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Gulf Central June 2018 Newsletter

From the District Superintendent:

June is a busy month for the churches in our district!!!  It’s time to say “goodbye” to our faithful pastors  moving to a new church.  We are also saying “well done” to Merritt Waters, Jay Kowalski and Sidney Tompkins, our three pastors retiring and embracing a new season of life and ministry.  A special thanks to all the church leaders and members who have worked hard to support and prepare for our pastoral transitions. 

This week we will gather as Florida United Methodists for our Annual Conference meeting.  Our theme is “Remembering Who We Are”.  “The theme ‘remembering who we are’ is about our identity in Christ and, more particularly, our identity as United Methodists within the Body of Christ,” Bishop Ken Carter said. “It is related to our promises of baptism and membership—our prayers, presence, gifts, service and witness. And it is who we are at our best—a people of grace, growing in holiness, living by a catholic spirit, sharing the gospel and recalling that the world is our parish.”

We are inviting all clergy and laity attending Annual Conference to join us for a Gulf Central District dessert Social on Thursday evening, June 7th at the close of the evening session at 9:00 pm on the campus of Florida Southern College (Eleanor Searle Drawing Room, Joseph-Reynolds Hall).  It is a time of fellowship among clergy and laity of our District.  I will also be announcing some exciting ministry opportunities this fall 2018

 We look forward to seeing you soon!!!


Florida Annual Conference

"Remembering Who We Are"

June 7th - 9th
Florida Southern College, Lakeland, FL


For general information about Annual Conference click here
Re-Vote on Constitutional Amendment

There was an error made in the language of the first constitutional amendment from General Conference 2016. As instructed by the Secretary of the General Conference, we will re-vote on this constitutional amendment at Annual Conference 2018. We have scheduled this vote for Saturday morning near the beginning of the plenary session that begins at 8:30 a.m. All lay members and clergy members in full connection may vote on constitutional amendments. To learn more about the reason for the re-vote click here. For the corrected language of the constitutional amendment click here. Ballots for this re-vote will be distributed; and after a brief explanation, members of the annual conference will be able to speak for or against the amendment. Because these amendments come from the General Conference, no amendments to this constitutional amendment are in order.

Way Forward Presentation

To allow for the greatest participation level and to ensure consistent communication about the Way Forward, the Annual Conference will take a step back from its legislative work on Friday afternoon and enter into a time of presentation and small group discussion about the Way Forward. The Way Forward presentation is scheduled for Friday at 3 p.m. in Branscomb Auditorium. Bishop Carter will lead this time and will be supported by the design team that created the POV (Point of View) experience. Rev. Jorge Acevedo and Alice Williams, members of the Commission on a Way Forward, will also be present to share. This segment of our agenda will seek to give members information about the work of the Commission on a Way Forward, give a sampling of some of the POV material for local churches and provide a place for members to talk in groups of three. There will not be enough time for general questions and answers from the plenary floor, but if you have a question about the Way Forward, please submit it here.

Remember Who We Are Conversation

As we celebrate the 50th anniversary of The United Methodist Church and our theme “Remember Who We Are,” Bishop Carter has invited the Florida Conference to consider a new way of approaching resolutions. You can find more information about this on page 34 of the Annual Conference workbook and from this video titled Annual Conference Resolutions. On Thursday during the committee on resolutions report, the Cabinet will make the motion found on page 34 of the workbook to suspend our normal resolution process. 

Join us for a Special Night of Worship: A Love Feast

You are invited to join Bishop Carter and clergy and lay members from around the Annual Conference for a night of conversation around the table, scripture reading, testimony, and worship. Together we will take time to remember who we are, report on how God is at work in our present, and look forward with trust and hope to our future together. We hope you will join us Wednesday, June 6, at 7 p.m. in the Fellowship Center of First UMC Lakeland. Music will be provided by the Florida Southern College worship team. A reception sponsored by the Florida United Methodist Foundation will follow.

Please also plan to attend our Dessert Social on Thursday Night following the Worship service in the Eleanor Searle Drawing Room at Florida Southern College from 9 - 10:30 pm.




Disaster Recovery Ministry invites all churches from around the conference to be a part of the Hurricane Irma mission project:  Recovery TOOLS!

Many of our teams come great distances to serve, making it difficult to bring the tools needed to do the jobs. Tool trailers have been donated to Disaster Recovery but now we need YOUR help outfitting these trailers with the right Recovery TOOLS!

Because we need specific tools for the jobs, we’ve set up a registry for you to purchase exactly what is needed so resources won’t be wasted. Similar to a wedding or baby shower, you can go to the link below to see what is still needed and make your purchase. Purchases made online will be sent to Disaster Recovery. 

You are also welcome to bring all Recovery TOOLS to Annual Conference, dropping them off in our brand new donated tool trailers! We’ll have a time of consecration and blessing of the Recovery TOOLS during  opening worship of Annual Conference.

Don’t want to buy online?  Home Depot and Lowes gift cards are also welcome. These can be used to purchase exactly what is needed, including materials and supplies to do the repairs: dry wall, flooring, cabinets, etc.

To purchase Recovery TOOLS online visit to find our registry.



POV Training - All Churches are invited to Attend

 How do we as Christians enter into the tough conversations?  Tough conversations in our families, on social media, AND in our churches.  As the United Methodist Church approaches the called General Conference in 2018 to address specifics relating to the  LGBTQ community, Christ-like conversation inside our churches is critical.  Bishop Carter is asking each church to bring POV, 3-session event, to their congregation this year.  Designed NOT to change anyone’s point of view, rather provides the space to hear what your brother and sister believe to be true.  It is a healthy way to enter into the LGBTQ conversation our General Conference is addressing. 

 Hyde Park UMC is one of many churches across the state offering this program. If you and your church leaders want to experience the program first hand before bringing it to the entire congregation, or yours is a small church that would find this as a great opportunity to participate and learn, Hyde Park has  a limited number of spaces for its Summer series:  June 13, 20 and 27th from 6:30-8pm.  If you are interested in attending with your church leadership, please contact Beth Potter at  BEFORE June 11th.  (Note: we will also be needing a “table leader” for every 7 people coming from the District.  Please indicate if one of your laity is willing to serve.  Their training will be from 5:30-6:30 before each session). 



The Young Adult Missional Movement is excited to announce there will be at least three teams of young adult missionaries serving in the Gulf Central District this year.  YAMM is an opportunity for young adults 18 to 30 years old to experience the mutual sharing God‘s love by building meaningful work, cooperative living, and community engagement. Participating in adult’s service full-time through a ministry, church, or social service agency for a year. They receive small personal stipends, housing and groceries, quarterly retreats and even health insurance if they need it.

YAMM is looking for a house to rent in northern Pinellas County and in central Tampa.

 You can be a part of this new mission service program.

* Provide a meal or a birthday cake. What a great project for your circle. Email

* Donate a previously loved, but working vehicle, bikes or furniture. Email

* Encourage a young adult to apply.

* Follow them




UMCM Suncoast, one of the Gulf Central District Outreach Ministries, is gearing up for a great summer, and you’re invited! UMCM is hosting three Summer BreakSpots in St. Petersburg this June and July. Summer BreakSpots provide free, nutritious meals throughout the summer for children who would normally receive free and reduced lunch during the school year. It's like a Pack-A-Sack for the summer! In addition to healthy lunches, BreakSpot also includes a morning of fun activities, social enrichment, and creative learning.


But we need help from you and your church! Spread the word, send your kids, or volunteer! There are so many ways you can help no matter your age, abilities, or limitations.


Join us Monday-Thursday, 10am-noon at:

  • St. Luke's UMC (June 11-July 26)
  • St. Mark's UMC (June 18-July 26)
  • Wyngate Apartments (June 18-July 26)


To volunteer for just a couple days or more, visit


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. 




The Festival of Wisdom & Grace



August 13-16, 2018 | Lake Junaluska, N.C.

Registration Now Open

Theme: The Wise Shall Shine


"Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky, and those who lead many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever." 

- Daniel 12:3

What is true wisdom? How do we receive it, cultivate it and pass it on? You've led a full life. How do you continue to live into that fullness in retirement? Join others in the second half of life for a time of inspiration and renewal in the North Carolina mountains.

Registration is open for the Festival of Wisdom & Grace, August 13-16 at Lake Junaluska. The conference includes workshops, worship, guest speakers, entertainment and more. Lodging and meal packages are available.  Click here for more information and to register.


Coming Events

Gulf Central District Church Admin Training Events

We know that you are busy with much on your to-do list, however, sometimes we need a break; a chance to catch our breath, share, learn, and enjoy fellowship with others who understand the joys and the sorrows of church work. We encourage all church admin to put either of these dates on your calendar, register online to attend and be there!

September 6 at St Andrew’s in Brandon  To Register click here

September 12 at Palm Harbor UMC in Palm Harbor To Register click here

We will cover the upcoming changes to our Charge/Church conferences, what is new with the District, and other items that you submit for discussion.

Lunch will be provided.

Clergy, please encourage your church’s Administrative Professional to attend this FREE event!

2018 Annual Charge Conference

The Gulf Central District will hold six Ministry Team Charge Conferences this fall.  Please plan on attending with your church.  We will then have a wrap-up Whole District Celebration at First Lakeland on Sunday November 11 at 5 pm. 


November 3 at 2:30 PM St Andrew's Brandon November 4 at 4 PM at Bay Hope Lutz November 5 at 6:30 PM at First Clearwater November 6 at 6:30 PM St Luke's St Petersburg November 7 at 6:30 PM at College Heights Lakeland November 8 at 6:30 PM at Lake Magdalene - Tampa
Cork - Plant City Asbury - New Port Richey Community - Oldsmar Aldersgate – Seminole Alturas - Bartow Faith Primera Iglesia - Tampa
First - Plant City Bay Hope - Lutz Curlew - Palm Harbor Allendale – St Petersburg Asbury - Bartow Forest Hills - Tampa
First - Riverview First - Land O' Lakes East Lake - Palm Harbor Anona - Largo College Heights - Lakeland Hillsborough - Tampa
First - Seffner First - Lutz First - Clearwater Christ - St Petersburg Crystal Lake - Lakeland Hyde Park - Tampa
Grace - Plant City First - New Port Richey First - Dunedin Clearview - St Petersburg First - Bartow Keeney - Tampa
Grace Community at Fish Hawk, Lithia First - Tarpon Spring Heritage - Clearwater First - Gulfport First - Lakeland Lake Magdalene - Tampa
Limona Village Chapel - Brandon Harvester - Land O' Lakes Mt Zion - Clearwater First - Pinellas Park Highlands - Lakeland Manhattan Avenue - Tampa
New Hope - Brandon Hope - Trinity Palm Harbor First - Seminole Kathleen - Lakeland Northeast - Tampa
Ruskin Joining Hands - Holiday Skycrest - Clearwater First - St Petersburg Lake Gibson - Lakeland Oak Grove - Tampa
South Shore - Riverview Keystone - Odessa St Paul - Largo Lakewood - St Petersburg Mulberry Palma Ceia - Tampa
St Andrew's - Brandon Korean - Tampa Sylvan Abbey - Clearwater Leaman Community -St Petersburg Shepherd's Community - Lakeland Port Tampa - Tampa
Sun City Center St James - Tampa Verdad-y-Vida - Clearwater McCabe - St Petersburg St Mark - Lakeland Seminole Heights - Tampa
Thonotosassa     Oakhurst - Seminole Trinity - Lakeland Temple Terrace - Tampa
Springhead      Pasadena Community United Methodist Temple - Lakeland Tyer Temple - Tampa
      Riviera - St Petersburg   Wesley Memorial - Tampa
      St James - St Petersburg    
      St Luke's - St Petersburg    
      Wesley Memorial - St Petersburg