November 27, 2019
An Advent Message From Bishop Howard
Samantha Marxsen Named Director of Summer Camp and Youth Programs
We are pleased to announce Samantha Marxsen as our new Director of Summer Camp and Youth Programs in the Diocese of Florida. Sam has been serving in this role in an interim capacity.

"We are excited to make this special and important announcement," said Bishop John Howard. "Sam's passion for Christ, Camp Weed and the youth of our communities is a true asset to our entire Diocese. We look forward to working alongside her as we continue to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ in and around our Diocese."

Sam has been attending Camp Weed for as long as she can remember. She served as Leader in Training (LIT) for two years as soon as she was able to apply, and the summer before her senior year of high school was asked to join staff as an intern. She then spent two years as a cabin counselor and the following two years as the office manager. Sam’s favorite part of camp is watching camper’s challenge themselves and grow in their relationships with God and each other.

Sam graduated with a bachelors degree in psychology from Florida State University. She has spent the last three years as a research assistant, helping on projects focused on learning disabilities such as dyslexia as well as individual differences and development in twins. Because of this time spent in research she wants to go back to school in a few years for a Master's Degree in School Psychology. Outside of camp and school, Sam enjoys laying on the beach, playing guitar, and driving to explore new places. 
A Morning at the Office Podcast Launching
December 1
Fr. Wiley Ammons, of Episcopal Church of The Redeemer, and Mtr. Lisa Meirow, of All Saints Episcopal Church, are excited to announce the launch of " A Morning at the Office ," a daily morning prayer podcast beginning December 1.
The podcast, developed by Fr. Wiley and sponsored by Forward Movement, can be found in the A pple store and on Spotify. Search "A Morning at the Office" in the podcast store and subscribe today. You can also visit or to listen and subscribe.
Subscribe today to get your daily download and spend 15 minutes a day in prayer, in community, with God and start listening on December 1!
St. Mark's Episcopal School and Episcopal School of Jacksonville to Merge July 1, 2020
We are pleased to share with you that after much contemplative and prayerful deliberation, together our organizations have reached a decision to merge St. Mark’s Episcopal Day School (SMEDS) into Episcopal School of Jacksonville (ESJ), effective on July 1, 2020. A Mission Advancement Agreement governing the terms of the merger (subject to the customary conditions including the approval of the Standing Committee of The Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Florida) was signed on October 11.
The decision to proceed with a merger has been approved by the ESJ and SMEDS Boards of Trustees, the Vestry of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, St. Mark's Episcopal Church Foundation Board of Trustees, and The Right Rev. Samuel Johnson Howard, Bishop of Florida, and the Episcopal Diocese of Florida.
This decision was made after many thoughtful discussions with our boards and members of our communities. All of those in leadership considered the feedback and questions received, input from counsel, and exploration of the legal and financial impacts on both organizations, before reaching this conclusion. We are deeply grateful for the selflessness, hard work, and time of all of those who dedicated themselves to the due diligence process.
We firmly believe that the joining of the two schools creates an opportunity for both to strengthen quality Episcopal education in the Diocese of Florida, for our programs to grow in depth and breadth, and for our students, faculty, staff, and families to be enriched by the expansion of our schools’ communities. This partnership between the schools and the church ensures the continuation of spiritual formation in the lives of our students.
SMEDS will continue to operate as an independent school through June 30, 2020, after which time it will be merged into ESJ. An information meeting for SMEDS parents to learn more about this union with ESJ will be held on Wednesday, October 16, at 5:30 p.m. in Leatherbury Hall at St. Mark’s Church.
Following in the spirit of our schools’ founders and our missions, ESJ and SMEDS will continue to provide our students with an exceptional education within a Christian environment that encourages them to follow their passions and to develop into leaders in our community and the greater world.
Together we will work to ensure that the spiritual and moral tenets of our Episcopal tradition are evident in all that we do going forward. Trusting in God’s guidance, we look forward to an exciting future as one school.

The Rev. Adam Greene, Head of School
Episcopal School of Jacksonville

Alex Graham, Chairman, Board of Trustees
St. Mark’s Episcopal Day School

The Rev. Thomas P. Murray, Rector
St. Mark’s Episcopal Church
Critical Donations Needed
The Downtown Ecumenical Services Council (DESC) has critical clothing needs to continue to help families fighting poverty. Specifically, DESC needs men’s shoes, children’s clothes and any coats. All of these items tend to be in short-supply year-round, but the supply is particularly low as we head into the cold season. To donate, please email .

DESC was founded in 1981 when several downtown churches joined forces to help homeless people and working poor families. The organization seeks to proclaim the love of Jesus Christ by providing basic needs for those in emergency situations. The center is accessible on Ocean Street in the basement of the First Presbyterian Church and served more than 12,000 families with food, clothing and financial assistance last year.
Upcoming Events:
Memento Mori: A Quiet Garden Morning for Advent
December 14, 2019
Led by The Rev. Donavan Cain
The 17th century Anglican cleric Jeremy Taylor (1613-1667) who lived and preached during the turbulent days of the English Civil War wrote a popular book called The Rule and Exercise of Holy Living (1650). Even more popular was the book that followed a year later called The Rule and Exercises of Holy Dying. In our time a Roman Catholic nun, Sr Theresa Aletheia Noble, FSP, has revived the ancient tradition of remembering death--- encouraged by the Bible, the early Church Fathers, and many saints throughout the ages. She wrote a book for Lent called Remember Your Death: Memento Mori Lenten Devotional (January 2019). 

Fr. Donavan Cain, Rector of All Saints' Church, Jacksonville, was so taken by Sr Theresa Aletheia's book he made it the focus of the Lent 2019 study series in his parish. In the program he led church members through what Jeremy Taylor set forth for instruction in The Rule and Exercise of a Holy Dying and assisted them in focusing on the important place of hope in death at the core of our faith in Jesus Christ. It was all devotion, scripture, theology and discussion and had nothing to do with funeral planning.

Bishop Howard was so taken by hearing of Fr. Cain's offering that he asked him if he might offer it more widely. So it is this same study that Fr Cain will offer us in the Diocese during Advent on Saturday December 14 , under the aegis of the Bishop's Institute and via the hospitality and welcome of our St John's Cathedral. One of the great themes of Advent is 'the four last things', i.e. Heaven, Hell, Death and Judgement. Memento Mori: 'remember your death'- but equip yourself with hope, and with faith and with the love of God. 
Registration includes the $12 for lunch that is provided.

To register: click here.

(Discount for parish groups of four or more attending. Limited scholarships available.)
Live Nativity Coming to The Episcopal Church of Our Savior this December
December 20, 21 and 22
Church of Our Savior invites you to attend an interactive, walk through Live Nativity December 20, 21 and 22 from 5:30 - 8:30pm.

Walk through the story of Jesus's birth, as you see the people in a new and exciting way! The event is free to attend but a love offering is appreciated.

The Episcopal Church of Our Saviour
12236 Mandarin Road
Jacksonville, FL 32223

Visit for more information.
Christmas in the Cathedral District: December 4
December 4, 2019
5:30 - 8:30pm
Christmas in the Cathedral
Downtown Jacksonville

Cathedral District Churches are opening their doors for our inaugural FREE walking tour and welcoming the public to experience their churches decorated for Christmas. Docents will greet you inside each Sanctuary, and you will be treated to the sounds of choirs and Christmas music while on route.

Hop-on-hop-off transportation for families with small children and the elderly will be provided at no cost; and secured free parking! There will be festivities for children, a live Nativity Scene, an authentic Bethlehem Market selling handmade crafts, unique gifts, jewelry and baked goods; our food court will feature the Signature “District Christmas Cocktail”, Beer and Wine. More information can be found at
Helpful Links
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