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From the District Superintendent
Reflections on Reopening for Corporate Worship
The last corporate, onsite worship service I attended in our District was on Sunday, March 15th 2020. Two weeks later, out of the abundance of caution for our large, vulnerable population throughout the Florida Conference we have not encouraged onsite worship services unless you can take every precaution to keep people safe and “do no harm”. We have not mandated that all churches not return to onsite worship services, yet we have asked churches to form a Reopening Team and discern together what is in the best interest of your local church and community related to onsite worship services.
The majority of our churches are reporting due to the spike in positive COVID cases in late June and July they decided to only offer a virtual worship service at this time. These are not easy decisions for our Pastors and leadership teams to make. We all value and love gathering together corporately to worship and praise God and fellowshipping with other believers. Pastors and leaders are continuing to examine the data, demographics, science, progress in vaccination and making prayerful and faithful decisions related to when they will reopen onsite. Additional variables include size, age and overall health of the congregation. I am aware of a few churches in our District reporting they are offering a hybrid onsite and virtual worship experience requiring masks, social distancing, no corporate singing, no hugging, no touching, no congregating, no bulletin, no offering plate, no coffee and no fellowship experiences. I also understand every member does not agree as the “reopening” decisions are shared. Yet we are “making every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” according to Ephesians.
This week’s reading in the “Summer in the Scriptures” allowed me to reflect further on worship.
As I read the conversation with Jesus and the Women at the Well in John 4 and reflected further on this COVID season & not going to a “brick and mortar” church service for 21 weeks and counting, I am gaining new insights I want to share as I close this DS newsletter article.
I previously thought I needed a certain sound, setting, song, singer & sermon to experience “true worship”.
I must say 21 weeks and counting of only virtual worship services I have experienced the presence and power of God and shared in “true worship” in the various areas of the house I’m in when I’m “in worship” on Sunday mornings and throughout the week. I wonder, “Has the time come” the time spoken of in scripture? When true worshipers worship the Lord in Spirit and in Truth!!! I don’t know who or what is a “not true” worshiper, I just know, I desire to be a “True Worshiper”. One who worships the Lord in Spirit and in Truth.
Let’s endeavor to be “true worshippers” who can truly worship the Lord virtually and or onsite. I also encourage you to support the faithful decision of your local church related to when you can safely return to onsite worship.
John 4:23-24 NIV- “Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in the Spirit and in truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks.
God is spirit, and God’s worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth.”
Thank you for your faithful leadership and service to God.
On Mission Together,
Candace M Lewis
Is your heart stirring to do something about racism in our churches and in our community? Are you looking for a way to do some positive but unsure where to start? The Gulf Central District Anti-Racism Team is just forming. There is room for you: your voice, your gifts. Please contact Beth.Potter@flumc.org for more information.
One thing is certain: school start will NOT be typical this year. Our principals and teachers will be consumed with COVID planning and executing. The question for us is how to best move into School-Church Partnerships. Many of our churches need some help in how to be good partners in the midst of COVID. If you have passion for students and teachers; if you have a gift for planning; if you have a heart for the church working with schools, we need you. We are inviting you to join a few other passionate people to develop plans and recommendations on how churches can best support our schools. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested and able to spend a day or two in this work. Thank you.
You’re invited to the FX Studio!
Have you heard all about fresh expressions but don’t know where to start? Perhaps you have started some fresh expressions and are wondering what’s next? Or are you feeling stuck amid the pandemic? The Fresh Expressions Studio is for you…
Studio Gathering 1: Wednesday September 30, 2020 9am-12 by Zoom.
Studio Gathering 2: Saturday March 20, 2021 (location to be determined)
For more information about the gatherings and to register for these FREE events click below.
Commission on Archives and History Gulf Central District Opening
Do you have a passion for history? The Commission on Archives and History (CAH) is an exciting and rich opportunity to serve the church in a vital way. Each district has a commission member to serve and help preserve local church histories and push forward the work of the Heritage Center. CAH is currently looking for a commissioner from the East Central District. Click HERE for the Archives and History webpage on flumc.org. Click HERE for a job description for commission members.
What is the purpose of a District Commissioner on CAH?
- The district representative's role in the Annual Conference is crucial; he/she will ensure that vital information is reported back to his/her respective district and the flow of communication is constant.
- The representative's relationship to all local churches within their district is crucial; he/she will provide leadership, encouragement, and support for the protection and recovery of history at its most important level.
- The representative's involvement in the wider historical community is crucial; he/she will become and important link in the connectional chain that binds us all.
If you feel you are the "right person for the job", please contact Anita Campbell, Chair of The Florida United Methodist Conference Commission on Archives and History at email@example.com or 386-734-9224. Check out the Facebook page of the Florida United Methodist Heritage Center!
Each church should have a Church Historian. This person should be listed in your Church Dashboard. Those responsible for updating the church dashboard, please take a minute to verify the leadership is correct. Click HERE for tutorials on how to update the Church Dashboard. Anita will be contacting each church that does not have a historian.
Share what your ministry is doing with the conference
If you have short videos showing your ministry in action, youth activities, feeding the hungry, children’s ministry, etc., you can share them with the conference in our Now Playing feature on the home page at https://www.flumc.org.
Videos should be 4 minutes or less. You can share your video with us here: https://www.flumc.org/submitvideo.
You can also share your photos on our Photos from around the conference page https://www.flumc.org/photos.
Click HERE to submit your photos.
Annual Assessment of Clergy Leadership
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Cabinet and the Office of Clergy Excellence has agreed to postpone the deadline for annual clergy evaluations for non-moving clergy to September 30, 2020. The completed forms should be emailed to Maggie Corrigan at firstname.lastname@example.org
The clergy assessment process is available on the FLUMC website under Clergy Excellence.
NOTE: This is required for every clergy appointed to the local church. These evaluations are not required for extension ministers or deacons working beyond the local church setting. Deacons and Clergy serving in Extension Ministry have an annual report due December 31 each year. Click HERE to download the report.
Update to Missional Vital Signs Reporting
While churches are not meeting in person due to COVID-19, The Florida Conference will use a Modified MVS reporting model. Click HERE for instructions and to report MVS.
If you have data not entered for February or before, please complete the Monthly Data Gathering Chart for each of those months and email it to Maggie Corrigan at email@example.com
General Conference 2020 - August 29-September 7, 2021
2020 Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference - November 10-12, 2021
2020 HOLIDAY SCHEDULE
September 7 Labor Day
November 11 Veteran’s Day
November 26 Thanksgiving
November 27 Day after Thanksgiving
December 24 Christmas Eve
December 25 Christmas Day
Calendar of Events
August 20 6 PM Annual Conference Orientation – this will be a virtual format – more detail to come soon
September 19th in Lakeland Annual Conference
September 22 Clergy Meeting – More info to follow
October 11 at 1:30 pm Church Conference Team East Hillsborough - New Time
October 18 at 1:30 pm Church Conference Team South Pinellas - New Time
October 18 at 4:30 pm Church Conference Team Lakeland - New Time and Date
October 25 at 1:30 pm Church Conference Team Tampa - New Time
October 25 at 4:30 pm Church Conference Team West Pinellas - New Date and Time
November 1 at 1:30 pm Church Conference Team North Pinellas and Hillsborough and South Pasco New Time