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NCD April 2020 Newsletter


In the District   


Greetings from the District Superintendent

Dear Pastors and Leaders,

I’ve been thinking a lot about Easter the past several weeks. A lot. Though busy in a different way as my schedule and work has shifted, it’s given me the time and space to reflect on what I believe about the Resurrection event and how I celebrate this thing we have come to know as Easter. Its been instructive as I have reacted to each ‘little shock’ to my system about what can and cannot happen this year. The great and glorious processional to “Christ the Lord is Risen Today” just won’t be the same. And, wait a minute, those Easter lilies that crowd the chancel area won’t be there to gaze upon (or sneeze about!). The historic traditional greeting—“Christ is Risen! He is Risen Indeed” just won’t be the same. Handel’s “Hallelujah Chorus” won’t be heard. The families gathering by the flower cross to take group photos won’t be happening. So much of what is considered as ‘must haves’ to create this ‘atmosphere of Easter’ can’t take place in the usual fashion in these extreme and troubling times of ‘Stay Home. Stay Safe.’

But wait--there’s that first Easter to think about. No traditional hymns, greetings, flowers, songs or family and friend photos. Just fear, defeat, isolation, despair. Those first disciples, abandoning their leader, were locked down behind closed doors not knowing what would happen next. But something did happen. Jesus rose from the dead! Jesus appeared to them! Some touched him! For Christians, the Resurrection defines everything we believe, think and do. It is the foundation of what we have come to know as The Church. As theologian Jurgen Moltmann writes, “The death of Jesus on the cross is the centre of all Christian theology…the centre is occupied not by ‘cross and resurrection’, but by the resurrection of the crucified Christ, which qualifies his death as something that has happened for us, and the cross of the risen Christ, which reveals and makes accessible to those who are dying his resurrection from the dead.” These are especially powerful words as we live in the midst of a global pandemic.

Easter will be different this year, but it will still be Resurrection Sunday! We have the power of the risen Christ to encourage us and equip us to share the good news that one day we will not be behind closed doors and will draw close once again to family, friends, neighbors and brothers and sisters in Christ. We have Resurrection hope to share now! And there is the amazing gift of technology to reach not only those in our various churches but to go far beyond the restrictions of locked doors and walls of churches to the world which needs to hear this Resurrection Reality in the face of suffering and death such that most have not witnessed or experienced in their lifetimes. NOW is the time to be Easter People singing “Christ the Lord is Risen Today” in every way we can.

Pastors and Leaders—You are in my prayers now more than ever to be strong, creative, innovative and faithful witnesses throughout the world. That’s what Jesus said to do—

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20

Christ Is Risen! He is Risen Indeed!


 “Hymn for Resurrection People”.  By Bishop Ken Carter 

As Resurrection People, feel free to make use of this hymn that was composed by Bishop Carter and set to music by Brian Cagle. He has offered it for any who wish to use it for individual or corporate worship for Easter Sunday.


We Love our Neighbor by Flattening the Curve:
Update as Florida Stays Safer At Home (plus Annual Conference news)

Dear Florida Conference Clergy and Laity:
We are praying for each of you as we enter into the days of Holy Week and Easter, the celebration of the Resurrection.
As the Governor has issued a safer at home order for the state of Florida for the next 30 days, we offer the following updates:
• We urge all churches to not hold public worship services through the end of April.  Church is not canceled, but will use virtual platforms as you have been doing.  We applaud your creative efforts!  We invite you to fully engage with people through technology, and the Conference has supported this work through mini-grants for this purpose and coaching to learn basic skills.

• We ask you to abide by the spirit and law of this safer at home order.  Encourage people to limit all activities outside of their home to only those things that are deemed essential.  We love our neighbors as we seek to model what it means to flatten the curve.  We know that some of you have already lost people in your churches from this virus. We stay home with hope that it will save lives.  We are praying for all our people who are on the front lines of this pandemic.

• Many of you have asked what exceptions can be made since religious services are deemed as essential in the safer at home order.  We ask you to practice shared leadership and be in consultation with your local officials and your district superintendent.  If a handful of people need to go to church to record/stream services, this is acceptable as long as strict social distancing is practiced.  It should involve as few people as necessary and stay within the state and federal guidelines.  One or two staff or volunteers may need to occasionally ensure that essential financial matters are handled.  According to CDC guidelines, a small gathering of less than ten people practicing social distancing is appropriate at a graveside service.  Food pantries and ministries can continue in limited safe ways.  Limited childcare services that follow the guidelines are permitted.  We discourage drive in worship services, as the numbers often exceed the recommendations of safety.

• Bishop Carter has recorded a sermon for Easter, entitled “Easter, COVID-19 and the Contradiction of Resurrection Faith.”  It can be shared with your local church on Easter Sunday, and will be posted on the conference website that morning.  To request a link to the sermon click here.

• We encourage all who are able to continue to give generously to the work of God through your local church.  This is  especially important during the month of April.
For a substantial list of resources related to COVID-19 and the mission of our churches,  please click here.

2020 Annual Conference will be virtual 

We also wanted to give you an update on our Annual Conference meeting scheduled for June.  The Cabinet and planning team have decided to make our June meeting virtual.  We will share reports online and gather for a few hours virtually on Saturday morning June 6th in order to care for essential items of business (i.e. clergy session, budget, leadership nominations, etc.).  Details will be forthcoming.  We are also planning an in person gathering on Saturday, September 19th in Lakeland to recognize our retiring clergy, share in our memorial service, and celebrate commissioning and ordinations.  The September gathering will not be required but all are welcome to attend.  Please mark your calendars now for this significant event. 
The epidemiological models describe this as a very difficult month for the state of Florida and the nation.  We find hope, peace and reassurance in Jesus Christ.  We draw strength from his presence in our lives, and in our connection with each other.
May the peace of God, which surpasses all human understanding, be with you in these days.
Bishop Carter and the Florida Cabinet
Attachment: Governor's Statewide Order.pdf


North Central District Office

The District Office will be closed to help flatten the curve. Belinda will work Mon-Fri remotely and will check voice mail periodically. It would be best to email her at



 'Messy Church': Fresh Expressions in East Tennessee


On Saturday, February 1, 2020, over 250 people gathered for a Fresh Expressions Vision Day in Knoxville, Tennessee. It was an exciting time, as we faced honestly the reality of decline in a post-Christendom U.S. and envisioned new ways to be the church with people who don’t go to church. Among many highlights, including a “dance break” led by Bishop Mary Virginia “Dindy” Taylor and her husband Rusty, was the sharing of a local pioneer, Rev. Will Conner.

Will has served as Pastor at Decatur UMC in Decatur, Tennessee for four years. This is a small congregation in a rural context. It had been in decline for quite some time. Rev. Conner cultivated a “Messy Church” there at Decatur that is now attracting children and young families. Messy Churches are a particular form of Fresh Expression that emerged from the U.K. and are now found across the world. This is a way of being church for families involving fun, crafts and often a meal. It is not just a craft club, but a Christ-centered community for all ages, where participants can express creativity, hospitality and celebration as they “encounter Jesus as Lord and Savior together.” [1]

Please click here to read more. 

If you have any questions, please contact Michael Beck: 

 Rev. Michael Beck













All volunteer activities were suspended at the Florida prisons on March 15, with visitation suspended the week prior.  While this protects the women from potential infection, it leaves them terribly isolated and without all of the faith and wellness programming that improves the lives of the women and keeps their spirits up.  PLEASE pray for them during this time of isolation that the Holy Spirit would encourage them and that they would Christ to each other.  

However, I have GOOD NEWS!  Guitar lessons at the Work Camp and the Main Unit have been scheduled, so that once the doors are re-opened I can begin this "fresh expression" of church at Lowell.   

More GOOD NEWS!  Our HOPE LETTERS ministry - which is mentoring through letter writing - has also been approved.  If you would like to mentor a resident through letter writing or know someone who would like to, please email  To protect your identity, you will choose a pen name and the the women will write to you via a PO Box that I will monitor.  When a letter for you arrives, I will scan it in and email to you. 

More GOOD NEWS!  I have been approved to serve as a mentor. Once the doors open up, I will be doing weekly mentoring 8 women monthly (2 women per week).

I was blessed to attend the March 6 graduation for five recruits in the (youthful offender) Boot Camp program .   I conduct a Bible study with these ladies every Wednesday.  At the successful completion of the program, these young ladies are able to complete the remainder of their sentence on probation.  I was able to bring gift baskets of all their favorite foods they'd been craving while in prison.  The next platoon graduates May 22.  

Looking for a mission project for your small group or Sunday School class

Work Camp needs donations of: Casual  Clothing for women to wear when they are released 

Hair care items for their in-house salon.  For the list of the items they need: please email me at

Word Search Books and adult coloring books for the Special Needs Dorm 

Thank you for supporting this vital ministry. 

Rev. Kris Schonewolf


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! Please submit the six reports together in one email to Belinda Luquis Originals should remain in the church offices as the District Office shreds all documents once they are scanned. If you have any questions, please email Belinda.

Note: The Disaster Recovery Resource Survey is no longer required.

Explanation of Reports and Committee Responsible


  1. 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.
  2. Fund Balance Report - Submit online through your Church Dashboard. Do not send a hard copy to the District.


  1. Clergy Employee Conduct Policy ALL appointed clergy must submit this to the District each year.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.


  1. Annual Parsonage Report Review & renew annually. If your pastor does not live in it, we still want this completed. If you don't own a parsonage, please write N/A and submit it.

The church needs to have a Local Church Employee form signed by each employee and kept in their personnel file. This does not get sent to the District office.

The Fund Balance report is submitted online by Finance. Do not send a hard copy to the District. The form is located in your Church Dashboard on the bottom left. Note: The Disaster Recovery Resource Survey is no longer required.

For detailed instructions on reports, please review the Calendar of Reports.


Annual Assessment of Clergy Leadership

Annual Assessment of Ministerial Effectiveness & Goal Setting. The clergy assessment process 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 31. (Continuing Education is now completed in conjunction with the Annual Assessment above.) The completed forms should be emailed to Claudia Sava

NOTE: This is required for every clergy appointed to the local church. It has been available since January and is due May 31. Even if you have a new appointment, the pastor and SPRC are expected to turn one in. This exercise will be helpful for the church and pastor as they transition.

For detailed instructions on reports, please review the Calendar of Reports.


2020 Fall Annual Charge Conference

The North Central District will hold one Charge Conference this fall. Charge Conference will be held on Saturday, October 10, 2020, starting at 10:00 am to noon, at New Covenant UMC, The Villages. Further information will be provided. 

Please save the date! 

Around the Conference and Beyond


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. I will keep this brief.

•    If you have data not entered for February or before, please email your district office
•    March and April (possibly further) will have a temporary link to report only a few key data points 

  • This will be emailed to all active clergy appointed to a local church and the assigned Missional Vital Signs Reporter as entered on your church dashboard. Please check that the email for the MVS reporter to verify it is correct.
  • Only 1 person from a church will be reporting
  • The MVS page will also have 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?


The Florida United Methodist Children's Home
Did you miss the fifth Sunday offering? It's not too late to participate!

In these unprecedented and uncertain times, the church continues to offer hope that is desperately needed. Churches around the Florida Annual Conference have continued to respond to needs within their congregations and surrounding communities using various modalities and available technological resources. Despite the very real anxiety and fear that we may feel, the church has been a steadfast witness to the truth that God is always with us. At the Florida United Methodist Children's Home, a ministry of the Florida Conference, we also celebrate this truth now even more. It is the hope of Jesus that empowers everything that we do.
We just celebrated the Fifth Sunday Offering with churches around the Conference. This is a tradition well over 110 years old, and it is a vital source of funding for the Children's Home to provide the necessary care for children and families in need. If your church wasn't able to take up the Fifth Sunday Offering on March 29, that's ok - there is still time! We ask that you take up a special offering for the Children's Home on this Sunday, April 5th, using whatever format of worship your church is offering. More than ever, your support is needed to ensure that we are able to continue to provide the necessary daily care and support for children who have experienced a variety of traumatic events. This time of increased anxiety and stress will further increase the vulnerability of families already at risk for domestic violence and lack of resources, thus emphasizing the need for the Children’s Home as a sanctuary for these children.  
If you are providing online or streaming worship opportunities, please share our most recent Fifth Sunday video (it can be found here: You can give through our website at, or to text "spark" to 50155. Those who prefer to send donations in directly, they can absolutely do that instead.  Mail checks to: The Florida United Methodist Children's Home 51 Children's Way Enterprise, FL  32725.
We are grateful for all that you do in the local church to spread the healing love of Jesus Christ. At the Children's Home, we are proud to partner with you in sharing that love to the vulnerable children and families that we serve. Thank you for your continued support! 


Apply Now for UMC FCU Scholarships for College Bound Students

The Florida United Methodist Connectional FCU is once again offering scholarships to 17-35 year-old college-bound students in our connection. Four winning applicants, one from each of our four conferences - Florida, North Georgia, South Georgia, & Alabama-West Florida - will each receive a $1,000 scholarship. Click HERE for complete rules and full essay submission criteria. Click HERE for the application with all the details. Deadline for submission is April 30, 2020.

Questions? Call 866-687-2136.


2020 Summer Pastoral Ministry Internship Program 

The Office of Clergy Excellence, a Connectional Ministry of the Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church, sponsors the Summer Pastoral Ministry Internship Program. This program is for young adults, ages 18-26, who are interested in exploring ordained ministry through 10-week summer internships at United Methodist Churches and other approved extension ministry settings within the Florida Conference. These internships seek to provide a holistic, hands-on experience in pastoral ministry within a variety of areas of responsibility and under the guidance of a supervisor.

Click HERE to access the 2020 Summer Pastoral Ministry Internship Program Application.

The deadline for applications is April 30, 2020.

2020 Key Dates
•Internship Program: Monday, May 25, 2020 through Friday, July 31, 2020
•Intern Training Day: Friday, May 22, 2020 (Interns and Supervising Pastors)
•Intern Reflection Day: Monday, August 3, 2020 (Interns Only)

Additional information for Interns

Additional information for Pastors

If you have questions, please contact Holly Finley at or Sara McKinley at or by phone at 863-688-5563, ext 134.


General Conference 2020
Postponed until 2021

General Conference 2020 Website

General Conference Update with Alex Shanks - March 31st, 2020



North Central District Committee on Ministry (dCOM)

 Elizabeth Flynn
dCOM Registrar

dCOM Chair:  Rev.  Beth Farabee

Click HERE to read about the Candidacy Process.

For more information or to schedule an interview, email Elizabeth Flynn

NC dCOM meetings are held at the North Central District Office in Ocala.  dCOM dates: 

 Tuesday, May 5                (Materials due Apr 7)

 Tuesday, August 25        (Materials due July 28)

                                                Thursday, December 3  (Materials due Nov 5)




Calendar of Reports due 2020 - Reminder