From the District Superintendent
Cabinet Statement in Response to Rioting at the US Capital
January 11, 2021
The scenes that unfolded in our nation’s capital on Wednesday are troubling on many levels. Images that we never could have imagined happening were on news and media outlets as they documented the chaos and violence wrought by the crowds that gathered. These images captured for us all a clear picture of a broken and disunified nation and the sin of white privilege, as well as the horrific results of disinformation and conspiracy theories promulgated by the president and many others, publicly and through social media. We want to say this is not America, yet what we have witnessed in recent years, and most particularly in these last weeks, compels us to acknowledge that, in fact, this is America.
Jesus said, “God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called children of God,” (Matthew 5:9). Peacemaking begins with individual and corporate confession and asking hard questions with the goal of transformation. Let us examine and compare the events of the spring and summer, in the way people of color protesting peacefully were treated, as opposed to the treatment of white rioters who assaulted the Capitol, the center of our nation’s government. White privilege and white supremacy, undergirded by conspiracy theories, erode the fiber of the true good in our country and in the world. This is not the America that we want to be or the foundational value that we believe America can be.
In response, as the Cabinet of The Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church, we acknowledge that this is a watershed moment for us all—as disciples of Jesus Christ and as citizens of the United States of America. We have learned from history that people of faith do not always speak out quickly when there is evidence of wrongdoing and abuse of national power. Therefore, in this instance, we wish to point toward what we are doing and will continue to do to live more faithfully and seek a more just world:
- Intentionally engage white clergy and laity in acknowledging the reality that “whiteness” is a cultural reality in America’s foundation and has been an oppressive force in our history and culture for over 400 years.
- Recognize and acknowledge the reality of white supremacy and white privilege as a part of our American history and culture and of our United Methodist Church history and culture.
- Invite white people to acknowledge all the ways we are complicit with white supremacy, that we exalt our white privilege, and by default perpetuate harm to people of color.
- Acknowledge the need for white people to repent of our misuse of our power and privileges and begin the work of dismantling racism and building a just and equitable kingdom of God.
- Walk alongside minority communities to understand more deeply their pain and the injustices present in our society and in our institutions.
- Pray for our leaders and for those charged with our safety and protection, especially during this time of transition.
- Pray for the incoming administration, including the preparation for the Inauguration on January 20.
- Pray for us to have the will and the courage to work together to dismantle systemic racism present in our churches and in our communities.
- Pray for peace, hope, and love among the people in our land.
One of the phrases that Bishop Carter has repeated over and over, both in written and in spoken word, that rings true in our ears is this: “Antiracism is discipleship. Antiracism is sanctification. Antiracism and our baptismal promises.”
“Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.” Romans 14:19
Grace and Peace, Florida Conference Appointive Cabinet
The Beloved Community's Awareness Team of the Bishop's Anti-Racism Task Forces has put together a toolkit of worship resources for churches to use on Human Relations Sunday, Jan. 17. Because the following day is Martin Luther King Day, there is special emphasis on resources for litanies, prayers, music, and even a full service. You can register to receive the toolkit here: https://www.flumc.org/awareness
- How do United Methodists celebrate Epiphany/Three Kings Day - Read it here.
- UMC Bishops call for optimism and hope in 2021 - Read it here.
- Black United Methodists want changes - Read it here.
Seasonal cultural celebrations calendar - Read it here.
District Worship Leaders Zoom Gathering
Date: Thursday January 28th Time: 12:00 – 1:30pm
Join Worship Leaders from across the Gulf Central District for a District Zoom Lunch and Learn. This gathering will be a time to connect, pray together, and share both resources + best practices for worship ministry today.
Moderators: Meg Roberts – Horizon Church Tampa Jeremy Hearn - FUMC Lakeland
To RSVP and join this discussion, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to receive the Zoom Link.
It’s Wonder Walk Season!
Cornerstone Family Ministries (CFM) would like to say Happy New Year and Thank You to the all United Methodist Churches who supported our students and families through donations during the holiday season. As you may already be aware, our ministry’s mission is to make a lasting and positive impact in the lives of disadvantaged children and their families in our community by nurturing young bodies, developing young minds, and fostering hope through Christ…One child at a time. It is only with the support of donors like the GCD United Methodist Churches that we are able to make this positive impact.
Here at Cornerstone we are preparing for our 41st Annual Wonder Walk/Run. Now considered, “Wonder Walk Season”, this year we have adjusted our event to accommodate the CDC COVID-19 Social Distancing recommendations and so we will host our walk virtually for all participants on Saturday, March 6, 2021 at 9am. Teams are encouraged to be creative and find a peaceful place to go for a walk and pray for our families, students, teachers and nation. This event will also include a virtual presentation and silent auction and so we welcome any in-kind donations or gift baskets valued at $75 or more to include in our virtual silent auction.
Please reference the save the date flyer for more information about each event and register online beginning January 15, 2021 at www.cornerstonefamilyministries.org .
Now more than ever before we need you support so we invite everyone to participate at the level they choose. Our goal is to raise $141,000 to provide very important scholarships for each and every child that attends the Rosa Valdez Early Learning Center, as each child currently is on at least a partial scholarship.
In addition, the Gulf Central District Superintendent Dr. Candace Lewis, has challenged every church in the district to have a virtual Wonder Walk team, to help raise donations for Cornerstone - CATHY CAN YOU ASK CANDACE TO AGAIN ENDORSE THIS EVENT FOR 2021? We ask that you invite church members to join your team in walking and/or giving/recruiting donations. Also, if appropriate, please ask your members to consider the Wonder Walk sponsorship opportunities. (Download Sponsorship Brochure - will send by end of Dec.)
If your church is interested in participating as a team and would like to schedule a training for your congregation or unit please feel free to contact Jeanette Hordge-Smith at email@example.com or call 813-253-3853 ext. 301.
We are also exited to announce that the Conn Memorial Foundation will again match up to $10,000 this year for all NEW sponsors, teams and individual walkers!
Clergy Care - Your New Magellan EAP is here!
Lois Durham has worked hard to come up with the new Employee Assistance Program (EAP) for all clergy of The Florida Conference. There are lots of benefits available at no cost to you. Please take a minute to download each of the items listed below, so you don't miss out!
- Welcome Email to Members
- EAP Flyer
- Work-Life Flyer
- Legal Financial Flyer
- Discount Center Flyer
- Clickotine App Flyer
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:
- Watch for free: Four to five prerecorded video sessions will be available each day-no cost required.
- 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 to register.
Social Justice Sessions
This fall Heritage United Methodist (predominantly white) and Mt. Olive AME (predominantly Black) churches in Clearwater came together on Zoom in a group to discuss social justice issues. It was a six week discussion entitled Racial Divide in Pinellas County. Already considered sister churches due to a long history of shared projects, worship and support, members of Heritage UMC and Mt. Olive AME met from Oct through November 2020. Facilitated by Cheryl Fairies, Program Coordinator of “The Church Facing Racism in Pinellas County”, seven people from each church brought their life experiences to the table. Anticipation and a type of “social holiness” was in the air.
One of the first activities was to share an item representing each person’s background or culture. This gave all the participants insight into each other in a visual and personal way. For example, experiences shared by Black participants about being afraid, as a young person, to drive through parts of Pinellas County, due to the KKK presence brought the reality of our local history to bear.
The group viewed information about housing discrimination, which lead to studies on inferior employment, education and healthcare experienced by the Black community. National and local data served as a springboard for sharing how the Clearwater community is seen through the two lenses-both black and white. Analysis of the information was discussed in a way that will eventually lead to a collaborative group service project. Poverty, Healthcare and employment issues rose to the top of the list as major concerns in the Clearwater community. Coming together, a number of folks from Heritage UMC participated in community outreach for the hungry, along-side Mt Olive parishioners.
Solid relationships always take time to build and deepen. The group agreed that one-on-one relationships are the beginning of understanding between communities, and nurturing closer relationships may take a while, especially in our current Covid environment. Ashley Holmes, from Mt Olive noted “ It was a humbling experience to bear witness and be a part of the unpeeling of perceived notions and taught lessons from our cultures” There is group energy to be open minded and open hearted, to seek to turn this type of intentional conversation into a lifestyle. She said “The understanding gained during the sessions will lead to our future work in breaking down racial barriers, and loving all as God intended”. Already sister churches, Heritage UMC and Mt Olive AME are moving closer together to spiritually uplift our community through actions of social holiness. We pray God’s blessing and guidance in this endeavor.
2021 HOLIDAY SCHEDULE – District and Conference offices will be closed:
January 18 Martin Luther King, Jr. Day
February 15 President’s Day
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
January 11 - Last Day for 2020 Apportionment payments
January 31 Church and Pastor Profiles Due
February 5 Year End Stats Due
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