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Wholeness for our Clergy, Congregations, and Communities


January 2018 Newsletter

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Dear (Contact First Name),        
Widely respected theologian, church leader, educator and author Dr. Will Willimon was a primary mentor of mine when I was a student at Duke Divinity School many years ago. After going back home to South Carolina to pastor a local church, serving for fifteen years as the Dean of the Chapel at Duke University and for eight years as a bishop in the church, since 2012 "Will," as he likes to be called, has been back at Duke Divinity School, teaching and interacting with students who are being formed to serve as pastors.

I have hung onto a column that Will wrote some years ago while serving as Bishop of the North Alabama Annual Conference that spoke to me then and continues to speak to me today. I decided to share his words from that column in this space in this first East Central District newsletter of 2018.

Here's what Dr. Willimon wrote in that column long ago:

Every time I fly on a commercial plane I have to listen to this dumb statement: Before helping someone else with their oxygen mask, put yours on first. I usually tune this announcement out. But one day, I didn't. Instead, I found myself running through my head the reasons why airline personnel are so paranoid about us putting on our own oxygen mask first. Surely if the person sitting beside me couldn't get his or her mask on and appeared in trouble, I should put his or hers on first. But the more I thought about it the more I realized they had a point. To not put mine on first could be a fatal mistake. You see, if the person next to me needed my help putting the mask on, something else was wrong with him or her. He or she was too weak or confused or hurt to put it on and, even if I got his or hers on, more than likely the person would not be able to help me put mine on and I would probably pass out before putting on my own mask. Whereas, if I quickly put mine on, the odds are I would be able to get his or hers on in time since I was strong enough to help myself in the first place.

Now, what do oxygen masks have to do with ministry? Everything! Too many Christians are so busy they don't take time to develop their spiritual life. They remind me of the hamster on the treadmill - constantly running to nowhere, refusing to get off the treadmill long enough to spend time developing their inner life. Too many Christians I know look like they just stuck their finger in a light socket. What most of us need to do is get off the treadmill, pull our finger out of the socket, and put on our own oxygen mask before we go into a spiritual coma and die.

Remember - you can't give what you don't have.
One thing about Dr. Willimon is that he tells it as he sees it. Frankly, the day I first read that column of his I felt as if he were talking to me - and my need to stay focused on continuing to strengthen my own relationship with Christ if I'm going to have any positive impact at all outside of myself.

It's true not only for bishops and district superintendents, for pastors and church staff members and members of local church who are in positions of leadership. It's true as well for all who choose to claim the name of Christ as a way to describe ourselves - for all of us who call ourselves "Christians."

We need to be sure that we are consistent in breathing from the oxygen mask that Christ extends to us in order to be able to extend it to those around us who are in need.

Not a bad reminder as we enter a new year. May all of us open ourselves in new and fresh ways to the message of hope that gives us life whenever we choose to breathe it in.

Happy New Year!

Grace and Peace,

Bob Bushong
District Superintendent
East Central District
In the District
Annual ECD Called to Serve
February 3, 2018 - First UMC, Oviedo
Called to Serve
First UMC, Oviedo
February 3, 2018
 8:30 am - 1:00 pm
7:45 am Registration & Refresments

Mark your calendars now and make plans to attend the Annual East Central District Called to Serve Event.  This is a day for everyone in the local church: clergy & laity. We are excited to announce Rev. Michael Beck, Senior Pastor Wildwood UMC, will be our Keynote Speaker.

"Awakening from Apostolic Amnesia"
Luke 10:1-9

We will have 25 different workshops with something that is bound to be interesting to everyone.  This is NOT just for leaders of the church.  We have workshops that will help you grow in your personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

Click HERE for a complete description of workshops.
Click HERE to register now.
ECD Clergy Meeting
January 30, 2018 - Asbury UMC, Maitland 
The Clergy Meeting is this month!  All Full-time clergy serving in the local church are expected to attend.  All clergy are always welcome to attend.  Click HERE to register now.

Rev. Jason Micheli, Executive Pastor at Aldersgate UMC in Alexandria, VA will join us for our time together and share his experiences after being diagnosed with a rare form of bone Cancer.  He is also the author of Cancer is Funny: Keeping Faith in Stage-Serious Chemo.                              
Lay Servant Ministries News
Dear Friends: Happy New Year! What a statement of promise, hope and joy. Hopefully you used Advent and Christmas time to reflect on the past year with a resolve to be ready to serve in the New Year.
Our role as Lay Servants within and outside the church is an ongoing labor of love in God's vineyard. In 1 Timothy 4:10: we read ..." That is why we labor and strive, because we have put our hope in the living God, who is the Savior of all people, and especially of those who believe . "
Because we KNOW, because we BELIEVE, we have HOPE that while there is much to do we will not grow faint. From weather challenges, to the daily reports of tragedies, it might seem easy for us to lose hope and faith. But friends, this IS the time for us to be stronger than ever; to be in constant prayer and listen to where God wants us to be.
Looking ahead, let us strive to become better servant leaders by making an extra effort to do more reading, studying and serving. This is a good time to find a Bible plan to help read through the Bible in a year. Seek out a partner/friend to join you on such a journey. The rewards would be amazing - a relationship with God which is ours and ours alone, plus a deeper understanding of His Word.
Jim and I are already working on plans for the spring and Fall training events. We can tell you to please save Friday, March 9 and Saturday, March 10, 2018 for our spring classes. Now the location is not quite confirmed. (Yours truly dropped the ball...ooh...shh) We hope to offer Basic classes in English, Spanish and Creole and Advanced classes in English and Spanish. We would welcome an invitation to host at your church.
How blessed we feel and humbled by your enthusiasm and attendance during the past year. As we continue to pray for and about you, please know that it is our joy to be your servants. Blessings for a New Year filled with many blessings for you and yours.
Walking alongside you in God's vineyard,
Jim & Lynn
A Message from Kim & Melanie Lee, District Lay Leaders
As 2018 rises, I can't help but take a reminiscent glance back at the setting 2017. So many events flow through a life in the course of 365 days. Kim and I had a wonderful year of watching our children bloom. We are so grateful for the lives they lead and the spouses they've chosen. We thank God for them and for each other.

As I reflect on God's gifts to our family during the past year, I also tend to look at the past with a critical eye, keeping a list of how to improve on this or that in my life. My New Year's resolutions reflect my desire to improve in the many roles I play: child of God, wife, mother, sister, friend, and so forth. My intentions to succeed in reaching my goals shine bright and new as the silver glitter of New Year's Eve celebrations.

Even though God always takes a prominent role in my goals for myself, I am realizing that the list is still My Goals and My Objectives and My Plans for Improving Myself. What about God's goals for me? What if God's desires for me this year do not include a single bit of my grand plan for myself?

This year, I am going to look ahead and watch for God at work. I am going to follow the advice in Isaiah 43:18-19, "Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past.  See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland." God is continually creating all around me, doing a new thing, making a way in the wilderness. I don't want to miss my invitation to join God in that wonderful work!

What does God have planned for you this year? What does God have planned for our church? Listen for God's exciting whisper, "See, I am doing a new thing!" Join God in creating that new thing in 2018!
Loving the Laity,
Melanie and Kim Lee

Send your Lay Action stories to:
Church and Pastor Annual Profiles
UMC Logo The Pastor and Church Profiles are now live.  The deadline to submit is January 31, 2018.  The exception is if the pastor or SPRC has requested to meet with the DS.  The profile must be completed one week prior to a DS consultation. 

Please note that the Profiles are now in a different system.  This means that all profiles are blank.  None of the previous information carried over to the new system.  The usernames, passwords, & instructions are different.  Please follow the steps in the instructions.  Click HERE for the instructions page.
2017 Connectional Giving Deadline Information
Apportionment payments for 2017 must be received in the lockbox at Regions Bank or paid on line by Friday, January 12, 2018.  This is not a postmarked by date, but is the last day by which monies must be received in the Conference or our bank lockbox to be included in 2017 apportionments receipts.  Any payments received after that date will be applied to 2018 apportionments.  Any payments received between January 1 and January 12 must be clearly marked as to which year they are to be applied. 

Click HERE to access the Remittance Report on the Conference website.

To be considered a 100% connectional church in the Florida Annual Conference Journal, 100% of 2017 apportionments must be received by January 12, 2018, and all outstanding Ministry Protection and Health and Benefits obligations must have been received by December 31, 2017.
Important Changes Regarding Reporting Year-End Statistics
Thank you for your help in reporting the statistics of our churches' progress in 2017. This year, because we are in a new quadrennium (2017-2020), the General Council on Finance and Administration (GCFA) made changes to the data local churches are asked to submit. The most important changes for you, as a church in the Florida Annual Conference are:

Line numbers will not match the lines from last year.
The GCFA has made several changes for the 2017-2020 collection period.  Please refer to the table comparison attachment for a visual representation of the lines GCFA has added, subtracted or broken out, to better understand your ministry reporting requirements. If you need assistance interpreting or understanding the table changes, please contact your District Office.
In addition to the reporting/line number changes, there are new questions this quadrennium.

New Questions:
  • Professions of Faith from confirmation classes
  • Online Viewing - weekly average 
  • Clergy Health Costs (one of the following)
    • Clergy Health Supplement
    • Church Insurance Participation
Please consult the Church Guide for Ezra, for helpful information and instructions for reporting statistics. You can also consult Table 1-3 Comparisons 2013 & 2017 for New Quadrennium changes to statistical forms. These two documents should be printed out and referred to as you complete the report.

2017 Year End Statistics Reports is 5pm February 9, 2018.
Online reporting starts January 2, 2018.    Click HERE for detailed information.
Around the Conference
Florida Conference Disaster Recovery Now Hiring
Disaster Recovery in the Florida Conference is actively recruiting for Construction Coordinators, Case Managers, Volunteer Coordinators and Volunteer Family Advocates for the following areas:
  • Naples
  • Tampa Bay (Pinellas and Hillsborough counties)
  • North East Florida (Jacksonville and west)
  • Sebring/Lake Placid/Moore Haven
  • Marathon and lower Keys

Please send resumes with cover letter and minimum salary requirements to:

Children's Week/Florida Advocacy Days: Hanging of the Hands
Children's Week, along with Florida Advocacy Days, invite you and your children to Give Us A Hand! Florida's children are encouraged to create and share their paper hand-art with Children's Week as part of the annual #GiveUsAHand campaign. This year there are two ways to participate:    

1. From now until January 18, mail to the address below your child's hand-art to be displayed at the State Capitol rotunda during Children's Week! Then, from Sunday, January 21 to Friday, January 26 tens of thousands of paper cut-out hands will transform the State Capitol rotunda into an impactful representation of Florida's children. Please view the Hanging of the Hands flier for more details.      
2. You can also share photos of your children's creative process or their final masterpiece via social media! From now until January 18, everyone who shares their hand-art via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using #GiveUsAHand and @Childrens
Week will be entered to win one of three great prizes and everyone is encouraged to get involved.

Contest Categories are: 1. Best Individual Hand-Art, 2. Best Group Piece, and 3. Most Creative.   

Click HERE to learn more.  Questions? 850-222-3868 or         
Irma Recovery Team
It's easy to assume that Irma is over and it's "business as usual" in our communities. The reality is that hundreds of thousands of people around our state are living in damaged homes - or displaced from homes that are uninhabitable.  The Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church is committed to assisting survivors for the long haul, and we need everyone to be involved.
Irma was big....REALLY BIG. Together with God, We Are Bigger! "flumcWeAreBigger"
  • In December we have 172 volunteers scheduled;  seven teams scheduled over the next three weeks
  • Since October: Volunteers have logged 3,493.5 hours (teams who have connected through the conference)
  • MINIMUM NEED:  one team per region per week;
  • IDEAL:   six - eight  teams per region per week
Click HERE to continuing reading the update from the Irma Recovery Team. 
Missio Ecclesia
February 22 and 23, 2018 - First UMC, Lakeland
We had such an incredible gathering in the Spring of 2016 at Grace Church with Deb and Alan Hirsch.  This time we will gather on February 22 and 23, 2018 at First UMC in Lakeland.  Dr. Martyn Atkins, a renowned church leader in England and a key movement collaborator in the work of Fresh Expressions, will join us as we explore what it means to be a church on mission.  Click HERE for more information and to register. 
Register Now: Florida 5-Day Academy for Spiritual Formation Retreat
March 11-16, 2018 - Life Enrichment Center at Fruitland Park
Themes: Seeking Sabbath and Sabbath Keeping
Marjorie Thompson and Rabbi David Horowitz

This 5-Day Retreat is . . .

* For lay and clergy persons of all denominations who hunger for spiritual growth.
* A time to rest, relax, reflect and renew the body, mind, and soul.
* A time for learning new ways to deepen our relationship with God and to live as
faithful servant of God's love in the world.
* A time for sharing morning and night prayers, evening Eucharist and silence all
of which sets the rhythm of the week.
Seeking Sabbath invites us to find an oasis that provides refreshment for the body, mind and soul. And in Sabbath Keeping we discover the wisdom of stillness and rhythms to make it become a reality to be embraced and not become another duty to perform. Having a fresh new vision of what God invites us to do brings us into alignment with His intention for our time of rest.

Click HERE for more information.  Click HERE for a brochure. Click HERE to register.
Pastoral Internship for 2018
Are there young adults in your church who want to explore pastoral ministry?
If so, please Click HERE for the Summer Internship Application to give them.

Do you serve a church committed to shaping the next generation of pastoral leaders?  If so, please sponsor a Summer Pastoral Intern for 2018!
Here are the quick facts for hosting an Intern:
Internship Dates:
Monday, May 28, 2018, through Friday, August 3, 2018
Intern Training Day:
Friday, May 25, 2018 (students and supervising pastors)
Intern Reflection Day:
Monday, August 6, 2018 (students only)
30 hours/week as scheduled with supervising pastor
Provided in congregant's home, if needed
Salary: $3,500 ($1,500 host site, $1,500 Office of Clergy Excellence, plus an additional $500 from the Office of Clergy Excellence IF the Intern attends both the Orientation and Reflection Days)
Click HERE for the Summer Intern Program Description.

If interested, please email or mail an intern job description for your church. Contact the Office of Clergy Excellence if you have any questions about the program. 
Holly Finley
Rev. Sara McKinley 
Warren W. Willis Retreats
Warren W. Willis is not just for Summer Camp...although that is an amazing time! Click on any of the following links for information on the wonderful programs you and your church can attend. 
Clergy Kids:  Jan. 12-14, 2018
Confirmation Retreat
Feb. 16-18; Mar. 2-4; Mar. 16-18; Oct. 5-7                    
College Connection:  Jan. 26-28, 2018
Connect:  Oct. 19-21, 2018; Nov. 9-11, 2018
Created By God:  April 20-22, 2018
DARE to Lead:  Feb. 16-18, 2018
Plan Your Own Church Retreat:  Who doesn't love WWW?  Why not plan your own retreat?
Easter Pilgrimage to Italy with Bishop Carter: April 2018
Led by Bishop Carter, travelers will visit Venice, Assisi, Siena, Florence and Rome while studying the Gospel of Mark and the legacy of Peter during April 3-12, 2018.
From Bishop Carter: "We will learn more about the gospel of Mark in Venice and the legacy of Peter; we will read the dialogues of Catherine of Sienna and the meditations of Dante; and we will reflect on the renewing vision given to Francis of Assisi," and more.
For more information, a brochure with a detailed itinerary and online registration, click HERE.
District Calendar of Events
January 2018
January 12 -13: Candidacy Retreat
January 27: UMW Leadership Training - First UMC, Winger Garden 9:30am - 12:30pm
January 30: Fall Clergy Meeting - Asbury UMC, Maitland

February 2018
February 3: Called to Serve - First UMC, Oviedo
February 22-23: Missio Ecclesia - First UMC, Lakeland
March 2018
March 9 & 10:  Lay Servant Training Weekend - TBD
March 17: UMW Spring Day Apart - Grace UMC, Lake Mary 9:30am - 2:30pm
April 2018
April 12: Local Church AA Training - Asbury UMC, Maitland
April 26:dCOM 9:00am-4:00pm Asbury UMC, Maitland (materials due March 28)

May 2018
May 12:  Run4Life4Miler - 7:00am - FUMCH, Enterprise
May 17:dCOM 9:00am-4:00pm Asbury UMC, Maitland (materials due April 19)
May 18-20: UMW Assembly - Columbus, Ohio
June 2018
June 7 - 9: Annual Conference - Florida Southern College, Lakeland
July 2018
July 11-15:    Mission U - Bethune Cookman University, Daytona Beach
July 13 - 14: Candidacy Retreat
August 2018
August 23:dCOM 9:00am-4:00pm Asbury UMC, Maitland (materials due July 26)
September 2018
September 22 or 29: UMW Mission Study Sampler - Need a Host Church
October 2018
October 18:dCOM 9:00am-4:00pm Asbury UMC, Maitland
(materials due Sept 20) LPRs only
October 20: UMW Annual Meeting - First UMC, Oviedo
December 2018
December 20:dCOM 9:00am-4:00pm Asbury UMC, Maitland (materials due Nov. 22)

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