Main Menu

GCD Innovation 2021



Gulf Central District’s

Innovation Learning is back for 2021!

This year the offering will be done in a series of 3 2 1/2-hour virtual settings.  Each Series focusing on a single topic.


Embrace the Journey:  Becoming the Beloved Community

March 20th, 9:30-noon




Explore together how we are challenged by race, how we behave because of it, and ways we can be faithful in becoming the Beloved Community, a community in which everyone is cared for, absent of poverty, hunger and hate.


Our Packed Agenda includes:

9:30-9:40              Welcome by Rev. Dr. Candace Lewis*

9:40-9:50              Worship 

9:50-10:20            Keynote:  Race in a Time When We Can’t Turn Back” with Rev. Dr. Gil Rendle*

10:20-11:00         Panel Discussion on how racism affects all of us.  Views from a Black, Brown, White perspective.  Note:  The panel shares real life experiences which include language that may be unsuitable for young people. Parental discretion is advised.  (Panelist:  Jana Hall-Perkins, Bobbie Hinton, Zulma Soba, Robert Dinwiddie, M.E. Ram; Moderator:  Warren Pattison) 

11:00-11:10         Reflecting on racism today

11:10-11:50         Embrace the Journey-2 examples of how.

  • The Mount Olive AME and Heritage Story:  Partnering Church Conversations
  • Open Spaces*:

11:50-12:00         Sending Out by Rev. Dr. Sharon Austin* and Rev. Clarke Campbell-Evans*



Rev. Dr. Candace Lewis currently serves as the Superintendent of the Gulf Central District in the Florida Conference and oversees conference-wide new church development work. She has recently been elected to serve as Gammon Theological Seminary’s 17th president-dean.  She will begin this new call on April 1, 2021.  




Rev. Dr. Sharon Austin currently serves as the Florida Annual Conference’s Director of Connectional and Justice Ministries.  April 1, 2021 through December 31, 2021 she will add to her current director responsibilities to co-lead the Gulf Central District as a Superintendent with Rev Clarke Campbell-Evans.  Dr. Austin brings her past experience as the Superintendent of the South Central District to this interim appointment.



Rev. Clarke Campbell-Evans currently serves as the Florida Annual Conference’s Director of Missional Engagement.  April 1, 2021 through December 31, 2021 he will add to his current director responsibilities to co-lead the Gulf Central District as a Superintendent with Rev. Dr. Sharon Austin.  Rev. Campbell-Evans brings his past experience as the Superintendent of the Miami District to this interim appointment.


Gil Rendle is an ordained United Methodist elder with a PhD in organizational and group dynamics.  As author of books such as Quietly Courageous, Rev Rendle offers practical guidance to leaders—both lay and ordained—on leading churches today. As we navigate the polarization of our church and society, his practical guidance to leaders-both lay and clergy-encourages relentless focus on mission and purpose.

 Our own Bishop Kenneth H. Carter has said, “Gil Rendle is on a very short list of our wisest guides in the practice of leadership in the United Methodist Church. And for those of us tempted toward a nostalgia that is avoidance, an empathy that is unhelpful, and a weariness that is escapist, he urges us to engage with courage and conviction. Quietly Courageous is the summation of decades of persistent attention and deep learning about how we have come to this place, and who God calls us to be in service to the mission.



The Church Facing Racism:  A Dialogue” is a new offering in the church’s effort to combat racism.  Bringing together two churches-one Black and one White-to start the difficult conversations around racism.  The dialogue includes 5 or 6 people from each congregation including youth, law enforcement, community organizations, community leaders, faith leaders, and interested citizens.  The congregations meet individually for two sessions and then collectively meet for six sessions. 


For more information and to register, contact Beth Potter at



Open Spaces is a brand new offering that Open Space for one another, so that we all may have a way to process and dialogue what we are experiencing in a way that provides listening and safety. 

Open Spaces is available in two versions:  Small Group Discussion and Worship.  As a companion piece to Innovation 2021—"Embrace the Journey:  Becoming the Beloved Community,” the Gulf Central District Anti-Racism Committee is facilitating two district-wide small groups for those looking to continue the Innovation 2021 conversation and process reactions and perceptions in a safe space. 

For more information on how to sign up for a District Open Spaces small group, please contact Beth Potter at

For more information on the worship version of the program, please contact either Pastor Ian Campbell at or Rev. Andy Whitaker Smith at

Complete information on Open Spaces will be available on the website shortly.   


“Embrace the Journey:  Becoming the Beloved Community” has been designed by and offered through the Gulf Central District’s Anti-Racism Committee on Training and Accountability.  The Anti-Racism Committee serves the District through its purpose of:

Inspired by God’s love and Christ’s example, the Gulf Central District Anti-Racism Team equips and empowers individuals and local churches to challenge racial injustice in any form in order to build sustainable, just, and equitable beloved communities.


For more information on Innovation 2021 and/or the Gulf Central District Anti-Racism Committee, please contact






Several Resources/Tools are available if you would like to share with this information with others:

Innovation 2021 Flyer    

Innovation 2021 Flyer 2 

Publisher format Flyer   

The Church Facing Racism