Contemplation and Community: A Gathering of Fresh Voices for a Living Tradition

The Rev. Dr. Stuart Higginbotham, rector of Grace Church in Gainesville, is a co-editor and contributor to the forthcoming volume Contemplation and Community: A Gathering of Fresh Voices for a Living Tradition.  The book is being published by the Crossroad Publishing Company.  

From the publisher’s description: “All around the world a resurgence of Christian contemplative living is creating a new framework for spirituality inside and outside of formal religion. Building on and expanding from the thoughts and works of such as Richard Rohr, Thomas Keating, Tilden Edwards, Laurence Freeman, and other founders of the modern contemplative movement, a new movement carries on the work of their mentors. This collection brings together the diverse voices who have emerged as new leaders of the contemplative movement. Exploring a multitude of themes, such as silence, imagination, meditation, embodiment, community and social action, this volume introduces the new voices who reflect globally on the gifts, challenges, differences and commonalities of Christian contemplation today for communities and people of faith.”

Fr. Stuart says, "While this work is by no means exhaustive, it is illustrative of the global community that is seeking to foster a practice of faith that is grounded in an awareness of God’s presence in our lives–and the vocation we are called to embody in the world."

Stuart worked with Dr. Jessica Smith, the Senior Executive Director for Research, Planning, and Spiritual Formation at the Governing Board for Church and Society with the United Methodist Church.  Stuart and Jessie worked with colleagues from four continents, including: Sarah Bachelard, Phileena Heuertz, Thomas J. Bushlack, Matthew Wright, Bo Karen Lee, Kirsten Oates, Leonardo Correa, Sicco Claus, and Mark Kutolowski. Tilden Edwards graciously wrote the forward while Margaret Benefiel, the Executive Director at the Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation, wrote the afterword.  The combined wisdom from these colleagues expresses the rich diversity and importance of the Christian contemplative tradition in the world today.

The book itself is an outgrowth of the August 2017 gathering of the New Contemplative Exchange at St. Benedict's Monastery in Snowmass, Colorado.  The Exchange was initiated by Fr. Thomas Keating, who had the initial idea of gathering around twenty younger contemplative scholars and practitioners from around the world to discern how the Spirit was inviting the broader community into new spaces of embodiment and partnership.  The collaborative work which has brought Contemplation and Community into being is an example of such a partnership between the various schools or organizations within the broader Christian contemplative tradition.  

The publication date will be September 1.  We will be holding a special Sunday afternoon reading, signing, and conversation on Sunday, October 13 at 3 pm in the Parish Hall at Grace.  
Questions and inquiries to Jessica Voyles at Grace Episcopal Church: office@gracechurchgainesville.org.  

For the wisdom and will to conserve it

By: Kelly Alexander

The Episcopal Church of the Epiphany

Be kind. Be understanding. Be caring. Be forgiving. Treat your neighbor as yourself. These were some of the messages that I learned in my (Episcopal!) household growing up. No one told me directly, “It’s important to care for the earth,” or, to be a good person you must respect the “riches of creation.” But for me, caring for the earth comes naturally. It goes hand in hand with caring for your neighbor, being kind, and being grateful for what has been given to us. 

So. We put things in the recycling bin (don’t get me started on aspirational recycling…).  We take shorter showers. We (sometimes?) drive less. We try not to waste food. We try to remember to bring our own grocery bags to the store. We say “no straw” at restaurants. We turn off the lights when we leave the room.  We don’t leave the car running. We wash clothes on cold. 

But these things are easy. These are things that don’t inconvenience our lives. These things do not move us out of our comfort zone. Why are we so comfortable using, disposing, consuming, polluting, supporting practices and companies that contaminate our air, land and water? Why do we ask for repentance on Ash Wednesday, “for our waste and pollution of your creation, and our lack of concern for those who come after us,” instead of actually doing something differently? Why don’t we care for those who come after us?

What if we saw caring for creation not as a hippie, leftist or a “green team” thing, but simply caring for God’s creation, as something each and all of us should embrace? Can we all commit to do everything we can to reduce our waste? Can we reduce our use of single-use plastic (or Styrofoam), electricity, gas and water? In addition to caring for the poor, the destitute, the sick and the hungry, as Christians it is also our calling (duty and delight!) to care for “this fragile earth our island home.”


(And if you’re traveling abroad for work, pleasure or a mission trip, email me: kelly.alexander@care.org so you can find out how to make your trip more environmentally-friendly by not using bottled water).

Inside the Ghana 2019 Pilgrimage

Reflections on Faith & Reconciliation Across Troubled Waters

By Alexis Hauk

EMBARKING

Ever since she was 12 years old, growing up in Guyana, St. Simon’s parishioner Claudette Seales, now 70, dreamed about visiting Ghana – in part because of the murmurings among family members that this is where her ancestors had originated, before they were forcibly brought to South America as part of the transatlantic slave trade. 

Over the decades of her life, Seales moved to the U.S., started a family with her husband, and worked her way through college and a career. For a long time, that impetus to visit Africa lay dormant — until recently, when she came across a blurb about the Ghana Pilgrimage on the Diocese of Atlanta website and decided to apply.

“It wasn’t something that my church sponsored or talked about or told me about. It was just destiny,” she said. The dream had been reignited.

 Seales was one of 15 faithful travelers from different backgrounds and experiences across the Diocese who embarked on this year’s pilgrimage to Cape Coast, Ghana, a former hub of the transatlantic slave trade at the end of April – fittingly, a week after Easter Sunday, with its themes of deep despair transforming into hope and absolution. The trip also happened to take place during the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first ship of enslaved Africans in Jamestown, Virginia.

 An annual tradition in the Diocese, the Ghana Pilgrimage offers participants the opportunity to confront one of the ugliest facets of history: slavery, and the devastating repercussions of institutionalized racism for subsequent generations in both Western Africa and the Americas.

For centuries, tens of thousands of human beings were ripped from their families, homes and livelihoods and forced into brutal living conditions to build up the wealth of their captors. The city of Cape Coast, Ghana, was occupied at various points by colonizing forces from Great Britain, Portugal, Sweden, Denmark and Holland.

 

THE DUNGEON

One of the stops on the pilgrimage was Cape Coast Castle, where West African people were held in dungeons before being sold and forced onto ships bound for the Americas.

 “Those dungeons or detentions are still standing there like ghosts, as if they want to tell the story of their own brutalities that men and women suffered,” Seales said.

By all accounts, seeing the castle is a core-rattling experience. During a trip to Ghana in 2009, President Barack Obama described his visit to the castle this way: “I’m reminded of the same feeling I got when I went to Buchenwald with Elie Wiesel. You almost feel as if the walls could speak.”

Smithsonian Magazine included this horrifying note about the site: “Guides tell visitors that the walls bear the remnants of the fingernails, skin and blood of those who tried to claw their way out.”

Pilgrimage participant Peggy Courtright, a board member of the Absalom Jones Center for Racial Healing since its inception in 2017, said she had visited several memorial sites in the U.S. which honor the victims of slavery and lynching. But seeing the legacy of racism and its heinous machinery far across the ocean inspired a different level of understanding.

 “Confronting the capacity of human beings to not only be stunningly cruel but to systematize it, creating a system that will continue the cruelty, abuse and murder – we’ve seen it happen over and over again in history,” she said, adding that she was surprised by “how much healing happened in all of us. In ways that I wouldn’t have imagined, in ways that made me sob.”

HEAVEN AND HELL

The Rev. Jeff Jackson, rector at St. Margaret’s Episcopal Church in Carrollton, said that in contrast to other pilgrimages he’s joined, which involved “basking in the spiritual residue of the goodness of the church” — visiting the home of a holy person, for instance, or a place where miracles were said to have taken place — this trip offered the invitation to delve into something much more challenging: “The chance to stand in the footsteps of my spiritual ancestors who committed atrocities, who committed grave sin.” The church very much participated in, and profited from, the slave trade.

 Rev. Jackson said the image that stuck with him most viscerally was the paradox between the dungeon at Cape Coast Castle – “the mouth of hell,” as he saw it – and the haughty regality of the Anglican chapel looming above it. His first thought was that this was a darkly ironic panorama of heaven and hell.

“But then I thought, no: the people who were up there in the Anglican church praising God and taking communion together, all while human lives were being systematically dismantled and dehumanized and brutally tortured — those people up there were not in heaven. That’s a different level of hell. When you are completely aware of the atrocities of humanity and yet you do nothing about them, and in fact you revel in them, that is a totally different separation from God. It made me ponder, what are the ways that we are knowingly or unknowingly perpetuating other atrocities?”

As a white man raised in the south, Rev. Jackson said his fervent interest in, and commitment to, racial reconciliation and community-building has grown out of a willingness to enter into uncomfortable conversations and confront insidious biases and fears planted during childhood.

He remembers growing up in rural Alabama and being exposed to racist beliefs that he later learned to question: “Once you start tapping at that root, you realize how deep the root goes,” he said. This process of wrestling with the sins of the past has informed his understanding of faith.

 “We are complex people. We are not just all good. Spirituality isn’t about the warm and fuzzies; it’s confronting the sin that we hold and the sins of those who have gone before us,” he said. “And not denying the truth but entering into it. That’s a core tenet of our faith – repentance. . . Through repentance, we’re healed, if we’re honest.”

 

HAUNTED AND HALLOWED

The haunted places in Ghana today have become a kind of hallowed ground, as people lay memorial wreaths and pay tribute to the lives destroyed through the devaluation of humanity. As a group, Seales said, “We thanked God for the strength that he gave us as a group to pray, to share our hugs and share our pain, the tears. I think that’s how we got through it. Our group really connected. There was an understanding, every step of the way, that it was not easy.” 

Courtright said that when she returned home, someone asked her if the trip was “fun.”  

“I said I don’t know how to answer that. Fun wasn’t really the purpose of the trip,” she said. “I expected a lot of pain and anger. But I did not expect that degree of healing, too. We witnessed a lot, and now it’s our job to come back and witness to others.”

These shattering moments of confronting the past and its echoes in the present were intermingled with bittersweet moments of beauty and tenderness –  like venturing down the canopy walk through Kakum National park – as well as the warm, welcoming services the pilgrims attended in local parishes, and the reverberations of jubilant music through the sounds of piano, trumpet, drums and voices joined in song. 

An equally important facet of the annual pilgrimage is planting the seeds of new relationships. The pilgrims visited six parishes of the Cape Coast Diocese, worshiped with seminarians at St. Nicholas Seminary, and learned from the women’s diocesan ministries. The kindness, generosity and hospitality of those they met, even amid astounding levels of poverty, stood out to the Rev. Dr. Angela Shepherd, rector at St. Bartholomew’s in Atlanta.

Like Claudette Seales, Rev. Shepherd had also dreamed about traveling to Ghana – seeking to shadow her ancestors’ path “and bridge the gap in history.” The trip was especially poignant because she was able to share the experience with her adult daughter, who joined the Diocese cohort.

HONORING ANCESTORS

The most moving part of the trip for many was the visit to the Last Bath or River of Remembrance in Assin Manso, where those who had been kidnapped were taken before being sold.

Seales said that she was able to honor her ancestors by leaving a note on the memorial wall at the Last Bath, after which she received her African name, Akua. “When we returned and met at the Bishop’s Chapel, he welcomed me as Akua. How can I ever forget that?’”

Rev. Shepherd brought a portrait of her great-great grandmother, Daphene Scales, who was born in 1836 and endured enslavement. In the picture, Daphene clearly bears the deep physical and mental scars of enslavement. “Her eyes look so sad,” Shepherd said. “I placed the photo against the wall in each place where the women were held in Cape Coast Castle and observed a moment of silence.”

At the Last Bath, Rev. Shepherd stood alongside three other women who had also descended from enslaved people, including her daughter. She unfolded the photo of Daphene and placed it in the river.

“It swirled a bit before being taken under and carried away,” she said. “Part of my mission was to bring her home, and I imagined her eyes smiling and rejoicing then.”

The tears, and the opportunity to honor these relatives, were a profound catharsis for Rev. Shepherd. “I experienced a powerful sense of God’s presence. It was a spiritual moment of reconciliation with history and healing: one that rivals none other in my life.”

The palpable sense of survival, and of the enduring human spirit, followed Rev. Shepherd home. As she put it, “I am a descendant of those who survived the walk to the Last Bath, the transatlantic journey, and chattel slavery. I am because they were. Perseverance was born.”

The steeple on Christ Church Cathedral, Anglican Diocese of Cape Coast taken from the auction room in Cape Coast Castle where slaves were sold.

The steeple on Christ Church Cathedral, Anglican Diocese of Cape Coast taken from the auction room in Cape Coast Castle where slaves were sold.

Walking sacred ground: The path to Assin Manso, to the river where captives were bathed before being sold.

Walking sacred ground: The path to Assin Manso, to the river where captives were bathed before being sold.

The Rev. Father Theo Odametey and the Rev. Canon Dr. Sharon Hiers greet one another.

The Rev. Father Theo Odametey and the Rev. Canon Dr. Sharon Hiers greet one another.

All photos courtesy of the Rev. Canon Dr. Sharon Hiers.

All photos courtesy of the Rev. Canon Dr. Sharon Hiers.

Episcopal Community Foundation for Middle and North Georgia Grants $68,306 to Fight Poverty and Oppression Locally

- ECF Announces Four Local Grantees During Its Spring General Grant Cycle – 
- ECF Announces One Local Grantee During Its Q2 Small Acts of Charity – 

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Atlanta, GA, May 14, 2019 — Today the Episcopal Community Foundation for Middle and North Georgia (ECF) announces it will grant $68,306 to five 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 Chard Wray Food Pantry at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church (Milledgeville), Church of the Incarnation (Atlanta), Community Helping Place (Dahlonega), El Refugio Ministry (Columbus), and Path To Shine.

“Our Spring General Grants demonstrate the true breadth of service that Episcopalians in the Diocese of Atlanta have engaged in when it comes to outreach with those in need,” said Lindsey E. Hardegree, Executive Director for the Episcopal Community Foundation for Middle and North Georgia. “We are thrilled to support these efforts to expand and improve existing programs working within the beloved community, whether they be hungry, underemployed, uninsured, or at-risk of poverty and oppression.”

ECF’s spring 2019 general grant recipients:
Chard Wray Food Pantry at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church has received a capital grant of $18,000 for improvements to their building which will facilitate a significant programming expansion, including job training (phlebotomy and retail), life skills training, and health checks.


• Church of the Incarnation has received a capital grant of $15,000 for improvements to the parish’s kitchen so that is can be best utilized for community outreach efforts such as Clarence’s HANDS, a hunger-initiative supporting students in the Atlanta University Center, and the After-School Jazz Music education program in Southwest Atlanta.
• El Refugio Ministry, in partnership with St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Columbus, has received a capacity building grant of $20,000 to fund the pilot of a new post-release program which will offer short-term accommodations for those released with asylum from the Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, GA. With demonstrated success, this grant will continue in Spring 2020.
• Path To Shine has received a capacity building grant of $10,306 to continue a grant awarded in 2018 for 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 Fall 2019.


ECF’s Q2 2019 Small Acts of Charity recipient:


• Community Helping Place, in partnership with St. Elizabeth’s Episcopal Church in Dahlonega, has received a capital grant of $5,000 for medical equipment for their newly expanded free clinic which provides gynecological services for uninsured women.


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 Q3 Small Acts of Charity are due June 15, 2019, and LOIs for Spring 2020 General Grants are due September 30, 2019. Those interested in applying for funding should visit ECFimpact.org/grants for information regarding both funding opportunities as well as links to the applications. Applicants are encouraged to contact Lindsey Hardegree with any questions they may have regarding eligibility or their applications.

About Episcopal Community Foundation for Middle and North Georgia 
Founded in 1982 as the Episcopal Charities Foundation, the Episcopal Community Foundation for Middle and North Georgia (ECF) provides funding, leadership, and resources to enable Episcopal parishes and nonprofit partners to lift up people facing poverty and oppression and to achieve significant, long-lasting impact in the Diocese of Atlanta. Since its inception, ECF has donated more than $4.4 million to promote thriving and spiritually strong individuals, families, and communities locally. Learn more at 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 116 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.

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New Beginnings 41: Lend Me Your Eyes

New Beginnings offers a chance for middle school youth to reflect on the important relationships in their lives and consider what "New Beginnings" they can take on in their own lives. Often, New Beginnings is the first opportunity for a young person to pause and reflect their life and God.

On March 22-24, New Beginnings 41 was held at Camp Mikell. With the theme Give Me Your Eyes, we focused on putting the world in perspective and looking at life through the eyes of someone else. Our youth spent a busy weekend meeting new friends, playing some games, exploring their faith, and getting to sing songs with the Diocese of Georgia while they hosted their New Beginnings weekend.

The weekend wouldn't have been possible without our dedicated adults, energetic young adults, our always enthusiastic high schoolers serving on team, and most of all the participants. 

United Thank Offering

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This Message is about how to process the Blue Boxes and UTO Envelopes gathered at the UTO In gatherings and where to send the funds.

Parishes collect the Blue Boxes or UTO Envelopes. The Parish Coordinator or Parish ECW Treasurer count the funds gathered and write one check made out to United Thank Offering.  The memo line should have Diocese of Atlanta and the name of the parish.  If there are any individual checks make sure they are made out to United Thank Offering with Diocese of Atlanta and the name of the parish on the memo line.
The check(s) is(are) sent to:
Diocese of Atlanta
Attn UTO
2744 Peachtree Road NW
Atlanta, Georgia 30305


I , Joy Boyden, am the United Thank Offering Diocesan Representative for the Diocese of Atlanta.  If you have questions on the processing of the donations and where to send them, you may reach me at jjboyden45@gmail.com.  

Georgia, Fulton and Gwinnett Issue Second Chance Month proclamations

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The State of Georgia, Fulton County, and Gwinnett County are declaring April as Second Chance Month this year!!

Fulton County will be proclaiming the month of April as Second Chance Month on Wednesday, April 10th, during a presentation at 10:00 am in the Fulton County Government Center at 141 Pryor Street in Atlanta, GA.

Gwinnett County will be proclaiming the month of April as Second Chance Month on Tuesday, April 16th during a presentation at 2:00 pm in the Gwinnett County Justice and Administration Center at 75 Langley Drive, Lawrenceville, GA.

Second Chance Month is part of the ongoing work of Prison Fellowship, a ministry partner with The Diocese of Atlanta. Learn more about Second Chance Month at https://www.prisonfellowship.org/

#SecondChanceMonth #RememberThoseInPrison

Church of the Common Ground Summer Internship

Are you interested in exploring ministry? Do you wish to live out your discipleship on the street? Would you like a summer ‘job’ that is very different from ‘work’?

The Internship

  • Full-time, 10 weeks, $2000 Stipend

  • Work with a cohort of young adults (age 18-28)

  • Full participation in the ministries of the church

  • Intentional immersion, supervision, discipleship, retreats

  • Flexible start, but required Leadership Retreat June 12-15, 2019 in New Orleans

  • This internship is funded in part by a grant from the Forum for Theological Exploration and intends to support discernment toward ministry for those who have not yet entered seminary.

Summer Schedule

  • Sunday 11am-3pm Worship and ministry

  • Monday 9am-3pm Morning Prayer, supervision, ministry

  • Tuesday 8am-2pm Common Soles Foot Clinic, debriefing

  • Wednesday 9am-4:30pm Morning prayer, cohort luncheon, Bible Study

  • Thursday/Friday 9am-3pm Alternating days for special ministries/events/formation

RETREAT

  • Depart Wednesday, noon.

  • Conference Thursday, noon, through Saturday, 1pm.

  • Return Saturday by 10pm

Please contact The Very Rev. Monica Mainwaring to express interest to make application at vicar@churchofthecommonground.org.


Church of the Common Ground is a church without walls, a ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta, communicating God’s love to all who are experiencing homelessness in downtown Atlanta: www.churchofthecommonground.org

Campus Ministries Receive Innovation Grants

Campus ministries in Macon and Atlanta are among 21 from across The Episcopal Church selected to receive grants for innovative programs.

In Macon, The Episcopal and Lutheran Campus Fellowship, will use its $4,850 grant to connect international and LGBTQ students at Wesleyan College to the local community, said Campus Missioner Dena Hobbs.

“We will be having a weekly lunch gathering and Bible study on the Wesleyan campus and monthly nights out where we provide money, transportation, and volunteers to take to the students out for movies, dinner, plays, etc.,” Hobbs said. “This is important because half of students at Wesleyan don't have a car and the international students don't know their way around.”

Hobbs said volunteers from St Francis Episcopal Church will make connections with students by providing rides to nights out events and St. Francis’ worship and community events.

At Georgia Tech, Episcopal Campus Missioner Kathryn Folk said the, $14,000 grant will be used to create a program to expand and strengthen the joint Episcopal-Lutheran campus ministry.

“Stepping Toward Wholeness is a multi-year tiered approach to ensure there are people, processes, and systems in place as the staff progresses to each level,” Folk said. “In addition, the program provides a set of checks and balances using a board of advisors to ensure goals are met before advancing to the next level.”

“The grant also allows us to host campus-wide events and training opportunities,” she said.

The Southeastern Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America and the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta provide support for the Tech campus ministry, but Folk said extra funding was needed to reimburse travel for speakers, host events at larger space on campus, and create a host of training opportunities, including for certification as  Professional Christian Life Coaches, Stephen Ministers, suicide prevention and mental health first aid.

The two Georgia grants are among 21 programs from across The Episcopal Church receiving grants from Episcopal Church Young Adult and Campus Ministry. The grants provide funding for dioceses, congregations, and community college/tribal college/university campuses that are engaging or seek to engage ministry with young adults on and off college campuses.
 
The Diocese of Atlanta operates campus ministries in Athens at The University of Georgia; in Atlanta at Georgia Institute of Technology, Oglethorpe University, Atlanta University Center, Emory University; in Rome at Berry College, Georgia Highlands College and Shorter University; in Macon at Mercer University and Wesleyan College; in Kennesaw at Kennesaw State University; in Milledgeville at Georgia College and State University;  and in Dahlonega at the University of North Georgia.

Love God, Love Neighbor: Advocacy in Action

Registration is now open for “Love God, Love Neighbor: Advocacy in Action,” a two-day interactive training for clergy and laity interested in developing or improving their advocacy skills and having the opportunity to advocate directly to members of Congress and their staff about protections for refugees.
 
Sponsored by the Office of Government Relations in partnership with Episcopal Migration Ministries, “Love God, Love Neighbor: Advocacy in Action” will be held Thursday-Friday, June 27-28, in Washington, D.C., with the option to attend the One Journey Festival on Saturday, June 29. This day-long festival, held on the grounds of the National Cathedral, celebrates refugee contributions.

Program overview

On Thursday, June 27, the focus is on building advocacy skills, including: intensive and in-depth media and messaging training for advocacy, briefings on current urgent issues affecting refugees, and an Advocacy 101 educational session to prepare for congressional visits on Capitol Hill and advocacy work at home. 
 
On Friday, June 28, participants will put these skills into action, meeting directly with their senators, representative, and/or their staff to advocate for specific U.S. policies to protect refugees.
 
Open to both Episcopalians and the Church’s ecumenical partners, this training presents an opportunity to learn from working together, strengthens our ability to influence policy regarding protections for refugees, and builds community and relationships that will continue on after the training ends.

Registration information

To register, please visit episcopalmigrationministries.org/LGLN.  Space is limited, so please submit your registration as soon as possible.  Registration is $75 and includes all training, programming, and materials and lunch on Thursday. Beverages and snacks will also be provided. Participants are responsible for all other expenses including housing and transportation.
 
Registration deadline is May 17 at 5:00 pm Eastern. Please contact Melissa Coulston, coordinator for Love God, Love Neighbor at: lovegodloveneighboremm@gmail.com with questions related to this training.
 
The Office of Government Relations represents the policy priorities of The Episcopal Church to the U.S. government in Washington, D.C. This office aims to shape and influence policy and legislation on critical issues, highlighting the voices and experiences of Episcopalians and Anglicans globally. All of its work is grounded in the resolutions of General Convention and Executive Council, the legislative and governing bodies of the church. Connecting Episcopalians to their faith by educating, equipping and engaging them to do the work of advocacy through the Episcopal Public Policy Network (EPPN) is a key aspect of this work. 
 
Episcopal Migration Ministries is a ministry of The Episcopal Church and is one of nine national agencies responsible for resettling refugees in the United States in partnership with the government. Episcopal Migration Ministries currently has 13 resettlement affiliates in 11 dioceses.

Applications Accepted for 2019-2020 United Thank Offering Julia Chester Emery Internship

In 2015, the United Thank Offering (UTO) Board began an internship program for young women, named for the organization’s founder, Julia Chester Emery. This program supports the work of UTO in addition to participating in the work of a local ministry. UTO is now seeking a fourth Julia Chester Emery intern for 2019-2020.
 
The internship will be in conjunction with Jasmine Road, a Thistle Farms Affiliate, in the Diocese of Upper South Carolina. Jasmine Road exists to offer women who are trapped in a cycle of sexual exploitation and addiction a path to freedom, a haven for healing, and the opportunity to flourish, leading to generational change and the betterment of the Greenville community. Modeled after Thistle Farms, Jasmine Road offers a transformative two-year residential program with an innovative social enterprise component.
 
“Jasmine Road is an example of what can happen when God’s people work together to participate in God’s mission,” says the Rev. Canon Alan Bentrup, canon for evangelism and mission in the Episcopal Diocese of Upper South Carolina. “We are excited to partner with UTO and Jasmine Road on this opportunity.”
 
Sherri Dietrich, UTO board president notes, "The UTO Board has benefited so much from working with our interns—their energy, interest, and perspectives enliven our discussions and keep us ever mindful of the future of our work. We are eager to meet our next intern, to teach and learn from her, and to work with her and Jasmine Road, a UTO Grant Site."
 
“We are so excited about this partnership with UTO as it provides much needed operational support as we continue to grow and expand our residential program and social enterprise,” states Beth Messick, Executive Director, Jasmine Road. “We also feel it will be transformative not just in the lives of our residents but also for our intern. Together they will experience relationship and community and this truly is the heart of our rooted in love Jasmine Road community.”
 
For the 2019-2020 internship year, in addition to work with Jasmine Road, the intern will participate in the UTO Pilgrimage to Spain in October, represent UTO as support staff for The Episcopal Church delegation to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (UNCSW) in New York City in March, attend one of the Thistle Farms Training Conferences, join UTO Board Meetings or events planned during the year, and travel to speak at public events regarding work with UTO.
 
Applicants need to be comfortable with public speaking, travel, and show a willingness to participate on a team.  Applicants need to be proficient in Microsoft Office programs; collaboration software such as Slack, Google Drive, and Zoom; and social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
 
The internship begins on September 20, 2019 and includes: housing at Vista House, travel costs, a stipend and intentional mentoring.
 
The intern will need their own vehicle for local travel in South Carolina, a current passport, a personal laptop and insurance.
 
More information, applications and instructions are available here.
 
Applications are due June 1, 2019 to the Rev. Canon Heather Melton, staff officer for the United Thank Offering, hmelton@episcopalchurch.org.


The United Thank Offering is a ministry of The Episcopal Church for the mission of the whole church. Through UTO, individuals are invited to embrace and deepen a personal daily spiritual discipline of gratitude. UTO encourages people to notice the good things that happen each day, give thanks to God for those blessings and make an offering for each blessing using a UTO Blue Box. UTO is entrusted to receive the offerings, and to distribute the 100% of what is collected to support innovative mission and ministry throughout The Episcopal Church and Provinces of the Anglican Communion.

Holy Trinity Parish in Decatur Provides Interpreters

Interpreters for members of the congregation who are deaf are regularly scheduled for the 10:30 a.m. Sunday services and for other services and events upon request. Interpreters have been provided for  DOK meetings, Epiphany, Ash Wednesday, Good Friday, Easter Vigil, Christmas services, English teas, ordinations, funerals, forums and discussion groups.

An invitation to ‘Take the Pledge’ and care for God’s creation 1,000 pledges sought by Earth Day, April 22

Episcopalians and friends concerned about all of God’s creation are invited to join Presiding Bishop Michael Curry in pledging to take action to protect and renew God’s world and all who call it home. The goal is to gather at least 1,000 pledges with concrete, personal commitments by Earth Day, April 22.
 
Building from the Episcopal Vision for Care of Creation statement developed by the Presiding Bishop’s Office and the Advisory Council on Stewardship of Creation for the 79th General Convention, this pledge, and the accompanying Reflection Guide, is a tangible and practical way to show love for God’s world.
 
“We hope people understand this is more than adding your signature to a petition,” said the Rev. Melanie Mullen, director of reconciliation, justice and creation care. “Pray with the pledge and the Reflection Guide during Lent. Think about what you love in God’s Creation, where your heart breaks over environmental injustice, and how you’d like to simplify your life – consume less, share more.”
 
The three overarching elements of both the vision and the pledge: loving, liberating, and life-giving, arise directly from understanding ourselves as the Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement and as people who live the Way of Love:
 
     We long to grow loving, liberating and life-giving relationship with God’s Creation. In this
     urgent moment, we pledge to protect and renew this good Earth and all who call it home.
     Together, we commit to specific actions, trusting we can do more as a body than any person
     could alone.
 
          LOVING: We will share our stories of love and concern for the Earth and link with others
          who care about protecting the sacred web of life.
 
          LIBERATING: We will stand with those most vulnerable to the harmful effects of
          environmental degradation and climate change – women, children, poor people and
          communities of color, refugees, migrants.
 
          LIFE-GIVING: We will change our habits and choices in order to live more simply, humbly
          and gently on the Earth.
 
The accompanying Reflection Guide was created in partnership with the Episcopal Diocese of California and includes meditations, prayers, scripture and action steps related to each element of the Pledge. The same diocese is launching a related creation care opportunity: a Carbon Tracker that helps individuals, congregations and entire dioceses to assess and reduce energy use and climate impact. Discover more about the tracker and other resources at http://www.diocal.org/climate.
 
“This isn’t a new curriculum you need to jam into an already busy Lent,” said Amy Cook, head of the Episcopal Diocese of California’s faith formation working group. “For lots of us, Lent is naturally a time for reflection and simplicity. We hope the pledge and the reflection process around it will lead people to deep discernment and commitment to new life this Easter and beyond.”

Statement on Methodist LGBTQIA+ Vote

On February 26, 2019, a Special Session of the General Conference of The United Methodist Church meeting in St. Louis adopted a proposal to strengthen the enforcement of prohibitions against gay and lesbian clergy and same-sex marriages. 

Bishop Wright's Statement

“I was sorry to learn that at the Special Session of the General Conference of The United Methodist Church a plan was adopted to strengthen the enforcement of prohibitions against LGBTQIA+ ordination and marriage.”

“As we mark the 400th anniversary of Africans in America this year I am obligated to speak against any plan or proposal by any church, especially my own, that intends to make some of God’s children an inferior class of baptized people. In the beloved community that is present, and on the way, there are no second-class citizens, only siblings. I know I hold this view in common with many people across denominations and expressions of faith."

“To my LGBTQIA+ brothers and sisters, the Episcopal Church is not a perfect church, but know that you are welcome in the congregations of The Diocese of Atlanta.”


Timeline

In 1976, the General Convention of the Episcopal Church declared that “homosexual persons are children of God who have a full and equal claim with all other persons upon the love, acceptance, and pastoral concern and care of the Church.” Since then, faithful Episcopalians have been working toward a greater understanding and radical inclusion of all of God’s children.

In 2003, the first openly gay bishop was consecrated; in 2009, General Convention resolved that God’s call is open to all; in 2012, a provisional rite of blessing for same-gender relationships was authorized, and discrimination against transgender persons in the ordination process was officially prohibited; and in 2015, the canons of the church were changed to make the rite of marriage available to all people, regardless of gender.

For more information on ministries of the Diocese to and with members of the LGBTQIA+ communities, go to: https://www.episcopalatlanta.org/lgbtqministries/

The Diocese of Atlanta includes the cities, towns and communities in Middle and North Georgia, reaching from south of Macon to the Alabama line and north and east to the borders of Tennessee and South Carolina. We are the eighth largest diocese in The Episcopal Church, which was founded in 1789.

There are 116 welcoming and worshiping communities in this diocese. Find one at: https://www.episcopalatlanta.org/ChurchDirectory/

Go! Summit: Racial Healing in a Changing World

The Global Missions’ annual Go! Summit on February 16 explored racial reconciliation and healing on a local and global level. Held at the Cathedral of St. Philip, this one-day event featured speakers, panel discussions, and breakout sessions, using the companion relationship between the Diocese of Atlanta and the Diocese of Cape Coast Ghana as a lens through which we can explore how to address our past and embrace our future.

We welcomed special guests including our keynote speaker The Rev. Raphael G. Warnock and our very own Bishop Wright. The Rev. Raphael Warnock is nationally known, having been invited to speak at the Obama White House, among other honors. Bishop Wright engaged in conversation with our special guest regarding his vision for racial healing and reconciliation within our own Diocese, and how our relationship with Cape Coast Ghana may play a part in that vision.

United Thank Offering

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It is time to Express our thanks in the various ways our parishes choose.  The Blue Box was created to remind us to give thanks daily and for all things.  A Blue Box placed anywhere can serve as a visual reminder to offer blessings large and small.  It represents the heart of the United Thank Offering ministry and is a pathway between our prayers and the mission of The Episcopal Church.  It is a symbol that allows us, during the week, to be linked to our Christian way of praying, recognizing that blessings come from God and being present to JESUS in the world by helping others in need.

Many parishes use the Blue Boxes as the old fashioned “Mite Boxes” during Lent.  The Parish coordinators distribute the boxes at the churches.  They may put short articles taken from information in the “ Handbook for Diocesan and Parish Coordinators/Organizers” found on the UTO website UnitedThankOffering.org, in Sunday bulletins or monthly newsletters.  The UTO Envelopes may be used for checks from parish members made out to United Thank Offering. You may have a second ingathering in the fall or just one in the spring.  I will address the ingatherings in my next message.    

I , Joy Boyden, am United Thank Offering Diocesan Representative for the Diocese of Atlanta.  If you have questions on the use of the boxes or envelopes, you may reach me at jjboyden45@gmail.com.  

Happening 71: Love Unstoppable

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Happening is a Christian experience presented by teenagers, for teenagers with the help of clergy and lay adult leadership. It seeks to achieve this purpose by bringing young persons and adults to fuller personal knowledge of and relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ and to a deeper level of commitment and apostleship.

Our most recent weekend, Happening 71, was February 15-17, 2019. Led by St. Patrick’s senior, Autumn Toms, 175 youth and adults gathered for a renewal weekend at Camp Mikell. With the theme Love Unstoppable, the youth met both in small groups and as one body to discuss topics like piety, sacrificial love, apostles, how to bring the love back down the mountain, and many more. 

A big thanks to Autumn Toms, Rector, Sophie Alexander, Observing Rector, Spiritual Directors, Rev. Bonnie Underwood and Clayton Harrington, Lay Directors, Sally Benton and Matthew Bowers, and especially to all our youth that served on team for this transformational weekend! It couldn’t have been done without all of these dedicated people!

Circle of Stewardship Workshop Dates have been Announced

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The Commission on Stewardship for the Diocese of Atlanta have announced upcoming Circle of Stewardship dates, a workshop for clergy and lay stewardship leaders.

The mission of Circle of Stewardship is to mobilize clergy and lay leaders to develop stewardship resources, enabling parishes to worship joyfully, serve compassionately, and grow spiritually. Workshop leaders will present:

  • Scriptural building blocks of Christian stewardship

  • Practical resources for organizing your annual stewardship program

  • Designs for tailoring stewardship communications to multigenerational groups

  • Reasons for giving

  • A detailed framework for implementing a comprehensive year-round stewardship program

  • A systematic approach to membership growth

  • Ways to start holy stewardship conversations in your parish

 There is no charge for this workshop and lunch will be provided. If you have any questions, please contact Tammy Pallot at tammypallot@gmail.com.

Be an Everyday Hero

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You can provide invaluable service to children in your local community by volunteering as a Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA)!

CASA volunteers are everyday heroes from all walks of life who advocate for the well-being of children in foster care by giving them a voice and a chance for a better life.

Being a CASA volunteer allows you to provide service to children close to home! Georgia CASA’s 47 affiliate CASA programs across the state serve 151 of Georgia’s 159 counties.

Volunteers receive a 40-hour, pre-service training, including court observations, along with ongoing supervision by CASA staff once they are sworn-in and assigned to serve children.

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Those who have served as CASA volunteers say it is one of the most rewarding services that a person can provide to the community. Oftentimes, the lives of CASA volunteers are changed and impacted as much as the lives of the children they serve.

To learn more about Georgia CASA and the CASA organization, visit https://www.gacasa.org.

To get started exploring the CASA volunteer opportunity, visit https://www.gacasa.org/get-involved/#become-a-volunteer. You can complete the online contact form and be connected to an affiliate CASA program in your community.

For more information, contact Diocesan Community Engagement Facilitator Don Plummer at dplummer@episcopalatlanta.org.

Scott Gunn, E.D. of Forward Movement, to preach on Day1

The Rev. Canon Scott Gunn, executive director of Forward Movement, is the featured preacher March 10 on “Day 1” with host Peter Wallace, the nationally broadcast ecumenical radio program also accessible online at Day1.org.

Gunn is the executive director of Forward Movement, based in Cincinnati, Ohio. An independent agency of the Episcopal Church, Forward Movement publishes books and pamphlets and offers a variety of ministry resources for clergy, lay people, and churches. Gunn served churches in Rhode Island before coming to Forward Movement in 2011. A frequent church and conference speaker, he spends Sundays when he is not on the road at Christ Church Cathedral in Cincinnati where he is an honorary canon.

“My Life Has Never Been the Same,” his sermon for March 10, is based on the story of the temptations of Jesus found in Luke 4:1-13. “We are still very early in this season of Lent. There is still plenty of time to decide how you might use this time to turn to Jesus,” he says. “If you don’t yet have a plan, perhaps you will take a suggestion. Find a Bible. Or find a Bible app or a Bible website.”

Gunn is co-author with Melodie Shobe of two books, “Walk in Love: Episcopal Beliefs and Practices” and “Faithful Questions: Exploring the Way with Jesus.” A graduate of Luther College, he earned M.Div. and M.A. degrees from Yale divinity school, with Anglican Studies at Berkeley Divinity at Yale. He also earned an M.A. from Brown University. 

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


“Day 1” has been broadcast every week for 74 years, formerly as “The Protestant Hour.” Featuring outstanding preachers from the mainline denominations, “Day 1” is currently distributed to more than 200 radio stations across America and overseas. The program is produced by the Alliance for Christian Media, based in Atlanta, Ga. For more information, check the program’s website, http://day1.org