Ghana reflections 2018 trip

Beth-Sarah Wright, St. Paul’s, Atlanta, GA

One God, One People, One Home

“How can we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?” (Psalm 137). With much ease apparently when that foreign land is Cape Coast, Ghana. When that foreign land unexpectedly feels like home with a strong sense of belonging and being comfortable in one’s skin. From the moment our group boarded the plane in NYC with other travelers who were returning home, we could feel contagious joy and anticipation of returning to Ghana. Our Pilgrim leaders had been to Ghana the year before and they too emanated a certain energy that said, “we’re on journey to a joyous place, wait for it, you just may find home there.” And they were right.

From the moment I set foot on the tarmac in Accra I felt I had returned home. Somehow I had been here before. Somehow I could remember this place I had never seen. It warmed my heart to look around and feel so at home in a strange land. I saw vivid colors. Extraordinary beauty even in places of pain- like the Last Bath, where captured Africans were bathed before being branded, auctioned and sold. Belonging. Light in children’s faces. Statuesque women. Natural bounty. Human dignity. I loved that women were always adorned in these extremely beautiful dresses, seemingly all bespoke based on the ubiquitous sewing machines delicately balanced on women’s heads and in small shops on the streets. And I particularly enjoyed the experience of eating food that we may have expected to be new and different which we soon discovered to be very familiar dishes. I heard woman on our group who grew up solely in the Southern United States saying “But this is my food! This is food I grew up on. Food I cook now!” The Ghanaian influence on Southern food, and in my case Jamaican food was unmistakable.

As a part of our journey we visited the infamous slave castles which I had read about in many a history book and which had been etched only in my imagination.It was so difficult to share the experience of seeing in reality with my own eyes, those ‘slave castles’.Elmina and Cape Coast Castles. Haunting. Unimaginable horror. I stood in both Doors of No Return. Stood in the death cell for those who fought back, and couldn’t see my hand 2 inches from my face-it was so dark with no ventilation. We listened to a wonderful teacher and storyteller who emphasized this was not about blame but rather an opportunity to remember and learn to never repeat the atrocious system of slavery. But it was walking through the dungeons atop the ground that consisted of centuries of compacted blood, sweat, vomit, tears and human waste that utterly broke my soul. All I can say and pray is, God have mercy on all our souls.

On Sunday we were sent out two by two and in my case, three, to different Anglican parishes in Cape Coast. My companions Sharon and Anne and I attended the service at the Cathedral which was located just across the street from one of the slave castles and overlooked the sea in the distance. Even though the service was both in the Akan language and English, the Spirit was alive and well touching our hearts and minds through the energetic rhythms, the fervent and familiar prayers from the Book of Common Prayer, the sharing of communion, the disciplined acolytes, the many priests in their centuries old garments and the wonderful, fluid melding of both Ghanaian culture and Anglican traditions. And then of all folks to meet sitting behind us, were some college students from Sharon’s alma mater! What a small world and what a reminder that the Cape Coast draws ALL. What I loved the most was the joy in giving as men, women, teenagers, children and feisty seniors danced down the aisle to place their giving in a basket at the altar. Talk about cheerful giving!

58% of my DNA is from West Africa. While I can’t determine specifically which country, this trip to Ghana very much feels like coming home. Way more similarities to what I know in Jamaica, my birth home, than differences. The faces, the way we walk, our spirituality, our creativity, the way we speak, the expressions, the ingenuity and entrepreneurial drive, the food, the way we dance...I could go on and on. Not surprised to see the Jamaican flag represented on a van driving on the road in front of our bus. Written above the flag was “Because of God’s Grace.” The Gye Nyame adinkra symbol, which I have long been drawn to and adore and even have a tattoo of, is EVERYWHERE. It means ‘except God’ or the omnipotence of God. I saw God there. Many a food shop, bank, taxi cab, bus invokes the name of God. Not to mention there is a church on every street it seems. What does it mean when a culture invokes God like this in its everyday life? Who knows… but it certainly makes it easy to sing God’s song in a foreign land. Gye Nyame. Except God. The omnipotence, omniscience and omnipresence of God. One God. One people. One Home. Amen!

The Rev. Ruth Pattison, High Point Episcopal Community Church, Atlanta, GA

Ghana.

Black skin envy. From the first moment to the last, my senses were overwhelmed with the vivid. Such that I was mesmerized and riddled with black skin envy. Beauty and grace envy. Splash and verve and posture and poise envy. Confidence and carefree envy. Real skin. Rich skin. I found myself wanting to be made different. Become acceptable, become like the other. Become African. There was Lydia the dressmaker. Bishop Victor employed her to make us new dresses. It was like being re-born. Becoming African. Fiber and fabric, it’s who we are and how we are known in the world, it’s our “visibility cloak”. Can we be seen? The vesting room of the womb. Our mother-wrap. The place where we get our skin.
They wrapped us in their fabrics as only a mother can do. They gave us new skin.
Color and pattern and visual texture. Perfect body shapes and height and hair and perfect fit.
Our vesting room, where we put on clothes. We ‘put them on’, our vestments. Like a return to mother’s womb we took off one skin and put on another and emerged newborn into the light and the company of women gathered to catch us up in this delivery. To squeal as each of us materialized, through the doorway, making our passage, into new being with drama and flare and color and pattern, so that we can look like the people the graceful beautiful visual feast of the African women we’ve esteemed all week. Taking off the old and putting on the new. Now we are born again.

The Rev. Ruth Pattison, High Point Episcopal Community Church, Atlanta, GA

The Last Bath

Our guide, an African warrior.

He said we could ask for something.

First he said that he had a gift for us. I wanted this gift, whatever it was. Maybe he looked at everyone, but I felt him look at me when he said it. Maybe because I was staring.

We went to this water called “the Last Bath” where the captives were scrubbed before their purchase, and our guide invited us to pour out a libation. A drink offering. Bring something back to the river. We poured from our plastic water bottles.

He talked of a song of praise in thanksgiving to the ancestors for their lives given, taken, offered. A song of praise in such a desolate place.

It turned out that we could ask for something of the river and the ancients.

I want something from Africa. From the heavy earth there and the bloodshed and sweat that seeps in to the earth and makes it human. Alive. Life producing and fertile.

I told the river and the heavy sodden earth of Africa, “I want what you have”.

What he said you have.

What I know you have.

You have a song and a dance and a drumbeat in your soul. You have joy and love.

It’s what makes you able to live in community. You have the love and joy that it takes.

He said that slavery takes that away.

He said you were hunters and farmers and artisans. And you sing and that we can tell by the way you walk that you can dance.

But slavery makes you run and hide and enter the caves and deep forest because when you go to carry water and do your chores, you are ambushed and carried into captivity.

Then we walked on gold in the river, flint chips of gold and he said,

only royalty walks on gold. And royalty has power. And that if we walk on gold then we are royalty and we have power.

And that we can want something and say what it is and ask for it.

The power he says we have in ourselves can bring about this freedom from slavery.

I said this on the river bank: “Africa. African ancestors of humanity. I want your song and dance and drum beat in my soul that I might be able to live in community with joy.”

Trust without fear of ambush.

I don’t know how to live differently. I am afraid to choose differently, to answer and respond with joy and love. I hide in caves. I need the song and dance and drumbeat first, to be born in me.

I bought a drum and a second small one. Two drums. Change me. Change my soul. Find me. Fill me.

Ursula Simmons, Holy Innocents Episcopal Church, Atlanta, GA

Ghana Reflections

We will all meet @ the airport. Some of us old friends, some church members, and some strangers and of course our dear couple. I was Blessed and happy to be making this journey with Judy. We have known each other for years; however our work together on the dismantling Racism Commission has brought us closer together than either of us would have ever believed. A short hop to JFK and as a group we begin to know each other. We embark on a much longer flight to Accra. Upon arrival we are greeted with enthusiasm. I take in the environment, the crowded airport, the busy streets, the open markets. All of us are fascinated with the individuals carrying their goods on their heads, especially the ladies.

When we arrive in Cape Coast I was struck by the references to God everywhere you turned. I was surprised by the number of different churches in Cape Coast. We met with Bishop Victor, Canon Kofi and Father Theo to discuss our expectations of our trip. The emphasis being this is not a vacation.I knew this was a pilgrimage to connect with the Diocese of Cape Coast. I was not sure of what my expectations were, I just knew I was drawn to this pilgrimageand I was open to wherever the spirit would lead me. As I have had the time to reflect, I found a poem in my journal by Andrew Schelling about the tourist and the pilgrim. “The pilgrim is different from the tourist; most importantly the pilgrim resolves that the one who returns, will not be the same person as the one who sets out “. I am different not the same person, in a good way. I am so very Blessed to expand my global vision of the church. But I also felt very connected in a very sacred way to my ancestors. I felt like I honored them in a very special way. Having my Sisters and Brothers in Christ from both continents to make the journey with me only enhanced the emotions I felt.

The Bishop sends us off to the mountains to connect with God and nature. Kakum National Park was a true bonding experience for me. First of all I realized very quickly I needed to exchange my cute Hattie purse for a back pack. Ruth offered to carry my back pack. I hate bringing a weak link, but I truly appreciated the help on our very steep climb to our seven rope bridges to cross. I would not have done the climb without the encouragement and support of our group and no back pack. We all had our challenges; mine was the climb and the height. We all crossed all seven bridges, all thirteen of us together. In retrospect I wish I had enjoyed the view a little more. I was always paying attention to the people we would encounter, the housing, people walking and families. Love for family is worldwide. I watched people go about their lives with dignity, pride and purpose.

Sunday morning is Pentecost Sunday. Judy and I are dressed in our red and we have our white hand towels (we did not have handkerchiefs) to wave. We are going to the mountain top St. Theresa of Avila Anglican Church, Father Jonathan Asare Rector. We were early birds and enjoyed the mountain top view. I was taken aback by the beautiful altar. The men of the church were busy putting up the curtains behind the altar and bringing out the musical instruments. The young girls were dusting the pews and chairs. I was struck by the depictions of Jesus looking very, very white on the Stations of the Cross. The ladies of the church were a little reserved at first. However, I found a little friend, about 5 years old; that cuddles up beside me quietly with wonder and curiosity. Father Johnathan introduces us to everyone and we are well received. The sermon for our benefit was done in both English and native tongue. We are all Anglicans and the service was very familiar. Father Jonathan played the organ, was the choir director and preacher. We prayed, and listen to the word of God like we would at home. However we danced in joy and celebration to God, I connected with the singing, dancing and multiple collections. I was reminded of my Grandmother’s AME church when I was growing up and attending church with her. The joy and celebration during the service was electric. I was very humbled by the ladies of the church. They removed their shoes to approach the altar for communion. I had to look up what day I was born. I made my donation on the wrong date. Sorry Thursday collection count. I realize now how important that is to the culture and church collections.

Judy and I would have liked to have spent more time talking with the different women’s guilds. Each guild wore attire that represented their ministry. The women of St. Teresa’s were responsible for the beautiful altar and floor of the church. The pupil was in the process of being build. I was interested in hear more from The Guild of the Good Shepard. We spend our lunch with Father Jonathan, the senior warden Patrick and junior warden Gladys. Judy and I agreed to skip the beach and enjoy more time learning about our church. However, the questioning definitely went the other way. The women’s ministry has a vital role in what is happening in the church. They have a prison ministry for women. Also, extremely important is the prayer ministry. They also, face the challenges women around the world face for women’s rights. We share concerns of violence against women, sex trade of women and the need for skills to provide for themselves and family. This is still a very patriarchal culture. What we shared was love for God, love for the richest of our church tradition and a desire to build a relationship.

Monday morning before gathering, Judy and I were about to order of eggs for breakfast. There was a group of midwives having a conference in our hotel. The ladies intentionally stepped in front of Judy, actually in between us. The young ladies making the omelets acknowledged their presence. She made Judy’s omelet before theirs. I felt some kinda way about it. I sensed it was intentional and disrespectful to Judy. The nonverbal communication was very apparent. I asked Judy how she felt about it. It was then it darned on me the only white people around was the ones with me. (HEllO). I felt protective of Judy and the next morning when they were about to do it again, I had Judy move close to me. In the meantime Judy connected with one of the instructors and shared very meaningful conversation and conversation on women’s health is something to explore more deeply. There was still some skepticism in having outsiders in their space, which was understandable.

I was very impressed with the eye clinic. The services the clinic provides and the efficiency with which the clinic personnel was extremely impressive. Patients were seen from beginning to end within a 2 hour time frame. I was not aware of the high incidence of glaucoma and cataracts. There were multi-educational level professionals working in the clinic. I was also happy to see patient’s blood pressures being checked and I love that the clinic was also a teaching facility. I definitely feel we should be able to reach out to ophthalmologist that would be willing to dedicate to providing some form of service. The clinic was not aware of resources they could reach out to for support, i.e donated eye glasses frames. There were other recommendations for the clinic. As a diocese we should be able to support the clinic with information to expand their outside resources. An important identified need is a bus to transport patients.

I was happy we had the opportunity to speak with some of the members of the ADCC (Anglicans Women’s Ministry Diocese of Cape Coast). There is a women’s vocational training convention in August. Mission for women’s ministry is to train, build and send. Women are trained how to do bead work, make soap, sew, hair care and how to process fish.

Empowerment of women to sustain themselves is important. On mother’s day there was a health walk, visit to the women’s prison and breast cancer screening. My question still is how we best support them in their ministries. Would a project similar to the United Way’s Shoe box project be helpful to them? Is their need more of a funding need or would having a conference on women’s health be helpful?

Ghana Reflections II

We visited the students at various schools. Students were preparing for their final exams. I cannot help but compare how blessed our students at home are; air conditioning for one thing. I was excited to see new buildings going up. It was also, interesting to witness the encroachment happening and how the diocese is dealing with it. I am prayerful that gets resolved. I felt a little bad at the cooking school, in that we may have distracted some students from paying attention to what they were cooking. What fun at the seminary Fantasia was definitely a hit and I LOVED Steve’s response to the guys. Our guy definitely looked out for us, especially Fantasia. What a joyful reception we received. I loved the fact they’re was a female seminarian. I also, was impressed by the seminarians identifying themselves by their region and tribe. There is something very powerful in knowing where you come from, where your roots are.

The visits to the castles (dungeons) and last bath were a very powerful part of my Cape Coast experience. I cannot call Elmina a castle, for me it was a place of great pain. The church above the women’s dungeon was just painful. The dungeons to this day still hold the ruminants of my ancestors; I could smell their bodies and feel their pain. At Cape Coast Castle (dungeon) I became over heated in the room where the altar was. I don’t know if it was just the heat, that made me want to leave that negative space. I felt like I could not breath from the moment I walked in there. I see The Door of No Return and feel the emotion of returning AKWAABA, Welcome Home.

The trip to the Ancestral River Park (The Last Bath) was just as impactful as the dungeons. We walk barefoot to the Slave River, where the stagnant water and flowing water meet. Where my ancestors were marched to be bathed and branded. I stood in that water and remembered my ancestors, especially my dad Dexter and cousin Dexter who always said I needed to return home. As I looked up from the water in prayer, there is Judy making the sign of the cross on my head. We Bless each other, no words are necessary. We sit together both in our own thoughts and feelings. I am releasing the hurt, pain and sadness of my ancestors’ journey. I leave my mark on the wall of those that have returned. My returning name is Kaakyire Aba Ursula. I must acknowledge learning of the tribal influence and participation in the slave trade was important for me to learn. I have tried to talk about it with friends and family when I got home and it has been difficult for them to accept. My cousin told me it would be difficult to put my experience into words and she was right. It is difficult to explain what the heart feels.

I was fortune to have the opportunity to go to SSJE (Society of St. John The Evangelist) in Cambridge Massachusetts shortly after our return from Ghana. One of the things Brother Jim suggested was to go and pray in a place where the wall have been surrounded in prayers. If you have never been to SSJE it is a very spiritual retreat, right on the Charles river, behind Harvard Square. Before they renovated the chapel, the stone was very dark from all of the incense burned over decades. When they renovated the chapel, one stone was left untouched so the remembrance of all the prayers would be always there. I needed to be in a place where the walls did not have the stench of human remains, pain and suffering. I needed to see that remaining brick burned from the prayers rising with the incense. I absorbed the prayers from my Brothers and Sisters in Ghana and feel their present in the Chapel. Brother Jim reminded me I was now on a different pilgrimage. I needed to allow myself the space to be still, let the spirit work within me. Just being present for the daily offices was healing, restorative and uplifting. I will not let the darkest of the past, dictate my belief of healing and reconciliation in the present.

To close, I was blessed to have this tremendous opportunity. I do not want the relationship to end here. How we as a diocese and Cape Coast will continue to communicate will be key. I have been in contact with Father Jonathan Asare since I have been back. I hope to keep the line of communication open not just with him. I cannot wait for all of us to brainstorm together. I already have a possible contact for an ophthalmologist, (I am working on that). Members of Holy Innocents’ are waiting to her Judy and I talk about all of our work. We have a new rector and I cannot wait to hear his vision and share mine. Thank You for allowing me to be a part of the pilgrimage to Ghana. I will forever be grateful.

Steve Franzen, parishioner at Holy Family, Jasper, GA

A Visit to Cape Coast Diocese-One Pilgrim’s Perspective

After a whirlwind of overseas travel, a cross-country trip from Accra to Cape Coast, and a day of orientation, Terry (Franzen) and I were delegated to attend St. James the Apostle for Sunday services. When we arrived, we were welcomed by Father Kojo Eshun and by a gentleman detailed to shepherd us through our visit. After a brief introduction we were escorted to a pew a couple of rows behind the seated choir. The sanctuary was spacious and airy, and the rising heat was mitigated by a phalanx of furiously beating ceiling fans.

The service started with an opening hymn and the familiar rhythms of the liturgy, but soon the vibrant power of the African Anglican experience burst forth. A band backed by an infectiously frenetic drummer drove the colorfully clad parishioners into the aisles time after time. The predominantly female congregation joined the choir in a chorus of joyous praise.

Father Kojo called us up to introduce us and bless us. (Terry had casually mentioned her wish for grandchildren, so Father Kojo just asked God to bring us some!). We felt so welcome by everyone and the kids all gathered around after the service while Terry took photos and showed them on the camera.

Afterwards, we were invited next door to the rectory for lunch. We met Father Kojo’s charming wife who took time to prepare us a delicious lunch between her stints delivering babies as a professional midwife. The wardens and other notables ate with us and we had a freewheeling discussion about world affairs and the issues facing St. James.

I must add that Father Kojo ministers to six congregations in addition to St. James and had already conducted a service at one church before he arrived at St.James on Sunday. He also serves as chaplain for Bishop Victor!

Throughout our stay we were surrounded with love and generosity.From Bishop Victor to the man who makes the communion wafers, everyone we met was interested in sharing experiences and forming friendships. All of this warmth contrasted somewhat starkly with our encounters with the sobering history of the slave trade. Our visits to slave forts at Fort Elmina and Cape Coast Castle as well as the haunting scene of the “Last Bath” at a serene shaded river bank 30 miles inland were grim but illuminating reminders of a dark past. The price paid for that past in human suffering, death and degradation is a bill which we all continue to pay today.

Terry Franzen, parishioner at Holy Family, Jasper, GA

St. James the Apostle Most of the members are women, but the leaders were men except for the choir director and Sunday school leader. There were 2 wardens, one of whom was a woman but she did not seem to be present. All clergy were men. The service was in English and the tribal langauge because we were present. There was much lively singing and dancing which I loved, with a band and a screen with the words. The priest blessed our marriage. There were 3 offerings including one for those who tithe, a practice we should carry over to our churches!

My favorite part of the pilgrimage was going to the last bath and particularly taking off our shoes and walking barefoot to the river. I thought that was so moving. I wish we had gone there before we visited the castles. I also loved the remembrance on the wall of those incarcerated in the us. I have shared that once at the prison and will do so again tonight. The women who have already seen that picture were so overwhelmed that someone in Africa thought of them.

Jordan Moody, Church of the Epiphany, Atlanta, GA

Parish visit reflections On Sunday, May 20th, Kathy Broyles and I were dropped off at Rev. Thomas Thompson Anglican Church. Sitting halfway up a hill, the church has a breathtaking view of the Atlantic Ocean. For me, palm trees and the coastline have always been some of the most beautiful parts of God’s creation, so I was delighted that the sights and sounds of the shore would be in the background of our worship. Windows to the nave were open wide, and a gentle breeze occasionally flowed through the heavy, humid air, aiding the electric fans that were strategically placed to provide relief from the heat of the day.

On that Pentecost Sunday, we celebrated together with beautiful worship that was a unique blend – fully Anglican and fully Ghanaian. Father Jojo, a seminarian, and a team of greeters made sure that Kathy and I were fully welcomed. As Father Jojo recounted how the Spirit of God could be found in creation, in Ezekiel, and in Acts, he also reminded us that the Spirit manifested our togetherness there on that day. It was not coincidence that we, delegates of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta, were there with them, a parish in the Anglican Diocese of Cape Coast on this holy feast day. Pentecost is a wonderful celebration of the renewal and community that the Spirit provides. For me, sharing in Eucharist with the parishioners of Thomas Thompson Church was a beautiful example of how language or any other cultural difference does not separate God’s family. As we navigate what this companion diocese relationship will continue to look like, I am certain that God – our God of truth and faithfulness – is with us. The Spirit is at work, and we can understand, love, and serve one another.

“We need to tell the world that we can live together with our diversity.” – Bishop Victor Atta-Baffoe

I traveled to Ghana knowing that encountering the past would allow me to more fully experience and engage with the future.

As someone with ancestors from the lands we call Europe, Africa, and America, I feel that there is often a constant conflict deep within me. I am beautifully and wonderfully made, but the history embedded in my DNA sometimes seem at odds with one another.

I truly did not know how to prepare for this pilgrimage to a land where some of my ancestors lived and flourished before they were captured and sold into slavery by another set of ancestors who initially came here in search of gold.

I was going there to return to my roots. I was going there to ask for forgiveness. I was going there to seek clarity on how to move forward with hope.

Our group traveled to Assin Manso or “the last bath” – site of the river where many slaves were bathed and cleaned up before being sold to some middle men operating in that horrific industry.

Standing on the edge of the river, I truly did not know what to think or feel. I was numb, struck by the history of those sacred waters. Desperate to communicate with God, I recited the Lord’s Prayer over and over and over again. Just as ancestral conflict is embedded in my DNA, so is that prayer.

In that moment, I was able to feel a gentle hope.

Lord, Thy Kingdom come and Thy will be done.

All of my childhood summers were spent at the beach. The coast of South Carolina is a second home to me, and the ocean has always been a personal source of peace and renewal.

And then I stood on the other side of the Atlantic.

Strong, beautiful Africans enslaved on this land were forced to journey two or more months by foot before reaching the coast. The coastline was not terrain that they would have been familiar with. How unsettling it already would be to be held in the dark, suffocating dungeon of a slave castle – and then to hear those unfamiliar waves constantly pounding against the other side of the wall…

For the first time, the crashing waves and a salty sea breeze brought me a deep sadness. How sacred is that shore that was the departure point for those heinous slave ships.

There is something oddly poetic about standing on the coast of Ghana for the first time and realizing that I know so well the place in America (both Georgia and South Carolina) where many of the ships that sailed these waters landed with their human cargo.

We must stand and acknowledge our past so that we can look to the future.

In addition to what being in Ghana felt to me, so many people shared their personal stories and advice with me. I will be forever grateful for those laughs and words of wisdom.

Kathy Broyles, High Point Episcopal Community Church, Atlanta, GA

Oguaa

It is hot and we eat Plantains and banku fermented corn and cassava mash formed and served in plastic bags With tilapia We are building connections

Is it poverty Or simpler living I see the clash of old and new And the issues that rise from The collision of cultures Waste and want Along with the calm of contentment

Love and need Hope and forgiveness A people of joy Born and raised on greed's foundation Ghana tugs at me I long for their spirit I weep for their loss I rejoice in their resilience

I have received much Through the generosity of their spirit The bright smiles on dark faces The laughter and the embraces I want to take it home Hold it in my heart Gently and reverently And learn to give eagerly As they do

Ann Williamson, Church of the Epiphany, Atlanta, GA

Our Third Day Our third day of the Pilgrimage, it was Pentecost Sunday and our group was we divided into groups of two or three and we visited different parishes in the Diocese. I was paired with the Reverend Dr. Sharon Hiers, our trip leader and my parish Senior Associate Rector, and Beth-Sarah Wright, wife of Diocese of Atlanta Bishop Rob Wright. The three of us were scheduled to visit the Cathedral, where Bishop Victor would be preaching. Ironically, right across the street from the church is the Cape Coast Slave Castle. One of the contradictions of Africa for me is the beauty and the pain is all wrapped up together. Even on the van ride to the various churches Sunday morning, I observed that one of the parishes was in near abject poverty, co-located with what appeared to be the village dump, yet had the most stunning view of the ocean I had seen yet.

When we arrived at the cathedral, it was warm and stuffy. Like almost every building in Ghana, it was not air conditioned. Nevertheless, the congregation was dressed more formally than most people would dress for a wedding or a funeral in winter in the United States. Moreover, I was struck with the pomp and circumstance of the church procession in light of the limited means of the people in Ghana. The acolytes had the most beautifully laundered and crisply pressed vestments and polished black shoes. They processed into the church in a military-style march and their movements were synchronized like a Swiss watch. The only reminder at all I had that these were actually little boys was during Bishop Victor’s nearly hour-long sermon, when they all fell completely and unapologetically asleep. I enjoyed all of the service, but found the readings especially moving. For some reason, sitting in that place, on that side of the world, reading the words of Ezekiel on a projection screen in my native tongue (English), but hearing someone speak about raising up dry bones in a tribal language made the words seem primal - - as old as the Earth itself. As I listened to the reader, I began to weep from a very deep place, without explanation even to myself.

The day before we had visited the Kakum National Park and experienced a canopy walk among the treetops along a network of rope bridges. Some of our party were fearful of heights and others of the swinging rope bridges, especially when nearby school children were having fun jumping on the bridges.Our guide attempted to assuage our obvious anxiety by informing us that all the bridges were tested by having elephants walk them before the park opened to the public. While it made for a nice bit of folklore, the obvious practical challenges of getting elephants to the treetops to navigate narrow rope bridges made me discount the veracity of that story.

Personally, I wasn’t worried about the heights or the construction of the bridges, but I had a smaller fear to wrestle with: staph infection from the rough rope hand rails we were using to steady ourselves as we crossed each bridge. I felt the best way to keep my health in Ghana was to keep my external barrier intact (no blisters, scrapes, abrasions). As I began to cross the first of the seven bridges, I hesitated to put my soft, white American hand on that part of the rope. My hand that had never held a machete to cut down sugar cane. My hand that had never threaded the needle and cranked a manual sewing machine. My hand that had never woven a basket out of natural materials collected from the land around me. I had to recognize that if the fear I had that my delicate hands would become scratched and possibly contract a disease from this well-used rope was at all founded in logic, it was due to the delicacy of my hands that had never had a day’s hard labor to form callouses that would protect me from such a fate. Therefore, with that understanding, I assumed prayer pose from the YMCA yoga class and walked purposefully down the center of each bridge as if my spine were connected by a long thread and the end of that thread was being held taut just overhead. My companions called me brave and seemed to admire the tactics I used to cross each bridge, swiftly and without hesitation. However, I didn’t feel worthy of their praise. Funny, what passes for courage or strength to the casual observer may often be something else altogether.

We began as 12 pilgrims. Some in our group were well-known to one another, even married. Others were acquainted but little more than friendly strangers. Regardless of where we started, by the end of our journey together, we were family. I would trust these dozen souls with my purest thoughts and my most frightening insecurities, for we have traveled together in miles and in sprit. While this sounds like a tale about a group of people, it is really about one person: me. It is about my journey in the midst of the greater group and how this pilgrimage formed me and changed me. It is about how and where I heard the voice of God and bent my ear to listen. It is about locks that opened and closed and rearranged in my body and mind to accept new realities, or at least reality in a new-to-me way. My fervent prayer is that even as the memory fades, may the body and soul remember. Medaasi.

Ann Fowler, Church of the Epiphany, Atlanta, GA

Ghana Reflections 2018

I am very fortunate to have had the opportunity to travel with groups from the Diocese of Atlanta to Ghana in 2017 and 2018. During both visits I was struck by the warmth, generosity, and hospitality of the Ghanaian people and I'll always treasure the time I've spent in that beautiful country.

I think it's important to learn about the slave trade that existed between Africa and the United States because of its impact on our history and the lives of so many of our citizens, even today. Two particular slave sites held special meaning for me during our 2018 trip: Assin Manso and Elmina castle.

Assin Manso is the place where slaves were taken to rest, eat, and have their "last bath" in a river, before being auctioned and sold to merchants. Slaves brought a higher price after recuperating at Assin Manso, since they had become better "products" before arriving at the trading forts and castles on the coast. A guide took our diocesan group down a long path in the woods to the river. We removed our shoes as a sign of respect and walked in silence, while the guide pointed out interesting details along the way. As we journeyed through the forest I thought about the thousands of enslaved people who walked the same path and what they must have felt; scared, angry, lonely, helpless ... Then we reached the river bank and our guide helped us down the hill and into the shallow water. At the river I felt an overwhelming sadness for the cruelty that people inflict on each other and for the horrible injustices people of color have had to endure over centuries.

But there were positive moments during our time at Assin Manso, too. I saw good friends of different races in our group bonding over this profound river experience. And just as we were about to leave, the Rev. Ruth Pattison immersed her entire body in the water. Witnessing her adventurous spirit and deep faith moved me. Before leaving the site, black members in our group were invited to write thoughts and messages on a wall commemorating the return of slaves' ancestors. This was one of several occurrences when I saw our pilgrims of color making meaningful connections with their ancestral roots in West Africa. Some said they felt like they had come home. I was glad to be there to share in their joy.

Elmina Castle was one of the slave castles we visited. At one point during our tour, the guide slammed the door shut on the windowless, airless, pitch-black cell where we stood. Even in that brief moment, we experienced the terror of being imprisoned. The horror of slavery felt very real to us as we stood on dungeon floors layered with years of human sweat, blood, and excrement, and touched walls scarred by chains that had bound thousands of unfortunate victims. In stark contrast to the slave dungeons were the bright, airy and spacious quarters of the white soldiers, government officials and families who lived on the upper floors of the castle, which offered scenic views of the Atlantic Ocean. How could these people, these Christians, be so detached from the human suffering going on beneath them? I wondered what I would have done. And I wondered about times when I might have been detached from the suffering of people around me.

I visited St. John's church with LaFawn Gilliam. I enjoyed attending church services in Ghana because of the festive music, dancing, and hospitality. The offering highlighted every service. Parishioners sang, clapped, smiled and danced up to the altar to give joyfully to the church. It was truly a celebration honoring God. The parishioners at St. John's were warm and friendly and the Servers Guild members were interested in partnering with our church, perhaps through prayer or by forming relationships on social media.

I loved seeing and purchasing colorful Ghanaian textiles during my two trips. I appreciated the vibrant patterns printed on fabric with wax resist techniques or woven into Kente cloth by artisans in Bonwire. I hope to share the beauty of Ghanaian fabrics with the children in my after school art classes at Emmaus House this fall. Thanks to the incredible hospitality and generosity of Bishop Victor Atta-Boffoe and his wife Dorcas, the women in our diocesan group were treated to personally designed and fitted dresses by Lydia, a local seamstress. This unique undertaking allowed us to visit a small roadside Ghanaian shop, choose attractive African fabrics, and interact with a successful and talented shopkeeper. I love my Ghanaian dress, and it reminds me of Bishop Victor's and Dorcas's kindness whenever I wear it.

I had wonderful traveling companions on this trip. Young college students, retirees, compassionate nurses, committed social justice workers, creative artists, dedicated Episcopal clergy and lay leaders; all enriched my experience. I'm especially grateful for Sharon and her kind leadership. She led reflections every evening which helped us deal with our emotions, particularly when we had visited disturbing places during the day. And she also helped us laugh and have fun when we needed to.

ECF Grants $81,135 to Fight Poverty and Oppression

Today the Episcopal Community Foundation for Middle and North Georgia (ECF) announces it will grant $81,135 to seven organizations that are lifting people from poverty and oppression in the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta. The grants – which go into effect this month – will be made to St. Bede's Episcopal Church, DEO Clinic, Commission on Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking for the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta, The Drake House, Norcross Cooperative Ministry, Path To Shine, and Rainbow Village.

“In 2017, we restructured our grantmaking priorities to focus on efforts that make significant impact and contribute to long-term sustainability for our grantees,” said Lindsey E. Hardegree, Executive Director for the Episcopal Community Foundation for Middle and North Georgia. “With this most recent round of grant applications, we’ve really seen our community embrace that mindset. All of our fall general grants are focused on capacity building efforts, which increase sustainability for smarter operations and more impactful fundraising, or capital projects, which will be utilized for years to come.”

ECF’s fall 2018 general grant recipients:

  • St. Bede’s Episcopal Church has received a capital grant of $19,000 to help renovate and furnish their former preschool building for use with their expanding English as a Second Language (ESL) program. The parish’s ESL program has been a significant catalyst at the parish for growth of the local Hispanic congregation, and integration of these efforts provides spiritual growth for the entire St. Bede’s community.

  • The DEO Clinic, in partnership with St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, has received a capital grant of $6,262 to equip a new examination room at their new clinic space. They have recently formed a new partnership with the City of Dalton which has allowed them to relocate to a much larger clinic space in the Mack Gaston Community Center. This will enable them to respond to the tremendous growth in demand for clinic services that they have experienced over the past year, and will bring them closer to those who need their services the most.

  • The Drake House, in partnership with St. David’s Episcopal Church, has received a capital grant of $19,000 to help renovate an adjacent apartment building which will provide affordable housing opportunities for their recent program graduates. By providing this further assistance step for these women and families recovering from homelessness, The Drake House is ensuring that their clients are able stay on a path that will lead them to housing sustainability in the future.

  • Path to Shine has received a capacity building grant of $10,306 to provide part-time administrative support and executive fundraising training. These combined efforts will allow their executive director to step away from administrative duties and create a sustainable fundraising strategy for the organization. With demonstrated success, this grant will continue in 2019.

  • Rainbow Village, in partnership with Christ Episcopal Church (Norcross), has received a capacity building grant of $17,819 to implement Salesforce to track date for their clients and alumni. By utilizing true program data and metrics, Rainbow Village will be able to manage their programs more efficiently and effectively, to the benefit of their clients, and will also have real data to make a stronger case for support with unlimited funders in the future.

ECF’s Q4 2018 Small Acts of Charity recipient:

  • The Commission on Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking for the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta has received a project grant of $5,000 towards the purchase of 20,000 bars of motel soap and volunteer-training as a part of the one-time S.O.A.P. project around Super Bowl LIII. This project aims to increase awareness of human trafficking at high-demand trafficking events in order to restore trafficked survivors and prevent future trafficking.

  • Norcross Cooperative Ministry, in partnership with Christ Episcopal Church (Norcross), has received an operating grant of $3,748 to provide prescription drug assistance for their clients at their health clinic. 


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 Q1 Small Acts of Charity are due December 15, 2018, and LOIs for Fall 2019 General Grants 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 highly 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 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 114 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 episcopalatlanta.org.

“Let Your Light Shine” This Holiday Season with Episcopal Relief & Development’s Gifts for Life

Episcopal Relief & Development encourages supporters to “Let Your Light Shine” with Gifts for Life, an alternative giving catalog that offers tangible and meaningful ways to create lasting change this holiday season.

“In preparation for the Christmas season, I have been thinking a great deal about how powerful God’s light can be when we share it with others,” said Betsy Deisroth, Vice President for Advancement for Episcopal Relief & Development. “I'm reminded of a congregation that organized a fundraiser with special lantern walk to prayerfully light the way for storm victims as they faced an uncertain future. To me, that lantern walk is a true expression of everything that Episcopal Relief & Development represents: coming together to help others … and shining a light of hope where darkness has fallen.”

Gifts for Life enables individuals and groups to create lasting change in communities worldwide through the purchase of gifts to support those communities. The catalog features gifts ranging from $12 for mosquito nets to prevent malaria to $5,000 to provide clean water for a village through a well and water treatment as well as the training to maintain the system. Other gifts include special Christmas Gift Packages, disaster relief kits, vocational training and micro-credit loans to enable women to grow their own businesses.

New this year are two products, bikes and sugar beans, inspired by Deisroth’s trip to Zambia last spring. Sugar beans are a high-protein crop that helps to provide a nutritious diet for children. Unlike maize, which is widely planted, sugar beans are drought-resistant and can be grown alongside other crops. Bikes will allow volunteers in rural areas cover greater distances, reach more homes, spend more time with families, work with more energy and even, on occasion, transport people needing additional care.

“A group of young volunteers shared that they travel on foot an hour each way to reach people in rural areas, “ said Deisroth. “Providing bikes is a simple way to help them to shine light in more communities.”

Gifts for Life items can be purchased online at episcopalrelief.org/gifts, and donors can choose to send a customizable e-card or a beautiful printed card to tell the recipient about the life-changing gift made in their honor. Orders can also be made over the phone by calling 1.855.312.4325 or via mail through the instructions on the catalog or brochure. Additionally, supporters can download digital resources such as prayers, bulletin inserts, and an Advent calendar poster from the online Advent Toolkit to help dioceses, congregations or groups plan, construct and host an Advent campaign to support Gifts for Life.

EPISCOPAL CENTER MEMORIALIZED 600 VICTIMS OF GEORGIA LYNCHING

The names of 600 victims of lynchings in Georgia were read aloud on Nov. 2 during a service at the Absalom Jones Episcopal Center for Racial Healing.

Four bronze panels were unveiled at the service that are inscribed with the names of each person known to have been lynched in Georgia between 1866 and 1964, along with an acknowledgement that other persons were lynched, but that their number and identities remain unknown.

“The service concludes the Diocese’s three-year commitment to making pilgrimages, marker placements, memorial services and educational programs to remember the lynched and to explore lynching’s support of the terrorism associated with racism,” said Dr. Catherine Meeks, executive director of the Center.

“The purpose of this work is help us to make the connection between the intersection of slavery, lynching, the prison industrial complex, the death penalty and 21st Century police killings which are known as extrajudicial killings,” Meeks said. “Along with this we create the possibility for healing to occur as we remember and call the names of the lynched and move away from the state of denial that makes healing impossible.”

To help members of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta to prepare for the upcoming pilgrimage in 2016, they were encouraged to read and discuss Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption by Attorney Bryan Stevenson who has been successful in getting more than 100 innocent persons off death row. This study helped to clarify the intersections that are usually ignored. The study was capped in September 2016 with a presentation by Stevenson that filled Atlanta’s St. Luke's Episcopal Church with one thousand persons and many of them joined the first pilgrimage.

The Diocese sponsored the first pilgrimage in October 2016 to the Douglass Theater in Macon, Georgia, where a 1922 lynch mob dumped the body of John “Cockey” Glover. A marker in front of the historically African American theatre was dedicated commemorating the lynching of Glover and 14 other men in the Macon and Middle Georgia area along with an unknown number of others whose names may never be documented. The 175 people attending the pilgrimage then went to the nearby Tubman Museum, which focuses on African-American art, history and culture, where participants viewed historical photos of lynchings across the country, including Minnesota, Wyoming and Oklahoma. Facilitators worked with small groups to continue the dialogue.

“Though the day’s activities generated a wide range of emotions from rage to grief, everyone agreed that it was a powerful and important day and it was wonderful affirmation that our intention to do this over the next two years was a good one,” Meeks said.

In 2017, parishes in the Diocese were invited to read Living into God's Dream: Dismantling Racism in America, a book of essays on race that acknowledge past gains and current challenges edited by Dr. Catherine Meeks in the hope of fostering new and more robust conversations on race.

pilgrimage on October 28, 2017, to Athens, Georgia included a service and workshops and dedication of a marker identifying 56 martyrs lynched in Clarke County and surrounding counties along with those whose names remain unknown.

For almost two decades, the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta has required anti-racism training and created a commission to accomplish that mandate. The work of that commission was folded into the Absalom Jones Episcopal Center for Racial Healing at its creation in 2018.

Dismantling Racism training offered by the Center seeks to increase "racial healing and reconciliation," according to the Center’s website. Training sessions are offered several times a year and is required for all Episcopal parish clergy and lay leaders.

The Diocese of Atlanta is proud to be home to this new resource for the worldwide Episcopal Church, said Bishop Robert C. Wright.  “The creation of the Center aligns with The Episcopal Church’s and our Diocese’s commitment to reach across the borders and boundaries that divide the human family of God,” Wright said. Located at the Atlanta University Center among Morehouse, Spelman and Clark Atlanta campuses on the West side of Atlanta, the Absalom Jones Center for Racial Healing provides Episcopal parishes and dioceses locally, nationally and internationally with the support to address racism head-on through compassionate truth-telling and racial healing.

The Diocese of Atlanta encompasses 114 worshiping communities throughout middle and north Georgia. For more information about the Diocese and its parishes and ministries, go to www.episcopalatlanta.org. For information about news and events in the Diocese, go to https://connecting.episcopalatlanta.org.


PLEASE NOTE: If you plan to attend the event, please note that parking is scarce. This event requires advanced registration at Calling Their Names: Remembering Georgia's Lynched and that there is a $10 registration fee which covers the cost of lunch.

LOCATION: The Absalom Jones Episcopal Center for Racial Healing, 807 Atlanta Student Movement Boulevard, Atlanta, Georgia 30314.

TIME: November 2, 2018, 9:30 a.m. until 2 p.m.

Announcing SOAP UP Atlanta

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The Commission on Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking (DMST) is moving forward in its mission of reducing the numbers of innocent children abused, tortured, and raped in GA.  Each child endures as many as ten men or more every day. According to Center for Public Policy Studies, it is estimated that 374 girls are commercially sexually exploited monthly in Georgia.  Average age of entry into the commercial sex market for girls is 12 and 14 years.

SOAP UP Atlanta will be held at All Saints Episcopal Church on January 26, 2019 from 9:30am – 3:30pm, a week before the Super Bowl.  It is documented that sex trafficking increases during large sporting events.   Our goal is to save children by delivering bars of soap with the national hot line number to all hotels/motels surrounding the Mercedes Benz stadium.  

Theresa Flores, a survivor, will tell her story and train everyone on DMST 101 and how to approach and train the hotel staff.

Atlanta is on the move and churches, synagogues, non-profits and business organizations are resilient and determined to End It. Drop by the Commission’s table and learn more!

Order Pathways Magazine

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The Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta is pleased to announce that the 2018-19 issue of Pathways is now available for order.

This magazine shares inspiring stories from middle and north Georgia and challenges the world to love like Jesus.

We invite you to order your own FREE copy of Pathways, and we’ll deliver it directly to your home or business.

What is Pathways? Pathways Magazine is an annual publication of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta. Through original photography, articles and interviews, Pathways shares inspiring stories from middle and north Georgia – examples of loving like Jesus.

An Invitation from Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry to Practice the Way of Love

 

I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. – Ephesians 3:17-19  

 

In the first century Jesus of Nazareth inspired a movement. A community of people whose lives were centered on Jesus Christ and committed to living the way of God’s unconditional, unselfish, sacrificial, and redemptive love. Before they were called “church” or “Christian,” this Jesus Movement was simply called “the way.”

Today I believe our vocation is to live as the Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement. But how can we together grow more deeply with Jesus Christ at the center of our lives, so we can bear witness to his way of love in and for the world?

The deep roots of our Christian tradition may offer just such a path. For centuries, monastic communities have shaped their lives around rhythms and disciplines for following Jesus together. Such a pattern is known as a “Rule of Life.” The framework you now hold – The Way of Love: Practices for Jesus-Centered Life – outlines a Rule for the Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement.

It is designed to be spare and spacious, so that individuals, ministry groups, congregations, and networks can flesh it out in unique ways and build a church-wide treasure trove of stories and resources. There is no specific order you need to follow. If you already keep a Rule or spiritual disciplines, you might reflect and discover how that path intersects with this one. By entering into reflection, discernment and commitment around the practices of Turn - Learn - Pray - Worship - Bless - Go - Rest, I pray we will grow as communities following the loving, liberating, life-giving way of Jesus. His way has the power to change each of our lives and to change this world.

Your brother in the Way of Jesus,

+Michael
The Most Reverend Michael B. Curry, Primate and Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church

Special Service for Sexual Assault Victims

A worship service for people affected by sexual assault was held at All Saints' Episcopal Church on Thursday, October 4.

The Service of Lament and Remembrance was a response to U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearings. The Sept. 27 hearings involved Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford, the woman who says he sexually assaulted her.

The service offered “a shared space for those who have been particularly affected in a personal way by the events in Washington,” All Saints’ rector Dr. Simon Mainwaring said in a statement. 

Chaplaincy to Travelers - Rev. Donna Mote

At Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson, Rev. Dr. Donna Mote – Missioner for Innovation and Engagement for the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta – serves as chaplain to anyone and everyone. She’s distributed ashes to mark the beginning of Lent, helped direct frazzled travelers to the right terminals, and accompanied those who are grieving. She’s also participated in honor guard ceremonies as the remains of service members are carried home. “I especially pay attention to those people that most folks, including passengers in the airport, don’t really pay attention to – custodial folks, fry cooks, people you only really see if you’re paying attention,” she said. “There’s the world in grief, there’s the world in joy – really, the whole world is passing through there.”

Tired of waiting, Taliaferro County starts its own health care system

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Among Georgia's poorest counties is taking health care into its own hands. Starting in October, Taliaferro County is operating a school-board-backed facility to care for the basic health needs of its community. Now, residents won't have to venture outside of town to receive vaccinations, flu diagnoses, and other services.

“We hope that a large part of the community understands that we want them to utilize our services, too. We want them to know that they have convenient, basic health care here,” Taliaferro County School superintendent Allen Fort said in Politically Georgia.

RESPONDING TO HURRICANE MICHAEL

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Episcopal Relief & Development is working with affected Episcopal dioceses to provide critical support for local communities impacted by Hurricane Michael.

Through partnerships with the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia and the Episcopal Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast, the organization is providing emergency assistance to individuals and families affected by the storm, including food, shelter, generators and other basic supplies.

Hurricane Michael made landfall as a Category 4 storm on Wednesday, October 10, devastating areas of the Florida Panhandle and Georgia. The storm is responsible for at least 19 deaths in four states and destroyed homes and valuable infrastructure, particularly in Florida and Georgia. Over 140,000 Florida residents remained without power on Tuesday morning.

Episcopal Relief & Development’s US Disaster team has conducted daily coordination calls with leaders from dioceses impacted by Hurricane Michael since last week to support their efforts to provide relief to affected communities. The team will meeting with clergy from affected dioceses to help them assess needs and mobilize to respond to the most vulnerable communities.

Decatur County in Georgia was one area particularly hard hit. Albany, GA is without potable water, although power has been restored in many areas. Surrounding areas report downed power lines and damage to buildings and homes. The Diocese of Georgia is working to supply water purifiers to provide drinking water. The church is also responding with shelter, food and other supplies.

  Photo: Stephanie Fisher Photography

Photo: Stephanie Fisher Photography

The Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast reports that Hurricane Michael caused damage affecting communities from Highway 331 to the Apalachicola River in Florida and from the coast to the Alabama state line. High winds and heavy rains knocked down power lines and trees, damaging at least 10 churches and schools as well as the communities surrounding them. The diocese is providing generators and gas to address power outages as well as cleaning supplies.

“I am encouraged to see how our local diocesan partners have mobilized in response to this devastating hurricane,” said Katie Mears, Senior Director of Episcopal Relief & Development’s US Disaster Program. “They are deeply embedded in their communities, helping people access other networks and resources.”  

The Rt. Rev. Russell Kendrick and the Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast have invited Mears to visit the affected areas in Florida this week to see the impact firsthand and plan how Episcopal Relief & Development can support ministry in the coming weeks and months.

Please continue to pray for those impacted by Hurricane Michael. Donations to the Hurricane Relief Fund will help Episcopal Relief & Development respond to this crisis. To circulate the most recent bulletin inserts, click here.

For over 75 years, Episcopal Relief & Development has been working together with supporters and partners for lasting change around the world. Each year the organization facilitates healthier, more fulfilling lives for more than 3 million people struggling with hunger, poverty, disaster and disease. Inspired by Jesus’ words in Matthew 25, Episcopal Relief & Development leverages the expertise and resources of Anglican and other partners to deliver measurable and sustainable change in three signature program areas: Women, Children and Climate.

Journeying the Way of Love: New Advent curriculum and Resources for Way of Love: Practices for Jesus-Centered Living

Recognizing that Episcopalians have been hunting for resources to support our journeys on The Way of Love, the Office of the Presiding Bishop offers this update on what’s available and what’s coming soon at  www.episcopalchurch.org/wayoflove and around the church.

Coming soon: Formation resources

  • Following the Way of Love: 9-session Small Group Guide for groups that seek to reshape their lives around Jesus and his Way of Love. The guide details best practices for organizing small groups and discipleship groups, and then moves participants through reflection, discernment, action and deep commitment around the seven practices. Excellent for small groups, vestries, ministry leadership groups. Available for download on October 12.   

  • Journeying the Way of Love: 4-week Advent Curriculum pegged to readings and themes from the Sunday lectionary. Ideal for Christian formation hour offerings at churches and ministries exploring the Way of Love. Available for download on November 2.

Downloadable, print-ready resources available from the Episcopal Church website (free):

Print resources available for purchase from Forward Movement:

Downloadable resources from Episcopal dioceses or affiliated organizations (free)

Faith communities, dioceses, and organizations following The Way of Love are invited to share their stories and resources using #wayoflove or send to wayoflove@episcopalchurch.org.

For more information or to share your story or resource, please contact wayoflove@episcopalchurch.org or 212-716-6102.

On the web:
Journeying the Way of Love: New Advent curriculum and resources for Way of Love: Practices for Jesus-Centered Living

Episcopal Priest Barbara Brown Taylor Releases First Children’s Book

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New York Times best-selling author, teacher, and Episcopal priest, Barbara Brown Taylor recently released her first children’s book, Home by Another Way: A Christmas Story!

Home by Another Way: A Christmas Story is a beautiful retelling of the Nativity story. The book offers readers new perspectives of the three wise men, King Herod, Mary, Joseph, and baby Jesus, and helps teach that sometimes the most valuable gifts are the most unexpected. Home by Another Way: A Christmas Story features breathtaking artwork by illustrator Melanie Cataldo and the book is ideal for children ages 6-10.

“Barbara Brown Taylor has a way with words,” said Kathleen Long Bostrom, award-winning children's book writer of What Is God Like? and Stories from the Bible. “She has long been known for the eloquence of her sermons and books for adults, her ability to delve into a biblical text and to carefully examine and uncover the deeper meaning, layer by layer. In Home by Another Way, Taylor brings her skills to the world of children's literature.”


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About Barbara Brown Taylor 

Barbara Brown Taylor is a New York Times best-selling author, teacher, and Episcopal priest. In 2014, TIME included her on its annual list of Most Influential People; in 2015 she was named Georgia Woman of the Year; and in 2016 she received The President’s Medal at the Chautauqua Institution in New York. She has served on the faculties of Piedmont College, Columbia Theological Seminary, Candler School of Theology at Emory University, McAfee School of Theology at Mercer University, and the Certificate in Theological Studies program at Arrendale State Prison for Women in Alto, Georgia. For more information, visit http://www.barbarabrowntaylor.com.

Rev. Austin Ford of Emmaus House memorialized as a fighter for justice

  Austin Ford with his friend – Marie Nygren. Marie Nygren, her husband Steve Nygren and their three daughters were regulars at Austin Ford’s Christmas Eve dinners (Special: Ali Harper Photography)

Austin Ford with his friend – Marie Nygren. Marie Nygren, her husband Steve Nygren and their three daughters were regulars at Austin Ford’s Christmas Eve dinners (Special: Ali Harper Photography)

By Maria Saporta

A great cross-section of Atlanta came to the Cathedral of St. Philip on Saturday, Sept. 22 to pay tribute to Rev. Austin Ford – a civil rights leader who devoted his life to helping the poor and disadvantaged.

When he was in his 30s, Ford moved to a dilapidated house in the predominantly black community of Peoplestown near the Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. That’s where Ford, an Episcopal priest, founded Emmaus House in 1967 – a refuge for people in need. He was director of Emmaus House for more than three decades.

Ford died on Aug. 18 at the age of 89, and he was remembered with fondness and reverence during his memorial service, which attracted a combination of religious leaders, long-time civil rights and community activists as well as business executives and close friends.

The Cathedral’s Rev. Samuel Candler officiated the service – noting that Ford had once picketed in front of the Cathedral against some action by the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta.

Candler described Father Ford as a man of great sensitivity, wisdom with a direct ministry to the common man and woman.

“His witness of social justice for all people was disarming,” said Candler, remembering how the Emmaus House had fine silver and antique furniture as well as a garden. “’Beauty belongs here,’ Austin often would say.”

That was one of the dichotomies that existed with Austin Ford. He devoted his life to helping the poor, but one of his closest friends was Anne Cox Chambers, a billionaire whose father was James Cox, the owner of the Atlanta Journal, the Atlanta Constitution and WSB-TV and radio.

Search consultant Veronica Biggins spoke of how they met and became friends.

  On the front steps of Emmaus House, Father Austin Ford and his dog, Cleopatra, visit with some of the children in the ministry’s pre-school (Photo by Ann Borde)

On the front steps of Emmaus House, Father Austin Ford and his dog, Cleopatra, visit with some of the children in the ministry’s pre-school (Photo by Ann Borde)

“I remember the first time I ever heard your name,” said Biggins, as though she was talking to Ford. “I was an executive with the then-C&S Bank, and you called me to discuss the bank’s obligation to the broader community. You invited me to lunch. Who knew that invitation would lead to a long and deep friendship.”

At the time, Veronica and Franklin Biggins were living in a handsome house in Grant Park. When they decided to sell it, “Austin was the first to call. The house was perfect for him,” Biggins said. “He knew he was losing his sight, and he wanted to settle into his own home.”

Biggins said she and Ford often argued. But they did agree that they wanted Barrack Obama to be elected president in 2008.

“During President Obama’s first campaign, just about every weekend, Austin and I joined Anne Cox Chambers along with a few others to campaign (for Obama) – knocking on as many doors as possible,” Biggins said. “We traveled to Ohio, South Georgia, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Florida, Louisiana and Texas. We were a pretty motley crew.”

Biggins and other remembered how Ford had a Christmas Eve tradition when he invited his closest friends to have dinner and sing carols. The evening would end with everyone singing: “Let there be Peace on Earth” with everyone holding someone else’s hand.

So it wasn’t surprising that the last hymn of the memorial service was “Let there be Peace on Earth,” and Candler asked everyone to hold hands in Ford’s memory.

Biggins and Candler both spoke of all the stories that Ford would share – some that were hard to believe.

“Many times I would ask Austin if some story he was telling me was true,” Biggins said. “And he would say: ‘If the story isn’t good enough – embellish.’”

Then in all seriousness, Biggins summed up Austin Ford this way: “His life’s work was seeking justice for all.”

A personal note:

My parents were close friends of Austin Ford – part of that socially progressive cadre of Atlanta citizens who wanted to see racial integration, economic opportunity for all as well as social progress and enlightened leadership in Atlanta.

My fondest memory of Ford was when I was invited to a special dinner at his Grant Park home along with Biggins, Beauchamp Carr of the Woodruff Arts Center, and Anne Cox Chambers. At the time, I was still with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and I felt privileged to have been included to this intimate gathering.

As I drove up. Chambers was stepping out of her limousine with her three mixed-breed dogs, who obviously felt right at home at Ford’s house with his dogs. I realized the special spirit that Ford shared with everyone – no matter how rich or how poor.

I would not be surprised if Anne Cox Chambers had been a key benefactor of Ford and the Emmaus House. But that night, I realized just how close a friendship the two of them shared. Somehow, that made me feel even better working for her and Cox Enterprises.

Read the original article by By Maria Saporta on the Saporta Report.

Hurricane Relief Fund

Episcopal Relief and Development is busy mobilizing resources and responding to our neighboring dioceses in the Carolinas that have been affected by Hurricane Florence. Your donation to their Hurricane Relief Fund ensures that essential items like food, water, and emergency supplies get to those in need right away.

Episcopal Relief & Development works with partners to provide critical support for the most vulnerable communities affected by Hurricane Florence. Through a partnership with the Episcopal Diocese of East Carolina, the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina and the Episcopal Farmworker Ministry, the organization provides emergency assistance to migrant and seasonal farmworkers including water, food, cleaning supplies, hygiene kits, clothing and transportation to safe locations in two counties in eastern North Carolina.

Please continue to pray for those impacted by Hurricane Florence. Donations to the Hurricane Relief Fund will help Episcopal Relief & Development respond to this crisis.

Bishop Wright Inducted to Atlanta Magazine’s Top 500 Leaders List

We are proud to announce our very own Bishop Robert Wright was recently inducted to Atlanta Magazine’s inaugural 500 most powerful business leaders list. This first-of-its-kind guide celebrates the metro area’s top executives and influencers in a myriad of industries. This guide includes local experts in a variety of fields that are making an impact in the metro Atlanta area. To compile this list, editors at Atlanta Magazine have consulted dozens of experts in various fields, studied corporate and community boards, gathered relevant data and relied on their own institutional knowledge. Atlanta Magazine has a long and storied history at the center of Atlanta’s business community with humble beginnings in 1961. The Magazine, started by the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, was created for the sole purpose of driving business and commerce to the Atlanta area.

Diocesan Pride Events 2018

The LGBTQ+ community in Atlanta observes Pride activities in October of each year. This year Pride Weekend is October 13 and 14, 2018. This observance provides us, as part of the Jesus Movement, the opportunity to reach out to those who have suffered at the hands of organized religion. We have a chance to try and literally redeem the church to so many who need a place to reconnect with a faith community and do so just as they are. The Diocese of Atlanta is known as a welcoming community to LGBTQ+ folks and is an official sponsor of Pride. Please join us in this ministry. You are welcome regardless of your race, age, gender, gender identity/expression, marital status, sexual orientation, economic status, or any of the factors that often divide us.

As a prelude to the weekend’s activities, Integrity Atlanta will host its 30th Annual Pride Eucharist on Thursday, October 11, 2018. The Eucharist will take place at All Saints’ Episcopal Church, 634 West Peachtree Street, Atlanta, GA 30308 and will begin at 7:30 pm. The preacher for the service is the Reverend Dr. Horace Griffin, Associate Priest, St. Luke’s, Atlanta. The celebrant is the Reverend Kimberly Jackson, Associate Rector, All Saints’, Atlanta. We will also welcome the musical talents of Trey Clegg and the Trey Clegg Singers to lead music for the service. All truly are welcome!

Sign up to help staff the Diocese of Atlanta information booth at the Pride Festival in Piedmont Park on Saturday, October 13 and Sunday, October 14 by going to this link: https://preview.tinyurl.com/2018-Pride-Booth-Sign-Up . Meet people and tell them about The Episcopal Church’s welcome of them whoever they are and wherever they are on their journey. Help us draw the circle wider.

The Diocese of Atlanta will have a float and a walking contingent in the Pride Parade on Sunday, October 14. Sign up to carry a parish sign in the parade by going to this link: https://tinyurl.com/2018-Parade-Sign-UpThe Pride Parade is one of the largest parades in the city. The Episcopal Church always gets a very warm and rousing reception from the crowd. They also appreciate the handouts (aka beads) we give them as well. The parade begins at noon and steps off from the Civic Center MARTA Station about two blocks south of All Saints’ Episcopal Church. Carry a parish sign or just come walk with us! 


Local Parish Fosters Racial Understanding with Pilgrimage to ‘Lynching Memorial’

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Members from St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church in Atlanta, Georgia, embarked on a spiritual pilgrimage to a lynching memorial in Montgomery, Alabama. Pilgrims began the 340-mile round trip to visit the National Memorial for Peace and Justice to experience the story of more than 4,400 people who were lynched in this country. The 82 travelers also visited the nearby Legacy Museum, which draws a connection from slavery to mass incarceration in our country.

According to Catherine Meeks, founding executive director of the Absalom Jones Episcopal Center for Racial Healing in Atlanta, pilgrimages like this demonstrate that “the work of racial healing and reconciliation in the church will be done most effectively at the parish level. It delights me to see a parish taking the initiative to do this work, and I am deeply grateful to Rev. Dr. Angela Shepherd and the St. Bartholomew pilgrims for making this important trip.”

The travelers encountered many barriers throughout the trip that symbolized, to many, the discomfort of spiritual change. The pilgrims faced issues with the transportation company and travel delays, which allowed travelers ample time to consider the history of racial violence – even while stranded roadside on 1-85 on a hot summer day.

“The fact that we went as a church, a community of faith, amplified, almost prism-like, the ferocity of getting as close as we possibly could to the evil reality of lynching,” trip organizer Scotty Greene added. “Our shared faith in Christ got us down that road to do that. For me, this pilgrimage was functioning as Ken Wilber described religion, ‘not a conventional bolstering of consciousness but a radical transmutation and transformation at the deepest seat of consciousness itself.’ As another pilgrim shared with me, I’ll never be the same.”

Read the full article from ENS to learn more.

New Campus Missioners of the Diocese of Atlanta

Campus Missioner for Macon Colleges | Dena Douglas Hobbs

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Dena Douglas Hobbs was born and raised in the Macon area. She was active in campus ministry during her years at UGA and has continued to support campus ministry throughout her life. After serving as United Methodist clergy for six years, she left parish life to raise her two children and move back to the Middle Georgia area. Dena became an Episcopal layperson ten years ago and is an active member of St Francis Episcopal in Macon. She is excited to begin this new ministry with Episcopal and Lutheran students at the Macon Colleges. She also blogs at denadouglashobbs.com.


Campus Missioner at the University of Georgia | Clayton Harrington

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Before moving to Atlanta in August of 2014, Clayton earned a BA in History and Religion from Campbell University in North Carolina (May 2014). He is a graduate of Candler School of Theology, having earned a Master of Divinity with a Certificate in Episcopal Studies (May 2017).

Clayton formerly was Program Coordinator for Youth Ministry at the Cathedral of St. Philip, from June 2017 to June 2018. He was also the Seminarian of the Cathedral from August 2015 to May 2017. There he served in various ways, including assisting in worship, pastoral care, and Christian education.

Clayton is excited about the potential of Christian community, worship, and service to empower young adults of UGA to continue to grow into the people that God has made them to be. In Athens, he is also the Rector’s Associate for Youth and Young Adult Ministries at Emmanuel Episcopal Church.

Clayton also is an aspirant in the process of discernment for ordained ministry in the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Atlanta.

Have you been curious about Education for Ministry (EFM)?

There’s an innate desire in each person to want to understand their place in Christ’s body as baptized Christians. A large part of the Education for Ministry journey is discovering one’s own ministry/spiritual gifts. Members of an EFM group are reminded the best way to discover spiritual gifts is in the small group.

St. Luke’s Episcopal Church will host EFM on Monday evenings from 7-9:30 pm. beginning on September 10th.

For more information and registration, contact:
Leigh Serrie
404-642-8594
liamsamuel@gmail.com