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SW March Newsletter 2021


Florida Conference Lay Servant Ministries Classes

The following course is scheduled:

Accountable Discipleship: Living in the Household of God.
Online via Zoom - March 9 – April 6, 2021
Five Tuesdays from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm
Instructor: Rod Groom
This course may be taken by anyone interested in living as a follower of Jesus Christ in loving accountability with others. For those who have taken the Basic Course and wish to become a lay servant, lay speaker or lay minister, it may be taken as an Advanced Course for certification or recertification. Accountable Discipleship is how disciples of Jesus Christ live in God’s household. It is the living of God’s “household rules” in their daily lives. When asked, Jesus told us that these rules can be summarized as loving God and loving our neighbors. Looking at our biblical and Wesleyan heritage, the author shows us how we can meet the challenge of personal discipleship in loving connection with others, whether in Covenant Discipleship groups, Emmaus Reunion groups, cell groups or other small groups in the church.
Course fee: $25.00 to be paid at time of registration. Please have a Bible, notebook and pen convenient next to your computer. It is recommended that for class work, you use a Windows or Mac computer, and download the free Zoom software in advance.  You must complete all sessions to receive course credit.
Materials: Please purchase and read the book prior to class. The book is entitled Accountable Discipleship: Living in God's Household, by Steven Manskar. You may purchase it at Cokesbury or Upper Room Books.

CLICK HERE to register for the ADVANCED COURSE.  Credit card payment will be required upon registration.
          Deadline for registration is 3/1/2021.

Contact Rod Groom for any questions you may have at:



Our district now has an instagram for Fresh Expressions. If your church has a Fresh Expressions or is doing something exciting, please contact Samantha Aupperlee at with pictures and a short description of what you are doing. 


Please follow our instagram page at swflumcfx. 


We are looking forward to filling the page with the amazing things the district is doing!


Faithfully,  Pastor Samantha - Beach United Methodist Church



Mark Your Calendars: Children's Home's (Virtual) Day on Campus - March 27!

Each year, one of the most special days in the life of the Florida United Methodist Children’s Home is Day on Campus. This eagerly anticipated event provides us with the opportunity to both thank our faithful churches and ministry partners and highlight all of the wonderful things God is doing through the ministry here. Normally, we open our gates and welcome guests to celebrate the ministry they have helped to make possible. However, we know that this is not a normal year, and churches and ministries have adapted their work in a way that continues to prioritize health and safety. We have also had to adapt, and we are very excited that we will be holding Day on Campus as a virtual event this year! This will allow us to continue the annual tradition of lifting up the Children’s Home ministry, while also ensuring people can engage from the safety and comfort of their own homes.

Day on Campus will be held virtually on Saturday, March 27. It will be broadcast on our Facebook page, and will also be accessible on our YouTube channel following the event. Similar to the standard program, the virtual event will feature updates from our President & CEO, board chair, and key staff. It will also highlight testimonials from individuals, 2020 award winners, music from our children and staff, and a virtual tour. Our mission has continued to guide the ministry, even in the midst of a pandemic, and we are excited for you to celebrate the ways in which God continues to do great things through the many ministries of the Children’s Home.

For more information on how to view the event, as well as ideas on how to engage, please visit our Facebook page and stay tuned to our email communications. Any questions can also be sent to Thank you for your continued partnership in serving children!


Statement from Bishop Carter on the Postponement of General Conference & Special Sessions of the Jurisdictional Conferences

February 25, 2021

To the People of The Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church:

Blessings to you friends, in the name of Jesus Christ our Savior, who journeys with us in these days of Lent toward a garden and a cross, and then an empty tomb and a risen life!

I write to share the news released today of the upcoming General and Jurisdictional Conferences. We live in an unprecedented season. COVID has changed how we work, gather, travel, eat meals, worship, see our families and friends. This week we noted that 500,000 Americans and 30,000 Floridians have died of COVID. Lord, in your mercy, hear our prayers!

This has disrupted the denominational gatherings held every four years that we know as the General and Jurisdictional Conferences. The Commission on the General Conference and the Council of Bishops have released the new dates for these gatherings, which are linked here and here. In addition, a Frequently Asked Questions document is provided here.

Three brief words:

  1. The setting of dates for two General Conferences and two Jurisdictional Conferences over the next eighteen months allows the elected delegates, half laity and half clergy, the opportunity to serve the church which has called them. The setting of these dates is very healthy.  

  2. The scope of work in the General and Jurisdictional Conferences will be done first in a minimal way, accomplishing what is necessary and what is possible, in 2021. The in-person General and Jurisdictional Conferences, in 2022, will take up the weightier matters which can most appropriately be done when we are together. A fundamental value in the call of the May, 2021 General Conference in particular was equity. It is simply not fair to make long-term decisions about the future of our denomination when many delegates across the world do not have equal access to technology.  

  3. We now have a sense, God willing, of a timetable for the next faithful steps in our denominational life. I encourage us, in this interim season, to focus on our most important commitments—to vital and sustainable local churches, on a path back to in-person gatherings; to the work of antiracism as a core matter of discipleship, mercy and justice; and to the health and resilience of our clergy leaders.

For those who want to learn more about the General and Jurisdictional Conferences, the FAQs provide accurate and helpful information.

I am in prayer for you, and I depend on your prayers. Be encouraged and stay safe!

The Peace of the Lord,

+Ken Carter
Bishop, Florida Conference
The United Methodist Church


District At-Large Members to Annual Conference

Annual Conference 2021 will be held via Zoom. Click HERE for the AC2021 webpage which will be updated as information is available.

Are you interested in becoming an South West District At-Large Lay Member to Annual Conference 2021? The Cabinet has given the Districts Guidelines regarding Lay Members to Annual Conference. 

  • No more than three voting members from one household
  • No more than five at-large members from one local church
  • Click HERE for the Discipleship Ministries explanation on Lay Member to AC


  • Pre-Annual Conference Gathering is Sunday, June 6 3:00pm - 4:30pm for all Clergy and Lay Members to Annual Conference
  • There will be some optional events June 7 - 10
  • You are not automatically a Lay Member to AC because you were last year.

Please have your pastor send an email to Sandy Voigt ( with their recommendation of you serving as a SW District At-Large Lay Member to Annual Conference.


Three Commitments:

A Missional Plan for Congregations and Clergy in the Post-Covid Florida Conference
By Bishop Ken Carter & Alice Williams, Lay Leader Florida Conference

This week our nation paused to acknowledge the deaths of over 500,000 known persons to COVID-19, and our state acknowledged the deaths of over 30,000 persons. At the same time we are beginning to see large number of persons vaccinated, especially those most vulnerable to the disease. As winter passes into spring, and as the virus continues to subside, we begin to think about the post-COVID church and what it will mean for us to live into the new normal as Christ's disciples called to bring hope and healing to the world. Click HERE for complete article.

Reminder - Reports due in March

  • Fiscal Responsibility and Management Policies. Financial Controls, Policies, and Procedures - Review & renew annually. Once in compliance, submit a signed copy of the one page Annual Review and Renewal Document as well as the Document Retention Policy to the district office by March 31.  Click here for Fiscal Responsibility and Management Policies in Local Churches.
  • Employee Conduct Policy Adoption. FL Conference Revised Local Church Policy last revised April 2015.  Review and renew annually.
    • CLERGY FORM: Click here for ECP for clergy. Submit the signed clergy copy to the district office by March 31.
    • EMPLOYEE FORM: Click here for ECP for local church employees. Copies of the local church employees forms should not be submitted to the district office, but should be filed in their employee file at the local church.
    • ADOPTION AGREEMENT: Click here - Adopt the revised ECP and submit a signed copy of the Adoption Agreement to the district office by March 31.
  • Annual Report to the District Housing Committee / Parsonage Checklist. Review & renew annually. Submit a signed copy of the Annual Parsonage Review to the district office by March 31. You are welcome to do the parsonage review via Zoom or video call with your pastor due to Covid concerns. 
  • Fund Balance Report for the Year End 2020. This report is located in your church dashboard. Report available via the church dashboard login under Fund Balance. 
  • Child and Youth Protection Policy Review & renew annually. Submit a signed copy of the Annual Review & Renewal Signature page of the Child/Youth Protection Policy to the district office by March 31. (Should the policy undergo major revisions, submit a complete copy to the district office.) See Ministry Protection webpage for more information.


Clergy/Students Can Now Apply For Grants
Deadline is April 30

The PASSING THE TORCH FUND, a collaborative grant program between the Florida United Methodist Foundation and Florida Conference, is now accepting applications for two grant opportunities.
The fund awards grants that provide financial assistance to Florida Conference clergy in full connection who are planning to take renewal leave. Up to $10,000 per grant may be awarded.
The fund awards a seminary scholarship to a qualified student of color and culture who is planning to enter United Methodist ministry.
Applications for both grants will be accepted until April 30.
Complete the application online (under #4 Passing the Torch). For more information, please contact Holly Finley, Office of Clergy Excellence, at or 800-282-8011, ext. 134.
The Passing the Torch Fund was launched in 2015 to provide training, financial assistance and leadership development support for conference clergy and those preparing for ordained ministry in the Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church.
It is administered by the Office of Clergy Excellence and funded by the Florida United Methodist Foundation and conference Board of Pension and Health Benefits.
In addition to the grant opportunities, individuals ordained deacon or elder in full connection will receive $5,000 from this fund at annual conference to help alleviate educational debt. The fund also supplements the Ministerial Education Fund assistance provided to clergy and cooperative grant efforts through the Office of Clergy Excellence.
More information about recipients of the grants and how the fund has been used is available through these articles:
Clergy scholarship recipients have passion, hope for future church
Grants help clergy dream big, focus on God’s call
Helping the helpers
Scholarship helps candidate fulfill passion for ministry


Apply Now for UMC FCU 2021 Scholarship
Application deadline:  April 30, 2021

 What you need to know:

  • $1,000.00 awarded to one person from each of the United Methodist Conferences (Florida, Alabama -West Florida, South Georgia, North Georgia)
  • Application Open: January 1 - April 30, 2021
  • Previous Winners are ineligible to apply
  • UMC FCU Members are eligible to apply. Applying online to become a UMC FCU member is easy. Eligibility Requirements  ( Be a Member of a UM Church, or Work for a UM Church or Organization within the four (4) conferences listed above, Have a family member who is already a member of UMC FCU)
  • Click HERE for application and essay information
  • Don’t wait to apply (Applying early does not increase your chances of winning… it’s just good to get things done as soon as possible)   

Should you have any questions, please contact anyone at the United Methodist Federal Credit Union 863-687-9725.


Modified Missional Vital Signs Reporting

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 Sandy Voigt at


2021 Holiday Schedule for The Florida Annual Conference

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

April 2
Good Friday holiday
May 31
Memorial Day holiday
July 5
Independence Day holiday
September 6
Labor Day holiday
November 11
Veteran's Day holiday
November 25-26
Thanksgiving holiday
December 24
Christmas holiday
December 27
Christmas holiday
December 31
New Year's Day holiday