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Gulf Central May 2018 Newsletter


 Message from the DS

Celebrating Mother's Day in Modern Families


As we approach this Sunday’s celebration of Mother’s Day, We recognize and celebrate the Moms, Dads, Grandparents, Aunts, Sisters, Brothers, Cousins, Foster and Adopted parents and Guardians who have loved, nurtured, supported, corrected and cared for us.  Emotions on Mother’s Day can be joyful and complicated so let’s be sensitive to both realities.  Some Mothers have passed away and this will be a Mother’s Day without Mom present. Others do not have a good relationship with their Mother and we can acknowledge that painful reality too.

There is an old hymn called “Faith of our Mothers” that is often sung on Mother’s Day.  I appreciate the second verse as I reflect on my relationship with my Mother and Grandmother.  “Faith of our mothers, lavish faith, The fount of childhood's trust and grace, O may thy consecration prove The well-spring of a nobler race: Faith of our mothers, lavish faith, We will be true to thee till death”.

Being invited to church for the first time by my Grandmother, affectionately known as “Mama” was an exciting event.  We worshipped together on the 2nd and 4th Sundays at her small, country Baptist church. Mama was foundational as I began my faith journey.  A few years later, my own Mom became a believer and through her strong faith and fervent prayers, I was encouraged to continue to grow in my relationship with Christ.  On Wednesdays, I would tag along with Mommy to noon day prayer service at Zion United Methodist Church. Those faithful saints, both men and women taught me how to pray.   Like Timothy, I express deep gratitude for a Mother and Grandmother whose faith in Christ served as an example to follow.  I am reminded of your sincere faith, which first lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I am persuaded, now lives in you also.” 2 Timothy 1:5  (NIV).

 As worshippers gather this Sunday throughout our 89 Gulf Central District Churches let’s create a celebration of Motherhood and safe spaces for those present filled with and without joy.  Let’s acknowledge the joy and pain, gains and losses, dancing and sorrow which can exist in our relationships with our Mothers.   Let’s do our part in creating inclusive, normalizing conversations and sensitivity towards today’s modern families.  Let’s reassure everyone that God is with us and we are with each other, caring for one another, seeking to be as the hymn says a “nobler race”.  

 Happy Mother’s Day,

 Dr. Candace M Lewis 



2018 Gulf Central District Appointment Changes:

Our district had many moves this year 8 of which are new clergy to the Florida Conference. I am excited about our new clergy coming into our Gulf Central District family. These women and men are excellent pastors and will help lead our churches toward vitality.

 Here are the changes we will be experiencing this coming July 1:
Leaving Gulf Central:

  • Ivan Corbin – Moving to Beach Ft Myers UMC
  • Bill Fisackerly – Moving to Wesley Marco Island UMC
  • Jeffrey Ice – Moving to First Hudson UMC
  • Chris Kirk – Moving to First Homosassa UMC
  • Jay Kowalski - Retiring
  • Harold Lewis – Moving to Port Charlotte UMC
  • Karen MacDuff – Medical leave
  • Michael Moxley – Riverview UMC Ormond Beach
  • Debbie Salinger – Moving to Wesley Memorial Ft. Myers UMC
  • Sydney Tompkins - Retiring
  • Merritt Water – Retiring

Changes within the Gulf Central District

  • Mary Ashcraft will be serving a new two point charge of Asbury UMC, New Port Richey and Continuing to serve Joining Hands Mission which will move to the Asbury location
  • Nathan Carlson will continue to serve at Oakhurst UMC Seminole however now as appointed Associate
  • Ricc Conner will continue to serve at Limona Village UMC however, won’t be on staff of New Hope Brandon
  • Patrick Elmore will move from Springhead UMC Plant City to St Mark in Lakeland
  • John Griswold will move from Asbury UMC New Port Richey to United Methodist Temple in Lakeland
  • Ryan Hall will continue to serve at Sun City Center UMC, not as a new church launch
  • Keith Harcombe will continue as an Associate Pastor at Bay Hope UMC, Lutz
  • Ralph Hayes will leave Highlands UMC in Lakeland and serve Thonotosassa UMC
  • Matt Horan will leave Seminole Heights UMC in Tampa and serve Heritage UMC in Clearwater
  • Dan Johnson will leave Heritage UMC in Clearwater and Serve on an interim basis at Pasadena Community UMC St Petersburg
  • Louis Telcy will leave Mt Zion UMC in Clearwater and serve First Riverview UMC
  • Tanner White will leave First St Petersburg UMC and serve as senior pastor at Hillsborough UMC

New Appointments in Gulf Central:

  • Fred Ball will be serving at Keystone UMC, Odessa
  • Ian Campbell will be serving a new two point charge of Trinity UMC and Highlands UMC in Lakeland
  • Scott Farman – East Lake UMC as senior pastor
  • Tony Fotsch - St. James UMC, Tampa as senior pastor
  • Victoria Guthrie – First Pinellas Park UMC as senior pastor
  • Lee Hall-Perkins – Mt Zion UMC as senior pastor
  • Linda Johnson – Springhead UMC in Plant City
  • Jordan Kassabaum – First Land O’ Lakes UMC
  • Herb Lange will serve Community UMC Oldsmar
  • Peggy Moss will serve Northeast UMC in Tampa
  • Esther Robinson -  Pasadena Community UMC as associate pastor
  • Doug Walker will serve Tyer Temple UMC in Tampa
  • Tiffania Willetts will serve Seminole Heights UMC Tampa as senior pastor


Learn More in Just One Hour

Join our first Gulf Central District Draft Day 2018

Date: Saturday, May 19
Time: 8:00 am to 9:00 am
Where: Lake Magdalene United Methodist Church, 2902 West Fletcher Ave, Tampa 33618


  • School staff and dads share how All Pro Dad is changing their school
  • Meet the All Pro Dad Team
  • Participate in a typical All Pro Dad meeting
  • Hear how the UMM District Team will guide you in getting started

 UMCM Suncoast, Outreach Ministry:

UMCM Suncoast, the Gulf Central District Outreach Ministry, 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, register a child, or get more info visit

Questions? Contact Katharine H. Henry at

*In addition to UMCM’s locations there will be BreakSpots all over the state! Find locations at or by texting "FoodFL" to 877-877.


Gulf Central District Pastor's new Book

Superman and Jesus have many similarities: They both come from other worlds, raised by humans, sent out to discover themselves, and provide hope to the world. Is this because of who they are....or how their stories are told? Similar to Joseph (Hero of a Thousand Faces/Power of Myth) Campbell's work in Mythology, this book looks into Jesus and Superman's journeys being linked by a thread of storytelling which spans time and many other hero characters; including Batman, Spider-Man, and Luke Skywalker. If you've wondered why Jesus' story is told the way it is in the four gospels, perhaps looking at the story of Superman can shed some light.


YAMM Opportunities

Not sure what to do after graduation?  
Need a summer internship?  
Interested in missions?
The Young Adult Missional Movement has opportunities that you should check out!  
Two of these opportunities are:
- Our 
STEP Mission Internships are summer placements working at day camps around the state of Florida.  STEP is an awesome opportunity to get hands-on experience working with children and youth in underserved areas.  
- Our 
Micro Missional Communities are one year commitments to mutually transformational experiences between young adults, their living communities, and the neighborhoods and organizations in which they'll serve. 
For more information or to get applications, check out the links above.  If you have questions about these programs or would like to learn more about how we equip young adults to engage in mission, please contact Jessica Weseman at

Bethune- Cookman University 2018 EGG Summer Program for High School Students

The 2018 Exploring Gifts and Graces: Summer Adventure in Theology and Leadership (EGG) nine-day, all expenses paid, residential summer experience for high school juniors and seniors from all over Florida to explore their faith, learn more about themselves, and to think deeply about their dreams, their goals, and their gifts. The goal of the program is to help career-bound high school students better utilize their summer months to gain career exposure and guidance in order to improve the way they make informed career and educational decisions about their lives and future. This year we have designed a fun, educational, and innovative summer program that will support high school youth in their exploration of vocational choices in faith-based services, education, and ministry.

EGG is held on the campus of Bethune-Cookman University from July 14-July 22, 2018. It will offer students the opportunity to build friendships, participate in community service projects, and gain leadership skills. Participants will also take a day trip to a unique eco-adventure ropes and zip-line challenge course to work in small groups, learn leadership and communication skills, as well as practice team-building exercises.

Complete program information is available on their website: The application form and instructions are also on the website and there is no application fee. Applications must be submitted by May 4, 2018. EGG is developed by Bethune-Cookman University


With hurricane season just around the corner (starts June 1st!) now is the time to start preparing:


  • Take a walk around your church property and make a list of what needs to be secured or moved indoors if a storm is coming
  • Are there trees that need to be trimmed?
  • What should be cleaned up now so it doesn’t add to the after-storm debris field?
  • What is on the to-be-repaired list that should be repaired now to minimize damage from winds and rain?


Check out other great resources found here: and here:


Consider now what your church does well and what you could do to help in your community after the storm. Host a training and learn more ways to prepare and respond. Attend the Pre-Conference workshop at Annual Conference to learn more. Because it’s never IF it happens, it’s WHEN.   


And while you are preparing, did you know that thousands of people around Florida are still recovering from Hurricane Irma last fall? Go to to learn how you can help!



The role of the Children’s Home Ambassador is to represent the Florida United Methodist Children’s Home in a variety of capacities, thereby carrying the message of the ministry throughout the Florida Annual Conference. The Ambassador will act as an extension of the Church Relations team at the Children’s Home, seeking to increase both awareness and support of the organization.


To faithfully fulfill this role, an individual should be committed to the mission of the Children’s Home: to empower children and families to experience God’s love as revealed in the ministry of Jesus Christ. Ambassadors should also have public speaking experience and a comfort level engaging groups of various sizes.


  • On behalf of the Children’s Home, preach or provide a mission moment during a worship service
  • Make a presentation to a group within the local church about the Children’s Home
  • Advocate for the ministry of the Children’s Home within church district and/or the Annual Conference
  • Host an information session about the Children’s Home
  • Speak within your community about the Children’s Home
  • Advocate for a specific ministry of the Children’s Home that aligns with ministry passions (e.g. Foster Care, Independent Living, the Madison Youth Ranch, Enterprise, etc.)
  • Correspond with Local Church Representatives (LCRs) 
  • The Ambassador may be asked to solicit feedback from LCRs or other church members so that it may be reported to the Director of Church Relations with the intent to improve provided services.


    June 7-9, 2018

    Florida Southern College
    111 Lake Hollingsworth Dr. 
    Lakeland, FL 33801

    District Lay Delegates are still needed to attend the Annual Conference (at your own expense). Please call the District office if interested.

May 10 - Missional Vital Signs Due

Please remember to submit your Missional Vital Signs (MVS) each month no later than the 10th of the month. Click here to enter stats.

May 12 - Run 4 Life 4 Miler - FUMCH

The Run 4 Life 4 Miler begins and ends on the campus of the Florida United Methodist Children's Home in historic Enterprise.  The 4 mile course is on magnificent oak canopy roads along the shore of Lake Monroe.  It is one of the most uniquely beautiful areas and race courses in Central Florida.   The goal of this race is to bring awareness to mental health/depression issues and to raise funds for programs providing support to those in need.  It is also in remembrance of those who were overwhelmed by their struggles and felt suicide was their only option.  All race proceeds will go to FUMCH and other local suicide prevention programs.    Whether you will run or walk, we hope that you will ...

May 30 - Clergy Assessments Due

Annual Assessment of Ministerial Effectiveness & Goal Setting. The clergy assessment process for 2018 is available on the FLUMC website under Clergy Excellence. Appointed Clergy and the Staff/Pastor Parish Relations Committee should meet annually to complete this process. The report is due to the district office every year by May 30. Click here for more information. (Continuing Education is now completed in conjunction with the Annual Assessment above.)

The United Methodist Connectional Credit Union will be happy to meet everyone attending the Florida Annual Conference in June at the display tables.  We want to say hi to our current members and bring awareness those not yet familiar with the UMC FCU’s connection with the United Methodist Church. Be sure to stop by and meet our courteous staff.  Please visit us online


 September 25 - Clergy Meeting - First UMC Lakeland 



November 3-8 Gulf Central District Charge Conferences


November 11 Gulf Central District Celebration Sunday - at First Lakeland Bishop Carter Keynote Speaker



June 7–9, 2018

Florida Southern College
111 Lake Hollingsworth Dr.
Lakeland, FL 33801


2018 PRE-CONFERENCE WORKSHOPSCLICK HERE TO REGISTER Wednesday, June 6, 2018 First United Methodist Church 72 Lake Morton Drive, Lakeland, FL 33801 DEADLINE TO REGISTER 5/28/2018

The Bishop’s Offering for Annual Conference 2018

will be divided evenly between ZOE Ministries and funding for training laity and clergy in innovative forms of evangelism.   

About ZOE Ministries 
According to global research, 385 million children are living in extreme poverty throughout the world. The debilitating results are disease, hunger, exploitation, abuse, illiteracy, and hopelessness. ZOE’s approach has proven that children living in poverty also hold the greatest capacity to create lasting solutions for themselves, their families, and their communities. 

By investing in local, indigenous leaders in seven countries on three continents, ZOE’s distinctive, holistic international development model provides the vital relationships, training, and resources to empower young participants to overcome the isolation and stigmatization associated with extreme poverty. We are blessed to be able to assist Zoe Ministries in empowering children and youth to become self-reliant and able to give back to their communities and churches.

Training Laity and Clergy
As I move about the annual conference I consistently see our churches engaged with their communities in new and exciting forms of evangelism. Training our laity and clergy in creative and contextual ways of reaching out will be essential to sustaining and creating vital churches in the future, and in reaching new people with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Thank you for your generosity!



2018 Annual Conference 5k

Friday, June 8, 2018, at 6:30 a.m.


The Florida Annual Conference 5K is returning to our inaugural sight around the beautiful Lake Hollingsworth at Florida Southern College. This run/walk event is in its fifth year! This is an opportunity to unite our clergy and lay members of the Annual Conference in an initiative to promote faith and fitness in a 3.1 mile fun run/walk. The race will begin across Lake Hollingsworth from the Nina B. Hollis Wellness Center. It will finish across Lake Hollingsworth Drive from Branscomb Auditorium.

One hundred percent of the proceeds from the 5K will go toward our Annual Conference's support of the Hurricane Irma Recovery

This year we will, once again, have a competition to see which District will have the most registrants/participants.

Pre-Race Packet Pick-Up - Wednesday, June 6, 4 p.m. – 7 p.m. at First UMC, Lakeland by AC Registration.

Race Day ~ Friday, June 8

Florida Southern College - Nina B. Hollis Wellness Center - under the tent
6:15 a.m. - Same day pick up 
6:30 a.m. - 5K Start!

Click here to register