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.

Background
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.

Timeline
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 Elizabeth 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 Armstrong University’s Gospel 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 in March.
 

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 http://bit.ly/OnlineGivingtoBishopsFund 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, airedale@gaepiscopal.org 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: http://bit.ly/DonateAidforStJosephCommunity

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.
 

Bishop Urges Support for Caribbean

As mandatory evacuation orders end and people on the coast of Georgia return home to begin the clean up, it is clear that the damage from Hurricane Matthew is less than was feared or forecasted.

“We are enormously grateful that the damage to the vast majority of our church property was so minimal, but we know that others in the southeastern United States, and particularly our sisters and brothers in Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and the Bahamas, did not fare so well,” said Bishop Scott Benhase. “Our hearts and prayers go out to them. If you are moved to provide financial support for the recovery from this hurricane, then please do so through Episcopal Relief and Development and direct your gift to one of those countries in the Caribbean.”

“I am thankful for the work of my entire staff as well as the Revs. Charles Todd and Jim Parker, our Diocesan Disaster Preparedness Coordinators,” he said. “They all worked together to network and support all our congregations. The good work this diocese did to prepare for the hurricane allowed us to weather this storm. In the days ahead there will be insurance claims to file and lots to repair and to clean up. We will do that and move on. God has called us together so that we might be the hands and heart of Jesus for others.”

Twenty-four congregations in the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia and its Honey Creek Retreat Center are located in the six coastal Georgia counties and were under mandatory evacuation orders. As full property surveys continue, 22 churches and the Retreat Center suffered minor damage or even no damage from the storm. St. Francis of the Islands, Savannah, lost a significant number of trees which in turn damaged the church porch, education building and playground. There is also tree damage to the Vicarage for Holy Nativity, St. Simons Island. “The Diocese of Georgia will work with impacted churches and insurance agencies to ensure that the needs of our congregations are met,” said Canon for Administration Katie Willoughby. “We are thankful that so many of our communities emerged relatively unscathed by the storm. This is the time to turn our attention to those crying out in dire need, particularly in Haiti.”

Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD), an international relief and development agency, provides a compassionate response to human suffering on behalf of the Episcopal Church. It is well positioned to respond to the current need, having responded to the 2010 earthquake through the Episcopal Diocese of Haiti’s development arm, Centre Diocésain de Developpement Intégré et de Secours (CEDDISEC). Donations to the Episcopal Relief & Development Fund’s Hurricane Matthew Response can be made here: http://www.episcopalrelief.org/hurricane-matthew-response.

 

Post Landfall Hurricane Update

{Updated on October 8 at 9:13 PM in bold}
With all six of Georgia’s coastal counties still under mandatory evacuation and officials urging those who have remained to stay in place so that emergency crews can clean up the debris left in the wake of Hurricane Matthew, the Diocesan House is receiving informal reports on various properties. While no churches have been inspected fully, we have received word that Christ Church Savannah, St. Paul’s Savannah, St. Michael and All Angels Savannah, St. Luke’s Rincon, St. Elizabeth’s Richmond Hill, St. Thomas’ Isle of Hope, St. Peter’s Savannah, St. Mark’s Brunswick, St. Andrew’s and St. Cyprian’s Churches Darien, and St. Patrick’s, Pooler all look to have sustained little or no damage. 

 
Despite the storm, four of our 24 coastal churches do have services scheduled:  
St. Luke’s, Rincon at 9:40 AM
St. Michael and All Angels, Savannah at 10:30 AM
The Church of St. Paul the Apostle, Savannah, said Mass at 10 AM
Christ Church St. Mary’s, 10 AM
St. Luke’s Rincon, 9:30 AM
King of Peace, Kingsland 8:30 and 10 AM
Community of St. Joseph, Savannah breakfast at 8 AM and worship at 9 AM
 
Most churches on the coast will not be holding services tomorrow, including: 
All Saints, Tybee Island
St. Andrew’s and St. Cyprian’s, Darien
St. Thomas’ Isle of Hope
St. Matthew’s, Savannah
St. John’s, Savannah
St. Francis of the Islands, Savannah
St. Peter’s, Savannah
St. Patrick’s, Pooler
St. Mark’s, Simon’s Island
Christ Church Frederica, St. Simon’s Island
St. Elizabeth’s, Richmond Hill
Christ Church, Savannah 
St. Mark’s, Woodbine
Holy Nativity, St. Simon’s Island
St. George’s, Savannah
St. Richard’s, Jekyll Island
St. Athanasius, Brunswick
These lists will be updated as we receive more information but also check the church’s website and Facebook page. If you have news to add to this, please contact Anna Iredale, Director of Communications, airedale@gaepiscopal.org.
 
Let us pray:
Almighty God, who stilled the raging sea and saved your disciples perishing in a storm, we give thanks for your presence with us in the midst of Hurricane Matthew. We pray for all working to make way for evacuees to return home, and we remember those killed by the storm and those who mourn. Help us to be ever mindful that it is in you we hope and find peace even in the midst of the storms of this life, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
-Canon Frank Logue
 

Hurricane Matthew Update

With Hurricane Matthew now moving past the Georgia coast, here are the latest updates:

Contacting the Diocesan Staff
With Chatham County still under a mandatory evacuation, Diocesan House remains closed at least through Monday, October 10. Emails will be monitored and responded to as conditions permit. We lost access to the gaepiscopal.org emails in the storm. If you need to contact us, email Canon Frank Logue (frankslogue@gmail.com) and Canon Katie Willoughby (katie.mkw@gmail.com) through their gmail addresses.

Reaching Out
If you would like to help with disaster relief in Haiti and other areas that may be affected by the storm, 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 Matthew: 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

 

Diocesan House

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

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