Diocesan Day on Immigration

Amid all of the public turmoil about immigration, how do Christians respond in a way that allows them to live into their baptismal promise to respect the dignity of all persons and the imperative from Jesus to love our neighbor as ourselves?

That is one of many questions participants will wrestle with during an August 30 discussion at The Cathedral of St. Philip, 2744 Peachtree Road, N.E, Atlanta, GA 30305. The session, scheduled from 1 p.m. - 3 p.m., is free and open to the public. 

The event will include presentations by priests and Christian lay leaders from the Atlanta area actively involved in responding to the needs of our immigrant neighbors.

Episcopal bishops Robert Wright of the Diocese of Atlanta and Jose McLoughlin of the Diocese of Western North Carolina will provide theological guidance and practical ways Christians can respond to this hotly debated issue. 

There will also be information on accessing resources for immigrants and how people of faith can best use those resources.

The event is free and open to the public. Click here to register.



During the week of June 24-30, 50 youth representing 14 congregations served communities all over Atlanta. Some of these communities were Crossroads Ministries of St. Luke's, Holy Comforter, and Church of the Common Ground. Our youth did many acts of service during the week, and among these was feeding over 2,000 people. Our middle and high schoolers experienced what it means to serve and be served by others by seeing God in every person we encountered. God continues to show us why youth ministry remains such an important part of the work we do in our diocese.

Click here to learn more about Youth and Young Adult Ministries. 

Bishop Wright Appoints Four New Convocation Deans

The Right Rev. Bishop Rob Wright has appointed new deans for four convocations within the Diocese of Atlanta.

The Very Rev. Mary K. Erickson, Rector, The Episcopal Church of the Ascension in Cartersville was appointed the dean of the Northwest Georgia Convocation. The Very Rev. Mary Erickson was ordained a priest in this Diocese in February 2005 and has served as the rector of The Episcopal Church of the Ascension in Cartersville since 2010.  She currently serves as a Consultant for parish transitions, a facilitator for the Diocese's clergy leadership training program called Learning to Lead, and she is a certified Safe Church trainer. Dean Erickson has also served on the Diocese's Budget and Stewardship Committees.  

The new dean of the Mid-Atlanta Convocation is The Very Rev. Arlette D. Benoit Joseph from St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Atlanta. Benoit graduated from the General Theological Seminary in New York City, where she also earned her master's degree in Divinity with a certificate in Spiritual Direction. In June 2013, Benoit was ordained to the priesthood in the Diocese of Atlanta.

The Very Rev. Lauren Kuratko from St. Martin in the Fields Episcopal Church was appointed the dean of the North Atlanta convocation. Kuratko grew up in Montgomery, Alabama and received a bachelor's degree in Psychology and Religious Studies from Rhodes College in 2002. In 2005, she graduated from the Virginia Seminary.

The fourth appointment was The Very Rev. Brandon Duke, Rector, St. Julian's Episcopal Church in Douglasville, to the Southwest Atlanta Convocation. Duke attended seminary at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology. He then attended Sewanee: The University of the South’s School of Theology to further develop his skills in pastoral care, liturgy, and community life.

The other six convocations within the Diocese of Atlanta are Chattahoochee Valley, East Atlanta, Marietta, Middle Georgia, Northeast Georgia, and Northeast Metro.  View the parishes in each convocation here

Dig deeper into the historical and theological foundations of the Episcopal Church

Dig deeper into the historical and theological foundations of the Episcopal Church through a series of conversations on the Catechism and the historical documents, and consider the question “what’s it all about?”  

Saint Anne’s Episcopal Church, Sundays at 9:15 a.m., through August 6 (except for July 23). Located at: 3098 Saint Anne's Lane, Atlanta, 30327. 

Questions? Contact Scott Miller at smiller@saintannes.com or 404.237.5589.

Episcopal Service Corps Fellowship

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The Road Episcopal Service Corp is now accepting applications for the 2017-2018 service year. The Road offers young adults the opportunity to make connections between faith and social change, commit to community and simplicity, and grow in capacity for compassionate, courageous, and imaginative leadership. Road fellows work 32 hours per week in non-profits addressing issues around homelessness, unemployment, education, immigration, addiction, refugee resettlement, the environment and much more. The Road offers young adults the opportunity to put their beliefs into action having an impact on Peoplestown, the local community in which they live and the greater metropolitan Atlanta community. One day a week is devoted to spiritual discernment and reflection, leadership development, and community action in the neighborhoods of urban Atlanta.

Road fellows receive a monthly stipend. In addition room and board as well as public transportation to and from work sites, is also provided at no cost to the Road fellow.

Applications are being accepted on a rolling basis until July 21, 2018. Learn more.

Lundblad to preach on Day 1

The Rev. Dr. Barbara Lundblad, Joe R. Engle Professor of Preaching Emerita at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, is the featured preacher August 6 on “Day 1” with host Peter Wallace, the nationally broadcast ecumenical radio program also accessible as a podcast and online at Day1.org. This is the final of two programs on Faith & Global Hunger, updating the acclaimed series from 2010. 

Lundblad, an ordained Lutheran minister, is a graduate of Augustana College in Rock Island, Ill. She earned her M.Div. from Yale Divinity School and a D.D. from Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago. Early in her ministry, she was engaged in youth ministry in the Twin Cities of Minnesota where she currently resides. An ordained minister of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, she served 16 years as a parish pastor in New York City, as well as campus pastor at Lehman College and New York University. She has taught preaching at Yale Divinity School, Princeton Theological Seminary, Hebrew Union College, and the Association of Chicago Theological Schools. In 2007, she served as president of the Academy of Homiletics. Lundblad taught at Union Theological Seminary from 1997 to 2014. She is one of the most popular Protestant Hour and Day 1 preachers. 

Lundblad’s sermon, “Who Will Feed Them? You,” is drawn from the story of the feeding of the 5,000 found in Matthew 14:13-21. “I’ve had a hard time with this sermon even though I’ve preached on this gospel many times,” she says. “This year the story seems more urgent. I keep hearing Jesus turn to me and say, ‘They need not go away, Barbara. You give them something to eat’.” 

Lundblad has published numerous sermons and articles in journals and collections. She is the author of two books “Transforming the Stone: Preaching through Resistance to Change” and “Marking Time: Preaching Biblical Stories in Present Tense” based on the Beecher Lectures, which she gave at Yale Divinity School. The program includes interviews with Lundblad conducted by Wallace, who is also executive producer. 

“Day 1” has been broadcast every week for 72 years, formerly as “The Protestant Hour.” Featuring outstanding preachers from the mainline denominations, “Day 1” is currently distributed to more than 220 radio stations across America and overseas and via various podcast platforms. The program is produced by the Alliance for Christian Media, based in Atlanta, Ga. For more information, call toll free 888-411-Day-1 or check the program’s website, http://day1.org.  

She learned the way of the KKK but teaches diversity today

Mike Haskey- The Ledger-Enquirer

Mike Haskey- The Ledger-Enquirer

What happens when a woman raised as a fundamentalist Baptist studies a Jew’s book with a bunch of Episcopalians?
In an interview with the Ledger-Enquirer in June, Debbie Anderson reflects on her five-decade personal journey growing up with KKK supporter to now teaching diversity and inclusion as the program director of Thompson-Pound Art Program. When Anderson was in eighth-grade, she wore for show-and-tell her aunt’s KKK robe, symbolizing the intolerance she was taught in church and at home. As program director, Anderson teaches 60 diverse children (age 6-11) and 20 teen interns and mentors religious tolerance as they work together to create a unity art piece and performance at The Chattahoochee Valley Episcopal Ministry’s free week-long summer day camp.
Read the full story here

The Circle: A Gathering of Contemplative Prayer and Study

A Gathering of Contemplative Prayer & Study

The Circle is a gathering of individuals who are seeking to practice and explore the many dimensions of contemplative prayer. The conversations we share are grounded in the ongoing work of The New Contemplatives Exchange, a global network of contemplative scholars and practitioners gathered by Fr. Thomas Keating, OCSO, (Contemplative Outreach); Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM (The Center for Action and Contemplation), Fr. Tilden Edwards, Episcopal priest (The Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation); and Fr. Laurence Freeman, OB (The World Community for Christian Meditation). The Exchange will meet for the first time in August at St. Benedict’s Monastery in Snowmass, CO, with twenty participants from six countries.

Fr. Stuart Higginbotham will facilitate the sessions, connecting this group’s work to his experience as part of The Exchange. He will share key articles and reflections from the Exchange group with The Circle members, helping cultivate a wider conversation within Grace Church, The Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta, the Gainesville area, and beyond.

The Circle takes its direction from the overall vision of The New Contemplatives Exchange:

Awakening a larger embrace and expansion of Christian contemplative understanding and practice as the vital grounding of Christian life, with openness to collaboration with all streams of contemplative wisdom, in response to the urgent social and spiritual needs of our times.

There are many ways in which we can explore contemplative prayer—all of which are grounded in intentional postures of silence. The richness of The New Contemplative Exchange is seen in the dialogue between these different particular practices of contemplative prayer. Individuals may have established practices of contemplative prayer grounded in any of these (or other) traditions or schools. The desire of The Circle is to explore what growth we can share with one another in an appreciative space that is curious about the wider and deeper dimensions of contemplative studies and practice within the Christian tradition. There will be time for shared silence as well as important reflection, reading, and accountability with our daily practice.

If there is a critical mass after four weeks, we will explore maintaining the group for a longer time period.

The Schedule
The current session is scheduled for four consecutive Sundays: September 17, 24, October 1, and 8. We will gather in the Chapel at Grace Church from 6:30 to 8:00 pm. The Chapel entrance is on Washington Street.

The current schedule is as follows:

6:30 - Gathering and settling in
6:35 - Sharing of Silence
7:05 - Conversation and reflection on articles-notes to think on this week
7:50 - Brief Evening Prayer to close…

Please contact Fr. Stuart at Stuart@gracechurchgainesville.org if you have any questions.

Bread for the World President to Preach

The Rev. Dr. David Beckman, president of Bread for the World, is the featured preacher July 30 on “Day 1” with host Peter Wallace, the nationally broadcast ecumenical radio program also accessible as a podcast and online at Day1.org. in the Atlanta area tune in to WSB 750 and NEWS 95.5 at 7:05 a.m.

This is the first of two programs on Faith & Global Hunger, updating the acclaimed series from 2010. The Rev. Dr. Barbara Lundblad will preach on Aug. 6.

Beckman is one of the foremost U.S. advocates for hungry and poor people. He has been president of Bread for the World, a U.S. Christian advocacy movement to end hunger, since 1991. He is also president of Bread for the World Institute, which provides policy analysis on hunger and strategies to end it. He founded and serves as president of the Alliance to End Hunger, which engages diverse U.S. institutions in building the political will to end hunger. Prior to joining Bread for the World he worked at the World Bank overseeing large development projects and driving innovations to make the bank more effective in reducing poverty. 

A Lutheran pastor as well as an economist, Beckman earned degrees from Yale University, Christ Seminary, and the London School of Economics. In 2010, he was named World Food Prize laureate. In 2014, he was awarded the Community of Christ’s International Peace Award and the Rumi Forum Peace and Dialogue Award. His latest book is “Exodus from Hunger: We Are Called to Change the Politics of Hunger.”

Beckman’s sermon, “How God Can Use Us to End Hunger,” focuses on the parable of the mustard seed and the parable of yeast found in Matthew 13:31-33. Beckman says, “In today’s gospel lesson Jesus says that God will use our efforts, however modest they seem, to achieve God’s purposes in ways that we cannot now imagine.” 

The program includes interviews with Beckman conducted by Wallace, who is also executive producer. 

“Day 1” has been broadcast every week for 72 years, formerly as “The Protestant Hour.” Featuring outstanding preachers from the mainline denominations, “Day 1” is currently distributed to more than 220 radio stations across America and overseas and via various podcast platforms. The program is produced by the Alliance for Christian Media, based in Atlanta, Ga. For more information, call toll free 888-411-Day-1 or check the program’s website, http://day1.org

The national weekly ecumenical radio program produced by the Alliance for Christian Media
Contact: Peter Wallace, 404-815-0258pwallace@day1.org or Ethel Ware Carter, 404-815-0258, ext. 2230ewcarter@day1.org

St. Mary's Sewanee Spiritual Retreat Center announces Rev. Andy Anderson as the new executive director

St. Mary’s Sewanee: The Ayres Center for Spiritual Development is pleased to announce the appointment of the Reverend Dr. E. Lucius “Andy” Anderson III as its fourth Executive Director effective in early September.  Anderson joins St. Mary’s Sewanee to continue building upon St. Mary’s Sewanee’s vision, expanding reach, and facilities development that have marked its growth over the last decade. 

Anderson most recently has served as the Rector of the Church of the Nativity in Huntsville, Alabama since 2003.  Anderson brought stability and growth in ministries to the 1800 member parish, initially leading the parish through a long-range visioning process that resulted in master planning and a $4.2 million successful capital campaign to renovate the 1859 National Historic Landmark Church and eliminate the parish’s debt to acquire adjacent property in downtown Huntsville.  After physically “building the Church, “ Anderson spent his energy and leadership “building the church spiritually in formation, mission, and ministry,” embracing the Catechumenate for new member incorporation, RenewalWorks Spiritual Development Ministries of Forward Movement, and expanding the parish’s outreach efforts including establishing one of the south’s premier local Grower’s and Artisan Markets, The Greene Street Market at Nativity.  Nativity has a long tradition of supporting Centering Prayer and Anderson is in the process of becoming a certified Centering Prayer Workshop Facilitator through Contemplative Outreach.  

Before his tenure at Nativity, Anderson served as Rector of Grace Church in Anderson, SC, where he led the parish through extensive strategic planning and a capital campaign to renovate and expand the historic church.  Anderson initially served in ordained ministry at the Cathedral of St. Philip in Atlanta, GA, as Canon Educator for Children, Youth and Family Ministries, embracing and leading a vision for ministry that saw tremendous growth.  

R. Dale Grimes, President of the Board of Trustees of St. Mary’s Sewanee, said “The Board of Trustees is thrilled to welcome Andy as the new executive director of St. Mary’s Sewanee.  Andy is absolutely the right person to take on these duties at this time.  He brings to St. Mary’s Sewanee his extensive experience in spiritual development programming and activities, service to and leadership in the Episcopal Church, financial and administrative acumen, and significant and proven fundraising ability.  We are excited about the possibilities for our future with Andy as our Executive Director as we enter a new phase of growth in programming and campus development.”

In recent years, St. Mary’s Sewanee has accomplished a number of goals in the plans envisioned by the Board.  The Anna House, completed four years ago as the Center’s newest lodging facility, has been fully brought on line, providing more hospitality options for its guests by allowing accommodation of larger groups as well as simultaneous use by multiple groups.  The quality and number of its programs have increased, including a new relationship with the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation, which has commenced a four-part program, the Soul of Leadership, at St. Mary’s Sewanee.  Many other programs offered by long-time St. Mary's Sewanee presenters have been able to make use of the Center’s new and upgraded facilities on a year-round basis.  

Andy Anderson returns to the Mountain with the enthusiasm and skills to lead St. Mary’s Sewanee forward in this ongoing expansion of facilities and programs.  “I first experienced St. Mary’s as a thin holy place of spiritual connection to God on an Advent Quiet Day my first year at the School of Theology in 1991.  I returned to St. Mary’s many times during seminary years to know the quiet and refreshment from the beauty of holiness St. Mary’s offers,” Anderson remarks.  “After beginning a Centering Prayer practice in the late 1990’s, I began attending retreats and other events at St. Mary’s.  It’s a part of my spiritual DNA and has continued to enrich and enliven my life and ministry.  I have been nurtured by St. Mary’s mission and its heart of prayerfulness and it will be a privilege to give back to this sacred and beautiful place that has given so much to me and to others.  I am excited to continue my journey in the capacity as Executive Director and look forward to the great work of building upon what John Runkle and the fine staff and St. Mary’s Board have launched.  I believe in our mission, having served with fundraising efforts to help get us where we are today.  I look forward to leading the efforts to allow others to be a part of contributing to St. Mary’s mission with their time, talent, and financial resources.”  

A native of Statesboro, Georgia, Anderson holds a Doctor of Ministry and a Masters of Divinity honoris causa from The School of Theology at Sewanee, a Masters of Business Administration in Finance from Georgia State University, and a Bachelor of Arts in History from the University of Georgia.  Prior to ordination in 1994, Anderson had a successful career in corporate banking with the SunTrust Banks.  He has served the wider church and Sewanee in many capacities and looks forward to strengthening St. Mary’s connections to the wider Church as well as in interfaith collaborations.  He and his wife Tippy (the former Tippen Harvey of Rome, Georgia)  have been married for almost 36 years and have two adult children, Case and Sally, who like Andy and Tippy, consider Sewanee home.

Grants $10,000 in Small Acts of Charity Grants for Second Quarter


ECF awards General Grants twice a year and Small Acts of Charity (capped at $5,000) quarterly. Applications for the Q3 Small Acts of Charity are due August 15, 2017.

Those interested in applying for funding should visit www.ECFimpact.org for information regarding both funding opportunities as well as links to the applications. Applicants are encouraged to contact Lindsey Hardegree with any questions they may have regarding eligibility or their applications.

June 26, 2017
Today the Episcopal Community Foundation for Middle and North Georgia (ECF) announces two Small Acts of Charity grants to Church of the Common Ground (Atlanta) and Episcopal Church of the Holy Family (Jasper).

“Our Small Acts of Charity this quarter will each fund a first step towards larger efforts for these Episcopal communities,” said Lindsey Hardegree, Executive Director for the Episcopal Community Foundation for Middle and North Georgia. “ECF has shifted our primary grantmaking to focus on larger, more impactful grants – these opportunities illustrate how a small amount can be catalyzed to create larger impact, whether through the piloting of a new program with the homeless or exploring creative uses of existing resources to better serve the poor and oppressed.”

ECF’s Q2 Small Acts of Charity 2017 recipients
• Church of the Common Ground will receive a grant of $5,000 to fund their Peer-to-Peer Pastoral Care and Connections initiative. This effort will expand and strengthen the capacity for sustained and effective pastoral outreach, connection, and care provided by the members of Church of the Common Ground to their fellow church members, and to the wider network of people who live on the margins of the streets of Atlanta.
• Episcopal Church of the Holy Family will receive a grant of $5,000 for a land use study to determine if a senior housing facility and potential land development for youth activities are viable on Holy Family’s existing 38+ acre campus. The study will consider what possibilities are available for the parish regarding housing, including placement, quantity, and land use issues (coding, zoning, etc.), and will determine if a new, impactful outreach ministry is viable for this parish.

About Episcopal Community Foundation for Middle and North Georgia
Founded in 1982 as the Episcopal Charities Foundation, the Episcopal Community Foundation for Middle and North Georgia (ECF) provides funding, leadership and resources to enable Episcopal parishes and nonprofit partners to lift up people facing poverty and oppression and to achieve significant, long-lasting impact in the Diocese of Atlanta. Since its inception, ECF has donated more than $4 million to promote thriving and spiritually strong individuals, families, and communities locally. Learn more at www.ECFimpact.org.

About The Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta
The Diocese of Atlanta was created in 1907 and serves the cities, towns, and communities in Middle and North Georgia. Led by the Right Rev. Robert C. Wright, it is comprised of 110 welcoming worship communities. Our purpose is to challenge ourselves and the world to love like Jesus as we worship joyfully, serve compassionately, and grow spiritually. Learn more at www.episcopalatlanta.org.

Bells are Ringing at CEC!

Ever wanted to try your hand at hand bells?  Always harbored a secret desire to ring?  After all, you only need to learn two notes!  Now your dream has come true!

Christ Episcopal Church of Kennesaw, (CEC), has come into a four octave set of English Hand bells and is offering ringing opportunities for both kids and adults in its new bell choir, “Pumping Bronze! ”

At this time, both adults and kids – 6th grade and up – are ringing together in a 3 octave team, performing for special events and holy days at CEC and with our chimes at Wal-Mart for the Salvation Army Bell Ringers during the Christmas season with the Marietta Golden K Kiwanis.

The dream is to gather enough adults and kids to form two bell teams, or one 4-octave team with a rehearsal every week.  Pumping Bronze has been ringing both as a team and as a 2 to 4 ringer malleted bell tree.  We’ve also chimed at church and out in the community and rung weaves as duets.  

We are Semper Gumby (always flexible), interested in new ringers and excited about making music together.  Contact our Ringmaster Deb at 678 777 9027 or geraced@gmail.com and come join us – with bells on! (Sorry - couldn’t resist!)

Rainbow Village CEO Nancy Yancey Announces Retirement at Year’s End

Rainbow Village Chief Operating Officer the Rev. Nancy Yancey announced that she will retire from the 26-year-old nonprofit serving homeless families with children on December 31, 2017. Yancey, 65, who was involved in the creation of Rainbow Village in 1991, has led the organization since 1993.

In a written statement Yancey said she leaves the organization without debt following a successful $8.8 million building program that leaves Rainbow Village staff and board members well positioned to build upon that success as they sustain and further refine the program that boasts a better than 85% success rate in reversing family homelessness.

“I have been blessed to serve Rainbow Village for the past 24 years. I have always tried to follow God’s call for my life and I believe it is now time for me to enter the next phase of my journey. I will retire at the end of 2017 and look forward to spending time with my husband, children and friends,” Yancey wrote.

“I could never have imagined what a miraculous journey God had in store for me and Rainbow Village during my time here. Rainbow Village has grown from serving two families in 1991 to serving 30 in 2017. The capital campaign which began in 2008 is now complete and the “new” Village with a Family Service Center, 30 apartment homes and Community Center will be at full capacity, serving approximately 100 residents by year end.

“Rainbow Village is well positioned to continue its success over the next 25 years and beyond. I am honored to have developed so many wonderful relationships with investors, volunteers and staff who have loved and cared for our families as I have. I know the support will continue as we now move into sustaining what we have built together.  I am proud of all that has been accomplished and honored to have been a part of the success.

“Rainbow Village can look forward to new leadership to work with the amazing staff and board of directors to continue to fulfill the mission of Rainbow Village. I am sure God has already chosen the one who is to succeed me.  I offer prayers of thanksgiving for the hundreds of lives that have been transformed at Rainbow Village and the ones who are to come. I am certain God will continue to bless each one of us!”

Click here to read the AJC article "Life with Gracie: How an interior designer built a Rainbow Village for homeless."

ECF Accepting Applications for Third Quarter Small Acts of Charity Grants

The Episcopal Community Foundation for Middle and North Georgia is currently accepting applications for our Q3 Small Acts of Charity Grants - the deadline is August 15, 2017! Each quarter, requests of no more than $5,000 are considered, and we will fund 1-2 Small Acts of Charity in any given quarter.

ECF (formerly Episcopal Charities Foundation) partners with Episcopal communities to serve the poor and oppressed throughout Middle and North Georgia. In recent years, ECF has shifted its grantmaking focus to encourage larger, more impactful grants, and our process is aimed at helping Episcopal parishes and their nonprofit partners create proposals that seek to engage in deeper work in their local communities.

Those interested in applying for funding should visit http://www.ecfimpact.org/ for instructions and the link to the Small Acts of Charity application. Applicants are encouraged to contact Executive Director Lindsey Hardegree with any questions they may have regarding eligibility or their applications (LHardegree@episcopalatlanta.org).

The Global Episcopal Mission Network honors Gini Peterson at annual conference

The Global Episcopal Mission Network (GEMN) honored Gini Peterson for her contributions to the global mission partnerships of The Episcopal Church during their annual mission conference. Gini and her husband Reid are members of St. Matthews Episcopal Church in Snellville, GA. The conference was held May 24-26, 2017, at Camp McDowell in the Diocese of Alabama, and its theme was “Reconciliation: God’s Mission - and Ours.”

A former board member and president of GEMN, Gini said her calling to mission began as a child.

“The early imprinting of awareness about mission began before I started school as our pastor and his wife were Armenian refugees. Church school and mite boxes in the Diocese of Southern Virginia kept me aware of the needs of others,” Gini said.

In her long volunteer ministry with the church, Gini has served as an agent of God’s Reconciliation in prominent roles for various organizations across the globe. A few include representing The Episcopal Church at Partners in Mission Consultation for the Anglican Church of Kenya, serving as national president of United Thank Offering and National President of Episcopal Church Women, and serving as a founding member and first convener of Episcopal Council for Global Mission and later Episcopal Partnership for Global Mission as well as long time chair of the Diocese of Atlanta’s Global Mission Commission.

Other contributions that Gini has made over the years include participating in Anglican Women’s Encounter in Salvador, Brazil at the end of the Decade of Churches in Solidarity with Women and participating in Touching Sisters, Touching Shores in Honduras, a gathering of Episcopal Women from the Global South.

GEMN is a network of dioceses, congregations, seminaries, individuals, and organizations committed to energizing global mission in the Episcopal Church. The 2018 Global Mission Conference will be hosted by the Center for Anglican Communion Studies at Virginia Theological Seminary, April 11-13.

Learn more about GEMN.

In Service to Children...Commemorating Our First Diocesan Saints

Appleton Episcopal Ministries held its annual Service of Recognition for The Order of St. Katharine deaconesses, the first Saints of the Diocese of Atlanta, on Sunday, June 4, 2017, at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Macon, GA. The commemoration honored the women of the early Appleton Church Home who spent their service caring for girls orphaned from the Civil War.  

“Let us remember together these deaconesses not only as the first saints of the Diocese of Atlanta, but also as pioneering women in ministry and as ministry innovators...serving those on the margins,” The Reverend D. S. Mote, who holds a doctorate in religion, and is Missioner for Engagement and Innovation in the diocese, said in her Homily.

 In November 2016, the 110th Annual Council of the Diocese passed a resolution making these deaconesses the first saints of the Diocese of Atlanta. The office of deaconess is recorded in scripture – a ministry to the poor and the sick, according to The Reverend Mote. She added that the office became largely unused after the Middle Ages until the Lutheran Church and the Anglican Church revived it in the mid-1800’s.

 In 1882, Bishop of Georgia John Beckwith performed the ceremony of setting aside deaconesses for the work of the church at the Appleton Church Home, opened in 1870. The Appleton deaconesses serving between 1870 and 1935 were Sister Margaret, Sister Katherine, Sister Sarah, Sister Mary, Sister Maggie, Sister Louise, Sister Elenor, Sister Kate, and Sister Sophie.

 During the commemoration, attendees visited the burial sites of Sisters Margaret, Katherine, Sarah, Sophie, and Katie at Rose Hill. “The four deaconesses not buried at Rose Hill remind us that life is fluid, and change is constant,” The Reverend Mote said. “Yet every season of service makes a contribution to the whole; each of us is constantly creating our own legacy whether we recognize it or not.”

“The Appleton Church Home has moved through different seasons of service as well. From 1870 to 1990, Appleton was 120 years of all girls. Then in 1991, the residential program ended and after-school and summer programs for boys as well as girls began. Appleton has continued to evolve and to innovate to address the needs of children across the decades.”

This summer, Appleton Episcopal Services opens the second Children’s Defense Fund Freedom School in the Diocese of Atlanta at St. Paul’s in Macon - the legacy of Appleton and the Deaconesses to serve children continues.

Read the full text of The Rev. Donna Mote’s homily here and to learn more about Appleton visit their website here.

Steps to Lead 2017

The weekend of June 2-4, 5 adults and 15 youth representing 12 of our parishes traveled to Isle of Palms for the inaugural Steps to Lead. Steps to Lead is a Youth Leadership Retreat and the newest module of leadership training in the Diocese of Atlanta. The adults included Bishop Wright, Youth Missioner Easton Davis, Leadership Professor Mary Hooper, Monika Wiley, and Keith Dumke. Together, each adult played a vital role in guiding the 15 high schoolers through the weekend.

Over the course of the weekend, our young people learned many things about leadership and were given the opportunity to define the next steps they would take in their lives to lead where they felt called. This was the first step in offering our youth a real opportunity to go back into their lives and congregations and make a larger difference.

Walk Hand in Hand With 70 Determined Scholars at emmaus House

Emmaus House, a ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta, is hosting its Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools® program for the third consecutive summer and they need your support.

The CDF Freedom Schools® program is a summer program serving students from kindergarten through 5th grade. Its aim is to motivate young scholars to read, build positive attitudes towards learning, and empower them to make a difference in themselves, their families, their communities, and their world.

Studies show that education summer programs like the CDF Freedom School at Emmaus House help reduce achievement gaps and make a lasting impact among participants. Since the program’s inception in 2015, results show that participants are making significant gains — nearly 90% of those evaluated maintained or gained in their instructional reading level over the six-week program.

This summer, Emmaus House needs to raise $8,000 by June 26 to support its CDF Freedom School and invites you to walk hand in hand with 70 determined scholars as they work to make a difference in themselves and the world through reading and education.

Click here to learn more about the CDF Freedom School at Emmaus House and make a donation. 

Church of the Common Ground Celebration

Church of the Common Ground is a church community on the streets of Atlanta, sharing the Good News that we are all God’s Beloved. 

As a worshiping community of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta, Common Ground serves the pastoral and spiritual needs of women, men and youth who live on the margins of our city. Some struggle with chronic physical or mental illness, lack of employment, or fractured families. Some have no place to live or experience housing insecurity. Our congregation is a “church without walls.” We can be found in the heart of downtown Atlanta, near to the neighborhoods, shelters, parks, and public spaces where our members live. Common Ground strives to be a faithful and consistent witness to Christ’s love for all people. Sunday services are held each week at 1 p.m. in Woodruff Park in downtown Atlanta. Follow us on Facebook. To join, volunteer, or contribute, please call 404-873-7667 or email info@churchofthecommonground.org

View beautiful photos from the Church of the Common Ground Sunday service from May 28, 2017. 

Local Lay Chaplains Realize the Harvest is Plentiful

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Since May is National Mental Health Month, two of us would like to share one of the ways our local mental health court helps folks with mental health issues to lead productive lives outside of the criminal justice system. Our perspectives come from a judge who presides over this accountability court and an ecumenical chaplain involved from the start of this initiative.  After watching a number of people over the years struggle with physical health in the HELP  (Health, Empowerment, Linkage and Possibilities) Court, as well as weight gain due to medications, I, as the judge,  turned to the community for help.  A group of parishioners at Grace Episcopal Church who belong to the Community of Hope, an organization of lay chaplains, took on the challenge. They invited participants in HELP Court to walk a mile around the Brenau campus with them and then have lunch together.

The church volunteers initially set specific agendas for the lunch time together. These “Lunch and Learns,” which touched on different aspects of daily living such as healthy eating, exercise, or punctuality, seemed to send a message that the volunteers became uncomfortable with: that they were somehow the teacher and that what this opportunity had to offer was for the benefit of the participant alone. Soon, I, as the chaplain, saw that what the participants could teach us, the volunteers, about being honest and real and offering completely differing perspectives was a gift to us that transformed our view of empathy, compassion, and service. We could see that true connections were being made by everyone who gathered, and that it was time to put the “learning” component of lunch aside and just talk.

As the activity evolved, I, as the judge, heard praise, both from the volunteers and from the participants.  I realized that this effort was helping to address one of the most serious barriers to the continued stability of the participants.  That barrier is the STIGMA our culture attaches to people with mental health issues.  The most poignant example of this stigma is one I heard very early on in the court.  Participants in HELP Court must attend a number of meetings—group therapy, individual counseling, drug testing, and others.  This means they must discuss their situation with their employers in order to be available.  There are a number of wonderful businesses in our community that are willing to work with their employees to ensure their success in the program.  But some are not so understanding.  I asked one of our early participants if he had spoken with his employer about coming to groups and he said he was not able to be truly honest.  He said that if he had explained he was going to therapy to learn about his diagnosis of bi-polar and skills to help him be successful in society, he would have been ridiculed, called crazy, and possibly let go. So he had told his boss that he was attending classes for perpetrators of domestic violence, which was accepted without disapproval.  

The interactions between church members and court participants, in a setting that is not court, not therapy, and not mandated, give each side the freedom to see each other as just people, with struggles and triumphs in daily life, like we all have.  And those volunteers spread their greater understanding of people with mental health issues among their wider group of friends and acquaintances. At the same time, court participants have pleasant interactions with caring people other than the “caring professionals” they are required to see.  

The experience is so simple but so meaningful. In putting the person before the label and acquiring a deeper, truer understanding of the complexities of mental health, volunteers helped participants to feel like people instead of marked, locked boxes. This gave them the confidence to speak their truths about their struggles and successes, which helped the volunteers see the commonalities of living life in a world where there is hardship. No matter who you are or what you’re labeled, you will at some point be forced to confront that. When a participant approached the volunteer privately and offered her advice about how to be a better parent, she realized that the labels associated with mental illness are true detriments to making real connections with each other.

This type of coming together is crucial for everyone, not just those seeking rehabilitative assistance. Changing our misconceptions into experiences of compassion is the way into understanding. And perhaps after we understand, we change the face of mental health and how we deal with the locked boxes both in ourselves and in others.
The program has been so successful that the Community of Hope is working to replicate this component of HELP Court in other counties.

Kathy Gosselin is a Superior Court Judge presiding over the mental health court and veteran’s court in the Northeastern Judicial Circuit.  Laura Masterson is a certified lay chaplain through The Community of Hope, International. Nancy Richardson is the coordinator for the Walk and Talk component of the HELP court.