In the District
Greetings from the District Superintendent
Dear Pastors and Leaders,
This message comes in the midst of two crises profoundly affecting our lives, our communities and our churches. The Covid-19 virus has cost the lives of more people than we could have imagined, exceeding 110,000, someone’s loved one, some even in our district. And the equally deadly virus of racism, which has been brought to the fore as we watched the life drain from George Floyd’s body as he pleaded for help from the police officers charged with protecting all of us and him. We are pressed and strained to deal with each. We are caught between practicing keeping distance from one another as a demonstration of love of neighbor while at the same time called to speak with one voice to cry out for justice along with our black siblings who continue to suffer from generations of systemic racial injustice that has brought suffering, harm and cruelty, too often resulting in death. The first, a pandemic, was not expected. The second, structural racism, has been a part of life in America since before we became a nation. Each of us are called to participate in the elimination of both as we care for one another. Caring for one another’s well-being in our communities is not new to the Methodist tradition. In fact, both were an integral part of the Methodist movement in 18th century England, and by extension to what became the United States.
Six days before he died in 1791, John Wesley, wrote a letter to Wilbur Wilberforce, a member of the British Parliament, to encourage his continued work to end slavery in Britain. In his letter he wrote, “Go on, in the name of God and in the power of his might, till even American slavery (the vilest that ever saw the sun) shall vanish away before it.” We are the inheritors of the effects of this cruel and vile and sinful practice to this day. Yet, as Methodists, it is clear we have a strong precedent and call to work to end the generations-long attitudes and practices that are the result of the racism embedded in us all.
I am a white woman born into racist systems and structures and practices. Though I wish it were not so, they are part of me. I confess my participation in a system that has perpetuated systemic racial inequity and violence against my black siblings. I confess that I have not done enough to work toward its end. What happened to George Floyd was the vilest that ever saw the sun for me. Yet, it was only one event among countless that have been perpetrated for hundreds of years. What will I do? What will you do? What will we do as a church?
We begin with acknowledging our complicit support of unjust systems by our silence. We begin with seeking heart transformation. I will commit to continue to learn as much as I can about how racism has been at work in my life, my words and my actions and in the community around me and the churches in our district. I am asking the same of you.
Below are some resources with which to start and I invite you as pastors and leaders in our churches to use these as a beginning point of a conversation that must happen:
Books and Articles
- “White Fragility” by Robin Diangelo
- “How to Be an Anti-Racist” by Ibrim X. Kendi
- “The New Jim Crow” by Michelle Alexander
- “Letter from Birmingham Jail” by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
- The Florida Conference Website
- “13th” Directed by Ava DuVernay (Netflix and Youtube)
- “Reconstruction” by Dr. Henry Louis Gates (PBS)
- “Just Mercy” The true story of Bryan Stevenson and his work with the Equal Justice Initiative. Free streaming.
- “The Best of Enemies” A true story of a Civil Rights activist and Klansman in Durham,NC.
These are just a few ways you can begin to make steps toward transformation and understanding of our own inherent bias. In the meantime, an Anti-racism task force is being formed at the conference level and a group is now forming in the North Central District to begin this work as well. You will be hearing more about that in the coming days.
I close with this quote from “Letter from Birmingham Jail” from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr (which is available in its entirety online):
“In a real sense all life is inter-related. All men are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be, and you can never be what you ought to be until I am what I ought to be...This is the inter-related structure of reality.”
In Matthew 7:12 Jesus says, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”
Let us commit to starting there in the days ahead as we journey forward, together.
Peace to You!
|Rev. June Edwards|
FRESH EXPRESSION NEWS!
Fresh Expressions: What They Are and What They Are Not
By now you’ve probably heard of the fresh expressions movement but may be still asking yourself “so what actually is a fresh expression?” Is a fresh expression just another type of outreach? Perhaps you started one accidentally? Or maybe you’re unclear what’s the difference between a potential and mature fresh expression of church? It’s possible that you’ve heard the terms “pioneer,” “mixed economy,” “blended ecology” and “remissioning” thrown around as well. I hope to simply explain these terms and answer some of these commonly asked questions in a series of posts.
Please click here to read more....
|Rev. Dr. Michael Beck|
About the Author
Rev. Dr. Michael Adam Beck
Michael Beck is Director of Re-Missioning for Fresh Expressions U.S. and Cultivator of Fresh Expressions for read more…
In-Person Worship Optional after June 15th
The Florida Conference Re-Launch Task Force along with Bishop Carter and the Cabinet met this week and decided to allow churches to consider resuming in-person worship after June 15th on a limited basis according to the following guidelines. Before proceeding, we ask that you be sure to have read carefully and completely our FLUMC guidelines, the CDC guidelines, the article “Why reopening church is different”, the FAQ document, and the Governor’s Plan for Florida’s Recovery.
Please continue to offer on-line worship. It is important that vital worship opportunities are readily available for people in your church who are not ready to return to your campus. Recent surveys suggest that more than 70% of your regular church attendees may choose to stay home at this time. Many of our vital churches have decided to wait and resume in-person worship until July or August and we fully support these plans.
Our strong recommendation is that churches consider lower risk in-person worship opportunities like outside worship (with appropriate social distancing, wearing masks and a consideration for heat exposure) and drive-in worship (with participants staying in their vehicles - see guidelines here.)
Here are seven key things to keep in mind:
1. This guidance could change. If the number of new cases or the infection rates begin to increase, this guidance will be revisited and further guidance will be given, including a new request for no in-person worship during a spike in cases.
2. The decision will vary according to your church context. Churches should carefully follow the guidance of your city and county officials and investigate the rate of infection in your area. Churches should consider the state of preparedness of your church, the size of your congregation, the number of vulnerable persons in your setting, the availability of cleaning supplies, and more. The decision to resume in-person worship should be made by a team of leaders that includes the pastor.
3. Persons in vulnerable populations (in the state of Florida this has been defined as persons over the age of 65 or those with underlying medical conditions) are encouraged to stay home. This guidance is consistent with the guidance from the federal and state government and the CDC.
4. At all times people must maintain at least six feet between family groups. We believe in most indoor settings this could cap your capacity between 15% to 25% of what your space typically holds. In order to do this safely, you will need to have a registration system in place with spaces set aside for visitors.
5. Clearly communicate the guidelines in multiple ways to every person who enters your space. It is helpful to see this as a covenant between all participants. Guidelines should be in writing. Have clear signage as people enter spaces. Announce the guidelines at the beginning of each gathering. Have a clear plan in place for visitors and those who may not want to follow the guidelines. Be able to communicate why you are reopening should the media be present, and take pictures showing how you are following the guidelines.
6. Remember these simple reminders: Monitor your symptoms – Stay Home if you are sick – Wash your hands – Maintain social distance – Wear masks.
7. Have enough cleaning supplies to thoroughly clean your facilities before, during, between and after gatherings. Items should be removed from pews, offering plates should not be passed, and communion should be served in a modified way.
Here are three areas of higher risk that require conversation and coordination:
1. All persons should wear a mask or cloth face covering. Not wearing a mask puts everyone around you at a higher level of risk. We address masks further in our FAQ.
2. Our conference task team believes congregational singing is a higher risk activity. This is based on a high level of agreement among scientists and singing experts (view CDC research on singing). We address singing further in our FAQ.
3. Ministry to children and youth in this time is a higher risk activity. Before schools reopen, it may be that many churches encourage families to worship together. Children and youth ministry must follow the CDC guidelines. This will require additional volunteers, volunteers wearing masks, daily checking of temperatures, and more. Social distancing is difficult for younger children to understand. Any church planning to do children or youth ministry should send their specific plan of how they intend to follow the CDC guidelines to their District Superintendent. All children and youth ministry must also follow our Child and Youth Protection Policy.
As a final reminder, outside groups who use church facilities should follow the same guidelines we have published. All outside groups must provide a certificate of insurance, which includes the local church as an Additional Insured, and sign an agreement that states their willingness to abide by these guidelines. Outside choral groups are strictly prohibited at this time.
The above and linked guidelines are the minimum requirements for Florida United Methodist Churches. Churches may add to these guidelines but may not subtract from these guidelines.
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.
Lake Deaton United Methodist Church
Sunday afternoon, May 31st at 4pm, Lake Deaton UMC was launched as a separate UMC in The Villages. The Lake Deaton campus was a vision of the New Covenant UMC pastor, Rev. Harold Hendren and the leadership for continuing to expand the reach of God’s love to the many people moving into The Villages. More than 650 people attended in cars and golf carts as the most unusual Church Conference and Constituting Conference that ever was held took place! The vote was an overwhelming affirmation of sending forth Lake Deaton as a fully functioning church with exceptional leadership. Please offer your prayers of thanksgiving and blessing to Revs. Jim and Loida Divine as they begin their tenure as co-pastors and to Rev. Kristyne Young as Associate Pastor.
The North Central District celebrate the retirement of a great Christ Servants.....
Rev. Sue Corley
I was born in New Jersey, the youngest of three in a Catholic family that was loud, funny, outspoken, and cussed frequently and creatively. Clearly, I was a shoo-in for pastoral ministry. I inherited a love of Jesus from my grandmother, who tried to atone for our family’s sins at St. Joseph’s Church several times a week before I moved to Florida at age ten.
I became a Methodist in my thirties and began in my call as a youth pastor in Boynton Beach for six years. Hearing a call from God, I attended Duke Divinity School from 2006-2009 and began as a Local Pastor in 2009. I served as lead pastor at three churches in my eleven years with the Florida Conference.
My call to leave pastoral ministry came as unexpectedly and mysteriously as my call into it. I’m moving to a cabin in the mountains of North Carolina where I hope to paint, write, and somehow make a living. I am sure God has some interesting plans for me to use my gifts and graces that I was not able to do in my time as a pastor. God is funny that way.
Rev. Marguerite Matthews
“Come to the mountain top. Leave all your cares behind. He spoke so gently to me. And you will fly, fly like a butterfly.” That is the song that I sang, as I prepared for my interview with the District Board of Ordained Ministry and then the Conference Board of Ordained Ministry almost 20 years ago. As I stand before you today, with my husband and spiritual partner in ministry, I am so thankful for serving God’s church as a Local Pastor. I have served with wonderful Christ-followers in Jacksonville, Lake Panasoffkee, Webster and Bushnell. One of the highlights of my ministry was the adventure and honor to be trained as a church planter and to serve Harmony Mission in Jacksonville for eight years. Serving in Central Florida with dedicated and community outreach-oriented friends in Christ as a two-point charge appointment over the last eight years has been my privilege and joy.
Rev. Priscilla Scherrah
Five years before retiring as an educator, God called me to full time ministry just as he had when I was 11 years old. This time I embraced that call rather than running away. I attended seminary while continuing to work, graduating in 2010. My first appointment was Archer UMC and Bronson UMC where I served for 6 years. In 2016, I was appointed to Christ United Methodist Church, Leesburg serving there for four years.
God is now calling me to a new season in life, a season of a slower pace, time with family and time to take care of Priscilla.
It has been my pleasure to serve as a local pastor in the Florida Annual Conference. I have done my best to be faithful to God's calling and I pray that my service had a positive impact on the lives of those who attend the churches I served.
Rev. James (Jim) Lonnie Thomas
After starting my adult life as a teacher and then working for a savings and loan, some thirty-one years ago I answered God’s call into the ministry. I am so thankful for the opportunities I have been given to serve. I have been blessed by the support of my wife Elaine (who also graduated from seminary and served God in a number of areas) and my loving family.
We look forward to returning to my home state of North Carolina.
Welcome New Pastors!
Christ, Leesburg UMC - Rev. Gary Eldred
First Citra/First Reddick - Gerry Hubbs, Seminary Interim
First Zephyrills UMC - Rev. Steve Ezra
Lady Lake UMC - Rev. Deborah "Debbie" Anne Casanzio
Lake Deaton UMC - Rev. Jim Divine, Rev. Loida Divine, Rev. Kristyne Young
Ridge Manor UMC - Ed White, Supply Pastor
Moving in the District:
First Homossasa - Rev. Patti Aupperlee
St. Mark's UMC - Rev. Michael Beck, Rev. Jill Beck and Deacon Laura Baber
First Bushnell/Lake Panasoffkee - Rev. Jan Justice
Pastors with new status:
Madeline Baum - Approved as a Provisional Elder
Sharon Surrency - Approved as a Provisional Deacon
Deborah "Debbie" Casanzio - Approved as a Associate Member
Don Pratt - Transfer Approved as a Full Elder
Licensed as Local Pastors:
Rev. Beth Farabee and Phill Snarr
Belinda Luquis & Kevin Perry
We are very happy to announce that we were married on Friday, May 22nd at Sparr United Methodist Church surrounded by few family and friends via Zoom. The ceremony was presided by Rev. June Edwards. We ask for your blessings and prayers.
Pastors John and Emily "Edwards" Shughart are joyful to announce the birth of Stevie Grace Shughart. Stevie was born on May 9 in North Carolina, weighing 8 pounds, 6 ounces, and is 20 5/8 inches long.
Stevie is the granddaughter of Rev. June Edwards, the North Central District Superintendent.
75 Things White People Can Do for Racial Justice
Note 1: This article is continually updated to ensure each item is accurate and needed today.
Note 2: Achieving racial justice is a marathon, not a sprint. Our work to fix what we broke and left broken isn’t done until Black folks tell us it’s done.
- Google whether your local police department currently outfits all on-duty police officers with a body-worn camera and requires that the body-worn camera be turned on immediately when officers respond to a police call. If they don’t, write to your city or town government representative and police chief to advocate for it. The racial make-up of your town doesn’t matter — This needs to be standard everywhere. Multiply your voice by soliciting others to advocate as well, writing on social media about it, writing op-eds, etc.
Please click here to read more.
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, starting at 10:00 am to noon, at New Covenant UMC, The Villages. 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.
Conference Commission on Archives and History
Do you have a passion and interest in history? If so, the Conference Commission on Archives and History is looking for YOU! This Commission meets twice yearly (in January and then in June at Annual Conference).
The history of the United Methodist Church is precious and the need to maintain it is great. Won’t you consider serving?
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.
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.
Candidacy Retreat - Virtually
July 10 & 11
Are you an exploring candidate for ministry? There are two Candidacy Retreats each year. The Office of Clergy Excellence is making plans now to have a virtual format in July. The plans are for July 10 & 11.
The deadline to register is June 1. Click HERE for details.
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 at New Covenant UMC - From 10 am to noon.
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.