November 18, 2014Volume 5, Number 12
In This Issue
Diocesan Office Update
Community Update
Derrick Ordination
Holy Comforter Anniversary
St. Patrick's, Albany
Happening Staff Applications
Vestry Basics
Honey Creek Thanksgiving
Preparing for Advent
Social Media Connections
Web Links


This Sunday's Lections
Christ the King
Join Our Mailing List
Revised Diocesan Canons

Copies of the Canons as revised by the 193rd Convention are now available is several electronic formats. While we prefer to lean toward grace, rather than law, the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia, together with the Canons of The Episcopal Church, and the laws of Georgia provide the organizational and legal parameters for our common life. 


The sole change to the Canons is the convention approved a new Rule 18 to the rules for investments for mission congregations. That new rule is both in the canons listed below and can be found online here: Mission Investment Canon


Copies of the Canons are found online at these links:

Churchwide Canons
The current Constitution and Canons for The Episcopal Church are the 2012 Canons found online here: Episcopal Church Canons
Diocesan Office Update    
This week Bishop Benhase is attending the Province IV Bishops Meeting at Camp Wead in the Diocese of Florida.

This Saturday, Bishop Benhase make his visitation to Trinity, Harlem. On Sunday, Bishop Benhase makes his visitation to Good Shepherd, Augusta, in the morning, and to Holy Cross, Thomson, in the afternoon. 
Diocesan Community Update    
The Rev. Mollie Roberts' marked her final Sunday at St. Paul's, Albany, where she has served as curate, then associate since graduating from Sewanee in May 2013. Roberts accepted a call to serve as the Rector of St. Simon Peter Episcopal Church in Pell City, Alabama. Prior to seminary, Roberts was an active lay leader at St. Peter's, Savannah.

Annunciation, Vidalia
Burt Derrick Ordained Deacon
Bishop Benhase ordained Burt Derrick to the Sacred Order of Deacons this past Friday, in a liturgy at Annunciation, Vidalia. Bishop Benhase officiated with Canon Logue preaching. Derrick works as a Physicians Assistant and as a ministry is working to provide medical care and other needs to migrant workers in Toombs County. The photos below show Derrick with his wife and granddaughter and receiving his official ordination certificate from Bishop Benhase. An album of photos is online here: Derrick Ordination

Parishioners of Holy Comforter, Martinez, place rocks with prayers written on them in the ground on the church grounds as the congregation marked its 15th year.

Holy Comforter, Martinez
Congregation Marks 15th Anniversary
While the first public liturgy met on Christmas Eve 1999, the church's founding Vicar, the Rev. Cynthia Taylor, worked on the groundwork for what is now Holy Comforter in Martinez well in advance of that service. The congregation chose this last Sunday to mark its 15th Anniversary. They look back to the founding and the 110 people baptized and 148 people confirmed in that decade and a half as they look to what God will do through them in the coming years. The congregation also finished Set Free - our church wide program to reduce debt and increase savings - which resulted in nearly $74,000 of debt reduced and over $17,000 put away in savings.


St. Patrick's, Albany 
Stuck in the Middle
November's "Stuck in the Middle" for youth and children celebrated the Feast of St. Martin. According to the tradition for the Feast of St. Martin, the children made lanterns and the youth started a bonfire. St. Patrick's worshiped outside, using the labyrinth and outdoor altar for the service.

Youth Programs
Staff Happening Applications Due
Happening is a retreat weekend led by high school (and some college) students with the support of adults. It is by teens for teens and is consistently one of our best youth programs. The next Happening will be held at Honey Creek January 30- February 1 under the leadership of its Rector Rachel Robinson of St. Paul's Savannah. The deadline for Staff positions is this Friday. Apply to serve on the staff here.

What is Happening?

During a Happening weekend, participants worship, play, sing, and talk about God's place in their lives. They make new friends who share similar concerns and questions - a reassuring discovery. A teenager who acts as "rector" leads the weekend with the help of a staff consisting mostly of young people. Some staff members give challenging talks, after which there's time for discussion and activity. Together, the staff and participants share in an exploration of the impact of Christian faith in their daily lives. 


A Vestry Meeting - Something Wrong with the Accounts by John Ritchie, 1867


The Loose Canon
So what is a vestry? And what does the vestry do?

I've heard it said that nine out of ten Episcopalians don't understand what a vestry does and that the number goes up to ten out of ten if one only polls former members of vestry. And yet we are not a congregational church and in our representative form of church governance, the Rector, Wardens, and Vestry acting together is the group with the authority to make decisions for a congregation. The vestry matters and, as I am fond of saying "Vestries must be the church they wish to lead" as it is difficult for a congregation to be better than its vestry in most areas.


The history of church vestries begins with a 1598 decision to have groups of lay leaders in each English church charged with overseeing care for the poor of the parish (meaning the geographic area and not just those who attended the church). That met where and as needed, but traditionally in the vestry of the church. While a 24-person self-perpetuating vestry was common, so also were open vestries made up of all householders in the parish and so some women.


Puritans saw the vestry system as a way for lay persons to acquire church authority. Because of the indifference of the king, vestries began selecting rectors by 1630. And in 1643, Virginia legislature abdicated its involvement in rector searches in favor of vestries. This was not a uniform practice. The colonial trustees selected rectors here in the Colony of Georgia. Vestries pushed for more authority and by 1804 the life tenure of rectors, who could only otherwise be removed for grievous offense, was replaced with a canon that allowed vestries to appeal to the bishop for removal for cause.


The founders of The Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America believed in representative government rather than pure democracy. They gave the authority to the Rector, Wardens and Vestry acting together on behalf of the congregation. 


Current Practice
The Canons (or regulations) of The Episcopal Church state, "The vestry shall be agents and legal representatives of the Parish in all matters concerning its corporate property and the relations of the Parish to its clergy."


It is best not to overread this canon to limit the role of a vestry as priests are not in charge of only spiritual matters and vestry responsible for business alone. The priest in charge of a congregation has a responsibility to oversee the business side of church life and likewise the vestry are called by the Holy Spirit through the election process to assist in the oversight of the ministry of the church. A priest not concerned with finances is not being faithful to the charge entrusted to her or him and a vestry that only does business, with no reference to the spiritual life of the congregation, is likewise abdicating a significant part of its task of leadership.


While a mission congregation's vestry acts as a council of advice with less authority in some matters than a parish vestry, for most decisions about the congregation's life, their authority is the same and so the above applies equally. In every congregation, we should appreciate that vestries came about not by accident, but in response to a need for the laity of the church to have voice and decision making authority in their church.


Next week, I will complete this two-part article on church vestries with a challenge to make sure your vestry represents the people and perspectives of the congregation. 

-The Rev. Canon Frank Logue, Canon to the Ordinary


 Book your reservations for the Annual Honey Creek Thanksgiving!

November 27 at noon

Let Honey Creek serve your family and friends this year. We'll do the cooking and cleaning, you do the quality time together. Email or call Carolyn for reservations (912-265-9218 or [email protected] ), and relax this Thanksgiving.

It's beginning to look a lot like Advent

St. Thomas Day School in Thomasville has begun practice for their annual Christmas Program to be held Friday, December 19.

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Diocesan Staff                             
The Episcopal Diocese of Georgia