In the District
Dear Pastors and Leaders,
As we live in a time of rapid fluctuation (something akin to whiplash more like it!), the question before us is ‘what grounds us theologically?’ for that determines our response. How do we navigate planning, then unplanning, then adapting worship yet again in light of the vicious, persistent virus that is yet to be under control? People are falling ill and hospitals are filling up, to overflowing in some cases. What now? Two images and passages of scripture come to mind as we seek to navigate these uncertain and tumultuous times—The wilderness experience in Exodus and the gospel imperative to care for the weak and the vulnerable in Matthew 25: 31-40. The wilderness experience changed from day to day as they learned to trust God’s provision, God’s leading and God’s power in the midst of the unknown. Everything that was familiar was gone. They had to learn to trust Moses and Moses had to learn to trust God. In their struggle, they were formed into God’s people. It was not easy. It took 40 years. That is both comforting and challenging as we consider our own wilderness journey as the church in these times.
The other image is found in Matthew 25 which reminds us of that for which we are accountable, even in the wilderness and challenging times of the present. We are accountable for how we treat and care for the vulnerable, the sick, the least of these who are members of our family. We are accountable for how we care for one another in our congregations and our communities.
‘Lord when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’ Matthew 25: 37-40
I would add that when we are asked to wear masks again in worship or other aspects of church, to be vaccinated if you are eligible, to distance again in this highly contagious time is another is another expression of ‘as you did it one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’
As you are being asked to lead in these difficult times and to ask for changes to be made yet again in your local churches, remember God was with his people in the wilderness and delivered them. Remember the command to care for the least of these and one another and that in so doing, it is your offering of love in Jesus’ name. Remember that we are accountable for these acts of love.
God is with us. Thanks be to God!
|Rev. June Edwards|
Updated Florida Conference COVID Guidance
We wrote last week and shared our concerns about the rising COVID-19 cases in Florida. We write again this week because of the continued increase of infections and the updated CDC guidelines related to masks. Please factor these two realities into your ongoing leadership conversations and decisions. We ask pastors and church leaders to take the current reality in Florida seriously and adjust your expectations for ministry as we continue to navigate this season together. We urge the use of masks in indoor settings, as an expression of our love for our neighbor and as the fulfillment of the law of Christ (Galatians 5:14).
Should you have any specific questions, please contact your District Office or you can reach the episcopal office through email@example.com.
Church Dashboard Training
On July 19, The conference sent an email about our new database which means we have a new Church Dashboard. Here are the highlights:
- You access the dashboard from the same place as before. It is at the top row of flumc.org.
- All passwords have been reset to your GCFA number. The Username and Password are your GCFA number. Once you change the password, share it with others who access your church dashboard.
- We know that all of the data did NOT transfer correctly. Please review all sections of your church dashboard and edit accordingly.
If you have questions on the new dashboard, please contact me at the district office at 352-789-6981. Belinda
2021 Annual Church Conference
The 2021 Charge/Church Conference forms, instructions and dates will be available on The Florida Conference website on Monday, August 23. Click HERE for the Calendar of Reports where you can access the forms on August 23.
Bishop's Fall Clergy Meetings
All clergy are invited to meet with Bishop Carter this fall at one of four locations:
- Thursday, September 16, 2021 - Mount Pleasant, Gainesville
- Tuesday, October 12, 2021 - First, Ormond Beach
- Wednesday, October 13, 2021 - Christ, Fort Lauderdale
Clergy should choose the location that is most convenient in terms of location and schedule. Each meeting will begin at 10am and conclude by 11:30am. Clergy are encouraged to gather in small groups to share a meal before or after the event.
We will gather for fellowship, re-connection and dialogue. We will also reflect on a shared vision for the continuing United Methodist Church, going more deeply into Bishop Carter’s reflection at the beginning of Annual Conference of our life together as a gracious space and as our connectional way of making disciples for the transformation of the world.
Fresh Expression News!
After more than a year of the COVID pandemic, and now the challenges of emerging variants, some leaders are experiencing compassion fatigue. Congregations are experiencing fatigue in reaching out to their communities. How can we rekindle our love? What if we could rediscover a deeply theological and wildly adventurous model for our local congregations?
Join us for a FREE webinar that will reignite your passion for what God can do in a local congregation on August 4th at 1pm EST:
Additionally, here are four free resources available to you as leaders and churches in the North Central District:
- Living Room Church. This is a collaborative Facebook Campus of the North Central District that centers worship, discipleship, and evangelism in the home. Come experiment with other churches across the district!
- Local Church Workshop: A training session designed for your local context. Typically follows a worship service in which the vision for a hybrid church is shared.
- Studio: Bring your team Thursday September 30th 5:30-7:30pm. Each Studio is comprised primarily of these five elements.
1. A shared focus: traveling through the ‘loving-first cycle’ at your own pace.
2. Self-paced discovery: guided through using the free app, FX: Godsend.
3. Community of practice: gather in the Studios twice-yearly for planning, team and personal formation.
4. Support via social media: connect between gatherings in a Facebook Group.
5. Skype/Zoom-based coaching: provided as needed with experienced pioneers.
- Adventurers Leadership Academy: equips lay, licensed, and ordained pioneers to cultivate Fresh Expressions of Church. This is a year long cohort-based academy. Working in collaboration with an international team of scholars, pastors, missional strategists, and coaches, the academy values practice-focused learning, personal reflection, individualized coaching and mentorship, and collaborative conversation. Graduates receive CEU’s and a certificate from United Theological Seminary. (application and references are required for admittance: United Theological Seminary - Acceptiva)
Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.
Fresh Water from The Oasis at LCI
Our God still moves mountains! Every day addiction, hopelessness, and trauma lose their power in the presence of Jesus, and our district is on the front lines through the ministry of The Oasis at Lowell Correctional Institution in Ocala. Would you like to learn more about what is happening behind the prison walls?
*Invite Pastor Kris Schonewolf to come to your church one Sunday and bring a message of hope - laced with testimonies of healing and restoration. You can contact her at PastorKrisLCI@comcast.net or 302.363.5351. She can cover while the pastor is on vacation, or can be a guest preacher on a Sunday when the pastor is there.
*Collect hygiene items for the indigent women who have no friends or family to provide for their needs (shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, toothpaste/toothbrushes, and soap). They can be delivered to the District office:
*Donate composition notebooks, Bible-safe highlighters, STUDY Bibles, and colored pencils. (They can be dropped off at the District office.)
The prison is in need of 2 donated pianos, and (as an added bonus) a connection with a moving company that can transport them to Lowell CI in Reddick (just outside of Ocala).
We are always looking for HOPE Letters correspondence mentors who will mentor (through the mail) one woman. Your identity and location are completely hidden. Contact Pastor Kris for details.
Rev. Kris Schonewolf * 302.363.5351
He can turn a barren wilderness into an oasis with water! He can make springs flow into desert lands and turn them into fertile valleys.
Ps 107:35-36 TPT
Ministry News - St. Mark's UMC, Ocala
TV20 News - St. Mark's United Methodist Church "THE FAMILY TABLE" Ministry.
Important Update Regarding the Clergy Team Meeting
Due to the increase of Covid-19 cases in the State of Florida. We are cancelling our IN Person meeting. We will having the meeting the same date and time on a Zoom Meeting Format. We will be sending an email to all the clergy with the Zoom invitation soon.
Please save the date! Monday, August 30th at 10:00 am
Share what your ministry is doing with the conference
If you have short videos showing your ministry in action, youth activities, feeding the hungry, children's ministry, etc., you can share them with the conference in our Now Playing feature on the home page: https://www.flumc.org.
Videos should be 4 minutes or less. You can share your video with us here: https://www.flumc.org/submitvideo.
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.
Labor Day holiday
Veteran's Day holiday
New Year's Day holiday