From the District Superintendent
Let us bring “Joy” to the World in Advent 2020
This Sunday we will light the “Joy” candle of Advent and sing the hymn “Joy to the World, the Lord has come, let Earth receive her King”. As I looked at the lyrics, I think verse 3 of this hymn speaks more to what we have experienced in 2020. “No more let sins, and sorrows grow, or thorns invest the ground”. The parable of the sower and the soils reminds us that “thorns” can represent the worries, cares, pleasures, and riches of this world that can “choke” out God’s Word and the “joy” that has been sown into our heart. Yet as we continue to acknowledge all the pain, sorrow, disruption, social distancing, death, and sickness due to COVID and the injustices that still exist in our world, it can be difficult to feel joyful. We can be honest if we do not feel joyful this Advent season.
Yet even if we are not feeling joyful in this moment, can we still sing Joy to the World? Absolutely, We sing “Joy to the World “not based on our current circumstances. Jay Younts, writes, “Joy to the World” is a Christmas carol that proclaims a biblical worldview. “This is the third post on Isaac Watts’ famous hymn which is based on Psalm 98. The lyrics of this hymn reflect a biblical worldview, a worldview that brings honor to God in all that we do. The first part of this worldview has to do with the joyful anticipation of Christ’s rule. The second part encourages us to delight in the ongoing reign of our Savior. This third element of the worldview acknowledges that there is much wrong with the world.” Yet even in the midst of all the challenges of 2020, there is the faithful promise of the ruling King. He comes to make his blessings flow. Not because we deserve his blessing, but simply because He delights to give them. Psalm 98 acknowledges truth with profound relief and joy.
Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth;
break forth into joyous song and sing praises.
5 Sing praises to the Lord with the lyre,
with the lyre and the sound of melody.
6 With trumpets and the sound of the horn
make a joyful noise before the King, the Lord.
7 Let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
the world and those who live in it.
8 Let the floods clap their hands;
let the hills sing together for joy
9 at the presence of the Lord, for he is coming
to judge the earth.
He will judge the world with righteousness,
and the peoples with equity. Psalms 98:4-9 (NRSV)
Here is some good news. We can rejoice because of God’s present faithfulness to us and God’s future promise of a world filled with righteousness and equity. We as the people of God are called to be a part of sharing this “Joy” with the World. So as this year closes and we light the Advent candles of Hope, Peace and Joy, let us remember the world needs the light that we have received and let’s share and bring “Joy” to the World in Advent 2020.
Bishop Carter's Advent in this Season of Global Pandemic letter Click here
NEW ANTI-RACISM program offering…Open to ALL!
Methodists Must Challenge Racism -- Sundays, Jan. 10-Feb. 14, 6:00-7:30 pm, via Zoom
"Do you want to learn about racism and becoming an anti-racist but don’t know how to do that? Do you wonder why the Methodist Church is concerned with the black lives matter movement? We have a study for YOU! This six-week study combines Methodist principles with the Guided Conversations about Race in Holding Up Your Corner (written by a Pastor from Ferguson, Missouri). Christians shouldn’t be silent while neighbors are suffering. Christians failure to confront racism corrupts our witness faithful to society. The subject of racism can be overwhelming, but this study will help you understand it and begin challenging injustice in your community."
This Zoom study weaves together Methodist principles and the Guided Conversations in Holding Up Your Corner by Ferguson, Missouri Pastor F. Willis Johnson ($10 paperback). The subject of racism can be overwhelming, but this study will help you understand it and begin challenging injustice in your community.
Registration (Live Soon): www.anona.com/adultgroups
For those wanting to get an early jump start, links to $10 Participant Book:
From your Gulf Central Anti-Racism Team on Training & Accountability:
Every great dream begins with a dreamer. Always remember, you have within you the strength, the patience, and the passion to reach for the stars to change the world ~ Harriet Tubman
One of the Church’s great dreams is to dismantle racism. Many in our congregations are hungry and thirsty for more information, bible studies and safe places to have conversation. As a result, many people have taken that next step to organize groups that are gathering over the social injustice of racism and are willing and able to open them up to all churches in our district.
We are building a DISTRICT-WIDE CALENDAR of anti-racism studies and conversations being offered; one that is easily accessible by everyone. YOU are key to making this happen!
If you have a new small group study coming up in first quarter 2021 and are willing to include others from district churches, here is what we would like to know!
- The name of the study, or small group, when it’s being offered, and the venue or platform
- Time span of study or small group
- Study material/funds needed to participate
- Link for registration, or information on how to register
- Registration cap
Be part of the great dream to put an end to racism in our churches and in our world! Please send information to: Kathi Sheehan at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you in advance for being an active part of our connection and being willing to share your thirst for knowledge and justice with others.
Laity are needed in this strange Advent season
ORLANDO, Fla. — With clergy facing the challenge of being pastors in a pandemic, Alice Williams says laity's work matters more than ever. The lay leader of the Florida Conference writes about how laypeople can lead in this Advent season and the challenging days ahead.
Celebrate Advent 2020 with Us!
Sisters and Brothers in Jesus Christ,
We hope you will read scripture and pray each day. You can access daily Advent Scripture Readings from Rev. Lisa Degrenia, pastor of Trinity United Methodist Church in Sarasota: https://www.flumc.org/newsdetail/2020-advent-wreath-and-readings-14451121. Each week of advent includes an advent wreath reading, a daily scripture reading with a sentence prayer, and a weekly Christmas carol.
Additionally, each week you are invited to join in Singing Mary’s Song, a four-week Advent video series journeying through the Magnificat. Join four women with different backgrounds, different points of view, different experiences and ages as they share together in reading Mary’s song from their point of view. Contributors include Rev. René August -- from The Warehouse in Cape Town, South Africa, Rev. Michelle Shrader -- from Good Samaritan UMC in Tallahassee, FL, Rev. Esther Rodríguez -- from Spring of Life UMC in Orlando, FL and Rev. Dr. Latricia Edwards Scriven -- from New Life UMC & FAMU Wesley in Tallahassee, FL. Videos will premiere Monday at 9 am. To join the Facebook page and access the content click here: facebook.com/SingingMarysSong/
The holidays this year are uniquely stressful in a season of multiple pandemics. We are offering a Webinar for clergy about Navigating Conflict through the COVID-19 Pandemic and the Holidays with Bob Bordone, Senior Fellow of the Harvard Law School, on Wednesday December 9 at 2 p.m. Click here to read more information and register.
As we are on a journey toward antiracism and as we seek to move beyond the polarization of the Election season, we invite you to a prayer call with Bishop Adam Richardson of the African Methodist Episcopal Church. Join Bishop Richardson and me for this advent time of prayer on Monday, December 14 at noon. We will share call-in information on the Florida Conference website when it becomes available.
And as you seek resources for worship, we extend an invitation to three services:
- A virtual Service of Lessons and Carols from Florida Southern College. Join me, Dr. Waite Willis, President Ann Kerr of FSC and others for their virtual service of lessons and carols filmed from the historic Annie Pfeiffer Chapel. In what looks to be a very non-traditional Advent Season, this will be a wonderful tradition to share with your family and friends. Links for the service will be available on the Florida Southern College and Florida Conference website next week.
- A virtual Blue Christmas Service is being offered by Bethune-Cookman University in collaboration with Howard University, Wiley College and Tuskegee University. I was honored to offer a greeting in this service, which can be viewed on December 1 at 8 p.m. EST at Cookman.edu or facebook.com/bethunecookmanuniv.
- A virtual post-Christmas service from our Campus Ministry directors. Join our campus ministry directors for this virtual service that will help connect you to the power of the incarnation. Local churches offering online worship the Sunday after Christmas may choose to share this as their worship service and to lift up our campus ministries and their importance in the lives of students. Links for the service will be available through the Florida Conference website later in December.
As we look to the new calendar year, 2021, I commend the Upper Room Disciplines as a daily guide to prayer and scripture reading. I was honored to contribute this year, as was Jim Harnish, a clergy member of our annual conference. You can order a copy of the Disciplines here: https://upperroombooks.com/book/the-upper-room-disciplines-2021/, or through other booksellers.
Although we may not be physically present in our sanctuaries to light candles of hope, peace, joy, love and light, I pray for these gifts in our lives. Right now, I invite you to ask God, through Jesus Christ and in the power of the Holy Spirit, for these gifts. And what if you made this request of God each day and imagined that God is always more ready to give than we are to receive?
This Advent, I invite you to light a candle, speak the words of hope, peace, joy, love and light, say a prayer and share it on social media.
My Christmas message will be shared with clergy and lay leaders and local churches of the Florida Conference later in December.
May we draw strength and assurance from the words of Charles Wesley’s Advent Hymn:
"Come, thou long expected Jesus,
born to set thy people free;
from our fears and sins release us,
let us find our rest in thee.”
Resident Bishop, Florida Conference
The United Methodist Church
NEW TAX DEDUCTIBLE GIVING FOR THIS YEAR ONLY
For 2020 only, the CARES Act allows taxpayers who do not itemize deductions a one-time, above-the-line deduction on their federal taxes of up to $300 for cash gifts, i.e. gifts made via check or credit card. Generally, people taking the standard deduction do not receive any tax benefit for their charitable contributions. Because this is an “above-the-line” deduction, a gift to the church can help reduce total federal taxable income by up to $300. The CARES Act also allows itemizers to deduct cash contributions of up to 100% of their adjusted gross income (AGI) in 2020 for federal tax purposes.
Fresh Expression Studios
Is your church struggling to connect with new people, in new places, and in new ways? Did you see a decrease in baptisms and "professions of faith" this year?
If so... get together a small team of people and join us in a free Studio!
FX Studios are incubators of collaborative missional mess making and a community of support for your team as we travel uncharted territories together.
Rev’d. Dr. Michael Moynagh will be leading us through our first Studio gatherings. Dr. Moynagh is a minister in the Church of England and is based at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford. He has authored many books on the missional church, including our new book The 21st Century Christian: Following Jesus Where Life Happens.
This Month’s Meetings
We will have fewer meetings this month - stay tuned as we gear up in January.
We have regular monthly meetings (via zoom) in the GC District. These include the following:
Church Admin (each Wednesday at 10:30AM)
SPR Training December 10 at 6:30 PM
If you are currently in one of those positions at your church and would like to be connected to take part in these meetings, please contact Maggie in the District Office – email@example.com or 727-585-1207
The Gulf Central District United Methodist Women invite you to attend a UMW Christmas Event to Benefit Women in Pakistan on Saturday, December 12th from 9am-11am. This Zoom event will feature special guest speaker Alice Garrick who will be joining us from Pakistan! Alice is the executive director of the Women's Development and Service Society (WDSS), a ministry of the Raiwind Diocese of the Church of Pakistan and Royal Range which is a social enterprise for Women by Women.
Pakistan is a hot bed for Sex trafficking, Organ trafficking and other forms of Human trafficking. Christian women and young boys are at high risk of being victims of these practices. Alice’s ministries provide vocational training and social enterprise opportunities to these women so they can have a dignified way to provide their families with necessities. These ministries give women choices and hope for the future.
As many of you know Alice usually comes to the Tampa area each year and speaks at various unit meetings while she is here. Because of COVID she has not been able to visit and life is even harder there. We do not know when Alice will be able to return to the U.S. to be with us again but Zoom makes it possible for us to be together. Her UMW sisters in the Tampa Bay Area thought this would be a great way and time of year to encourage her.
During the event you will not only learn first hand how Alice is making a difference in her homeland but you will also be able to see the items made by the women she helps. Separate from the zoom event, through Facebook, where the items her women have made will be posted, you can even purchase some of them! The items for sale there are made by women throughout Pakistan and the sale of these items gives each woman a dignified way to support their family. The items are BEAUTIFUL!
Please join us! Your RSVP to this invitation will be a great encouragement to Alice and her women! RSVP by December 8th by emailing Cathy Stone at firstname.lastname@example.org and she will send you the zoom link.
To learn a little about Alice’s ministry at WDSS, read this 2014 article from Response:
Apportionments and End of Year Payments
Apportionment payments for 2020 must be received in the lockbox at Regions Bank or paid on line by Monday January 11, 2021. 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 2020 apportionments receipts. Any payments received after that date will be applied to 2021 apportionments. Any payments received between January 1 and January 11 must be clearly marked as to which year they are to be applied.
All apportionment payments should be accompanied by a completed Remittance Report.
The Remittance Report is located on our website. Either Click Here Or go to the website at: www.flumc.org:
- Click on “Administration” on the home page
- Click “Financial Services”
- Click on “2020 Apportionment Giving Report Forms”
- Select one of the two versions of the Giving Report listed at the bottom of the page
Complete the Remittance Form with the following information:
- Church Name
- GCFA Number
- Preparer contact information
- Allocation amounts for each fund
To pay online go to the conference website: Click Here to take you to that page.
Any amounts due for Ministry Protection and Health and Benefits at the end of the year will continue to show as outstanding on your statement in 2021. To ensure proper processing of these payments and avoid errors, payments should contain the following information on the check, check stub or statement:
- Church Name
- GCFA Number
- Invoice Number (include all letters and any 0’s)
- Allocation amounts for each invoice
When mailing payments to Regions take note of the billing address for each of these types of payments. The last 4 numbers after the zip code are different for each and very important to include to ensure your payment is processed properly.
To be considered a 100% connectional church in the Florida Annual Conference Journal, 100% of 2020 apportionments must be received by January 11, 2021, and all outstanding Ministry Protection and Health and Benefits obligations must be received by December 31, 2020.
Dear Clergy and Lay Leaders of the Florida Conference:
We are writing on behalf of all the Wesley Foundations and United Methodist Campus ministries in the Florida Conference. We have been working alongside you all during Advent trying to make disciples of Christ in our respective settings.
We know that Christmas time can be very stressful so we wanted to help you in some way. We also know that many pastors want to take a break the Sunday after Christmas. For this reason, we have created a virtual service you can use for Sunday, December 27, 2020.
It is a full worship service with scripture reading, Christmas music, a message and other smaller parts like announcements. The entire service is led by college students and young adults. The service will show our diversity and we believe it will be a great representation of the work of campus ministries collectively. You will hear from FAMU, B-CU, FGCU, UF, FSU, UCF and Campus to City Wesley.
We would love for you to use it to help during this time of Covid.
The video will be available for download beginning December 16 and will be distributed through an all-Conference email blast and available through your district office.
Using our video will be helpful for us too as we will ask for a love offering at the end of the service to further the work of United Methodist campus ministries in Florida.
During these strange times we have learned that it’s best to think creatively, support one another, and work together. We hope this will be as helpful for you as it is for us.
Thank you for your support,
Campus Ministries of the Florida United Methodist Conference
We are living in anxious times, whether from the pandemic, politics, social unrest, economic uncertainty or other disruptions. How do we lead our people to spiritual growth in this anxious season?
This webinar will introduce you to a new pastoral resource designed to help you in this critical pastoral task. Anxiety as Opportunity for Spiritual Growth is brought to you via a partnership between the Clergy Care Initiative of the Florida Annual Conference and Redeeming Babel, a project associated with Duke Divinity School.
Anxiety as Opportunity for Spiritual Growth is a 7 session small group series, consisting of short video teaching with creative group exercises. The series is accessible online, and designed specifically for small groups meeting either remotely or in person. The curriculum is "plug and play" with minimal prep time required from small group leaders.
This hour and a half long webinar will give you the opportunity to sample this series, and discuss with peers on how to use it in your pastoral context. The webinar will be led live by Curtis Chang, Professor of Organizations and Innovation at Duke Divinity School and a Senior Fellow at Fuller Theological Seminary. For an advance preview, you can watch the first video segment of the webinar (9 minutes). Click here to register for the free webinar.
Fill the Table
Don't forget to report your monthly totals!
Help us reach our goal! Please fill out the online form each month to report metrics on your church or ministry's efforts to Fill the Table! Find the form online here: fillthetableflorida.org/monthly-form
Questions on how to fill out the form? Contact your Fill the Table Coordinators:
- Molly McEntire: email@example.com
Emily Autry: firstname.lastname@example.org
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, 2021.
Pastor Profile – reviewed and updated annually.
All pastors must update online annually and may begin after December 1, 2020. 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, 2021.
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, 2021.
First United Methodist Church in Lutz, Florida, is looking for their next Youth Director. The church is passionate, genuine and sincere in their love of the Word and one another. This is an exciting time for First UMC Lutz as we move into a new season of growth. This is a part-time position with a strong core of youth and a supportive volunteer base. The church sits on the northern edge of the Tampa Bay area. This semi-rural community has all of the advantages of a major city in Florida – professional sports, shopping, arts, theme parks, beaches (nearby) and plenty of great restaurants – while maintaining a family friendly environment. Please send a cover letter, and resume to email@example.com if you are called by God to be part of the movement of the Holy Spirit as First UMC Lutz.
2020 HOLIDAY SCHEDULE
December 24 Christmas Eve
December 25 Christmas Day
Calendar of Events
April 27 Clergy Meeting - more info to come - mark your calendar - 9:30 -Noon
Florida Annual Conference 2021 June 10 - 12
General Conference 2020 - August 29-September 7, 2021
September 21 Fall Clergy Meeting save the date 9:30- noon
2020 Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference - November 10-12, 2021