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Emory and Clark Atlanta Announce Legacy Project to Honor the Late Archbishop Tutu

ATLANTA – A gala tribute Wednesday to honor the late Archbishop Desmond Tutu was a pageant of song, praise, and dance that also included a surprise.

The presidents of Emory University and Clark Atlanta University announced a new program to continue Tutu’s life’s work in the city he called his “second home.”

The Archbishop Desmond Tutu Legacy Program will be operated jointly at Emory’s Candler School of Theology and Clark Atlanta’s W.E.B. Du Bois Center.

Details of the partnership are still being finalized, but both presidents said each institution will draw upon its strengths. At Candler, faculty and students will interface with communities. Clark Atlanta will do research.

“This legacy program in honor of Bishop Tutu is to bring two centers, one at Clark Atlanta, W.E.B. Du Bios Center, and the Justice, Peacebuilding, and Conflict Transformation program in the Candler school together for joint study, graduate student experiences, and thinking about the future,” said Emory President Gregory Fenvess.

Clark Atlanta President George French said the two institutions are committed to funding a long-term collaboration that will “look to tackle the social justice issues of our community between these two institutions.”

“We’re looking to raise quite substantial funds. We have an overall goal, an aspirational goal, of $1.3 million to kick off the program,” French said.

Tribute organizer Carl Ware said the Clark Atlanta-Emory partnership will be ground-breaking.

“This is unique as it is the first partnership between Emory University and Clark Atlanta University and will create a lasting legacy in education and preparation for those who will follow his teaching of reconciliation and restorative social justice,” Ware said.

Ware, then a senior Coca-Cola executive, and Tutu made history in the mid-80s when they persuaded the Atlanta-based company to divest its assets from South Africa until apartheid ended, and said the alliance will manifest itself as “scholarships, fellowships, teachings, exchanges, and a true partnership, the first between the two historical Atlanta institutions.”

The event included tributes from global civic and religious leaders and musical performances by Morehouse, Clark Atlanta, and Candler students as well as the South African Ndlovu Youth Choir.

Morehouse Glee Club

But the Rev. Naomi Tutu, one of the Archbishop’s four children, said the most poignant moments for her were the tributes by Atlantans who knew and loved her father.

“It was very moving for me to hear the tributes to my dad. Having spent time with him when he was here in Atlanta and knowing how much he really did feel that this city was a second home,” Rev. Tutu said.

“And it is really wonderful that this wasn’t going to be just an event to memorialize daddy, but to speak about what we can do to continue this work for justice and peace in our world.”

Tutu lived in Atlanta when he was a Visiting Professor at the Candler School of Theology from 1991-1992 and again from 1998-2000. The Nobel Prize Laureate died on December 26, 2021, in Cape Town, South Africa at the age of 90.

Rev. Tutu, a priest at Atlanta’s All Saints’ Episcopal Church, praised the two universities for creating an ongoing program.

“To have this partnership between two historic universities here in Atlanta – Emory which is a predominantly white institution and Clark Atlanta, a historically black university – is exactly the kind of work that would have, as daddy loved to say, warm the cockles of his heart. That this idea of coming together as institutions from different backgrounds, but remembering our shared humanity, and building on the legacy for generations to come.”

Andrew Young, a former mayor of Atlanta, Ambassador to the United Nations, and civil rights icon, said Archbishop Tutu was unlike any religious leader he has known.

“I’ve known– I might have known 25 or 30 Bishops. 10 Archbishop’s maybe,” Young said, “but none was like Desmond Tutu in the sense that, he explored the power of joy and humility.”

“I mean, how he would laugh and joke, not only in the midst of the suffering of the people, but when he had cancer and his own suffering he was just as humorous about that. And so, his familiarity with death, as part of life, was one of the reasons why he could remain joyful in the midst of all of that suffering. And he made other people laugh. He wouldn’t let us feel sorry for ourselves.”

Sue Haupert-Johnson, Bishop of the United Methodist Church in North Georgia and a member of the event planning team said Atlanta needs to double down on its motto.

“Atlanta has always been known as the city too busy to hate. And it prided itself on that. [But] Atlanta needs to get busier because the hatred has crept in. I mean, I don’t know about you, but I am inundated by political ads, day in and day out. And the level of hatred, the level of vitriol, the level of pitting us against them, the divisiveness, it just needs to stop. It’s tearing us all apart.

I happen to believe that God created us all and we have more in common than we do that divides us,” Haupert-Johnson said. “Why don’t we focus on what unites us, what we value, the well-being of our children, the well-being of our communities, and live into a better way. And I think Desmond Tutu reminds us that is the point.”

Sam Nunn, who served for 24 years as United States Senator from Georgia, was among those attending the tribute. He said for him, Tutu was a beacon of hope.

“Bishop Tutu was a very special person,” Nunn said. “I knew him for years. Every time I was with him, whether it was in the United States or South Africa or elsewhere, I came away feeling inspired. I came away feeling that the world had hope. I came away feeling that even in despair, you can retain your dignity and sense of humor. Bishop Tutu was a wonderful, wonderful leader. And an inspiration to mankind.”

Nunn said Tutu’s life is an example of how to break the nation’s current atmosphere of hate.

“Talk to each other, respect each other, treat each other with dignity. Disagree when you need to but do it with civility and do it with humor and do it with grace. That’s what Bishop Tutu showed us by example,” the 84-year-old former senator said.

The Rev. Lynne Washington, priest in charge at the Episcopal Church of the Incarnation in Atlanta, said that the speakers “reinspired” her.

“Yesterday was the 25th anniversary of my ordination to the priesthood and I had posted a picture of Archbishop Tutu and I at Bishops Court in South Africa,” Washington said. “I wasn’t going to come today, but the Holy Spirit said, ‘Come, go.’ And I could not be happier that I came because it has reinspired me.”

Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Michael B. Curry said he changed his schedule in order to attend the event where he issued the call to action during the tribute.

“When [Atlanta Episcopal] Bishop [Rob] Wright asked me to come and explained that the occasion was to commemorate Archbishop Tutu’s birthday, not simply as a birthday party, but as a recommitment, rededication to the work that Archbishop Tutu engaged in, I said, I have to come. And so, I rearranged my schedule to be able to be here because the work goes on. The work of following in the footsteps of Jesus in the way of love and justice and compassion and equality for all people. That is the work of the gospel. And that’s what Archbishop Tutu was about. And we must continue that work in our time and in our lives.”

Curry said people everywhere can and should become involved in carrying on the legacy of Archbishop Tutu.

“None of us can do everything, but everybody can do something. And if we do it by following in the footsteps of Jesus of Nazareth, then we will make a difference. Remember, Jesus only started out with 12 and changed the world. And with the power of the Spirit that helped him do that we can do the same in our time here in the Diocese of Atlanta, in the Episcopal Church, in this country, and in this world.”

Noting that next week is Atlanta’s annual Pride Week, Curry said that Archbishop Tutu was concerned for LGBTQ people.

“Well, you know, it is part of his legacy. I heard him preach a sermon on John 12:32 where Jesus says, ‘When I am lifted up from the Earth, I will draw all people unto me.’ He said, that means all people. Gay and straight, trans, all people. Conservative and liberal, all people. Black and white, brown, all people. When Jesus is lifted up, when God is lifted up, it draws the human family together. And that’s God’s dream and vision for the human family.”

Bishop Wright, who oversees the 117 worshiping communities of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta, recalled the first time he met Tutu.

“I met him at Emory University many years ago, I brought busloads of people to meet him.

All the important people had joined us there, but he spent the majority of his time with the youngest among us. They sensed some kind of magnetic warmth and acceptance in him.

He laughed on and on. And we, the important people, learned something that day about quiet, genuine greatness,” Wright recalled.

Don Plummer
Diocesan Beat Reporter
“Sharing the heartbeat of the diocese.”

Our Hispanic Heritage


Recordemos un poco de los comienzos de esta fecha memorable que empezó por celebrarse solamente como un festejo en 1968 y solo por una semana considerando las siguientes fechas: el 15 de septiembre, fecha en la que se celebra la independencia de Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras y Nicaragua– y 16 de septiembre y el 18 de septiembre –fechas en que México y Chile celebran su independencia.

Después en 1974 se emitió un llamado para estimular esta semana a las entidades educativas para llevar a cabo actividades apropiadas a esta fecha; veinte años más tarde “1988” apoyando esta festividad el presidente Ronald Reagan la extendió por un periodo de 31 días, desde el 15 de septiembre al 15 de octubre, no tan solo por un festejo sino para hacerlo como un reconocimiento mas alto a todos los estadounidenses de origen hispano, llamándose así “El mes nacional de la herencia hispana”.

Así es como Estados Unidos celebra hasta el día de hoy la cultura y raíces de todos los países hispanos para rendir homenaje a los logros de todos aquellos latinos que han traído a este país mas que una cultura, la esperanza de ser alguien en un país que ha sabido valorar nuestra riqueza.

Es un orgullo para mi ser mexicana y saber que vine a perseguir el sueño americano como muchos de nuestros hermanos, y doy gracias a USA por haberme acogido y por haberme dado la oportunidad de prosperar, traer mis raíces y mi cultura para compartir y lograr salir adelante.

El mensaje que envío en el día de hoy es que jamás olvidemos nuestras raíces, y que “Si se puede”


Let us remember a little about the beginnings of this memorable date that began to be celebrated in 1968 and only as a feast for one week considering the following dates: September 15, the date on which the independence of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua– and September 16 and September 18 – dates on which Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence.

Later, in 1974, a call was issued to stimulate educational entities that week to carry out activities appropriate to this date; twenty years later “1988” supporting this Feast President Ronald Reagan extended it for a period of 31 days, from September 15 to October 15, not only for a simple celebration but to do it as a higher recognition to all Americans of Hispanic origin, thus being called “National Hispanic Heritage Month”.

This is how the United States celebrates to this day the culture and roots of all Hispanic countries to pay tribute to the achievements of all those Latinos who have brought to this country more than a culture, the hope of being someone in a country that has known how to value our wealth.

It is a pride for me to be Mexican and to know that I came to pursue the American dream like many of our brothers and sisters, and I thank the USA for having welcomed me and for giving me the opportunity to prosper and bring my language and culture to them.

The message that I send today to all Latinos is that we should never forget our roots, and that “Si se puede”

The Rev. Irma (Mimi) Guerra was recently appointed by Bishop Rob Wright as Hispanic Missioner for the Diocese of Atlanta.

Bishop Appoints Bob Farrow as Lay Pastoral Leader

Bob Farrow
Bob Farrow, AIA, FHFI, MDiv

Bob is a member of St. Nicholas Episcopal Church in Hamilton, GA, where the bishop has appointed him as Lay Pastoral Leader.  He holds a Master of Divinity degree from Candler School of Theology.

Bob is a chaplain at Piedmont Fayette Hospital and President/CEO of the non-profit organization Health Facility Institute.  He serves on the Advisory Board of the Church of the Common Ground.

His professional career has spanned over four decades in the architectural field, with a mission of designing facilities that offer healing and wholeness of life – in our healthcare environs. This expertise has taken him across the world, from Alaska to Kuwait to China.

Bob is a national thought leader and frequent speaker/lecturer of design/healthcare trends at national conferences and academic venues such as SCAD, Clemson University, Georgia Institute of Technology, and Auburn University.

Bob’s call to ministry began in his early twenties and has always been founded on his deep faith in Jesus Christ and the theology of a God who is inclusive of all, offering divine love and redemption to everyone.

In his role as Pastoral Leader, Bob will be responsible for leading worship, including training others to lead the Daily Offices, preaching, and providing pastoral care and oversight for the congregation.

For People Welcomes Bishop Deon Johnson

“The opposite of faith isn’t doubt – it’s absolute certainty” – Bishop Deon Johnson

In this episode, Bishop Wright has a conversation with Bishop Deon Johnson, 11th Bishop of The Episcopal Diocese of Missouri. They talk about dignity and share stories of grandmothers and Bishop Deon’s favorite life lesson.

Bishop Deon also shares his good news of being a gay Black man in the highest level of leadership in The Episcopal Church. He speaks with kind candor to what he reads in the bible including its history and context.

Listen Here

Bishop Deon Kevin Johnson was elected on November 23, 2019 as the eleventh bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri. He was born in Saint Philip Parish in Barbados. He spent his Sundays with family in church. His family instilled a strong sense of cultural heritage and pride which he still cherishes to this day. He has remained close to his family, and attends family reunions every two to three years. Deon’s love of religion stems from his grandmother who was engaged in theology.

Deon and his brother decided to move to the United States when Deon was 14 years old. They moved in with their father in New York City until their mother came to the United States two years after their arrival. Upon arriving in the U.S., he had to adjust to the different cultures that he was introduced to. He quickly rose to the top of his class and was enrolled in AP and honor courses in high school. He credits his education in Barbados for his academic achievements in the U.S.

Deon has been with his partner for over ten years, and they have been happily married since 2018. They have two kids, a twelve-year-old and a ten-year-old and one godson who is nine years old. He loves spending time with his family and enjoys the fact that his mother is currently living with him and his family.

Deon’s dream for the church is that the church is where there are no outcasts. He wants people to know that they can gather and not feel uncomfortable. The church is a place that reflects God’s vision of the world, but he also realizes that the church often gets it wrong. He offers an apology to his LGBTQ siblings on behalf of the church. He wants to get it right and actively works toward bringing people to Christ on a daily basis.

The Wright House Now a Living, Breathing, Life-Giving Reality

ATHENS, GA – (September 14, 2022) A to-do list item that had eluded three successive Diocese of Atlanta bishops got checked off Wednesday as the new Episcopal chapel at the University of Georgia was consecrated.

Diocesan Bishop Rob Wright said his and his two predecessors’ dream of constructing a new Episcopal ministry facility at the state’s flagship university is now a “living, breathing, life-giving reality.”

“On the drive here today, I was talking with my (immediate) predecessor (retired Bishop Neil Alexander), and he said ‘Rob, Thank you for finally getting this off my to-do list’,” Wright said to laughter and applause from students and supporters in the chapel of the new ministry facility on the UGA campus.

The chapel is part of a five-story Episcopal facility with 123 bedrooms, onsite parking, bike storage, a fitness center, study spaces, an indoor common kitchen, and even a coffee bar. Named The Wright House in honor of Wright’s support for children, youth, and college ministries; the five-story complex also has extensive outdoor common areas adjacent to the building and on the green roof deck.

Wright gave special recognition of the service of two people who were not able to attend the celebration: The Rev. Canon Lang Lowery, who managed the seven-year project.

“It is because of his hard labor, steadfast perseverance, and generosity of spirit we have this roof over our heads.” And retired Canon for Finance and Administration Bonnie Burgess. “Bonnie, we know that it is because of your hard work and sharp pencil over the spreadsheet that we stand here.”

In addition to consecrating the chapel as a space for worship, Wednesday’s service also included blessing the chapel baptismal font, reception of a UGA pharmacy student into the Episcopal Church, and communion.

Wright said that he hopes and expects the facility, and its ministry will be a place of finding.

“That the people who walk through these doors are found. That they find themselves, they find friends, and they find the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ; a good and generous God with open arms to all of us.

“That they find God in the ways we Episcopalians hold Scripture, which is a God that loves us deeply, that we are beloved and so is everybody else and that calls us to be the bearers and heralds of good news. That’s what I hope happens in this place. That’s my expectation. That this is a commercial for a loving God,” Wright said.

“I want people to meet that God here and to be found and to know better and have a space to heal and to find their intellect and to find their purpose in life and to find direction, find colleagues and wise guys and people who care for their souls.

“As you know, some years ago the University of Georgia needed to be integrated. And you know that the two apostles of that good work were Charlene Hunter, now Charlene Hunter Gault, and Hamilton Holmes, now deceased. “Guess who I was talking to as I was driving out today – Hamilton Holmes, Jr. And I told him how proud I continue to be of his family and the sacrifices that they made – out of their deep Episcopalian faith.

“They thought this was the right place for him, and that the cost of him being here was worth the pain for the people downstream of him. I said, ‘You don’t think I’m going to say a word or two about you today?’ He said, ‘I don’t mind.’

“On this street (South Lumpkin) Hamilton Holmes was chased one night by some brothers and sisters clad in some sheets around human dignity and now this house gets to be on that street. A house that says to that street and any other street all God’s children have equal dignity, worth and value. Now, that friends, is a good tradition. So let us be known for that here. Let people feel that here by your words and by your example. All of us. Let’s radiate that here because that pleases God.

“[Jesus] said build things on a rock – that’s the rock. That’s the only thing that’s going to endure. When all the xenophobia and homophobia and all the other isms crash and crack at the end of everything the only thing that will be left standing is love. The most durable chemical element in the universe. So, let’s participate in it now. Just say ‘Why don’t you come to the party now? We’ve already won. Come to the party now!’”

The Wright House, which opened to students in August, is an innovative live, study, pray environment for students and a space to foster intentional living. Its on-site chaplain, chapel, and programs are for all UGA students as well as those living there. Learn More about the programs of the Episcopal Campus Ministry at UGA.

Financial rent assistance to underserved and marginalized students is available through The Wright House Foundation. Learn how you can contribute here.

The Wright House occupies the site of the former Episcopal Center and chapel in the heart of The University of Georgia campus at the corner of University Court and South Lumpkin Street. The street address is 980 S Lumpkin St Athens, GA 30605.

The Episcopal Campus Ministry at UGA is one of 11 campus ministries operated by The Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta. The diocese comprises 117 welcoming worshiping communities throughout middle and north Georgia. For more information about the Diocese and to find a church, school, or ministry near you, click here.


Don Plummer
Diocesan Beat Reporter
“Sharing the heartbeat of the diocese.”