We are pleased to announce that Bishop Wright has appointed Ms. Chelsi Glascoe as Campus Missioner for the Atlanta University Center, which covers Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College, and Spelman College.
Chelsi is a vibrant scholar and teacher from Silver Spring, MD. She earned a Bachelors of Arts in Sociology from Clark Atlanta University and matriculated through college serving most notably as Miss Clark Atlanta University 2014-2015. In 2020 she will graduate from Mercer University with a Masters of Divinity degree. Her favorite things to do include traveling (she has studied cross-culturally in India and several countries in the Caribbean) and swimming. Chelsi teaches with an upbeat and down to earth tone, and reaches young adults through simple but un-sugarcoated presentations. She is passionate about nurturing the God given call on the lives of young adults and is committed to loving, leading, and laboring with students.
A unique small-ratio mentoring and tutoring program, Path To Shine® has become a beacon of hope and possibility for elementary-school children across middle and north Georgia. With nearly 200 actively enrolled children and 140 dedicated volunteers in 18 different locations, Path To Shine is excited to announce the kick-off of its 2019 Share the Love fundraising campaign.
Share the Love runs throughout February, the “Month of Love”, to raise funds and awareness for Path To Shine (PTS). You can support Share the Love in two simple ways.
Make a Donation of $28 That's just $1 per day for the month of February. We're working with about 200 children to provide books, enrichment activities, and educational support, while teaching life skills. Donate here!
Share the Love! Spread the word across your social networks. The more people who know about us, the more children we can encourage to graduate from high school. Forward this email to a friend as a first step
Path To Shine’s desire to love like Jesus is rooted in the ministry’s founding belief that children can benefit from relationships with caring, trusted adults who are not family members. Since 2010, the ministry has worked to foster dreams in children such that they are motivated to graduate from high school.
What makes Path To Shine Unique?
Small ratios and small groups differentiate Path To Shine (PTS) from other programs. With no more than two children per adult volunteer, and a guideline of no more than 20 children in a program, PTS is set up to create community. This sense of community is reinforced with a commitment of 90% attendance for the children and 85% attendance for the mentors, and this consistency means a reliable presence in each of the local communities where PTS takes place. Smaller programs are more sustainable and several have been running for five years or more. Additionally, PTS developed their own curriculum with a big emphasis on life skills.
PTS’s Whole-Child Approach: Character Building, Guest Speakers, Life Enrichment.
A typical PTS afternoon includes quiet time for Mentors to work with the same one or two students each week, helping with homework, reading together, catching up on the week's events, and building trusting relationships. Snack and play time are also valuable parts of the program. Research shows that play empowers kids to explore what they enjoy, and play time strengthens mentor-student bonds.
Another key element of PTS is the curriculum which centers on structured group time. Through stories told using books or guest speakers, group time is an opportunity to practice attentive listening, comprehension and learn valuable life skills. Sometimes, older children read aloud to the younger ones. Other times, guest speakers from different backgrounds and professions share their life journeys and the choices they made growing up that helped them become successful adults. During presentations, children practice their manners of listening attentively, sitting quietly, and not interrupting. Afterwards, there’s time to ask questions and practice introductions. Social skills and graces in action!
Finally, there is only so much a child can learn in the classroom. A lot of what we learn is outside the school building – experiences and adventures many people take for granted. For Path To Shine children, an outing to a horse stable, a museum or a Braves game offers a rare opportunity to experience something new.
Path To Shine’s 2019 Share the Love Goals
We have $12,000 budgeted for enrichment activities, books (every child gets brand new books to keep every May and December), and book-store gift cards (for our 5th graders who will be going on to Middle School). Support our campaign with a donation, and Share the Love by encouraging a friend to do the same.
Atlanta, GA, January 10, 2019 — Today the Episcopal Community Foundation for Middle and North Georgia (ECF) announces its first Small Acts of Charity grant of 2019 to Trinity Episcopal Church (Columbus, GA).
Trinity Episcopal Church will receive a grant of $4,000 to create a new room for coats and toiletries in addition to the two rooms they already utilize for men and women’s clothing. By creating this additional space, the people served by the clothing closet will have more consistent and safe access to the clothing and resources that the parishioners of Trinity have provided, and the parish will be able to ensure they have the proper equipment to handle heavy coats as cold weather is imminent.
“We are thrilled to start off our grantmaking year with a meaningful grant to the Trinity clothes closet,” said Lindsey Hardegree, Executive Director for ECF. “This effort is a clear example of a parish responding directly to a community need in a way that serves those in need while utilizing the resources that the parishioners bring to the parish. ECF is proud to support a refinement of the great work already being done in Columbus.”
About ECF’s Grant Programs:
ECF awards General Grants twice a year and Small Acts of Charity (capped at $5,000) quarterly. Applications for the Q2 Small Acts of Charity are due March 15, 2019, and General Grant Letters of Intent for Fall 2018 are due March 31, 2019. Those interested in applying for funding should visit ECFimpact.org/grants 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.
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 $4.4 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.
During a worship service held Monday at the Episcopal Cathedral of St. Philip The Right Reverend Robert C. Wright, Bishop of the Diocese of Atlanta, prayed for Gov. Elect Brian Kemp and his family. During the service attended by the Kemp family, Bishop Wright, prayed that those who disagree with the Republican governor “bless him when he is fair …” Following are the texts of Bishop Wright’s opening and closing prayers during Monday’s service:
Almighty God our heavenly Father, who delights in service and compassion, send down upon all those who hold elected office in this State the spirit of wisdom, charity, and justice; that with steadfast purpose and gentle boldness they may faithfully serve in their offices to promote the well-being of all people; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Final prayer and blessing
O Lord, the Governor of every soul, bless those who hold the public trust and serve the common good and especially Brian elected Governor.
Bless his family and his home that he may know the joy and refreshment essential for effective service.
As he exercises the authority entrusted to him, bless him with the faith, wisdom and courage to do your will above all else.
Let those who oppose him bless him when he is fair. Let the foreigner and alien bless him with the title merciful. Let those who are poor bless him by saying he creates opportunity. Let those who are sick bless him when they feel his provision.
Let those who tend the health of the land and water bless him with the label, partner.
Let the children of the state of Georgia bless him when they find life and service to be exemplary.
And let our children’s children bless us all as difference makers and good stewards of the blessings of liberty and prosperity.
Bless Brian and all of us with the love of truth and righteousness, and make us ever mindful of our respective callings to serve Your people to your glory...
And finally (leading all in singing)
Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me. Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me.
Melt me, mold me, fill me, use me.
Spirit of the living God, fall afresh on me.
The Episcopal Community Foundation for Middle and North Georgia is currently accepting applications for both of our grant programs:
General Grant LOIs: due March 31, 2019
Q2 Small Acts of Charity Grants: due March 15, 2019
Those interested in applying for funding should visit ECFimpact.org/grants for instructions and the link to each application. Applicants are encouraged to contact Executive Director Lindsey Hardegree with any questions they may have regarding eligibility or their applications.
As we prepare to celebrate the season of Epiphany, Forward Movement, along with partners from across the Episcopal Church, invites all Episcopalians to participate in the Good Book Club. A church-wide Bible reading initiative, the Good Book Club will focus on Paul’s Letter to the Romans, with participants reading a section of scripture each day during the Epiphany season, starting on January 7, 2019.
“During Epiphany, we recall how Jesus is revealed to the world,” said Richelle Thompson, deputy director and managing editor of Forward Movement. “Paul’s letter to the Romans offers a way to explore the messages of grace, salvation, and redemption through Jesus Christ. This season between Christmas and Lent is a perfect time to engage deeply with God’s Word and experience it anew.”
During Lent and Easter of 2018, tens of thousands of Episcopalians participated in the first Good Book Club, reading the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts. Survey results from participants showed a hunger and desire to continue the initiative and provide more opportunities for people to read and discuss scripture together. Romans was the first choice of participants for the next Good Book Club.
Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry supports and encourages individuals and congregations to join the Good Book Club as a way to engage in “Learn,” one of the seven Way of Love practices for a Jesus-centered life.
Several organizations are partnering with Forward Movement in the Good Book Club, including the United Thank Offering, Forma, Gathering of Leaders, and The Living Church. Partner organizations are creating resources or encouraging their constituents to take part in the effort.
ChurchNext, a ministry of Forward Movement, will offer an eight-week live Bible study led by the Rev. Jay Sidebotham, author of Conversations with Scripture: Romans and director of RenewalWorks.
The Good Book Club website lists the daily readings and partners, as well as resources to support people as they read the scriptures. Spanish resources and information are available at clubbiblico.org. Send stories of how you and/or your church are participating to Richelle Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Forward Movement is a ministry of the Episcopal Church that inspires disciples and empowers evangelists. With offices in Cincinnati, Ohio, Forward Movement offers online resources, digital products, books, pamphlets, and Forward Day by Day. Learn more at www.forwardmovement.org.
The staff and students of The Boyce L Ansley School thank The Diocese of Atlanta for your generosity and support. The more that $5900 that was collected for us during the Annual Council Eucharist is already making a difference in our school. Your gifts helped us to buy new uniforms and classroom supplies! We are grateful for your loving and generous hearts. For more information, check us out at theansleyschool.org.
A permanent, free standing, custom built Little Community Food Pantry has been installed on the rear grounds of St. Luke's, 1000 State University Drive, Fort Valley, 31030. Residents in need may help themselves to any available non-perishable food items supplied by our parish.
Additionally, St. Lukes' ECW, will kick-off its free Community Arts & Crafts Collective at our church, 1000 State University Drive, Fort Valley, 31030, under the direction of Eva Henderson, beginning the 1st Saturday of African-American Heritage Month, February 2, 2019 at 3 PM.
To enroll or register as a volunteer instructor, Email: email@example.com.
Bishop Wright will be teaching his annual Epiphany Class Jan 2, 3 and 4th at Candler School of Theology at Emory University.
The course will define and commend experimentation as a core competency and essential component of effective leadership and discipleship toward individual, institutional and societal change, using the practices of the Apostle Paul as a theological reference point and inspiration. Participants will be introduced to the concept of adaptive leadership as taught by Ronald Heifetz, as well as the work of Amanda Cebula and Ed O’Malley.
Continental breakfast, lunch and book will be provided. The cost is $310. Candler and the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta have partnered to offer scholarships to Episcopal lay leaders and clergy who wish to audit the course. Scholarship recipients will pay $160 for the course rather than the regular auditor tuition of $310. Those interested in the scholarship should contact The Rev. Canon P. Lang Lowrey, director of Episcopal Studies at Candler, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
God Is Here.
“For me it’s an honor because so much has been given to me and like that widow [with two copper coins] it’s just an honor to give. To help in the community whether it is just being a loyal parishioner or saying a prayer with all of us at Church of the Common Ground,” says Frank a long-time parishioner and servant leader.
An honor to give because God is here.
Twelve years ago this Christmas Eve, a small group of people gathered around a priest in an Atlanta city park and celebrated the Eucharist. They took a leap of faith together trusting that what they had was enough to change the world and all they had was a city park, each other, and God.
Twelve years later this church without walls, without pews, without candles, stained glass windows, or a lectern, continues to defy all expectations and concepts of what it means to be church.
Not to be a church. Just to be church. To defy all expectations you first have to defy the language used. With all due respect to dictionaries the world over, at Church of the Common Ground, church is not a noun. It is a powerful being verb.
So, what does it mean to make church a verb? It means to consider the trees against a pale cerulean sky as the most beautiful nave ceiling in the world. It asks us to consider that everywhere is God’s common ground and, therefore, everywhere is church. And, we church it everywhere…literally…because God is here and everywhere.
God Is Right Here with Us
Being church begins in a sturdy white van. It’s not a fancy van. It has no power windows. It seats only two people. But, not unlike Santa’s sleigh that seems never to run out of surprises, our little white van gets around.
It hauls an altar, altar linens, chalice and paten every Sunday. It never complains no matter how many gallons of coffee are loaded in with cups, creamer and sugar tagging along for the ride. Need a few chairs for Morning Prayer? No problem. Our little white van will bring those and a few tables along with an ecclesia cross, too.
This year alone our little white van has brought the supplies necessary to worship on Sundays with more than 15 parishes, youth groups, or other organizations (some of them more than once); to wash and care for more than 900 pairs of feet at Common Soles foot clinics; to pour more than 1,500 cups of coffee at Morning Prayer on Mondays and Wednesdays; to hand out more than 1,200 bottles of water at Bible study.
And, that’s not all. This year that sturdy white van allowed us to be church at a Habitat build with St. Anne’s, to conduct a foot clinic and worship as part of the Cathedral of St. Philip’s Requiem service, to sing Christmas carols and share fellowship with those at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Home, to walk the labyrinth with our friends from St. Veronica’s guild, to be church with each other and for others everywhere. We do this because “You must love each other. And Jesus loved us so we share the love of Jesus [with] others,” as servant leader Jen M. so eloquently puts it.
Whether its Sunday worship, Morning Prayer or Bible study, our little white van brings whatever is needed to show friends, neighbors and strangers “God is right here with us.”
And This Is Holy Ground.
That amazing white van pulling up is only the beginning. This Christmas Eve it will pull up as it has for many years and will signal that something special is happening. Unloading it is a community affair with members of Common Ground pitching in to help establish sacred space. Frank, Richard, Steven and Larry are often first to take the van’s heavy load of altar and supplies.
Jen, our hospitality leader, will haul the coffee and cups to the bench where fellowship hour takes place. Our sexton Annette will unload the brooms and sweep away beautiful but fallen leaves to make room for the altar. Vera will take the Sunday bulletins and hand them to those joining us for worship. Charmeka and other members of the Common Ground community will wear bright yellow buttons helping first timers know who to turn to when they have questions. And, the choir will warm up and get ready to sing.
With the first gong of the bell to signal the start of service, the pigeons will gently waddle to higher ground giving us leave to be church. This Christmas Eve we will stand on the granite of a city park and marvel once again at the beautiful manger in which we stand.
The world is our crèche, our holy ground, upon which we may all be church and God’s light for each other.
Our celebrant will announce the call to worship:
“God is here.
God is right here with us.
And, this is holy ground.”
Holy, holy, holy…holy common ground.
Christmas Eve worship takes place in Woodruff Park in downtown Atlanta at 1:00pm.
Anyone may worship with us on Christmas Eve or at any time throughout the year. All are welcome.
If you are interested in being a visiting church group, please contact The Very Rev. Monica Mainwaring at email@example.com.
We welcome Sally Ulrey as the newest member of the Bishop's staff. Sally will be assisting the Canon for Ministry in the day-to-day responsibilities of fostering Congregational Vitality and Ministry Development in the Diocese of Atlanta. Sally enjoys spending time with her husband, Nathan, and two children, Remnant (5) and Jubilee (3). Sally is a cradle Episcopalian, who was called into lay ministry as a teenager in her parish in Florida. She is a summa cum laude graduate from Toccoa Falls College with a degree in Christian Education, concentrating in Youth Ministry and minoring in Counseling Psychology. Sally has 15 years of experience working in parish youth ministry and Christian education, and currently serves as the part-time Director of Formation and Youth Ministry at St. Columba's in John's Creek. Sally also has served in various roles in Diocesan youth ministry and writes curriculum for the Diocese, including co-authoring the Diocese's Dismantling Racism Youth Curriculum, in collaboration with the Absalom Jones Center for Racial Healing.
SOAP UP Atlanta is on the Move
Sign up NOW at https://tinyurl.com/supersoap2018 and make the commitment to join us on
Saturday, January 26, 2019 from 9:30am – 3:30pm. Continental breakfast and lunch will be served
The Commission on Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking (DMST) met with rousing support from the Atlanta Diocese Annual Council on November 9, 2018. Bishop Robert Wright gave an impromptu endorsement after our announcement asking everyone to “get behind this effort”. Come and be trained on DMST, wrap soap with the national hotline number and deliver soap and educational material to the hotels around the Mercedes Benz Stadium in the afternoon. One bar of soap could save a life.
Meet people from different parishes as we join together for a tangible outreach that can make a
difference in the lives of youth victimized by this crime.
Support provided by the Episcopal Community Foundation for Middle and North Georgia.
Select the cross to read about how recipients love like Jesus.
Eva Bird | Mid-Atlanta Convocation
At St. Paul’s, Atlanta, all agree that no one embodies Love like Jesus and Draw the Circle Wider more clearly than Eva. To engage in authentic ministry in the world, “Mama Eva” lives and builds her faith through a life of regular worship, vigorous Bible study, constant prayer, and communion with those inside and outside of the church. She has long been an activist in the struggle for racial justice and equality. She mentors elementary school girls who are socially and academically at risk and a significant number of young women in ministry throughout the world.
Diane Campbell | Southwest Atlanta Convocation
Diane is a long-time parishioner of St. Julian's Episcopal Church, Douglasville and Director of Starting Over, a non-profit organization serving the Douglas County Community by providing volunteers who serve as supervisors during parent-child meetings. Due to a variety of circumstances, a judge has reviewed the home situation of the children and with the help of DFCS places them in foster care. These parents are allowed to visit their children only with an impartial supervisor present. Diane’s dedication to the children and parents experiencing separation demonstrates how we serve compassionately.
Kathy Malcolm Hall | Northeast Metro Convocation
A member of St. Patrick’s, Dunwoody, Kathy is the co-director of Malachi’s Storehouse. Her long and persistent service, advocacy and leadership has helped feed and restore dignity to thousands in Metro Atlanta. Her vision and tenacity aimed at the sustainability of this ministry ensures that it will continue to enrich the lives of many for years to come. Her twelve years of inspired service, advocacy and leadership demonstrate her embodiment of our Diocesan Purpose Statement.
Ginny Heckel | Georgia Mountains Convocation
A member of St. James Episcopal Church, Clayton, Ginny exemplifies what it means to Love like Jesus to give of one’s time, energy, and financial resources to the building up of God’s kingdom. Serving for many years on the board of The Episcopal Charities Foundation (now The Episcopal Community Foundation of Middle and North Georgia), Ginny traveled all over the diocese where she forged new relationships and strengthened existing relationships among brothers and sisters around the diocese.
Horace Higgins | Marietta Convocation
A member of Church of the Annunciation, Marietta, Horace truly Loves like Jesus. Although not ordained, he is a deacon true and true. He is constantly volunteering for outreach projects in the community – Emmaus House, Church of the Common Ground, the Men’s extension in Marietta, Papa’s Pantry in Woodstock, and Must Ministries both in Cobb and Woodstock. He takes donations he receives and goes into the woods where he knows homeless people live and even gave the jacket off his back to a homeless person who was cold.
Peggy Nash | Northwest Georgia Convocation
Peggy, a member of St. Peter’s, Rome, is a role model to all ages for Serving Compassionately. She has chaired our Mission & Outreach Committee for many years, raising our personal and corporate awareness of community needs and helping us to engage with and support agencies who do meaningful hands on ministry in our community and beyond.
Luis A. Ottley | North Atlanta Convocation
In just one year, Luis, Head of School at St. Martin’s Episcopal School, initiated an exchange program with a school in Panama to help increase students’ cultural competency; chartered a multi-cultural education committee; hired a full time diversity director; and has poured countless dollars into staff training around cultural competency, diversity, and privilege. His life's work is to make the kingdom of God manifest and that means creating an environment where all God's people belong. He exemplifies what it means to challenge ourselves and the world.
Agnes Parker | Oconee Convocation
Agnes is a long -time member of Emmanuel, Athens and widow of the Rev. Nathaniel Parker Jr. who served at Emmanuel, The Episcopal Center at UGA, and at Grace, Gainesville. Agnes founded the Creation Spirituality group at Emmanuel and has been a spiritual mentor for the community of Athens for decades. Many people have grown spiritually under Agnes’ leadership and guidance.
The Rev. Joseph Shippen | Middle Georgia Convocation
Joseph lives out our Diocesan Purpose Statement through his long-term commitment to ministering to death row inmates and their families as well as prison staff. He is a consistent presence at the prison, has a monthly Eucharist on death row, and ministers to those who hold vigil at executions by his presence and leading of prayers. His ministry to prisoners challenges those of us who come in contact with him to join him in this ministry and to keep prisoners and their families in our prayers.
The Rev. Fabio Sotelo | East Atlanta Convocation
With a pastor’s heart and a prophet’s voice, Fabio stands at the threshold of the Church inviting and welcoming all while exhorting the world to embrace the Good News of God in Christ. He pastors with a true servant-leader’s heart at St. Bede’s and St. Edward’s in English and in Spanish. He washes feet in shopping centers and presides at Eucharists at immigration centers; he marches for justice in the streets; and he gathers people around table for magnificent meal fellowships that build bridges and offer healing and reconciliation to the world. Fabio serves compassionately and creates a joyful worship experience for those entering the Church.
The Rev. Deacon Jane Dorman | Chattahoochee Valley Convocation
The Bishop’s Cross is awarded posthumously to Jane Dorman who served faithfully as Deacon at St. Mark’s in La Grange from 1998 until her death in 2018. Her tenacity and passion led her to secular work which reflected her calling as a deacon. She served as para pro with special needs students in some of the most underserved schools in the county. At church, in addition to her meticulous keeping of the altar, she proclaimed the good news by speaking up for those who weren’t always heard. She did this with a strong, frustratingly persistent, persistently holy voice. Every week she reminded the people of St. Mark’s of their duty by inviting the children of the parish to gather with her at the back of the church and proclaim with a loud voice, “Go in Peace to Love and Serve the Lord.”
ATLANTA - The message of love filled the diocese’s 112th Annual Council - from Bishop Rob Wright’s opening challenge to the world, to Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s sermon calling upon each of us to be witnesses to the love of Jesus, through the energetic youth-led concluding service.
The volunteers from Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School and Church embodied Christ’s love in the gentle ways they welcomed and served the 600 delegates during the two-day conclave hosted by the North Atlanta Convocation.
Bishop Wright challenged delegates to fully live into the diocesan purpose statement: “We challenge ourselves and the world to love like Jesus as we worship joyfully, serve compassionately and grow spiritually.”
“Last year, we challenged ourselves to love like Jesus because first things need to be first,” Wright said. This next year, he said, “We will move to challenging the world to love like Jesus.”
“Any challenging of the world that you and I do in Jesus’ name has to be based on seeing through the eyes of love. They are not the nameless, faceless poor or hungry. They are siblings and somebody’s child. They are not the nameless, faceless, vile political opposition. They are brothers and sisters with fears and concerns about the present and the future,” he said.
“To challenge as Jesus challenged, we must begin and lean into the journey that puts us in the world without the blinders of contempt or blinding assumptions that flourish because of lack of real proximity.”
An overflow crowd at Council Eucharist, assembled to hear Presiding Bishop Curry’s message, was inspired by the angelic voices of the St. Martin’s Episcopal School Fifth Grade Chorus and the power of the Clark Atlanta University Philharmonic Society and choir of members from different parishes.
Presiding Bishop Curry called for every Episcopalian to be a witness to the love of Christ, because he said, that isn’t what many people have come to believe Christianity is about.
And, although he was surprised by the international notoriety he experienced after preaching at the Royal wedding, Curry said it was the fact that his message of love was news that really caused him pause.
“I didn’t say anything new. It was a sermon about love, but the fact that a Christian preacher would dare to declare that the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth is to love the Lord your God and to love your neighbor as yourself that wasn’t just good news, it was actually new news!”
Further reflecting the Council theme of love, the Eucharist offering of $5,927 went to The Boyce L. Ansley School for children experiencing homelessness located at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Atlanta. Following the service, delegates joined some 140 youth from throughout the diocese to package 15,000 meals to be distributed by the nonprofit Rise Against Hunger.
Love was also in evidence during the Q&A session with Presiding Bishop Curry, the business session as delegates listened in love and sought God’s guidance in coming to decisions, and when eleven among us who evidence what it means to love like Jesus were awarded the Bishop’s Cross.
Presiding Bishop Curry Preached at Holy Eucharist
In his sermon at Holy Eucharist, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry inspired us and called for every Episcopalian to be a witness to the love of Christ.
Bishop Wright Addressed The Council
Bishop Wright called us to be partners joined by our purpose to “…to challenge the world to love like Jesus” in his address to Council.
2018 Bishop’s Cross Recipients
Bishop’s Crosses were awarded to 11 individuals, one from each convocation, who witness in their lives what it means to challenge the world to love like Jesus.
Legislation and Elections
Delegates listened in love and sought God’s guidance in coming to decisions as they passed three Resolutions and elected members to governing groups.
November 9, 2018
The Rt. Rev. Robert C. Wright
Bishop of Atlanta
Good Morning/ Buenos Dios!
I greet you in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ. I have been back from sabbatical for eight days and I am glad to see you. I am excited and energized to resume the work that God has given us to do together in Middle and North Georgia.
Before I get going this morning, let me pause and say thank you to my staff. I am truly grateful for this bunch of Christian professionals: Alicia, Bonnie, John Bolton, John Thompson-Quartey, Ieasha, Kei, Wynn, Catherine, Easton, Mark, Lang, Mary, Eleni, Donna, Isaias and Lindsey. You are routinely wonderful, but during my sabbatical you especially shined bright. I thank you and the Diocese of Atlanta thanks you. Also a word of thanks is due to my brother bishops, Bp. Don Wimberley and Bp. Paul Lambert. I continue to be grateful for their wisdom, commitment and good cheer. Thank you to them. I want to say a special thanks to Katherine Branch and the team from Green Gate Marketing. You are fantastic partners, and you are helping us talk about Jesus and the Episcopal Church in unique, increasingly relevant and compelling ways. Thank you.
So, let us begin again as partners joined by purpose:
“Nos desafiamos a nosotros mismos y al mundo para amar como Jesús mientras adoramos con alegría, servimos con compasión, y crecemos espiritualmente.”
“We challenge ourselves and the world to love like Jesus as we worship joyfully, serve compassionately and grow spiritually.”
Every year we take a look at some piece of our diocesan purpose statement, and then we look at ourselves and we celebrate what deserves celebrating, and we calibrate what needs calibrating. That’s what we do. That’s what healthy individuals and organizations do. This year we are paying attention to “…challenging the world to love like Jesus.”
Last year we challenged ourselves to love like Jesus because first things need to be first. Because the Spirit always asks us to look inward. But we know, an exclusively inward spirituality is an ingrown and ineffective spirituality. Our liturgy saves us from this misstep every week.
“…You have fed us with spiritual food in the Sacrament of his Body and Blood. Send us now into the world in peace, and grant us strength and courage to love and serve you with gladness and singleness of heart; through Christ our Lord. AMEN” BCP 365
What does it mean to challenge the world to love like Jesus? I’m glad you asked! There are at least four movements to this enterprise and incidentally, spoiler alert, examples of these steps are all present in each of the wonderful videos that will punctuate our time together. First, when we say challenge the world to love, let us begin where God Almighty begins. “For God so loved the world.” Which implies God sees the world. Sees her needs, her wounds and her promise and then responds. In other places in scripture, we read that Jesus, seeing various individuals and groups, “loved them.” So if we are going to challenge the world we’re going to have to get our gaze right. Challenge that speaks without real seeing does injury, wastes energy and resources. Maybe worst of all, it encumbers future opportunities for challenge to make a difference. Any challenging of the world that you and I do in Jesus’ name has to be based on seeing through the eyes of love. They are not the nameless faceless poor or hungry. They are siblings, and somebody’s child. They are not the nameless, faceless, vile political opposition. They are brothers and sisters with fears and concerns about the present and the future. To challenge as Jesus challenged, we must begin and lean into the journey that puts us in the world without the blinders of contempt or blinding assumptions that flourish because of lack of real proximity. Think about it, Paul was struck blind and delivered to the home of the very people he was brutalizing, in the book of Acts, before his sight was restored and his new life of love began. To do better we’ve got to see better. This notion is woven into our Baptismal Covenant. We say that we will “respect the dignity of every human being.” BCP 305 Let us remember then that the Latin root of re-spect is to ‘spectare,’ to see. Or to see again.
As part of my sabbatical, I read the Bible. To be specific, I read the Gospel of Mark in the Message translation. But I did something that made it pop for me. I read it slow. Very slow. Try that at home. What you see again and again when you read slow is Jesus’ actual model of ministry - him asking people to join him.
Join him in his purpose. Join him as he incarnates his vision of a preferred future. Join him in a direction he is going whether the disciples or the crowd joins him or not. His invitation to join his loving enterprise is his challenge. Every effective ministry I have ever known has at its core, some lay person, deacon, priest or bishop personally joining Jesus in his purpose and then out of the overflow of that, in the tractor beam of that, asking others to join them. What I am saying is that people on purpose is the best church program there ever was or will ever be. Everything else is poking and prodding people. People on purpose with Jesus is the most authentic way to challenge the world in love for love. That is discipleship. That is different from institutional decline management. One is active; the other is afraid. One understands harvest and the joy of the laborer. The other lives in sentimentality and soothes its soul with nostalgia. So we have to be going somewhere because of Jesus to cause others to go somewhere with Jesus. That is the best and most loving way to challenge the world. As an old Alabama preacher has said, “You can no more preach what you do not know than you can come back from where you ain’t been.”
God spoke, and the nothing became something. The spirit breathed, and the church was born. You and I are called to find our voice for the cause of Jesus in the world - called to breathe into existence a new reality. A new Atlanta, a new Newnan, a new Conyers, a new Milledgeville. A new Georgia. Grounded in his love, having heard his voice, we speak to the world in like fashion. Political partisanship has no place in our speaking to the world on behalf of Jesus. It is beneath us. Is following Jesus inherently political? Of course it is! Jesus challenged people to bend the status quo toward justice and equity. That is political. Those were his politics. But Jesus was above rank partisanship, and so must we be. Speaking is power, and this power you and I have been entrusted with must not be abused. Dr. King, is right, “Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.” And so we have a sublime but difficult charge. The charge is to challenge the world to love without violating the laws of love in the process! So speak and in speaking create a reality consistent with the One we are privileged to follow.
This brings me to my last point. You may be saying to yourself, ‘well Bishop, all of this sounds like work. It sounds good, but really hard.’ Let me say to you, you are right. Absolutely it is hard. Following Jesus is a cross not an executive key. But, we are comforted in this hard work through worship. Being fueled and refueled by worship is what gives us the spiritual capacity to do the difficult work of bringing and being love in loveless places. To do this work without being gorged on the love of God first and personally experienced in worship is a recipe for burnout, despair or worse. If our liturgy, our worship, is anything useful, it is a place to be renewed and refreshed. A place to find strength to meet the demands of busy living and the means to soldier on with personal wounds. But not only that, worship is that place where wills are recalibrated and natural appetites for smallness, separateness and superiority are transformed. Ultimately, worship is a grace that offers space for and time to where, like Isaiah when Uzziah died, eyes are refocused, tongues are repurposed and vocations are extended and accepted. The world has all the religious sounding, smug, smarty pants she needs. What the world needs is to meet you because you have met God. God’s goodness. God’s provision. God’s mercy. God’s forgiveness. God’s sense of humor. Bring that into the world in full measure; that will be challenge enough. And what the church needs is to meet the God we talk about already busy in the world. That one thing, catching up to Jesus already at work in the world will endow us with all the humility we need to be effective ministers of a glorious Gospel, which is begging and pleading to be hosted by more and more of us.
As some of you know, I visit churches for a living. Among other things, that is what a bishop is, an overdressed church visitor. And, many of you know that I don’t believe that clergy are the only folks who should be leading prayers before, during and after worship. So, there we were all dressed up, just about to go into worship one Sunday. Someone asked me, ‘Bishop would you like to pray?’ And I said. NO. Immediately everyone stopped breathing. I asked the group, ‘Is there someone who would like to pray for us?’ That’s when all the adults started looking at their shoes. Finally, after a very awkward silence a little girl, she may have been ten or so, said. “ I will pray Bishop.”
And this is what she said verbatim. “God, we thank you for everything. Everything. And God, what we want is for you to have a more full life here. Have a full life here, God. That is our prayer.” I tell you I was done. Undone. The entire Bible embodied in this sweet little face, “What was hidden from the wise and the prudent was revealed to the babe and the suckling.” She was right. That is what we want. We challenge the world in love because we want God to have a full life. In our work and in our speaking. In our planning and doing. A full life for God in our lives at home and at school. So that, in us and through us, God is better able to reconcile the world to God’s self.
Este es mi septimo Consejo Anual como su Obispo
Y me complace reanudar nuestro trabajo junto ustedes.
This is my 7th Annual Council as your Bishop, and I am pleased to resume our work alongside of you.
Thanks be to God.
Delegates listened in love and sought God’s guidance in coming to decisions as they passed three Resolutions and elected members to governing groups.
C18-1 Procedure For Securing Approval Of Encumbrances Of Parish Property
Resolved, that the Canons of the Diocese of Atlanta be amended to add as Canon 41 the following:
Pursuant to Canon 1.7.3 of the Canons of the Episcopal Church, the following regulations are prescribed by this Diocese:
(a) A vestry or other body of the Parish authorized to hold, manage, or administer real property (“Church Real Property”) for a Parish, Mission, Congregation or Institution (“Authorized Body”), may, without the necessity of obtaining further approval of the Bishop or Standing Committee of the Diocese, encumber or alienate Church Real Property or a part thereof, only as follows:
- Granting another person or entity a right to use Church Real Property for a period of less than 12 months when that grant is revocable, without cause shown, notice or penalty;
- Renting or otherwise granting permission for use of Church Real Property for a total of seven or less days in any one calendar year, limited to single year grants; or
- Granting permission to charitable or other not-for-profit entities to use Church Real Property, other than the principal worship space, for no more than one day per week, provided that the Authorized Body retains the unrestricted right to cancel such permission without penalty on no more than 30 days’ notice.
(b) Any other encumbrance or alienation of part or all of Church Real Property shall require the written consent of the Bishop and Standing Committee, but the Bishop or Standing Committee may delegate the authority to grant such consent to the Bishop of Atlanta or the Canon to the Ordinary under the following circumstances:
- Where the encumbrance or alienation is for a maximum of one year;
- Where residential or commercial property of the Parish is being rented for a maximum of three years; or
- For construction and installation of utilities.
Nothing herein shall be construed to limit the general oversight of a parish by the Bishop of Atlanta or other ecclesiastical authority or to restrict the authority of the Bishop or other ecclesiastical authority to provide pastoral direction to a parish regarding its use of its property.
Any written consent required by Canon 1.7.3 or this Canon may be provided by electronic means.
R18-1 Resolution to Dissolve the Commission on HIV/AIDS
Whereas the HIV/AIDS pandemic continues to claim the health and lives of thousands of our kindred in Christ, even after more than 36 years since it was first identified as a health problem;
Whereas the Diocese of Atlanta created a Task Force on AIDS in March of 1986 to help address the multitude of issues surrounding HIV/AIDS, in doing so thinking that the disease would have been eradicated and said task force could be dissolved;
Whereas over a number of years the Task Force on AIDS morphed into the Commission on HIV/AIDS and continued to address the situation within the church and society for many years and reflected the existence of similar structures at the Provincial and church-wide level of The Episcopal Church;
Whereas The Episcopal Church ended church-wide ministry related to HIV/AIDS at the General Convention of 2015, bringing to an end a ministry that began in February 1987 in Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, California, attended by two representatives from the Diocese of Atlanta;
Whereas the Diocese of Atlanta provided financial and leadership support for the Annual HIV/AIDS Retreat of Province IV of The Episcopal Church, held at Kanuga Conferences for all of the 25 years of its existence until that retreat ended in June 2016; and
Whereas the lack of a coordinated, comprehensive ministry regarding HIV/AIDS no longer exists for any practical purposes in the Diocese of Atlanta.
Resolved that the Commission on HIV/AIDS of the Diocese of Atlanta be dissolved at this 112th Annual Council of the Diocese of Atlanta. And be it further
Resolved that funds for this ministry be removed from the annual budget of the diocese and any materials suitable for archival preservation be given to the diocese. And be it further
Resolved that Ms. Lola Thomas of Ascension Church in Cartersville, Georgia, be commended for her leadership in chairing the planning committee for the Kanuga Retreat for over a decade. And be it further
Resolved that Mr. Bruce Garner of All Saints’ Church in Atlanta, Georgia be commended for his tireless leadership in AIDS/HIV ministry at the national, provincial and local level.
R18-2 Resolution Concerning Prejudiced-Based Violence and Social Media
Resolved, the 112th Annual Council of the Diocese of Atlanta, meeting at Holy Innocents' Episcopal School, November 9 & 10, 2018, note with great concern recent acts of violence committed on the basis of prejudice because of religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, ethnicity, country of origin and political opinion. And be it further
Resolved, that we recognize the negative impact on human relations the use and misuse of social media has created in our church and in our society. And be it further
Resolved, that we, as members of a faith community whose members regularly take vows to respect the dignity of every human being and to seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving our neighbor as ourselves, recommit ourselves to those vows especially following these acts of violence that have threatened, injured and killed many of God’s children. And be it further
Resolved, that we offer our prayers and concerns for the victims of violence in Pennsylvania, Kentucky, New York, the District of Columbia and the other locations where these acts took place. And be it further
Resolved, that we, as individuals, will strive to avoid the use of inflammatory, divisive, abusive, derogatory, anti-Semitic, homophobic, sexist, transphobic, xenophobic and other hurtful and negative terminology when referring to any of the children of God on social media platforms. And be it further
Resolved, that we as a community of faith will renew and strengthen our efforts toward building that Beloved Community where all of God’s people live in love and harmony with each other, regardless of our differences. And be it further
Resolved, that the Secretary of Annual Council shall be directed to send electronic copies of this resolution to the Governor of Georgia, the Governor-elect of Georgia, the Secretary of State of Georgia, to our United States Senators, the members of the United States House of Representatives whose constituents are within the boundaries of the Diocese of Atlanta, and to the Vice President and President of the United States.
Elected to Governing Groups
Mary Caroline Davies Cravens, Cathedral of St. Philip, Atlanta
The Rev. Nikki Mathis, St. Gregory the Great, Athens
Mikell Camp & Conference Center Board of Governors
John Ballard, Grace-Calvary, Clarkesville
Timothy Lytle, Grace-Calvary, Clarkesville
University of The South Trustee
George Williamson, St. Martin in the Fields, Brookhaven