Bishop’s Address of 1955

133rd Annual Convention, Diocese of Georgia
St. Alban’s Church, Fleming Heights, Augusta, Georgia
May 11, 1955

We greet the members of this Convention and the Woman’s Auxilary in the 133rd and 63rd of I.W.A. annual session and in the first year of our episcopate. Grace be unto you and peace from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Rt Rev A.R. StuartWe are meeting in one of the newest parishes of the Diocese. It is the first time many of you have seen St. Alban’s, Fleming Heights, and the first time they have entertained a Convention. You are also meeting with one of the newest Bishops of the Church presiding. We hope it is not the first time you have seen him. it is definitely a new experience for him to confront a Convention. The word confront is used advisedly. Your host and your presiding officer are depending much on your patience and your charity.

St. Alban’s was admitted to the Convention as a parish in 1953, having accomplished this development in what is probably a record-breaking time in the Diocese. The beautiful buildings which you see and the growing life of the parish are splendid validations of the vision of the Department of Missions of the Diocese, the faith of Bishop Barnwell, and the missionary giving of the people of the Diocese. Under the vigorous leadership of their first rector and our host, the Rev. Williani C. Baxter, the Wardens, Vestry and the people of St. Alban’s are moving steadily toward the position of one of the strongest parishes in the Diocese. For this we give thanks to God and wish them good luck in the Name of the Lord.

We submit herewith to the Secretary of the Convention for publication in the Journal of the Diocese, the official diary of my activities since my Consecration in St. Paul’s Church, Augusta, Georgia on October 20th, 1954, and also the financial statements of the various funds for which the Bishop is responsible. We wish to make only two observations with reference to these. The increase in the number of Confirmations in the Diocese is gratifying. Bishop Barnwell and I confiruied and received last year 640 persons. Twenty years ago Bishop Reese reported 272 Confirmations. Ten years ago Bishop Barnwell reported 351. Last year we apparently reached a record number. We are thankful for this growth, but it is still below the percentage of growth which should be ours with the opportunities surrounding us. The second observation is in reference to the Bishop’s Contingent Fund. It is derived largely trorri the Visitation Offerings of the parishes and missions. It is intended to meet at the discretion of the Bishop unbudgeted needs and emergency situations arising in the life of the Diocese. We have been forced to use it primarily for the support of our theological students for lack of provision by the Diocese for this cause.

The Department of Finance has recognized the need and has included an item for this purpose in the 1956 Budget proposal which this Convention will be asked to consider shortly. Last year the Offerings amounted to $1,989.78 which is a considerable increase over $1,118.00 reported by Bishop Barnwell in 1903. Twenty years ago Bishop Reese in the depths of the depression reported $484.00—a better record in -view of the times than we have today. The cooperation of some of the clergy have made possible the increase for which we are grateful.


We are one of the owning dioceses of the University of the South at Sewanee. The first Bishop of Georgia was one of the founders of the University. The Bishop and three members elected by this Convention serve on the Board of Trustees. You heard at the Convention service last night from the Vice-Chancellor of the University and you have had the report of your Trustees. We shall, therefore, only point out to you the obvious need of the Diocese to share more fully in the financial support of our University. We have been asked to include Sewanee in the Budget of our parishes and missions. Only ten of our parishes and missions did so in 1954, in a total amount of $928.29. The Diocesan gift in our budget is $1,000.00. The objective of the University is $1.00 per year per communicant. With all that Sewanee has meant to the Church in this Diocese, and with all that Christian education means to this Nation, it surely can be supported to that extent. We are not so naive as to think that any such “per capita” apportionment will receive unanimous support. For every person who will give his dollar, there are five who will never hear the call. However, we are convinced this is a goal to aim for and we believe that the placing of an item for Sewanee in the Budget of every parish and mission of the Diocese will take us a long way toward our objective.


This century-old institution for child care is administered by a Board elected by this Convention. You have heard their report and we call your attention to the fact that they received in 1.954 from the Thanksgiving Day Offerings of the parishes and missions of the Diocese, designated by Canon for this purpose, the amount of $1,803.08 from 27 parishes and missions. Here again the cooperation of our parishes and missions is essential if the proper sort of work is to be done through this agency. There is a fine physical plant at the home and a remarkable “home-like” atmosphere achieved due to the particular personnel of the present management. Should any change become necessary it is questionable whether the present policy and program could be maintained with the existing financial structure. The work of the Home comes within the Province of the Department of Christian Social Relations. We are happy to report that this department is actively concerned with its responsibilities and might well be requested to make thorough study of the Episcopal Horne for Girls and report to the next Convention their recommendations for the development of this most important agency for Child care.


The Diocese for thirty years has owned and operated a camp and conference center on St. Simon’s Island known as Camp Reese. During these years a notable contribution has been made to the life and work of the Diocese through this center, particularly in youth work. Many of our present day leaders, both clerical and lay, are indebted in their spiritual development to the inspiration and influence of the Church’s work at Camp Reese through the years. For this we may well be grateful, and seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit for a vision and a wisdom like that of those who planned and developed Camp Reese a generation ago. It is our task to provide and develop for the Church a camp and conference center which can be Camp Reese to this generation. A community changing to an urban character on St. Simon’s Island, a Diocese growing beyond the facilities available on the old site, buildings in a bad state of repair and so outmoded that the fire Marshal will not permit their use, means that Camp Reese must be relocated. The Executive Council recommends that the camp and conference center of the Diocese be made a diocesan institution with a Board of Managers elected by this Convention and charged with the responsibility of policy development and management of the center. In order for this Board to achieve the objective of an adequate and desirable facility for the use of the Church they should be given authority to recommend to the Bishop and Standing Committee the disposal of the present Camp Reese property and the acquisition of such properties as they deem desirable for Camp Reese. In the meantime Camp Reese is to be operated as a Family Conference this summer at Abraham Baldwin College at Tifton, July 10-17. The facilities are adequate and careful plans have been made by the Department of Christian Education for a fine conference for men and women and young people of the Diocese.


Throughout the country the happy truth is that the Episcopal Church is coining alive to the urgency of her task and coming to appreciate more and more the distinctive qualities with which God has endowed her for that task. No longer are we content with a weak facsimile of the Faith or apologetic for our heritage. We are happy to live and teach the historic Faith in its wholeness in the midst of the modern world and there are thousands who wish to share it with us. This we have been impressed with as we have travelled 19,000 miles through Georgia in the past six months. Our clergy are more alert to their opportunities and more concerned to teach the Church and her Mission. Our lay people have a deeper sense of evangelism and are no longer so hesitant to speak to their friends and neighbors of the Church and her Faith. The men of the Diocese are deeply concerned for the missionary work of the Church as evidenced by the splendid service they render as lay readers, especially in Mission Churches where no clergyman is available. There are 152 licensed lay readers at the present time in Georgia. We are not willing to wait until our diocesan indebtedness is liquidated in the next few years to take advantage of the missionary opportunity before us today. To this end the Bishop is asking 100 men to assist him in placing men in the field. The women of the Diocese have indicated their desire to deepen and strengthen their discipleship by a new interest in Days of Prayer and Quiet Hours of devotion. This will undoubtedly be an influence which will lead to retreats and quiet days for men and women in the Diocese and the subsequent development of the quality of our lives to meet the opportunities before us. We recommend this movement and a greater use of preaching missions throughout the Diocese. We know of only three preaching missions held in the Diocese this year.

We are operating in 1955 on the largest missionary budget in our history, due to the fine response of our people last fall to the Every Member Canvas. There is evidence that we are growing in our sense of stewardship with several parishes emphasizing percentage giving in fulfillment of our responsibility to God rather than just trying to raise a budget figure. We are especially grateful for the fact that all but six parishes and missions accepted their full missionary asking for 1955. In 1954 there were 14 who overpaid their quota.

We are adding to our diocesan family at this Convention a new parish, St. Paul’s, Jesup, and are recognizing a new mission approved by the Bishop—St. Mark’s, Radium Springs. There are possibilities of a new mission being established in Savannah. A mission station has been established in Lyons-Vidalia, under the leadership of the Rev. Peter Fleming. Trinity Mission in Harlem is expecting to build a church shortly under the leadership of Mr. Edward Shirley, one of our seminarians. The Good Shepherd Mission in Swainsboro is determined to go forward to a church building. Trinity Mission, Statesboro, bas enlarged its parish house facilities. We have been offered a plot of ground in Eastman and a. small group there is hoping to become a mission station.

In Dawson a small group is likewise hoping to organize. In Cuthbert, the Church of the Epiphany is being rehabilitated and is organized as a mission station. Tn Camilla and Pelham a fine group is being organized by the Rev. George Shirley and we hope they will become a mission. St. James Mission, Quitman, has completed a fine parish hall. Christ Church, Dublin is completing a parish house. The Church of the Atonement, Augusta, is to dedicate next week a kindergarten and Church school building. St. Luke’s, Hawkinsville, has completely renovated and redecorated the Curch.

Among our parishes are new educational buildings at St. John’s, Savannah, Christ Church, Savannah, a splendid parish house almost completed at St. Thomas’, Isle of Hope, a new school building under construction at the Church of the Good Shepherd, Augusta, additional parish house space and improvements to the church building in process at St. Paul’s, Albany, acquisition of additional property for expansion at St. Thomas’, Thomasville. With few exceptions every parish and every mission has had a prosperous year in terms of both physical and spiritual development.

We need eight men right now in our mission field. We have four men expecting to graduate from seminaries in June. One of these hopes to do further graduate work, but three of them should be available for placement in Georgia. This will leave us six men in theological training with two attempting to enter seminaries this fall. I do not know that they will get in. Our seminaries are crowded to capacity. The Church throughout the nation has been attempting in the Builders for Christ Campaign to provide more adequate facilities for training men for the ministry. Unfortunately the Diocese of Georgia is not going to give its full share toward this much needed objective. Some of our parishes and missions are very short-sighted in their failure to respond to this call. They need clergy now or will before long, but they are not willing to provide the means for training the men they are or will be needing. The total giving of the Diocese to the Builders for Christ is $13,441.78 with 13 parishes and missions not responding.


We are very grateful for the work of the Department of Promotion and a group of laymen in providing the Diocese with a very creditable diocesan paper, THE CHURCH IN GEORGIA. We hope this Convention will take steps to see that this work is adequately supported and proper distribution recommended. The editorial board and the publisher deserve commendation from us. The publisher has made possible the continuation of the paper by assuming the loss on each issue himself We cannot allow this to continue, nor can we afford to be without the service of this official organ of the Diocese.

A greater use of the secular press in advertising the Church is highly desirable. In several places very effective use is made of newspaper publicity and in many other places this medium is overlooked. It is gratifying to note that we are beginning to mark Episcopal Churches in many communities. In others it is still difficult to find any visible indication that the Church exists there. We note with satisfaction that use is being made of the radio in many places to bring the Church and her faith before the world. A notable instance of this is the radio ministry of St. Paul’s Church, Augusta.

There remains only time to call your attention to one simple matter and one very complex issue. The simple one first, on which we have been asked by laymen for a statement.

No person who wishes to receive the Holy Communion in the Episcopal Church is prevented from doing so, except by canonical discipline, but neither is there a special invitation made to non-communicants. No person may be repelled from Communion except they be under discipline which generally means for marriages contrary to the canon of the ehurch or the exercise of the Prayer Book rubric as to a notorious evildoer and never may they be repelled in extremis.

But also there is no provision for a special invitation to those present at a service of the Holy Communion. To insert such an invitation is to add a rubric to the Prayer Book Order of Service. This can only be done properly by the General Convention in Prayer Book revision. Furthermore, such invitation may violate the provisions of Canon 16, Sec. 3 (a) relating to those “married otherwise than as the Word of God and the discipline of this Church allow.” One may be in good standing in other communions contrary to this discipline. An instance of this kind prompts this statement.

The Norm of this Church is set forth in the Book of Common Prayer Office of Instruction, page 291.
After you have been Confirmed what great privilege doth our Lord provide for you?
Ans: “Our Lord provides the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, or Holy Communion for the continual strengthening and refreshing of my soul.”

HOLY BAPTISM—rubric, page 281
“It is expedient that every Adult, thus baptized, should be confirmed by the Bishop so soon after his Baptism as conveniently may be, so that he may be admitted to the Holy Communion.”

CONFIRMATION—rubric, page 299
“And there shall none be admitted to the Holy Communion until such time as he be confirmed or ready and desirous to be confirmed.”

The Prayer Book Norm requires preparation for Communion and requires Confirmation preceding communicant status. It is the Bishop’s responsibility to admit to Communion. The clergy of the Diocese are hereby admonished to give heed to the Book of Common Prayer.

The more complex issue is also a matter of procedure, the principle having been clearly and unequivocally laid down in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We are all members of one Body. We are all children of God, brothers one of another. As St. Paul says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”

(Gal. 3:28.) This is a basic Christian principle which we believe is the only solution to human relationships. We dare not, however, issue solemn pronouncements on the subject to our generation without first confessing to Almighty God our own grievous failure to use His grace and help to live by this principle. We all know this failure is due to sin. We also know this failure has impaired our leadership of this generation in this difficult problem. As a result our nation is seeking a solution where no solution can be found. The law can never provide a right relationship Between individuals, or races, or nations. The Church has known long since that the way to righteousness is not through legalism but through love. It is not a way of law but of grace. In the face of our failure to lead our generation into this way of love and grace, it would be most unbecoming to adopt resolutions on the subject or issue pronouncements. It is incumbent upon us to confess our failure and to come before our Lord in penitence for our sin. It is clearly evident how much we need to show forth to the world at this time in our history the fruits of the Spirit–love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self control. Against such there is no law. It is here that we people of the Church can make our contribution. It is not only our obligation taut our opportunity. We can do this individually and oci the parish level by the grace of God as we are doing it in the national and diocesans life of the Church. It means more earnest personal prayer and individual dedication to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

Finally we would point out to the convention, the need of the Diocese for adequate diocesan headquarters. By the generosity of Christ Church, Savannah, for many years office space has been allowed the Bishop and the Diocesan Secretary. We are in need of more space and Christ Church should have available the offices we now occupy. The Finance Department is recommending additional assistance in the Bishop’s office which is greatly needed, but the problem is working space for such a person. The CHURCH IN GEORGIA needs office space. At present the valuable records of the Diocese are piled to the ceiling in the Bishop’s office to remove them from a furnace room. We need a place for conferences and for meetings. We need a place, a focal center, as an outward and visible sign of the Diocese of Georgia which is accessible to our people and known to the public.

As we conclude this first address to you and our first six months of service, we rejoice in the quickening of the Spirit which is felt throughout the Diocese, and the deepening witness to our Lord. We give thanks for the harmony of spirit and oneness of purpose in this household of faith. We know it is due to the grace and love of God and the labors and wisdom of your retired Father in God. He has planted well. Pray that we may do the watering that God may give the increase.