From: Finger Lakes District []
Sent: Tuesday, December 18, 2018 9:06 AM
Subject: December 18, 2018 e-Newsletter
Finger Lakes District E-Newsletter  December 18, 2018

Rev. McDowell
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. If you have something you would like to see included in a future issue of this e-newsletter, send to
May you have a blessed week!
Your friends at the Finger Lakes District Office,
       Rev. Jeffrey McDowell, District Superintendent
            Pam Deckard, Administrative Assistant

Messages for the office:    Please continue to contact the office via email (above) or phone (315-781-0188) and your messages will be responded to.   Checking the phones and emails will be varied during this holiday season.
 24 & 25 - Conference and District offices closed in            observance of Christmas
                   25 - Christmas
January 1, 2019 - New Year's Day Conference and District Offices closed
                    EZRA site is opened
The next edition of this eNewsletter comes out on January 8, 2019.  To submit an item for the newsletter, please have it to the district office by January 3rd.   Thank you.
DS Notes:
May the Spirit of the Christ child who showed us perfect love, be present in your homes and churches this season!  I appreciate all you are doing to further the cause of Christ.
I will be away from my duties for part of January to have minor surgery and recovery time. From January 3-20 please contact Administrative Assistant Pam Deckard via phone and email. She will know which Elders on our district can assist you as well as which Superintendent is on call for me at that time. Use the office number, 315-781-0188 or her email,
In Christ, the reason for all seasons,
Jeff McDowell
District Superintendent available to preach and/or lead worship

The DS is available to preach and/or lead worship on the Sundays noted below. These opportunities are an opportunity for the DS to worship with you and, if desired, to provide the message (as opposed to providing vacation pulpit supply). Other days of the week are possible as well with an inquiry. Please send a request to both Pam Deckard at and Jeff McDowell at

In 2019: Available:  On 4/28; 5/5; 5/19; 6/2; 6/23. 

DS preaching: Jan. 27 at Ovid Federated
                     Feb. 3 at Lansing UMC
                     March 10 at Midlakes and Scott
                     March 31 at Homer Ave and Virgil
The Finger Lakes District of the Upper NY Conference will present this two-part professional development & spiritual growth opportunity...
Transforming Conflict in Communities of Faith
(A Two-Part Retreat Experience at Camp Casowasco)

PART ONE:"Transforming Conflict as a Spiritual Practice"
You can radically shift the nature of your conflict-interactions from negative and destructive to positive and constructive.
                    Servant Leader Retreat: Friday, February 1 - Saturday, February 2
Clergy Retreat: Wednesday, February 6 - Thursday, February 7

PART TWO:"Facilitating Effective Participation in the Heated Church Meeting"
You will learn how to protect the meeting process, while at the same time support participants-in-conflict.
                        Combined Clergy / Servant Leader Retreat:
                                                Thursday, March 28 - Friday, March 29 *
*Please note all participants of PART TWO must first have attended PART ONE!

***More information coming in a separate email this week.***
2018 EZRA Reporting Opens Jan. 1, 2019

The 2018 Ezra reports will be ready and open on the 1st of January and end on February 15th of 2019.
Complete your reporting at: 
Giving Opportunity

Christmas is a time of giving. During the Advent season, the Upper New York (UNY) Mission Central HUB is accepting both monetary and supply donations through Home Depot and Amazon, to help those affected by natural disasters. For every donation, an ornament will be placed on the UNY Mission Tree. Help adorn the tree with ornaments by making your donation today. Click here to make a donation and learn more. 
Wesley Heritage tour scheduled for February 2020

Join Upper New York Area Resident Bishop Mark J. Webb and his wife Jodi on a Wesley Heritage tour in England Feb. 11-19, 2020. This journey will take you through England where you will learn about the roots of the early Church and the ministry of John Wesley. Visit London, Oxford, Epworth, the Old Rectory where John Wesley grew up, and much more.  
The earlier you register, the bigger the discount. Details about any potential available scholarships will be determined soon.  Click here to learn more and to obtain a registration brochure with all the details about this exciting opportunity.
You are Invited

Are you struggling this year? Not finding joy in the season? Maybe you lost a loved one or lost a job. Perhaps a child grew up and moved away. Maybe someone betrayed you. Life just isn't what you hoped for. Or you may just be tired of all the commercialism and shopping. This will be a time focused on remembrance and hope for the future. We will share, and light candles, and worship the God who is here with us in the messiness of life.

(9 East Main St. - Big white church with steeple in the 4 corners of Dryden)
            HOLIDAY CONCERT:

EPIPHANY CHOIR FESTIVAL                        
O Come Let Us Adore Him! The Council of Churches invites you to share in our Epiphany Choir Festival scheduled for Sunday January 6th at 3 pm at Homer Ave UMC, 30 Homer Avenue, Cortland, NY 

This Festival gives everyone a chance to hear the music of the season, offered by many of the choirs from our area churches. A free-will offering will be received to support the ministry of the Council of Churches. Mark your calendars, and plan to experience the gifts given by these choirs and their directors. Our community is blessed with rich music.
Dear Finger Lakes District Churches:  Your 2018 statements for December 
They have been uploaded and are now available for you to retrieve.  There are two inserts included in this month's mailing. 
Your GCFA number for your church is the Username as well as the Password.  Below are important dates to remember. 
Ministry Share Deadline Date for 2018 will be Tuesday, January 08, 2019. After that date, any payments received for 2018 will be reflected in 2019 listed as Prior Year Ministry Share Payments on your monthly statement.

Statistics for 2018-The Ezra site will be opened on Tuesday, January 1, 2019 to enter the church statistical data. The 2018 Statistical data will be due by Friday, February 15, 2019.

Local Church Audit - The 2018 annual audit of your church financial records are due to the District Superintendents on Friday, March 15, 2019, no later.
If you have any questions or concerns, please feel free to contact the Finance Department. We hope you have a blessed Christmas and a joyful New Year! 

"Gifts, travel, big meals galore! The holidays are full of expenses that we don't see during the rest of the year. Then we turn around and are faced with the challenge of coming up with a realistic, yet impactful New Year's Resolution.

This year, resolve to get better control of your household finances. Join our Financial Peace University group at Geneva First UMC, and we'll learn how to beat debt and make a plan for the future ...   together! 

We begin the 9-week course on Thursday, January 3 at 6:30 pm. Interested? Sign up at

When you sign up, you'll join the millions of people worldwide, who have already taken the course and have turned their lives around. My husband and I are grateful to be counted among them, and I can't wait for you to register, so I can share this experience with you. I'm excited to see youthere."
This will be a great opportunity for people of all ages and stageto discover financial peace. Feel free to call me for any additional information.   
Rev. Emily Huyge     315-317-0847
Do you have questions about Special Session of General Conference?

What's the difference between a called General Conference and the one to be held in 2020? Why is the Commission on the Way Forward and not the Council of Bishops submitting the report to General Session? What are the differences between the One Church Plan, the Connectional Conference Plan, and the Traditionalist Plan? Are these some of the questions you or members of your congregation have as we approach the Special Session of General Conference to be held from Feb. 23-26, 2019 in St. Louis, Missouri?

Click here to find out the answers to these questions and dozens of others on the Upper New York Conference's Special Session of General Conference FAQ page.
Click here for an article that provides a basic summary of what to expect at the Special Session. 
Special Session of General Conference

The Special Session of General Conference will be held from Feb. 23-26, 2019 in St. Louis, Missouri at The Dome, part of the America's Center Convention Complex . Upper New York Area Resident Bishop Mark J. Webb has created a series of videos that can help prepare you for what will be taking place at General Conference. The videos review the report created by the Commission on a Way Forward that will be presented at General Conference-they can be viewed individually, used for group discussions, and more-each video can be downloaded as well.
In addition to Bishop Webb's videos, the Upper New York Conference has also compiled other resources to help you prepare for Special Session, including Bishop Webb's Way Forward PowerPoint Presentation, an overview of the three church plans, and more. Click here for all resources.  
Bishop Webb Announces New Chancellor

Last month, Scott DelConte was elected to the New York State Supreme Court. With this new commitment, he will no longer be able to serve as Chancellor to the Upper New York (UNY) Conference. Effective December 15, Peter Abdella, current Vice President of the UNY Board of Trustees, will be the new Chancellor of the UNY Conference.
A life-long Methodist, Peter can trace his "roots" to Christ First United Methodist Church in Jamestown. Please  click here to read more about Peter

There is still space for YOU at one of our fall, winter, or spring gatherings - explore the opportunities available at our Camp & Retreat Centers. Head to for more information or to sign up/register, contact the site directly, or contact the CRM Central Office at 315-898-2026 with any questions.
January 4-6, 2019: Youth Winter Retreat (Youth & their Adult Leader(s))
December 30-January 1, 2019: Retreat: Camp Echo (Ages 7-18)
January 25-27, 2019: SOLID: Youth Retreat (Youth & their Adult Leader(s))
March 1-3, 2019: Women's Chocolate Getaway (Women)
April 11-14, 2019: Quilt by Faith: Spring (Women)
May 12, 2019: Mother's Day Brunch (Families & Adults)
Sky Lake:
January 3-5, 2019: Special Needs Winter Retreat (Ages 18+ with Special Needs)
January 18-21, 2019: Family Winter Weekend (Families & Adults)
February 15-18, 2019: Family Winter Weekend II (Families & Adults)
April 5-7, 2019: Church Family Getaway (Families & Adults)

Is God calling YOU to serve on a mission team?
This opportunity is for you!
CLICK HERE for flyer

Join a UMVIM Team from McGraw UMC going to Costa Rica April 27- May 4, 2019
The team is hosted by Rice and Beans Ministries in Alajuela, Costa Rica. Each afternoon, after construction or VBS activities, our team will pack food bags to deliver door to door in the neighborhoods. Currently, Rice and Beans Ministries serves 80+ communities with food and prayer. Through this ministry they meet an immediate need and offer hope, an encouraging word, and prayer while building relationships with the families.
Cost of the trip is $1500 which includes Accommodations--lodging, meals, transportation to worksites and AIRFARE. 

Contact:      Pastor Beth Bouwens @ 607-346-6634

A note from Beth:  I am available to visit churches to share about Costa Rica and Rice and Beans Ministry.  This will be the fifth time I have taken teams to CR. 
Update on Puerto Rico Mission Trip-we have a team of 23 people going to serve Jan. 19-26, 2019.  5 people are from the Finger Lakes District and 16 from the Genesee Valley and two are from out of state.  
UNY Young Adults Gathering

We invite all young adults 18-35 to join us for a day of FREE food and games! If you want to join us please email at:

January 12, 2019
1:00 pm
at Dave and Busters, Syracuse, NY
Located in: Destiny USA
Address10335 Destiny USA Dr, Syracuse, NY 13204
                                                                        Subject: From the Desk of Bishop Webb: Imagine no Racism engagement

Dear Imagine No Racism Group Participants,

I am grateful to each of you for your participation in Upper New York's Imagine No Racism ministry. You are engaging in the urgent work of addressing racism in ourselves, our Church, and in our communities. This is holy work that we join our sisters and brothers throughout the Northeast Jurisdiction of The United Methodist Church in doing. Thank you.


CLICK HERE for a list of District Advocates.

Greetings, UMW members,

CLICK HERE for the Winter 2018 Newsletter.
Any questions can be directed to President Mary Anjo 315 573-0553.
Pastors and the Sacraments, and Weddings and funerals:

All pastors may perform the sacraments of communion and baptism in their local church. Ordained Elders may perform them outside the confines of their local church if there is cause for this. 

Funerals may be performed by anyone, including lay speakers and lay servants.  

Weddings may be performed by local pastors in the context of their church building and congregation's members, but not outside of those boundaries. Ordained Elders may perform weddings any place, with appropriate reason and coordination with local clergy so as not to impose on the work of other pastors. All pastors are responsible to provide pre-marriage counseling for couples seeking marriage. Anyone who is or is planning to become a pastor may not be certified by an online service for the purpose of performing a wedding. We do not recognize online certifications or ordinations for these purposes. No clergy are allowed to perform weddings or "hold unions" for same gender couples and none can be performed by anyone within our church buildings. This stance is up for reconsideration by our General Conference in February of 2019.
Continuing Education Requirements for Clergy
Attention:  All clergy under appointment or assignment are required to complete 2 CEUs (20 contact hours) per year or accumulative 8 CEUs (80 contacts hours) per quadrennium and will provide documentation to the District Superintendent, unless enrolled and attending Course of Study or Seminary Degree Program.
COS Information
Our registrar is continuing to receive registrations with 2015, 2016 & 2017 dates on them. Please a make sure you are using the most updated form.  You can download the correct form HERE

Clergy Tax Exemptions information

Clergy who own their homes may be eligible for a tax exemption.  For more information, and the Exemption Application Forms, please 
Please Note:

If 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  
UNY Media Resource Center

Don't forget to order your Stewardship and Advent/Christmas resources!

If you've never used the Media Resource Center before, I invite you to give us a try. Funded by your Shared Ministry dollars, we can supply you with small group discussion materials, Bible studies, children and youth curriculum, adult curriculum, and a myriad of subjects such as stewardship, evangelism, social issues and VBS materials, just to name a few. Our quick and easy online ordering is just a click away. You can add things to a "shopping cart", then once submitted, you'll receive an email with your invoice attached. We send your order through the USPS and we'll supply the mail back envelopes and label with instructions on mailing. Your only cost is the postage to return it. Please feel free to search our online catalog below.

Check out these resources: 
Earn, Save, Give by James A. Harnish
John Wesley believed money was important as a way of expressing and living out Christian faith. To Wesley, the task was simple: earn all you can, save all you can, give all you can. In this essential little book, pastor and author James A. Harnish presents Wesley's concepts and beliefs in plain, useful language, suitable for individuals to grapple with and groups to discuss and act upon.

Treasure by Jacob Armstrong
Whether you are in plenty or in want, money has a direct connection to your values, your faith, and the health of your relationships. It's no wonder that in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus presented a radical message about our "treasure" and our hearts. 

We now have some of the books written by the Bishop's Retreat speaker and author, J. Clif Christopher on stewardship.

If I can assist you in any way, please don't hesitate to give me a call at 315-898-2027 or email me at
Click here for the latest Media Resource Center Newsletter.  
2019 Employer Updates 

There are two changes that will affect Upper New York churches and employees in the new year.

Effective Dec. 31, New York State's hourly minimum wage rate is increasing to $11.10. All employers in the Upper New York Conference must pay non-exempt employees minimum wage regardless of how many people they employ. Click here to read more about the wage increase.

Beginning Jan. 1, 2019, New York State (NYS) Paid Family Leave is increasing to 55% benefit and 10 weeks for eligible employees. Click here to learn more about the updates and changes.

If you have any questions, contact Tracy Rickett, Upper New York Conference's Human Resources Generalist, at (315) 898-2017 or

New York State Employers required to adopt a sexual harassment policy and training
Due to a new law, every employer in New York State is required to establish and distribute a sexual harassment prevention policy. The policy can be distributed in writing or electronically.  Employers are encouraged to have employees acknowledge receipt of the policy, and to post a copy of the policy where employees can easily access it.  
Every employer is also required to provide employees with sexual harassment prevention training by October 9, 2019. This is an annual requirement as part of the new regulations.
Additional resources for sexual harassment training will be shared once that information has been gathered. 
Click here for more details on New York State's Sexual Harassment regulations.
If you have any questions regarding New York state's sexual harassment requirements, please contact Tracy Rickett, Upper New York Conference's Human Resources Generalist at (315) 898-2017 or

Ways to Connect with the UNY Conference
The Conference Communications staff have a number of ways to share information throughout Upper New York. Here are a few of them:
UNY Notes are simple text-based emails that will immediately alert you to important news and events of the Upper New York Conference. UNY Notes are targeted email blasts in nine categories from which to choose: From the Desk of Bishop Webb, Alerts, Prayer Concerns, Announcements, Missions, Justice, Camp & Retreat, Young People and Death Notices. If you prefer fewer emails, remember that all of the week's UNY Notes are included in the 
Weekly Digest, published on Wednesdays. Click here to subscribe to UNY Notes and here to subscribe to Weekly Digest.
Click here for the latest issue of The Advocate on the Conference website; the printed version of this newsletter will be available in your local church. The Advocate is the Conference's ministry magazine. 

You're also encouraged to "like" Upper New York Conference on
Facebook. Here you'll find pictures, short videos, questions from fun to serious, the latest news from the Conference and ways to try to engage with our followers. These posts will appear in your news feed along with posts from your other Facebook friends.
You may follow Upper New York on Instagram to see pictures and short videos from around the Conference. Posts will appear in your news feed along with everyone else you follow on Instagram.
So stay connected and up-to-date with your friends and churches from throughout the Conference!
How to use VitalSigns

We introduced you to VitalSigns, a platform that can help your church to track key indicators and uncover important insights. Click here to watch a video that shows you just how easy this program is to use. 
Track data, gain insight, and help your church with VitalSigns
The VitalSigns dashboard is a tool that allows churches to track church growth indicators, such as weekly worship attendance, professions of faith, small group participation, missional participation, and financial giving. It is a deeper level of insight, support, and accountability that tracks and trends vital information in an easy-to-understand dashboard.
The General Council on Finance and Administration pays for this software through General Church apportionment's - which the Upper New York Conference paid in full in 2016. The UNY Conference began using VitalSigns about 18 months ago, and so far, 38 UNY churches have signed up. Click here to learn how VitalSigns can help your church.
For more information about the VitalSigns tool, free to all United Methodist churches, contact Aaron Bouwens, Upper New York Conference Director of Vital Congregations at

Disaster Preparedness 

You can't prevent disaster. But you can prepare. United Methodist Insurance has created a comprehensive, robust handbook on Emergency Preparedness for Natural Disasters and Extreme Weather for Churches. 
                                                  Click here to download the eBook
The Upper New York United Methodist Historical Society was organized by the Upper New York Commission on Archives and History to promote and preserve Methodist and Evangelical United Brethren history within the bounds of Upper New York Conference.  Its mission is to Preserve the PAST; Inform the FUTURE.  
Counseling available for all of our appointed Clergy, part time and full time, and some paid church staff...

ESI's (Employee Assistance Group) TotalCare EAP can help
with virtually every area of life.  See flyer (click here) for more information. Or go to: or call: 800-252-4555
The latest copy 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. 
As a bi-monthly publication, the Bridge can be used this Sunday or next, whichever is most useful to the local church. 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 webpage, 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
2018 Upper NY Conference Journal Vol. II now available 

The 2018 Upper New York Conference Journal, Vol. II is now available for download as a free PDF and for purchase through online publisher This comprehensive book provides all the details of Annual Conference for the year of 2018. Please view or download the 2018 Upper New York Conference Journal, Vol. II for free by first visiting the Conference website here.

To purchase it for $16.86 (plus shipping and applicable sales tax) from, click here

Common  Good Radio 

Common Good Radio plays a 24/7 music and story web stream that is a break from the commercialization of childhood and the violence in media that targets children and families.  Give a listen, free, to our hand-crafted web stream that includes songs, Christmas - Christian - pop - and stories.  That's right!   Not an algorithm, but hand - selected songs that are great for all ages.  PLUS, blessings and scripture from folks all over the planet. We are heard in over 75 countries and believe that we can change the sound of the world with love, for the common good! 

Also, our timely reviews via  Married to the Media podcasts tackle movies your family is watching or wants to watch! Listen for the spiritual messages you can help your kids walk away with as you consume entertainment through media!  Podcasts can be downloaded through Podbean.  And please LIKE us on Facebook!  Thanks!

p.s. Produced right here in Ithaca, NY.  We give thanks to God for this missional purpose digital ministry!
UNYUMC Conference Center

The Communications Ministry has launched a volunteer section on our website which lists current volunteer opportunities at the Conference level. 
If your ministry is in need of a volunteer, please send your request to
Churches are encouraged to continue using the classifieds section 
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 
Upper New York Conference, 7481 Henry Clay Blvd, Liverpool, NY 13088
Sent by in collaboration with
Constant Contact