In the District
Dear NC District Pastors and Leaders,
Recently, the phrase “failure of imagination” has been used in connection to several events that resulted in disastrous outcomes. Some examples noted are the events of 911, the effects of the global pandemic and the riots that took place on January 6 in the Capitol. It occurs to me this phrase describes the consequences of not seeing beyond our limited human thinking, individually and corporately. “The true sign of intelligence is not knowledge but imagination,” says Albert Einstein. He would know. In other words, all the facts and knowledge in the world will not help us in our human existence solve those problems that transcend our limited vision or understanding. It is imagination that offers the hope and the means to be able to move beyond ourselves to that place of innovation, new creation.
God, our creator, sustainer and redeemer is ultimate imagination. We serve a God who IS imagination. From Creation on, there is evidence of infinite imagination all around us. The opening chapters of Genesis give witness to the wonder that is God. Think of the creative energy, imagination, it took to create the more than 120,000 species of flies that have been identified (much to our chagrin!). THAT takes imagination! With humility, we consider that human beings, too, are the result of God’s imaginative work in creation. “When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established; what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them?” says Psalm 8:3-4. “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding” we read in Job 38:5.
Jesus’ ministry for those 3 short years on earth, was a ministry that challenged the imagination of the religious community. They could neither understand nor accept the breadth and depth of God’s love for all people. They would rather limit the scope of God’s reach rather than risk the possibility of life that forgiveness and mercy offers to everyone. It was a failure of imagination that ended in the cross and Jesus’ death.
Easter, for which we have been preparing these 40 days in Lent, is the fullest expression of God’s imaginative work. In the face of death, God has imagined and brought forth life. The resurrection energy, the creative force of that imaginative work is love. The ‘failure of imagination’ is the failure to love. Or, put another way, imagination at its best is to imagine the transformative power of love at every turn, in every circumstance and situation. That is what God did at Easter in and through Jesus Christ.
And that is what God is continuing to do for us and all of creation now. John’s Gospel ends with these words in verse 25, “But there are also many other things Jesus did; if every one of them were written down, I suppose the world itself could not contain the books that would be written.” Can you imagine that?!
May the Blessings and Wonder of Easter Imagination be Yours!
Fresh Expression News!
Are you an existing congregation that’s plateaued or in decline? Does your church have a vision to see a network of flourishing online Christian communities reaching new people and supporting their spiritual growth?
The North Central District Fresh Expressions Team would like to walk alongside you!
First, we invite you to join us in the Living Room Church. This is a collaborative Facebook Campus of the North Central District that centers worship, discipleship, and evangelism in the home. This online community is designed to encourage, support, and celebrate its members spiritual growth in the normal rhythms and spaces of life.
In February 2021 we reached over 1200 members in Living Room Church… “a community to support and celebrate your spiritual growth. A safe zone to connect, discuss real issues, and heal with other imperfect people. A space to reflect on Scripture, worship, learn, and pray together. A church that’s open 24/7, providing relationships and spiritual resources. Located where you hang out every day already… Facebook!” Several NCD churches are working together to provide this spiritual community that is open 24/7, seven days a week. Come and join us for conversation, inspirations, or to add your own unique offering!
Next, every congregation has the potential to plant a “digital campus.”
The NCD FX team wants to offer you some training and support designed to help you plant new online Christian communities. These communities are in relationship with your congregation but exist primarily on digital platforms. Our training ecosystem consists of three levels:
If you’re interested there are several ways to get started….
I. Imagination… Getting started? We can help!
- Local Church Laboratory: An afternoon session, typically following a worship service in which the vision for a digital campus is shared. Designed for a local church to form a team and get started.
- Webinar: Digital Dream Session: A one day onsite, online, or hybrid training that offers the why, what, and how of cultivating a digital campus.
II. Experimentation… Already have the makings of a digital community up and running? We can help!
- Planters Garden: Bring your team for 3 sessions over 6 weeks by Zoom. We provide coaching in between sessions as you experiment.
III. Multiplication… Lots of new digital things at different levels of development? We can help!
- Coaching: Set up individual or group coaching sessions so we can help you work on the issues and stages most pressing in your situation.
These services are offered free for North Central District churches. If you’re interested email me at email@example.com
Floral City United Methodist distributes vaccine!
The Department of Health in Citrus County (DOH-Citrus) partnered with the Floral City United Methodist Church on Wednesday, March 17, to distribute COVID-19 vaccinations to the church community.
The partnership stems from a new DOH-Citrus initiative to work with faith-based communities and groups to target underserved communities.
“This is the first of many safe-based outreaches,” said Audrey Stasko of DOH-Citrus, which is in the process of planning partnerships with other churches and groups in the near future.
For more information, please click here.
Join the North Central District for our monthly Tuesday Inspirations virtual Bible Study series!
|Dr. Rev. David Allen|
Dr. David Allen, who served as the first Dean of the Chapel/ Executive Chaplain at Bethune- Cookman University, will be leading our April Virtual Bible Study through the Abrahamic monotheistic religions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. This Virtual Bible Study will be a way of revisiting the historical foundation of worship, prayer, fellowship, discipleship and service as identified in the book of Acts.
Please click here to read Dr. Rev. David Allen biography.
Register in advance for these zoom meeting:
April 20, 2021 Zoom Meeting:
May 20, 2021 Zoom Meeting:
**After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.
Annual Assessment of Clergy Leadership
Due May 31
Finally! It is here! The new and revised Annual Clergy Evaluation Form! There is ONE online form that the clergy and SPRC chair both complete online and submit online!! Be sure to read the letter from Rev. Sara McKinley and to watch the video on the link below.
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. Continuing Education is now completed in conjunction with the Annual Assessment above.
This NEW process is fully electronic and you do not have to print and send a hard copy of the evaluation to the district office.
Clergy/Students Can Now Apply For Grants
Deadline is April 30
The PASSING THE TORCH FUND, a collaborative grant program between the Florida United Methodist Foundation and Florida Conference, is now accepting applications for two grant opportunities.
RENEWAL LEAVE GRANTS
The fund awards grants that provide financial assistance to Florida Conference clergy in full connection who are planning to take renewal leave. Up to $10,000 per grant may be awarded.
STUDENT OF CULTURE AND COLOR SEMINARY SCHOLARSHIP
The fund awards a seminary scholarship to a qualified student of color and culture who is planning to enter United Methodist ministry.
Applications for both grants will be accepted until April 30.
Complete the application online (under #4 Passing the Torch). For more information, please contact Holly Finley, Office of Clergy Excellence, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 800-282-8011, ext. 134.
ABOUT THE FUND
The Passing the Torch Fund was launched in 2015 to provide training, financial assistance and leadership development support for conference clergy and those preparing for ordained ministry in the Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church.
It is administered by the Office of Clergy Excellence and funded by the Florida United Methodist Foundation and conference Board of Pension and Health Benefits.
In addition to the grant opportunities, individuals ordained deacon or elder in full connection will receive $5,000 from this fund at annual conference to help alleviate educational debt. The fund also supplements the Ministerial Education Fund assistance provided to clergy and cooperative grant efforts through the Office of Clergy Excellence.
More information about recipients of the grants and how the fund has been used is available through these articles:
Clergy scholarship recipients have passion, hope for future church
Grants help clergy dream big, focus on God’s call
Helping the helpers
Scholarship helps candidate fulfill passion for ministry
July 8 and 10, 2021 - Deadline June 1, 2021
Please see the Candidacy Retreat Checklist to ensure all necessary items are completed. The checklist outlines all the steps need for Candidacy.
Apply NOW for UMC FCU 2021 Scholarship
Application deadline: April 30, 2021
What you need to know:
- $1,000.00 awarded to one person from each of the United Methodist Conferences (Florida, Alabama -West Florida, South Georgia, North Georgia)
- Application Open: January 1 - April 30, 2021
- Previous Winners are ineligible to apply
- UMC FCU Members are eligible to apply. Applying online to become a UMC FCU member is easy. Eligibility Requirements ( Be a Member of a UM Church, or Work for a UM Church or Organization within the four (4) conferences listed above, Have a family member who is already a member of UMC FCU)
- Click HERE for application and essay information
- Don’t wait to apply (Applying early does not increase your chances of winning… it’s just good to get things done as soon as possible)
Should you have any questions, please contact anyone at the United Methodist Federal Credit Union 863-687-9725.
Immigration Clinics with Florida Justice For Our Neighbors
Virtual immigration clinics that Florida Justice For Our Neighbors has scheduled for the next few months. These clinics are open to all immigration questions and cases. All we ask is that the potential client be on a device with a stable internet connection, whether it be personal or with help from another. We hope to get the word out to as many people needing immigration assistance as possible, and in doing so we would greatly appreciate it if you would be willing to share the attached flyers in your newsletter.
2021 North Central DCOM Dates
- Tuesday, May 4 (due April 6) 1st Provisional/LP/Cert
- Tuesday, August 24 (due July 27) 2nd Provisional/LP/Cert
- Tuesday, Dec 7 (due Nov 9) LP/Cert/Recerts
DCOM Chair: Rev. Elizabeth "Beth" Snarr - email@example.com
DCOM Registrar: Elizabeth Flynn firstname.lastname@example.org
DCOM Meeting Location: District Office, Ocala FL
For information how to begin the Candidacy process, Click HERE.
Update to Missional Vital Signs Reporting
While churches are not meeting in person due to COVID-19, The Florida Conference will use a Modified MVS reporting model. Click HERE for instructions and to report March, April, & May MVS.
If you have data not entered for February or before, please complete the Monthly Data Gathering Chart for each of those months and email it to Belinda at email@example.com.
2021 Holiday Schedule for The Florida Annual Conference
The conference and district offices will be closed the following days.
Memorial Day holiday
Independence Day holiday
Labor Day holiday
Veteran's Day holiday
New Year's Day holiday