Bishop’s Address of 1959

Given by the Rt. Rev. Albert Rhett Stuart
At Church of the Good Shepherd, Augusta, on May 12th, 1959

I greet the members of the household of Faith in Georgia in the Name of the Most Holy Trinity. I welcome you to the 137th Convention of the Diocese in fifth year of my Consecration and in the 90th year of our host parish, the Church of the Good Shepherd.

The last time the Convention of the Diocese met here at the Church of the Good Shepherd was in 1947-12 years ago. There were then 22 priests in active service, six of whom are with us today and continuing their fine service to God and the Church in this Diocese. We now have 43 in active service. In 1947 there were 14 parishes and 22 missions represented by 26 lay delegates. Today there are 21 parishes and 36 missions. Reported to the Convention that year were 405 Confirmations—last year we confirmed 610. There were reported in 1947 a total of 6,983 communicants. Today we report over 10,000.

The General or Executive Council Budget for 1947 was adopted at $41,000. The Budget to be proposed to this Convention for 1960 is over $120,000. The Administrative Budget recommended in 1947 was $9,187. The 1960 Administrative Budget is being proposed to you at a total of over $35,000.

These figures are startling for the short space of 12 years. They are even more startling in the case of our host, the Church of the Good Shepherd. In 1947 the Parish reported 542 communicants and total receipts of $22,510 of which they gave $5,257 to Missions or better than 1/4 of all receipts. Today the Parish reports 836 communicants and total receipts of $86,492 of which they give $11,069 or not quite 1/8 to Missions. We congratulate the Church of the Good Shepherd on the 90th anniversary of the Parish and the development of one of the finest parish schools to he found in the Province, if not in the entire Church in this country. The recent acquisition of property by the Parish is impressive and far-sighted. The development of the Good Shepherd Book Store has been a significant service not only to the community but to the Diocese—a service which has been recognized by the Bishop and Executive Council in designating the book store as the Good Shepherd Diocesan Book Store. The pastoral work and missionary zeal of the Rector of the Good Shepherd has been a major factor in the growth of the Parish and a source of strength to the Diocese in these years. For all of this we give thanks to God and pray His continual blessing on the priest and people of this Parish.

It was at the Convention here in 1947 that unanimous constitutional action was taken to provide full representation in the Convention to the Negro parishes and missions. We are grateful that this action was taken seven years prior to the development of the unhappy controversy within our national life on the racial issue. Because of the action of the 1947 Convention, we have been able to move steadily on a Christian course through the waves of emotional outbursts of certain groups and the winds of political exploitation of a difficult social problem. We have borne a witness by “endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” We know “there is one body, and one Spirit . .. One Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all who is above all and through all and in you all.” Because of this scriptural fact the pattern of our society is changing. We will see the changes accepted not only because it is economically extravagant not to do so, and not only because of the Constitution of the United States, but because it is a moral imperative deriving from Christian theology.
In the process of this change our prophetic and pastoral duty is clear. The Gospel must continue to be preached steadfastly and taught with understanding of the difficulties we face in the changes taking place. Pastorally we must work with patience and imagination to lead people to the grace of God by which His will and purpose is accomplished.

One of the immediate dangers we face in the changes taking place is the probable collapse of the state educational system. Leaders in various phases of the life of the state, with the exception of the political field, have all pointed out the tragic implications of such an eventuality, nevertheless it appears likely. Should this happen our duty would he clear and we should be preparing now to assume responsibility for it. We must provide schools for our people. Our parish houses and facilities must be made available and teaching personnel secured to operate schools in our Negro and white congregations. This is our pastoral duty and responsibility. God moves in mysterious ways. Perhaps He is calling us in this strange development in our society to resume a vocation and function we have surrendered too completely to the State. I call upon our clergy, vestries, and people to make preparations and be ready to render this service and to use this peculiar opportunity.

The past year was marked by two significant gatherings of the Church. The first was the Lambeth Conference which met in London for six weeks last summer. You made it possible for your Bishop and his family to attend this Conference. It was an unforgettable experience and we shall always be grateful to you. The Lambeth Report is and will be of value to all of us in carrying forward the work of the Church in these times. I am sure the clergy are familiar with it and I commend it to our laity, especially the sections on the Prayer Book and the Family.

The other gathering of the Church was the General Convention in Miami in October. The Diocese was well represented in the House of Deputies (two of our deputies serving on very important committees) and in the Triennial of the Women of the Church. The program under the National Church for this country and overseas for the next three years was carefully worked out in a realistic budget which provides a gradual expansion for the period. Our share of this program for 1959 has been accepted and the asking for 1960 is being submitted to you by the Executive Council in our General Budget for the coming year. The Diocese has a splendid record of always meeting its quota from the National Church for this work at home and abroad. I am certain you will do everything in your power to meet the greater objective which has been set before us.

The financial picture of the Diocese is fair. Only one of our congregations were not able to meet its full diocesan assessment in 1958, and only nine of our churches were not able to meet their missionary quotas in full.

Another significant development in 1958 was the decision of the Diocese in convention last year to proceed with the construction of the new Camp and Conference Center on the property given us in Camden County. The special session of the Convention in December authorized the financing of the undertaking through a five year assessment program. With this endorsement the Board of Governors of the Center, the Architect, the Finance Department, and the Bishop are proceeding toward the objective. We hope that the contract for the construction may he let next month and the work completed early in 1960 so that the Diocese may have the use of the facility by this time next year. I am pleased to report that one of our communicants at St. Paul’s, Augusta, has offered to build one of the cottages and one of our communicants at St. Andrew’s, Darien, has made a substantial gift for the Center. We have not yet received gifts from every congregation for the Chapel to be built in memory of Bishop Barnwell. As this is the memorial of the Diocese to our fifth Father in God who served this family so, well for 18 years, I trust that every congregation will participate in this memorial thank offering and make their contribution this year.

It is commendable that with the increased assessments on our congregations for the Conference Center only four Parishes have indicated that they would not be able to meet this missionary quota for this year.

Since 1958 the Diocese has been able through the income of the Widows and Orphans Fund to provide hospitalization insurance for the clergy and their dependents. This has been a great blessing for our clergy and their families. This year the Board of Officers of the Corporation and the Executive Council have entered a greatly improved program of medical care for, the clergy and their dependents and we all give thanks that this has been made possible by the income of the Widows and Orphans Fund through the Board of Officers of the Corporation.

Another matter that concerns the clergy, I wish to call to your attention although it will come to you also from the Finance Department. At the Convention here in 1947, Bishop Barnwell pleaded for financial assistance for the transportation and travel of the clergy, but especially mission clergy. He put it this way in his address—”I marvel that so many missionary clergy have managed to keep four wheels under them. Every commercial salesman either has a car provided or receives enough milage to buy his own. It seems to me we are under compulsion to do at least as much for our clergy.” As a result of this, the diocesan missionary clergy serving more than one field were given $30 a month travel allowance with $15 held in reserve for emergencies or replacement. I believe every parish now provides a travel allowance for its clergy and many missions do the same where the priest is not eligible for the diocesan allowance. It is urgent now in the face of increased costs that we include in our missionary budget an item large enough to make this missionary travel allowance $40 per month with $20 held in reserve for emergencies. This is not a great increase nor will it pay the gas and tire bill for our missionaries but it will help. I trust that parish vestries will keep this in mind with reference to the travel allowance for their clergy.

Last fall Miss Zoe Coburn retired from the Diocesan Office after 16 years of distinguished service. She was succeeded as Financial Secretary by Mrs. Adrian Mosure and Miss Olwen Morgan became Secretary to the Bishop. These two ladies early a load of detailed responsibility in the heavy administrative work at the Diocesan House. We could not do without their assistance.

The Department of Finance of the National Church last fall sent two representatives to us to modernize and improve our bookkeeping and accounting system. This was a large task requiring over three weeks of work night and day which would have cost us approximately $2,000 had the National Council’s representatives not undertaken this for us. We are greatly indebted for this service as are our auditors. You note their relief in their report this year as contrasted with those of previous years!

We are all impressed with the new Church in Georgia as it has appeared regularly and effectively since September. Under the leadership of the Rev. Alfred Mead the Department of Promotion has not only provided us with a fine piece of diocesan journalism but has been able to send it directly into the homes of the Diocese and with no increase in the budget. We commend Fr. Mead and his assistant, Fr. Hatch, for their excellent work and service to the Church through our diocesan paper.

One of the outstanding accomplishments of the Department of Christian Education, under the leadership of the Reverend Edward Haynsworth has been the diocesan-wide Advent Bible Study last fall. The program had wide participation and continuing effect. I am gratified to see a renewed interest in the study of the Holy Scripture in many places in the Diocese due largely to the inspiration of the program of the Department of Christian Education and the work done in promoting the Advent study by the Reverend John Worley.

During the year we gave Letters Dimissory to 8 priests and received them from 3 priests. We ordained 3 priests, 2 deacons, admitted as Candidates for Holy Orders 5, as Postulants 2. At the present time we have 5 Seminarians which means a serious and tragic shortage of men with vocations to the priesthood.

My other official acts and the diary required under Canon 43 are hereby submitted to the Secretary of the Diocese for inclusion in the Journal of the Diocese.

Never before, perhaps, has the opportunity and responsibility of the Church been so great. All thinking men know that progress is not inevitable or automatic, that research and education cannot control the knowledge they acquire and impart, that evil is not merely ignorance or arrested development but that it is something deep and desperate in the heart of man. Our generation is frightened by itself and its powers. Our scientific and technological out-reach fascinates us but deeply disturbs. Our economic success amazes us but does not satisfy. Our political responsibilities encompass the world but fills us with foreboding. Every where our neighbor is asking in one way or another “What must I do to be saved?” In the United States 3 out of 5 of our citizens have turned to religion for an answer. Millions are searching for a faith. Thousands within our churches don’t know why they are there. This situation cannot he met by tradition or good intention or hopeful advice. It can only he met by a clear and unwavering presentation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and a passionate devotion and loyalty to Him. It is fantastic to think that Christian standards and the Christian way of life which means salvation can he maintained otherwise. We are living on spiritual capital. It is respectable to do this nowadays—everyone is doing it. But it has the disadvantage that you cannot go on doing it indefinitely unless you replenish your stocks. What matters supremely therefore today is that Christian should learn to understand their faith intelligently and hold it passionately and this not for their own sake but for the sake of the thousands looking to us for an answer.

In the forefront of the Gospel is the power of God to deliver man from evil. Man needs not simply instruction or advice or exhortation but power to follow the Way, the Truth and the Life. This means a declaration and witness by the Church of the full Catholic theology of Grace. No emasculated presentation of the Faith can possibly meet the desperate need of the day.

It is worse than useless for the Church to preach about grace if there is no concrete evidence of its working in the lives of its children for then surely the world can rightly say “Physician heal thyself.” To whom shall we go?

In an age in which endless propaganda has made words very cheap, the most effective means of evangelism is through the redeemed personalities of Christian men and women. Communication is a real problem which we ignore at our peril. But here is a language which everyone understands and listens to—this language of a Christ-filled, Christ-like life.

We give thanks to God for all the mercies and benefits of the past year and pray His guidance and blessing on this family facing the opportunity and responsibility of today.