Three centuries of Revival in the Diocese of Georgia

While this week’s tent revival at Honey Creek may seem out of character for the Episcopal Church, the Diocese of Georgia’s history has been marked by revivals, including these three notable examples from our history:

18th century – Beef and Beer Dinners Lead to a Colony
Thomas Bray (1656-1730) was for most of his life, the rector of St. Botolph-Without-the-Walls, in London, but a brief tour of Maryland expanded the scope of his ministry. The Bishop of London, who was responsible for the colonies, sent Bray to the colony as his representative. Bray returned to England with a passion for assisting the work of the Gospel in the colonies. He developed a group of friends who ministered with beef and beer meals in the prisons on Sundays. A young James Oglethorpe joined him in this work. Bray suggested the idea of a colony where people could have a new chance at life. Though he died before Georgia was founded, the charter reflects his Christian utopian vision. Georgia was founded as a place where there would be no slaves, lawyers, and no accumulation of land beyond 150 acres per family.

Another product of his two-and-a-half month tour was that Bray saw the terrible shortage of both pastors and books-Bibles and Prayer Books. On his return to England, he founded the SPG, the Society for the Proclamation of the Gospel, to provide priests with stipends for churches in the colonies. The SPG would later provide clergy for Christ Church, Savannah, and St. Paul’s, Augusta. He then founded the Society for the Propagation of Christian Knowledge (SPCK), to provide books. While not a revival preacher like John Wesley who would serve in Savannah, Bray’s Beef and Beer Dinners were a different kind of revival, giving hope to those in prison, which was more fully realized in the new lives made possible in Georgia.

19th century – Georgia’s First Bishop Converted in Revival
The first Bishop of Georgia came to faith through a revival held at St. Helena’s Episcopal Church in Beaufort, South Carolina. Stephen Elliott Jr. was a local attorney when he heard the Presbyterian preacher Daniel Baker was coming to Beaufort and would be preaching in the Episcopal Church he attended. Morning, noon, and night for a series of days in 1831, Episcopal liturgies at the historic church concluded with Baker climbing into the pulpit to open the scripture anew.

Of the eighty persons who experienced a conversion experience at St. Helena’s during that revival were eight young men who became ministers. Among these was Elliott, who would a decade later become the first bishop of Georgia. Baker’s memoir records an attorney converted in that revival exclaiming to him, “O, Mr. Baker, I have an ocean of joy!” -adding, “what would have become of me, if you had not come here.” Baker’s account of that revival is online here.

20th Century – Bishop Brings Revival to Georgia
In 1965, Georgia’s sixth bishop, invited 12 bishops from across the church to come to this Diocese to lead a Bishops’ Crusade. Bishop Albert Rhett Stuart told the

Savannah Evening Press, “The purpose of the Crusade is not to foster our Episcopalianism, but to bring the Gospel to the people of South Georgia.”

The bishops gathered with our diocesan convention at the Aquarama on Jekyll Island where the Primate of Canada preached and Bishop Stuart commissioned the team to go preach the Gospel. They were sent out to 12 communities to preach from January 31-February 4, with the group giving 60 sermons as well as radio and TV interview and informal talks in factories, knitting mills, and railroad yards. Every night averaged more than 3,000 people taking part in the events and every morning sizeable groups turned up at 50 churches for the daily celebration of Eucharist Bishop Stuart named as essential to the work. The revival led immediately to the founding of St. Philip’s Hinesville as an out-growth of the Jesup meetings and there were many large classes of confirmations soon after the meetings.

Bishop Stuart led the Diocese through a time of unprecedented growth as the Diocese of Georgia added parishioners at a pace that was not only faster than population growth, but exceeded the rate the Georgia Baptist Convention grew in the same time period. To bring the story of these three revivals full circle, the offerings taken during the 1965 Bishops’ Crusade were given to fund the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in thanksgiving for Thomas Bray’s work. Click here to read the article from the May 1965 issue of The Episcopalian: Crusaders in Georgia.


Ready for the Revival?

Are you ready for the Revival? We have planned a full day beginning with a morning service at Good Shepherd, Pennick followed by the Revival at Honey Creek Retreat Center. A variety of food trucks from the Savannah Food Truck Coalition will be serving food at a reasonable cost starting at 11 AM. Performances by the Albany State University Choir, the Savannah Children’s Choir, and soloists Trina Meade and Roger Moss will begin at noon. The Presiding Bishop will begin to preach at 1 PM.

Schedule for the Presiding Bishop’s Two-Day Visit

January 19th
5:30 PM
Presiding Bishop Michael Curry has dinner and then talks with clergy of the diocese.
8 PM
The Presiding Bishop spends time with diocesan youth.
January 20th
9:30 AM
Service honoring Deaconess Alexander at Church of the Good Shepherd, Pennick
11 AM
Food Trucks open for service at Honey Creek
Noon to 1 PM
Fellowship Hour with performances by Albany State Choir, Savannah Children’s Choir
1 PM
The Revival begins with Presiding Bishop Michael Curry preaching
3 PM
Buses depart

For full information, go to



196th Convention Concludes

The 196th Convention of the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia concluded Saturday with changes to the Canons approved, the election to fill diocesan committee openings completed in short order, and a gathering representing every church in the diocese inspired to  begin evangelizing in preparation of the Revival on January 20th.

To see election results, view the PowerPoint presentations used throughout Convention, and more go to


Register for Convention 2017

Keynote Speaker: Carrie Boren Headington

The 196th Convention of the Diocese of Georgia will be held November 9-11 at The Patterson in Valdosta. The theme of the Convention: Fearless Faith, Boundless Love, serves as a prelude to the Revival which will be held January 20th at Honey Creek Retreat Center.

The keynote speaker, Carrie Boren Headington will continue the work begun at last year’s Convention with Invite-Welcome-Connect as we discover how we share Fearless Faith and Boundless Love beyond the walls of our church: as individuals in our daily lives and as parishes in our communities. She will walk delegates through key ways of developing an invitation strategy for their parish and every congregation will leave the Convention with clear next steps toward a plan for their church.

Registration is now live and can be found by clicking here. A discounted rate of $55 for registration is in effect until October 4, regular registration of $65 runs October 5-November 1 and late registration of $75 begins November 2 and continue until November 7 when online registration closes. It will be possible to register in person at Convention and pay the late registration cost also.

See the Accommodations page for information on our block of rooms at the Hilton Garden Inn and the Hampton Inn and Suites.

A renovated turn-of-the-century S.H.Kress building, The Patterson is a new event space in downtown Valdosta. We will meet in convention close to the Episcopal Church of Christ the King. That congregation will bring their worship to The Patterson on the Friday evening of Convention, with a meal to follow. Thursday evening, we will worship together in an Evening Prayer liturgy at Christ Episcopal Church at 1521 North Patterson Street in Valdosta.

The 196th Convention of the Diocese of Georgia will meet in the ballroom at The Patterson in downtown Valdosta, Georgia.

Visit the Convention Website for more information



First Person: Helping Through the Red Cross

As Hurricane Irma began to make its way towards Georgia, the Red Cross sent out an appeal for volunteers to assist with the evacuees our city would be hosting. Two of the people who responded were Gail and Robbie Jarrell, longtime members of Holy Comforter. Here’s their story, by Gail.
Robbie and I worked as volunteers through the Red Cross at the shelter set up at Patriots Park for evacuees from the path of Irma. A littlebackground info – after Katrina, we traveled with a group from Holy Comforter to New Orleans to help “muck-out” houses in May of 2006, eight months after Katrina hit. We saw first-hand how the recovery process is a very long, difficult one for those that lost all of their belongings. We also saw how important it was for those people to get back “home” or to whatever was left of it. They desperately wanted to return to a daily routine – a “normal” life that so many of us take for granted. When we had the opportunity to help out with this disaster, we took it.

Robbie and I received a brief training through Columbia County Emergency Management and the Red Cross last Friday. We were selected to work on Tuesday from 8 AM to 2 PM at the Patriots Park shelter.

I was assigned to the dining area. Robbie assisted folks as they prepared to return home and, since they were closing some of the shelters in Richmond County, he assisted with getting them settled at Patriots Park.

I was able to greet clients as they made their sleepy way to the dining area. We offered them cereal, doughnuts, yogurt and a hot cup of coffee which they all insisted needed to be strong. As is usual, folks begin to share stories over their cup of coffee.

There was a family of 19 adults and children that had made their way up from Naples, Florida. Instead of sitting down to eat, they just wanted to get on the road and get as close to home as possible. They had heard, of course, that their area had been one of the hardest hit areas, so they had no idea what they would return to find. We packed food for the road and wished the best for them as they traveled back to an unknown future.

Then there was a 92 year old gentleman that lived just outside of Jacksonville. He said he was told he had to leave, so he gathered a few items and beloved dog of 10 years and got in the car and started driving north. A deputy found him at a gas station and brought him and his dog to Patriots Park. There are strict rules about pets not being allowed in the dormitory space at any of the shelters; however, the volunteers found a nice, comfortable place for his dog too. When Robbie and I arrived on Tuesday, he was very anxious to go home. He kept insisting that he just needed someone to point him in the right direction and he would make it home just fine. So, reluctantly, we packed some food for him and his dog, and a deputy took him back to his car and pointed him toward home.

There was a couple that had gone to Miami for work on a construction site. After working two days, they were told they had to evacuate for Irma. They drove to Daytona Beach, where they were told they couldn’t stay because they had to evacuate. So next they went to Jacksonville, then to Savannah with the same message in each city. They decided they just needed to head inland and ended up in Grovetown with just the clothes they had packed.

As you can imagine, every evacuee had a story. And each one waited anxiously for word that they could return home. As each of them left, they were very grateful for the meals and a place to stay. It was interesting how they seemed to form a bond with each other as they prepared to leave. Several families decided to follow each other as far as they could.

God blessed Robbie and me with the opportunity to provide at least a little comfort for a short time for those that are struggling with so much uncertainty. We were also blessed to see how folks will come together and care for each other during difficult times. During these past days of so much strife and division, we could see that there are so many people that really do care and want the best for those that may be struggling.

Now we pray. We pray that folks have safe travels as they journey “home”. We pray that when they get there, if they are faced with the task of rebuilding their property or their lives, that the journey will be a short one. And we pray that we can continue to work in the direction that God points us and that we can continue to be some comfort to those that may be facing hardship. And we thank God for all of his wonderful blessings that we receive each and every day. Especially the blessing of routine and a sense of “normal”.

Episcopal Relief Flows to Georgia Coast

“Healing a Hurting World,” the tagline for Episcopal Relief and Development will become a reality in the Diocese of Georgia with the award Thursday of a $15,000 immediate relief grant for families and parishes in the Diocese affected by Hurricane Irma.

The Rev. Charles Todd, Vicar and Hispanic Missioner at the Collegiate Church of St. Paul the Apostle in Savannah and a Diocesan Disaster Coordinator said, “As evacuees began returning to their homes, the Diocese quickly became aware of numerous families in our various communities who do not have the means to handle the challenges of the coming days. The Diocese acted very quickly to secure the means to assist the most vulnerable among us and we are very grateful to Episcopal Relief and Development for acting so quickly to approve our request and to support us in our ministry.”

Much as they did during Hurricane Matthew, funds will address needs such as helping provide funds for rental deposits for some displaced families prior to insurance claims; building supplies and tools; moving supplies; food, clothing, bedding and gas.

The connections that our parishes have in some of the poorest, most affected communities means that we can move quickly to address needs. Initial funds went out today to Epiphany Savannah, Christ Church St. Marys, King of Peace Kingsland, and St. Mark’s Brunswick. We are also working with other churches to assess needs in their areas and will be disbursing more funds as needed in the coming days.

“We’re thankful to Episcopal Relief and Development for their rapid response to our urgent need for funds to help those who have crucial needs in our communities,” said Bishop Scott Anson Benhase. “The funds they’ve provided, along with funds given locally, will allow us ‘love our neighbor’ in very concrete and practical ways. Love is an action verb, not merely a state of being. We’re striving to make our love active.”


Hurricane Irma Update

Christ Church Frederica has prepared for Hurricane Irma

With Hurricane Irma now moving toward Florida, here are the latest updates:

With Chatham County still under a mandatory evacuation,
Diocesan House is closed.

Emergency phone number
The Diocese of Georgia’s new emergency phone number:


which allows us to communicate quickly in an unfolding emergency such as Hurricane Irma. This phone number is for anyone to send a text message or leave a voice message for Diocese of Georgia staff. Be sure to add this phone number to your phone contacts for easy access. Please text or call this number to let us know of:

1) Cancelled Sunday worship in a congregation
2) Post storm condition of buildings and grounds
3) To give us the name, email, and mobile phone number of the person who will first check on the church property
4) Any other emergency communications for the staff

Cancelled Sunday Worship
The following congregations have cancelled their worship services for Sunday, September 10 due to evacuation orders in their area:

All Saints, Tybee Island
Christ Church Frederica, St. Simons Island
Christ Church, Savannah
Christ Church, St. Marys
Holy Nativity, St. Simons Island
King of Peace, Kingsland
St. Andrew’s, Darien
St. Athanasius, Brunswick
St. Cyprian’s, Darien
St. Elizabeth’s, Richmond Hill
St. Francis of the Islands, Savannah
St. George’s, Savannah
St. Mark’s, Brunswick
St. Mark’s, Woodbine
St. Matthew’s, Savannah
St. Michael and All Angels, Savannah
St. Patrick’s, Pooler
St. Peter’s, Savannah
St. Richard’s, Jekyll Island
St. Thomas Isle of Hope, Savannah

Responding to the needs
If you would like to help with disaster relief in the Caribbean and other areas that may be affected by the storm, as well as those impacted by Hurricane Harvey, please visit Episcopal Relief and Development and make a donation.

Let us pray
Almighty God, who calmed the storm tossing the disciples’ boat, calm the fears that beset us as we await Hurricane Irma: Grant us the peace that comes from you alone as we sit with the uncertainty of evacuation and in fear of damage to our homes and our communities, draw us ever closer to you, and give us the grace to comfort and aid others in need; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord. Amen.

Prayer for Travelers
O God, our heavenly Father, whose glory fills the whole creation, and whose presence we find wherever we go: Preserve those who travel during the storm; surround them with your loving care; protect them from every danger; and bring them in safety to their journey’s end; through Jesus Christ out Lord. Amen.
The Book of Common Prayer


A Statement on the Events in Charlottesville

We watched with horror the events of the weekend unfold in Charlottesville. As White Supremacists, Neo-Nazis, the KKK, and others with similar ideologies committed murder and other atrocities, many of those did so while at the same time professing to be Christians. As clergy in the Episcopal Church, we proclaim clearly and with certainty that they do not represent Christ or Christianity.

Jesus said the first and greatest commandment is to love God with all our heart and soul and mind and to love our neighbors as ourselves. Over the last few days we saw in Charlottesville our failure to follow those commandments. As the clergy of Episcopal Churches of Savannah, we re-affirm our desire to follow the life and teaching of Jesus Christ. In so doing, we are clear in our conviction that the overt racism, raw hatred, and horrific violence that we saw this weekend is contrary to all that he taught and did.

We pray for Heather Heyer and her family, for Jay Cullen and Berke Bates, and all those physically or spiritually harmed. We repent of our own complicity in the structures of our society that allow or support these behaviors and for our silence when we have lacked the will or courage to speak out. We pray also, as Jesus taught us, for the perpetrators, for James Fields, and for all those wielding the words and weapons of hatred and bigotry. We pray God’s blessing on them, and pray for their own repentance.

White Supremacy, bigotry, racism are all sins, egregious ones. They deny the humanity of those at whom they are directed and destroy the humanity of those who follow these ideologies. They are contrary to the teachings of Jesus, and they grieve the heart of God. While we recognize these attitudes and actions as evil, we also recognize those who displayed them this weekend are, even so, created in the image of God and are in the same need of repentance and redemption as we are.

We commit ourselves again to the vows we made in our baptism and in our ordination – to seek and serve Christ in all places, to persevere in resisting evil, to proclaim by Word and Example and the Good News of God in Christ. We call upon all the faithful likewise to commit themselves to prayer and repentance for the things that have been done and for those things that we have left undone.

O God, you made us in your own image and redeemed us through Jesus your Son: Look with compassion on the whole human family; take away the arrogance and hatred which infect our hearts; break down the walls that separate us; unite us in bonds of love; and work through our struggle and confusion to accomplish your purposes on earth; that, in your good time, all nations and races may serve you in harmony around your heavenly throne; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Rt. Rev. Scott A. Benhase
Bishop of Georgia

The Rev. Canon Frank Logue
Canon to the Ordinary (Assistant to the Bishop)

The Very Rev. Dr. William Willoughby III
The Collegiate Church of St. Paul the Apostle, Savannah

The Rev. Charles Todd
The Collegiate Church of St. Paul the Apostle, Savannah

The Rev. Michael S. White, Christ Church, Savannah

The Rev. Liam G. Collins, Christ Church, Savannah

The Rev. Helen S. White, Christ Church, Savannah

The Rev. Kelly Steele
Church of the Epiphany, Savannah

The Rev. Hunt Priest
St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Savannah

The Rev. James Parker
St. George’s Episcopal Church, Savannah

The Rev. Denise M. Ronn, Ph.D.
St. Philip’s Episcopal Church, Hinesville

The Rev. June Johnson
All Saints’ Episcopal Church, Tybee Island

The Rev. R. Kevin Kelly
St. Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church, Savannah

The Rev. Lauren Flowers Byrd
St. Francis of the Islands, Savannah

The Rev. Guillermo A. Arboleda
St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church, Savannah

The Rev. David Rose
St. Luke’s, Rincon


Register for Revival: Fearless Faith, Boundless Love

Revival Website Launches
Revival: Fearless Faith, Boundless Love is coming to the Georgia coast this September as Presiding Bishop Michael Curry visits the Diocese of Georgia. Find all of the information and register for the event at

Deaconess Alexander
The Revival worship will use the propers for Deaconess Anna Alexander of Georgia (1865-1947) and displays, handouts, and a video will tell the story of this Saint of Georgia.

The last General Convention added the Deaconess to the observances in A Great Cloud of Witnesses. The next General Convention will act on a recommendation of the Episcopal Church’s Joint Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music to add her feast day of September 24 to Lesser Feasts and Fasts. To find out more about Deaconess Alexander and the process for this saint of Georgia to receive recognition from the whole church, visit our Deaconess Alexander website.

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry
Known for his passionate preaching, the 27th Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church embraces his role as the Chief Evangelism Officer for our church. A cradle Episcopalian who well knows we are “God’s Shy People,” he calls us not to go two-by-two with copies of Forward Day by Day in hand, but to fully embrace the love of God as found in Jesus. His preaching is not typical fear-based evangelism that dangles sinners over the flames of Hell, but a compelling call to love God, and love our neighbors as ourselves. This will be an event not to miss. Make sure to invite your co-workers and friends to join you.

Go here to register.


Stewardship Training in Every Convocation

“If Jesus came to visit your church, what would make him say ‘WOW?'” Answering that question gets at the heart of the stewardship training Bishop Benhase will bring to the diocese this fall. As he visits parishes, the bishop will partner with those who attended the Atlanta training in order to extend Project Resource 2.0 training to vestries and laypersons throughout the Diocese. While vestries should become involved in this training, any member of the congregation may also take part in these three-hour sessions.

“The Episcopal Church has designed this training to roll out efficiently to parishes,” said Bishop Benhase, “with print and digital resources that will teach the essentials for all sizes of parishes. After training, each vestry can customize the scope of the program to their own context.”

During the training last week, the Diocese of Georgia doubled the number of Project Resource Trainers. Bishop Scott Benhase; the Rev. Joshua Varner of St. Patrick’s Pooler, the Rev. Lonnie Lacy of St. Anne’s Tifton, and the Rev. Cynthia Taylor of Holy Comforter Martinez and Loretta Brandon, a lay representative from Trinity Statesboro, attended the training at All Saints, Atlanta. The three-day event trained teams representing 15 dioceses across the United States in the art and science of raising money, raising people, and developing planning and communications that support these initiatives.

Project Resource 2.0 is a collaborative project created by the Episcopal Church Foundation, in partnership with The College for Bishops and The Development Office of the Episcopal Church. The aim of Project Resource is to change the culture of resource development in our Church to be more fruitful for God’s mission. This started in the Diocese of Georgia last fall when Bishop Benhase, Canon for Administration Katie Willoughby, Canon to the Ordinary Frank Logue, the Rev. Kelly Steele, and Dade Brantley, Executive Director of Honey Creek, attended the first Project Resource Training.
Those who attended Project Resource 2.0 will join their co-horts in training both rectors and laypersons throughout the Diocese of Georgia in the methods and best practices of stewardship, communications, and parish development.

Once trained, members of parishes have the skills to build money, vision, and people–the three great resources of any church’s mission. Success in carrying out Project Resource 2.0 will require each parish to have both a clear external purpose in its programs and a clear internal vision of its Christian faith. Purpose and vision, combined with increased congregational dialog and communication, will encourage success as Project Resource 2.0 is implemented.

“One of the best questions I heard at Project Resource training is this,” said Loretta Brandon, stewardship chair at Trinity Statesboro. “If Jesus came to visit your church, what would make him say ‘WOW’? Once you can answer that question, you’ll be ready for Project Resource 2.0.”

August 26
Central Convocation
Annuniciation, Vidalia
Sign up here.

September 9
Savannah Convocation
St. George’s Savannah
Sign up here.

October 21
Augusta Convocation
Holy Comforter, Martinez
Sign up here.

October 28
Albany Convocation
St. Paul’s Albany
Sign up here.

January 20
Southeast Convocation
St. Mark’s Brunswick
Sign up here.

February 3
Southwest Convocation
Location to be announced
Sign up here.


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