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SW District June-July 2018 Newsletter


“Fruitful Ministry”

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

“Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.”

Dear Friends in the SW District:

In October 2012, we started a process in the SW District to develop a collective missional strategy through the building up of strong directional, operational and task teams. We decided that a group of 12 clergy and lay leaders will conform as an Operational Team to work together on developing a missional strategy for this District.

After several months of building trust, practicing spiritual disciplines, creating a covenant, developing a Ministry Action Plan (MAP) and dreaming about new ways to advance the mission of God in our area, we came up with the following:

SW District Vision
God calls us to be a community of Christ followers with a passionate and contagious love for God, for one another and for our neighbors.

SW District Mission
Our mission is to Discover, Develop and Deploy Passionate Spiritual Leaders to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.

SW District Values

  • Everyone is a creation of God and of sacred worth (Child of God/Person of Worth or "COGPOW") and God’s grace is for all.
  • The Church in the Wesleyan Tradition exists to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world.
  • We believe that fruitful ministry occurs most often in teams of disciples using their gifts for the sake of God’s mission.

How are we going to accomplish all that?

  • Requiring that all Pastors under appointment would participate in Clergy Area Teams
  • Encouraging the formation of District Laity teams
  • Recruiting passionate disciples to become passionate leaders and pastors through our Candidacy Process (DCom)
  • Discovering churches and leaders to adopt churches/establishing strategic partnerships, starting second sites
  • Training people to lead Task, Operational and Directional teams within the District ministries
  • Through our Charge Conferences: this year we are going to hold 3 “Supercharged Conferences”: one in the North portion of our District (Christ Venice), one in the South (Estero) and one in the East (First Sebring)
  • The THRIVE Conference (District Training Event) planned and executed by our SW District Congregational Vitality Team
  • The ACTIVATE Conferences (in partnership with TMS Global)
  • The Church Growth Plan process, and specific interventions and networking with declining churches
  • Our Quarterly Clergy Team Meetings (January, April, September and November)
  • FreshX Strategies and Church/School Partnerships
  • Leadership Training Events: Generative Leadership Training, SLI Facilitator Training and Global Leadership Summit

In the SW District, we believe that FRUITFUL MINISTRY happens most often through strong teams of passionate spiritual leaders who have a heart for advancing the mission of God in this area.

What do we mean by “team”?

  • Team: a group organized to work together for a common goal or purpose
  • Teamwork: the cooperative effort by members of a team to achieve a common goal
  • Team player: a person willing to quit acting as a “heroic solo leader”, accepting that no one has all the gifts / the Holy Spirit is still rising up people with diverse skills-sets

Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 teaches us that ministry is not for lone rangers

  • Trying to handle life (or ministry) alone is a unwise, very risky business

Reasons to work in teams:

  1. Because of our own weakness: “If one person falls, the other can reach out and help” (v. 10). We are weak and prone to stumble and fall. We live in a world where stumbling and standing up is very difficult and requires the help of others. Prevention is better accomplished when we can trust others. Restoration and rehabilitation is better accomplished through team work.
  2. Because of our own vulnerability: “Two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone?” (v. 11). Because of the fallen world we live in, we may need other people’s skills, gifts and expertise in order to thrive (for instance, sports teams).
  3. Because there are assailants: “A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer” (v. 12). The power of evil is real in this world! An attacker may overpower one person alone, but a team would be able to overcome any attacks. That’s why “Three are even better, a triple-braided cord is not easily broken”.

Consequences of failing to work in teams

  1. It shows that we lack in vision and discernment: We fail to discover and develop others to reach their full potential. We fail to discern God’s gifts in others and to deploy them according to their giftedness.
  2. It shows we believe we are indispensable: It shows we believe no one can replace us or do it better.
  3. It prevents us from fruitful ministry: We are trapped in micro-managing, taking time from the main purpose of our office: a ministry of Word, Sacrament, Order, and Service.
  4. It produces burnout: We lose the joy in our call to ministry, we get sick and exhausted.
  5. It prevents others from stepping up and joining in the mission of the church: We fail to discover, develop and deploy leaders.
  6. It produces frustration because of ineffectiveness: People grow disenchanted and angry because “nothing seems to work right”.

What do we mean by “fruitful ministry”?

  • Developing an environment of trust and genuine care for each other where members feel loved, supported and affirmed,
  • Embracing the freedom to develop people’s gifts and graces,
  • Opening space for creativity and innovation to face adaptive challenges,
  • Learning from failures and creating new opportunities for greater fruitfulness, and
  • Excitement and enthusiasm about what God is doing through the team.

In Christ’s amazing love and grace,



Please make sure you register and put the following clergy gatherings on your calendar:
September 11, 2018 @ First UMC in Punta Gorda
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.



Faith, Real Faith!

Hebrews 11: 1  What is Faith?  It is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen.  Faith gives us hope. 

There is a saying that in my opinion is so true but then again everyone has an opinion and many of them I do not care to hear.  Christians are like tea bags, you never know what you got until you put them in hot water.

I am sorry when I hear the testimony; I turned my life over to Jesus Christ when I was seven years old and from that day forward my life has been perfect.  In my opinion and again remember everyone is entitled to an opinion, if your faith has never been tested how do you know how deep your faith is?  It’s all perfect, it’s easy. 

Now to me Job is the example of an extremely faithful man, it was all perfect until Satan started to test him. The loss of all his family, the loss of all his worldly possessions. Losing one child is difficult but losing your entire family, I do not know how you handle that.  I think of the Sandy Hook School shooting, first and second grade children killed. How do a mother and father handle that without faith? And a lot of faith.

Three weeks ago, I was in the Ciego de Avila District in Cuba.  Last September they were devastated by Hurricane Irma and much of that destruction was still visible.  Just a month ago the same area was inundated with flood waters from another storm.

I visited fifteen churches in the district and one of the first ones, the parsonage did not have a roof on it because of Irma. As we walked through the house signs of mold was everywhere and the air wreaked with the smell of mold.  From there we walked to the back yard to a shack the size of very small yard shed where a family of five people were living.  The ceiling was so low I could hardly stand up straight.  The heat from the Cuban sun made the place stifling hot.

 Dan Christopherson, Southwest District Mission Program, Inc. - Direct Line: 941-468-7209



Did you have a change in appointment?  There are some things to be aware of with this new change.  If you had a change in appointment you will need to re-enroll in the UMPIP plan because the change in churches is a change in employers with Wespath.  Therefore it is necessary to complete the UMPIP enrollment form and submit it to Wespath to be re-enrolled in the plan.  The form will also require a signature of the Business Manager or whomever is responsible for your payroll. Please click on the 2018 UMPIP Contribution Form to re-enroll or change your contribution elections.

Are you getting your 1% match to your CRSP pension plan by satisfying your 1% to the UMPIP pension plan?  If you have a parsonage, your 1% will need to allow for the calculation for the parsonage as part of your total compensation package.  Remember, your parsonage is calculated as 25% of your salary.

Some things to consider that could impact your 1% match:

  • Salary change
  • Housing allowance change
  • Moving Expense
  • A change in church 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.  




Most of you are aware of the issue of suicide and how it has been in the news this past month with two prominent deaths.  Unfortunately, the statistics show that when high profile people die by suicide, it actually increases the suicide rate in the United States. While this may or may not impact any of us directly, you never know who may ask a question or need help.  Statistics show that 54% of those who died by suicide did not have a known mental health condition. 

In 2016 alone, an American died every 12 minutes from suicide – 45,000 individuals – more than those that died from an opioid related overdose or car accidents in the same year.

Fortunately, mental illness and substance use disorders are topics, like suicide, that people are starting to speak about more frankly. 

Optum is offering a free emotional Public Help Line. This help line will provide anyone in need of help access to specially trained mental health specialists.

  • The company’s public toll-free help line number, 866-342-6892, will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week for as long as necessary.
  • This service is free of charge and open to anyone.
  • Specially trained Optum mental health specialists are available to help people manage their stress and anxiety so they can continue to address their everyday needs.
  • Callers may also receive referrals to community resources to help them with specific concerns, including financial and legal matters.

Along with the toll-free help line, emotional-support resources and information are available online at This site contains a lot of rich content and we want to highlight a few of the resource centers which can be accessed by using a keyword search on

  • Mental Health Center: Type the keyword "mental health" into the search bar, select Mental Health. Here you'll find articles, assessments, self-help programs, and resources on a variety of mental health topics to help yourself and loved ones live life to the fullest
  • Suicide Prevention Center: Type the keyword “suicide” into the search bar, select Suicide Prevention. Here you’ll find information to learn the warning signs, how to talk with someone who may be at risk, where to get help and how to cope if you’re a suicide survivor
  • Coping Center: Type the keyword "coping" into the search bar, select Coping. Here you’ll find articles, guides, self-help tools and videos on coping with stress

Please note, covered UHC members continue to have their ongoing resources available to them and we recommend they access Optum through their account-specific support numbers.


Personal Spiritual Retreats at Lake Junaluska

July 16-18 | August 27- 29 | September 3-6 | October 1-3 | November 5-7
Experienced spiritual directors and clergy guide you through a group centering session, evening prayer service and an individual spiritual direction session, while leaving you ample time for personal reflection and renewal. $297 for two nights lodging in Lambuth Inn, program and retreat booklet. Learn more at

July 30, 31, August 1 | September 9, 10, 11, 12 | September 17, 18 |October 17, 18 October 29, 30, 31, November 1 | November 19, 20, 21
pend time walking the trails, meditating in gardens, in private devotions, journaling, reflecting and more. Lake Junaluska will also provide a booklet with optional agendas, resources and ideas for structuring your retreat. $97 per person, per night, including lodging in Lambuth Inn, breakfast and retreat booklet. Other dates are available, pricing varies. Learn more at




Missional Vital Signs Due

Please remember to submit your Missional Vital Signs (MVS) each month no later than the 10th of the month.

July 14 - SW District DCOM Paperwork Due

SW District DCOM paperwork due for August 14, 2018 meeting.

July 14 - SW District Great Beginnings

SW DISTRICT GREAT BEGINNINGS When your church changes senior pastors, it can be a time of excitement, sadness, anxiety, or mixed feelings. Join other churches going through a change in pastors, and get off to a great start together! Great Beginnings is a two-part training session for churches that will go through an appointment transition in July 2018. Session 1: Saturday, June 23 (Laity only) Facilitators will help you examine the current realities at your church, identify your hopes and dreams for the future, and imagine how your new pastor is a part of God's plan. An extra 2-hour seminar will be offered to churches receiving cross cultural or cross racial appointments on June 23 from ...

August 14 - SW DCOM

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

August 16 - SW District Leadership Council

The South West District Leadership Council (DLC) will be meeting at the District Office.

August 21 - SW District Way Forward Conversation

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.

September 3 - Labor Day Holiday

Conference & District Offices are closed.

September 11 - SW District Clergy Team Meeting and Spouse Gathering

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.  

November 12 - Veteran's Day Holiday

Conference & District Offices are closed.

November 22 - Thanksgiving Holiday

Conference & District Offices are closed.

November 27 - SW District Clergy Team Meeting and Spouse Gathering

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.  

December 24 - Christmas Holiday

Conference & District Offices are closed.