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Preparing for the Handoff

Dear People of the Gulf Atlantic Diocese, 

Much has happened since my election as your second Bishop on May 14th. My excitement to serve you all has not been diminished at all despite my recent health issues. After a heart attack on June 28th, two stents were placed in my right coronary artery giving me immediate relief. Two days later a second procedure placed additional stents in my Left arteries due to chronic buildup. While I am told genetics played a large role in my attack, I have amended my diet to be safe. The doctors say that I should be back to full strength in time. I experience some fatigue but only after my rehab clinic workouts. Last Wednesday I kept a Twelve-minute pace with good vitals. Thank you for your ongoing prayers!

The Diocesan staff has been very helpful in my orientation leading up to my consecration on August 27th. My transition from rector at Servants of Christ (Gainesville, FL) has been smooth and I am quickly learning all that will be a part of my work as your Bishop. I could not ask for a better person to receive this work from. As you are well aware, Bishop Neil is a wonderful leader and is gracious in all things. As he says, “the baton hand-off is underway.”

Following my orientation retreat with the staff July 6-7, I have been focused on the staffing changes necessitated by Canon Jim McCaslin and Administrator Harris Willman’s retirement with Bishop Neil at the end of September. Father Jim and Harris, along with Bishop Neil, carried the main weight of creating the Gulf Atlantic Diocese and I am pleased to tell you we will be honoring both men at the Synod in November during the Friday night service. Please make your plans to be there to honor them for their work. I would ask for your ongoing prayers for other staff decisions and the structure of the Diocesan office following my consecration. 

Last weekend I attended the consecration of the Rt. Rev. Alex Cameron, the new bishop of Pittsburgh. He has been a great friend and covenant group partner for the last five years and I am encouraged that God has called us both to the office of Bishop. I think this friendship will serve the Church well for years to come. I have also come to love Bishop-Elect Willie Hill of the Southeastern Diocese of the Reformed Episcopal Church. Fr. Willie will be consecrated this weekend. He will be just up the road in Charleston, South Carolina and I look forward to mutual ministries between our dioceses in years to come. Please pray for me as I travel to attend his consecration.

Brothers and sisters, God has been reminding me of late that any meaningful work of the Kingdom of God is accomplished not at the strength of our human endeavors but as we align ourselves with God’s Holy Spirit and his divine plans. My latest weakness has become a blessed opportunity to rely more fully on the Lord’s strength being perfected in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). I am already seeing the Lord’s hand as he reshapes our diocesan staff and prepares us for the season ahead. I hope to see many of you at my consecration on August 27th, and if not there then at my reverse walkabouts being planned in the Deaneries this Fall.

Onward and Upward,

Alex+

The Rev. Alex Farmer
Bishop-Elect of the Gulf Atlantic Diocese