Dear South East District Friends,
Greetings as summer begins and annual conference is around the corner!
Two weeks ago I had the opportunity to celebrate with Coral Way United Methodist Church the 50th anniversary of their ministry in the Hispanic community. To be sure, Coral Way is a church much older than 50 years. But, it was 50 years ago that Coral Way transitioned from an English speaking congregation to a Spanish speaking one. Of course, today it represents a very bilingual community as it continues to minister to first, second and third generation immigrants.
Friends, I want to invite you to consider the difficulty of the transition named above. Many of our churches in the South East District experienced similar transitions over the last fifty years. Some were with language groups and others were with ethnic groups or nationalities. Every church in our district has experienced a heightened diversity of membership over these last many years, even if language, custom and traditions remained primarily the same. We live in a beautifully diverse part of the state and I hope you will join me in shouting out a loud, “Amen!”
However, we cannot forget the difficulty of change and the painful stories of exclusion and racism that existed and exists in our church. Part of the 50th anniversary celebration at Coral Way was also an “understory” that reflects the deep racism and fear that existed when immigrants began to enter Miami in great numbers. Frankly, Miami is only a city of immigrants (even if from Ohio!) because Miami is a relatively new city that many were hesitant to enter in the early days (a swamp full of alligators). The truth is, immigrants with brown skin or different languages were not welcomed with open arms. The Methodist churches of the time were Anglo churches in language, tradition and custom. They very much represented the attitudes of the day when it came to separating people who were different.
There were many courageous people, however, who helped to build bridges between the newly arrived immigrants and our church members. There are beautiful stories of people learning the songs, foods and languages of the “other” in order to share the joy of Jesus more fully. These stories are uplifting and they were the primary focus of our celebration at Coral Way for their 50th anniversary.
We have a long way to go in caring for each other and for the stranger. Each day we hear stories of the detention center in Homestead where children and teenagers live without their parents. We experience racism in our churches still today and long for a day when God’s kingdom might be revealed more fully as a global expression of Christ’s cross – one that represents many languages, many continents, many skin colors and many individual gifts and identities that form one beautiful body of Christ.
Please join me today in lifting up a prayer for the many congregations throughout our district who experienced a “great change” in language, custom or tradition over these last decades and are faithfully serving their communities today. Let us pray for the lay and clergy leaders who helped to support these changes and to break open the racial barriers of fear. We thank God for them!
In Christ’s peace and love,
District Office Hours during Annual Conference
During Annual Conference the District Superintendent and Norma Sayago, District AA, will be in Lakeland. Please note that we may respond a little slower to messages and will have limited access to our voicemail and email.
Please join us at the Well!
This retreat is sponsored by the Florida Chapter of the Fellowship of United Methodists in Music & Worship Arts.
When: Thursday, June 13th, 3:00 pm - Saturday, June 15th, at Noon
Where: Life Enrichment Center in Fruitland Park, FL
Retreat Leaders: Todd Fields, Rev. Melissa Cooper, Joshua Smith, and Jeremy Hearn.
Worship ?leaders: Drew Miller, University Carillon UMC, and Gabrielle Toledo, FUMC Orlando.
To register, please CLICK HERE
For more information, please contact the registrar: Joan FitzGerald at email@example.com; or visit the website: https://www.floridafummwa.org/the-well.html
National Day of Volunteer Youth Ministry Training Opportunity
September 21, 2019
9:00 – 11:30 am
In September, First UMC of Homestead is going to be part of a National Day of Volunteer Youth Ministry Training. The simulcast will be broadcast in over 200 locations around the US. The training will be given in TED talk style by leading Youth Ministry voices like Doug Fields, Josh Griffin and Kara Powell plus more!!! This training is being offered for $99 for a church. The church can bring 1 volunteer or 99 and it's the same price –plus they are going to offer lunch to those who make the trip!
You can find details on how to register, speakers, and other detail items at this address:
Becky Gilbert, Youth Pastor at First UMC Homestead, would like to follow up with you if you are interested in participating with First Homestead. In the meantime, please let her know if you are interested or if you have any questions by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org . She would love to put you on their list!
South East District Church Administrative Training
Who are invited? All administrative professionals who work within a local church in the SE District
When? Tuesday, September 24, 2019
Where? The District Office at First UMC of Coral Gables
Please join us to share, learn, and fellowship with others who understand the work that we do. We encourage all of you to put this date on your calendar today. Registration will be available after Annual Conference.