From the District Superintendent
In Times like These…
The past eight months have been unprecedented. We have experienced death, life, loss, grief, lament, fear, joy, sadness, celebrations, innovations, opportunities and we are all still learning and adapting almost daily to our changing realities. Navigating the two pandemics, COVID and Racism and a growing polarizing culture as political Elections unfold this week continues to take its toll on many of us.
As I reflect upon all that is before us, a hymn that was sung in the church of my childhood comes to mind. The hymn was written by a Mrs. Ruth Caye Jones around 1940. Ruth penned these words as a source of comfort to people who were navigating uncertainty. Ruth recalls, “stress and strain were a part of daily living during the height of World War II. Many did not know what to expect or what was coming next. Many families experienced personal “sorrows or tragedies”. She said one day while going about her daily duties, she felt a “direct inspiration from the Holy Spirit”. She stopped her work and “quickly put down both words and music just as they were given to her by God.”
In times like these you need a Savior,
In times like these you need an anchor;
Be very sure, be very sure,
Your anchor holds and grips the Solid Rock!
Ruth explained the song was inspired by Hebrews 6:19 (NRSV) “ We have this hope, a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul”. The writer of Hebrews invites us in the previous verse to also “take hold of the HOPE that is set before us and be encouraged”. I believe the same Holy Spirit that spoke words of encouragement and hope amidst the crisis of the 1940’s is the same Spirit speaking to us during this challenging season of 2020. As I think about “taking hold of hope” it is a reminder that being hopeful in crisis is not automatic. Choosing to trust God and “take hold of Hope” is based on our decision to rely upon God’s character, God’s strength and God’s track record of fulfilling God’s promises. In times like these, let’s be honest about all that is happening in our world while being hopeful because God is in control and will continue to be with us. Let’s also remember God calls us as believers to be “salt” and “light” in our world, responding to the needs of others and loving our neighbors as we love ourselves.
In just a few weeks we will light our first Advent candle of Hope. In Olu Brown’s 2020 Advent study called Hope: An Advent Journey, Olu says “through hope in God we have assurance of the outcome and in spite of the processes we may endure, we choose through hope to hold fast to the promises of God.” Remember throughout the month of November, in times like these we have a Savior, In times like these we have an anchor; We are very sure, Hope anchors our souls enabling us to grip the Solid Rock of Christ.
We are On Mission Together,
Candace M Lewis
VIRTUAL Communications Training | Nov. 18
This one-day training will help you learn techniques for leading successful online worship services. You’ll hear how Facebook Groups can help your church connect online. You will also learn how to create a communication plan for your digital strategy. Join the virtual training using Zoom Webinar links provided upon registration. The training begins at 10 a.m. Sessions include:
- Leading Successful Online Worship. This workshop session will help you discover options for your remote worship service and give you tips for leading worship successfully online.
- Digital Storytelling. How can churches tell their story using digital media? Learn how to move from a reactive approach to a proactive communication strategy.
- Ministry Through Facebook Groups. In this workshop session, learn how Facebook Groups can help promote a greater sense of community in your church.
SPRC TRAINING WEBINAR
The district superintendent will conduct one SPRC Training Webinar on Thursday December 10, 2020 @ 6:30p.m. via a ZOOM Webinar.
We ask that all SPRC chairs/committee members attend. As a reminder to you, S/PPRCs ARE NOT authorized to take a vote on whether their pastor should remain or move unless you specifically receive permission from the district superintendent. Clergy are also welcome to attend.
Paychex—Payroll-Processing and Tax-Compliance Solutions
Since June 2018, Wespath has partnered with Paychex to help provide an option for our churches who might be looking to move payroll-processing and tax-compliance solutions to an outside vendor.
- Paychex knows how to suppress the Medicare and Social Security taxes for the employer’s portion
- Paychex knows how to complete the W2 for the clergy appropriately.
- Paychex understands the clergy housing allowance, housing exclusion, healthcare stipends, taxable earnings, non-taxable earnings, deductions as pre-tax, after-tax or Roth deductions for the United Methodist Personal Investment Plan.
- Paychex will automatically send your UMPIP deductions each pay period to Wespath for you.
Paychex has more than 45 years of experience, and currently serves more than 1,000 United Methodist Church ministries. The company has expertise managing withholdings, payroll via direct deposit or check, tax compliance, and timely deposits and filings, in addition to providing custom reports for financial review and facilitating UMPIP contributions. Plus, UMC organizations receive a discount of 35% on Paychex services!
Paychex invites you to visit their virtual booth to learn more about the services they offer.
Click here to view a video featuring Jeff Kohl, the head of the partnership with Wespath, explaining what services are available from Paychex.
How to Get Started Saving 35% on Paychex Services
- Online—go to https://pages.paychex.com/wespath and fill out the contact form.
- By phone—Call the UMC's Account Supervisor, Jeff Kohl, at 1-800-313-0767 and provide code 5704 for a 35% discount.
If your organization is already using Paychex but has not completed a benefits integration with Wespath, complete and return the Addendum.
From your Gulf Central Anti-Racism Team on Training & Accountability:
“ We know how to be racist. We know how to pretend to be not racist. Now let’s know how to be antiracist.” Ibram X. Kendi
As the Church is making bold steps to dismantle racism, many in our congregations want more information, new studies and safe places to have conversation. As a result, many lay people and clergy have organized groups that are gathering over the social injustice of racism.
This team would like to share information about these types of groups with all of the churches in our district and establish and distribute a district wide calendar of anti-racism studies and conversations being offered. Due the effects of the pandemic, most “meetings” are conducted via Zoom or some other online platform, and some churches do not have persons who are willing or comfortable enough to facilitate meetings using these platforms. That’s where you come in!
In sharing your studies/small group’s information, you help open up doors for the possibility of lay and clergy members from other churches to join another church’s group to learn more about racism - somewhat like a ripple in the pond of humanity - and the wave of understanding grows! United Methodists helping each other, connecting together, and in doing so, welcoming diversity and healing in our communities.
Here is what we would like to know from you!
· The name of the study, or small group, when it’s being offered, and the venue or platform
· Time span of study or small group
· Study material/funds needed to participate
· Is it open to people in our district other than your church members?
· If so, what is the registration information and deadline to register?
· Registration cap
The team would like to have a tentative calendar put together by the beginning of December and into 2021. Please respond to: Kathi Sheehan at 813-787-6198 or email@example.com. Thank you in advance for being an active part of our connection and being willing to share your thirst for knowledge and justice with others.
Anti-Racism Small Groups and Conversations: There are some opportunities coming up soon for you and your church to get involved in learning more about anti-racism. See below for information:
Join other justice seekers at First UMC - Lakeland in a new group meeting on Zoom Sunday evenings at 6:00pm in a study of The Color of Compromise: The Truth about the American Church’s Complicity in Racism by Jemar Tisby. The six week study begins November 1. This book provides an in-depth diagnosis for a racially divided American church and suggests ways to foster a more equitable and inclusive environment among God’s people. The book is available online in paperback, hardcover, and ebook formats.
Here is a bit of info about upcoming programs and events hosted by the Justice Team at Hyde Park UMC.
"White Fragility"| Learning Group
6:30 p.m. Mondays Nov. 9, 16 & 23
Join this Justice Team Learning Group in an honest virtual conversation about race.
Registration is Free: https://bit.ly/3kpl1SJ
Examine the New York Times best-selling book exploring the "counterproductive reactions white people have when their assumptions about race are challenged, and how these reactions maintain racial inequality".
All are welcome. All are loved. This is a safe space.
Lift Every Voice: Courageous Conversations on Race
Virtual event TBA in December
The Hyde Park Justice Ministry is working on the next virtual event in our series of intimate, educational events on race in Tampa. We continue to work together to improve race relations, diminishing racial bias and understanding what it means to be an ally and anti-racists.
Thirdly, we are looking for powerful stories that will strengthen our connections and understandings of each other.
Here's how you can help:
• If you are a person of color willing to share a story of racism:
• If you are a white person willing to share a story of how you learned racial bias or when you became aware of racial bias:
Written submissions will be recorded via video or anonymously and later produced for a Justice Ministry online event.
Contact Chalette Davis at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information and registration.
Antiracism Book Studies: The Color of Compromise
Join First UMC Lakeland and other District churches on Sunday evenings at 6 pm in a study of The Color of Compromise: The Truth about the American Church’s Complicity in Racism by Jemar Tisby. The six week study continues through December 13. This book provides an in-depth diagnosis for a racially divided American church and suggests ways to foster a more equitable and inclusive environment among God’s people. The group meets via Zoom. Registration and more information is here.
The link “here” directs to firstumc.org/adults/justice-league/
JOIN CHRISTIANS AROUND THE WORLD ON A JOURNEY FROM DARKNESS TO LIGHT DURING THIS ADVENT SEASON.
Advent is a time for church leaders just like you to guide your congregation through a soul-enriching time of reflection, lamentation, anticipation, and renewal.
GCORR is here to support and equip you with the resources you need to celebrate the Gift of this season.
Beginning with Sunday, Nov. 29, and continuing through Sunday, Dec. 27, use this valuable resource to celebrate the Advent season in a deep, meaningful, and inclusive way – from lectionary texts to sermon starters, to suggested hymns and songs, to children’s messages and hands-on, and age-appropriate activities.
GCORR invites you to encourage your members to become co-creators with God for a world where …
- Racial and all other injustices and strife are confronted and addressed,
- Learning and truth-telling are taken seriously, and
- Children learn through spiritual formation and discipleship and are stirred with a deep yearning to right wrongs, work for social and spiritual change, and seek right relationships with all people.
PURCHASE YOUR COPY OF JOURNEY FROM DARKNESS TO LIGHT ON OCTOBER 27th!
Christ Church in St Pete currently has 2 job openings. The openings are for:
Building Maintenance Caretaker - Full-time (40 hours per week) Job Description
Church Accountant/Bookkeeper - Part-time (20 hours per week) Job Description
Applicants please contact: (CUMC2020@gmail.com)
Ministry Partner Program of the General Council on Finance and Administration (GCFA)
Church administration is challenging! You have so much on your mind.
Need some help?
GCFA’s United Methodist Ministry Resource Guide features strategic ministry partners who can ...
- Provide for basic church needs with discounted office supplies or building products
- Help you increase tithing and find possible additional income sources
- Upgrade your data management making it easier to report on your church’s finances, attendance, and membership
- And more!
Vetted based on the Church’s social principles, the cost savings from these partners can be budgeted back into your church’s ministries. Take some of the stress out of administering your church.
Calendar of Events
Florida Annual Conference 2021 June 10 - 12
General Conference 2020 - August 29-September 7, 2021
2020 Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference - November 10-12, 2021