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Gulf Central District November 2018 Newsletter

From the District Superintendent 

November Newsletter


This week over 1200 Gulf Central District United Methodists, from 89 churches, in six different Regional Charge Conferences gathered together for a time of worship, sharing ministry highlights, approval of business and delightful fellowship at a dessert reception.  People attending expressed joy seeing old friends and meeting new friends as they joined together with 12 – 15 churches in their region.  Each church created a ninety second video to highlight the ministries and missions in which they are involved.  We saw smiling children, youth activities, school backpacks, and international mission trips.  Glimpses of traditional choirs singing and contemporary bands playing all worshipping the Lord.  Small groups studied together.  Baptisms at the beach and in water troughs.  Community outreach and ministries in laundry mats. We could see so much good in the impact our churches are making within their communities. 

 As I stood on the stage, in the midst of all this good ministry, I had a moment where I wondered, if an active shooter entered this setting, what would we do?  Are we prepared? Even if we had an armed police officer at each church would that be enough?  Is that the right answer to address the evil we see in our midst? We saw evil last week when an armed gunman entered the Tree of Life Synagogue on October 27th murdering eleven Jewish men and women attending a service to bless a baby boy. 

Several UMC clergy responded on November 1st, by gathering together at the Temple Beth El Synagogue in St. Petersburg, for an Interfaith Memorial Vigil supporting the Jewish Community of Pinellas County.  One by one we lit candles and called out the names of the eleven victims of this hate crime.  One Rabbi who spoke shared this quote from Elie Wiesel, a Jewish author who wrote about his experiences as a prisoner in the Auschwitz concentration camps.  Wiesel says, “We must take sides.  Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim.  Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.  Sometimes we must interfere.  When human lives are endangered, when human dignity is in jeopardy, national border and sensitivities become irrelevant.  Whenever men and women are persecuted because of their race, religion, or political views, that place must at the moment become the center of the universe”. 

This part of the quote, “sometimes we must interfere” reverberated in my mind and heart as I think about incidents of violence and incivility which exist in our society today.  Where do we begin?  What is our part as United Methodist Christians to end acts of hatred, discrimination and evil?  Sometimes addressing evil can seem so big we don’t know where to start.  God’s word recorded in Jeremiah 1:9-10 Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “I have put my words in your mouth. 10 See, today I appoint you over nations and kingdoms to uproot and tear down, to destroy and overthrow, to build and to plant.” This text has action words like uproot, tear down, destroy, overthrow, plant and build.  When I think about “evil” I think it starts out a “seed”.  An evil thought.  An evil idea.  When evil is watered, nurtured and allowed to grow into maturity evil actions harm others.  I wonder if when we see and hear “seeds” of evil in our midst if we can begin to “uproot” “tear down” “destroy” and “overthrow” evil.  I wonder if we can sow and share more seeds of “good” “hope” and “love”.  Here’s my hope for us as we seek to do our part in overcoming evil in our world today.  Let’s plant seeds of love in the places we are uprooting evil. I pray we can see this scripture fulfilled in Romans 12:21 “Don’t be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” The Jeremiah text ends with this question, “The word of the Lord came to me: “What do you see, Jeremiah?”  I close by asking the pastors and leaders of the Gulf Central District, What do you see?

I welcome your feedback, input, questions and comments.





Calling all Gulf Central District Choirs

Choir members invited to join with other choristers from across the District in our Gulf Central Worship Celebration on November 11 at UMC Sun City Center.  

The District Choir will be singing 3 pieces:  

  • "Lancashire" with brass & timpani
  • The new Hayes arrangement of “I Want to Walk as a Child of the Light” from Hope
  • A final piece (not yet identified) will be sung with the District Praise Team33.

    Rehearsal is at 3pm at UMC Sun City Center. 

    Please let the District Office know by Monday November 5th if you will have some voices planning to be a part of the District Choir along with an estimate of how many.  Thank you.  This will greatly help with our planning.


Important Dates for your calendar

District Celebration November 11, 5 PM at Sun City Center UMC1210 Del Webb Blvd W  Come and bring your church!

SPR Training
November 26 at St Andrew's S Bryan Rd Brandon 6:30 PM click here to register

November 29 at St Paul 1498 Rosery Rd. NE Largo 6:30 PM click here to register

Save the Date for the District wide Learning Event to Connect, Grow and Innovate Saturday February 16  9 AM - 3PM at Anona UMC 13233 Indian Rocks Rd. Largo 33774

Palm Harbor Reindeer Run

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. 

2020 Self-Nomination Process is Open


The planning and preparation for the 2019 session of the Florida Annual Conference is well under way. During the 2019 session, we will also be electing Lay and Clergy members to represent our Annual Conference as delegates to the 2020 General and Jurisdictional Conferences. Being elected to serve as a delegate is quite an honor that carries a lot of responsibility.

Who can be elected as a delegate to represent the Florida Annual Conference?

The Florida Annual Conference uses an on-line self-nomination process. Anyone who: (1) senses the leading of God to serve as a delegate, (2) who meets all of the Disciplinary eligibility requirements, (3) who successfully completes the self-nomination process before the February 15, 2019, deadline or (4) who successfully completes the self-nomination process during the Lay or Clergy Sessions on the first day of Annual Conference, can have their name placed on the ballot for election at the 2019 Annual Conference Session in Lakeland, Florida.

How do I know if I’m being called to serve as a delegate? Let me suggest the following:

• Begin with a time of prayer and reflection. Explore your thoughts and feelings with God. Ask God for the wisdom and understanding to know how best to serve.
• Take time to study the issues affecting The United Methodist Church, our Annual Conference, our congregations, and our world. What are the social, spiritual, theological and moral concerns which need to be addressed by our denomination?
• Ask someone whom you trust to help you to discern whether your gifts and skills, intuition and insight, learning and leadership have prepared you to serve as a delegate at this time.
• Reflect deeply on one of the required essay questions. As a delegate, what particular things could/would you do to help The United Methodist Church to fulfill its purpose and mission around the world?
• After having done all of the above, and sensing God’s call to serve, place your name on the ballot by completing the self-nomination process found on the Conference website. Click here to access it. The on-line nomination process will remain open until midnight on February 15, 2019. If you have questions about the eligibility requirements or the self-nomination process, call, write, or email me using the information below. I will assist you in every way possible.


Beth Gardner, Annual Conference Secretary


Warren W. Willis Camp Retreats

Check out Warren W. Willis for many opportunities to reflect & fellowship!

Confirmation Retreat:  February 15-17, 2019, March 1-3 & 15-17, 2019
Connect:  October 19-21; November 9-11
College Connection:  January 25-27, 2019
Created by God:  April 26-28, 2019

Plan Your Own Church Retreat:  Who doesn't love WWW?  Why not plan your own retreat?


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.


CCYM - Dare to Explore
February 15 - 17, 2019 - Warren W. Willis


Rev. Kathryn Damiano & Ray Buckley

March 10-15, 2019

Life Enrichment Retreat Center

4991 Picciola Road

Fruitland Park, FL 34731


The Florida Conference Needs You!

The Conference is looking for lay/clergy persons who might be interested in serving on one of their committees.  The following committees are open and states their vision:

5 Day Academy - To promote the FL Five-Day Academy and the extension of Spiritual Formation to local communities through the material and participants of Five-Day.

Native American Ministry - Sharing the Word through cultural events

Disability - to be aware of and advocate for, the role of persons with disabilities ministry, including ordained & diaconal ministries & local church and AC leadership

Ministry Protection  - Have overall supervision of the Property, Liability, Workers Compensation & other related insurance and Ministry Protection programs of the FLUMC.

Missionary Support - Every church in the Florida Conference needs to have a covenant relationship with a Missionary

Religion & Race  - To challenge, lead and equip the people of the UMC to become interculturally competent, to ensure institutional equity and to facilitate vital conversations about religion, race and culture.

If you would like to know more about a committee, please call the District office at (772)299-0255. 

Fall 2018 YAMM Wish List

Safety Harbor

Garden hose
Plants (indoor or outdoor) 
Garden tools
Supplies (wood, blocks, tools, etc) to build raised garden beds
Area Rugs
Rolling pin
Kitchen chairs
Dining room table
Long mirror

St Pete

Plants for yard garden
Used wooden pallets (for making compost bin)
Garden tools
Handheld mixer
Variety of large kitchen knives
Workout equipment Specifically: 5,10,15,20,25,30,and 35lb free weights
5,10,20,30,and 40lb kettle balls
Hang board
pull up bar
racks for weights

Tampa - Hiawatha

Cast Iron Skillet

Pots/ Pans – preferably non-stick
Rocking Chair (NOT with cloth/fabric due to a possible allergy issue)
Long mirror     
Art supplies (such as easels, canvas, paint, brushes, etc)
Storage bins/totes
Leaf rake
Garden tools
100 ft extension cord

Tampa - Amelia Ave

Double or Queen bed


People with trucks/vans who can transport large donated items to houses


Volunteers Needed for

2019 Point in Time Survey 

The 2019 Point in Time Planning Committee is recruiting over 350 volunteers for the Point in Time Survey. The 2019 Point in Time Survey is scheduled for Thursday, January 24th, 2019.


If you are able to volunteer for this very important community event, please go the homepage on the Pinellas County Homeless Leadership Board’s website and complete an application. It literally takes less than a minute to register. 


Most appreciatively,

2019 Point in Time Planning Committee

Florida Conference Job Opportunity


JOB OPPORTUNITY:  If you have experience in the building trades, construction, renovation or restoration, you might enjoy being our newest Construction Coordinator for Disaster Recovery! Please visit our website at > Classifieds for more information about this role and the regions that still need your expertise.


If you have a passion for our Camp and Retreat Ministry, then becoming the Program Coordinator for the Warren W. Willis Camp and Life Enrichment Center may be your dream job!  This role oversees the Summer and Year-Round Programs of WWW and LEC to enhance, develop and design the experiences we’ve grown up loving.  Visit our website for more information > Classifieds.  Position closes 11/12/18 


 Dear Lay and Clergy:

 With the Special Session of the General Conference approaching in February 2019, your General Conference delegation from Florida wants to hear from you. Thank you to the 100 or so who attended our special day of listening on Saturday, October 20. For those of you who were not able to attend, we want to offer a web based virtual listening session on Wednesday, November 14, at 10 a.m. 

 The hour will be shaped by an opportunity for some members of the delegation to listen to you. Delegates will answer submitted questions as we are able, and we will share in a time of prayer together. 

 To register and get log-in information click here.

 To see a list of members of the delegation click here. If you would like to share something with the delegation and cannot join us on November 14, email, and your email will be sent to the all the members of the delegation. 

Finally, we hope each of you will consider joining the delegation in Praying Our Way Forward which includes time of daily prayer, email reminders and weekly fasting. For more information click here.


Molly McEntire, Leader of Florida Delegation to General Conference (lay)

 Rev. Alex Shanks, Clergy Member of Florida Delegation to General Conference

Hurricane Michael Donations

Thank you for your response thus far to the needs of our brothers and sisters in the United Methodist churches of the panhandle of Florida. Many of you have already began to receive offerings.
The people of the First United Methodist Church of Ormond Beach have challenged the Florida Annual Conference to help our sisters and brothers in the panhandle through a matching gift up to the amount of $500,000.
Click here to donate online. Please make checks payable to The Florida Conference Treasurer with Hurricane Michael in the notation line and mail to: Florida Annual Conference, 450 Martin Luther King, Jr. Ave., Lakeland, FL 33815-1522

Coming Events:


November, 2018

November 11 Gulf Central District Celebration and Clergy Appreciation 5 PM at Sun City Center 1210 Webb Blvd W Sun City Center. click here for flyer

November 15 DCOM

November 26 SPR Training at St Andrew’s 3315 S Bryan Rd Brandon 6:30 – 8:30PM

November 29 SPR Training at St Paul 1498 Rosery Rd. NE Largo 6:30-8:30 PM


December 13 DCOM

Merry Christmas


January 1 – Materials due for Local Pastor License Renewals – meeting January 24

January 11 - Final day for 2018 Apportionments to be received in Lakeland.

January 17 Clergy Meeting at Lake Magdalene, 2902 W Fletcher Ave Tampa 9:30 -2PM working lunch

January 24 DCOM – at St Paul 1498 Rosery Rd. NE Largo


February 16 District Learning Event at Anona 13233 Indian Rocks Rd Largo 9AM – 3 PM


April 4 – materials due for 1st Provisional attempt meeting May 2

April 25 Clergy Meeting Location Heritage 9:30 -2PM working lunch


May 2 DCOM Meeting 1st Provisional attempt materials due April 4


June 5-8 Annual Conference at Florida Southern in Lakeland


July 11 materials due for 2nd Provisional attempt meeting August 8


August 8 DCOM meeting for 2nd Provisional attempt


Clergy Meeting Location TBD 9:30 -2PM working lunch


October 17 materials due for November 14 DCOM


November 7 materials due for December 5 DCOM meeting

November 14 DCOM Meeting


December 5 DCOM Meeting