During this season of Advent, it is appropriate to reflect upon the grace that is extended to us from many individuals who receive inspiration from God’s incarnation in Jesus Christ. These saints among us are those who freely share God’s love through visiting, feeding, teaching, healing—those important acts that are associated with Jesus’ ministry on the earth.
 
I am particularly grateful for the opportunity of receiving Jesus’ teachings as well as hearing and experiencing the wisdom of those seekers and scholars who have prayerfully studied and thoughtfully presented their research on these teachings and those of the Bible’s authors. It is through one of our most vibrant Diocesan ministries, the Bishop’s Institute for Ministry and Leadership, that I and so many others have experienced the grace of fellowship and instruction, enticing us to a deeper relationship with God and each other through Jesus Christ, and calling us to seek and fulfill our vocation as stronger Christian disciples.
 
As you are called to respond to God’s abundant grace through your generosity during this Advent season, I ask you to consider a financial gift to the Diocese of Florida Foundation’s campaign, Procession—Unified In Mission , designating the Bishop’s Institute for Ministry and Leadership. This Institute provides experiences for exploring and sharpening one’s unique ministry gifts, strengthening us for greater service to our parish, our Diocese, and the greater community. Your gift or pledge of financial support, will allow this unique and important ministry to flourish through more programs and extend its outreach by providing scholarships to those who cannot afford to benefit from attending its programs. Perhaps you are called to help underwrite a renowned guest lecturer, finance the training material for a workshop on developing an evangelism plan for our parishes, or you would like to fund the costs for a college student to attend a ministry exploration weekend. There are numerous ways that your gift can strengthen the Bishop’s Institute and simultaneously grow our Diocese.
 
As you read this campaign newsletter, I hope you will become more inspired to give to our campaign during this Advent. If you would like to talk about ways to support this or any other Diocesan ministry, please let me know. Thank you for your prayerful consideration.

Doug Walker
Bishop’s Deputy for Advancement & Stewardship
Executive Director, Diocese of Florida Foundation, Inc.
The Bishop’s Institute for Ministry and Leadership began in the Spring of 2014 under Bishop Howard’s vision to nurture growth by the training and equipping of future Diocesan leaders through continued educational offerings. Its purpose? To inspire all members of our Diocese with the love of God and a desire to serve Him and to equip us all—whatever our ministry may be—for that service.

I have so thoroughly loved the challenge of building the Bishop’s Institute for Ministry and Leadership over the last four years. I only look forward with continuing enthusiasm to strengthen it and, with your help, establishing it all the more firmly at the center of our Diocese’s life and mission.

Forming new and imaginative leadership is essential to the future health and effectiveness of the Diocese of Florida. Over the past four years, The Bishop’s Institute has established a proper school for the formation of local priests and vocational deacons, established a school that is currently preparing 30 lay leaders to be licensed, provided numerous meaningful workshops in specific areas of ministry such as stewardship, newcomer welcoming, children’s Christian formation teaching among others, and welcomed many nationally-recognized teachers and lecturers to lead retreats and quiet days dedicated to prayer, Bible study and spiritual growth. None of these opportunities would be possible if it were not for generous donors who share in our vision for the future.

The vision I invite you to share is one that is committed to working without pause to provide our clergy and lay leaders with the continuing education and the ministerial skills they seek and require to provide strong leadership in all our churches and ministries across the Diocese. I hope you will join me in supporting the Bishop’s Institute both in prayer and through a donation pledge.

There is so much else I want to see the Bishop’s Institute become and offer. I want the Institute to be a key instrument in uplifting the Diocese’s reputation as known for developing leadership for both the local and national Church; in providing the kind of continuing education and support to the clergy so that our Diocese attracts the very best new clergy to the Diocese and in being innovative yet always Biblically based in providing leadership development with an eye to the future of our church in a growing and changing society. And I want us to simply rejoice in the Lord in the sheer joy of learning new things together.

Douglas Dupree
Rector of The Bishop's Institute
Being a member of one of the first courses for Licensed Lay Ministry in our Diocese was an honor for me personally and a significant help for Christ Episcopal Church in Cedar Key. To summarize all that we learned over the past year would take several pages, so let me highlight what was most helpful for my home church.

While our Book of Common Prayer and the 1982 Hymnal are designed to make leading worship possible for many, learning how to use these books most effectively was one of the most valuable aspects of the course. I leave the course feeling confident that when armed with a BCP and a Bible it is possible to respond to most needs of our congregation in the absence of a priest. My education was the result of a well-planned combination of didactic and Socratic approaches. With my classmates, I acquired significant volumes of information, and then was given time to use that information to discover how it would apply in each of our unique situations. The opportunity to spend time with experienced and practical church leaders was invaluable; they made it clear that they wanted us to succeed in our ministries and also to recognize that we are all part of a community of religious leaders.

As the Diocese moves forward with plans for future courses, my prayer is that they will all be as superbly executed as my course has been. Also, my hope is that the Diocese will add refresher courses or gatherings of LLM graduates every year or so where we will be able to continue to support each other in our journeys.

Karen Voyles
Christ Church
Cedar Key, FL
Our sincere thanks to the Bishop's Institute and its Rector, Douglas Dupree, for inviting the members of The Father Sidney B, Parker Chapter of UBE and members of St. Philip's and St. Gabriel churches to participate in the Lenten Luncheon Program at the Cathedral. Rev. Dr. Stephen Cherry's message about "Forgiveness" was inspiring and memorable. The discussion at our tables following the Rev. Dr. Cherry's message was another vital part of the luncheon experience. Again, kudos to all connected with the Bishop's Institute and The Lenten Program.
 
Linda Belton
President of the Father Sidney B. Parker Chapter of the Union of Black Episcopalians
The Bishop’s Institute provides such wonderfully diverse opportunities for growth in our knowledge and love of Christ. I have had the opportunity to attend and be fed by retreats and forums as wide ranging as an instructed Eucharist, Jan Karon, author of the beloved Mitford series, and two very enlightening week end retreats led by Dr. Earl Palmer. Events are held at different sites to enhance ease of participation and the varied topics. All of the many offerings accentuate the fundamental mission of the Institute. I have personally gained new insight into our denomination and into facets of my Christian walk by taking advantage of the programs made available by the Bishop’s Institute. I look most forward to continuing to grow through the insightful and thought provoking programs that the Bishop’s Institute will continue to offer in the coming months.

Barbara Stevenson
St. Mark's Episcopal Church
Jacksonville, FL
It has been my pleasure to participate in several of the exceptional programs offered by the Bishop's Institute. They were all excellent and certainly lived up to the goals of the Institute. Hopefully these programs will continue to grow. The more people who can benefit from them, the better. I commend Doug Dupree and all others who work so hard to make these important events come into place.

Doug Milne
Grace Episcopal Church
Orange Park, FL &
St. Mark's Episcopal Church,
Jacksonville, FL
The Bishop's Institute has blessed my life in unexpected ways. By attending various Bishop's Institute retreats and programs, I had the opportunity to grow closer to God and grow closer with my fellow parishioners. The programs also allow for the opportunity to meet fellow brothers and sisters in Christ from the entire Diocese. Staying at the "Parish Hall of our Diocese" our Camp Weed and Cerveny Conference Center, provided an atmosphere of community and excellent hospitality. I am forever grateful.

Heather Johnston
Episcopal Church of the Redeemer
Jacksonville, FL