Main Menu

NW Newsletters







I stood in line several Sundays ago at Trinity Tallahassee with our children to get my backpack blessing!  Yes, your District Superintendent carries a backpack from time to time; and, yes, like everyone else, he wanted a “blessing!”

The scripture handed out was a powerful one…“Be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded” (2 Chronicles 15:7).

I picked up several extra tags for my granddaughters, Coraline Mae and Mariam Lily. I wanted them to have a backpack blessing too!

It’s wonderful to have a person surround you with love and support. One of my favorite memories each summer while growing up was of the weeks I spent with my godmother, Ms. Rena. I would enjoy sitting on her kitchen counter, baking cookies, or spending time picking blackberries for a cobbler. It was fun to accompany her to the “office,” where she did her accounting, and I would help her add numbers on her machine for the Rural Electric Company in Madison County. These were all vivid memories for a small child growing up in rural North Florida.

Everything with Ms. Rena was interesting. Even swimming in the same lake I grew up on was different with Rena. We swam at the 4H Camp rather than my family’s waterfront. Summer days seemed special and different from my “normal days” with my own family.  Every day with Rena was an adventure and an opportunity to help her share her gifts of love with the children in our neighborhood. I can’t explain it, but when I was with Rena, I felt like the luckiest kid in the world! Of course, there were others—Wade and Linda, just to name a few.

Summer became a time for all of us to make wonderful memories. Evenings were spent trying to learn how to play Canasta, though it was much more complicated than “Go Fish.” We loved to sit on the wooden swing that hung between two grand oak trees in the front yard. Our swinging helped conversations flow like a stream trickling downhill. Chores were something to look forward to, and what others might call work, with Rena, felt like fun and brought a smile to my face.

How is it that some people have a way of making you feel special? What is it about time well spent with others that binds us together as nothing else really can? It’s often the quality of time spent with others rather than the quantity that counts. Look into the heart of a child who was made to feel as if they were the most important person in the world, and you will see the gift of love at work.

When I think of grace, I think of the many ways God has gifted us to share our lives with others. I think of time well spent—in beach chairs, on docks, and swinging from swings. I think of arms reaching out in relationship to each other that are embedded in our memories for a lifetime. Rena is a reminder of the many persons I have known who loved unconditionally, gave sacrificially, and taught continually what it means to love a child.

May we all live fully into the meaning of 2 Chronicles 15:7 as we persevere through this pandemic, stay strong, and never give up on the work God has called us to do.

I will be away on vacation through September 14. If you have any emergencies, contact Peggy in the NW District Office and she can help you.


I Love Being Your District Superintendent, 






Dear Florida Conference Clergy:

Earlier this summer, we invited you to meet in person with Bishop Carter at one of four locations in September or October. Due to the rise in Covid-19 cases and recognizing that much of the State of Florida is considered an area with “substantial or high transmission,” we will instead be hosting two Zoom webinars. Your previous registration (if any) will be cancelled and you will need to re-register at the links below. The two webinars will be the same and you only need to attend one. 

Bishop Carter Fall Clergy Meeting: A Dialogue with Scripture (Luke 10:41-42)
"Calling, Focus, and The One Thing That is Necessary"

Thursday, September 16 OR Tuesday, October 12
10:00 - 11:00 am

Luke 10:41-42:
The Lord answered, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things. One thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the better part. It won’t be taken away from her.”

Bishop Carter will share and engage in dialogue with clergy around the question: What is our focus as an annual conference? Or said differently, what is the one thing that is necessary? (Luke 10:41).

In preparation, participants are asked to give thirty minutes to a reading of Luke 10:25-42 (which includes the Good Samaritan parable and the Mary and Martha passage) and reflect on the following four questions:
+ What word or phrase resonates with my spirit in this season?
+ What is this teaching of Jesus calling me to do?
+ What is this teaching calling our annual conference to be?
+  What is the one thing that is necessary in the present moment? 

When registering, participants will be asked to give their response to the “one thing that is necessary in the present moment.” These answers will frame the reflection shared by Bishop Carter. 

Register here for webinar on Thursday, September 16, 10 - 11 am 

Register here for webinar on Tuesday, October 12, 10 - 11 am

These webinars are limited to active and retired clergy. You will receive a Zoom email confirmation after your clergy status has been verified by staff.

If you have questions, please contact Shannon Redden in the Episcopal Office




We're Baaaccckkkk! That's right - Charge Conferences will be meeting in person this year (at least as of today). We will have cluster meetings as we have done (BC) before COVID. The meeting schedule has been distributed to the clergy. If you have any questions, please let Peggy Fox know at or 850/386-2154.


FRESH EXPRESSIONS                                                                                                    

By Piper Ramsey-Sumner

What Does a Fresh Expression of Church Look Like?

Sometimes it can be difficult to decipher the difference between an outreach ministry and a fresh expression of church. Most traditional churches have some form of ministry that takes them outside of their doors and into their communities. Whether it be feeding the homeless, after-school programs, or hosting events, the goal of most outreach ministries is to serve the community and bring new people into the church.

Fresh expressions of church do not exist to just serve and do not intend to ultimately invite participants into an existing traditional church. Fresh expressions ARE churches. They are missional because they exist by and for those who don’t “go to church.” They are contextual because they express the gospel within a certain cultural context. They are formational because they create a community of disciples. And they are ecclesial because they seek to establish new and real forms of church.

These churches do not look like most people’s definition of church, but they are truly places of worship, community, discipleship, and love when they preach the gospel through unique yet simple methods like meaningful dialogue, shared meals, acts of service, and doing life together.

Perhaps there is a fresh expression forming in your neighborhood! They spring up in the places you already enjoy spending your time: the park, the beach, your favorite restaurant, and your home. Join the Fresh Expressions NW Florida team at our next meeting for support as you start your FX adventure. We meet monthly on the second to last Tuesday of each month. In September, we will meet at 4:00 pm on Tuesday, September 21. Join at this link:


FX Studio

If you would like to learn more about Fresh Expressions and begin the journey, join the FX Studio! FX Studios are incubators of collaborative mess-making that provide a community of support for your team. In this free, biannual, focused, and structured format, we'll assess where you are in your project and context, generate new ideas, and help you plan your next steps for creating and multiplying new Christian communities.

Join Fresh Expressions Florida on Thursday, October 14, 5:30 pm to 7:30 pm via Zoom for the next studio! Register at the link below:


Mark Your Calendars!

On Saturday, November 13 from 9:00 am to 12:00 pm, we will be hosting a district-wide training event to kick off Fresh Expressions here in North West Florida. This will be a hybrid event with on-site and online options for clergy and laypeople to join together to cast a vision for the future of the Fresh Expressions movement in our community. More information to come in the coming weeks.


EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES                                                                                   


Two positions are open at Trinity UMC Gainesville. Since parts of our district are so close to their district we are announcing the positions here:

Position Available: Director of Stepping Stones Preschool

Do you love working with children and seeing them grow and develop in the early stages of life? Do you also enjoy leading and supporting a team who have a heart for teaching? If so, Trinity may have an opportunity for you! We are seeking a qualified and experienced candidate for the full-time position of Director of Stepping Stones, the exceptional preschool ministry of Trinity United Methodist Church, Gainesville, FL. Stepping Stones currently serves 160 students and their families and has a stellar team of more than 30 teachers. Please see the complete description here. Candidates should send a resume, cover letter, and completed Trinity employment application to Rev. Ben Richards, Executive Pastor of Trinity United Methodist Church, Gainesville.


Position Available: Director of Modern Worship

Are you looking for a position where your contributions are truly valued and your work is part of a larger mission? Trinity United Methodist Church in Gainesville, FL is searching for an experienced Director of Modern Worship to join our team. This position will play an integral role as the lead musician and band leader in the church’s weekly modern worship service. As a member of the lead staff of Trinity, this person joins other team members in setting the pace for others by living out the church’s vision. If you are looking for a place where you can join other persons of vital and inspired faith in making a difference, Trinity may be the place for you. Please see the complete description here. Candidates should send a resume, cover letter, and completed Trinity employment application to Rev. Ben Richards, Executive Pastor of Trinity United Methodist Church, Gainesville.

Ben Richards   --