April 29, 2015Volume 5, Number 35
In This Issue
 
 

 



This Sunday's Lections
Fifth Sunday of Easter
Join Our Mailing List
Statement on Priest's Arrest 

The Episcopal Diocese of Georgia was shocked and saddened to learn on April 23 that Federal agents arrested the Rev. Bruce Fehr on charges of downloading child pornography. The Diocese takes these allegations very seriously and is cooperating fully in every way possible with the investigation. Bishop Scott Benhase, on learning of the allegations, immediately relieved the Rev. Bruce Fehr of his duties.

 

The Bishop and staff are providing pastoral care to the Fehr Family and to the congregation of St. Francis of the Islands, Savannah, where he served as Rector. Canon Frank Logue presided and preached at St. Francis this past Sunday and met both with the congregation and the vestry following the liturgies. The prayers of the diocesan community are requested.

Diocesan Office Update    

On Friday, Bishop Benhase will ordain Aaron Brewer a deacon at 6 pm at St. Paul's, Jesup. 

This weekend, Elizabeth Burns is at Honey Creek for Spring Rally.

Rudy Reyes and the Columba House Residents will be on retreat this weekend. 


On Saturday, Bishop Benhase, Canon Logue, and General Convention Deputies will be holding a conversation about the upcoming General Convention for the Southeast Convocation at St. Mark's, Brunswick. 

On Sunday, Bishop Benhase will make his visit to St. Mark's, Brunswick, in the morning, and St. Athanasius, Brunswick, in the afternoon. 

On Monday through Friday next week, Canon Willoughby will be at Church Pension Group's Benefits Partnership Conference at Camp Allen in Texas.

Bishop's Visitation 
Bishop Benhase is pictured above receiving one of six persons confirmed and received this past Sunday at St. Paul the Apostle, Savannah.
Diocesan Community Update


John Jenkins has accepted a call as Assistant Rector of St. Paul's, Augusta. A senior at the University of the South's School of Theology (Sewanee), Jenkins is a native of South Boston, Virginia where his father served as rector of Trinity Episcopal Church until his death in 1983. Jenkins graduated from Virginia Military Institute in 1997 a few days after his mother graduated from Virginia Theological Seminary. Married to Bess in 2000, they have two children- John Turner (12), Ellie (9). Jenkins is scheduled to be ordained at his home parish of St. John's, Montgomery, Alabama, on May 21. He follows the Rev. Kelsey Hutto, who is moving to Indiana where her husband, Alan, has moved for a job.

Communication and Event Planning Specialist

Bishop Benhase has called Rebekah Stewart to be the new Communications and Events Planning Specialist. Bishop Benhase cited her extensive experience at working with volunteers, creating and managing new events, and her skill at communications. He said, "Bekah brings to the Diocesan Staff a diverse and broad range of gifts. We need people who can do many different things well and Bekah is a great addition to our team."

  

Rebekah was raised up through the Diocese of Georgia. She is a 2007 graduate of LaGrange College with a major in Creative Music Technology. She received her Masters in Music in Music Composition from the University of South Carolina in Columbia, SC in 2011. 

  

Stewart assisted the Diocese of Upper South Carolina as a Interim Canon for Youth and Young Adult Ministry while studying in Columbia. Since 2013, she has served as an AmeriCorps member working at the Ogelthorpe University Center for Civic Engagement. Her work in AmeriCorps has been in planning, designing, and leading events as well as working with volunteers, and communicating the programs of the center.
 

Rebekah will begin her new duties on June 1, 2015. She is the daughter of the Very Reverend Bill and Sharon Stewart. 

General Convention

First General Convention Conversation Saturday

The General Convention, which meets in Salt Lake City from June 24th - July 3rd, 2015, is the governing body of The Episcopal Church that meets every three years. Deputies and bishops representing each of 109 dioceses carry out the work of the Church at each Convention. If you wish to converse with our Bishop & Deputies about issues facing this Convention, then they will be available on the following dates in these locations:

 

Meeting Dates and Times
May 2 at 4 p.m. - St. Mark's, Brunswick
May 16 at 4 p.m. - Holy Comforter, Martinez
May 30 at 10 a.m. - Christ Church, Savannah
June 6 at 4 p.m. - St. Paul's, Albany
June 13 at 2 p.m. - Trinity, Cochran
Aaron Brewer Ordination this Friday in Jesup
God willing and the people consenting, Aaron Brewer will be ordained to the Sacred Order of Deacons at 6 p.m. on May 1, 2015, at St. Paul's, Jesup. Aaron graduates from the Candler School of Theology later this month. He has been called to serve at St. Luke's, Hawkinsville, where it is intended that he become the second Rector when he is ordained to the priesthood. Clergy wear cassock, surplice, and tippet.  

Christ Church, Frederica
Becky Rowell Ordained to the Priesthood 

Bishop Benhase ordained The Rev. Becky Rowell to the Sacred Order of Priests in a 

liturgy at Christ Church, Frederica on Thursday, April 23. Bishop Benhase officiated and preached. Rowell now serves as an Interim Assistant to the Rector at Christ Church, Frederica, who is filling in while a search is underway for an assistant to replace the Rev. Leigh Hall, who accepted a call to St. Paul's, Albany.
 

  
 

 
 


Dr. Chuck deGroat speaks to the clergy gathered for their spring conference at Honey Creek.


Clergy Encouraged to Self Examination, Healing

The Spring Clergy Conference, which ended yesterday at Honey Creek, encouraged clergy to take up the hard inner work of self examination in order to better deal with difficult people in ministry. Dr. Chuck deGroat taught from his book Toughest People to Love. DeGroat is an Associate Professor of Counseling and Pastoral Care at Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Michigan, and Co-Founder and a Senior Fellow at Newbigin House of Studies, San Francisco. 


DeGroat's stance is that people are not problems to be fixed, but image bearers to be know by a God who pursues you. He told the clergy that rather than falling into the trap of becoming narcissists with a messianic complex, they are to relax and be attentive to God's rhythms, instead of trying to be the savior. The antidote to the problems most of us face is to deal with the hidden parts of ourselves we are afraid to show others. Relationships he noted are the most life-giving forces in the world and also the most wounding. We are both wounded and healed through connection. DeGroat said, "The best way to get to know yourself is through the mirror of another."

DeGroat taught of the public self we present to other, which is known to all. He also spoke of the private self, which is known to family and friends. Beyond this is the secret self known to you alone and the hidden self known only to God. He described how each of us comes to build up the public self and that this is necessary. But then the risk each persons feels is that this false facade will be exposed. Yet he said, "This is not your deepest you, which remains hidden with God in Christ."

He taught that people have deep investments in these highly edited versions of themselves and quoted famed preacher C.H. Spurgeon who said, "Take off your masks; the church was never meant to be a masquerade." 

 
In working with people who prove to be difficult for us, deGroat said, "Each person you meet has a story of how he or she became the person they are. Curiosity and empathy are great tools in uncovering that story." In being curious about someone's story, we should honor the mask as we invite him or her to a deeper vulnerability.

Clergy broke into groups of three several times during the conference to do some of this work of sharing from their deeper selves. During the last session of the conference, deGroat challenged the clergy to name losses as a spiritual discipline. He said, "God uses pain, loss, and humiliation to strip us of our false self."

He encouraged clergy to write an autobiography of loss, by taking six months to a year in naming losses in your life. Describe in writing the loss and experience the pain of that loss, whether of a job, a relationship, a goal never achieved. This is a means of opening one up to way God uses loss for our spiritual growth. He said, "We don't have to do this perfectly. We need people who can hold us accountable in this journey of fits and starts." But the journey matters for God wants each of us whole, undivided, no longer hidden.

In addition to this powerful teaching, the conference centered around worship in the chapel with daily Eucharists and a service of Evening Prayer. The sermons by the Revs. Dave Johnson and Lauren Flowers also grounded our work in scripture in meaningful ways.

An album of photos is online here: Spring Clergy Conference. The Fall Clergy Conference this September 27-29 will be for both clergy and their spouses.
Loose Canon
Steps to Help Your Church Grow Attendance
I often hear from congregations that they want to grow their attendance. While growth for growth's sake does not sound like the Gospel to me, I do share the interest in expanding the Kingdom of God. Here are a few thoughts on some actions most every church can undertake.

Personal Invitation

Some who attends your church now making a personal invitation to friends, family, or co-workers is the best way for you to connect with new people. This is true for everyone, but even moreso for those who are new to your church. Newcomers know a whole new group of people to invite who may not yet have heard of your church. Teach newcomer classes on the importance of invitation and talking through ways to do this. Then combine this together with teaching the five-minute rule (that those who attend the church should give the first five minutes after church to meeting new people, before turning to talk to those they already know). Doing this raises the awareness with those new to your congregation and in so doing extends the reach of your church. In support of this, creating an attractive brochure to share. 

Printed Invitations
Sending out invitations to those with changes of address is a great way to reach those most likely to be looking for a new church. There are mailing services found online that will sell changes of address information. Real Estate agents shoudl have access to this information for free. Sending out a card with an invitation to join you for worship is a way to make a direct connection with those who may be shopping for a church. Hanging doorhangers with an invitation to worship in homes close to your church is another way to sow these seeds.

Hospitality and Incorporation
No matter what you do to invite people to your church, it is hospitality and newcomer incorporation which connect people to your congregation. Get the invitation right and this wrong and your church will not grow. Skip all of the above and get this right and you can still grow. Put it all together and you set the stage for numeric growth in attendance. I have found that when we do all we can to prepare to welcome new people, the Holy Spirit speaks to hearts and minds and new people start showing up. For in the end, all we are discussing is not about the church alone, but about the church as a means of connecting people more closely to God through the local church, and this is not something we do alone, but an activity in which we join with what God is already doing in the lives of the people we want to reach.

Celebrate the Gift of Hospitality-This means that we will need to identify people with a real gift for hospitality. These naturally welcoming folk need to be encouraged. The work they do in looking out for and speaking to visitors needs to be elevated and set as a model to others. Call people out in the bulleting or newsletter giving them credit for their gift of hospitality. This will not be a gift shared by all in your church, so make sure those who are good at greeting know their abilities are valued and encourage them in this vocation.

Incorporating Visitors
-Once newcomers have arrived, have those who greet them encourage signing in the guestbook. This will get a physical address and an email address and phone number. It is a best practice for each visitor to get a letter from the Vicar or Rector within a few days of the visit. One other contact is also a best practice. For some congregations, this means "mugging" the newcomer by having a couple of people on a hospitality committee drop by with a coffee mug in a bag with a brochure and the most recent newsletter. Other congregations take fresh baked bread. Still others rely on a phone call. Whatever you choose to do, make sure it is a low impact contact. Whether dropping something by or making a call, it should only be a brief visit in which it is clear that something is being dropped off with no expectation. We want to balance being in contact, with seeming to attack.

Newcomers who come back a couple of times should be encouraged toward a newcomers' class or meeting. Whatever your church uses to do this, it should be made clear how someone can get more involved in your church in a way meaningful to them. (The photos above are from the Facebook albums of St. Paul's, Augusta, St. Patrick's, Albany, and Christ Church, Savannah.)

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


Companion Diocese 
Successful DR fundraiser at Christ Church Valdosta

Christ Episcopal Church (Valdosta) hosted a Dominican Night Dinner and Auction on Thursday evening, April 16, 2015, at the Cotton Corner in downtown Valdosta. The fundraiser sparkled with Caribbean-colored lime green, ocean blue and orange tablecloths and flower arrangements as well as delicious food. The experience of sharing good food, enjoying the fellowship of church members and friends, and raising money for the DR mission outreach in a beautiful setting gladdened the heart and lifted the spirit. The "Home Team" really is making a difference in the lives of the Dominican children. The mission team raised $17,030 for scholarships in the school that former teams helped build in El Pedregal, the Colegio Episcopal Monte de la Transfiguración (Episcopal School of the Mount of the Transfiguration). This is the most money that Christ Church has ever raised at an event for the Dominican mission.


The combined live and silent auctions had 40 items donated by Christ Church members and friends. Eight-nine people attended the event and many who could not attend sent scholarship checks. The auction committee worked for two months to prepare for the event.


 

The Rev. Dave Johnson and Steph Johnson spoke about their experiences in mission work describing both the very humorous things that happen when you can't speak the same language as your hosts as well as the life changing, spiritual blessings one receives when sharing the love of God with those who have less material goods than we have but sometimes more spiritual gifts.


 

This year's mission "Go" team from Christ Church has 19 members. They will be in the Dominican Republic from June 15-22, 2015.

Youth Programs 
Register for Happening #95

Happening #95 will be held at Honey Creek May 29-31, 2015, and is open to those in grades 10 - 12.


 

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. Happeners who attend a weekend for their first time are called "Candidates." To be a Candidate, one must:

  • Have completed the 9th grade and have not begun college.
  • Fill out the application:
    Candidate Application for Happening #95 (see below)

Happening costs $101 to attend, and financial assistance is available. For more information, please visit the Georgia Happening website.


 

Click here to register

Hospitality 

The boar's head from the coat of arms of the Diocese of Georgia made an appearance in Maritinez this past week at the Church of Our Savior's Spring Luau.

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Sincerely,                                       
            
Diocesan Staff                             
The Episcopal Diocese of Georgia