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SW District October 2018 Newsletter

The Holy Spirit Factor”

Acts 19:1-7 (MSG), “Now, it happened that while Apollos was away in Corinth, Paul made his way down through the

mountains, came to Ephesus, and happened on some disciples there. The first thing he said was, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed? Did you take God into your mind only, or did you also embrace him with your heart? Did he get inside you?" "We've never even heard of that—a Holy Spirit? God within us?" "How were you baptized, then?" asked Paul. "In John's baptism." "That explains it," said Paul. "John preached a baptism of radical life-change so that people would be ready to receive the One coming after him, who turned out to be Jesus. If you've been baptized in John's baptism, you're ready now for the real thing, for Jesus." And they were. As soon as they heard of it, they were baptized in the name of the Master Jesus. Paul put his hands on their heads and the Holy Spirit entered them. From that moment on, they were praising God in tongues and talking about God's actions. Altogether there were about twelve people there that day.”

Spiritless Christianity at Ephesus
Paul heard that Apollos was away and went to visit Christians in Ephesus. So he asked them this simple question: “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” Now, we can argue endlessly about the true meaning or implications of this question.

We can argue that, of course, we all received the Holy Spirit when we first believed because there is no such thing as receiving one person of the Trinity without receiving “the whole package”.

In the MSG version Eugene Peterson goes ahead in trying to unpack this for us: “Did you take God into your mind only, or did you also embrace him with your heart? Did he get inside you?” (v. 2). I believe Paul had heard about a form of “Spiritless Christianity” that had been proclaimed at Ephesus. The religion of the mind, the religion of solid theological definitions, where the combination of a well-trained mind with fire in the heart was not evident, a form of religion where the Holy Spirit was not “inside of them”. In fact, they had not even heard about the Holy Spirit!

The Religion of the Heart
I believe through the years we have developed a “cold-hearted” form of religion, the religion of the bright minds and sharp theological definitions without the fervor, the passion and the power that comes from a true movement of the Holy Spirit in our hearts.

I believe we have become less effective and less relevant because we trust so much in our techniques, and having the right data, and orthodoxy and trainings and human efforts that we have totally missed the initial spark, the moving force, the gas that ignites the engines of the church.

Leadership inflamed by the Holy Spirit
We’ve talked a lot about “leadership” in the past 8 years. As teams in the SW District we’ve tried to do lots of things to improve the effectiveness of our leadership skills – some of that has been accomplished. Personally, I have not spent a lot of time teaching/preaching about what I believe is the single most important factor in leadership effectiveness – the power of the Holy Spirit.

Faithfulness and Fruitfulness
We’ve spent a lot of time talking in Clergy Meetings, Charge Conferences, Thrive Conferences and other events about faithfulness and fruitfulness. The type of relationship we have with the Living Christ determines the effectiveness of our leadership. Consequently, we’ve been pushing for a more intentional practice of spiritual disciplines, both personally and collectively through our Clergy Area Teams.

The principle we’ve been trying to practice is to hold each other accountable to a more intense relationship with Christ that would be reflected in increased ministry effectiveness and fruitfulness. We are using a common language to refer to ineffective leadership and what is causing us not to be missionally relevant in many of our communities. We’ve been teaching about the need to do ministry together with others and not playing the “heroic solo leader” style.

We still believe that effective ministry happens more often in teams of Christians committed to be fully devoted disciples of Christ – and we have had some success in doing that. And yet I believe we’ve not been making enough emphasis in the spark that inflames the wheel of faithfulness and fruitfulness, the fuel that heightens our desire to please God and to serve our communities, the power that pushes us outside of our comfort zones and ignites us to a closer relationship with Christ and a ministry filled with spiritual power – a Pentecost, the Holy Spirit factor.

The Holy Spirit Factor
It was the Holy Spirit Factor the one who set in motion the revival that happened in the First Century of Christianity – the Early Church expanded throughout the Mediterranean world, Egypt, Syria and Ethiopia.

It was the Holy Spirit Factor that brought back to the church a renewed appreciation and respect for Scripture and a passion for the poor and the marginalized through Martin Luther and the Reformation.

It was the Holy Spirit Factor what initiated the Wesleyan movement with the experience of the burning heart at Aldersgate and the innovative spirit that moved passionate, enthusiastic Christians out of the churches to the mines and the marketplaces to proclaim – “the world is our parish”

It was the Holy Spirit fire the one who ignited the missionary movement and the deep passion to fulfill the Great Commission in Latin America, Africa, Asia and the Pacific Islands.

It was Pentecostal fire which fell down on a small island called CUBA in the mid-1970’s when Christians fell discouraged and Christianity was shrinking due to persecution and very harsh conditions to develop the mission of God under Communist rule. The Holy Spirit fell down and suddenly we roared like lions, and practiced one-on-one evangelism, and lost all fear of reprisals, and made “CUBA PARA CRISTO” (Cuba for Christ) our motto, and increased membership and places of worship at a rhythm that was difficult to predict or follow. It’s people on fire that create churches on fire. It’s spiritual power what brings about growth and effectiveness and a passion for God and God’s people.

A nice summer religion
John Wesley refers to his relationship with God prior to Aldersgate as “a nice summer religion”. I believe that is what Christianity has come to mean to many disciples of Christ here in America. John Wesley had an interest in biblical languages and in methods of life before Aldersgate (and kept that after Aldersgate) but the academia and the spiritual methods are no substitutes for what is indispensable – the power of God.

Paul laid hands… the Holy Spirit entered
Paul laid hands on the Ephesians, “on their heads” – we have become so reactive to the abuses of the Holy Spirit that we don’t lay hands on people’s heads anymore. Don’t limit the Spirit! Don’t be scared of what the Spirit can produce!

The Holy Spirit “entered them” – how did they know? There were concrete signs: “they were praising God in tongues and prophesied” – Praising God freely and speaking God’s word freely! Oh, how much do we need that!

The power of God for ministry effectiveness
When was the last time you shared Christ and people responded by asking to know more about it or decided to open their hearts to Christ? When was the last time you felt you received “revelation” from God? – revelation for sermon preaching, revelation for missional effectiveness, revelation about things that need to be changed in our lives?

When was the last time we felt the power of the Holy Spirit moving us outside of the church, to the marketplace, to validate that “the world is (indeed) our parish”? When was the last time we felt like God was using us as a prophetic voice to convey a message to God’s people or to people outside of the faith community?

When was the last time we prayed for the sick and somebody gave testimony of the healing power of Jesus in action in their lives through your ministry? When was the last time you felt compelled by the Spirit to freely praise God in tongues and freely prophesy (give His Word)?

Ask for it!
I would certainly understand if you don’t like people laying hands on you. Maybe you are still resenting some bad experience, some abuse of the Holy Spirit, something that was imposed on you on an invasive manner.  But I would definitely challenge you today to ask God to boost your ministry and to make you more relevant, and passionate and effective by asking God to give you a fresh anointing of the Holy Spirit in your life.

Matthew 7:7-11
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and everyone who seeks finds, and to everyone who knocks, it will be opened. “Who are the parents among you who, if your children ask for bread, will give them a stone? Or if they ask for a fish, you would give them a snake? If you, sinful people, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”

In Christ’s amazing grace and love,




The South West District is looking forward to the three gatherings in the district to worship, learn and to  take care of the work of the local church.  Our featured speaker will be Rev. Jorge Acevedo, senior pastor of Grace Church- Cape Coral and multi-site campuses.  We will be collecting gift cards (Home Deport or Lowes) and/or money for UMCOR to support the recovery work from Hurricane Florence and the continued recovery work from Hurricane Irma.

Each location will be offering food after the event ($5 donation per person requested).  Please plan to gather after the conference (whether at the host church or a nearby restaurant) to fellowship and continue discussions from the event.

TIME:  9am-12noon
10/13/2018 - First UMC, 126 S Pine St, Sebring, FL 33870
10/27/2018 - Christ UMC, 1475 Center Rd, Venice, FL 34292
11/3/2018 - Estero UMC, 8088 Lord's Way, Estero, FL 33928



Rev. Hernandez and Sandy Voigt will be at the following locations for SPRC training.  This training is for all SPRC committee members (outgoing and incoming). 
Saturday, Dec. 1, 2018 @10am: Christ UMC, 1475 Center Rd., Venice, FL  34292
Sunday, Dec. 2, 2018 @3pm: Estero UMC, 8088 Lord's Way, Estero, FL 33928
Friday, Dec. 7, 2018 @ 6:30pm: First UMC, 126 S. Pine St., Sebring, FL 33870




In January I went to Havana to meet with Bishop Pereira of the United Methodist Church in Cuba.  I have met the Bishop and spoke with him many times, so it was not like I was a total stranger.  This time was different.  I wanted to meet with him one on one and talk.  I didn’t tell him the reason for the meeting ahead of time; in fact he had no idea why I was coming to Havana to have a meeting with him.

When we met I told the Bishop there was something within me, something I did not know what, why, where or who but there was something telling me to go to other locations, go further and do more.  He looked me squarely in my eyes and said, “That’s passion, you have the passion to do more.”

With that, he said to me, “I want to give you a couple of locations in Cuba I would like for you to visit.  They need assistance in the Districts of Ciego de Avila and Isla de La Juventud (Island of Pines) off the coast of Cuba” I had never been to either district, so both were intriguing to me. 

I made arrangements with District Superintendent Jose Vizoso of the Island of Pines to spend five day with him in September.  Because it is a trip to Havana and then another trip to the island, arrangements had to be made for both. Do you want a ferry, or do you want to fly to the island?

I and two other travels were making this trip. Our anticipation was high as we were loaded with many items.  Some items I have never taken before.  Why was it important to take a walker?  I do not know. I have never taken one before, but it was a top priority for me, along with medicines, shoes and funds to purchase Bibles. 

Landing in Havana, customs and the gathering of luggage were uneventful!  When you can say that it was “uneventful” in Cuba you have already had a successful trip.  I see Pastor Vizoso outside the terminal he is subdued and struggling to come up with English words to greet us.  He had been waiting and planning for this day for months. Food, and water had been purchased, events planned, church visits arranged, pastor visits all were waiting for us on the island.

Then Pastor Vizoso said all flights and the ferry going to the island had been cancelled due to weather concerns.  Then he conveyed with sheer dismay to us naïve American’s he had no idea when they would reopen. Welcome to Cuba!  Surely this would be only twenty-four hours, right?

Pastor Vizoso had an alternative plan set so we went to what were now our accommodations.  We sat round talked and laughed and got to know each other.  The next morning the story was the same no transportation going to the island.  So, let’s see churches in Havana, I suggested we go to Pastor Guillermo’s church.  Of course, we were greeted with hallelujahs and hugs, the laughter and conversation went on for a while and soon we were served lunch. 

The seminary for training pastors is on the second and third floor in the same location all sudden I hear, ‘Hi Amigo!” Standing on the balcony were pastors I knew from through out Cuba.  Amigo’s they are, we carried on for a while and as I departed I left with words of encouragement for them.  Wow, we have spent the whole day there and never once thought about the Island of Pines.  But I knew that Pastor Vizoso was on his phone many times during the day. Nothing had changed there still was no traveling to the island.

The next day we drove to the Cienfuegos District and the church at Yaguaramas. I had been to the district before but never to this church.  As with most of the churches and homes in Cuba they are in need of repairs.  There was no agenda here we just talked, laughed and ate.  The conversation leads to lose, strength and faith. With that it opened my heart to tell the story of losing our son, Paul.  It never goes away, it continues to hurt but with faith you draw strength knowing you will see him again someday.

This day would have never happened had we gotten to the island as planned.  We never did get to the island.  Why, I do not know but I can tell you we had a great trip.  Pastor Vizoso is a true amigo and dear friend as he makes plans for our April 2019 trip. I am guessing God knows “why” he had an alternative plan for us.

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



As we approach the General Conference at the end of February, the District is calling on churches to set apart one day in January or February to fast and pray for our denomination.  Our hope is to have all our churches participate so that beginning January 1st through Feb 26th, at least one church a day in our district is holding the UMC before the Lord in prayer.

At each of the Super Charged Conferences there will be a calendar to claim a day for your church to pray.  We hope to cover all 57 days.  If you would like to sign up for a day now, contact Christ UMC, Venice at 941-493-7504 or email  Leave your church name, contact person, and phone number or email.  More information and resources will be available at the Super Charged Conferences.

We are seeking the Lord for grace, wisdom, and mercy for the UMC.  We invite you to use James 4:6-10 as a focal point for the day of prayer and fasting.  Let us humble ourselves before the Lord that He might lift us up.


Hailed by many as one of the best modern books on Christian spiritualty, Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline, turns 40 in 2018. 

Harvest UMC in Manatee County, FL and Renovaré will celebrate at “Discovering a With-God Kind of Life”, a worship-soaked evening of thoughtful conversation, sharing, and celebration with Richard and Nathan Foster. The gathering is at Harvest on Sunday, Oct. 14 from 6-9pm. The event is free to attend, and an offering will be taken for Renovaré. Visit here to register and visit here for a separate child care registration.
Since its publication in 1978, Celebration of Discipline has helped millions of seekers discover a richer spiritual life infused with joy, peace, and a deeper understanding of God.
Described by Christianity Today as one of the best ten books of the 20th century, Celebration of Discipline explores the classic “Disciplines”, or central spiritual practices, of the Christian faith. Along the way, Richard Foster shows that is only by and through these practices that we can find a true path to spiritual growth.
Dividing the disciplines into three movements of the Spirit, Fosters demonstrates how each movement contributes to a balanced spiritual life. The inward Disciplines of meditation, prayer, fasting and study offer avenues for personal examination and change.  The outward Disciplines of simplicity, solitude, submission and service prepare us to help make the world a better place.  The corporate Disciplines of confession, worship, guidance and celebration bring us nearer to one another and to God.
In the book, Foster provides a wealth of examples demonstrating how the Disciplines can become part of our daily activities – and how they can help us shed our superficial habits and “bring the abundance of God into our lives.”
At the end of the evening, a special anniversary edition of the book will be available for purchase with a special offer. In this edition, Richard pens a new introduction and a unique essay entitled “The Great Conversation”, an annotated bibliography of 50 central spiritual formation books from throughout the centuries. Richard will sign books for anyone interested.
For more information, visit the Harvest website or write to


CLERGY MATES RETREAT – November 1-3, 2018

Hello, Servants of Jesus!

My name is Kim Fisackerly, and I’ve been married to a clergy serving the Florida Annual Conference for over 30 years. During that time, I’ve experienced some of the most rewarding, but also challenging times of my life. Being married to a pastor is a full-time position, right along with my husband. I consider it an honor and a privilege, and it is a role I do not take lightly.

Something I’ve learned through the years is that I cannot do this alone. Being connected with other spouses brings me so much support, encouragement, accountability, and renewal. I’ve made some incredible friendships, and some of these people we consider to be our family. I was introduced to them via the connection opportunities provided by the Florida Annual Conference—both at the District and Conference levels. While there are no longer opportunities at the District level for most of us, we do still have connections at the Conference level.

Every year during the first weekend of November we offer a retreat, just for the spouses of clergy. In the past, these retreats have been held at the Life Enrichment Center in Leesburg. Due to declining attendance and increasing costs, we’re trying something new this year. We’ll be having a more informal weekend at the Riverside Retreat in LaBelle. Those of us who have attended for the past 30 years recognize the importance of these gatherings, but unfortunately most spouses now are either unaware of the retreat or don’t understand why it’s such a valuable resource for those of us in ministry.

Here’s where you can help both our Clergy Mates group and the spouse of your clergy. Please make sure he/she knows about our group (give them my contact information, if they want to know more), and encourage them to consider becoming a part of us. We have a private Facebook group where we share joys, concerns, prayers, etc.—to stay connected throughout the year. We also have an informal gathering at Annual Conference (usually a breakfast). The biggest event, though, is our retreat. The dates this year are November 1-3 (Thursday-Saturday), and registration is available on the Conference website. The cost is $125.

October is Clergy Appreciation Month, and offering to pay for your clergy spouse to attend makes a wonderful way to let them know how thankful you are for their service. Even if your church can only pay for part of it, we do have some scholarship funds available for those who need assistance (handled very discreetly) to cover the remainder (or even all of it, if necessary). Also, assisting with childcare and transportation would be another great way to show appreciation.

Please prayerfully consider how your church can care for your clergy spouse, and make sure they’re feeling the love and support necessary to thrive in this role. I appreciate any assistance you can offer in connecting them with our group. Feel free to contact me, should you have any questions or need further information. My passion is caring for my fellow mates, as they have been such a blessing to me.

Kim Fisackerly
Clergy Mates of the Florida Annual Conference
(239) 823-4300

Galatians 6:2 (NIV) Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.
Hebrews 10:24-25 (Good News Translation) Let us be concerned for one another, to help one another to show love and to do good. Let us not give up the habit of meeting together, as some are doing. Instead, let us encourage one another all the more, since you see that the Day of the Lord is coming nearer.


Winter Youth Retreats at Lake Junaluska

Come to a youth group retreat at Lake Junaluska this winter for adventure, spiritual growth and worship in the mountains of Western North Carolina. Energized worship with great bands is built into every program weekend, and groups can choose to ski, do a mission project or participate in other activities during the day. Find more information at


•           Dec. 29 – Jan. 1 New Year’s Weekend: Andy Lambert (Speaker) and Jimmy Atkins (Worship Band)
•           Jan. 18–21 Martin Luther King Jr. Weekend: Lowell McNaney (Speaker), The Advice (Worship Band)
•           Jan. 25–27: Charlie Conder (Speaker) and The Advice (Worship Band)
•           Feb. 8–10: Stephanie Hand (Speaker) and Zachariah Suggs (Worship Band)
•           Feb. 15–18: Presidents Day Weekend: Mark Oestreicher (Speaker) and Cameron Moore (Worship Band)


May 10 - Missional Vital Signs Due

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

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 9 - SW District Clergy Christmas & Appreciation Dinner

SAVE THE DATE The South West District is hosting its Annual Clergy Christmas and Appreciation Dinner on Sunday, December 9, 2018 We will start gathering at 6:30 pm with dinner being served at 7:00 pm.   All appointed clergy and spouses serving a local church are invited to attend (though clergy and spouses will need to register separately). This is a wonderful opportunity to relax and enjoy the company of your fellow pastors. We will be gathering at the Kingsway Country Club in Lake Suzy. Kingsway Country Club hosted our event last year and we are excited about celebrating the holiday there again this year!   When you RSVP for this event, you will be asked to select one of the following ...

December 24 - Christmas Holiday

Conference & District Offices are closed.

January 10 - SW District Committee on Ordained Ministry (dCOM)

The South West District Committee on Ordained Ministry (dCOM) will be meeting. Certification of Candidates and Renewal of Candidates Materials due December 13, 2018

February 16 - Cuba, So Close But a World Away

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.

March 9 - SW District THRIVE! Local Church Leadership Training Event

SAVE THE DATE FOR THRIVE! Local Church Leadership Training Event Saturday, March 9, 2019 Edgewater UMC, 19190 Cochran Blvd, Port Charlotte FL 33948 ONLINE REGISTRATION COMING SOON!   Must register one person at a time. Cost: $10.00 cash or check payable to "South West District" at the door. Lunch and child care provided.   An opportunity for all local church laity looking to serve more effectively.   Begin and end the day with worship and a message from District Superintendent Rini Hernandez. Each participant will choose a morning and afternoon workshop session; selections include finance, church security, worship, student ministries, disaster recovery, local outreach, and Fresh Expressions...

March 28 - SW District Committee on Ordained Ministry (dCOM)

The South West District Committee on Ordained Ministry (dCOM) will be meeting. - Renewal of LPs Materials due February 28, 2019

April 30 - SW District Committee on Ordained Ministry (dCOM)

The South West District Committee on Ordained Ministry (dCOM) will be meeting. - Review of paperwork by candidates seeking permission to go to BOOM Materials due April 2, 2019

September 5 - SW District Committee on Ordained Ministry (dCOM)

The South West District Committee on Ordained Ministry (dCOM) will be meeting. - Review of paperwork by candidates seeking permission to go to BOOM Materials due August 8, 2019