Dear South East District Friends,
I am grateful to be writing to you as a new month begins and fall is upon us (not the weather, of course, but the sights and smells of fall like pumpkin patches!).
It seems there is much energy in the life of our churches these days. I am excited to be out visiting again and doing so safely in worship services, meetings, and events. You are holding anniversary services, homecomings, youth events, and re-learning how to do in-person worship while also preaching, singing, and praying to a camera. I appreciate so much the creativity of your ministries and the way you are relaunching worship and ministry safely and with passion.
There are common themes I am hearing around the district as challenges to our ministries in this season and with an ongoing pandemic. Let me name a few to help you see if they resonate with your church:
- Sunday School, youth, and children’s programming needs to begin again as our young people are back in school safely. However, adult volunteers are hard to find who are willing to return.
- Preschools are challenged by departing teachers who are seeking employment elsewhere. There are also continued challenges with classroom closures due to Covid positive cases.
- In-person worship attendance is still less than 50% of pre-Covid numbers for most churches. This is hard on visitors and those who attend as sanctuaries feel empty.
- It is difficult to know which meetings need to happen in person and which ones can be accomplished via ZOOM. (The district and conference struggles with this same question!)
- How do we continue to build community in this ongoing season of isolation?
Friends, this is a challenging time. Yet, I see energy and excitement all around the district. Events and activities are happening, safely, in our churches. If you feel your church is not actively making plans to re-engage the community after this long season of isolation, I urge you to build a team that will discuss with frequency what steps you are taking to engage your membership and reach out to new people.
We are aware that the pandemic has hit some people and families harder than others. Persons who have been able to work from home and easily engage technology have fared better. Many of them are our church members. And many are still comfortable staying home and staying virtual. However, there are children, teens, seniors, and families in each of our communities that do not have the luxury to stay home and stay virtual. They are in need of community for spiritual, economic, and relational reasons. We exist to care for our “parish” and the world is our parish as John Wesley was known to say. How is our part of the world experiencing the love of Jesus at this time through our ministries?
Please know I am here as a resource to you as you navigate these waters. All of our sixty district churches are also here for you as we share in this work through creativity, prayer, and the wisdom of our faithful God.
Grace and peace to each of you,
Cynthia D. Weems
SE Clergy Meeting Updates/Reminders
The in-person Fall Clergy Meeting with Bishop Carter has been changed to a Webinar format
SE District Fall (Virtual) Clergy Meeting
Wednesday, October 13 from 10:30-12 noon (note time change)
ZOOM link will be sent via email in advance of the meeting
The 2021 Charge conference forms are available on the Florida Conference website. To go to the forms, please CLICK HERE. These forms are to be completed annually by each local church in accordance with the District Superintendent’s annual charge conference instructions. Click here to link to Charge Conference Forms instructions. In an abundance of caution, cluster charge conferences will be virtual in 2021. Please see here the links to the revised schedule and the agenda. Your church office and pastor have received instructions for the conferences.
Certified Lay Servants - Click HERE for the Annual Report. This report is only for those who have completed the Basic Course & an Advanced Course within three years. You must attach a copy of your most recent Advanced Course certificate. Those who have only taken Basic do not complete a report.
Clergy who do have reports due to be turned into their Charge Conference for the Fall Annual Charge Conferences are:
- Report of the Retired Pastor
- Report of Clergy on Honorable Location
- Report of Clergy on Voluntary Leave of Absence
Deacons beyond the local church and Extension Minister's Annual Reports are NOT part of Charge Conference forms. Their Annual Reports are due December 31 of each year. Click HERE for the Office of Clergy Excellence page with those details.
If you have any questions, please contact Norma via email or phone. firstname.lastname@example.org / 305-445-9136.
Boy Scouts of America and the Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church
From Bishop Carter, Chancellor Mark Hanley and Treasurer Craig Smelser
Last October, the Cabinet and I informed you that the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on February 18, 2020. The BSA is seeking to resolve all victim sexual abuse claims asserted by scouts and former scouts against the BSA and its local councils and to continue forward with its mission.
To give United Methodists a presence in the process, to make sure our interests were adequately protected, an “Ad Hoc Committee” comprised of several Conference Chancellors and other denominational leaders was organized. The Committee retained outside bankruptcy counsel to represent the interests of our chartered organizations in the bankruptcy proceedings.
The Committee believes our interests are not adequately protected under the current Plan of Reorganization. This may change, but until future developments become more certain, the Committee’s advice is to limit exposure to future claims and continue its work within the confines of the bankruptcy proceedings. CLICK HERE TO READ THE REST OF THE PUBLICATION and link to the Facilities Use Agreement
Lay Servant Ministry Training Opportunity
God Does Not Call The Equipped – God Equips The Called!
LAY SERVANT MINISTRIES is a leadership development program in The United Methodist Church, focused on equipping and empowering laypersons who have responded to the call of God to serve in mission and ministry, and live out their own discipleship as servants in leadership through the ministries of leading, caring, and communicating.
Through this equipping and empowering system, lay servants have the opportunity to grow as disciples of Jesus Christ and who then go and make other disciples.
To become a Certified Lay Servant, you must:
- Obtain recommendation from the pastor and the church council or charge conference of the local church
- Complete “Introduction to Lay Ministries: BASIC Course."
- Complete an advanced Lay Servant Ministries course.
In the Basic LSM course - which is the prerequisite for becoming a Certified Lay Servant - you will gain clarity around your talents and the needs of your community. You'll also reconnect with our United Methodist history and faith and learn how to reach out to others.
David Palmer, Director of the North Central District Lay Servant Ministries, will lead the Basic Lay Servant Ministries course online NOVEMBER 1-15. Easy and doable even if you are new to online learning, the two-week class will consist of 3 Zoom meetings of small groups and worship sessions. The first Zoom meeting for this course will be held Monday, November 1, 6:00-7:30 pm EDT. The second and third meeting days/time will be scheduled with learner input during meeting 1. Contact David at (352) 598-9823 or at email@example.com with any questions.
Cost is $45.00 Learners will need the Lay Servant Ministries, Participant’s Book (Basic Course)
Join this one-of-a-kind online course in Lay Servant Ministries!
Click here to register at BeADisciple.com
Take an online class on Methodism this Fall
Methodist Identity: Our Beliefs
Dates: October 11 - December 6, 2021
No required books.
For more information visit the Website
To enroll, please CLICK HERE
Reminder about the New Church Dashboard
The Florida Conference has migrated it's database from the EZRA system to a new database. As a result of this migration, there is a new church dashboard.
The Church Dashboard Tutorial page has new videos and guide sheets showing how to access and use the new church dashboard. You may access the tutorial page here and also via link at the bottom of the conference website home page. Just click the link for Dashboard Tutorials.
When you first access the new church dashboard, please review and update the church contact information for the church email and phone number. Please review and correct the additional contact information including worship times, driving directions and website.
While every effort has been made to insure that the church leadership positions and contact information migrated successfully, it is possible that some information may be missing or incorrect. Please review and update the church leadership and their contact information. Please only add the chair of church committees and not the entire committee.
To access the new church dashboard, go the home page of The Florida Conference website and click the Church Dashboard link in the black navigation bar at the top of the page. The Username and Password is the church GCFA number.
Please view the videos and use the guidelines found on the Dashboard Tutorial Page before accessing the new church dashboard. If you have questions or need additional guidance please contact your district office.
Florida Minimum Wage Increase
In November 2020, Florida voters approved changes to the state’s minimum wage, which will gradually increase from the current $8.65 an hour to $15 an hour by September 2026. To comply, employers must implement the following hourly minimum wage schedule for non-tipped employees:
Florida Minimum Wage
January 1, 2021
September 30, 2021
September 30, 2022
September 30, 2023
September 30, 2024
September 30, 2025
September 30, 2026
Effective September 30, 2021, the new Florida minimum hourly rate will be $10. Accordingly, all employers are required to pay employees at least the new minimum rate of $10 an hour or $6.98 plus tips for tipped employees. Please CLICK HERE to access the Labor Law posting.
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 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 Norma at firstname.lastname@example.org