Epiphany 2015
Volume 5, Number 19
In This Issue
Campaign Survey Results
Diocesan Office Update
Diocesan Community Update
March in the MLK Parade
Bishop Reeves' Episcopacy
Confirmation Retreat for Youth and Adults
Register for Happening
Summer Camp Staff Applications
Rewiring your brain with liturgy
Christmastide Photos
Cursillo this March
Serving Christ
Social Media Connections
Web Links

This Sunday's Lections
First Sunday after Epiphany
Join Our Mailing List
New Canon for Administration 

The Bishop is pleased to announce the calling of Ms. Katie Willoughby as our new Diocesan Canon Administrator. Katie was raised up for ministry through the Diocese of Georgia. She is a 2008 graduate of the University of Georgia where she double majored in Anthropology and Spanish. She received her Masters in Public Administration from the Trachtenberg School of Public Policy at the George Washington University in D.C. in 2011. Since then she has been a human capital consultant with Deloitte Consulting LLP. With Deloitte, her focus has been on working with non-profit and governmental clients in the areas of financial management, change management, and strategic planning.


"Katie brings to the Canon Administrator position exactly what our Diocese needs in the 21st Century," Bishop Benhase said. He further elaborated, saying, "Katie has the ability to manage every aspect of the diocesan system, while also engaging us in creative, non-traditional strategic planning for a post-Christian environment. Her consulting work with Deloitte showed me she works well with people who are facing challenging contexts and can help them thrive in a fast-changing future."


In response to her new role, Katie noted, "I'm excited for the opportunity to serve a Diocese that raised me in love, support, and in the community of Christ. While it's rare and challenging to follow in the footsteps of one's mother, I know that the Diocese will grant me the opportunity to be judged by my merits and ability to serve our community. I look forward to working and engaging with the Diocese during this new chapter."


Katie will begin her new duties on February 1, 2015. She is the daughter of the Very Reverend & Mrs. William Willoughby of St. Paul's Savannah. 

Report on the Capital Campaign Survey at Convention

During our Diocesan Convention and at the Fall Clergy Conference, we asked everyone to weigh in on our Congregational Development priorities that we developed from the listening sessions held over three years ago. About 250 people took the survey and we were very glad to see that over 80% of the respondents considered our stated priorities important for our future. Many comments stated an appreciation for the strong support the Diocese offers our congregations and clergy.


Overall, it was very clear how much the people of our Diocese want to reach out to youth with the Good News of Jesus; get outside our parish walls and into our communities; foster training and support for current and future leaders; collaborate with one another in mission; and above all, grow our part of Christ's mission field!


Naturally, some of the Campaign objectives received more enthusiastic responses than others, but every priority enjoyed a clear majority of support. The objectives that received the most support were: growing mission congregations that are ready, youth initiatives, signature ministries, teaching parishes, and improvements at Honey Creek. 

We are happy to report results from one of the objectives that enjoyed the most support: Growing mission congregations that are ready. Last year, $500,000 was committed to St Luke's in Rincon and we're already seeing the first fruits of that missionary investment. Christ Church, Cordele is next in line for a similar grant, as soon as the funds are available. We have been able to seed growth there in the meantime with a new vicar, which has resulted in nearly 30% growth in average attendance in just a few months.

The Bishop and Diocesan leadership remain fully committed to helping our congregations be more than what they could be on their own. Through these strategic investments as well as through mutual accountability, we are working toward our common mission.

We would like to listen to everyone's hopes and dreams for God's mission through the Diocese of Georgia. If you did not attend Diocesan Convention last November, we welcome you to contribute your thoughts by taking the survey, at this link:  Click here to take the survey

If you would like to see the actual response figures to date, please go to: https://www.surveymonkey.com/results/SM-5P97P2SV/.

Diocesan Office Update    

Bishop Benhase and Canon Logue will meet this Friday and Saturday with the Diocesan Council at St. Peter's, Savannah, where the Bishop will make his visitation on Sunday.
Diocesan Community Update    

The Rev. Jack Dyer's wife Vickie requests the prayers of the Diocese for her husband who suffered a stroke on New Year's Day. He is in ICU and is anticipated to be there for two additional weeks. Dyer is a retired priest of the Diocese of Georgia who has lived in Birmingham, Alabama, since 2009. Your prayers for him and for Vickie are most appreciated. 

The Rev. Sam Buice
has accepted a call to serve as Priest-in-Charge of Grace-Calvary Church in Clarkesville, Georgia, which is in the Diocese of Atlanta. He has served as the Rector of St. Peter's, Savannah, since 2002. His last Sunday at St. Peter's will be Sunday, January 25th.

Savannah Convocation
March in the MLK Day Parade on January 19

On Monday, January 19 beginning at 9 a.m., Episcopalians will join the City of Savannah in celebrating the legacy of Dr. King. The parade, which starts at 10 a.m., will begin at East Broad & Liberty Streets and end at St. Matthew's Episcopal Church on Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard. Click on the image below or this link for a printable PDF poster for your church.


The Rev. J. Sierra Wilkinson Reyes said, "Our presence as the Episcopal Church in Savannah's MLK Parade is a witness to the life of one of the saints of our tradition." She adds, "His life informed us and his dreams continue to sustain us as we strive for the Beloved Community here on earth."   


This year's walk will end with a noon service at St. Matthew's followed by lunch. All are welcome throughout the Diocese to join us! There is limited seating on the Episcopal Church float for participants with mobility limitations. Click here to see more photos of the Episcopal group in the 2014 Parade

Bishop Reeves Encouraged Evangelism and Renewal

The Diocese of Georgia elected the Rev. G. Paul Reeves in 1969 as Bishop Coadjutor to succeed Bishop Stuart. Reeves' ministry initially was in United Churches of Christ. After service as a Chaplain in the US Navy, he became an Episcopalian and was ordained an Episcopal priest in the Diocese of Florida. He was canonically resident in the Diocese of South Florida when elected bishop coadjutor of the Diocese of Georgia. (Bishop Stuart is pictured at left with Bishop Reeves)


Bishop Shipps recently wrote a brief history of Bishop Reeves' tenure as diocesan bishop as part of a diocesan history project. As Shipps writes of Reeves, "Bishop Reeves was a conservative gentleman with a dry sense of humor. He held a high view of the Church and our individual and corporate responsibility to it as stewards. Many contemporary movements caused him distress; he was only slightly supportive of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer, and adamantly opposed to ordination of women. His first Convention address expressed minimal interest in hymnal revision, the 'renewal' movement, and social involvement on the part of the church....In 1972 he sent a group of clergy and laity to Dallas, Texas, to participate in Cursillo. With Bishop Reeves' support, they subsequently initiated the program in the Georgia diocese. Evangelism and renewal were encouraged and supported by regular Cursillo weekends at Honey Creek and similar Happening events for high school youth. These programs also proved to enhance community-building within the diocese."

The brief history of his episcopacy is found online here: Bishop Reeves' Episcopacy We will share brief histories of Bishop Shipps and Louttit in upcoming weeks.

Lenten Confirmation Retreat for Youth and Adults
Whether you are preparing for Confirmation or simply want to deepen your understanding of the Episcopal Church, we hope that you will join us for this exciting weekend! The Confirmation Retreat this year is open to both youth and adults. It will be held at Honey Creek from February 20-22, 2015.

This year's retreat will be led by Maggie Bloodworth, and the Revs. Kevin Kelly and Charles Todd. Topics covered will include Scripture, Creeds, Sacraments, Prayer, Church History, and an Instructed Eucharist.

If you need further assistance with registration, please contact: Maggie Bloodworth at (478)892-9373 or [email protected]
Youth Programs
Teens in 10-12 Grade - Register Now for Happening

Happening #94 will be held at Honey Creek January 30- February 1, 2015 and is open to those in grades 10 - 12. Rachel Robinson from St. Paul's, Savannah will serve as Rector. 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 serves 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. Happeners who attend a weekend for their first time are called "Candidates." To be a Candidate, one must:

Honey Creek Summer Camp

Apply Now for Summer Camp Staff

Do you know a college student looking for the best summer job ever? Honey Creek is now hiring summer camp staff for the 2014 season. Applicants must be high school graduates willing to work hard in a fun environment where they will also serve as good role models for the campers. 


Camp employment dates are June 14-27 and July 5-25, plus a staff weekend in late spring. Kamp Phun, if offered is separate employment.


For applicants new to summer camp staff, click here

For those applying to return to Summer Camp Staff, click here

Loose Canon 
Rewiring Your Brain with Common Prayer
My name is Frank. I am a tech addict. And as you are reading this via email or perhaps through a Facebook link, there is a good possibility that you share my compulsion. Before you decide, consider what neuroscientist are telling us about how certain technology usage mimics addictive behavior and is even rewiring your brain.

How technology rewards you

Much of the way one interacts with the internet and smart phones causes the brain to release small hits of dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter once linked to pleasure. Neuroscientists now know that opiates relate to the pleasure centers, while dopamine actually excites the brain to searching and seeking (See Psychology Today article). So as you go clicking around the internet for information, or check your phone for a text, or your Facebook feed for an update, you are sometimes frustrated by not finding what you want. Other times you are rewarded with the answer you are looking for or perhaps a new text message or Facebook update from someone you care about. The random nature of this success rate is actually part of the allure. Just as the gambling industry has long known that random paybacks of varying amounts keep people hooked longer, so too the frustration of not finding what you are looking for actually hooks you deeper to your email account or Facebook feed (See article in The Altlantic).

The unpredictable nature of when you will get a tech pay off with information you care about is exactly what gets the dopaminergic system going. This activity causes your brain to receive hits of dopamine which itself drives a further desire to search. Watch someone checking their smart phone and know that each time they check for texts or social media updates, dopaminergic neurons are sending out messages to parts of their brain to encourage even more seeking. That obsessive smart phone user is actually getting chemically rewarded for the behavior just like a mouse getting cheese for successfully running a maze.

Why this matters

This constant search for connection via technology is mentally and physically rewarding, but as the reward is a chemical hit encouraging more seeking, the loop cycles again and again. There is a high cost to this feedback loop which comes in the form of exhaustion. Beyond this we find decreasing attention available for other tasks as multi-tasking is not actually possible. One has to switch from one task to another. Each time one switches tasks, attention suffers. For a well-written look at the tragic consequences this can have, read
A Deadly Wandering. The book, by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Matt Richtel, explores matters of attention in detail by using the deadly example of texting while driving.

To be clear, I am using the term addiction loosely. The best science would name technology use a compulsion rather than an addiction. While that may seem a semantic distinction only, be aware that if you do kick the tech habit, you still won't know how difficult it is for your friends in recovery to stay off drugs and alcohol.

The Cure

The prescription for change is obvious from the nature of the problem. We need to set limits on interacting with technology. Turning off visual and auditory notices of new texts, emails, or other updates helps. This will allow you to decide when you want to check in on this information rather than having those bings or vibrations give you a hit of dopamine encouraging you to check in. If you have trouble not looking at your phone while driving, lock the phone in the trunk of your car. Set times to check your work email and stick to those times only. It will help to keep these limits to also get away from the computer and the phone altogether. Gardening, hiking, kayaking and other activities that have you interacting with nature are also great antidotes as these activities are rewarding, but the senses are not bombarded in the process. There is also a way that liturgy helps.

Your Brain on the Book of Common Prayer
Remember the old anti-drug commercial in which they show an egg and say "This is your brain". Then they crack open the egg and plop it messily into a hot frying pan and the narrator says, "This is your brain on drugs. Any questions?" Beyond this advertising metaphor, we actually have images of the brain on prayer and specifically The Lord's Prayer. (See article in Lab Times). A Danish study looked at functional Magnetic Reasonance Imaging (fMRI) of devoted Christians as they recited a nursery rhyme, asked Santa Claus for things they wanted, prayed improvised prayers and prayed the Lord's Prayer. While the nursery rhyme and "prayer" to Santa elicited no rewards, the improvised prayers and even more so the Lord's Prayer excited "the dopaminergic system of the dorsal striatum in practising individuals." In other words, the prayers elicited a chemical response in the brain. This benefit is in addition to the documented anti-stress properties found in both meditative prayer--such as Anglican Prayer beads, Jesus Prayer, or Centering Prayer--and in regular corporate worship (See article at Huffington Post and Pew Research article). The photo above shows children praying The Lord's Prayer in a chapel service at St. Mary's Anglican Sch in Belize City. Belize
Regular worship with the well-crafted, oft prayed prayers of the liturgy actually assist in rewiring your brain in healthy ways as you build and maintain those neural pathways by regularly strengthening them through repeating prayers. Far from mere rote recitation, the liturgy can wire your brain for prayer and will use dopamine to reward you and encourage more searching for God. While science would never be able to say that this causes feelings of peace and well being, they are already prepared to say that religious community and prayer does correlete with longer, more fulfilling life (See U.S. News article).

Your kids and grandkids
Technology use is a particular problem for younger brains still forming those neural pathways. The best way you can teach the proper place of technology to the digital natives in your own family is through setting proper limits yourself and through teaching the joys of gardening, running, and most importantly praying at home and worshiping together in church.

-The Rev. Frank Logue, Canon to the Ordinary

Burning of the Greens on January 4 at St. Patrick's, Pooler.
Christmas Photos from Across the Diocese
We have continued to add photos this week to the diocesan Christmas photo album for 2014. We have 127 photos from 38 congregations online here: Advent and Christmas Photos 

The party following the Mass for the Eve of the Epiphany at St. Paul the Apostle, Savannah was hosted by those who attend that congregation's Spanish language Mass on Sundays.

 The three kings dressed by parishioners at an Inter-generational Epiphany Celebration during Christian Formation at St. Paul's, Augusta.
Expand Your Horizons - Experience Cursillo in March
You can be part of the next Cursillo in Georgia this next March 19-22 at the Episcopal Conference Center at Honey Creek. The weekend will offer worship, reflection, and an opportunity for spiritual growth. The Diocese of Georgia is a diverse, geographically spread body that is spirit filled and has a unique richness. You can experience this and see that the Episcopal Church is bigger than just your own home parish.


Cursillo typically will have attendees from Augusta, Savannah, Valdosta, Albany, Vidalia, and everywhere in between. This is truly a chance to get to know yourself, meet others from our Diocese, and expand your horizon in a way that will enrich you for life.


Registration is now open and spaces are limited. Link in now and be part of the Cursillo experience. Visit the Cursillo website or click here to register online 

Serving Christ through serving others

Last week, twenty Saint Paul's Augusta parishioners of all ages cooked and served Cincinnati Chili to 240 appreciative recipients in an Augusta Soup Kitchen.

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Diocesan Staff                             
The Episcopal Diocese of Georgia