It is so good to be together as a diocese… to worship together, to be encouraged by one another, to grow together in our common vocation of proclaiming the riches of God’s grace in Christ Jesus to every man, women and child in the communities God has placed us.

It continues to be a privilege for me to serve alongside Bishop Steve, as well as Bishops’ Thad and Terrell, and all of our rectors, clergy and congregations in the Carolinas.  One of the distinct privileges of traveling the diocese is seeing all the ways God is at work in our parishes…seeing the dedication, the creativity and the passion for the Gospel in the local churches that make up our diocese.  Our shared conviction is that local church is the frontline of mission and ministry and that the diocese exists to multiply (plant churches) and to serve and enrich the life of our congregations (not the other way around).

I want to take a minute or two and highlight some of the things that have happened this past year and are happening in our diocese:

In the Fall we had a Flourishing Outposts Conference with Kevin Martin for Pastoral Sized Churches, graciously hosted by All Saints, Pawleys Island (thank you Rob Grafe and co.).  We had 30 rectors/lay leaders come together to learn together how we can be better equipped to flourish in the life, mission and ministry of this particular size dynamic.  Folks went away pleased…and we want to do more things like this…

On another front, we have just begun a new Simeon Cohort at Apostles in Columbia which Chip Edgar and I lead and facilitate.  This, along with the Fellows program at Holy Trinity, Raleigh and the Ridley Institute, the Asbury/Wilmore Anglican connection and other initiatives around our diocese highlight the importance of next generation leadership development.

Related, our new Credentialing path/process in the diocese is now in full swing.  In addition to the 6 priests and 3 deacons ordained this past year, we have 6 aspiring permanent deacons, 9 aspiring transitional deacons and 6 aspiring priesthood folks somewhere in our process.  This is a community effort and we are very thankful for the those who serve on parish and regional discernment teams as well as our Examining Chaplains: Randy Forrester, John Hall, John Yates III and Chip Edgar.  Also thankful for Maddy Donaldson and Nancy Bryan who help administer this process

One critical aspect of our diocese is helping our congregations in transition and the calling of new rectors.  This past year we did this at King of Kings in Charlotte and we are currently doing this with Holy Trinity, North Augusta and Christ Church, Murrells Inlet.  Eric Speece did a fabulous job as Interim Rector at King of Kings prior to Joel Pinson’s arrival as their new rector and Thad Barnum is interim at Christ Church and is ‘rocking the house’ in a great way in Murrells Inlet.   Please pray for these processes, these are critical moments in the life of these congregations!

Speaking of Thad, I just want to take a moment to hold up the amazing work God is doing through him in the area of Soul Care.  Thad has just started his 4th year of doing this ministry and averages about 60-70 face to face or Skype-type appointments a month.  Thad works with pastors, leaders, seminarians and those in the ordination process.  His focus is not what we do, but who we are in Jesus.  The conviction is that if we are not healthy in the Lord– body, heart, mind, soul, it impacts every area of our life and ministry.  So, Thad provides a safe place for us to go and the Holy Spirit is at work in amazing ways.  There is no reason for our leaders to walk alone.  Appointments can be scheduled at…most are video conferencing and there is no cost, because this ministry is funded by All Saints, Pawleys, our diocese and private donors and churches.  Can we take a moment and thank Thad for this ministry?

Church planting is a core conviction and value for the Diocese of the Carolinas.  As we will hear later nearly half of our diocesan budget go back into mission, in the province, but mainly in church planting.  This is only possible if our churches are growing in their giving to the diocese.  Our church planting arm is Kardia with Winfield Bevins as Canon for Church Planting, John Hall, Seth Cain, Gary Ball and me.  We are working together with our church plants, providing coaching and developing new church planting curacies around the diocese.  Again leadership development with a very missional edge.  We are going to hear more from Winfield later, but let stay in step with the Spirit in this important work of church planting in our diocese!

Lastly, I have a piece of business I’d like to offer.  We have a simple change which has been proposed to our diocesan canons to bring them into conformity with the provincial canons of ACNA.  You should have the proposed changes in your packets to Canon 5 Section 1 and Canon 8, section 4.  Very simply it adds the language of an accounting “review” where the canons before only prescribed an audit.  Audits are very costly and so we want to provide the option for churches to have reviews.  Now the Canon 8, Section 4 already requires the diocese to provide instructions to our churches for the regularity of these audits and reviews.  So after we pass this change, our finance committee with propose to the Standing Committee, recommendations for the regularity of audits and reviews based on the size of church budgets.  For instance we may say if your budget is over 300,000 we want you to have an audit every 5 years and in the other years to simply have a review, etc.  So expect to see that in the next few months.  Meanwhile, we also want to clean up the spelling of the word “worshippers” in Title 1, Canon 6, Section 3h…we are Anglicans, not Anglophiles, so we want to spell this the American way!  Having said all that, I’d like to make a motion we make the canonical changes as presented as a group.

So, that’s it from me.  Thank you Bishop Steve, thank you diocese, it’s great to be your Suffragan bishop!

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