In the District
Dear North Central District,
As June is away for some much-needed rest, I have an opportunity to share a few words. I wanted to say something that represented her heart. I know she has said many times what amazing work you all are doing in this incredible time of disorientation. Be encouraged, know you are surrounded by a “great cloud of witnesses,” and keep “looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith” (italics mine). Hebrews 12:2 identifies Jesus as the ἀρχηγός (pronounced är-khā-gos), which means “pioneer” or “author” (and conversely my personal favorite “instigator”). This term is the closest we get in Koiné Greek to “innovator” or “entrepreneur.”
We follow in the slipstream of a Jesus who is always out ahead of us, making all things new, and innovating a new reality, “the kingdom” that is breaking into the world. As the church we are called to join Jesus in this activity.
The future came in the night and we are here now. Desperation is the seedbed of innovation. None of us have ever lived through a pandemic like this before. Now our state has become an epicenter of the virus, just when many of us were making plans to return to in-person worship. Additionally, we are experiencing a time of massive social upheaval, as the evil of structural racism is being challenged. Needless to say, life in the local church is challenging these days! Each of you in your own way, has been learning, adapting, and finding new ways to be the church.
Some pervading sentiments throughout the country are the grief, content overload, pressure from congregants, no easy answers, exhaustion, and screen fatigue. I led a webinar last week titled “How Tired Churches Can Re-engage for Mission While the Pandemic Continues.” Over 400 people registered, and each person represented hundreds more in their faith communities who resonated with the word “tired.” With the spiking of the virus, and loss of a clear plan, many of us have fallen into a state of “missional paralysis.” Missional: Missional is derived from the term Missio Dei (Latin for mission of God). In the basic sense, missio means “sent” and comprehends mission as a primary attribute of God. Paralysis: the loss of the ability to move (and sometimes to feel anything) in part or most of the body.
I wanted to share some learnings from leaders across the country that may be helpful.
- The health of our congregants is the top priority. The virus is very real, and it is deadly. The grief and loss is also very real. “Loving our neighbor” and the well-being of our parishioners should be our top priority, everything else is secondary. The church needs healers right now, and we need to be innovative in how we do that work.
- Self-care. Are we taking time to encounter the Risen Jesus daily? Are we spending time in prayer, meditation, and searching the Scriptures. Are we going outside on a scavenger hunt for beauty, goodness, and truth? Are we eating well, exercising our bodies, finding a way to stink and sweat every day? Are we taking time for Sabbath, family, play, and fun?
- Care for the center, experiment on the edge. In this time of liminality, we have to manage the tension of caring for what is, while creating what will be. I used to talk about sustaining the inherited church, while planting micro-churches in the community. Now we have had to redefine the center and create new ways to care for our people. In addition to cultivating new digital forms of church. Perhaps you will find this axis helpful as you think about this work, every church will need to be engaged in mission in each quadrant on this new missional frontier.
- To Default or Pivot? That is the Question. This is no time for technical problems with technical solutions. One way to grasp this, is to understand the difference between “Kind Learning Environments” where patterns repeat consistently, feedback is accurate and rapid. And, “Wicked Learning Environments” which may not include repetitive patterns, the rules of the game are unclear, status quo changes, and feedback is often delayed, inaccurate, or both.
Wicked learning environments thrust us into an adaptive challenge. It’s like people who have lived in a jungle our whole lives, now learning to live in a dessert. It’s a totally new ecosystem. We all operate from a particular “mental model” deeply held internal images of how the world works, images that limit us to familiar ways of thinking and acting.
These mental models determine not only how we make sense of our environments, how we see, but also shape how we act. Some of the best ideas fail, brilliant strategies never get translated into action, because they conflict with these deeply held mental models. In the disorientation, we either “default” or “pivot,” defaulting back to old mental models or staying with the disorientation and see what new things we can create.
I know this is not right for everyone, but at Wildwood we decided not to return to in-person worship until even the most vulnerable among us can do so safely. We are not “closed” we are just finding new and creative ways to worship, care for isolated persons, continue our food pantry/recovery ministries/ in-house rehab, add new members, and plant digital fresh expressions. For us, the availability of a vaccine will be our cue to return to in-facility worship. Taking the long view like this, and committing to pivot, has released us to be more creative.
I hope these thoughts will spark some ideas that would be appropriate for your own context. If we can help you at all in the district office, please let us know.
FRESH EXPRESSION NEWS!
Learn from N.T. Wright and other leading scholars, pastors, and innovators!
In May Fresh Expressions US launched the Resilient Church Academy. The academy gathered cohorts from across the country digitally to learn together how to be the church in this challenging time. In response to many of the learning tracks selling out and lots of requests for a second iteration of the academy, we are launching a new session starting the first week of August.
Registration opens this week! It will cover many of the same academy tracks as last time, as well as a few new opportunities that consider what else has been happening in the nation the last two months.
As a partner with FXUS, you can feel free to use this discount code FLUMC25 (25% off) to distribute to any church/church leader in our conference for these academies. Note: The only exception is that we are not able to offer a discount for the Master Class.
Here is a link to the landing page - https://resilientchurchacademy.com/
CEU’s will be provided through United Theological Seminary. I now serve as the Director of the Fresh Expressions House of Studies at United, where we off a Doctorate, Master of Divinity, and non-degree certifications in fresh expressions. If you or someone in your congregation is interested in further education, please let me know https://united.edu/fresh-expressions-studies/
Michael Beck firstname.lastname@example.org
Fresh Water at The Oasis!
As a result of the lockdown, the ministry of The Oasis at Lowell Correctional came to a halt on March 15. However, Phase I for volunteers began on June 10, and I was given one evening per week with some ladies at the Work Camp. Praise God for progress!
The BIG NEWS is that our HOPE LETTERS Correspondence Mentoring ministry is underway! We have 90 residents who have signed up to have a mentor, and we are short on mentors. As of June 24, we have 53. I ask that you could let your women's groups know that we are looking for volunteers who will be willing to mentor a woman through letter writing. The identity and location of the mentors are kept completely anonymous (the residents will write to you via a PO box that I monitor, and I will scan and email your letters to you.) There is a short training (under one hour) that we do virtually. Please contact me at PastorKrisLCI@comcast.net to sign up.
Looking for a mission project for your small group or Sunday School class?
Lowell 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 PastorKrisLCI@comcast.net.
Word Search Books and adult coloring books and colored pencils for the Special Needs Dorm
Congratulations to all the NCD Clergy who were Licensed, Commissioned and Ordained
at the Virtual Clergy Session June 6!
Earl Powell - Debose Chapel UMC
Kelly Everling - Anthony/Pine UMC
Shane McIntosh - Southwest UMC
Kathy Hudak-Yoakum - Webster UMC
Shawn O'Trimble - Belleview UMC
Joyce Dunne - Floral City UMC
Local Pastor - Chris Kelbaugh
Deborah "Debbie" Casanzio - Lady Lake UMC
Sharon Surrency - Partnership for Strong Families, Inc., First Hawthorne UMC at the Community Outreach Coordinator.
Don Pratt - First Inverness UMC
Blessings to all our Clergy with New Appointments!
Christ UMC - Gary Eldred
First Citra/First Reddick - Gerry Hubbs
First Zephyrhills - Steve Ezra
Lady Lake - Deborah "Debbie" Casanzio
Ridge Manor - Ed White
A Zoom Listening Panel for Worship Leaders in The Florida Conference
July 16 10:00am
Please join the Institute for Modern Worship on a Zoom call to pray, share and connect over this challenging season of Covid-19. Design Team members Gabrielle Toledo and Drew Miller will facilitate an open discussion of the joys and pains from live stream, to Quarantine etc. as well as come together in prayer for hope and inspiration.
If you are interested in participating, please email either email@example.com, or firstname.lastname@example.org to receive the Zoom Link.
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 at https://www.flumc.org.
Videos should be 4 minutes or less. You can share your video with us here: https://www.flumc.org/submitvideo.
You can also share your photos on our Photos from around the conference page https://www.flumc.org/photos.
Click HERE to submit your photos.
Join the OMT 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 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
Our goal is for this initiative to be a natural extension of the gifts you are already using and a match to the capacity you have to give.
Thank you for considering, we look forward to connecting with you..
Annual Assessment of Clergy Leadership
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Cabinet and the Office of Clergy Excellence has agreed to postpone the deadline for annual clergy evaluations for non-moving clergy to September 30, 2020. For those clergy who are moving, their evaluations will likely need to be conducted virtually and must be completed by June 30, 2020. The completed forms should be emailed to Claudia Sava email@example.com.
The clergy assessment process is available on the FLUMC website under Clergy Excellence.
NOTE: This is required for every clergy appointed to the local church. These evaluations are not required for extension ministers or deacons working beyond the local church setting.
2020 Fall Annual Charge Conference
|2020 Super Charge Conference|
The North Central District will hold one Charge Conference this fall. Charge Conference will be held on Saturday, October 10, 2020 at 10:00 am. Further information will be provided.
Please save the date!
Annual Conference 2020 Update
Virtual Pre-Annual Conference Orientation - There will be three virtual session to help prepare attendees for this year’s session:
Atlantic Central + East Central + South East Districts: Tuesday, August 18, 7 pm
Gulf Central + South West Districts: Thursday, August 20, 6 pm
North Central + North East + North West: Monday, August 17, 6 pm
Annual Conference - The event will take place on Saturday, September 19 from 10:00am to 5:00pm at First UMC, Lakeland. An online option will be available for those unable or unwilling to meet in person. Those who join online will be able to vote. This will be a one day annual conference and the agenda will consist of: approval of the budget, approval of leadership and committees, election of the Lay Leader, and church closures.
The Laity Session will be held online only on Sept. 12 at 10:00am.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Calendar of Events
July 4 Independence Day Observed July 3
August 17, 6 pm -North Central + North East + North West: Virtual Pre-Conference Orientation - More information coming soon.
September 7 Labor Day
October 10 - North Central District Super Charge Conference
November 11 Veteran’s Day
November 26 Thanksgiving
November 27 Day after Thanksgiving
December 24 Christmas Eve
December 25 Christmas Day
September 19th in Lakeland to recognize our retiring clergy, share in our memorial service, and celebrate commissioning and ordinations.