The Logo of The Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta - Purple Crest with Bishop's Mitre

Make Me an Instrument of Your Salvation

Aug 1, 2021

“…make me an instrument of your salvation for the people entrusted to my care, and grant that I may faithfully administer your holy Sacraments, and by my life and teaching set forth your true and living Word.”
BCP page 563

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

As most of you probably know I have for the past several months been assigned by the Bishop to provide pastoral support for the congregation of St. Mary and St. Martha of Bethany in Buford. Since mid-April, I have been acting as a temporary Interim Priest there. At this time I am happy to say that on Sunday 15th August The Rev. Laura Masterson will become Priest-in-Charge.

For obvious reasons therefore I have been somewhat preoccupied with the responsibilities of a parish priest and less able to fulfill my normal role as Canon Chaplain. After August 15th that role will resume and I will again be traveling throughout the Diocese and responding to requests for my presence with you, my colleagues.

The experience of these past months has been rich and rewarding for me. It has been valuable to return to the ministry of a particular parish and to worship regularly with a known congregation.

The circumstances that brought me together with the people of St. Mary and St. Martha were, for them, extremely painful and distressing. They lost their Rector somewhat suddenly and unexpectedly over a year ago and, more recently, their Assistant. However, in the face of this, the faithful came together with the leadership of a very committed Vestry and with the spiritual and practical support of their Bishop and Diocese, in a manner that has become positive and hopeful. While several families left the parish, as a matter of individual choice and conscience, they did so with my blessing and the goodwill of their friends and fellow parishioners – leaving a door open for their return to a welcoming community. In fact over the past few weeks, several have.

Without in any way diminishing the painful significance of these events, or the level of grief shared, the members of this church have discovered a sense of renewed purpose and commitment for their future which, in my experience, is rare. Our prayers for the guidance and power of the Holy Spirit have been answered in many collective and individually beautiful ways. There is joy amongst our worshippers and gratitude which is palpable.

I am looking forward to the arrival of Laura with her welcome assured and with many offers of re-activated lay ministry.

This letter, I hope, conveys my renewed faith in our Church’s energy and spirit. It has been so very good to be given the opportunity to see this in action in one of our congregations – despite Covid, financial setbacks, and many other losses.

We are truly living here and now in the context of Jesus’s healing power and, as in Sunday’s gospel, we have “touched even the fringe of His cloak.”

Please be in touch. I am ‘open.’

Blessings and Peace,

From The Rev. Canon John Bolton

Canon Chaplain for Clergy
(404) 402-7599