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GCD July 2020 Newsletter

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From the District Superintendent

July begins a new year of pastoral ministry for our 87 Gulf Central District Pastors.   This month, we welcomed 14 new Pastors starting new appointments.  We also celebrated two retired pastors who are continuing to serve in Interim appointments. 

A new appointment year, invites clergy and laity to reflect upon our call and commitment to service in ministry. The hymn, “A Charge to Keep I Have” is often sung during our services of Commitment.  “To serve this present age, my calling to fulfill, O may it all my powers engage, to do my Master’s will”.  In 2020, we are invited to hear this part of the charge, by Charles Wesley written in 1762 about serving this present age.  Friends, this year, we are navigating an unprecedented present age!   

In this present age, in addition to all the everyday life occurrences like births, deaths, family joys and concerns, decisions related to children returning to school on site or virtually, work challenges, personal, spiritual, physical, emotional and financial highs and lows and in-betweens, we are also navigating two viruses, COVID-19 and Racism.  Both now require our attention and response. 

Daily, I talk with Pastors who are faithfully managing and adapting reopening plans in light of the recent, daily increase in positive COVID cases and COVID related deaths across the State of Florida.  At this time most of us probably knows someone personally who has tested positive for COVID whether they have symptoms or not.  The same Pastors are still being called upon to develop and maintaining vital, innovative online ministries. 

I am aware of how the stress of “this present age” continues to impact our Pastors, staff and volunteers in our local churches.  The pace of all this present age demands is not sustainable.  Clergy and Laity are reporting feeling overwhelmed and unprepared to manage and lead everything that’s happening at this time.  Please know the Bishop and Cabinet are working on creating resources related to clergy health and self-care. 

So what do we do? There are no simple answers. Let’s make sure we are asking the questions that will enable us to actively wait and faithfully discern our best next step, related to all that is before us.  You are not alone, we are in this together and most importantly, God is with us. 

I close with this scripture from Isaiah 40: 27-31 CEB

“Look up at the sky and consider: Who created these? The one who brings out their attendants one by one, summoning each of them by name. Because of God’s great strength and mighty power, not one is missing. Why do you say, Jacob, and declare, Israel, “My way is hidden from the Lord, my God ignores my predicament”? Don’t you know? Haven’t you heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the creator of the ends of the earth. He doesn’t grow tired or weary. His understanding is beyond human reach, giving power to the tired and reviving the exhausted.  Youths will become tired and weary, young men will certainly stumble; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength;  they will fly up on wings like eagles; they will run and not be tired;  they will walk and not be weary.”

We are On Mission Together,

Candace M Lewis

Congratulations to all the GCD Clergy who were Licensed, Commissioned and Ordained at the Virtual Clergy Session June 6!

Local Pastor
Zulma Soba –Forest Hills – Tampa
Ian Campbell – Trinity and Highlands - Lakeland
Peter Lundberg – Community Oldsmar

Provisional Elder

Nicole Logan - Pasadena Community UMC, St Petersburg – Associate
Avis Smith – First Seminole
Nicki Taylor – United Methodist Temple

Provisional Deacon

Rachel Paul Hartman - Tampa General Hospital

Full Elder
Tiffania Willetts – Seminole Heights

Full Deacon
Amy Greene

Full Elder transfer from Another Conference
Erica and Chris Allen – Horizon, Tampa
Morgan and Andy Whitaker Smith First Lakeland

Ester Kim – Metropolitan Ministries and Bay Area Legal Services

Blessings to all our Clergy with New Appointments!

Ben Stilwell-Hernandez – Aldersgate in Seminole
Peter Lundberg – Community Oldsmar
Terry Knight – Crystal Lake – Lakeland
Matt Wallis – First Clearwater
Chris Kirk – First Lutz
Chuck Smith – First Pinellas Park
Brian Brink – First Seffner
Zulma Soba Forest Hills – Tampa
Ricc Conner – Keystone Odessaa
Garrett Rocha – Limona Village Chapel – Brandon
Riley Short will continue his Interim appointment at New Hope Brandon
Sharon Patch will continue her Interim appointment at Palm Harbor
Nicole Logan – Associate at Pasadena Community
Gary & Jayne Rideout – Co-Pastors St Andrew’s – Brandon
Dario Perez – Sylvan Abbey – Clearwater
Nicki Taylor – United Methodist  Temple - Lakeland

 Help us Fill the Table!

Fighting Food Insecurity in Florida

We are excited to launch Fill the Table, a statewide, collaborative initiative to serve 3 million meals across Florida by September 2021.

Thirty-seven million people in America struggle with hunger; more than 11 million are children. Our goal is to mobilize 100,000 United Methodists throughout Florida to help close this hunger gap.

We're not looking to re-invent the wheel. Instead, we want to encourage partnerships and create connections to maximize the number of people we can serve. The Fill the Table website has several ideas on how you can help, regardless of church size.

If you are already participating in food outreach initiatives, let us know! Click here to report your monthly totals and help us reach our goal! We will send periodic updates on meals served and share stories of lives transformed.

Click here to learn more about Fill the Table and how you can help.


Get Social!

Be sure to connect with us on Facebook and Instagram @fillthetable #FillTheTable

A Zoom Listening Panel for Gulf Central Worship Leaders

Date: Monday July 20th       Time: 1:00pm

Join The Institute for Modern Worship on a Zoom call to pray, share and connect with other worship leaders during this challenging season of COVID-19. Design Team member, Jeremy Hearn of FUMC Lakeland, will host and facilitate an open discussion on the joys and pains from Live Stream to Quarantine. The session will close with a time of collective prayer for hope, individual and communal needs.

To RSVP and join this discussion, please email to receive the Zoom Link.


UMW Children's Study

The United Methodist Women are presenting a Children’s study called “Managing Our Emotions.”  It focuses on anxiety and stress children are encounter.

The study, in its entirety, is free and is located on the Conference Website under the UMW page at this link:'s-study. 

School partnership idea.  

We all have been watching and advocating for the best policies for our community’s children to return to school.  As your church and small groups are thinking of supportive ways to be involved this new school year, here’s a new idea for consideration:  provide child-size face masks for the school to freely distribute.  There are several tutorials on how to make (some even for non-sew masks).  Just search “child-size face mask pattern.”  And remember, share your efforts and success on our district Facebook page .

Paycheck Protection Program Extension

The Paycheck Protection Program has been extended again until August 8th. UMC FCU has been able to provide this funding for a number of UM churches in all four of our conferences, providing nearly $2.5 million dollars in payroll funds affecting over 500 employees. If you would like to take a look at securing these forgivable loans for your church or ministry, contact Jonathan Curtis at


Resilient Church Academy

Learn from N.T. Wright and other leading scholars, pastors, and innovators!

In May Fresh Expressions US launched the Resilient Church Academy. The academy gathered cohorts from across the country digitally to learn together how to be the church in this challenging time. In response to many of the learning tracks selling out and lots of requests for a second iteration of the academy, we are launching a new session starting the first week of August.  

Registration opens this week!  It will cover many of the same academy tracks as last time, as well as a few new opportunities in response to what else has been happening in the nation the last two months.

Through our partnership between FXUS and FLUMC, you can feel free to use this discount code FLUMC25 (25% off) to distribute to any church/church leader in your district for these academiesNote: The only exception is that we are not able to offer a discount for the Master Class. 

Here is a link to the landing page -

CEU’s will be provided through United Theological Seminary. I now serve as the Director of the Fresh Expressions House of Studies at United, where we offer a Doctorate, Master of Divinity, and non-degree certifications in fresh expressions. If you or someone in your congregation is interested in further education, please let me know


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 Gulf Central District. Click HERE for the Archives and History webpage on 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 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.

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

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.


Resources available

Anti-racism resources available at

This is a time for the church to be relevant—to lead.  The question is how?  On your Gulf Central District webpage are numerous resources to help.  These resources are organized by

  • Awareness and Intentionality
  • Self Interrogation
  • Community Action

This is collection of resources is growing weekly.  You will want to check back periodically.  AND, we want to know resources you have discovered.  Please send an email to with the resource name and pertinent details. 

Gulf Central District Anti-Racism Team meeting Friday, July 24 at Noon, if interested please contact Beth Potter at for more information.

Technology items available

Each church has a life cycle.  We celebrate the saints who have grown and worshipped over the years at Asbury New Port Richey, Joining Hands Mission Church, and Northeast Tampa.  We pray for these faithful people that they find new worship communities to share their God-given gifts and continue in their discipleship.  We are celebrating that Joining Hands Mission has found a new home which we will share their announcement soon.

As these churches have closed, the District is offering our churches the opportunity to receive items that may be helpful in their ministry.  Please contact Beth at or Maggie at for a full list of items available.  If you need additional tech-based equipment, for example, we may be able to help.

Books Available 

Wesley Memorial United Methodist Church, located at 6100 Memorial Highway,  Tampa,  will no longer be having a church library and is giving away all of their books (over 1000).  If you are interested in some or all of the books please contact Vickey or Dee, Monday-Thursday, 9-2 @ 813-769-9157 or send an e-mail to


Rooted 2020

Rooted is a community space for Youth, Children, and Family Ministry leaders to connect with one another and God. Rooted is a training space where we engage the needs of our ministry areas, the church, and our communities. Rooted is a space to refresh our soul, our calling, and our relationship with Jesus.

The need for these spaces is great this year. Registration is now open at
This two day event will be on September 21 and 22, 2020 at the Warren Willis Conference Center. Cost for the event will be $60 to stay in a cabin or $120 to have your own room at the Conference Center. We have a team of folks working on safety protocols to help make this event a safe space to gather. We also have a team of folks working on plans to make some of the trainings and teachings available on-line. For more information about this year's event, please visit our website or our Facebook groups or 

Our Conference Ministry Tables are praying for each of you and your ministry’s with young people. If you have any questions, please contact Joel Pancoast, your conference youth ministry coordinator, at  

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.

Annual Conference 2020 Update

Virtual Pre-Annual Conference Orientation - Gulf Central District's virtual session is August 20 at 6 pm. You may attend any of the three that are offered.

Atlantic Central + East Central + South East Districts: Tuesday, August 18, 7 pm
Gulf Central + South West Districts: Thursday, August 20, 6 pm
North Central + North East + North West: Monday, August 17, 6 pm

Annual Conference - The event will take place on Saturday, September 19 from 10:00am to 5:00pm at First UMC, Lakeland. An online option will be available for those unable or unwilling to meet in person. Those who join online will be able to vote. This will be a one day annual conference and the agenda will consist of: approval of the budget, approval of leadership and committees, election of the Lay Leader, and church closures.

In order to prepare for this one day event, we will need you to register by September 1 to tell us whether you plan to attend in person or virtually. Registration will open on August 1 and close on September 1.

The Laity Session will be held online only on Sept. 12 at 10:00am.

General Conference 2020 - August 29-September 7, 2021

2020 Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference - November 10-12, 2021


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

General Conference 2020 - August 29-September 7, 2021

2020 Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference - November 10-12, 2021