Guidance on Relaunch and No Worship through June 15th
Dear Clergy and Laity of the Florida Conference:
Our cabinet formed a re-launch task force to begin looking at how we can help resource churches as they prepare to re-launch during COVID-19. We solicited input from you and received thousands of responses. Our initial guidance is downloadable below for your use. These guidelines will be regularly reviewed and updated. We have consulted government officials and health experts and will continue to review the latest guidance.
- Churches should plan to continue to offer on-line opportunities until a vaccine is readily available, knowing that many people will not feel comfortable returning to worship until that time.
- We ask that no in-person worship services take place through June 15th. The actual date for when in-person worship services will resume is still being determined but we know it will be after June 15th.
- We give guidance on some alternative worship models that could be attempted starting May 15th including house worship and drive-in worship. These require strict safety guidelines and should only be attempted in places where volunteers and staff are ready to monitor and enforce the guidelines.
- We invite you to begin preparing for what in-person worship may look like after June 15th. We know you will need to adjust worship plans to allow for safety and social distancing. Detailed descriptions are provided for a variety of worship logistics. Walking through the logistics with key volunteers and staff will be essential.
- We suggest you form a re-launch task force of lay and clergy leaders to explore how you will work through these guidelines in a way that honors your context.
- At all times we encourage proper social distancing, hand-washing, the wearing of masks, and for sick persons or persons who have been in contact with the virus to remain at home. We are especially concerned that those most vulnerable to the virus be vigilant in the days ahead.
Also in this document are guiding principles and scriptural foundations. We offer this guidance from a standpoint of our faith that calls us to love our neighbors and care for the most vulnerable.
Our rationale for a no sooner than June 15th date include:
- Relaunching in-person worship presents a significant effort on behalf of church leadership. June 15th allows them enough time to prepare worship spaces and gather and train the necessary volunteer base.
- By June 15th, we will have clearer results from the reopening of the state of Florida to guide us in our decision making.
- Many in our state and in our church communities are part of the most vulnerable populations. Our clear guidance from the feedback we have received is to err on the side of safety.
We will continue to monitor the realities in our communities and adjust our guidance as needed. Should you have specific questions, please reach out to your District Superintendent who can guide you.
May God continue to walk with us in this season. We pray now for those who are sick and all our front line workers who are keeping us safe.
We remain on mission together.
March 31 Reports - EXTENDED TO May 31, if needed!
The deadline for March 31 Reports has been moved to May 31, if you need it. If you don't need more time, please send them in!
Note: The Disaster Recovery Resource Survey is no longer required.
Explanation of Reports and Committee Responsible
- Fiscal Responsibility & Management Policy Review & renew annually. Each year, submit a signed copy of the one page Financial Controls, Policies & Procedures and the Document Retention Policy.
- Fund Balance Report - Submit online through your Church Dashboard. Do not send a hard copy to the District.
- Clergy Employee Conduct Policy ALL appointed clergy must submit this to the District each year.
- Adoption of Employee Conduct Policy Submit this report showing that you have adopted the ECP and have a Employee Conduct Policy signed on each employee. The signed Employee Conduct Policy form must be kept in their personnel file. This does not get sent to the District office.
- Child / Youth Protection Policy Review & renew annually. Submit a signed copy of this report. Should the policy undergo major revisions, submit a complete copy. Click HERE for the Ministry Protection page.
- Annual Parsonage Report Review & renew annually. If your pastor does not live in it, we still want this completed.
For detailed instructions on reports, please review the Calendar of Reports.
All reports should be scanned and email to Pam Mullay in the District Office. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org. If you cannot scan, feel free to fax (Fax: (904) 396-6294) or send copies in the mail (1415 LaSalle Street, Jacksonville, 32207.)
Update to Missional Vital Signs Reporting
As with other times of disruption, like our Florida hurricane season, we are giving guidance with reporting Missional Vital Signs for the next 2 – 3 months.
- If you have data not entered for February or before, please complete the Monthly Data Gathering Chart and email it to Pam at email@example.com.
- March and April (possibly further) will have a temporary link to report only a few key data points
- Click HERE for the temporary link for reporting.
- Only 1 person from a church will be reporting.
- The MVS page has directions.
So much of church is in person, collecting data in areas where we are not gathering - just doesn’t make sense right now. We want to make reporting easier, not harder.
1. AWA (Average Worship Attendance): You may have data for the 2 or 3 weeks of March (5 Sundays in March), enter those numbers. Enter 0 if you did not meet or do not have the numbers. We are assuming that you are not meeting physically the last two weeks of March.
2. Online Viewing: If you are meeting virtually, enter the numbers as best you can gather. The main thing is to be consistent. Here is a link with helpful directions for collecting data for Online Viewing and Facebook Live. (Click here)
3. Giving: Use the same as what you have always counted. You may now have online giving, texting to give, or mailed in giving. While safe distancing may make this challenging, please do your best to follow the practices already in place for collecting donations and making deposits.
- This number is the total amount given to God’s church for budgeted operating and capital expenses and missional purposes in addition to or part of the budget. This includes all contributions received by pledged and unpledged giving, loose plate offerings, and funds given for capital debt, building or repairs, or special offerings to ministries beyond the church (UMCH, youth mission trip, Africa University, Habitat for Humanity, Storm Recovery or a sister congregation in Cuba or Angola).
- Excluded are interest income, memorial bequeaths, facility use fees, income from child care, adult day care ministries, thrift stores, pumpkin patches and similar fundraisers, as these do not reflect the financial generosity of the congregation.
4. Reaching Out: Please share with us one or two narratives -
- How are you reaching out to your church family?
- How is your church reaching out to the community?
Join the On Mission Together Collective!
Do you have skills in the area of writing, photography, video, graphic design, or curation? We would love to activate those talents and connect you to our shared mission. We believe you can help us create and curate dynamic storytelling content for The Florida Conference.
As we think of new ways to streamline our communications, while at the same time increasing our storytelling capacity, we are convinced that there are talented people all over the Conference that might be willing to use their gifts to help tell the story of our movement.
There is so much good to be celebrated that is happening all over The Florida Conference and we want to make sure we are highlighting it well! That is where you come in.
If you have the capacity to periodically write a story, curate some resources, shoot photos or video, or make a graphic, would you consider joining the On Mission Together (OMT) Collective?
Oftentimes, we miss out on great stories of Courageous Leadership, Missional Engagement, and Spirit-Led Innovation because we don’t have a network of storytellers across the Conference set up to capture them. This group of leaders will help shape the stories that we tell in The Florida Conference and use their gifts to bless those who interact with this content.
If you would have any interest in serving in this way, take a moment to fill out our interest form so that we can begin bringing together leaders willing to make an impact through communication: OMT Collective Interest Form.
May 26, 2020 - Training Tuesdays Fresh Expressions Webinar, 7 p.m.
- June 6, 2020 - Virtual Annual Conference
- June 30, 2020 - Moving Day for Transitioning Clergy
August 22, 2020 – Igniting Men Conference @ Mandarin UMC
September 12-13, 2020 - Spring in the Fall Lay Servant Training @ Spring Glen UMC
September 16, 2020 - District Admin Brunch, 9:30-12:30 @ Southside UMC
September 19, 2020 - Annual Conference Event
September 19-20, 2020 - Fall Lay Servant Training @ First UMC, Green Cove Springs
October 13, 2020 – 2020 Charge Conference Season Begins - please be sure to check when and where your charge conference is scheduled.
October 26, 2020 – Church Dashboard Update