Wholeness for our Clergy, Congregations, and Communities
Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God;
Everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.
Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.
--I John 4:7,8
We talk about love quite a bit in the church, don't we?
God is love . . . Love one another . . . Love your neighbor as yourself . . .
At the same time, there are many different understandings of what that word means and many different ways in which it is used.
I love God . . . I love my family . . . I love to go to the beach . . . I love pizza.
I am a fan of contemporary Christian author Frederick Buechner (pronounced Beek'-ner). In Buechner's Wishful Thinking - A Theological ABC, he writes about love from the Christian perspective - not with lofty theological language, but with a very down-to-earth approach.
Here's what he says:
"In the Christian sense, love is not primarily an emotion but an act of the will. When
Jesus tells us to love our neighbor, he is not telling us to love them in the sense of responding to them with a cozy emotional feeling. You can as well produce a cozy emotional feeling on demand as you can a yawn or a sneeze. On the contrary, he is telling us to love our neighbors in the sense of being willing to work for their well-being even if it means sometimes just leaving them alone. Thus, in Jesus' terms, we can love our neighbors without necessarily liking them. In fact, liking them may stand in the way of loving them by making us overprotective sentimentalists instead of reasonably honest friends.
When Jesus talked to the Pharisees, he didn't say, 'There, there. Everything's going to be all right.' He said, 'You brood of vipers! How can you speak good when you are evil!' (Matthew 12:34) And he said that to them because he loved them.
This does not mean that liking may not be a part of loving, only that it doesn't have to be. Sometimes liking follows on the heels of loving. It is hard to work for somebody's well-being very long without coming in the end to rather like them."
It's true that when Jesus talked about loving others he wasn't talking about having a nice, warm and fuzzy feeling toward them. A nice, warm and fuzzy feeling is, of course, a great thing to have in relation to someone else, but that's not what Jesus was talking about. He was talking about a decision to act in love toward that person.
Sometimes, acting in love means acting in a nice, warm way toward someone about whom we don't feel that way. Other times, it might mean acting in a way that does not come across as nice or warm even if we do feel that way toward the person, because that is the loving response toward them.
To follow the call of Jesus to love means to think it through, to pray about it, and then to act in response to it. It's at the core of our faith. And it can change the world.
Grace and Peace,
East Central District
A Message from Alice Williams, District Lay Leader
Greetings one and all! First and foremost, thank you for your prayers and notes of encouragement during General Conference, they meant more than you will ever know. The Florida GC delegation experienced God's grace and strength during our time in Portland. Molly McEntire did an amazing job leading one of the most diverse delegations in the history of the Florida Conference. I can honestly say we were one of the most professional and engaged delegations at GC2016. Between our delegates and alternates we did not miss a vote.
As you probably know, Bishop Ken Carter fell during the first day of the conference and required knee surgery. Fortunately, he is home and making progress on his recovery. Please continue to hold him and Pam in your thoughts and prayers for a swift and complete recovery.
The worship experience at General Conference was truly spirit-filled and a beautiful display of the global nature of our church. There were moments that were deeply moving thanks to amazing preaching, prayer, and music. We heard rousing, inspiring and challenging addresses from our Bishops, Laity, and our Young Adults. The visual graphics and altar decor were absolutely beautiful.
During GC2016 we were able to commemorate several milestones:
-The UMC raised $78 million dollars "For Imagine No Malaria" (the importance of this work really hit home when it was announced that one of the African Bishops was hospitalized for Malaria while at GC2016!)
-We commissioned 29 Missionaries and celebrated ecumenical relationships with our worldwide Methodist brothers and sisters.
-We supported the Global Aids fund; celebrated the 30th anniversary of Disciple Bible Study, the 60th anniversary of the ordination of women, vital congregations, and the 150th anniversary of the UMW; heard the African University choir, and more.
-And with troubled hearts, we remembered and wept together as we heard a report regarding the Sand Creek Massacre
-We approved petitions and resolutions that e
nable us to move forward on the creation of a General Book of Discipline and an updated version of our Social Principles.
-We elected new members to the Judicial Council, University Senate and other General Boards and Agencies.
-We approved a new hymnal including Cloud-based technology which will allow new flexibility for contextual music.
-We continued to expand and support the growth of our church in Africa.
-We approved a new General Church budget.
-We approved many of the items in the Study of Ministry report that clarify and deepen our theology of ordination, extend the role of deacons, expand the educational possibilities for local church pastors, and more.
In the months preceding General Conference, there was much talk about the issues our denomination faces regarding human sexuality. Because we are so polarized on this issue, a recommendation came from the body asking the Council of Bishops to assist us in determining a course of action. The Council of Bishops brought forth a recommendation to defer action on all existing petitions regarding Human Sexuality and to create a special Commission to examine the issues before us and form a course of action on how to move forward. To assist in this work, a special General Conference session may be called prior to GC 2020 to review the commission's course of action. In the meantime, the current language of the Book of Discipline remains the same and the Bishops reminded and encouraged Annual and Jurisdictional Conferences to uphold the Book of Discipline. We continue to explore options to help the church live in grace with one another and to continue in conversation. The Bishops invited us to seek God's will for the future and to strengthen the unity of the church.
You may have heard about Rule 44, designed to enable time during the General Conferences to engage in small group conversation and dialogue regarding difficult issues. While Rule 44 was not adopted, at the recommendation of our Bishops, we did engage in small group discussion regarding the issue of Human Sexuality which most of the delegates found to be truly insightful and meaningful.
Throughout GC 2016, our Florida delegation was inspired, humbled, and grateful to be witness to God at work within the UMC around the world. We also, at times, found ourselves challenged with the needs of the world and within our church. But we claim God's infinite grace, hold tight to our faith, and are pleased to have been your delegates for GC2016.
I feel so fortunate to have been a part of this experience and thank you for this opportunity to serve our Lord, our denomination and our conference. I met fellow Methodists from all over the world and experienced firsthand what it means to be a connectional body of Christ. This truly makes us unique from many other denominations. Our work is far from complete, and we are called to so much more than church polity. It will be interesting to see where God calls us, but more importantly, to be in service as the hands and feet of Christ to a world in need.
Look forward to seeing many of you at Annual Conference!
Blessings - and as the hymn says "strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow."
2016 Annual Conference | June 16-18
Buena Vista Palace Hotel, Orlando
174th Session of the Florida Annual Conference
Thursday, June 16 - Saturday, June 18
Gathering Events begin Wednesday, June 15
Buena Vista Palace Hotel
1900 Buena Vista Drive
Orlando, Florida 32830
Click HERE for up to the minute information.
Rev. Bill Hybels (Willow Creek Church) will be the Special Speaker on Thursday, June 16 at 7:00pm!
AC Workbook - If you did not order a hard copy of the workbook, please download the AC workbook to your device before you leave for the Buena Vista Palace Hotel.
Tweet with #flumc16 to join the conversation!
East Central District Luncheon for Annual Conference Lay & Clergy Members:
Friday, June 17; 11:30 AM; St. Luke's UMC, 4851 S. Apopka Vineland, Rd., Orlando, 32819. Click here to RSVP
Volunteer Opportunities: AC2016
Buena Vista Palace Hotel, Orlando
Join the 2016 Annual Conference Radical Hospitality Team
Volunteers are needed Tuesday-Saturday, June 14-18, 2016
Buena Vista Palace Hotel, Orlando, Florida
Hospitality Volunteers are needed in the areas of:
- Greeter and Welcome Hospitality
- Registration Welcome and Voting Machine Distribution
- Guest Services
Please be aware that the majority of volunteer positions require standing for the shift time.
To register as an usher or if you have questions about ushering, contact Dawn Eckbreth email@example.com or (407) 492-5130.
All other volunteer information can be found on the AC2016 website. Click HERE to sign up for specific dates, times, and positions.
Click HERE to learn more about Annual Conference 2016
Join the Annual Conference Radical Hospitality Team!
Third Annual Florida Conference 5K
June 17, 2016 at 6:30am - Windermere Town Hall
The FLAC5K Team invites you to join us for the Third Annual Florida Conference 5K.
This is an opportunity to unite our Clergy and Lay Members of the Annual Conference in an initiative to promote faith and fitness in a 3.1 mile fun run/walk in beautiful and historic downtown Windermere Florida. 100% of the proceeds from the 5K will to towards our Annual Conference's support of the Young Adults in Missional Movement (YAMM). Join this race towards greater health and Young Adults in Mission.
Register by June 5th, to be guaranteed a race shirt.
PACKET PICK-UP & RACE INFO:
Pre-Race Packet Pick-Up ~ Tues, June 14 - 4pm-7pm and Wed, June 15 - 8am-5pm.
Race Day ~ Friday, June 17 Windermere Town Hall 520 Main St. Windermere 34786
5:30am Packet Pick-up & Registration
6:15am Late Registration Ends
6:30am 5K Start!!
Bishop Carter's Annual Conference Offering
I am pleased to announce that a grand offering will be collected at the 2016 Florida Annual Conference event during June 16-18. Our theme this year is "Leading Like Jesus" and I invite you to be a part of this special opportunity.
This offering will support the clergy and laity of our annual conference with resources for leadership development in three areas:
- Grants for innovative forms of "church beyond the walls" through the Fresh Expressions network.
- Inspiring and equipping our congregations to see, identify with and reach the neighborhoods around them in evangelistic, prophetic, apostolic, and missional ways.
- Training a core group of spiritual guides and mentors to encourage and sustain this work that has already begun.
Our fundamental goal in the stewardship of these resources - both people, our laity and clergy, and money - is that we follow Jesus into the world that he loves and join him in his mission to love, heal, and save the people of Florida. We are discovering that we need new skills and capacities to fulfill this calling. And, if we are honest, we may need a new heart and a new spirit!
Thank you for your support of our efforts to engage the next generation in the mission of God and to develop leaders who have a heart for service and will make a difference in our world.
Churches should send with their Apportionments and use AC2016 Offering code 100010 or bring it to Friday night's (June 17th) service at AC.
EC District Clergy Caravan to Cuba
There is a small delegation of East Central District clergy going with Dr. Bob Bushong to visit our sister district of Holguin & Las Tunas, Cuba. You will walk the streets of Havana, attend Bishop Pereira's midweek service, visit the Seminary of Havana and experience firsthand the revival of the church in Cuba.
Dates: October 13 - 20, 2016
Cost: $1,350 to $1,500 depending upon airfare (includes - visa, airfare from Miami, and all lodging, travel, meals and tips while in Cuba)
Deposit: $150 due by May 31st - EXTENDED til June 21st
Deadline: May 31st - EXTENDED til June 21st
Trip Leaders: Rusty Belcher and Chris Akers
Application: Click HERE
The Global Leadership Summit (GLS)
August 11-12, 2016 - Pine Ridge Fellowship, Deltona
The Global Leadership Summit is a two-day event telecast LIVE in HD from Willow's campus near Chicago every August to hundreds of locations in North America. You are invited to join an expected 305,000 people committed to getting better as leaders in 2016. Throughout the fall, Summit events take place at an additional 675+ sites in 125 countries and 59 languages.
Click HERE for a flyer.
Pine Ridge Fellowship
in Deltona is a host site. Questions? Contact Yvonne at Yvonne@prfchurch.org.
Register by June 28th for the Early Bird rate.
UMC Online Courses on Vitality & Hospitality
Warren W. Willis Summer Camp
Check out Warren W. Willis for many summer opportunities.
The Mary Retreat - A Sabbath Retreat for Women
Life Enrichment Center (LEC)
How are you caring for the busy women in your church? On your staff? Leading your ministries?
The Mary Retreat
is a great way to give the busy women in your world an opportunity to take a step away from the hustle and bustle and just "be" for a weekend.
Every time we host a Mary Retreat, women share with me that their lives are changed - not by dynamic speakers or powerful worship (because we don't do that at the Mary Retreat) - but by the opportunity to be still and really, truly rest.
Be sure your Sabbath time is sacred in 2016 -
for the November retreat!
November 11 - 13, 2016
for more information and to register!
The November 2015 retreat filled nearly three months in advance, so register now to ensure your spot for 2016!
Rev. Melissa Cooper
|District Calendar of Events
June 9-10: Right Start Training - First Time Appointments & Transfers - Lakeland
June 16 - 18: Annual Conference - The Buena Vista Palace Hotel, Lake Buena Vista
June 17: East Central District Luncheon at AC2016 - 11:30am-1pm - St. Luke's UMC
June 23: EC dCOM 9:00am - 4:00pm, Asbury UMC, Maitland
June 28: Moving Day for Clergy Moving
July 4: Independence Day Holiday - District Office Closed
July 7 - 10: EC District UMW Mission U, Bethune Bookman University, Daytona Beach
July 15 - 16: Candidacy Retreat, Lakeland
August 11-12: Global Leadership Summit - Pine Ridge Fellowship UMC, Deltona
August 18: New Clergy to ECD Orientation - 10:00am - 1:00pm, Asbury UMC Maitland
August 25: EC dCOM 9:00am-4:00pm, Asbury UMC, Maitland
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
October 14 & 15: Lay Servant Training - First DeLand
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
November 5: UMW Conference Annual Meeting - 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 15: EC dCOM 9:00am-4:00pm Asbury UMC, Maitland
January 13 - 14: Candidacy Retreat, Lakeland
February 4: Called to Serve - First UMC, Oviedo