In the District
Greetings from the District Superintendent
Dear Pastors and Leaders,
I’m sure you’ve seen it, read it, thought it, talked about it in one way or another over these last weeks but whatever way you’ve considered it, the reality of our lives and that of the church has changed drastically in the last 6 weeks! Life as we know it came to a screeching halt and, at the same time, the need to take off on a whole new learning curve has propelled us at warp speed into a new reality in all kinds of ways. For the church, it has been ‘gut check’ time as pastors and staff and leaders have had to learn how to help ministry continue through remote worship, bible studies, pastoral care and the ongoing administration and oversight of the church. In no time at all churches who had no remote worship were forced to step into ‘virtual’ world and are streaming worship and having church meetings through remote platforms that are available. And those who were offering remote options had to learn to do that with very little on-sight staff to help. I’ve learned something from this experience and I hope you have as well—the church can adapt and change, especially when the circumstances require it!
The pastors in the North Central district have done nothing shy of amazing work in such a short period of time. They are to be commended for their quick and ready response in this time of crisis as they have stepped up in every way to care for their congregations and provide for worship and ongoing support in this complex and difficult time. As well, church staff members have also tirelessly stepped up with this changing landscape and have shifted their roles as necessary to help with whatever has been needed to keep children’s and youth ministries going. Many lay folk have also stepped up to stand in the gap and help where ever they could calling to check on the elderly and sick and help with food pantries and dinner churches and many other tasks. Collectively, each of you have done far more than any of us could have imagined in such a short period of time. All of this has taken place because your faith in God and your love of the church and one another has led you there.
In the coming weeks, may you be encouraged to consider your potential for change and for living into this new reality of church that is literally reaching ‘new people in new places in new ways’—the working definition of Fresh Expressions. Regardless the name, you have stepped forth into a new reality and are on a new journey with God through the ministry of your congregations and found you can use all of the technology at your fingertips to stay connected to one another and connect with those who have yet to know God. In a virtual meeting this week (Zoom) to discuss what the church will look like moving forward another pastor in the conference said something that really caught my attention. She said, ‘We have become public theologians 100%!” And we have. And new groups of people outside the church are tuning in and taking notice. We didn’t get there by choice or by any way we would have imagined. But here we are and the question going forward is—“What are we going to do about it?”
That is the question before us all as pastors, leaders and congregations. What will you do moving forward as there is no going back. I pray that question will be before you in this season leading up to Pentecost in your devotion time, in your study and in every church meeting you have. God has broken open the future for us in an unexpected way. What are you going to do about it?
“Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old. I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” (Isaiah 43:18-19)
Peace to You!
|Rev. June Edwards|
FRESH EXPRESSION NEWS!
A missional meal: The digital practice of the Lord's Supper
“For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” — 1 Corinthians 11:23-26
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic our church has moved into an entirely distributed form. Our approach with worship has been not to do the stage production in an empty sanctuary bit, but to return to the church we see in the Book of Acts who met primarily in their homes. We call this “Living Room Church.” Using various technologies, we have sermonic conversations, pray, sing and interact together. The centerpiece of our worship each Sunday is partaking in the Lord’s Supper. From our living room, we proclaim the remixed and recoded Eucharistic liturgy into the living rooms of several hundred people. Before the Coronavirus struck, we had Holy Communion multiple times weekly, including in most of our mature fresh expressions of church. Jesus’ table is the center of worship for us.
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…
Congregational Vitality News
Recently, I began taking a course through the Hinton Rural Life Center. The course, Bird Feeders and Pie Pans: Pandemic, Faith, and the Rural Community, explores the ways in which the Church can support rural communities through times of crisis.
I was reminded that Methodists have a legacy of serving their communities during public health emergencies. John Wesley committed himself to learning medicine and wrote Primitive Physick, a manual offering medical advice to those without the means to hire a doctor. Wesley and his contemporaries faced several pandemics, including small pox, cholera, measles, whooping cough, and typhoid, that were especially devastating to those with little resources. Wesley’s generous theology of grace called Methodists to reach beyond their personal salvation. Methodists were instructed to go into their communities and offer the Gospel by providing for people’s felt needs- in this case, the resources needed to weather pandemics. Thereby, Wesley believed, the Kingdom of God would be expanded.
This same early Methodist emphasis was witnessed in the United States during the 1793 yellow fever pandemic. For several months, as yellow fever ravaged Philadelphia, people quarantined inside of their homes or fled to their country estates. Public markets and entertainment centers were closed. Jobs were lost and the economy crumbled. Thousands died. Richard Allen, an African American Methodist minister who later founded the AME Church, used his ministry to provide food, medicines, and other supplies for Philadelphia residents who were sick and/or displaced from the yellow fever outbreak. Such ministry transcended racial lines and expanded the Kingdom of God.
As we look into our shared history, we find many other examples of Methodists serving their communities during world changing health events. The 1918 flu pandemic, the polio pandemic, the HIV/AIDS pandemic, and, now, the COVID-19 pandemic are only a few global health crises that Methodists have addressed by being a welcoming presence in times of great need. By doing this, Methodists, generationally, have loved God and neighbor by living into their generous theology of grace, expanding the kingdom of God.
After the Bird Feeders and Pie Pans course ends in early June, the Hinton Rural Life Center will make available for purchase ($35) a flash drive that contains the videos of all five webinars, the PowerPoint presentations, and a Leader Guide for reflection/discussion that can be used by individuals, small groups, Sunday school classes, and clergy covenant groups. More information will be given in next month’s newsletter.
|Rev. Sarah Campbell|
Soul Tending Tuesdays
Do you need an “ahhhhh” in your week as we live in these days of the pandemic? On Tuesdays in May and June, you are invited to experience a gentle, Christ-centered spa for your spirit. Laura Baber will be leading times of centering, quiet reflection of scripture and guided prayer. You simply need a computer or phone to connect. These sessions will occur via Zoom and will begin at 5 p.m. and last about 45 minutes - 1 hour. There will also be an extended 30 minute option for those who want to participate in a small group discussion. Soul Tending Tuesdays are hosted by St. Mark’s United Methodist Church in Ocala, Florida. There is no cost. All are welcome.
Register in advance by clicking on this link:
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting. For more information, contact Laura Baber at email@example.com
Invite your friends!
Laura Baber, Spiritual Formation St. Mark's UMC.
March 31 Reports - EXTENDED TO May 31, if needed!
|2020 Reports - North Central District|
The deadline for March 31 Reports has been moved to May 31, if you need it. If you don't need more time, please send them in! Please submit the six reports together in one email to Belinda Luquis firstname.lastname@example.org. Originals should remain in the church offices as the District Office shreds all documents once they are scanned. If you have any questions, please email Belinda.
Note: The Disaster Recovery Resource Survey is no longer required.
Explanation of Reports and Committee Responsible
- Fiscal Responsibility & Management Policy Review & renew annually. Each year, submit a signed copy of the one page Financial Controls, Policies & Procedures and the Document Retention Policy.
- Fund Balance Report - Submit online through your Church Dashboard. Do not send a hard copy to the District.
- Clergy Employee Conduct Policy ALL appointed clergy must submit this to the District each year.
- Adoption of Employee Conduct Policy Submit this report showing that you have adopted the ECP and have a Employee Conduct Policy signed on each employee. The signed Employee Conduct Policy form must be kept in their personnel file. This does not get sent to the District office.
- Child / Youth Protection Policy Review & renew annually. Submit a signed copy of this report. Should the policy undergo major revisions, submit a complete copy. Click HERE for the Ministry Protection page.
- Annual Parsonage Report Review & renew annually. If your pastor does not live in it, we still want this completed. If you don't own a parsonage, please write N/A and submit it.
The church needs to have a Local Church Employee form signed by each employee and kept in their personnel file. This does not get sent to the District office.
The Fund Balance report is submitted online by Finance. Do not send a hard copy to the District. The form is located in your Church Dashboard on the bottom left. Note: The Disaster Recovery Resource Survey is no longer required.
For detailed instructions on reports, please review the Calendar of Reports.
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, starting at 10:00 am to noon, at New Covenant UMC, The Villages. Further information will be provided.
Please save the date!
Bishop Carter Announces Full Time Appointment Changes
Bishop Ken Carter and the appointive cabinet of The Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church, in consultation with the clergy and authorized lay leaders of the local churches, announce full-time appointment changes, to take effect July 1, 2020. This act of ministry is in fulfillment of paragraphs 425-429 of the 2016 Book of Discipline. Click HERE for the complete list, organized by districts. For a reflection on the core values employed in the process of clergy appointments to churches, Click HERE.
Let us lift these clergy, their families and the local churches in prayer, in the hope that we will more fully participate in our mission - "to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world" (Book of Discipline, ¶ 120).
Full Time Appointments in the North Central District
Bishop Carter's last COB Presidential Address was livestreamed on April 29, 2020.
Click HERE to view.
Annual Conference 2020 Update
- Our Annual Conference event will take place on Saturday, September 19 from 10:00am to 5:00pm. This will be a one day annual conference and the agenda will consist of:
a. Voting on essential items (budget, election of leadership, election of lay leader, etc.)
b. Retirement recognition
c. Service of Remembrance
d. Service of Commissioning and Ordination
We invite all lay and clergy members of the annual conference to plan to attend this one day event. We understand that some may not feel comfortable gathering in large settings at that time. The details, including the location for our September event are being finalized.
Update to Missional Vital Signs Reporting
As with other times of disruption, like our Florida hurricane season, we are giving guidance with reporting Missional Vital Signs for the next 2 – 3 months. I will keep this brief.
• If you have data not entered for February or before, please complete the Monthly Data Gathering Chart and email it to Belinda at firstname.lastname@example.org.
• March and April (possibly further) will have a temporary link to report only a few key data points
- Click HERE for the temporary link for reporting.
- Only 1 person from a church will be reporting.
- The MVS page has directions.
So much of church is in person, collecting data in areas where we are not gathering - just doesn’t make sense right now. We want to make reporting easier, not harder.
1. AWA (Average Worship Attendance): You may have data for the 2 or 3 weeks of March (5 Sundays in March), enter those numbers. Enter 0 if you did not meet or do not have the numbers. We are assuming that you are not meeting physically the last two weeks of March.
2. Online Viewing: If you are meeting virtually, enter the numbers as best you can gather. The main thing is to be consistent. Here is a link with helpful directions for collecting data for Online Viewing and Facebook Live. (Click here)
3. Giving: Use the same as what you have always counted. You may now have online giving, texting to give, or mailed in giving. While safe distancing may make this challenging, please do your best to follow the practices already in place for collecting donations and making deposits.
- This number is the total amount given to God’s church for budgeted operating and capital expenses and missional purposes in addition to or part of the budget. This includes all contributions received by pledged and unpledged giving, loose plate offerings, and funds given for capital debt, building or repairs, or special offerings to ministries beyond the church (UMCH, youth mission trip, Africa University, Habitat for Humanity, Storm Recovery or a sister congregation in Cuba or Angola).
- Excluded are interest income, memorial bequeaths, facility use fees, income from child care, adult day care ministries, thrift stores, pumpkin patches and similar fundraisers, as these do not reflect the financial generosity of the congregation.
4. Reaching Out: Please share with us one or two narratives -
- How are you reaching out to your church family?
- How is your church reaching out to the community?
Lay Servant Ministries Basic Course:
Connecting and Serving During COVID-19 - Online
May 26 | 3 Weeks | $25
During this time of pandemic and isolation, many of us have to remain home and separated from family, church, and friends. Reconnect with our United Methodist history and faith and learn how to reach out to others in this one-of-a-kind pilot course in Lay Servant Ministries offered at a discount price.
Learn online while connecting with others who want to lead better without losing time from your work and loved ones. Easy and doable even if you are new to online learning. The Basic Course is a requirement towards becoming a Certified Lay Servant, but it is open to all lay members in The Florida Conference. Six of the required 10 hours will be offered online with an additional four hours through use of Zoom Meeting software. This course is being offered online on a limited basis to meet needs during the COVID-19 pandemic and is only approved for use within The Florida Conference. Questions? Contact Florida Conference LSM Director, Rod Groom 941-356-4566. Register today at BeADisciple.com.
Florida United Methodist Children's Home
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been so pleased by the many ways in which pastors and local churches have continued to provide necessary care for the various needs of people in their communities. We are all adjusting to our new normal, and at the Florida United Methodist Children’s Home we are continuing to provide the necessary care for children and families in need.
We know that this time also presents some unique challenges for pastors and churches. Based on our experience in working with children, as well as our interactions with various churches and donors, we have put together this “Pastor’s Toolkit.” It addresses two areas of concern during this time: responding to potential instances of abuse or neglect and increasing church engagement and giving through online forums. We hope these resources will help you, not only as you navigate COVID-19, but also as you seek to better connect with and serve your congregation in the future.
We are praying for you and your church. If there is anything we can do to better support you as you care for children and families, please don't hesitate to give us a call (386)-561-3153 or email.
The Children's Home Team
Resources for responding to instances of abuse and neglect
- For any issues regarding child abuse and neglect, don’t forget that you (as well as your staff and volunteers) are a mandated reporter, and that this mandate holds whether or not you are able to meet with people in-person. Florida Statute 39.201, entitled “Mandatory Reports” states that: “Any person who knows, or has reasonable cause to suspect, that a child is abused, abandoned, or neglected by a parent, legal custodian, caregiver, or other person responsible for the child’s welfare, as defined in this chapter,… shall report such knowledge or suspicion to the department”.
The Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-96 ABUSE (1-800-962-2873)
- Click HERE for some important resources from the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) - including definitions and tips.
Because child abuse is often related to domestic abuse, we have also included some information about this below:
- Encourage regular check-ins amongst your congregation.
- If you haven’t already, consider expanding your modes of engagement from phone and/or email to text messaging, social media, and other modes of communication.
- Take note of any changes in personal behavior and activity.
- Familiarize yourself with the signs and symptoms of domestic abuse. A short list* includes:
- Constant worry about making one's partner angry
- Making excuses for one's partner's behavior
- Displaying unexplained marks or injuries
- No longer spending time with friends and family
*source: National Domestic Violence Hotline website, accessible HERE.
- Contact your local domestic violence shelter to learn how you can help in your pastoral context
- A directory of certified domestic violence shelters in Florida can be accessed HERE.
Some contacts to know:
Florida Department of Children and Families: http://www.myflfamilies.com
Prevent Child Abuse America: www.preventchildabuse.org
Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence: www.fcadv.org
Florida Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-500-1119
National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233, www.thehotline.org
Futures Without Violence: www.futureswithoutviolence.org
Resources for electronic church engagement
- Click HERE for a Conference list of various resources for navigating COVID-19.
- Lean on your church’s mission, allowing it to guide all communication.
- Use impact to drive your communications.
- Give the church's mailing address so the congregation can mail in their giving.
- If you have one, direct your congregation to your church's online giving page.
- If you have the capability, direct your congregation to give via text.
- This form letter can be customized to send to your congregation to encourage continued giving.
- We found a list of potential vendors who provide online giving options here.
Florida United Methodist children's Home | 386.668.4774 | www.fumch.org
...empowering children and families to experience the transfomative love of Christ through (w)holistic care.
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
2020 HOLIDAY SCHEDULE
May 25 Memorial Day
July 4 Independence Day Observed July 3
September 7 Labor Day
November 11 Veteran’s Day
November 26 Thanksgiving
November 27 Day after Thanksgiving
December 24 Christmas Eve
December 25 Christmas Day
Annual Conference Orientation – this will be changed to a virtual format – more detail to come soon
June 6, 2020 Annual Conference, Virtual information and details to come soon
September 19th in Lakeland to recognize our retiring clergy, share in our memorial service, and celebrate commissioning and ordinations.
The Executive Committee of the Commission on the General Conference has been notified by the Minneapolis Convention Center that they are restricting events at the venue through May 10, 2020, following recommendations by the Minnesota Department of Health, the Governor of Minnesota and the Mayor of Minneapolis to postpone or cancel events involving 50+ people in order to slow the spread of coronavirus. As a result of this decision, the Executive Committee has announced that the General ...