MLK50: Commemorative Bell Ringing

On April 4, all eyes will turn to Memphis, Tennessee to remember one of the world's greatest tragedies and a legacy left by our nation's greatest peacemaker, Dr. King. We are asking you to join us in tolling your church or campus bell 39 times to honor the number of years Dr. King dwelled on this earth and to pay homage to his legacy. This is a simple, yet meaningful way for our nation to acknowledge the loss but more importantly the great contributions Dr. King gave to the world stage. Since the news rippled across the country, the bells will first ring at the National Civil Rights Museum and The King Center at 6:01 p.m. CST.

Bells will chime in the City of Memphis at:

  • 6:03 p.m. CST

  • 6:05 p.m. CST nationally

  • 6:07 p.m. CST internationally

MLK50: Where Do We Go Here? is the theme for the National Civil Rights Museum's commemoration and was inspired by the title of Dr. King's final book as well as the title of the speech he delivered August 16, 1967, at the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. The King Center has also planned a series of events to mark this historic year with the theme MLK50 Forward: Together We Win with Love for Humanity. For more information on The King Center's events please visit

While many will be with us in Memphis, Tennessee on April 4 to help us reflect on this solemn moment, our organizations want the nation to recognize this seminal anniversary and connect the past to the present. Please join us in this solemn reflection by contacting Ms. Tarrin McGhee at or Carmen Coya at You can also register directly at

Loving Like Jesus in Difficult Times | The #schoolsafetymovement


We face divisive issues as a nation today, and certain circumstances can be even more difficult for our youth who are still developing ways to process the conflicting voices they hear through social media, news, family, and friends.

For many of our youth, there’s a great sense of urgency to act in light of the recent violence in Parkland, Florida and the brutal deaths of 17 students and faculty and injuries to 14 others. Youth survivors from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are leading a rising chorus of young voices demanding real changes to address the issue of their safety. Many of our children are fearful, with a deep need both to talk and to take action to address their fears.

Jesus teaches us to not be afraid: he is always with us, loving us and guiding us. By his example, he teaches us to begin with love: to love our neighbors, to respect the dignity of every human being, and to lovingly act as his hands and feet in the world. With God’s help, we can open our own hearts and encourage everyone we encounter to set aside their preconceived notions and listen to one another, have civil discourse, and find common goals in order to work together through these difficult and challenging problems. Each week in Episcopal and Anglican churches around the world, people from every party, every opinion, and every experience come together around one common table. We all outstretch our hands and receive the same body and blood of Christ no matter what. The table is our common ground, Jesus is our common food, and we must meet one another there now more than ever.

The safety of our children is not a partisan issue. We need to find better ways to protect our children in school where they should be safe to learn and free from fear. Thanks be to God that we are blessed with the God-given gifts that will enable us to make meaningful strides in solving complex issues. When we come together in community to strive for justice and peace, while respecting the dignity of every human being, change happens.

Have conversations with your children. Encourage your youth ministers to create safe spaces for dialogue about guns and safety. Let us use this time, as we deal with this most recent tragedy, to learn how to deal with difficult issues while loving like Jesus.

Here are some of the upcoming events that your youth may speak to you about, as they strive to deal with taking action to address the tragedy in Parkland, Florida.

Just the Facts 

March for our Lives: This is a grassroots movement led by the surviving teenagers of Marjory Stoneman Douglass High School. The purpose of the organization is to raise awareness of both public/school safety and gun issues. You can read the purpose statement of March for our Lives

March 14: Women’s March Youth EMPOWER is calling for students, teachers, and allies to take part in a National School Walkout for 17 minutes, in honor of the 17 killed in Parkland, Fl, at 10 a.m.

March 24:  Student organizers, including those from Parkland, Fl, are planning March for our Lives, a march in Washington, D.C. to call for school safety and gun control. There is a march scheduled for Atlanta and many major U.S. cities on the same day. Many young adults of our Diocese have organized to march in support of the #schoolsafetymovement. This movement, centered around school safety, was started by our young adults a week after the shooting. If you feel called to march with them, you can register as a marcher here.

April 20: A growing movement titled National School Walkout is being called for by Connecticut students that live near Sandy Hook Elementary school, the location of a mass school shooting in 2012 where 20 students and 6 staff members were killed. The plan calls for high school students to walk out on April 20, the 19th anniversary of the Columbine shooting. No time has been specified.

Stay Connected

With God’s Love and Peace, The Rev. Bonnie Underwood and The Rev. Ashley Lytle in collaboration with the Offices of Youth and Young Adult Ministries of the Diocese of Atlanta


Chaplain Brings Years of Service to First Episcopal Position with the Georgia Army National Guard


The Rev. Paul McCabe, from Marietta, Ga, just became the first Episcopal Chaplain for the state’s Army National Guard, who swore him in at the Clay National Guard Center chapel in late February. McCabe brings with him a faith in God fostered through many years of service.

After two years serving in the U.S. Navy, McCabe joined the Fulton County Police Department for over a decade, but it was a friend who took his own life after leaving the military and suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder that inspired McCabe to join the National Guard.

“His death definitely got me thinking about entering the service,” said McCabe in a Defense Visual Information Distribution Service post. “The current challenge of our Soldiers dealing with the effects of deployment is a priority.”

Read full story here.

Grace Member Art Show


In the words of Joan Chittister, “Each of us is here to participate in the creativity of God by adding something of ourselves to creation.” It is in this spirit that Grace Church is happy to announce the 2018 Member Art Show. This parish tradition provides a great way to celebrate the artist within each of us.

The show, which will run through May 6, will feature a variety of artistic mediums, possibilities include paintings, mixed media, photography, and fabric and 3D art to include ceramics, glass, metal, sculpture and woodwork. Some pieces may be offered for sale. Any inquiries for purchase of an art piece should be handled directly between the artist and the prospective buyer.

Please join us for coffee and dessert at the opening reception on Wednesday, March 21 from 6:30 - 7:30 PM. All are welcome.

Contact with questions.

The Rev. Dr. Christopher Girata to Preach on "Day 1" Radio


The Rev. Dr. Christopher Girata, rector of Saint Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church in Dallas, Tex., is the featured preacher for Palm Sunday and Easter, March 25 and April 1, on “Day 1” with host Peter Wallace, the nationally broadcast ecumenical radio program also accessible online at 

Girata came to Saint Michael and All Angels in 2016. Before that he was rector of Calvary Episcopal Church in downtown Memphis, Tenn., and earlier, associate rector of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Birmingham, Ala. A graduate of Stetson University, Deland, Fla., Girata earned an M. Th. from Emory University, an M.Div. from Virginia Theological Seminary, and a D.Min. from Duke University.  

“Parade of Grace,” Girata’s sermon for March 25,  is drawn from Mark 11:1-11, the story of Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem celebrated on Palm Sunday. “In every way, this parade mocked the ways in which the leaders of the day put their power on display,” he says. “And in every way, Jesus would be pointing to the true power of God, a true power that is found in humility, in vulnerability, and in grace.”

“Get Up and Live,” his sermon for Easter Day, is based on John 20:1-18, which tells of  Mary Magdalene’s finding the tomb empty and her encounter with the risen Jesus.  “And my friends, we are just like Mary,” he says. “We want our world to be predictable, to be secure and certain and stable, but when we allow ourselves to live into the security we think we want, we miss what is right in front of us, the truth that we really need.”

The programs include interviews with Girata conducted by Wallace, who is also executive producer. 

“Day 1” has been broadcast every week for 73 years, formerly as “The Protestant Hour.” Featuring outstanding preachers from the mainline denominations, “Day 1” is currently distributed to more than 200 radio stations across America and overseas. The program is produced by the Alliance for Christian Media, based in Atlanta, Ga. For more information, call toll free 888-411-Day-1 or check the program’s website,

A Moral Case for Life

We must ask ourselves to do what is right even when it is difficult. On February 15, Bishop Wright joined special guests – among them faith leaders, lawyers, and a retired Georgia Supreme Court justice – for a discussion on the death penalty in our country.

During this discussion, Sister Helen Prejean, a Catholic nun from Louisiana provided her perspective from the front lines advocating for the abolition of the death penalty since 1981. She shared how seeing her first execution, “set her soul on fire, a fire that burns in me still.” The author of the international best-selling book, Dead Man Walking: An Eyewitness Account of the Death Penalty, also spoke about her privilege growing up in this country and the need to wake up to injustice.

The Most Reverend Wilton D. Gregory, archbishop, Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta, also spoke on how Catholics are opposing the death penalty. “Once you begin to justify the taking of a human life, you really are on a slippery slope,” he said.

 From left to right: Justice Norman Fletcher, Susan Casey, Sister Helen Prejean, and The Most Rev. Wilton D. Gregory

From left to right: Justice Norman Fletcher, Susan Casey, Sister Helen Prejean, and The Most Rev. Wilton D. Gregory

During the discussion, Susan Casey, appeals attorney for Kelly Gissendaner and Justice Norman S. Fletcher, retired chief justice, Supreme Court of Georgia discussed their very different roles in the Gissendaner case. Casey was her defense attorney, and Justice Fletcher was on the state Supreme Court when it unanimously upheld her conviction. Gissendaner’s execution was controversial for many reasons, particularly becasue she commissioned the crime, but did not do the act. While in prison, Gissendaner sought rehabilitation and converted to Christianity and even earned a theology degree. While the death penalty is supposed to be reserved for the “worst of the worst” says Justice Fletcher, most times sentences are handed down unfairly.

When the US Supreme Court reinstated the death penalty in 1976, after a four-year pause, it tried to raise the bar for which crimes would qualify as being eligible for the death penalty. The intent was to reserve it only for “the most heinous” crimes, with fewer people being considered for execution. Fletcher says the issue of these protections is that they offer a false sense of fairness and aren’t applied consistently.

This forum was followed by a reception and book signing of A Case for Life: Justice, Mercy, and the Death Penalty by some of the book’s authors.

 Justice Norman Fletcher and Susan Casey

Justice Norman Fletcher and Susan Casey

Watch the video recording of the panel discussion and Q&A below.

A Case for Life: Justice, Mercy, and the Death Penalty
Within the new book five authors make compelling arguments against the death penalty from their own perspectives. Their personal experiences with both victims and perpetrators provide a moral case for ending state-sponsored killing.

The book’s contributors:

  • The Rt.Rev. Robert Wright, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta
  • Stephen B. Bright, Attorney at Law, Southern Center for Human Rights
  • Susan Casey, Attorney at Law, Appeals Attorney for Kelly Gissendaner
  • The Rt. Rev. C. Andrew Doyle, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas
  • Justice Norman S. Fletcher, Retired Chief Justice, Supreme Court of Georgia

Purchase Online or at the Cathedral Bookstore (directions).


Building a Case for Life


By Don Plummer

Written from their personal experiences with both the victims and perpetrators of murder, the authors of A Case for Life: Justice, Mercy and the Death Penalty share intimate details of the experiences that led them to conclude executions do not provide a safer society nor closure for the surviving victims of terrible crimes.

Episcopal Bishop Robert C. Wright says for much of his life he rarely thought about the death penalty. “I heard the announcements of executions on the news or read them in the paper, but I was indifferent, or, whatever the word for indifferent to indifference is.” Wright regularly visited prisoners over the decades of his ministry, but says it took becoming bishop of a diocese that includes the town where people are executed in his state to change his perspective. “Jackson is a city in The Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta. Jackson is where people I know, love, and serve alongside live. Jackson - where we kill people in Georgia - is one of the places I promised to be the chief pastor!” As bishop, Wright has become an outspoken opponent of executions - attending vigils prior to each execution, conducting communion services on death row and voicing his opposition to elected officials.  “‘The thing is, Jesus taught compassion for victim and perpetrator. Opposition to the death penalty does not mean lack of compassion for the pain and suffering of the victims or their families.”

Photo was taken at the Death Penalty Discussion and Book Signing event at Holy Innocents' on 2/15/18

Attorney Stephen Bright shares a perspective of the death penalty gained over three decades as an attorney. In addition to the hundreds of cases he has defended on appeal, Bright has three times taken death penalty appeals to the United States Supreme Court. In each case, the Supreme Court reversed the defendants’ convictions and death sentences. Rather than being reserved for the worst cases, Bright contends the death penalty is most often visited upon those with the worst life conditions. “Virtually all of the people selected for execution are poor. (A)bout half – are members of racial minorities, and the overwhelming majority of them are sentenced to death for crimes against white victims. Some are innocent. Many have significant intellectual disabilities or severe mental illnesses.” Bright shares chilling examples of the death penalty’s fatal flaws. “Poor legal representation contributes to innocent people being condemned to death.  Since 1976, 156 people sentenced to death have later been exonerated; some were on death rows for over 30 years before being released. Some people have been executed who are now known to be innocent.”

Attorney Susan Casey recounts her emotionally harrowing experience representing Kelly Gissendaner, the only woman executed in Georgia since the 1940s. “Initially, Kelly could not face what she had done. During the years that followed, however, she changed. With the support and encouragement of a devoted pastoral counselor and chaplain, Kelly confronted the terrible truth, reckoning with and accepting responsibility for her role in Doug’s murder.” Over her years in prison Gissendaner became a valued counselor and role-model for other women prisoners. Her developing faith also inspired her jailers and fellow inmates. But Casey says none of that mattered when it came time for Georgia’s clemency board to decide her fate. Casey recalls being present just after midnight on September 30, 2015 when Gissendaner was executed. She watched through her tears holding her hand over her heart as her client accepted full responsibility for her involvement in her husband Doug’s murder and died singing “Amazing Grace” as she was given the lethal injection.

Episcopal Bishop C. Andrew Doyle of the Diocese of Texas tells the story of the journey taken by members of a parish after their beloved pastor and his wife and son were murdered. Doyle recalls his horror upon learning that Episcopal Priest Israel Ahimbisibwe; his wife, Dorcus; and their five-year-old son, Israel Jr., had been murdered. A horror that was compounded when he learned that Isaac, one of the couple’s two other sons, had killed them. But, instead of seeking vengeance, those who knew and loved the Ahimbisibwes best reflected their pastor’s commitment to peace and reconciliation developed during his work amid the violence, brokenness, divisions, and massacres of his homeland Uganda’s civil war. “Isaac escaped execution and received life in prison because of the efforts of the many parishioners and friends who took on Isaac’s case. Their efforts ensured that Isaac’s name was not added to the 537 names of individuals executed by the state of Texas since 1976.”

Photo was taken at the Death Penalty Discussion and Book Signing event at Holy Innocents' on 2/15/18

Retired Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Norman Fletcher journey to rejecting “the machinery of death” slowly grew after more than two decades of frequently voting against death penalty appeals. “My decision is a result of my long journey dealing and living with the flawed death penalty process for 25 years.  And it came about after much thought and prayer.”

Methodically building his case against the death penalty, Fletcher ticks off misunderstandings about executing murders: it doesn’t deter crime, it is outrageously expensive, it is not fairly and consistently applied. “Most importantly to me and to many others—including the late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall—the death penalty is morally indefensible.”


The book also includes a resources section listing death penalty organizations, faith community statements, and further readings on the death penalty readers can use in arriving at their own conclusions about the death penalty.

EDA_DeathPenalty_ecommerce (1).jpg

A Case for Life: Justice, Mercy and the Death Penalty
By Stephen Bright, Susan Casey, C Andrew Doyle, Norman Fletcher and Robert C. Wright,

Atlanta, Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta Press, 2018
ISBN: 978-0-9983131-4-6
Softcover, 5” x 8”, 76 pages, List Price $11.95 

Purchase on-line or in-store at the Cathedral Bookstore (directions). 

The V. Rev. Allen Pruitt to Preach on "Day 1" Radio

News from “Day 1”® 
The V. Rev. Allen Pruitt, rector of St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in LaGrange, GA, is the featured preacher for the fourth Sunday in Lent, March 11, on “Day 1” with host Peter Wallace, the nationally broadcast ecumenical radio program also accessible online at  

Pruitt has served as rector of St. Mark’s since 2010. He is also dean of the Chattahoochee Valley Convocation in the Diocese of Atlanta. Earlier he served as assistant rector at St. Francis Episcopal Church in Great Falls, Va. A graduate of Shorter College in Rome, Ga., Pruitt earned his M.Div. from Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria. 

“There Is Enough,” Pruitt’s sermon for March 11, is drawn from the story in Numbers 21:4-9 of the serpents plaguing the complaining Israelites in the wilderness. “We are afraid there isn’t enough, that there isn’t going to be enough,” he says. “As if the God who brought the world into being couldn’t provide food enough for the people.”

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

“Day 1” has been broadcast every week for 73 years, formerly as “The Protestant Hour.” Featuring outstanding preachers from the mainline denominations, “Day 1” is currently distributed to more than 220 radio stations across America and overseas. The program is produced by the Alliance for Christian Media, based in Atlanta, Ga. For more information, call toll free 888-411-Day-1 or check the program’s website,

ECF Grants Small Acts of Charity Grants for First Quarter of 2018

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The Episcopal Community Foundation for Middle and North Georgia (ECF) announces two Small Acts of Charity grants to Episcopal Church of the Holy Spirit (Cumming) and Habitat for Humanity of Northwest Metro Atlanta, Inc. in partnership with St. Catherine’s Episcopal Church (Smyrna).

“This quarter each of our Small Acts of Charity support strong parish-based ministry efforts that have been active for many years,” said Lindsey Hardegree, Executive Director for ECF. “Our financial assistance is able to stretch far due to the long-term dedication of Episcopalians in each of these parishes who have carefully stewarded their resources and relationships to make a difference with the poor and oppressed in their communities.”

ECF’s Q1 Small Acts of Charity 2018 recipients:

  • Episcopal Church of the Holy Spirit will receive a grant of $4,990 to support Wendy’s Place Pantry Ministry, which provides non-food items to members of the community who are on a fixed income, have no or reduced employment, or other financial limitations. This effort not only helps maintain the dignity of daily life by providing toilet paper, toothpaste, and other basic necessities that are not covered by food assistance programs, but also creates a robust service opportunity for the Church of the Holy Spirit community.
  • Habitat for Humanity of Northwest Metro Atlanta, in partnership with St. Catherine’s Episcopal Church (Smyrna), has been offered a $5,000 challenge grant to support the house that will be built by the Cobb Interfaith Habitat Coalition (CIHC). With rising costs for building materials and land, ECF will match any new funds raised towards this build by March 31, 2018 (up to $5,000). ECF hopes that this incentive will encourage others in the community to support the increased expenses for St. Catherine’s build.

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, 2018, and General Grant Letters of Intent for Fall 2018 are due March 31, 2018. Those interested in applying for funding should visit 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.

A Journey to A Sacred Place

On October 28, 2017, the Absalom Jones Center for Racial Healing made a pilgrimage to honor 56 martyrs who were lynched in Clarke County, Georgia. The day’s activities included a Liturgy for Martyrs at Chestnut Grove Baptist Church where the Rev. Naomi Tutu preached. Following the service was a screening of the documentary film 13th, as well as a tour of the Chestnut Grove School (founded in 1887) and the cemetery containing graves of slaves.

The Center, which opened in October 2017, offers a model of prayerful education that forms and reforms individual and collective action: a defined curriculum, thoughtful training, pilgrimages, and dialogue. Guided by faith and led by intention, the Center will continue its important work until our work is no longer needed. We seek the beloved community and the rewards of living life in that community - free of racism.

"We cannot get well racially, in the United States of America, until we tell the truth. Until we own the truth. Lynching is a part of our history, a part of our truth. We keep on trying to get to justice without doing the work." – Dr. Catherine Meeks

The Center is an inter-generational, faith-based organization providing curriculum, activities and experiences for those engaging in the daily work of dismantling prejudice and ending systemic racism. Learn more about this important work

Meet The Rev. Canon George K. Neequaye

Meet The Rev. Canon George K. Neequaye (“Father George” or simply “George”).  The Venerable Dr. George Kotei Neequaye arrived in Atlanta on January 22nd as an initial step in a broader relationship established by the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta with Ghana.  A few months ago, the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta established a sister relationship with the Diocese of Cape Coast, one of Ghana’s Anglican dioceses.  This initiative, under the leadership of Bishop Robert C. Wright, is already creating exciting experiences and opportunities for all Episcopalians in the Diocese to interact with Father George and to learn more about Ghana. To this end, the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta has partnered with the Candler School of Theology in hosting Father George as a Visiting Scholar during his sabbatical in Atlanta, which will help jumpstart the Diocese’s global mission with Ghana.  Adds Father George: “I will like to make a lifetime connection between [the Diocese] and my Church and the people of Ghana.”


Highpoint Episcopal Community Church (“HECC”) is honored to serve as the host church and home-away-from-home for Father George during his stay in Atlanta. Thanks to the behind-the-scenes efforts of Canon Lang Lowrey, Father George is residing in a newly constructed, residential apartment (which George longingly refers to as his “flat”) located in a former classroom of HECC. George quickly settled into to his flat and life in America.  To help him ease into his new situation, George spent his first two nights in the nearby Sandy Springs home of a long-time HECC couple before moving into his flat.  During his first week in Atlanta, in addition to his orientation and research at the Candler School of Theology, George has led Adult Formation at HECC, preached at HECC’s Holy Eucharist, joined its popular Monday Supper Group, enjoyed a tour of the Atlanta History Center and an evening of entertainment at the Shakespeare Theatre.  The Rev. Ruth Pattison is serving as the liaison for Father George with the Diocese, where she is coordinating his schedule among interested Diocese churches to make certain that everyone knows of his schedule and availability to teach and preach . . . and just hang out. A member of HECC is serving as the tour coordinator for George to ensure that he will visit many of the sights of metro Atlanta and experience its vibrant sports and entertainment scenes, while another member has provided an automobile to meet George’s daily transportation needs.  Says George:  “I will be in Atlanta as part of my continuing scholarship. But if possible, I will love to explore the tourist attractions in Atlanta and elsewhere. As you know, ‘All work and no play, makes Jack a dull boy.’” Many other members of HECC have contributed their time, food and furnishings to his flat to make George’s stay in Atlanta memorable.

Dr. Neequaye has traveled to Atlanta as a Visiting Scholar on sabbatical from his hometown of Accra, Ghana so that he can study and research at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University. During his seven-month stay in Atlanta, Dr. Neequaye will continue his research in moral philosophy, with an emphasis in African traditional ethics and Christian ethics, areas in which he is a well-known expert in his field of study.  He also intends to complete writing his current two books, which explore these and other subject areas.  Father George comments that the quietness of his flat is an excellent place for him to study, read and write.

Father George has pastored numerous churches in Ghana, has been a member of many important religious committees and has served in leadership positions in the Anglican Diocese of Accra. He teaches African Traditional Ethics, Christian ethics, African Traditional Religion, Liturgics and Worship at the Trinity Theological Seminary, Legon, where he has been the Vice President, Dean of Students, Chaplain and currently, the Director of Undergraduate Studies. Father George is also the Archdeacon of Accra Northeast and Chaplain of Christ Church, University of Ghana, Legon.  He is on leave from his 350-member church in Accra.

George is married to Esther, who works for Delta Airlines in Accra.  He is hopeful that Esther will be able to visit him once or twice in Atlanta.  George and Esther are the proud parents of two sons, George S. and Alan, and one daughter. Sharlene. George S. is 26 years old and is working toward his master’s degree in Parsons School of Design and Technology, New York. According to Father George, their oldest son is an IT guy, who might also visit Father George while he is in Atlanta.  The second son, Alan, is 24 years old and sings gospel music in churches, which is his passion. Alan completed his degree in Business Administration last year and is now working to complete his National Service in Accra. Alan wants to go into interior design.  Daughter Sharlene is 13 years old.

Why is Father George’s research important?  Why does his work deserve our support?  Simply stated, Dr. Neequaye will establish a lifetime connection between the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta, the Candler School of Theology, and the people of Ghana.  Community work and education will be his focus. While in Atlanta, Dr. Neequaye will teach others about the true meaning of racial reconciliation.   Through his community teachings and discussions, Father George will be part of the Diocese’s larger initiative to connect the United States to Ghana, where slave castles (dreary dungeons for the recently captured Africans) dotting its coastline served as the point of departure for many slaves destined for the British colonies in America. Over 40% of African slaves reaching the British colonies before the American Revolution passed through South Carolina and almost all of these slaves entered the colonies through the Port of Charleston, before being sold in Charleston's active slave markets. Dr. Neequaye teaches modern-day racial reconciliation and responsibility, explaining that the stain of slavery is a collective responsibility, shared by the Ghana kings and slave merchants, who captured and sold Africans to the British and Dutch slave traders, who, in turn, sold these enslaved peoples to the plantation owners living primarily in our Southern states. In addition to his scholarship, research, writing, and teaching, Dr. Neequaye’s trip to Atlanta could be aptly labeled as a journey to explore how a Ghanaian connection might help our own community lead the way to more racial reconciliation, harmony, and healing in the African American community.  His teachings will benefit young and old alike in Atlanta and its environs.

Concludes Father George: “I’m sure I am in for a great treat of my life!  I promise to do whatever I am asked to do to support [the] ministry [of the Diocese] and in Candler.”

Sewanee Contemplative Exchange

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The deadline for registration will be April 15 in order to arrange for meals and lodging, but space will fill up quickly.  

APRIL 29, 2018 - MAY 2, 2018

The Sewanee Contemplative Exchange - Bridging the Gap Between Contemplation and Compassionate Action: The Creative Encounter of Howard Thurman

We live in a world saturated by dualisms, categories in which we place people and things in order to grant them worth and priority. We separate ourselves from each other-and God from ourselves-resulting in persistent tension and frustration, pain and grief. For too long we have separated-even if in our minds-the spheres of contemplation and action, of silence and embodiment, of prayer and reconciliation. When these two vital aspects of our lives are pulled apart, our contemplation easily becomes an insular escape and our compassionate action becomes reactive and driven by anger.

We are invited to integrate ourselves, to seek wholeness in our spiritual practice, In Christ, we see a reconciliation of all aspects of our being. In his personhood we see the potential for an authentic religious practice in which silence nurtures justice. We encounter a space where contemplation and compassionate action are no longer competing with each other; rather, they exist in a circular relationship in which silence grounds action and justice leads us to further prayer. We find hope and wholeness in our union with God and with one another.

Leadership for this event comes from a collaboration of colleagues from:  The Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation, Washington D.C.; The Beecken Center of the School of Theology, The University of the South; St. Mary's Sewanee:  The Ayres Center for Spiritual Development; Mary and Martha's Place, Atlanta, Georgia; Grace Episcopal Church, Gainesville, Georgia; and a consortium of clergy from The Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta and beyond, community and seminary leaders, spiritual directors, and teachers. 

Special Guest:  Dr. Lerita Coleman Brown, Ayse I Carden Distinguished Professor Emerita of Psychology, Agnes Scott College, will lead a series of guided meditations on the writings of Howard Thurman, weaving times of silence and prayer with reflection and a pilgrimage to the historic Highlander Folk School.

For questions and information, please contact: The Rev. Dr. Stuart Higginbotham: or Rebecca Parker:

When: Sunday 5:00 PM - Wednesday 10:00 AM
Fee: St. Mary's Hall: $305.00 (Single), $260.00 (Double), The Anna House: $425.00 (Single), $370.00 (Double), Commuter: $150.00 (Single)

ECF Accepting Applications for All Grant Programs

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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, 2018
  • Q2 Small Acts of Charity Grants: due March 15, 2018

Those interested in applying for funding should visit 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.

Bishop Wright Named to GA Supreme Court Committee on Justice for Children

Bishop Robert Wright has been appointed to the Supreme Court of Georgia’s Committee on Justice For Children. Wright is the only faith leader on the 29-member committee charged with improving justice for children and families involved in Georgia’s juvenile courts.

Formed in 1995 to apply data-based improvements to Georgia’s child dependency cases, the Justice for Children (J4C) committee expanded its scope of work in 2017 to include the full spectrum of juvenile court cases.

The J4C lists its top priorities as:

  1. implementing nationally recognized best practices
  2. providing child safety, permanent placement, and judicial process measurements to juvenile courts
  3. improving foster care placement stability and decreasing the time children spend in foster care
  4. improving outcomes for children in delinquency and status-offense cases
  5. advocating for improvements in juvenile law and policy
  6. ensuring compliance with federal grant requirements

“The list is long, but the work is vital,” Wright said, following his appointment to J4C. “I’m committed to leveraging my experience and perspective as an adopted child, the parent of an adopted child and chief pastor to thousands of families facing the crisis of broken ties in my work on the committee.”

Wright was appointed to the J4C January 11, with two other new members;

  • Virginia Pryor, interim director of the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services
  •  Talley Wells, executive director of the Georgia Appleseed Center for Law & Justice

Georgia Supreme Court Associate Justice David Nahmias, who chairs the committee, said he was impressed by Wright’s real-world experience and leadership qualities.

“Bishop Wright is a passionate and eloquent advocate for children, and for the special needs of foster children in particular,” Nahmias said. “We look forward to the experiences, ideas, and contacts he will bring to the Supreme Court’s Justice for Children Committee as we seek to improve the justice system for Georgia’s children.”

Wright was born in a Roman Catholic orphanage in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and was adopted at 9 months of age. After graduating high school, he served five years in the U.S. Navy as a helicopter crew chief and search and rescue diver. While attending Howard University in Washington, D.C. where he earned degrees in history and political science, Wright worked as a child advocate for two mayors and for the Children's Defense Fund. Wright earned an M.Div. from Virginia Theological Seminary and has been awarded an honorary doctor of divinity degrees by the Virginia Seminary and Sewanee: The University of the South.

Prior to being elected in 2012 as the 10 th bishop of the Diocese of Atlanta, Wright served as rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Atlanta. Previously, he was Canon Pastor and Vicar of the Congregation of St. Saviour at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City, and as chaplain of the Cathedral School.

Since becoming bishop of the diocese, which includes 114 worshiping communities in the northern half of Georgia, Wright has been a vocal advocate for improving the lives of children, prisoners, immigrants and military members and their families. As bishop, Wright has addressed the Georgia legislature, urging passage of sensible gun safety laws, spoken up for Medicaid expansion and has been a vocal and active opponent of the death penalty in Georgia.  His pastoral examples include marking the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King by praying with City of Atlanta sanitation crews before taking an early morning shift on the back of a city garbage truck. In 2015, Wright was named among the 100 Most Influential Georgians by GeorgiaTrend magazine.

A Case for Life: Death Penalty Discussion and Book Signing

 “The thing is, Jesus taught compassion for victim and perpetrator. Opposition to the death penalty does not mean lack of compassion for the pain and suffering of the victims or their families.” – The Right Rev. Robert Wright

“The thing is, Jesus taught compassion for victim and perpetrator. Opposition to the death penalty does not mean lack of compassion for the pain and suffering of the victims or their families.” – The Right Rev. Robert Wright

Holy Innocents' Episcopal Church
805 Mount Vernon Highway
Atlanta, GA, 30327 United States (directions

Date and Time
Thursday, February 15, 2018
6–9 p.m. EST

Join community and faith leaders and special guest Sister Helen Prejean for a panel discussion on the death penalty in America. The forum will be followed by a reception and book signing of A Case for Life: Justice, Mercy, and the Death Penalty. This event at Holy Innocents' Episcopal Church is free and open to the public. 

To accompany the authors, Sister Helen Prejean, author of the international best-selling book, Dead Man Walking: An Eyewitness Account of the Death Penalty, will provide her perspective from the front lines advocating for the abolition of the death penalty since 1981. The Most Reverend Wilton D. Gregory, Archbishop, Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta, will also speak on how Catholics are opposing the death penalty. 


  • 6 p.m. Doors open for registration and book sales

  • 7 p.m. Event begins in the Church

  • 7:30 p.m. Sister Helen Prejean will speak

  • 8:10 p.m. Panel Presentation

  • 8:25 p.m. Discussion among panelists with audience Q&A

  • Reception and book signing by Sister Helen, Bishop Wright, Susan Casey and Justice Fletcher to follow

Within the new book, five authors make compelling arguments against the death penalty from their own perspectives – among them lawyers, faith leaders, and a supreme court justice. Their personal experiences with both victims and perpetrators provide a moral case for ending state-sponsored killing. 

The book’s contributors include:

  • The Right Reverend Robert Wright, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta

  • Stephen B. Bright, Attorney at Law, Southern Center for Human Rights

  • Susan Casey, Attorney at Law, Appeals attorney for Kelly Gissendaner

  • Bishop C. Andrew Doyle, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas

  • Justice Norman S. Fletcher, Retired Chief Justice, Supreme Court of Georgia

Join Bishop Wright and other faith and community leaders for a discussion about the death penalty on February 15 from 6-9 p.m. at Holy Innocents'. This event is free and open to the public, but registration is requested. 

New Facebook Group for Musicians in the Diocese of Atlanta

eDIOatl musicians' FB forum.jpg

There is a new Facebook forum for musicians in the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta—a way to keep us connected, allow us to share events, ideas, advice, wisdom, anecdotes, and perhaps even goods and services with each other.  Our Facebook group is "Episcopal DioATL Musicians' Forum." Find us! Join us!

Diocese of Cape Coast Confirms Official Diocesan Relationship

The following resolution was unanimously passed at the Diocese of Atlanta’s Annual Council which met in Gainesville, GA on November 10-11, 2017:

Resolved, that the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta enter into a Companion Diocese Relationship with the Anglican Diocese of Cape Coast in Ghana in West Africa, and that the relationship last for three years, commencing with the approval of such a relationship by the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Cape Coast at their quarterly meeting in December 2017. 


Subsequently, on Monday, December 4, 2017, we received this notice from the Bishop of Cape Coast, The Right Rev. Victor Atta-Baffoe:

I am pleased to inform you that your [resolution] was read to the Standing Committee at its meeting on November 30, and was received with great joy and affection. We are so grateful. We will hold you in prayer as we journey together in Christian faith and charity. Please be assured that we are holding you all in our prayers and remembering you in our celebration of the Eucharist. We are delighted in the good work God is up to among us!


2018 Pilgrimage to Cape Coast
We are planning the next pilgrimage of members of the Diocese of Atlanta to Cape Coast.  The dates will be May 18-25, 2018. Please click here to be considered for this year’s trip. Deadline for applications is January 31, 2018. 

Contact The Rev. Dr. Sharon Hiers ( if you have any questions or would like to receive more information.

Vestry Essentials


The Vocational Vestry
When we think of vestry service as a vocation, we transform ourselves from a group of leaders performing important tasks to an invigorated, fulfilled and transformed group that in turn enlivens the congregation and the community at large. In The Vocational Vestry, Alissa Newton provides three ways to start this process.

Five Things Every Vestry Member Should Know
Are you a new vestry member or a long-time veteran? In Five Things Every Vestry Member Should Know, ECF President Donald Romanik shares ideas based on his experience and observations as a vestry member and warden that will speak to you, no matter where you are on your vestry journey.

Vestry Covenants
Does your church leadership team have a vestrycovenant? In Vestry Covenants, Susan Pinkerton explains why a covenant, created and implemented together, is an essential tool for building trust and fostering community among team members.

Top 10
In Top Ten Resources for Vestry Members, Brendon Hunter lists foundational tools and resources that will greatly benefit any new or returning vestry member, and serve as a handy reference while learning about church leadership and serving on the vestry.

If you find this issue of Vestry Papers helpful to your work and ministry, please subscribe to ECF Vital Practices for upcoming issues, blogs and more. We look to you all for new ideas and stories so we can continue to offer church leaders practical resources and tools to respond to the changing needs of the Church. If you have a story to share, please get in touch. We would love to hear from you.

To learn more about ECF and our programs, please visit our website.

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"Share the Love" to Support Path To Shine

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Unique small-ratio mentoring and tutoring ministry, Path To Shine announces the kick-off of its 2nd Annual Share the Love awareness and fundraising campaign. 

Supporting this fast-paced, 28-day effort to celebrate February 2018 as the “Month of Love” is quick and easy. You can help in two simple ways.

1. Share by making a quirky donation of $28 ($1 for each day in February).

2. Share again by following Path To Shine on Facebook and Twitter and “liking and sharing” their daily campaign posts. Not on social media? Share Connecting via email with family and friends.

Donate Now

Each week, over 170 elementary students burst through the doors of Path To Shine programs in 14 diocesan locations, eager to reconnect with their volunteer mentors and share stories from the past week. Path To Shine’s desire to draw its circle wide with the Share the Love campaign is rooted in the ministry’s founding belief that elementary school children living in poverty need caring, committed mentors and tutors who encourage them to see their own paths to becoming successful adults.

The ministry strives to inspire underserved children to achieve hope-filled dreams, while motivating adults to volunteer and make a difference in a child’s life. Since launching its first program in 2010, Path To Shine has trained 300 volunteer mentors and provided more than 26,000 hours of caring, adult mentorship. 

“We’ve read hundreds of books, tackled countless pages of math, and shared thousands of healthy after-school snacks,” said Deacon Lesley-Ann Drake, Path To Shine’s executive director. “We’ve giggled, played games, told stories, and witnessed the immense inner pride that shines from within when a child’s lightbulb flickers on and a new understanding is achieved.”

Path To Shine’s Two-Pronged Focus Benefits Children and Volunteers Alike

With an intentional 2:1 ratio of children to adults, PTS’s programs are focused on creating significant impacts by matching children with volunteers whose mentorship becomes a steady and trusted presence in their lives. 

“The positive impacts of our mentors’ service are reflected in the actions of the children themselves,” said Deacon Lesley-Ann Drake, Path To Shine’s executive director. “Many of our students join Path To Shine as kindergartners, remain committed and involved throughout their elementary years, and graduate from the program in fifth grade as self-confident, capable young leaders.” 

Path To Shine’s innovative approach places great importance on the volunteer experience. With mentors ranging from high school students and retired teachers to working adults across the wide range of industries, many of the ministry’s volunteers have faithfully served as Path To Shine mentors for three, five, even seven years. PTS provides multi-faceted training for all volunteers, covering topics such as mentoring, effective listening, diversity, and methods for helping children improve their reading skills. 

“This past year, we expanded our programming and trained dozens of new volunteer mentors. One of the things that we learned very early on with Path To Shine is that volunteers need training. Anyone who is going to volunteer for anything needs tools and needs to feel safe and competent,” explained Drake. Deacon Edith W. Woodling, a retired educator, helps PTS with mentor training and program curriculum. 

Path To Shine’s Approach to Whole-Child and Individualized Mentorship

Genuine, effective mentorship of children requires a blend of individualized elements—it’s a web of personal attention, friendly engagement, educational focus and patience, consistency, safe surroundings, and sometimes, gentle encouragement during challenging moments and even failure. 

“Predictability is critical to fostering a sense of trust and safety. For many of our young Path To Shine students, their daily experiences involve very grown-up worries like poverty, hunger, and uncertainty, said Drake. “Through dedicated mentors and thoughtful programming, Path To Shine provides children an opportunity to build the skills, self-confidence, and resiliency needed to chase their dreams.” 

A typical PTS afternoon includes quiet time for volunteers to work one-on-one or in small groups. Mentors work with the same students each week, helping with homework, reading together, or catching up on the week's events. Snack and playtime are also valuable parts of the program. Another key element of PTS is structured group time. Through stories told using books or guest speakers, group time is an opportunity to practice attentive listening and comprehension and learn valuable life skills.

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 fire station, a museum, or a Braves game offers a rare opportunity to experience something new. Financial support from campaigns like Share the Love enables the ministry to support the local programs to allow enrichment of kids’ lives with fun and educational excursions.

Camp Mikell 2018 Summer Camp Sessions


The following camps are now open for registration: 

Mini Camp: May 18-20, Rising 1st and 2nd Graders

Youth Camp: May 27-June 2, Rising 10th-Just Graduated

Performing Arts Camp: June 3-June 9, Rising 4th-9th Graders

Intermediate Camp: June 17-June 23, Rising 8th and 9th Graders

Junior Camp: June 24-June 30, Rising 6th and 7th Graders

Kid Camp: July 8-July 13, Rising 3rd-5th Graders

Work Camp: July 16-July 21, Rising 10th Graders-Just Graduated

Guest Camp: August 31- September 3, Children, Adults, and Families

Outdoor Junior: June 3-June 9, Rising 6th and 7th Graders

Outdoor Intermediate: June 3- June 9, Rising 8th and 9th Graders

Outdoor Youth: June 10-June 16, Rising 10th Graders - Just Graduated

For more information and registration details, go to