Thursday, June 27, 2019

Thursday Thoughts

1. Sunday Morning Worship - This week Pastor Daryl will be concluding our preaching series Freed to Lead in worship as he focuses upon "Corporate Leadership" from Joshua 24:14-15.

Invite a friend to come with you this weekend. We'll be worshipping at 8am, 9:30am, and 11am. All are invited and all are welcome.

2. Vacation Bible School - Thank you SO much for all of your prayers and support!!!! Vacation Bible School went very well this year. Hopefully you had the chance to view at least the sanctuary decorations over the last few weeks! We had 110 kids at VBS this year and 130 volunteers who helped make all of that happen! What a blessing and a privilege to serve in a church that places such an investment into children. And the children also made their own investment - they raised over $500 in a mission project during the week to help mothers and babies in Zambia!

3. Welcoming the Hill Family - The Rev. CJ Hill and his family will be moving to Fruitland Park and into the College Avenue parsonage next week. Pastor CJ will be in preaching in worship on Sunday July 7th and there will be a church-wide welcome celebration for the Hill Family on Sunday July 21st after worship. This past weekend, we showed an introduction video made by the Hills and we wanted to share it with you here as well.

Have a great weekend and we know you will enjoy worship this Sunday!

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Midweek Moment

Dear Friends, 
We shared this post on the church's Facebook page this week. This was written by our Bishop Ken Carter in anticipation of all the pastors who will be moving next week and the churches that will be receiving their leadership. We share this as a reminder for us all as we prepare to welcome the Rev. C. J. Hill and his family to our Community family next week. 

This week a number of men and women have left a community and a congregation and have traveled to begin a new ministry. This process is physically, emotionally and spiritually challenging.
The appointive cabinet’s role in reflecting on the gifts of clergy and sending them to assignments began in December and continued through the middle of April. Our work included prayer, consultation with laity and clergy and listening. In the end, the appointments were affirmed at the Florida Annual Conference, meeting in Orlando earlier this month.
And now, in many congregations, a new season of life and ministry is beginning.
It is important to say first that a change in clergy leadership is disruptive. The appointive cabinet does this work in response to retirements, requests from local churches and clergy, and the presence of decline or status quo or conflict. We are quite clear that this is not about change for the sake of change.
And yet, in a context of status quo, decline or conflict, disruption can be constructive. It can be God’s new creation (2 Corinthians 5. 17). A few elements of this change are essential if the new season is to be generative.
1. The pastor and the congregation will each need to make peace with their own pasts. At times the congregation will want to project their feelings about their former leader onto the new pastor. And at times the pastor will have unresolved issues from the last ministry that have not been fully addressed. Making peace with the past will allow each to see the other with new eyes and even a new heart.
2. The congregation will be asking about their new leader, “Will he or she love us, as we are?” “Will he or she come to know us and our community?” “Will he or she be a good shepherd?” See my 2016 Ordination Sermon, “The Odor of the Sheep.” These questions are related to wisdom of one of my mentors, Ken Callahan, who noted that people experience us first as a shepherd, then as a preacher and finally as a leader.
3. How is this done in practice? It is important, in the first weeks, to have scheduled and structured times to 1) share meals and 2) tell stories. How will the pastor begin to know the stories of the congregation and community? How will congregational leaders begin to know the story of the pastor’s life, his or her conversion to Christ and call to ministry?
4. The relationship of clergy and congregation is over time about much more than whether either likes or is happy with the other. Over time, the more important question is that we engage the mission field, which is the community surrounding us. In the Florida Conference, we are attempting to see the children at risk in schools or new to our schools as “our kids.” This is one simple way the leadership of a church can begin to see the mission field.
5. Lastly, in a time of deep change (which is surely the first week of a new pastor’s life and ministry in a new congregation), it is essential that we rely upon God and the disciplines God uses to restore, renew and equip. This is reading scripture, interceding for the people, having a conversation with a mentor, friend or district superintendent, taking a Sabbath day (even in the midst of unfinished work) and planning some family ritual (where appropriate) that acknowledges the family’s experience of transition.
I will be praying, by name this week for the clergy who are entering into new places of leadership. I pray that you will experience the prevenient grace of God that has gone before you. I pray that you will announce the good news of Jesus Christ to the people on your first Sunday. And I pray that God will supply your every need.
I will also be praying, by name this week for the congregations who are receiving new pastors. I pray that you will receive a pastor who will come to love you and to lead you. I pray that together you will see the mission field that surrounds you. And I pray that you experience in this new season a revival and a renewed sense of the nearness of God.
None of this happens by accident. It calls for intentionality, planning and walking together. May God bless you and be with you in this first week of ministry together.
- Bishop Ken Carter

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Thursday Thoughts

1. Sunday Morning Worship - This week Pastor Daryl will be continuing our preaching series Freed to Lead in worship as he focuses upon "Self Leadership" from Jeremiah 29:11.

It's also Father's Day and we will be marking that in all of our worship services this weekend. Don't forget that we will be donating $1 for every man present in worship to Open Arms Village in Ocala, a ministry of re-entry for homeless men.

Invite a friend to come with you this weekend. We'll be worshipping at 8am, 9:30am, and 11am. All are invited and all are welcome.

2. Vacation Bible School - It's almost here! It starts next Monday night, June 17th! Pre-registration is open on the church website through tomorrow. After that, it will still be possible to sign up by coming a little bit early to register on Monday night.

VBS Times run from 5:30-8:30pm every night next week. Please keep this important ministry in your prayers - for all of the children, their families and all of our volunteers as well!

3. Pastor Loida's Celebration - We are so grateful to Dreama Stroud and her wonderful team of volunteers who made it possible to celebrate Pastor Loida last weekend after worship. It was truly a beautiful celebration to honor her ordination and her time among us at Community UMC. Pastor Loida will be in worship this weekend before beginning her family leave.

Have a great weekend and we know you will enjoy worship this Sunday!

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Midweek Moment

Dear Friends,

Last week at Annual Conference you were well represented! In addition to Pastor Loida, Pastor Daryl and myself, Community sent seven lay representatives (three representing the congregation and four representing our district) - Hunter Gnann, Glenn and Elsa Kaye, Giselle Lawn, Riley Standifer, Mike and Pat Weer. We saw other Community folks on stage throughout the week as well - Mike Standifer brought a message on behalf of Conference Camps and Retreat Centers and Joey Landstedt was there as part of the design team for the Conference's new Institute of Modern Worship to train and resource worship leaders throughout Florida.

Throughout the week there was a lot of meetings and special worship celebrations and voting. Here's some of the highlights:

  • Worshiped in 5 languages with a diverse group of people 
  • Chartered a church, Good Samaritan UMC in Tallahassee  
  • Raised over $37,000 in the Bishop's offering to help launch a church in Lowell Correctional Facility (largest women's prison in the country) and go towards the building fund of the relaunched Wesley Foundation at FAMU in Tallahassee 
  • Celebrated that we are up to 301 Fresh Expressions of ministry throughout our conference now
  • 14 new churches - including Community - are involved in ZOE since last year and over 1000 children are benefiting from the conference's involvement.
  • The percentage given in apportionments from local churches increased and we reduced our 2020 Budget for the Conference to return more resources to the local church
  • We approved a new ministry plan for Lation/Latina ministries. 
  • We engaged in dialogue about our church's social teachings and public witness
  • We approved funding for scholarships for seminary students over the next five years.
On Wednesday and Thursday, we also elected 46 persons (23 laity and 23 clergy) to represent Florida at next year's gatherings - General Conference (May in Minneapolis) and Southeastern Jurisdictional Conference (July in Lake Junaluska, NC). The Jurisdictional Conference is mainly charged with the election of bishops and we have five bishops in our jurisdiction who are retiring. I was elected as clergy for the Jurisdictional Conference and our own Riley Standifer was elected to Jurisdictional Conference as a layperson. Riley will also serve as a seated alternate for General Conference. 

And finally on Saturday morning, we concluded Annual Conference by licensing, commissioning and ordaining a total of 52 persons for ministry, including Pastor Loida, as she was ordained an elder!!! It was beautiful to see the large group of people from Community who came to share this special moment with her.

As you can see there is much to celebrate across our connection and now we are back to live this out our mission of making disciples in our own local communities. 


PreConference worship in Buckner Theatre on Tuesday night 

Mike Standifer representing Conference Camps
Joey Landstedt with the rest of the design team for the Institute of Modern Worship
Hunter Gnann with Bishop Carter and his wife Pam and some other conference youth
Riley Standifer addressing conference during one of the resolution discussions.
I wrote a devotional for this book last year, at Cokesbury had them for sale in their display!  

Ordination is a very long journey. So very happy to mark this milestone with Loida!
Riley Standifer and I after the delegation meeting on Saturday afternoon

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Midweek Moment

Good afternoon my friends!

This week your lay delegates and pastors have been attending the 2019 Florida Annual Conference. It has been a tremendous time of hard work, amazing stories, and hope-filled testimonies. We have heard of new ministries and people being reached for Christ. We have had opportunities to engage in conversations with people from different life experiences. We have felt a powerful movement of the Holy Spirit in our midst.

We have an opportunity to continue this celebration this week in worship. This Sunday is Pentecost, a day set aside to honor and focus on the Holy Spirit. To help in this time, we are asking everyone to wear red to worship as a sign of this time.

This Sunday, we would love to see you in worship. We would love to see you in red. We would simply love to see you!

Have a great weekend and we will see you soon!