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SUMMER CAMP SNEAK PEEK Visit DaySpring on Saturday, March 10th for our Summer Camp Sneak Peek! Bring your family and friends to meet our counselors, tour our newly renovated cabins, enjoy the DaySpring campus and fellowship over lunch in Curry Hall. Counselors will be on hand to guide tours and talk to parents about each of our camp programs, and as always, past campers are welcome. Enjoy a morning of canoeing or kayaking from 10 am to noon, lunch at 12:30, and an afternoon swim in the new DaySpring pool or games on the lawn.

SATURDAY, MARCH 10 10 am to 4 pm



CAMP 2018

Our campers participate in a Christian program designed to deepen their faith and strengthen their friendships through a variety of activities. Campers learn team-building skills and are challenged on our ropes courses, enjoy canoeing and kayaking on the Manatee River, and get a chance to just be themselves playing games and creating arts and crafts. Come experience God’s love through great music, worship and food this summer! Six sessions are planned for 2018.

Clockwise from top left: Elementary Breakout Camp, Mission Camp, Mission Camp out in the community, High School Camp



“I am the good shepherd,” Jesus says. Deep within us we all want to know someone is looking out for us, that someone knows our name and cares about us. Here, Jesus describes himself as one who cares enough for his followers to lay his life down for them. He does also tell us of others, whose interest in the sheep is mercenary at best. The hired hand says, “Pay me and I’ll watch the sheep, but don’t expect me to stick around if trouble arrives.” —However, the good shepherd stays. The good shepherd watches and protects, regardless of danger or trouble. Rogers Harris lived his life with this kind of watchful and steadfast concern for others. I’m not sure that people always perceived how deeply Rogers cared for them, though. His no-nonsense, down-to-business approach to problems and situations, perhaps formed in part during his time as a marine serving in the Korean War, made it occasionally appear to some people that he seemed detached. But others knew the deeply attuned side of him. As a priest of this Diocese, he served at Grace Church, Ridge Spring, St. Paul’s Batesburg, Good Shepherd, Greer, and St. Christopher’s, Spartanburg. At Good Shepherd, a young girl in the congregation prepared for a father-daughter dance at her school. When her alcoholic father didn’t show up, Rogers appeared within twenty minutes and took her, along with his own daughter, to the dance. A former South Carolina parishioner of his who is now a member of the Alabama parish my younger brother serves heard that Rogers was in intensive care here in Columbia. He called Rogers only a day or two before his death to tell him what his ministry had meant to him. “You saved my life,” he said, having reached and maintained sobriety now for about 25 years. Rogers also had a deft evangelism approach. He befriended a Baptist who owned the local liquor store, and began ordering the parish’s communion wine from him. The store owner was so taken by Rogers that he became an Episcopalian! Memories abound of Rogers’ rootedness in scripture and in his relationship with Jesus Christ. Whatever flaws Rogers may have shared with the rest of us, his eyes, his heart and his actions were all ultimately turned toward the rock upon which his faith was grounded and the call that God had made to him as servant and shepherd. That faith and that call indeed come to all of us in one form or another. Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians reminds us in chapter 13 that now we see dimly, but then we will see face to face; now we know in part; then we will know fully, even as we are fully known. The turmoil and polarization and alienation that swirls around us these days is stark evidence of just how dimly we see—so stark that too many of us have lost even the desire to try to love those with whom we disagree. But when I reflect on Rogers’ life and ministry, I am reminded of that point at which we can see clearly—that God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, that all who believe should not perish but have eternal life. Paul assures us that this is the love from which we can never be separated. Even if everything else seems muddy, chaotic and fearful, God’s love is the prize. God’s love is the goal. Love—even for one another—is what we will finally see and experience face to face, in the radiant presence of God. Yes, Rogers was a Bishop in the Church of God. He was bishop suffragan in Upper South Carolina and bishop diocesan in Southwest Florida. But above and beyond all else, Rogers was a child of God and servant of the Lord Jesus. Shortly before he died, his daughter played the hymn “For all the Saints” for him on her smartphone. At the alleluias, Rogers mouthed the word with the music. When she next played Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus, his breathing began to slow. And with Amazing Grace, he entered into the eternal love and grace of his Father in heaven. Well done, thou good and faithful servant. Well lived, my brother. Excerpt of a sermon by the Rt. Rev. Andrew Waldo, Bishop, Upper South Carolina 3

SOUTHERN CROSS The Rev. Eric Cooter | Canon for Ministry Development


The Rev. Michael Durning | Canon to the Ordinary

Bishop | The Diocese of Southwest Florida The Rt. Rev. Dabney T. Smith

Marilyn Erfourth | Receptionist

Assisting Bishops The Rt. Rev. J. Michael Garrison, The Rt. Rev. Barry R. Howe

Martha Goodwill | Director of Congregation Support

Canon for Finance & Administration Anne M. Vickers

The Rev. Christopher Gray | Canon for Stewardship

Editor & Director of Communications Garland Pollard

Adrienne Hymes | USF Chaplain, Missioner Church Ext. | 813-418-1281

Managing Editor & Creative Director Shannon Weber

Barbara Leonard | Bookkeeper

Contributing Writers Canon Michael P. Durning, Rev. Adrienne R. Hymes, Dr. Catherine Meeks, Rev. Dee Ann Montmollin, Garland Pollard, Greg Randall, Rev. Robert Vaughn

Michelle Mercurio | Administrative Assistant The Ven. Dr. Kathleen Moore | Archdeacon Jan Nothum | Bishop’s Administrative Assistant Carla Odell | Executive Director - DaySpring The Rev. Dr. John Palarine | Canon for Program & Youth Garland Pollard | Director of Communications Greg Randall | Director Youth Ministry & Programming Tana Sembiante | Administrative Assistant to Canon Durning Anne Vickers | Canon for Finance & Administration | CFO 4

Advertising Inquiries Garland Pollard | 941-556-0315 | Subscriptions | The Southern Cross is mailed to parishioners of the Diocese of Southwest Florida from member parish lists. Contact merfourth@episcopalswfl. org to subscribe or update delivery preferences Editorial Submissions | The editors welcome submission of articles for every section of the magazine, including features, news and departments. Please submit articles to On the cover A holiday wreath adorns a door at St. Edmund’s the Martyr in Arcadia, Florida Cover photo by Garland Pollard


Election results and a look back on the history of our diocese as we move forward into the future in our current social climate

20 A GIFT FOR PLANT CITY One of our oldest parishes takes on new life as they celebrate the renovation of their campus while preparing for Christmas

24 LESSONS LEARNED FROM IRMA Hear how the diocese worked with Episcopal Relief & Development and its U.S. Disaster Preparedness team to recover from the wreckage of Hurricane Irma

DEPARTMENTS Around the Diocese Meet the Priest | Rev. Rich Clark of St. Stephens Episcopal School Youth Events | 2018 Youth Programs Preview Saying Goodbye | Bishop Rogers Sanders Harris Event Recap | The Episcopal Church Women Technology | The Gospel & Google Event Preview | Food for the Journey 2018

6 7 8 9 12 13 27


Our Little Roses Food Pantry Network University of South Florida Rededication Evensong

30 32 34

Parish Profile | St. Edmund’s Arcadia Anniversary DaySpring | Our Website Gets a Makeover Obituaries The Arts | Art Comes to DaySpring

36 38 39 40

Around the Diocese FT. MYERS - While their Food Bank has had setbacks because of Irma in the fall, the summer had good news for All Souls parish, including a former recipient who donated $1,000 to the effort after he moved and recovered. Iona Hope Episcopal Church also contributed $2,000 to the Food Pantry over the summer, via the Harry Chapin Food Bank for food. This fall, All Souls held their annual Blessing of the Animals with the neighboring Messiah Lutheran church. TARPON SPRINGS – All Saints parish rallied after hearing news of the struggles of the island of St. Thomas following two hurricanes. When parishioner Irette Huggins told of the fate of some of his relatives, donations and offers to help poured in. “We sent 10 boxes from the church, and a generator,” said Huggins, and at that time had seven more boxes to ship. Supplies ranged from toothbrushes and tooth paste to towels and sheets, canned goods and other basics for daily living. The cost of shipping was covered by the money also donated by church members. CLEARWATER – Church of the Ascension celebrated a number of young people for their first Holy Communion on Nov. 5, All Saints


Sunday. They are Jackson Carl Anderson, John Hogue Haydon, Alexander David Hilker, Olivia Nicole Hilker, John Moores Guthrie, Harper Grace Myrback, Hunter David Myrback, Melia Kaitlynn Webb and Makena Kaysi Webb. BRADENTON – The campus ministry at State College of Florida has had a busy fall. They hosted a Skeptics Welcome event. The #SkepticsWelcome get together included pizza, a hangout and discussion afterward. This is in addition to daily Morning Prayer, a weekly Eucharist and their 11:30 Wednesday “Ask A Priest” with the Rev. Bryan O’Carroll. PALM HARBOR - Judy Barratt, Susan Broward, Barb Christian, DeeDee Herndon, Tara Sheldon, and Sally Swinson are new Stephen Ministers at the St. Alfred’s parish, and have completed substantial training to equip them for this ecumenical lay ministry, which ministers to the sick. SPRING HILL – St. Andrew’s organized yet another successful Canterbury Festival, led by parishioners and Administrator Debbie Smith. The festival included local vendors, including wineries, farm-stands and artists.

The parish has been busy; the weekend before the festival, they held their annual work day, a yearly tradition. TAMPA – On Oct. 7, St. Andrew’s was a supporter of Tampa Port Ministries and the Tampa Bay Maritime Scholarship Foundation. The ministry provides social, communication and spiritual opportunities to foreign seafarers visiting the Port, as well as local employees and truck drivers entering the Port. The Foundation also provides scholarships for students who wish to pursue careers in the maritime industry. This year Peter and Irene Baker were joined by John and Pat Wolfe, Ben and Jeannie Borsch, and Walter and Karen Joseph. ST. PETERSBURG – On Oct. 12, St. Vincent parish’s successful Sunday School experiment was to ask the youth to design and build a church. It has been a busy fall at the parish with a Baskets of Opportunities fund-raiser, which solicited gifts from the community. For Veterans Day, the parish laid a wreath in their memorial garden with the help of a local civil air patrol honor guard. continued on page 41

Meet the Priest



BRADENTON - This January, the Rev. Rich Clark will join the Diocese of Southwest Florida and Saint Stephen’s Episcopal School as their new chaplain. “I look forward to the many introductions and hellos that are sure to come once I begin in January 2018,” says Clark, who will arrive with his wife, Cinda, and two-year-old daughter Lydia. “Until then, I continue to pray for God’s blessings for the diocese and for Saint Stephen’s Episcopal School.”

The Clarks have been in Florida since August 2011, when they moved from New Orleans where he worked in the Diocese of Louisiana as Canon for Youth and Young Adult Ministries. In the Diocese of Florida, he has been chaplain at the Episcopal Chapel of the Incarnation in Gainesville serving students and faculty at the University of Florida and Santa Fe College. He has also been serving as Canon for Youth and Young Adult Ministries in the Diocese of Florida since 2014. Clark attended seminary at Wycliffe College at the University

of Toronto. During seminary, he worked with university students as an assistant coach for the University of Toronto baseball team. Before ordination, he was in the financial services industry, with an M.B.A. from a university in the Netherlands and an undergraduate degree from Louisana State University in Baton Rouge. Cinda Clark’s professional background is in the field of early childhood development and intervention. She holds a Ph.D. in Special Education from the University of Florida.


Youth Events

2018 YOUTH PROGRAMS PREVIEW We have so many things to look forward to in diocesan youth ministry and programming for 2018. God is doing great things and has blessed us with talented youth leaders at churches throughout the diocese. As I continue to get to know clergy, youth leaders, and young people, I am impressed by their desire for authentic programs that connect our youth and support their roles to be actively engaged participants in churches and ministry. On January 20, the Youth Leadership Team will sponsor a “Youth Explosion Saturday” at St. Stephen’s Episcopal School from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. All young people and families are invited to this free, carnival-style event with live music, Chick-fil-A for lunch, games, prayer teams, speakers, and a community Eucharist.

Happening #76

will take place at DaySpring on March 16-18. High school students can register now for this spiritual and fun weekend which offers them a chance to explore their faith and build friendships with other youth from around the diocese. To register, visit


On March 10, all families are invited to come to DaySpring for a Summer Camp Sneak Peek from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Youth and adults can canoe, kayak, swim in the DaySpring pool, and learn more about summer camp. Lunch will be provided in Curry Hall but you must register by February 23 to receive lunch. Admission is free. Go to to register.

by Greg Randall, Director of Youth & Programming

Middle School youth groups should register now for the next New Beginnings at DaySpring on March 2-4. New Beginnings is a fun, spiritual and formative experience for middle school youth and the leaders from their churches.



June 5-8 | SESSION 1 | BREAKOUT ELEMENTARY CAMP BREAKOUT is a special spiritual program aimed at elementary-aged students, along with all the traditional camp activities like canoeing. June 10-15 | SESSION 2 | MIDDLE SCHOOL CAMP Activities like canoeing, high and low ropes, sports and zipline and crafts are included, along with chapel and a talent show. June 17-22 | SESSION 3 | HIGH SCHOOL CAMP Activities like canoeing, high and low ropes, sports and zipline and crafts are included, along with chapel and music. June 24-29 | SESSION 4 | MISSION CAMP Teams of middle school and high school students and adults from across Florida come to DaySpring to experience nearby missions. July 8-13 | SESSION 5 | ELEMENTARY CAMP All the traditional and fun camp activities at DaySpring for students entering 3rd through 5th grade.

July 15-20 | SESSION 6 | LEADERSHIP CAMP Leadership training and fun experiences for high school students and adults who work with youth. Participants engage in traditional camp activities and programs focused on collaboration and skill-building to be highly effective youth leaders.

Saying Goodbye

BISHOP ROGERS SANDERS HARRIS WEST COLUMBIA, S.C. – Rogers Sanders Harris, whose call to Southwest Florida came at a critical time for the diocese, died on Nov. 15, 2017 in South Carolina. His predecessor, the Rt. Rev. Emerson Paul Haynes, had served a 13-year episcopate and died while in office in 1988, which left the diocese without a bishop.

Emerson Paul Haynes, was in some ways more hands off. It was during Bishop Harris’ tenure that the diocese first ordained female priests. When the diocese was in the selection period for bishop, Kline recalls that the issue of the ordination of women was central, as Southwest Florida was

one of seven outlier dioceses in the Episcopal Church that were not ordaining women, and the previous Bishop Haynes had not ordained women. The decision to go forward with women’s ordination came fairly quickly, as it had been clear from the time of the election that Bishop

“He just came at a very difficult time,” said the Rt. Rev. Barry Howe, a current assisting bishop of the diocese and, during Harris’ time, dean of the Cathedral Church of St. Peter. “He took a very difficult situation, and made the best of it he could.” Howe recalls that when Harris arrived, the issues of women’s ordination were left unresolved, and formal plans to elect a bishop coadjutor (a bishop with the right of succession) were never completed. The Standing Committee instead became the Ecclesiastical Authority and several retired bishops assisted during that period, but were never actual administrators. Important decisions were just deferred. Bishop Harris was invested as Diocesan on September 9, 1989 at the Cathedral. Joan Kline served on the search committee for Bishop Harris, and attended General Conventions with him, and his wife Anne, and recalls having a good relationship with them.  “I thought that he was the kind of Bishop that went by the book,” reflected Kline, who said that the previous bishop, 9

Harris would be supportive of the idea. To resolve the issue and many other simmering problems, he arranged a meeting, recalls Bishop Howe. “He called together all the clergy who were not happy, and that was not hard.” Harris ended up sending Sharon Lewis to seminary; other female priests in the diocese, such as the Rev. Tonya Vonnegut Beck, were licensed. The first woman he ordained was the Rev. Carol Schwenke, who was a then a deacon at Holy Innocents, Valrico. Schwenke said that she was at first a bit intimidated by him, thinking he was strict and standoffish, but that was just because she says she didn’t understand his personality. Later on, every time she saw the Harrises, she would get a hug from them both. “I remember that he went by the book,” said Schwenke, who said that she believed he thought of himself more an interim bishop, one who would “bring the diocese up with the rest of the church.” “I always felt deeply encouraged by the friendship and understanding of the life of the Diocese of Southwest Florida and our relationship as colleagues in the House of Bishops,” said the current bishop of the Diocese of Southwest Florida, Dabney Smith. “I was pleased for his relationship with the diocese, and pray for his grand entrance into heaven.” In his first convention address to the diocese on Oct. 13, 1989, Bishop Harris reminded the gathering that Jesus Christ was head of the church. “We are here to do his will, to serve his mission. So I come to be the leader of this diocese, not the head of it.” 10

South Carolina Native A native of South Carolina, Bishop Harris was born Feb. 22, 1930 in Anderson, South Carolina, the son of Wilmot Louis and Sarah Elizabeth (Sanders) Harris. After receiving his bachelor degree at the University of the South in 1952, he married Anne Stewart on March 28, 1953. He served in the Korean War from 1952-54 as 1st Lieutenant in the United States Marine Corps. “He came across as being no nonsense,” said Howe. “He had been a Marine in Korea.”

In his first convention address to the diocese on Oct. 13, 1989, Bishop Harris reminded the gathering that Jesus Christ was head of the church. “We are here to do his will, to serve his mission. So I come to be the leader of this diocese, not the head of it.” After his service, he received his Master of Divinity from the University of the South in 1957 and was made deacon August 6. 1957 and priest on April 5, 1958 under the Rt. Rev. Clarence Alfred Cole of the Diocese of Upper South Carolina. In his parish work, he first served as vicar of both Grace Episcopal Church, Ridge Spring, South Carolina and St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Batesburg. He served for 10 years as rector of the Church of Good Shepherd, Greer, from 1959-69 and was later rector of St. Christopher’s, Spartanburg, from 1969-85. He was consecrated bishop in the Diocese of Upper South Carolina on March 9, 1985

by the Most Rev. John Maury Allin and the Rt. Revs. William Arthur Beckham and Alex Dockery Dickson. There, he served as suffragan bishop from 1985-89. In the wider church, he served as vice president of Province IV of The Episcopal Church from 1991-1994 and president from 1994-97. He was a member of the Presiding Bishop’s Council of Advice from 1994-97. He served as a trustee of the University of South, Sewanee and president of the Bishop Gray Inn in Davenport, Florida, from 1989-97. He received his Doctor Ministry from Virginia Theological Seminary in 1977, as well as an honorary Doctor of Divinity in 1986. His thesis was The Commitment of Confirmation. “He was just a wonderful soul,” said Karen Patterson, who served as secretary of the Nominating Committee before the election of Bishop Harris. “He was a wonderful person to work with.” Patterson appreciated that he served as personal chaplain to the Episcopal Church Women, who then had a non-voting representative on Diocesan Council. She said that during the time after Bishop Haynes left the diocese, many issues had not been addressed, as there was no bishop. He had a bit of a formal, businesslike approach to his office, what Patterson assumed was a remnant of his time in the military. “Our diocese needed that at the time,” said Patterson. They also served together in Province IV. Patterson said that outside of the diocese, people called him Rogers, which was unheard of within the diocese, even with clergy. “He was much more relaxed at synod.”  Bishop Smith also observed that relaxed nature. “Rogers being the third bishop of the Diocese of

both a theological perspective, as well as his personal stories of his farming Sanders ancestors in rural South Carolina. “The larger congregations had a larger responsibility than the smaller congregations,” said Durning. “I think of him often,” said Sandra Poling, assistant to Bishop Harris, who recalls his quiet nature and “innate honesty” in all he did. “He would give a job and expect it get done. He was not one to stand behind you and direct you.” She recalls him as a prayerful man, fully aware of everything going on around him. When problems came, she recalls that he “dealt with it.”  “He provided a steady hand that was needed and appreciated,” said the Rev. Ed Henley, who believes that putting the diocese on a sound administrative footing was a critical accomplishment. “His personality was not such that you ended up with a lot of stories, but that was perfectly fine.”

December 8, 1984 at Trinity Cathedral in Columbia, S.C. at the ordination of The Rev. Susan Blackburn Heath, at center, the third woman to be ordained in the Diocese of Upper South Carolina by the Rt. Rev. William Beckham, at left.

Southwest Florida, he called me ‘five’ with a twinkle in his eyes,” said Bishop Smith. “He played everything in the key of C major,” said the Rev. Canon Michael P. Durning, who first came to know Bishop Harris while he

was Curate at St. John’s, Naples, and served as chair of the Finance Committee. He recalls that Bishop Harris, who he describes as “uncluttered and uncomplicated,” began to address the issue of diocesan apportionment. He came at the calculation from

The issues and discussions of worship styles were not of great importance in his role as bishop. “He didn’t make a whole lot of fuss about liturgy,” said Howe, who worked across the street from diocesan offices, which were then in St. Petersburg, across from the Cathedral. “We just kind of became good friends.” He recalls that in his personal demeanor, he was reserved. “He was a very soft spoken guy, and thought a lot, before he spoke.” His wife, Anne Harris, survived him. The family notified Bishop Smith by text that Amazing Grace was playing in the hospital room when he died. 11

Event Recap

THE ECW GATHERS AT DAYSPRING PARRISH – The Episcopal Church Women of the Diocese of Southwest Florida gathered at DaySpring Episcopal Center Nov. 16, 2017 for their annual meeting, hearing from North Carolina author Katerina Katsarka Whitley, who has written on the life of the early church and early women of the Bible. Whitley’s new book, A New Love, novelizes the early days of the church and the life of St. Paul in Corinth and Greece. The book describes in detail the day-today of the life of early Christians in Greece, with an eye toward bringing that era back to life for the reader. From Roman tribunals to the agora to the early Jews, her books detail the pain and joy of that time, made especially meaningful as Whitley is a native of Greece and brings an understanding of history and archaeology to the subject. In describing the time and place, she spoke from the perspective of those who were there, including a slave who had “never seen a back like Paul’s” and an angry populace who did not understand immediately the


gravity of what was going on when Paul spoke. “You can imagine that agora being very agitated,” she said. The meeting had a providential feel, as Whitley and Bishop Smith, decades ago, had survived a terrible snowstorm together as he took her to the airport to go home after a speaking engagement. Whitley did not realize this until the meeting had begun. The meeting included elections for new Episcopal Church Women officers at their 47th Annual Meeting. Elected were Leila Mizer, President; President-elect Michelle Schombs; Secretary Miriam Benitez-Nixon; Treasurer Berenice (Berry) Ludwig and Mission & Ministry, Jan Sessions. At the meeting, outgoing Diocesan Episcopal Church Women President Lana J. Fitzgerald was unanimously named the Diocese of Southwest Florida’s Distinguished Woman of the Year. She will be honored at the 79th General Convention of the Episcopal Church in Austin in July, 2018.

At the Eucharist after the installation of officers, Bishop Dabney Smith preached from the lectionary on St. Margaret. While there is not much known officially of her time in the 11th century, Smith reminded that she exercised a civilizing influence on her subjects, noting that she was intelligent and devout, using her throne and personal presence to build the kingdom. He compared that to the women of the ECW. “I see people who care consistently and continually for the life of the church; that it will do good and prevail,” said Bishop Smith. Part of being a personal witness to the world, however, is a burden to interpret scripture, and thinking about what it meant when it was written, and what does actually say to us today. “We as God’s people,” said Bishop Smith, “need to be very careful and sophisticated to look at scripture, and see what it does and it does not actually say.”


THE GOSPEL & GOOGLE PARRISH – Each year, lay leaders, clergy and parish staff come to DaySpring Episcopal Center to sort out the latest methods in promoting your parish online. The training day - Word Out: Digital Evangelism Day - is set for Tuesday, Jan. 16, includes speakers and training sessions on how to communicate, from web to social media to old-fashioned printed items. Sessions for 2018 will include: GOOGLE SEARCH TIPS | How your parish ranks in a Google search is often the main reason why a newcomer finds your parish. We will have training in making your parish website show up higher in Google search results. WEBSITE 101 | What are the basics that you need to be doing for your parish website? From technical aspects to overall considerations of traffic, what are the steps? Use our web-checklist to see how you fare. DIRECT MAIL, THE ESSENTIALS | While electronic media is the future, regular old direct mail is still an effective way to introduce your parish to your neighbors. Most of our parishes have a bulk mail permit; why not use it for selective evangelism and stewardship? Topics include bulk mail costs, postal regulations and potential positive side effects, and pitfalls. ONLINE ADVERTISING & ANALYTICS | New ways of advertising including Google and Facebook are revolutionizing advertising. We will discuss the basics of Facebook and Google advertising, and show some initial ways parishes can experiment with this tool. The day includes lunch at DaySpring Episcopal Center’s Curry Hall. Word Out is free; lunch is included. Questions? Call Communications Director Garland Pollard at 941-556-0315

to register, visit



Our Diocesan Story

As we remember the 125th anniversary of our missionary roots and anticipate 50 years as the Diocese of Southwest Florida, the Rev. Canon Michael P. Durning looks back at the narrative history of our diocese in this excerpt from his sermon to the Diocese. Our story is inspiring, but also a narrative that needs religion and cleansing from time to time.


We begin in 1838 when seven Episcopal congregations from the Florida Territory applied to the General Convention of the Episcopal Church for membership. One of the Florida Lay Deputies was Mr. Francis Eppes. He was a powerful visionary. He was a member of St. John’s Tallahassee. He was Mayor of Tallahassee and he was a successful cotton planter. Later on in the 1850’s he would secure land grants for the establishment of two seminaries, one in Tallahassee and one in Ocala. While they failed as seminaries, they seem to be doing well today as the Florida State University and the University of Florida. It is part of our narrative that we have always had strong lay leadership – leadership that us unafraid of moving forward, even when not all the pieces are in place. Fast forward to 1892. General Convention is meeting once again. The Episcopal Church has a heavy plate of tasks to accomplish. One task: the revision of the Book of Common Prayer, now 103 years old. William Reed Huntington, perhaps the most brilliant thinker ever to sit in the House of Deputies, was loud and clear about the need for a new

Prayer Book. In a sermon preached before the William White Prayer Book Society, Huntington argued for a Prayer Book that is truly the product of American craftsmanship:

As a Church we have always tied ourselves too slavishly to English precedent. Our vine is greatly in danger of continuing merely a potted ivy, an indoor exotic. The past of the Book of Common Prayer we cannot disconnect from England, but its present and its future belong in part at least to us, and it is in this light that we are bound as American Churchmen to study them.

The 1892 General Convention also turned its attention to the role of the Christian in times of war. Listen to this message grafted by our bishops and clergy and lay leaders sent out to world leaders:

We cannot contemplate without the deepest sorrow the horrors of war, involving the reckless sacrifice of human life that should be held sacred, bitter distress in many households, the destruction of valuable property, the hindering of education and religion and a general demoralizing of the people. And further let it be borne in mind that wars do not settle causes of disputes between nations on the principle of right and justice, but upon the barbaric principle of the triumph of the strongest.

This too is part of our narrative – we take our place in the making of history. In 1892, Bishop Edwin Gardner Weed of the Diocese of Florida built 66 church buildings during his episcopate and he was spending 335 days of the year away from his Jacksonville home.

While the new rail lines made some transportation easier, travel away from the rails meant horseback, steam ship, oxcart, and very long hikes. At Bishop Weed’s request, the Diocese of Florida memorialized the General Convention to create a Diocese that is like a mission congregation, dependent upon the wider church for finances, leadership and oversight. This Memorial was offered to the General Convention on October 8 1892 by Colonel Charles Fairbanks of the Diocese of Florida and on Oct. 13 (125 years ago today), the House of Deputies and the House of Bishops concurred and the Missionary Jurisdiction of Southern Florida was born. To help us remember this, the people of Christ Church Bradenton, have brought a precious piece of

history with them. The Bishop’s Cathedra, or chair bears upon it the only existing example of the seal of this Missionary Jurisdiction. I hope you take a look at it. It is a reminder of our humble beginnings. It is part of our narrative. According to church historian Joseph Cushman, the new Jurisdiction received just seven parishes and forty missions. In that part of the Jurisdiction that would be later known as the Diocese of Southwest Florida, there were no parishes. Here are the missions: Arcadia, St. Edmund’s; Brooksville, St. John’s; Clearwater, Church of the Ascension; Dunedin, Church of the Good Shepherd; Fort Myers, St. Luke’s; Lake Buddy (now known as Dade City) St. Mary’s; St. Petersburg, St. Bartholomew’s; Tampa, St. Andrew’s; Tampa, St.


James; Thonotosassa, Holy Trinity; Wilhelmsburg (now known as Bradenton) Christ Church.

of slaves; slaves given to him by his grandfather, President Thomas Jefferson.

Cushman also notes that promising mission work was being done in several mission stations in Punta Gorda (Good Shepherd) and Tarpon Springs (All Saints). Looking back, we must be grateful to the General Convention of the Episcopal Church for 40 years of assistance that led to the recognition of the Diocese of South Florida in 1922.

In the 1850’s, the first Bishop of the Diocese of Florida, Francis Huger Rutledge, pledged $14 thousand (in today’s dollars) to the State of South Carolina to be paid when South Carolina would secede from the Union of the United States of America.

Our narrative is one of sacrifice, growth, and moving forward. And incomplete. As I have related it to you, it is spiritual but not religious. If this is to be a truly religious narrative, we must also include that which we are most likely to ignore or suppress or to simply not see. In the 1820’s, Lay Deputy Francis Eppes was given the wedding gift

In the 1860’s, two people who were to become our bishops served in the Confederate Army.

If this is to be a truly religious narrative, we must also include that which we are most likely to ignore or suppress or to simply not see.

Above: the clergy of the Diocese of Southwest Florida gather in Punta Gorda. 16

In 1920’s, congregations of color were not invited to the preconvention banquet of the Diocese of South Florida. In 1950’s, Diocesan Convention received a resolution to require separate registrations of white and black children at Diocesan Summer Camp. In a Daily Beast article, Columbia University historian Barbara Fields is quoted as saying, “I think what we need to remember, most of all, is that the Civil War is not over until we, today, have done our part in fighting it, as well as understanding what happened when the Civil War generation fought it.” She quotes William Faulkner saying that history is not “was,” it’s “is,” and she concludes, “… the Civil War is still going on. It’s still to be fought and regrettably, it can still be lost.”

Scenes from the 49th annual





PUNTA GORDA - At the convention, the diocese affirmed deanery elections to Diocesan Council by voice vote. Deanery elections were held previous to the commencement of the convention. They are: • • • • • • •

Ft. Myers | The Very Rev. A. Charles Cannon III Naples | The Rev. Hippolito Fernandez Reina Manasota | Ms. Jody Maxwell Venice | Ms. Donna Francisco Clearwater | The Rev. C. Jon Roberts St. Petersburg | The Rev. Alexander Andujar Tampa | Dr. Henry E. “Hal” Wiley III

The following were elected by the convention to diocesan offices: • • • • • • 18

Dr. Catherine Meeks after the plenary session

Standing Committee, Lay | Mr. James Corn, St. Augustine, St. Petersburg Standing Committee, Clergy | The Very Rev. Charles E. Connelly, St. John, Tampa; The Very Rev. Carla McCook, St. Margaret of Scotland, Sarasota Diocesan Council, At Large | Mr. Michael Alford, Calvary, Indian Rocks Beach; Allen O. Getz, St. Andrew, Tampa Disciplinary Board, Lay | James D. Park, St. Mark, Venice (second ballot) Disciplinary Board, Clergy | The Rev. Joel Morsch, Christ Church, Bradenton; The Rev. Jonathan W. Evans, St. Boniface Election F, Lay Trustee, University of the South | Mr. Jeffrey L. Patenaude


Dr. Catherine Meeks tells the story of change and reconciliation in the Diocese of Atlanta.

PUNTA GORDA - The plenary session of the 49th Annual Convention of the diocese addressed the issue of racism, and how to address it. “For people of faith, every day is about change,” said Dr. Catherine Meeks of the Diocese of Atlanta, speaking to the entire group gathered at convention on Friday, Oct. 13. “You don’t get there in a minute.” Meeks described to the roughly 500 gathered at the Charlotte County Event and Conference Center a new approach to tackling racism, describing the story of change in her diocese. The new approach encouraged the church to “stop fiddling around” and instead of merely teaching about racism, to instead use prayer, dialogue and the Holy Eucharist to encourage the church to become something more. In recent years in the Episcopal Church, dealing with racism was all about diversity training, a formally structured approach. In the Diocese of Atlanta, they changed that paradigm, moving from an AntiRacism Committee to an idea called The Beloved Community. “We put our work under the umbrella of the Eucharist,” said Meeks, the retired Clara Carter Distinguished Professor of SocioCultural Studies and Social Science of Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia. To introduce the subject to the gathered diocese, Dr. Catherine Meeks went back to memories of her childhood. She described

the situation of her brother dying because he could not be treated at the hospital because he was black. His father, a sharecropper, lived for the rest of his life a bitter man, though she began later to appreciate the pain he bore. “He loved the land and taught me to do that,” said Meeks. “In spite of the fact that he was broken and disempowered and angry, I have a wonderful set of memories he has given to me.”

There is nothing wrong with rage, especially with injustice. The challenge is to take a positive next step. We need to be more honest; We need to tell the truth. She described the situation of her 36-year-old son, who gets stopped frequently, for no reason, as police often feel he is “up to no good.” She said that her “son could have just decided he was going to hate cops, and he was just going to be bitter.” But instead he invented an app which alerts people to the situation, winning a $50,000 grant for the project. There is nothing wrong with rage, especially with injustice. The challenge is to take a positive next step. “We need to be more honest,” said Meeks. “We need to tell the truth. “ The Beloved Community idea is about creating spaces where people can “tell their truth” in a setting that includes prayer.

“What we need to learn how to do is listen to people’s stories without editing,” said Meeks, who wrote about the personal and corporate journey in the Morehouse Publishing book Living Into God’s Dream: Dismantling Racism in America. Meeks believes that it is not productive to spend time worrying and grumbling, that healing is really about work. “Every person who claims to follow Jesus Christ has to decide to do something,” said Meeks. The speech was followed by a discussion and reflection among the newly constituted Commission on Race and Reconciliation, including the group’s Chair, Dr. George Mims of Church of the Redeemer. Others on the panel include Dr. Navita Cummings James; The Rev. Ray Bonoan; the Rev. Aubrey E. Cort; the Rev. Cesar Olivero; The Rev. Wayne F. Farrell, The Rev. Marc Panel Guerrier and Mrs. Lisa Parker. Supporting the lay and clergy leadership are The Rev. Canon Michael P. Durning and the Rev. Adrienne R. Hymes from the diocesan staff. The panel, constituted by Bishop Dabney Smith, was given a mandate to look at issues of racism in the diocese. They will advise the diocese on matters of race and reconciliation; race and the ordination process and provide facilitators to the Church’s teaching on racism. “We will ask all of you to join us, because this is God’s commission to us,” said Mims.



Present for Plant City

PLANT CITY - Stop by the campus of St. Peter’s on this November morning, and it is a bee hive of activity. Outside, Co-Junior Warden Craig Davidson is in jeans as he douses the pavement with a light bleach to kill off mold. Co-Junior Warden Fred Johnson is on another corner, simultaneously working on sidewalks and talking to a city waste official who wants to charge the church if yard waste goes over a certain size. The daughter of a long-deceased parishioner is in the outdoor memorial garden, paying a visit to her late mother. Inside the parish hall, altar guild members are simultaneously prepping for an upcoming a $75-a-plate fund-raising concert, and a funeral. Across the 20

yard in parish offices, staff and lay leaders are looking forward to an upcoming Bishop’s visitation.

“It’s going to be an amazing Christmas season,” says The Rev. Tom Thoeni, the parish’s rector since 2003. From his arrival, he has looked forward to the day when the entire campus is in complete repair, and immaculate, inside and out, from painting to altar to parish hall, and ready for visitors. That time has finally come. “All those renovations should be done,” says Thoeni. Pioneer Beginnings St. Peter’s began around 1893 as a school and home-based “Mission Station” of the diocese. Today, it includes a hodgepodge mix of

buildings on a campus in this city best known for strawberries, and namesake entrepreneur Henry B. Plant. The campus is located in a historic neighborhood of bungalows and frame cottages, rendering in true life those sepia-tint picture postcards of Florida long ago. Their historic church building dates from 1908; it was moved in 1953 to its current site from a downtown location by the old Hotel Plant. Like the St. Thomas Chapel at DaySpring, Church of the Good Shepherd in Dunedin, All Saints in Tarpon Springs and Church of the Good Shepherd in Punta Gorda, St. Peter’s church is in the carpenter gothic style, a woodframed gothic-style building typical of so many of its era in Florida.

In subsequent years, transepts were added to the chancel, expanding the size and capacity of the building. A bell tower and choir loft gave the once smallish building a bit of depth. Subsequent additions to the complex included a rectory, parish hall and youth building. In the mix (and middle) was a World War II Quonset hut, situated between the parish hall and church.

improvements were postponed because of the market crash. So they held on for a bit longer, taking care of basics like the roof, and maintaining the buildings as best they could during the interim, including a new roof. “We wanted this to be a success,” says Thoeni. “We prudently decided we were going to wait a little while.”

But in spite of the assets, there were the continual and usual needs for maintenance, including siding and roofs. The need for the improvements expanded with the need to remove what was supposed to be the “temporary” Quonset hut. “Biblical time is not our time,” joked Thoeni. “The word temporary doesn’t mean what we think it does.”

But the maintenance issues persisted, and two years ago the congregation agreed that it was time to act on the previously deferred maintenance, and remove the Quonset hut. While the actual church building was immaculately maintained, the remainder needed attention. Davidson and others agreed, saying that it was “time to take care of God’s house.”

Around 2007, the parish discussed a capital project to address issues and create new spaces. But the

Outward Focused Renovations For the project, they decided to take a missional approach to building

needs, to prepare to be a growing church. “We had to get our building in order to be responsive to ministry in the next 20 years,” says Thoeni. “It’s not the churches mission to keep paying for minor repairs and patches.” In the planning, the parish took inspiration by looking theologically at the issues. A source of inspiration was the book Not Your Parents Offering Plate by J. Clif Christopher. The Methodist book, referred to the vestry by a Presbyterian church in Brandon, reiterated the principle that people give for a missional need, and do not give money to pay light bills. In the parish hall, there were old drop ceilings. The siding was also deteriorating. Fixtures were dated. Getting a proper cost for the wish list took time. An initial price to replace the siding alone came to $350,000, says Davidson, who works in

Janet Santosuosso, Jayne Wilkes, Senior Warden Sandy Black & Cindy Davidson in the Altar Guild room at St. Peter’s, testing out Christmas table displays.


Our Victorian Parishes St. Peter, Plant City, is one of the oldest parishes in the diocese. While the date of the first service is unclear, we do know that the diocese purchased a lot at Wheeler and Mahoney Streets for a church in 1889. Many other congregations in the Diocese of Southwest Florida date from the 19th century; in that Victorian era even modest frame churches were made in the gothic style, taking inspiration from the larger ecclesiastical trends in the northeastern U.S. and abroad. Here are Diocese of Florida churches, when the state was one diocese: 1871: St. Andrew, Tampa 1885: St. Luke, Fort Myers 1885: Church of the Ascension, Clearwater 1885: Trinity Church, Thonotosassa 1885: Christ Church, Bradenton 1886: St. John, Brooksville 1886: Church of the Good Shepherd, Dunedin 1887: St. Bartholomew’s, St. Petersburg 1889: St. Peter. St. Petersburg 1891: St. Mary, Dade City 1892: All Saints, Tarpon Springs Below are Missionary Jurisdiction of Southern Florida congregations, which date from 1893-1922: 1893: St. Edmund’s the Martyr, Arcadia 1893: Church of the Good Shepherd, Punta Gorda 1893: Christ Church, Immokalee 1895: St. James, Tampa (merged with House of Prayer) 1885: Glades Cross Mission, Immokalee 1904: Church of the Redeemer, Sarasota 1907: House of Prayer, Tampa


tandem with Co-junior Warden Fred Johnson on building improvements. Johnson had a contact with builder Ray Young, who was able to do the siding for a much lower price. This unique arrangement of co-junior wardens allows a team approach to building issues; Davidson says that it’s Johnson, a Tampa area restaurateur and serial entrepreneur known for his Fred’s Market restaurants, who inspires him with ideas. Young worked with a local architect who brought focus to the project. Deciding on the priorities had to be bottom up, not top down. An important step was the demolition of the old barracks, and the creation of a covered walkway between the parish hall and the church. A design team of three reviewed the look of the walkway, the framing of which echoes directly the beams inside the nave of the church. Through the process, a careful look at needs helped with cost. Thoeni believed that priorities had to be beautiful, affordable and economical to use, so as not to burden future parishioners. Key to that idea was to look at their parish room, Bender Hall, and figure out how it could not only be repaired, but be made to be more welcoming. In addition to painting and repairs, the church decided on some new furnishings to change the nature of the space. In the Bender Hall, there would be a conversational area by the door, with comfortable chairs. High-seated tables are in another corner, enabling coffee hour to look more like a cafe, and less like a mess hall. Nearby youth and nursery were renovated, as was the kitchen. Dirty and unattractive drop ceilings were opened up, revealing a long-

forgotten cornice. This gave the low room another 20 inches of ceiling height. Removing the church offices from the Parish Hall building to a standalone office allowed for a new choir room and a more formal Altar Guild room, which is used for special events. In Bender Hall, food and its presentation have been important parish values, echoing the importance of the Eucharist in the next-door church. For instance, for serving food, they took steps to minimize the use of dreary plastic Costco-type tables covered by a tablecloths. Instead they installed along the wall nearest the kitchen a handsome granite-topped counter wall cabinet. Items for banquets can now be stored above and below and out of the way and there is no table to move when preparing to serve meals or food. A large breakfront, used for storage, was decoratively painted in a harlequin pattern by the Altar Guild for use at the end of the parish hall.

Atop the breakfront is a rustic wood model of the church, fashioned by Thoeni out of scrap wood. Archival pictures are carefully hung, allowing the new visitor to see the long history of the parish on the wall. As they totaled up the need, it was $325,000, which includes a 10 percent diocesan assessment. $75,000 for the project was borrowed from the Diocese of Southwest Florida Revolving Loan Fund, which has money available for capital projects, approved through Diocesan Council. There was some discussion over whether the 343 communicant church would be able to accomplish the project, but considering that possibility is helpful. “You are not being wise if you are not knowing this could fall on its face,” says Thoeni. A Present to the Parish The improvements have brought the church together as a family. In his doctoral ministry studies,

Thoeni studied churches. There are sometimes challenges from having about a half dozen, multigenerational families in a church the size of St. Peter’s. “That’s a recipe for a family chapel mentality,” says Thoeni. But in the case of St. Peter’s, the number of people meaningfully involved in the process has given the parish a deeper sense of community. The “family” that the church has been able to rekindle during this process is much larger than family relations that have sustained the church. There are many who have been away for the season, or only come on big holidays. To them, all of a sudden, they will seemingly walk into a place that is both new, and the historic site of so much family history. “It will be fun to see people walk in, who have not been in the church recently,” says Davidson. “I think this is going to be the best Christmas ever,” says Thoeni. “By Christmas, the place is going to be perfect.”

Our Christmas Hymn,Silent Night Architecture and hymns a love of the first Florida bishop In the years following the Civil War, the Episcopal Church across the State of Florida was in disarray. Many pulpits had been abandoned. Our first Bishop, Francis Huger Rutledge, died in 1866, leaving the Diocese of Florida without leadership and financial resources. The search for a new bishop would be difficult at best. After due consideration, the Diocesan Convention of 1867 elected the Rev. John Freeman Young, D.D. as bishop. Young was at the time serving as Assistant at Trinity Church, Wall Street, New York City. Historian Joseph Cushman describes him as a “moderate High Churchman, a man with years of experience in the mission fields of the Dioceses of Florida, Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi, a generous priest who also had the asset of a more than adequate income from a family fortune invested in Northern financial enterprises.” Young had many church-related interests, including church architecture and church hymnody. In 1859, Young published a 16-page pamphlet titled Carols for Christmas Tide. Among the seven hymns in the collection was his translation of a German hymn which we know today as Silent Night. It is found in our Hymnal, Hymn 111. -the Rev. Canon Michael P. Durning


Lessons Learned “You need a formal plan, and the plan in tandem with a healthy system.” That was a key message learned after the seemingly endless disasters of 2017, according to Katie Mears, director of USA Disaster Preparedness and Response at Episcopal Relief and Development. Episcopal Relief played a key role in guiding and shaping our diocesan role before, during and after Hurricane Irma. Episcopal Relief began in 1940 as an overseas aid agency, initially the Presiding Bishop’s Fund for World Relief. Its founding mission was to assist refugees fleeing Europe during World War II, adapted to new crises as they arose. The agency now works in about 40 countries, with targeted programs of its own, and in conjunction with other agencies. The U.S. work of the agency came to the forefront in 2005, with Hurricane Katrina. The agency assisted Louisiana and other dioceses with relief, eventually raising $10 million for rebuilding. Mears worked first for the Diocese of Louisiana, beginning as a volunteer, then the diocesan rebuild coordinator, joining Episcopal Relief in 2009. 24

e n a c i r r u H ma Ir From

Since the creation of the U.S. Disaster Program, Episcopal Relief staff have been traveling the U.S., speaking to dioceses in order to elevate the issue of disaster training and preparation. Diocesan staff, including Southwest Florida Disaster Coordinator the Rev. Micheal Sircy, are in regular contact with Episcopal Relief, and attend the agency’s yearly training, held yearly in different dioceses. Sircy, a deacon who works out of Christ Church, Bradenton, drafted the Diocesan Disaster Plan and updates it each year. The goal is for all parishes to review the plan, and implement the parish-level items. Stating the obvious, 2017 has been a busy year for Episcopal Relief,

with a seemingly Biblical number of fires, floods and storms. Staff have been assisting all affected dioceses, whether in the U.S. or abroad. When Irma hit, Episcopal Relief staff were assisting recovery in Texas. Their first assistance for the Diocese of Southwest Florida, other than moral support, was to offer Southwest Florida the AlertMedia emergency text system. The agency had just instituted a pilot program with the Diocese of Texas before Hurricane Harvey. The system proved essential, as it enabled the diocese to keep in touch with its parish leadership and clergy, both before, during and after Irma. Episcopal Relief Program Coordinator Lura Steele assisted Florida and Province IV

dioceses in setting up the service, which enabled Southwest Florida to quickly contact all of our clergy before and immediately after Irma. Thankfully, the damage was less than expected, but if it had been worse, text based communication would have been still available after a disaster.

who led his New Orleans Trinity Parish through Hurricane Katrina. The key to response is the Parish Disaster Response Plan, crafted by Deacon Sircy, who has both Navy experience as a healthcare planner in the Medical Service Corps, and civilian contract experience in planning for post-disaster recovery.

During Hurricane Irma, staff from Episcopal Relief met daily with diocesan representatives, including bishops and diocesan staffs, from the surrounding Province IV dioceses. The daily meetings began before Irma hit, and enabled staff to share planning exercises. After the hurricane, staff continued meeting online to discuss recovery. “The ways that the dioceses of Florida worked together was a huge win,” said Mears.

“I think we did well. I think we found out we were better prepared than we thought we were,” said Sircy, who while in the Navy assisted in the aftermath of the 1998 bombings of the United States Embassy in Kenya.

This province-wide exercise was mirrored in the Diocese of Southwest Florida with daily web video and teleconferences where lay leaders, administrators and clergy called in daily to discuss needs. Episcopal Relief stresses that disaster planning is not just about preparing for a bad thing. Instead, it is about creating a healthy parish, and improving your normal, day-today practices, so that if a disaster happens, you are ready, with systems in place. These systems can strengthen a parish during healthy times, and protect the parish if disaster strikes. Ideally, the parish will identify resources and needs ahead of time and build resiliency rather than react when a crisis happens. The importance of planning for disaster in Southwest Florida is valued by Bishop Dabney Smith,

That does not mean that everything was perfect. Because some of Southwest Florida had not recently been hit by a hurricane, there was a lot of last minute running around before Irma. Sircy hopes if there is a next time, we can take time to prepare, well before. “We need to take the time to ensure that we have everything we need,” says Sircy. There are always methods of improvement. One thing parishes can do, according to Mears, is to debrief after disasters. It can be a vestry meeting, or something larger. “If the parish could just have an adult forum and ask what went well, and what can we do better?” asked Mears. The issue of church security is now on the minds of anyone who plans for disasters. In this situation, planning for one difficulty also aids in being ready for a second difficulty. Security is an unappealing discussion for church

Naples area; St. Mark’s Marco Island members, clergy and lay leadership, but it is a critical discussion. Mears believes that if you train ushers on CPR, and they are able to deal with things like heart attacks, they are better prepared to deal with other dangers. In addition, an alert and capable usher corps, so essential in safety, also serves the important and dual function of welcoming new visitors into the church. There is always a balance in getting people ready. But at a certain point, if things are too dire, people tend to shut down. “Too much worrying can be not helpful,” said Mears.

Find out more at


e n a c i r r u H ma Ir


WEDNESDAY SEPT 6 | Fall deanery convocations and deanery elections cancelled in Clearwater. Diocesan House closes in preparation for storm. THURSDAY, SEPT 7 | Manasota Venice Convocation cancelled. Clergy advise to report to Diocesan office their evacuation plans. DaySpring staff busy performing pre-storm protocols. FRIDAY, SEPT 8 | Diocese installs and tests the new AlertMedia mass notification system for priest and parish leaders. Note for the future: the number is still 941-404-4807. Parishes and parishioners are preparing for the storm, including finishing implementing their Parish Disaster Response Plan. SATURDAY, SEPT 9 | Preparation for storm; many clergy and parishioners travel out of state.

SUNDAY, SEPT 10 | Irma hits. Marco Island is hardest and first hit of Hurricane Irma in the diocese, with wind speeds of up to 130 m.p.h. The Rev. Canon Michael During reads Evening Prayer by Facebook; through the week The Rev. Canon Katie Churchwell of the Cathedral holds live online “Pop-up” prayers services on Facebook.

MONDAY, SEPT 11 | By 8 a.m., Irma is in northern Florida, headed toward Georgia. Diocese sends alert to account for parishes and clergy. At St. Mark, Marco Island, there is no significant damage to the sanctuary, but there were trees on the roof of the rectory and the roof sustains some damage. Up the coast, Trinity-by-the-Cove, Naples reports some water damage under the door because of rain. Steeple survived. Diocesan House, however, suffers a sewer lift backup because of electricity loss in Manatee County. WEDNESDAY, SEPT 13 | Parishes beginning to reopen. Diocese receives $20,000 Irma Disaster Relief check from Episcopal Relief & Development. St. Mark’s now a staging place for supplies for locals, and is assisting the hard hit 6L Farms migrant community, which is short of food and resources. At Christ Church, Bradenton, they are working to distribute food and gas cards to individuals who need help. St. George, Bradenton, which serves as a Red Cross housing after the storm, has been assisting neighbors. Acolyte Festival cancelled. SUNDAY, SEPT 17 | Parishes hold services. St. Mark, Marco Island holds acoustic service, with no electricity. MONDAY, SEPT 18 | Diocese begins temporary move of offices to the newly renovated Pavilion B at DaySpring. Diocese soon fully functional with data and phone, working on banquet tables. MONDAY, SEPT 25 | St. Matthew’s, a parish in Maple Glen, Penn., assists diocese with gift cards for victims of Hurricane Irma in Southwest Florida. Jackie Overton, youth director at St. Mark, Venice, connects with The Rev. Jay Walton of St Matthews. They are distributed in the Naples deanery. SATURDAY, OCT 7 | St. Mark’s and other community volunteers are currently offering a daily lunch in Chokoloskee. They offer folks in the community a place to gather, great food, and a listening ear. FRIDAY, OCT 13 | 49th Convention begins in Punta Gorda as normal. WEDNESDAY, NOV 15 | Diocesan office returns to Diocesan House after repairs from Irma flood damage.


Event Preview


PARRISH – Food for the Journey is an opportunity through speakers, music, reflection and nature to be nourished, to stir creative juices, to ask questions, to get inspired. The 2018 conference, in its second year at DaySpring, features hymn writer John Bell, storyteller Valerie Tutson and worship leader and musician Fran McKendree. The conference focus this year the art of story. The lead speaker is John Bell, a hymn-writer, a Church of Scotland minister, a member of the Iona Community, a broadcaster, and former student activist. He is primarily concerned with the renewal of congregational worship at the grass roots level. “I never started out to be a hymn writer; that was the furthest thing from my mind. I suppose it happened because my colleague and I—and then a wider group of people—did

some theological reflection together. We began to biblically look at issues and develop a theology that speaks to the young or to the marginalized. Our next stage was to try to put that theology into verse, knowing that while people often forget what they hear preached, they remember what they sing.” The conference also features storyteller and speaker Valerie Tutson, who will give new excitement to the re-telling of age-old Biblical stories. Tutson has spoken at churches, libraries, festivals and conferences since 1991. She draws her stories from around the world with an emphasis on African traditions. Her repertoire includes stories and songs she learned in her travels to South Africa, West Africa, and stories from African American history. “I was blown away by the power of

story to bring community together and the power of story to teach history and the power of story to instill cultural values, said Tutson. “I recognize that people tell stories in different ways, sometimes it’s with dance, sometimes it’s with music.” Fran McKendree continues to develop and explore his calling; doing concerts, as music leader and coordinator for conferences, keynote presenter, mentor, and workshop leader. He continues to be awed by the journey that has unfolded. “My hope is to remain thankful for and receptive to the movement of God in my life, and to do this in a humble, energetic manner, celebrating our differences and similarities as creatures of God, and remembering always that we are called to actualize our faith in the world around us.”


FOOD FOR THE JOURNEY | April 26-28 A Conference to Reimagine, Reconnect, Rejoice! conference fees, materials, 7 meals, and 2 nights lodging $350 On-site private occupancy $250 On-site semi-private occupancy $200 Commuter (7 meals) $100 Saturday only (3 meals) Limited on-site lodging; please register early! $50 discount if registered and paid before January 26 REGSTER AT




Christmas is a time when we can consider the world as it could be; or perhaps we could turn it upside-down. A sermon from St. Andrew’s, Tampa. Most of you have heard Australia and New Zealand referred to as the land ‘down under.’ Of course, in New Zealand ‘down under’ is up, since, when you’re in New Zealand, you’re up and we, on the wrong side of the world, are down. Everything seems to be reversed there. The people in the cold south speak of the conservatism of their tropical deep north. July and August are the dead of winter. It’s all very upside down. In New Zealand, Christmas arrives in the middle of summer. It’s a holiday when everyone goes to the beach. You can’t very well sing In the Bleak Midwinter while lying on the sand, soaking up some rays. So the New Zealand Church Hymnal includes some different carols. One is entitled Carol Our Christmas. Listen to the words:

Carol our Christmas, an upside down Christmas; snow is not falling and trees are not bare. Carol the summer, and welcome the Christ Child, warm in our sunshine and sweetness of air. Right side up Christmas belongs to the universe, made in the moment a woman gave birth; hope is the Jesus gift, love is the offering, everywhere, anywhere here on the earth. It’s odd we come to Christmas thinking of it as the time that sets everything right. Christmas is the time to come home, to return to that time in our memories when all was warm, and good and right, when everything that’s come upside down in our lives is set right side up. Yet in the Scriptures, Christmas was a time when everything was turned upside down. It wasn’t about a loving, family-value mother caring for a conventional child. It was about Mary, an unwed mother, expectant in a most unconventional, upside down way. The message came not through official government channels; it was 28

delivered in song by angels. The star did not appear to the biblical scholars in Jerusalem, but to magi, pagan astrologers from outside. The baby whose birth we celebrate lay in a smelly cattle feed trough, not an expensive pram. And the good news came not to the learned and powerful; shepherds working the night shift first received the Gospel. And shepherds were unclean. You see, 2,000 years ago faithful Jews were warned by their rabbis against entering six professions. One of those forbidden professions was that of shepherd. Conscientious Pharisees would never consider doing business

with a shepherd. They’d buy wool and milk, but never directly from a shepherd. Shepherds weren’t allowed to give testimony in court. Not only that, but shepherds were not permitted to enter the temple or the synagogue. Why? For one thing, shepherds were constantly walking among the droppings of the sheep, and that made them religiously unclean. Secondly, shepherds tended their sheep throughout the countryside, without paying any attention to property lines. In other words, they were always trespassing. And, because they were on other people’s property, shepherds were

considered to be thieves. They ran the local black market. Nobody loved a shepherd. Shepherds were thought to be liars and thieves who’d steal you blind. They were dirty, disgusting and despised. And if Willie Nelson had written the song back then it would’ve been: “Mamas, don’t let your babies grow up to be shepherds!” But God turns things upside down and meets us face to face, and assures us that He has not abandoned us. He enters human life with all its depravity, violence and corruption, and demonstrates that He is determined to deliver us – all of us, even shepherds.

arm, He has scattered the proud in their conceit. He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent away empty.” Mary sings of a world turned upside down, of those who are high and exalted being brought low, of those who are poor and hungry being

“He has mercy on those who fear Him in every generation. “He has shown the strength of His

Are we willing to ‘prepare him room’ – to meet a God like that? A distant God is a safe God, isn’t it? It’s so much more comfortable and certain to keep our lives right side up. But the Christmas message is that God is not safe. God will not stay out there, somewhere distant, untouched and untouchable. In the Christ child God came near to be with us, to be for us, to bless us, to get in the same room with us, to remain with us, and to disturb us.

When God looked down and saw a world devastated by sin, He did not go away. He didn’t turn His back on us. He did something about it. God’s gift to us at Christmas is His very self: the Incarnation, God incarnate in Jesus Christ, God embodied and enfleshed among us. God was willing to stoop down to our level in order to bring us up to his level. When Mary heard the news from the angel, telling her that she was going to have a baby, Immanuel, God with us, she sang a Christmas carol. You might call it An Upside Down Christmas. Mary said, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior. For He has looked with favor on His lowly servant. From this day all generations will call me blessed: the Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name.

filled, all by the advent of a baby. Mary had her life turned upside down by that angel Gabriel. And then she sang of a child in her womb who was going to dislodge, disrupt, and disturb. Later, one of the charges against the Christian followers of the baby was, “These people are turning the world upside down” (Acts 17:6).

So think of Christmas as a time when God began turning things upside down. And consider the possibility that maybe, just maybe, that’s why you are here tonight – because your world, right side up, may not be all that it could be. And consider the risk that you take by coming before the babe at Bethlehem. Consider the risk of a right side up world being turned upside down. Scripture is full of stories of folk, people like Mary, who had their world turned upside down, inside out when they came face-to-face with God. The historic nativity window in St. Andrew’s, Tampa.

So take care as you gaze into the manger. Beware coming too close to the Savior. Think, before you hold out your hands to receive the bread and wine; you don’t know what He might hand you. There is a risk. Merry upside down Christmas. 29

Mission & Outreach OUR LITTLE ROSES

A larger medical mission grew out of visits to the Our Little Roses home for girls. The Rev. Dee Ann de Montmollin tells how these visits grew into the establishment of a medical clinic throughout the San Pedro Sula community. Hallelujah! I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart…great are the deeds of the Lord. His work is full of majesty and splendor, and his righteousness endures forever. He makes his marvelous works to be remembered; the Lord is gracious and full of compassion. In 2001, I first visited Our Little Roses in San Pedro Sula, Honduras. Our Little Roses is residential home for abused, abandoned, neglected and orphaned girls. Founded in 1988, the idea came from Diane Frade, who was visiting a similar home for boys in Teguciagalpa, Honduras. She began asking: “Who was doing this for the little girls of Honduras?” The answer was no one. On each of my subsequent visits, I saw firsthand how these girls now have a safe environment, a chance to learn, the dream of a future and a foundation in faith. Through the efforts of many, including Diana and her husband the Rt. Rev. Leo Frade, the love of God has broken the cycle of poverty and abuse for many girls in Honduras. Most of the girls at the home receive a high school educations and many attend university and technical schools, leading to careers in dentistry, law, restaurants and the military. The girls of Our Little Roses have a family like no other. 30

They have sisters - lots of sisters - between 60 and 80 in any given year. They have a place to grow up and know that they are loved. They are learning ways to escape poverty through education. They have learned about God’s love, and know that they will never be abandoned again. With each visit, I felt a tug from God. So I would return, and do more. We hear a sound that is so captivating that we want to know its source. And then we discover what we seek. The sound is the love of God. The love of our Lord embraces each of these little girls and it embraces us as well. The good news is that we’ve been held by it, embraced by it, all along. It makes no difference if we know Spanish or not, it makes no difference what our background is, or where we are from, because we all are united in God’s presence. We are united together through our faith in a God who is trustworthy and true. This God is with us through the passages of life. The truth is that all of life is a passage. It is movement. And even though we sometimes debate whether we want change or not, the reality is that change is constant. The life of each of the girls at Our Little Roses is changed because of the love we share with them is God’s love.

Indeed, God has not abandoned them. God has not forsaken them. And in our darkest times, God will not abandon us. In the most confused times, God will not forsake us. God wills that good comes from bad. God can be trusted to be at work, salvaging good from every human experience. Divine love, self-sacrificing love is at work. It never ends. In 2015, I was led to leave full-time parish ministry and have let God continue to guide me in my next ministry. Part of that next ministry has been an expansion of my medical mission work. Following one of my trips to Our Little Roses, Sherre Henley, a nurse who had also been on the trip, and I were invited to return and conduct physical assessments of the girls at Our Little Roses and to give them presentations on health and the growth and development of girls and young women. That visit led to the development of a medical mission team just for serving the children in the San Pedro Sula community itself. Dr. Martha Vasquez, a pediatrician, joined us and gives of her service each year along with several other medical professionals. Among the children we serve are some of the children of the ‘people of the Levee’, which means the people of the slums of San Pedro Sula.

On our first medical mission, in the fall of 2016, we did not know what to expect. We felt a bit anxious and wondered if anyone would even show up at our free medical clinic for children. And then, on our very first morning, we were amazed at the long line of mothers waiting with their children needing medical help. Some of them had walked miles and others waited in the sun for hours until we could examine and treat all of them. The next day was a repeat of the first day and the lines continued. We treated the children for parasites, infections, respiratory illnesses and other sicknesses. And distributed many bottles of children’s vitamins and other medical supplies. Yes, they are the ‘poorest of the poor.’ But each mother loves her child as we love our children and wants the best for her child. With God’s help, our medical mission will continue to grow. This September 2017, we were blessed with two additional dedicated volunteers and a second doctor who committed to give of their gifts that God has freely given to them. This latest trip was even more successful than the first; over 350 children and babies were examined and treated in a five-day period.

Hopefully, through our diligence and prayer, these mothers and their children will know what the girls at Our Little Roses know: that God has not abandoned them. And even though their lives are dark, that the light of God will sustain them with love and hope. Our group of doctors and nurses hope to shed some of the light of God through our love for them. Over this past year, my world has expanded. Now, I not only thank God for each child at Our Little Roses, but I also thank God for each child that comes to our clinic. I thank God for his Love. Hallelujah! I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart. Thank you Lord. About the Author: The Rev. Dee Ann de Montmollin served as a rector of Episcopal churches in the Diocese of Southwest Florida and Western North Carolina. She holds a Masters in Mental Health Counseling and is a licensed registered nurse. Prior to entering seminary, she was executive director of Samaritan Counseling Center for the Episcopal Diocese of Southeast Florida and a member of the psycho-oncology team at the Sylvester Cancer Center at University of Miami Hospital.

Clockwise from top right: the Rev. De Montmollin with friends; a long wait for help; mother and child; families in need; the medical team at work. 31

Mission & Outreach


Every congregation in the diocese supports a food pantry, either their own, or operated in conjunction with other churches or community agencies. Many parishes support school backpack programs, where food is offered to local schools so that children will have food over the weekend. Other parishes work with neighboring churches. For instance, St. Andrew’s on Boca Grande, All Angels by the Sea, Longboat Key and Annunciation, Holmes Beach are located in affluent resort areas, and support neighboring parishes. In the aftermath of Hurricane Irma, many churches such as St. Mark’s, Marco Island, established temporary pantries to serve needs that arose while the community recovered. Other parishes operate their food distribution more informally. Many parishes support feeding programs, such as the Cathedral Church of St. Peter, assist with programs such as Food is Medicine, which targets “food desert” communities with not only fresh food, but classes and other assistance. St. Monica’s, in Naples, supports the Meals of Hope program, which provides pre-packed nutritious meals to other food pantries and kitchens.

THE LORD’S PANTRY Thursdays | 2 to 4 pm 415 42nd St. W | Bradenton 34205 941-747-3709


A mission of Christ Episcopal Church supported by Christ Church Thrift Shop and donations by members, students, faculty and parents of St. Stephen’s Episcopal School.

Wednesdays | 9 to 11:30 am


1st and 3rd Thursdays | 2 to 4 pm 912 63rd Ave. West | Bradenton 34207 941-755-3606


A pantry serving the Bayshore area between Sarasota and Bradenton and supported by the Food Bank of Manatee County, various community groups and neighboring Episcopal churches.

14640 N. Cleveland Ave North Fort Myers 33903 239-656-6229 A parish-operated food pantry supported by the Harry Chapin Food Bank and St. Therese Catholic Parish.

ST. MARY’S EPISCOPAL CHURCH Tuesdays | 9 to 11 am 101 24th Ave West | Palmetto 34221 941-722-5292 A food pantry operating in part of the parish hall.

ST. JAMES FOOD PANTRY Fridays | 10 am to 1 pm 1365 Viscaya Dr Port Charlotte 33952 941-627-4000 A food pantry supported by St. Andrew, Boca Grande and providing assistance to those in the Charlotte County area.

BEACH COMMUNITY FOOD PANTRY Mon Wed Fri | 10 am to 12 pm 1615 1st St | Indian Rocks Beach 34205 727-595-2374


Parishioners run this pantry with the help the Rotary Club, local restaurants, the city of Indian Rocks Beach and local fire and rescue units.

Mon - Thurs | 10 to 12 pm 401 South Broadway Englewood 34223 941-474-3140 A key mission of the church supported by the parish, the surrounding community and St. Andrew in Boca Grande.

ST. BARTHOLOMEWS FOOD PANTRY 1st and 3rd Sundays | 10:30 to 12 pm 3747 34th St South St. Petersburg 33711 727-595-2374 A parish-operated food pantry run out of the parish hall and supported by other parishes in the St. Petersburg deanery, including St. Thomas, Snell Isle

ST. GILES EPISCOPAL Mon - Thurs | 10 to 12 pm 8271 52nd Street North Pinellas Park 727-544-6856 Established in 1977, the pantry has fed over 500,000 hungry people in the Pinellas Park area. 33

Mission & Outreach


The Episcopal presence at the University of South Florida is renewed. The Rev. Adrienne R. Hymes, 16th chaplain at USF, reminds us that God’s vision should always propel us forward in service. TAMPA - What a difference a year makes. Last year I was sitting in the USF chapel as the newly-called chaplain and director. I had never been in the chapel alone before. The weight of responsibility and the call to restore the campus ministry were heavy. And so, I would sit, and breathe, talk aloud to the chapel while praying and listening for God’s holy leading. During that time of what I would describe as being the chaplain to the chapel center, my ministry of presence as the resident chaplain opened my heart to allow God to place his vision in it. It is God’s vision that propels me forward in service. St. Anselm’s had been closed for the summer season before I arrived in October 2016. One day the landscaper and I were getting acquainted, and I shared with him my hope for having services outside. I said to him, “Can’t you see it? There will be benches right there in front of the cross; an altar where the Holy Eucharist will be celebrated; and some paving for preaching the Gospel.” He responded, “I don’t mean any disrespect Chaplain, but you’re trying to preach the gospel, and this place is preaching something else.” As daunting as the task appeared to make the space more inviting for our neighbors—I was, and am, convinced that Holy Eucharist will be celebrated in front of that cross outside, and that our grounds, with 34

a lot of love, will serve as a place of spiritual retreat for our students and the wider USF community. Now, the chapel — the red wall, the wood pieces for the reredos, the bright ceiling lights, the candle stands, shelves full with the Book of Common Prayer and the Hymnal and…the windows that dance with the rays of the sun were images placed on my heart one year ago. In my excitement to have the windows done I purchased the materials in January, and had no one to install

When God gives his servant a vision, God promises his divine provision. the material—no professional would agree to touch the job. I had given up on a professional service and stared at a pile of window materials, but I was never tempted to return them to the store. I waited for God to provide a servant who would help to bring forth that vision. After seven months, the windows were completed by a talented volunteer, who over several weekends, and with so much love, placed the window coverings with care. I watched this volunteer as she

worked, and it was like watching prayer in motion. I could just see the windows last year, and now you can, too. God sent so many servants with resources to care for this space and to bring forth his vision. When God gives his servant a vision, God promises his divine provision. I am reminded of Moses and God calling out to him saying, “Remove the sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground” (Exodus 3:4-6). As I go about my work at the center, and on the campus, I am keenly aware that I am on holy ground. In the Old Testament reading today, God’s servant, Moses, who, by faith trusted in the vision God gave him to lead his people to freedom. When opposition arose throughout that journey Moses turned to God because he knew that God was faithful to his promises and that God would divinely provide what was needed to bring forth the liberation of the Israelites and lead them to the promised land. God allowed Moses to look upon the vision which had previously been known only in his heart. There is another servant of God who figures prominently in our reflection and celebration of the Chapel Center. This visionary, Bishop William F. Moses, planned every detail of what would become the first religious center on the University of South Florida campus.

On November 17, 1962, The Bishop William F. Moses Episcopal University Center was dedicated at St. Anselm’s Chapel.


God placed the vision for the center on Bishop Moses’ heart, and called him into the kingdom-building work of visioning in possibility. I underscore, again, that the faith in vision, to which I refer, is God’s vision placed in the heart of the servant. Visionaries, like Bishop Moses, see with clarity that which cannot yet be seen with the human eye. They walk by faith in obedience to God’s will in order to bring forth God’s vision into the world. Bishop Moses was a visionary, who allowed God to use his life as an instrument of God’s grace in the world. I can imagine Bishop Moses standing on this land talking to a landscaper saying, “Can’t you just see it? Holy Eucharist will be celebrated right here.” When God gives his servant a vision, God promises his divine provision. Like the prophet Moses in our Old Testament reading, Bishop Moses, died before the vision manifested. But God’s vision for building God’s kingdom continued to move forward through succession. Just as Moses was succeeded by Joshua, Bishop Moses was succeeded by faithful stewards who have contributed to the legacy of this holy space. The legacy of the Episcopal University Center spans 55 years and there have been 16 successors, who served as chaplains here. As successor number 16, I am grateful to God for all of the faithful servants who were called to steward this ministry, and whose work here made it possible for me to move forward in my call.

continued on page 42 35

Parish Profile


St. Edmund’s the Martyr will celebrate 125 years in 2018. In preparation, The Rev. Robert Vaughn looks back in time while looking forward to what the future holds for one of the most historic churches in the Diocese. ARCADIA - A resident of DeSoto County, who is active in civic and political involvements, recently wrote on St. Edmund the Martyr Episcopal Church’s Facebook page the following comment: “It’s so rewarding to know that your congregation cares so much about the community. Y’all don’t just ‘talkthe-talk” y’all ‘walk-the-walk.’ Thank you!” For over 125 years this small congregation has been the Episcopal presence in rural DeSoto County proclaiming the Gospel of Jesus in Word, Sacrament, and Service.


Our Arcadia congregation is preparing to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the establishment of St. Edmund Church in 2018. The first Episcopal service held in Arcadia was on October 13, 1891, officiated by the Bishop of Florida, the Rt. Rev. Edwin Weed. In 1893, “St. Edmund Martyr and King” was established as an organized mission of the new Missionary Jurisdiction of Southern Florida. The 2018 anniversary observance will be a time for the congregation

to honor the past, celebrate the present, and anticipate the future of this ministry. St. Edmund’s is among the 48 percent of Episcopal congregations that do not have a full-time priest. This lack of full-time priestly leadership over many years created the challenge and opportunity for effective lay leadership and ministry. Congregation members demonstrate leadership in administrative, worship, and outreach ministries. The stable assignment of a deacon serves to enable and enhance lay ministry.

In the 1990s, St. Edmund provided the leadership for the establishment of Habitat for Humanity in DeSoto County and members of the congregation continue support with an on-site thrift shop and volunteering. In 2004, Hurricane Charley caused tremendous damage in Arcadia, including major destruction to our 1930 church building, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. As is often the case, devastation provides opportunity for growth. In the aftermath, St. Edmund became a center for community relief and recovery. Since that experience, there has been growth in the congregation’s outreach ministry. When the Hurricane Charley recovery was completed, St. Edmund had donated funds still available. The church decided to use those funds for an outreach ministry and made a significant donation to Tidewell Hospice for the building of the hospice house in Arcadia. Following the recent 2017 hurricanes, congregation members contributed $3,000 to a fund to return the “good deeds” of 2004 and give to a parish-to-parish hurricane relief project. St. Edmund designated $1,000 for direct assistance for parishioners or others in the community to a parish in Texas, the Florida Keys, and Puerto Rico. St. Edmund outreach ministry has important impact on the local community with funds available for outreach grants to community organizations and benevolence assistance for individuals and families in need. The congregation plans and supports an annual fund raising St. Edmund Has Heart dinner each February that provides money for outreach and benevolence ministry. Thus far in

2017, approximately $5,000 has been expended. This is an impressive amount for a small congregation. Additionally, $1,000 scholarships are granted to three-to-five high school graduates yearly. The most visible St. Edmund outreach ministry has been the food pantry. For ten years it provided food to 150-200 individuals or families monthly. The cost and volunteers were provided by members of the congregation. Because of changes in available leadership and the increasing difficulty with the physical demands of working in the food panty, this ministry ended in the summer of 2017 after determining that the local community has sufficient food distribution available. Congregation leadership is exploring alternative ministry opportunity such as outreach endeavors with homeless and/or foster care youth. A new outreach effort is expected to commence by the beginning of 2018. In response to community concerns in late 2013 about homeless people in DeSoto County, St. Edmund hosted a series of community meetings to explore and discuss the response

to homelessness. The end result was the establishment of DeSoto Cares Homeless Services. Initial funding for the program primarily came from outreach ministry funds and a diocesan Episcopal Charities grant. Congregation members remain active and supportive of the program. The Latino Ministry at St. Edmund Church is now in its sixth year. At the initial liturgy officiated by Bishop Michael Garrison there were six members of the Latino community present. Father Mario Castro has provided the pastoral care since the beginning. During the past six years the ministry has grown; there have been 31 baptisms and 41 confirmations. This is a vibrant and encouraging ministry. The St. Edmund congregation consists of permanent and seasonal members with a large percentage coming from other church traditions. A recent newcomer to the congregation commented about the sense of community felt at St. Edmund Church; another said, “I have found the spiritual nourishment I was lacking before.”


Outreach ministry reflects our mission. The liturgical and communal life of the congregation sustains ministry. Episcopal Church Women and Daughters of the King enhance the communal and spiritual experience of the congregation. In recent years, three former congregation members have been ordained. The Rev. Lisa Fry is a rector in the Diocese of Maine, the Rev. Bert Daly Jr is a rector in the Diocese of Florida, and the Rev. Elizabeth Jordan is a deacon in the Diocese of Massachusetts. The Rev. James McConnell started as priestin-charge in June, 2017. He is enthusiastic about the potential at

St. Edmund Church and has many ideas about moving forward. In the spirit proclaimed by Presiding Bishop Michael Curry, St. Edmund Church strives to be part of the Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement that is a welcoming community spreading the Kingdom of God to all. About the Author: The Rev. Robert Vaughn has been deacon at St. Edmund’s since 2001, where he assists as needed and coordinates outreach and benevolence ministries. He served at the Chapel of the Venerable Bede (Episcopal Church Center, University of Miami), and for two

years was the Executive Director of St. Laurence Chapel (a center for the homeless in Pompono Beach.) He grew up in the Roman Catholic Church and for 13 years was a Holy Cross Brother working in high schools and residential treatment centers for juvenile offenders. He was received into the Episcopal Church in 1982. Deacon Vaughn is married to Nancy Jo; they have two sons, six grandchildren, and a rescued Australian Cattle Dog-Pointer named “Dolly”.



The new look and feel of the DaySpring website includes a refreshed logo, improved navigation and online program registration capabilities. PARRISH - This fall at the Diocesan Convention in Punta Gorda, diocesan staff previewed a new website for DaySpring Episcopal Center, The need for the website came with the completion of the first phase of a three-phase master plan for DaySpring, which included the creation of a new Program Center and Pool, as a centerpiece for the youth area of the camp and conference center. The current website had not been updated in five years, and did not have the ability for guests to register or donate online. 38

With the spring 2017 dedication of the Program Center and the subsequent renovation of Pavilion A, the center’s woodland-style meeting facility, the next step was the creation of a website, to better tell the story of the changes at DaySpring, and to begin to offer online registrations for the new diocesan programs offered. To find a vendor to do the web design and branding work, a diocesan committee published a request for proposals in late 2016 to six pre-qualified web agencies. In early 2017, the diocese selected Atlas Branding of Asheville, N.C.

as the finalist. Their strengths were their experience in building similar websites on the WordPress platform, their branding work, their knowledge of web analytics and their work for similar hospitality clients. One consideration for the project was audience. A majority of the business at DaySpring comes from outside non-profit groups; the site had to both appeal to people who knew nothing about the Episcopal Church or DaySpring, and our internal parish audiences. The new site would have to speak to the diocese, the larger Southwest

Florida community, and the wider Episcopal Church. The website is at least the fifth iteration of the internet presence of DaySpring, which first went online in the late 1990s (see p. 43, Looking Back). As a part of the website creation, website developer Atlas Branding worked with the diocese to accomplish a number of goals with the website. In addition to a new look reflective of the changes at DaySpring, it needed to be secure, have a back end e-commerce function, be mobile friendly, allow for video and blogs. Traffic and data for usage for the site is encouraging, according to newly installed web analytics, now able to measured through the free Google Analytics app. We now know that the new site usage is 56 percent desktop, 34 percent mobile and 9 percent tablet. Overall, now a full 48 percent of traffic is from search engines, 31 percent direct traffic (such as parishioners typing in the url after seeing it in the catalog) and 17 percent referred from another site. Overall, in the last 90 days, the site generates about

300 visits a week, 75 percent of them newcomers and 25 percent repeat visitors. Overall visits are approximately 7,000 since the launch. The website is built on an “opensource” platform called WordPress. This allows for easy updating of content by DaySpring and diocesan staff. A useful addition the ability to capture email addresses for a new DaySpring email newsletter, built on the MailChimp platform. Group reservations continue through personal service, but open registration for DaySpring-branded events is completely online. The donation function of the new site allows those who wish to support DaySpring financially through secure online giving. Along with the website, DaySpring and diocesan staff approved a new logo for DaySpring, which is an update of the old DaySpring logo. It is the first major update to the logo since the creation of DaySpring, and it gives a more Florida look to the tree, and includes a heron. The palette is a selection of earth tones of green and blue that were taken

directly from nature at DaySpring. A new tagline “A Sacred Place” is inspired by the longer mission statement of DaySpring. The tagline celebrates the Episcopal roots of DaySpring, yet communicates that to a general audience that may or may not know much about the Episcopal Church. As part of the new logo, which debuted on the new DaySpring 2018 catalog this fall, the diocese has a set of brand guidelines for the logo, which show how the logo can be used on signage, clothing and promotional objects.

Visit the site at

Obituaries ST. PETERSBURG - Inez Eddins, a longtime executive secretary in the Diocese of Southwest Florida in the 1970s and 1980s, died Sept. 18, 2017. Born on Sept. 11, 1916, she was 101 years old on Sept. 11. FT. LAUDERDALE - The Rev. Richard Daniel Straughn, a retired priest canonically resident, died Friday, August 4, 2017. Fr. Straughn served as Vicar of St. Chad’s Tampa from 1989-1996. Prior to his work in Southwest Florida, he served in several parishes in the Diocese of New Jersey, where he was ordained priest in 1972.  He is survived by a daughter, Catherine Joy and a son, Edward Scott. HENDERSONVILLE, N.C. – Christine E. Folwell, the wife of 68 years of the Rt. Rev. William Folwell, died Nov. 2, 2017. The Rt. Rev. Folwell, who survives his wife, was Bishop of Central Florida from 1970-1989, and participated in the consecration of Bishop Smith in 2007. She was a registered nurse and founded the Episcopal Clergy Family Network, conducting and co-authoring the first sociological study of Episcopal clergy families in the nation. 39

The Arts

ART COMES TO DAYSPRING While DaySpring serves our parishes and church gatherings, our broader mission resides in providing service to our community, and our non-profit arts group retreats and workshops help us forward that calling PARRISH – When DaySpring was founded in 1982, it was envisioned to be a place of respite and retreat for our church groups. But over the years, a number of regional arts groups have found a home at DaySpring with their annual meetings and retreats. One of the most faithful yearly visitors has been Women Contemporary Artists of the Gulf Coast, a Southwest Florida group of visual artists. “It has become a tradition, and it is one that everyone gets excited about,” says WCA President Judy Lyons Schneider, a contemporary mixed media artist who works in printmaking, encaustics, collage and paint and lives in Lakewood Ranch. “It is a very special time away,” said Schneider.

The group has a wide variety of art projects while here, including mediums that include sculpture, watercolors, acrylics, collages and abstract art. While the artist group is open to new members, many come year after year. The members, who stay four days, enjoy the encouragement of working with others, as most of the group’s artists work alone. She said that the yearly artist gatherings at DaySpring, which began around 2000, enable members to have the time and 40

space to explore their work, including new techniques and materials. Morning walks and quiet times provide a peaceful environment. The group’s multi-day retreats allow for work together, though many plein air painters work outside. Members give mini-workshops, and others just come to have the uninterrupted time to work. “Once a year, we just go to immerse ourselves,” said Schneider, who moved to Florida in 1998 and shortly thereafter learned about the group.

The group holds their retreat in the woodsy environment of the newly renovated Pavilion A and stay in the DaySpring cabins, enjoying time together after evening work sessions. Artists contribute to our role of being “A Sacred Place” in our wider community; their appreciation of our Manatee River setting enriches the experience for all of our Episcopal guests. Dozens of other arts and craft groups use DaySpring each year, making the center an unofficial art colony.

These groups include Safety Harbor Scrappers, Piecemakers of Brandon, Sunshine State Artists, Mosaics and More and Southwest Florida Quilt Guild. In its second year this fall was the Sacred Windows religious icon group of Marcia Allison, who teaches the ancient practice of creating egg tempera icons in the Byzantine style. Each of these groups help support DaySpring with their visits, and are a valuable part of the wider DaySpring family. Often, different arts groups are here at the same time, which allows for a crosspollination of ideas. “One group inspires the other,” said Schneider. Find out more at

A long list of Southwest Florida artists attended their annual DaySpring retreat. They are: Bernice Gaines Helene Hirmes Joan Peters Judy Lyons Schneider Alice Harrison Margorie Sayer Charlotte Lee Marsha Ouimette Jamie Friedli Pat Talbott Cecile Moran Raposa Nancy Turner Helen Eckensburg

Nancy Rose Janet Mishner Sherry Panico Fran Richardson Barbara Albin Lorene Erickson Bonnie Elkins Margaret Magee Nancy Gray Nancy Heart Beverly Gerety Donna Grasel Susan Klein Marge Bennett

Around the Diocese continued from page 6

SARASOTA – Barnes & Noble was one of the contributors to the St. Wilfred Preschool Yard Sale. The church and school campus in Sarasota saw numerous parents and church members volunteer for cleanup after Irma, as well as a group from Church of the Redeemer, and Wayne Gamble, who brought his trailer for cleanup.

SUN CITY CENTER – St. John the Divine parish received an award for their support of Miracles Outreach Community Development Center. The Rev. Kevin Warner and Anne Planner accepted on behalf of the parish. Miracles Outreach provides help to children who have been homeless or abused.

ST. PETERSBURG –The St. Thomas Snell Isle parish held a choral requiem Eucharist on Nov. 2, All Souls. The event included a blessing of Curry Garden. They also held an October Holy Eucharist service and potluck outdoors at the west end of Coffee Pot Bayou in Coffee Pot Park.

SANIBEL – St. Michael & All Angels held a blessing, dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony in honor of its new and renovated spaces on Thursday, Nov. 16 on the church grounds. Several dozen parishoners gathered on the church’s rear campus to participate in the ceremony, which consisted of hymns, prayers, readings from

scripture, and a litany of dedication. Minister of Music Hank Glass led the hymn-singing. The ceremony began with the hymn “The Church’s One Foundation” and concluded with the words of the prophet Isaiah, “My people shall long enjoy this place.” The Rev. Dr. Ellen Sloan, Rector, blessed each room with the invocation, “Bless this space and all who enter here.”


Mission & Outreach

USF REDEDICATION EVENSONG continued from page 35

As we celebrate the restored campus ministry we must never forget our purpose for being—to love God and to love our neighbors. After a year of restoration, we are well positioned to be the religious center on campus that is distinguished by the quality of pastoral care and creative program offerings that meet people where they are along their spiritual journeys, and equips them to lean on their existing faith tradition when faced with difficulties and the

order that I may understand.” As the church, St. Anselm’s is reclaiming our unique call to be instruments of meaning- making. For emerging adults, in particular, there is a deep longing for something that they can hold on to; something that will not pass away. There is a place for the Church to stand with our student neighbors in their grief and sorrow, and to be the beacon of Christ’s light when

Learn about our diocesan outpost at USF by visiting

inherent transitions of life in the collegiate population. St. Anselm of Canterbury, for whom this chapel center is named, is known for his spirituality summarized by the phrase, “Faith seeking understanding.” Anselm said, “I do not seek to understand that I may believe, but I believe in 42

darkness may seem to be the only immediate reality. What a profound way to be set apart in the context of the academic village, as we care for the souls who live, work and play on these holy grounds. We exist to be hope bearers and to proclaim the knowledge of God’s saving work in the person of Jesus

Christ. Students who are led to share this snapshot of their life’s journey with us will be equipped with the knowledge that when the world seems to be crumbling all around, they can hold on to Jesus—hope. When they are stumbling through their lives in the dark grasping for something to hold on to—they need to know that the Christ light is the light that vanquishes all darkness—hope. Boldly reclaiming our Episcopal identity in this space, our newlyrestored ministry offers a radical welcome to our neighbors without compromising the integrity of who we are as a faith community rooted in our rich Anglican tradition. St. Anselm’s, like any community of faith, can never be all things to all people, but I am convinced that we can mean something to God’s people. When God gives his servants vision, God promises his divine provision through the abundance of people and resources. And so, my sisters and brothers, we gather today in this sacred space to celebrate faith in vision, continuity in legacy and hope in the restorative power of Jesus Christ. Tomorrow, we will labor on with our kingdom-building work as light bringers and hope bearers for a hurting and broken world. - Excerpt from the sermon given at Evensong rededication of the center

support the


ASSIST DAYSPRING ENDOWMENT DaySpring is a sacred place that seeks to enrich and empower its visitors in Christ through prayer, worship and fellowship. Your gift to DaySpring, however large or small, will help support DaySpring in perpetuity.

ASSIST EPISCOPAL CHARITIES OF SOUTHWEST FLORIDA Episcopal Charities is the funding support organization for congregation-based community outreach and special needs.



After prayerful consideration, I/we wish to contribute: □ $5,000 □ $1,000 □ $500 □ $100 □ $50 □ $20 □ $__________


□ For Episcopal Charities Endowment Fund □ For DaySpring Endowment Fund □ Share my donation equally between the two funds


□ I would like to include the Diocese in my estate plan □ My company matches; the matching form is enclosed □ Donate my gift in honor of _______________________________ □ I wish to remain anonymous

NAME: ________________________________________________ ADDRESS: _____________________________________________ CITY: _____________________ STATE: ____ ZIP: _____________ PHONE: ____________ EMAIL: __________________________ PARISH: _______________________________________________


Please make payable to: Diocese of Southwest Florida, 8005 25th St. East, Parrish, FL 34219

DONATE ONLINE AT EPISCOPALSWFL.ORG The Diocese of Southwest Florida has a safe, secure online donation page at


□ Please contact me at the above address about the plans for DaySpring Episcopal Center.

Pentecost 2017 Edition



Non. Profit Org. U.S. Postage PAID Manasota, FL Permit No. 946


2017 Advent Christmas Southern Cross  

The Advent/Christmas edition features Hurricane Irma, events from the 2017 convention and a profile of St. Peter's, Plant City. Also include...

2017 Advent Christmas Southern Cross  

The Advent/Christmas edition features Hurricane Irma, events from the 2017 convention and a profile of St. Peter's, Plant City. Also include...