Volume 6: May 16, 2019
Halfway Home
I love evensong and was delighted this Eastertide to attend a splendid St. George’s Day evensong at St John’s Cathedral the last Sunday in April complete with drums and bagpipes.

This was followed the next Sunday (May 5 th ) by a beautiful evensong at St. Mark’s, Jacksonville that opened with the quintessentially Anglican Introit ‘When Rooks Fly Homeward’ composed by Arthur Bannon on a poem by the Irish poet Joseph Campbell.

Walking ‘on air’ with an uplifted spirit out of the church after evensong down the external arcade of St Mark’s I came to the memorial garden and stopped: my eyes fixed on a flower bedecked statue of Mary arising (or embedded?) in the grass still wet from Sunday’s midday thunderstorms.

Who would have thought to find such a beautiful presentation of Mary “Queen of May” outside of Europe in a north Florida Protestant church memorial garden? But there she was an embodiment of the Marian hymn:

Hail Virgin, dearest Mary! Our lovely Queen of May! O spotless, blessed Lady, Our lovely Queen of May. Your children humbly bending, Surround your shrine . .  
May is a beautiful month in north Florida with the flowers and trees in full bloom (don’t think allergies!) and a last gasp of clear skies and fresh weather before the now arrived all-encompassing humidity of summer. The external brightness is complimented by the Church Calendar: Eastertide continues throughout the month with the crowning feast of Ascension Day the last Thursday of May. In the middle of the month we have just had Mother’s Day when we were privileged to honor our own dear mothers.

A Dissenter’s Hail Mary
You bore him, fed him, clothed him, led him
You carried him, suckled him, sang him to sleep
You nursed him, enfolded him, encouraged him, soothed him:
You suffered him, moved him to laugh (and to weep).
You were the chosen one, you were the maiden
He was yours before He was ours.
With your flesh the word was laden.
Seed of eternity, hope of the years.
For your obedience, your faith and your firmness.
For your humility, tenderness, grace.
Sinners salute you: presume to say thank you
Who love Him and serve Him,
but had not your place.

James Badcock
Book Corner
In the last Newsletter we featured a list of books recommended for the development of leadership in our churches drawn up by Jacksonville leadership consultant and coach Dale Beaman. We hope Dale will share more with us in upcoming editions of the Newsletter in our goal to strengthen leadership in our churches.

Meanwhile, Dale has one pick for this edition. She writes: ‘I have a new favorite book by Dr. Brene Brown called Dare to Lead: Brave Work. Tough Conversations. Whole Hearts , 2018”. Readers may know that Brene Brown has become well known, particularly for her TED talk on The Power of Vulnerability (one of the top five most viewed TED talks).

I am currently reading a unique little book: Meister Eckhart’s Book of the Heart: Meditations for the Restless Soul , 2017 compiled by Jon M. Sweeney and Mark S. Burrows.

Eckhart (1260-1328) was a German theologian, philosopher and mystic who has lest an enduring and ever-fresh and relevant legacy to Christians down through the ages. You may call his name to mind by remembering one of his often-cited observations: “If the only prayer you say in your entire life is thank you, it will be enough”.

I call this book unique because the compilers extract small gems embedded in Eckhart’s writings and recast them in simple prose poems that leave a lasting imprint on one’s spirit. Here is an example I particularly like:

A Single Undivided Love
When I open my heart to receive You
in times of peace and quiet, this is as
it should be, but if I close my heart
to You when I have lost my way and
my life is a mess, I have failed to know
the truth, for these differ only for me
but not for You, for Your heart opens
to me with a single undivided love.
Good Things Happened:
The Daughters of the King (DOK) joined the Episcopal Church Women of our Diocese for an annual Spring Retreat the weekend of April 26 th at Camp Weed. The groups were given a presentation "Finding Your Gifts in God's World" by The Rev. Ann Bowers, Deacon at St. Mary's, Green Cove Springs. There were 86 attendees from 24 parishes. The ECW was pleased to have 12 first time attendees.
Their next retreat will be April 24th - 26th at Camp Weed. All Episcopal church women are invited to attend.

March 2, 2019 saw the Absalom Jones observance at St. Philip’s Church, Jacksonville to honor the first African American priest ordained in the Episcopal Church. The day was presented by the Father Sydney B. Parker Chapter of the Union of Black Episcopalians. The day took the form of a conversation around the theme: Conversation + Prayer + Love = Healing. Alma Flowers, UBE Southern Regional Director was in the chair to open and close the day’s conversation. The Bishop’s Institute was present with the Rector Douglas Dupree serving on the panel. There was a well-balanced panel including Jo Ann Ford, Vicar of St. Gabriel’s; a well-seasoned local church and civic leader Doug Milne; Matthew McKetty a student at UF; Matthew Hartley from UNF; youth leaders Luvenia Exson and Nigel Eldridge. The Rev. Carrie English from Resurrection, Jacksonville gave the benediction.

St. Philip’s nave was full of participants from a fine cross-section of churches in the First Coast regions East and West. The day concluded with the hope that the gathering might encourage more conversation in the months to come.

Less than a month before the Absalom Jones observance was the 106 th anniversary of the birthday of Rosa Parks. In 1955 Rosa Parks refused a Montgomery, Alabama bus driver’s order to move to the back of the bus and give up her seat in the whites-only section—thus inaugurating the American civil rights movement. The ‘Florida Times Union’ newspaper marked the February 4, 2019 anniversary with a moving interview with Jacksonville resident Mark Kerrin who was a bodyguard to Ms. Parks for eleven years.
Doug Milne on our Absalom Jones panel has his own personal reminiscence of Rosa Parks. He writes: "In the mid-1980’s, my great friend Rev. Robert Webster, then pastor of St. Stephen AME Church, invited my son Joey and me to St. Stephen where Mrs. Parks was speaking. He also gave me the privilege of introducing her that Sunday morning to the congregation. An unforgettable experience for Joey and me.”

Save the Date: A Weekend with Earl Palmer
C.S. Lewis and New Testament scholar, author and preacher the Rev. Earl Palmer returns to us in September to open our eyes and hearts to what has been referred to as the ‘Queen of the Epistles’.
A Weekend with Earl Palmer:
A First Century Book for our 21 st Century
September 20-22
This first century book is written from Rome (during imprisonment) to a group of people Paul knows well, having taught in Ephesus for at least three years. At its heart this letter is an affirmation of the transforming power of the love of God—its height, width, length and depth.

Tentative Schedule:
Friday, September 20
Morning:      1. Ephesus: the city Paul knew best (Ephesus 1, Acts 19-20)
Afternoon:  2. The Expansiveness of the Grace of Jesus Christ in Human Lives (Ephesians 2 & 3)
Saturday, September 21
Morning:      3. A People Made Steady and Balanced: Encouragement for the People of             God (Ephesians 4)
Afternoon:   4. A Strategy for Sharing the Good News (Ephesians 5 & 6)
Sunday, September 22
Holy Eucharist: Bishop Howard, celebrant and Dr. Earl Palmer, preacher:
                             Whenever you pray (Matthew 6.5-13)
The conference ends with Lunch in the Varn Dining Hall.

Registration information coming soon!
Upcoming Events
August 24, 2019

Enneagram Workshop
9 a.m. – 3 p.m.
St. Francis-in-the-Fields Episcopal Church
895 Palm Valley Road,
Ponte Vedra, Fl 32081

The aim of the Christian life goes beyond information to transformation. The Enneagram has proven to be the perfect transformational companion to Christian faith and discipleship.
The term, Enneagram, combines the Greek words "ennea," meaning "nine," and "grammos," meaning "a written figure." This geometric figure with nine points is used to represent the spectrum of basic personality types. It is a system for discovery of our personality patterns and insights combined with strategies to overcome the limitations of our personality. "Persona" in Latin means "mask." The mask of personality can become a barrier to knowing our true selves, our essence, our spirit. The Bible describes the transformational process: 
 Indeed, the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing until it divides soul from spirit, joints from marrow. And before him no creature is hidden, but all are naked and laid bare to the eyes of the one to whom we must render an account. (Hebrews 4:12,13)
The workshop will be led by the Rev. Father Michael Ellis, Rector of St Francis in the Fields. He has many years of experience in this work and trained at one of the very finest Enneagram schools for directors.
For more information about the Enneagram workshop click here