Bishop’s Address of 1857

By The Rt. Rev. Stephen Elliott
First Bishop of Georgia

To the Clergy and Laity of the Diocese of Georgia :

The Original Document

Dearly Beloved Brethren—When the condition of my health unexpectedly hurried me away to Cuba, it was my intention to have returned in time to meet you in Convention at Columbus. This I afterwards found to be impracticable, as well as inexpedient, and not having with me in Cuba the journal of my official acts, it was impossible for me to prepare any communication for that venerable body. This omission I am now permitted to repair by the action of the Convention, instructing the Secretary to introduce into the Journal any matter I might desire, upon my return, to offer to the notice of the Diocese.

It gives me pleasure to inform the Diocese that my residence of two months in Cuba has removed all the ill symptoms under which I labored, and restored me to my accustomed health. I trust that the life which a merciful God has so graciously preserved, may be more faithfully devoted to his service and the advancement of the cause of Christ and his Church among you.

During the past year my official acts have been comparatively few, in consequence of my absence at the North in attendance upon the General Convention, and my subsequent illness. This commenced early in February and continued during the four months in which my visitations are usually made to the Churches of my Diocese.

My first official act was performed in St. James’ Church, Marietta, on Sunday, May 11, 1856, when the Rev. Samuel J. Pinkerton was admitted to the Holy Orders of Priests.—Mr. Pinkerton still continues his connexion with St. Andrew’s Church, Darien, and Grace Church, Clarksville. Upon the same day I confirmed in St. James’ Church seven persons.

On Monday, May 12, 1857[1], I admitted to the Holy Order of Deacons in St. James’ Marietta, the Rev. Macauley. Mr. Mcauley was, at the time of his ordination, in extremely delicate health, but desired to die with his harness on, in his master’s service. I could not but gratify his desires, although the fatal symptoms which were upon him soon terminated his ministerial career. Upon the same day, I confirmed in private another member of St. James’ Church.

Sunday, May 25, I confirmed in St. Paul’s Church, Augusta, twelve persons, one of whom was colored. In the afternoon, I catechized the children of the White Sunday School, and addressed the children of the Colored Sunday School. At night, I confirmed two persons in the Church of the Atonement.

June 4, I confirmed in the City of Savannah, in private, two ill persons, one white and the other colored.

Sunday, June 20, I confirmed in St. John’s Church, Savannah, two persons.

Sunday, July 27, I confirmed at the Church upon the plantation of Messrs. Heyward, in connexion with the Ogeechee Mission of the Rev. Mr. Williams, forty-two persons, all colored.

The Rt. Rev. Stephen Elliott

Sunday, Aug. 24, I confirmed in St. Stephen’s Chapel, Savannah, two persons, both colored, in connexion with the Mission of the Rev. Mr. Kennerly.

Sunday, Sept. 7, I visited St. Peter’s Church, Rome, and confirmed ten persons. This Parish is rapidly reviving and growing strong under the faithful ministry of the Rev. Wm. H. Clarke.

Early in the subsequent week, I visited Cave Spring, Floyd County, Ga., and reached the village an hour or two subsequent to the death of the Rev. Wm. Macauley, who was residing there and officiating so far as his declining health would permit. It was gratifying to learn that he had received every kind attention which his situation demanded, and had died in full trust in the atoning blood of his Lord and Master, Jesus Christ. His funeral services were held the next day and were attended by the villagers en masse. The Rev. Mr. Clarke preached a very impressive funeral sermon over his remains. Thus terminated in a few brief months the ministerial career of a pious and promising young man, who removed to the South too late to arrest the progress of an insidious malady.

Sunday, Sept. 14, I officiated for the residents of the Lookout Mountain, Tenn., upon which occasion the attendance was quite large, and the services most appropriately conducted in one of the rooms of the new hotel.

Sunday, Sept. 21, I performed Episcopal services at Knoxville, for Bishop Otey, preaching twice and confirming.

Sunday, Sept. 28, I officiated in Richmond, Va., preaching twice during the day.

During the month of October, I was engaged in attendance upon the General Convention which commenced its session in the city of Philadelphia, on Wednesday the 1st day of October. Had I been permitted to meet the Convention of the Diocese, I should have offered my views at some length upon the acts and recommendations of that august body, but under present circumstances, it may as well to postpone them for a year, during which period, we can watch their practical operation, and note their influence, whether for good or for evil.

Sunday, Nov. 16, I confirmed, in St. Stephen’s Chapel, Savannah, six persons, all colored. This mission to the colored people of Savannah is under the charge of the Rev. S.W. Kennerly, and is supported by the voluntary contributions of the two congregations, of Christ Church and St. John’s. It is an exceedingly interesting mission and is succeeding up to the highest expectation of its friends and supporters. We trust that a few more years of labor will place it upon a permanent footing and render its success indisputable.

Sunday, Nov. 30, I admitted to the Holy Order of Deacons, Mr. Marion McAllister. This was to me a very interesting ordination, as Mr. McAllister was one of the children of our Sunday School, and belonged to the Diocese by every tie of nativity and culture. He is officiating very acceptably at the Mission Church in St. Marys.

Christmas Eve, I held a special confirmation in St. Stephen’s Chapel and confirmed one person.

January 11, 1857, I confirmed in St. John’s Church, Savannah, thirteen persons. This congregation is in a most flourishing condition under the charge of the Rev. Mr. Clark.

This confirmation closed my official act for the year.—Soon after this time I was attacked with cold and cough, which threatened my lungs, and my throat, and forced me to abstain from all public exercises of whatever kind.

The Journal Cover

While I thought that I should still be able to meet the Convention of the Diocese, I issued a circular to the Wardens and Vestry of each Church in the Diocese, calling their attention to the proposed Southern University and Theological Seminary, under the auspices of ten of the Southern Dioceses, and requesting them to send Lay Delegates to the Convention, that the subject might be fully considered and acted upon. In consequence of my absence and from the lack of any communication from me the subject was not acted upon. As it is important that Georgia should be represented in the preliminary meetings, I shall request the Chairman of the Standing Committee to accompany me to Lookout Mountain, at which place the Bishops are to assemble on the 4th July next. We can assist in giving shape to the measures of the meeting, even though we cannot commit the Diocese to those measures.

During the past year our Diocese has been called to mourn the loss of a young and promising Clergyman, the Rev. Wesley P. Gehagan, late Rector of Zion Church, Talbotton. He died at Atlanta, very soon after the adjournment of the last convention, under the hospitable roof of the Rev. Mr. Johnson. Altho’ young in the ministry, he had gained for himself the esteem and affection of all who knew him, and gave promise of great usefulness, had his life been longer spared. But his Master took him early to his rest, and gave him his reward without demanding from him much service upon earth.

During the past year, no Clergymen have left the Diocese, and the vacancies occasioned by the death of Mr. Gehagan and Mr. Macauley have been filled by the accession of Dr. Henderson, transferred from the Diocese of New-Jersey, and by the ordination of Mr. McAllister. I rejoice likewise to say that there have been no changes in the pastoral relations of the Diocese, save in the single case of the Rev. Mr. Macaulay, who resigned the charge of St. Stephen’s Milledgeville, and is at present teaching in Bainbridge, Decatur Co.

Since the last Convention, Mr. Gierlow has been transferred to the Diocese of Tennessee, reducing our candidates for orders to two.

Trusting that the Bishop and Shepherd of Souls may have you all in his holy care and keeping, I recommend you to his grace and loving kindness.

Bishop of the Diocese of Georgia

[1] Note: This date is transcribed directly from the Journal. It appears to be a typo as the flow of the narrative clearly has this ordination taking place May 12, 1856.

The above address was transcribed from the Journal of the Twenty-fifth Annual Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Georgia held in Trinity Church, Columbus, Georgia, commencing May 7th 1857. Every effort was made to transcribe the text as is with no updating of the style of the text.