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Gulf Central August 2018 Newsletter

From the District Superintendent 

About a month ago, I noticed my Pothos plant really struggling.   The vines had grown yet leaves

were falling and becoming yellowish instead of green.  I watered, waited and watched with no visible signs of improvement. Finally I decided to prune the vines and remove all the dead leaves.  It looked horrible.  I thought I had killed the poor plant.  To my surprise about a month later I noticed it was flourishing again.  My Pathos plant reminds me of Jesus’ message to the disciples in John 15:2 “ He cuts off every branch… that doesn’t produce fruit, and he prunes the branches that do bear fruit so they will produce even more.”(NLT)

As we prepare for our fall 2018 Charge Conference season our Theme is Equipping the Church for Resilience, Innovation and Growth.  This year we will have Regional Charge Conferences - gathering 12 – 14 churches together for a time of worship, fellowship and a discussion of important church business matters.  We will end the week with a District wide worship celebration with our very own Bishop Ken Carter preaching.

 As we focus on the importance of equipping the church, I’m experiencing equipping as evaluating what’s growing and pruning away what’s not.   I believe our churches can flourish and be in vital mission and ministry in communities throughout the Gulf Central District.  My revitalized Pathos plant encourages me in our work together. 




Facilitator Training

for Local Churches

Point of View

August 30th


Hyde Park UMC (Main Campus)

500 W. Platt Street, Tampa

Inviting your congregation to join the conversation of the 2019 Special General Conference Session?  Looking for a positive way to approach the issue of human sexuality (and other highly-charged issues)?  Point of View, previewed at Annual Conference, is receiving great reviews across Florida and beyond helping people bring empathy, understanding and healthy dialogue to the conversation.

POV is designed to be facilitated by laity—affording clergy the opportunity to be present to everyone.  Facilitators are invited to come learn from best practices for presenting materials, leading discussion and session logistics.  Facilitator training is sponsored by the Gulf Central District and led by program design team member Magrey DeVega.

(light dinner provided)

RSVP required!  Click Here



How can I learn more about the Way Forward for the United Methodist Church, what this means for my local church and the plans from the Commission to the Special Session of the General Conference?

  1. For information about the Point of View (POV) process, which has been happening in many of our local churches, click here. The purpose is to create empathy in congregations and communities and to approach the LGBTQ conversation from a posture of listening to scripture and each other. POV was developed by a cross section of leaders across a theological spectrum and is also being used as a resource in other conferences. 
  2. Bishop Ken Carter will convene four regional gatherings in Tallahassee, Winter Park, Boca Raton and Bradenton in September around the theme The Cross and the Flame. These follow six meetings over the last two years, which were held in Gainesville, Cape Coral, Loxahatchee, Jacksonville, Tampa and Orlando. Bishop Carter will reflect on the future of the church and take time answering submitted questions. To register for one of these gatherings or to submit a question, click here. Smaller and more focused conversations will also take place around the Conference. 
  3. Rev. Alex Shanks will be present in the eight districts this fall to review the three plans that are present in the Commission on a Way Forward’s report to the Special Session of the General Conference. To see the report click here. The date and format of your district gathering will be communicated by your superintendent and can be found here (note: some of these meetings will be held during clergy meetings).  These district gatherings follow the presentations about the Way Forward held in each district in the Winter of 2018.
  4. The Special Session of the General Conference will be held in St. Louis, February 23-26, 2019. To learn more about the Special Session or how to attend the Special Session as a visitor, click here. The names of our delegation to the General Conference, with equal representation of laity and clergy and led by Molly McEntire and Rev. Alex Shanks, are listed here.
  5. The Conference Table, convened by our Lay Leader Paulette Monroe and Bishop Ken Carter, will include an open conversation with our General Conference delegates about the Special Session in February. The meeting will be on October 20 in Lakeland. To register for this gathering or to learn more about how to participate, see this link.
  6. We encourage you to visit the Florida Conference website,, which contains videos, testimonies, and links to the Annual Conference presentations by a number of our leaders, including Way Forward Commission members Rev. Jorge Acevedo and Alice Williams.
  7. Bishop Carter’s book, Embracing The Wideness of God’s Mercy, will be published by Abingdon Press in late August, and is available through Amazon and Cokesbury.  You can learn more about the book here. It includes material that has been included in local churches and clergy gatherings in the Florida Conference, and is a traditional evangelical case for greater inclusion of LGBTQ persons in our local churches. 


Training Events:

Church Admin Training at St Andrew's in Brandon September 6  click here to register

Church Admin Training at Palm Harbor September 12 click here to register

Clergy Meeting at First Lakeland September 25 click here to register


Ministry Protection
Reports due August 15-31

Annual Ministry Protection Property and Casualty Insurance Review (Annual Survey). Trustees to review insurance coverage and update online insurance database annually. Annual review period is August 15-31, 2018. This database is also available online year round to enable churches to update insurance data as changes occur. Click here to link to the church dashboard via the insurance database on the Ministry Protection website.   

The Annual Workers Compensation Payroll Audit. Finance/Treasurer to complete this annual payroll audit. Please be sure to project your payroll by category through the end of 2018 when completing this section. Click here between August 15-31 to log into the brief Property & Casualty Survey and Workers' Compensation Audit. (Please note this audit is performed twice a year as part of Florida Legislature Statute 440.381.)


UMW Spiritual Enrichment Retreat
September 7 - 9 Life Enrichment Center

UMW invite you to join them for Sacred Spaces at the LEC.  Retreat Leader is Rev. Vidalis Lopez and the Youth Leader is Kenya Monroe.  Click HERE for Flyer.  Click HERE for registration form.  Questions?  Contact Kay Roach   


 Rooted Conference 2018

A UMC Training Event for Youth, Children and Family Ministry Leaders
September 17-18
Warren Willis Camp: Fruitland Park, FL
One-day and two-day options are available.

Like the interconnected roots of the redwood trees, a strong network is a game-changer for ministry leaders. Rooted is designed to connect those leaders to each other, to innovative and inspiring training, to resources and, most importantly, to God. 

Rooted is the "can't miss" event for anyone involved in KidMin, youth and family ministry. Whether you are brand new to ministry, a long-time veteran, on the church payroll or volunteering your time, you will find valuable time in the worship, classes and community at Rooted. 

Rooted is proudly hosted by the Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church and the Youth Ministry Institute. 

Registration is now open at

Please contact Joel Pancoast at if you have any questions. Looking forward to an amazing event.


   August is typically when hurricane season picks up for the state of Florida, and August is just around the corner.


Get prepared now!

 We are reminded how drastically life can change after disaster as #FloridaRestores continues working with survivors of Hurricane Irma, welcoming volunteer teams and repairing homes.

 The links below offer practical ways to prepare. Please share this email with your employees, co-workers, friends, family, neighbors, church communications team and congregants. This year let's do our part to help everyone prepare because...

 The Best Recovery is Preparation!

 Be Prepared

Plan and prepare

Build a Kit

 Pick up sandbags while there are no lines; check your local news web site for evacuation routes, pet-friendly shelters and more area-specific information.


An initiative of Disaster Recovery, a ministry of the Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church, an UMCOR (United Methodist Committee on Relief) Partner

Get out your reindeer antlers and dust off those running shoes! Palm Harbor United Methodist Church is hosting the 4th Annual Reindeer Run 5K Saturday, December 1, 2018. The race will kick off at 8 a.m. at Pop Stansell Park, 797 Florida Avenue in Palm Harbor and runners will be able to run/walk up and down the beautiful Pinellas Trail. There will be a 1 mile fun run, chip-timed 5k, a virtual 5k and a tot trot for our youngest runners. All participants will receive a festive finishers medal, t-shirt and post-race goodies. Proceeds will benefit Bridging Freedom.  For more information and to sign up go to and click on the Reindeer Run logo.


Raising Hope Tour - UMCM Center for Early Learning @ St. Mark's

Date: Tuesday, August, 28, 2018; 9:30 - 10:30 AM

Description: Join us the last Tuesday of every month and BE INSPIRED! People in our community are hungry, homeless, and caught up in a negative cycle of poverty without options for success. They dream of having food on the table, a safe and comfortable roof overhead, and the ability to work and provide for their families. All of these dreams are achievable and are realized by over 15,000 people each year through the work of UMCM Suncoast. Visit UMCM Suncoast and learn how you can be a ray of hope for those who are currently feeling hopeless, and guide them to find a bright future!

Contact Information:


Regional Events with Bishop Carter:

Sunday September 16th at Killearn, Tallahassee

Monday September 17th at First - Winter Park

Tuesday September 18th at First – Boca Raton

Wednesday September 19th at Harvest – Bradenton


These will be similar to the regional gatherings we have done the past two years where Bishop Carter will speak and people can submit questions beforehand.  They will be evening events starting at 6:30 PM for about an hour and a half or so, followed by a reception.  Where possible they will be videotaped or live streamed.  The theme will be the “Cross and the Flame” and being “On Mission Together” and there will be focus on Resilience as a way to move into the mission, vision and mindsets (in terms of core purpose, integrity and changing circumstances).  You can learn more about them here: is our hope that you can attend one of these events if your schedule allows


 The June 2018 Cabinet/Strategic Leadership meeting focused on resilience. One of the outcomes of the meeting was an agreed upon intention to read Scripture together. The Bishop and Cabinet invite anyone to join in reading the following passages – Isaiah 40-66, Romans 8, Philippians 1-4 – each month. The plan is to read a chapter a day, beginning with Isaiah 40 on the first day of the month and ending with Philippians 4 on the last day of the month. Each month we will repeat the cycle. Click here for the easy-to-use calendars that make it clear what to read each day.


The hope is that reading Scripture together will grow our resilience, which we defined as our capacity as individuals, churches and an annual conference to maintain our core purpose and integrity in the face of dramatically changed circumstances. Our dream for the church in Florida is that we will stay focused on the main thing: making new disciples of Jesus in new places and in new ways as we stay #onmissiontogether.


Personal Spiritual Retreats at Lake Junaluska



August 27- 29 | September 3-6 | October 1-3 | November 5-7


Experienced spiritual directors and clergy guide you through a group centering session, evening prayer service and an individual spiritual direction session, while leaving you ample time for personal reflection and renewal. $297 for two nights lodging in Lambuth Inn, program and retreat booklet. Learn more at



July 30, 31, August 1 | September 9, 10, 11, 12 | September 17, 18 |October 17, 18 October 29, 30, 31, November 1 | November 19, 20, 21


Spend time walking the trails, meditating in gardens, in private devotions, journaling, reflecting and more. Lake Junaluska will also provide a booklet with optional agendas, resources and ideas for structuring your retreat. $97 per person, per night, including lodging in Lambuth Inn, breakfast and retreat booklet. Other dates are available, pricing varies. Learn more at

 United HealthCare has shared the following information and resources in an effort to encourage us to think of wellness in a practical, easy and accessible way.

Health Corner

 Below is the monthly National Health Observances with links to other pertinent sites.  These links are available to anyone.  

August’s Health Observance: Immunization Awareness and Children’s Eye Health & Safety 

Immunization Awareness - Immunizations Children 3-12 - Immunizations Teens/Young Adults - How Flu Shots Work

Sharecare: Child Immunizations

Sharecare: Reasons People Avoid the Flu Shot

Children’s Eye Health & Safety - Spy for Eye Health - 6 Foods - scroll down and click on the “When Should Children Have Eyes Examined” video

Info At a Glance: Colorblindness

Info At a Glance: Identify Vision Problems


Suicide Awareness

Most of you are aware of the issue of suicide and how it has been in the news this past month with two prominent deaths.  Unfortunately, the statistics show that when high profile people die by suicide, it actually increases the suicide rate in the United States. While this may or may not impact any of us directly, you never know who may ask a question or need help.  Statistics show that 54% of those who died by suicide did not have a known mental health condition. 


In 2016 alone, an American died every 12 minutes from suicide – 45,000 individuals – more than those that died from an opioid related overdose or car accidents in the same year.

Fortunately, mental illness and substance use disorders are topics, like suicide, that people are starting to speak about more frankly. 


Optum is offering a free emotional Public Help Line. This help line will provide anyone in need of help access to specially trained mental health specialists.

  • The company’s public toll-free help line number, 866-342-6892, will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week for as long as necessary.
  • This service is free of charge and open to anyone.
  • Specially trained Optum mental health specialists are available to help people manage their stress and anxiety so they can continue to address their everyday needs.
  • Callers may also receive referrals to community resources to help them with specific concerns, including financial and legal matters.

 Along with the toll-free help line, emotional-support resources and information are available online at This site contains a lot of rich content and we want to highlight a few of the resource centers which can be accessed by using a keyword search on

 Mental Health Center: Type the keyword "mental health" into the search bar, select Mental Health. Here you'll find articles, assessments, self-help programs, and resources on a variety of mental health topics to help yourself and loved ones live life to the fullest

 Suicide Prevention Center: Type the keyword “suicide” into the search bar, select Suicide Prevention. Here you’ll find information to learn the warning signs, how to talk with someone who may be at risk, where to get help and how to cope if you’re a suicide survivor

 Coping Center: Type the keyword "coping" into the search bar, select Coping. Here you’ll find articles, guides, self-help tools and videos on coping with stress

 Please note, covered UHC members continue to have their ongoing resources available to them and we recommend they access Optum through their account-specific support numbers.


R-10 and Counting - Clergy Retirement Seminar
September 10 - 12 First UMC, Lakeland

R-10 and Counting, a comprehensive retirement planning seminar sponsored by the Florida United Methodist Foundation for clergy planning to retire within the next 10 years, will be held Sept. 10-12 at First United Methodist Church in Lakeland (72 Lake Morton Drive, Lakeland, FL 33801).  

Registrations will be accepted until Aug. 24, but prospective retirees are encouraged to register early because participation is limited to 30 clergy. Spouses are also encouraged to attend.  Click HERE for complete details.  Click HERE to register online or print registration form to mail in.  Questions?  Contact Nadara Brock

Clergy Gathering
January 29 - February 1, 2019 - Epworth By The Sea

In lieu of our Clergy Gathering which had been tentatively scheduled October 23 - 24, 2018, we are inviting you to attend the Winter Conference at Epworth By The Sea, January 29 - February 1, 2019. This will be a combined event with the Bishops and clergy of the North Georgia, Mississippi, South Georgia and Florida Conferences. Dr. Tod Bolinger, author of Canoeing The Mountains, will be the keynote speaker. 

Be sure to register soon as we expect this to be a sold out event.

Click HERE to register.  Click HERE for the flyer.


CareFest is a Christ centered community service day. CareFest unites churches, businesses, organiza-tions, and cities with the purpose of demonstrating God’s love in practical ways. We believe the Church is God’s gift to every community and as we serve our communities together in love, as Christ did, we become that gift.

For the past 14 years, Somebody Cares Tampa Bay has mobilized local churches, community agencies, and businesses to meet the practical needs of our communities through CareFest. The object of this day of service is literally to do all the good we can by all the means we can. This day-long work day in which thou-sands of volunteers in different locations throughout our service area come together to beautify and repair homes and neighborhoods. These projects are identified through local government offices, churches, and ministries. At the end of the day the volunteers and the homeowners come together to recognize and cele-brate their accomplishments. Food and beverages are provided for all involved. In addition, each year a "Care Cup" trophy is awarded to the location with the largest number of volunteers. These celebrations also provide opportunities for people to share the Good News of Jesus Christ and for churches to connect with people in need that are in their community.

Approximately 5,000 volunteers and over 100 partners from churches, businesses, and other non-profit ministries are involved in CareFest on an annual basis. CareFest not only blesses the homeowners and the volunteers, but it serves to encourage unity in the Body of Christ in Tampa Bay.