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GCD November 2020 Newsletter


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


This Month’s Meetings

We have regular monthly meetings (via zoom) in the GC District. These include the following:

  • Church Admin (each Wednesday at 10:30AM)
  • Child and Youth Protection Policy Training November 8 @ 2:30PM
  • SPR Training December 10 at 6:30 PM 

If you are currently in one of those positions at your church and would like to be connected to take part in these meetings, please contact Maggie in the District Office – or 727-585-1207

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.

To register CLICK HERE. If you have any issues with registering, you can reach out directly to

Beware of Misinformation 

The Florida Conference is offering four live online sessions on misinformation and the media. The first two have already taken place and may be viewed by Clicking HERE. The remaining dates are November 5 and 12 at 3:00pm. Click HERE to register.

Over four sessions you will learn how to separate online fact from fiction, how to detect fake images from the real thing and how to know when that “perfect sermon illustration” is really social media rumor and nonsense.

You will discover the hidden metadata that travels with every image and document and you will learn new words like “algorithm” and understand how these programs determine what shows up in every Google search or on your social media feed.

We promise these sessions will be practical, highly interactive and useful, regardless of your online and digital acumen. And for once you will be on a Zoom call that is fun!

The sessions are led by Al Tompkins, an award winning investigative journalist who trains journalists around the world. He also happens to be the husband of United Methodist pastor, Rev. Sidney Tompkins. The Tompkins are members of Pasadena Community UMC in St. Petersburg, Florida.



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.

This training is free to attend, but you must register online to receive the ZOOM link. Once you register, you will receive the link in your confirmation email.  

Join Fill the Table for the November #HungerAwarenessChallenge

Join us for the month of November and take on the #HungerAwarenessChallenge. Each day has an action step you can take to learn more about food insecurity and get involved! Click the image to download and share! Learn more about our initiative to feed 3 million Floridians by Sept. 2021 at

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 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.



United Methodist Connectional FCU is awarded Credit Union of the Year for the state of Georgia

On October 13, the League of Southeastern Credit Unions recognized United Methodist Connectional Federal Credit Union, based in Marietta, Georgia as the Credit Union of the Year for the state of Georgia! The Credit union of the year award for up to $100 million in assets highlights individual credit unions that have shown outstanding achievements in areas of daily operations, financial prowess, and community outreach.

Institutions honored as Credit Union of the Year demonstrate the all-around best the industry has to offer. These credit unions have accomplished outstanding achievements in the areas of daily operations, financial prowess and community outreach. “We are always proud of the great work all our credit unions do on behalf of their members and communities,” said Jared Ross, president of LSCU. “These awards give us a way to show our appreciation to those who truly went above and beyond in their duty to help people afford life. On behalf of the League, I am humbled to be able to thank them for their outstanding service.”

“We are pleased and honored to receive this honor,” said Jonathan Curtis, Vice President of Technology Solutions and Business Development. “2020 has given us a unique opportunity to meet our members where they are, and help them navigate the new challenges and solutions, such as the Paycheck Protection Program for churches and refinances and payment deferrals for our auto and home loans. It is our members that put their trust in us, and we continually work to earn that trust.”

Congratulations to CEO Keith Pritchard and United Methodist Connectional FCU for being the recipient of less than $100 million dollars in assets 2019 Credit Union of the Year for the state of Georgia! NEW Commercial

Thank you for sharing in our Celebration.


 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 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.

And secondly, 

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.

Email Angie Pattison at with questions and registration.

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

via Zoom

Join this Justice Team Learning Group in an honest virtual conversation about race.

Registration is Free:

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 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


Candidacy Retreats

January 8 and 9, 2021 - Deadline December 1, 2020
July 8 and 10, 2021 - Deadline June 1, 2021

Please see the Candidacy Retreat Checklist to ensure all necessary items are completed. The checklist outlines all the steps need for Candidacy.


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.


Start Shopping


Committee On Native American Ministry Invitation to Serve

Committee on Native American Ministry (CONAM) invites members of Churches within the Florida Conference to complete an Application to Serve.

“…Every local church at Charge Conference shall designate by nomination and election a minimum of one person per charge (without regard to race or ethnic origin) or a designated member of an established church committee to represent the need for better awareness of Native American contributions in the local church. These names are to be submitted to the District Superintendent at Charge Conference to be given to the Annual Conference Committee on Native American Ministries” (UMC, Book of Discipline, paragraph 654).


  • To communicate the Gospel of Jesus Christ to Native American people in a culturally relevant way;
  • To disciple Native American people in a culturally affirming way;
  • To encourage Christ-centered worship in a culturally redemptive way;
  • And to facilitate a Native American presence in the wider church in a culturally appropriate way.

Perhaps you are a Native American representative within your local church, or you would like to help promote interest in Native American Christian Worship within your District. Consider serving on the Florida Conference Committee of Native American Ministry.  If you have been nominated by your District Leadership (Nominations) Committee to serve in a particular area of ministry or, if you have a calling to serve, a spiritual gift, or an area of expertise which you are open to sharing in this way, please make that known by completing the application form at

For more information on the process, please see Paragraph 302 in the Florida Annual Conference Standing Rules.  Contact Dr. Roger Antworth – Chairperson at (904) 277-0691 or

 Job Opportunities

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: (


2021 Connectional Giving

The apportionments for 2021 are now available on the conference website. To access your 2021 apportionment information:

  • Go to the conference homepage:
  • Click on the "Monthly Billing Reports" at the bottom right of the page.
  • Click on the first link on the page, "Click here to download monthly reports."
  • When you choose a Report, there will be a report on the drop-down menu called Apportionments Report 2021. This link will take you to your 2021 apportionments. You will need to know your GCFA Number to pull your report.

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.


November 11 Veteran’s Day

November 26 Thanksgiving

November 27 Day after Thanksgiving

December 24 Christmas Eve

December 25 Christmas Day

Calendar of Events

November 8 at 2:30 Virtual Child & Youth Training  

December 10 SPR Training - Virtual 

Florida Annual Conference 2021 June 10 - 12

General Conference 2020 - August 29-September 7, 2021

2020 Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference - November 10-12, 2021