In the District
Dear NC District Pastors and Leaders,
It’s October 1st and there’s a hint of fall in the air. A cool, refreshing change that holds the promise of relief from the heat and humidity that has seemed to last so long and has been so oppressive. We look for those signs to signal that change is coming, that the earth and its recurring cycles of winter, spring, summer and fall—of death, life and resurrection are still at work offering needed change and renewal for nature and for all of us. We welcome the sign of some sense of normalcy in what has been, and continues to be, a long season of ‘not normal.’ Our patience, our faith and our hope has been stretched to the max with the challenges of Covid-19, of the stark reality of Systemic Racism before us and the chaotic and divisive political reality in our nation. We long for ‘normal.’ We are challenged to examine our faith in the light of such ongoing upheaval.
I continue to be drawn to the prophets of the Old Testament calling God’s people to self-examination, accountability, identity and hope. In Jeremiah 29, the prophet writes a letter from Jerusalem to the exiles in Babylon. It is a letter of direction and encouragement. Beginning in vs 4 he writes:
“Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat what they produce. Take wives and have sons and daughters…But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.”
It can feel as though we have been under siege or even in exile as we have not been able to gather for worship or do the work we normally do as the church, the body of Christ. But as Jeremiah called to the people of Israel, so we are called not to give up. Rather, we are called to keep on living our lives, planting our gardens, tending to our families, praying for and working in our communities. We are to doggedly live into our faith and demonstrate to the world and to our neighbors that we are not left to our own devices, that God is with us and there is hope. So many of you have reconfigured distributing food from your food pantries, hosting drive through dinner churches, sending worship packets to children and those who do not have computers, making calls, writing notes. So many acts of ministry and kindness abound! Continuing on in vs 11 we find:
“For surely I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your welfare and not for harm, to give you a future with hope.”
It is with hope we continue on with demonstrating love for neighbor by safely worshipping virtually and in person. It is with hope that we seek the welfare of our community by naming the systemic racism that is present among us and within us and working to make the changes that are required in our churches and communities. It is with hope in Christ we claim that the kingdom of God has arrived and we boldly imagine a future where it is fulfilled among us.
Do not give up. Keep praying and working and planting and living. God is with us.
I look forward to being with you all virtually at the upcoming Charge Conferences!
Updated COVID-19 Guidance
Dear Florida United Methodists,
Some of you have asked about Friday’s executive order from Governor Ron DeSantis and whether it has any impact on our FLUMC COVID-19 guidance for in-person activities. Conference leaders have read the executive order. Our current FLUMC COVID-19 guidance has not changed. The focus of the executive order is on restaurant capacity and local government restrictions and fines.
Please read our latest guidance from September 8th in its entirety.
Below are a few summary points from our September 8th guidance.
Some key parts of our ongoing guidance:
- At all times persons must maintain at least six feet of distance between family groups.
- Masks or cloth face coverings are required when any group gathers (except for children under the age of 2).
- Monitor your symptoms. Stay home if you are sick or displaying COVID-19 symptoms. Those who have tested positive for COVID-19 or have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive should adhere to the CDC guidelines for isolation and quarantine.
- All inside activities must be in well ventilated spaces that allow for persons to maintain at least six feet of distance between family groups. Outside activities are preferred over inside activities.
Our COVID-19 safety protocols and guidelines are connected to the ongoing guidance and recommendations from the Florida Department of Health and the Centers for Disease Control. Governor Desantis’ order has not changed the guidance and recommendations of either group in terms of in-person, large gatherings.
Decisions about in-person activities will vary according to your church context. We understand there is not a "one-size-fits-all" approach for every church around the conference. Contexts are different as cases rise at different rates (click here for a county and zip code break down). At all times churches should carefully follow the guidance of your city and county officials. Any decision to resume in-person activities should be affirmed by the pastor in consultation with a team of leaders and should be communicated to your District Superintendent.
All of our previous updates and resources are found on our COVID-19 website and in our FAQ section. If you have questions, please reach out to your District Superintendent or contact the Episcopal Office at email@example.com.
The Peace of the Lord,
Bishop Ken Carter and The Cabinet of The Florida Annual Conference
FRESH EXPRESSION NEWS!
Is your church stuck? Do you feel like you are losing momentum with the ongoing pressures of COVID-19?
Get together a small team of people and join us in a free Studio!
A “studio” is a generic term for the workroom of an artist and team of apprentices. It can be a space for collaborative architecture, painting, pottery, origami, woodworking, scrapbooking, music making, photography, film production, sermon preparation, and the list goes on.
FX Studios are incubators of collaborative missional mess making and a community of support for your team as we travel uncharted territories together.
Rev’d. Dr. Michael Moynagh will be leading us through our first Studio gatherings. Dr. Moynagh is a minister in the Church of England and is based at Wycliffe Hall, Oxford. In the early 1990s, he led a church that was one of the first in the UK to start an intentional teenagers’ congregation. He has been involved in new types of Christian community for over 20 years, learning from the “pioneers” involved, and writing extensively about them. He is sometimes known as “the theologian of fresh expressions of church,” and has an international consulting and teaching ministry. He has authored many books on the missional church, and has also written extensively on social issues. From 1995 to 2012 he co-directed The Tomorrow Project, which advised the UK government and large companies on emerging social trends.
Watch this interview with Dr. Moynagh to learn more about the Studio and what you need to do get ready! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G5jTwQwk4Q0&feature=youtu.be
The Studio is a yearlong journey, in which your team will meet together two times:
- Studio Gathering 1: All teams will meet together to describe where they are in the ‘loving-first cycle,’ learn from each other, and plan out next steps.
- Studio Gathering 2: All teams will come back together six months later to again share learnings and collaborate.
In between Studio 1, Studio 2, your team will be supported through: 1. A shared focus 2. The free app, FX: Godsend or FX: Connect, 3. A community of peer learners, 4. Support via social media, and 5. Skype/Zoom-based coaching with the FX team.
Studio Gathering 2: Saturday March 20, 2021 (location to be determined)
What do I need to do?
- Download free Godsend App or access at https://freshexpressions.org.uk/resources-3/fx-resourcing/
or download FXConnect App https://fxconnectus.org/
- Work through the five modules in the “overview” section
- Get your team together and register for the first Studio gathering
Everything else will be provided for you from there!
Register here: https://www.flumc.org/eventdetail/14131862?month=9&year=2020&day=1&display=m
If you have any questions, please contact Michael Beck:
Fresh Water at The Oasis!
Even though all ministries were halted from going into Florida prisons in March due to the covid-19 oubreak, The Oasis has been able to continue to make an impact through our HOPE LETTERS correspondence mentoring ministry. Ninety residents of Lowell have been matched up with ninety trained mentors, and beautiful letters of love, support, encouragement, and faith are being exchanged every week. We have requested sixty more names from the Chaplain, and we have trained mentors ready to start writing. However, we are ALWAYS in need of more mentors, so if you or a woman you know are interested in making a Kingdom difference in the life of an incarcerated woman, please email Pastor Kris at PastorKrisLCI@comast.net or 302.363.5351. Your identity and location are completely protected because your mentee writes to you via our PO Box, which is monitored by Pastor Kris. She will open, scan, and email your letter to you.
There has been a terrible outbreak of Covid-19 at Lowell CI. I would estimate that at least 1/3 of the nearly 3,000 residents have or have had the Coronavirus. Dorms have been on quarantine for weeks or months at a time. Women in dorms on quarantine are not allowed outside for exercise, and are not even allowed to go to the chow hall. They bring in peanut butter crackers and bologna sandwiches for them to live on for weeks and months at a time. They have to wear masks the whole time they are awake unless they are eating, showering, or sleeping. There are NO worship services, no faith programming, and no educational programming being offered. Boredom and despair are rampant. These women, and all those incarcerated, need your prayers.
I am looking forward to the re-opening of Lowell to volunteers so that I can once again offer (in person) the hope that can only be found in Jesus.
I am available to come to your church and share about The Oasis as well as offer Sunday's message, or even just a "mission moment." To schedule a Sunday, please contact me at PastorKrisLCI@comcast.net or 302.363.5351.
Blessings and Shalom,
Rev. Kris Schonewolf
Clergy Appreciation Month
In Timothy 1 (5:17), Paul began the concept of clergy appreciation when he stated that the elders of the church are worthy of double honor. He reiterated this idea in Thessalonians 1 (5: 12-13) when he stated that those who work hard among you should be held in the highest regard for their work. This idea became Clergy Appreciation Month in 1992, established by pastors and religious workers.
We ask you to appreciate your pastor not only in October but all year long!
Join the Movement to End Hunger: From Food Apartheid to Food Sovereignty
Please visit the FL Conference Facebook page or our www.FilltheTableflorida.org website and see the registration pop up (or click on New & Updates) for information on the upcoming Conference Join the Movement to End Hunger: From Food Apartheid to Food Sovereignty. The inaugural event begins the morning of Thursday, Oct. 1st with subsequent trainings offered each Thursday evening throughout the month of October. You can also find it listed on the Fill the Table Facebook page.
Fill the Table/FL Conference of The UMC is a partner of this event, and Clarke and I have been working with the planning team. Connectional and Justice Ministries also made a financial contribution on behalf of the black church and other people of color ministries, and I want to personally extend an invitation to you to invite your congregations while registration is still available. Bread for the World, St. Luke’s and others are obviously also inviting their contacts and I want our folks to have access to this information.
Wednesday Night Bible Study with Bishop Carter
You've spent your summer in the Scriptures with us -- now, continue your spiritual growth with an online Bible Study hosted by Bishop Ken Carter and sponsored by Fill the Table! Join Bishop Carter each Wednesday at 6 pm beginning September 9 through November 25. You'll hear from biblical scholars, share your prayer requests and learn with fellow Methodists from across the Conference.
Click HERE for more details from Bishop Carter.
Click HERE for the Fall Bible Study Guide.
Virtual Quadrennial Leadership Day Training
The Florida United Methodist Conference will host a VIRTUAL Quadrennial Leadership Day training on Saturday, October 24th from 10a.m. – 2 p.m.
This training is intended for ALL Conference and District members who will serve on a Leadership team effective 10/1/2020. Please encourage your entire team to participate. Note: this is not a local church training.
We will hear presentations from Bishop Ken Carter, Alice Williams (FL Conference Lay Leader effective 10/1/2020) and other Florida Conference leaders. Our keynote speaker will be Bishop Gregory Palmer, Episcopal leader of the Ohio West Area. His address will include:
- The Mission and Unity of the Church
- The Implications for a Holiness Movement
- The Integrity of the Gospel
During our time together we will work in a collaborative style conducive to embracing our vision of being ON MISSION TOGETHER. Our goal will be to develop and lead ministries in ways that align with the FL Conference missional mindsets and provide resources for the local church.
To register for the “all important” training, CLICK HERE. Firm registration deadline is October 18, 2020.
Note: Your Zoom link will be sent to you on Wednesday, 10/21/2020
2020 Annual Charge Conference Schedule
Rev. June Edwards will preside over three groups Charge Conferences. They will be held via Zoom. Please contact your church or pastor for the zoom link and the dates.
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
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.