Go in Peace to Love & Serve

Dear Servants of Christ,
I must begin this letter by telling you what a blessing you all have been to Jody and I through the process of my election as the second bishop for the Gulf Atlantic Diocese. From my announcement in March as a candidate for bishop right up through my election May 14th, Servants has confirmed that God is in fact calling me to this office. Thank you for all your supporting prayers and the release you have given me to pursue God’s calling.
I must also share with you the joy of watching the vestry under the leadership of Ramona Chance and Jose Boada, and the staff under the leadership of Father James Manley, take up my leadership roles and continue the ministry of the Gospel Servants has been called to in Gainesville. We have an incredible body and it is being seen clearly in this transition. As your future Bishop, I promise to keep a close and watchful eye on this parish so close to my heart, but I can tell you this parish is in good hands even before God calls the next rector. 
Speaking of the vestry, I know they are working to appoint a search committee to begin the work of interviewing and discerning Servants’ new rector. Please be in prayer for that committee which will ultimately make a recommendation to the vestry and the bishop for who God is calling as your next rector. I understand you will have a meeting in September to update you all on that process. In the meantime, I am so pleased to tell you that Father James Manley has agreed to serve as your interim rector during this transition. Interim leaders serve an important role in transition, and we have long planned James’ role if I was called to leave. James has been with me since day one and he has my full trust. James will become the primary preacher but will share preaching and celebrant responsibilities with our talented staff of clergy. Many have wondered why God sent us Father Bob Ayres, Mother Susan Rhodes, and Father Michael Mayo but it is clear now God’s intention to build a team of clergy to serve you well and equip you for the work of ministry. If you have questions about staff or the search process I would recommend contacting Ramona, Jose, or Father James. Again, you will be kept informed of the process. 
On another note, what a crazy summer! Your rector was elected bishop and then six weeks later, you hear that I have had a heart attack. Again, thank you so much for your prayers and support for our family in this crisis. Shock is best way to describe the last month. I went from running 6 miles in March to laying in the ER June 28th. Clearly God had lessons for me and He has given me more opportunities to trust Him in all circumstances. 2 Corinthians 12:9 tells us His strength is made perfect in our weakness. I am living testimony to that truth. Looking back, while no one wants to have a heart attack nor to be told you are genetically predisposed to heart issues, I see God’s perfect timing and provision. Even the timing of the attack was perfect. I had already begun to transition out of Servants and I will not become bishop until August 27th. If it was going to happen, what better time. Not the way I wanted vacation time, but my view from UF Health into the Prairie was quite nice. 
My rehab is going quite well, as is the new eating plan I have implemented. I ran on a treadmill at a twelve-minute pace in the rehab clinic Wednesday and I’m feeling good. I do fatigue faster than normal but I am learning to take breaks and naps when necessary. Thank you for your ongoing prayers and love during this time. 
Two dates to put on your minds as we enter the month of August. First, Jody and I are blessed by your desire to honor us at two events the weekend of August 19-21. Also, Sunday August 21st will be my final sermon as rector of Servants of Christ. Also, in that service I will be commissioning Father James Manley as interim rector. Please be there as you are able as we celebrate all God has done in our parish over these sixteen years. Also, I know it is a long drive, but I would love to have all of you attend my consecration service, Saturday, August 27th 11:00 am at St. Peter’s Anglican Cathedral, Tallahassee. The service will be live-streamed for those who are not able to make it in person.
Servants of Christ, I love you all so much and have truly been blessed to lead you over these years, actually twenty years in Gainesville this month. It has been a joy to see God’s redeeming work among you and to remember all the lives blessed by and through you as a congregation. I am already looking forward to my first bishop visit to Servants of Christ for confirmations, baptisms, and maybe even an ordination. You remain always in my heart and prayers.
Go in peace to love and serve the Lord!

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