreat/LEC

National Assembly 2022 Information

2022 may seem like a long time from now, but it will come before you know it. And May 2022 (May 20-22, to be exact) is the date for the United Methodist Women Assembly, which will be held in Orlando - quite convenient- this year with the theme of Turn It Up! Registration is not available yet, but it does open in September where you can get a special early registration fee of $330 (which includes two lunches).

Here’s the website link to get more information: .

Holiday Schedule for The Florida Annual Conference

The conference and district offices will be closed the following days.

September 6 Labor Day holiday

November 11 Veteran's Day holiday

November 25-26 Thanksgiving holiday

December 24 Christmas holiday

December 27 Christmas holiday

December 31 New Year's Day holiday