Volume 21, August 31, 2020
From the Rector
The Bishop’s Institute for Ministry and Leadership was established in 2015 in the Episcopal Diocese of Florida to provide opportunities to develop lay and clergy leadership in the Diocese; to prepare candidates for ordination to the vocational diaconate and the local priesthood; to prepare candidates for licensed lay ministries and to be a focus for the continuing education for laity and clergy alike.
There are two significant feast days in August that stand out: the Feast of the Transfiguration August 6th and the Feast of Saint Mary the Virgin August 15th.

Roman Catholics

Roman Catholics celebrate the Feast of St Mary on August 15th as the ‘Feast of the Assumption of Mary into Heaven’, or as more commonly called, the Feast of the Assumption. The New Testament makes no explicit mention about the death of the Lord’s mother or of the Assumption of Mary. However, from early days the tradition of the Church’s belief in the Assumption was taught. In 451 at the Council of Chalcedon the Bishop of Jerusalem explained to the Emperor Marcian that he could not possess any relic of the Lord’s mother because she died in the presence of the Apostles and when her tomb was opened it was found empty—leading to the conclusion that the body was taken up to heaven.

Eastern Orthodox Churches

Orthodox Christians observe August 15th as a Marian feast but their teaching and proclamation of the feast is less dogmatic than that of the Roman Catholics. The Orthodox churches celebrate the feast of ‘the Dormition of the Mother of God’. Dormition simply means the Lord’s mother ‘fell asleep’ or died in peace and the Lord took his dear mother to himself when she died. Generally Eastern Orthodox teaching is less dogmatic and more mystical and liturgical in expression and it is for this reason Anglican Christians feel a certain sympathy and warmth towards Orthodoxy.

Episcopalians

Episcopalian or Anglican theology is even less dogmatic than the Orthodox. We simply mark August 15th as a celebration of ‘St Mary the Virgin: Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ’. The Collect for the Feast simply reads:

O God, who hast taken to thyself the blessed Virgin Mary, mother of thy incarnate Son; Grant that we, who have been redeemed by his blood, may share with her the glory of thine eternal kingdom . . .’

‘O God, who hast taken to thyself the blessed Virgin Mary’ is as close as Anglicans are going to go in defining the death or falling asleep of our Lord’s blessed mother. We are told the word ‘assumption’ comes from the Middle English assumpcioun which means ‘a taking up into heaven’ as from the Latin assumptio which means ‘a taking’. If ‘a taking’ is an ‘assumption’ then the Prayer Book collect ‘O God, who hast taken to thyself the blessed Virgin Mary’ probably gets you pretty close to where you want to go if you are an Anglo-Catholic Episcopalian and hanker after the rites celebrated across the Tiber.
Dormition of Mary

I guess, in summary, you might want to say something as straightforward as the naming of a feast day illustrates the very interesting difference in tone and temperament in the large households of Christian faith: dogmatic Rome; mystical and serene Eastern Orthodoxy and Anglican reserve ( especially where Scripture is silent).

Orthodoxy is Reticence

I was reading some essays by the poet and critic W.H. Auden for a Zoom talk for the Cathedral in their series on Literature and Faith (which are all online on the St John’s Cathedral website). I came across something Auden wrote about the tone or temper of Anglicanism that certainly speaks to my spirit.

Auden observed that the Anglican Church was more insistent on uniformity of ‘rite’, i.e. in our form of worship as enshrined in The Book of Common Prayer than on strict uniformity of doctrine and that the private devotions of Anglicans were left pretty much to their own discretion. And as for the Anglican theological cast of mind:

Her intellectual temper is summed up in a remark by one of her bishops, ‘Orthodoxy is reticence.’
. . . . At its best [Anglican piety] shows spiritual good manners, a quality no less valuable in the religious life than in the social life, though, of course, not the ultimate criterion in either, [but] reverence without religiosity, and [with] humor (in which last trait it resembles Jewish piety).

‘Orthodoxy is reticence’ certainly summarizes the Anglican approach to the beloved feast of St Mary the Virgin—an approach or mood caught or discovered somewhere in both what it chooses to include and what it leaves out. It is in tune with what someone wrote of the peculiar yet wonderful Christianity of a very fine Anglican teacher from the last century:

[His Christian faith is of the kind that] is not showy or highly charged. It is quiet. It has never, even in its English home, captured the multitude . . .
Nowadays it is likely to be condemned---for being unenthusiastic, unsuited to the market- place . . .

I write, wishing you and your loved ones, every blessing in these uncertain times.


Douglas Dupree
Collect for the Feast of Saint Mary the Virgin
August 15

O God, who hast taken to thyself the blessed Virgin Mary,
mother of thy incarnate Son: Grant that we, who have been
redeemed by his blood, may share with her the glory of thine
eternal kingdom; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our
Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee, in the unity of the
Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Camp Weed: Weathering the Storm
I recently interviewed Thomas Frazer, Director of Camp Weed and Cerveny Conference Center (CWCC) to ask how the camp and conference center has been weathering the storm of these last six months as everyone at every level has struggled to meet the challenge of the pandemic. I think you will find it interesting and informative.

But first, as a preface to the interview, here is a lovely reflection on life at Camp Weed over the last six months by Samantha (Sam) Marxsen, Director of Summer Camp & Youth Programs:

This sacred space we call Camp Weed looks and feels much different after these six strange months. It was a summer without clean up songs in the dining hall or shouts of joy and victory from the top of the climbing wall. Six months without women’s groups chatting over coffee in rocking chairs on the patio or groups from universities doing team building activities in conference rooms. But in the peace and quiet that a global pandemic has left this place in, wildlife is flourishing in ways I’ve never seen. Plans for how to carry on our mission through this happen in quiet offices or on back porches. And while there may only be a few of us that get to enjoy the beautiful summer sunsets over White Lake right now, it’s all a constant reminder that God is still very much present in this place and that life is and will continue to move forward. Summer 2021 and other future events may look a little different, but with a lot of faith, hope and brainstorming, we know that excited, God-seeking people will be flourishing here again soon too!
INTERVIEW WITH THOMAS FRAZER

How were things looking as of this last February before the lockdown in March?

Thomas: Modestly I would say that we were on a very positive track. We were able to pay for all of our own operating expenses out of our budget in 2019, and we were beginning to reserve for several major/much needed projects ( roofs, water treatment plant, Juhan Chapel, etc.)

Were summer camp numbers going up?

Thomas: In 2019 Camp Weed boasted a 600+ camper summer, approaching 2020 we were looking at adding a session to accommodate the increase in volume under Sam Marxsen’s leadership. By the Spring, steadily adding new registrations, we had early on over 500 registered and were expecting another record- breaking year for Camp Weed Summer Camp.

Were programs and bookings filling up before the pandemic struck?

Thomas: We were starting to book groups 1 and 2 years out due to the increase in volume. Meanwhile we were pro-active in seeking to ensure our own churches within the Diocese of availability always for them and a staff trained to accommodate what they might need for a successful retreat or gathering.

When Camp Weed had to go into lockdown in March, did you immediately postpone or cancel all bookings or was the process more gradual?

Thomas: Everything happened very immediately. I knew we would have to postpone a few events but had no idea that we would still be rescheduling.

What was the last activity or group from one of the churches or organizations in the Diocese of Florida held at Camp Weed?

Thomas: Spring Clergy Conference, Feb 27-28.

Was it a straightforward or difficult decision to cancel Summer Camp 2020? I understand you had many discussions with your summer camp director Sam Marxsen and the good camp staff she had assembled and with Bishop Howard, the Bishop’s Deputy Doug Walker and the Head of the Camp Weed Advisory Board Gil Pomar.

Thomas: That was the toughest decision I have made as Director. We deliberated and prayed daily and made the decision two weeks before the start of the summer and continued to deliberate daily.

What were the final, deciding factors that convinced you that closing camp was the best course of action?

Thomas: There were too many factors to list, but the question mark of mortality was the strongest influencer for me.


Called to Serve in Extraordinary Times:
Joseph G. Hodsdon
The Rev. Joseph G. Hodsdon,
Curate, San Jose Episcopal Church, Jacksonville

The Diocese of Florida has two new deacons recently ordained to the transitional diaconate and each assigned to begin their ministry in a parish in the Diocese. They are Gray Hodson who shares his thoughts on his entry into the ordained ministry below and William Stokes whose reflections are shared with us further below in this Newsletter. They are called ‘transitional deacons’ as the expectation is that, the Lord willing, they will be ordained to the priesthood. Gray was educated at the Episcopal School of Jacksonville and graduated from FSU before attending the School of Theology, University of the South, Sewanee. Both Gray and William have the distinction of being well-trained and gifted organists.
Gray writes:

William Stokes and I were ordained at a small service in the chapel of St. John’s Cathedral in Jacksonville on April 2, 2020. William and I were each allowed four people to serve as sponsors. I was joined by Steph Britt, Rector at San Jose Church; my wife, Catie; and my parents, Doug and Debbie. William and I, along with our respective groups, sat on opposite sides of the chapel. The sermon was given by our bishop, the Rt. Rev. Samuel Johnson Howard.

What I remember most from Bishop’s Howard’s sermon were his poignant remarks about how we will be invited into the vulnerable moments of people’s lives—to celebrate people’s greatest joys and also meet them in their deepest pain. And, since our ordination date was moved up by four weeks, Bishop Howard invited us to consider how these four additional weeks of ordained ministry might be a blessing for us and those whom we serve.

I first met Fr. Steph Britt, the Rector of San Jose Church, at our annual diocesan seminarians’ retreat in 2018 (held in conjunction with senior seminarians’ ordination exams), well before either of us knew I would be joining him at San Jose Church. After Bishop Howard expressed his desire for me to serve at San Jose, I met with Steph at the church, touring the grounds and meeting church and school staff. We spent the better part of the day discussing a host of topics, including my seminary experience, my passions and gifts for ministry, and my wife and other family members. We also talked about his family, his past experience, and his ministry at San Jose. And, naturally, we talked about the church—its past and present as well as hopes for the future, along with the makeup and general personality of the congregation, the relationship between the church and the school, and what my ministry at San Jose might look like. It was clear to me after our meeting that Steph would be a great mentor and that San Jose would be a great church to serve as a curate.

Since I began my curacy in June, Steph’s approach has been to focus on the things we can do and do well, which has primarily involved keeping our Sunday services as accessible and consistent as possible. Steph has also helped me navigate all the necessary adjustments, such as following the necessary safety protocols for Sunday worship, as well as the typical acclimation process that comes with a new position. And while opportunities to get to know parishioners has been severely limited, Steph has helped introduce me to the parish through things like a written greeting, a video introduction, and socially-distanced, in-person meetings with the staff and vestry.

August Quiz
By the Rev. Canon Dr. Allison Defoor

Dr. Dupree has suggested that the subject of this month’s quiz be the Environment. God’s Creation is one of Florida’s greatest gifts from our Lord, so I am happy to agree. It is a pleasure to share with all in the Diocese of Florida the deep involvement of our Diocese and its saints in stewardship of this wonderful gift from God, and the strong role of the Episcopal Church in this stewardship tradition.


Quiz Questions


1) What prominent author and winter-time member of the congregation at Church of Our Savior in Mandarin is said to have begun both the Civil War and the environmental movement as a political force with her writings?

2) What Episcopal governor of Florida and prominent Diocese of Florida layman was an early officer in the founding days of Florida Audubon, which was originally the third chapter in a nationwide effort to eradicate the killing of birds for their plumage for ladies’ hats, principally in Florida for the Northern markets?

3) What occasionally Episcopal governor of another state was also an early officer in the creation of Florida Audubon?

4) What prominent Episcopal bishop was the first President of Florida Audubon?

5) What Episcopal governor of Florida, and Diocese of Florida layman created the agency now called the Department of Environmental Protection?

6) What Episcopal governor of Florida made the finalization of the plan for Restoration of the Everglades a top priority?