Bishop’s Address of 1868

By the Rt. Rev. John W. Beckwith
Second Bishop of Georgia

Brethren of the Clergy and Laity:

On the evening of the clay of my consecration (April 2d) I presided at a Missionary meeting held in Christ Church, Savannah, and delivered a short address.

Bishop BeckwithApril 5th (Sunday before Easter,) I began my visitation to the Parishes in Augusta, In the morning, I visited the Sunday School of St. Paul’s Church, and addressed the Teachers and children; afterwards, officiated in St. Paul’s Church, assisted by the Rector, (Rev. Wm. N. Clarke,) Rev. Mr. Neely and Rev. Mr. Knowles. I preached, confirmed thirty, addressed those confirmed, and administered the Holy Communion. In the afternoon, I visited the Church of the Atonement; was assisted in the Services by Rev: E. M. Pecke, of New York, (in charge of the Church during the unavoidable absence of its Rector,) and Rev. Mr. Clarke. I baptized three infants and two adults, preached and confirmed five persons. On Monday morning (6th,) I baptized, in St. Paul’s Church, one infant and confirmed two persons in the evening, confirmed, in private, one person belonging to the same congregation. I have cause to be thankful that, in the beginning of my Episcopate, when inexperience and the consciousness of the new aid solemn obligations placed upon me by the Church, were weighing heavily upon me and causing one to fear, I should find, myself in a Parish alive to its duties and guided by a Rector` thoroughly imbued with the Church’s spirit, and patiently, lovingly and wisely doing the Church’s work. The Church of the Atonement—temporarily deprived of its Rector—leas been acceptably served by Rev. Mr. Pecke.

His stay in the Diocese has been brief. He takes with him the good wishes and regrets of many kind-hearted friends. I found many earnest-minded Christian men and women in this congregation, eager for work, and looking forward anxiously to the return of their Pastor. May they soon be gratified, and may the blessing of God be upon them.*

April 7th, officiated in the evening in Emmanuel Church, Athens, assisted by the Rector (Rev. Dr. Henderson). and Rev, Mr. Clarke, of Augusta—the latter preaching. , On the morning of the 8th, I officiated again, preached, confirmed sixteen persons, addressed the confirmed; and administered the Holy Communion. In the evening, preached and confirmed one person. There are few more important places for Christian work, in the Diocese than Athens. The State University attracts to this place large numbers of young men who are preparing to shape the future history of the State. I rejoice to know that the Church is gradually winning her way among them and imbuing them with her broad Catholic spirit. The Rector hopes soon to find an Assistant to aid him in his increasing labors. May God prosper the good work.

On Good Friday (April 10th) I attended Divine Service in St. John’s Church, Savannah. On Easter Day (12th) I began my visitation to the Parishes in this city. Officiated in the morning in Christ Church, assisted by the Rector (Rev. Mr. Coley) preached, confirmed forty-one persons, addressed the confirmed and administered the Holy Communion. This noble old Parish (to whose generosity the Diocese is largely indebted, under God, for its present prosperity,) while she mourns, as none others can, the loss of one who was, to her, both Bishop and Rector, has not permitted her grief to settle into despair. Under the faithful activity of the Rector in charge, she is putting forth her energies, and in her present zeal I see the pledge that ‘her future history shall fulfil the promise of the past. In the afternoon, I visited Saint Stephen’s Church (colored congregation,) and officiated, assisted by the Rector (Rev. Mr. Stoney,) and Rev. Messrs. Benedict and. Brown. I confirmed seven persons and addressed them. The importance of the work to be done by the Church among the colored people cannot be over-estimated. That which they need, under God, to save them from superstition on the one hand, and fanaticism on the other, is the scriptural, conservative influence of our Branch of the Catholic Church. I rejoice to know that Churchmen in this city are disposed to encourage and strengthen Rev. Mr. Stoney in his important labors. The influence of the Church upon this congregation, during the late troubles and excitements, has been very marked, and has won for them the admiration and respect of our best people. In the evening, I officiated in St. John’s Church, assisted by the Rector, and Rev. Messrs. Coley, Brown, Stoney and Rev. Dr. Hicks, of Vermont. I preached, confirmed twenty persons and addressed the confirmed. This Parish is full of life and vigor; its Vestry are enterprising and its Rector able and energetic. In this the largest city in the Diocese, the responsibility of two such Parishes as Christ Church and St. John’s, is and must be very great; they are the centres of Church influence in the city, and upon them largely depends the ability of the Church to carry the Gospel to the thousands who are living in spiritual ignorance and degradation around them. I have received evidences of their desire to bush vigorously the work of Missions : these are tokens of future good, and assurances that GOD will be with us. I believe the. Clergy and Laity of both Parishes appreciate their responsibility and are determined, under God to meet it. May the Great Shepherd and Bishop of our souls guide and prosper them. I am glad to learn that the Churchmen of the city are considering the ways and means for reviving St. Paul’s Parish—the Church building having been destroyed by fire. I beg that they will take no rest until they rebuild (either upon its present site or elsewhere) this Temple to the Lord. April 13th, confirmed in private, one member of Christ Church congregation. In the evening, I performed, in private, the marriage service.

April 17th, I visited Covington, and officiated in the Baptist House of Worship, the use of which was kindly offered us. I as assisted by Rev. Mr. Clarke of Augusta, and Rev. Mr. Knowles. I preached and administered the Holy Communion. Covington is a very promising missionary field, and under the care of an energetic Missionary would, doubtless, soon grow into a self-supporting Parish. The Rev. Mr. Knowles (Deacon) has been able to give occasional services to the people of the place : the number of these services will, I trust, henceforth be much increased.

April 18th, I began my, visitation of St. Philip’s Church, Atlanta. In the evening, I officiated, assisted by the Rector (Rev. Mr. Thomas,) and Rev. Messrs. Clarke, J. J. Hunt and Knowles, and preached. On the morning of the 19th (first Sunday after Easter,) I preached, ordained to the Priesthood Rev. Joshua Knowles and Rev. Thomas C. Stanley (Deacons,) both of whom were presented by the Rector—the Rev. Messrs. Clarke and Thomas Joining in the laying-on of hands. It was a most encouraging sight : the Rector and the two Deacons whom he presented had formerly been Methodist Ministers.—The Catholicity of the Church is being acknowledged and felt, and Ministers, and people from the surrounding Denominations are fast coming into the fold. In the evening, I preached again, confirmed thirty persons and addressed them. April 20th, I performed the marriage service in the Parish Church. Few places in the South have suffered as severely as Atlanta. The business portion of the city was burned to the ground, and the Church of the Living GOD was defiled and desecrated until the very spirit of insult seemed to have exhausted itself. The city has been re-built and the Church repaired and cleansed. Causes of difficulty and discord seem, heretofore, to have checked the Church’s growth in this city. The present Rector, bringing to his work energy, prudence and ability, has been able, under GOD, to remove these difficulties and harmonize these discords. The Church is beginning to feel herself strong : the future is brightening before her. Her Rector bas cause to be thankful for what God has enabled him to do, and his Bishop has cause to look confidently for the greater things which (by the same Divine help) he will do.

April 21st, officiated and preached in St. James’ Church, Marietta, assisted in the services by Rev. Samuel Benedict of Savannah, and Rev. Mr. Hunt, who is performing the double duty of attending to his School and supplying St. James’ Parish during its vacancy, with services of the Church. In the evening I preached again, and confirmed one person. This Parish, which a few years since, was one of the strong Parishes of the Diocese, has suffered greatly front the effects of war. The Rectory was burned and the people impoverished. Unable to support their beloved. Rector (Rev. Mr. Benedict) with his large family, they felt that it was his duty to go, and their duty to yield him, to their more fortunate brethren, in Savannah. They are now striving to raise money enough (with such aid as the Missionary Fund can supply) to support a new Rector, that they may see the work once more prospering, and take their former place among the Parishes of the Diocese. May God prosper their effort.

April 23d, visited St. George’s Parish, Griffin, officiated in the Methodist house of worship, (which great kindness and courtesy was offered me) preached, confirmed and addressed six persons. A sad calamity has overtaken the people of St. George’s Parish. Their Church building, only lately completed, has been destroyed by a storm. Too poor to support a Rector with out aid from the Missionary Fund, this congregation, has felt deeply the loss of their Church, still they have determined to make a strong effort to rebuild and get to work once more; and if they be aided, as they deserve, by others, I doubt not that they will succeed.

April 25th, baptized (in private) one infant in Macon. April 26th, (second. Sunday after Easter) visited Christ Church, Macon. Iii the morning I officiated and preached, assisted in the services and administration of the Holy Communion, by the Rector, (Rev. Mr. Rees,) with Rev. Mr. Pryse of Montpelier. In the afternoon I visited St. Paul’s (a Chapel of Christ Church) with the Rector, confirmed five and addressed them. It was my intention during the same afternoon, to visit St. Barnabas’, another Chapel of Christ Church, which owes its existence under God, to this indefatigable Rector, but was prevented by fatigue. In the evening; preached again in Christ Church, confirmed thirty three and addressed the confirmed. The loving Pastor of this flock is doing a noble work. His is the true spirit of the Church’s Missionary, and be has a Missionary’s faithfulness. Anxious that all should rejoice in the blessings which the Holy Catholic Church bestows upon her children, he strives incessantly to extend her borders. As might be expected, his work has outgrown the ability of any one man. His congregation, appreciating his labors, will, I understand, soon provide him an assistant. I trust and believe that they will be true to him, as he is faithful to them.

April 28th, I visited St. Peter’s, Rome. In the morning I officiated, and confirmed fourteen persons, to whom I delivered an address. I was assisted in the services and administration of the Holy Communion, by the Rector, (Rev. Mr. Williams,) with Rev. Mr. Rees of Macon. Under the guidance of the Rector, who is a faithful Pastor and devoted Missionary, the Church, in Rome is fast winning its way to all hearts, and gathering into its fold from all denominations. The Church building has been enlarged to make room for the increasing numbers who come to learn the Way of Life. Rome is still a Missionary field, and a Missionary field I am satisfied she will continue, so long as her present Rector is spared to her. The Parish of St. Peter’s will soon be independent of Missionary support, but the untiring energies of her Pastor are ever opening new ways for the Church, and the flock, knowing his voice, do gladly follow him into new pastures. He already calls for an assistant Missionary, and I trust the call will be promptly answered.

May 3d, (third Sunday after Easter) I visited Trinity Church, Columbus. In the morning I officiated, preached, and confirmed whites fifty, colored eighteen. I was assisted in the services and administration of the Holy Communion, by the Rector; (Rev. John Fulton,) with Rev. Messrs. Denniston and Laney, the latter, a perpetual Deacon. The Church building being too small to contain the crowding congregation, the Presbyterian house of worship was kindly offered us for the evening services. Here I preached, and confirmed four. Two persons had been confirmed in private (by request) before my arrival, by the Rt. Rev. the Bishop of Florida, and two who were absent from the Diocese had also received confirmation.

Thus closed my visitations prior to the meeting of the Convention; and a most cheering close it was.

The restless energy of the Rector of this Parish has impressed itself upon his entire congregation. The fruits of his labors are to be seen, not merely in the very large class presented by him for confirmation, but in the fact that his people are working, and under the able guidance of the Rector, are working to good effect. Opposition on the part of the Christian denominations in the place, which at first was violent, is fast yielding to the influence of Catholic truth, and those who were educated to look upon the Church with suspicion, are here—as is wonderfully the case throughout the Diocese— learning to love and trust her, and are fast coming into her ancient fold.

The Rev. Mr. Denniston is laboring hard in the Missionary fields around Columbus, and gives much aid to the Rector. The Missionary spirit is thoroughly aroused in Trinity Church, Columbus, and the Rector is pushing his way in every direction, in the city and to favorable points in the country. He too needs an assistant, and will, I trust, soon have one.

On my way to Savannah to attend the Convention, I spent one day in Macon, that I might take part in the funeral services of the venerable Nathan C. Monroe, Senior Warden of Christ Church. During a long life, he labored faithfully in the. Church. To his liberality and zeal, the Diocese is largely indebted for its ability to support a Bishop, and therefore, to obtain the services of a Bishop, at the time when its choice fell upon the great main whose death has been lamented throughout the American Church.

May 6th, I received notice of the deposition of Rev. Geo. H. Williams, (Deacon,) by the Rt. Rev. the Bishop of New Jersey. On the same clay I gave my Canonical consent to the consecration of Rev. Win. H. A. Bissell, D. D., to the Episcopate of Vermont.

May 7th, I struck the name of William Q. Moses, and permitted, James Porter, (colored) to withdraw his name, from the list of candidates for Holy Orders.

The widow of the late Bishop of this Diocese, requests me to state to you that she has been “the” recipient of several generous donations, from many members, of several Churches in the Diocese.” She does not know the individuals or the Parishes which have been so thoughtful of her, comfort, and therefore she desires thus publicly to make to them her grateful acknowledgement.

I have received the Rev. James Stoney from the Diocese of South Carolina. He has taken charge of St. Stephen’s Church, in Savannah.

My rapid visitation of a part of the Diocese has filled Me with hope and encouraged me greatly. I am unable to express to the people among whom I have visited, my gratitude for the cordial, unaffected welcome with which they everywhere greeted me; or to you, my Brethren of the Clergy, for your patient forbearance, and generous encouragement. To the various Vestries, whose members I had the pleasure of meeting, I wish to express my satisfaction at the promptness and frankness With which they made me acquainted with the financial condition of their respective Parishes. I beg that you, Brethren of the Clergy and Laity, will in future consider a meeting with the Vestries as a regular part of my visitations.

The future prospects of the Church in Georgia, under God, seem to be very bright. The influence of her first Bishop is everywhere seen. As the representative of the Church, he won the love and admiration of the people throughout the State, and thus prepared them to listen kindly to her claims; while as a Bishop among his Priests and Deacons, he was so true, manly and strong, that through the love and respect which they gave him, he bound them together; and thus to a people willing to hear, he gave, under God, a united Clergy to teach, “the wonderful works of God.” Let us pray that this brotherly love continue, and by our individual faithfulness be ever strengthened.

As to the best mode of increasing and rendering efficient the Parochial and Missionary strength of the Diocese, I have much to say; but, until I have had the opportunity of knowing more thoroughly the condition of the Diocese. I deem it best to be silent.

The late political strife which convulsed the Nation and has desolated the South, has subjected the religious Bodies in our country to a fearful test. The fiery ordeal (thank GOD!) as only proved the Church’s Catholicity to be real, and her consequent conservatism, sincere.—She has in her Legislation kept free from political questions, and her Communion is undisturbed by political passions. Though persecuted more fiercely than any other Christian Body in the land, she has not been, she is not, she cannot, will not be either sectarian or political.

She is simply a true Branch of the one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church—the Church of the Living GOD—the Pillar and Ground of the Truth! She dare not be less ; she cannot be more. The Christian Bodies around her are recognizing this ; their members are examining her claims, and numbers are coming into her fold. May GOD hasten the day when divisions may cease, and all Christians, having only the one Faith and regenerated by the one Baptism, may be gathered into one Fold under the one Shepherd. And now, dear brethren, “may the Lord of Peace Himself give you peace always by all means.” “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all”—Amen.


*I have learned, with regret, that the Rector (Rev. Mr. McAllister) has resigned, and sailed for Europe, that he might fulfil his duty as a son to his very sick mother.