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December 2016 Newsletter

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The story is told that Franklin D. Roosevelt and one of his close friends were talking late into the night while visiting with one another one evening at the White House. Toward the end of their conversation, President Roosevelt suggested that they go out into the Rose Garden and look at the stars before going to bed.
They went out and looked up for several minutes peering at nebulae with thousands of stars. Then the president said, "All right, I think we feel small enough now to go in and go to sleep."
We need to experience that sense of wonder periodically to keep our lives in perspective, don't we? It's part of what it means to be human. In today's world we live among so many amazing inventions and conveniences present in our own homes and offices, that we are in danger of losing a sense of amazement at the most basic wonders of creation - the way babies are born, or the way our minds and bodies work, or the miracle of a sunrise.
Our schedules are so tight that we lose sight of some of the most spectacular miracles that present themselves in the midst of our lives everyday - the crispness of the air on a brisk fall morning, the way the sun warms our faces, the opening of a flower, or the song of a bird. We are such creatures of habit and routine that often we fail to see and hear the most astounding sights and sounds that are part of our world.
Poet-playwright Christopher Fry once wrote an essay on the miracle of the way our hands work. Have you ever thought about that? Look at your hand. All those nerves and muscles and bones work together simultaneously to bend and flex your fingers, to form a cup, to become a gripping tool, to make a fist, to fold for prayer. We don't even consciously think about the commands we send to the hand to make those things happen: touching, holding, grasping, waving - we do all of these things without even thinking them through.
And that's just the hand. What about the rest of the body? If we really thought about it like this more often, we'd rarely miss a day filled with amazement, aware of the wondrous miracles that God has brought into being.
We have entered the season of Advent once again - that season of the church year during which we prepare our hearts and our lives to celebrate the birth of the Son of God into the world. One of the wonderful things about Advent is that it serves as an annual reminder of the importance of seeing the miraculous in our midst.
Let's agree not to miss it this year. Let's agree not to miss the experience of the miraculous. Let's look more carefully than we did last year at the manger scenes and the festive trees and the lighted streets and the brightly wrapped packages. Let's look beyond them and see in a new and meaningful way the miracle of Christmas, the miracle of God's love that entered the world in a tangible way through that baby named Jesus.
I am deeply grateful to be serving in ministry alongside people like you.

Grace and Peace,

Bob Bushong
District Superintendent
East Central District
In The District
A Message from Alice Williams, District Lay Leader
Greetings East Central District! 
Recently, I had the opportunity to hear a wonderful sermon on Exodus 3, the story of Moses and the Burning Bush.  It's one of my favorite old testament stories; the imagery of a bush that burns without being consumed that is filled by the presence of God is something I long for.  Fact is, that's the kind of messaging I ask God for all the time!  "Lord, just make it plain to me what you'd have me do!  Send me a sign, a burning bush, a thundering voice, a clear message!" But mostly its quiet nudges and stirrings that seem to be God's morse code to me, and I'm left to decipher what the message or next step is.  
The sermon though took a slightly different take on the story. The point wasn't so much about Moses' interaction with God on truly holy ground, it was on how many burning bushes do we miss each and every day simply because we fail to see them? Moreover, how often are we allowing God to use us as the burning bush for someone?   

As we enter into Advent I suspect many of us will find ourselves out and about in the midst of "holiday stuff;" and I'm hoping to have a greater awareness of God's presence in this world. I want to look for the burning bushes, those holy ground moments, and those opportunities where I need to be open to being a burning bush for another.  It may be a simple gesture of kindness, an extra dose of patience, a listening ear, or a moment of empathy for someone who is hurting. Who knows how and where God will be at work!  But I'm betting that if we look for those moments, the candle we light on Christmas Eve won't be the only flame that will shine in the darkness.
May God's light of love, peace, and grace be yours as we celebrate the birth of our Savior!
God's Love through Jesus Christ into our Communities
This past August, DS Bob Bushong asked our clergy for examples of what our churches are doing to exhale the breath of God's love through Jesus Christ into the atmosphere of the communities in which they live. Members at Bear Lake United Methodist Church in Apopka took Pastor Kevin Evers and Dan Patterson's challenge to take a one-dollar "seed" and multiply it to the glory of God. Click HERE to read the full story.  
Church and Pastor Annual Profiles
UMC Logo Church Profile and Pastor Profile forms are now available.  The final submission date for profiles is January 31, 2017.   

Church Profile and Pastor Profile forms should be reviewed and updated annually by all church SPRC Committees and all Clergy in the Florida Conference.  Though a move may not be anticipated, it is important that both the Pastor Profile and Church Profile be current at the appointment-making session of the cabinet.  Profiles should be an honest reflection of the pastoral ministry and the profile of the church.

If a change in pastoral leadership is being considered for July 1, 2017 - the pastor and SPRC Chair should be in contact with Claudia Sava no later than January 15th to schedule a consultation appointment with Dr. Bob Bushong.  If a pastoral consultation is scheduled with the DS, both the Church Profile and Pastor Profile should be completed online no later than one week prior to the consultation appointment.

Click Here for the detailed instructions for accessing both profiles.  Follow the step by step instructions to access the appropriate profile.                     
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.
Benefits Update: 2017 Health Initiative
Deadline for Open Enrollment: December 15th
Open Enrollment on the Federal Health Exchange, also known as, began on November 1, 2016 and continues into January. But, December 15, 2016 is the last day to enroll in a plan for coverage to start January 1, 2017. The Federal Exchange remains open until January 31, 2017 which is the last day to enroll in a plan for 2017. If you delay enrolling in a plan until this date your insurance coverage will not become effective until March 1, 2017.
Don't Delay - Secure Alternative Coverage Now!
Visit now to shop and compare insurance plans available in your area. We recommend that you select a plan and complete enrollment no later than December 15, 2016 for coverage to be effective on January 1, 2017. Finally, you must pay your first month's premium by your health plan's due date or you could lose your coverage. Each insurer is different, so pay careful attention to their due date.
Keep in mind, if you do not have health insurance from another source and you fail to complete enrollment through the Federal Exchange by January 31st 2017 - You will not have health insurance in 2017. For detailed information on choosing individual health insurance plans, click HERE.
FLSA Law Delayed
What This Means for You
A Federal Court Judge granted a preliminary injunction against the Fair Labor and Standards Act (FLSA) overtime expansion rule from taking effect until a final decision in the case is issued. The December 1, 2016 deadline increasing the minimum salary threshold in regards to overtime to properly classified salaried, exempt employees has been postponed. It is unclear what direction this injunction may take at the moment. It is possible that this may not become law, but it is also possible that once it gets through the courts, it will be effective immediately.

What does this mean for you? This is still a good time to evaluate your workforce. We continue to recommend that you have:
  • Appropriate job classifications
  • Accurate job descriptions
  • A mechanism to track and report actual hours worked

Your plans to address the potential impacts on December 1st should still be reviewed periodically while this works its way through the courts and you may find some changes you need to make regardless of the change to salary thresholds.

What should we expect in the future? The Conference will continue to monitor this case and update you with information as we receive it.

New Room Conference 
January 12, 2017 - University Carillon UMC
What is New Room?
And what are New Room Gatherings?
At its core, New Room is a new space in the larger arena of global Christianity. New Room has emerged as a place where Christians sharing a common Wesleyan-Arminian theological perspective can find common fellowship and a valuable resourcing platform.

The goal of New Room is to be a community where individuals can remain true to their own traditions--Nazarene, Free Methodist, Wesleyan, United Methodist, Salvation Army, Pentecostal, Anglican, nondenominational, etc.--while at the same time joining with passionate believers who share their hope for revival and their expectation that through the agency of the Holy Spirit lives can be powerfully and decisively changed.

These persons and groups are united in a belief that God is not through with this work and that (appearances notwithstanding) the Wesleyan revival is not fully spent!

In addition to our annual conference in Franklin, Tennessee, this event in Orlando is one-day event for banding together with others in a specific area of the country.  There is a great line up of speakers and preachers, including East Central District's Rev. Chris Akers and Rev. Jacquie Leveron; and it is being held at University Carillon in Oviedo.  Click HERE to find out more and to register.
Around the Conference
2016 Connectional Giving Deadline Information!
Apportionment payments for 2016 must be received in the lockbox at Regions Bank or paid on line by Tuesday, January 10, 2017.  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 2016 apportionments receipts.  Any payments received after that date will be applied to 2017 apportionments.  Any payments received between January 1 and January 10 must be clearly marked as to which year they are to be applied.  Click HERE  for more details.

To be considered a 100% connectional church in the Florida Annual Conference Journal, 100% of 2016 apportionments must be received by January 10, 2017, and all outstanding Ministry Protection and Health and Benefits obligations must be received by December 31, 2016.
How do you #pictureAdvent?
Join Christians around the world as we all celebrate Advent, the season when we prepare our hearts, minds and souls for the coming of Christ!

This year, let's be sure we don't rush through this special season straight to Christmas.  Advent is a special time, and LECFamily want to help you make it a special experience for yourself, your family, and your church.  Here are a few ways to make this Advent season one to remember:

#pictureAdvent Photo-a-Day
We want to share our Advent celebration with all our friends and family, so we're inviting you to use each day's theme to inspire a daily photo.  Post each day with the theme and #pictureAdvent so we can all be inspired together!  Click HERE for more ideas and recources from the LECFamily.
A Gift for the Holidays:  The Christmas Gala
December 10, 2016 - Florida Southern College
The Florida Southern College Department of Music
A Gift for the Holidays:  The Christmas Gala
Saturday, December 10, 2016; 2:30pm and 7:30pm

Highly anticipated each year, the FSC Music Department's Christmas Gala has become an essential holiday music tradition for the college and greater community.  This year's edition features Adolphe Adam's O Holy Night and the stirring audience-interactive Christmas Carol Sing-Along, this year's production, A Gift for the Holidays, will reveal gifts of beautiful sacred and secular seasonal repertoire performed by a dazzling array of music ensembles, soloists, and surprise guests. Come join the holiday fun and festivities in beautifully adorned Branscomb Auditorium!  Click Here for their website .
Pulpit Exchange in Honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Sunday, January 15, 2017 
In honor of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day scheduled for January 16, 2017, all Florida Annual Conference clergy and churches are encouraged to work toward a pulpit exchange with another church in their local community on Sunday January 15, 2017 (or another Sunday in proximity to that date as necessitated by current schedules).
This pulpit exchange could be a partnership with another local United Methodist Church where the exchange would allow for a cross-racial and/or cross-cultural experience or the exchange could be with a local African Methodist Episcopal Church.  Additionally, Martin Luther King Jr.'s sermon entitled A Knock at Midnight could be the basis for the sermon preached that Sunday using the text from Luke 11:5-8. Lunches following worship or other events designed to create fellowship and conversation are also encouraged. 
The goal of the pulpit exchange and sermon focus would be to preach the gospel and encourage relationships and dialogue across racial and cultural lines as together we follow Jesus into the unity of the One Body of Christ.  It is our eternal hope that our congregations will continue to be transformed into instruments of justice, reconciliation, mercy and healing. 
If you need assistance in connecting with another local church or further resources for this important work, please contact Rev. Dr. Sharon Austin, Director of Connectional and Justice Ministries, Florida Annual Conference at or 863-688-5563 ext. 103 or Mrs. Mavis Bush at  Following this pulpit exchange, we invite you to share stories or experiences at
Bishop Adam J. Richardson, Jr. and Bishop Kenneth H. Carter, Jr. 
Register Now for the Florida Five Day Academy
REGISTRATION is open for the Florida Five Day Academy! The Florida Five-Day Academy For Spiritual Formation publishes a brochure for the upcoming Academy. To download a copy, click on the following link:
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 13-15, 2017 
College ConnectionJan 27-29, 2017  
Florida Chapter PAUMCS 43rd Annual Seminar
February 17 -19; LEC Fruitland Park
If you are a church secretary, administrative assistant, membership secretary, office administrator or serving in any administrative role, you won't want to miss the 43rd Annual Seminar of the Florida Chapter PAUMCS (Professional Association of United Methodist Church Secretaries). Held at the Life Enrichment Center in Fruitland Park, Florida, this seminar offers a chance to renew and refresh.
We invite you to attend and be a part of an amazing weekend away from your desk. Come ready to learn and share about your role in our churches. As the front line of our churches, we want you to get all you need to continue to serve well. Not a member of PAUMCS? Click HERE for a membership application!

Cost for the three-day seminar ( scholarships available to defray costs):
Seminar and Meals Only: $85
Meals and Lodging: Single Room--$195; Double Room---$160
Click HERE for more information and flyer. To download a registration form,
click HERE.  Questions?  Lynn Campbell
Sponsor a Pastoral Internship for 2017!
Interns Kipp Nelson, Carmelle Beaugelin and Drew Kastner Do you serve a church committed to shaping the next generation of pastoral leaders?
Here are the quick facts for hosting an Intern:
Internship Dates:
Monday, May 29, 2017, through Friday, August 4, 2017
Intern Training Day:
Friday, May 26, 2017 (students and supervising pastors)
Intern Reflection Day:
Monday, August 7, 2017 (students only)
30 hours/week as scheduled with supervising pastor
Provided in congregant's home, if needed
Salary: $3,000.00 ($1,500 host site, $1,500 Office of Clergy Excellence)
Click here for a more detailed program description or to read an extended article on the Conference website.
If interested, please email or mail an intern job description for your church. Please feel free to contact the Office of Clergy Excellence if you have any questions about the program. Thank you!
Holly Finley at
Rev. Sara McKinley at 
Summer Pastoral Ministry Internship Program

If so, please Click HERE for the application for the 2017 Summer Pastoral Ministry Internship Program and encourage them to apply!

Please feel free to contact the Office of Clergy Excellence if you have any questions about the program.

Holly Finley at
Rev. Sara McKinley at 
District Calendar of Events

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 9: ECD Fall Clergy Meeting (new date) - Canterbury Retreat Center
January 13 - 14: Candidacy Retreat, Lakeland
February 2017
February 4: Called to Serve - First UMC, Oviedo
February 17-19: PAUMCS Annual Training Seminar - LEC
February 25: Tom Bandy - First UMC, Winter Park
March 2017
March 23:EC dCOM 9:00am-4:00pm Asbury UMC, Maitland
April 2017
April 1: FUMCH Day on Campus
April 27: EC dCOM 9:00am-4:00pm Asbury UMC, Maitland
May 2017
May 18: EC dCOM 9:00am-4:00pm Asbury UMC, Maitland
May 20: Run4Life4Miler - FUMCH
June 2017
June 8 - 10: Annual Conference - The Buena Vista Palace Hotel & Spa
June 15:EC dCOM 9:00am-4:00pm Asbury UMC, Maitland

July 2017
July 14 - 15: Candidacy Retreat, Lakeland
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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