In August, over 60 young people showed up at Beckwith Camp amidst busy back-to-school and sports schedules for the annual diocesan Worship on the Water event. Worshiping on the waters of Weeks Bay with their friends from around the diocese while sitting upon kayaks and paddleboards was quite a sight!
Two of our congregations - Holy Cross, Pensacola and St. Mary’s Andalusia - are amidst building programs in order to tend to growing membership and ministry efforts!
Under the guidance of Kammy Young, our canon missioner for development: evangelism and mission engagement, St. Jude’s, Niceville, Christ the King, Santa Rosa Beach and St. Agatha’s DeFuniak Springs are collaborating to bring an Episcopal presence to the community of Freeport, Florida.
Just last month, the eight students in our local School for Ministry were approved as candidates for ordination. This year they have begun their final year of formation which includes partnering with six congregations in our diocese. Their energy, creativity and devotion is contagious.
As far as I can tell from my reading of the Gospels, Jesus never stopped to count the people in the crowd. He did not focus on numbers; Jesus focused on hearts. However, numbers can be an outward and visible sign of new life and greater commitment. In a time when many are preaching the demise of church, I wanted you to hear a different tune. I wanted to sing a new song that I have heard in you.
So, thank you. Thank you for who you are trying to be in God’s world. Thank you for your devotion to each other and to our Lord. Thank you for your trust in me as your bishop. Here is the collect in its entirety. Let us pray.