Click here to watch the Monday, September 26, 2016, 6 p.m., Town Hall meeting live from Grace UMC, Cape Coral.Email questions for the September 26 live streamed event to Alex Shanks, the assistant to the bishop, at email@example.com.
To the Clergy and Laity of the Florida Annual Conference:
As I begin my second quadrennium of service as your Bishop, I want to invite each of you to join me for a regional Town Hall gathering in September. We announced these gatherings at our Annual Conference meeting in June in Orlando. Click here for the dates, times and a place to register. You are welcome to join me at the gathering closest to you or any gathering that fits your schedule. Each gathering will begin at 6 p.m. and conclude with light refreshments.
You might wonder: Why should I attend one of these gatherings?
First, this is a chance for us to connect. I spent a good portion of my first four years trying to connect with as many congregations and clergy in the Florida Annual Conference as I could. This is a chance to continue to connect with you, to hear your concerns, to understand your context and to grow our connection together.
Two-thirds of our time together will be spent answering your questions. You can submit your questions via the registration link on the conference website (click here), write your questions on a card when you arrive at the gathering and, if there is time, share your questions verbally at the event.
Second, we are at a unique moment in our connection. I have written about this in other places, and you can find the link to my statements and the statement of our Council of Bishops here and information about my role as a moderator for the Bishop’s Commission on “A Way Forward” here. This will not be the focus of these events, but it is the context in which we gather.
I remain very hopeful about our future and the unity that is possible. I believe the work that the Council of Bishops proposed and the General Conference authorized can lead to a future with hope. At the same time, I realize we live in a polarized culture and, in some cases, a polarized church. I do not have all the answers. I can share about the process that is being developed through “A Way Forward.” I am honored to serve as one of the moderators of this commission.
As a note, unity is not the same as unanimity; but a call to unity is also a call to humility, a call to listen to one another, a call to love graciously and seek to stand together under God’s grace within our diverse viewpoints.
Third, there are some exciting initiatives to share with you. In the last third of our time together at the gathering, I will share a vision of what it means for us to embrace this future with key initiatives that God can use in every place in our connection. This will include new information about Fresh Expressions, the Nehemiah project and our new initiative to connect every church with a local school serving at risk children. I will share specific steps and ways in which you can be a part of this work and invest in our future together.
For all of these reasons, I hope you will join me and other Conference leaders for this conversation. It will be a safe and open space. I am coming with expectations to learn from your questions, further understand your context and work together on our future.
The next four years of ministry among you begins with a chance to connect. See you in September.
The Peace of the Lord,
Bishop Ken Carter
Florida Episcopal Area
Note: If you have any questions about the Town Hall events, you may reach out to Rev. Alex Shanks in the Episcopal office at firstname.lastname@example.org.