This month's article is by Nancy Metz, SW District Lay Leader
I am in an “ah-ha” season, at a stage in my life in which I have become a connoisseur of being “seen.”
In my years as your District lay leader, I have been in many settings and met many people, serving with some of them repeatedly. I began to notice a trend with one of my teammates. In the middle of the largest groups, in the hubbub of conversation, he would visit with me, seek me out even. And his questions became pointed, like after the charge conference in Wauchula where I blithely asked to be held accountable to learn Spanish. Some months later, this fellow sidled up to me at a meeting and said, "como esta usted?" We laughed and had a conversation about that and then at other meetings after that.
But it was more than his words. This fellow, I could tell, was intentionally present to me – he could “see” me. And you would have thought that he had all the time in the world just for me, he wasn't rushing off to make conversation with someone more advantageous.
Jesus modeled this gift. The gospel reveals many instances of His seeing in exactly this way. And it seems like the story often begins with "on His way..." The woman at the well. The woman about to be stoned. The woman who touched the hem of His robe. The man who had waited 40 years to step into the pool of Siloam. The father of the boy who was seized by demons.
I have come to understand what a gift is being given when a person takes the time – on his way – to “see” into the life of another. I found that when this gift of being seen is given to me, my spirit is uplifted. So much so, that I now try to be more deliberate in offering this to others.
The really neat thing is that in my relationship with Jesus, I am reminded often that He sees me. “New every morning,” so to speak. He brings words from various sources across my day that address issues in my life. Some invite me to be different. Some offer me comfort. He brings me Glory sightings in nature: cardinals, sunrises, sunsets, full moons, Orion, plain-Jane birds... And He brings people to me, like my friend, who offer me that special gift of being “seen.” It costs people who “see” something, in the way of their time. But they seem to spend freely, lavishly.
So I have intentionally renewed my efforts at “seeing” other people. I'm surprised at how astonished people are when I actually remember their names. In the respite ministry I’m part of with people with memory loss, caregivers seem especially touched when we remember the names of their loved ones and even theirs, knowing which spouse goes with which buddy. It’s my aim to “see” that these folks are and have been more than their forgetfulness. And there are opportunities to really “see” the people I serve with. Ministry is about so much more than the ministry.
But the “seeing” I’m working on is more than the Biblical mandate: I’m talking about people who are not the least, the last, and the lost. We have eyes to see the obvious – if we take the time – and I’ve heard a lot of great stories of “seeing” your waitresses and store clerks. But I’m talking about the quiet one in the choir, the hesitant one in the ministry, the one who sits in the back row during worship. And I’m reminded of the old adage that the pretty girl sits home alone on Saturday night because everyone is sure she has a date! Does my pastor or choir director lack for an invitation to Easter dinner because I’m “sure” they have lots of offers?
Schweitzer maintained that “the tragedy of life is what dies inside a man while he lives.” Neglected – un”seen”? – people wither and die inside without our even knowing it. That’s a further tragedy. Yet each of us holds the power to change that, one person at a time. To “see” others is to love like Jesus – “the greatest of these is…”
Many of you have offered this gift of “see”ing to me, and I thank you from the bottom of my heart. You are helping me grow into Christ-likeness by modeling for me how Jesus lived. I want to be like you – like Him – when I grow up! To God be the glory!
Ministry Protection Reports due August 15-31
Annual Ministry Protection Property and Casualty Insurance Review (Annual Survey). Trustees to review insurance coverage and update online insurance database annually. Annual review period is August 15-31, 2018. This database is also available online year round to enable churches to update insurance data as changes occur. Click here to link to the church dashboard via the insurance database on the Ministry Protection website.
The Annual Workers Compensation Payroll Audit. Finance/Treasurer to complete this annual payroll audit. Please be sure to project your payroll by category through the end of 2018 when completing this section. Click here between August 15-31 to log into the brief Property & Casualty Survey and Workers' Compensation Audit. (Please note this audit is performed twice a year as part of Florida Legislature Statute 440.381.)
LOCAL CHURCH ADMINISTRATIVE STAFF TRAINING & APPRECIATION
District Staff will be out in the district for Church Administrative Staff Appreciation & Training! Come and meet Alyssa McGann....our new person in the district office. Come join Sandy & Alyssa and fellow local church administrative staff for learning, lunch and some time to meet new friends and connect with old friends! We look forward to helping you work smarter - not harder! If this is your first time coming to one of the trainings or if you have joined us many times in the past, we look forward to seeing you and helping you connect with others in your area doing what you all do best - serving your local church! Email any topics that you want to make sure get covered to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We will be at the following 3 locations from 9:30am until approximately 2pm (a lunch will be provided):
September 6 - First UMC, Sebring - CLICK HERE to register for this location
September 13 - Estero UMC - CLICK HERE to register for this location
September 18 - Christ UMC, Venice - CLICK HERE to register for this location
The training is free but we need you to register so we know how much lunch to order! You can select the links above or go to the Conference website (www.flumc.org) and select "Districts" near the top of the home page. Scroll down to select South West. On the right side of the South West page you can then select SW District Events and view the event choices on the calendar for September.
Summer Camp Memories!
Just the words “Summer Camp” will bring smiles to many of our faces. To me it was a time to get away from my mom, dad and two brothers and make some new friends and just have fun. The church camp I went to was about fifty miles from home and that was a long way from home. It was a peaceful oasis on the edge of a city, you would drive back the winding narrow road through a wooded setting. It was a place you could be at peace with nature. To me the trails would open your imagination of what was around the next corner? The inclines were not that steep, and the ravines were not that deep, but it still echoes through my mind “walk do not run.” Of course, being a boy you all ready know what I did the most…. run! I always reached the destination too soon and enviably there was the highlight at the end. After your first year you knew where ever path took you, this one went to the lake, and this one went to the outside chapel.
The lake always provided us with so much fun but my fondest memories were at the outside chapel. Evening vespers by the campfire on the shore of the lake watching the sunset over the lake; those visions are embedded in my mind.
As I write this article I have seven youth and chaperons in the Miami airport to be boarding a flight to Cuba for summer camp! This is my favorite trip of the year but it also causes me the most anxiety. The youth have no idea what lies ahead of them and truly, as much as we prepare them for what they are about to encounter we do not touch the tip of the iceberg. It’s Cuba; in most cases no one in their family has any experience with traveling to this county “so close but a world away.” Mom, dad, grandma and grandpa all watch the news and nothing good comes out of Cuba. What have I done?
The Southwest District Mission Program, Inc. sent their first youth trip to Cuba in 2012. Since that first trip we have sent 43 youth to Camp Canaan in Santa Carla, Cuba. These students have come from Pensacola, Tallahassee, Hollywood, Miami, Charlotte and Sarasota County, and on this trip youth from Pennsylvania and Texas.
I can tell you the student that returns from eight days of worship and fellowship in Cuba are not the same student you sent to Cuba. I have watched students in front of congregations choking up, with tears in their eyes talking about what they seen and felt during worship services at camp. We have one student that left for camp a “pre-med “ major and came back talked with his pastor and changed his major to theology and is now a student pastor. His long-term goal is to do missionary work in under-privileged countries.
On their return all students are required to write me a one-page report on their experience. Here are just a few snippets from reports students that have wrote about Summer Camp Memories of Cuba:
This trip to Cuba has changed me many ways. It has bought me closer to God but also has made me realize how materialistic we can be here in America. Alexandra McKenize
Being able to go and see small, underprivileged churches overflowing with the love of God really changes your perspective. It helps you realize the meaning of all of this. Conor Peters
One week in Cuba changed my perspective on living out my faith and taught me to trust God In new ways. He used our team to bless the people of Cuba and also blessed our team through the people we met. God is doing amazing things in Cuba and I believe that He will use the people there to glorify His name more and more until the whole nation hears his name. Elizabeth Haley
Does your church have a youth that would be interested in going to Cuba next summer? It is not too soon to start thinking about getting one of your youth on the list of travelers. This is a life changing trip!
Dan Christopherson, Southwest District Mission Program, Inc.
www.christforcuba.com / Direct Line: 941-468-7209
CLERGY MEETINGS & CLERGY SPOUSE GATHERINGS
Please make sure you register and put the following clergy gatherings on your calendar:
September 11, 2018 @ Edgewater UMC in Port Charlotte
November 27, 2018 @ Grace UMC in Cape Coral
South West District faith communities will gather for one of three super-charged events. We will have several inspirational speakers as well as worship, celebration, connection and the business of the charge conference.
This is your church's charged conference. Mandatory attendance for all clergy.
The only form we require to be sent into the District Office before charge conference is the clergy compensation form. Please submit that form no later than October 1, 2018. All other forms should be submitted with the charge conference packet on the day of the event.
Locations and Dates:
October 13, 2018 @ First UMC, 126 S. Pine Street, Sebring, FL 33870
October 27, 2018 @ Christ UMC, 1475 Center Road, Venice, FL 34292
November 3, 2018 @ Estero UMC, 8088 Lord’s Way, Estero, FL 33929
DID YOU HAVE A CHANGE IN APPOINTMENT?
As of 2018 the tax law changed regarding moving expenses. If you are reimbursed or if your church paid the moving expense directly to the movers, the moving expense is now taxable income and is also pension eligible. To receive money into your pension plan on the moving expense, please ensure you send in the completed Moving Clergy Expense Form to the district office before the end of the 2018 tax year. For additional information on the moving expense tax change, please refer to the link on Moving Expense Q&A.
Bishop's Regional Gatherings 2018
The Cross and the Flame:
Conversations with Bishop Carter
Bishop Carter will hold four regional gatherings in September of 2018.
These events are open to all, and there will be an opportunity to submit questions for Bishop Carter prior to the gatherings.
Each event will begin at 6:30 PM and a reception will follow.
•Sunday, September 16 – Killearn UMC, Tallahassee
•Monday, September 17 – First UMC, Winter Park
•Tuesday, September 18 – First UMC, Boca Raton
•Wednesday, September 19 – Harvest UMC, Lakewood Ranch
Click HERE to register and submit your questions.
Around the Conference and Beyond
Are you interested in leading or participating on a mission team from your church or organization? Do you want to lead or participate on a team to Haiti, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Kenya, Sager Brown or somewhere else here in the states and be the hands and feet of Christ?
UMVIM Mission Team Training prepares volunteers to be part of a Volunteer in Mission team, to projects in the United States and around the world. The training will help the Leader know their role, as well as help the team members to understand their roles on the team. You will learn the "ins and outs" of organizing a mission trip from recruiting the team, to picking the location, getting support, staying safe, planning the work and much, much more. The training will also go into ways to make sure you are having a healthy impact on the community you are serving, helping you find ways to get involved in healthy missions.
Not sure if you are ready to be a part of a team? Come and learn - you will be well informed and a better team member! Click HERE to register.
Questions? Contact Molly McEntire email@example.com.
UMW Spiritual Enrichment Retreat
September 7 - 9 Life Enrichment Center
UMW invite you to join them for Sacred Spaces at the LEC. Retreat Leader is Rev. Vidalis Lopez and the Youth Leader is Kenya Monroe. Click HERE for Flyer. Click HERE for registration form. Questions? Contact Kay Roach firstname.lastname@example.org.
R-10 and Counting, a comprehensive retirement planning seminar sponsored by the Florida United Methodist Foundation for clergy planning to retire within the next 10 years, will be held Sept. 10-12 at First United Methodist Church in Lakeland (72 Lake Morton Drive, Lakeland, FL 33801).
Registrations will be accepted until Aug. 24, but prospective retirees are encouraged to register early because participation is limited to 30 clergy. Spouses are also encouraged to attend. Click HERE for complete details. Click HERE to register online or print registration form to mail in. Questions? Contact Nadara Brock email@example.com.
Warren W. Willis Camp Retreats
Check out Warren W. Willis for many opportunities to reflect & fellowship!
Confirmation Retreat: October 5-7
Connect: October 19-21; November 9-11
Rooted: September 17-18
Plan Your Own Church Retreat: Who doesn't love WWW? Why not plan your own retreat?
January 29 - February 1, 2019 - Epworth By The Sea
In lieu of our Clergy Gathering which had been tentatively scheduled October 23 - 24, 2018, we are inviting you to attend the Winter Conference at Epworth By The Sea, January 29 - February 1, 2019. This will be a combined event with the Bishops and clergy of the North Georgia, Mississippi, South Georgia and Florida Conferences. Dr. Tod Bolinger, author of Canoeing The Mountains, will be the keynote speaker.
Be sure to register soon as we expect this to be a sold out event.
Click HERE to register. Click HERE for the flyer.
Rooted Conference 2018
A UMC Training Event for Youth, Children and Family Ministry Leaders
Warren Willis Camp: Fruitland Park, FL
One-day and two-day options are available.
Like the interconnected roots of the redwood trees, a strong network is a game-changer for ministry leaders. Rooted is designed to connect those leaders to each other, to innovative and inspiring training, to resources and, most importantly, to God.
Rooted is the "can't miss" event for anyone involved in KidMin, youth and family ministry. Whether you are brand new to ministry, a long-time veteran, on the church payroll or volunteering your time, you will find valuable time in the worship, classes and community at Rooted.
Rooted is proudly hosted by the Florida Conference of the United Methodist Church and the Youth Ministry Institute.
Registration is now open at www.rootedumc.com
Please contact Joel Pancoast at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions. Looking forward to an amazing event.
SOUTH WEST DISTRICT CALENDAR
Please remember to submit your Missional Vital Signs (MVS) each month no later than the 10th of the month. Click here to enter stats.
SW DCOM Dates: (Held at First UMC, Punta Gorda) Chair: Vic Willis DS: Rini Hernandez Tues, Aug 14 (materials due July 14) 2nd BOM attempt
The South West District Leadership Council (DLC) will be meeting at the District Office.
SW District Clergy & Local Church Leaders are invited to join Rev. Alex Shanks for a conversation on the Way Forward. Location: Edgewater UMC, 19190 Cochran Blvd., Port Charlotte, FL 33948 Lunch will be provided. Please let us know if you are planning to attend.
Conference & District Offices are closed.
The South West District Staff will be meeting at First UMC-Sebring on Thursday, September 6TH to provide administrative training. You are encouraged to contact the District Office with specific topics you would like covered. Lunch will be provided at the event. Time: 9:30am - 2:00pm (Gathering for coffee and snacks starting at 9:00am)
Clergy Team Meeting & Clergy Spouse Gathering Edgewater UMC September 11, 2018 Gathering at 9:00am with refreshments. All full-time clergy are expected to attend. Part-time clergy are encouraged to attend if possible. All requests for absence from this clergy meeting must be done in writing to the District Superintendent by September 4th.
The South West District Staff will be meeting at Estero UMC on Thursday, September 13th to provide administrative training. You are encouraged to contact the District Office with specific topics you would like covered. Lunch will be provided at the event. Time: 9:30am - 2:00pm (Gathering for coffee and snacks starting at 9:00am)
The South West District Staff will be meeting at Christ, Venice UMC on Tuesday, September 18th to provide administrative training. You are encouraged to contact the District Office with specific topics you would like covered. Lunch will be provided at the event. Time: 9:30am - 2:00pm (Gathering for coffee and snacks starting at 9:00am)
Conference & District Offices are closed.
Conference & District Offices are closed.
Clergy Team Meeting & Clergy Spouse Gathering Grace UMC-Cape Coral Campus November 27, 2018 Gathering at 9:00am with refreshments. All full-time clergy are expected to attend. Part-time clergy are encouraged to attend if possible. All requests for absence from this clergy meeting must be done in writing to the District Superintendent by November 20th.
Conference & District Offices are closed.
Location: Christ United Methodist Church, 1475 Center Road, Venice, Florida 34293 Time: 11:00 to 2:30 PM Free lunch will be served. The Southwest District Mission Program, Inc. invites you to an Open Forum Panel discussion on Cuba. A distinguish panel of experts will be answering questions from a moderator plus taking questions from the audience.