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GCD June 2019 Newsletter

From the District Superintendent

Two Saturday’s ago, over fifty people, from 17 different congregations in our District joined together for our first Fresh Expressions Vision Day.  We spent almost six hours together dreaming about new ways God might be inviting us to connect and engage new people throughout Pinellas, Hillsborough, Polk and Pasco counties.  The presenters shared with us the “why” and “how” of the Fresh Expressions Movement.  I see my role as a Permission Giver, Supporter and Champion of creating new places for new faces throughout our District.  Fresh Expressions is rooted in compassion. We want to embody the same compassion Jesus had when he looked out at the crowds as recorded in the Gospel of Mark 9:36.  36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. 37 Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. 38 Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.”

Here are some highlights of our time together for you to consider.

What is a Fresh Expression? Fresh Expressions was created to be a form of church for the changing culture, established primarily for the benefit of people who are not yet members of any church. These communities come into being through principles of listening, service, contextual mission, and making disciples and have the potential to become mature expressions of church shaped by the Gospel.

Who can start a Fresh Expression?  We call people who start Fresh Expressions, Pioneers.

What is the role of a Pioneer of a Fresh Expression?  Pioneers are mission entrepreneurs who have the stirrings to go beyond existing church communities to engage in life and ministry with people, fostering fresh expressions of church that connect with those uncomfortable or unfamiliar with the inherited church.

What are our next steps in creating new Fresh Expressions in the Gulf Central District? We will be promoting the start of new Fresh Expressions Learning Communities. 

What is a Fresh Expressions Learning Community?

Fresh Expressions Learning Communities are a six-month, part-time, learning community designed to:

  • Assist teams who want to launch fresh expressions of church
  • Help pastors and lay-leaders create Fresh Expressions strategies for their communities and neighborhoods
  • Surround pioneers with a network of fellow sojourners and practitioners of missional ministry

Over the course of approximately six months, cohorts meet for two weekend retreats, monthly connection and support through coaching. Teams and individuals discern and implement intentional steps toward developing fresh expressions of church appropriate to their unique contexts. Each participant is welcomed into an on-going peer learning network upon completion of the learning community

Interested in learning more about starting a Fresh Expressions in your church or community?  Please  contact our District Office at or connect with our District Director of Fresh Expressions Keri LaBrant at  

Introducing our New Lay Servant Ministries Director -

Greg Uchimura

Greg has been an Associate Lay Leader with the Gulf Central and South Central Districts since 2013.  He will be worshipping at Emmanuel United Methodist in Bradenton as his wife, Pastor Kim Uchimura was recently appointed there as Senior Pastor.

Greg has been a Certified Lay Servant since 2012 and has a long-standing interest in expanding and enhancing the program.  The objective for the program is to have certified lay servants in the majority of churches in the district and to evolve a network so there can be more “sharing” of lay servant skill sets (Lay Servants, Lay Speakers, and Certified Lay Ministers) between district churches.

Lay Servant Ministries Training

 Pasadena Community UMC St Petersburg June 14-15  click here for the flyer 


Did you know?  —> As of annual conference this year,

Gulf Central has 20 active Fresh Expressions, spanning across the district, with more in development! They are meeting in active ways (running, yoga, water aerobics, and basketball) - meeting to eat, drink, or enjoy cigars - and are made ups of youth, seniors, and everyone in between.

Did you know? —> Gulf Central has a team of folks engaged with and committed to expanding the reach of Fresh Expressions! Looking for someone local to talk with about how you might deploy a Fresh Expressions mindset in your congregation? Email Keri LaBrant at and she will happily connect you.

Did you know? —> Microgrants are available for Fresh Expressions in various stages of development, through Fresh Expressions FL. Looking for some small-scale assistance? Application opens June 1 and link will be shared on social media at Fresh Expressions Florida (Facebook) or FreshExpressionsFL (Instagram). Contact Keri LaBrant if you’d like help formulating your application.


See you at Annual Conference! Check out the expo and the night of Spirit-led innovation for come-and-see opportunities and additional resources.

Appointed Clergy serving in the Florida Annual Conference

Do No Harm: Mandatory Quadrennial Sexual Ethics Training

All clergy who are serving under episcopal appointment within the Florida Conference must attend one of the upcoming sexual ethics training events this fall to remain in good standing. This includes ALL clergy serving in extension ministries, retired clergy serving under appointment, all deacons, elders, licensed local pastors (part time and full time). Diaconal ministers and lay supply who are assigned to lead a church. This is required even if you have recently attended the Sexual Ethics training at Right Start or are scheduled to do so this coming May. A different curriculum will be covered in the quadrennial training. Certificates will be provided to those who complete the full 5 hours of training. A copy of your Certificate will be placed in your clergy file.

When & Where?

You may attend a session outside of your appointed district.

Tampa at St. James UMC on Tuesday, September 24

Jacksonville at Mandarin UMC on Thursday, October 3

Gainesville at Trinity UMC on Wednesday, October 9

Plantation at Plantation UMC on Tuesday, October 22

Orlando at St. Luke's UMC on Wednesday, November 6

Click here to register

Hymnals Available 

Bay Hope UMC has approximately 75 UM Hymnals available - if interested please contact Gayle Collins at 813-968-3983 ext 1139 or


Handicapable Ministry at St. Paul UMC in Largo Hosts Respite Care Training

Friday, April 26, St. Paul Handicapable Ministry hosted an all-day training class about Respite Care. The class was provided by Florida Lifespan Respite Alliance (FLRA), a not-for-profit Florida corporation, whose mission is to promote access to affordable, high quality respite care by family caregivers of people of all ages, conditions and disabilities. 

Eight members and friends of St. Paul UMC in Largo received the REST training, a volunteer training course, which prepares individuals to conduct respite training and equip REST Companions. Pinellas County alone is estimated to have 150,000 caregivers, a great opportunity for churches and other faith-based organizations to lead the way in equipping REST Companions to provide respite for caregivers who need a break from caring for a loved one.

If your church is interested in learning more about respite training like was held at St. Paul UMC, at no cost, for your members, friends, staff and others, please contact Kasey Cunningham by phone at (850) 339.2843 or by email at


 Fall Clergy Meeting – September 19 – Lake Magdalene

 Registration available soon


Charge Conferences 2019

Gulf Central District Church/Charge Conference season – Fall 2019

We will have six Regional Ministry Area Team Church/Charge Conferences

October 12th - November 10th

Gulf Central – Team East Hills Saturday, October 12 at 2:00 PM.
Host Site will be First Plant City 303 N Evers St Plant City

Cork, First Plant City, First Riverview, First Seffner, Grace Plant City, Grace Community at Fish Hawk- Lithia, New Hope, Rusking, South Shore, Springhead, St Andrew's, Sun City Center, Thonotosassa.

Gulf Central Team Tampa Sunday, October 13 at 3:00 PM.
Host site will be Hyde Park 500 W Platt St Tampa

Faith Primera Iglesia, Forest Hills, Hillsborough, Horizon, Hyde Park, Keeney, Lake Magdalene, Northeast, Oak Grove, Palma Ceia, Port Tampa, Seminole Heights, Temple Terrace, Tyer Temple, Wesley Memorial Tampa

Gulf Central South Pinellas Sunday, October 20 at 3:00 PM.
The Host Site will be First St Petersburg 212 3rd St N St Petersburg

Allendale, Christ, Clearview, First Gulfport,  First Pinellas Park, First Seminole, First St. Petersburg, Lakewood, McCabe, Oakhurst, Pasadena, Riviera, St James -St. Petersburg, St Luke's , Wesley Memorial St Petersburg

Gulf Central Team North Pasco Pine-Hills Saturday, November 2 at 2:00 PM
 The Host Site will be First Lutz 960W Lutz Lake Fern Rd Lutz .

Asbury NPR, Bay Hope, First Land O Lakes, First Lutz, First NPR, Harvester, Hope, Joining Hands, Keystone, Korean Tampa, St James Tampa, 

Gulf Central Team West Pinellas Sunday, November 3 at 3 PM.
The Host site will be Palm Harbor 1551 Rd. Palm Harbor

Aldersgate, Anona, Community Oldsmar, Curlew, East Lake, First Clearwater, First Dunedin, Heritage, Mt Zion, Palm Harbor, Skycrest, St Paul, Sylvan Abbey, Verdad y Vida. 

Gulf Central – Team Lakeland Sunday, November 10 at 3:00 PM.
Host Site will be First Lakeland 72 Lake Morton Dr. Lakeland

Alturas, Asbury Bartow, College Heights, Crystal Lake, First Bartow, First Lakeland, Highlands, Kathleen, Lake Gibson, Limona Village Chapel, Mulberry, Shepherd's Community, St Mark, Trinity United Methodist Temple.

Around the Conference and Beyond


Welcome to Amplify!

What's Amplify you ask? Amplify is a multimedia platform allowing churches large and small to discover, customize, and share diverse resources that encourage deeper discipleship and equip churches to pursue their mission with greater impact.

Church leaders know authentic discipleship is crucial to any thriving church, but in an increasingly distracted world, getting there is more difficult than ever. Churches need resources, but they have unique needs, communities, and mission focuses. To be effective, they need individualized support. One size does not fit all. Amplify is a powerful yet simple solution that enables churches of every size to reach more people in more places with resources that share the love of Jesus and inspire faithful discipleship and service.  Click here for the Brochure

Bishop Carter to Lead 2020 Holy Land Trip


Join Bishop Ken Carter & the Florida Conference for 10 days in the Holy Land, departing February 4, 2020. Click here for more information and registration.




Winter Conference at Epworth By the Sea, January 26-29-2020

We again invite you to attend the Winter Conference at Epworth By The Sea, January 26 - 29, 2020. This will be a combined event with the Bishops and clergy of the North Georgia, Mississippi, South Georgia and Florida Conferences. You might talk with some of the over 150 clergy who attended Winter Conference 2019 about their transformative experience. Len Wilson will be the keynote speaker. Below you can find more information.

Click here to register and receive the early bird discount.


 Warren W. Willis Camp Retreats

 Check out Warren W. Willis for many opportunities to reflect & fellowship!

Confirmation Retreat:  Sept 27-29

Rooted: September 16-17

Summer Camp

Plan Your Own Church Retreat:  Who doesn't love WWW?  Why not plan your own retreat?


 Clergy Day Apart – September 17 in Lakeland

Clergy, mark your calendars for a clergy day apart with Bishop Carter on Tuesday, September 17, from 10:00am - 3:30pm in Lakeland. We will not hold regional gatherings this year, so this is your chance to spend time with Bishop Carter, who will speak about resiliency in the midst of our changing context. We hope all clergy will plan to attend.


SEJ Clergy Women’s Event – “Uncharted” Early Bird Registration ends August 31,2019

The website is LIVE!!! Which means registration is OPEN!!
Share the website link far and wide to every SEJ clergywoman you know so we can get the word out! Also encourage them to "Like" the Facebook page ("Uncharted Conference 2019") to keep up with any updates!



Conference and District offices will be closed

July 4                           Independence Day

September 2               Labor Day

November 11              Veteran’s Day

November 28              Thanksgiving

November 29              Day After Thanksgiving

December 24              Christmas Eve

December 25              Christmas Day

December 26             Day After Christmas



June 5-8 Annual Conference at Florida Southern in Lakeland

June 14-15 Lay Servant Training - Pasadena Community UMC  Click here for more detail


July 25 materials due for 2nd Provisional attempt meeting August 22


August 22 DCOM meeting for 2nd Provisional attempt DATE CHANGE


September 19 Clergy Meeting Location Lake Magdalene 9:30 -2PM working lunch - registration will open closer to the date.

September 24 Sexual Ethics Training - (Clergy Only) Location St James - Tampa click here to register


October 17 materials due for November 14 DCOM


November 7 materials due for December 5 DCOM meeting

November 14 DCOM Meeting

November 18 - 21 SEJ Clergywomen's Event - in Jacksonville FL - Click here to register.


December 5 DCOM Meeting