Dear Bishop Russell and our diocesan family, Together, we are the body of Christ ~ transforming people from members into disciples, moving more deeply into God's call to life and ministry, and extending our mission beyond the status quo. – Diocesan Vision Statement I’ve fallen in love with you all, the Episcopal Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast, over and over again throughout the past seven years since my adult children moved to Pensacola in July of 2013. The first formal introduction between us was when Bishop Russell invited me to lead the diocesan clergy conference at Beckwith in October 2016 while I was on the faculty of the School of Theology at Sewanee. When I heard the stories, experiences and wisdom of people there and learned about your diocesan vision...well, as the old movie “Jerry Maguire” is famous for saying, “You had me at hello!” Your diocesan vision about “extending our mission beyond the status quo” sounded about as close to the kind of ministry that Jesus would be about as I could imagine, and I have been honored to serve as the Canon for Development to be part of that vision alongside you for the past three years. In the Freedom Circle group I’ve been meeting with for an hour each week at the downtown public library over the past few years, we follow an outline that recalls our intention around “becoming the authentic church” and being in diverse, healing community that is rooted in reconciliation and justice. To do that, we follow a 5 Step program (not unlike 12 Step programs) of commitment, one of which is to remember that: “Jesus loves us deeply and passionately and calls us to give back to others. We will seek to find the task that God has for us to do. We want to be with those who are suffering and to help change the unjust structures that cause the suffering.” While I will be leaving my position on the diocesan staff as of February 1, 2021, I am certainly not leaving the diocese! I’m simply taking what seems like the best next step in seeking to be a good steward of the tasks God has for us to do. We have wonderful disciples in our diocese who have been moving more deeply into God's call to life and ministry and are ready to take the lead in extending our mission beyond the status quo - and I honor and want to free up resources for those folks to continue to do the tasks God has for them to do. At the same time, our United Thank Offering (UTO) sponsored ministry launched in 2019, JUST Pensacola (Justice United Seeking Transformation in Pensacola), finds they need someone who can step in and help fulfill the vision of that grant for a four month interim period so they can continue their commitment to “crossing boundaries created by race, culture and economics to create communities that listen deeply and learn to live like Jesus.” And about the time that JUST Pensacola’s new lead organizer is in place this summer, my husband George and I will be welcoming a new grandchild into our life together. We have an important task being Nana and Papa in an era when safe and affordable childcare isn’t always easy to come by - and, well, we’ve found that grandchildren “have us at hello” too! In addition, I will be continuing to serve, along with Nettie Eaton (and the rest of the Central Gulf Coast CDF Freedom Schools board of directors) as their Co-Executive Director for our second summer program that will take place at St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church, Pensacola from June 14 - July 23, 2021. That’s my chance to serve elementary school-aged children as they seek to live into a commitment to make a difference in themselves and in their families, schools, communities, country, and world with hope, education and action. I’m excited about that too.
Life is difficult. For so, so many - especially this past year - I would imagine that totally seems like an understatement. But the sentiments of Henri Frederic Amiel seem equally applicable to us all: “Life is short. We don’t have much time to gladden the hearts of those who walk this way with us. So, be swift to love and make haste to be kind.” That is the blessing sometimes shared at the end of a worship service...and one I’d like to leave with you. And a reminder, a reminder from Helen Keller that “Although the world is very full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.” That is the specialty of our God - the Paschal Mystery and Power of Love - to lead us out of “error into truth, out of sin into righteousness, out of death into life.” All of this is to say thank you, thank you, thank you, and I love you and the life together we have as the body of Christ in the Central Gulf Coast in a world that needs us all to give back to others and continually seek to find the task that God has for us to do to overcome the suffering in us and around us, with God’s help. Let’s please continue to stay connected in that life together and feel free to call me on my mobile phone at (904) 556-1634 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org anytime.
Your sister in Christ, Kammy