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October 2016 Newsletter

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I wonder if you remember the first commandment given by God. Read these words from Genesis, Chapter 1 and you'll see it:
In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while a wind from God swept over the face of the waters. Then God said, 'Let there be light'; and there was light.  And God saw that the light was good; and God separated the light from the darkness.
There's the first commandment given by God: Let there be light.
Biblical scholars believe that these verses of Scripture originated during Israel's exile period. It was a time of hopelessness and despair stemming from the reality that the country had been plundered, the temple ruined, cities destroyed. 
In the beginning, says this text, all was night, darkness, a "formless void." And it was into this context that God said, Light. And there was light - through the command of God. There was light out of darkness, there was order out of chaos, because of the Word of God. 
Then the Scriptures go on to describe God's interaction with God's people and the many ways that God continued to bring light into darkness, to bring order out of chaos, to transform ugly lives into those lived as if they really were created in the image of God. Until finally, there came the birth of the child named Jesus. This time it was Jesus who was the light.
God's creative Spirit formed a new people through a relationship with Jesus, who announced and modeled the kingdom of God. This new community, this body of people called the church, would not be a separate nation like Israel. Instead it would bring together people from all nations. Its people are to follow Jesus, who is the poet of the Kingdom, the Prince of Peace, the light of the world.
There is no therapist or physician who has the word that is needed to heal our broken world, no scholar, no politician, no athlete, no celebrity, none of the so-called role models sanctioned by secular society. 
There is only one Word that really matters: Let there be light. There's only one Word of true hope. The Word is what we in the church call the Gospel, which means "good news." And this good news is that God's will for the world ultimately will not be thwarted. It will not be squelched. Let there be light. And light there is.
As Will Willimon puts it so beautifully, "the creative lover that had the first word shall also have the last." 
All evidence to the contrary, God's love is stronger than any darkness because that's how God has set up the world. Only through God will the light shine in the darkness. Only through God will the darkness not overcome that light.
And God calls us - God calls the church - to proclaim that message. That's why the church exists. If we're not doing that, through our words, and more important, through our actions; within the walls of our church buildings, and more important, out in our communities; as a weekly gathered people, and more important, as a community dispersed into the world . . . If we're not proclaiming that message, we are not the body of Christ that God calls us to be.
We may be something else, but without that, we are not the church.
Grace and Peace,

Bob Bushong
District Superintendent
East Central District
In The District
October is Pastor Appreciation Month
It is important that parishioners express  
appreciation for our pastors. Sending cards or emails, giving gifts, or preparing dinner are just some of the ways we can demonstrate our thanks. However you choose to do it, please recognize our pastors and their families.
  Click HERE for ideas from the UMC.

East Central District 2016 Charge/Church Conference Reminders
Paperwork due 7 days PRIOR to Charge Conference (without signatures):
1. 2016 Charge Conference Voting Matters Agenda
2. 2017 Appointed Pastor's Compensation Form
3. 2017 Appointed Pastor's Housing Exclusion Form
  • ALL Paperwork must arrive into the district office via US mail NO LATER than 1 week after Charge Conference.  (Please send the photocopies and keep the originals.  Do not use a cover or bind the materials.)  All documents must have All signatures.
  • The church Dashboard must be updated with all the leaders for 2017 within 1 week of Charge Conference.
  • Financial Audits:  We will be looking for the date and the name of the auditor.  If an audit has not been completed this year, we will want the name of the auditor and the date in the near future that it will be completed.
All Charge/Church Conference forms with detailed instructions are available on the Florida Conference website: Click HERE
2017 Connectional Giving
The apportionments for 2017 are now available on the conference website. To access your 2017 apportionment information:
  1. Go to the Conference homepage:
  2. Click on the "Monthly Reports" tab at the bottom right of the page.
  3. Click on the top link under Monthly Billing Reports:  "Click here to download monthly reports."
  4. Click on 2017 Apportionment Report in the drop down menu.  This link will take you to your 2017 apportionments.
  5. Enter your six digit GCFA number.
Annual Assessment of Clergy Leadership
Note - Due Date is now May 30
To All Local Church Clergy and Staff Parish Relations Committees: 
The Cabinet has approved changes to the pastoral assessments that in previous years have been due in October.  We have streamlined the forms and are moving the due date to May 30.  We did this to make them easier as well as move them from the fall that is already busy with charge conferences, stewardship, and Advent/Christmas preparation.

You can do the assessments anytime between January and May.  Click HERE for more information.
Greetings from Fresh Expressions Coordinator Matt Harrell
Hello everyone!
My name is Matt Harrell and I am the new Fresh Expressions Coordinator for the Florida United Methodist Conference. For the previous six years, my wife, Nina and I had been serving a local United Methodist Church in the greater Atlanta area. Throughout our time there, we met many lifelong friends and had the opportunity to see God move in mighty ways.

Our move to Central Florida was a return home for both of us. Nina and I both grew up in the Orlando area and ultimately decided to return home to be near family.

I am beyond excited about beginning my work in the Florida United Methodist Conference! There are so many amazing leaders who are passionate about reaching their communities with the love and hope of Jesus all across the state.

The Fresh Expressions movement is in place to reach new people, in new places by new ways. We believe that God can move in creative ways through both clergy and laity to reach people who would likely not step foot in what we know of as church. This movement is meant to work together and go alongside the work that our existing churches are doing.

I am excited to work with your District Superintendent, Dr. Bob Bushong, and your local churches throughout the East Central district in this next chapter of my life! Feel free to shoot me an email anytime if you would like to talk about Fresh Expressions or anything else going on in the Florida Conference.
Matt Harrell
Fresh Expressions Coordinator
A Message from Alice Williams, District Lay Leader
Greetings East Central District! 
"Lord, give us dreams and visions of what can be and what is to come." This was the recent prayer of Rev. Dale Locke at recent a FLUMC leadership meeting. What a wonderful prayer for our churches, districts, the conference, and the denomination! We are nearing the end of an eventful 2016, Bishop Carter has just completed his town halls and many churches are heading into charge conferences as we begin to plan for the coming year. I am and continue to be optimistic about our denomination, especially after recently attending a work session for the Global Board of Higher Education and Ministry in Nashville where I saw first hand some of the amazing work that the UMC is able to accomplish in colleges and universities across the world.

While there we had the chance to tour Meharry Medical College whose mission is to educate healthcare professionals and scientists to serve around the world. Meharry, an historically black school founded in 1876, is a very competitive medical school funded in large part by the UMC that receives over 10,000 applications for 160 spots per year. Doctors and medical personnel who graduate from Meharry receive more than just a medical education. They fully understand that, "to serve, is to worship" and they are committed to providing their healing gifts and graces to serve the underserved around the world. Meharry is just one example of our commitment to the Methodist denomination's commitment to education and to service. This is part of what we do as Methodists. Quite simply, serving is in our DNA and the world truly is our parish!
As the months unfold before us and we continue to seek God's guidance for the future of our church, I hope you will join me in praying Pastor Locke's prayer--that God would give us a glimpse of His purpose for the UMC and the ways that we in our local churches, districts, and conferences around the world can be the hands, feet and voices that bring His love and grace to a world in need.
Blessings for a cooler and abundant October!
-- Alice
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; 9:30am-3:00pm
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. 
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.
2016 Stewardship Summit
Oct. 22, 9:30am-2:45pm; First - Orlando
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
CRSP Contribution Increased for 2017
The church's contribution to fund the pastor's pension is increasing for the first time since 1993. The Florida Conference has not increased the percentage of compensation collected to fund the pension plan since 1993.
This action was taken at Annual Conference and is effective January 1, 2017. The church must contribute 15% of the pastor's total compensation for pension. That's an increase of 3% from the current 12% that was established in 1993. This increase is needed to maintain full funding of our pension plan in order to satisfy our obligations to pastors in retirement. For a full detailed announcement, click HERE.
Important Storm Information
We are in the midst of Hurricane season and wanted to take this opportunity to provide pertinent information and resources related to the storms.

855-CAT-FUMC (855-228-3862)

If your church has damage from the storm, those claims will be handled by a professional adjusting company that specializes in catastrophe claims.  Claims will be prioritized by the catastrophe response unit based upon the extent of damage and an adjuster will be dispatched to your location as soon as possible.


If your church is damaged by the storm, please take all necessary measures to mitigate further damage to your facility.  Please note that you do not have to wait for the field adjuster to arrive at your location to dry out your facility or to make temporary repairs.  Keep all receipts for any temporary repairs and photograph or video all damage and have this documentation available for the adjuster.

If there are needs in your community after the storm, please contact Disaster Recovery.  We have trained volunteers who can assist with clean up, tarping, debris removal, etc.

Please contact Ministry Protection or Disaster Recovery at the Conference Center (863) 688-5563, if you have any questions or need further information. 

Florida Conference - Ministry Protection
Florida Conference - Disaster Recovery

Comprehensive pre-storm preparation booklet
Hurricane preparedness quick checklist
Hurricane Response and claim information

Disaster Communication Flowchart
Around the Conference
Update: Louisiana Disaster Relief
Challenge Update: Pam Carter and the Florida Conference joined the effort of churches across the state to send flood cleanup buckets to Louisiana. Over 3,000 buckets made their way to flood-ravaged areas by mid-September. 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. 
Confirmation RetreatNow through 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  
2016-2017 Warren W. Willis Lecture in Religion
Oct. 24; 7:00-9:00 pm; Annie Pfeiffer Chapel; FSC
On Monday evening, October 24, Professor Jurgen Moltmann, Professor Emeritus of Systematic Theology at the University of Tubingen, will present "On a Culture of Life in the Dangers of this Time." This event will be held at the Annie Pfeiffer Chapel on the Florida Southern College (FSC) campus from 7:00-9:00 pm and is free and open to the public. Hosted by the Department of Religion and Philosophy at FSC.

Fresh Expressions Clergy Surge Retreat
October 24-25; Warren W. Willis Camp
Dr. Jay Moon, Professor of Church Planting and Evangelism at Asbury Theological Seminary, will be the guest speaker during this two-day retreat.
For more information, email:  

There is no cost for clergy, but you must provide your own lodging. Registration must be done prior to the event. Click here to register today!
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
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 22: 2016 Stewardship Summit, 9:30 am-2:45 pm, First - Orlando
October 24-25: Fresh Expressions Clergy Surge Retreat - Warren W. Willis
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
March 2017
March 23:EC dCOM 9:00am-4:00pm Asbury UMC, Maitland
April 2017
April 27: EC dCOM 9:00am-4:00pm Asbury UMC, Maitland
May 2017
May 18: EC dCOM 9:00am-4:00pm Asbury UMC, Maitland
June 2017
June 8 - 10: Annual Conference - The Buena Vista Palace Hotel & Spa
June 15:EC dCOM 9:00am-4:00pm Asbury UMC, Maitland
August 2017
August 17:EC dCOM 9:00am-4:00pm Asbury UMC, Maitland
September 2017
September 21:EC dCOM 9:00am-4:00pm Asbury UMC, Maitland
October 2017
October 19:EC dCOM 9:00am-4:00pm Asbury UMC, Maitland
November 2017
November 30:EC dCOM 9:00am-4:00pm Asbury UMC, Maitland
December 2017
December 21:EC dCOM 9:00am-4:00pm Asbury UMC, Maitland

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