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GCD November 2019 Newsletter

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From the District Superintendent


Today, I sat anxiously awaiting to see the doctor and the first question he asked me was “What are you grateful for today, Candace”? I paused, and wondered why did he ask me about gratitude?  Why didn’t he ask how I felt, what was hurting or what was bothering me today?  After the appointment, I reflected on why gratitude matters. 

Why Gratitude Matters

Psychology Today reports, “It is possible to feel grateful toward loved ones, colleagues, animals, mother nature, God and life in general. The emotion generates a climate of positivity that both reaches inward and extends outward.”

Psychologists find that, over time, feeling grateful boosts happiness and fosters both physical and psychological health. Studies show that practicing gratitude curbs the use of words expressing negative emotions and shifts inner attention away from such negative emotions. 

Shilpa Garg, recently wrote in a blog sharing seven reasons we should express gratitude.  I’ve highlighted three below. 

Here are 3 reasons to express Gratitude…  

Reason #1 : Gratitude Improves Relationships 

Feeling grateful helps us to identify people who are responsive to our needs, and helps to bring us closer to them, thereby improving our relationship with them.

Reason #2 : Gratitude Improves Performance and Productivity 

When we hear words of gratitude, we are energized and motivated and that reflects in our work and life in general.

Reason #3 : Gratitude Uplifts the Soul and Spirit

Gratitude is good for mental health. It boosts happiness and improves overall sense of well-being and quality of life.

As Thanksgiving approaches I invite you to reflect on why gratitude matters and to whom will you express gratitude. Psalms 9:1 says, I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds. As my doctor’s appointment ended, I expressed gratitude to God for my Mom, family, friends, and the people and ministry in which I serve in the Gulf Central District.  

Happy Thanksgiving. 


The Gulf Central District is looking for some gifted Volunteers:

to help with supporting our local churches.  Please contact Beth ( or Maggie ( if you are interested:

  •       Communications
    •    Facebook and social media
    •    Short promo videos
    •    Print communications
  •       Event planning (district worship, learning and other events)
  •       Accounting for financial analysis of local churches
  •       Innovation 2020 Learning “Track” leaders—identifying and coordinating topics and presenters for the specific areas of “Innovation” & “Connect to the community”


District Wide Training Opportunities/Upcoming Events


Tools for Launching a New Hispanic/Latino Ministry – We are listening!  We have rescheduled to our District  launch at Innovations 2020 on February 22.  Enjoy your Thanksgiving and late Fall!



Innovations 2020 February 22, 2020 Mark your calendar Because you won't want to miss this!

Anona United Methodist Church
13233 Indian Rocks Rd 
9:30 AM - 3 PM

Staff Parish Relations Committee (SPRC) Training

The Annual Gulf Central District Staff Parish Relations Committee (SPRC) Training Event will provide you with the effective tools needed in your responsibilities. Dr. Candace Lewis our District Superintendent will facilitate. There will be two trainings offered, one in Palm Harbor on December 11 and one in Brandon on December 12. Pick the location or date that is most convenient for you.

Pastors, SPRC Chairs and Committee members, Lay Leaders, and Lay Members to Annual Conference are encouraged to attend (current and newly elected). The training is free to attend, but we would like you to click on the link below and register for the training you plan to attend.

Wednesday, December 11, Palm Harbor UMC 7 -8:30 PM 1551 Belcher Rd. click here to register

Thursday December 12 7 – 8:30 PM St Andrew’s UMC Brandon3315 S Bryan Rd click here to register

Cokesbury offers guidelines for leading your congregation. Click HERE to see the various committee specific resources.

Pastors, SPRC Chairs and Committee members, Lay Leaders, and Lay Members to Annual Conference are encouraged to attend. The training is free to attend, but we would like you to click on the link above and register for the training you plan on attending.


A new class for Certified Lay Ministers is forming. This is a 22 week class for those who have completed the Lay Servant classes and wish to go deeper in their service for God and their church. The class will cover all four modules of the curriculum for Certified Lay Ministers from the UM Board of Discipleship and will prepare the participants to apply to the District Committee of Ministry for certification and then to become eligible for appointment to limited service in pastoral ministry roles, as Certified Lay Ministers under the direction of the District Superintendent and District Committee.

The first class will be an orientation meeting on Thursday January 30th from 4 - 5:30 p.m. at Oakhurst United Methodist church. The class will be taught by Rev. Dr. Timothy Ehrlich. It requires a $30 materials fee and approval from your pastor to take the class. Contact Tim Ehrlich for more info at 813-956-5785 or


District Celebrations

Curlew 150 Anniversary

Everyone is invited to join us as we celebrate our 150th anniversary! Curlew United Methodist Church is the oldest church located on the same property in Pinellas County, and the 2nd oldest church overall. So come help us celebrate on Friday, November 15, with a Fish Fry (4:00-6:30 pm) and concert by the Kingsmen Quartet (7:00 pm); on Saturday, November 16, with a Community Festival (11:00 am-3:00 pm); and, Sunday, November 17, with a "Camp Meeting" Worship Service (10:00 am) and Dinner on the Grounds.

Please check out the attached flyer for more information! We would very much appreciate your help in getting the word out to your congregation, so if you could post a flyer or make an announcement, that would be wonderful!

Thank you so much for your support as we celebrate this incredible milestone!

In Christ's love,

Pastor Rachel Hughes

Curlew United Methodist Church


Universal Monsters

Our very own Andy Whitaker-Smith has published a book The title of the book is Universal Monsters:

The monsters of Universal Pictures have thrilled and entertained audiences for nearly 90 years. But legends such as Dracula, Frankenstein, and the Wolf Man not only provide us great films, they are reflections of our own humanity; and oftentimes....when we act less than human.

How can these monstrous characters help us better understand ourselves, how we view others, and how we might overcome our own monsters? Perhaps the brand "Universal" is not just in reference to the studio....perhaps these monsters truly are universal within us.

The info can be found  click here



District Job Opportunities 

Part-Time Accompanist Anona UMC Largo

Anona United Methodist Church, located in Largo, Florida, is an inclusive church that is one of the top 100 United Methodist churches globally. We are a dynamic congregation with both a pioneering and innovative spirit in our 150-year history. Anona is seeking a part-time accompanist to serve our Traditional worship services.

Application Process:  Email resume (and any links to piano performance examples) to: 


Aldersgate UMC Seminole

Aldersgate United Methodist Church in Seminole is hiring a Choir Director for our 9:00am traditional worship service. The Choir Director will provide leadership and oversight for the choral and traditional music ministries at Aldersgate UMC, working Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. This person will maintain primary responsibility over the preparation and performance of music elements of the traditional worship service and the recruitment, equipping, and leadership of volunteers within the music areas. Additionally, this person will work closely with the Senior Pastor and Contemporary Worship Leader to interact effectively with ministry leaders, volunteers, and staff members of Aldersgate UMC to define and implement ministry objectives. These efforts will support the mission of the church “to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.” Please contact Pastor Steve Ezra at or call 727-391-0218 for questions or to apply.

Conference Events and Beyond


Bishop's Clergy Day Apart: Your Story as a part of God's Story
December 10 - Community of Faith, Davenport

Laity, local pastors, deacons and elders are invited to an Advent retreat with Bishop Ken Carter on Tuesday, December 10, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Community of Faith UMC in Davenport.

We will focus on the gospel of Matthew, the lectionary gospel for 2019 Advent through 2020. For those who do not preach the lectionary, Matthew is also a great resource for growing in discipleship.

The retreat will be in three movements:

  1. Identity: Becoming a Part of a Greater Story (Matthew 1. 1-17)
  2. Incarnation: The Best of All is that God is With Us (Matthew 1. 18-25)
  3. Epiphany: The Long Journey to the Place Where Christ is Born (Matthew 2. 1-11)

There will be times of silence, collaboration, conversation and lectio divina. Participants will also have an opportunity to develop their own plan of spiritual reading and prayer for 2020. Participants are asked to bring a Bible, a notebook and a 2020 calendar.

Space is limited to the first 70 people. Click HERE to sign up here today! 

Bishop Carter is leading a trip to the Holy Land February 4-13, 2020. I will be going too, and I will be serving as a tour host, inviting specifically folks from the Gulf Central District to come along.

If you click this link (, you will find an electronic brochure with information about the trip. If you have questions, please shoot them to me in an email ( and I will do my best to answer.


2020 Holy Land Trip with Bishop Carter

Bishop Carter is leading a trip to the Holy Land February 4-13, 2020. 

Clergy and laity are invited to join Bishop Ken Carter, for 10 days in the Holy Land, departing February 4, 2020. You will walk the shores of the Sea of Galilee, study the scriptures in the synagogue in Capernaum, pray on the Mount of Beatitudes and renew your baptism at the Jordan River. Click HERE for more information and registration. 


2020 Connectional Giving

The apportionments for 2020 are now available on the conference website. To access your 2020 apportionment information:

  • Go to the conference homepage:
  • Click on the "Monthly Reports" tab at the bottom right of the page.
  • Click on the top link under Monthly Billing reports: "Click here to download monthly reports."
  • When you choose a Report, there will be a report on the drop-down menu called 2020 Apportionments Report. This link will take you to your 2020 apportionments.

Licensing School 2020
May 11 - 22, 2020

Licensing School 2020 will be held at Florida Southern College May 11 through May 22, 2020. Click HERE for the link with the requirements for licensing school, the tentative schedule and the revised fillable application. 

Please note the cost has changed due to the fact that we have been losing money on this for some time now. It will be $900 per person and $700 for those who are Certified Candidate in the Florida Conference. There is no additional paperwork needed for the $200 reduction in costs. Compared to other schools we are charging significantly less.


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

Clergy are invited 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.

Click HERE to register. NOTE: The past event sold out. Don't delay in registering!!


General Conference 2020
Minneapolis, Minnesota - May 5 - 15


Florida Delegation General Conference 2020

Volunteers needed for General Conference 2020

General Conference 2020 Website

UMW 2019 Calendar

Nov. 9 - Conference Annual Meeting, First United Methodist Church, Lakeland

Cornerstone Ministries Events:

November 1, 2019 Cornerstone Family Ministries Child’s Chance for Change Top Golf Challenge

March 7, 2020 Cornerstone Family Ministries Wonder Walk - Bayshore (Starting at Hyde Park UMC)

March 21, 2020 Cornerstone Family Ministries Wonder Walk - Lake Hollingsworth (Starting at College Heights UMC)

March 28, 2020 Cornerstone Family Ministries Wonder Walk - Redington Shores Beach (Starting at Constitution Park)



Conference and District offices will be closed

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


November 7 materials due for December 5 DCOM meeting

November 7 Annual Clergy Mates Retreat info and registration 

November 14 DCOM Meeting

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


December  17 DCOM Meeting

December 10 Bishop's Day Apart at First Lakeland 10-3 info above

December 11 SPR Training at Palm Harbor click here

December 12 SPR Training at St Andrew's Brandon click here


2020 and beyond

February 22, 2020 Innovation 2020 at Anona UMC 9:30 -3 PM sign up coming soon

April 23 - Clergy Meeting - Bay Hope 10-1 (including working lunch) more information closer to the date

General Conference ♦ May 5-15, 2020 ♦ Minneapolis, MN

Annual Conference ♦ June 4-6, 2020 ♦ Florida Southern College, Lakeland

Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference ♦ July 15-18, 2020 ♦ Lake Junaluska, NC

Annual Conference ♦ June 10-12, 2021 ♦ Lakeland