Bishop’s Address of 1962

The Rt. Rev. Albert Rhett Stuart’s Address
to the 140th Annual Convention of the Diocese of Georgia
Grace Church, Waycross
May 8, 1962

Twenty-three years ago, in 1939, the 117th Annual Convention of the Diocese met here in Grace Church, Waycross. The Rev. Howard Harper, the rector at that time, is now the Executive Director of the General Division of Laymen’s Work of the National Church. Grace Church was in its 33rd year as a Parish and reported that year 166 communicants and disbursements of $2,791. Grace Church now reports 254 communicants and disbursements of $21,751. In the last 12 years the parish has greatly enlarged and improved its physical plant which is an outward and visible sign of its greater outreach in the community and in the diocese. Grace Church has had a succession of distinguished rectors—one of these is the present Bishop of Alabama and Chancellor of the University of the South, another was the late Bishop of Atlanta, the Rt. Rev. John B. Walthour. The present Rector, the Rev. Hallie D. Warren, is in his fifth year of service and is providing a leadership well within the tradition of his predecessors.

When the Convention last met here it was in the fourth year of Bishop Barnwell’s episcopate in Georgia. The Diocese reported that year 6,545 communicants, 319 confirmations, 30 clergy, and a total budget of $36,330.00. This Convention meets in the eighth year of our episcopate and the Diocese now reports 10,419 communicants, 819 confirmations, 50 clergy, and a total budget of $184,092.38. I submit to this Convention detailed reports of these statistics, the Bishop’s diary, and the audited accounts of the Bishop’s office for recording by the Secretary of the Convention.

Beaufort Barnwell Cubbedge, Fourth Chancellor of the Diocese, died on April 24th, 1962, in Rome, Italy, while he and Mrs. Cubbedge were on a European trip. A devoted layman of the Church, faithful communicant of Christ Church, Savannah, deputy to the General Convention, and Chancellor of the Diocese since 1956, Barnwell Cubbedge was tireless in his service to the Church, in this Diocese and a close personal friend and advisor to the Bishop. He was loved and respected because he had undisguisedly the essential qualities of a Southern Christian gentleman. He gave those qualities in quiet, humble service to his Lord, his Church, and to his friends. We thank God for his life and service here and pray that he will go from strength to strength in the life of perfect service hereafter.

During 1961, there were confirmed and received in the Diocese 819 persons, which is the largest number on record for any one year. This is a gratifying achievement but I must point out that it is below the normal growth rate of 10% of our communicants. If your congregation is one of nine which did not present anyone for Confirmation during the year, serious questions should be asked by you as to the vitality of your faith and the purpose of your existence in the family of God. If your congregation did not present for Confirmation 10% of your communicant strength during the year, it is apparent that the members of your congregation are shifting their evangelistic responsibility to the clergy. The Instruction for Confirmation in the Diocese should emphasize that each person presented will himself be expected to present one other person for Confirmation within the year.

On the first of January this year the new Canon (Canon XVI) adopted by General Convention defining church membership went into effect. Obedience to this law will undoubtedly affect considerably our parish registers and statistics this year. It is perhaps advisable here to spell out the specifications of this new legislation.

Section One of Canon XVI makes it plain that all persons who have been baptized with water in the name of the Blessed Trinity and whose baptism has been duly recorded in this Church are to he counted as members. This means that to be considered a baptized member of the Episcopal Church your Baptism must be recorded in a parish register of the Church. If the Baptism took place in some other branch of Christendom, evidence of such baptism must be presented for recording in our parish register.

Section Two of Canon XVI states that all baptized persons who shall for one year next preceding have fulfilled the requirements of the Canon on the Due Celebration of Sundays (Canon XIX)—unless for good cause preventing—shall be members of this Church in good standing.

Canon XIX says “All persons within this Church shall celebrate and keep the Lord’s Day, commonly called Sunday, by regular participation in the public worship of the Church, by hearing the Word of God read and taught, and by other acts of devotion and works of charity, using all godly and sober conversation.” This means that members of God’s Church are under obligation to act like members. This is another wording of the Prayer Book definition of the duty of a member of the Church—”My bounden duty is to follow Christ, to worship God every Sunday in his Church, and to work and pray and give for the spread of His Kingdom.” If a person neglects this basic obligation he will still he a baptized member, of course, but he will not be a baptized member in good standing.This may seem to be only a matter for the record, but the record can suddenly become quite important as for instance, if the individual desires to marry a divorced person. He is not even eligible to apply for an ecclesiastical judgment unless he is “a member of this Church in good standing.” This is eminently just. A person not willing to maintain a minimum obligation of active membership is not entitled to special privileges.

Section Three of Canon XVI says that all members in good standing who have been confirmed by a Bishop of this Church, or by a Bishop of a Church in communion with this Church, or who have been received into this Church by a Bishop of this Church, and who shall (unless for good cause preventing) have received Holy Communion at least thrice during the next preceding year, are communicants in good standing.

This means communicants make their communions. Next January the Clergy are under canonical obedience to transfer from the list of active communicants in good standing all those persons who have not made their communions at least three times during this year. These names will not he removed from the register. They will remain on the list of confirmed persons, but communicants will be limited to those who communicate. Confirmed persons, who are not under any canonical discipline, may at any time re-establish their Communicant standing by indicating their desire to do so to their pastor. In other words, the distinction between communicants and confirmed persons is the members own making.

During the year one new Mission has been organized and one Mission has been closed. We rejoice in the following construction achievements in the Diocese—a Parish House at Christ Church Mission, Cordele; an educational building at Calvary Parish, Americus; a Parish House at St. Andrew’s Mission, Douglas; an educational building at Christ Church Parish, Frederica; renovations of Parish House and Church at Grace Parish, Waycross; a Parish House and a Vicarage at St. Augustine’s Mission, Augusta. A significant field of work has been opened at Emory University in Atlanta. There we have established a full time chaplaincy with the consent of the Bishop of Atlanta and the financial assistance of the National Church through its Division of College Work, and the Diocese of Atlanta.

The Chaplain is canonically resident in this Diocese and we hope will eventually be completely supported by the Budget of this Diocese as the National Church and the Diocese of Atlanta gradually withdraw their appropriations. We have for some years been contributing generally to the support of the Church’s work in the large universities of the State (Georgia Tech, Atlanta University, University of Georgia) which are within the jurisdiction of the Diocese of Atlanta but in which such large percentages of students are registered from this Diocese. The present arrangement of concentrating our efforts on one piece of work with the leadership of our own priest, we believe will be a more effective use of our resources and more dramatic fulfillment of our responsibility for the mission of the Church to the university field. In the meantime, we continue to minister to the smaller college communities within this jurisdiction through the clergy and people of Calvary, Americus; St. Andrew’s, Douglas; Trinity, Cochran; Trinity, Statesboro; Christ Church, Valdosta; St. Matthew’s, Savannah; Good Shepherd, Augusta; St. Paul’s, Savannah; and St. Anne’s, Tifton. It is important to consider, as soon as it is financially possible, the establishment of an institutional chaplaincy in the city of Augusta with special attention to the Medical College there. We are being asked to consider work at the College and there is scarcely a more urgent need within the Diocese for the pastoral and teaching ministry of the Church.

Another important development during the year, for which we are very thankful, has been the establishment of the Augusta House of the Order of St. Helena. The work and influence of the Sisters in a few short months has become known from Thomson to Thomasville, from Dawson to Darien. With only three Sisters in residence and in less than seven months time, the Sisters are appreciated and sought after not only for appointments for work in congregations but by a steady stream of visitors to the Convent. This is the Lord’s doing and it is marvelous in our eyes.” In this day when there are many contemporary Church problems—canonically, ecumenically, liturgically, and the like—it is refreshing to observe a response on the part of so many of our people to the working of the Holy Spirit in a Religious Community. We are grateful to the Sisters for their presence in our midst and the reminder thereby of the spiritual vitality of the Church and of our basic vocation. We look forward to the development of the Augusta House and to the time when we can assist them build, on property of their own, the facilities which they need for the work of a Convent in this Province.

Today the whole world is in a process of rapid change. Old landmarks are disappearing, old traditions and standards are vanishing. Only eternal things remain unchanged. In the midst of this flux the eternal Gospel stands out more clearly against the rapidly shifting world scene. God sent Jesus Christ to His whole world and God sends us in Christ to no less than the whole world. Two great gatherings of the Church this past year have underscored this Gospel and what it means for us today. The General Convention met in Detroit and called the Church to oppose Marxian Communism as a gospel of godless materialism by greater dedication of ourselves to the teaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all the world, and by showing to the world the example of a better way. The Convention warned us against those who would divide us in our loyalty to the Mission of the Church or those who would seek to limit our Christian witness in human affairs.

The world looks to the United States for leadership and direction. The United States is known as a Christian Nation. The Gospel of Jesus Christ must, therefore, be seen at work in this nation cleansing us from prejudices and hatreds and enabling us to work together in charity and forbearance, for full opportunities for every citizen in education, housing, employment, public accomodations and in every aspect of citizenship. “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” What other possible meaning can this law have? If the world does not see this witness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ in this Nation, it will turn to embrace the other great religion of our day—atheistic Communism. The question today is not “Will the world change?” but “Who will influence the direction of the change?” The Church, therefore, carries a great responsibility before God and mankind in this critical period. More important than what we say as a Church is how we live as a Church. Those things which we know by revelation of God in Christ will be most effectively shown to the world by the way we as His Church actually practice them. The facilities of the Church for the public worship of God must be used for public worship of God. The administration of the Sacraments and the preaching of the Word of God must be open to the world with no suggestion that any one is unwelcome or ineligible. Opportunities to serve God in Christ and in fellowship with one another must he fully available to every person in the family of God. Educational opportunities within the Church must be open to every child of the Clmrch who qualifies for the opportunity. It must be known that the facilities of the Church are owned by the people of the Church for the Glory of God, supported by the people of the Church by the Grace of God, and open to all the people of the Church for the love of God. I believe the people of. this Diocese are tired of uncertainty and are ready to give a clear witness to the world of our faith in Jesus Christ as the Saviour of all mankind.

The other great gathering of Christians this past year was the Assembly of the World Council of Churches in New Delhi, India. Here the outstanding feature was the acceptance into membership of a large number of Churches from Africa and Asia. They were welcomed not as juniors but as equal members with the Western Churches. As equal members they made contributions which probably could never have come from the older Churches. Then there was the great access to the World Council of the Orthodox Churches—churches which have had little contact with the West for a thousand years—long before the Reformation. All of this indicates something of fundamental importance to us all. God the Holy Spirit is at work with all the divisions, racial, national, and ecclesiastical of our world and is drawing His people together to the day when His Church will be nearer what He would have it be. Both General Convention and the World Council of Churches Assembly are signs that all who run may read that God is working His purpose out in the rapidly shifting world scene.

Another very important world-wide gathering of the Church lies ahead of as as the Anglican Congress prepares to meet in Toronto, Canada in August of 1963. This diocesan Convention is being asked to approve the appointments of a clerical and a lay delegate to represent the Diocese with the Bishop at this Congress.

This Congress is an opportunity to strengthen the ties binding together the family of autonomous Churches known as the Anglican Communion. We are being called to a year of preparatory study for the Congress that not only our representatives but all of our people may prepare for the leadership to be given us by the Congress. This year of study should strengthen the friendship and understanding which ought to bind together the provinces and dioceses of our world-wide Anglican family. I hereby request the clergy and lenders of our parishes and missions to plan courses of study in every congregation on the Congress Program entitled “The Church in the Sixties” and to use the “Friendship Series” prepared for the Congress. I am asking our delegates to the Congress to assume responsibility for directing this study program in the Diocese beginning in September of this year and I ask all of you to give them your cooperation.

Now I want to look still further to the future with you for a few moments. This is the 140th Convention of the Diocese. In 10 years we will be observing our Sesqui Centennial-150 years of diocesan history. If I live that long I will be coming to the end of my episcopate and we will be thinking about my successor.

There is much to be done for God’s glory and the salvation of the world in these years. I would hope that we could plan carefully a 10-year Program of advance so that each year we could, with God’s help, offer the achievement of a portion of the Program culminating in a great act of thanksgiving in 1972. These are some of the things I believe that we might offer to God in thanksgiving in 1972:

10,000 additional communicants (1,000 each year)
10 more congregations (1 each year)
10 more parishes (1 each year)
15 more clergy

A Sesqui Centennial Fund of $150,000 to he used as follows:
$60,000—Endowment of Episcopate making a total in the Funds of $150,000
$50,000—A Recreation Hall for a Staff Cottage at Conference Center
$25,000—Gift to the Order of St. Helena towards the building of the Augusta Convent.
$15,000-10% of the total Fund for Overseas Missions

Whether this Program, or some plan you devise, or other matters in this address he our objective, we will not accomplish them without God’s help and a greatly increased consciousness of our stewardship to Him.

The power of the Church is being released in the world today through the Biblical Revival, the Ecumenical Movement, the Liturgical Movement, and the Movement towards the recovery of Christian Stewardship. We are conscious of the influence in this Diocese of all these Movements of the Spirit. This last year there has been especially a quickening in our consciousness of stewardship manifested in a greater readiness not only to give but to be used in the service of God and His Church. As continued growth in stewardship, the assistance of an archdeacon, the consecrated labors of our clergy, the devoted loyalty in prayer and worship and giving of our people—this is the soil out of which God will give the increase. God does not present us with a need without providing also the opportunity and the grace and the courage to meet it. “Speak unto the Children of Israel that they go forward.”