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September 2016 Newsletter

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I was part of a small group in
which one of the group members led an exercise that focused on helping participants pay attention to the reality of change in our lives. Change happens to all of us, doesn't it?

Sometimes we want change.

We seek it, we eagerly anticipate it, we long for it, we are excited about it. I had a conversation with someone recently who is in that position. He's ready for a particular change in his life, has planned for it, knows he needs it, that it's time for it, and he has been intentional about making it happen.

Other times we don't want change to occur.

It catches us off guard, we feel ambushed by it, we try to deny it, to flee from it, we want to keep it from becoming a reality. I visited with someone recently who is facing a change that she hasn't asked for, that she doesn't want, that she is upset about, and that she wishes were not a part of her life.

Things in life change, don't they? Some things change quickly, often more quickly than we wish were so. We change. Our perceptions of ourselves change. Our circumstances in life change.

It doesn't seem that long ago that Jeanne and I were young adults, newly married, and now we have been married for over forty-two years. It doesn't seem that long ago that we were raising a toddler and an infant, and now our children are adults and we are grandparents. It doesn't seem that long ago that I was just starting my theological education and the process of candidacy for ordained ministry, and now I've been serving the church as an ordained minister for over thirty-six years.

Sometimes relationships change. That can happen because of physical distance, because of misunderstandings and miscommunication. It can happen because of a disagreement, something hurtful that has occurred, or it may happen because of a decision made by one person in the relationship who wants the change even though the other person doesn't.

Most things in life change . . . but God doesn't. God remains constant. God remains who God has been as long as God has been. God remains present. God remains loving. God remains forgiving. God remains creative. God remains just. God remains sovereign.

And this God who does not change continues to desire to be in relationship with us through all the changes in our lives, an amazing truth that will never change.

Grace and Peace,      

Bob Bushong
District Superintendent
East Central District
In The District
East Central District 2016 Charge/Church Conference Information
Need Help Preparing for Charge/Church Conference? All Charge/Church Conference forms with detailed instructions are available on the Florida Conference website: Click HERE.

All pastors are requested to email Betty Sims at with your Charge/Church Conference date, time and presiding elder.  If you have not done so, please email Betty by September 8, 2016.

Still Need Help? Register for a free webinar on Wednesday, September 7 at 7:00 pm with Jacqui King, Director for Congregational Vitality entitled, Church Leaders: Preparing for Charge Conference. For more information or to register, Click HERE.
Churches on Hospice
Michele Van Son - Church Vitality Specialist
I have been blessed with an elderly mentor for most of my life. He sat in the church balcony where we sat when I was a child and was a colleague and friend of my parents. He was also a benefactor and champion of many ministries and civic causes, as well as individuals like me.

When I learned he was on hospice, I was shocked. I felt confused and sad. I had seen him the Sunday before; we chatted about our shared alma mater. I knew his spry-ness faded a bit, but never could I have imagined that he'd be dying so soon. Two questions came to mind: why didn't I realize he was so ill and why would death come to a man who made such a positive difference?
Click HERE to read more.
A Message from Alice Williams, District Lay Leader
Greetings East Central District! 
"In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; and in all things, charity."
It is one of the more popular quotes attributed to John Wesley, although there is some debate as to whether he actually said these words or just ascribed to them.  One thing is for sure, it is a fundamental tenet to us as a "people called Methodists."  The rub comes in how we interpret what is essential and what is non-essential - and I say that with full appreciation for both words.  In some instances, those words define a spectrum of beliefs and values that many of us hold dear.  And on any given issue we find ourselves at various points on that spectrum.  
This is not a new place for us to find ourselves as a church.  Over the years, members of the UMC have been at odds on many different cultural and social issues, some of which history says we were on the "right-side" and some of which we were on the "lesser-side."  And I think that's what I appreciate most about being a Methodist. We have the freedom to view things from various perspectives and yet believe we are called to discernment as a body of Christ to develop a point of view on a vast array of issues.
I hope you will plan to join myself and others in the East Central District on Thursday, September 22nd, at 6:00 p.m. at St. Luke's UMC as Bishop Ken Carter leads us in a Town Hall discussion on the topic of unity.  Regardless of what issues you consider to be pivotal to our denomination, this is the opportunity to voice your thoughts and hear where we are as the UMC on key issues.  To register and to submit a question or topic for the Town Hall, please send it though the Bishop's Town Hall site on the FLUMC website.
Grateful for the freedom to have thought, voice, and a passion for God's kingdom in all its variety!
-- Alice
Bishop's Town Hall Gathering
September 22; 6:00pm - St. Luke's UMC
You are invited to join Bishop Carter and other clergy and laity from around your region for an evening of conversation.
  • Call for Unity
  • A Time for Questions and Answers
  • Highlights of Key Future Initiatives

Thursday, September 22; 6:00pm, St. Luke's UMC, Orlando

Word to all clergy:  Bishop Carter has asked all of us to be present at one of these gatherings.  It would be helpful if we all brought lay folks with us.  If you can't make the one at St. Luke's, please choose the one that works best for you.

The evening gathering will conclude with light appetizers.  Click HERE to register.

Being Mortal: Lecture by Dr. Atul Gawande
September 21; 6:30pm - Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts
You are invited to attend a special FREE event as part of Florida Hospital's Distinguished Lecture Series: "Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End." Dr. Atul Gawande, renowned surgeon and author of "Being Mortal" will discuss aging, death, and how medicine can improve the process of these inevitable conditions. The first 750 event attendees will receive a FREE COPY of "Being Mortal." Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts is located at 445 S. Magnolia Avenue; Orlando, FL 32801. Be sure to check in by 5:30 pm; the lecture is from 6:30-7:30 pm. To RSVP now, Click HERE
Administrative Staff Appreciation and Training Day
Thursday, September 29; 9:00 am - 2:00 pm; Asbury UMC, Maitland
Leave your work behind and take this opportunity to connect with other church administrative staff, share ideas, learn new skills and continue to grow your administrative ministry.

Who should attend?  Administrative Assistants, Church Secretaries, Business Managers, and Finance Managers
We are excited to have Conference staff joining us from HR and Finance.  You'll meet Marilynn Mollica, Conference HR & Benefits Director, and Lois Durham, HR Administrator.  You'll meet Palma Dziedzic, Conference Assistant Controller and your East Central District Staff: Dr. Bob Bushong, Betty Sims, and Claudia Sava.

Topic Ideas? 
Do you have a certain topic you want covered?  Email suggestions to Claudia at

We look forward to seeing you at Asbury UMC on September 29!  Coffee and fellowship begins at 8:30am in the Fellowship Hall. Lunch will be served. The training is free, but registration is required. To register, Click HERE
Fresh Expressions Welcomes New Coordinator
Welcome Fresh Expressions Coordinator Matt Harrell
Matt comes to us from First UMC, Stockbridge, GA, where he was the Director of Student and Recreation Ministries for five years. He will be supporting Rev. Audrey Warren and Rev. Kevin Griffin, co-conveners of the Fresh Expressions Steering Committee and will be engaged primarily in empowering Fresh Expressions leaders, local churches, and lay leaders to collaborate, plan, and implement the Florida FE movement. Matt can be reached at  For more information about Fresh Expressions, click on this link:
East Central Fall Clergy Meeting
October 10, 2016 - Canterbury Retreat, Oviedo
Leading Through, Over, and Around Life's Tumults
Fall Clergy Meeting
Monday, October 10     9:30 am - 3:00 pm
Canterbury Retreat, Oviedo

Clergy are asked to register today and plan to participate.  If you are not able to participate because of a previous commitment, please email Bob Bushong and let him know about your conflict.

Rev. Janice Virtue, Educator, Consultant, and Coach,  will lead us in a day apart.  For the last two decades, Janice Virtue has focused her ministry on creating leadership development and leader formation programs that encourage the church's clergy and congregational leaders to offer their best talent to the church. An ordained elder in the United Methodist Church, Janice is most in tune with God's call when teaching, supporting, and challenging church leaders to live more fully into their own callings. In recent years Janice has developed long-term leadership development initiatives for clergy in ten annual conferences including Advancing Pastoral Leadership for young clergy in Texas, LEAP (Leadership Excellence Advancement Program) in Louisiana and Courage to Lead in Florida.
UMM October Events for Men
Life Enrichment Center, 4991 Piccola Road, Fruitland Park
Lead Like Jesus Training: October 7-8, 2016   
Special 2-Day Training with certified UMC Men's Ministry Specialist Jim Boesch. This event is an action-oriented learning experience followed by 18 weekly online E-Lessons and 2 application reinforcement webinars within 4 months of the workshop.
Click HERE to register. 
Questions?  Email Jim Boesch at or call 407-721-0416.

Annual Men's Retreat: October 14-16, 2016
3-Day Retreat Weekend with John Riley and Rev. Harold Lewis Motivational speaker and humorist John Riley has been a popular speaker at the Leesburg Retreats for many years. Pastor of Shepherd's Community UMC in Lakeland , Rev. Harold Lewis is a motivational speaker, author, clergy coach and Christian comedian. To register, Click HERE.
Lay Servant Ministries Weekend of Learning
October 14 & 15, 2016 - First UMC, DeLand
A Weekend of Lay Leadership Learning
Servant Leadership Equipping Encounter  

Friday         5:00pm - 8:00pm
Saturday     8:00am - 4:00pm

Basic Lay Servant Ministry Course (English) 
  - Facilitator: Lynn Campbell, Associate Director, ECD LSM
Basic Lay Servant Ministry Course (Spanish) 
  - Facilitator: Rev. Miguel Velez, Sr. Pastor, Christ Hispanic, Orlando
Creating "Disciple-Making" Systems (English)                     
  - Facilitator: Rev. Owen Stricklin, Sr. Pastor, First UMC, DeLand                      
Transforming Evangelism  -The Wesleyan Way of Sharing Faith (Spanish)
  - Facilitator: Rev. Ana Adujar-Velez, Retired Clergy                      
Cost for training event: $45, includes course materials, along with breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Click HERE for the brochure and registration form.  Registration must be received in the district office by October 7th.  Questions?  Email Jim Boesch at or call 407-721-0416.
Staff Parish Relations Committee (SPRC) Training
November 28 - Tomoka UMC, Ormond Beach
November 29 - Asbury UMC, Maitland
The Annual East Central District SPRC training event will provide your team with effective tools for the many responsibilities of the SPRC.  Pastors, SPRC Chairperson and Committee Members, Lay Leaders, and Lay Members to AC are encouraged to attend.  Please join Dr. Bob Bushong and Wendy McCoy from the Conference Human Resources Ministry for this important informational event.

Wendy will have a presentation regarding the changes to clergy health benefits that start January 2017.

Both days will cover the same material.  Register for the date that is best for you.
Monday, November 28 - 6:30pm
Tomoka UMC
1000 Old Tomoka Road
Ormond Beach, FL  32174
Click HERE to RSVP for Tomoka.
Tuesday, November 29 - 6:30pm
Asbury UMC
220 W Horatio Ave
Maitland, FL  32751
Click HERE to RSVP for Asbury.
Benefits Update: 2017 Health Initiative
The benefit changes proposed under the Freedom to Choose plan approved at Annual Conference are currently being implemented. With that in mind,
I want to focus on some important information regarding use of Health Savings Accounts next year.
Many of you established a Health Savings Account (HSA) for 2016 because the Conference health insurance plan was a high deductible plan and permits use of a HSA. As implementation of the health insurance changes for 2017 proceed please be aware of the rules governing HSA's to ensure your arrangements for 2017 are in compliance with all IRS requirements. Click HERE for basic information provided to assist you as you leave the group health plan and select your own health insurance plan for January 1, 2017.
Congregational Vitality Offers Free Webinars
Did You Know? Church leadership training resources are available on our CV website. Click HERE to access webinars, tips or best practices.

God's Love through Jesus Christ into Our Communities
Here's what's happening at Pinecastle UMC:

Street Eats is an ongoing ministry through which the members of Pine Castle UMC can assist homeless individuals in our community.  Church members donate items and our Student Ministry takes the donated supplies and assembles the bags. 
The bag consists of a water bottle, a can of fruit, a can of Vienna sausages, cheese crackers, a granola bar, a fork and a napkin. The completed bags are available on Sunday mornings for our church family to take home a bag or two.  You leave the non-perishable food bag in your car so that when you encounter a homeless person, instead of giving them money, you give them the bag.

If you want your church's community outreach ministry featured in an upcoming newsletter, just email Bob Bushong at:
Around the Conference
Help the Louisiana Disaster Relief
Challenge Update: Pam Carter and the Florida Conference have set a challenge for churches to fill a semi-truck at First UMC Lakeland with 1,860 UMCOR cleaning buckets by September 13 for delivery to flood-ravaged Louisiana. For more information on other bucket drop off sites or how you can help the effort, visit the Facebook pages (Missional Engagement and Disaster Recovery Ministry Florida Conference) or the Conference web site:
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. 

Rooted: Sep 19-20, 2016 
Confirmation RetreatSep 30-Oct 2, 2016, Feb 24-26 & Mar 10-12, 2017
Connect: Oct 14-16, 2016 & Nov 11-13, 2016 
Clergy Kids:  Jan 13-15, 2017 
College ConnectionJan 27-29, 2017  
Dare to Be RealFeb 17-19, 2017  
Clergy Gathering
October 25 - 26, Life Enrichment Center
Early Response Team Training
October 28 -29, Warren W. Willis Camp
Early Response Teams (ERT) are self-contained teams who enter a disaster zone at the invitation of local emergency management officials. ERT's offer a Christian presence and are trained to provide various types of physical, emotional and spiritual assistance to disaster survivors. ERT's are registered with the Disaster Recovery Ministry of The Florida Annual Conference, and Disaster Recovery coordinates team placement with emergency management to help where it is needed most after a disaster. 

NOTE: Basic Disaster Ministry Training is required before taking ERT Training.  Click HERE for more details and to register online.
36th Annual Clergy Mates 2016 Retreat
District Calendar of Events
September 2016
September 5: Labor Day Holiday - District Office Closed
September 17: EC District UMW Mission Study Sampler, Sanlando UMC, Longwood
September 22: EC dCOM 9:00am-4:00pm, Asbury UMC, Maitland
September 22: Bishop's Town Hall Meeting - 6:00pm - St Luke's UMC, Orlando
September 29: Local Church AA Training; 9:00am-2:30pm - Asbury UMC, Maitland

October 2016
October 7 & 8: UMM Lead Like Jesus Training - Life Enrichment Center, Fruitland Park
October 10: Fall Clergy Meeting; 9:30am, Canterbury Retreat, Oviedo
October 14 & 15: Lay Servant Training - First DeLand
October 14-16: UMM Annual Retreat - Life Enrichment Center, Fruitland Park
October 22: EC District UMW Annual Meeting, First Winter Garden
October 25-26: Clergy Gathering - LEC
October 27: EC dCOM 9:00am-4:00pm, Asbury UMC, Maitland
October 28 - 29: Early Response Team Training - Warren W. Willis
November 2016
November 3-5: Florida Clergy Mates Retreat - Life Enrichment Center
November 5: UMW Conference Annual Meeting - Life Enrichment Center
November 9-11: Clergy Retreat - Life Enrichment Center
November 11: Veteran's Holiday - District Office Closed
November 17: EC dCOM - 9:00am - 4:00pm Asbury UMC, Maitland
November 24 & 25: Thanksgiving Holiday - District Office Closed
November 28: SPRC Training - 6:30pm - 8:30pm Tomoka UMC, Ormond Beach
November 29: SPRC Training - 6:30pm - 8:30pm Asbury UMC, Maitland
December 2016
December 12: Retiree Christmas Luncheon - District Parsonage
December 15: EC dCOM 9:00am-4:00pm Asbury UMC, Maitland
December 23 & 26: Christmas Holidays - District Office Closed
January 2017
January 13 - 14: Candidacy Retreat, Lakeland
February 2017
February 4: Called to Serve - First UMC, Oviedo
February 25: Tom Bandy - First UMC, Winter Park
June 2017
June 8 - 10: Annual Conference - The Buena Vista Palace Hotel & Spa
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