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GCD October 2020 Newsletter


From the District Superintendent

 October is Pastor’s Appreciation Month.  This Month reminds and invites us to show appreciation to our appointed Pastors, Deacons and retired Pastors serving local congregations. We have a lot to thank our Pastors for in 2020. We appreciate all the ways you’ve lead adaptively and have worked to keep us connected as a congregation throughout this pandemic.  Thanks for helping us create a “digital, online presence as a congregation.  We appreciate all the ZOOM meetings you schedule and attend.  Also thank you for the wisdom you’ve shared as we’ve discerned to return onsite, remain offsite or offer a hybrid worship experience.  This has been a season of grief, loss, lament, racial tension, political division, wearing masks and socially distancing. Through it all, we have stayed together as a congregation.  We give glory to God and appreciation to you.    We say “thank you” for answering God’s call.  We celebrate our Pastors for their faithfulness to God’s mission and ministry in our church and community.  Here’s a great reminder from Hebrews 6:10 – “God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown towards God’s Name”(NIV).  Remember, God sees your faithful service Pastor and we appreciate you as well. 

Here are additional ideas to appreciate your Pastor during the Pandemic shared by 

In the age of the Covid-19 pandemic, showing gratitude may need to look differently than past years. Fellowship lunches and hugs are out, gift cards and car parades are in.

Here are ideas for how to say "thank you" that ensure everyone stays safe.

Party on wheels

Parades have gained in popularity in recent months, as we decorate our vehicles and make signs to drive past the homes of the honorees.

Members at Sedge Garden United Methodist Church chose a cookout-themed parade to show appreciation to their pastor, the Rev. Justin Lowe. During the surprise event, the members drove by and dropped off gifts.

“He pretty much got everything except for the grill,” shares Angie McCann, a church member who helped spearhead the effort.

 “Our pastor has a lot of energy and he’s really there for us. We wanted to do something in return for him,” McCann explained, adding that she coordinated with the church administrator to make sure the pastor and his family would be at home on parade day.

“We met at the church and then drove next door to the parsonage. We were blowing our horns, we had posters,” she says. “To be able to do this and see the excitement and the love for our pastor was exciting for everybody.”


As a church, plan and contribute for a getaway for your pastor and family. Consider a nearby location where your pastor can get some rest and relaxation, as well as spend quality time with the family. Check for hotels, vacation rentals or park facilities that follow strict safety guidelines.

Take it outside

You already know that pastors are busy. Ask your pastor for a list of outside chores and then gather a small group to help. Perhaps your church can sign up to mow the pastor’s yard each week or a few members can weed gardens and rake leaves.  

Say nice things

Perhaps the simplest way to show gratitude to your church’s clergy is to share compliments. This may mean speaking highly of them to others or saying “thank you” to them in person, text, phone call or sending a card. Everyone enjoys hearing kind words. Extend this courtesy to your pastor’s family.

Keep your pastor on your prayer list

Prayer is huge. Pray for your pastor each day, keeping in mind the particular need or challenge your pastor may be facing. If Tuesday is sermon writing day, pray that God will guide and direct your pastor’s words. On Sundays, pray for God to use your pastor to share words that connect with others.

For additional suggestions on how to best pray for your pastoral staff, visit “15 ways to pray for your pastor.”

Say it with food

United Methodists are good at feeding others. In the age of Covid, preparing and sharing meals may be best replaced with gift cards. Ask where your pastor and family enjoy eating out, then offer gift cards to their favorite restaurants.

There is no shortage of ways to express gratitude to our pastors. For more ideas, check “(More than) 10 ways to appreciate your pastor.”

*Crystal Caviness works for at United Methodist Communications. Contact her by email or at 615-742-5138.

We are in This Together,

Candace M Lewis


As part of Bishop Carter’s Fill the Table initiative, the Gulf Central District seeks to identify food deserts within the district borders and what ways churches are working to alleviate hunger in those areas. A food desert is a geographic area where there are either limited or no options for affordable, healthy food (fresh fruit, vegetables, etc.) because grocery stores are too far away.

Please share insights on food deserts in your immediate area with Forrest White, Director of Missions at First Lakeland, who serves as our district representative on the Fill the Table team. Email Forrest at

Forrest is also available to meet with your church leadership to discuss ways First Lakeland has been engaged in feeding initiatives prior to and during the Covid-19 pandemic and to help you identify ways your church can alleviating hunger.

Please visit the FL Conference Facebook page or our website and see the registration pop up (or click on New & Updates) for information on the upcoming Conference Join the Movement to End Hunger: From Food Apartheid to Food Sovereignty.  The inaugural event begins the morning of Thursday, Oct. 1st with subsequent trainings offered each Thursday evening throughout the month of October.  You can also find it listed on the Fill the Table Facebook page.

Fill the Table/FL Conference of The UMC is a partner of this event, and Clarke and I have been working with the planning team.  Connectional and Justice Ministries also made a financial contribution on behalf of the black church and other people of color ministries, and I want to personally extend an invitation to you to invite your congregations while registration is still available.  Bread for the World, St. Luke’s and others are obviously also inviting their contacts and I want our folks to have access to this information.


Helping Healthcare Heroes

Want to make a difference in the lives of healthcare workers? Join the Tampa General Hospital chaplains in their care for hospital staff - nurses, physicians, environmental services, respiratory therapists, and more - by donating individually wrapped, healthy snacks. The Chaplains round with our hero cart weekly providing goodies, listening ears, and spiritual support to staff. Sometimes staff face difficult cases and work-based stressors, other times they're carrying their own personal crises or challenges. When the Chaplains round with goodies, it provides us with an opportunity to enter into those spaces and care well for the people who directly care for sick and hurting patients.

Donated items can be dropped off/shipped to: 207 S. Bradford Ave, Tampa, FL 33609 or 1848 Northwood Dr, Clearwater, FL 33764

Can't shop, but want to help? venmo: @Jennifer-PotterBuff or email to make alternate arrangements

 Suggested items: 

granola bars, crackers, nuts, trail mix, fruit snacks, mints, candy, slim jims, skinny popcorn, pretzels


Transform Your Tomorrow—Opportunity to Bring Financial Peace to your community for little or no cost!

Financial uncertainty is a leading cause of stress for our communities. Your church is invited to join with other churches throughout Tampa Bay to bring Financial Peace University and Ramsey+ to their communities.  Through the generosity of an Anona UMC donor, based on your church’s worship attendance, you can offer this program and life-changing opportunity for free or at a reduced cost.


For more information: or contact Joshua Fitzmorris on the Ramsey team to get started and for more information:

  [P] 615.850.1504 | 877.378.2667 



Your Gulf Central District Anti-Racism Team  encourages each of us to vote this November.  As our Bishop Carter tweeted last month, “This fall, we will need to vote.  Vote to have a scientific and humane response to #COVID19.  Vote on policies that are the work of #antiracism.  Vote to rebuild our ruined cities.  Vote in a way that unites our spiritual and civic lives, for the common good.” is a non-partisan website that can quickly help you determine your voter eligibility, polling places, absentee ballots, etc.  A free resource available to everyone.

Our FLUMC COVID-19 guidance remains following Governor DeSantis' recent executive order

 Dear Florida United Methodists,


Some of you have asked about Friday’s executive order from Governor Ron DeSantis and whether it has any impact on our FLUMC COVID-19 guidance for in-person activities.  Conference leaders have read the executive order. Our current FLUMC COVID-19 guidance has not changed. The focus of the executive order is on restaurant capacity and local government restrictions and fines. 

Please read our latest guidance from September 8th in its entirety.

Below are a few summary points from our September 8th guidance.

Some key parts of our ongoing guidance:
1.    At all times persons must maintain at least six feet of distance between family groups.
2.    Masks or cloth face coverings are required when any group gathers (except for children under the age of 2).
3.    Monitor your symptoms. Stay home if you are sick or displaying COVID-19 symptoms. Those who have tested positive for COVID-19 or have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive should adhere to the CDC guidelines for isolation and quarantine. 
4.    All inside activities must be in well ventilated spaces that allow for persons to maintain at least six feet of distance between family groups. Outside activities are preferred over inside activities.

Our COVID-19 safety protocols and guidelines are connected to the ongoing guidance and recommendations from the Florida Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control. Governor Desantis’ order has not changed the guidance and recommendations of either group in terms of in-person, large gatherings.

Decisions about in-person activities will vary according to your church context. We understand there is not a "one-size-fits-all" approach for every church around the conference. Contexts are different as cases rise at different rates (click here for a county and zip code break down). At all times churches should carefully follow the guidance of your city and county officials. Any decision to resume in-person activities should be affirmed by the pastor in consultation with a team of leaders and should be communicated to your District Superintendent.

All of our previous updates and resources are found on our COVID-19 website and in our FAQ section. If you have questions, please reach out to your District Superintendent or contact the Episcopal Office at
The Peace of the Lord,

Bishop Ken Carter and The Cabinet of The Florida Annual Conference

 Ask The UMC 

Is The United Methodist Church involved in politics?
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The people called Methodists have been actively involved in social and political matters since the church's founding in 18th-century England. Today, the United Methodist Social Creed and Social Principles express a commitment to fully participate in building a more peaceful and just world. Ask The UMC, a ministry of United Methodist Communications, answers more questions related to the church and politics.
Read Q&A
Read more Ask The UMC

Hope Network

Hey friends! I'm really excited to share with you our first HOPE Network presentation of the fall! It's an interview with Matthew Hartsfield of Bay Hope Church and Jorge Acevedo of Grace Church on "Leading in Crisis". I can't recommend it enough. I hope it's a blessing to you!! It's in 2 parts:

Part 1: Leading Yourself

Part 2: Leading Others


Child And Youth Protection Policy Training November 8 @ 2:30 PM

SPR Training December 10 @ 6:30 PM via Zoom  


 The District United Methodist Women’s Annual Celebration: Registration News

Registration is now available for our District Annual Celebration on Saturday, October 17. The Zoom call will begin at 9:45, though the meeting will officially begin at 10. While it will be a bit different this year, being held on Zoom, there will still be the mix of awards, news, fellowship, and an inspirational speaker. And since there’s no lunch, the event is totally free! The theme for the event will be “Let Your Light Shine: Ignited for Justice.”

Our speaker for this year will be Rev. Kris Schonewolf, founding pastor and director at the Oasis at LCI, which runs out of Lowell Correctional Institution in Ocala. As her bio notes, she “has a passion for seeing women set free from the chains of shame, trauma and rejection.”

The deadline for registration will be October 3 to allow for mail and receipt of a pro-gram book in physical or digital form (a noted highlight of the event!). The registration should be sent to Kathy Robertson at or you can call her at 727-505-5492. The registration form will be attached to the newsletter e-mail. The registration form also has the address where you can send your District offering for the year


 I AM Her Women’s Leadership Summit 2020.  This global event will be held virtually on October 8-10, 2020. 


The I Am Her Women’s Leadership Summit, hosted by the General Commission on the Status and Role of Women, and sponsored by Garrett Seminary and others.  This is not your ordinary conference.  It’s a movement of women coming together to Be Inspired, Be Empowered, and to Be Equipped to do the work both personally, professionally and within The United Methodist Church to connect.  This summit will focus on worship, relationship building along with various courses to help participants learn how women in leadership have overcome challenges, and created solutions that supported their success.  There will also be opportunities to learn how to build your professional network and maximize its potential. 

Participants will engage in powerful and moving worship led by Rev. Dr. Cynthia Wilson with preaching from Bishop Tracy Smith Malone and Bishop Hope Morgan Ward and Bishop Cynthia Fierro Harvey. Participants will have the opportunity to grow professionally and spiritually by attending a variety of workshops such as The Way of Integrity, Navigating Power Relationships: Network Mapping, She Preaches! Patterns of Prophetic Preaching, and Wellbeing for Women.

Plenaries range from a variety of topics that will help women develop their skillsets and to engage with the Bible in unique ways. The “I AM Her: Women in the Bible” is a plenary panel of clergy and lay women who identify themselves in the biblical text through the eyes of Esther, Ruth, Lydia and more.  Stony the Road… Effective Strategies for Women in Leadership will be a panel of women who overcame many challenges on their road to leadership share their stories of success and failures.  Several women who serve the church from the episcopacy and lay will share how they navigated an often challenging process to leadership in and out of the church.  The Second City will also lead a plenary helping women with communication strategies through the art of storytelling and presence.

Our keynote will be from Nadia Bolz-Weber. Nadia Bolz-Weber is the author of three New York Times bestselling memoirs: Pastrix; The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint (2013), Accidental Saints; Finding God in All the Wrong People (2015) and more recently, SHAMELESS: A Sexual Reformation was released in January 2019).

Please share this information broadly with your contacts.  If you need additional information, or need assistance with the registration fee, please do not hesitate to contact me. 

Come to be inspired. Come to be empowered. Come to be equipped. Join us, October 8th-10th, 2020 for I AM Her Women’s Leadership Summit.

Register Here:




Open Job Position for Office Coordinator

 Wesley Memorial UMC Tampa is looking for a dynamic, energized individual with a Christian background for a position as Office Coordinator.

The individual should have excellent communication skill, office management experience, MS Office Suite, customer service focus with volunteers, members,

and visitors, who can assist with preparing church bulletins, newsletters, website, church messaging, and live-streaming. This entry level position is an opportunity to develop into the new digital world of media communications. Approximately 15 hours per week on Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays.

Send Resume to Wesley Memorial Methodist Church, 6100 Memorial Hwy, Tampa, FL 33615 to the Attention to: Rev. Jeff Davis,

Or e-mail

 Bibles and Hymnal available

 First UMC of Lutz has 85 blue hardcover Bibles (NIV 1984 Version) and 138 blue hardcover UM Hymnals available for pickup. They were all purchased 20+ years ago.  The Bibles are in excellent condition and the hymnals are in good to very good condition. They all have many more good years in them. Please contact or 813-949-1751 x221 to arrange for pickup.


Charge Conferences

From October 11 to November 1, churches of the Gulf Central District will be holding their Charge Conferences. If you would like to attend the Charge Conference for your church, please contact your church office for their date and time and receive information on how to register.

Say "Thank You" to your pastor this month!

In Timothy 1 (5:17), Paul began the concept of clergy appreciation when he stated that the elders of the church are worthy of double honor. He reiterated this idea in Thessalonians 1 (5: 12-13) when he stated that those who work hard among you should be held in the highest regard for their work. This idea became Clergy Appreciation Month in 1992, established by pastors and religious workers.



November 11 Veteran’s Day

November 26 Thanksgiving

November 27 Day after Thanksgiving

December 24 Christmas Eve

December 25 Christmas Day


Calendar of Events

October 11 at 1:30 pm Church Conference Team East Hillsborough

October 18 at 1:30 pm Church Conference Team South Pinellas

October 18 at 4:30 pm Church Conference Team Lakeland

October 25 at 1:30 pm Church Conference Team Tampa

October 25 at 4:30 pm Church Conference Team West Pinellas

November 1 at 1:30 pm Church Conference Team North Pinellas and Hillsborough and South Pasco

November 8 at 2:30 Virtual Child & Youth Training  See link above

December 10 SPR Training - Virtual - a sign-up will be sent soon

Florida Annual Conference 2021 June 10 - 12

General Conference 2020 - August 29-September 7, 2021

2020 Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference - November 10-12, 2021