Finger Lakes District E-Newsletter  December 23, 2019

Welcome to the Finger Lakes District 
e -Newsletter! Please share this with church members and staff, teams and organizations. We hope that you will find this a useful resource as we work to promote the missions, ministries and events of the Finger Lakes District. 
May you have a blessed week!
Your friends at the Finger Lakes District Office,
Rev. Jeffrey McDowell, District Superintendent
            Pam Deckard, Administrative Assistant

Please contact the office email: or phone (315-781-0188) and your messages will be responded to.   
The District Office will have limited office hours and phone/email availability during the Christmas and New Year's time frame.   Please feel free to contact Jeff by email or his cell phone for any emergencies.
From Superintendent Jeff McDowell

Christmas and New Year's have long been a time to rest, reflect, plan, and draw closer to God for Methodists and other Christians. See Francis Asbury's journal entry below! He was a circuit rider, covering great ground in America, to preach Christ to the people and oversee the new Methodist "societies." He took time around the holiday to rest and reflect, and he recognizes his own weakness in serving God. As we walk through this holy time of Christmas and New Year, I pray for and with you. Please note the excellent training opportunity for the transforming conflict as a spiritual practice!
In Christ, Jeff McDowell

A word from Francis Asbury's Journal, December 25, 1793
Saturday 25. Christmas Day. I preached at Rembert's chapel, and on Sunday James Patterson spoke on "Enoch walked with God." There is a great change in this settlement; many attended with seriousness and tears. Whenever our preachers gain the confidence of our lowland planters, (if indeed that time shall ever be) so that the masters give will give us all the liberty we ought to have, there will be thousands of the poor slaves converted to God. The patient must be personally visited by the physician before advice and medicine will be proper; and so it is, and must ever be, with the sin-sick soul, and the spiritual physician. Letters from the north announce very pleasing intelligence of a great work of God in Maryland, and in parts of Virginia.

Tuesday 28. Yesterday and to-day I have been very busy writing letters. My general experience is close communion with God; holy fellowship with the Father and his Son Jesus Christ, a will resigned, frequent addresses to the throne of grace, a constant, serious care for the prosperity of Zion; forethought in the arrangements and appointments of the preachers, a soul drawn out in ardent prayer for the universal church, and the complete triumph of Christ over the whole earth. Amen, Amen, so be it!
I have finished my letters, and adjusted some plans. For my amusement and edification, I was curious to read the first volume of my journals. I compared my former with my latter self. It was little I could do thirty years ago; and I do less now.

The next edition of this eNewsletter comes out on January 7, 2020.  To submit an item for the newsletter, please have it to the district office 5-7 days before the post date.   Thank you.
DS Calendar is always changing; for best way to reach me please contact the office)

Dec. 24- Jan. 5   Vacation
Jan. 6-8                 Cabinet meetings
Jan. 8                     Council on Finance and Administration meeting
Jan. 9                     District Committee on Ministry
Jan. 10                   Day Off?
Jan. 11                   Council on Finance and Administration meeting
Jan. 12                   Preach at Amazing Grace parish
Jan. 13                   Pastoral Leadership Development class
Jan. 14-16             Office / churches in District
Jan. 17                   Day Off
Jan. 18                   Cabinet meeting
Jan. 19                   Attend Phelps worship, Annual Meeting
Jan. 20                   Martin Luther King Jr. celebrations
Jan. 21-23             Cabinet meetings
Jan. 24                   Day Off
Jan. 26                   Attend Ovid  worship, Annual Meeting

Schedule for DS to Preach or Lead Worship; You can also invite him to meetings or church events!
Jan. 12                  Amazing Grace Parish: Victory, Butler, Countryside
Jan. 19                  Phelps United: Worship and Annual Meeting
Jan. 26                  Ovid Federated Church: Worship and Annual Meeting
Feb. 2                   McGraw
Feb. 9                   Newark Emmanuel
Mar. 15                 Cayutaville         
Mar. 22                 _______
Apr. 19                  Geneva
Apr. 26                  Wolcott 
OUTWARD! Registration now open

OUTWARD! will be held Friday-Sunday, March 13-15, 2020 at the Holiday Inn in Liverpool.

OUTWARD!, as the names suggests, is a retreat that focuses on an outward expression of God's love. Youth groups will have an opportunity to get a taste for mission work by going on short excursions away from the hotel in which this event is hosted. During this event, youth groups will have more opportunities to do things together, and work towards creating a God-like community around them.

The cost of the event: $70 per person (youth or adult), which covers the registration and includes a YSF T-Shirt. This cost does not include meals. There are many options available locally. Hotel Rooms are $115 per room per night (up to five people per room). There is a $10 cost for a rollaway for the weekend. The number of rollaways is limited, so it is first come-first served.

Click here for registration details. 
Transforming Church Conflict & Creating Space for Authentic Community
Registration Now Open !

What Is This?    A 2-Retreat Series on Transforming Conflict for UM Clergy and Lay Persons of the Upper New York Conference.  Sponsored by the Finger Lakes   District, Rev. Dr. Jeff McDowell, DS and the Mohawk District, Rev. Abel Roy, DS.  Participants MUST ATTEND both Sessions.
Maximum # of Participants: 20
Time & Place:   Casowasco Camp & Retreat Center
Session One - February 19 & 20, 2020 (W/Th)*
Session Two - March 11 & 12, 2020 (W/Th)
Both sessions begin w/ lunch at 12:15 pm (W) & end at 5:00 pm (Th).
Cost:   Early Registration - $635   
After January 10 - $685*                                                                               
               * Please contact your DS for information on any district subsidies being offered
CEUs:   There are a total of 28.5 Contact Hours available for the retreat series.

To Register:        Registration Link
Content: The first session introduces Transformative Conflict Theory, spiritual practices to ground participants in the face of conflict, and skills & strategies for responding to conflict. The second session reviews the theory and skills in session #1, then introduces new concepts and skills used to facilitate participation in the heated church meeting. Methodology includes lecture, individual reflection, discussion, concept & skill development exercises, & role plays. Attendance at both sessions is required.
VIM Focusing on Recent Flooding in the Rome/Utica Area 
The UNY Conference's Volunteers in Mission (UNY VIM) are looking for ERTs and others to help in the disaster relief efforts. UNY VIM is currently focusing on the Rome/Utica area and has established a semi-command post with the Red Cross and other agencies to center their planning/dispatch and overnight accommodations. Not only do they have a place to sleep, but also, the Red Cross is providing food and showers. 
Click here  to register to help so that the on-site team can create a plan and contact you.
Insurance Carrier Changed to Brotherhood Mutual

Last week, the UNY Board of Trustees sent a letter to all churches in the UNY Conference to inform them of the plan to change the Conference's insurance carrier from Church Mutual to Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company. Click here to read the letter. This change becomes effective January 1, 2020.
The Upper NY Local Pastors Licensing School for 2020 is as follows:
Date:  April 19-25, 2020
Location:  Camp Casowasco, Moravia, NY
Arrival time:  Welcoming will begin at 4:15 on the 19th, dinner will be served at 5:30

On-line registration availability will be set up at the appropriate time.
If interpreter is required please inform me as soon as possible.
Caroline Simmons
Note for Local Pastors:

All Local Pastors must take COS-121 and COS-122 BEFORE they will be allowed to take any other classes in the COS system.  Each seminary will determine how they are acquiring the information on whether the LP has taken these classes.  Some will ask a question on the registration form others while others will be requesting transcripts to accompany any registration for classes.
If an LP needs to obtain a copy of their transcript they can email  I receive a copy of the transcripts for this conference in February of each year.  If they contact me at I can email them a copy of this. However if they prefer to get the most updated transcripts they would need to contact GBHEM at the email listed above.

The Book of Discipline states part-time local pastors must complete 2 COS courses per year to make satisfactory progress. You may take as many as your Conference approves. 
Any questions please feel free to contact me.
Thanks for your help in spreading the word.
Betsy O'Flynn
Candidacy, BOM
1050 East Ave, Rochester NY 14607 (mailing)
Bishop Webb's Wesley Heritage Tour is February 11-19 in England. I invite you to come with me and the clergy and laity across the conference as we visit key sites where John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement traveled, preached and was used by God to form a movement of the Holy Spirit. You can also go online and see the itinerary and register to travel with us and learn together. Go to and put in the tour number HE20, MY Host ID: 60028 . I believe this tour will be both sightseeing and a spiritual renewal for all who attend. Pray and consider coming with me, and when you register send me an email and let me know. I look forward to our time together!
Please Note:

When there are changes in the names, addresses, phone numbers, and  e-mail addresses  for you, and/or any of your committee chairs, please contact the  district office with the changes. Thank you  
Safe Sanctuaries Minimum Standards

The Minimum Standards have been established by the Upper New York Annual Conference for all ministries. They are not inspirational, but set minimum standards to protect children, youth, and vulnerable adults from abuse and exploitation. Without exception, these standards apply to all local churches/charges, district and annual conference ministries, and those who serve within. Click here for more information. 
Click here  to go to UNYAC safe sanctuary information.  
Background Checks - will be conducted every two years.

Click here  to learn more about background checks and for information on the Trusted Employees services, a corporate partner of Church Mutual. 
INR continues 
The Conference Commission on Religion and Race (CCORR) is excited to share the results of a busy summer! They worked with the General Commission on Religion and Race (GCORR) to revise the Imagine No Racism (INR) curriculum to reflect the excellent evaluations and feedback of those who experienced INR in 2018.
All clergy are expected to complete the full six weeks of the INR curriculum, and many did this last year. If you were unable to attend INR then, you are in luck. Earlier this fall, CCORR led seven train-the-trainer events all around Upper New York, and now have 43 facilitators from all 12 Districts who are available to lead groups.
Laity are encouraged to participate in the INR initiative as well.
To get started, notify your District office. District Superintendents and Administrative Assistants will work with CCORR leaders to create a group for you.  Click here to learn more. 
Disaster Relief Information

  When your home has been flooded and black mold is growing in your walls, the last word you want to hear is "wait."

Yet, that's exactly what our neighbors in North Carolina had to do in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence in 2018. The need was so great that, nine months after the storm, many homes had not even been touched. Some of the same families were still waiting for help to recover from Hurricane Matthew in 2017.
When others said, "Wait," UMCOR supporters like you said, "We're here."
Because of dedicated donors, recovery work is moving forward in North Carolina. UMCOR grants are covering repair costs and case-management support for families.
Of course, that's just one of many places around the world where your UMCOR support has provided relief. When Cyclone Idai devastated parts of Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Malawi early this year, your generosity allowed UMCOR to extend relief in the form of temporary shelter, food and hygiene items. In the two years since Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, UMCOR has offered aid for long-term recovery efforts.
In both the immediate and lingering aftermath of storms and disasters, your UMCOR support is there, helping communities recover. CLICK HERE to read more. 

United Methodists have Four Areas of Focus which helps churches use their resources effectively as they live out God's vision for the church. Today we share the fourth focus in this series.

Focus # 4: Leading Where God Calls

            All Christians are called to a ministry of sharing God's love in the world. Some have the vocation of leading the church in its work of forming disciples and equipping congregations to live out God's mission in the world. The United Methodist Church recognizes the critical importance of developing new leaders to guide the church through changing times. Principled, visionary and effective ordained and lay leaders help United Methodists grow in faith and in sharing God's love with others. The United Methodist Church is focusing on inviting and preparing young people, including women and people of color, to become clergy who lead the church in world-transforming ministry.

             Training and sending laypeople is another focus. The early Methodist movement grew through the efforts of laity who led small groups, taught Bible study, provided outreach ministry and led the administrative life of the church. Developing and nurturing strong lay leaders is another important component of creating a church fully engaged in the work of making disciples for the transformation of the world. For more information, go to .
Join the celebration of Christmas in the "HUB"

The UNY Conference Mission Central HUB has launched its holiday campaign. Our warehouse needs your monetary or supply donations. In the past few weeks, the HUB has brought hundreds of cleaning kits to the Mohawk District as part of the disaster relief efforts the flooding that took place on Oct. 31. Your donation helps disaster relief both locally and around the world.
Click here  to watch an informative video illustrating how your donation helps.
Click here to make a secure monetary donation using a credit card (most cost effective.) 
Shop for specific items that the HUB needs (cleaning kit, hygiene kit,  school kit). Please have your shipment sent to UNY Mission Central HUB, 7481 Henry Clay Blvd, Liverpool, NY 13088. Be sure to include your name on the gift receipt.
All donations received, either monies or supplies, will be recognized with an ornament that will adorn the Mission Tree in the UNY Mission Central HUB. The more donations, the more decorated the tree.
Save your receipts as all donations are tax-deductible.
If you have any questions or want more information, contact Mike Block, Director of Missional Engagement, at or MaryBeth Ingalls, Mission Volunteer Coordinator at
  Use Facebook to Donate to the HUB

Donate to the Upper New York Conference in a safe and secure way through Facebook using your credit/debit card. All donations, minimum $5.00 up to $100,000, are tax deductible and 100% of the profits go back to UNY. Right now, donations are earmarked for the UNY HUB "Hands of Jesus Around the World" hygiene kit campaign. For every donation, a new hand is added to the globe. A red hand signifies a donation of $500 or more. Each UMCOR-approved kit costs $12.00 to assemble and includes toothpaste and postage. Click here to donate through Facebook  and click here to learn more.
Download the latest issue of the  Bridge
The latest issue II of the  Bridge is now available for download. It is available in both color and black & white formats.   Click here to select the version you prefer and make copies as necessary. This issue focuses on ways to celebrate Pentecost at home and also informs readers about the meaning of Peace with Justice Sunday.
The  Bridge is a communications tool designed for local churches to stay connected to each other and to the ministries taking place around the Upper New York Conference and The United Methodist Church. The newest volume will be listed at the top of the web page, with older volumes below. The  Bridge is designed to be handed out in worship, as a church bulletin insert, or as a standalone item. If you have questions or are unable to make copies, please contact .
The  Bridge is a bi-monthly publication from September-May and for the months of June-August, the  Bridge is published during the week prior to the third Sunday of the month. 
New Direct Bill Arrearage Policy - Effective 1/1/2020 (Impacts full-time benefits eligible pastors)
The Conference Board of Pension and Health Benefits has approved a new arrearage policy that could have an impact on your benefits if you/your church carry an arrearage on your direct bill.
          Currently, if you/your church has an arrearage on your direct bill, you likely receive notification from the Conference Office, your DS or both asking you to contact the Conference office to make payment arrangements. Some contact us; many do not.
           How is this new policy different and why did the Board establish it?
Since the one-time arrearage forgiveness from the Board a few years ago, the total accumulated amount of direct bill's, UNPAID is $787,673.04. This is money that is supposed to be used to pay premiums to Wespath for your benefits. As a result of these arrearages, the CBOPHB has to pay Wespath at the end of the year out of the investment accounts. Unpaid direct bills accompanied by increasing benefit costs has not only resulted in increasing cost to the church and personal premiums from your paychecks, the Board has to continue to look at the sustainability of benefits and ways we can work together with you, so future benefits are not jeopardized for active clergy (or for current/future retiree's).
The new policy outlines the process, which now involves Wespath, as well as consequences (while active and potentially into retirement) for ongoing non-payment.
         As always, we are here to care for those who serve God and God's Kingdom. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me. Thank you for your ministry.    CLICK HERE for full letter.        Susan Latessa, Director of Human Resources and Benefits.
Group Ruling on Tax Status

United Methodist Churches are classified as 501(c)(3) non-profit organizations. 

Your church may need to prove this status to various organizations. They will be looking for your tax ID and a copy of the Group Ruling Letter. General Conference on Finance and Administration (GCFA) has automated the process for obtaining this letter.
Click here  to request a copy for your church from the legal department of GCFA. You will need to provide your church's name, address, Employer Identification Number (EIN), and approximate charger date.
Contact GCFA Legal Services Department at  with additional questions.
Episcopal Candidate Nominations Process Extended

Due to a low number of nominations, the delegation to General and Jurisdictional Conferences has decided to reopen the Episcopal candidate nominations process to invite additional candidates to be nominated. The delegation wants to specifically encourage the nomination of people of color and clergywomen. Click here to read a letter from Carmen FS Vianese, head of the UNY delegation, and the Rev. William A. Mudge. 
Lansing UMC Affirms "All Are Welcome," Including LGBTQAI+ Persons

The Lansing United Methodist Church congregation (LUMC) has made it overwhelmingly clear that LGBTQIA+ persons are welcomed, affirmed, and celebrated by the congregation, as the congregation adopted a Welcoming Statement on Sunday, September 22, 2019. This vote, voicing LUMC's opposition to the denomination's official stance toward LGBTQAI+ persons, followed a year-long process of study and conversation led by LUMC's Reconciling Ministries Group. Ninety-eight percent of the LUMC congregation in attendance voted to ratify the statement.
CLICK HERE for entire statement/letter.
The Finger Lakes District Cluster Charge Conferences that were recently held collected an average of $225 during Worship for the Host Church's Mission and Ministry areas.    Those areas included: 1/2 day children's program, Genesee Valley school lunch program, Family Promise of Wayne County, the church building fund, and Family Promise of Ontario County.  Thank you to all who attended and contributed.
Amazing Grace Parish celebrating Joy

The Amazing Grace Parish comprised of Butler, Countryside and Victory United Methodist Churches have been celebrating 300 years of "Joy to the World". Along with singing the hymn, the folks have become more conscious of JOY sightings in their own lives. It is amazing how God works! Placing one little word into a person's mind and voila, they are seeing signs and acts of JOY all around them: at craft fairs, in people's yards, on road sig ns, even at the hairdresser's!
The parish has also been spreading JOY to others. For the first two weeks in Advent, we collected food items for two school districts: Port Byron and Cato, for their weekend back pack food program. The last two weeks of Advent we collected items to support the Port Byron Food Pantry and/or the blessing boxes of the parish.
North Rose UMC Angel Tree

On December 21st, Jesus-Followers at North Rose UMC distributed all of the Angel Tree gifts and food given by the congregation throughout December - what a team! And what a beautiful ministry!
It is with great pleasure to announce that Aloquin  UMC has a new web site.  Check it out at:   
Look for updates and upcoming events at our Church.
Also you can apply to a partner.
How Do I connect?

Denominational Website: The United Methodist Church
District Website: Finger Lakes District 
If you would like to subscribe to this e-newsletter, please send your email address to:
Finger Lakes District
of the Upper New York Conference

Rev. Jeffrey McDowell , District Superintendent
Pam Deckard, Administrative Assistant

12 North Park St., Suite 11
Seneca Falls, NY 13148  
Office:  315-781-0188     efax: +1-315-282-2367 
 click here for: Finger Lakes District Map