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SED April 2023 Newsletter

Holy Week, 2023

Dear South East District Friends,

I greet you on the holiest week of the year. My prayer for all of us this week is that the life, death and resurrection of Jesus can center our days, nights, reflections, prayers and actions. In the midst of the special worship services, children’s events, music, food and many preparations may the peace of Christ fill you so that we might fill our world with the joy of the resurrection.

For reflection this week, I would like to share with you this meditation from Father Richard Rohr on the transformation available to us through the cross. I found meaning in it and hope you will too.

He asks, How can gazing upon the crucified God transform us?

And his answer: This deep gazing upon the mystery of divine and human suffering is found in the prophet Zechariah in a very telling text that became a prophecy for the transformative power of the victims of history. He calls Israel to “Look upon the pierced one and to mourn over him as for an only son,” and “weep for him as for a firstborn child,” and then “from that mourning” (five times repeated) will flow “a spirit of kindness and prayer” (12:10) and “a fountain of water” (13:1; 14:8). I believe we are invited to gaze upon the image of the crucified to soften our hearts toward God, and to know that God’s heart has always been softened toward us, even and most especially in our suffering. This softens us toward ourselves and all others who suffer.

from Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality, p. 192

I pray for the way the cross might soften our hearts and the hearts of the world in a particularly tense and conflictual time. Might the love expressed through the cross be a love that transforms and renews each of us to witness more fully the love of God through Jesus Christ.

Grace and peace to each of you this week,

Cynthia D. Weems

 Dear 2022 Lay Members of The Florida Annual Conference:

Pursuant to ¶603.5, Bishop Berlin has called a special virtual session of the annual conference for April 22, 2023 to deal with the matter of churches seeking to disaffiliate from The Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church. Because we are having a special session prior to the regular 2023 Annual Conference session, the lay members for the special session will be the lay members or alternates “last seated," meaning seated at the regular 2022 Annual Conference session. This includes district at-large lay members. This will only apply to the April 22, 2023 special session.
Because this is a special session of the annual conference, there are some unique lay member considerations that must be observed. Paragraph 602.5 of The Book of Discipline states that the lay members for a special session of the annual conference shall be the lay member or alternate last seated by the annual conference:
¶602.5 5. The lay member or alternate, whoever was last seated in the annual conference, shall be seated in a special session of the annual conference when convened, provided that no local charge shall be deprived of its lay member due to death, serious illness, or cessation of membership. Under such circumstances, another lay member may be elected by the charge conference.38 (See ¶ 32.)
If you are the person from your local church (or a district at-large lay member) who attended the 2022 annual conference session as a seated or alternate delegate, you are the person who should plan to attend the April 22 special session. 
If the 2022 seated lay member is unwilling or unable to attend the April 22, 2023 special session, the elected alternate member will attend instead.
Paragraph 602.5 states that no church will be denied its chance to send a member to the special session, if the lay member is unable to attend due to “…death, serious illness, or cessation of membership.” Should one of these be the reason that a lay member is unable to attend, then the church will be able to elect another lay member to represent the charge at the special session of the annual conference.
This list of scenarios can be a helpful resource if you or your church have questions about who should attend. Should you have additional questions, please email
Please watch your email and our website for information on accessing the special session via Zoom on April 22, 2023

June 8-10, 2023

Florida Southern College
111 Lake Hollingsworth Drive
Lakeland, FL  33801

To see the General Schedule, CLICK HERE.

There will be a Pre-Conference Orientation Webinar on Thursday, June 1st at 6:00pm. Annual Conference is free and open to all. However, only clergy and lay members to annual conference who are present may vote.

Tweet with #flumc23 to join the conversation!

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There is ONE online form that the clergy and SPRC chair both complete online and submit online!! Be sure to read the letter from Rev. Sara McKinley and to watch the video on the link below.

The clergy assessment process is available on the FLUMC website under Clergy Excellence. Appointed Clergy and the Staff/Pastor Parish Relations Committee should meet annually to complete this process. Continuing Education is completed in conjunction with the Annual Assessment above. 

Note: This is required for every clergy appointed to the local church. Even if you have a new appointment, the pastor and SPRC are expected to complete it. This exercise will be helpful for the church and pastor as they transition. 

This process is fully electronic and you do not have to print and send a hard copy of the evaluation to the district office.


Dear Florida Conference Clergy,
I am writing to thank those of you who work to make your church, schools, and preschools safe places for children and adults. We are vulnerable. Yesterday when the news of another tragic school shooting in Nashville was released, we were saddened to hear about the deaths of three children, all aged nine, and three employees of the church-related school where the shooting took place. The news reminds us again that mass shootings in our country are indiscriminate. They can happen in any location at any time. For this reason, clergy and lay leaders, along with board members of schools that are a part of the church’s ministry to the community, are wise to consult with professionals and regularly assess the safety standards of the facility, evaluate policies and practices of staff, and carry out safety drills related to times of emergency.
Some congregations may not have done this evaluation or renewed these practices since the pandemic began. If that is the case, I ask that you please review the attached information provided in the past by The Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church and its Ministry Protection Department. Gather leaders to review your policies and update your practices. We honor those whose lives have been lost and broken when we do our best to create safe spaces for children and those who serve them.
Please join me in prayer for the children, parents and teachers connected with the Covenant School in Nashville. Residents of Florida know the pain and loss of such a tragic shooting. I hope we will all work for a day when we no longer live in fear of a mass shooting that destroys the lives of children and families in our communities.

In Christ,

Tom Berlin


On October 1, 2021 Florida Statute 409.2576 became effective which requires all employers to report newly hired and rehired employees to the Sate Directory of New Hires within 20 days of hire. Previously, only employers with 250 employees or more had to report this information. 

This Statute also requires all employers to report individuals who are independent contractors, who provide a service to the employer and are paid more than $600 per year for the services rendered.

The reporting requirement does not apply to service providers that are business entities such as a limited liability companies (LLC), even if owned and operated by only one person.

Reporting Requirements for Independent Contractors
Employers must report independent contractors that are subject to reporting (paid $600 or more) within 20 days after the earlier of:

  1. The date of the first payment made which requires an information return in accordance with s. 6041A(a) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986; or
  2. The date on which a contract providing for such payments is entered into.
  3. Must be reported every 12 months that they receive $600 or more.

Chapter 409 Section 2576 - 2021 Florida Statutes (
To register: Child Support Services for Employers Home (
Florida New Hire Reporting Instructions
Child Support Services for Employers Information on how to report (
Florida New Hire Reporting Form (

We are writing to make you aware of a continuing education opportunity, specifically for pastors, offered by the Barney Barnett School of Business and Free Enterprise at Florida Southern College, in conjunction with The Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church. In 2021, we held the inaugural Church Management Conference, a three-day virtual conference training pastors in various business areas related to the church. We had nearly 60 pastors participate in the conference, and received extremely positive feedback regarding how the experience would help grow and enhance their ministries.

This May, we are offering three webinars, each 3 hours and 45 minutes in length (including a break), which will repeat three sessions from the 2021 conference, with updates to content where needed. These three webinars will take place over three consecutive Tuesdays and address:

  1. Managing Change and Conflict in the Church (May 9)
  2. Human Resources and Organizational Leadership and Development in the Church (May 16)
  3. Marketing in the Church (May 23)

The webinars are being taught by experts in each of these respective areas. Importantly, because these three areas were covered in the 2021 virtual conference, these webinars are not designed for those who attended that conference, but rather for those who were unable to do so.

Do you want to learn how to better develop and execute marketing strategies for your church? Do you need to improve your conflict management skills in the tumultuous times the church and society-at-large are currently facing? Do you want to learn how to better develop leaders in your church and effectively manage human resources among staff and lay leaders? If the answer is yes to one, two or all three of these questions, then these webinars will enhance the effectiveness of your ministry.

In order to maximize instructor-to-pastor and pastor-to-pastor interaction, as well as meaningful instructional engagement during the educational sessions, each session is limited to the first 50 registrants, so register soon! Further, if you know other pastors from other denominations that you believe would benefit from these webinars, please share this information with them. Each pastoral registrant is allowed to bring one staff member or lay leader to the virtual sessions. This may be the same person in each session, or a different person in each session depending on that person’s role within the congregation.

You can find more information about the webinars, including detailed descriptions of content, biographies of the instructors, and pricing information by visiting this link.

Blessings on your ministry,

Rev. Alex Shanks
Assistant to Bishop Tom Berlin
The Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church

If you have any questions at all, please do not hesitate to contact Dr. Matt Bernthal ( or Dr. Eric Harris (


Be ready! Youth 2023 is happening next July in Daytona Beach.

For more information, please go to this link: YOUTH 2023 | UMC YoungPeople

or contact Rev. Kathy Nolasco at

Missional Vital Signs Reporting

Missional Vital Signs (MVS) for the local church - It important to remember that these numbers represent people and the vitality of the local church. They are indicators of the behaviors that produce them, and this tool can be used to discern the health of the church – what works, what does not, where should we make changes, and most importantly, how can we bring more disciples to Christ? The local church should continuously be aware of their MVS’s so that they may evaluate and make adjustments. Healthy churches are aware of their stats and can quickly adapt.

This information is gathered weekly and may be reported weekly or monthly through the church dashboard online by the “MVS Reporter” designated by the church and updated in the church dashboard. There is now the ability to enter missing data over the previous two years.

If your church receives funding (equitable compensation) that is contingent on turning in your data by the 10th of the month. 

Please click here for a helpful video overview and guide sheet of the New MVS Weekly Reporting site.

Other resources:

Explanation of MVS’s
MVS data gathering sheet (PDF)
MVS Weekly Reporting Guide Sheet (PDF)
Tracking Online Video Views (PDF)

The conference and district offices will be closed the following days.

April 7

Good Friday

May 29

Memorial Day

June 19

Juneteenth Independence Day

July 4

Independence Day

September 4

Labor Day

November 10

Veteran's Day observed

November 23

Thanksgiving Day

November 24

Thanksgiving holiday

December 25


December 26

Christmas holiday

April 7 - Good Friday Holiday

The conference and district offices will be closed for the holiday.

May 16 - South East DCOM

District Committee on Ministry Meeting Candidates contact Elizabeth Flynn at for an appointment. 

May 29 - Memorial Day Holiday

The conference and district offices will be closed for the holiday.