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2023 in Review Mobile

2023 was a year of challenges.

Turkey and Syria were struck by a catastrophic 7.8 magnitude earthquake that killed 59,259 people. The two-year conflict between Russia and Ukraine intensified, Israel launched a full-scale war on HAMAS in Palestinian Gaza, wildfires devastated Greece, Hawaii, and Canada, politics ramped up its status as a contact sport, and July 4 was the earth’s hottest day since at least 1979, with a global average temperature of 62.92°F (17.18°C).

But the year also brought out the best in the people of The Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta.

Here is a sampling:


Committing to Reform Our Criminal Justice System

Jan 25, 2023

A national conference on how people of faith can work to end mass incarceration attended by 300 sparked parishioners from St. Luke’s, Holy Comforter, and All Saints’ in Atlanta and St. Patrick’s Dunwoody to gather with members of Trinity Presbyterian Church, Ebenezer Baptist, and The Temple in Atlanta to identify concrete actions to reduce the number of people harmed by our nation’s criminal justice system.

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St. George’s Episcopal Church’s Tornado Response

Jan 27, 2023

When Deacon Julie O’Neill heard the storm warning sirens, she first made sure her family was safe, then began checking in with the staff and congregation of Saint George’s Episcopal Church in Griffin. They were safe, but others were not. That’s when O’Neill learned about the heart of St. George’s parishioners for their neighbors.

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Licensed Lay Ministers Commissioned

Feb 1, 2023

Commissioning of Lay Ministers

Bishop Rob Wright commissioned lay ministers from 14 parishes. Some would serve throughout the Diocese of Atlanta as preachers, worship leaders, eucharistic ministers, eucharistic visitors, and catechists. Others were commissioned to serve as lay pastoral caregivers. All had completed The Diocese of Atlanta’s first Formation for All the Baptized School for Ministry launched in April 2022.

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“God Links” Help Marietta Parish to Sponsor Family of Five from Ukraine

Feb 14, 2023

The Episcopal Church of the Annunciation helped a Ukrainian family reunite and find safety from war by providing housing, transportation and connecting the family to refugee services. The parish used funds they had been unable to spend on an annual summer program for underprivileged children because of COVID-19 restrictions. A parishioner agreed to become a sponsor certified by the U.S. State Department’s United for Ukraine (U4U) program. Other churches and nonprofits lined up to fill the gaps.

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Parish Partners with Community to Turn Derelict House into Haven for Homeless Families

Mar 2, 2023

Sometimes a gift can become a burden. That was the case for St. Edward’s Episcopal Church when a gifted property began requiring more upkeep than the parish could afford. It had for years been useful as a space for group meetings, classes, and other church gatherings. But it needed major work. Some members argued for selling the home and grounds to provide financial relief for the parish. Others said relinquishing the home would be a mistake.

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Norcross Church Holds Bilingual Palm Sunday Service

Apr 5, 2023

Bilingual Worship

On Palm Sunday, Christ Church Episcopal in Norcross held its first bilingual Palm Sunday service. For The Rev. Irma (Mimi) Guerra the day marked an important milestone. “One of my dreams/visions since I started attending services in 1998 was to see all this diverse groups of families attending services at different times because of language barriers, attending just one service and being united as one,” Guerra said. Guerra said it was also something she has worked toward since becoming Priest Associate to the Iglesia de Cristo congregation at Christ Church in 2018.

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Discovering Atlanta’s Lost African American Communities

Apr 17, 2023

A set of steps on Northside Drive were clearly the remnants of someone’s home, but these steps to nothing prompted Dr. Georgianne Thomas to wonder: Who lived here and where did they go? That question led Thomas on a quest that resulted in identifying more than two dozen African American communities that she argues in a new video and monograph were bulldozed without regard to their contributions to Atlanta. The video and accompanying research documents were produced with financial support from the Absalom Jones Episcopal Center for Racial Healing where Thomas is a Bishop Barbara C. Harris Fellow.

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Diocese Restarts Annual Pilgrimage to Ghana After 3-Year Pandemic Pause

Apr 27, 2023

Pilgrims from The Diocese of Atlanta took a journey of discovery, where they got to know the people and history of Ghana’s Cape Coast. The annual pilgrimages began in 2017 as part of Atlanta’s companion relationship with the Anglican Diocese of Cape Coast. After being postponed for three years by the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s trip took pilgrims to religious, cultural, and historic sites and nonprofit organizations. Lay pilgrims worshiped and clergy officiated at parishes throughout Cape Coast. And the group joined Cape Coast Bishop, The Rt. Rev. Dr. Victor Reginald Atta-Baffoe for Evensong.

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Two New Hispanic Congregations Launched

May 12, 2023

New Episcopal Hispanic congregations in the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta held their first services the last weekend of April. The gatherings were “a dream come true,” said Diocese of Atlanta Missioner for Hispanic Ministries The Rev. Irma Nohemi Guerra. The two new congregations bring the number of diocesan Hispanic worshiping communities to thirteen.

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The Episcopal Community Foundation Grants $67,100 to Fight Poverty

Jun 1, 2023

The Episcopal Community Foundation for Middle and North Georgia announced four grants this spring to St. Clare’s Episcopal Church (Blairsville), Clubhouse Atlanta (Dunwoody), Emmaus House (Atlanta), and Family Promise of Hall County (Gainesville).

“We are thrilled to support such impactful partnerships with these churches and nonprofit organizations,” said Mary-Kay Boler, Chair of the Board of Directors for ECF. “We are confident these grant recipients, along with the many churches and community organizations who have received over $5 million to date from ECF, will achieve our shared vision of eliminating poverty and oppression throughout Middle and North Georgia.”

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UPDATE: The foundation awarded grants this fall to SafeHouse Ministries (Elberton), St. David’s Episcopal Church (Roswell), Memorial Drive Ministries (Decatur), Impact West Georgia (Carrollton), and Rainbow Village (Duluth). See details at Grant Recipients | Episcopal Community Foundation.


Grow2B Community Garden Raising Funds to Fight Food Insecurity

Jun 20, 2023

A local nonprofit is growing an urban garden for the benefit of families in and around Gwinnett County distressed by food insecurity. Grow2B, founded by members of St. Mary and Martha of Bethany Episcopal Church, shares its bounty with families in need while its volunteers advocate for the hungry, implement regenerative agricultural practices that care for the land, and educate about how to better serve their neighbor and self. Now in its second year the garden is on track to generate about 1000 pounds of produce.

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Second $100,000 Grant Awarded The Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta to Expand LeadersCARE

Jun 22, 2023

The Diocese of Atlanta received a second $100,000 grant from New York’s Trinity Wall Street Episcopal Church to expand its innovative LeadersCARE program for lay leaders in small churches, especially those without permanent or full-time clergy, to learn practices for formation, discernment, and strategic planning and goal setting. The initial 2022 grant, funded development and piloting of the program which focuses on teaching spiritual practices designed to help leaders discern and then enact what God is calling them to do next. The second grant will be used to scale up the training in the remaining 17 dioceses of Province IV.

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Christ Church Norcross and Other Churches Attend Gwinnett Pride to Proclaim God’s Love for All

Jun 22, 2023

Members of Christ Church in Norcross offered a welcoming presence on June 1st at the 2nd annual Gwinnett Pride event. Christ Church vestry member Wes Quesenberry, who coordinated the pride event for the church, described his 55-year-old parish as open and affirming. “We’re open to everybody no matter your age, race, gender, national origin or sexual identity,” Quesenberry said. “Just a big family, a welcoming family so just come out and see what we’re all about!” But not everyone was pleased.

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Ordination of Eleven New Priests Reflects Growth in the Diocese of Atlanta

June 27, 2023

The nave of The Cathedral of St. Philip was nearly full on a recent Saturday as 11 priests took their ordination vows. It was the largest ordination of priests in The Diocese of Atlanta in the past decade, reflecting the growth in Holy Orders in the 8th largest of the 110 dioceses of the Episcopal Church.

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For Faith & For People Welcomes Special Contributors

July 6, 2023

Throughout the month of July, four special contributors wrote Bishop Wright’s weekly devotional and appeared on For People. The four selected included The Rev. Lauara Masterson, Priest in Charge, St. Mary and Martha Buford; Canon Sally Ulrey, Canon for Congregational Vitality; The Very Rev. Dr Horace Griffin, Associate Priest of Pastoral Care at St. Luke’s Atlanta; and Luke Netto, Commission Chair of The Commission on Youth Ministry.

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Episcopal Center for Racial Healing Announces Search for New Executive Director

Jul 13, 2023

The Absalom Jones Episcopal Center for Racial Healing is seeking a new director as part of a planned transition. The new executive will succeed the Center’s founding Executive Director Dr. Catherine Meeks who will retire at the end of 2023. Meeks, who has led the Center since its inception in 2017, will become executive director emeritus. While stepping away from daily management, Meeks will continue to advise the Center.

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The Rev. Ken Struble to Retire

Jul 21, 2023

The Rev. Ken Struble to retire after serving as Executive Director at Camp Mikell for 21 years. If there’s been one constant over the past two decades at Camp Mikell, it has been that Ken Struble was giving his unconditional love. From greeting summer campers with a smile and a hug, to welcoming retreat guests, to caring deeply for his staff, to keeping a healthy budget even in the most challenging years, Ken has given his all in all that he has undertaken.

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Diocese of Atlanta Summer Programs Increase Literacy

Aug 7, 2023

Literacy School

The Diocese of Atlanta supports programs that help children with few resources become good readers. At Atlanta’s Emmaus House this summer 65 children participated in the 8th annual Children’s Defense Fund Freedom Schools® program. The goal of the six-week enrichment program is to develop literate, empowered children in Atlanta’s Peoplestown community. In Macon, the Free to Read® summer enrichment program operated by Appleton Episcopal Ministries served 30 children from the city’s poorest neighborhoods. Both programs have been proven to reverse summer vacation reading loss.

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Parish Celebrates Parishioner’s donation of 1,000 Hand Painted Chairs

Aug 16, 2023

A ministry of love by artist John Seigel was recognized as Seigel and his husband, John Tempelton, carried the 1,000th chair he had hand painted and given away down the aisle during the offertory. St. James’ Episcopal Church Priest-In-Charge The Rev. Sam Buice said that when he had visited Seigel and his husband before the service to talk about the chairs Seigel pulled out seven albums containing pictures of each of the 1000 chairs given over the past 25 years. Seigel said the conversation reminded him of how his journey of compassion began.

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New Leader Welcomed to St. Martin’s Episcopal School

Aug 21, 2023

Bishop Rob Wright joined a gathering of students, families, and supporters to officially welcome Maria Croley Madden as St. Martin’s Episcopal School’s new leader. Madden, a 17-year school educator, is only the 4th Head of School in St. Martin’s 63-year history. She succeeds Dr. Luis A. Ottley, who is now Head of School at the 122-year-old St. Paul Academy in Minnesota. As Head of School, Madden is responsible for the overall management of St. Martin’s more than 650 students and approximately 150 faculty and staff. Madden comes to St. Martin’s after three years as head of the middle school at Heathwood Hall Episcopal School in Columbia, S.C. Previously she held administrative, teaching, and coaching positions at Lovett School in Atlanta, for more than 13 years.

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St. Benedicts Releases New Podcast About Planting Seeds

Aug 26, 2023

St. Benedict’s Episcopal School announced the launch of its podcast, “Planting Seeds: Cultivating Critical Thinking, Creativity, Community, and Lifelong Learning.” This limited series, hosted by the Head of School, Father Brian Sullivan, will provide an intimate glimpse into St. Benedict’s community and experience through the voices of guests, including alums, parents, faculty, and staff. Tune in to the Planting Seeds podcast series on all major podcast networks. Spanning eight episodes, the podcast series will take listeners on a journey, exploring the educational growth that students experience at St. B’s.

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The Rev. Hazel Smith Glover Named Interim Executive Director of Camp Mikell

Sep 18, 2023

The Mikell Board of Governors announced that Bishop Rob Wright has appointed The Rev. Hazel Smith Glover as Mikell’s interim executive director. Hazel has a long history at Mikell; as a lifelong Episcopalian, she has been a camper, Adventure Camp and Kid Camp dean, and Mikell board member. Hazel was ordained a priest in 1993 and recently retired after 30 years in parish ministry.

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Clergy Conference 2023 – A New Approach

Sep 20, 2023

Clergy Conference 2023

The annual Clergy Conference held at Rock Eagle Conference Center was an example of how The Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta is doing new things. Bishop Rob Wright introduced the new approach to the 125 clergy attending. Instead of following the format of prior gatherings – learning from inspiring speakers from around the world – this conference would focus on the gifts and needs of clergy. “It occurred to me after passing the decade mark (as bishop) that it wouldn’t be a bad idea to just be here with you; to be together as bishop and clergy,” Wright said. “The only ask is that you sit with some ideas.”

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New Deacons Bring ‘Real World’ Experience to Their Roles

Oct 26, 2023

Two deacons ordained at the Cathedral of St. Philip bring years of experience serving others to their new roles in the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta. Tommie Thompson-Zaher will serve as deacon at Atlanta’s Church of the Common Ground while Debra Bruner-Smith will be the deacon at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Milledgeville. The Venerable Carole Maddux, an archdeacon of the Diocese, said the two bring needed real-world experience to their roles. “As the Church moves into the future, we find it is more a future beyond the walls of the parish and into the lives and needs of the world. This is the realm of the deacon—an order called to lead the Church and her people into service in the world and to tell the Church the needs of the world,” Maddux said.

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For People Welcomes Archbishop Hosam E. Naoum, Bishop in Jerusalem

Nov 6, 2023

The recent news of the violence and murder of thousands of people in Palestine and Israel has sent shockwaves around the world. In this very special episode of For People, Bishop Wright has a conversation with Archbishop Hosam E. Naoum, the Anglican Archbishop in Jerusalem.

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The 117th Annual Council Recap

Nov 16, 2023

Bishop Wright Speaking

Three years after the COVID-19 outbreak disrupted everyone’s life the people of The Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta have emerged stronger, more adaptive, and more able to confront epic changes brought by the pandemic. The most visible example of this was a gathering at The Cathedral of St. Philip in Atlanta where more than 500 delegates to the Diocese’s 117th Annual Council leaned in to learning new ways of being church.

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Documentary on History of Racial Healing in the Diocese of Atlanta Premieres

Dec 12, 2023

A video tracing the evolution of race relations in the Diocese of Atlanta premiered December 5 at The Absalom Jones Episcopal Center for Racial Healing.

The 40-minute documentary “Racial Healing in the Diocese of Atlanta. A Partial History,” spans 60 years in which the diocese evolved from keeper of the status quo to champion for inclusion.

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‘New’ Tradition Spreads Throughout Diocese

Dec 20, 2023

A 400-year-old tradition is taking root in parishes throughout The Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta. It’s the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, otherwise known as the Virgin of Guadalupe, celebrated on and around Dec. 12. This year, St. Bede’s Atlanta, Christ Church Norcross, St Jude’s Smyrna, St. Augustine Morrow, Holy Innocents’, Atlanta, and El Buen Pastor Austell were among those celebrating the feast with services, Mariachi, traditional Hispanic food, and reenactments of 16th Century Chichimec peasant Juan Diego receiving visions of Our Lady of Guadalupe. While millions of people make a pilgrimage to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City every year, the celebration is relatively recent among Episcopal parishes in the Diocese.

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Here’s a complete list of Diocesan articles.

Don Plummer is the beat reporter for The Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta. If you have story ideas, please reach out to Don.

“Sharing the heartbeat of the diocese.”

Phone: 770-695-6260

Email: dplummer@episcopalatlanta.org