The Reverend Canon
John Fletcher Montgomery
Canon of Sante Fe Region
Holy Trinity Episcopal Church
I am a Florida native, born in Coral Gables to FSU grads. I was raised in a pastor’s home, strong in the Scriptures, and with loads of love and support.
I have more than 25 years combined experience as rector of three different Episcopal parishes. The first was a congregation founded in the 19th century with a beautiful, historic “carpenter gothic” church built near the banks of a lake that now separates Volusia and Seminole Counties in the Diocese of Central Florida. Today this formerly rural area has become a working middle class bedroom community on the far north side of metropolitan Orlando. This tight-knit community of faith has an active day school, a large thrift shop, contemporary worship, and is a longtime supporter of the spiritual renewal movement Cursillo.
Over the next nearly 20 years I served a large, conservative parish in Columbia, South Carolina’s first suburb, Shandon. Together we completed three capital campaign upgrades: our parish house; our historic 1926 church; and a re-build of our beautiful pipe organ. This is a strong, loving congregation that promotes spiritual formation and education for all ages, and enjoys close ecumenical relations with other neighborhood worshiping communities.
Since 2017 it has been my privilege to serve a large, downtown parish in Gainesville. A diverse congregation with many different outlooks on life and ministry, we lean towards more formal worship on holy days and festivals. Founded just after the mid-19th century, we are a congregation steeped in heritage, proud of our outstanding music ministry, and pleased to be a beacon of hope in our region with several successful outreach ministries.
My early Episcopal formation was as a teenager at the Cathedral of St. Philip in Atlanta, where I sang in the Evensong Choir. After finishing studies at Furman University, where I worked as a YoungLife leader, I returned to Atlanta to work at the Cathedral as its first staff College Minister. My wife, Sarah, and I married there, had our boys baptized there, and are now loving watching our baby grandson, Fletcher, being raised there today.
Dear Fellow Episcopalians in the Diocese of Florida,
What a profound privilege it is for me to have been nominated to the final slate of candidates standing for election as Bishop Coadjutor. I have a true sense of excitement as I write to you here about my vision for the future of our Diocese.
Bishop John Howard continues to serve us faithfully and well. Whoever is elected Coadjutor will stand loyally at his side, serve under his strong leadership and experienced direction, and glean all kinds of helpful learning from his nearly two decades of pastoring and uniting us in Christ. By God’s grace he will continue to guide and teach us, and to oversee the ministries of this Diocese in the power of the Holy Spirit. What an opportunity for apprenticeship alongside the mentorship of this seasoned Bishop!
My thoughts turn to the people and clergy of our Diocese. We are strong in our faith and convictions, and along with our diversity of backgrounds and opinions, I believe we must sincerely seek consensus in a loving community as part of the Episcopal Church and the Anglican Communion. Not only must we strive for that unity together, but we owe it to our Lord who commanded us to love one another, describing in John’s Gospel that love as the primary identifying sign to the world around us that we are Christ’s disciples. There is work to be done here, and while that’s obviously challenging, we can, with God’s help, rise above our differences. I believe we can continue to journey closer to one another as we journey together closer to our Redeemer, in whom all things are brought to perfection.
Our people need a loving and faithful teacher and pastor as we look to the future; and the clergy need a shepherd who will know us, come alongside us, equip, and empower us for the ministries to which we are called as deacons and priests. Our smaller congregations are, in my mind, numbered among our most precious resources. They need to be nurtured, listened to, and continually inspired to carry the yoke of ministry where they have been planted. Modern highways don’t always lead Florida’s booming population where mighty and gentle rivers once did a century or more ago, but Christ must be preached and proclaimed in every place – not just in our larger cities and towns. At the same time our more populous parishes also possess vital resources and opportunities for the spread of God’s Kingdom. I believe we must nurture and partner with these congregations, benefitting from mutual ministry in north Florida’s many contexts and opportunities.
How will we accomplish all of this? St. Paul puts it plainly in 2 Corinthians 5.14: The love of Christ urges us on. It’s the powerful love of Christ we share that compels us to proclaim the Gospel and to love one another. May God’s Spirit bless and direct us all as we endeavor to follow the Great Shepherd of our souls, Jesus Christ our Lord.