Volume 36, Dec. 2021
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.
IN THESE LAST DAYS
 
God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spoke in times past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son . . . Hebrews 1.1-2.
 
Earlier this month I was listening to a young priest who is also a musician talk about the hymns of the Church. Talking us through the Advent hymn by Charles Coffin (1676 -1749) On Jordan’s Bank the Baptist’s cry’, he made the point that the verses direct our attention away from John to the Christ whom the Baptist proclaims. He also pointed out that the hymn forcefully addresses you and me—that our hearts be cleansed from sin that we may ‘make straight the way for God within’.
 
It was this latter point that has lingered in my mind as we move towards Christmas--- so many of our hymns directly and forcefully involve us in the story they are telling. The hymn that does this most powerfully and emotionally for me is the spiritual Were you there when they crucified my Lord? There is only one answer and I get goosebumps just thinking about it. The power of music.

I love the story told of the wartime Archbishop of Canterbury William Temple (1881-1944) preaching a mission to University of Oxford students in 1931. Temple ended the mission by directly involving the students. He chose the hymn by Isaac Watts, ‘When I survey the wondrous cross’ as the climax of the final night. Over 2000 students were crammed into the University Church of St. Mary. The hymn was ‘roared out’ with youthful zeal. Before the last verse Temple stopped the singing and asked the congregation to read the words before they sang it:

Were the whole realm of nature mine,
That were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine,
Demands my soul, my life, my all.
 
Then Temple said: “If you mean them with all your hearts, sing them as loud as you can. If you don’t mean them at all, keep silent. If you mean them even a little, and want to mean them more, sing them very softly.” The final verse was sung in a yearning whisper.
 
This Christmas, at one level, we will celebrate the historical birth of Jesus in Bethlehem. At another level we are celebrating a birth at the present time. The Reformation era German Roman Catholic priest and physician Angelus Silesius (1624-1677) understood this very well when he wrote:

Christ could be born a thousand times in Galilee—
But all in vain
Until he is born in me.
 
The beloved carol ‘O Little Town of Bethlehem’ pretty much makes the same point: ‘be born in us today’. I pray that the mystery of the Incarnation may speak anew to all our hearts and minds this Christmas 2021.
In Christmastide
Gwen Raverat Archive
To thee, O Christ, O Word of the Father, we offer up our lowly praises and unfeigned hearty thanks: Who for love of our fallen race didst most wonderfully and humbly choose to be made man, as never to be unmade more; and to take our nature, as never more to lay it off; so that we might be born again by thy Spirit and restored in the image of God; to whom, one blessed Trinity, be ascribed all honor, might and majesty, and dominion, now and forever. Amen.
Bishop Lancelot Andrewes’ Sermons of the Nativity, iv.
 
Welcome all wonders in one sight!
Eternity shut in a span.
Summer in winter, day in night.
Heaven in earth, and God in man.
Great Little One, whose all-embracing birth
Lifts earth to heaven, stoops heaven to earth!
Richard Crashaw (1613-49)
Meet Randy Winton,
Director of Summer Camp and Youth Programs
Please meet the long standing youth leader in our Diocese that Bishop Howard and Thomas Frazer, Director of Camp Weed and Cerveny Conference Center, have welcomed onboard to lead our summer camp and co-ordinate youth programs in the Diocese.
 
Randy, tell us a little about yourself.
 
I was born in Jacksonville, baptized at All Saints Episcopal, but our family attended Church of Our Saviour in Mandarin. In elementary school, we moved to Amelia Island and began attending St. Peter's Episcopal. After graduating high school, I made my way over to Tallahassee to attend FSU, where I was involved with the football team as an equipment manager.
 
How were you called to youth ministry in the Church?
 
My father and several other adults began our youth ministry programs at St. Peter's and did their best to keep us coming and being together as a group. We did service projects and trips and events around town. I always enjoyed being with friends, but it wasn't until I was older that I realized that our leaders were actively praying and sacrificing for us so that we could have opportunities to grow in our faith. In college, my brother Tom was leading the Holy Comforter youth group and he would occasionally call and have me bring my guitar to play some music. And then he decided to move to Virginia and I became the impromptu leader. From there, I realized that I really loved working with youth and felt the call to pursue this ministry.
 
How long have you been involved with Camp Weed? And in what capacities?
 
I first came to Camp Weed as a camper in 7th grade and just continued throughout high school. I became a CIT and learned about leadership and then in college was on staff a few summers. I was also active in Happening as a student and when I landed my first youth ministry job at St. Mark's, Jacksonville, I was able to be a Dad (adult chaperone) and later a Dean during summer camp.
 
What inspires you to take on being the Director of Summer Camp and Youth Programs for the Diocese?
 
I just truly love Camp Weed. It's a place where I've experienced the most growth in my faith throughout my life. And it never had to be during a program or during summer camp. There were times where I would drive over and get in a boat or just be present on the property and be renewed and refreshed by the unbelievable beauty and serenity. I want to preserve that for my kids and their kids and for our diocese. 
 
We are truly blessed to have a place outside of the big cities where people can come and enjoy God's creation. When we gather as groups at Camp Weed, we have time to share our stories, laugh and love each other and grow in the knowledge and love of Jesus.
 
Camp Weed has a wonderful history in its 98 years of existence. My mother still talks about her time as a camper at Camp Weed in Hibernia and on staff in Carabelle. I want to make sure that we preserve all of those memories and make plenty more in the years to come.
 
I note you are already at work. What are the short-term things you hope to accomplish end of 2021-22? What are some long-term goals?
 
I've tried to hit the ground running and putting things in place for Summer Camp for 2022. Getting staff and leadership hired is the first major goal for the new year. We've always had great college students and volunteers come for the summers and I'm actively looking for people who want to be a part of a team. I'm finalizing the dates for summer camp and hoping to add some fun new events and bring back some old traditions that we have lost over the years. I'm especially excited about the Youth Ministers of our Diocese and I'm planning to meet with them regularly for visioning and support. 
 
I've found that the diocesan youth programs do not work well unless the parish youth programs work well. We need all the churches, not just the large ones, to be active and healthy and feel included in the diocese. And especially, we want people to share the ownership of Camp Weed and the Cerveny Conference Center. 
 
I believe in "Sweat Equity" where members of the diocese come and give back by doing work projects and creating new opportunities for the camp. There are plenty of existing work projects that need to be completed that our small maintenance crew just doesn't have the time to finish.
We're also working hard to improve some of the existing amenities around camp. We've cleaned up the ball fields and nature trails and we've begun work on improving our signs and lighting.
 
To continue reading the interview, click here.
December Quiz
CAROLS AND HYMNS OF CHRISTMAS
 
1.    When did the singing of Christmas carols in churches begin?
 
a.    In the year 430 under Pope Sixtus who started the practice of a midnight Christmas vigil.
b.    In France as part of the gathering of children to sing in front of la creche in the chancel of the church on Christmas eve.
c.    In England in the 1870s with the rising popularity of hymn singing in churches.
d.    In Salzburg as a prelude to the celebration of the first Mass of Christmas at midnight on Christmas eve.
 
2. The beautiful service of Nine Lessons and Carols at Christmas (or in Advent) was first introduced in:
 
a.    King’s College, Cambridge
b.    Truro Cathedral in Cornwall
c.    The Washington Cathedral in Washington, D.C.
d.    St. Thomas’ Church, Fifth Avenue, NYC
 
3. Which of the following is quite certainly the oldest of our Christmas hymns:
a. O come, all ye faithful
b. Once in royal David’s city
c. Of the Father’s love begotten 
d. Silent Night
 
4. Which of the following Christmas hymns and carols were written by the English poet Christina Rossetti (1830-94)?
 
a. In the bleak midwinter
b. Love came down at Christmas
c. The shepherds had an angel
d. Angels from the realms of glory
 
5. We do not know the author of which of these Christmas hymns although it is sometimes attributed to Martin Luther?
 
a.    Hark! the herald angels sing
b.    Once in royal David’s city
c.    While shepherds watched their flocks by night
d.    Away in a manger
 
Click here to go to the answers.
Interview with Joanie Cruce,
MSN Nurse to Our Veterans
In the November issue of this Newsletter we interviewed George Guy, a lay Episcopal chaplain in the Malcolm Randall VA Medical Center in Gainesville, Florida. This month we have interviewed Joanie Cruce who is a nurse at The Perry VA Community Based Outpatient Clinic in Perry, Florida. She is a communicant member of St Mary’s Episcopal Church in Madison, Florida. Earlier this month Joanie received her certificate from Bishop Howard as a licensed lay minister in pastoral care.
 
INTERVIEW
 
Tell us a little about yourself, e.g. where you were born and grew up, education, career choice, family, home church.
 
I was born in September, 1961 at Frazier Hospital in MacClenny, Florida. I graduated from Paxon Sr. High School in 1979, Jacksonville, Florida. I have been married to my husband Curtis Cruce for 39 years. We have two grown children, a daughter and son and two grandchildren. My home church is St. Mary’s Episcopal in Madison, Florida. 
 
My education in nursing started with completion of LPN school in 1993. I continued my nursing education and received Associates Degree in Nursing (ADN) in 1997. I completed a Masters Degree in Nursing (MSN) in 2012. I became board certified in Ambulatory Care Nursing in 2015. 
 
My career choice was inspired by my grandmother who was a nurse for many years. She gave me the example of a loving caring person who not only served people in the hospital but those also in her community. She visited anyone who needed her and most were the underserved. She did not see color or socio-economic background. I have not seen in my lifetime a more loving and God serving woman than my grandmother. She ministered God’s love to those in most need with her nursing skills and prayer. I thank God he has given me the ability to be a nurse and serve and care for his people as she did. I currently serve as a volunteer RN at our church free medical clinic, “Shepherds Hands”. If anyone is interested in starting a Free Medical clinic in their own church, please contact Deacon Lydia Bush at St. Luke’s in Live Oak, Florida. She is the expert!
 
Tell us a bit about the VA hospital in which you work.
 
The Perry VA Community Based Outpatient Clinic in Perry, Florida. We serve over 800 Veterans who reside in the area of Taylor, Madison, Lafayette and Dixie counties. I was recruited by the Chief Nursing officer at the Sargent Boots Tallahassee VA Medical Center in 2015. She asked me did I wanted a challenge and the best job I would ever have as a nurse. I accepted the job and the challenge.  I must agree she was right! Serving the veterans has been one of the best jobs I have ever had and I love it! I always feel appreciated by them and I love hearing all the war stories. It is a privilege for me to care for those who have suffered, sacrificed and suffered loss to protect our freedom and this country.
 
What is unique about this hospital setting in comparison to a regular civilian community?
 
I believe the biggest comparison and the uniqueness of the VA is the spiritual support given to the veteran. The VA attempts to treat the whole person and not just the body. Chaplain services and prayer time are provided and encouraged by the VA staff.
 
Are you required to move around a lot with your work?
 
My clinic is located in the rural town of Perry and this is my assigned tour of duty. I may be assigned to work at the Sargent Boots Medical Center in Tallahassee, Florida or the Malcom Randall VA Hospital, Gainesville, Florida-- if needed. All VA employees may be assigned or deployed to any facility the Federal Government needs them to go. We are very much like the military at the VA. A staff member, especially a doctor or a nurse, could be sent anywhere at any time if needed.
 
Tell us a bit about the veterans you care for at the Perry VA Clinic.
 
The average age of the current veteran is approximately 58 years old. We still have veterans alive and well in their 90s.  Although, the majority of veterans are male, almost 6 percent of veterans are female. We are seeing a lot more female patients that have seen combat in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) and Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) in Afghanistan who have sustained traumatic injuries.
 
Since the beginning of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq in 2001, over 1.9 million US military personnel have been deployed in 3 million tours of duty lasting more than 30 days. In Operation Iraqi Freedom, some 3,482 hostile deaths occurred among U.S. military personnel and 31,947 people were wounded in action. More than 1,800 hostile deaths occurred during Operation Enduring Freedom (OER) in Afghanistan and surrounding countries. I have heard some amazing stories from young and the old.

To continue reading the interview with Joanie click here.
Christmas Eve Poem
CHRISTMAS hath darkness
Brighter than the blazing noon,
Christmas hath a chillness
Warmer than the heat of June,
Christmas hath a beauty
Lovelier than the world can show:
For Christmas bringeth Jesus,
Brought for us so low.
Earth, strike up your music,
Birds that sing and bells that ring;
Heaven hath answering music
For all Angels soon to sing:
Earth, put on your whitest
Bridal robe of spotless snow:
For Christmas bringeth Jesus,
Brought for us so low.
Christina Rossetti (1830-94)
The Archdeacon’s Deacons:
Nicolas of Antioch
In the sixth chapter of the Book of Acts the Apostles ask the church members to select seven men from amongst them to attend their needs. These seven men will manage the early church so that the Apostles are free to minister the word of Jesus. “The people chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit; also, Philip, Procorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas from Antioch, a convert to Judaism” (Acts 6:5). These men are considered the first Deacons. We have all heard of Stephen (the first Martyr), and Phillip the Evangelist. However, Saint John mentions in his letter to the church at Ephesus (in the Book of Revelation) a group called the Nicolaitans. Many scholars attribute this group to the teaching of Nicholas of Antioch.
 
The Nicolaitans are mentioned in the Book of Revelation:
 
Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent. But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. (2:6)
And
So also, you have some who hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans. (2:15)
 
Saint Luke tells us that Nicolas was a convert to Judaism. Any Gentile who converted to Judaism is called a proselyte. A proselyte is required to keep Jewish law in its entirety, undergo circumcision and make a special sacrifice at the Temple. We may conclude from all those requirements that Nicolas must have been quite devout in his beliefs to submit to this process. The church's choice of him as one of the first deacons reveals he probably demonstrated natural leadership abilities, as well as fulfilling the apostles' qualifications of being "of good reputation, full of the Holy Spirit and wisdom" (Acts 6:3).

After the death of Stephen, there was a general persecution of the Church at Jerusalem, and many Christians fled to escape it. Like many others in flight, it is believed that Nicholas returned to Antioch in Syria.
 
This is the first clue that Nicholas is the source if not the originator of the Nicolaitans
At the time of Jesus, Antioch was the largest city and capital of the Roman province of Syria. The city's residents—Greeks, Macedonians, Syrians, Jews, Romans, and others brought to it their own languages, cultures, philosophies, and religions. This urban, multicultural, polytheistic world formed Nicolas' background.
 
Nicolas was a Hellenist, and besides speaking Greek, he also probably had a Greek education. The Hellenists maintained a more liberal outlook than the Jews, including that of the Apostles.

It is in this context that early church patriarchs ascribe Nicolas to the Nicolaitans. Both Irenaeus (Against Heresies) and Clement of Alexandria (Miscellanies) consider Nicolas of Antioch to be the founder of the Gnostic sect. Another early writer, Hippolytus, adds that Nicolas "departed from sound doctrine, and was in the habit of inculcating indifferency of both life and food" (Refutation of All Heresies) The Nicolaitans believed in the irrelevance of physical things, a Gnostic tenant. This reinforces Clement’s claim that Nicolas became an ascetic and that his followers later perverted his teachings to encompass idolatry and immorality—the vices St John in the Book of Revelation attributes to the Nicolaitans.
 
However, the Roman church historian Eusebius wrote that Nicolas himself was a moral man (Ecclesiastical History). Though sincere and devout, he came to believe that the only way to grow spiritually was to consider his body and its desires as unimportant. In this way, he could ignore them in favor of spiritual pursuits. His fundamental doctrine appears to have been "the flesh must be treated with contempt" in contrast to the Christian teaching that all creation, including our physical bodies, are good.
 
Over the years, however, this teaching took on a more Gnostic spin. Since the flesh is unimportant, even contemptible, what one does in the flesh is of no consequence. Spiritual life, growth and ultimately salvation occur in the soul, and since God is spirit, He has no regard for the flesh. Therefore, the Nicolaitans reasoned, what does it matter if one satisfies the flesh's desires? At some point in its early history, the Nicolaitan’s evolved from an ascetic philosophy to a licentious one, one that Jesus says in John’s Revelation, He hates.

These two issues idolatry and sexual immorality became a flashpoint in the conflict between true Christianity and Hellenistic Gnosticism, and a person's stance on them exposed which side he favored. Thus, Nicolaitans represent an early form of Gnosticism.
 
Whether Nicholas of Antioch misled or was misunderstood by the Nicolaitans, we will never know. However, we should always remember that when we follow the Gospel we have a clear path to Jesus. When we place our faith in anything but the Word of God, we can lose our way.
 
“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

Praying that our Lord finds you and yours well,
 
The Ven. Mark Richardson,
Archdeacon
UBE Advert Upcoming Events
Please save the date for two upcoming events sponsored by The Father Sidney B. Parker Chapter (UBE) and St. John's Cathedral.

Registration information and further details will follow soon. Everyone is welcome.
Martin Luther King Luncheon
Saturday, January 15, 2022
11 AM – 2 PM
St. John’s Cathedral
Speaker: Rodney Hurst
Absalom Jones Celebration Service:
Saturday, February 12, 2022
11 AM – 2 PM
St. John’s Cathedral
Address: Rodney Hurst