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GCD August 2019 Newsletter

From the District Superintendent

In Times Like These….

Last week we witnessed in horror as the news stories reported another mass shooting in the United States.  Innocent lives were cut short by acts of domestic terrorism fueled by evil, racism and hatred as innocent people were killed in El Paso and Dayton, Ohio.

“In the year 1943, Ruth Caye Jones, a pastor’s wife in Pennsylvania and the mother of five, was distressed by the headlines of her Pittsburgh newspaper. She saw the World War II causality lists and she knew the Allies were making slow progress through the boot of Italy. Supplies were rationed at home, and everyone was living under incredible strain.

Opening her Bible to 2 Timothy 3, Ruth studied the page and pondered the opening words. But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come. A song began composing itself in her mind. She jotted some lyrics on a small pad in her apron pocket. A series of notes also played in her mind. Only later did she realize they came from the old clock on the mantle with its iconic Westminster Chimes. Soon the notes and music congealed to become one of the most beloved Gospel songs of the 1940s and 1950s, “In Times Like These.”

In times like these we need a Savior;
In times like these we need an anchor.
Be very sure, be very sure
Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!

 In Times like these, HOPE anchors our souls.  We can also offer the HOPE-filled actions through our relationship with Christ to our communities.  Our churches have an opportunity to do more than mention these incidents in our “thoughts and prayers” during our Sunday Morning Worship Service.  We are called to “Equip clergy and laity to connect with their communities”. 

This month’s Newsletter article seeks to equip clergy and laity with resources empowering clergy and laity to effectively connect with the needs and concerns happening in and around our church communities in which we can be reluctant to engage. These links below are resources provided for churches by the Council of Bishop’s and our General Agencies of the United Methodist Church. 

A Call to Discipleship: Living as Disciples of a Non-Violent Lord in a Time of Violence - Bishop Ken Carter

Email your senators: Pass universal background checks – ACT NOW

Courageous Conversation about Gun Violence

More than Gun Laws, More than Mental Health: Let’s Talk About Mass Violence Fueled by White Supremacy -

From Mourning to Action – Teaching Tolerance -

Infographic: How Do We Protect Our Undocumented Neighbors?

I hope you find some of these resources provided by the Council of Bishops, Discipleship Ministries, General Commission on Religion and Race and the General Board of Church and Society helpful.

It’s time to move from “mourning to action” and equip our churches to transform their communities to the glory of God.

On Mission Together,

Candace M Lewis

Bishop Carter's Invitation to 2020 Holy Land Trip

Clergy and laity are invited to join Bishop Ken Carter, for 10 days in the Holy Land, departing February 4, 2020. You will walk the shores of the Sea of Galilee, study the scriptures in the synagogue in Capernaum, pray on the Mount of Beatitudes and renew your baptism at the Jordan River. Click HERE for more information and registration. Click HERE to download the brochure. 

Church Admin Lunch and Learn -

Come and join your fellow church administrative professionals at our Annual District Lunch. This Lunch is open to all who work in the church in an administrative position, whether paid or volunteer. This is a FREE event. So come and meet fellow church administrators as we love, learn and lead together. Please pre-register here September 25 in Clearwater click here  September 26 in Brandon click here 

Staff Parish Relations Committee (SPRC) Training

The Annual Gulf Central District Staff Parish Relations Committee (SPRC) Training Event will provide you with the effective tools needed in your responsibilities. Dr. Candace Lewis our District Superintendent will facilitate. There will be two trainings offered, one in Palm Harbor on December 11 and one in Brandon on December 12. Pick the location or date that is most convenient for you.

Pastors, SPRC Chairs and Committee members, Lay Leaders, and Lay Members to Annual Conference are encouraged to attend (current and newly elected). The training is free to attend, but we would like you to click on the link below and register for the training you plan to attend.

Wednesday, December 11, Palm Harbor UMC 7 -8:30 PM 1551 Belcher Rd. click here to register

Thursday December 12 7 – 8:30 PM St Andrew’s UMC Brandon3315 S Bryan Rd click here to register


ROOTED, Youth, Children & Family Ministry Training Event

September 16-17 at Warren Willis Camp Fruitland Park FL



Annual Ministry Protection Property and Casualty Insurance Review (Annual Survey). Trustees to review insurance coverage and update online insurance database annually. Annual review period is August 15-30, 2019. This database is also available online year round to enable churches to update insurance data as changes occur. Click here to link to the church dashboard via the insurance database on the Ministry Protection website.   

The Annual Workers Compensation Payroll Audit. Finance/Treasurer to complete this annual payroll audit. Please be sure to project your payroll by category through the end of 2019 when completing this section.  Click here between August 15-30 to log into the brief Property & Casualty Survey and Workers' Compensation Audit. (Please note this audit is performed twice a year as part of Florida Legislature Statute 440.381.)


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 Sept. 9-11 at First United Methodist Church in Lakeland (72 Lake Morton Drive, Lakeland, FL 33801).  
Registrations will be accepted until Aug. 26, but prospective retirees are encouraged to register early because participation is limited to 30 clergy. Spouses are also encouraged to attend.
The popular, annual seminar spans two and a half days, providing information critical to retirement planning. It covers a range of topics, including what to expect in retirement, how to maintain wellness in a variety of areas, clergy taxes, Social Security, pension and benefits, financial planning, health insurance, housing issues, and estate planning. 
Ron Theodore, a benefit educator 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®, CASL®, the foundation’s vice president of stewardship and education, will help participants focus on strengthening their financial planning. And a panel of retirees will discuss what attendees can expect in retirement. Specialists in maintaining healthy lifestyles, 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 the Wespath benefits educator on a first-come, first-served basis.
The program begins Sept. 9 at 1 p.m. and ends Sept. 11 at noon. The cost is $70 for single participants and $95 for clergy attending with a spouse, including meals and materials. Participants must pay for their lodging, but the foundation has negotiated a rate of $178 at the Terrace Hotel for Sept. 9 and 10 and will reserve any rooms needed. Those wishing to take advantage of that rate should include payment with their registration fee.
Clergy may register online or download the registration form and send it to the foundation offices, attention Nadara Brock. More information is available at R-10 and Counting Seminar by contacting Brock at 866-363-9673, extension 7113, or

Accompanist Needed

St. Paul United Methodist Church in Largo, FL seeks accompanist. The accompanist will work with the Traditional Worship Leader to provide accompaniment on Sunday mornings, at Thursday night rehearsals and as needed for special performances and occasions.

We are looking for someone with a high level of performance, knowledge of worship and theological understanding to assist with music selection, 4+ years experience accompanying worship, strong organizational skills, strong interpersonal skills, and a commitment to serve Jesus Christ. The ability to work creatively in a team environment is a must. Please send your resume to the attention of Laurel Fortuna, Senior Director of Music and Worship Arts,

SheGrows Conference

On the road to deeper discipleship, we all have someone we need and someone we can lead. SheGrows is a conference for women of all ages and stages of life, from 13 to 113. This event will encourage you to find someone to champion your potential and equip you to become someone to better support another woman in her faith. We need the wisdom and love that others have to share. Join the mentoring movement to link lives in order to form a deeper faith. Invite your sisters to join you for SheGrows on the evening of Friday, September 20 at First United Methodist Church of Lakeland. Group tickets and scholarships are available. Learn more and register at

Friday September 20, 6:30-9:30pm at First UMC Lakeland, 72 Lake Morton Dr 33801. Tickets are $39 each. Scholarships are available.

Questions? Call 863-686-3163. Discover more and register at


Pinellas County Complete Count Committee

As you know, America gets one chance every decade to count its population. With the 2020 Census less than 1 year away, we need help from our entire community to ensure everyone in Pinellas is counted. Billions of dollars in funding for programs ranging from school lunches to highway projects depend on it. The Census also determines our state's representation in Congress.

A Pinellas Complete Count Committee has been formed to educate everyone in the community about the importance of the Census. 

The Pinellas Complete Count Committee will be sending speakers to community groups, placing Census information at libraries, community centers and businesses, and planning to get the word out through events, social media and other channels as the Census approaches in early 2020. 

For more information on our local Census efforts, visit

For questions about the Pinellas Complete Count Committee, email

Together, let's make sure everyone in Pinellas counts! 


UMW 2019 Calendar

August 3 - Action Day, UMCM Suncoast at St. Mark’s, St. Petersburg

August 17 - Planning Event for the Gulf Central Mission Study, Oakhurst

Sept. 6-8 District-wide Retreat, LEC

Sept. 21– District Mission Study, Oakhurst

Oct. 19 - District Annual Celebration, St. Paul’s, Largo

Nov. 9 - Conference Annual Meeting, First United Methodist Church, Lakeland

Cornerstone Ministries Events:

November 1, 2019 Cornerstone Family Ministries Child’s Chance for Change Top Golf Challenge

March 7, 2020 Cornerstone Family Ministries Wonder Walk - Bayshore (Starting at Hyde Park UMC)

March 21, 2020 Cornerstone Family Ministries Wonder Walk - Lake Hollingsworth (Starting at College Heights UMC)

March 28, 2020 Cornerstone Family Ministries Wonder Walk - Redington Shores Beach (Starting at Constitution Park)

Appointed Clergy serving in the Florida Annual Conference

Do No Harm: Mandatory Quadrennial Sexual Ethics Training

All clergy who are serving under episcopal appointment within the Florida Conference must attend one of the upcoming sexual ethics trainings this fall to remain in good standing. This includes ALL clergy serving in extension ministries, retired clergy serving under appointment, all deacons, elders, licensed local pastors (part time and full time). diaconal ministers and lay supply who are assigned to lead a church. This is required even if you have recently attended the Sexual Ethics training at Right Start or are scheduled to do so this coming May. A different curriculum will be covered in the quadrennial training. Certificates will be provided to those who complete the full 5 hours of training. A copy of your Certificate will be placed in your clergy file.

When & Where? You may attend a session outside of your appointed district.

Tampa at St. James UMC on Tuesday, September 24

Jacksonville at Mandarin UMC on Thursday, October 3

Gainesville at Trinity UMC on Wednesday, October 9

Plantation at Plantation UMC on Tuesday, October 22

Orlando at St. Luke's UMC on Wednesday, November 6

Click here to Register


SEJ Clergy Women's Event - Unchartered-Adventuring the Wilderness with God

Ministry is beautiful, challenging, rewarding, and frustrating. Where we end up is often not where we first sought out to be; sometimes that turns out beautifully and sometimes…it doesn’t feel so beautiful.

The theme “Uncharted” was chosen with great intentionality for this year’s Southeast Jurisdiction’s Clergywomen Conference. Everyday ministry in general seems uncharted - moving from appointment to appointment, being a pastor to people vastly different from ourselves, being a clergywoman in a male-dominated field (and churches that have strong opinions about this), and the list goes on. 

All of this on top of the uncertainty that lies beyond General Conference and a denomination that proved itself with the vote percentages to be very divided.

There is much uncertainty ahead, but we hope to provide a safe space for the clergywomen of the SEJ to find rest, sisterhood, resources, and reassurance in the God who never leaves us, but rather adventures the wilderness with us.

This event is open to all female clergy and candidates. "Like" the Facebook page "Uncharted Conference 2019" for all the updates! 




Any ministry considered for grant funding must:

  • Be well planned and efficient in its use of funds.
  • Have identified adequate local and extended support to sustain the ministry beyond the grant period.
  • Include efforts to collaborate with other agencies and groups, such as local schools, maximizing requested funds.
  • Involve volunteer leadership and staffing where appropriate.
  • Provide matching funds or a portion of the program costs. 

All grant recipients must submit a report detailing the effectiveness of the program to the foundation at either the program’s completion or six months after the program begins. This will help the grant selection committee better evaluate the grant program’s effectiveness. Future Generations Fund grants are not renewable.  Criteria and guidelines are included in the grant application.
More information about the grant program is also available at or by contacting Tom Wilkinson, vice president of church relations and new business, at or 863-904-2970, ext. 7105.


Bishop's Time with Clergy

As we finish the summer and approach fall, we wanted to let you know about the following:

The Bishop’s Clergy Day Apart originally scheduled for Tuesday, September 17, has been rescheduled for Tuesday, December 10. All clergy from Florida are invited to attend the December 10 event from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Lakeland. The focus will be on “God is With Us” and spiritual preparation during the season of Advent.

The Conference Table is scheduled for Saturday, October 26, at the Portico in Tampa. The morning portion of the Conference Table meeting (10 a.m. to noon) will be open to all clergy and laity in Florida to come and hear a presentation from Bishop Carter on “Growing the Center.” The presentation will be followed by table discussion. To register for this event please click here.

In the midst of this season of the church, we hope you will make plans to attend these events. More information about both events will be available soon.

On Mission Together,

The Florida Conference




Also ongoing, available 24/7, online webinars for the local church.

A Deep Dive is a form of a teaching church with immersion into a select topic of focus. We are using our connection of churches in the Florida Conference to teach other churches. What is different about this style is that each Deep Dive is a small gathering with 5-7 churches, delving into the host church's best practices and learnings as they have grown and tried various methods. Keeping the attendance small and digging deeper into this one topic, keeps the learning conversational and collaborative. To view more information, Click Here.

Current Open Registrations:

New Covenant - The Villages


Systems and Properties


Wednesday, September 25 - Thursday, September 26, 2019


New Covenant - The Villages (WEDNESDAY)

New Covenant - Lake Deaton Campus (THURSDAY)

Click here to register!

Topics To Be Covered: Transitions and New Covenant's uniquness, multiple locations, infrastructure systems, staffing, integrating people, database, software, use by outside groups, columbarium - benefits and drawbacks, budgeting, trustees, outreach.


Online Deep Dives are meant to be a focused sharing (about 30 minutes and no more than 1 hour) to allow participation during lunch or replay later.


A topic expert hosts giving tips, ideas, and what to avoid. Topics will vary from Children's Ministries, School Church, Finance, and so much more!

Click Here to view more information about Deep Dive Online and to view previous online topics.

Current Open Registrations:

School Church Online Deep Dive - Friday, August 16, 10AM - 11AM

Sharing how to begin a relationship with your local school and ideas on various ways to make a difference. Spend 45 minutes - 1 hour hearing from those who do this well.

Click here to register!

Click here to sign up for alerts when new Deep Dives are open!


SEJ-BMCR Annual Meeting Registration & Info

The Southeastern Jurisdiction Black Methodists for Church Renewal will hold our 2019 Annual Meeting on October 17-19, 2019.

Theme: Purpose Driven, Laser Focused on the Mission and Ministry of the Black Church

Host Hotel:

Doubletree by Hilton | Tampa Airport-Westshore

4500 W Cypress St.

Tampa, FL 33607

Phone: 813.879.4800

Room Rate: $121 + taxes

Overview of Annual Meeting

On opening day, Thursday, October 19, at 9 a.m., we will conduct the business of the caucus, as well as hearing from our keynote speaker.


There will be two learning labs conducted: Techniques and Tools for Effective Leadership Resources and Funding for the Black Church. Nomination of officers will also be held. There will be a Communion Service on Thursday evening to close out the day at the host church, Mt. Zion UMC, Clearwater. Friday we will begin with Bible study followed by the town hall, Black College Fund luncheon, election of officers, reports and other business. Our annual banquet and dance will close the day. Saturday we will have Bible study, unfinished business, installation of officers and a closing worship service at noon.

Online Registration Link: 

Registration fee includes 1 luncheon ticket, 1 banquet ticket and SEJ BMCR membership dues for 2019-2020. Don't wait to register! Early bird registration discount ends August 19, 2019.

For more information and vendor opportunities, please contact Doris Bluitt: 



Conference and District offices will be closed

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

December 26             Day After Christmas



August 21 – Charge Conference forms go live on the Conference Web Page

August 22 DCOM meeting for 2nd Provisional attempt DATE CHANGE


September 19 Clergy Meeting Location Lake Magdalene 9:30 -2PM working lunch – click here to register.

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

September 25 Church Admin Lunch and Learn at Heritage UMC 10 AM -2PM click here to register

September 26 Church Admin Lunch and Learn at St Andrew’s UMC 10 AM – 2 PM click here to register


October 12-November 10 Charge Conference Season

October 17 materials due for November 14 DCOM


November 7 materials due for December 5 DCOM meeting

November 14 DCOM Meeting

November 18 - 21 SEJ Clergywomen's Event - in Jacksonville FL - Click here to register.


December 5 DCOM Meeting

December 11 SPR Training at Palm Harbor click here

December 12 SPR Training at St Andrew's Brandon click here


2020 and beyond

General Conference ♦ May 5-15, 2020 ♦ Minneapolis, MN

Annual Conference ♦ June 4-6, 2020 ♦ Florida Southern College, Lakeland

Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference ♦ July 15-18, 2020 ♦ Lake Junaluska, NC

Annual Conference ♦ June 10-12, 2021 ♦ Lakeland