And This Is Holy Ground

 

God Is Here.

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“For me it’s an honor because so much has been given to me and like that widow [with two copper coins] it’s just an honor to give. To help in the community whether it is just being a loyal parishioner or saying a prayer with all of us at Church of the Common Ground,” says Frank a long-time parishioner and servant leader.

An honor to give because God is here.

Twelve years ago this Christmas Eve, a small group of people gathered around a priest in an Atlanta city park and celebrated the Eucharist. They took a leap of faith together trusting that what they had was enough to change the world and all they had was a city park, each other, and God.

Twelve years later this church without walls, without pews, without candles, stained glass windows, or a lectern, continues to defy all expectations and concepts of what it means to be church.

Not to be a church. Just to be church. To defy all expectations you first have to defy the language used. With all due respect to dictionaries the world over, at Church of the Common Ground, church is not a noun. It is a powerful being verb.

So, what does it mean to make church a verb? It means to consider the trees against a pale cerulean sky as the most beautiful nave ceiling in the world. It asks us to consider that everywhere is God’s common ground and, therefore, everywhere is church. And, we church it everywhere…literally…because God is here and everywhere.


God Is Right Here with Us

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Being church begins in a sturdy white van. It’s not a fancy van. It has no power windows. It seats only two people. But, not unlike Santa’s sleigh that seems never to run out of surprises, our little white van gets around.

It hauls an altar, altar linens, chalice and paten every Sunday. It never complains no matter how many gallons of coffee are loaded in with cups, creamer and sugar tagging along for the ride. Need a few chairs for Morning Prayer? No problem. Our little white van will bring those and a few tables along with an ecclesia cross, too.

This year alone our little white van has brought the supplies necessary to worship on Sundays with more than 15 parishes, youth groups, or other organizations (some of them more than once); to wash and care for more than 900 pairs of feet at Common Soles foot clinics; to pour more than 1,500 cups of coffee at Morning Prayer on Mondays and Wednesdays; to hand out more than 1,200 bottles of water at Bible study.

And, that’s not all. This year that sturdy white van allowed us to be church at a Habitat build with St. Anne’s, to conduct a foot clinic and worship as part of the Cathedral of St. Philip’s Requiem service, to sing Christmas carols and share fellowship with those at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Home, to walk the labyrinth with our friends from St. Veronica’s guild, to be church with each other and for others everywhere. We do this because “You must love each other. And Jesus loved us so we share the love of Jesus [with] others,” as servant leader Jen M. so eloquently puts it.

Whether its Sunday worship, Morning Prayer or Bible study, our little white van brings whatever is needed to show friends, neighbors and strangers “God is right here with us.”


 

And This Is Holy Ground.

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That amazing white van pulling up is only the beginning. This Christmas Eve it will pull up as it has for many years and will signal that something special is happening. Unloading it is a community affair with members of Common Ground pitching in to help establish sacred space. Frank, Richard, Steven and Larry are often first to take the van’s heavy load of altar and supplies.

Jen, our hospitality leader, will haul the coffee and cups to the bench where fellowship hour takes place. Our sexton Annette will unload the brooms and sweep away beautiful but fallen leaves to make room for the altar. Vera will take the Sunday bulletins and hand them to those joining us for worship. Charmeka and other members of the Common Ground community will wear bright yellow buttons helping first timers know who to turn to when they have questions. And, the choir will warm up and get ready to sing.

With the first gong of the bell to signal the start of service, the pigeons will gently waddle to higher ground giving us leave to be church. This Christmas Eve we will stand on the granite of a city park and marvel once again at the beautiful manger in which we stand.

The world is our crèche, our holy ground, upon which we may all be church and God’s light for each other.

Our celebrant will announce the call to worship:

 
 

“God is here.

God is right here with us.

And, this is holy ground.”

Holy, holy, holy…holy common ground.


Christmas Eve worship takes place in Woodruff Park in downtown Atlanta at 1:00pm.

Anyone may worship with us on Christmas Eve or at any time throughout the year. All are welcome.

To learn more about Church of the Common Ground, click here. To read our blog, Common Stories, click here.

If you are interested in being a visiting church group, please contact The Very Rev. Monica Mainwaring at vicar@churchofthecommonground.org.

Welcome Sally Ulrey

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We welcome Sally Ulrey as the newest member of the Bishop's staff. Sally will be assisting the Canon for Ministry in the day-to-day responsibilities of fostering Congregational Vitality and Ministry Development in the Diocese of Atlanta. Sally enjoys spending time with her husband, Nathan, and two children, Remnant (5) and Jubilee (3). Sally is a cradle Episcopalian, who was called into lay ministry as a teenager in her parish in Florida. She is a summa cum laude graduate from Toccoa Falls College with a degree in Christian Education, concentrating in Youth Ministry and minoring in Counseling Psychology. Sally has 15 years of experience working in parish youth ministry and Christian education, and currently serves as the part-time Director of Formation and Youth Ministry at St. Columba's in John's Creek. Sally also has served in various roles in Diocesan youth ministry and writes curriculum for the Diocese, including co-authoring the Diocese's Dismantling Racism Youth Curriculum, in collaboration with the Absalom Jones Center for Racial Healing.

SOAP UP Atlanta is on the Move

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SOAP UP Atlanta is on the Move

Sign up NOW at https://tinyurl.com/supersoap2018 and make the commitment to join us on
Saturday, January 26, 2019 from 9:30am – 3:30pm. Continental breakfast and lunch will be served

The Commission on Domestic Minor Sex Trafficking (DMST) met with rousing support from the Atlanta Diocese Annual Council on November 9, 2018. Bishop Robert Wright gave an impromptu endorsement after our announcement asking everyone to “get behind this effort”. Come and be trained on DMST, wrap soap with the national hotline number and deliver soap and educational material to the hotels around the Mercedes Benz Stadium in the afternoon. One bar of soap could save a life.

Meet people from different parishes as we join together for a tangible outreach that can make a
difference in the lives of youth victimized by this crime.

112th Annual Council | Bishop's Cross Recipients

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Select the cross to read about how recipients love like Jesus.

Eva Bird | Mid-Atlanta Convocation

At St. Paul’s, Atlanta, all agree that no one embodies Love like Jesus and Draw the Circle Wider more clearly than Eva. To engage in authentic ministry in the world, “Mama Eva” lives and builds her faith through a life of regular worship, vigorous Bible study, constant prayer, and communion with those inside and outside of the church. She has long been an activist in the struggle for racial justice and equality. She mentors elementary school girls who are socially and academically at risk and a significant number of young women in ministry throughout the world.

Diane Campbell | Southwest Atlanta Convocation

Diane is a long-time parishioner of St. Julian's Episcopal Church, Douglasville and Director of Starting Over, a non-profit organization serving the Douglas County Community by providing volunteers who serve as supervisors during parent-child meetings. Due to a variety of circumstances, a judge has reviewed the home situation of the children and with the help of DFCS places them in foster care. These parents are allowed to visit their children only with an impartial supervisor present. Diane’s dedication to the children and parents experiencing separation demonstrates how we serve compassionately.

Kathy Malcolm Hall | Northeast Metro Convocation

A member of St. Patrick’s, Dunwoody, Kathy is the co-director of Malachi’s Storehouse. Her long and persistent service, advocacy and leadership has helped feed and restore dignity to thousands in Metro Atlanta. Her vision and tenacity aimed at the sustainability of this ministry ensures that it will continue to enrich the lives of many for years to come. Her twelve years of inspired service, advocacy and leadership demonstrate her embodiment of our Diocesan Purpose Statement.

Ginny Heckel | Georgia Mountains Convocation

A member of St. James Episcopal Church, Clayton, Ginny exemplifies what it means to Love like Jesus to give of one’s time, energy, and financial resources to the building up of God’s kingdom. Serving for many years on the board of The Episcopal Charities Foundation (now The Episcopal Community Foundation of Middle and North Georgia), Ginny traveled all over the diocese where she forged new relationships and strengthened existing relationships among brothers and sisters around the diocese.

Horace Higgins | Marietta Convocation

A member of Church of the Annunciation, Marietta, Horace truly Loves like Jesus. Although not ordained, he is a deacon true and true. He is constantly volunteering for outreach projects in the community – Emmaus House, Church of the Common Ground, the Men’s extension in Marietta, Papa’s Pantry in Woodstock, and Must Ministries both in Cobb and Woodstock. He takes donations he receives and goes into the woods where he knows homeless people live and even gave the jacket off his back to a homeless person who was cold.

Peggy Nash | Northwest Georgia Convocation

Peggy, a member of St. Peter’s, Rome, is a role model to all ages for Serving Compassionately. She has chaired our Mission & Outreach Committee for many years, raising our personal and corporate awareness of community needs and helping us to engage with and support agencies who do meaningful hands on ministry in our community and beyond.

Luis A. Ottley | North Atlanta Convocation

In just one year, Luis, Head of School at St. Martin’s Episcopal School, initiated an exchange program with a school in Panama to help increase students’ cultural competency; chartered a multi-cultural education committee; hired a full time diversity director; and has poured countless dollars into staff training around cultural competency, diversity, and privilege. His life's work is to make the kingdom of God manifest and that means creating an environment where all God's people belong. He exemplifies what it means to challenge ourselves and the world.

Agnes Parker | Oconee Convocation

Agnes is a long -time member of Emmanuel, Athens and widow of the Rev. Nathaniel Parker Jr. who served at Emmanuel, The Episcopal Center at UGA, and at Grace, Gainesville. Agnes founded the Creation Spirituality group at Emmanuel and has been a spiritual mentor for the community of Athens for decades. Many people have grown spiritually under Agnes’ leadership and guidance.

The Rev. Joseph Shippen | Middle Georgia Convocation

Joseph lives out our Diocesan Purpose Statement through his long-term commitment to ministering to death row inmates and their families as well as prison staff. He is a consistent presence at the prison, has a monthly Eucharist on death row, and ministers to those who hold vigil at executions by his presence and leading of prayers. His ministry to prisoners challenges those of us who come in contact with him to join him in this ministry and to keep prisoners and their families in our prayers.

The Rev. Fabio Sotelo | East Atlanta Convocation

With a pastor’s heart and a prophet’s voice, Fabio stands at the threshold of the Church inviting and welcoming all while exhorting the world to embrace the Good News of God in Christ. He pastors with a true servant-leader’s heart at St. Bede’s and St. Edward’s in English and in Spanish. He washes feet in shopping centers and presides at Eucharists at immigration centers; he marches for justice in the streets; and he gathers people around table for magnificent meal fellowships that build bridges and offer healing and reconciliation to the world. Fabio serves compassionately and creates a joyful worship experience for those entering the Church.

The Rev. Deacon Jane Dorman | Chattahoochee Valley Convocation

The Bishop’s Cross is awarded posthumously to Jane Dorman who served faithfully as Deacon at St. Mark’s in La Grange from 1998 until her death in 2018. Her tenacity and passion led her to secular work which reflected her calling as a deacon. She served as para pro with special needs students in some of the most underserved schools in the county. At church, in addition to her meticulous keeping of the altar, she proclaimed the good news by speaking up for those who weren’t always heard. She did this with a strong, frustratingly persistent, persistently holy voice. Every week she reminded the people of St. Mark’s of their duty by inviting the children of the parish to gather with her at the back of the church and proclaim with a loud voice, “Go in Peace to Love and Serve the Lord.”

112th Annual Council Highlights

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ATLANTA - The message of love filled the diocese’s 112th Annual Council - from Bishop Rob Wright’s opening challenge to the world, to Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s sermon calling upon each of us to be witnesses to the love of Jesus, through the energetic youth-led concluding service.

The volunteers from Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School and Church embodied Christ’s love in the gentle ways they welcomed and served the 600 delegates during the two-day conclave hosted by the North Atlanta Convocation.

Bishop Wright challenged delegates to fully live into the diocesan purpose statement: “We challenge ourselves and the world to love like Jesus as we worship joyfully, serve compassionately and grow spiritually.”

“Last year, we challenged ourselves to love like Jesus because first things need to be first,” Wright said. This next year, he said, “We will move to challenging the world to love like Jesus.”

“Any challenging of the world that you and I do in Jesus’ name has to be based on seeing through the eyes of love. They are not the nameless, faceless poor or hungry. They are siblings and somebody’s child. They are not the nameless, faceless, vile political opposition. They are brothers and sisters with fears and concerns about the present and the future,” he said.

“To challenge as Jesus challenged, we must begin and lean into the journey that puts us in the world without the blinders of contempt or blinding assumptions that flourish because of lack of real proximity.”

An overflow crowd at Council Eucharist, assembled to hear Presiding Bishop Curry’s message, was inspired by the angelic voices of the St. Martin’s Episcopal School Fifth Grade Chorus and the power of the Clark Atlanta University Philharmonic Society and choir of members from different parishes.

Presiding Bishop Curry called for every Episcopalian to be a witness to the love of Christ, because he said, that isn’t what many people have come to believe Christianity is about.

And, although he was surprised by the international notoriety he experienced after preaching at the Royal wedding, Curry said it was the fact that his message of love was news that really caused him pause.

“I didn’t say anything new. It was a sermon about love, but the fact that a Christian preacher would dare to declare that the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth is to love the Lord your God and to love your neighbor as yourself that wasn’t just good news, it was actually new news!”

Further reflecting the Council theme of love, the Eucharist offering of $5,927 went to The Boyce L. Ansley School for children experiencing homelessness located at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Atlanta. Following the service, delegates joined some 140 youth from throughout the diocese to package 15,000 meals to be distributed by the nonprofit Rise Against Hunger.

Love was also in evidence during the Q&A session with Presiding Bishop Curry, the business session as delegates listened in love and sought God’s guidance in coming to decisions, and when eleven among us who evidence what it means to love like Jesus were awarded the Bishop’s Cross.


Presiding Bishop Curry Preached at Holy Eucharist

In his sermon at Holy Eucharist, Presiding Bishop Michael Curry inspired us and called for every Episcopalian to be a witness to the love of Christ.


Bishop Wright Addressed The Council

Bishop Wright called us to be partners joined by our purpose to “…to challenge the world to love like Jesus” in his address to Council.


2018 Bishop’s Cross Recipients

Bishop’s Crosses were awarded to 11 individuals, one from each convocation, who witness in their lives what it means to challenge the world to love like Jesus.


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Legislation and Elections

Delegates listened in love and sought God’s guidance in coming to decisions as they passed three Resolutions and elected members to governing groups.


112th Annual Council | Bishop Wright Address

November 9, 2018
Bishop’s Address
The Rt. Rev. Robert C. Wright
Bishop of Atlanta

Good Morning/ Buenos Dios!

I greet you in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ. I have been back from sabbatical for eight days and I am glad to see you. I am excited and energized to resume the work that God has given us to do together in Middle and North Georgia. 

Before I get going this morning, let me pause and say thank you to my staff. I am truly grateful for this bunch of Christian professionals: Alicia, Bonnie, John Bolton, John Thompson-Quartey, Ieasha, Kei, Wynn, Catherine, Easton, Mark, Lang, Mary, Eleni, Donna, Isaias and Lindsey. You are routinely wonderful, but during my sabbatical you especially shined bright. I thank you and the Diocese of Atlanta thanks you. Also a word of thanks is due to my brother bishops, Bp. Don Wimberley and Bp. Paul Lambert. I continue to be grateful for their wisdom, commitment and good cheer. Thank you to them. I want to say a special thanks to Katherine Branch and the team from Green Gate Marketing. You are fantastic partners, and you are helping us talk about Jesus and the Episcopal Church in unique, increasingly relevant and compelling ways. Thank you.

So, let us begin again as partners joined by purpose:

“Nos desafiamos a nosotros mismos y al mundo para amar como Jesús mientras adoramos con alegría, servimos con compasión, y crecemos espiritualmente.”

“We challenge ourselves and the world to love like Jesus as we worship joyfully, serve compassionately and grow spiritually.” 

Every year we take a look at some piece of our diocesan purpose statement, and then we look at ourselves and we celebrate what deserves celebrating, and we calibrate what needs calibrating. That’s what we do. That’s what healthy individuals and organizations do. This year we are paying attention to “…challenging the world to love like Jesus.” 

Last year we challenged ourselves to love like Jesus because first things need to be first. Because the Spirit always asks us to look inward. But we know, an exclusively inward spirituality is an ingrown and ineffective spirituality. Our liturgy saves us from this misstep every week. 

“…You have fed us with spiritual food in the Sacrament of his Body and Blood. Send us now into the world in peace, and grant us strength and courage to love and serve you with gladness and singleness of heart; through Christ our Lord. AMEN” BCP 365

What does it mean to challenge the world to love like Jesus? I’m glad you asked! There are at least four movements to this enterprise and incidentally, spoiler alert, examples of these steps are all present in each of the wonderful videos that will punctuate our time together. First, when we say challenge the world to love, let us begin where God Almighty begins. “For God so loved the world.” Which implies God sees the world. Sees her needs, her wounds and her promise and then responds. In other places in scripture, we read that Jesus, seeing various individuals and groups, “loved them.” So if we are going to challenge the world we’re going to have to get our gaze right. Challenge that speaks without real seeing does injury, wastes energy and resources. Maybe worst of all, it encumbers future opportunities for challenge to make a difference. Any challenging of the world that you and I do in Jesus’ name has to be based on seeing through the eyes of love. They are not the nameless faceless poor or hungry. They are siblings, and somebody’s child. They are not the nameless, faceless, vile political opposition. They are brothers and sisters with fears and concerns about the present and the future. To challenge as Jesus challenged, we must begin and lean into the journey that puts us in the world without the blinders of contempt or blinding assumptions that flourish because of lack of real proximity. Think about it, Paul was struck blind and delivered to the home of the very people he was brutalizing, in the book of Acts, before his sight was restored and his new life of love began. To do better we’ve got to see better. This notion is woven into our Baptismal Covenant. We say that we will “respect the dignity of every human being.” BCP 305 Let us remember then that the Latin root of re-spect is to ‘spectare,’ to see. Or to see again. 

As part of my sabbatical, I read the Bible. To be specific, I read the Gospel of Mark in the Message translation. But I did something that made it pop for me. I read it slow. Very slow. Try that at home. What you see again and again when you read slow is Jesus’ actual model of ministry - him asking people to join him.

Join him in his purpose. Join him as he incarnates his vision of a preferred future. Join him in a direction he is going whether the disciples or the crowd joins him or not. His invitation to join his loving enterprise is his challenge. Every effective ministry I have ever known has at its core, some lay person, deacon, priest or bishop personally joining Jesus in his purpose and then out of the overflow of that, in the tractor beam of that, asking others to join them. What I am saying is that people on purpose is the best church program there ever was or will ever be. Everything else is poking and prodding people. People on purpose with Jesus is the most authentic way to challenge the world in love for love. That is discipleship. That is different from institutional decline management. One is active; the other is afraid. One understands harvest and the joy of the laborer. The other lives in sentimentality and soothes its soul with nostalgia. So we have to be going somewhere because of Jesus to cause others to go somewhere with Jesus. That is the best and most loving way to challenge the world. As an old Alabama preacher has said, “You can no more preach what you do not know than you can come back from where you ain’t been.” 

God spoke, and the nothing became something. The spirit breathed, and the church was born. You and I are called to find our voice for the cause of Jesus in the world - called to breathe into existence a new reality.  A new Atlanta, a new Newnan, a new Conyers, a new Milledgeville.  A new Georgia.  Grounded in his love, having heard his voice, we speak to the world in like fashion.  Political partisanship has no place in our speaking to the world on behalf of Jesus. It is beneath us.  Is following Jesus inherently political? Of course it is!  Jesus challenged people to bend the status quo toward justice and equity.  That is political. Those were his politics.  But Jesus was above rank partisanship, and so must we be.  Speaking is power, and this power you and I have been entrusted with must not be abused.  Dr. King, is right, “Power without love is reckless and abusive, and love without power is sentimental and anemic. Power at its best is love implementing the demands of justice, and justice at its best is power correcting everything that stands against love.”  And so we have a sublime but difficult charge.  The charge is to challenge the world to love without violating the laws of love in the process!  So speak and in speaking create a reality consistent with the One we are privileged to follow.  

This brings me to my last point. You may be saying to yourself, ‘well Bishop, all of this sounds like work. It sounds good, but really hard.’ Let me say to you, you are right. Absolutely it is hard. Following Jesus is a cross not an executive key. But, we are comforted in this hard work through worship. Being fueled and refueled by worship is what gives us the spiritual capacity to do the difficult work of bringing and being love in loveless places. To do this work without being gorged on the love of God first and personally experienced in worship is a recipe for burnout, despair or worse. If our liturgy, our worship, is anything useful, it is a place to be renewed and refreshed. A place to find strength to meet the demands of busy living and the means to soldier on with personal wounds. But not only that, worship is that place where wills are recalibrated and natural appetites for smallness, separateness and superiority are transformed. Ultimately, worship is a grace that offers space for and time to where, like Isaiah when Uzziah died, eyes are refocused, tongues are repurposed and vocations are extended and accepted. The world has all the religious sounding, smug, smarty pants she needs. What the world needs is to meet you because you have met God. God’s goodness. God’s provision. God’s mercy. God’s forgiveness. God’s sense of humor. Bring that into the world in full measure; that will be challenge enough. And what the church needs is to meet the God we talk about already busy in the world. That one thing, catching up to Jesus already at work in the world will endow us with all the humility we need to be effective ministers of a glorious Gospel, which is begging and pleading to be hosted by more and more of us.

As some of you know, I visit churches for a living. Among other things, that is what a bishop is, an overdressed church visitor. And, many of you know that I don’t believe that clergy are the only folks who should be leading prayers before, during and after worship. So, there we were all dressed up, just about to go into worship one Sunday. Someone asked me, ‘Bishop would you like to pray?’ And I said. NO. Immediately everyone stopped breathing. I asked the group, ‘Is there someone who would like to pray for us?’ That’s when all the adults started looking at their shoes. Finally, after a very awkward silence a little girl, she may have been ten or so, said. “ I will pray Bishop.”

And this is what she said verbatim. “God, we thank you for everything. Everything. And God, what we want is for you to have a more full life here. Have a full life here, God. That is our prayer.” I tell you I was done. Undone. The entire Bible embodied in this sweet little face, “What was hidden from the wise and the prudent was revealed to the babe and the suckling.” She was right. That is what we want. We challenge the world in love because we want God to have a full life. In our work and in our speaking. In our planning and doing. A full life for God in our lives at home and at school. So that, in us and through us, God is better able to reconcile the world to God’s self. 

Este es mi septimo Consejo Anual como su Obispo
Y me complace reanudar nuestro trabajo junto ustedes.

This is my 7th Annual Council as your Bishop, and I am pleased to resume our work alongside of you.

Thanks be to God.

112th Annual Council | Legislation and Elections

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Delegates listened in love and sought God’s guidance in coming to decisions as they passed three Resolutions and elected members to governing groups.

Passed Resolutions

C18-1 Procedure For Securing Approval Of Encumbrances Of Parish Property

Resolved, that the Canons of the Diocese of Atlanta be amended to add as Canon 41 the following:

CANON 41

Pursuant to Canon 1.7.3 of the Canons of the Episcopal Church, the following regulations are prescribed by this Diocese:

(a) A vestry or other body of the Parish authorized to hold, manage, or administer real property (“Church Real Property”) for a Parish, Mission, Congregation or Institution (“Authorized Body”), may, without the necessity of obtaining further approval of the Bishop or Standing Committee of the Diocese, encumber or alienate Church Real Property or a part thereof, only as follows:

  1. Granting another person or entity a right to use Church Real Property for a period of less than 12 months when that grant is revocable, without cause shown, notice or penalty;
  2. Renting or otherwise granting permission for use of Church Real Property for a total of seven or less days in any one calendar year, limited to single year grants; or
  3. Granting permission to charitable or other not-for-profit entities to use Church Real Property, other than the principal worship space, for no more than one day per week, provided that the Authorized Body retains the unrestricted right to cancel such permission without penalty on no more than 30 days’ notice.

(b) Any other encumbrance or alienation of part or all of Church Real Property shall require the written consent of the Bishop and Standing Committee, but the Bishop or Standing Committee may delegate the authority to grant such consent to the Bishop of Atlanta or the Canon to the Ordinary under the following circumstances:

  1. Where the encumbrance or alienation is for a maximum of one year;
  2. Where residential or commercial property of the Parish is being rented for a maximum of three years; or
  3. For construction and installation of utilities.

Nothing herein shall be construed to limit the general oversight of a parish by the Bishop of Atlanta or other ecclesiastical authority or to restrict the authority of the Bishop or other ecclesiastical authority to provide pastoral direction to a parish regarding its use of its property.

Any written consent required by Canon 1.7.3 or this Canon may be provided by electronic means.

R18-1 Resolution to Dissolve the Commission on HIV/AIDS

Whereas the HIV/AIDS pandemic continues to claim the health and lives of thousands of our kindred in Christ, even after more than 36 years since it was first identified as a health problem;

Whereas the Diocese of Atlanta created a Task Force on AIDS in March of 1986 to help address the multitude of issues surrounding HIV/AIDS, in doing so thinking that the disease would have been eradicated and said task force could be dissolved;

Whereas over a number of years the Task Force on AIDS morphed into the Commission on HIV/AIDS and continued to address the situation within the church and society for many years and reflected the existence of similar structures at the Provincial and church-wide level of The Episcopal Church;

Whereas The Episcopal Church ended church-wide ministry related to HIV/AIDS at the General Convention of 2015, bringing to an end a ministry that began in February 1987 in Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, California, attended by two representatives from the Diocese of Atlanta;

Whereas the Diocese of Atlanta provided financial and leadership support for the Annual HIV/AIDS Retreat of Province IV of The Episcopal Church, held at Kanuga Conferences for all of the 25 years of its existence until that retreat ended in June 2016; and

Whereas the lack of a coordinated, comprehensive ministry regarding HIV/AIDS no longer exists for any practical purposes in the Diocese of Atlanta.

Resolved that the Commission on HIV/AIDS of the Diocese of Atlanta be dissolved at this 112th Annual Council of the Diocese of Atlanta. And be it further

Resolved that funds for this ministry be removed from the annual budget of the diocese and any materials suitable for archival preservation be given to the diocese. And be it further

Resolved that Ms. Lola Thomas of Ascension Church in Cartersville, Georgia, be commended for her leadership in chairing the planning committee for the Kanuga Retreat for over a decade. And be it further

Resolved that Mr. Bruce Garner of All Saints’ Church in Atlanta, Georgia be commended for his tireless leadership in AIDS/HIV ministry at the national, provincial and local level.

R18-2 Resolution Concerning Prejudiced-Based Violence and Social Media

Resolved, the 112th Annual Council of the Diocese of Atlanta, meeting at Holy Innocents' Episcopal School, November 9 & 10, 2018, note with great concern recent acts of violence committed on the basis of prejudice because of religion, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, ethnicity, country of origin and political opinion. And be it further

Resolved, that we recognize the negative impact on human relations the use and misuse of social media has created in our church and in our society. And be it further

Resolved, that we, as members of a faith community whose members regularly take vows to respect the dignity of every human being and to seek and serve Christ in all persons, loving our neighbor as ourselves, recommit ourselves to those vows especially following these acts of violence that have threatened, injured and killed many of God’s children. And be it further

Resolved, that we offer our prayers and concerns for the victims of violence in Pennsylvania, Kentucky, New York, the District of Columbia and the other locations where these acts took place. And be it further

Resolved, that we, as individuals, will strive to avoid the use of inflammatory, divisive, abusive, derogatory, anti-Semitic, homophobic, sexist, transphobic, xenophobic and other hurtful and negative terminology when referring to any of the children of God on social media platforms. And be it further

Resolved, that we as a community of faith will renew and strengthen our efforts toward building that Beloved Community where all of God’s people live in love and harmony with each other, regardless of our differences. And be it further

Resolved, that the Secretary of Annual Council shall be directed to send electronic copies of this resolution to the Governor of Georgia, the Governor-elect of Georgia, the Secretary of State of Georgia, to our United States Senators, the members of the United States House of Representatives whose constituents are within the boundaries of the Diocese of Atlanta, and to the Vice President and President of the United States.


Elected to Governing Groups

Standing Committee

Mary Caroline Davies Cravens, Cathedral of St. Philip, Atlanta

The Rev. Nikki Mathis, St. Gregory the Great, Athens

Mikell Camp & Conference Center Board of Governors

John Ballard, Grace-Calvary, Clarkesville

Timothy Lytle, Grace-Calvary, Clarkesville

University of The South Trustee

George Williamson, St. Martin in the Fields, Brookhaven

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.

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.