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Come “Down to the River to Pray”!

The Creation Care Commission of the Diocese of Georgia will hold three half-day “floating retreats” this spring! The first “Down to the River to Pray” event will be on Cathead Creek near Darien on Saturday, March 18, 1-5 p.m. Cost is $35 per person and the paddle will last two to three hours, winding through woods to Buffalo Swamp Natural Area and along irrigation canals by abandoned rice fields. Along the way, the group will stop for spiritual reflection and prayer. Equipment will be provided by a local outfitter who will also guide the trip. Some prior experience with paddling is recommended. An optional Eucharist and potluck supper will be held at St. Cyprian’s afterwards. Click here for more information and to register.
Details will be forthcoming on two more Down to the River to Pray events to be held this spring on the Little River (near Valdosta) in April and Ebenezer Creek (near Savannah) in May.

The Diocese of Georgia is offering two trainings at four locations beginning March 12. Canon Katie Willoughby and Canon Frank Logue will lead Church Admin 101, a workshop for vestry and administrators which will go over the basics of the vestry and parish oversight of finances. This is intended for all wardens, vestry members, treasurers, and parish administrators.

Concurrently, Diocesan Director of Communications, Anna Iredale, will meet with parish communicators for a roundtable discussion on all aspects of parish communications: social media, publicity and publications.

There is no charge for these events but registration is requested.

Trainings will be held at:
St. Patrick’s, Albany on Sunday, March 12 from 2 to 5 PM. Register here.
St. Michael and All Angels, Savannah, Sunday, March 26 from 2 to 5 PM. Register here.
Grace Church, Waycross, Sunday, April 23 from 2 to 5 PM. Register here.
Our Savior, Martinez, Sunday, May 14 from 2 to 5 PM. Register here.


Feedback on Changes to Canons Sought

When Diocesan Council met on February 3rd, they endorsed changes to the Canons of the Diocese following a year of discussion. Now Council seeks the input of the parishioners and clergy of the Diocese of Georgia into these changes.

For more than a decade the Diocese of Georgia has rarely used a provision written in our canons that grants the Bishop authority to move parishes who can no longer meet the obligations of a “parish” to “mission” status. Over time, this has created confusion defining which congregations are “missions” and which are “parishes.” The differences are about more than mere terminology: this affects both representation to Diocesan Convention and the amount of oversight provided by the Diocese.

The proposed changes, would if passed:
* reduce unnecessary oversight for more than one third of the congregations,
* acknowledge several of our small congregations as full members of the Diocese,
* result in a representative Diocesan Convention, and
* add an extra level of assurance that endowed funds in all parishes are managed with sound investment practices.

For more information about the proposed changes, please go here for an Executive Summary of the proposed changes, the full canons with the proposed changes shown in color, and a chart showing the current delegates to convention compared to the proposed representation.

The proposed changes are out for comment from now through May 11. A brief survey to collect responses to the canonical revisions can be found here. Diocesan Council will consider the feedback at its May 12 meeting and will amend the proposed changes as needed.

The proposed changes as revised at that May meeting will then go to the Committee on Constitution and Canons for their review. The proposed changes as approved by that committee will then go out to the diocese via email to clergy and Senior Wardens as well as notice in From the Field.

The proposed changes will be on the agenda for the November diocesan convention. If approved, the canonical changes will be in effect immediately.

If the changes are voted and approved during convention, then two key changes go into effect with the language related to mission to parish status go into immediate effect, but the proportional representation delegations to convention will require a second vote at convention in 2018 and go into effect in 2019.


Deaconess Alexander Focus of Georgia’s Revival

The Diocese of Georgia is one of six dioceses across the country partnering in a new initiative by The Episcopal Church: Episcopal Revivals 2017-18.

Georgia’s revival, to be held under a large tent at Honey Creek Retreat Center on Sunday afternoon, September 17, will celebrate the new feast day of a Saint of Georgia, Deaconess Anna Alexander, the first black female deacon in The Episcopal Church. The preacher will be our Presiding Bishop, the Most Reverend Michael B. Curry. The Savannah Children’s Choir and Albany State University’s Choir are among those who will provide music.

“We hope to encourage the people of the Diocese of Georgia to invite friends, especially those who may have left their previous churches because of a negative experience,” said Bishop Scott Anson Benhase. “Rather than the hell-fire message usually heard at revivals, with the Presiding Bishop’s help we will proclaim the liberating and life giving love of Jesus.”

The Presiding Bishop will also lead the opening morning of the Diocese of Georgia’s Fall Clergy Conference, scheduled to begin the next day.

Details about the September 17 event will be forthcoming.

More than $25,000 Raised for Albany

$25,120: that’s how much has been raised in support of our brothers and sisters in Albany, Georgia!

$6,020 has been donated to the Bishop’s Fund; the Diocese received a $15,000 grant from Episcopal Relief and Development, and on Wednesday night $4,100 was raised by Albany Episcopal churches as well as St. Anne’s, Tifton; Calvary, Americus, and the Lutheran Church of Our Savior, Albany at an inspiring community service and spaghetti supper. Thank you!

Prayers and financial support are still what’s needed most for Albany. We are asking individuals and congregations to refrain from doing more right now. We will keep you updated and let you know when volunteer work crews are needed. Contact the Canon for Administration, Katie Willoughby or the Canon to the Ordinary, the Rev. Frank Logue for more information.

For those looking to contribute, please do so through the Bishop’s Discretionary Fund. Go online here and select the Bishop’s Fund, or text-to-give EDOG to 73256. Cash or checks made out to the Bishop’s Fund can also be mailed to or dropped off at 611 E. Bay Street, Savannah, GA 31401-1296.


Diocese Helps With Relief Efforts in Albany

The Rectory of St.John’s and St. Mark’s Church in the Radium Springs area of Albany.

A tornado that hit the Albany area Sunday night has caused significant damage to the region including the homes of many Episcopalians and buildings on the campus of the Church of St. John and St. Mark. “Folks were just digging out from a significant storm earlier this month,” said Bishop Scott Anson Benhase who was in the area this morning to meet with church leaders and work with Episcopal Relief and Development to provide emergency assistance.

Emergency Responders and the Episcopal Relief and Development field officer urge volunteer clean-up crews to wait until the area has been stabilized before heading to Albany. “For their own safety and the safety of those already in Albany we are asking them to hold off,” said the Bishop, “clean up will come later.”

According to the Bishop, large trees fell on both St. John and St. Mark’s sanctuary, parish house and rectory and it is unclear how soon restoration can be completed. In the meantime, the Rector, the Rev. Johnny Tuttle, and his family are moving into temporary quarters and the neighboring parishes of St. Patrick’s and St. Paul’s are coordinating with Tuttle to provide a location for Sunday services.

St. Patrick’s and St. Paul’s will also hold a community service on Wednesday at 6 PM at St. Paul’s Church to pray and raise funds for the Church of St. John and St. Mark and members of the community affected by the storm. It will be a Holy Eucharist with a Healing Service.

Albany resident the Rev. Gail Long said that a mobile home park located a block away from the church was completely gone. “There are people who have just lost everything,” she said.

For those looking to contribute, please do so through the Bishop’s Discretionary Fund. The Bishop’s Fund will be used to support parishes and individuals in need. Go online here or text-to-give EDOG to 73256. Please make sure to select the Bishop’s Fund for contributions online. Cash or checks made out to the Bishop’s Fund can be sent to or dropped off at 611 E. Bay Street, Savannah, GA 31401-1296.

Updates will be provided as more information becomes available. Those parishes that have not already done so are asked to please reach out to the Diocesan House with updates.

Compassionate God, draw near to those recovering from the storm that raged across south Georgia, comfort those who mourn, strengthen those who are weary, encourage those in despair, and lead us all to fullness of life; through the same Jesus Christ, our Savior and Redeemer, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, for ever and ever. Amen.


Register Today for Diocesan Training Series

Dates, locations and registration details have been finalized for the series of trainings to be held throughout the Diocese in the coming months. Please register for the training nearest you by clicking on the appropriate link below!

Trainings for Vestries, Administrators and Communicators
Canons Frank Logue and Katie Willoughby will lead Vestry and Administrators’ Training in Albany, Augusta, Savannah, and the Southeast Convocation.
Sunday, March 12, 2-5 pm at St. Patrick’s, Albany
March 26, 2-5 pm , St. Michael and All Angels Church, Savannah
April 23, 2-5 pm, Grace Church, Waycross
May 14, 2-5 pm at Our Savior, Martinez

To sign up for the Communicators’ Roundtable, send an email to Anna Iredale, and indicate which session you’ll attend.

Project Resource Stewardship Training
Created by the College of Bishops, Project Resource gathers the best wisdom in our church on annual stewardship, major gifts, and planned giving campaigns. We will hold one training a month from February through April.

Saturday, February 11, 9 am to noon, Church of the Good Shepherd, Augusta
Saturday, March 4, 9 am to noon, St. Anne’s, Tifton
Saturday, April 8, 9 am to noon, St. Peter’s, Savannah


Diocese Mourns Death of Bishop Shipps

The Diocese of Georgia mourns the death of the Rt. Rev. Harry Woolston Shipps, the eighth Bishop of Georgia (1983-1994). He died this morning with his beloved wife, Louise, by his side. A Requiem Eucharist for Bishop Shipps will be held at the Collegiate Church of St. Paul the Apostle on Tuesday, November 22 at 11 AM.

The Rt. Rev. Scott Anson Benhase said of Bishop Shipps: “He was a man of great character and purpose, always ready to listen and offer good counsel. He was enormously helpful to me as one who had sat in the chair I now occupy. I could always count on him to give me perspective and needed humor on the Office of Bishop. He was a great leader of this Diocese because he loved God’s people so much. He was quite simply and humbly, a disciple of Jesus.”

Born on January 28, 1926 in Bordentown, New Jersey, Bishop Shipps attended Bordentown High School, Bordentown Military Institute, and the New York State Maritime Academy. On January 9, 1946, he was commissioned as an officer in the U.S. Navy and the U.S. Maritime Service. He sailed on a troop ship, then with Grace Line Steamship Company, until called to active duty in the Navy during the Korean War. He was assigned to a Naval facility in Savannah, then to shipboard duty in the North Atlantic. He married the former Louise Huntington in 1953.

Following his discharge from active duty, he attended the School of Theology, University of the South, as a postulant sponsored by the Collegiate Church of St. Paul the Apostle in Savannah. Ordained a deacon in 1958 and a priest in January 1959 by Bishop Albert Rhett Stuart, he was first assigned by Bishop Stuart as Vicar of St. Mark’s Church in Albany. Later, he served parishes in Savannah and Augusta. Prior to his election as bishop, he served the Diocese as Diocesan Secretary, Editor of the diocesan newspaper, member of Diocesan Council, President of the Standing Committee, and as a Deputy to three General Conventions. He was Rector of St. Alban’s, Augusta and the Dean of the Augusta Convocation when he was elected Bishop Coadjutor on September 15, 1983 and consecrated on January 6, 1984. He became the Diocesan Bishop in 1985 upon the retirement of Bishop Paul Reeves.

Initially opposed to the ordination of women to the priesthood, primarily on the grounds that it would impair ecumenical relations with the Roman Catholic Church, Bishop Shipps early in his episcopate instituted a listening process to hear the diverse diocesan positions on the ordination of women, which The Episcopal Church permitted after its 1976 General Convention. Marking a change in his previous position, he initiated a process leading to women’s ordination in the Diocese. Susan Harrison of Savannah was ordained to the diaconate in September 1985. Sonia Sullivan of Valdosta was later accepted as a postulant for the priesthood and ordained.

Bishop Shipps and fellow ecumenist, the Most Rev. Raymond W. Lessard, Roman Catholic Bishop of Savannah, held several joint clergy conferences with noted speakers from both Churches. This led to a Covenant between the two dioceses calling for a number of mutual ministries and responsibilities.

During Bishop Shipps’ tenure as diocesan bishop, the Diocese of Georgia made headlines when a former Assembly of God minister, Stan White, led his entire congregation to join the Episcopal Church becoming the congregation of Christ the King in Valdosta.

Under Bishop Shipps’ leadership, a capital campaign raised $1.1 million. These funds enabled the Diocese through matching fund grants to double the number of lodge rooms at Honey Creek Conference Center, build church buildings for Atonement, Augusta; Holy Cross (Thomson), Trinity (Statesboro), St. Elizabeth’s (Richmond Hill), and Grace (Sandersville). Land was also purchased in Effingham County and Columbia County.

In 1994 the Diocese reported 17,197 baptized persons. Bishop Shipps’ reported in his Convention Address that year that the Diocese had the second highest average Sunday attendance (relative to its baptized membership) of all the dioceses in the U.S. and that our stewardship average per household was also second highest in the Church.

After his retirement as Bishop of Georgia in 1995, Bishop Shipps served as Assistant Bishop of the Diocese of Dallas for four years.

He and Louise, a gifted icon writer, artist, and teacher, have four children: Ruth Shipps, Susan Anderson (Daniel), Rebecca Eidson (Gary), and David Shipps (Sydney); seven grandchildren: Carol Lewis; Katie Lucas (Jordan), Spencer McGuire, Kristin Campbell (Richard), Joshua Anderson (Cami), Hunter Eidson, Abigail Shipps and David Shipps Jr.; and three great-grandchildren: Lucas Campbell, Riley Campbell and Oliver Lucas.

For Bishop Shipps’ Requiem Service, clergy should vest in cassock, surplice, and tippet.

Gifts in memory of Bishop Shipps should be sent to the Diocese of Georgia.


Helping the Homeless After the Hurricane

While some of the approximately 4,200 homeless persons living in Savannah took advantage of evacuation to the the Civic Center and then on to Augusta, many chose to remain behind. Both those who left and those who stayed have lost property left in camps covered by rising flood waters. The image from WSAV-TV above shows people leaving a camp.

The Community of St. Joseph, the Diocese of Georgia’s ministry to homeless persons, is uniquely positioned to provide direct material support to replace tents, sleeping bags, clothing, and shoes. Our Missioner, the Rev. Jamie Maury, can obtain good 4-bedroom tents for $40 and sleeping bags for the same amount. Use the link below for online giving or the directions for text to donate and 100% of the amount donated will go to supporting homeless persons in Savannah.

Please give to the fund we have established by going online here:

Or texting: EDOG $10.00 to 73256. Standard text messaging rates may apply and it will be possible to change the amount once you are re-directed.

Diocesan House

Diocesan House
611 East Bay Street
Savannah, Georgia 31401-1296
Phone (912) 236-4279
Fax (912)236-2007

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