What is the Christmas Spirit? It is to be caught up in the glory of God. God is always about light, and for us, a great light has entered the darkness. This light guides and warms us.
What is the Christmas Spirit? It is to be caught up in the glory of God. God is always about light, and for us, a great light has entered the darkness. This light guides and warms us.
After over a year of virtual diocesan youth ministry, the Graduation Celebration in May 2021 was our first in-person event back. Graduating seniors, their families, and other members of our diocesan youth community gathered on the labyrinth at the Cathedral of St. Philip to support our departing students and celebrate a new chapter in their lives.
After six years, Easton Davis transitioned out of youth ministry and into his new role as Canon of Communications and Digital Evangelism. On August 1, Holle Tubbs began overseeing diocesan youth ministries in her new role as Youth Missioner.
In October, Happening 74 became our first in-person retreat since the onset of the pandemic. Over sixty students from across the diocese gathered at Camp Mikell for a weekend of (COVID-safe) fellowship and spiritual formation!
At the 115th Annual Council in November, some of our students joined Bishop Wright in a virtual Q&A on growing faith, leadership in the midst of a pandemic, and what we mean when we talk about evangelism.
Eycdioatl stands for the Episcopal Youth Community of the Diocese of Atlanta. Our EYC is a vibrant community of youth spanning over one hundred worshipping communities in Middle and North Georgia.
We believe in forming disciples by sharing the all inclusive and unconditional love of Jesus Christ. We fulfill this purpose in worship, service, and spiritual formation at diocesan youth events. All middle and high school students are invited to be a part of this inclusive community. Together, we let the world know we love like Jesus.
On November 23, the Episcopal Community Foundation for Middle and North Georgia (ECF) announced four grants to organizations lifting people from poverty and oppression in the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta. The grants have been made to Crossroads Community Ministries (Atlanta), New Hope House (Griffin), St. Mary & St. Martha of Bethany (Buford), and Wonderful Days Preschool at St. James Episcopal Church (Marietta).
“One thing that each of our fall grantees has in common is a commitment to long-term sustainability,” said Lindsey Hardegree, Executive Director for ECF. “These specific projects are an investment into each ministry’s future. Whether they are using existing resources in new ways to solve community problems or reducing reliance on other entities, each of our grantees is committed to utilizing ECF’s funds in a way that will impact their work for many years.”
Crossroads Community Ministries, in partnership with St. Luke’s Episcopal Church (Atlanta), has received a capital grant of $15,000 to use in the renovation of their office space and Clyde’s Kitchen. With these renovations, Crossroads will be able to accommodate 200 hungry men, women, and children each day with a warm meal as well as provide case management, support services, and vital trainings.
New Hope House, in partnership with St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church (Atlanta), has received a capital grant of $36,500 to purchase a new van and construct a carport for its storage. This vehicle will be crucial in supporting the 40 people currently under death sentence in Georgia through monthly visitation as well as liaising with their families and legal teams.
St. Mary & St. Martha of Bethany (Buford) has received a capital grant of $22,200 to start Growing Community Together (GCT), a new agriculture-based ministry. GCT will provide an opportunity to utilize more than 30 acres as a sustainable urban farm which will directly assist those struggling with food insecurity in Hall County. This grant was made possible through funds raised in the 2021 Hunger Walk Run.
Wonderful Days Preschool at St. James Episcopal Church (Marietta) has received a capacity-building grant of $10,500 to develop a long-term sustainable fundraising program to support its tuition-free preschool for low-income families, including transportation for the students.
About ECF’s Grant Programs:
ECF awards grants twice a year; applications for the Fall 2022 Grants are due March 31, 2022. Those interested in applying for funding should visit ECFimpact.org/grants for information regarding funding opportunities as well as a link to the application. Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact Lindsey Hardegree with any questions they may have regarding eligibility or their applications.
About Episcopal Community Foundation for Middle and North Georgia:
Founded in 1982 as the Episcopal Charities Foundation, the Episcopal Community Foundation for Middle and North Georgia (ECF) provides funding, leadership, and resources to enable Episcopal parishes and nonprofit partners to lift up people facing poverty and oppression and to achieve significant, long-lasting impact in the Diocese of Atlanta. Since its inception, ECF has donated more than $5 million to promote thriving and spiritually strong individuals, families, and communities locally. Learn more at ECFimpact.org.
A joint statement Bishop Frank Logue of the Diocese of Georgia, Bishop Strickland of the ELCA Southeastern Synod, and our own Bishop Rob Wright on the McMichaels-Bryan Trial.
The jury charged with handing down a verdict in the case of three men accused of murder for their roles in the death of Ahmaud Arbery issued its decision today finding Travis McMichael guilty of malice murder and other charges, Gregory McMichael guilty of felony murder and other charges, and Roddie Bryan guilty of felony murder and other charges. We give thanks for the dedicated work of the judge and jurors who served in a charged atmosphere with intense public scrutiny. Any verdict arrives too late to offer true justice in this case. Ahmaud Arbery is dead, and the court cannot return him to his family. Nonetheless, this moment is an important one.
We prayed for the court to bring earthly justice and the court has acted. But it took a public outcry and the release of video of the incident to force the system into action. The three men who are now convicted of crimes were initially shielded from facing their accusers in court. Until we can bring equity to the system that initially protected them, the rest of us will not have done what we can to create the just society for which we long. Our country has not dealt with the racism built into the system at its founding and perpetuated until this day. Living into our faith means addressing directly any sin we see in our lives and in our communities. Divisions around the human-made concept of race are an offense against our faith which teaches that all people are made in God’s image and likeness. Jesus taught us to love God and love our neighbor as ourselves. Through his parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus made it clear that all are our neighbors. Any racial divide breaks the heart of God.
One bright spot of hope we have seen emerge following Ahmaud’s tragic death has been the interfaith group of clergy in Glynn County. Their clarion call for justice after the video surfaced was critical in getting attention to this case. They followed this call by engaging in candid conversations that drew them together even as other forces could have deepened divisions. Participants included clergy from all five Episcopal Churches in the county and those of many other denominations, as well as leaders of Jewish and Muslim congregations. News stories have often quoted the clergy who were consistently engaged, offering a non-anxious presence on the courthouse grounds. They have witnessed to the dream of God: all of us becoming beloved community, not divided by ethnicity, but united in our common humanity. We know that long after the cameras and reporters are gone, the clergy in Glynn County will still be working together toward that dream.
We hope not just for good to overcome evil, but for God to redeem even the worst tragedies and the gravest injustices. While the court has acted, the work of healing and justice remains. Maya Angelou said, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”
The Episcopal Diocese of Georgia offers the following resources: https://gaepiscopal.org/racialhealingresources/.
The Southern Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America offers resources here: https://www.elca-ses.org/racialjustice.
The Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta’s resources can be found at the Absalom Jones Center for Racial Healing here: https://www.centerforracialhealing.org/virtuallibrary.
It does not take an evil person to do an evil act. Murder is evil. Ahmaud’s killing was evil. But we need to guard against demonizing anyone or denying their basic humanity. The accused have been convicted. They will serve their sentences and need our prayers that they may be awakened to repentance. In this, as with all of us, we pray that God will bring all who are guilty to repentance and amendment of life and give us all hope for the future. In that spirit, we offer this prayer:
Eternal God, we give thanks for the judge and jurors charged with bringing earthly justice in the death of Ahmaud Arbery. Be with the Arbery family and all in the Brunswick and Glynn County Community as they seek further healing. Be with Gregory, Travis, and Roddie and their families as they serve their sentences and work toward their own repentance. Be with all of us as we seek repentance and healing for ourselves, one another, and our communities. Give us all the grace to hunger and thirst for your righteousness that we may work together to become the beloved community to which you call us. This we ask for the sake of your Son our Savior, Jesus Christ, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns now and forever. Amen.
May God grant us grace to see the healing needed in our lives, our families, and our communities.
The Rt. Rev. Frank S. Logue, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia
The Rt. Rev. Rob C. Wright, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta
The Rev. Kevin L. Strickland, Bishop of the Southeastern Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
Message from St. Matthew’s Episcopal Church on the 2021 Car Show
The 10th Annual St. Matthew’s Car Show turned out to be a great success this year. Some of the best vintage classic cars, trucks, and motorcycles in Georgia were in attendance to the tune of over ninety cars. We had a fantastic silent auction with over 30 items, and we had bidders on every single one of them. We had several new arts and craft vendors, and last but not least, we had Tipsy Pig who brought us great ribs, chicken, and barbeque.
Family Promise of Gwinnett County, which works to help homeless families in the area, was the recipient of a whopping $20,000 donation. We couldn’t have done it without our sponsorships, our volunteers, our Bake Sale, Knit Pearl, and Pray, our Kids Zone, the car registrations, vendor fees, and the monies raised from our silent auction. Plus, Bishop Robert Wright was here with us to pick the Bishop’s Choice trophy recipient and stayed with us through the trophy presentations.
We want to give a great big “thank you” to all that helped to make this show such a great outreach and fellowship event. The Car Show Committee, our volunteers, all of our sponsors, those who supported us with your prayers and encouragement, and all of St. Matthew’s, we thank you all!
The 115th Annual Council of the Diocese of Atlanta took place online on November 12th and 13th of 2021. The theme was the last part of our Diocesan Purpose Statement, “Growing Spiritually” joined together with the idea of what it means for us as a Diocese to get our second wind.
On Friday, Annual Council started with pre-recorded worship filmed at St. Patrick’s Dunwoody and included youth of the diocese and choir members from St. Patrick’s and St. Edward’s.
During the general session, Sally Ulrey, Missioner for Congregational Vitality, gave the Vitality Report of the diocese. It touched on many stories of Good News of the diocese and how parishes continue to adapt and thrive in the face of immense challenges.
Bishop Wright addressed The 115th Annual Council to talk about the ways in which we have responded collectively to the challenges of the last twelve months and ways we can continue to be faithful going forward.
Saturday began with Youth Led Worship, and a brief address from Carter Sessions, a young person of the diocese who worships at The Cathedral of St. Philip. Holle Tubbs, the new Youth Missioner of the Diocese, convened a Q&A with young people of the diocese and Bishop Wright.
Annual Council concluded with special recognitions and expressions of gratitude from Bishop Wright. Bonnie Burgess was presented with a Diocesan crest for her twelve years of service to the Diocese as the Canon for Finance and Administration. Ten thousand dollars will be given in her name to the Wright House Foundation. Learn more about the Wright House and the foundation here: episcopalatlanta.org/wright-house/
Finally, a special video entitled “Encouragement” was shown reminding the delegates of our Diocesean Purpose Statement and the resilience that is our inheritance as followers of Jesus Christ. The 116th Annual Council will convene at Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School on November 11th and 12th of 2022.
Preparing to Prepare
One day the disciples of John the Baptist came to Jesus and asked him, “Why don’t your disciples fast like we do and the Pharisees do?” Jesus replied, “Do wedding guests mourn while celebrating with the groom? Of course not. But someday the groom will be taken away from them, and then they will fast. Besides, who would patch old clothing with new cloth? For the new patch would shrink and rip away from the old cloth, leaving an even bigger tear than before. And no one puts new wine into old wineskins. For the old skins would burst from the pressure, spilling the wine and ruining the skins. New wine is stored in new wineskins so that both are preserved.”
– Matthew 9:14-17
Well, it is November. That means the end of one Liturgical Year, and the beginning of another. We are preparing to both end a journey and then, to turn, and begin a new journey. And as we prepare to step into Advent, and a new year of faith, we will do so with some new understandings, some new heartbreak, and maybe some new dreams. The start of a new year is the time to unpack the new wineskins. Wineskins that will hold the new wine of what the Holy Spirit is doing in our midst – the new ministries, the new spiritual practices, the new community, as well as the renewal and restoration of things we thought perhaps we had lost. Things like hope, trust, commitment, or even a sense of purpose in our ministry.
This month’s newsletter is all about new wine and new wineskins in perhaps unlikely places – Christmas Eve services, our 65+ congregants, and in the actual wild. As you wind down one Liturgical Year and prepare to begin another, I invite you to take some time to meditate on Matthew 9:14-17, and to open yourself up to whatever unlikely newness might just lie ahead.
With much gratitude,
Staff officer for evangelism
Evangelism Learnings: A story from the field and an invitation
We believe it is crucial to the work of sharing the Good News of God in Christ to share stories and learnings from across the work, and this month we are excited to share both some learnings and an invitation to an experiment, from our friends at TryTank.
This past fall TryTank ran a “Blessing of the Animals as Evangelism” experiment. The question they posed to potential partners was this:
Would you like to introduce your church to more people in your community? Think about the great opportunity your annual blessing of the animals provides! We know that some churches have had success this way, and we want to see if this is replicable.
Ken Kroohs served as the experiment coordinator, and here, according to Ken and Lorenzo Libreja, Director of TryTank is what they learned:
The first four (of 12) churches experienced greater results than we dreamed. Together they welcomed over 200 guests and received contact information from over 150 new people.
We are still collecting information, but from both an evangelistic and an experimental perspective I am very excited. From an experimental perspective we have seen results that are very high, and a church that had zero guests. We never want zero — but we learn from that too.
Here are a few preliminary results: (1) social media is a very effective way to invite people, (2) non-social media (signs, flyers) is much less effective (3) unchurched people are interested and willing to connect with a church, (4) not surprising, but important, the more ‘permeable’ an event is, the better chance a skeptical person will attend. But that we mean, the event must be such that a person can ‘safely’ drop in without the feeling they are trapped, clearly identified, and asked to commit. In other words, inviting a skeptic to enter the church and sit for an hour is unlikely to work. You have to build a relationship first.
Another takeaway – looking at the photographs in our experiment group, it is fascinating to see the number of children and young adults who attended.
Maybe the most important findings for me (Ken) are (1) there are Episcopal Churches enthusiastic about evangelism, and (2) we really can work together!
We are still collecting information, but from both an evangelistic and an experimental perspective TryTank is very excited.
Of course, the key experiment remains: if we keep in touch with these people can we build a long lasting, spiritual relationship with some of them? Participating churches have been provided with a possible schedule for contacts and possible topics.
Now for the invitation… If you missed the BOTA experiment, no worries—you can join the Christmas as Evangelism experiment now:
Are you frustrated your church overflows Christmas Eve, but your ASA drops for the months following? Or maybe frustrated your church does NOT overflow on Christmas Eve and your ASA continues dropping? Following the success of the Blessing of the Animals experiment, TryTank is offering a three-step process: tips on improving how we invite, specific ideas about how to get guest contact information (the most important step), and detailed communication suggestions for after Christmas. Everything will be presented acknowledging the uncertainty around COVID. You can find our more information and apply to participate here.
Episcopal Evangelism Huddle – Let’s Talk!
November 17, 12 p.m. ET
Based on the data, around 75% of TEC is over the age of 65. And we know that community, storytelling and storysharing are integral to our practice of evangelism -both inside our church communities, and beyond our walls. So, as we begin to enter the holiday season, is there a way engage our wisdom members in the practice of evangelism through storytelling, and inviting them to share their stories – with us, with their families, and with the wider community? Let’s talk about that and more!
Join our November mentors, Marna Franson and Dorothy Linthicum to chat about this topic and learn together.
In this episode host Forrest Inlee talks with author Victoria Loorz, cofounder of the Wild Church Network, about her new book, Church of the Wild: How Nature Invites Us into the Sacred. Victoria also helped start the Seminary of the Wild, an experiential education and formation program for spiritual leaders seeking to pioneer new earth-centered faith practices. All of which are very much “new wine skins.” As you listen, consider – what ideas, questions, or pushbacks does Victoria’s approach bring up for you. What might the Holy Spirit be saying through those reactions?
“Let yourself fall open to Advent, to anticipation, to the belief that what is empty will be filled, what is broken will be repaired, and what is lost can always be found, no matter how many times it’s been lost.” -Shauna Niequist
If you would like to download a shareable image of this quote, please click here.
Advent is coming, and as we prepare to prepare, here are a few favorite Advent resources that you can use to guide your Advent journey or invite others to guide theirs.
Additional Evangelism and Discipleship Resources
My Way of Love – For Individuals and Small Gathered Communities
A resource for personal spiritual growth—on your own or in community.
A church that looks, acts and loves like Jesus
New graphics and printable regarding Rule of Life and Small Gathered Communities inspired by Bishop Curry’s word to the church. Find them and more here.
Evangelist Leader Training – Jan. 9 – Feb. 19, online
If you are looking to dive deeper into what it means to lead an evangelism ministry, or if you are looking for a way to meet the requirements for an Evangelism Leader License, check out the next course on evangelism from Bexley-Seabury’s Pathways for Lifelong Learning program. Find more info here.
Want to offer this course to your diocese? Contact Julie Lytle at email@example.com.
If you would like to contribute to the Evangelism Blog or Newsletter or would like more information on Episcopal evangelism, click here to email us.
This was originally shared in The Episcopal Church’s November Evangelism Newsletter. We invite you to subscribe to The Episcopal Church’s monthly newsletter to receive prayers, resources, news about upcoming events, and more. View past issues of the newsletter and join the mailing list here.
This Veterans Day, find ways you can help support these brave individuals and their families. We invite you to consider the resources below.
Healing the Moral Wounds from War. Equips Christians for missional ministry to veterans through prayer, hospitality, and reconciliation. Learn how their educational workshops, consulting, and coaching can assist your church in outreach to veterans living in your community. Follow this effort.
A volunteer arm of the Department of Defense that works closely with the National Guard to care for the spiritual needs of our troops. Volunteer as a chaplain.
A charity providing millions of dollars’ in goods and services to our active troops. Learn how your support can strengthen the morale and well-being of our soldiers and their families.
Learn how to promote a sense of community, acceptance and support for military members, veterans and their families in your congregation.
The Society of Saint Anna the Prophet, a vowed, dispersed community of Episcopal women over the age of 50, will hold The Holy Eucharist and Vow Ceremony service at St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church in Atlanta on Saturday, Feb. 5, 2022, at 11 AM. Installation of our second Superior, Peggy Courtright, also will occur during the service. All are invited!
SSAP was founded in 2005 in Atlanta by our first Superior, the Rev. Nancy Baxter, and is recognized as a Christian Community under the canons of The Episcopal Church. The mission of SSAP is Godly aging, and ministry with the young and old, particularly with those not able to participate in a parish church.
Inspired by Anna, the only elder woman mentioned in the New Testament, we are lay and ordained, single, married, partnered and widowed, retired and still employed. We are dedicated to becoming a more diverse Society. We live in our own homes, in care centers and at a distance. Our vows to simplicity, creativity and balance are life-changing.
For more information or to contact us, visit our website at www.annasisters.org, or write to Marilyn Hughes, Director of Provisionals and Novices at SSAP, P.O. Box 15118, Atlanta, GA, 30333. Applicants must be confirmed Episcopalians, over the age of 50, with a heart for ministry to elders and children, a passion for discovering the gift of their own aging and a longing for intentional community.
Zion Episcopal Church in Talbotton, GA received the Chairman’s Award for Excellence in Restoration at the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation’s Annual Meeting held in Macon, Georgia on October 9th, 2021.
The Georgia Trust had identified Zion Church as a “Place in Peril” in 2011. Because Zion had no congregation, the Diocese deeded it to the Georgia Trust in 2019 who in turn deeded it to Zion Church Restoration, Inc., a non-profit. Georgia Trust holds a conservation easement. The outside of Zion was in critical condition. Bill Caudill Construction in Hamilton, GA and a St. Nicholas member did an incredible job of restoring Zion. The Restoration Cost was around $300,000. Funds were raised through various sources including a grant from Historic Columbus Foundation and generous individuals.
The Chattahoochee Valley Convocation and the Talbotton Community have been very supportive and encouraging throughout their efforts. There is so much more to tell about Zion’s revitalization and restoration. But be assured, 1848 Zion Episcopal Church is alive and well.