Dear Florida Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
|Bishop Ken Carter|
Some are grateful for the results of the Special Session. And others sought a different outcome. All of this will take some time to process. Human sexuality is a topic on which our people have differing views. As evidenced by the vote of the special session, we are a global church with very different contexts. We were not able to achieve contextual differentiation as envisioned by the Commission on a Way Forward. By a majority vote, we passed the Traditional Plan, with some parts ruled unconstitutional. It now goes to the Judicial Council for review at their next meeting but our existing Discipline language is maintained.
We are a global church. This is a great gift in that God blesses us with diversity and the gospel is lived and shared across cultures. This is a great challenge in that we have different understandings of the LGBTQ community and, indeed, the LGBTQ persons in our own churches.
By a majority, the U.S. church seems to favor the One Church Plan that would have more openly welcomed pastors from the LGBTQ community and allowed for same-sex marriage. And, an overwhelming majority of the Council of Bishops endorsed the One Church Plan.
I am a person of evangelical and orthodox faith and respect those who see this primarily as a matter of scriptural interpretation. I will continue to live my promises of consecration as a bishop by abiding by the Book of Discipline as a resource for oversight and supervision in support of the church’s mission (BOD ¶403).
Some believe the arc of history is moving towards more acceptance of LGBTQ people, not less. Pew Research teaches us that younger generations in the U.S., especially under 45 and more so under 30, will not participate in a church that rejects the LGBTQ community. A letter from United Methodists under the age of 35 was shared at the Special Session, with over 15,500 signatories. A greater number of LGBTQ voices were heard on the floor of the Special Session than ever before. Many of these were younger voices.
I offer the following words to the LGBTQ community:
Please know that you are of sacred worth. You are not the problem. You are not "out there." You are present in our churches. You bless us with your faith and your gifts strengthen the church. And my calling, for you and all people, is to remove the obstacles to your experience of the grace of God, and especially in the life of The United Methodist Church.
I also offer these words to the evangelical community:
Please know that your faith is a great gift to God and to your local churches. Too often, your stances have been misunderstood as driven by hatred, as opposed to being of deeply held faith. Your lives have been changed by the good news of Jesus, and you have a deep desire that others know this grace. Our denomination is blessed by you and needs your gifts in our calling to share God’s love across the world. Our conference includes at every level of leadership evangelicals who are of the utmost integrity.
We remain a denomination that is open to people of all nations, ethnic groups, ages, and sexual orientations. We hope to find better ways to embrace our diversity and be on mission together. Our POV process continues to be a resource available to you.
Despite our differences, we will continue to work together to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world and to share God’s love with all people.
The peace of the Lord,
Resident Bishop, Florida Conference
President, Council of Bishops
United Methodist Church
One great way for you and your congregation to live On Mission Together in 2019 is to join Bishop Carter and churches all across Florida for the On Mission Together Weekend.
The Conference is building out resources for you and your church so that you can have an incredible weekend of celebrating and connecting to the mission we are called to together.
The heart of the event is a flow including a Friday night experience, a Saturday morning missional engagement project, a Saturday night dinner, and a Sunday morning service focused on grace. We want this to be simple for your team and impactful for your church.
Here is a brief timeline for you to plan your experience:
- You will be receiving a planning packet at your church at the beginning of February. Be on the lookout for this — the planning packet will include necessary information for taking the next step to start an OMT Weekend.
- Once you have confirmed that your church will be hosting an OMT Weekend experience, we will send you an OMT Experience Box at the beginning of March, which will contain all of the resources and tools for hosting the event.
- We will have an OMT Weekend Training Webinar for all church leaders participating in the experience.
- Begin designing the experience with your team to launch in any weekend in May.
If you haven’t already done it, click here to let us know you will be joining us!
Looking forward to a great 2019!
Fiscal Responsibility and Management Policies. Financial Controls, Policies, and Procedures - Review & renew annually. Once in compliance, submit a signed copy of the one page Annual Review and Renewal Document to the district office by March 31. Click here for Fiscal Responsibility and Management Policies in Local Churches.
Employee Conduct Policy Adoption. FL Conference Revised Local Church Policy last revised April 2015. Review and renew annually.
CLERGY FORM: Click here for ECP for clergy. Submit the signed clergy copy to the district office by March 31.
EMPLOYEE FORM: Click here for ECP for local church employees. Copies of the local church employees forms should notbe submitted to the district office, but should be filed in their employee file at the local church.
ADOPTION AGREEMENT: Click here - Adopt the revised ECP and submit a signed copy of the Adoption Agreement to the district office by March 31.
Annual Report to the District Housing Committee / Parsonage Checklist. Review & renew annually. Submit a signed copy of the Annual Parsonage Review to the district office by March 31.
Disaster Recovery Quick Resource Survey. Survey available via the church dashboard login (under Forms, Disaster Response) on the Conference website. (You will need your Church's user name and password to access Disaster Recovery Quick Resource Survey. Contact your district office if you need assistance.)
Fund Balance Report for the Year End 2018. This report is located in your church dashboard. Report available via the church dashboard login under Fund Balance.
Annual Conference 2019 set to take place at Florida Southern College
Make plans now to attend Annual Conference 2019 by booking your hotel rooms early. A list of hotels and rates can be found HERE. Housing will also be available at Florida Southern College (details forthcoming).
As you make your plans, the Annual Conference planning team wanted you to be aware of the following:
1) Our theme is “On Mission Together,” and we will welcome Bishop Will Willimon, missiologist Dr. Dana Robert, along with musical leaders Jarvis Wilson and Keith Wilson.
2) Annual Conference will begin on Wednesday, June 5, with clergy and lay sessions at 10 a.m. We will conclude with the Service of Licensing, Commissioning and Ordination on Saturday, June 8, adjourning at 12:30 p.m.
3) We will be voting on delegates to General Conference 2020, with chances to meet delegates Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning.
4) All registration will take place at Florida Southern College, as will the clergy and lay sessions.
5) Florida Southern has added new parking shuttles and golf carts.
6) We will have an air-conditioned tent near Branscomb Auditorium which will be a place to eat and fellowship with other delegates.
North Central District will have two Pre-Annual Conference Orientation on Monday, May 6th at First Ocala UMC, Family Life Center and Tuesday, May 7th at Mariner UMC at 6:30 pm.
Rev. June Edwards will discuss 2019 Annual Conference and give a report of the 2019 General Conference.
North Central District - DCOM Date Information