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GCD February 2021 Newsletter



From the District Superintendent:


As we begin Our 2021 Lenten Season

Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of our time of searching our souls and as the Prophet Joel says, rending our garments.  Throughout the Lenten Season we sacrifice our temporal wants and desires to discover again the deeper needs of our mind, body, soul and spirit in light of God’s eternal perspective.  We find the courage to acknowledge our frail mortality and our great need for GOD.   We begin this journey by repenting of our sins and silence in the face of the pains and problems of those less fortunate than us.  We acknowledge our pride and arrogance over the next 40 days as we enter this time of self-denial, fasting, prayer, alms giving and serving others.  Let us hear God speak to us through the Prophet Joel 2:12-14 as the season of Lent begins.

“Yet even now, says the Lord, return to me with all your hearts, with fasting, with weeping, and with sorrow; 13 tear your hearts and not your clothing. Return to the Lord your God, for he is merciful and compassionate, very patient, full of faithful love, and ready to forgive.” CEB

What did you give up for Lent?  What are you anticipating will happen throughout this 2021 Lenten season?  What spiritual disciplines will you engage?  What temptations will you resist?  To what spiritual longing will you return?  Remember Lent is not just an individual time of reflection; it is also a time for us to reflect and respond as a community.  As your journey throughout these next 47 days let us also pay attention to the needs and opportunities beyond our personal piety that God may be inviting you to engage.

Yesterday we received a call at the District Office asking “can our choir sing together” in church this Easter?  Our response was “not yet” or not like you remember singing during Easters of years past.  We continue to encourage churches to follow the CDC and FLUMC Conference guidelines. The good news is we were also able to redirect the caller to many of our churches throughout the district who have discovered ways to safely sing and praise God. 

As we enter our eleventh month of the pandemic and vaccines are being distributed, I want to again thank you for your faithful leadership to Christ, the church, the community and to each other.  I have seen and heard amazing testimonies of how our Gulf Central Districts Clergy and Church leaders have continued to lead with innovation and live resiliently.  We have learned so much about ourselves, our families, neighbors, communities, church and our world in this season.   Let’s continue to be diligent in our practices that will help prevent the spread of virus. 

Blessings as you Begin this 2021 Lenten Season.



The United Methodist Church has a supporting role in the new PBS documentary “The Black Church: This Is Our Story, This Is Our Song,” which airs Feb. 16-17 across the U.S.

Henry Louis Gates Jr., the host, writer and executive producer, begins and ends the film with a visit to his boyhood church, Waldon United Methodist in Piedmont, West Virginia.

“The lessons I learned here, the power of faith, the importance of community, have remained with me and sustained me, the same way the Black church has sustained the African American people from the days of slavery to this day,” Gates says as he stands in front of the small, white-frame structure.

The documentary also draws heavily on resources of the United Methodist Commission on Archives and History, based at Drew University in Madison, New Jersey.

Click here for the full story 

More than 50 images used in “The Black Church” come from Archives and History’s vast collection of historic photos.

“It felt like hitting a gold mine,” said Megan Graham, archival producer for McGee Media, production company for the documentary

Congratulations to Churches with Special Anniversaries in 2021:

First Riverview (Originally Lesley Chapel)175 Years
Highlands (originally Highlands City) 125 Years
Seminole Heights 100 Years
Palma Ceia, Tampa 75 Years
Trinity, Hope (Originally Newport Richey, Hope) 25 years

If we have missed any churches with special Anniversaries please email

Congratulations to Mulberry UMC for being awarded Non Profit Business of the Year for Mulberry!

Thank You to the 41 Churches in the Gulf Central District that collected donations and food to the equivalent of 84,154 pounds of food for the local food banks in the GCD vs. KC food bank challenge.  We did a great job however KC collected more food.  The main thing is that the food banks and the families that will receive the food are the real winners.  Thanks!


Local churches won’t bear cost of steep insurance increases We all know the havoc that 2020 wrought upon our state, country, and world. Natural disasters such as wildfires out west and economic disasters such as COVID-19 have led to drastic rate increases in the property and casualty insurance marketplace, ...

United Methodist Connectional FCU prepares for the second round of the PPP

1/12/2021 - UMC FCU is continuing to prepare to help United Methodist Churches in the administration of the Paycheck Protection Program. We are awaiting notice from the Small Business Administration and Treasury Department for when we can begin processing applications. At that point, we will open an online portal for ease of process and communication. As you have questions, please contact Jonathan Curtis at

As we have been approached by several churches for this, here is some of the information that will need to be calculated and/or documented.

  • Average monthly payroll for 2020 or 2019. Your PPP funds will be this figure times 2.5
  • Gross revenue for 2019 and 2020. Churches requesting a second draw will need to show a 25% decrease in revenue in corresponding quarters over 2019 and 2020. For example, 1st quarter 2019 to 1st quarter 2020. It is also possible to show a 25% decrease in revenue for the whole year.
  • For churches getting a second draw, a record of payroll expenditures compared with the PPP funds received
  • Employee records, specifically number of employees

This may not be an exhaustive list, but may be useful in getting started. Further information can be found at, or by contacting Jonathan at United Methodist Connectional FCU.


NEW DISTRICT CALENDAR.  Here is one place to quickly find all the Antiracism Bible studies, small groups and events across the Gulf Central District that are open to everyone.  Access here at


Please submit your church’s open events to  Provide event name, a brief description, and how to register.



Training Opportunities

via zoom 9:30-noon. 

We will be offering Innovations 2021 with focused learning and discussion several times during the year.  Our first Innovation 2021 will delve deep into how we, Christ’s church, are called to embrace our journey to live into God’s beloved community.    More details available shortly.



Worship Deep Dive - Both/And, Maximizing Hybrid Worship For Online and In-Person Experiences

For: Worship Leaders and Clergy of small and medium-sized churches (all are welcome)

About: This 2.5-hour workshop will delve into strategies for creating powerful transformative worship where no one feels like they’re an afterthought. 

To Register:   

When: Friday, February 19th, 10:00am – 12:15pm followed by Q & A


Thursday, February 25th, 6:30pm – 8:45pm followed by Q & A

(Same event, offered with options for daytime or evening)

Cost: $10. per person

Here is a video promo:

It will explore:

• Re-imagining worship for Both/And

• How to create interactive Both/And experiences

• Bringing at-home and in-person audiences together in real time

• Alternative opportunities for online viewers watching in-person livestreams

• Repurposing in-person worship for online viewers

• Strategies for adapting practices for Both/And

• Avoiding letting your groove becoming a rut

• And the last 15 minutes for Q & A

Festival of HOMILETICS

"Preaching for the Future Church"
May 17-21, 2021 Virtually


The church is in decline. We need to adapt to survive.

Can the church recapture what it was in the first century -- a distinctive community willing to stand against the status quo, to confront the ways of empire, and to embody the gospel?

Together, we'll explore how the promise of the gospel gives hope and shapes ministry for the church now and in the future. 

There are two ways to participate:

  1. Watch for free: Four to five prerecorded video sessions will be available each day-no cost required.
  2. Purchase a recording package: Gain full access to bonus material and watch sessions at a later time. Bonus materials include additional speaker presentations, live workshops, learning opportunities, and exclusive vendor connections. Receive CEU credit.

Click HERE


Florida Conference Lay Servant Ministries Advanced Course  - Accountable Discipleship: Living in the Household of God | March 9 - April 6, 2021

This course may be taken by anyone interested in living as a follower of Jesus Christ in loving accountability with others. For those who have taken the Basic Course and wish to become a lay servant, lay speaker or lay minister, it may be taken as an Advanced Course for certification or recertification. Accountable Discipleship is how disciples of Jesus Christ live in God’s household. It is the living of God’s “household rules” in their daily lives. When asked, Jesus told us that these rules can be summarized as loving God and loving our neighbors. Looking at our biblical and Wesleyan heritage, the author shows us how we can meet the challenge of personal discipleship in loving connection with others, whether in Covenant Discipleship groups, Emmaus Reunion groups, cell groups or other small groups in the church.

Course fee: $25.00 to be paid at time of registration. Please have a Bible, notebook and pen convenient next to your computer. It is recommended that for class work, you use a Windows or Mac computer, and download the free Zoom software in advance. You must complete all sessions to receive course credit.

Materials: Please purchase and read the book prior to class. The book is entitled Accountable Discipleship: Living in God's Household, by Steven Manskar. You may purchase it at Cokesbury or Upper Room Books..

  • Online via Zoom
  • Five Tuesdays from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm
  • Instructor: Rod Groom

CLICK HERE to register for the ADVANCED COURSE. Credit card payment will be required upon registration. Deadline for registration is 3/1/2021.

Contact Rod Groom for any questions you may have at:



We are excited to announce that we rolled out a new Employee Assistance Program for all our clergy as well as all the employees on the Conference payroll as of January 1st.  This benefit is sponsored by the Conference Preachers Relief Board. Our vendor is Magellan Healthcare and they offer counseling and coaching services, online programs, legal assistance, financial coaching and Identity theft resolution and work-life services. This convenient, confidential and free program offers services to help you and your household members to resolve life challenges. Please check out this new comprehensive benefit on the  EAP Benefits webpage at

 We hope you will take the time to review this information and find it helpful in these challenging times we are all living in today.

 Here’s how to get started:

 Getting the help you need, when you need it, can result in you leading a happier, more productive life.

  • Give your program a call at 1.800.523.5668 and get connected with the right resource or professional.
  • Learn more about all the services available at
    • To browse your benefits, click the ‘Find My Company | Log In” button on the top right of your screen. Next, type "The Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church", review and agree with the Terms of Use and click “Go.”
    • To create an account, click the “Find My Company | Log In” button on the top right of your screen. Next, click the “Log In” tab and text for “Don’t have an account? Sign up” to complete your profile using your personal or work email address.

In addition, Magellan provides a monthly webinar on a variety of topics. To register for the February webinar listed below, simply click on the registration link below.

February Monthly Webinar

Mental Skills Bootcamp: Performing at Your Best! │ Wednesday, February 10

Join this webinar to:

  1. Develop a growth mindset
  2. Maintain motivation and overcome obstacles
  3. Leverage your strengths and the strengths of others


Sleep health

Getting a good night’s sleep is crucial to living a healthy lifestyle. Being well rested can improve so many aspects of your life. Work-Life is available 24/7 to provide support and tools to help. Access Work-Life for information on:

  • Finding a new mattress and bedding to refresh your room
  • Locating a professional to organize your sleep space
  • Searching fitness and healthy eating resources
  • Researching local sleep studies and clinics

Getting help online is easy! From webinars, live talks and audio to articles and downloadable guides, Work-Life provides insights and information to help you improve your sleep health. Call your program or go online to get started!

2021 Seminary Scholarships Available Now

Each year, Hyde Park United Methodist Church demonstrates their support for seminary students through a scholarship program. Seminary students in the Gulf Central District are invited to apply.  The deadline is March 31, 2021. In addition, Hyde Park monitors the availability of other scholarships from a variety of organizations. Requirements and deadlines vary. Find details on our Scholarships page

Committee on Native American Ministries

Native Americans play an important role in the Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church. That role is expanding with scholarships and grants to provide the training for greater leadership opportunities.

"Native people have not really been in a position of leadership," said Roger Antworth, Chairperson of the Committee On Native American Ministries (CONAM). "They have been the recipients of the Gospel and not participants. That's 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.

"Native Americans have a lot to offer to the Church. They have a sense of community, of family, the group rather than the individual," Antworth said.

The scholarships and grants have been a long-standing goal of the Committee. They 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.

"It's been a long road to get this far," Antworth said. "We just decided this was the time. We're ready to roll it out."

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



The Florida United Methodist Church and the African Methodist Episcopal Church, in partnership with our community partner, Florida Impact, convenes in Tallahassee, Florida each year. Our collaboration is entitled Florida Advocacy Day (FAD). We gather for a time of prayer and learning as we prepare to meet with our legislators and advocate on behalf of children and others: "those who cannot speak for themselves."
This year, we will not gather or be able to meet in person to advocate.  Most everything will be virtual.  Our team is working on what this might look like and you should expect to hear more in the near future.
Children’s Week is a week-long time of awareness and advocacy at the State Capitol.  Each year one week is set out to provide a platform and bring advocates together.
This year, the organizers of Children’s Week have developed 5 workshops:

  • January 25th:      Advocacy Skills, Strategies and Tools
  • February 1st:       Health Access and the Power of Prevention
  • February 8:         Early Learning – Building Blocks for Success
  • February 15:       Youth Development, Afterschool and Community Volunteerism
  • February 22:       Social Justice and Racial Equity

These workshops are a valuable resource and an important chance to improve as advocates that are now available to us wherever we connect.


E-Verify for employees

Governor DeSantis signed into law a state mandate requiring all public employers and any private employer that has a contract with a public employer, or a private employers that apply for taxpayer-funded incentives through the state of Department of Economic Opportunity to register with and use E-Verify to confirm the work eligibility of their new hires beginning January 1, 2021.  This mandate also requires if a contract employee (someone you provide a 1099) is retained by a private employer, the employer must verify the contract employee’s eligibility upon renewal or extension of a contract.  State agencies must also include a provision in contracts for the provision of goods and services, certifying that contractors will use E-Verify to verify the employment of new employees employed by the contractor (the church, pre-school, school) during the contract term to perform employment duties in Florida.  Therefore, any Church, pre-school or school that is entering into new contracts with state agencies or public employers , such as the State of Florida Statewide Voluntary Prekindergarten Provide Contract (Form OEL-VPK 20), are required to use E-Verify for your new employees.    You do not need to perform the E-Verify process for your current employees.

We have included links to the Federal E-Verify websites and Florida Statue 288.061.

The Enrollment Process (




Day on Campus Goes Virtual! March 27th is the Day!

Each year, one of the most special days in the life of the Florida United Methodist Children’s Home is Day on Campus. We are very excited that this year's Day on Campus will be a virtual event! This will allow us to continue the annual tradition of lifting up the Children’s Home ministry, while also ensuring people can engage from the safety and comfort of their own homes. Day on Campus will be held virtually on Saturday, March 27. It will be broadcast on our Facebook page, and will also be accessible on our YouTube channel following the event.

Learn More


Change Tampa Bay

Thursday, February 25, 2021  7-8:30 p.m.

at Carol Morsani Hall at the Straz Center

(virtual options also available)

As we enter this new year, we are hopeful and excited about our plans for this year’s Bridge Builder’s event, hosted by John C. Maxwell, on February 25th, from 7:00 - 8:30 PM. The event will be hosted in person AND online, and we hope that you will be able to join us either way.

Please visit here for event details and note some important information for your consideration:

 For in-person guests, we will follow important safety precautions including Straz Center’s COVID questionnaire and temperature checks, social distanced seating, limited capacity, and face coverings.

  • Here is the link to sign up for the virtual presentation. Please share with anyone you feel should hear our message of HOPE!  Click here  


In the past seven years, this special fund has provided 31 scholarships (9 of them currently enrolled) to enable East Angola students to pursue higher education in fields like theology, medicine, law, engineering, education and more. Then COVID-19 struck. Students are taking more time to reach graduation as the financial resources dwindle and are insufficient to meet the need.  However, the Florida Conference is seeking to address this need, and will DOUBLE EVERY GIFT up to $30,000 received by April 31st.  A tax-deductible gift can be given online or by check. For online giving, click on this link:

Checks should be made payable to the "Florida Conference Treasurer" include "Higher Education" in memo line and mail to:      Florida United Methodist Center, ATTN: Icel Rodriguez, 450 Martin Luther King, Jr. Ave., Lakeland, FL 33815.

"Thank you to The Florida Conference for generously supporting this life-transforming ministry." Icel Rodriguez, Conference Director of Global Missions (

For more information regarding our mission to East Angola click on the link...

 Due Dates:

 2021 Ministry Protection Insurance Allocation Available Online & State-Mandated Payroll Survey
As we communicated during the Financial Services webinar on January 7th, after rigorous marketing to a litany of excess insurance carriers, the Florida Conference Ministry Protection insurance program saw an 18% increase in insurance premiums over 2020.  The great news, however, is that this increase is not being passed on to the local church!

The 2021 Ministry Protection program invoices are now online and can be accessed here. Choose “PC/Workers Comp” from the drop-down menu and enter your church’s GCFA number. A packet containing insurance information will also be mailed to you in the coming days and will include a paper copy of the invoices and the 2021 Insurance Summary of coverages.

As in years past, if your insurance allocation is paid in full by 2/28/21, you will receive a 2% discount off the billed amount.

Workers’ Compensation Payroll Survey
To comply with State of Florida requirements related to workers’ compensation coverage, we ask that you complete the brief online payroll form, located in the link below. Please review your payroll records (941’s etc.) for the calendar year 2020 and complete the form as accurately as possible. Every church and insured entity should complete the survey. Please note:   your responses will not affect your workers’ compensation insurance costs for this year, as this updated information is simply required to comply with State of Florida regulations. The survey is open from 2/1/2021 to 2/22/2021.

Workers’ Comp Payroll Survey: Click here.


March 31st Reports

The following reports are due to the District Office by March 31. Please send by email to Deb Digman at If you would prefer to mail hard copies please send them to Deb's attention at Gulf Central District 1498 Rosery Rd NE Largo FL 33770-1656.

Report Committee Responsible
Financial Controls, Policies, & Procedures Finance
Document Retention Policy Finance
Clergy Employee Conduct Policy SPRC
Adoption of Employee Conduct Policy SPRC
Annual Parsonage Report Trustees
Child Youth Protection Policy SPRC


The church needs to have a Local Church Employee form signed by each employee and kept in their personnel file. This does not get sent to the District Office.

You can find instructions and other pertinent information by reviewing the Calendar of Reports. If you have made revisions to any of your policies, please send the entire document.

The Fund Balance report is submitted online by Finance. The form is located in your Church Dashboard on the bottom left. Do not send a hard copy to the District Office. Note: The Disaster Recovery Resource Survey is no longer required.

New Clergy Evaluation

Well thanks to the hard work of several clergy, SPRC, Board of Ordained Ministry and Cabinet members, we are launching a new Annual Clergy Evaluation process for 2021!
A letter describing the new process can be found here:
The links for the on line assessment form can be found here:

The deadline for completed evaluations to be submitted online to your District Superintendent is still 5/31.
There is a single online form to be completed once you have consolidated input from all your SPRC members AND the clergy person has completed their self-evaluation. This is all included in ONE ONLINE form that is submitted electronically to the district office. 
There is a YouTube video to assist you in completing the online form which can be found here: ?
There are materials available on the conference website for an OPTIONAL Seasonal Conversation with the Pastor that can be accessed here:  These conversations could start in the first quarter of this year to help you think through your priorities for the coming season prior to working on the Assessment form which is not due until 5/31.  
We would love to receive your feedback on this new process. Please send your comments and suggestions to me with a copy to Holly Finley at and
A Spanish translation will be available soon. Please watch the website for this update.  

SPR and PASTOR Evaluation Changes -

Link to eval

Various books and study materials available 

For Those Who Serve – devotion for volunteers - 32 copies

Daily Study Series Gospel of Luke - 2 copies

Daily Study Series Book of Acts - 3 copies

DBS 1 Video

DBS Maps – several

DBS pins – MANY

Oxford Bible Atlas - 2 copies

Companions in Christ - MANY books & study materials

Bible Dictionary - 2 copies

If interested please contact: Kim Harcrow Hyde Park United Methodist 813.253.5388, ext. 1221/1291 500 W. Platt St., Tampa, FL 33606


Free to a good home:

Custom crafted, all wood pulpit – free for pickup at Lutz UMC (960 W Lutz Lake Fern Rd., Lutz, FL  33548).  Contact or 813-949-1751, with any questions.  We also have many blue UM Hymnals available for free as well.  



First United Methodist Church Land O Lakes Building the Kingdom through Deeper Connections

By Loving God, Loving Others, Serving Our Community and Making Disciples for Christ Jesus

Position: Church Administrator

Reports to: Senior Pastor

Position: Non-Exempt, part time status, approximately 20 hours per week Hourly Rate: $14.00 - $16.00 per hour based on experience of candidate JOB DESCRIPTION

The Church Administrator is responsible for multiple activities that support the life and mission of our church – including church administration, oversight of church communication, and pastoral administrative support.

For more information please contact  Diane Kuenzel  Cell phone: 813-610-0841 email:


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 but one that would increase as the youth ministry grows. The Youth Director works 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 if you are called by God to be part of the movement of the Holy Spirit at First UMC Lutz.


 2021 HOLIDAY SCHEDULE – District and Conference offices will be closed:

April 02 Good Friday

May 31 Memorial Day

July 4 Independence Day

Observed July 5

September 6 Labor Day

November 11 Veteran’s Day

November 25 Thanksgiving

November 26 Day After Thanksgiving

December 24 Christmas Eve

December 25 Christmas Day

Observed December 27

January 1, 2022 New Year’s Day

Observed December 31, 2021


Calendar of Events

2021 Calendar of reports due

 Announcement Sunday – April 25

 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