Zoom Bible Study opportunity

One of our main focuses at St. Simon’s is helping each other become better disciples of Jesus. The study of the Scriptures is a primary path to becoming a better disciple of our Lord. During  the Great 50 Days of Easter season, I will be offering a four week study of 1st Peter, a powerful letter from the disciple Peter to churches persecuted and scattered all over the known world, and a letter with great meaning to us today.

All are welcome to our bible studies as they are presented in person (usually in the Parish Hall) and on Zoom (links are below), with a morning offering at 10:30am and an evening offering at 6pm. We will begin the study of 1st Peter on Tuesday, April 9th

You are encouraged to invite others to join us, no matter their church status. I am also including below a link to previous Bible study videos, feel free to share this link as well.

I know many of the followers of this blog have been part of previous Bible studies at other churches. I do hope any interested will join us for this study of 1st Peter.

For anyone wanting to join the classes, you can come in person (bring a Bible but if you forget we have plenty), or join on Zoom, and if you are new to our Bible studies at St. Simon’s, PLEASE send me your email address so I can add you to the weekly reminder email we send out. My email is: [email protected]

God bless and may your Easter season be joyous.

Fr. David+

The zoom links are the same each week

Zoom link for morning class:  


Zoom link for evening class:


Website for videos of previous classes: 


New Year, New Post

Gosh it is hard to believe a new year has started! Looking at my blog I am embarrassed I have gone so long since posting. So, no, I have not made a New Year’s Resolution to post more frequently, but I really do want to try to. I want to try some different kinds of writing, and your brutally honest critique is welcomed and needed. So hang in there with me friends!

It is New Year’s Day. A year ago today I was admitted to the hospital in Gulf Breeze for acute pancreatitis, caused by a medication I was on. Having had pancreatitis one other time, ten years ago, I knew it was back as far back as November of 2022. The pain was intense but I had a special Thanksgiving to celebrate at our middle child’s newly rebuilt and remodeled home on the coast of Mississippi, then I had the silent retreat my last several posts were about, and I needed that in such a visceral way I just couldn’t skip it. Of course, then it was time for the rest of Advent, then Christmas and New Year’s so I figured I would just tough it out until that was all over with. I did have blood work before Christmas (2022) that confirmed it was pancreatitis, so Jennifer and I knew what eventually would happen. We went to the ER on January 1st, 2023, after church, where I was admitted for a week.

Basically the only treatment for an acute bout is to be hospitalized for IV fluids and pain management. You cannot eat or drink ANYTHING, as it would cause the pancreas to act up, and mine was angry. I wasn’t a lot better when I left but wanted to get back to church and not miss a Sunday. So I did. By early February I was no better, so another week in the hospital was the ticket.

Since then I have had multiple scans, scopes and the like. Had to make a major change to some medications and deal with a lot of gastro issues, which occasionally affected how much time I could spend at the church during the week. Slowly my labs and symptoms improved over the summer, through it all I lost 45 pounds, the rapidness of the initial loss was concerning of course. I have two cysts on my pancreas but they are very small and have not grown any, we just have to keep an eye on them.

My family has been incredibly supportive through all this year of medical issues. I am forever grateful to have their care and love and prayers, and blessed by their unique gifts and offerings of sacrificial love – and I am also grateful for the prayers of many of the St. Simon’s family and others whom I have known throughout my life.

The last 12 months saw a lot of milestones. In December of 2022 I celebrated the 20th anniversary of my ordination to the priesthood. Man, that triggered a LOT of memories. In June I turned 65 (how is that possible), and in September, Jennifer and I celebrated our 40th anniversary with a two week cruise! On the way to our cruise we stopped at a friend’s home in Palm Beach where 3 priests I attended seminary with and spouses put together an amazing and moving celebration for Jennifer and I, where we renewed our marriage vows in the chapel of Bethesda by the Sea. Thank you so much Tim and Bryna, Todd, and Bill and Sue! I am so happy to be reconnected with seminary friends, to be honest it’s hard to have friends in this “business” and I treasure my seminary buddies and others along the way.

Happy New Year everyone! May 2024 be filled with good health, laughter, and joy in Christ. I hope to write again soon!

Reflections Mid-Retreat

What to focus on while on retreat
We retreatants spend a lot of time in our rooms, when not participating in the prayer hours, eating, or walking. As I mentioned I brought with me about a dozen books, hoping to focus on one or two while here. Monday night I thumbed through them all, picking out chapters or passages, actively praying that God would say – “read that one, David, that’s one you need!”. But I sensed instead something different from God, perhaps a slight chuckle, then a shouted (not audible of course) suggestion – “David, don’t read. Write. Or at least do both”. This encounter changed my “plans”, so I have focused on Eugene Peterson’s memoir, “The Pastor”, and “Life on the Vine” by Philip Kennison – we read this book in seminary, and it is one of the few books I rebought after I lost my entire theological library to Hurricane Katrina, and high time I returned to it. It is a book about being, truly being, a Christian community in a culture that is becoming increasingly not at all about Jesus, and this includes many churches and church leaders. While reading I am making notes and praying about what I am learning or re-learning and how to apply it in my own life and ministry, and in the church I have been called to shepherd. And, as you can see, writing a lot. How do any of y’all feel about me trying to spend more time writing? I would love your feedback.

I told the people of St. Simon’s that I would be praying for each of them, and I am. I have a directory and have divided it up in order to spend time praying for each individual and family, for our ministries, and for our staff. Tuesday night in the chapel alone, I also spent much prayer time for Jennifer and all of my family.

Specific Prayer for St. Simon’s

Knowing our parish is going to be dealing with some challenging “opportunities” regarding our physical plant and financial realities, I spent a lot of prayer time wondering about how we can corporately pray about this. There is no need at this point to go into the challenges on this blog, but perhaps I will at a later date. I am not anxious about any of this and doing my best to trust in God and in our people. To that end, here is a prayer I offered for all of us to begin praying at our Sunday, January 1st service. Join us if you are so inclined:

“Send us your Spirit, Lord, that we may learn what you would have us do, and the words and witness you would have us offer. Guide us as we continue your work. Show us the field in which to plant, that your Kingdom may come and your power revealed in this community, to the glory of your Name. AMEN”

More on Day Two (a walk in the woods)

**Update **- I did a lot more than “a little” walking. Using a map I crossed Monk Road onto the 1500 acres the monastery owns.

I was intent on finding the statues area. It didn’t help that I was reading the map upside down, I ended up climbing a couple of very steep hills before noticing my mistake. I had a little distance to make up and I set off for the woods trail to the statues.
Once I found the marked trail I was in the woods for sure. There was a path with the occasional sign saying “To the Statues”,

to remind people like me they were going the right way. The path was very slippery due to rotting leaves on it and in some places stones which must have been there forever and were covered with moss. At one point you cross a creek on a tiny bridge, and a bit later up a set of stairs that are basically a ladder built into the hillside.

I finally made it to the first set of statues, they are small but strategically placed to give an idea of the garden.

Past these are the newer statues commissioned in honor of Jonathan Daniels. They are stunning. One depicts the 3 disciples sleeping (“can you not watch with me one hour?”).

The other is a tormented Jesus, kneeling on a stone to pray, in anguish asking God the Father to “take this cup from me”. I spent time praying by both of these statues, reflecting on Jesus’ last days.

I hiked back out of the woods and back to the monastery, over all I walked over 7000 steps and 3 miles, almost all of which was in the woods and up and down lots of hills! It was worth every minute, but I was soaked in sweat by the time I got back to my room.

My walk was timely because that night and the next day the temperatures dropped to the low 20s! No snow but too cold for walking in the woods! More to come….

Day TWO Part TWO of my silent retreat

As I said, Monday evening it all begins (the retreat and silence officially starts with supper at 6pm. Yes we eat in total silence, with a little music playing in the background. Last time I was here (2011), they played recordings of their famous monk, Thomas Merton, instructing new classes of monk novices. They have stopped that practrice as some retreatants found it annoying.) I spent time figuring out a book or two of the dozen I brought to focus on, some Brugemann, some Eugene Peterson, a few others. I finally attempted to sleep around 11 but it took a while. I had intended to rise for Vigils at 3:15, and the bell which announces every service woke me, but I decided to doze another couple of hours. So on Wednesday I plan to attend most if not all of the 7 divine hours plus Eucharist. I did make it to Terce post breakfast today (Tuesday).
After the prayers I walked a little outside – it’s a tad brisk here. But the sunrise was so beautiful. This part of Kentucky is quite pretty, rolling hills, lots of trees just past their fall colors. Seeing high hills is a different view for sure for a Florida panhandle guy! Today’s schedule will include a walk across the street on the large expanse of acreage (about 1500 acres) the monastery has. There are a couple of sets of statues I want to see, entitled The Garden of Gethsemene, one set of which was donated as a memorial to Episcopal Saint and Martyr, Jonathan Daniels, who is honored every August with a pilgrimage to Haneyville, Alabama where he, as an Episcopal seminarian, was shot and killed protecting a 12 year old girl from racial violence after he had been jailed for supporting voting rights for black citizens in Alabama. The Reverend Bob Graves, a priest of our diocese and dear friend, was a seminary classmate of Daniels.

I am reading my hero, Eugene Peterson’s, memoir “A Pastor”. As he was learning how to be a pastor, he reflected on life lessons from growing up in Montana, including an encounter with a Native American woman named Prettyfeather. The story is too long to recall here, just wanted the following quote to have some context. The process to becoming a “pastor” is different for everyone, but he speaks some truths I need to hear. Here is a quote from Peterson:

” People talk about steep learning curves. I was embarked on a steep unlearning curve. It didn’t happen overnight, but it happened. Prettyfeather gave me the story that provided a text for the extensive unlearning before me, the unlearning that was necessary to clear the ground for learning that God at work—not I—was the center of the way I was going to be living for the rest of my life. Inappropriate, anxiety-driven, fear-driven work would only interfere with and distract from what God was already doing. My “work” assignment was to pay more attention to what God does than what I do, and then to find, and guide others to find, the daily, weekly, yearly rhythms that would get this awareness into our bones. Holy Saturday for a start. And then Sabbath keeping. Staying in touch with people in despair, knowing them by name, and waiting for resurrection.”

Wow. Anxiety driven, fear driven work would only interfere with and distract from what God was already doing.
In some ways I think Covid put us more directly into anxiety and fear driven work. The constant push and pull to “program our way out of this”, to go back and “do those things we always used to do” is so strong. I really don’t want to be the chief programmer of an organization. But also, what is my role in saying no, that’s not why we are here or what God is calling us to do and be, no matter how comfortable it may seem, how reassuring if everything will just go back to “normal”, which as I learned post-Katrina, normal is just a setting on a washing machine?

Itinerant: noun. a person who alternates between working and wandering.