In the District
Dear NC District Pastors and Leaders,
It is good to be back after a season of rest and renewal. It was time well spent and accomplished what those words say—I feel rested and renewed and ready for the work ahead! While I was away, during a time of quiet and contemplation, I was led to read Amos. That is not surprising considering the events of the last several months regarding the effects of Covid-19 and the systemic racial injustice that has been made evident yet again in the very fabric of our country. As I read through the prophet’s words, my eyes fell upon these:
“This is what the Lord God showed me—a basket of summer fruit. He said, “Amos, what do you see?” And I said, “A basket of summer fruit.” (Amos 8:1-2a)
Amos stated the obvious. The honesty of scripture is so refreshing! The Lord goes on to tell Amos, through some very stark and eye opening words, how the people of Israel will be held accountable for their treatment of the poor and needy while at the same time they are presenting their burnt offerings and grain offerings to God in worship (Amos 5:21-22). Amos, in turn, brings a clear word of judgment from the Lord to the people of Israel saying that to worship God without living lives of Justice and Righteousness that is extended to everyone is an offense to God. God has extended the same to Israel and Israel is to offer the same to others.
The Lord’s words, “What do you see?” moved me to an examination of my heart and mind and called me to account. These words call each of us to account in order that we would take the time to “see” into our hearts and our churches and how we are working for justice in our communities. They call us to “see” how systemic racism is embedded not only in our communities but in us. The Lord is showing us in the present moment the ‘basket of fruit’ this summer. It is for us to stop and look and “see” what is before us. It is right before our eyes. Amos’ response is instructive. He simply named what he saw without excuse or embellishment. In response, the Lord proceeded to lay out the consequences for Israel’s refusal to respond as the people of God they are called to be. Today, the consequences of our refusal to name what has been right before us for so long is here. And it is eye opening. It is time for each of us, individually and collectively as the church, to name racism for the injustice that it is and determine how we will be agents of God’s justice and righteousness in our churches and communities in the days ahead. That is our work. That is who God says we ARE to be. It is before us. Will you SEE it?! How will you respond?
In that vein, please be staying up with the Conference Updates on:
- The Bishop’s Anti-Racism Task Force and how you can participate
- The Bishop’s Initiative on Fill the Table
- Hurricane Laura Response
Be sure to choose your date for Charge Conference this fall—October 18, 19 and 20.
My fervent prayers continue for each of you and your church as we navigate these uncertain and tumultuous times. God is faithful and will see us through.
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 1: Wednesday September 30, 2020 9am-12 by Zoom.
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!
As a result of the lockdown, the ministry of The Oasis at Lowell Correctional came to a halt on March 15. In June, I was permitted in 3 times before cases spiked and access was once again shut down. There is currently a terrible covid outbreak at Lowell, so we covet your prayers for the ladies.
The good news is that our HOPE LETTERS Correspondence Mentoring ministry is fully engaged. We have 90 residents, each with an assigned mentor on the outside. We are still recruiting new mentors, though, because we have asked the Chaplain to provide us with another 60 names. With the current quarantine, she is unable to get access in order to hang up our sign-up sheets, but we are praying that somehow she can get us some more names. Please 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 if you are interested.
Blessings and Shalom,
Rev. Kris Schonewolf
Fall 2020 Update Letter from David B. Palmer, NCD Director of Lay Servant Ministries
To: All North Central District Lay Servants, Lay Speakers and Certified Lay Ministers, Pastors and Church Administrative Assistants
Subject: NCD Lay Servant Ministries COVID-19 Temporary Suspension of Continuing Education (CE) Requirements, On-Line CE Options
Date: Monday August 31, 2020
Greetings, Grace, and Peace to you. Please be advised and effective immediately, the North Central District, in conjunction with the Florida Conference UMC Lay Servant Ministries is suspending recertification requirements for Lay Servants, Lay Speakers and Lay Ministers, pending the resolution of COVID-19 requirements. This temporary suspension will be re-evaluated at the time of the 2021 FLUMC Annual Conference. During this time, all are encouraged to take Online, BeADisciple.com, Zoom-based or in-person Lay Ministries classes under safe conditions. There are several excellent approved distance learning options already available to our lay servants, lay speakers and lay ministers and prospective new lay servants.
Regarding the 2020 Lay Servant Ministries Annual Reports, it remains a requirement for all Lay Servants, Lay Speakers and Lay Ministers to submit their 2020 Annual Report as part of your church’s local charge conference package this fall. It is important to document your lay servant ministries yearly activity. It is understood that those who have not completed the required continuing education course by the time of your 2020 charge conference will receive a suspension (waiver) of the requirement temporarily. Please be in contact with your Pastor and Administrative Assistant soon to coordinate and submit your annual reports. I am attaching two (2) separate fillable Annual Report Forms. Please be sure to select and use the correct form for your specific Lay Servant Ministries designation (i.e. Certified Lay Servant vs. Certified Lay Speaker). These are different forms therefore it is requested and appreciated that you are accurate in selecting and submitting the correct annual report form.
For the time being, we face the continuing challenges posed by COVID-19 restrictions and the very real limitations on gathering in traditional face-to-face LSM classes. These limitations unfortunately caused the cancellation of our Spring 2020 LSM training and has prevented us from scheduling traditional district LSM training for the Fall 2020. It is also planned that Spring 2021 LSM courses will be on-line courses. Given the reality of these restrictions and current LSM course availability, we are also suspending the requirement to take the Basic Course before other Lay Servant Ministries advanced courses can be taken. Although taking the Basic Course first remains the preferred course order, all persons will be able to take any lay ministries courses offered at any time for their own edification and to build up the church through lay servant ministries. Completing the Basic Course and the approved advanced LSM course(s) will remain a requirement for meeting the Lay Servant Ministries certifications and educational requirements.
Several people have asked where to find a list of approved advanced Lay Servant Ministries Courses. All currently approved LSM courses are located in the 2020 Lay Servant Ministries Catalog as published by the UMC Discipleship Ministries and includes Course Descriptions, Books and Equipping Resources and can be accessed at https://www.umcdiscipleship.org/resources/lay-servant-ministries-catalog. Future On-line LSM courses being held in Florida Conference districts are open to any Florida Lay Servant, Lay Speaker or Lay Minister. Course announcements and registration information for these Florida Conference LSM courses are being posted at https://www.flumc.org/layservantministries. There are also several “alternative courses” which have been approved (since 2017) by the Florida Conference LSM Committee. These are listed on the Resources page within the Florida Conference Lay Servant Ministries Website at https://www.flumc.org/layservantministries.
Whether lay persons are certified or not remains the essential prerogative of the local pastor and church council, and then the District and Conference Committees (if required). The goal is to provide LSM educational flexibility under these challenging circumstances and by doing so foster the valuable contributions of our people serving in lay servant ministries to advance the mission of the United Methodist Church to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
If you have questions regarding this communication or regarding any Lay Servant Ministries subjects or courses, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. There are also helpful informational links on the NCD Website, Lay Servant Ministries page at https://www.flumc.org/lay-servant-ministries-north-central-district.
Blessings and Christ’s Peace,
The Florida Annual Conference continues to put information related to COVID-19 and the church on the conference website. Please continue to look HERE when you have questions around COVID-19.
Annual Conference 2020 Update
Annual Conference 2020 will be virtual only on September 19 9:00am - noon. Click HERE for the Annual Conference 2020 webpage.
- If you were scheduled to be a Church Lay Member to Annual Conference in June and can not attend in September, please notify your church asap.
- If you were scheduled to be a District At-Large Lay Member to Annual Conference in June and can not attend in September, please notify Belinda Luquis asap email@example.com.
The following events will all be virtual on September 12.
Laity Session - 10:00am - noon
Service of Commissioning - 1:00pm
Service of Ordination - 3:00pm
Installation of two new District Superintendents - 4:30pm
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.
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. The completed forms should be emailed to Belinda at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 Annual Charge Conference
Rev. June Edwards will preside three Charge Conferences held via Zoom. Click HERE for Charge Conferences instructions and forms. Be sure to read all the instructions and click on the North Central District specific forms.
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 email@example.com.
Calendar of Events
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
September 19th in Lakeland to recognize our retiring clergy, share in our memorial service, and celebrate commissioning and ordinations.