May 27, 2015Volume 5, Number 39
In This Issue


This Sunday's Lections
Trinity Sunday
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Holy Comforter, Martinez

Recommended for Parish Status

Diocesan Council voted unanimously to recommend the 2015 Diocesan Convention approve Holy Comforter, Martinez, be moved to Parish Status. This recommendation by Council is a necessary step in the long process by which a mission congregation may become a parish. With the approval of the Standing Committee, the mission will also need two consecutive diocesan conventions to approve of the move to parish status. 


Founded in 1999, with the first liturgy held that Christmas Eve, Holy Comforter is by any measure one of the ten largest congregations in the Diocese of Georgia. In 2014, the congregation recorded 408 members, an Easter attendance of 418, an Average Sunday Attendance of 139, and a normal operating income of $327,241. The Rev. Dr. Cynthia Taylor planted the congregation and continues to serve as its Vicar with the Rev. Joe Bowden, MD, also assisting. Holy Comforter has been qualified for this move for several years, and agreed to pursue parish status only after encouragement from the Bishop as the congregation intends to always have a mission heart and focus. (Pictured here a parishioner signs the petition to the Diocese requesting parish status.)


Interested in more about the process?

The process for moving to parish status (found on pages 18-19 of the diocesan Canonsincludes:

  • Three consecutive years with full-time clergy compensated at the diocesan minimum, with all benefits as required, while also paying the full tithe (or the amount approved by Council if appealed), 
  • The vote of at least 2/3s of the members in good standing who are more than 18 years of age,
  • The approval of the Bishop and Standing Committee,
  • The recommendation of Diocesan Council, and 
  • The vote of two conventions to finalize the process

Missions and Parishes - What's the Difference?

The Bishop is formally the Rector of all mission congregations. While missions have a single delegate to diocesan conventions, three delegates represent a parish. Additionally, missions are required to monthly send the diocese minutes of its vestry meeting and the latest financial report for the congregation for review. If you are interested in learning more about the difference, please contact Canon Logue.  


We are excited that Holy Comforter, Martinez, is moving toward parish status. The next steps are Standing Committee approval and the vote at the November diocesan convention in Savannah.

Diocesan Office Update    

Bishop Benhase is on retreat this week. 

On Saturday, Bishop Benhase and General Convention Deputies will be holding a conversation about the upcoming General Convention for the Savannah Convocation at Christ Church, Savannah. 

On Sunday, Bishop Benhase will make his visitation to St. Cyprian's, Darien, and St. Andrew's, Darien, in the morning. 

On Saturday, Canon Logue meets with the vestry of Atonement, Augusta, and on Sunday he will preside and preach at St. Mary Magdalene, Louisville.
Bishop's Visitations

Dedication of New Ministry Center at St. Anne's Tifton 

Friends from St. Anne's, the broader Tifton community, and the Diocese of Georgia gather under the porte-cochère for the blessing of the new ministry center at St. Anne's, Tifton.

Albany Convocational Confirmation 

Bishop Benhase, Deacon Joy Davis, The Rev. Jay Weldon, Deacon Leeann Culbreath, The Rev. Lonnie Lacy,The Rev. Ellen Richardson and those confirmand and received at the Albany Convocational Confirmation held at St. Patrick's, Albany. 

St. Paul's, Albany 

Bishop Benhase and The Rev. Lee Lowery with confirmands.  
EYCS College Scholarship Applications Due Sunday
Education Scholarship for College Applications Due!  Deadline, Sunday, May 31, 2015.  Apply online:  Scholarships are based on financial need and are awarded for undergraduate education. Scholarships are not available for graduate school.  Applicant must apply ONLINE by May 31st, for the following academic year.  Thank you on behalf of the Episcopal Youth and Children's Services Board. 
Register Now for the Fall Cursillo Weekend

Applications are now being accepted for the next Cursillo which will be held October 8 - 11 at Honey Creek. Cursillo is a weekend event held at Honey Creek where participants spend time focused on beginning to discern where and how and it is God wants to use them in the world. The Spanish word literally means short course. The weekend is filled with lots of prayer, discussion and fun.


Anyone who is interested in attending a Cursillo weekend and furthering their walk with Christ is encouraged to discuss the possibility with their clergy. Applications are available on the diocesan website: 


If you have any questions, please contact your clergy or Molly Stevenson, Cursillo #120 Rector and Registrar ([email protected])

Parishioners and clergy from St. Anne's, Tifton, join Bishop Benhase in laying on hands for the confirmation of a St. Anne's member during the convocational confirmations hosted Saturday at St. Patrick's, Albany. An album of photos from the event are online here.

Pentecost Around the Diocese in Photos
Almighty God, on this day you opened the way of eternal life to every race and nation by the promised gift of your Holy Spirit: Shed abroad this gift throughout the world by the preaching of the Gospel, that it may reach to the ends of the earth; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

In Albany, Bishop Benhase blessed the building for GraceWay, a non-profit, faith-based, long-term substance abuse/addiction treatment community for women. Their program uses intensive application of the Twelve-Step methodology of Alcoholics Anonymous.
Festive balloons adorned St. Paul's, Albany, on Pentecost Sunday.
Christ Episcopal Church, Cordele, had a wonderful start to their Worship on the Water outreach services with 126 worshipers taking part in the Blessing of the Boats. At right, the Rev. Larry Williams', Vicar of Christ Church, Deacon John Lane.

Pentecost Sunday baptisms at St. Patrick's, Pooler, included one of the godparents watching on live via Skype from Bahrain.
Pentecost baptism and banners at Christ Church, St. Marys.

The Pentecost Sunday altar at Christ Church Frederica on St. Simons Island.
The Rev. John Anderson blesses a new Alleluia banner for All Saints, Tybee Island, during the Pentecost Sunday liturgy.
Balloons and a bubble machine at St. Thomas Isle of Hope in Savannah.

An only slightly retouched photo of Archdeacon Sandy Turner and the Rev. John West found on the congregation's Facebook page for Our Savior, Martinez, along with the covered dish lunch which followed worship.

The Pentecost Sunday Eucharist at Holy Comforter, Martinez, is pictured above with the Rev. Joe Bowden, MD, giving a parishioner the consecrated host.

King of Peace youth enjoyed a year end bowling party.
General Convention Conversations

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 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

Bulletin Inserts on General Convention
For congregations seeking to make parishioners aware of the upcoming General Convention, the Episcopal Church is offering bulletin inserts. These are available online here:

The figures on this chart shows diocesan income in green and a tithe of actual congregation income in red in constant dollars from 2000-2014.

The Loose Canon
Long Term Trends in Income from Churches

I want to offer here some data I shared with the Diocesan Council in my report last Friday. The chart above shows the income of the Diocese of Georgia compared to 10% of the congregations' income. This demonstrates how the churches of the Diocese paid more than 10% even a decade ago. At that time, the Diocesan Council set the asking at more than 20% and only two congregations paid the full asking. In 2004, the Council approved a plan to divide the congregations into four quartiles based on revenue. Council set the asking rate for the 25% of congregations with the lowest revenue at 10%, the next quartile at 12.5%, the next at 15%, with the churches with the top 25% of revenue set at a rate of 17.5% Compliance with the asking improved, but remained low.


On taking office, Bishop Benhase asked Diocesan Council to look to move the rate to 10% for all congregations and to consider a process to move all congregations toward actually giving at this rate. The result was a resolution passed by convention in 2011 that accomplished both of these goals in setting a process for Diocesan Council to approve appeals and for all those not on appeal to pay the full tithe.


The good news is  the plan succeeded and the actual income of the Diocese from congregations is very close to 10% of the total income to our churches. The long term effect is that the diocesan income is now, appropriately connected to congregation income. This means that no rapid rises are anticipated. We can now project diocesan income to remain stable, holding close to inflation, unless unusual growth occurs.


What this data means

I share this data to show the need for extra budgetary money if we want to do extraordinary work for the Gospel. For example, when the diocesan income from congregations was more than $2 million in today's dollars, starting new churches from the diocesan budget took careful management, but was possible. That sort of new initiative is not possible when the income drops by a half million dollars, as occurred during these years.I share this data to show the need for extra budgetary money if we want to do extraordinary work for the Gospel. For example, when the diocesan income from congregations was more than $2 million in today's dollars, starting new churches from the diocesan budget took careful management, but was possible. That sort of new initiative is not possible when the income drops by a half million dollars, as occurred during these years.

The good news is that the solution is well underway with the Campaign for Congregational Development. Five years ago, we began the work to meet the challenges we now face. The work is already underway across the Diocese. For example, we are taking advantages of opportunities for growth in Rincon and Cordele, starting exciting new ministries like the Oak Street Mission in Thomasville, and establishing youth outreach in Darien. All are possible because of the work to raise extra-budgetary funds for this extraordinary work.

None of this is a surprise to your diocesan staff. We lowered the diocesan asking knowing it would cut the diocesan budget and hold the budget down close to rising with inflation. This was the right call to keep more money close to home in your congregation. I just wanted to share that we now seem to have arrived at the new equilibrium and to give you some sense of what that means for our mission and ministry.

The Diocesan office looks forward to maintaining an open dialog and partnership to tackle these ongoing mission needs of the broader Diocese of Georgia. How has the Campaign or shift in the budget process impacted your community? Tell us your stories and what you are excited about engaging future campaigns and efforts to spread the ministry of the Gospel further.


The Rev. Canon Frank Logue, Canon to the Ordinary

Christ Church, Valdosta
Parish Enjoys Weekend at Honey Creek

Building community in a church has lots of elements, but one aspect is having fun together. That's what Christ Church Valdosta did this over the Memorial Day weekend at Honey Creek. Approximately 60 members of the church gathered on Friday evening after supper and stayed through Sunday lunch. Several more people came for the day on Saturday. The weekend was completely unstructured except for the opening gathering, the closing Eucharist and meals. 


Some of the intergenerational activities included the zip line, swimming, corn hole competition, a nature hike, fishing at the dock, playing bridge, bird watching, Frisbee golf, walking, and visiting. The general opinion of the group was that Honey Creek was in excellent condition.


The members of Christ Church have enjoyed Honey Creek for many years. One of our members, Blake Ellis, designed the camp and conference center in the late 1950's. He attended the retreat this weekend and gave a brief talk about the history of the property and the outdoor altar he and his sons donated in memory of his late wife, Jacqualyn. The first time Blake walked the grounds, the palmettos were so thick that a bulldozer had to clear a path. The Rev. Dr. Dave Johnson (pictured above on the zip line) and his wife, Steph, planned the weekend and encouraged parishioners attend in order to promote fun, relaxation and community.


Congregations interested in holding their own retreats at Honey Creek should contact Executive Director Dade Brantley at (912) 265-9218 or [email protected]



Save the Date for Vocare Reunion 

The official Annual Meeting and Reunion for Vocare Alumni will be held on Saturday June 27 at St. Paul's, Macon. Elections for the Vocare Steering Committe will be held at the Annual Meeting and Reunion. For more information, visit the Vocare in Georgia website.

Bishop's Blessing

Bishop Benhase sprinkles the new nursery and kids with holy water at the dedication of St. Anne's ministry center. 

"Heavenly Father, your Son our Savior took young children into his arms and blessed them: Embrace all children who gather here with your unfailing love, protect them from all danger, and bring them in safety to each new day, until they greet with joy the great day of your kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen." 

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Diocesan Staff                             
The Episcopal Diocese of Georgia