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.


A Game Changing Summer Camp Season

For 89 years the Diocese of Georgia has sustained a summer camp program as a decidedly Episcopal camp experience. Honey Creek has been a place where campers have come to develop lifelong friendships, explore nature, and just be together, but worship also forms the core of the camp sessions with daily morning and evening prayer times as well as priests, deacons, and lay persons teaching about our faith in Jesus as a part of the camp day.

Summer Camp Director Thomas Greneker said, “This summer was a phenomenal success.” Getting at the difference, he added, “I have worked on a lot of staffs in different capacities, but I have never worked with a unit that works so cohesively. I attribute all of that success to the spiritual formation that brought the camp staff together before the summer began.”

During the staff training week prior to the first session, the Rev. Lonnie Lacy worked with the counselors to help them understand the spiritual work of serving on the camp staff.

Honey Creek Executive Director Dade Brantley also noticed the impact of that spiritual grounding, “We added the Rev. Lonnie Lacy as a Spiritual Director for the camp staff and that was a game changer. He worked with them for a week in advance of the season and checked back in during the year. The staff focused in each of their team meetings on where they had seen Christ during the day.” Photo above, the Rev. Michael Chaney working with campers.

This summer, 204 campers enjoyed a week of Honey Creek Summer Camp. Five parents and six children also took part in the parent and child camp which runs from Sunday to Tuesday the week of the camp for 3-5 graders. The feedback from campers and parents has been consistently positive this year.

Brantley added, “I don’t like to talk in absolutes, but in every aspect this has been the best Summer Camp during my tenure.”


At left, the Rev. Lonnie Lacy and the camp staff are pictured at the dock during their liturgy blessing the camp grounds and the dorms. At right, is the camp staff.


Register for Vicki Schuster’s Retirement Party

For 17 years, Vicki Schuster has been the first voice you hear from the Diocese of Georgia and the face that greets visitors to the office. on August 31, 2017, Vicki will retire. On September 1 from 4:30-7 PM, Bishop Benhase and the diocesan staff will host a retirement party at The Charles H. Morris Center, 10 E Broad St, Savannah, GA 31401. Click here to register, so that we have a head count for the event.

“Vicki has been the heart and soul of the Diocesan office for 17 years,” said Bishop Scott Benhase. “Although her job title said ‘Staff Secretary and Diocesan Registrar’ she has served in some many intangible ways.”

“Beyond her other work, Vicki has shepherded every deacon and priest ordained during her tenure on the staff,” said Canon to the Ordinary Frank Logue, “She tracks the paperwork for the ordination process and prays faithfully for those in her care. She will readily say ‘I love my Holy Orders people’ and that love shows.”

“For years Vicki’s voice on the other end of the phone–‘Diocese of Georgia, this is Vicki!’–has been such a source of comfort, kindness, and counsel to me,” said the Rev. Lonnie Lacy. “That was especially so back when she looked after me through the many stages of the ordination process, and it continues to be true today.”

A true native of the Hostess City, Vicki is a Telfair Baby, born in the historic hospital. Baptized in the Presbyterian Church, her family moved its membership early in her life. Bishop Albert Rhett Stuart confirmed her at the age of 12 in St. Thomas Isle of Hope in Savannah. A graduate of Jenkins High School, she married Ernest Schuster in a wedding ceremony at St. Thomas with a reception at St. John’s Savannah. Ernest was a lifelong Episcopalian who grew up at St. John’s and attended the school at St. Michael and All Angels. The Schusters had three children-Allison, Meredith, and Ernie, and have three grandchildren Clair (10), Palmer (9), and Turner (7).

Vicki transferred her membership to St. Francis of the Islands on Savannah’s Wilmington Island in 1972 as the Diocese founded that new congregation. She started working for the church in the mid 1980s and continued as parish secretary through 2000 when she started working for the Diocese as staff secretary. Vicki said, “It has been a very rewarding and enlightening experience to work for the church these 30 something years. I felt like I got to the top when I started working for the Diocese.”

Bishop Benhase said, “If something needed doing, Vicki just did it and always with the most generous and unassuming spirit.” Lonnie Lacy added, “Her warmth and generous spirit have been a true gift.”

“The light of the Diocese will be dimmer without the radiance of Vicki’s energy and presence,” said Canon Katie Willoughby. “I am, and I know many others are, extremely fortunate to have worked with such an incredible and passionate Episcopalian.”

Reflecting on her work for the Diocese, Vicki said, “I think of the Episcopal Church as a flock scattered in a hundred places. We take care of that flock.” She paused and added, “It has been a true blessing and one that I will treasure.”


Register Now for Evangelism Training!

In advance of the Presiding Bishop’s Revival coming to Honey Creek September 17th, some of the top people in the Episcopal Church who teach how to share our faith are coming to the Diocese of Georgia June 24-25. The same 3-hour workshop will be repeated  on the east and west sides of the Diocese, seeking to offer the workshops within 2 hours of every Episcopalian in the Diocese.

Saturday, June 24 from 1-4 pm
St. Peter’s Episcopal Church
3 West Ridge Road, Savannah, GA 31411
Register here. 
Sunday, June 25 from 1-4 pm
St. Anne’s Episcopal Church
2411 Central Ave. N., Tifton, GA 31794
Register here. 

The Team
The Rev. Canon Stephanie Spellers is the Presiding Bishop’s Canon for Evangelism and Reconciliation. Also from the Episcopal Church staff will be Carrie Boren Headington, a Missioner Evangelist, and Jeremy Tackett , Digital Evangelist. They have developed engaging materials to challenge all of us, depending on the gifts God has given us, to respond to a call we all share to spread the Good News of Jesus in a variety of ways.

The training will cover an array of ways, all true to our Episcopal way of being, in which we can share our faith with those we already know both in person and on social media. Think this training isn’t for you? Then you may be exactly who the trainers want to talk to as they provide insights into how people without a gift for evangelism can still listen differently to those they love.


Hometown Missions More Than a Weekend

Hometown Missions, our usual diocesan outreach weekend expands beyond just a weekend this year! Hometown Missions will take place Sunday, June 4 through Wednesday June 7 in Albany, Georgia. Diocesan Youth will come together with adults from the Albany Congregations to offer a Vacation-Bible-School-themed event for the children in the area around St. John’s and St. Mark’s, Albany. This area was one of the hardest hit in the tornados of the winter and spring, and there are very few activities for area children this summer since resources have had to be diverted to the clean-up and rebuilding efforts.
Youth who are currently in Grades 8-12 are encouraged to come to Albany to help work with these children, and to make a difference in their lives! Youth will lead children throughout each day’s activities, will spend parts of each evening preparing for the next day, and of course will take time to play and sing and spend time together!
Youth are asked to arrive in the afternoon on Sunday, June 4, and will need to be picked up on Wednesday, June 7, also in the afternoon. We will be sleeping at St. John’s and St. Mark’s, so youth will need to bring sleeping bags, pillows, and sleeping pads (optional) in addition to their usual packing.
The total cost for this four day event is just $90. Scholarships are available upon request. If you will be seeking a scholarship, please register and pay the deposit only and then contact Joshua Varner at jvarner@gaepiscopal.org To register, go here.

UTO Spring Ingathering May 21/28

The Spring In-Gathering for the United Thank Offering (UTO) is collected around Ascension each year; in 2017 those Sundays are May 21 and May 28. Please consider prayerfully your donations to UTO this year.  Send in-gatherings by June 15th to Suzanne Harrow 2508 Sheraton Drive, Augusta, GA 30906.
“The Diocese has applied for another grant this year and we are waiting to hear the results of the grant committee,” said Mrs. Harrow. “The Honey Creek grant is going well and the Creation Care Committee is pleased with what has been accomplished to this point.”

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

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