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GCD March 2019 Newsletter

From the District Superintendent

Three Things I Will Not Give UP for LENT 2019

Today is Ash Wednesday and marks the beginning of the Lenten Season. The 40 day Lenten journey can include fasting, prayer, repentance, reflection and remembering that God created us from dust.  I’ve spent some time this week thinking about the traditional things I can give up for Lent like “sweets” “coffee”, “wine” and “chocolate”.  All things I should consume in moderation on any given day. 

This year I’m choosing to focus on three things I am not giving up for LENT.  The text from Hebrews 10:35-39 reminds us not to give up or throw away our confidence, perseverance or our faith.    Confidence in this text refers to our willingness and ability to speak and share with boldness our love for God and God’s love for this world.  Throughout Lent let’s pay attention to the moments we can confidently share a smile, a kind word, a prayer with someone in need.  Let’s not give up our Confidence throughout Lent.  Secondly, let’s not give up our perseverance.  Perseverance is needed throughout our personal tests and trials and is needed to guide us through tumultuous times in our denomination.  We need leaders to persevere as a non-anxious presence within ourselves and with others who may be experiencing fear and anxiety, disappointment, hurt and pain coming out of our recent called General Conference.  Perseverance is not passive but actively participating with God and God’s people in God’s plan and redemption story for our lives, our church and our world.  Let’s not give up our Perseverance this Lent. 

Lastly we will not give up our FAITH.  This text reminds us “the just shall live by Faith”.  Our Faith in God enables us to believe and trust that God is with us.  Faith in God assures us God’s wisdom will be revealed to us as we walk through all of life’s circumstances.  Our Faith in God reminds us a future eternity awaits enabling us to receive peace from God to navigate today. 

As I receive my ashes today I’m choosing to focus on remaining confident, patiently persevering and being faithful throughout this Lenten Season.

I would love to hear what you’re not going to give up this Lenten season.    

Please email me at

On Mission Together,

Rev. Dr. Candace M. Lewis
Gulf Central District Superintendent  


Annual Conference Pre-Conference Session

The District will host two pre-conference sessions for Annual Conference 2019 on Monday, May 14, 20196 PM  at St Paul UMC 1498 Rosery Rd. NE in Largo Click here to register and Thursday, May 16 6 PM at St Andrew’s UMC I3315 S Bryan Rd in Brandon Click here to register. All clergy and lay members to Annual Conference are encouraged to attend so you can be prepared for Annual Conference 2019.


Reasons For Hope

Friday, April 5 and Saturday, April 6 | St. Paul United Methodist Church | 1199 Highland Ave in Largo, FL

Join us for this two day conference on April 5 and April 6, featuring world-class speakers on topics that will help us tackle tough questions of faith. Whether you’re a dedicated Christian, or you’re still looking for answers, this is a place for you to learn, grow and find Reasons for Hope. Our speakers will cover topics like absolute truth, why God allows evil, the resurrection, and more. If you wish to be more confident in your faith or are looking for new knowledge to help you share the truth of Jesus Christ, we invite you to be inspired by apologetics scholars Krista Bontrager, Dr. Clay Jones,  Rachel Shockey, and John and Laurie Stewart.

Registration $30. Discounted pricing is also available for groups, students, and more. If you know a non-believer who might be interested in attending, you can purchase their ticket for just $15.

Visit for more information or to register now.


SEEKING STILLNESS: the practice of Christian Meditation

We don’t experience much silence in our lives. Gather together in downtown Tampa to learn more about the practice of meditation.

This Seeking Stillness retreat is for anyone wanting to experience silence in a busy world: from life-long practitioners to those just beginning to explore meditation.

Retreat features talk and instruction from Carl McColman, contemplative writer, speaker, retreat leader and host of pod-cast Encountering Silence.


Friday March 29th 6:00-9:00pm and Saturday March 30th 8:30am-2:30pm (2019)

*7:00am Sunrise meditation walk on the River Walk on Saturday


Friday evening only $25

Friday evening and Saturday with Lunch $49



This retreat will teach contemplation, centering prayer and a variety of different methods, including meditation’s Christian foundation. This experience will help attendees reclaim the heritage of Christian contemplative spirituality through teachings of the Christian mystics, the practice of silent prayer, and the revival of ancient practices like Lectio Divina.

LOCATION: The Portico,  1001 N Florida Ave, Tampa, FL 33602,  813-222-2299



Early Response Team (ERT) Training

April 6, 2019
8:00 – 5:00

First UMC St. Petersburg

212 3rd St N

St Petersburg FL 33701

Early Response Teams (ERT) are specially trained, self-contained teams who enter a disaster zone at the invitation of local emergency management officials, the local church or other recognized agencies requesting assistance. ERTs offer a Christian presence and are trained to provide various types of physical, emotional and spiritual assistance to disaster survivors. ERTs are registered with the Disaster Recovery Ministry of the Florida Conference and Disaster Recovery coordinates team placement to get help where it is needed most after a disaster.

ERT training focuses on types, phases and levels of a disaster and explains what is meant by early response. Participants learn the importance of spiritual and emotional care, tarping, flood clean-up, chainsaw safety, team requirements and much more.

Participants are trained by UMCOR-certified trainers and receive a badge identifying them with UMCOR and the Florida Conference.

Participants must be 18 or older and pass a background check

Space is limited to 25 people and registration is required.

Please go to


Fresh Expressions Vision Day

Mark your calendars for Gulf Central's first official FRESH EXPRESSIONS VISION DAY! On May 11,

the Fresh Expressions National Team will take you on a deep dive into the vision for Fresh Expressions and the theology that drives this movement. Hear stories of lives, churches, and communities that have been changed and reinvigorated by missional expressions of church! You'll get a glimpse of its remarkable international and interdenominational history, while having it expertly contextualized for the Florida UMC by Michael Beck, who himself is part of the national team.

Wondering if this is for you? This excellent presentation is for ANYONE who has an interest in Fresh Expressions, whether as a skeptic or a supporter. Laity OR clergy who are interested in starting FXs will find both inspiration and the theology and history to ground their work. Congregational leaders, board chairs, and other permission givers will hear the heart and depth of the Fresh Expressions mission. Congregations are encouraged to bring teams of people with them who serve different roles in the leadership landscape.

Save the date and watch for registration and details to go live soon on the district website. Questions? Contact Keri LaBrant, District Fresh Expressions Cultivator, at

Around the Conference and Beyond

UMW - Mission u Registration Available 

Registration is now open for Mission u. This year offers a great range of classes for the July 11-14 event at Lakeland’s lovely Florida Southern College with classes on the Gospel of Mark, a repeat of What About Our Money, and a special course on the 150 years of United Methodist Women. Regis-tration forms are available here: and I will attach a copy as well in the newsletter.


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.

Information about keynote speaker and topic:
After General Conference 2019, each church will need to effectively communicate who they are and where they stand. Len Wilson will lead us through a comprehensive process to develop and implement a brand strategy, while improving all phases of communication and creativity in your ministry. Len has spent his career advocating creativity and more effective communication in faith and church life. In service to this calling, he has worked on five local church staffs; authored ten books through Abingdon Press, including Think Like a Five Year Old; taught and consulted with organizations and ministries across our connection; co-founded Midnight Oil Productions; and directed church leadership publishing at the United Methodist Publishing House. At Ginghamsburg Church in the late 90s, Len helped pioneer visual storytelling in worship. You may know Len for his annual top 25 list of fastest growing large United Methodist churches. He interned at CBS Television City in Los Angeles, played sax in a band with jazz great Denis DiBlasio, and, for a few seconds, appeared in a Spielberg movie. Len holds an MA from United Theological Seminary and is pursuing a Doctor of Ministry in Semiotics and Future Studies from Portland Seminary. He is currently Creative and Communication Director at St. Andrew United Methodist Church in Plano, Texas.

Ablaze: Brand Messaging That Ignites Hearts, Lives and Communities
The word “brand” comes from the same root as the word “burn.” A good brand is not calculated. It is simply the ability to clearly communicate what burns inside you. Clear, concise, compelling, creative communication is absolutely critical to effective leadership in the work of the church today. When we understand the four basic elements of brand - who we are, what our message is, who our community is, and where our culture is - then our fire will burn bright, and we will discover how to communicate well, build relationships, and change hearts, lives and communities.


The United Methodist Church of the Resurrection hosts two conferences April 4 – 5, 2019: The Art of Radical Hospitality Conference or Empowered: A Model of Care. Register today! Click Here for Details and to Register.

 Join us for two days of learning through two great conferences, both rooted in the principles of Romans 12:13: 

Send your teams dedicated to welcoming & hospitality AND/OR congregational care to take advantage of travel efficiencies and to maximize connection with church leaders from churches across the country. 

 Learn more at

 For questions, contact Kathy Carter ( or 913-544-0272) or Kari Burgess ( or 913-232-4139).


Florida Senior Day Wed. Mar. 27th

Wed. March 27th is the annual Florida Senior Day in Tallahassee at the Florida State Capital, sponsored by the Dept. of Elder Affairs. There will be a televised town hall meeting, free lunch, entertainment, exhibitors, and free health screenings. For more information, go to Florida Senior Day

This will be a great opportunity for the Florida Conference Beyond 50 Ministries to partner with the Dept. of Elder Affairs and the FL State government agencies to develop a working relationship. Plus it would be a great opportunity to see what resources are available at the state level to help with our ministries at our local churches.


I know this is late notice, but wanted to see if there is any interest in attending this event. Has anyone attended this event in the past? Please contact me at


Festival of Wisdom and Grace

Aug. 5-8, 2019

The Festival of Wisdom and Grace is a UMC SE Jurisdictional retreat held annually at Lake Junaluska, NC. This is a conference geared toward older adults in finding purpose and renewal in the second half of life. This year's conference will be an exciting one. The theme is Growing Deeper Roots. The featured speakers will be the Rev. Dr. Frank Allen and Dr. Richard Gentzler. Plus there will be a host of workshops on a variety of enlightening subjects. The Festival has added other optional activities such as field trips and a mission project.


The event is a wonderful opportunity to relax and enjoy the scenery of western North Carolina, while being spiritually enriched by great speakers and workshops that are offered. Plus it is an opportunity to meet others in the Southeast Jurisdiction that area passionate about spiritual growth and about older adult ministry

Visit Festival of Wisdom and Grace 2019 for more information.




Wespath Benefits and Investments developed a partnership with Paychex to provide United Methodist Churches with Payroll and HR solutions for 2019 and beyond.


Struggling with clergy payroll? UMPIP deductions? Filing quarterly tax forms? Preparing year-end W2s?  This could be a great way to improve your processes!

With this new partnership, Paychex can send 403b/UMPIP contribution information to Wespath to debit you for the corresponding amount, saving you time and ensuring the accuracy of information.

Paychex will handle your quarterly tax filings and year-end reports.  Managing your payroll can become easier and more accurate and you ensure your church is financially compliant.

All you’ll have to do is report salaries and hours worked and Paychex will do the rest!  You will also receive a 35% discount for the duration of the partnership between Paychex and Wespath.

Jeff Kohl is the designated Paychex/Wespath representative for all UMC churches nationwide. For more information about Paychex payroll, human resources, time & attendance and other services, call Jeff Kohl at (561) 907-7402, email him at or visit



April 19                       Good Friday

May 27                        Memorial Day

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

March 10 Spring Forward 


April 4 – materials due for 1st Provisional attempt meeting May 2

April 25 Clergy Meeting Location Heritage UMC 2680 Landmark Dr. Clearwater 9:30 -2PM working lunch  Click Here to Register


May 2 DCOM Meeting 1st Provisional attempt materials due April 4 - Portico 1001 N Florida Ave Tampa

May 14 Annual Conference Orientation meeting location St Paul UMC Largo Christian Life Building Click to register

May 16 Annual Conference Orientation meeting location St Andrew's Brandon Sanctuary Click here to register


June 5-8 Annual Conference at Florida Southern in Lakeland


July 11 materials due for 2nd Provisional attempt meeting August 8


August 8 DCOM meeting for 2nd Provisional attempt


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

September 26 Clergy Meeting Location Lake Magdalene 9:30 -2PM working lunch registration will open closer to the date.


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 - registration link coming May 1.


December 5 DCOM Meeting