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An Invitation to New Relationships

January 30, 2024
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Dear Diocesan Family,

Epiphany greetings! It is a joy to celebrate Christ’s coming by reflecting on the innumerable ways we see the Lord’s glory throughout our diocese and in partnership with each of you. Thank you for your continued work to further God’s Kingdom.

I am writing to invite you into two new relationships, both emerging from our five-year strategic plan. Before we get to the invitation, I want to provide a recap of the primary outcomes of the plan: four missional strategies and three new initiatives.

The missional strategies for the Diocese work to further the ministry of planting churches, raising leaders, strengthening congregations, and now include reaching the next generation of the Church. We have exciting updates in all four areas to share with you:

Planting Churches

The Diocese continues to explore new areas to reach people within our geographic borders. This work includes the utilization of demographic assessment tools designed to research the viability of areas in which we may plant churches. In addition to our church plants in Jacksonville, St. Augustine, Portland, and Orlando, the Rev. Peter and Naomi Lebhar have committed to church planting in Tampa, and our geographic deans will be examining other strategic cities this quarter.

Raising Leaders

The Diocese currently has 27 people in the ordination process; what an amazing testament to our churches’ intentional efforts to raise leaders! Additionally, our new initiatives (see below) will impact the leadership of our laity by providing networks where leaders can share best practices that will impact their ministry immediately.

Strengthening Congregations

The Diocese welcomed two new staff members to the team, the Rev. Canon Bill Krizner and the Rev. Craig Brown, who will work to strengthen our congregations. Both priests bring incredible expertise to their new roles and are excited to share in this effort. This year we will utilize a newly developed metric that will help gauge areas of strength and areas of opportunity among our churches, and Bill and Craig will then strive to meet the contextual needs of our parishes in both congregational development and congregational health:

  • Congregational development: Bill will come alongside churches and their leadership teams to help them develop in the areas of flourishing that Bishop Alex has outlined. This work will be done based on contextualized need as well as the gifts of the team. Bill brings experience in strategic and leadership development that will help churches grow in order to reach their communities with the love of Jesus.

  • Congregational health: Craig will come alongside churches and their leadership teams to assist them in developing in the areas of spiritual and emotional health. This work includes programs on Sacred Mental Health and Sacred Marriage. Craig also plans to expand opportunities for spiritual direction throughout our diocese.

Reaching the Next Generation of the Church

The Diocese welcomed the Rev. Canon Christopher Jones earlier this month as our new Canon for Next Generation Ministry. This final ministry pillar focuses on evangelism efforts in seeking the next generation of the Church. Christopher will continue our current Next Gen programs, build campus ministry throughout the Diocese, and ensure Family Ministry flourishes at the parish level (see Canon Christopher’s article in this month’s Communique).

Three New Initiatives

In addition to the four missional strategies, the strategic plan introduced three key initiatives:

  1. Center for Ministry: a model for supplemental formation for mission, equipping laity and clergy for ministry. The C4M will offer practical, theological education, launching in two phases: the first will cover content areas of greatest need and interest to our Diocese; the second will cover content areas supplemental to seminary training to prepare ordination candidates for canonical exams.
  2. Networks: a unified culture of shared wisdom through a structure of peer networks intended to strengthen our diocesan and parish ministry together. These networks will also launch in two phases: the first by ministry role, the second by topic.
  3. The Grow Fund: enabling the diocese to steward targeted gifts and funding streams for programs such as: church planting, revitalization projects, seminary scholarships, internships, next gen discipleship, curacies, and a diocesan retreat center.

Two Invitations

The Center for Ministry initiative is already up and running, and has partnered with the Charles Simeon Institute to bring the Equipping the Saints conference to Tallahassee, FL, in April. This is a wonderful opportunity for YOU, a leader of this diocese, to attend workshops in key areas such as establishing a healing prayer ministry, building a small group ministry, using the catechism in your church, exploring The Book of Common Prayer, and two tracks for our children and youth. The children’s track not only offers catechetical instruction to children, but churches can come see how to utilize catechesis in your children’s ministry. The youth ministry track is open to all high school students (meeting Saturday only) and includes workshops on identity, purpose, belonging, and being a witness. Please join us April 19-20 at St. Peter’s Anglican Cathedral by registering today!

The second invitation is to join a Network! The Network Initiative is launching in two stages: phase 1 is at the parish level (where we are already gathering by staff roles such as administrators, next gen ministers, musicians, wardens, etc.) and phase 2 is by content area (likely launching in 2025). Consider any area of leadership you hold in your church and contact us to learn how you can connect with other leaders across the diocese, by emailing us at networks@gulfatlanticdiocese.org.

Again, thank you for the ways you continue to serve the Lord. We are grateful to be in ministry with you!


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