Bishops Visit Diocese to Dedicate New Resource for The Episcopal Church

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The Diocese of Atlanta is proud to be home to a new resource for the worldwide Episcopal Church. Presiding Bishop The Most Rev. Michael Curry was on hand for the Oct. 11 ribbon cutting for the new Absalom Jones Center for Racial Healing.

Located at the Atlanta University Center among Morehouse, Spelman and Clark Atlanta campuses on the Westside of Atlanta, the center will provide parishes and dioceses around the world with the support to address racism head-on through racial reconciliation and healing. The resource and training center is housed in what was known as the historic Absalom Jones Episcopal Center and Chapel building. The creation of the Center aligns with The Episcopal Church and our Diocese’s commitment to reach across the borders and boundaries that divide the human family of God.

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“We shall either learn to live together as brothers and sisters, or we will perish together as fools. The choice is ours, chaos or community,” said Presiding Bishop Curry echoing the words of Martin Luther King, Jr. “This center really does seek to address the polarities and divisions occasioned by our racial history, but also the polarities and divisions that are either directly or indirectly related to that.”

“I thank you and your Bishop together for what you are doing here in Atlanta that is typified by this Center,” Curry said. “I thank God for that leadership because we need it. Not only in our church but we need it in our country.”

Dr. Catherine Meeks is the founding executive director of the Center and chair of the former Diocese of Atlanta’s Beloved Community: Commission for Dismantling Racism. The Center will replace and expand upon the work of the Commission within the Diocese of Atlanta. It will provide training and help bring energy and enthusiasm to the work of racial reconciliation.

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She hopes that people from parishes across the country and world will visit the center to begin the work of learning how to create brave spaces in their own communities. The idea is to foster environments where people can feel comfortable talking about their experiences with race – both good and bad. Meeks says that it is only through conversations and learning about our history and acknowledging our own prejudices that we can discern and decide how we want to shape our present and future together.

The Center will suggest book studies, film screenings, and planning pilgrimages to sites that are historically significant within the context of racial reconciliation. Among the first events to take place at the Center will be a gathering of people from Southeastern dioceses in January. Following that, representatives from all of the Church’s 99 dioceses will be invited to Atlanta in the spring.

At the ribbon cutting ceremony our bishop, The. Rt. Rev. Rob Wright, spoke frankly about the importance of addressing racism as Christians and Episcopalians.

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“The Episcopal Church lent the institution of slavery its support, justification, and after slavery was abolished, continued to support segregation and discrimination. These are the facts,” he said. “In the words of Rabbi Heschel, however, we gather here to say some are guilty, but all are responsible. So, we repent of our complicity in systems of slavery and repression, and to commit ourselves to opposing the sin of racism in our personal and public lives, and to strive for the ongoing creation of the Beloved Community.”

That community is a vision Dr. King spoke about in which racism and all forms of discrimination, bigotry, and prejudice will be replaced by an all-inclusive spirit of sisterhood and brotherhood. As Episcopalians, we can undertake this work through the lens of living into our baptismal promise. Also on hand for the celebration was Bishop Victor Atta-Baffoe, Bishop of Cape Coast in the Anglican Diocese of Cape Coast.

To read more about work being undertaken at the Absalom Jones Center for Racial Healing and across the Diocese of Atlanta, pre-order your 2017-2018 edition of Pathways magazine today. Issues will be delivered in late-November.


The Diocese of Atlanta Launches Pathways Magazine

We are pleased to announce that the 2017-18 issue of Pathways magazine is now available for pre-order. This award-winning publication shares inspiring stories of people that are challenging themselves to love like Jesus. Magazines will be delivered in late November.


Episcopal Bishop joins honor guard for fallen Green Beret

Photo: (right to left) Episcopal lay Chaplain Barbara Pendergrast, Bishop Robert C. Wright, Episcopal Chaplain The Rev. Donna S. Mote.

Photo: (right to left) Episcopal lay Chaplain Barbara Pendergrast, Bishop Robert C. Wright, Episcopal Chaplain The Rev. Donna S. Mote.

Episcopal Bishop Robert C. Wright on Monday joined Episcopal Chaplains The Reverend Donna S. Mote and Barbara Pendergrast at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport to welcome the remains of Staff Sgt. Jeremiah W. Johnson, 39, of Springboro, Ohio. Johnson is one of four U.S. Army Special Forces soldiers killed Oct. 4 in Niger when a joint US-Nigerien patrol was attacked.

Bishop Wright said he was honored to be part of the ceremony, an ongoing welcome for deceased service members regularly conducted by a volunteer group of Delta Airlines employees accompanied by airport chaplains.

Wright, who served for five years in the U.S. Navy, added “even Jesus marveled at the discipline and dedication of those who wear a uniform.  We owe our service men and women much more than occasional moments of silence and our prayers."

The Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta is part of the Interfaith Airport Chaplaincy (IAC) at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL) that was founded in 1980 and throughout the intervening years has provided inter-religious emotional and spiritual care to passengers and employees at the world’s busiest airport.

Episcopal lay people of the Diocese of Atlanta were among the original chaplains of the IAC. The Reverend Donna S. Mote was assigned as Episcopal chaplain to ATL by Bishop Robert Wright in November 2013. Since January 2014, Barbara Pendergrast, a board-certified chaplain endorsed by the Episcopal Church, has volunteered with the IAC.

Along with three other IAC chaplains, Mote and Pendergrast, at the invitation of Delta Airlines, accompany military remains as they terminate in or transit through ATL on Delta. On average, Delta handles two service members’ remains daily in Atlanta. The chaplains bear witness to the dignified transfer of the remains and accompany the official military escorts throughout their time at ATL.

The Delta Honor Guard renders honors to the fallen who pass through ATL under the direction of Coordinator Brian J. McConnell, Sr, a 35-year veteran of Delta who has overseen the Honor Guard for 12 years and handled the remains of some 6,000 US military personnel. The Delta Honor Guard members are volunteers from work areas across the company; most of them are veterans, have a child or sibling currently serving, or both.

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport has been the busiest airport in the world in terms of passengers every year since 1998. In 2016 104 million passengers traveled through ATL, an average of more than 275,000 daily. ATL is also the largest single site of employment in Georgia with over 63,000 employees.

The Diocese of Atlanta includes 114 worshiping communities located throughout middle and north Georgia. It is the ninth largest diocese of the 109 dioceses in the Episcopal Churches, which was founded in 1789.  

The Diocese of Atlanta was created in 1907 and carved from the Diocese of Georgia. The oldest church in the diocese is Christ Church in Macon, which was organized in 1825. The newest are Christ the King, Lilburn, and St. Benedict's, Smyrna, organized in 2005 and 2006. 

As part of the Episcopal Church, the Diocese of Atlanta is part of the worldwide Anglican Communion of 70 million people in 38 provinces. The diocese has special companion relationships with several dioceses in Africa and South America. 

 

By Don Plummer

Don Plummer is media and community relations director for the Diocese of Atlanta and attends St. Teresa’s Episcopal Church in Acworth, GA


Prayer is A Prelude: A Letter from Bishop Wright on Las Vegas

Prayer is a prelude.

Good Evening Brothers and Sisters, in the aftermath of the horror of Las Vegas, I am heartened to know that you’re gathered to remember and pray for the souls of those who have died, including Mr. Paddock. I am heartened that you have gathered to comfort one another with the comfort we find in Christ Jesus. Were I not traveling today, I would be blessed to be with you. Holy Scripture reminds us that we are to “…rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep.” Tonight we weep. Tonight is an important part of what makes us human. Even
though Las Vegas is more than fifteen hundred miles away from Georgia, we are nevertheless connected with the men and women struck down and the loved ones the left behind by our ability to empathize and have compassion.

So, we pray. We reach to God in familiar words to remember the dead and send our positive psychic and spiritual energy to those still in shock and who will grieve for years to come. But let us remember also, Jesus was a man of prayer and of action. Prayer, for us, is a prelude to action. Prayer with no corresponding action is a useless and vain exercise. Most importantly, prayer without action is not the faith Jesus practiced!

My sincere prayer is that the lives of those killed in Las Vegas will not be in vain. I still have the audacity to believe that America is a great country! I still believe we can accomplish great things together. I believe we can affirm the Second Amendment, protect the rights of hunters and sportsman and enact common-sense gun laws and put into practice intelligent safety measures.

This is not a partisan sentiment. Morgues and cemeteries are not divided by political affiliation. And families do not cry red or blue tears. This is about coming to the realization that moments of silence and prayer will not, of themselves, make our culture safer. What will make our culture safer is ordinary people like you and I, from every political stripe, finding the courage to act.

Jesus often asked men and women he encountered, “What do you want?” As you are gathered to pray and remember tonight, I put his question to all of us, What do you want? I want an America where we are less afraid and more neighborly. An America where it is more difficult to get a semi-automatic weapon or high capacity magazines than it is to get a pack of Sudafed or Nasonex. I want an America where special interests like the NRA don’t control our elected officials with campaign donations and render them spineless.

I want an America where law enforcement officers are better equipped to keep us safe than criminals are equipped to do us harm. These are not Democratic dreams or Republican dreams, this is an American dream that can save us from our present American nightmare. What makes these kinds of dreams a reality is when you and I, by prayer and strengthened by the Sacraments and our fellowship together, take seriously the words our post Communion prayer:

“…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"

You are always in my thoughts and prayers, please let me be in yours.

Your brother and bishop,

Robert C Wright


Disaster Preparedness & Response Reminders

With the possibility that some of our members have been or will be impacted during this hurricane season, The Rev. Paul McCabe, diocesan disaster planning and response coordinator, has prepared a list of resources that give information about how to best respond and volunteer in the event of damaging storms in our area. 

Three Key Things To Remember

  1. It is important to let the first responders do their jobs and not put ourselves in unnecessary risk taking situations.

  2. Pay attention to information going out from the state and other sources.

  3. Text messaging and social media are the best forms of communication rather than phones if circuits become over burdened. 
     

Resources

  • Diocese of Atlanta: Disaster Response ▸ Click here
  • Episcopal Relief & Development: Disaster Preparedness ▸ Click here
  • National Disasters Interfaith Network ▸ Click here
  • Episcopal Relief & Development: Ready to Serve Volunteer Website ▸ Click here
  • The Red Cross: Get Help ▸ Click here
  • Georgia Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster ▸ Click here


Contact Rev. Paul McCabe if you questions or need assistance: rector@ecamarietta.org 
 


Grace-Calvary and Clarkesville FUMC Volunteers Ramp Up Service to Community

It seems a simple concept. Easy access from a home to the outside world. When a disability interferes, this simple exercise can prove to be a frustrating impediment. Thanks to a faithful group of community volunteers, led by Ray Rowell of Clarkesville, this challenge is being addressed – one ramp at a time. 

Eight volunteers from Grace-Calvary Episcopal Church and Clarkesville First United Methodist Church, on Aug. 29, dedicated a day to construct a 16-foot ramp for a Martin resident. An early start to the day to beat the summer heat found the group at the site unloading “boxes” that make up the framework of the ramp, along with deck boards that had been cut and assembled off site, said Walton Smith of Clarkesville, working with the Grace-Calvary group. “The group has a trailer that contains the tools and equipment of a mobile workshop,” Smith said. “All of this is set up near where the ramp is to be built. The only thing required on-site is one power outlet.” 

A first priority is to connect the landing portion of the ramp to the home. “This is normally the slowest part of the onsite work,” Smith said. The landing is attached to the house and supported by 4x4’s, the ramp is attached to it, sloping at 5 degrees down to ground level. The 4x4 posts are either put into post holes or placed into heavy concrete footings. The landing and ramp boxes are then attached to the house and the posts with nails, bolts and screws. As each box is put into place, pre-cut deck boards are nailed and screwed down to it. Then 2x4’s are attached to the posts to enclose the ramp in a strong, protective railing. Finally, a top board is attached over the top rail and the posts, thus tying the whole structure together. The main Martin ramp needed two additional small ramps in order to be useful. “A short ramp, also at 5 degrees of incline, was built at the house entry and another where the walkway met the driveway so as to permit easier transitions by a wheelchair," Smith said. 

Rowell has four ramp projects in the pipeline, with the next scheduled construction day set for September in Homer. This ministry is an example of what can be started by one person, said Father Sam Buice, rector of Grace-Calvary. Ray Rowell began building ramps in the area many years ago, Buice said.

“He has built this ministry and can know that it will be here long after he stops building ramps himself,” he said. “The group that has formed around him is equally committed to this work. As a person who spent three months in a wheelchair myself, I can say, first-hand how important a ramp can be and what it means to have someone build one for you.”

For more information, email sueandrayrowell@windstream.net to be placed on the mailing list for notices of upcoming volunteer opportunities. 

Photos: Walton Smith


VIDEO OF DIOCESAN DAY ON IMMIGRATION

Amid all of the public turmoil about immigration, how do Christians respond in a way that allows them to live into their baptismal promise to respect the dignity of all persons and the imperative from Jesus to love our neighbor as ourselves?

That is one of many questions participants wrestled with during an August 30 discussion at The Cathedral of St. Philip in Atlanta, GA.

The event included presentations by priests and Christian lay leaders from the Atlanta area actively involved in responding to the needs of our immigrant neighbors. Episcopal bishops Robert Wright of the Diocese of Atlanta and Jose McLoughlin of the Diocese of Western North Carolina provided theological guidance and practical ways Christians can respond to this hotly debated issue. 


Help Those Impacted by Hurricane Harvey

Hurricane Harvey has devastated the lives of millions of people in Texas and Louisiana. Hear from our Presiding Bishop Michael Curry on ways to help those impacted.

Long ago the prophet Malachi taught that we are all children of God by virtue of our creation by the same God. "Have we not all one father? Has not one God created us," he asked (2:10). Jesus taught the same thing when he told a story about a Good Samaritan. We are indeed all the children of God. And if we are all God's children, then we are all brothers and sisters.

In our recent days, we have watched and witnessed the devastation in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.  Our brothers and sisters in Texas and Louisiana need our help.

As our fellow Episcopalians minister to those in need they need our help not just now or in the short term, but for the long haul. Our support of Episcopal Relief & Development is a tangible, practical, effective and reliable way to do that, keep in your prayers for the people in Texas and Louisiana whose lives have been forever changed by Hurricane Harvey.

Episcopal Relief & Development reminds us not to send food, clothing or other items because affected dioceses have limited or no capacity to receive, store or distribute goods. It is more efficient and better for the local economy to make a donation.

Together we are the human family of God and our efforts in times like these truly help bring God's love and ours to our sisters and brothers in great need.

The Most Rev. Michael B. Curry
Presiding Bishop and Primate The Episcopal Church

Hear more from our Presiding Bishop Michael Curry.
 
 

 
 
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Miriam's Gift Award

The Commission on Human Trafficking is aware that many congregations have programs that help prevent the trafficking of children, even though that may not be the primary purpose of the program. To highlight these programs and celebrate their work with children, the Commission has created an award called “Miriam’s Gift.” A cash award of $500 will be given to the program that best demonstrates concern for children at risk for being trafficked and the award will be presented at Annual Council in November.

The award is named for Miriam, the sister of Moses, who created a way to save her infant brother when Pharaoh ordered the death of all Hebrew baby boys. Years later, she led the Hebrew women through the Red Sea to freedom from slavery in Egypt. Because of her courage and creativity, many people found new life.

There are many factors that combine to put children at risk for sex trafficking:
 incest and abuse
 domestic violence
 children who are runaways or “thrown away” by their parents
 foster care
 drug and alcohol abuse
 low achievement in school
 poverty
 belonging to a vulnerable immigrant community
 feelings of worthlessness
 LGBTQ children

Programs that address children and youth who are at risk for trafficking are eligible for the award. Examples of such programs are after-school tutoring, mentoring, summer programs, healthcare, sex education, meals and housing. All programs like these strengthen children and help to keep them from falling prey to sex traffickers. Enclosed is a brief application form that allows the Commission to be aware of the good work in which you are already engaged on behalf of at-risk children. The Commission on Human Trafficking wants to honor programs that provide protection and care for at-risk children and help lead them into a full life in the Spirit.

Please fill out the form and return it by Monday, October 2, 2017. “Miriam’s Gift” will be announced by Bishop Wright at Annual Council in November. For further information, please call Lisa Venable Herring, chair of the Commission on Human Trafficking, at lisa@wgherring.com or 404-394- 8521.


New Campus Missioners

Transitioning into college is hard - really hard. We support all of our young adults whether they choose to go to college or do something else. The Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta believes in giving every young adult the best opportunity to stay connected during this transition. Campus Missioners are here to help guide young adults during this new phase of life. Meet our newest Campus Missioners. 

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Rebecca Land-Segrest

Rebecca is a cradle raised Episcopalian and has always been active in serving her Church, active growing up in her Diocese and parish in South Georgia, and she continues her involvement in the Episcopal Communion through Canterbury Club and knows firsthand the significance of having a strong Christian community. Rebecca is thrilled now serve as the Campus Missioner for the Canterbury Club of Northwest Georgia and plans to continue the strong traditions already in place while looking for new opportunities to serve our students. Contact Rebecca. 

 

 

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The Rev. Joseph Shippen

Joseph served as a parish priest for eleven years before being called to campus ministry at Mercer University in 2017. A graduate of Mercer, he is excited to be back at the University, as Campus Missioner for the Diocese of Atlanta and as an adjunct professor in the Religious Studies Department. Joseph joined the Episcopal Church as a student through Mercer’s Canterbury Club. He is thrilled to have the opportunity to introduce others to the Episcopal branch of the Jesus Movement by leading the same ministry that made such an impact on his life. Contact Joseph. 


Diocesan Day on Immigration

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Amid all of the public turmoil about immigration, how do Christians respond in a way that allows them to live into their baptismal promise to respect the dignity of all persons and the imperative from Jesus to love our neighbor as ourselves?

That is one of many questions participants will wrestle with during an August 30 discussion at The Cathedral of St. Philip, 2744 Peachtree Road, N.E, Atlanta, GA 30305. The session, scheduled for 1 p.m. - 3 p.m., is free and open to the public. It will be streamed live at stphilipscathedral.org/stream

The event will include presentations by priests and Christian lay leaders from the Atlanta area actively involved in responding to the needs of our immigrant neighbors. Episcopal bishops Robert Wright of the Diocese of Atlanta and Jose McLoughlin of the Diocese of Western North Carolina will provide theological guidance and practical ways Christians can respond to this hotly debated issue. There will also be information on accessing resources for immigrants and how people of faith can best use those resources. This event is free and open to the public. To learn more about the Diocesan Day on Immigration, click here. 

 

El obispo le da la bienvenida

Es chocante ver a Jesús llamar tonto a un emprendedor de negocios. Considera su vida: pequeños campos se convierten en grandes, pequeños graneros en más grandes. Lucas 12: 13-21 ¿Cómo le llamarías? ¡Jesús le llama tonto! En su búsqueda de MÄS este hombre no consulta a nadie sino a sí mismo. Nunca se detiene a dar gracias a Dios por la cosecha que llena sus graneros. Sus obras no se basan en la gratitud. No desarrolla un plan para compartir la riqueza con los que recogen las cosechas o construyen los graneros. No considera nunca que a su muerte la riqueza no podrá ser transferida a la siguiente realidad. No aprendió nunca que la riqueza es un don y que debemos ser co-constructores del reino de Dios. ¿Jesús socialista? No creo que Jesús se preocupe de un sistema económico o de otro. Para Jesús, se trata siempre del corazón. Se trata siempre de que seamos ricos en Dios. —Obispo Roberto Wright

 

Agenda

12:40 PM Registration Opens

1 PM Opening Prayer and Introductions
The Reverend Canon John Bolton, Diocese of Atlanta

1:05 PM Bishop’s View on Immigration in the Diocese of Atlanta
The Right Rev. Robert C. Wright, Bishop of Atlanta

1:20 PM Bishop’s View on Immigration and Sanctuary
The Right Rev. Jose McLoughlin, Bishop of Western North Carolina

1:50 PM Recent Actions on Immigration in the Diocese of Atlanta
The Rev. Caroline Magee, St. Bede’s Episcopal Church, Atlanta
The Rev. Fabio Sotelo, Iglesia de San Beda, Atlanta

2:10 PM Current Legal Proceedings Regarding Immigration
Danielle M. Claffey, Esq., Partner, Kuck Immigration Partners LLC, Atlanta

2:35 PM Questions

2:50 PM Resources for Immigrants and Those Ministering to Immigrants
Archdeacon Juan Sandoval, Diocese of Atlanta

2:55 PM Closing Prayer
The Rev. Canon John Thompson-Quartey, Diocese of Atlanta


atlSERVE

 

During the week of June 24-30, 50 youth representing 14 congregations served communities all over Atlanta. Some of these communities were Crossroads Ministries of St. Luke's, Holy Comforter, and Church of the Common Ground. Our youth did many acts of service during the week, and among these was feeding over 2,000 people. Our middle and high schoolers experienced what it means to serve and be served by others by seeing God in every person we encountered. God continues to show us why youth ministry remains such an important part of the work we do in our diocese.

Click here to learn more about Youth and Young Adult Ministries. 


Bishop Wright Appoints Four New Convocation Deans

The Right Rev. Bishop Rob Wright has appointed new deans for four convocations within the Diocese of Atlanta.

The Very Rev. Mary K. Erickson, Rector, The Episcopal Church of the Ascension in Cartersville was appointed the dean of the Northwest Georgia Convocation. The Very Rev. Mary Erickson was ordained a priest in this Diocese in February 2005 and has served as the rector of The Episcopal Church of the Ascension in Cartersville since 2010.  She currently serves as a Consultant for parish transitions, a facilitator for the Diocese's clergy leadership training program called Learning to Lead, and she is a certified Safe Church trainer. Dean Erickson has also served on the Diocese's Budget and Stewardship Committees.  

The new dean of the Mid-Atlanta Convocation is The Very Rev. Arlette D. Benoit Joseph from St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Atlanta. Benoit graduated from the General Theological Seminary in New York City, where she also earned her master's degree in Divinity with a certificate in Spiritual Direction. In June 2013, Benoit was ordained to the priesthood in the Diocese of Atlanta.

The Very Rev. Lauren Kuratko from St. Martin in the Fields Episcopal Church was appointed the dean of the North Atlanta convocation. Kuratko grew up in Montgomery, Alabama and received a bachelor's degree in Psychology and Religious Studies from Rhodes College in 2002. In 2005, she graduated from the Virginia Seminary.

The fourth appointment was The Very Rev. Brandon Duke, Rector, St. Julian's Episcopal Church in Douglasville, to the Southwest Atlanta Convocation. Duke attended seminary at Emory University’s Candler School of Theology. He then attended Sewanee: The University of the South’s School of Theology to further develop his skills in pastoral care, liturgy, and community life.

The other six convocations within the Diocese of Atlanta are Chattahoochee Valley, East Atlanta, Marietta, Middle Georgia, Northeast Georgia, and Northeast Metro.  View the parishes in each convocation here


Episcopal Service Corps Fellowship

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The Road Episcopal Service Corp is now accepting applications for the 2017-2018 service year. The Road offers young adults the opportunity to make connections between faith and social change, commit to community and simplicity, and grow in capacity for compassionate, courageous, and imaginative leadership. Road fellows work 32 hours per week in non-profits addressing issues around homelessness, unemployment, education, immigration, addiction, refugee resettlement, the environment and much more. The Road offers young adults the opportunity to put their beliefs into action having an impact on Peoplestown, the local community in which they live and the greater metropolitan Atlanta community. One day a week is devoted to spiritual discernment and reflection, leadership development, and community action in the neighborhoods of urban Atlanta.

Road fellows receive a monthly stipend. In addition room and board as well as public transportation to and from work sites, is also provided at no cost to the Road fellow.

Applications are being accepted on a rolling basis until July 21, 2018. Learn more.


The Circle: A Gathering of Contemplative Prayer and Study

A Gathering of Contemplative Prayer & Study

The Circle is a gathering of individuals who are seeking to practice and explore the many dimensions of contemplative prayer. The conversations we share are grounded in the ongoing work of The New Contemplatives Exchange, a global network of contemplative scholars and practitioners gathered by Fr. Thomas Keating, OCSO, (Contemplative Outreach); Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM (The Center for Action and Contemplation), Fr. Tilden Edwards, Episcopal priest (The Shalem Institute for Spiritual Formation); and Fr. Laurence Freeman, OB (The World Community for Christian Meditation). The Exchange will meet for the first time in August at St. Benedict’s Monastery in Snowmass, CO, with twenty participants from six countries.

Fr. Stuart Higginbotham will facilitate the sessions, connecting this group’s work to his experience as part of The Exchange. He will share key articles and reflections from the Exchange group with The Circle members, helping cultivate a wider conversation within Grace Church, The Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta, the Gainesville area, and beyond.

The Circle takes its direction from the overall vision of The New Contemplatives Exchange:

Awakening a larger embrace and expansion of Christian contemplative understanding and practice as the vital grounding of Christian life, with openness to collaboration with all streams of contemplative wisdom, in response to the urgent social and spiritual needs of our times.

There are many ways in which we can explore contemplative prayer—all of which are grounded in intentional postures of silence. The richness of The New Contemplative Exchange is seen in the dialogue between these different particular practices of contemplative prayer. Individuals may have established practices of contemplative prayer grounded in any of these (or other) traditions or schools. The desire of The Circle is to explore what growth we can share with one another in an appreciative space that is curious about the wider and deeper dimensions of contemplative studies and practice within the Christian tradition. There will be time for shared silence as well as important reflection, reading, and accountability with our daily practice.

If there is a critical mass after four weeks, we will explore maintaining the group for a longer time period.

The Schedule
The current session is scheduled for four consecutive Sundays: September 17, 24, October 1, and 8. We will gather in the Chapel at Grace Church from 6:30 to 8:00 pm. The Chapel entrance is on Washington Street.

The current schedule is as follows:

6:30 - Gathering and settling in
6:35 - Sharing of Silence
7:05 - Conversation and reflection on articles-notes to think on this week
7:50 - Brief Evening Prayer to close…

Please contact Fr. Stuart at Stuart@gracechurchgainesville.org if you have any questions.


Rainbow Village CEO Nancy Yancey Announces Retirement at Year’s End

Rainbow Village Chief Operating Officer the Rev. Nancy Yancey announced that she will retire from the 26-year-old nonprofit serving homeless families with children on December 31, 2017. Yancey, 65, who was involved in the creation of Rainbow Village in 1991, has led the organization since 1993.

In a written statement Yancey said she leaves the organization without debt following a successful $8.8 million building program that leaves Rainbow Village staff and board members well positioned to build upon that success as they sustain and further refine the program that boasts a better than 85% success rate in reversing family homelessness.

“I have been blessed to serve Rainbow Village for the past 24 years. I have always tried to follow God’s call for my life and I believe it is now time for me to enter the next phase of my journey. I will retire at the end of 2017 and look forward to spending time with my husband, children and friends,” Yancey wrote.

“I could never have imagined what a miraculous journey God had in store for me and Rainbow Village during my time here. Rainbow Village has grown from serving two families in 1991 to serving 30 in 2017. The capital campaign which began in 2008 is now complete and the “new” Village with a Family Service Center, 30 apartment homes and Community Center will be at full capacity, serving approximately 100 residents by year end.

“Rainbow Village is well positioned to continue its success over the next 25 years and beyond. I am honored to have developed so many wonderful relationships with investors, volunteers and staff who have loved and cared for our families as I have. I know the support will continue as we now move into sustaining what we have built together.  I am proud of all that has been accomplished and honored to have been a part of the success.

“Rainbow Village can look forward to new leadership to work with the amazing staff and board of directors to continue to fulfill the mission of Rainbow Village. I am sure God has already chosen the one who is to succeed me.  I offer prayers of thanksgiving for the hundreds of lives that have been transformed at Rainbow Village and the ones who are to come. I am certain God will continue to bless each one of us!”

Click here to read the AJC article "Life with Gracie: How an interior designer built a Rainbow Village for homeless."


Local Lay Chaplains Realize the Harvest is Plentiful

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Since May is National Mental Health Month, two of us would like to share one of the ways our local mental health court helps folks with mental health issues to lead productive lives outside of the criminal justice system. Our perspectives come from a judge who presides over this accountability court and an ecumenical chaplain involved from the start of this initiative.  After watching a number of people over the years struggle with physical health in the HELP  (Health, Empowerment, Linkage and Possibilities) Court, as well as weight gain due to medications, I, as the judge,  turned to the community for help.  A group of parishioners at Grace Episcopal Church who belong to the Community of Hope, an organization of lay chaplains, took on the challenge. They invited participants in HELP Court to walk a mile around the Brenau campus with them and then have lunch together.

The church volunteers initially set specific agendas for the lunch time together. These “Lunch and Learns,” which touched on different aspects of daily living such as healthy eating, exercise, or punctuality, seemed to send a message that the volunteers became uncomfortable with: that they were somehow the teacher and that what this opportunity had to offer was for the benefit of the participant alone. Soon, I, as the chaplain, saw that what the participants could teach us, the volunteers, about being honest and real and offering completely differing perspectives was a gift to us that transformed our view of empathy, compassion, and service. We could see that true connections were being made by everyone who gathered, and that it was time to put the “learning” component of lunch aside and just talk.

As the activity evolved, I, as the judge, heard praise, both from the volunteers and from the participants.  I realized that this effort was helping to address one of the most serious barriers to the continued stability of the participants.  That barrier is the STIGMA our culture attaches to people with mental health issues.  The most poignant example of this stigma is one I heard very early on in the court.  Participants in HELP Court must attend a number of meetings—group therapy, individual counseling, drug testing, and others.  This means they must discuss their situation with their employers in order to be available.  There are a number of wonderful businesses in our community that are willing to work with their employees to ensure their success in the program.  But some are not so understanding.  I asked one of our early participants if he had spoken with his employer about coming to groups and he said he was not able to be truly honest.  He said that if he had explained he was going to therapy to learn about his diagnosis of bi-polar and skills to help him be successful in society, he would have been ridiculed, called crazy, and possibly let go. So he had told his boss that he was attending classes for perpetrators of domestic violence, which was accepted without disapproval.  

The interactions between church members and court participants, in a setting that is not court, not therapy, and not mandated, give each side the freedom to see each other as just people, with struggles and triumphs in daily life, like we all have.  And those volunteers spread their greater understanding of people with mental health issues among their wider group of friends and acquaintances. At the same time, court participants have pleasant interactions with caring people other than the “caring professionals” they are required to see.  

The experience is so simple but so meaningful. In putting the person before the label and acquiring a deeper, truer understanding of the complexities of mental health, volunteers helped participants to feel like people instead of marked, locked boxes. This gave them the confidence to speak their truths about their struggles and successes, which helped the volunteers see the commonalities of living life in a world where there is hardship. No matter who you are or what you’re labeled, you will at some point be forced to confront that. When a participant approached the volunteer privately and offered her advice about how to be a better parent, she realized that the labels associated with mental illness are true detriments to making real connections with each other.

This type of coming together is crucial for everyone, not just those seeking rehabilitative assistance. Changing our misconceptions into experiences of compassion is the way into understanding. And perhaps after we understand, we change the face of mental health and how we deal with the locked boxes both in ourselves and in others.
The program has been so successful that the Community of Hope is working to replicate this component of HELP Court in other counties.

Kathy Gosselin is a Superior Court Judge presiding over the mental health court and veteran’s court in the Northeastern Judicial Circuit.  Laura Masterson is a certified lay chaplain through The Community of Hope, International. Nancy Richardson is the coordinator for the Walk and Talk component of the HELP court.


Malachi's Storehouse Receives Generous Grant from ECF

Malachi’s Storehouse, emergency food pantry located at St. Patrick’s in Dunwoody, is excited to announce that they are the recipient of a grant from Episcopal Community Foundation of Middle and North Georgia (ECF) of $10,400! This grant will be used to purchase protein for their food pantry from the Atlanta Community Food Bank for the period of 1 year.

Why is this important?

“More than 25 percent of Georgia children face food insecurity, and Georgia is seventh in the nation for senior citizens facing hunger,” according to Lindsey Hardegree, Executive Director of Episcopal Community Foundation of Middle and North Georgia. With this grant, Malachi’s will be able to purchase (primarily) chicken to provide a consistent source of protein to our clients every week.

Malachi’s Storehouse is an outreach ministry of St. Patrick’s and is open every Wednesday from 11am to 3pm, providing a hot lunch, groceries, and clothing to anyone in need. Malachi’s is an integral part of the life of the parish at St. Patrick’s where parishioners have supported the food pantry for 25 years! Visit our website at malachisstorehouse.org.

Malachi’s board, volunteers and clients wish to thank ECF for the generous grant, which will help improve the lives of those they serve!


ECF Grants $7,000 in Small Acts of Charity Grants for First Quarter

Today the Episcopal Community Foundation for Middle and North Georgia (ECF) announces its first two Small Acts of Charity grants to Cherokee Asset Learning for Leadership (CALL) in Macon and St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church (Decatur).

“ECF has shifted its grant-making focus to encourage larger, more impactful grants; however, we also acknowledge that sometimes smaller funding requests are needed to continue our work building the Beloved Community,” said Lindsey Hardegree, Executive Director for the Episcopal Community Foundation for Middle and North Georgia. “Our Small Acts of Charity are granted to one or two applicants each quarter; this allows us to preserve ECF’s primary funding for impactful partnerships while still providing an opportunity for smaller requests to be considered.”

ECF’s Q1 Small Acts of Charity 2017 recipients:

• Cherokee Asset Learning for Leadership (CALL) will receive a grant of $3,500 to fund an Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) process for the Cherokee Heights Historic District in Macon.  ABCD focuses on the existing resources and capacity within a community to address the needs of that specific community, and CALL will be researching how the assets in and around Cherokee Heights might be best utilized for mission and outreach to the poor and oppressed in the area formerly occupied by St. James Episcopal Church (Macon).

• St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church (Decatur) will receive a grant of $3,500 towards renovating its kitchen space as a part of the expansion of their food pantry ministry to enable hot meal service. In the seven years since its founding, the St. Timothy’s Food Pantry Program has seen a more than 300% increase in the amount of food distributed to families in need, and has determined that expanding its services to also include hot nutritious breakfasts will fill an unmet need in the community. Kitchen renovations will allow for 840 hot meals to be served per year to the participants in the Food Pantry Program, as well as 120 meals per year to the nearby residents of Hagar’s House Emergency Shelter.

About ECF’s Grant Programs:
ECF awards General Grants twice a year and Small Acts of Charity (capped at $5,000) quarterly. Applications for the Q2 Small Acts of Charity are due May 15, 2017. Those interested in applying for funding should visit http://ecfatlanta.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.