The Conference’s Current 
COVID Guidelines
We continue to pray for you as you navigate this season. We had all hoped we would be through this pandemic by now, but we clearly are not. Like you, the conference is monitoring the increase in new Covid-19 cases and the concerns around the Delta variant and its rapid spread, especially among those who are unvaccinated. We understand that although Florida represents only 6% of the US population, it also represents 20% of the new cases being reported.

We invite you to continue to do what you have been doing. Lean into this next season of the pandemic, being aware that we are living in an in-between time that requires hybrid ministry at every level.

Please encourage unvaccinated people to wear masks while indoors. Mask wearing should be optional for those who have been fully vaccinated.

Extend grace to one another. Be sensitive to children under 12 years old who are not old enough to be vaccinated and those who are unable to be vaccinated because they are immune compromised. Adults who are fully vaccinated who have children or grandchildren or vulnerable persons in their household may choose to wear a mask. For this reason, some churches may choose to require masks for everyone.

Making masks optional requires trust. Churches should consider providing caution zones where people who want to wear masks can do so. We continue to encourage people to maintain social distance and use sanitizers. Continue to work as a team to monitor your local context.

Updated Florida Conference COVID Guidance
Last week, we shared our concerns about the rising COVID-19 cases in Florida. We write again this week because of the continued increase of infections and the updated CDC guidelines related to masks. Please factor these two realities into your ongoing leadership conversations and decisions. We ask pastors and church leaders to take the current reality in Florida seriously and adjust your expectations for ministry as we continue to navigate this season together. We urge the use of masks in indoor settings, as an expression of our love for our neighbor and as the fulfillment of the law of Christ (Galatians 5:14):  “All the Law has been fulfilled in a single statement: Love your neighbor as yourself.

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The Next Emmaus Walks

In a sign that things are beginning to open up, the Tampa Bay Area Emmaus Community is planning to hold their next set of walks (retreats) at Florida Camp Rotary in the Fall of 2021. They are planning a women’s walk for the weekend of September 30-October 3, and a men’s walk for the following weekend of October 7-10. 

It is assumed that all participants—both the pilgrims and the support staff—will have been vaccinated against COVID by then, and that we will be looking at the Pandemic in our rearview window. If you are interested in “taking the walk” and meeting other Christians from the Tampa Bay Area, you can contact Connie Mosley or Bev or Mike Plett, and we will be glad to sponsor you for the Fall walks.
Waymaker on the AT
One of the many volunteers for Family Promise of Hillsborough County (FPHC), who goes by the trail name Waymaker, has been on an adventure of a lifetime. He is attempting to complete a thru hike covering all 2,193 miles of the Appalachian Trail this summer. He began the hike in early March at Springer Mountain in Georgia, and he hopes to reach his goal at Mount Katahdin in Maine sometime in August.

Although it is a personal challenge for Waymaker (alias Mike Bass of New Hope UMC), it is also a way to support Family Promise. He is asking the community of FPHC to consider pledging money-per-mile for each mile he completes. For example, a pledge of a penny per mile hiked would mean a donation to FPHC of $21.93.





















Family Promise of Hillsborough County is a network of churches that helps homeless and low-income families achieve sustainable independence through community-based support. FPHC provides shelter, meals, and support services to their clients, who are typically young families or single mothers and their children. FPHC provides a safe and comfortable environment for their clients while their clients work to find employment and affordable housing.

By Monday, August 2nd, Waymaker had reached Gorham, New Hampshire.  He has now traversed 1873 miles on the AT and has a little more than 300 miles (mostly in Maine) to go.  He continues to suffer foot problems, but his wife mailed him a new pair of boots, so that should help him reach his goal in style and comfort.

Waymaker is keeping a running status of his thru hike on his blog which you can view at this link. You can make a pledge by contacting Chris McCallister at this email address. Finally, you can read more about Waymaker’s Hikeathon by reading his invitation letter here.
RUMC's 175 Plan
The Trustees are leading the way in getting the buildings and grounds updated and spruced up in time for our 175th Anniversary celebration this fall. This is a comprehensive wish list of the various projects that we may tackle this summer.

  • Sanctuary—Pressure clean the building; touch up the carpentry under the windows, paint the outside, and upgrade the shrubbery.

  • Crichton Fellowship Hall—Fix the sagging wall (possibly covered by insurance), pressure clean and paint the building.

  • Nursery/Music Room Building—Carpentry on the front windows, paint the building, upgrade the shrubbery, and touch up the flame and cross logo on the front of the building.

  • Classroom/RESTORE Building—Pressure Clean and paint the building, replace metal pole.

  • Youth Building—This building is nearing the completion of its repair from its recent truck accident. We plan on adding laminate floors, and possible adding accent paint to the interior.

  • The RESTORE Store Building—Replace rotten exterior wood, add vent boards to the back of the building, pressure wash and paint the building.

  • Other Possible Repairs—Pressure clean the sidewalks, plug grass throughout the front lawn, brush and paint railings, rebuild the gazebo.

If you have a special talent, or want to participate in some of these efforts, contact Gary Floyd. There is work at RUMC for everyone.
The Carpenter's Shop in Largo
Seniors at St. Paul UMC in Largo put their woodworking skills to great use and find joy in fellowship in this Fresh Expression. A recent Community Assessment of Older Adults in Pinellas County reported that 37% of them report being bored, and 22% say they lonely and isolated. Many also experienced the loss of a spouse. To address that issue, St. Paul UMC in Largo looked to a nearby UMC that had closed in 2016.

It was there that the St. Paul church created a Fresh Expression known as The Carpenter's Shop. The Florida Conference gave the church permission to use the closed church's property for this outreach. Volunteers make wooden toys that first responders and community organizations distribute to children in crises.

Even if a person isn't so great with tools, there are ways to be involved for all skill levels and ages. People can paint toys, trace patterns, and more. The St. Paul's Quilting ministry is also involved. Members there make quilts for the toy doll beds. It's a good way to get volunteer hours for school and scholarships such as Bright Futures. Depending on the offense (no violence or sex offender, etc.), those seeking to satisfy court-ordered community service also can volunteer.

The ministry follows the Child Youth Protection Policy, and volunteers are screened
Distribution assistance comes from the Largo Police Department, Largo Fire Rescue, Marine Cops Toy for Tots, Open Arms, and Metropolitan Ministries. Also, toys were sent on 11 international church mission trips. Children in Cuba, the Dominican Republic, Costa Rica, Liberia, and Puerto Rico have received the toys.

While the woodshop ministry has been around for nearly 40 years, toy-making started in 2017 with three members. It has grown to more than 80 volunteers now, with more than 10,000 toys distributed. Although this is a ministry of St. Paul's, volunteers from other UMC churches are involved, too, including Anona UMC in Largo and Skycrest UMC in Clearwater.

"With our snowbird population, a lot of people had wood shops up north. Part of the motivation was to give them a place to come," Carpenter's Shop organizer Grant Corrigan said. "Many people are on their own, and this is a way to combat loneliness.












"Many of the toymakers have expressed a profound gratitude for this extremely valuable ministry as it has given them a renewed hopefulness and reason to get out of their home and fellowship with others," Corrigan said.

Like all charitable organizations, this one survives totally on donation. Donations can be made at shelbygiving.com/stpaulumc. You will need to select Toy Making in the choose fund dropdown. Those interested in learning more or volunteering can email woodshop@stpaulumc.org.