The Pensacola District of The United Methodist Church
Monday, November 20, 2017
Here for You - Serving Jesus
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November 10, 2017

 

Messages by the District Superintendent - 2017
 
Dietrich Bonhoeffer reminded us that there is no such thing as “cheap grace.”  There was a tremendous, ultimate sacrifice that was paid for what God offers us.  Likewise, I think there is no such thing as cheap freedom.  It, too, comes with a tremendous, far too often ultimate sacrifice.  I detest hearing someone refer to one of our nation's wars as a “conflict.”  The Korean War is often referred to as the “Korean Conflict.”  It makes my skin crawl.  When we have young men and women separated from families, oftentimes wounded, dying, and coming back with mental scars, that is NOT a CONFLICT, that is a WAR!
 
Mike was one of my brother’s best friends.  Larry, his younger brother, was one of my best friends.  Mike joined the Marines during the Vietnam War.  He was shot several times but, as soon as he was able, went back into battle.  Mike was eventually killed.  I still remember when the dark sedan pulled up in front of their house and two officers came to deliver the news.  I still remember how the devastating news crushed their mother.
 
I had another good friend in high school whose brother got married one week, went to Vietnam the next, and was shot and killed as soon as the door of the helicopter was opened for him to jump out.  Killed in Vietnam and never touched the ground!  I remember how devastating it was for that family, too.
 
Another friend’s brother was killed in Vietnam.  I rode the school bus and it was crowded.  I would often get on the bus early and give up my seat for his soon-to-be wife so she could sit and I would stand.  I also have memories of how devastating that was for that family.
 
These deaths - and there were others - devastated these families, our school and community. Crestview was just a small town then, but we lost seven young men in the Vietnam war. 
 
I am a veteran (seven years in the Air Force) but I was blessed to not have to go to war.  I am thankful.  This Veteran’s Day, I will pause, as I do every Veteran’s Day, and give a prayer of thanksgiving for each of these young men.  I will pray for their families.  I will pray for those who serve today.  I will pray for the spouses that are left behind, struggling to hold the family together.  I will pray for our nation and our world.
 
Veteran’s Day has a much deeper meaning than getting a bargain at a Veteran’s Day sale.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer was right, there is no such thing as cheap grace.  And, I would add, there is no such thing as cheap freedom.  This Veteran’s Day, may we take a few moments and give God thanks for those who have sacrificed so much in order for us to have the freedoms we all enjoy and, too often, take for granted.
 
To all who are veterans, I salute you for your service and sacrifice.  May God bless our men and women in uniform and their families.  May God watch over them and protect them.  And may we all remember freedom isn’t cheap!  May we also remember, when one of our soldiers is killed or injured, that is war not a conflict!

Peace to the World!
 
Pensacola District Superintendent 
 

 
November 6, 2017
 
I want to thank everyone who attended our District Conference.  Special thanks to Dr. Alan McBride and the good folks at Navarre UMC for hosting the event.  Also, I wish to thank Mike Conrade and the praise band for providing us with great music that complimented the sermon perfectly.  Thanks, too, to Dr. Andy Blackmon, pastor of Pine Forest UMC and chair of our District CORE Team, for meeting with me over lunch to plan our service.  (I could have also reported on the good things going on at Pine Forest!!)  As always, a big thank you to Mary for the extra work she had to do to make sure we had the information that was required for us.

I give God thanks for all the great things that are happening in the Pensacola District.  I only touched on a small number of things to celebrate in my sermon.  I could have easily spent another hour on covering our District.  We ended our service by saying, “Hallelujah! The Holy Spirit is moving!” He truly is.  I see it everywhere I go in the District.  The Holy Spirit is breathing new life in so many of our churches.  I am seeing attitudes change, lives being transformed, and persons growing in their faith.  Churches are reaching out to their communities in new and exciting ways.  Churches are offering new programs to help persons to grow in their walk with Christ.  May we all give God thanks for what He is doing in our midst!

It was at the District Conference that I got word of the tragic shooting at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas.  I’m reading and hearing different figures but the best I can put together is twenty-six were killed and nineteen injured.  Of those killed, fourteen were children.  This is such a tragic, senseless killing.  As this event unfolds and the investigation tries to figure out the motive and what was behind this senseless killing, let us be very much in prayer for our brothers and sisters in Sutherland Springs, Texas.  Let us be in prayer for their neighboring communities.  Let us be in prayer for those who have lost loved ones and let us be in prayer for the family of the man who pulled the trigger. 

Again, thank you for the good work you are doing.  It is a wonderful thing to see how our clergy and laity are working hand-in-hand doing Kingdom work.  May we continually pray that God’s Spirit will continue to move in our midst, leading and guiding us, to be the best we can be.

Blessings to all!

Dr. Tim Trent
Pensacola District Superintendent
 

 
To Ministers of the Pensacola District
November 2, 2017
 
Dear Friends,   
 
Linda and I would like to invite you and your spouse to our District Clergy and Spouses Christmas Dinner at 6:00 p.m. on December 5, 2017.  It will be at Pensacola First United Methodist Church (Wright Place).  There is no cost, but RSVP to the District Office by noon November 28.  You can also RSVP online at http://UMCPensacolaDistrict.org/RSVPChristmas.  The menu will be cranberry orange pork, wild rice, green beans, rolls, mandarin orange salad, pumpkin cobbler, water, tea, and coffee.  Last year we had to cancel because of flooding.  If it is raining this year, wear duck boots and bring an umbrella!  I hope you will be able to attend.
 
Also, please remember the White Christmas offering. This is vitally important for the work of our Children’s Homes. If you have not ordered your materials, you still have time to do so.
 
I hope to see you Sunday afternoon for our District Conference!
 
Pensacola District Superintendent
 

 
October 29, 2017
 
This Thursday, November 2, from 8:00 a.m.-2:30 p.m., the Center for Clergy Care and Education, Baptist Health Care, will have a workshop for clergy on “Ministry and Depression.”  The presenter is Dr. Don Winslett.  Dr. Winslett always provides us with excellent continue education opportunities.  The place is Christ Episcopal Church, 18 West Wright Street, Pensacola.  I hope you will take advantage of this educational opportunity.  There is no cost and you will receive .5 CEU. [Here is the brochure and registration form. If you have questions please call Ruth Ward at 850-469-2363.]

On Friday, November 3, from 10:30 – 11:30 a.m., there will be a presentation at Pensacola FUMC on Collaborative Law.  This is for pastors who have people in their congregation who are headed for a divorce.  Collaborative Law is an alternative to the couple going through lawyers and the courts where it is always difficult and oftentimes painful.  There are parts of the country who have had great success with this new process.  I hope you will try to attend.  This will take place in the Perry House.  There is no cost.

Next Sunday, November 5, at 4:00 p.m., we will have our District Conference at Navarre UMC.  The Fused Event will be at Community Life Church.  I hope you will make every effort to attend.  The District Conference will be a worship service.  After the business session, I will preach.  The District CORE Team asked that I preach a sermon.  It will be a state of the District address.  I will be preaching from the text in Ezekiel on the Valley of Dry Bones.  You, the congregation, will help me preach my sermon.  It should be celebratory and fun.  I hope you will be there. [Update:  Our District Conference Offering will be for UMCOR. Please make checks payable to PENSACOLA DISTRICT ADMINISTRATION FUND and mark them "for UMCOR." Thank you!]

All the Charge Conferences are going well.  I thank each of you for your good work.  Today I preached at Ferry Pass and it brought back a lot of memories from when I served there.  After that, I had a Charge Conference at Richards Memorial.  I am amazed at the great ministry that is going on there.  I hope you will support the Pensacola United Methodist Community Ministries in any way you can.  I know nothing that needs and deserves our support more.

There is much to be in prayer about in these days.  I hope we will remember to pray for one another.  May God bless each of you and you continue to serve Him doing Kingdom work.  God bless you all!
 
Dr. Tim Trent
Pensacola District Superintendent
 

 
October 6, 2017
 
Dear Friends: 
 
I have received several calls this morning about whether to cancel worship services Sunday.  I trust each of you to make the best decision for your church.  We have a couple of churches who have already decided to cancel church.  I would ask you to err on the side of caution and common sense.
 
Our dilemma is, at this point, we don’t know where “Nate” is going to go and I don’t think we will have a good idea of that until Saturday.  The last report I saw has the cone shifting back east away from New Orleans being in the center of the “cone” to Mobile being in the center.  That can change again in any direction.  It looks like no matter where it lands, our weather will be nasty.
 
I would ask you to consider several things in making your decision in a timely manner.  People don’t need to be on the road if the weather is bad.  Not only is it unsafe but it sometimes hampers our law enforcement and rescue personnel from doing their jobs.  Listen to the local media and if there is an advisory to stay off the roads, please adhere to that.  Consider, too, how your congregation can be contacted with the decision you make.  Some have a telephone call system worked out, some e-mail, some Facebook.  I just advised one church that was having inquiries to let people know they would make their decision tomorrow around noon and then get the word out to everyone.  None of us likes to call off worship but it will not be the end of the world if church is called off Sunday.  You don’t want it to be the end of someone’s world if you have church.  You know your congregation better than anyone.  Consult your leadership and make the decision that is appropriate for your setting.
 
Also, please let Gene Schmidt, our District Response Coordinator (850.712.1956), or myself know of any damage you incur during this weather event, or if you need any assistance because of the storm.
 
This is a time for all of us to be diligent and look after one another.  If I can answer any questions or help in any way, please feel free to call me 334.313.6946.  My last word of advice is, if you decide to have church this Sunday and you get there and find Jim Cantore, go home!
 
Praying for all,
Pensacola District Superintendent 
 

 
September 15, 2017
 
September 10-16, the Alabama-West Florida Conference observed a week of "Praying Our Way Forward." It began with a prayer from Bishop David Graves posted at UMCPrays.org. Throughout the week, district superintendents of the AWF Conference offered prayers. These were posted at http://www.awfumc.org/dailyprayers. Bishop David Graves encouraged local churches to ring bells or sound their chimes 5:23-5:30 Wednesday afternoon, September 13. Below is the prayer by Pensacola District Superintendent Tim Trent:
 
"Praying Our Way Forward"
 
O God, you have promised that if with all our hearts we truly seek you, we shall ever surely find you. With all our hearts, we seek you now even as we know you are seeking us. We thank you for your goodness to us. May we try more consistently to deserve it. We thank you for treating us better than we deserve. Help us to treat each other in the same way.
 
Father, we need your forgiveness. We have done things that we should not have done. We can’t even plead ignorance. We knew what was right and did what we knew was wrong. We need your cleansing.
 
Deeds unkind, words untrue, thoughts unclean: the stain of these is on us all. When we contrast our moral shabbiness with your holiness, Father, we are ashamed. Create in us a clean heart and mind. What in us is dark, illumine; what is low, raise and support.
 
Father, we need your peace; that peace that passes all understanding. In a troubled, strife-torn world we need that peace that the world cannot bestow. We know that all peace comes from you. We also know that there can be no peace in the world or the church until there is first peace in each of us. May your peace enfold us, calm, compose, and quiet us as we continually seek your presence.
 
O God, grant that in our hearts there may be no bitterness toward anyone, and help us remember that we cannot be at one with you if we are not one with our fellowman. Take from us the critical and fault-finding spirit, so that we may really be your church. Give to us the spirit of love, forgiveness, acceptance, welcoming and encouragement, so that your great church will be a true representation of your spirit.
 
O God, open our eyes that we may see. Open our minds that we may think. Open our ears that we may hear. Open our mouths that we may speak of your great love, peace and forgiveness. Open our hearts that we my love. Open our hands that we may serve and embrace one another in acceptance and thanksgiving.
 
We ask these and all things in the strong and mighty name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
 
Pensacola District Superintendent 
 

 
September 8, 2017
 
On January 1, 2017, we United Methodists began a journey of prayer.  Each Annual Conference has a designated week to be in prayer for our church, our world, and our leadership.  The initiative is called “Praying Our Way Forward.”  This will be on the church’s calendar through June 2018.  Next week, September 11-15, is our designated week.  I encourage each of us to be in prayer for the United Methodist Church and our world.  How fitting it is to remember the events of September 11 during our week of prayer!  That atrocity, as horrible and demonic as it was, brought us together as a nation.  For a while, we were one! During hurricane Harvey we were one again.  We laid aside our differences and joined hands and hearts to reach out to those affected by that hurricane.  Just as we prayed for those in the Texas and Louisiana areas, I would ask that we pray for the church with the same kind of love, concern, and heart.
 
We have been busy preparing our District for hurricane Irma.  I have been busy the last two days seeing about shelters.  It is projected that we will have a large influx of persons in our area from the east coast, trying to get away from Irma.  Be sure and welcome these persons to your church on Sunday if you have any.  May we all be in prayer for the persons who have been and will be affected by the storms.
 
Sometimes I get a song stuck in my brain and I can’t seem to get rid of it.  For the last several weeks I have had that great, old hymn “Stand By Me” stuck in my head.  It is a fitting hymn for our times.  All five verses speak to me but let me just remind us of the first verse:
                              
                                When the storms of life are raging, stand by me.
                                When the storms of life are raging, stand by me.
                                When the world is tossing me
                                Like a ship upon the sea,
                                Thou who rulest wind and water,
                                Stand by me.

 
I trust the God of the storm!  I trust in Him who not only walks on water but calms the water!  I trust in the God who knows our need as a church, as a nation, as a world, as a people!
 
I ask you to be in prayer with me and countless others in the days to come.  May we all put our trust in the God of the storm!
 
Blessing to you!
 
Dr. Tim Trent
Pensacola District Superintendent
 

 
August 27, 2017
 
I stayed at home in Andalusia last Monday so Linda and I could watch the eclipse together.  It was cloudy and overcast so we were not able to see it.  I stayed in my study and watched it on the Weather Channel.  Every now and then I put my eclipse glasses on and looked up at the light on my ceiling fan so the dollar I spent on my glasses wasn’t a complete waste.
 
I was amazed at how many people were speechless and had tears in their eyes when they saw the eclipse.  I could relate to that.  I remember the first time I saw Saturn, with its beautiful rings, through a telescope.  It was Christmas Eve at 11:45 PM with a misty rain, but I was committed to finding and seeing Saturn.  When I saw it I was overwhelmed.  I thought it was the most beautiful, spectacular thing I have ever seen!  All I could think of was Psalm 8 verses 3 through 5: “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?  You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor” (NIV).  I began to cry and pray.  I remember praying, “Lord, you have your magnificent creation to love and enjoy yet you care about me.”  I have never been so overwhelmed with the love of God.
 
I watched as people cried, as people hugged, smiled and laughed.  I thought how wonderful it is that we had the eclipse to bring us together as a nation to take our minds off everything that divides us, and on that day just be one.  Maybe, just maybe, the next time we find ourselves feeling offended, insulted, or angry, not understanding why the rest of the country doesn’t have the same opinions as we do, we need to look up, look to the heavens and be reminded of the love of God for us.
 
I preached homecoming today at New Hope UMC.  It was a wonderful service.  Rev. Lee Bateman is doing a splendid work there.  As I preached, I thought that the name of their church is the best name you can have for a church.  Their name and the church’s mission is new hope!  That’s what we are supposed to be showing and offering to a hurting and divided world.
 
I came home to watch the news of the flood in Houston and the rescue efforts going on there.  Neighbors and complete strangers are helping each other.  Isn’t it amazing, last Monday the eclipse and this Monday disaster in Texas?  I was watching Mike Bettes on the Weather Chanel interview two men who spent the day rescuing people on their fishing boat.  When asked how many they had rescued, the man said, “I don’t know.”  Do you know why that is?  It is because love and caring don’t keep a record.
 
So, in a week, we as a nation have seen a happy event and a sad event showing us our better selves.  May we learn to love, accept, and help one another and may the Church bring new hope to all!
 
Blessings and prayers!
Pensacola District Superintendent
 

 
August 20, 2017
 
Monday is the big day!  That’s when we experience the total solar eclipse.  The news has been full of information.  The Weather Channel has gone overboard explaining it.  Even law enforcement agencies in areas where it is predicted to have high traffic have been making announcements about the do’s and don’ts of driving during the event.  I was reading that one town in Oregon, with a population of a little over 6,000, is expecting over 65,000 people for the eclipse.  Of course, there are the proper glasses to be worn, t-shirts to be bought, etc.  It will be a day to remember: the day darkness fell over us for a brief period.
 
I think about how appropriate the eclipse is for our time because darkness has already fallen over us. Just this last week we heard and saw the news from Charlottesville and Barcelona.  It seems like wherever we turn there is darkness.
 
I was born in 1952.  I am a child of the 60’s.  When I was growing up there were two main things that divided us as a nation: the Vietnam war and racism.  Now, it seems everyone is upset about something.  We see it in politics, we see it in our schools, we see it in the workplace, we see it in the home, we see it in the church. We seem to be divided about everything. It seems we have lost the ability to talk and listen to one another.  What’s worse, it seems, is that we don’t want the ability to talk and listen to one another. 
 
I learned early on that when I think I’m right and everyone is wrong, I fail to learn from others.  I fail to respect others.  I put up a barrier that only I can remove.
 
I’ve also learned I don’t have to like everyone but I do have to love everyone.  Some are easier loved at a distance, but love I must. And I don’t have to agree with someone to love them. I must celebrate how others are different from me.  We are all God’s creation and I must treat everyone as one of God’s children.
 
I hope for that brief moment tomorrow when you enjoy the eclipse you will remember that Jesus came to be the light of our world.  During the eclipse tomorrow, not all our country will be dark.  I still believe that there is more light than darkness, more love than hate, more good than bad.  Tomorrow I hope that through the way I live and treat others, the light of Christ will be a little brighter.  May His light shine through us all in the midst of all the darkness that abounds.  Only through His light will the darkness of our world dissipate. It is up to us to reflect that light.  
 
Pensacola District Superintendent 
 

 
August 14, 2017
 
Last Thursday evening, Linda and I had the good pleasure of attending the dinner celebrating ten years of the Stegall Seminary Scholarship Foundation.  The weather was terrible but the celebration was wonderful!  So far, the Stegall Seminary Scholarship Foundation has given scholarships to 198 students!  What a difference this foundation is making in helping persons get their seminary education!
 
Other Conferences throughout Methodism, including outside of the U.S., are aware of the Stegall Foundation.  Let me share with you some facts about the Foundation.
 
                *Supporters have given over $6,500,000 during the past 10 years!
                *The Foundation has awarded over $3,000,000 in scholarships!
                *Supporters have enabled the Foundation to build an endowment of over $6,000,000!
                *Support for the Foundation has enabled them to award every full-time student a minimum of $10,000 annually!
                *As mentioned above, they have provided financial assistance to 198 seminary students!
                *The Foundation has reduced significantly the amount of money that each seminary student has to borrow!
 
How can you give to the Foundation?
                *Checks or Cash
                *Gifts of Securities
                *Gift Annuity
                *Real Estate
                *Insurance
                *Codicil to your Will or other planned giving
                *Will
                *IRA
                *Automobile
                *Donate securely on-line at stegallscholarship.com
                *Donate through the smile.amazon.com program
                *Encourage others to donate through sharing the Foundation’s Website or Facebook page.
 
Linda and I are proud to support the Stegall Foundation.  No gift is too small.  Every gift counts and every gift makes a difference.  I encourage all of us - our churches, our pastors, our laity - to support the Stegall with our prayers and financial support.  There is no way to measure the good this Foundation has done and will do in the future.
 
This is the 10th anniversary and we hope we can help the Foundation to build an endowment of $10,000,000!  To borrow the words of Bishop Graves, “Imagine by faith it can happen!”  Let’s all put our faith into action and support the magnificent work of the Stegall Seminary Scholarship Foundation!
 
Blessings to all!
Dr. Tim Trent
Pensacola District Superintendent
 

 
August 7, 2017
 
A little girl looked at her mother’s egg timer – one of those small glass things with sand in it.  Her mother explained that it took the sand exactly three minutes to empty, then you turn it over and it does the same thing all over again.  That afternoon, the little girl brought a friend into the kitchen. “See?” she said, as she demonstrated the egg timer. “You run it through like this, then you just turn it upside down and you get your three minutes back.”
 
It would be nice if that happened every now and then, wouldn’t it?  But time, like petroleum, is a nonrenewable resource.  No matter what kind of egg timer you have, you’re not going to get your three minutes back.
 
There are times I wish I could get back.  I wish I could get back those moments that I held my children and grandchildren when they were babies.  I would be willing to even change a dirty diaper!  I wish I could go back and have those minutes back the day I married Linda.  What joy and so much love!  I wish I could get those minutes back the first time I saw the rings around Saturn through a telescope.  The list, like yours, could go on and on.
 
But no matter how hard we try, we cannot get our minutes back.  We can only remember and that’s why memory is so important. 
 
I will be doing “busy” work today.  Tomorrow we will have our District CORE Team meeting. I will be in meetings with individuals on Wednesday and will be attending the Stegall Seminary Scholarship Foundation celebration on Thursday.  I will be preaching at Chumuckla UMC this Sunday.
 
God bless each of you this week as you go about doing Kingdom work.  And enjoy your minutes and use them wisely.  You can’t get them back no matter what kind of egg timer you have!
 
Blessings!
Pensacola District Superintendent

 
July 23, 2017
 
In my devotional reading this morning I ran across an excerpt from Margaret Silf from her book Compass Points.  In the devotion she writes something interesting about zebras.  It seems when a zebra foal is born, he or she first staggers to its feet and runs in circles round its mother's legs.  It's nature's way of getting those spindly newborn limbs strong enough quickly enough to flee from predators.
 
But then, exhausted, the newborn foal collapses in a weary heap and lies back, simply gazing, for hours it seems, at its mother.  One would think it was something cute but something much deeper than cute is going on.  What the foal is doing is memorizing its mother's stripe pattern.
 
Think about it!  Every single zebra on this planet has a unique stripe pattern.  Memorizing its mother's pattern is the foal's first act of bonding, its first defense against getting lost in the herd.
 
Margaret Silf goes on to say she believes God paints a unique pattern of presence in each human life.  We discover this pattern as we reflect on what is actually happening in our everyday experience.  It is there we will notice God's personal relationship with us, unfolding minute by minute.  This reflection becomes an attitude on mindfulness, an ongoing act of bonding, and it holds us in an unbreakable connection with the Source of our being through every moment of our living.
 
Jesus said, "I know my own and my own know Me."  God speaks to all of us in diverse ways.  We come to know God in diverse ways.  That's why my devotional methods and habits will not work for some others.  We have to explore and figure out the best way we can see the imprint of God on us and have our daily encounter with Him. What works for some will not work for others.  We are all unique.  We all have different stripes.
 
I am reminded how unique each of us is. When we are young, we go through a period where we try to be like others.  It is part of finding out who we really are. 

Most preachers started out trying to preach like someone else.  Then we found our own style of preaching so we could preach from our true, authentic self.  I think of the boy David, when he went up against the giant Goliath.  Saul gave David his own personal armor.  David tried it on and then shook it off.  I picture David saying, "I just gotta be me!"
 
If you are wanted by the law, you are known by your finger print.  Why? Because they are all different, all unique.  If you ever need an organ transplant you will realize how unique you are. God has made us all different yet we struggle accepting our differences. What would it be like if we not only accepted our differences but celebrated those differences and recognized them as a gift from God?
 
Churches are much the same.  When I look over the Pensacola District, I can't find two churches that are alike.  Oh, we have some that are similar, but not the same.  Yet, like humans, we sometimes want to be like other churches.  We try to do things the way they do things.  We try to develop the same programs and ministries.  But each community is different as well.  We have large formal churches and large contemporary churches.  We have medium-size membership churches and small membership churches.  Not everyone is going to a large membership church.  Not all are going to a small membership church.  Some will go to a contemporary service, some will not.  But, although we may be different, we are all CONNECTED to and with each other as United Methodists. Whether I'm traveling to Texas or West Virginia, I find immense joy in knowing when I see a large city church or a small rural church I am connected, I am part of, those churches.
 
I celebrate our individual differences.  We all have different stripe patterns.  I celebrate all the differences in our churches.  They all have their unique stripe patterns.  God help us all to accept and celebrate each other's stripes!
 
Have a great week and enjoy your stripes.  Accept other's stripes.  Celebrate being unique.  Celebrate being part of a unique Church!
 
Blessings and peace,
Pensacola District Superintendent 
      

 
July 16, 2017
 
Linda and I had the good pleasure of being at Crestview FUMC today. I preached at their three morning services.  It was a joy!  Rev. Michael Precht and the congregation at Crestview are doing a splendid work.  Next week they will have Vacation Bible School and they have a record number registered.  The first thing I noticed in their bulletin was the entire backside had a listing of the different areas people can “plug in.”  They are offering so many opportunities for people to grow and serve.  There is also a prominent level of excitement in their church.  Their worship services are positive, uplifting, and invitational.  It’s great to worship at a church where people are excited about Kingdom work.   

I also got to see a high school friend that I have not seen since we graduated high school.  That is more years than I care to figure.  It was great to see him and catch up with each other a bit.
 
One of the things I have learned through the years is we need to remember to forget and we need not forget to remember.  I’m like everyone else, I have made plenty of foolish decisions, done some dumb things, and even harmed people along the way.  But some things need to be forgotten.  Some things I did were done out of ignorance, some out of selfishness, some out of pure stupidity.  But I don’t need to cling to those mistakes.  I’ve been forgiven for my sins and I can’t go back and change a single thing.
 
But I also try not to forget to remember.  I remember those who have helped shape my faith and help me along my faith journey.  Today I got to see one of those persons, Mrs. Coker.  She meant a great deal to me in my formative years.  She was and still is so dedicated to the church.  She always had a calm demeanor.  She was always soft spoken.  Her life spoke volumes to me and still does.  She was a good friend to my mother for which I am thankful.  

May we all remember to forget and not forget to remember!  We have much to thankful for.  We have many persons to be thankful for.  Maybe this week we can pray a prayer of thanksgiving for those persons who helped shape us into who we are.
 
Tomorrow, Monday, I will be in a meeting at the Foundation in Dothan.  I have scheduled appointments throughout the week.  On Saturday I will be at the Celebration of Life ceremony for Rev. Charles Walker.  I am thankful for his life as well.  Next Sunday I will be preaching at Navarre.
 
Have a wonderful week and may we all continue in our work of serving Him, doing Kingdom work, and being thankful!  God bless you all!
 
 
Pensacola District Superintendent 
 

 
July 12, 2017
Linda and I had the good pleasure of worshiping at New Bethel UMC (Crestview) Sunday morning.  Rev. Gary Jones preached a thought provoking sermon on giving our troubles to God and putting our trust in Him.  It was good to be back at a church that is part of my faith journey.  I was delighted to see Mrs. Mary Aderhold.  She taught my elementary Sunday School class in the Friendship UMC (now St. Mark).  She is very much a part of my faith story as well.  I give God thanks for Mary Aderhold and others who taught me.  I look back on those days with gratitude!  I often wonder where and what I would be today if it had not been for them.  They were dedicated and committed to teach us young minds about Jesus and His love.  I give God thanks for those churches in the Crestview area that were my safe haven and formed me into who I am today.  God blessed me with wonderful people in my formative years and because of that I have always known and experienced the love of God.  I am blessed indeed!
A few months ago, we changed the name of our Pensacola District Board of Missions to the Pensacola District Board of Church Development.  This group was formed in the 1950’s and is responsible for establishing almost 50 churches.  Churches like Shalimar, Orange Beach, St. Luke (Pensacola), Navarre, Perdido Bay, Wesley Memorial, and Woodbine are just some of those churches.  We changed the name to better describe the work that this Board does.
Rev. Andreś Doimeadios is the pastor of our Hispanic Ministries.  He has ministries in Pensacola, Mary Esther, and Ft. Walton Beach.  He has over 700 people involved in Hispanic Ministries in our District.  Andreś informed us a couple months ago that the property in Pensacola where they worship was being sold by the owner.  They had until July 1st to find a new place.  To make a long story short, property was found on Pace Avenue (close to Cervantes), and on June 29 a ceremony was held and members of the Board of Church Development handed over the deed to the new property, the keys to the three buildings, and a check for $10,000 to help them remodel for a new place to worship.  It was a wonderful day in the Pensacola District!  As soon as Andreś and his people can get the remodeling done, we will have an open house for everyone to see.  We will let you know when that is going to be and I hope you will come and help us celebrate the future of this great ministry.  If you were at Annual Conference, you will remember Andreś was awarded the Denman Award.  He and his ministry have led over 90 persons to Christ this last year!  Pray for Andreś and our Hispanic Ministry.
I also want to thank the good folks at Mary Esther UMC and Rev. Jeff Spicer for their continued support for this ministry on the east end of our District.  Without their support, it just wouldn’t happen.  God bless them for their faithfulness.
Gadsden Street UMC is starting a new ministry this Friday evening.  They will be showing movies in their parking lot on Friday evenings, along with popcorn, etc.  This is another way they are trying to reach out to their community.  Pray that it won’t rain!!!  Gadsden Street, under the leadership of Rev. Gail Baughman, is making a concentrated effort to reach out to the community in innovative ways.  There is a renewed Spirit in their church and I am thankful for them and their willingness to think outside the box and try new things.  May we all be in prayer for them as they try new things to help people come to know the love of Christ!

All our new pastors have moved in and things are going well.  May we remember each other in prayer, pray for our churches, and pray that the Pensacola District will continue doing great Kingdom work.
Blessing to all!
Dr. Tim Trent
Pensacola District Superintendent
 

 
June 12, 2017
I am still living in the afterglow of Annual Conference.  It was the best I have attended in my forty-three years of going.  It was truly a Spirit-filled Conference.  Worship was outstanding!  The music was the best!  Even the reports were positive!  I’ve never really enjoyed going to Conference but I find myself looking forward to next year.  Bishop Graves set the tone and gave great leadership.  It is a new day in the Alabama-West Florida Conference!
It is the time of year we say, “Good bye” to some and “welcome” to others.  We are grateful for the ministry of those leaving us and wish them well.  Rev. Michael Cobb who has been serving Allen Memorial is being transferred to Dalraida UMC in Montgomery.  Rev. John Edwards who has been serving Clear Springs is being transferred to Allen Memorial.  Dr. Alan Cassady who has been serving Navarre is being transferred to Eufaula FUMC.  Rev. Jonathan Hart who has been serving as associate minister at Shalimar UMC will now be serving Robertsdale UMC.  Dr. Sterling Boykin who has been serving Trinity UMC, Ft. Walton Beach, Florida, is being transferred to Ashland Place UMC, Mobile.  Rev. Mike Roberts who has been serving Pace FUMC along with Rev. John Webb, will retire (again!) and John will continue to serve Baker FUMC.  Rev. Faith Parry has been serving as an associate at Navarre and now will be serving as associate at Shalimar UMC.  We thank these who are moving out of the District and wish for them the very best and we thank them for their ministry in the Pensacola District.  For those who are transferring within the District, we look forward to our continued relationship with you as we continue to do Kingdom work in the Pensacola District.
Rev. Billy Russell has finished licensing school and will be appointed to Crosspoint as associate.  Barry Carpenter, Jr. has been assigned to Clear Springs.  Dr. Alan McBride will be serving Navarre and is coming to us from Orange Beach UMC.  Rev. Mark Lilly, who has been serving at Opp FUMC, will now be serving at Pace FUMC.  Dr. Scott Hohn will be serving Trinity UMC (Ft. Walton Beach) and he comes to us from Eufaula FUMC.  We welcome these persons to the Pensacola District!  We look forward to working with them.
This has been an anxious time for all who are moving.  Moving is always difficult, even at its best.  Please keep all of these pastors and their families in your prayers.  Pray for the churches who are having changes.
The Pensacola District was well represented at Annual Conference and I thank all who were present.  We now move forward to another appointive year.  May God bless us as we strive to be a blessing to Him!
 
Grace and Peace,
Dr. Tim Trent
Pensacola District Superintendent
 

 
April 13, 2017
 
Have you ever visited a jewelry store and asked to see a diamond?  The jeweler usually lays a piece of black felt or velvet cloth over the counter.  He or she then places the sparkling diamond against that jet-black background.  The black surroundings make the diamond sparkle with more brightness and glitter than ever.
 
This is Holy Week. It’s Maundy Thursday as I write this.  Nearly 2,000 years ago, against a background of darkness and rejection, God revealed to us a Gem of divine love and forgiveness.  Today, Jesus Christ still shines out against the backdrop of darkness that surrounds us.  What a contrast His message makes against our often-loveless ways and unforgiving spirits!  That’s one of the reasons it is good to remember those last dark days of His life once a year at Easter.  How very much like some of our own dark days they are!  Yet Jesus overcame that darkness.  And He can overcome ours, too – if we look in His direction.
 
I’ve always been amazed at how many people just come to worship on Easter Sunday but do not participate in anything during Holy Week.  It’s like they want to experience the resurrection without experiencing the pain of the crucifixion.  It can’t be done.  You cannot experience the joy of the resurrection without experiencing the pain, ugliness, and tragedy of the crucifixion.  You simply cannot experience the fullness of the resurrection without experiencing the darkness of the crucifixion.  We cannot understand the beauty of the resurrection without understanding the darkness of the crucifixion.  What does it all mean?
 
The world watched in admiration as the great Henry “Hank” Aaron hit his 715th home run, breaking the remarkable record of the great Babe Ruth.  What was going through Hank Aaron’s mind at that historical moment?  This is what he said: "I don’t remember the noise or the two kids that ran on the field.  My teammates at home plate, I remember seeing them.  I remember my mother out there and her hugging me.  That’s what I’ll remember more than anything about that home run when I think back on it.  I don’t know where she came from, but she was there….”
 
Holy Week carries a similar message.  Through all the crowds and defeats and triumphs in life, a powerful love is always reaching out to us.  He doesn’t sit at home in heaven, waiting to see how well we play the game.  Jesus Christ made it clear that God is always right here with us!
 
Happy Easter, and may the new life that is offered to us in and through Jesus Christ bring new life to each of us!
 
Pensacola District Superintendent
 

 
March 7, 2017
I want to thank so many of you for your expressions of love and concern for Linda and me during the recent death of my mother-in-law, Bettie Haynes.  Mom had a seven-year battle with Alzheimer’s disease.  There is an old saying: “The real grief starts when all the potato salad is gone.”  It takes about that long for all the company to leave and you try to get back into a routine.  All our potato salad is gone and now we are just tired and sad.  I was very close to my mother-in law.  We shared a lot of good times and laughter together.  It was an honor for us to care for her.  She will be missed greatly but we know she is in a much better place.  She is whole and complete and we give God thanks.
Curtis Henderson, my dear friend, also passed away.  He too had a seven-year battle with Alzheimer’s.  I had the privilege of working with Curtis at Conference Headquarters.  We also were in the three-year covenant group for spiritual formation together.  We became soul brothers – we shared our souls with each other.  Curtis was a great lay person.  He served the Church well.  From the Pensacola District, he served in many capacities.  He served on committees on the District, Conference, Jurisdiction, and National Church levels.  He was a dear friend and a good and faithful servant.  He, too, is in a better place and, again, I give God thanks.
Last Wednesday night I had the honor of preaching the Ash Wednesday sermon at Trinity UMC, Ft. Walton Beach.  It was a great service!  Attendance was good and we had over forty youth present.  With all the sadness that I have been experiencing, I needed that service.
I was reminded that Ash Wednesday began in 1099 A.D. Think about how many persons have received the imparting of the ashes over the years all around the world.  Of course, it is the beginning of that great season of Lent.  It is a time for repentance, renewal, and growth.  It is a time for prayer and fasting.  It is a time for self-reflection and change.  It is a time to be reminded that Christ died for us all!
When I’m going through a period like I am now, I look to the cross of Christ and am reminded that there is no depth that I can go that Christ has not already been!  I am reminded through the cross that Christ understands fully my hurting heart and sense of loss.  I’m reminded that he cares and hurts with us, because He has been there.
There is much sadness with a lot of people right now.  Let us be diligent in praying for one another.  Let us be diligent in reaching out to those who are hurting even as Christ reaches out to us.
I wish for each of you a meaningful Lenten season.  May it be a season where we are drawn closer to the Christ.  Max Lucado says, “We are sometimes so close to the cross, but so far from the Christ.”  May that not be true of us in this Holy season.  
God Bless!
Pensacola District Superintendent
 

 
February 10, 2017
 
Dear Clergy and Laity of the Pensacola District:
   
Bishop David Graves will be in the Pensacola District February 26-28.  On Sunday, February 26, at 4 p.m., we will have the Bishop’s “Town Hall Meeting” for the LAITY of our District at Pensacola First United Methodist Church. A light dinner of soup and sandwiches will be provided. If you plan to be in attendance, we ask you to call or e-mail the Pensacola District Office no later than Friday, February 17, by 12:00 noon.*  There will be no cost for the dinner.  This will be a great time for the laity to meet with Bishop Graves in a Town Hall Meeting format and ask him questions that may be on your mind and heart.
 
On Monday, February 27, at 10:00 a.m., we will have a District PREACHERS’ MEETING with the Bishop at Ft. Walton Beach First United Methodist Church.  This will also give you the opportunity to ask the Bishop questions that may be of concern.  That evening at 6:00 p.m. we will have another Preachers’ meeting for our LOCAL PASTORS at Bellview United Methodist Church.  If you are a local pastor and can come to the 10:00 a.m. meeting, you are more than welcome to do so.  If you are an elder or other clergy status and can’t be at the 10:00 a.m. meeting, you are welcome to come to the one in the evening.  Some of our Local Pastors have other jobs during the day and we want them to have time with the Bishop as well.
 
Fellow colleagues, this is IMPORTANT!  I expect “all hands on deck” or an excuse why you can’t be there.  I know some will be at the Board of Ordained Ministry meeting.  I know some will be out of town for required classes.  If you can’t be there, let the District Office know.  If not, I expect to see you at one of our meetings.
 
On Tuesday the 28th, we will be visiting ministers and churches across the District.
 
If you have any questions or issues, give me a call and we will talk about it.  I look forward to seeing you and to our time with Bishop Graves.
 
Thanks in advance for your attention and consideration in this matter.

Dr. Tim Trent
Pensacola District Superintendent
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* We have been experiencing some e-mail issues, so if you respond by e-mail please look for a personal reply confirming that your message was received.
 

 
February 3, 2017
 
Since I was a young boy, I loved hearing or reading stories of John.  I always have a visual of what John looked like and sometimes I’ve even thought I knew how he must have sounded.  I also like the fact that he was very comfortable with his role of being second to Jesus.
 
You probably know that the Iditarod is an annual race in Alaska in which racers and their dog teams cover 1,049 grueling miles across rugged terrain during extreme weather conditions.  The winner, understandably, receives accolades for completing this challenging race ahead of all other competitors.  But did you know that there is also another award given out as this annual event?  It’s called the Red Lantern Award.
 
Given to the competitor who comes in last, the Red Lantern is a symbol for perseverance.  It is an acknowledgment that the competitor kept going and that their endurance lasted despite the harshness of the contest.  I love the idea of the Red Lantern Award and that it represents the tenacity it takes to finish even when you’re dead last.  It’s easy to measure the time it takes to complete a race.  It is much harder to measure courage and determination.
 
Today’s society places far too much emphasis on finishing first.  Ancient wisdom tells us that success in life goes to the one who is willing to try and try again and yet again.  Louisa May Alcott wrote, “I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.”  Steadfastness and resilience are qualities that all spiritual masters share.  May we have the dedication to cultivate those qualities in our own lives.
 
God bless each of you in your work in the Pensacola District.
 
Holding my red lantern,
Pensacola District Superintendent
 

 
January 19, 2017
 
As I write this, I am at the SEJ DS consultations on St. Simon’s Island.  It is a beautiful, peaceful setting.  I will be heading back to Pensacola tomorrow.  During my break from our sessions, I wanted to remind you of a couple of things.
 
I hope you have made plans to attend our Spiritual Formation Session this Saturday.  You have received e-mails about this and can find information on our District website.  This is an offering our District makes every quarter.  They have all been of good quality.  They are held at Pensacola FUMC from 8:30 – 2:00.  Lunch is provided.  You also receive .5 CEUs.  I hope to see you there.
 
Sunday afternoon (3:00-4:45) is our annual LITE Day Training Session.  There is detailed information on our website about this as well.  I hope both clergy and laity will be present.  I know the weather is questionable but if you can, I hope you will come and get training.
 
I would ask all of you to pencil in February 26-28 on your calendar.  Bishop Graves will be in our District those three days.  There will be a chance for both clergy and laity to be in meetings with him.  We are just now in the planning stage for this.  As we get the schedule and the places for our meetings nailed down, we will share this with you.  It is going to be a great three days!  Please reserve those dates on your calendars now.
 
My break time is over and it is time for me to get back to my class.  Thinking of you and giving God thanks for the privilege that is mine to be in ministry with you. Blessing upon each of you as we continue to be doing Kingdom work together!
 
Grace and peace!
Pensacola District Superintendent
 

 
January 9, 2017
 
I read with sadness today that the Pioneer Cabin Tree in the Calaveras Big Tree State Park, one hundred miles southeast of Sacramento, was destroyed by flood waters yesterday.  This was the iconic sequoia tree that we all saw pictures of that had a hole cut in it for cars to pass through.  This was cut out in the 1880’s and for the last few years only hikers could pass through.  They can be over a thousand years old and grow to over 100 yards high (the length of a football field!).
 
Today I was at Wesley Memorial UMC in Pace.  I was doing consultations all day and will be there all day tomorrow (Tuesday).  They have huge oak trees on their property.  Some look like three or four trees grew together through the years.  They are tremendous trees.
 
If you read much of what I write, you know that I love trees!  Here’s what I find fascinating about the trees I saw today and the giant sequoias:  no matter how big and strong they are, they all started out as a seed.  I don’t know much about how the sequoias start but I do know that each of these magnificent trees at Wesley Memorial started out as an acorn!  Wow!  Something so big can begin so small.
 
I saw in those trees somewhat of a parable about our Christian journey.  We, too, start our Christian walk as babies, but hopefully through years of prayer, study, meditation, studying the scriptures, and worship, our faith grows into something much larger.  The trees have deep roots and arms (limbs) that reach out for sun and nutrients.  We, too, must have deep roots and reach out to others to learn from and, just like the tree, we grow in our faith.
 
I’m thankful today for my roots in the faith.  I’m thankful for the countless numbers of persons who have helped me along the way to help me grow in the faith.  I wouldn’t say that I am a mighty oak or sequoia, but I am no longer an acorn!  How about you?  Are you still growing?  If God will help an oak grow into a magnificent tree from an acorn, what more will he do for us!
 
I will be in consultations tomorrow and in Montgomery Wednesday and Thursday for Cabinet meetings.  May we all be in prayer in this season of consultations.
 
I hope you have a great week!  Who knows, you may just see a great tree!
 
God Bless!
Pensacola District Superintendent
 

 
 
 
 
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