Bishop’s Diary of 1997-1998

The Rt. Rev. Henry I. Louttit, Jr. 
Ninth Bishop of Georgia

January 1997

St. Mark’s National Wildlife Refuge

            On New Year’s Day the Louttits, the Bullions (St. Patrick’s, Albany), the Southerlands (Annunciation, Vidalia) and the Kerners (St. Andrew’s, Douglas) gather with a number of communicants of Christ Church, Valdosta, to rejoice in the incredibly beautiful natural world God has created.  It’s a day when the fog rolls in from the sea a number of times but the ponds are full of magnificent ducks of numerous varieties.  As always, the herons and eagles appear.

Ordination of Douglas McCurry

            On January 2nd in Christ Church, Valdosta, acting for the Bishop of Central Florida, the Rt. Rev. John Howe, I ordain Douglas McCurry a priest.  It’s a festive Valdosta gathering with a full church beautifully decorated for Christmas.  The congregation really responds and sings.  I’m very thankful for Fr. Charles Bennett and Fr. Robert Kerner who have taken the time to come from outside Valdosta to the ordination.  Pastor Janet Roberts, associate pastor of Christ Church, Mount Pleasant in the Diocese of South Carolina, is the animated preacher.  A large contingent of McCurrys gathered from across the United States.  Lots of them are very young.  It is a happy crowd.

Good Shepherd, Thomasville

            How exciting it is to be here this January 5th and to be part of baptizing 4 teenagers and confirming another.  I have admired the faithfulness of the people here for 30 years.  But I have seen the congregation getting older and smaller.  Today we are thankful that God has sent Fr. Lee Hutchson to this congregation.  There’s energy and a cross-section of ages.  A new chapter of history of Good Shepherd’s service of our Lord is beginning.  We have people, a proud history, and a faith to share!

Our Savior, Martinez

            This Feast of the Epiphany (6th), a Monday night, is the best, I believe, I’ve ever celebrated.  Fifty people, including lots of stars and kings, process into a comfortably filled church to give thanks for Christ’s manifesting himself as the Light of the world.  We baptize one infant, one child, and four adults, and receive and confirm more.  The children participate in recalling the worship of the wise men.  The church is decorated by stars – on the walls and people – and we know we’re called to represent Christ’s light in this world.

Retreat at Honey Creek (7th-10th)

            Why is it so hard to go on retreat?  Years ago a great English priest and teacher of prayer, Martin Thornton, said, “Knowing God requires we give him some time to talk.”  To be quiet so we can hear God seems reasonable – but it is hard.

1.   Some of us think out loud, so we say we need to retreat with talking.  I know that God has said his most important words to me through other people’s words, but I only paid attention to those words when I gave him silence and they came back.

2.   If we stop and make real silence, all sorts of hurt and anger reappear that I think I have taken care of long ago!  I don’t want to nurse my hurt feelings.  (Fr. Thornton also said that reading, so permissible to start prayer or for recreation during a retreat, is not silence!  That’s hard for me.)  I don’t want to face my need to be right, my need for control.

3.   Most of us who minister want to be needed, so we let the world keep us very busy.  “I’m just too busy to take 3 days out.”  But then what do we have to give if we’re not in touch with God?

            However, a lay person and some senior clergy of our diocese join with the bishop of the Credit Valley, retired (Bp Fricker) and spend time in God’s presence, listening.

Ordination of Deacon Eddie Adkins

            In the best of ordinations the church speaks what God has already been forming.  On Saturday 11th, All Saints’, Tybee, is filled with people to celebrate the setting aside of Eddie Adkins, deacon in God’s church.  You can feel the joy and do they sing!  Five people lead with voices from the organ at the rear of the church and everyone sings as though their praise matters.  Fr. Ingeman preaches right to the point and concisely.  Everyone listens.  The party continues in the parish.  I’m thankful for Dawson Teague’s presence, all the way from Athens, Georgia, and for Fr. Evans of Christ Church, and Fr. Hoornstra and Fr. Maxwell, retired.  There’s a wonderful group of lay people representing most of the congregations of Savannah.

St. Athanasius’, Brunswick

            Sunday 12th is the Feast of the Baptism of Christ, one of my favorite days and this is a congregation to celebrate with.  They love to sing and worship.  Their tradition allows them to encourage their preacher.  You know they are praying for you and for God’s message.  Their acolytes and little people have an active EYC and are very proud of their first newsletter.  St. Athanasius’ has 33 youngsters in its boys club that meets most Saturdays.  They newly painted and furnished parish house provides a feast for new confirmands, bishop and the loving congregation.

Trinity, Statesboro

            On Wednesday 15th, excitement’s in the air.  Trinity has purchased some land on the by-pass and is planning to relocate.  The current place is on a very busy street on the Georgia Southern campus.  But Trinity needs more facilities.  It’s good they’re planning for the future.  For us it’s like coming home, as it’s were Jan and I began our ministry.  How much these people loved us then and it’s good to see some of them here tonight.


            On Thursday 16th, I join the 14 board  members of the Episcopal Youth & Children’s Services which helps Episcopal children with medical and educational expenses that are beyond their family’s means.  We meet at St. Michael & All Angels’ for the Eucharist and institution of officers.  Your financial gifts at Thanksgiving make a lot of difference to a number of wonderful young people.  The board works hard to use the given money responsibly.  The requests are endorsed by priests for children in their parishes.  The board has to decide how to distribute available funds when requests are larger than income.

St. Paul’s, Savannah

            The red shouldered hawks are rebuilding their nests in our yard as we leave for St. Paul’s on Sunday morning, the 19th.  This church has been a place of prayer in my journey with Christ.  We celebrate with an energetic and diverse congregation.  And confirm several people, some for All Saints’, Tybee.  The vestry of St. Stephen’s, Milledgeville, is in Savannah on a planning weekend and joins us.  It’s good to see them and Fr. Ed Sellers at St. Paul’s.  St. Paul’s is a partner in a very exciting project:  to renovate an abandoned and partially burned convent building for housing.  This will help their neighborhood and provide housing for people on limited income.  There’s lots of imagination in this congregation.

Fourth Province Bishops (20th-22nd)

            We meet with the faculty of St. Luke’s Seminary, Sewanee, to discuss education of our future priests.  We are aware that we need young priests and will need to replace, due to retirement, about 5,000 over the next 15 years.  We are also aware that many new priests leave congregational service after about 5 years.


            I stay on at Sewanee on the 22nd to brainstorm with a group of lay persons and clergy from around the country called the School of Theology Visiting Committee.  We’re ask to reflect on what St. Luke’s is doing in educating priests and how they might be better prepared.  Part of the equation involves a selection of suitable candidates – something that is done by the diocese – and part is what do they need in the way of education and formation while in seminary.  Can we prepare them so that they are not burned out in their first congregation?  Vice-Chancellor Sam Williamson challenges us to broaden horizons by asking the question, “What sort of leaders does God need for his church of the future and how should they be prepared?”

Standing Committee & Commission on Ministry (24th-25th)

            Back in the diocese we working in selecting and interviewing process for those who may be future deacons and priests.  I’m very impressed with the candidates.  We approve two to proceed to education and formation to be priests and two to be deacons.  And we affirm another person who is considering a call to ordained ministry.  We currently have six people in seminary preparing to be priests and three in the diocese preparing to be deacons.  We also have two people in the diocese preparing to be ordained priests and next year it appears that we will have three people entering seminary.

St. Thomas’, Savannah

            On Sunday 26th, all ages are well represented.  This congregation sings well.  Lots of little bishops are evident with very full jeweled miters.  The redone parish house – now the Christian education building – is very nice and spacious.  St. Thomas’ has beautiful facilities for grownups and young people.  A wonderful group of young people are confirmed.

St. Thomas Aquinas’, Baxley

            On Tuesday 28th, the Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas’, the red maples are showing bloom – they think spring is at hand.  Spectacular redbuds blaze in yards.  This is my first visit to this congregation since Dave Basinger has been their pastor.  Several years ago we bought a Baptist church on the outskirts of the town on the road to Hazlehurst.  The good news is that we have lots of room.  The difficulty is maintenance and a very small group of faithful.  Tonight we baptize one man and his two-year old son.  We are blessed by music played by organist Jeff Lewis and 25 people rejoice that God has called us together.  The congregation has sheetrocked and painted the area around the altar and the whole worship area looks new and fresh.   God is beginning to write a new chapter of ministry through these folk.  The newest vestry member came into the church through the college ministry at VSU.  We enjoy a family feast and I leave much encouraged.

Trinity Church, Harlem

            It is a very wet, cold Wednesday evening (the 29th) as we gather to worship.  Lots of families with children so all ages are present.  The organist is sick, but led by Pastor Irv Lafser, the congregation sings a capella with energy.  As in many of our family sized congregations, it looks like we’re growing and then one of the pillar families moves away.  Still, Trinity looks forward and welcomes new members as Christ’s love is evident in their life.

February 1997

St. Thomas’, Thomasville

            Our first self-supporting congregation in the southwest area of the diocese, St. Thomas’ has a long and proud tradition of sharing her priests with smaller congregations in the area.  This Sunday the 2nd, in their spacious church, we have a comfortably filled church and a good integration of young leaders and faithful, long-time workers evident.  There’s no question that this is a congregation that enjoys being a family in Christ in the Episcopal tradition.  The adult we baptized today was joined by the candidates for confirmation in a catechumenate program.  They are knowledgeable and excited about our faith.  The catechumenate process is a wonderful way to deepen their faith and understanding and become part of the congregation.  There is a great sense of trust and love between these people and their pastor, Fr. Bennett.

Fourth Province Conference on Ordained Ministry (4-5th)

            On February 4, members of diocesan Commissions on Ministry, bishops and deans of nine of our seminaries gather at the Diocese of West Tennessee’s St. Columba’s Conference Center outside Memphis.  The questions posed are:  How do we get leaders to ordain as priests of the future?  How do we get bright, able young people to consider ordination?  How do we best prepare people to be the priests we need?

            I’m blessed to be with Fr. George Kontos, who grew up at Grace Church, Waycross, and Fr. David Powers, who went to seminary from Holy Nativity, St. Simons Island.  David is rector of All Saints’, Mobile, George is rector of St. James’, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Diocesan Convention (6-8th)

            The Japanese magnolias – some huge – are in full bloom in Cochran as we drive to Albany for this gathering of the family of Episcopalians in the Diocese of Georgia.  A high point for me is the presentation by the clergy of the Albany Convocation of a crozier made for me in Belize out of mahogany.  Another moment of grace is the Lutheran eucharistic liturgy celebrated for us by Bishop Ron Warren of the ELCA.  For many of us this is our first experience of a Lutheran communion service, and for many it feels like we’re home.  I’m impressed that we learned their music in a relatively short practice session and sing it well (they sing more than we do).

            As another guest, we have Bishop Tom Ray of the Episcopal Diocese of Northern Michigan.  He brings us the experience of our brothers and sisters there who have been learning to live and work for Jesus in a sparsely populated area with very limited financial resources, discovering the richness of the ministry of all the baptized. 

            We’re also blessed by Bishop Zeberdee Masereka from our church in Uganda.  We’re blessed as we receive the Korean Congregation of St. James in Hinesville as a member of our diocesan family. 

            Upon second reading we affirm a constitutional change allowing 16 year olds to be voting delegates from their parishes at diocesan convention.  We also affirm our need to give support for our seminaries, particularly Sewanee.  And there are wonderful people of high school age who come to remind us of the faith we share.

Christ Church, Savannah (9th)

            On Sunday I’m about of voice given a bad cold.  However, we baptize and confirm in this, the mother church of Georgia, on a clear, sunny, winter Sunday.  We confirm at both the 8 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. services.  At the later service Pastor Harriette Simmons of Macon, baptizes her grandson, whose family belongs to this parish.  This is a happy, multi-age congregation.  The music is varied and the people sing it all well.  I have forgotten how steps and narrow approaches slow down communion for such a good crowd and give a lot more time for singing.  Questions at adult Sunday School reflect a congregation interested about mission.

St. Margaret of Scotland, Moultrie (12th)

            On Wednesday, Jan and I begin Lent with the people of St. Margaret’s.  They meet in the chapel of First Methodist, a gracious host.  It’s Wednesday, so lots of other things are happening at First Methodist while we take a serious look at ourselves, our mortality and our involvement in sin willingly and unknowingly.  This examination is set in the context of God’s love and forgiveness.  St. Margaret’s and the diocese do not have a stipend for a priest, so we’re struggling to define a mission with a life style that will allow us to be faithful ministers of Christ in Colquitt County.  St. Margaret’s does have two houses that they make available to people who are burned out and to women with children who are fleeing abuse.  So they have a real ministry in Moultrie.  We break our fast this Ash Wednesday with a lovely soup and sandwich meal following the Eucharist.

Holy Angels’, Pooler (16th)

            In the west of Chatham County we have a faithful group who, this year, have worked hard to refurbish their church, which once was on a small lot in downtown Pooler but now sits on a beautiful 10-acre pine forest.  An army chaplain, Fr. Neske of the Diocese of Newark, assists us by celebrating on Sundays.  We have a small first part – 20% of original plan – of a parish hall.  We have too many adults to fit into it, not even counting the children.  The issue is how, without adequate space, do we minister to children and adults so that we can grow – but how, without a larger financial base, can we build.  Today we confirm several young couples (military) and some of our own teenagers.  It’s a festive and exciting time.

Savannah Area Vestry & Wardens Conference

            On Sunday afternoon, we do the first of our regional Vestry & Wardens’ Conferences.  We have about 50 people turn out at St. Thomas’, Isle of Hope.  Hospitality and the Low Country Boil are outstanding.  We see lots of leaders from this area of our diocese getting to know each other.

St. Matthew’s, Fitzgerald (19th)

            On Wednesday, I head for Fitzgerald.  This congregation has been without a regular priest for a number of months and has been working with Fr. Liam Collins to develop their ministry.  Tonight there is excitement because Fr. Dave Basinger, while continuing as pastor of St. Thomas Aquinas’ in Baxley, is to become their pastor.  We have a bumper crowd, supported by a nice group from St. Francis’, Camilla, who have come to support a friend, recently moved to Fitzgerald, and who is being confirmed.  She’s surprised and I’m proud of these committed people for their presence.

Holy Cross, Thomson (23rd)

            This is a happy congregation and a good worship space.  On Sunday 23rd we confirm several generations of adults in one family – a happy occasion, but the growth rate of Holy Cross is flat.  We replace people who move, but we are not moving ahead in growth.  I’m afraid, like many of our congregations, our leaders are waiting for Episcopalians to move into town – but usually only Episcopalians over 55 are brand loyal enough to look for another Episcopal church.  And then, we are all influenced by our experiences, so Episcopalians for a previous church of a different size, often with a different social and class structure, may not find a new Episcopal congregation filling their expectations.  The vestry, like many folk, probably think the priest is responsible for bringing people in – when, in fact, in a congregation averaging less than 50 on Sunday, the pastor does not have the ability to make people “stick,” only the members can share membership/participation/ belonging!

            The mission council and I wrestle with some of these issues.  They want to be responsible and move towards self-support.  They would like numerical growth with committed people.

Virginia Theological Seminary (24th-27th)

            Early on Monday, Jan and I fly to VTS in Alexandria to visit our three seminarians.  The afternoon is spent catching up on much-needed sleep, after which we have a wonderful visit with Senior Reginald Payne (Christ Church, Valdosta), Middler Anne Natoli (Good Shepherd, Augusta), and Middler Sean Wead (St. Philip’s, Hinesville).   I take them to dinner.  On another night we take to dinner a number of young adults from the Diocese of Georgia who work in the Washington area.  I have been invited by the seminary and the Bishop of Virginia to celebrate and preach at chapel on Wednesday morning, at which time I will confirm Sean’s wife, Kim.  I’m more nervous than I ever expected, preaching in the seminary chapel and where all the faculty members who taught me are retired and departed.  This was a very important place in my priestly formation.

Lay Ministries Conference (February 28th-March 2nd)

            The Rev. Dr. Ed Harvey makes any exciting presentation from scripture to 50 or so leaders in our diocese.  His energy and enthusiasm for God’s Word are catching.

March 1997

St. Richard of Chichester’s, Jekyll Island (2nd)

            St. Richard’s worships in the Methodist Church on Jekyll at 8:30 a.m. every Sunday.  This arrangements over long years has worked well and the Methodists have accommodated their space to our liturgy.  To share someone else’s space makes excellent economic sense for both congregations but requires much labor to set up and take down for liturgies.  This is a very gifted congregation and after service on the 2nd we go to a festive brunch they’ve prepared in the Good Year Cottage – the Jekyll Village art gallery – which this week is displaying a number of Lamar Dodd’s paintings.  At this point Fr. Charles Hay serves St. Richard’s from Honey Creek, but they are looking forward to having Dot and Charles live on Jekyll Island next year.  I’m looking forward to the ministry that is going to develop through this group of gifted people.

House of Bishops, Kanuga (3rd-8th)

            Martin Smith SSJE and Curtis Armquist SSJE, Episcopal monks of the Society of St. John the Evangelist, whose American mother house is in Cambridge, Mass., lead us in Bible study and challenge us with awesome meditations.  Frank Griswold, bishop of Chicago, manages prayerful, simple liturgies each day.  Surrounded by prayer, we’re living in the tension of change:  new presiding bishop to be elected this summer; many new bishops, like me; many bishops preparing for retirement; and all the divisive issues before us.  I’m scared by all the single-bishops who more or less say, “THE ISSUE from God’s view of justice.  If you don’t agree, get out of this church.”  Pray that, though loud, they’re not the majority.  It seems to me that we are correct in Anglicanism to admit that we are a fallible church.  We can be mistaken – I can be mistaken.  God still uses us, and loves us, and, ultimately if we are faithful, his truth will win out, even among those of us who are mistaken.

St. Luke’s, Hawkinsville (9th)

            In this little gem of a gothic church, surrounded by blooming pear trees on this beautiful spring Sunday, we celebrate the 4th Sunday of Lent.  Our part-time pastor, Tom Arledge, is beginning a volunteer ministry at the women’s prison, where we already have an active Kairos ministry. 

Lent Preparatory Day (12th)

            In Christ Church, Central, a good portion of the clergy of the diocese assemble on Wednesday the 12th to say their prayers and listen to scripture assigned to Holy Week and Easter as we prepared for the great festival.  Fr. Charles Amuzie, Pastor Susan Panton, Pastor Bob Reese and Fr. Dann Brown, give excellent meditations.  At the Eucharist, we bless oil for baptism and for anointing the sick.  Clergy replenish their supplies of both.

Diocesan Council (14-15th)

            In Christ Church, Central, the Diocesan Council gathers to begin a new Council year.  Our outstanding consultant of last year, Fr. Tom Downs, is sick, so this year’s consultant, Fr. Liam Collins, steps up to bat with no coach.  Lots people are sick or have conflicts and it takes a while to build a new working council – but there’s a good spirit, and it’s met by the Holy Spirit.  Issues before us: 

  • Should we continue the Council member’s visits to congregations?
  • What needs to happen to continue development of the Discipleship Program?
  • Do we want to have a goal and commit ourselves to start new congregations?

            We agree to continue having prayer partners on Council.  By Saturday noon, your Diocesan Council seems energized and excited about our future.

St. John’s, Moultrie (16th)

            On a back road, parts not paved, between Ty Ty and Moultrie, a large bird comes to us across a pasture.  The bright, white head is unmistakable.  D.N.R. is trying to re-establish the eagle in Georgia, but trigger-quick folk in woods tend to shoot them faster than they can breed.  What a magnificent creature!  Then at Fr. Cantrell’s & Margaret’s home, next to seven acres of abandoned pecans, covered with a jungle of wisteria – visually and aromatically much as I imagine paradise – we start our visit to Moultrie.  We have a good Sunday with the folk of St. John’s.  They then host our 4th and last meeting for wardens and new vestry members.  Over 180 wardens and vestry members have attended this year’s meetings to think about our work together in the stewardship of our wonderful resource, folk lay and ordained.

Christ Church, Savannah (19th)

            On Wednesday the 19th, I have the pleasure of meeting with Christ Church’s Inquirers Class.  It’s wonderful to hear these people talk about what they have found in the Episcopal Church at Christ Church.

St. Mary Magdalene’s, Louisville (20th)

            This community has been busy at work refurbishing a house and a shop into a church and parish house.  The congregation has camped out in the local Roman Catholic church – and we are thankful for their hospitality – for the last 20 years.  For much of that time, in a different market, with different government rules, St. Mary Magdalene’s operated a day care center for their town.  At this point, Sr. Rosina OSH or Sr. Carol Andrew OSH of St. Helena’s Convent in Augusta comes down on most Sundays to celebrate Eucharist.  Fr. Ron Southerland, rector of the Church of the Annunciation, Vidalia, comes over on Thursday afternoons to offer pastoral care and help this community develop its ministry to each other and to Jefferson County.  I am present for their weekly bible study and am very impressed at the depth of reflection on the scripture.  They are using a series of video tapes by Dr. Bruggeman of Columbia Seminary outside Atlanta.  A majority of parishioners are present as well as a number of regulars who are active in other churches in Louisville.  This is clearly a community that allows people to think and calls them into ministry for Christ.  It is a congregation that is very thankful for the gifts of the clergy that come among them on a regular basis.  They are aware that, in order to have continuing nurture and pastoral care and outreach, it has to be done by people living in the congregation.  The old flower shop that has been adapted as their chapel (to be doubled in size this summer), is charmingly done.  The attached house has been attractively furnished for parish house and hospitality needs.

St. Philip’s, Hinesville (23rd)

            I worship with members of one of our fastest growing congregation.  The church is packed to hear the passion story.  Fr. Habiby preaches a powerful and appropriate sermon.  A family which is being transferred is sent off with prayer for the new community and family’s new ministry therein.  This is a congregation that takes care of its members and does parting and welcoming well.  The newly doubled parking area is full.  More space for children is imperative.  Nice problems to have.

Funeral of Jay Gardner (26th)

            On Monday in Holy Week, in St. Michael & All Angels’ Church, Savannah, I say the office for the day and meditate on the propers as we wait for the service that celebrates the life of a long-time friend, worker and sometime chancellor in our diocese.  The church is full and there is big crowd in the parish house.  The singing is powerful and we give thanks for Jay, serious Christian and friend of many.  Mr. Tom Coffey preaches.  Several friends of Jay from the legal profession remarked that they sense this is not a funeral as much as a celebration of a wonderful man.

Tenebrae at St. John’s (25th)

            On Tuesday, I join with the faithful of St. John’s, Savannah, in the traditional evening office of Holy Week.  A good choir sets a prayerful environment for our prayer and reflection in response to our Lord’s Passion.

St.  Paul’s, Savannah (26th)

            On Wednesday, I make my communion with the people of St. Paul’s.  Bishop Shipps is the celebrant.  It’s good to have him home and to worship with him and this community, where daily prayer is a year-round offering.

Christ Church, Savannah (27th)

            On Maundy Thursday, in the mother church of Georgia, I make my communion.  Lots of people have their feet washed as we focus on a God who came and comes to serve us and love us.

Good Friday (28th)

            Jan, my daughter, Amy and her family, and I attend the liturgy at St. Francis’, Wilmington Island.  The service is clear and concise.  The focus is the cross.

Holy Saturday (29th)

            At St. John’s, Savannah, we move from Holy Week into Easter, with evensong on Holy Saturday – the day of Christ’s resting in the grave – and then move to a renewal of our baptismal covenant in the context of confirmation.  The church is beautifully decorated for the Passover Feast, and we know that Christ has broken the bonds of death.

St. Stephen’s (Lee County)!, Easter Sunday (30th)

            In our newest congregation, we baptize 3 and confirm and receive 8.  First Methodist Church of Leesburg is allowing us to use their chapel (their old church), for which we are very thankful.  There are few vacant buildings in rapidly-growing Lee County.  Our goal here is to build a church welcoming the many people in the county who do not have a congregation.  The evident friendliness of this community opens a new chapter in the ministry of the Episcopal Church in the Albany area.  St. Paul’s, St. Patrick’s and St. Mark’s have been very supportive.  Both St. Patrick’s and St. Paul’s set records for Easter attendance, at least in this decade.  There are lots of folk being called by God into this part of his family, the Episcopal Church.  Note, this new congregation is not made up of Episcopalians from other churches, rather of people who have had no church for years!  There are lots of those people in many of our communities.

April 1997

Trinity, Cochran (2nd)

            This congregation is moving.  We confirm or receive almost a third of the adults present.  Don’t think I’ve confirmed such a large percentage of our normal Sunday attendance in any other congregation in the diocese!  Several of the confirmands talk about how they were welcomed and received by the congregation.  One couples says, “We lived here a number of years and always felt like transients in this county, but on our first Sunday at Trinity we knew this was home!”  Others talked about how wonderful it was to find a church that challenged them to think and serve.  Trinity is a close-knit and loving community and knows how to share that with newcomers and visitors.

Meeting of Chairpersons of Diocesan Commissions and Organizations (5th)

            On Saturday, at Annunciation, Vidalia, the Executive Committee of Diocesan Council and the bishop meet with the chairpersons from many of our commissions.  Most of our major programming groups are present.  We have at least 46 commissions, committees and organizations in this diocese.  There are about 350 people who serve on them.  A recent study shows a good spread of membership among the convocations and most congregations have someone serving.  This meeting is to allow us to share our plans and to work on ways to communicate our various ways we are able to help in ministry.  I’m glad to report that most of our committees have a plan well under way and are clear about their year’s objectives.  We are all aware that we need to be better in sharing information with the membership of this diocese.

Christ Church, Frederica (6th)

            It’s an absolutely beautiful day for “Thomas Sunday”, although the insects are enjoying it also.  I celebrate at the 8 and 11:30 a.m.  and we celebrate and confirm at the 9:15 a.m.  It’s hard to believe that on Easter over 1,000 people made their communion in this beautiful setting but very small building.  The facility acquire very careful parking and packing people into the building and a very tight schedule.  Christ Church is big in the number of people and it has a wonderful sense of mission beyond the walls of the church.  It was a major leader in making possible our EYC mission trips to Belize last summer.  At the moment they are working on building an orphanage for Bishop Maserake’s diocese in Uganda (many of us met the bishop at convention).  Last year, Christ Church supported their rector in buying and filling a school bus with supplies for the schools in our companion diocese of Belize.  They Fr. Renegar and one other communicant were supported in giving time to drive that bus across the Southeast and Mexico to Belize.  I leave Christ Church quite energized by the love and commitment of this colonial parishes, one of the three founding parishes in the Diocese of Georgia.

St. Paul’s, Jesup (9th)

            On this Wednesday evening, a lovely musical celebration of the Easter feast welcomes newly confirmed and received people as members of our part of God’s family.  Here 30 years ago, some farsighted folk built a lovely, spacious church with spacious parish hall and educational facilities.  Here a grew a very committed congregation.  We have space and wonderful people.  A new shelter for battered women is the result of their leadership.  We know that God’s next chapter for St. Paul’s is going to be exciting and fulfilling.

Camp & Conference Center – “Honey Creek” (11th)

            The Conference Commission begins its work in looking for a new manager for our center to succeed Charles and Dot Hay, who plan to retire in January.  Under their leadership we have developed a much larger ministry, including a leading environmental education centers on the Georgia coast.  Many schools from north Georgia and some from surrounding states, bring their young people to learn about the fragile yet beautiful environment of the marsh.  We also host many groups of other churches and other dioceses, as well as providing for parish conferences and diocesan events in Georgia.  Dot and Charles not only have been imaginative in finding new clients, they have also provided the kind of hospitality that has made people want to come back time and again.  They will be very hard to replace.

Grace Church, Waycross (13th)

            Many downtown buildings are empty this Sunday, but not Grace Church.  This morning we confirm 2 mothers with 5 teenagers between them.  They are joined by a good friend who grew up in the parish, so this morning we see lots of energy for youth ministry in this one class.  Grace Church is hospitable and forward looking.  They join me in urging their beloved pastor, Dave Tonge, to take care of himself.

Presbyters Conference (13th-15th)

            This is well covered in the May “Church In Georgia”.  It is certain that no one slept through Canon Peterson’s presentation.  He may have a doctorate in biblical archeology, but his use of his knowledge is not boring.

St. Mark’s, Albany (16th)

            The community around St. Mark’s still has many houses boarded up since the Albany floods; however, our rebuilt parish house and refurbished church sparkle like new and are filled tonight by members of St. John’s and St. Mark’s.  I receive one adult and confirm one adult for St. Mark’s, and welcome a family into St. John’s who comes to us from the church in Nigeria.  Today the people of St. John’s and of St. Mark’s have resources – people, buildings, and energy – to look forward to an exciting future.  The friendships here witness to Christ’s power to bring us together from many different backgrounds and peoples.

Standing Committee and Commission on Ministry

Honey Creek (18th-19th)

            A major responsibility of the Standing Committee is to approve people at various stages of the process leading to ordination.  The Commission on Ministry advises the bishop of the suitability of candidates and then is responsible for their formation and education.  This weekend we have 11 people at different stages of the process to interview.  We endorse 4 people to be ordained:  3 as transitional deacons and 1 deacon to the priesthood.  We move two people (2 in seminary and one studying here) to candidacy, the second stage in this process.  We admit 4 people into the process.

St. Alban’s, Augusta (20th)

            I am welcomed by a wonderful group of young folk I have watched grow up at Honey Creek.  It is wonderful gathering with these people first at God’s altar, then at festive foods in the parish hall.  I talk to several members about vocations to ordination.

Augusta Deacons (20th)

            On Sunday afternoon, I meet with deacons from the Augusta area.  I’m thankful for their work in encouraging and representing the church’s outreach to those around us who are in any kind of need or trouble.  At one time, St. Alban’s and St. Augustine’s, with some early help from Christ Church, made Augusta the center of the developing ministry of deacons in our diocese.  We talk about how that might happen again.  Today most of our deacons serve in Savannah, the Southwest Convocation and the Albany Convocation.

Council of Associated Parishes (23rd-26th)

            I go to a meeting at the mother house of the Order of the Holy Cross in West Park, New York – a monastic (Benedictine) order for men in the Episcopal Church.  The council is 26 people drawn from across the U.S. and Canada who come together to think about and improve the way we worship so that it nurtures God’s mission.  How does worship help us to grow and be like God and share his reconciling love throughout the world?  This is a doubly rich time for me.  The A.P. Council has challenged and encouraged me for years.  It’s my friends from beyond the diocese.  The Order of the Holy Cross also played a big part in my spiritual development.  Priests influencial in spiritual journey as a teenager were associates of the Order.  They introduced me to a Rule of Life, rule developed for associates of the Order.   Daffodils and forsythia are in full bloom on the Hudson.  I say my prayers in community that prayed publicly together 4 times a day every day of the year.  It’s a restful couple of days for me.

Christ Church, Cordele (27th)

            From the Hudson to Crisp County, where spring is changing to summer.  There is a great sense of a loving community at Christ Church.  Lovely flowers from people’s yards decorate the parish hall and the meditation chapel.  This congregation really sings and is blessed with good music.   We talk about ministry and evangelism.  Like most of us, they are not convinced that their are people in their town that don’t have a church and who would come to Christ Church if invited.  However, they are both a hardy and faithful family in God and they are willing to think and pray about what God’s wants us to do in his future.

Happening (27th)

            This is a gift to God’s Church.  For years there has been a large drop out of young people after they have been confirmed.  Conventional wisdom hopes that they return to church after they have their own children.  Serious studies do not support this hope.  Some marry people with stronger faith in other Christian communities, others just become inactive.   Of course, we should be thankful for those who serve Christ in any church.  Given our birth rate, which is less than 1 person a couple, we would shrink by half every generation, even if we were able to keep every person born into our church.  Thus dropouts hurt badly.  People who have studied how human beings come to faith, have discovered that children hold faith by family connection.  And that’s the right kind of faith for them.  But at some point, when they become independent of their family, that faith will not move with them and an adult system of values has to be adapted.  This means that commitment to Jesus Christ within the Episcopal Church has to become an individual act at some point in every human life.  What Happening gives us is an environment in which most 10th through 12th graders, thinking about the faith they’ve grown up in, led by other teenagers with adult chaperones, not only have a wonderful exciting weekend, but move from an understanding of being a Christian through family to a personal acceptance of the values of our Lord Jesus Christ.  The results are a very high percentage of young people deeply committed to our Lord in his Church.  It’s not magic and it can’t cure addiction or counteract membership in destructive and negative peer groups, but it is a great gift to the Christian family.  The youth who have gone through it are an enormous gift to their congregations and to the Christian Church at large.

Church of the Atonement (30th)

            We worship in the bright, roomy nave, confirming and receiving people for the Church of the Atonement, St. Alban’s, and St. Augustine’s.  The excitement at Atonement centers around the upcoming ordination of Deacon Kurt Miller to the priesthood.

May 1997

Episcopal Church Women’s Convention (2nd-3rd)

            The ECW of St. Andrew’s, Darien, helped by the ECW of St. Cyprian’s, host a wonderful gathering using the new Holiday Inn Express and a vacant store in the outlet mall and the historic buildings of St. Cyprian’s and St. Andrew’s to advantage.  We are refreshed by Dr. Ed Harvey’s addresses and inspiring reports of work of the ECW around our diocese.  We are entertained and encouraged in our faith by the MacIntosh County Shouters, who preserve coastal African American praise music and movement.  “Let Down Your Nets” is a great theme in one of America’s premier shrimp ports.  The imaginative use of this theme throughout the conference is wonderful.

St. Michael & All Angels’, Savannah (4th)

            Bill Steinhauser, catechist, has a group of young people ready to stand up and be counted on as adult disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ.  On a beautiful Easter Sunday, the faithful and steady community of St. Michael & All Angels’ gathers to give thanks and be nurtured.  We give thanks for the music ministry of Frances Emmons who moves out this Sunday from her long time responsibility to journey on to other ministries.


School For Bishops (4th-9th)

            On Sunday night I reach General Seminary in New York City.  A week of very hectic spring schedule will be piled up when I return home, but it is essential that time is given to God to stand back and see what is going on in our lives.  The regular round of Evening Prayer, Eucharist and Morning Prayer in the General chapel, a couple of blocks from Greenwich Village, is refreshing.  This is my third and final session of the school for new bishops.   I’m joined by the bishop of Dunedin in New Zealand, the suffragan of Halifax, Nova Scotia, and the bishops of Vancouver and Panama.  The other U.S. bishop is of Ohio (the Cleveland area).  The challenges to the Christian faith and the problems that followers of Jesus struggle with are similar throughout thee world.  A high point for me is joining with 1,300 people at a dinner celebrating the 300th birthday of Trinity Church, Wall Street.  Ellis Island, a National Park, has been obtained by Trinity to celebrate the oldest congregation in NYC.  It’s a wonderful trip across the harbor and then how impressive to stand where many of our ancestors entered the U.S.  Honored guests are the 21 archbishops of our 21 churches in Africa and the Archbishop of Canterbury.  Among the other guests is Bishop Shipps.

Calvary, Americus (11th)

            It’s been a cool, dry spring – meaning Fr. Gunn’s day lilies are not in full bloom – but Calvary is blooming and bearing fruit!  This parish has just completed a $220,000 capital fund drive in the year that they had their best canvass ever.  They present 11 adults for confirmation or reception.  To complete the feast, we confirm one and baptize her child for St. Stephen’s, Lee County, and receive one for St. Andrew’s, Douglas.  The excitement of Calvary’s ministry is wonderful.

Deacons of the West (11th)

            Sunday afternoon at St. Paul’s, Albany, I meet with most of the deacons in the Southwest and Albany Convocations to talk about their ministry.  We brainstorm about descriptions of a deacon:  “Make it possible for others to serve Christ”; “Call the church to ministry out in God’s world”; “Live as servants of Christ”; “A soloist who sits with others to encourage others to use their gifts”; “Model of ministry”; “ Encourager of service to those in need”.

Presbyters Day (13th)

            Nine priests gather at the bishop’s house to think about what Christ is doing among us and what we need to further than ministry.

Icon Blessing Service, St. Paul’s, Savannah (13th)

            Bishop Shipps leads the service and I bless more than 20 icons written by new iconographers studying and praying with Louise Shipps.  St. Paul’s altar is spectacular with candles, and the 20+ icons are magnificent.

Holy Trinity, Blakely (14th)

            What a nice mix of children and adults lead us to worship after the 5+ hour drive.  We bring home two pictures of Christ victorious on the cross, drawn by Sunday School scholars for the bishop.  Five years ago their were no children visible at Holy Trinity.  This parish is made up of people not only from Blakely but from surrounding communities of Fort Gains, Blufton, Arlington, etc.  Each has found a spiritual home here, some after years of estrangement from other congregations, and others lifelong Episcopalians who are the only Episcopalian in town.  We confirm two adults and baptize two young children who do their responses like serious adults.   Then we sit down to a celebration dinner.  These people know and care about each other and rejoice in their new church family members.

Diocesan Council, Central (16th-17th)

            The Council meets at Christ Church to consider our ministry of 70 congregations. 

Ordination of Joan Kilian as Deacon (16th)

            A little better than a third of our diocesan priests join the congregation and friends at Christ Church for Joan’s ordination.  The preacher is Dean Guy Lytle of St. Luke’s Seminary, Sewanee.  It’s a wonderful, joyous occasion.  I’m thankful for the support of the peple around the diocese for Joan and her ministry.

St. Patrick’s, Albany (17th)

            We celebrate a Pentecost Vigil with the largest class of adults and teenagers for confirmation/reception that I’ve seen at St. Patrick’s and I believe has been there for a long, long time.  It’s a full church and a wonderful night.  This is a congregation that is clearly growing and welcoming those that come into its orbit.  They’re very proud of their restored parish annex – a beautifully refurbished building that originally was a World War II barracks.  It gives them a magnificent space for their youth and nursery.  The liturgy is rich from the Taizé tradition and hymns.

All Saints’, Thomasville (18th)

            On a beautiful Pentecost Sunday, a full church is present and the music is provided by the excellent children’s choir of All Saints’.  They sing J.S. Bach’s, “With Loudest Rejoicing” beautifully.  It’s a very impressive offering of children to adult worship and they are very proud of their part.

Georgia Christian Council (19th)

            Christian Council of Churches, of which I am president-elect, meets at St. Paul C.M.E. Church in Savannah.  This congregation has an impressive ministry.  In a difficult section of town they operate a half-way house for male addicts, one for women, and a school for boys who have been kicked out of public school several times.  The hospitality is wonderful.  I am nurtured by the Monday night service for the council, planned and supported by the congregation.  The gathering of leaders of the Presbyterians, Methodists, Lutherans,  the A.M.E. Church, the A.M.E. Zion Church, and the C.M.E. Church, is an opportunity to realize how much we Christians have in common and to learn from one another.

Church of the Annunciation, Vidalia (21st)

            A packed church supports the baptism of a new member in Christ and a wonderful group of people being received and confirmed.  The vestry, rector and I talk about how to get some growing room in the current buildings so we can get enough size to build the dream for a new church. 

Coastal Deacons (22nd)

            On Thursday we have perfect attendance of a great group of models of servant ministry.  We gather at my house to consider the gifts necessary for a person to be affective as a deacon and the formation/education necessary for preparing a person to serve the church as deacon.

Reginald Payne’s Ordination (24th)

            A goodly turn out of diocesan clergy join the people of Christ Church, Valdosta, for the ordination of Reggie Payne, who was baptized at Christ Church.  Fr. Randolph Charles, rector of the Church of the Epiphany in downtown Washington, where Reggie served while a seminarian, and Fr. and Ms. Bryce of St. Paul’s, Rock Creek Park in Washington DC, where Reggie will start his ordained ministry,  joined in this great celebration.  We will miss having Reggie’s great gifts of love and art in our diocese, but we have produced a wonderful priest for the church.

Holy Nativity, SSI (25th)

            Thirty members of this congregation have completed the first “Alpha” class, a program for developing disciples who will share the Good News with a hungry world.  There is evident energy and love in the congregation as they reaffirm their commitment in the bishop’s presence and welcome several new members by confirmation and reception.  Holy Nativity is in a beautiful setting but its facilities are very small.  Thought is proceeding about how to accommodate more people.

Presbyters’ Day (27th)

            I try to meet with presbyters in groups of twelve, allowing me to know them and to be encouraged by them and to encourage them as priests and leaders in our diocese.

Our Savior, Martinez (28th)

            We celebrate the Feast of the Visitation (BCP p. 189).  A comfortably filled church gathers to support a number of young people and others of the parish as they renew their commitment to their baptismal identity in Christ.

Presbyters’ Day (29th) & Presbyters’ Day (30th)

            It takes six such days to get all the presbyters in.

Diocesan Liturgical Commission (31st)

            At Honey Creek, we review the excellent evaluations of the program for congregational musicians coordinated by Janet Robinson of St. Barnabas’, Valdosta.  Organists, song leaders, and guitarists, all took part, and believe they are now better prepared to support worship in their churches.  We also do a first reading of a proposed revision of diocesan worship guidelines.  We talk about the problem of providing the expert information of special church needs to congregations who are preparing to build, without threatening their sense of control of what it should look like.  Diocesan Architectural Committee is not so concerned about style but about if the building committee and architect have thought about such items as a casket fitting through the door, placement of a bridal party, and all those things which we do in our spaces.  Very few architects have had the opportunity to work with such things.

June 1997

St. James’, Quitman (1st)

Blessed with a beautiful little Gothic church with Tiffany style windows, a happy congregation is facing the issue of too little space after 100 years!  Also blessed with an endowment, they are planning for ministry in God’s future.  They have a lovely piece of land facing the nicest street in town, although our current location is hidden from people by a large Presbyterian church and a smaller Church of Christ.

Good Shepherd Mission Council, Swainsboro, (2nd)

I meet with the council and pastor to talk about their mutual ministry. 

Leaders of the Secretariat (3rd)

On Tuesday, I meet with Al Talley, Fr. Tonge and Bill Pannell to review the mission and ministry plan of the Cursillo Movement in Georgia for 1997/98.  I am very thankful for hard work with other to re-invigorate this wonderful tool for helping people discover the wonder of being God’s children and the ministry God has given them.

Mutual Ministry Commission (3rd)

I meet with the commission, led by Fr. Ted Harris, as we work on ways we offer church with under 50 in attendance on Sundays to be faithful to Christ in our Episcopal tradition and self-supporting.  If we can get away from always worrying about maintenance (how are we going to stay alive?), we will be surprised at how Christ will bless us.

Vestry of St. Andrew’s, Darien (3rd)

I meet with the vestry to talk about the use of their endowment fund and their ministry now and in the future in McIntosh County.

Fourth Province Synod (4th-6th)

The deputies to General Convention from 21 southern dioceses meet at Kanuga for orientation to the purpose and issues before General Convention.  This bishop does not find long presentations of how committees came to positions very helpful, but the size of the tasks we face in Philadelphia was clearly outlined.  Our deputies, who I know will say their prayers and attempt to do what they believe God wants them to do, face a lot of legislative bills – perhaps as many as 1,500.  These come not only from official commissions (already published), but also from any deputy, bishop, diocese and province.  The bills entered by the latter are not available until the beginning of convention.  I have not yet gotten through the resolutions from the official bodies that were sent to us in the convention’s so-called “Blue Book”.

St. John’s, Bainbridge (8th)

Covering the southwest corner of our diocese is a lovely congregation working on outreach while getting ready to celebrate a hundred years of service.  They have made good strides in their stewardship this year – but as is so typical of county seat towns, when all is going well, a key family moves away…or termites are discovered!  We confirm some committed new folk and enjoy old friends.  I talk to an Episcopal family interested in starting Episcopal worship in Cuthbert, Georgia — prayer for this initiative.

Regional Discernment Committee (11th)

I meet with a group of people drawn from different parishes in the Southeastern Convocation, who are charged to pray and work with people who are considering whether they have a call to be a deacon or priest in the Episcopal Church.  In our understanding, God not only calls a person personally, but also through the community.  We must know how God would or could use a person in our ministry in his name for us to know that we hear God’s call to the individual.  Of course, God could be calling a person to many things besides ordination.  This is a very special and serious ministry, as the southeastern discernment team prepares to work with people to are struggling to hear what God is asking them to do.  Members of our discernment teams in Savannah, Augusta and Albany have found their own lives challenged and their spiritual lives deepened as they work with people in the call process.

All Saints’, Tybee Island (15th)

Some congregations breathe joy and confidence.  Today, All Saints’ is rejoicing in their new parish hall extension of a house they have used since their founding.  It took several years to get the requisite permits, Tybee being a barrier island with nothing much above the flood plane.  The building doubles their space and joins the parish hall with the church.  It gives us a good face front the street.  As on every Sunday, All Saints’ is packed on this summer day.  The mission council and I talk a little about what’s next.  One of the things happening is that two services have given us some growing room, but we fear dividing friends.

High School Camp (16th)

I am pleased to see representation from so many places.  We have excellent leadership in Fr. Hollerith and Fr. Dan Morgan and Dcn Pat Peets.  They tell me it has been an excellent camp and I enjoy visiting with Happeners and young people from all around our diocese.  It looks like we will have a capacity summer in our camping program.  When you add the mission trips to Texas/Mexico for our older youth, we have a wide range of opportunity for our young people both to serve and to grow in discipleship this summer.

Camp St. Gregory (19th-28th)

Sixty campers join twenty staff members. The first night, the 30 experienced campers are no match for the new folk, many of whom have no idea about pitch or volume.  Mr. George Mims of St. Andrew’s Church, Kansas City, Missouri, gets right to work.  He’s assisted during the first couple of days by Cathy Armstrong, choir director of Christ Church, Valdosta, then by Susan Beck, choir director of St. Anne’s, Tifton.  A week later, many of these same voices move many adults to tears with their beauty.  We have a wonderful group of campers from St. Cyprian’s, Darien.  This historic African American congregation is sending 16 young folk to camp this summer.  Fr. Stan White assists Mr. Mims on keyboard.  The sharing of our Christian story is done by Fr. White, joined by Fr. Ingeman, Dcn Carlton Shuford and me.  Do camps make a difference?  Well, almost 20 college students and young adults have driven 3 to 5 hours each to be at the closing service!  They are joined by folk who come every year to hear our children sing and by the proud parents, siblings and grandparents of the campers.  At this service we again have many more people than was planned for our chapel to accommodate.

St. Cyprian’s, Darien (29th)

I think this is one of the outstanding church buildings in our diocese, and it has a lively congregation of all ages to compliment it.  Many of the young folk were at camp with me the last ten days, so I’m right at home.

Good Shepherd, Pennick (29th)

In the country to the northeast corner of Glynn County, the people of Good Shepherd have been building themselves a new parish hall.  It’s going to have a beautiful kitchen and the bathrooms are working!  The old parish hall is a “crib” construction.  It started as a one-room schoolhouse built at the founding of Good Shepherd.  This is a very self-reliant and friendly congregation.  They are very proud of what they do and they are pleased to have their bishop with them this morning (as he is pleased to be there).

Ordination of Kurt Miller (30th)

On this Feast of Peter and Paul, a full church of friends of Kurt Miller – communicants of the Church of the Atonement, Kairos workers, clergy from all but one of the Augusta parishes, friends from across the convocation – join with the setting aside of Kurt Miller as a priest in God’s Church.  Fr. Berlin and the parishioners have prepared a real celebration.  Fr. Berlin also has a thoughtful and excellent sermon.  Deacon Joan Kilian is masterful as MC (taught by Gordon Panton).  Fr. Miller will be stationed at the Church of St. Augustine as “respite” priest (on call to cover for clergy in the north of our diocese so they can get needed recreation with their family, or to serve their church at conferences, or be refreshed by continuing education, or are grounded by sickness).  We want to have enough priests so that any congregation which desires to, can have eucharist on the Lord’s Day.  At this point we have one retired priest available in the west, several retired clergy who occasionally can cover in Augusta, but no healthy supply clergy in Savannah.  We are blessed by several non-parochial supply clergy in the Golden Isles and by the generosity of Christ Church, Savannah, and St. Mark’s, Brunswick, who share clergy from their staff when needed by other congregations.

July 1997

Vacation (1st-4th)

Jan and I revel in the Byzantine exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum in New York City.  We also really enjoy talking to a snowy owl at the Bronx Zoo and rejoice in their butterfly experience.  An exhibit of all the eastern U.S. butterflies alive and flying around in a beautiful experience that raises one’s consciousness about environmental protection or degradation.

St. Thomas Aquinas’, Baxley (6th)

I cover for Fr. Basinger who, on vacation is visiting family in California.  The scriptures this morning are read by two different lay readers as a message from God to his individual children gathered here today.  Excellent reading!  Everyone sings, so it is a good corporate experience.  Wonderful.  Since my official visit, the sanctuary has been restaged and new altar rails are in place.  The whole public area of the building is recarpeted and freshly painted.  Most of the labor has been done by members of the congregation.  The result is a very attractive environment for worship and fellowship.  Here we have a large building for such a small congregation.  A wonderful setting in which to grow.  That is good, however,  maintenance is a big load for a small congregation.  Here we are faced with worn out air-conditioning units and, I suspect, minimal installation.  That is the next big problem for our local leadership.

Camp St. Francis (6th)

Jan and I visit our nature camp.  I’m thankful for Ms. Phyllis Hiers and Ms. Mimi Allen of Christ Church, Valdosta, Ms. Mary Andrew of St. Michael’s, Waynesboro, teachers all who give of their vacation along with Fr. Michael White of St. Elizabeth’s, Richmond Hill, and Fr. Bob Kerner or St. Andrew’s, Douglas.  They make this a wonderful experience for a number of my young friends from around the diocese.  Today, several groups have made their high ropes exercise and are they excited.  It’s thrilling to ride the zip wire, but getting there requires having to become a dependable team member for the safety of all concerned.

Recreation (11th-13th)

Jan and I fly to Philadelphia for three days of relaxation in the Pennsylvania Dutch country before General Convention. On Sunday 13th we find St. James’ Church, Lancaster, around the block from our downtown hotel.  We go to the 8 o’clock service in the chapel.  It is packed with 50 people.  Fr. Peter Eaton preaches an excellent sermon, “For your health, beware the media reports about the General Convention.”  This bishop would add, “about the Church.”  His basic point is that what the world is interested in is the negative controversies that might cause Christians to look silly and that there would be no coverage of all the important things that the church has to do to maintain its ministry to people in trouble and its mission of sharing the Gospel throughout the world.  I’m very impressed by the very alive, downtown parish of about 1,600 communicants in a lovely Italian Tuscan church (actually an adaptation of the original colonial building).  To make this more impressive, there is another parish of over 1,000 members only about 5 blocks away.  It does tell us that the church is alive and well in some other parts of our country.

General Convention (15th-20th)

General Convention opens and it’s like a very large family gathering.  It’s estimated to be the third largest convention and legislation body that meets in the United States.  Some 10,000 people will appear at some time or other for this convention.  The first thing is the wonderful gathering in tables of ten for daily Bible study and eucharist at the beginning of each day.  Each table is assigned deputies, bishops, visitors and vendors of all the many things that people bring to convention to sell.  Here people gather as Christians and not as members of any particular party or ideology.  On a normal morning, better than 2,000 people will make their communion from these tables.  At one of the major services, the Episcopal Church Women present their United Thank Offering gifts from each diocese.  The preacher this year is the Archbishop of Canterbury.  At the opening eucharist, at which the preacher is the Primate and Archbishop of Armagh, Ireland, the chapel area is set up for 10,000 communicants.  I suspect we had around 8,000 make their communion.

During the first two days, there’s very little legislative action on the floor except of very simple items.  As in congress, major effect on resolutions and changes to our canons (laws), require considerable committee work, where actual changes are normally made.  The process allows every piece of legislation to have a hearing, not only by the committee, but by anyone who might want to testify to the committee on behalf of or against the legislation.  Of course, this means that certain very divisive issues, such as those dealing with human sexuality are heard in hearings where maybe up to 2,000 people may attend! 

On Sunday 20th we have the morning off.  I choose to go to Old Swedes’ Church, dedicated as Gloria Dei.  Old Swedes’ was the original colonial church when that part of Pennsylvania belonged to the Swedish Crown.  It became an Episcopal Church in the early 19th Century when its communicants had left or had started speaking English and looked around for a church with liturgy and bishops.  The building is maintained by the National Parks Service as a national monument.  A very small group of people continue as a live Episcopal Parish in this historic facility.  The music is exciting and wonderful.  The congregation participates to an extent that makes me uncomfortable!  It is an interesting ministry in a number of ways and, as I suspected, highly endowed.  This allows the rector and a group of people that hold particular views to maintain a really excellent congregational life with a very small number of pledging families.  It is wonderful, however, to be kneeling and receiving in this colonial building, flooded with light.  A building in which people have been worshipping as long as there has been a Pennsylvania!

Election of Bishop Frank Griswold (21st)

On Monday 21st, in historic Christ Church, Philadelphia – our oldest congregation and the mother church, in many ways, of the church in this country, where Bishop William White, the first bishop consecrated in the United States, was elected, and where he was bishop for many years as well as Presiding Bishop – the bishops gather together after prayer to elect the Bishop of Chicago, Frank Griswold, as our next Presiding Bishop.  Bishop Griswold has a very deep liturgical spirituality.  He lives out of the Pascal mysteries expressed in the baptismal covenant, so his approach in preaching and talking will be somewhat different than our current leadership.  On the other hand, he has been bishop of a major metropolitan diocese with all that means about pluralism and diverse view points.  I suspect that his position on a number of issues will be considered more liberal than the majority of the members of the Diocese of Georgia, and we will have to see how his leadership skills interact with the very deep divisions within our church at least on the two human sexuality issues on the front burner.

Georgia Dinner (22nd)

All the Georgians – representatives to the Triennial Meeting of the Episcopal Church Women, our deputies, alternates, visitors, and spouses – gather for dinner on Tuesday.  We have a wonderful group representing the diocese.  We reflect both the diversity of the diocese and the ability of Georgians to become responsible leaders in the larger church.  I’m very encouraged by the friendship, loyalty and commitment to our Lord Jesus Christ of our church people in Georgia.

General Convention (23rd-25th)

On Wednesday, I play hooky from the floor of the House of Bishops for a while in order to spend time at the tremendous display area.  Here are gathered all the organizations and commercial ventures attempting to share or sell programs or supplies (such as vestments, candles) to the church at large.  It’s a wonderful place to see, not only the diversity of our church, in the number and variety of objects displayed, but the diversity of people from across the country.  In my long ministry in the church I’ve met many people, and I can’t walk down an aisle without seeing someone I knew “back when.”  It is, in many ways, a family reunion for those who have been active in the church for some time.

On Friday (25th), Convention draws to a close.  We have elected a new Presiding Bishop and have, therefore, set a direction for the next nine years.  We have also acted on our side to enter into a relationship of recognition and respect with the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America.  This may be the most ecumenical move within Christendom in this century.  It depends on the Lutherans also acting positively and then, very importantly, nothing happens except as people make it happen as individuals and local congregations begin to cooperate and share.  It really is not a merger, in which much will be mandated, but rather an engagement where we find out what we can share for the other’s person’s health and glory.  Similarly, we will discover what gifts they bring in which we can find new energy and life.

Jan and I move from the downtown Marriott to the airport as we have a 5:30 a.m. flight to Savannah.

St. Elizabeth of Hungary, Richmond Hill (27th)

On this the Tenth Sunday after Pentecost, Jan and I attend St. Elizabeth’s, relatively close to where we live.  We are pleased to find that the preacher this morning is Fr. Scot Bennett, who has had a series of operations on his heart and leg.  We are glad to see he’s in such health that he can again share the Gospel with the assembled congregation.  Fr. Michael White is the new pastor.  There is much energy and enthusiasm in the congregation even on this late July Sunday.  Dcn James N. Parker has led this congregation through  tremendous growth and preparation for more growth.  I believe they have many gifts from God to share with their neighborhood and God’s world.

Camp St. Peter (30th)

On Wednesday, I visit the final camp of the season.  Once again I’m very thankful to the many adults who are willing to share time with the younger Christians, in this case junior high.

Congregational Development Commission (31st)

On Thursday, the first meeting of the Congregational Development Commission gathers under the leadership of Billy Alford and with our new staff person for development of ministry, A.L. Addington.  We have had a number of people going to St. Luke’s, Sewanee, General Seminary, New York, and at Seabury Western.  We gather to share what we know about the way churches grow and about the way we can help them grow.  There’s a lot of excitement as we think about the future.

August 1997

Memorial Service for Fr. Bill Daniels (2nd)

On Saturday, in St. John’s, Savannah, we have a memorial eucharist for Fr. Daniels.  His family has gathered from around the country with local friends as we give thanks for this faithful servant, who for many years edited our Church in Georgia.

St. Peter’s, Greenville, South Carolina (3rd)

I baptized Jan’s and my third grandchild, Susan Lillian Hardaway, in the context of a service in which my son-in-law, Jack Hardaway preaches, and my long-time friend and one-time rector of Christ Church, Central, Eric Schnaufer, celebrates.  This is a wonderful gathering of the Louttit clan.  We go from Greenville for a week’s relaxation at the diocesan cottage in Saluda.

Church of the Transfiguration, Saluda (6th)

On the feast of the name, I and my family make up three-quarters of the congregation.  It is a disappointing on the great day giving thanks for the glory of God seen in Jesus Christ, that very few people are participating in the public thanksgiving of God and the eucharist.  The rector comments that she never knows how many or if anybody will be at the Wednesday service.  I think often that, particularly for clergy, Sundays are so busy that the weekday service is the time for them to pray and they really need at least a few committed people who will pray with them.

Happening (10th)

On Sunday, I preach and Pastor Sonia Sullivan celebrates at the closing eucharist for Happening, our wonderful program for high school students.  It was a full contingent of participants and the energy, love and excitement is a wonderful gift to this bishop.

Mid-August and Early September 1997

            Returning from a week with my children and their families, the middle weeks of August (10th-23rd) were filled with gatherings to fill this fall with people like the deans, the committee that designs diocesan convention, and the part-time diocesan staff members who run are various programs, as well as meeting with a number of priests and lay people about particular opportunities in the Diocese of Georgia.

            On Sunday the 10th I made my communion at the service at Happening, and on the 17th, at St. Paul’s, Savannah.   Then I went on vacation.  I made my communion at St. Mark’s, Blue Rapids, where Jan’s brother, Dan Northway, is the priest.  He makes his living as a psychiatrist in Topeka, and serves two missions up on the Kansas-Nebraska border.  The following Sunday, I made my communion at St. Matthew’s, Rapid City, South Dakota — a congregation that is mostly Lakota.  The hymnody was all in Lakota. 

            My vacation involved some wonderful experiences in great natural ecosystems in the Great Plains and in the wonderful museums of Native American art and of European art.  I also was marked by visiting a number of our churches among Lakota on the Rosebud and Pine Ridge Reservations.  I expect some of my impressions will come out in our life together. 

            I returned to take part in the consecration of David Bane as the bishop coadjutor of Southern Virginia in Hampton, Virginia on September 6.  On the 7th, it was back to a regular schedule with my visitation to St. George’s, Savannah and to Good Shepherd, Swainsboro, on the 14th.  Both visitations were very enjoyable, but I’m having a hard time getting back in the swing of my work during the school year.

Christ Church, Central (21st)

            The people of Christ Church, Central have been involved in searching for a new pastor for almost two years.  Blessed by having Fr. Gammon Jarrell, they presented a good group with new members for confirmation.  A new garden area has made Christ Church look more alive and hospitable to those who drive by.  A new organ is a great joy to the congregation blessed with 4 members who are organists and the tradition of using music that enriches the worship of the people.  I ask you to pray for this congregation as they continue to search for a pastor.

St. Elizabeth of Hungary, Richmond Hill (24th)

            On Wednesday, we gather with a festival congregation to mark a new covenant between people of pastor in the ministry for Christ in Richmond Hill.  This fast-growing congregation of many young families has called Fr. Michael White as their new pastor.  Michael was one of the wonderful priests raised up here in Georgia recently, who helps us better the national statistic of only 3.5% of Episcopal priests being under 40!  Almost 20% of our diocesan clergy are under 40, although some are getting close — but don’t tell anyone, as they are in great demand throughout the rest of the church.  However, note, we have at least 4 mature, retired priests who would have a high priority with me for cloning, if that were possible.  We need gifted leaders of all ages.  We are granted and gifted with some wonderful leaders in each age group.  Our national church is desperately short of clergy from the generations under 40.  So let’s keep on working on vocations to priesthood among all ages.

St. Barnabas’, Valdosta (28th)

This Sunday is a wonderful day for me, because I believe that St. Barnabas’ has turned a corner.  After the year of their founding, St. Barnabas’ actually shrank in active membership and then became static.  In 1997, they paid off their indebtedness on their buildings and welcomed new members.  They have intentionally made their churchyard attractive to children, saying, “We welcome families.”  And they are coming!  I fear the small size of our beautiful, first building will put a cap on this growth.  But for today we are filled and we present 8 adults for confirmation and 1 for baptism!  We, as a congregation, are talking about our ministry and what Christ would have us do.  Unfortunately, Lownes County is growing in this decade at a rate of 14.5%.  Our three congregations in the county have barely touched 1.5% growth in attendance in the same time.

October 1997

St. Francis’, Camilla (1st)

            How readily we become habituated.  In the 60s, St. Francis’, Camilla, was founded.  It had 50 active members — 3 decades later, average Sunday attendance has become 25 or less.  A 50% loss!  Episcopalians from beyond Mitchell County — which in this decade has shown 3.5% growth rate — have invested conservatively $300,000 in providing subsidies so that St. Francis’ could have a pastor.  At this point, we are subsidizing St. Francis’ over a $1,000 per year for each person sitting in the pew!  Now, I have to say that this is a very happy, wonderful congregation whose members love each other.  It has a beautiful church and parish house.  Unlike many of our churches, it has a number of wonderful children who obviously enjoy being in church.  I find the worship in St. Francis’ very fulfilling.  But somehow, this congregation has learned to live expecting that Episcopalians elsewhere will fund them from $20,000 to $30,000 a year for their own nurture.

            In contrast, in Lee County in one year with no subsidy — volunteer workers from pastor to child — we have 50 people worshipping every Sunday.  The congregation is giving an average of $130 per month for work beyond themselves.  They have no building.  They have a very inadequate place to worship.  Yet they are inviting people.  They baptized 9 children and 1 adult this year, as well as having 15 people confirmed and 5 received.  What is the difference?  The people of St. Francis’ would suggest that Lee County is growing faster than Mitchell.  However, Mitchell is growing and we’re shrinking.   I do not want to discourage St. Francis’, but there are at least four more places crying for our presence, where people would come if we would start a church.  I really suspect there are twenty to thirty of those places.  What should we do?

Licensed Lay Ministries Conference, Honey Creek (4th)

It is always refreshing to me to meet the committed lay folk who come to this conference.  From this group over the last thirty years, a significant number of diocesan leaders have arisen.  We have a wonderful mix of folk.  Some long-time leaders of the Diocese of Georgia, like Charles and Jo Jones, Tom and Jackie Driggers of St. Paul’s, Albany,  Ted Proctor of St. Mark’s, Woodbine, and many others attend along with many new members who have only been in our diocese a year or were confirmed this year.  This is a day of recreation for me.  I’m thankful for the tremendous gifts of the people God has brought together in our family.

Christ the King, Valdosta (5th)

            In this congregation, where the average age is 28, we have “dynamite” leadership.  Sitting on a prime piece of real estate, they are tied down by a large mortgage.  However, though “sweat equity” and a diocesan gift, they have turned a warehouse into an attractive worship place.  The music and energy of the 250 folk at eucharist are wonderful, even if the volume and rhythm are of a different generation than mine.  We are thankful for their willingness to look for ways to reach others and to look for ways to make Episcopal worship hospitable to people who come from other backgrounds.

St. Francis of the Islands’, Savannah (8th)

            What an exciting 150 people on a Wednesday night.  This year, St. Francis’ has seen its Sunday School population double!  This means, of course, that there are a lot more active folk.  This is a congregation where members talk about their individual ministries, and invite newcomers to use or find and use their gifts of ministry through this committed fellowship.  St. Francis’ is one of our few congregations with a church big enough to grow into — the pressure is now on space for Christian education and fellowship.  Good problems with creative people saying their prayers.

Thursday, October 9th

            I have lunch with Bishop Emmanuel Gbonigi of the Diocese of Akure (Nigeria), who is the guest of Fr. Charles Amuzie (St. Athanasius’, Brunswick).  We are glad he has been able to preach at St. Andrew’s, Douglas, and St. Cyprian’s and St. Andrew’s, Darien, as well as at St. Athanasius’.  The Church in Nigeria has, conservatively, 5 million members — twice the size of the Episcopal Church.  They know they have some things from the Gospel to offer individuals and to their country.  We have the same Gospel — but do we know our country is starved for it?  Will we risk sharing it?

Saturday, October 11th

            I celebrate and solemnize the wedding of Deacon Reginald Payne with Elena Wiens at the Church of the Epiphany on G Street in downtown Washington, D.C.  Reggie is a product of Christ Church, Valdosta, in the Diocese of Georgia.   A wonderful group of young (under 30) group of Episcopalians from around the country have gathered.  It is a community wedding.  Their prayers come out of the congregation.  Each petition is said by a different friend or family member.  The parish choir sings.  Musician friends enrich the feast.  Bride and groom are escorted in the procession and presented by their families to be married to each other.  The families pledge their support.  The bride and groom are radiant.  This bishop flies to Jacksonville knowing that the Gospel is rooted well in a new generation.

St. Mark’s, Brunswick (12th)

            Here again, the life and future of the Episcopal Church are easy to see.  Three celebrations — one planned for families with small children, very informal; one stately and meditative for long-time and deeply committed folk; one with energy and music for a very energetic congregation.  After a wonderful morning’s worship in St. Mark’s spacious church, we meet in the fellowship area which is not adequate for this congregation.  Vestry members assure me that land for expansion is being obtained.  Meanwhile, we pack happily into the space.  When we’re through eating, St. Mark’s has another seating for neighbors who are hungry or who have no one to eat with; a regular part of this year’s ministry.  They discovered a year ago that the people who lived in the blocks around the church did not know what kind of church it was, or if anything every happened there.  They also discovered many neighbors had no church.  Churched or not, neighbors now know that St. Mark’s is a good and welcoming neighbor and a witness to God’s love among them.

Bishop Masereka (12th)

            Also this Sunday I get to visit with Bishop Zebedee Masereka of the Diocese of South Rwenzori in the Church of Uganda.  He is visiting Christ Church, Frederica.  Bishop Maseraka has a ministry involving hundreds of orphans and exiles from his war-torn country.  How easy our life is as Christians, and how rich even the poorest of us are in relation to many of our sisters and brothers in Christ in the Third World.  Their witness is essential to us.

October 1997

Province IV Bishops’ Meeting (13th-16th), Camp St. Christopher, SC

            Bishops and wives around the south gather at this beautiful camp on the Atlantic Ocean on John’s Island.  Many of the bishops are concerned about people of the Church who understand their stewardship as an issue of control:  “We’ll give if we approve.”  “If we lose the vote and are in a minority, we will hold our funds.”  By a definition, a gift is free and doesn’t require  particular response.  God’s gift of life and this wonderful universe is free.  Stewardship is our response to God’s gift.

St. Paul’s, Albany (19th)

            The mother church of our diocese in the western section has had to make some hard decisions about how to live within their pledged income and yet how to position themselves for both new members and enlarged ministry in Christ’s name.  Leaders worry about how we provide an attractive congregation when our competition – congregations of other denominations which are much larger – offer youth programs with much larger funding and thus many more professional leaders.  There is no question that large congregations in almost every town have very high powered and high priced youth ministers working, as it were, on commission.  For families shopping for programs for their children, or for young people looking for a large group of peers, this is extremely attractive.  On the other hand, if we’re looking for lasting results, the most influential thing in almost every human being’s religious life is the witness and presence of a friend in Christ.  One adult paying attention, not for a salary, to one teenager is unbeatable in long-term effect on the teenager’s life.

The Georgia Christian Council, Methodist Conference Center, Norcross


This gathering of representatives from the mainline Christian churches and the Roman Catholic Church, is an opportunity for us to share our understanding of the areas which ministry in our state and to share cooperatively programs and leadership.  The state, being large like our diocese, cooperation is easier in areas like metro Atlanta and harder on a state-wide basis.  Still, it seems important for us to know each other, both on a local level and on our state leadership levels.

Christ Church, St. Marys (22nd)

            This is one of the rapidly growing counties in our diocese.  We have a picturesque site and church in the historic village.  The congregation reflects the diversity of the Episcopal Church in the United States.  They are blessed by a wonderful music program. 

Standing Committee & Commission on Ministry, Augusta (24th-25th)

            We meet to interview a number of people in process towards ordination.  It is exciting to hear people offering for leadership positions and to see the richness of their gifts and diversity of personalities that God is calling.  The results of this meeting will be six ordinations in our diocese before Christmas.

Augusta Discernment Committee (25th)

            I sit down to talk over some of the issues raised by people offering themselves for ordained ministry in the Augusta area with the priest, deacon and lay people who make up the committee.  This committee is charged to help people discern what God is calling them to do.  God speaks to many of us, in fact, I suspect he wishes to speak to all of us, and that he wishes to call all of us to an enlarged ministry based around the gifts we have and the jobs he needs to do in our communities.  The committee is to help clarify their call.  That includes this committee as representatives of us – the Church – recognizing not only the person’s gifts, but the place the person might exercise these gifts in our name.  I am very thankful for the people serving on these discernment committees and on the Commission on Ministry.  It’s high risk for someone to offer themself to ordained ministry.  It’s even more difficult when the person does not have the gifts to function as a priest for the community, and somehow or other no one was brave enough to help them understand what God was really calling them to do.

St. Paul’s, Augusta (26th)

            The mother church of the Central Savannah River Area has one of our most spacious and beautiful places for worship.  It is certainly of a lot of energetic and committed communicants who enjoy their church and look aggressively at the ministry for the future. 

St. Andrew’s Vestry, Darien (28th)

            The vestry has asked me to consult with them about the moral and Christian use of endowment funds and the needs of their ministry as they look towards a new chapter with a new pastor. 

St. Philip’s, Hinesville (29th)

            St. Philip’s is one of three congregations last year who produced significant growth in the Diocese of Georgia.  That growth continues.  Tonight we bless a modular building which is in place to give them space for Christian Education and hospitality.  The plan is for it to bridge a three-year growth period until they are ready to build a Christian Education building.  A number of members are unable to be here due to their having been called to work.  A very happy crowd celebrates the new building and then presents a number of people to be confirmed and received.  St. Philip’s also sponsors our Korean speaking congregation, St. James’.

Congregational Development Committee (30th)

            We meet to consider ways that we can make resources available to congregations that wish to grow and develop their ministry to others.

Diocesan Council Planning Committee (31st)

We look at our plans for our fall meeting and for the next year’s work of council. 

Weekend of Reconciliation (31st-Nov. 1st)

            The Anti-Racism Commission of our diocese gathers 50+ people to think about what it’s like to live in Georgia as a member of the minority or of the majority race, and to hear how each of us experiences those relationships.  This bishop is very thankful for people being so willing to share their deep feelings and pain.  Relationships between the races within the church have improved, but we still have lots and lots of pain – some caused by misunderstanding, and some by the fact that we haven’t been willing to listen to how the other person sees or feels in our world.  I’m thankful for the number of people from around the diocese who are willing to come and struggle with this very serious problem that divides our culture.

November 1997

Christ Church, Valdosta (1st-2nd)

            We have a celebration of the Feast of All Saints on Saturday evening.  This is a wonderful time for me, as many long time friends are present and All Saints’ is my favorite time of the year.  Three very full Sunday celebrations of All Saints follow.

Southwestern Convocation Council (2nd)

            Our council meetings are attempts to be a gathering of bishop and leaders in a “town meeting” format.  Dr. A.L. Addington, our new diocesan Minister for Ministry Development, gives us some information about the diocese and challenges us to think about the ministry that God has put before us.  Then the bishop fields questions.  I’m obviously concerned about the fact that only 3 congregations in 1996 showed significant growth.  Of course, we have to realize that a number of our congregations have to have 10%-15% new people in order to replace those who have moved out of their communities for new jobs.  Our diocese has shown growth of the past several years, but at a much slower rate than our area is growing!  We’re meeting in a very attractive newly redone area which provides the Christ the King, Valdosta, facilities.  We have an excellent turn out from all congregations in the convocation.

St. Peter’s, Skidaway Island (5th)

            This is another congregation which has shown significant growth.  It is very evident in the construction underway of a new parish hall complex and a large paved parking area.  Tonight, the rector, Randy Hollerith, is at the hospital with his wife, who is seriously ill (though recovering nicely now).  However, the parish is going ahead with presenting a good class of people for confirmation, and rejoicing with the bishop.  The parish is definitely concerned for the Rev. Melissa Hollerith and her family, yet it is a wonderful night of rejoicing as well as intercession.

Savannah Clericus Welcoming Party (7th)

            Jan and Bob Carter host a gathering of clergy and spouses to welcome Gavin Dunbar, the new assistant at St. John’s, Savannah, and Michael and Helen White, he being the new vicar of St. Elizabeth’s, Richmond hill.  They also welcome A.L. Addington and his wife, Sue.

Oatland Island Education Center (8th)

            This wonderful municipally owned center for wildlife and environmental education showcases healthy bison, wolves, cougars, and our large birds of prey.  This is a wonderful public resource, having to do with our stewardship of God’s wonderful world.  Christians must be concerned about how we use the gift of the earth.

St. John’s, Savannah (9th)

            The rector is concerned about a faulty heating system, but the people’s warmth is evident as they gather for worship on the Lord’s Day.  I have opportunity for some serious interchange about the issues before our church with the adult class.  It may be cold outside, but it is a beautiful day.  This congregation deeply appreciates their parish.

St. Bartholomew’s, Burroughs (9th)

            This is my first celebration in the renovated historic building.  We talk – bishop and members – about how we might increase the ministry in this area of Chatham County.

Savannah Convocation Council (9th)

            The convocation council meets at St. Michael & All Angels’ on Sunday evening.

Virginia Theological Seminary (10th-11th)

            I visit our five seminarians at Virginia.  We go out with spouses and children to an Afghan restaurant for dinner.  There is great esprit de corps among the Georgia group – the second largest number of seminarians this year.  The two juniors are concerned about who we will send to replace those graduating in May.  This year we have very few conferences with people who feel called to the ordained priesthood and who are ready to go to seminary.

National Council of Churches, Washington D.C. (11th-14th)

            I am member representing the Episcopal Church in the General Assembly of the NCC.  This cooperative association of churches produces the NRSV of the Bible and operates Church World Service, an organization that allows our Presiding Bishop’s Fund For World Relief to take advantage of large scale purchases by all the churches.  As with many national organizations, it has a large bureaucracy, which is getting smaller in response to financial difficulties.  An outstanding program this last year has been the raising of funds to rebuild churches belonging to minorities that have been burned by arson.  This includes a church outside Millen and one outside Valdosta.  A high point for me at this meeting is meeting Bishop Zacharias, Bishop of Mar Thoma Church, with which we are in full communion.  This is an ancient church from southern India that claims to have been founded by St. Thomas the Apostle.  It certainly has been witnessing in India since the 6th century at least.  Bishop Zacharias’ congregations mostly meet in Episcopal parishes around the U.S.  Their liturgy is an ancient East Syrian liturgy, and they are quite a distinguished deputation.  Their women deputies are in saris, the bishop is in a wonderful conical blue headdress covered with stars.

James M. Parker’s Ordination, St. Patrick’s, Albany (15th)

            The congregation of St. Stephen’s, Lee County, and family and friends of James M. Parker, plus representatives of many congregations in the west of our diocese, gather for the ordination of “church planter” James M. Parker.  I’m very pleased by the turn out of both clergy and lay folk.  St. Stephen’s is one of the centers of excitement and evidence of the Episcopal Church’s attractiveness.  Fr. Parker is a large part of it’s being able to be in existence.

St. Anne’s, Tifton (16th)

            It’s always wonderful to be in this vibrant community for worship.  St. Anne’s is one of the few cases in recent times of a relatively small congregation becoming one of our strongest.  As I talk to a large group of adults being presented for confirmation/reception, I know God is still working in this place.  These people tell stories about God has touched them through this congregation.

Albany Convocation Council (16th)

            We meet at St. Patrick’s.  There is again excellent representation.

Bishop Boland at Savannah Clericus (18th)

            Brother in Christ, the bishop of the Roman Catholics in the Savannah Diocese, shares lunch with us and talks about his experience in ministry in Georgia.  Bishop Boland’s warmth and concern for Christ’s people and his understanding of the issues posed to us by our culture, is very encouraging and supporting to your bishop.  We are thankful for him to give this time to be with us.

St. Elizabeth’s, Richmond Hill (19th)

            This is the feast of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, their patron.  This is the third of our growth centers for last year.  New pastor, Michael White, and the congregation, present ten adults for confirmation and reception.  Although they doubled their parish house last year, doing a lot of the labor themselves, we are once again out of space for education and fellowship for our children.  The vestry is beginning to think about long term development plans in which we can move towards another facility for Christian Education.

Diocesan Council (21st-22nd)

As we look towards 1998, we decided our areas of concentration would be 1) church planting, 2) congregational development, 3) development of mutual ministry (or the ministry of all the baptized).  This includes a vision which will allow all our commissions and congregations to know the direction in which this part of the family is attempting to move and will allow us to cooperate in areas where we have expertise or need.

Ordination of Daniel Doster (22nd)

            In First Methodist Church, Central (Christ Church building is not big enough for this festive occasion), we ordain the Rev. Dan Doster to the priesthood.  Your bishop, advisory Commission on Ministry and the Standing Committee (the constitutional balance to the bishop) have agreed that, in our tradition — that of the Anglican Church — the purpose of ordination is to authorize and empower people to carry on ministries to enable the ministry of the whole church.  Or in other words, we ordain people to do things that we, the people of God, need to have done in our ministry for Christ.  In the common mind there is often an understanding of ordination as a sign that certain academic requirements have been completed, or that a person has grown in holiness beyond the normal pattern for a disciple, a baptized follower of Christ.  Or a person is ordained to honor them for long service to the church.  In the Christian tradition, as the Episcopal Church has understood and practiced it, the call to a person to ordination comes not only directly from God to the person, but also — and this is the way it can be checked out and discerned as to whether it is really God’s voice — through God’s people.  This means that God’s people can see how this person will function to enable each of us to better do our ministries.  Against this backdrop we, the Commission on Ministry and the Standing Committee, realize that, 1) if all our members are going to be able to have the Lord’s Supper on the Lord’s Day if they wish it, we have to have more priests than we can at this point support with full time salaries; 2) most of our congregations who are lucky enough to have a priest will only have one (we know it is hard for people in congregations that are blessed with 3 or more ordained priests to understand what it’s like for the other 58+ congregations).  There are times when the single priest responsible for a congregation needs to take recreation with his family, or do continuing education, or is removed from active duty by illness.  Thus we are, as a family, looking for and trying to call up vocations to what is basically a ministry of support as a priest, one who is willing to fill in when the normal pastor is not able to be there.  Fr. Doster is well known in the great middle area in our diocese for covering when the pastors are out.  We, the diocese, have made him a priest so that the Sunday pattern of worship can be maintained when we are between priests or when the priest is on vacation.  We are also looking for non-stipendary priests to come up out of a congregation to serve that congregation on a team with a regional seminary-trained priest, so that every congregation will have a priest resident.  We’re also looking for priests who have a the gift to organize and bring together new congregations.  We need about six and we again don’t have salaries even though it strikes the bishop as the number one priority for the diocese.

Dan’s ordination is a wonderful celebration.  Many friends and long-time acquaintances from other Christian communities in Central are present.  We are thankful for the turn out of members of our congregations from across the Central Convocation and beyond who have found Dan’s ministry over the years to be a great gift.

Good Shepherd, Augusta (23rd)

            On Sunday the 23rd, I am in one of our congregations which qualifies both by size (500+) and by will and choice as a diocesan resource parish.  This is a congregation that knows its blessing in both the gifts of its members and in its financial ability, given the size of its community.  It is charged to use those to nurture its own members so that they may reach out in the world far beyond the parish boundaries.  The excitement at Good Shepherd is both visible and tangible.  People cannot always find a place to park, and if they can, they cannot always get inside the building.  But there will be a joyous crowd filling the church to give thanks to God.  All kinds of activity emanate out of that worship to the edges of our diocese and beyond.  We are thankful for the leadership here.

Augusta Convocation Council (23rd)

            Again we have an excellent turnout of people representing all the congregations in this convocation.

Episcopal Day School (24th)

            I spend the morning first taking part in Episcopal Day School’s  Thanksgiving service, then in visiting with and answering questions from children and young people in their classes.  This is a fascinating and wonderful opportunity to see a really gifted priest, Susan Panton, work with young people and also to remember how young people’s minds and commitment to Jesus are real and to be respected.

St. Paul’s, Jesup (26th)

            On Thanksgiving eve I’m at St. Paul’s, Jesup, where we celebrate with a good congregation in thanksgiving for the gifts of this country.  In the context of that we confirm a family.  Col. Eldridge has been serving in the U.S. Army as a Methodist chaplain.  He is in the process of moving towards ordination as an Episcopal priest.  He will continue his ministry in the U.S. Army as an Episcopal chaplain.  We welcome them into the fellowship and are thankful for the nurture they have received in St. Paul’s.

Christ Church, Augusta (30th)

            This is a very festive morning at Christ Church, we the largest class of confirmands in most people’s memory.  There is a good representation of young people.  Young people are present on the vestry.  Leaders of Christ Church continue to struggle with what God calls us to do in ministry in this chapter of our history.  Once a neighborhood church, Christ Church is in great part made up of people whose families came into the Episcopal Church several generations ago at Christ Church but have long since moved into the counties surrounding Augusta.  In this context, what is the ministry that people of Christ Church are called on by God to exercise in his name?  If we can decide that, then we will need God’s guidance about how we accomplish it.

December 1997

St. Andrew’s, Douglas (3rd)

            On this first Wednesday in Advent, we celebrate the patronal festival and receive and confirm several people.  This is both a wonderful gathering because it shows the growth of St. Andrew’s over the last several years and a sad time as Fr. Robert and Sandi Kerner have announced that they are going to Richmond, Virginia, to serve a parish there.  The vestry and I begin to think about what God is calling us to be, what our gifts are, and thus the gifts we need in the next ordained leader for this family.  Pray for the people of St. Andrew’s as they begin to look for a new pastor.

Ordination of Sanford Ulmer (5th)

            On Friday, we ordain Deacon Sanford Ulmer to the priesthood.  Like Fr. Doster, he is being called for by the diocesan family to serve to supply and support the individual pastors in the individual congregations when they need to be out for a Sunday.  The gathering of people from all the parishes in Savannah and many from beyond reflect the fact that Sanford is, as is Dan, a long time leader and “elder” in our diocese.  His ministry has blessed many.

Deacons Conference, Honey Creek (6th)

            On Saturday, I meet with deacons and their spouses, and a couple of postulants to the diaconate and their spouses — about 30 people — as they think about their ministry of witnessing to our Lord’s reaching out to all of those in need in our world.  The deacon as a sign of and a call to each of us to think about how God asks us to be an embodiment of Christ’s love to those beyond the borders of the church, particularly those in trouble, is the prime ministry that Christ undertook and calls forth from his Church.  We are thankful for these people who keep us focused on the gospel’s calling.  Once again in this coming year, I’m going to try to have a deacon on most of my visitations.  Of course, about 17 congregations have a resident deacon.  We look forward to the time when this is closer to 50.

St. Matthew’s, Savannah (7th)

            On Sunday, I join with a very happy congregation at St. Matthew’s, to celebrate a covenant between Fr. Joslyn Angus and St. Matthew’s as pastor and people of God serving in Christ’s name from St. Matthew’s Church.  We’re very thankful for Fr. Angus’ arrival.  He served faithfully at St. Philip’s in Jacksonville.  He will be a blessing not only to the parish but to the whole diocesan family.  I hope you will welcome him.

St. James’ Korean Church, Hinesville (7th)

            On Sunday evening, in St. Philip’s church building, we gather with a congregation representing many areas of the diocese and the people of St. James’ and St. Philip’s to ordain Daniel Lee, pastor of St. James’, to the diaconate.  We also confirm adult members for St. James’.  The bishop asks the questions of those being confirmed in English and the answer comes back full and confidently in Korean.  Several people being confirmed do not speak English.  The preacher is the Rev. Allen Shin, a priest of the diocese of Chicago serving on the Asian American desk (or chair of ministry) at our national Episcopal headquarters.  We are glad to have him here on this auspicious occasion in the life of the Episcopal Church witnessing to the fact that God’s word to the Episcopal Church touches peoples of all cultures.

Grace Church, Sandersville (10th)

            On Wednesday, I gather with one of our congregations that has maintained itself with a significant mix of people from both White and African American backgrounds.  It is a happy night with confirmations.  As is often true, there are several physical problems of the buildings that are on the minds of the leaders.   There is no question that this is a solid congregation with a good record of ministry in their community.  The bishop worries about how we continue this ministry at this point made possible by a faithful retired priest, Dawson Teague, who drives all the way from Athens every Sunday.  I try to get the leaders to begin thinking about preparing so that the wonderful ministry can continue, not that we don’t hope Dawson will be here for much longer, but because we never know when new leadership will be necessary.  But, like most congregations, all long as things are going well, people don’t want to put energy into thinking about the next step.  I don’t believe these leaders can hear the bishop, that even a large bequest making possible an endowment does not guarantee a loving priest who wants to serve in a community in the state of Georgia.  That’s true even though some members here have experienced priests who served more because they were trapped rather than because they desired to be in our part of the world.

St. Mary Magdalene, Louisville (11th)

            On Thursday, in Louisville, Georgia, we witness a milestone in the Episcopal Church’s presence in Jefferson County.  For 20+ years the people of St. Mary Magdalene have lived as guests in other people’s houses, particularly of our brothers and sisters of the Roman obedience who have kindly allowed us to worship in their church.  During this time this congregation has imaginatively ministered to those in need in its environs.  Tonight we dedicate a church that the people of St. Mary Magdalene have designed and built by renovating a house and shop they bought.  Resulting worship space is a wonderful chapel.  Next door to First Methodist, it’s in a wonderful location for people to find.  Next to the church there is a very fine, small ante-bellum cemetery.  So it looks like we’ve been there a long time and the church fits into the community but looks like a place of worship.  St. Mary Magdalene is blessed with priests from the Order of St. Helena who come many Sundays and by the rector of the Church of the Annunciation, Vidalia, whose vestry allows him to spend one afternoon and evening a week as priest-in-charge within Louisville.  Thus the people of Louisville have been blessed in recent time by having several wonderful priests as part of their life together.  This is again one of our small, strong congregations.  They are working towards how to insure that, whatever happens concerning availability of priests from outside, worship will regularly continue in accordance with the Prayer Book.  They have a real gift also of supporting a number of people in other denominations who need to wrestle with and think about their faith but can find so supportive group within their own religious community in which to do that.  I think this is a contribution that many of our congregations in county seat towns provide.  St. Mary Magdalene does it very well.

Joan Kilian’s Ordination to the Priesthood (13th)

            Ordained Deacon Kilian to the Sacred Order of Priests at Our Savior, Martinez.  (Reported in January issue of The Church In Georgia.)

St. Augustine’s, Augusta (14th)

            On Sunday I am with the people of St. Augustine’s, one of the consistently supportive congregations of the diocese.  Like all congregations, we have maintenance needs — and they often surprise us.  Just like when the refrigerator goes out at home.  St. Augustine’s has had an excellent year, and is looking at having a full time assistance and several other enlargement of program.  At this point their major air conditioner has gone out.  However, the spirit and commitment of the people is good and the congregation moves forward.

St. John’s Vestry, Moultrie (15th)

            On Monday, St. John’s Vestry meets with me to express concern about the direction of the national church and the pain at not being comfortable with what the members perceive the Episcopal Church to be.  These are faithful people and I’m very sorry for the pain their view of the church brings them.  I do ask your prayers for them and for me.

St. Mark’s, Woodbine (17th)

            A packed, joyous church for the episcopal visitation with a presentation of a number of new members for confirmation or reception.  St. Mark’s is a church that is prepared to grow in an historic community in Camden County.

Dedication of Parish House (18th)

            All Saints’, Tybee Island, turns out to rejoice in their new fellowship and Sunday School space.  Not only have they doubled the space for their parish functions, but the architect has tied the new construction into the front of the church, giving us a much more handsome profile from the street.  This gives us more presence in this community.  All Saints’ is bursting at the seams with wonderful people rejoicing in the leadership of Fr. Sam Wysong and Deacon Eddie Adkins.

Curtis Mears Ordination (20th)

            On Saturday, in Calvary Church, Americus, I ordain Curtis Mears to the Sacred Order of Deacons. (See January issue of The Church In Georgia).

St. Michael’s, Waynesboro (21st)

            On this fourth Sunday of Advent, I rejoice in preparing for the coming Lord with the people of St. Michael’s.  This is a congregation whose members enjoy their community and express this both in their energy in their worship and in eating together in parish meals.

Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Christmas Week

            I celebrate Christmas service for the people of St. Elizabeth’s, Richmond Hill, with their pastor, Fr. Michael White.  I attend the Midnight Mass at St. Paul’s, Savannah.  It is a wonderful Christmas and during Christmas week I get to see most all members of our family.

Holy Spirit, Dawson (28th)

            On the first Sunday after Christmas, on a very crisp but bright, beautiful day, we celebrate in the park setting of our church in Dawson.  One of the attributes of the Episcopal Church is to respond to a God of order and beauty with order and beauty.  Somehow the architecture and facilities of Holy Spirit are a wonderful embodiment of our tradition.