Dear South East District Friends,
We are all still reeling from the news of the last few weeks that points once again to the gun violence present in all places in our communities – from grocery stores to churches to schools. Our district experienced its own mass shooting on Valentine’s Day, 2018 at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School. Families in our churches have experienced the tragedy and grief of losing loved ones to gun violence. We seek to find words to express our shock, horror, anger and disbelief.
I am grateful for the ways our district churches have expressed grief and solidarity with those most recently killed in Uvalde by joining in prayer vigils, offering words of support, placing empty children’s chairs in front of the church or placing backpacks on the altar rail for prayer. These are ways to say a life is not lost; that we, as people of faith, will remember and pray and work toward a world that does not look like this.
It was the renowned theologian Karl Barth who said we should preach with “the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other.” I would argue that it is not just preaching that should be done with these two important documents in hand. Lay and clergy alike know the importance of living our lives both with an ear and eye to the scripture and a heart and mind for what is happening in our world. What is the connection between what I learn about Jesus in the gospels and what I read in the newspaper about what is happening in my neighborhood, city, country and world?
I realize here that mentioning a newspaper may seem a bit outdated. Personally, I still receive a hard copy of the Miami Herald each day and I love reading an old-fashioned newspaper. Most people probably get their news in another way. Though I would argue it doesn’t much matter if news come from television, the newspaper or on a digital device, making sure we are receiving accurate information about what is happening in the world is important. As important as reading our bibles. And this is where we must ask ourselves – am I soaking in both scripture and information about my community and the world on a daily basis? We often think of “news” as bad news but we know that much of what we read or see on television is also the wonderful things taking place in our community and in the world that remind us of how people are putting their faith, empathy, professional skills and natural talents to work to help heal the hearts, bodies, spirits and homes that have experienced loss, trauma and heartbreak.
Friends, might I challenge us to engage in new ways both the power of scripture and the power of the news to help us hear where God is leading us? To help us learn new ways to express our faith and make a difference in the world? I believe in the power that emerges when God’s word comes alive in our current reality. Let us be a part of bring that power to life!
Grace and peace to each of you,
Cynthia D. Weems
Bishop Carter Announces Full-Time Appointment Changes
Bishop Kenneth Carter and the appointive cabinet of The Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church, in consultation with the clergy and authorized lay leaders of the local churches, announce the following projected appointment changes, to take effect July 1, 2022. Click HERE for the complete list of Full-Time appointments.
Annual Conference 2022 - Get ready to see one another!
June 9 – 11
Click HERE for the AC2022 webpage. The webpage will be updated as information is available. Annual Conference is free and open to all. However, only clergy and lay members to annual conference who are present may vote. All the information below is on the webpage and more!
Pre-Conference Orientation Webinar on Thursday, June 2 at 6:00pm. There is no registration. Click HERE to attend.
Pre-Conference Workshops are open to all, not just voting members - We invite you to join us for these virtual pre-conference workshops:
- Refresh Church | Tuesday, June 7, 9 – 10 a.m.: In this post-Christendom, post-pandemic season, are you ready to REFRESH your church? We will discuss strategies of being relevant, adaptive, and resilient, refocusing the church vision for what we are called to do. There is no easy fix for refreshing our churches. If you are willing to be introspective, prayerful, and open to new possibilities, please register.
- Clergy Care | Tuesday, June 7, 11 a.m. – Noon: Resources for clergy well-being.
- Building Anti-Racist Churches | Tuesday, June 7, 1:30 – 3:30 p.m.: In the United Methodist Church, our baptismal vow calls us to “resist evil, injustice and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves.” The sin of racism is one of these evils and injustices. Dismantling racism is part of our discipleship. We invite you to pray about how God is calling you and your church to be engaged in dismantling racism, not for a moment, but for a lifetime. This workshop will give an overview of the basics of anti-racism, give practical steps churches can take to become anti-racist, and provide real examples of churches that are engaged in the work of anti-racism.
Workshops are limited to the first 300 registrants. Click here for more details and to register today!
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Conversations on Race
Join us for a monthly half-hour conversation with various speakers and share your thoughts about anti-racism efforts in our Conference. Hosted by The Beloved Community. CLICK HERE for more information.
Webinar Schedule (All sessions begin at 12 noon)
- July 6: What is MLK’s “Beloved Community?” II
- August 3: The History of Race in Florida I
- September 7: The History of Race in Florida II
- October 5: How to Implement Anti-Racism Ministries I
- November 2: How to Implement Anti-Racism Ministries II
- December 7: Celebrating Anti-Racism Ministries in the Florida Conference
Tipping, Taxing and Tithing: Preaching on Money and Generosity