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GCD September 2019 Newsletter

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From the District Superintendent

Hurricane Dorian response opportunities to share this Sunday with your Congregation!!

This week we watched and prayed as Hurricane Dorian hovered over the Bahamas for over 24 hours as a Category 4 then 5 devastating the islands Abaco and Freeport.  The recovery efforts are now underway and the Florida Conference is ready to respond.  Please share with your congregations this Sunday, ways Bishop Carter is encouraging churches to help the people of the Bahamas. 

Here is the link to download Bishop Carter’s Bahamas response video message to share at church THIS SUNDAY, September 8th 2019 with your congregation.

Remember, God loves a Cheerful Giver!!! Let’s encourage our Gulf Central Churches to be generous in their response to our UMCOR Bahamas Relief and Recovery!!!

Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. 2 Corinthians 9:7-8 NIV

We are On Mission Together,


Bishop Carter's Invitation to 2020 Holy Land Trip

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. Click HERE to download the brochure. 

Church Admin Lunch and Learn -

Come and join your fellow church administrative professionals at our Annual District Lunch. This Lunch is open to all who work in the church in an administrative position, whether paid or volunteer. This is a FREE event. So come and meet fellow church administrators as we love, learn and lead together.

Please pre-register here September 25 in Clearwater click here
September 26 in Brandon click here 


Respite Ministry Training

All are invited to participate in our Breakaway Respite Ministry Training on September 23 from 9am to 3pm at the United Methodist Church of Sun City Center, 1210 Del Webb Blvd. W., Sun City Center, FL 33573.  Lunch will be provided please RSVP by calling 813-634-2539.  Our respite ministry focus is on providing purposeful activities that stimulate memory, motor and social skills.  We are catering to those with dementia, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.  The purpose of this ministry is to allow caregivers a safe place for their loved ones to hang out for four hours doing fun and creative activities, singing and enjoying fellowship.  It provides a break for the person afflicted from their caregiver and a break for the caregiver to have some self-care time.  We are excited about this opportunity to serve our community and would like to share this with you.  Maybe it will be something you would like to offer at your church one day.  Come join us as we are trained and learn more about how to be good neighbors to those with memory issues.  Daphne Johnston from First UMC Montgomery, AL will be leading our training.  Daphne developed this ministry model over seven years ago and it is a huge success in her church.  She has a heart for those suffering with memory issues and a great spirit about her that is contagious.  I invite you to come catch the fire of respite ministry.

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

ROOTED, Youth, Children & Family Ministry Training Event

September 16-17 at Warren Willis Camp Fruitland Park FL 

Click here

Car Donation Needed
-YAMM needs a car- 

Do you have a running vehicle that could be used to better communities, develop young adults and change the world? 
If you have a car or truck that runs but you could donate it to the YAMM program, we will use the vehicle to get our young mission fellows to their service sites. Especially in our rural and suburban sites, public transportation is not available. And many young adults do not have their own transportation.  
The need is serious and immediate. We had one blow a head gasket and is beyond repair. 
Please contact Heidi Aspinwall for details.  (305)733-4420. 

SheGrows Conference 

On the road to deeper discipleship, we all have someone we need and someone we can lead. SheGrows is a conference for women of all ages and stages of life, from 13 to 113. This event will encourage you to find someone to champion your potential and equip you to become someone to better support another woman in her faith. We need the wisdom and love that others have to share. Join the mentoring movement to link lives in order to form a deeper faith. Invite your sisters to join you for SheGrows on the evening of Friday, September 20 at First United Methodist Church of Lakeland. Group tickets and scholarships are available. Learn more and register at
Friday September 20, 6:30-9:30pm at First UMC Lakeland, 72 Lake Morton Dr 33801. Tickets are $39 each. Scholarships are available.
Questions? Call 863-686-3163. Discover more and register at

UMW 2019 Calendar

Sept. 6-8 District-wide Retreat, LEC
Sept. 21– District Mission Study, Oakhurst
Oct. 19 - District Annual Celebration, St. Paul’s, Largo
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)

Appointed Clergy serving in the Florida Annual Conference
Do No Harm: Mandatory Quadrennial Sexual Ethics Training

All clergy who are serving under episcopal appointment within the Florida Conference must attend one of the upcoming sexual ethics trainings this fall to remain in good standing. This includes ALL clergy serving in extension ministries, retired clergy serving under appointment, all deacons, elders, licensed local pastors (part time and full time) diaconal ministers and lay supply who are assigned to lead a church. This is required even if you have recently attended the Sexual Ethics training at Right Start or are scheduled to do so this coming May. A different curriculum will be covered in the quadrennial training. Certificates will be provided to those who complete the full 5 hours of training. A copy of your Certificate will be placed in your clergy file.
When & Where? You may attend a session outside of your appointed district.
Tampa at St. James UMC on Tuesday, September 24
Jacksonville at Mandarin UMC on Thursday, October 3
Gainesville at Trinity UMC on Wednesday, October 9
Plantation at Plantation UMC on Tuesday, October 22
Orlando at St. Luke's UMC on Wednesday, November 6
Click here to Register

SEJ Clergy Women's Event - Unchartered-Adventuring the Wilderness with God Early-bird registration extended to September 15, 2019

Ministry is beautiful, challenging, rewarding, and frustrating. Where we end up is often not where we first sought out to be; sometimes that turns out beautifully and sometimes…it doesn’t feel so beautiful.
The theme “Uncharted” was chosen with great intentionality for this year’s Southeast Jurisdiction’s Clergywomen Conference. Everyday ministry in general seems uncharted - moving from appointment to appointment, being a pastor to people vastly different from ourselves, being a clergywoman in a male-dominated field (and churches that have strong opinions about this), and the list goes on. 
All of this on top of the uncertainty that lies beyond General Conference and a denomination that proved itself with the vote percentages to be very divided.
There is much uncertainty ahead, but we hope to provide a safe space for the clergywomen of the SEJ to find rest, sisterhood, resources, and reassurance in the God who never leaves us, but rather adventures the wilderness with us.
This event is open to all female clergy and candidates. "Like" the Facebook page "Uncharted Conference 2019" for all the updates!  Click here 


GCD Lunch Pals and Mentoring Workshop


Thursday, September 12, 2019 at 12:00 

St Paul UMC - Fellowship Hall
1498 Rosery Rd. NE
Largo, FL 33770

Be a part of the Gulf Central District’s initiative that encourages our church members to mentor at schools near their churches. Make an impact by giving just 30 minutes a week to meet with a student at lunch during the school year.
Getting involved is easy:
Attend a two and a half hour workshop at St. Paul UMC, on September 12th from noon until 2:30. Lunch will be provided.
The first hour you will hear about Pinellas County School District’s many mentoring opportunities.
The last hour and a half you will receive Lunch-Pal training which will help your church get started.
You will be asked to complete a volunteer registration form and provide a copy of a government issued ID (driver’s license) if you wish to become a Lunch-Pal volunteer.
Listen to one mentor’s story 
Or for more information contact Keosha Simmons, Lunch Pals Coordinator / 727-588-6000 x1369
 Lunch Pals is a partnership between Pinellas County Schools, Raymond James, and more than 85 businesses and community organizations.  Click here to register

Bishop's Time with Clergy

As we finish the summer and approach fall, we wanted to let you know about the following:
The Bishop’s Clergy Day Apart originally scheduled for Tuesday, September 17, has been rescheduled for Tuesday, December 10. All clergy from Florida are invited to attend the December 10 event from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Lakeland. The focus will be on “God is With Us” and spiritual preparation during the season of Advent.
The Conference Table is scheduled for Saturday, October 26, at the Portico in Tampa. The morning portion of the Conference Table meeting (10 a.m. to noon) will be open to all clergy and laity in Florida to come and hear a presentation from Bishop Carter on “Growing the Center.” The presentation will be followed by table discussion. To register for this event please click here.
In the midst of this season of the church, we hope you will make plans to attend these events. More information about both events will be available soon.
On Mission Together,

The Florida Conference



Also ongoing, available 24/7, online webinars for the local church.

A Deep Dive is a form of a teaching church with immersion into a select topic of focus. We are using our connection of churches in the Florida Conference to teach other churches. What is different about this style is that each Deep Dive is a small gathering with 5-7 churches, delving into the host church's best practices and learnings as they have grown and tried various methods. Keeping the attendance small and digging deeper into this one topic, keeps the learning conversational and collaborative. To view more information, Click Here.

Current Open Registrations:

New Covenant - The Villages

Topic:  Systems and Properties

When:  Wednesday, September 25 - Thursday, September 26, 2019

Where:  New Covenant - The Villages (WEDNESDAY)

New Covenant - Lake Deaton Campus (THURSDAY)

Click here to register!

Topics To Be Covered: Transitions and New Covenant's uniquness, multiple locations, infrastructure systems, staffing, integrating people, database, software, use by outside groups, columbarium - benefits and drawbacks, budgeting, trustees, outreach.


Online Deep Dives are meant to be a focused sharing (about 30 minutes and no more than 1 hour) to allow participation during lunch or replay later.

A topic expert hosts giving tips, ideas, and what to avoid. Topics will vary from Children's Ministries, School Church, Finance, and so much more!

Click Here to view more information about Deep Dive Online and to view previous online topics.


SEJ-BMCR Annual Meeting Registration & Info

The Southeastern Jurisdiction Black Methodists for Church Renewal will hold our 2019 Annual Meeting on October 17-19, 2019.

Theme: Purpose Driven, Laser Focused on the Mission and Ministry of the Black Church

Host Hotel:

Doubletree by Hilton | Tampa Airport-Westshore

4500 W Cypress St.

Tampa, FL 33607

Phone: 813.879.4800

Room Rate: $121 + taxes

Overview of Annual Meeting

On opening day, Thursday, October 19, at 9 a.m., we will conduct the business of the caucus, as well as hearing from our keynote speaker.

 There will be two learning labs conducted: Techniques and Tools for Effective Leadership Resources and Funding for the Black Church. Nomination of officers will also be held. There will be a Communion Service on Thursday evening to close out the day at the host church, Mt. Zion UMC, Clearwater. Friday we will begin with Bible study followed by the town hall, Black College Fund luncheon, election of officers, reports and other business. Our annual banquet and dance will close the day. Saturday we will have Bible study, unfinished business, installation of officers and a closing worship service at noon.

Online Registration Link: 

Registration fee includes 1 luncheon ticket, 1 banquet ticket and SEJ BMCR membership dues for 2019-2020. Don't wait to register! Early bird registration discount ends August 19, 2019.

For more information and vendor opportunities, please contact Doris Bluitt: 



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


September 12 Lunch Pals workshop click here to register

September 19 Clergy Meeting Location Lake Magdalene 9:30 -2PM working lunch – click here to register.

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

September 25 Church Admin Lunch and Learn at Heritage UMC 10 AM -2PM click here to register

September 26 Church Admin Lunch and Learn at St Andrew’s UMC 10 AM – 2 PM click here to register

October Clergy Appreciation Month

October 12-November 10 Charge Conference Season click here to link to the forms

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 - Click here to register.


December  19 DCOM Meeting

December 11 SPR Training at Palm Harbor click here

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


2020 and beyond

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