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GCD June 2020 Newsletter

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From the District Superintendent

JUNE. WOW. It’s been exciting to see everyone pivot and adapt in real time shifting from in person worship to online worship and ministry; as pastors and leaders continue to lead faithfully through the reality of the COVID-19 pandemic. Just when we thought things were manageable, the world watched as a police officer kneeled on the neck of George Floyd for 8mins and 46secs, killing him, as he gasped, “I can’t Breathe”. This alarmed us to a spike in new sets of cases in our ongoing public health crisis of racism. As Pastors and Leaders we are called to lead into this current reality not minimizing or avoiding the conversations about “race and racism”, not labeling it “too controversial” or “too political”. The same way we adapted and pivoted in real time learning to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, we can lead our churches into a new future addressing our 400 year old “uncured” racism epidemic. The reality of Race, Racism, White Supremacy, White Privilege and the value of Black Lives in America are right here in front of us and it’s harmful to allow ourselves to buffer in learned helplessness.

No, through preaching, teaching and leading in ways that equip people to engage the work of Anti-Racism, we can do our part. As United Methodist leaders, we must remember, live, and act out our membership vow: “To renounce the spiritual forces of wickedness, reject the evil powers of the world, and to accept the freedom and power God gives them to resist evil, injustice, and oppression”.  We can no longer remain silent. On June 4th, Bishop Carter announced our Conference is creating an “Anti-Racism” Task Team.  This initiative will guide our conference work and training in Anti-Racism, monitoring, and reporting incidents of racism occurring within our churches, among our Pastors, and appointed leaders. The Gulf Central District is also building an Anti-Racism Team.  Our local team will consist of pastors and leaders who want to learn, grow and journey toward owning and engaging this important work. 

For those who have called and emailed asking “where do we begin?”.  Let’s start by reading resources and statements from our Bishop, Cabinet, and the SEJ Council of Bishops. 

Bishop and Cabinet Statement on Racial Injustice

SEJ Bishops Statement on Racial Injustice

Books to Read to Start your Anti-Racism Journey

White Fragility – Robin DiAngelo

How to Be an Anti-Racist – Dr. Ibram Kendi

Friends, I close with the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. “In the End, we will remember not the words of our enemies but the silence of our friends”. 

Candace M Lewis

Cabinet Statement 

Below you will find a statement from our cabinet.  We realize it has been eleven days since the death of George Floyd.  We have responded on social media and in clergy meetings and we felt like a more formal statement was important at this time.  We also commend the statement of the SEJ College of Bishops, which was released today.  We know you will find ways to address this in worship and you may choose to use these statements in some way.   To our Black clergy colleagues, we see you, we hear you and we stand with you at this time.  We are asking our White clergy to fully engage with this.  We are working on actionable steps including training in the fall and the creation of an Anti-Racism Task Force.  If you have input to this work, please communicate at this time with Alex Shanks at  You can also find a list of resources for this work here.

The Peace of the Lord,

The Cabinet of the Florida Annual Conference

The Florida Conference Cabinet is preparing a full length worship service for use in local churches. On June 8 the service will be made available for use on June 14 or any Sunday thereafter. This worship service is meant to give a Sabbath break to our pastors and worship leaders who have tirelessly devoted hours to creating virtual worship over the last months. You may want to prepare your own, personal introduction to the service with congregation specific announcements and such. However, the worship service itself will include an introduction, music, prayers, scripture, a call to offering, message from Bishop Carter, and benediction. If you are interested in using the worship service in your local congregation, please register to receive it via email by using this link:


A moment of prayer

The late Methodist Minister Samuel Chadwick in his book The Path of Prayer made this powerful statement: “The one concern of the Devil is to keep the saints from praying. He fears nothing from prayer-less studies, prayer-less work, prayer-less religion. He laughs at our toil, mocks at our wisdom, but trembles when we pray.” This is the belief of our District Superintendent Rev.  Dr. Candace Lewis who invited a team of clergy to come together and pray for our district especially its pastors. Needless to point out to you the awesome that we had sharing our requests and lifting before God’s throne of mercy and grace each and every pastor and their church by name with known and unknown concerns. Now we wait to see the salvation of the Lord in this crucial time.  We will continue together on bended knees for the Holy Spirit in God’s Church is greater than all other spirits attempting to rob, destroy and kill. I just wanted to let you know that each and every one of you were prayed for faithfully every week for the whole month of May.

Love and Towel (St. John 13),

Tamara Isidore

In-Person Worship Optional after June 15th

The Florida Conference Re-Launch Task Force along with Bishop Carter and the Cabinet met this week and decided to allow churches to consider resuming in-person worship after June 15th on a limited basis according to the following guidelines. Before proceeding, we ask that you be sure to have read carefully and completely our FLUMC guidelines, the CDC guidelines, the article “Why reopening church is different”, the FAQ document, and the Governor’s Plan for Florida’s Recovery.

Please continue to offer on-line worship. It is important that vital worship opportunities are readily available for people in your church who are not ready to return to your campus. Recent surveys suggest that more than 70% of your regular church attendees may choose to stay home at this time. Many of our vital churches have decided to wait and resume in-person worship until July or August and we fully support these plans.

Our strong recommendation is that churches consider lower risk in-person worship opportunities like outside worship (with appropriate social distancing, wearing masks and a consideration for heat exposure) and drive-in worship (with participants staying in their vehicles - see guidelines here.)

Here are seven key things to keep in mind:

1.    This guidance could change. If the number of new cases or the infection rates begin to increase, this guidance will be revisited and further guidance will be given, including a new request for no in-person worship during a spike in cases.

2.    The decision will vary according to your church context. Churches should carefully follow the guidance of your city and county officials and investigate the rate of infection in your area. Churches should consider the state of preparedness of your church, the size of your congregation, the number of vulnerable persons in your setting, the availability of cleaning supplies, and more.  The decision to resume in-person worship should be made by a team of leaders that includes the pastor.

3.    Persons in vulnerable populations (in the state of Florida this has been defined as persons over the age of 65 or those with underlying medical conditions) are encouraged to stay home. This guidance is consistent with the guidance from the federal and state government and the CDC.

4.    At all times people must maintain at least six feet between family groups. We believe in most indoor settings this could cap your capacity between 15% to 25% of what your space typically holds. In order to do this safely, you will need to have a registration system in place with spaces set aside for visitors.

5.    Clearly communicate the guidelines in multiple ways to every person who enters your space. It is helpful to see this as a covenant between all participants.  Guidelines should be in writing. Have clear signage as people enter spaces.  Announce the guidelines at the beginning of each gathering. Have a clear plan in place for visitors and those who may not want to follow the guidelines. Be able to communicate why you are reopening should the media be present, and take pictures showing how you are following the guidelines.

6.    Remember these simple reminders: Monitor your symptoms – Stay Home if you are sick – Wash your hands – Maintain social distance – Wear masks.

7.    Have enough cleaning supplies to thoroughly clean your facilities before, during, between and after gatherings. Items should be removed from pews, offering plates should not be passed, and communion should be served in a modified way.

Here are three areas of higher risk that require conversation and coordination:

1.    All persons should wear a mask or cloth face covering. Not wearing a mask puts everyone around you at a higher level of risk. We address masks further in our FAQ.

2.    Our conference task team believes congregational singing is a higher risk activity. This is based on a high level of agreement among scientists and singing experts (view CDC research on singing). We address singing further in our FAQ.

3.    Ministry to children and youth in this time is a higher risk activity. Before schools reopen, it may be that many churches encourage families to worship together. Children and youth ministry must follow the CDC guidelines. This will require additional volunteers, volunteers wearing masks, daily checking of temperatures, and more. Social distancing is difficult for younger children to understand. Any church planning to do children or youth ministry should send their specific plan of how they intend to follow the CDC guidelines to their District Superintendent. All children and youth ministry must also follow our Child and Youth Protection Policy.

As a final reminder, outside groups who use church facilities should follow the same guidelines we have published. All outside groups must provide a certificate of insurance, which includes the local church as an Additional Insured, and sign an agreement that states their willingness to abide by these guidelines. Outside choral groups are strictly prohibited at this time.

The above and linked guidelines are the minimum requirements for Florida United Methodist Churches. Churches may add to these guidelines but may not subtract from these guidelines.

From Cornerstone Ministries

On behalf of Cornerstone....THANK YOU!!!! You can stop sewing!  Nearly 7,000 children’s and 2,000 teacher masks were received and distributed to Cornerstone’s over 140 centers that are now open and serving children again.  These centers were able to open safely to serve all of these thousands of children because of your efforts!  Here are some photos of the impact you have made...and yes, those are smiles under those masked faces!

The following UMC congregations helped meet this need:

1st Land O Lakes UMW, 

1st St Petersburg UMW

1st Tarpon UMW

Allendale UMC

Asbury UMW - Bartow

Atlantic Central District UMW

Bay Hope UMC Lutz

Bay Hope UMC Westchase

Boca Raton UMW

Burton Memorial UMW - Key Largo

Christ UMW & Living Faith UMW, Toledo, Iowa

Harvester UMC

Key West UMW

Lake Magdalene UMW

National Korean UMW

New Hope UMW


Oakhurst UMW


Palma Ceia UMW

Sebring First UMW

Seminole Heights UMW

Skycrest UMW

South Shore UMW

St Andrews UMW

Temple Terrace UMW

Trinity UMW Gainesville


Share what your ministry is doing with the conference

If you have short videos showing your ministry in action, youth activities, feeding the hungry, children’s ministry, etc., you can share them with the conference in our Now Playing feature on the home page at  

Videos should be 4 minutes or less. You can share your video with us here:

You can also share your photos on our Photos from around the conference page
Use the form here to submit your photos


March 31 Reports - EXTENDED TO May 31 are now past due

The deadline for March 31 Reports was moved to May 31. The following reports are now past due.

Financial Controls, Policies & Procedures Annual Review - Finance

Document Retention Policy - Finance

Clergy Employee Conduct Policy - SPRC

Adoption of Employee Conduct Policy - SPRC

Child / Youth Protection Policy - SPRC

Annual Parsonage Report - Trustees

Fund Balance Report is completed and submitted through your Church Dashboard.

We realize it is more difficult at this time. Please email completed reports to Claudia Sava as soon as possible. For detailed instructions on reports, please review the Calendar of Reports.


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. For those clergy who are moving, their evaluations will likely need to be conducted virtually and must be completed by June 30, 2020. The completed forms should be emailed to Maggie

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.


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 March, April, & May MVS.

If you have data not entered for February or before, please complete the Monthly Data Gathering Chart for each of those months and email it to Maggie at


Commissions on Archives and History

Do you have a passion and interest in history?  If so, the Conference Commission on Archives and History is looking for YOU!  This Commission meets twice yearly (in January and then in June at Annual Conference).

Click here to read about the expectations.  If you are interested in serving or learning more, please contact the current Chair, Anita Campbell at or

The history of the United Methodist Church is precious and the need to maintain it is great. Won’t you consider serving?

Help Wanted

Clearview is hiring for this non-traditional position - we're essentially hiring a lay associate minister with a wide skill set, a comfort level with missional forms of church, and an excitement around catalytic ministry. People with a variety of skillsets are invited to apply. They're not going to get rich, but for the right person, it could be a great fit and in time could definitely move to a full-time position.


 Clergy and Lay Members of the Florida Annual Conference:

We will have a one day Annual Conference event on Saturday, September 19 from 10 AM to 5 PM at First UMC, Lakeland. On this day we will recognize our retiring clergy, share in our memorial service, celebrate commissioning and ordinations, as well as vote on essential matters of business. We will also receive our annual conference offering which will focus on the Bishop’s initiative to address food insecurities in Florida. 

We invite all lay and clergy members of the annual conference to plan to attend this one day event. We will follow whatever safety protocols are in place at that time. We understand some may not feel comfortable gathering in large settings in September and some may find the travel to be prohibitive. A virtual option will be available for those who wish to join through Zoom webinar. Virtual participants will be able to vote and be recognized to speak.  Our first order of business will be a change in our standing rules to authorize virtual voting. 

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.

In addition, the Board of Lay Ministry is planning a virtual laity session on Saturday, September 12 at 10 am. More information will be sent at a later date. Lay members are asked to put that date and time on your calendar.

 As a reminder, the virtual clergy session will be held this Saturday, June 6 for all clergy of the Florida Conference. Clergy should register prior to June 4.
Virtual Pre-Conference Orientation information can be found on the website.

Thank you for your faithful service and flexibility during this time. We plan to see you in September! If you have any questions, please contact Rev. Alex Shanks at


July 4 Independence Day Observed July 3

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

July 14 New/moved Pastors to Gulf Central Orientation 2 PM -4

July 14 Great Beginnings part 2 6 PM

 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 3 pm Church Conference Team East Hillsborough

October 18 at 3 pm Church Conference Team South Pinellas

October 25 at 3 pm Church Conference Team Tampa

November 1 at 3 pm Church Conference Team North Pinellas and Hillsborough and South Pasco

November 8 at 3 pm Church Conference Team West Pinellas

November 15 at 3 pm Church Conference Team Lakeland

General Conference 2020 - August 29-September 7, 2021

2020 Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference - November 10-12, 2021