Bishop’s Address of 1960


St. Paul’s Church, Albany
May 10, 1960

“Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.” I welcome you all to this 138th Convention of the Diocese and the 68th annual meeting of Episcopal Churchwomen of Georgia. I submit herewith to the Secretary of the Convention for publication in the Journal the canonical and statistical reports of the Bishop’s office, including the diary and an audited account of the funds for which the Bishop is solely responsible.

We are happy to be here on the invitation of the Church in Albany, comprising St. Paul’s Parish, St. Mark’s Mission, and St. John’s Mission. The first Episcopal Church in Albany was consecrated by Bishop Elliott as St. Paul’s Church in May 1855. The first time the Convention of the Diocese met in Albany was in May, 1865 when St. Paul’s Parish was 14 yens old and Bishop Beckwith was the Diocesan. In May, 1900 the Convention met in the present church, which was consecrated three years later by Bishop Nelson. It was at the Convention here in May, 1935 that Bishop Barnwell was elected Bishop Coadjutor of the Diocese, Bishop Reese being the Diocesan. The most recent time the Convention met in Albany was in 1951, the centennial year of St. Paul’s Parish. Under the present Rector, The Reverend A. Nelson Daunt, the parish is making splendid progress and working toward the establishment of two more congregations in greater Albany.

St. Mark’s Mission began from the congregation of St. Paul’s as a Sunday School in January 1951, meeting in the apartment of Mr. and Mrs. Horace Caldwell at Radium Springs. Early in 1953 a gift of land was made to Sr. Paul’s Parish for the erection of a chapel and parish house combination. The completed building of St. Mark’s Parochial Mission was dedicated in November, 1953. When the indebtedness on the Mission had been wiped out, the Rev. G. Ralph Madsen, Rector of St. Paul’s, and the Vestry of the Parish offered the Mission to the Bishop who accepted it as a diocesan mission known as St. Mark’s Church with Fr. Madsen as Vicar and Mr. John L. Moulton and Mr. Horace Caldwell as Wardens. The first resident priest-in-charge is the Rev. Harry W. Shipps under whose leadership the Mission is moving to the erection of a new church and to parish status.

St. John’s Mission was organized in 1905 with Mr. Joseph W. Roberts as lay reader. The Congregation completed and paid for the church building in 1911 with the help of the American Church Building Fund Commission. The Mission is presently served by Fr. Shipps until a Negro priest can be found to minister to the congregation.

We all rejoice in the vitality of the faith and work of the Church in Albany and pray that the bright prospects for further development in this part of our diocesan family may he increasingly realized.

The most noteworthy accomplishment in the Diocese since we last met has been the construction of the Georgia Conference Center in memory of Bishop Reese on Honey Creek in Camden County. For six years we have been hoping and praying for another Camp Reese. It is now a reality and for this we thank Almighty God. The first conference on the new site is expected to be a Lay Reader’s Conference on May 20th and a full schedule of conferences has been arranged by the Department of Christian Education throughout the summer. We are fortunate to have secured as Resident Custodians of the new facility Mr. and Mrs. Sherman Hammatt. Once more the Diocese has a center for fellowship, education, and inspiration, the value of which can only be truly imagined by those who remember so gratefully the contribution made to the life and work of the Church by the old Camp Reese on St. Simons Island.

The facts and figures of this accomplishment are given to this Convention by the Board of Managers of the Conference Center. I can only say here that Mr. Lucien Whittle, Chairman of the Board; Mr. Blake Ellis, Architect; Watson & Yeargan, Contractors; the Brunswick Pulp and Paper Company, and Mr. Barnwell Cubbedge, Chancellor, have rendered a magnificient service to the Church in bringing this dream to a reality. Their service is only equalled by the benefactions of Mr. and Mrs. Henry Cullum of Augusta, two laymen of Albany, the laymen of Thomasville, the Young Churchmen of the Diocese, and many individual men and women all over the Diocese. Behind all this is the faith that God has given us by which our parishes and missions set themselves to this task and undertook a five-year program of special assessments to make this possible.

Other significient building programs have been achieved during the year in the Diocese—a vicarage for Holy Apostles Mission, Savannah; a parish house at Christ Church, St. Mary’s; a vicarage for St. Andrew’s, Douglas; a parish house at St. Mark’s, Brunswick; a parochial Mission of St. Jude for Calvary, Americus; a parish house at Christ Church, Augusta; a rectory for St. Paul’s, Jesup; a church for Holy Spirit Mission, Dawson; a church for All Saint’s Mission, Savannah Beach; a parish house for Holy Cross Mission, Thomson. In addition to this new construction purchases were made of a Rectory for St. Michael’s, Savannah; a Rectory for St. John’s, Moultrie; a vicarage for Christ Church, Cordele; a vicarage for Annunciation, Vidalia; 2½ acres of land purchased for St. George’s Mission, Savannah; parking lots purchased for Sr. John’s Church, Savannah; building lot purchased for Calvary, Americus; four acres of land given for a new Mission in Augusta, one additional acre given for Holy Spirit Mission, Dawson; four acres given for Annunciation, Vidalia; additional lot given for All Saints, Savannah Beach.

In addition to these acquisitions of property, the Diocese has received two legacies, a bequest for missionary work in Georgia from Margaret Munson, a devoted Negro communicant of Good Shepherd Mission, Thomasville, and a bequest for theological education from Caroline Woodbridge of Christ Church, Savannah.

While all of this is very encouraging, I am sure you were disturbed, as I am, by the report of the Treasurer on our missionary giving. We fell short of the amount pledged in 1959. We were very far from pledging the amount needed for the Budget adopted by the Convention for this year of 1960. The Executive Council was forced in January to cut drastically this Budget including a reduction of the quota asked of us by the National Council. Due to the concern and effort of two parishes who volunteered to help meet the deficit in our quota for the National Church, were able to maintain our record and telegraph the National Council our acceptance of the full quota for the work of our Lord and His Church throughout the world. We are profoundly grateful for this emergency response by Christ Church, Savannah and St. John’s Church, Savannah, who have enabled us to do what is expected of us, but the fact that this was necessary indicates a serious condition. There are those who believe that the National Council asks too much of the Diocese in the way of missionary quota, and that the Diocese in turn expects too much of the local congregations. What is too much? From a Christian point of view, and we are committed to no other, it would seem that the goal of every congregation should be to give as much for others as the congregation spends on itself. An annual parish budget of $20,000 for local operating expense should mean $20,000 for the Mission of the Church. The Diocese should give to the world-wide program of proclaiming Jesus Christ at least as much as it spends on its own work. The Gospel injunction is not self-preservation but self-giving. We are faced with the problem of stewardship in individuals and congregations. Every congregation should be constantly engaged in stewardship education leading our people to fulfill their responsibility to God on the basis of the tithe and not on the objective of a budget. No budget should he suggested until the congregation has expressed its stewardship though tithes and pledges. As a member of the family of Christ here in Georgia each congregation should then inform the Finance Department of the Diocese of the amount it would be its privilege to give for the work of the Church in the Diocese and in the world. This would do away with the present method of assessments and quotas imposed by a formula of the Department of Finance. Perhaps we have not reached a state of grace and spiritual maturity to permit us to venture on this program, but surely we can accept this as an objective for fulfillment of our discipleship in Georgia. A step in this direction would be the formation in each congregation of a stewardship committee charged with continuing stewardship education, and the creation of a diocesan department of stewardship which would lead eventually to a full-time Diocesan Director of Stewardship. The National Church is encouraging this development in each diocese and many dioceses have already embarked on this program. Present indications are that it is past time for this Diocese to face the problem of Christian stewardship and the implications of the world scene today. Last year the 10,000 communicants in Georgia gave $15.00 each for the work of the Church in the Diocese and in the world (including the special camp assessment) which is an average of 30 cents a Sunday. If we are merely supporting a budget, we may ask “What is our fair share?” and it may be 30c a week. But this it not what Christian discipleship means. It means we are stewards of God’s blessings and called to the enlistment of our time, ability, and possessions that God in Christ may reign in the hearts of all mankind.

The Church in the Philippines, Formosa, Okinawa, Japan, Alaska, India, metropolitan America, small towns in Georgia are not our first line of defense, but the take-off point in the grand offensive to win the world to Christ. The great reservoir of natural resources and of manpower in the continent of Africa is ready for guidance front Islam, Communism, or the Church of Jesus Christ—which will be followed? The answer depends on us. Latin America is a major objective of Communist strategy right now. Which way will these vast multitudes go two of our Georgia priests have gone to serve in this critical area this year. As much as we miss them, we rejoice that they have been able to go front our midst to take part in this Latin American offensive for Christ. I pray that we may have grace to follow them and our brethren in other parts of the world with our prayers and our money. “Whose path this world’s good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him “ (I John 3:17)

I am happy to report the largest number of confirmations in the history of the Diocese, more than 100 in excess of the previous year. The largest number presented by a parish was at St. John’s, Savannah, the largest number presented by a Mission was at St. Mark’s, Albany. This is an encouraging improvement but we are still not reaching the norm of 10% of our communicant strength, and depending too much on the clergy to gather baptismal and confirmation candidates. 37% of the population of the United States still claims no membership in any religious body and obviously of the 63% who claim such membership, at least half are uncommitted, nominal members. Our missionary program is our effort to establish an outpost of the Faith in every community that men and women may be won to Christ and His Church and enlisted for active service in the fateful struggle against the powers of darkness of this world.

In the history of the Christian Church what we think of as evangelism has been the central concept. The word itself sometimes misleads people because of its identification with a particular form of spreading the Gospel characteristic of Protestant sects. But it is a word that deserves to he retained and rehabilitated for it properly embraces the entire activity of the Church as it reaches out into the world around it to bring Christ’s Gospel into the lives of those who do not know it or have forgotten it. There has been a healthy increase in recent years of the recognition that in everything the Church does its basic responsibility to evangelize must be involved. Obviously there are certain media more naturally and more effectively directed in this way than others. But it is impossible to eliminate any facet of church life on the basis of its being irrelevant to evangelism. Church schools, conference centers, parish houses, coffee receptions, vestry meetings, altar guilds, covered dish suppers, diocesan conventions demand to be evaluated on this basis just as much as teaching missions and street-corner preaching. The question is “Have we in this way enabled people to discover or rediscover the wonder of God’s love?”

At our last Convention a motion to create a diocesan Department of Evangelism was referred to the Executive Council for action. The Council this year acted favorably on the suggestion and we now have such a Department. Is this just one more Committee? Have we transferred the responsibility of every priest and laymen in every congregation to a Department? I trust that we cannot so easily rationalize away our responsibility and privilege. When we look at the work of evangelism and explore the needs and problems it presents, the need for a strategy of evangelism at once becomes evident. For real effectiveness a real strategy is demanded. If the Gospel has relevance—indeed, if it is the one relevant thing in this world—then it demands to be presented and it must be presented with all the efficiency imagination, resource and effort at our command.

The major function of a Department of Evangelism is to think through such a strategy and to implement it in every way possible on both a diocesan and a local level. Often evangelistic strategy requires some special and concerted impact to be made in a parish or mission—such an impact as can be supplied by a preaching or teaching mission. The Department will certainly encourage and help in such efforts wherever they may be strategic and needed. The use of radio and television provide valuable media for evangelism which we haven’t begun to utilize effectively in the diocese and this the Department will study and assist us in developing. The real impetus toward all evangelism is, of course, the depth of the spiritual life. Without truly knowing the Christ, without the strength and grace of His Sacraments, no true evangelism is possible and no urge toward it can exist. Therefore, the Department of Evangelism must undertake the task of sponsoring and directing a program of retreats for clergy and laity at the Conference Center and provide training for retreat conductors and Quiet Day leaders. With such opportunity before them we welcome this Department and look forward to their plans for our guidance in our basic responsibility as Christians.

I am pleased to report that one of our great religious communities for women, the Order of St. Helena, is favorably disposed toward accepting a gift of property in Augusta for the establishment of a branch house of the Order in the Diocese. We pray that God will guide them to us and that these plans will become a reality early in 1961. It would be a great blessing, not only to us but to the Church in this Province, to have the Sisters working and praying in our midst.

It is not possible to meet here as a family of Christ in these troubled days and ignore the tragic dilemma confronting humanity in the racial problem. It involves the whole world, from Capetown to London, from Georgia to New York. We cannot always understand the facets of the problem in New York or Capetown anti so we must beware of sitting in judgment and offer instead our sympathy, our charity, and our earnest prayer for these our brethren, If the Church has a ministry of reconciliation it must he exercised in this area of the human problem of race. It is difficult to he objective and to understand the local aspect of the problem here in Georgia and to know what things we ought to do amidst the confusion of voices raised on the subject. There is only one voice which you and I must heed in the tension and belief of the times. “And the sheep hear his voice; and he calleth his own sheep by name and leadeth them out, and when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. And a stranger will they not follow but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.” This parable spake Jesus unto them”—“The voice of the Shepherd is quite plain—Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” But who is my neighbor? The voice of the Shepherd is quite plain. “Which now thinkest thou was neighbor unto him that fell among the thieves?” And he said “He that shewed mercy on him.” Then said Jesus unto him “Co and do thou likewise.” The follower of Jesus Christ is committed to minister to the needs of others. The Lord’s standard of service applies to us as individuals, as members of the community, as citizens of the State. As His disciples we are called to serve our fellowman in the name of Jesus Christ whatever his race, station in life, or need. “And before Him shall lie gathered all nations; and He shall separate them one from another as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats. And He shall set the sheep on His right hand but, the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on His right hand, Come ye blessed of my Father inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was an hungered and ye gave me meat; I was thirsty and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger and ye took me in; I was in prison and ye came unto me.”—Then shall the righteous answer him saying “Lord, when saw we thee an hungered and fed thee, thirsty and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger and took thee in, or naked and clothed thee, or when saw we thee sick or in prison and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and any unto them—“Verily I any unto you inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my Brethren ye have done it unto me.” The voice of the Shepherd is quite plain. Some of our brethren hunger for status and dignity, some thirst for justice and fairness, some are as strangers in their own land without full citizenship, some are naked of self-respect and decency, some are sick with hatred and greed, some are imprisoned in walls of prejudice. The voice of the Shepherd is clear and sharp through all the turmoil and confusion. As His followers we have a plain responsibility to minister to the needs of our neighbor no matter who that neighbor may be. If ever there was an opportunity to bear a witness to our Christian discipleship it is in the midst of our social and political dilemma today. We have been thinking of evangelism—what does this mean if it doesn’t mean using our influence, our reason, our energy and God’s grace to help create a society based upon justice, forbearance, and good will? We cannot explain away our ineffective evangelism or lack of witness today by deluding ourselves we confront a political problem and the Church’s business is in a more spiritual realm. Unless Christian minds and hearts give leadership in this problem, agitators and extremists exploit the situation to the end only of bitterness and misery. The purpose of the Church is to lead men to unity in Christ and to be the servant of the world in His name. The voice of the Shepherd is quite plain—“Inasmuch as ye did it not unto one of the least of these my brethren ye did it not unto me.”

Man’s extremity is God’s opportunity. Difficulties are only gateways for the grace of God which is sufficient for us. “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, for as much as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”