Dear North East District Family,
As you no doubt are aware, last Friday, January 3, a group of United Methodist leaders from across various theological spectrums released a Protocol of Reconciliation and Grace Through Separation. The details of that Protocol include submitting legislation to the General Conference that will allow an end to the decades-long debate over human sexuality and separate the church into potentially multiple new expressions of Methodism. All of the signatories, including representatives of the Reconciling Ministries Network, Methodists for Social Action, the Queer Clergy Caucus, the Wesleyan Covenant Association, Good News, UMCNext, Mainstream UMC, Uniting Methodists, and the Council of Bishops have agreed to no longer to promote their own plans at General Conference and instead push for the adoption of the Protocol. You can find links to the Protocol and a document of Frequently Asked Questions here: https://cdnsc.umc.org/-/media/umc-media/2020/01/03/15/48/Protocol-of-Reconciliation-and-Grace-through-Separation and https://www.umnews.org/en/news/protocol-of-reconciliation-and-grace-through-separation-faq.
As you are also no doubt aware, the media has picked up this news and shared it widely. Stories in major news outlets have appeared in varied media including The New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, CBS, MSNBC, Fox News, the Florida Times-Union, and local broadcast stations. As I’ve read these stories, some of the information that has been shared is correct, some is not.
There are several things I want you to know:
- First, I already pray for you every day, but I will be praying for you especially as we all navigate these new waters in the coming months. I invite you to be praying for our church as well. We need it.
- Second, I am a traditionalist/conservative (or whatever else you want to call me.) That said, I dearly love my progressive and centrist friends. If we were friends and in relationship with each other before this news, please know I am honored still to count you as my friend now. Nothing the General Conference decides will change that. Just because I come from a particular theological stream doesn’t mean that I don’t value yours and consider it an honor and privilege to be your district superintendent. I pray you feel the same way.
- Third, I have offered to your pastors to meet with your church’s leadership team and share a PowerPoint presentation that will share the details of the Protocol and process at General Conference. I will also be glad to answer questions so your faith community can begin to get prepared for future decisions. Please talk with your clergy if you think this might be helpful.
- Fourth, I wouldn’t be a good district superintendent and missional strategist if I didn’t say that none of what has just been released negates our mission of making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. There are still hurting people in your neighborhoods who don’t know the saving grace of Jesus. It’s our job to meet them at their point of need and offer them Christ. The only one who wins in all of this is Satan if we allow this to distract us. The more vital your faith community is, the better it will withstand whatever is coming denominationally. Please don’t cancel your plans to attend Equip and learn from The Unstuck Group. Please keep your eyes focused on reaching people in your communities. Please keep pursuing excellence and discipling the people in your charges.
Lastly, I want to encourage you to be a non-anxious presence in your church. There is plenty of anxiety in the system. We don’t need to add to it. In Matthew 6:34, in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount, He gave us instructions about worrying and ended them with, “Therefore, stop worrying about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Let’s focus on the present and trust that God will be faithful, as God always has, and see us through to a future with hope.
We’re all in this together, and I’m available to help any way I can. God bless you, my friends, and I love you.
All God’s love,
We still have spots available in the Fernandina Beach Lay Servant Ministry Advanced Class entitled "Called to Preach." This class is designed for those who have not completed a formal preaching training, for pastors seeking a basic refresher course, and for others who are called upon to preach in a pastor's absence.
Classes are on January 16, 23, 30 & February 6 - CLICK HERE TO REGISTER!
Child Youth Policy Training
The Florida Conference published an updated version of the Child and Youth Protection Policy in 2019. Since then, we have received numerous calls and emails about the policy changes. Just a reminder that you MUST do a training on this policy with your church each year. This training can serve as your local church training.
The new policy has many changes in it that affect all the churches in the conference. Rev. Carrie Yoder, Memorial UMC, Fernandina Beach and Corey Markle, CrossRoad UMC, Jacksonville, will lead a training for church leaders on the policy overall as well as offer feedback for questions and concerns.
Those who should attend are:
- Youth Leader(s)
- Children's Ministry Leader(s)
- Anyone involved in leadership role of VBS
- Anyone involved in leadership role that has direct contact with children and youth
- Anyone who has a key to your church and is required to be screened.
Because of the complexity of this policy, we are offering four different training opportunities within the District:
- January 23, 2020, 10 a.m. - 12 p.m. @ Yulee UMC, 86003 Christian Way, Yulee, FL 32097 in the fellowship hall.
- January 23, 2020, 7-9 p.m. @ Lake Shore Family Fellowship UMC, 2246 Blanding Blvd, Jacksonville, FL 32210 in the sanctuary.
This training is FREE to attend, but please register online so we can prepare enough materials and ensure each space is set up appropriately.
- January 16, 23, 20 & February 6, 2020 - Called2Preach Class @ Memorial UMC, Fernandina Beach
- January 23, 2020, Child Youth Protection Policy Training 10 a.m. - 12 p.m. @ Yulee UMC, 86003 Christian Way, Yulee, FL 32097 in the fellowship hall.
- January 23, 2020, Child Youth Protection Policy Training 7-9 p.m. @ Lake Shore Family Fellowship UMC, 2246 Blanding Blvd, Jacksonville, FL 32210 in the sanctuary.
- February 4, 2020 @ Lay Leader Training, 7-9 p.m. St Paul UMC, 8264 Lone Star Road, Jacksonville
- February 6, 2020 @ Lay Leader Training, 7-9 p.m. Shores UMC, 724 Shores Blvd, St. Augustine
- February 29, 2020 - Equip Leadership Event - Unstuck, 10-3:30 @ Beach UMC, Jacksonville Beach
- March 5, 2020 - Enneagram Insights: Lunch & Learn, 11:30-1:30 @ River of Life UMC, Jacksonville
- March 26, 2020 - Enneagram Insights: Lunch & Learn, 11:30-1:30 @ River of Life UMC, Jacksonville
- April 18-19, 2020 - Spring Lay Servant Training @ Spring Glen UMC, Jacksonville
- May 15, 2020 - UMM Methodist Family Night at the Jumbo Shrimp Game
- August 22, 2020 – Igniting Men Conference @ Mandarin UMC
- September 16, 2020 - District Admin Brunch, 9:30-12:30 @ Southside UMC
- September 19-20, 2020 - Fall Lay Servant Training @ First UMC, Green Cove Springs
- October 17, 2020 – 2020 Super-Charged Conference @ CrossRoad UMC
- October 28, 2019 – Church Dashboard Update Day