The Episcopal Diocese of Central Florida comprises 85 congregations divided into five deaneries across 15 counties in Central Florida. It includes more than 200 active priests, approximately 100 active deacons, and more than 27,000 parishioners. The Diocese is one of a few of the 110 domestic dioceses in the Episcopal Church that have grown in recent years while most are declining. The mission of the Diocese as an institution is to serve and share the Good News of Jesus Christ in a myriad of ways throughout our neighborhoods and communities, and to raise up new leaders to continue this work. The Diocese, as an extension of the diocesan bishop’s ministry, supports the development, health, and well-being of diocesan clergy and churches. The Episcopal Diocese of Central Florida was awarded a planning grant for summer 2020 to listen carefully to the day-to-day personal and professional challenges and then to explore possible approaches to these challenges. From the activities supported by the planning grant, we have determined that thriving ministry can be realized in the Diocese by intentional programs that foster robust mentoring, collegiality, and continued clergy development. Currently, the Diocese has some programs in place to work with newly ordained priests and priests in ministry transitions, to support clergy’s ongoing development, and to foster the growth of community among clergy. However, these programs are underfunded and insufficient to meet the needs of the diocesan priests. The Diocese desires to expand the existing programs and add new components or programs. It will provide mentorship to newly ordained priests, foster robust collegiality among the clergy, promote clergy peer support, enrich clergypersons’ professional life, strengthen their ministry, emphasize the importance of clergy developing as preachers, expand the opportunities for clergy continuing education, and provide context-specific ministry training.
Fostering Clergy Mentoring and Collegiality