Planting Congregations
Strengthening
Churches
Raising Up
Leaders
Editor's Note
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you all as we welcome you to the Gulf Atlantic Diocesan Communique for December. 2020 was a difficult year filled with challenges and adjustments but this edition celebrates some of the many ways we have seen incredible growth within our churches. This edition outlines those ministry celebrations as well as the transitions our own staff is making for 2021. It also includes the final article in Marcia Lebhar’s Fine Fire series. The entire series can be found on our website and we are grateful for Marcia’s incredible wisdom and leadership in discipling the next generation. We continue to pray for you all and are grateful to serve alongside you in God’s work here in our diocese!

Prayer for a time of thanksgiving, BCP 2019, #117:
Accept, O Lord, our thanks and praise for all that you have done for us. We thank you for the splendor of the whole creation, for the beauty of this world, for the wonder of life, and for the mystery of love. We thank you for the blessing of family and friends, and for the loving care which surrounds us on every side. We thank you for setting us at tasks that demand our best efforts, and for leading us to accomplishments that satisfy and delight us. We thank you also for those disappointments and failures that lead us to acknowledge our dependence on you alone. Above all, we thank you for your Son Jesus Christ; for the truth of his Word and the example of his life; for his steadfast obedience, by which he overcame temptation; for his dying, through which he conquered death; and for his rising to life again, in which we are raised to the life of your kingdom. Grant us the gift of your Spirit, that we may know Christ and make him known; and through him, at all times and in all places, may give thanks to you in all things. Amen.
From the Bishop
Dear brothers and sisters in the diocese,
I pray you are having a blessed Christmas season!

In her recent version of the song “I Wish You a Merry Christmas,” Victoria Monet adds this question as a final verse:

Yes, I’m so done with 2020
I think we’ve all been through plenty
Can we just have a Merry Christmas
And a Happy New Year?

Of course, the question it raises is what would make for a “happy” year ahead. One definition of happy is, “characterized by or indicative of pleasure, contentment, or joy.” Looking back, 2020 was not a happy year for many reasons, not the least of which is the ongoing pandemic.

Agatha Christie once wrote that one “sees things better afterwards than at the time.”* I wonder how we will look back at this period in our lives and how our perspective might change.

I am struck by two things, however, as I consider the question of what would make for a happy year ahead.

First of all is the question of what makes for joy, the deeper form of happiness. In Philippians 4:4-7 Paul writes of our call to joy (New Living Translation):
Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice! Let everyone see that you are considerate in all you do. Remember, the Lord is coming soon. Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.

Paul ties our joy to our caring for others, our hope in the return of Jesus, our petitioning God for our day-to-day needs, and our thankfulness for what the Lord has already done. These are the ingredients that release the greatest joy. It is noteworthy that they are not tied to our circumstances. Indeed, Paul wrote this epistle while chained in prison.

Secondly, a truly happy new year would include watching many come (or return) to faith in Jesus. The pandemic has been a severe mercy. It has highlighted our mortality, our deep need for community, our sad divisions, the plight of the poor, and the illusion that we can have life under control. All of these are pointers to our need for Jesus. The happiest of years would be founded in true revival, seeing many non-Christians come to faith in Jesus. At the same time, we who believe would have our minds and hearts revived to focus on the love of Jesus and the advancement of his kingdom locally, nationally, and around the world.

Let us pray and work for such a happy new year.

In Jesus the Messiah,

+Neil
*From Agatha Christie’s short story: At the “Bells and Motley”
 
“Are you pretending that we can solve the mystery where Scotland Yard failed?” he asked sharply.
 
The other made a characteristic gesture. “Why not? Time has passed. Three months. That makes a difference.”
 
“That is a curious idea of yours,” said Mr. Satterthwaite slowly. “That one sees things better afterwards than at the time.”
 
“The longer the time that has elapsed, the more things fall into proportion. One sees them in their true relationship to one another.”
Planting
2021 Transitions and New Ministries, Gulf Atlantic Diocese Staff
Along with most of our churches, the diocesan staff has also adjusted during 2020 in preparation for 2021. We are happy to welcome the Reverend Canon Chris Klukas and Michelle Herbst to the team! Chris will be coming on board as the Canon for Communications, taking over as Editor-in-Chief of the Communique in January and assuming responsibility for communications for the diocese. Liz Cohn, our 2020 Communications Coordinator, is taking on more responsibility in communications at her home parish and will be moving to a consultant role for the diocese while continuing to help in the planning of Synod. Reverend Canon Dr. Jessica Jones will be stepping down as Communique Editor-in-Chief, though remaining on staff, due to her additional responsibilities in her new role as the Provincial Canon for the Next Generation Leadership Initiative. We are grateful for Chris and his extensive expertise in this department.

Michelle Herbst will be joining the staff as the Associate Director for Church Planting. Michelle will be helping Rev. Canon Taylor Bodoh in 2021 and brings with her a wealth of experience in ministry. No doubt her extensive involvement in training, administration, and discipleship will be an asset to our church planters and to our staff.

Please celebrate these new positions and programs and join us in prayer for those involved. Learn more about our new staff members and their new roles below.
The Rev. Canon Christopher M. Klukas, Canon for Communications
Chris grew up as a cradle Anglican in the Diocese of Pittsburgh. He received a call to the priesthood as a teenager during a Happening youth retreat. After completing his Master of Divinity at both Gordon Conwell in Massachusetts and Nashotah House in Wisconsin, he returned to Pittsburgh to serve a revitalizing parish as Rector. In 2011 he became the Director of Communications and Publishing at Trinity School for Ministry where he developed the seminary's video production capabilities, assisted with a major capital campaign, and started a publishing imprint. He continues to teach at Trinity as an adjunct professor. Chris now serves as Rector of Good Samaritan Anglican Church in Middleburg, FL and is working on completing his Doctor of Ministry in Family Discipleship. Reflecting on his new role in the diocese, Chris remarked, "I'm looking forward to telling the stories of the work God is doing in, and through, the churches of the Gulf Atlantic Diocese as well as helping to strengthen congregations in their ability to reach into their neighborhoods with the Gospel of Jesus Christ." Chris is married to the Rev. Carrie Klukas and together they have six children. Chris can be reached at: cklukas@gulfatlanticdiocese.org
 
Michelle Herbst, Associate Director of Church Planting
Michelle grew up in Jacksonville. She is a proud founding member of Calvary Anglican Church (now Church of Our Savior); she was only one year old at the time of its inception, but it still counts! In 2006, she went to Florida State University, where she studied Psychology, with minors in Biology and Religion. She also joined InterVarsity Christian Fellowship at FSU, where she fell in love with Scripture, prayer, and leading small group communities. Upon graduation in 2010, she joined InterVarsity staff, serving alongside Taylor and Karissa Bodoh. When they left for seminary in 2012, Michelle co-led the Tallahassee chapter with Peter Lebhar for several years.

In 2015, she became the Area Ministry Director for InterVarsity North Florida, overseeing the work in Tallahassee, Jacksonville, Gainesville, and everything in between. As Michelle starts work quarter-time with the diocese, she will continue serving with InterVarsity in that capacity.

She was a part of the team that helped plant Incarnation Tallahassee. She also started and now co-leads the Prayer Team for Incarnation. In 2018, she began taking classes toward a Master of Divinity at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. Michelle is passionate about developing leaders, reaching unreached places, multi-ethnic ministry, and inviting people into Scripture and prayer. She married Zach in January 2020 and loves cooking, teaching Spinning classes, and playing board games with friends! Michelle can be reached at mherbst@gulfatlanticdiocese.org
Rev. Canon Dr. Jessica Jones, Provincial Canon for The Next Generation Leadership Initiative
Archbishop Foley Beach has named six key initiatives for the ACNA. The Next Generation Leadership Initiative (NGLI) focuses on raising up leaders of all generations, for the next generation of the ACNA. NGLI comes alongside dioceses and parishes to discover new leaders of all ages and diverse backgrounds, to develop these leaders practically and spiritually, and to deploy them into ministry.

This discovery is integral to the future of the ACNA and our mission to reach North America with the transforming love of Jesus Christ. Now into our second decade as a denomination, the ACNA is beginning to see a transition of leadership; the retirement of the generation that faithfully led us for the last decade is upon us and the demand for leadership development is high.
NGLI is working to discover new leaders, to develop them and to deploy them in a rapidly changing ministry environment as a result of the cultural landscape we face at the close of 2020. We are committed to strengthening our pipeline of leaders in order to strengthen our ACNA family. The leadership pipeline for the ACNA cannot be accomplished without your support. It is imperative that we work together to spiritually form the members of our family as well as to raise up leaders for the next generation of our province to meet these needs.

NGLI has roundtables focused on raising up and developing leaders within a variety of areas including family ministry, student ministry, campus ministry, ethnic minorities, women’s leadership, clergy development, and more. Our own Rev. Canon Dr. Jessica Jones, Peter Lebhar, Rev. Taylor Ishii, and Rev. Mark Eldredge are helping with this initiative. To contribute to leadership development through NGLI, please visit: https://www.nextgenanglican.com/give-to-next-generation. For more information about NGLI, please sign up for our emails or contact Jessica Jones at jjones@nextgenanglican.com.

NGLI is raising up leaders of all generations, for the next generation of the ACNA. Join us!
Strengthening
2020 Year in Review: Gulf Atlantic Diocese
Amidst the challenges of 2020, here are some of the many ways the staff is celebrating diocesan ministry from this year:
  • 9 virtual all-clergy gatherings
  • 18 virtual deans’ meetings
  • 44 virtual deanery gatherings for clergy
  • Held first virtual Synod with 212 delegates
  • Hosted 3 workshops through virtual Synod on restoring our souls, churches, and communities
  • 6 new clergy joined our diocese from other areas of the province
  • 5 clergy were ordained
  • 7 current postulants in the ordination process
  • 2 new church planting curates
  • Strengthened partnership with Always Forward, the church planting initiative of the ACNA
  • Deaf Church Together was planted out of Servants of Christ, Gainesville
  • 11 churches received revitalization consultations from the diocese
  • Camp Araminta was virtual with over 80 participants
  • Dynamos Day enabled members of the Dynamos community to continue to meet for fellowship safely
  • 3 diocesan virtual gatherings for students
  • 18 virtual gatherings for family ministry leaders
  • 18 virtual gatherings for student ministry leaders
  • The Hybrid Ministry Task Force was created and is helping churches navigate pandemic issues
  • Developed the diocesan leadership matrix and began initial planning of the Clergy Leadership Development program
  • The diocesan constitution & canons were updated and approved
  • The new diocesan website was launched as an intentional resource with enhanced functionality
  • The Communique and Clergy Corner e-newsletters have been emailed monthly to increase clear communication to the diocese and clergy
  • 2 new staff members
  • 40 churches in our diocese offered virtual ministry throughout the pandemic
  • The diocese ends the year in strong financial standing
  • Hundreds of programs, in-person or virtual, were held throughout the diocesan churches
  • The Word of God was preached and people met the Lord!
Raising Up
Reflections on Teaching the Scriptures

“You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” Deuteronomy 6:7
 
I only cried once on Christmas day, and whether it was from joy or sorrow I am still not certain.
After sunset, Neil and I found ourselves standing in the yard outside our daughter’s living room window, looking in on a scene that somehow managed to be both mundane and exquisite. It was our traditional Christmas night family carol sing. Covid restrictions meant that earlier in the day we had transferred most of our traditions outdoors, despite the cold. We hung stockings from the trellis on the deck. We inaugurated a fire pit for opening presents. But gathering around the piano has to be done indoors, and our varied Covid exposures made it impossible for us to join the rest of the family.

So they opened the windows and put our two chairs on the lawn just outside. This year two more cousins shared the piano bench with Uncle Jon. There was a violin, and at least one ukulele. Three of the children had been to Israel. They could picture Nazareth and Bethlehem. Several of the children had completed the challenge of reading through their whole Action Bible and are planning their traditional celebratory Five Guys feast to mark the accomplishment.

Neil and I watched, and we sang along happily enough. At the end there were at least two little girls dancing, celebrating, with arms in the air. Suddenly I had a moment of seeing it all differently. I was no longer a participant but solely an observer from afar. Hebrews 12:1 came to mind: Christians are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses in heaven. We were witnessing a scene we had helped to set in motion through many years, but which was now largely in other hands, rolling through time without our active participation, hopefully gathering strength and power. These are perhaps the typical reflections of those who, however vigorous, are unarguably in the last quarter of life!

It was a strange and deeply bittersweet moment . . . observing your own family life while no longer actively participating in it, at least in that hour. There was a little sorrow I suppose, things suddenly seeming so fleeting. But the enormous deposit of that moment, a visitation of grace almost, was of seeing the faithfulness of God and the profound effect of the Bible, his living Word, upon our lives.

I have a vivid memory of hearing a speaker address a group of college students years ago. He said, “If I knew I was going to leave this world and could only leave behind one thing for my family and friends, it would be this: The Bible. It would be the Bible. I would teach them to love the Word. If I knew they would cling to God’s Word, I would know that nothing would ever ultimately defeat them.” It was the power of God’s Word and his faithfulness to keep it that bowled me over on Christmas night.

But let’s face it, the Bible can be scary.

The Bible ranks right up there with snakes and spiders and public speaking for most Christians. Statistically, fear of exposing their biblical ignorance is the number one reason adults stay away from Bible studies and adult education programs. Christian parents are deeply anxious about needing to root their kids in the Scriptures but they feel inadequate to do so, and put enormous pressure on Sunday school teachers and youth ministers to do it for them. Most adults who do study the Bible stay in the parts they are pretty sure they’ll understand. This can be a narrow selection after a while.


Looking Ahead
Anglicans for Life
Every year Anglicans for Life (AFL) hosts an annual Summit, called “Mobilizing the Church for Life,” held in Falls Church, Virginia. This year, Anglicans for Life will host the Summit virtually on two Saturdays in January, 2021. This means that our people in churches coast-to-coast can be equipped to uphold the sanctity of life!
The goal for SUMMIT 2021: Mobilizing the Church for Life is to provide practical ideas, inspiration, and education for every person and every church, so that we can make a difference in our local community and the wider culture. We want our people to be effective in sharing the truth that God is the loving Creator of every human being, who has a purpose for every life.

AFL envisions both individuals at their computers and watch parties gathered at our churches on two Saturdays in January, with all of us learning and growing together. 

Week One, Saturday, January 16th will feature keynote presentations, along with discussion time for the watch parties and for individuals in chat rooms to share daily action ideas and plan pastoral care, advocacy, or educational ministry to impact their community for life throughout the year.

Week Two, Saturday, January 23rd will feature topical workshop tracks that will allow folks to dig deeper into specific life issues that interest them. We will also have a Youth Program available as part of the virtual conference on both Saturdays.

The times for both Saturdays will be 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. EST/8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. PST. 

For more information, or to host a watch party, visit anglicansforlife.org/summit-2021
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Rev. Dr. Jessica H. Jones Editor-in-Chief, Communique
Canon for Next Generation Discipleship
Gulf Atlantic Diocese of the ACNA
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