Bishop’s Address of 1909

given by the Rt. Rev. Frederick Focke Reese
in Christ Church, Savannah, on February 11, 1909

My Dear Brethren of the Clergy and Laity:

You will bear with me, I am sure, with the same generous consideration which you manifested during the past nine months, in the fact that my first annual address as your Bishop must be a very imperfect one. The patience and generosity of the Diocese and of all the clergy and laity, as expressed in the action of the Standing Committee, and in the kind words and acts of individuals, is more than I had a right to expect. I have realized almost daily the loss to the Diocese in my continued ill health and the disappointment which it has meant to all who are interested in the Church’s work and growth. I am sure you will pardon me if I allude to the disappointment and grief that it has caused me to be called to such privileges and opportunities of ministry, and to be compelled to remain idle under God’s hand for so many weary months. I thank you for your patience and affection, for the encouraging words, for the generous sacrifices you have made. I know that your prayers have been offered continually for my restoration to health, and I now have hope and assurance that it will not be long before it will please God to grant us our desire.

And when in His mercy I shall be permitted to take up my work as your Bishop, may it please Him to grant us a renewed consecration of purpose, to labor faithfully and with the pure motive of love for our Saviour, to do His work in the Church, may our mutual disappointment draw us nearer together in sympathy and friendship, as Brethren in the household, to help one another and to bear with one another, so that indeed as one body in Christ, united in one holy faith and love, we may set forth God’s Kingdom among men.

Before proceeding further we must pause to give grateful commemoration before God for those who since your
last meeting have passed into Paradise. Of our Bishops there have been taken:

The Rt. Rev. Leighton Coleman, D. D., LL. D., Bishop of Delaware, December 14, 1907.

The Rt. Rev. George Worthington, D. D., LL. D., Bishop of Nebraska, January 7, 1908.

The Rt. Rev. Henry Yates Satterlee, D. D., LL. D., Bishop of Washington, February 22, 1908.

The Rt. Rev. Ellison Capers, D. D., Bishop of South Carolina, April 22, 19oS.

The Rt. Rev. Henry Codman Potter, D. D., LL.D., D.C.L., Bishop of New York, July 21, 1908.

The Rt. Rev. Edward Jennings Knight, Missionary Bishop of Western Colorado, 1908.

Your Clergy:

The Rev. Joseph Wilmer Turner, Vicar of St. Matthews’ Church, Fitzgerald, Ga., died March 25, 1908.

The Rev. Harry Cassil, Vicar of St. Luke’s Church, Hawkinsville, died May 9, 1908.

The Rev. Wm. J. Webster, Ph. D., a retired priest of the Diocese, died September, 1908.

The two venerable priests first named were long connected with the Diocese and served at her altars in the missionary field with devotion and zeal. They are remembered with affection by all who knew them, and are honored by the record they have left of fidelity to the holy trust committed to them by God in His Church. They rest in peace in His Paradise and their works do follow them.

Among the lay members of the Church who have passed away my knowledge permits me to name only one, Mrs. Julia Kitchen Miller, who so soon was called to follow her distinguished husband, Mr. Frank H. Miller. Mrs. Miller filled for many years the position of Diocesan Secretary of the Woman’s Auxiliary, and on her retirement by reason of bodily infirmity, was made Honorary Secretary. It is impossible for me to think of one without recalling the other. I wish that I had strength to commemorate fittingly these two dear friends and loyal and devoted members of the Church. Returning to Georgia, as I have done after several years’ absence, their absence from our gathering seems unnatural, so closely were they identified with the Church work in the Convention and the Woman’s Auxiliary, and in manifold ways of service. Good, faithful, dear people, serving God in all Godly quietness and doing their duty as conscience and love prompted them, they have left for us fragrant and beautiful memories, and are united in the eternal joy of companionship with each other and with the Saviour.

I am, unfortunately, unable to speak with definite knowledge of the work of the Diocese since my consecration, but I must not fail to express for myself, and for the Convention, as I am sure I may do, our gratitude for and confidence in the efficient and self-sacrificing services of the members of the Standing Committee and the Board of Missions, upon whom have rested the responsibility and labor of administration, and of others, too, who have done what they could to supply the deficiency of service. And at the same time I must express my own and your grateful appreciation of the kindness of my brethren, the Bishops of Atlanta and of Florida, who have so generously assisted in the Episcopal duties which I have been unable to perform. I recommend that fitting expression be made by the Convention of its appreciation in each instance.

In only one respect has the work of the Diocese been seriously hindered, and that is in securing a sufficient supply of clergy to fill the missionary stations. This I know has been from no lack of earnest and laborious endeavor. Many letters have been written, and a number of clergymen have been communicated with, without avail. But we must bear in mind that the difficulty, arises from two causes. In the first place, we have been anxious to secure only the best men available, and the best men are all busy, and many of them earnestly interested in their work. In the second place, the available supply of clergy is becoming proportionately every year less and less. The clergy list during the past year increased by only two. We are all confronted by the increasing difficulty of securing clergymen for the work which is calling for laborers. It is cold comfort to ask our mission stations to be patient; they have been patient; but we must ask them, in considering the matter, to bear in mind the great difficulty which confronts us. We must stand by a high standard of efficiency, and we must continue diligently to try to overcome the difficulty. We want, if possible, priests who will stay with us because they are faithful men and because they arc finding increasing encouragement and interest in their work. When we secure them, let the laity stand by them. No man can lead an indifferent body of men and women, and no devoted and faithful band of laymen anywhere can fail with or without a leader.

In this connection I want to say that I hope I shall receive the backing of every Parish and Mission in the Church in one particular. The unrest among many of the clergy is caused by the inadequacy of their stipends and the frequent irregularity with which they are paid. The cost of living is high, the salaries are generally inadequate, even at best, and when paid promptly. When not so paid, the people are laying a cruel and unnecessary addition to the burden of poverty borne by most of the clergy and their families. The anxiety, discouragement and sorrow of an unpaid salary, and its accompaniment of debt, is unjustifiable, and, in many cases, unpardonable. I know and appreciate the difficulties of vestries and committees. I sympathize with them. In saying that, I recall with gratitude the many good men on vestries whom it has been my privilege to know and trust in for thirty years of parochial experience. I am not saying these things reproachfully, but I do want this Diocese to set a standard in every Parish and Mission, and to stick to it until it is reached and maintained—that every clergyman shall receive now, without grudging, as large a stipend as generous and loyal devotion can secure; and that in the future no married priest shall receive less than $1,200 and a house, or $1,500 without a house, and that no one of them shall fail at any time to receive his salary on the first day of each month when it is due. I appeal to the honor of the men and women who compose our vestries and our congregations. My experience with Georgia laymen gives me confidence in my appeal. Of course, this is an old story, this question of clerical stipends. Pardon me for dwelling upon it so long and in my first address, but, my brethren, I am speaking to you from a long and wide observation, and I know that an underpaid and unpaid clergy can never do the work which you and the Church want them to do.

Much commotion has been aroused in the Church during the past fifteen months by the various interpretations and practices arising out of the amendment to Canon XIX at the last General Convention. Much of the commotion has doubtless been quite unnecessary. Some of the results mistakenly attributed to this cause are lamentable. The House of Bishops is now in session, and is called upon to consider a memorial from a large number of the clergy relative to the matter. I am not able to discuss the matter now as I should like, or even at all, but I think that it is proper and just that I should say this, at any rate—that in the administration of this Diocese we must all understand that the Canon does not permit the interpretation of what is called “the open pulpit,” and that we must agree that it shall be interpreted strictly in accordance with the plain meaning of the language used, that our interpretation shall not be influenced by our wishes or private opinions of Bishop, priest or laymen, nor by the ideas which were expressed by the language of many of those who advocated it and voted for it in General Convention. I am sure that I shall have the cordial co-operation of every clergyman in the Diocese in my endeavor to obey the law myself and to have it obeyed by all others.

Through the kindness of my predecessor, Bishop Nelson, I have become the possessor of the original seal of the first Bishop of Georgia, the Rt. Rev. Stephen Elliott, and I have adopted it as my own seal as Bishop of the Diocese.

I feel that this seal should not be the personal property of the present or any future Bishop of Georgia, but should be the property of the Diocese, for the use, if desired, of the Bishop for the time being. I desire, therefore, to present it to the Convention, subject to its possession and use by myself as long as I continue to hold the title of the Bishop of Georgia. I suggest such action by the Convention as may accomplish the purpose I have expressed.

In this connection I also recommend that the Convention take steps to adopt an appropriate seal for its own use, and appoint a committee for that purpose to report to the next Convention.

Finally, brethren, I commend you in all, your deliberations to the guidance of the Holy Spirit. May He give you grace to act wisely and in the spirit of love, and to obliterate self in a supreme devotion to our Blessed Lord and Saviour to promote His Kingdom among men by and through His Holy Church.


Report of the Standing Committee.

Savannah, Ga., Feb. 10, 1909. The Standing Committee reports as follows:

On February 14, 1908, the Committee was organized by the election of the Rev. C. H. Strong, D. D., President, and E. S. Elliott, Secretary.

March 18, 1908, the Standing Committee consented that Bishop Weed, of Florida, should confirm a class at St. Thomas’, Thomasville.

On April 23, 1908, the Committee received the consent of a majority of the Standing Committees to the consecration of the Rev. F. F. Reese, the Bishop-elect, and also certificate from the Presiding Bishop that a majority of the Bishops has consented to the consecration of the Bishop-elect.

The consecration of the Bishop-elect was set for May 20th, 1908, place selected by the Bishop-elect being Christ Church, Savannah.Committees were appointed and other arrangements made for the consecration.

The Mission of Douglas was transferred to the Rev. S. J. French.

The Rev. D. Watson Winn, as Archdeacon, and as Chairman of the Board of Missions, and as Designator under the Georgia Mission Fund, was empowered to employ such Missionaries as he could.Consent was given that Bishop Weed confirm at Grace Church, Waycross.

A committee was appointed to take up with the Diocese of Atlanta, through Bishop Nelson, the matter of the apportionment of debt for Diocesan Missions, amounting to $800, at the time of division.

On May 21 1908, a leave of absence was granted to the Rt. Rev. F. F. Reese, D. D., Bishop of Georgia.

On May 21, 1908, the Examining Board having reported that Mr. H. L. Durrant had passed his examination as Deacon, he was recommended for Ordination to the Diaconate.

On July 11, 1908, under provisions of Canon 12, Section 5, Bishop Reese constituted the Standing Committee the Ecclesiastical Authority of the Diocese.

On October 20, 1908, an indefinite leave of absence was granted to the Bishop.

The Bishop desired that the Standing Committee should continue to act as the Ecclesiastical Authority during his absence.

The Bishop offered to defray the expenses of any Episcopal visitations that might be had to the amount of $1,000. The matter of inviting Bishops for Episcopal visitations in the Diocese was referred to the President with power to act, and Rectors and Missionaries were given authority to invite Bishops for Episcopal visitations, after receiving the consent of the President of the Committee.

The Committee thanked the Bishop for his offer and said that the Diocese would defray such expenses for the present, and will not call on the Bishop unless such call be necessary.

Bishop Reese appointed the examining Chaplains.

The resignation of Mr. A. M. Knight as Treasurer of Diocesan Missions was reluctantly accepted.

The next Convention was appointed to meet in Christ Church, Savannah, Feb. 19, 1909.

The Board of Missions met with the Standing Committee. Mr. F. G. Bell was elected Treasurer of Diocesan Missions. The Committee passed a vote of thanks to Colonel O. H. Payne for his donation of lot and rectory at Thomasville.

The matter of approving names for appointments to Missions was referred to the President and Secretary with power to act.

The Rev. D. Watson Winn was instructed to continue his services as Archdeacon of Brunswick until the next Convention.

A vote of thanks to the Rev. D. Watson Winn for his services during the past summer was adopted.

The Rev. D. Watson Winn was elected Acting Treasurer of Diocesan Missions.

On November 24, 1908, the resignation of the Rev. Dr. Chas. H. Strong as President and member of the Standing Committee, and also as an Examining Chaplain, was presented.

A committee was appointed to wait on Dr. Strong and request him to withdraw his resignation.

The Committee waited on Dr. Strong and reported that he had declined to withdraw his resignation, and had given his reasons to the Committee.

The resignations of Dr. Strong were accepted with regret. The Rev. C. T. Wright was elected President of the Standing Committee and the Rev. S. B. Carpenter a member of the Standing Committee.

The following was adopted as a standing resolution:

“That a President pro tem, be elected for this Committee to preside when the President is absent. That in the absence of the President and the President pro tem, the third Priest on the Committee shall preside.

“The same rule shall apply for the Acting President of the Committee when the Committee is not in session in case of the absence from the Diocese or inability from any cause of the President or Acting President to act.”

The Rev. G. S. Whitney was elected President pro tem, of the Committee.

The Rev. Sylvester Stephen Powell was recommended for ordination to the Priesthood.

The following resolutions were adopted:

“That the Board of Missions of this Diocese be requested to make the apportionment among the several Parishes and Missions of the amount apportioned by the General Board of Missions to this Diocese, which amounts to $3,000.”

“That it is the sense of the meeting (Standing Conmiittee) that the Board of Missions be requested to take up the diminution of the apportionment from the General Board of -Missions, and that, if necessary, any member of this Committee be called to assist.”

The Committee appointed as a committee on the $5,000,000 Fund for General Clergy Relief the Rev. F. A. Brown, the Rev. R. L. Boykin, Messrs. Jos. H. Day, F. G. Bell, N. F. Tift.

Mr. F. G. Bell declined election as Treasurer of Diocesan Missions.

Mr. A. B. Moore was elected Treasurer of Diocesan Missions. The Council of Colored Churchmen was authorized

to meet and the Secretary instructed to communicate with them.The Committee invited the Woman’s Auxiliary to meet with the Convention.

By authority of the Committee the Rev. D. Watson Winn and the Rev. James B. Lawrence were appointed Delegates to the Conference of the Fourth Missionary Department at Jackson, Miss., and attended.

February 9, 1909, the Committee acknowledged with thanks receipt of a resolution from the Diocese of Atlanta (see below) expressing its sympathy with Bishop Reese for his sickness a: well as its good wishes for this Diocese:

The Committee passed a vote of thanks to the Rt. Rev. C. K Nelson; D. D., Bishop of Atlanta, for his Episcopal visitations.

The Committee passed a vote of thanks to the Rt. Rev. Edwin G. Weed, D. D., Bishop of Florida, for his Episcopal visitations.

The Committee recommended that the Convention pass similar votes of thanks in each instance.

Atlanta, Ga„ Dec. 9, 1908.
Extract from the minutes of the Secretary of the Diocese of Atlanta, in council assembled:
“The Secretary was ordered to send the following resolution to the Rt. Rev. Frederick F. Reese, D. D., Bishop of the Diocese of Georgia:

“Resolved, That the First Annual Council of the Diocese of Atlanta extends to the Rt. Rev. Frederick F. Reese, Doctor in Divinity, Bishop of Georgia, its loving sympathy and assures him of its prayers for him and the Diocese of Georgia that the Great Head of the Church may soon restore him to perfect health and enable him to take up the great work that lies before him.

“Resolved, further, That the Secretary of this Council be instructed to transmit a copy of the above resolution to the Standing Committee of the Diocese of Georgia.”

The above is a true copy of the minutes as recorded.

Secretary of the Diocese of Atlanta.