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Licensed Lay Ministers Commissioned

Feb 1, 2023

Licensed for Diocesan lay ministries:

Paul Davison, All Saints in Warner Robins; Cory DeBord, St. Clement; Bliss Peterson, Church of the Annunciation; Thomas Reynolds, St. Aidan; Jack Setters, St Mark in Dalton; Philbert Smith, St. Julian; Nicole Walters, St. Paul’s, Newnan.

Commissioned as lay pastoral care givers:

Mary Koblasz, St. Clement; Debra Bruner-Smith, St. Francis; Tommie Thompson-Zaher, Holy Comforter; Dan Burrows, St. Columba; Kristen Lawler, St. James in Cedartown; Mary Kyle, St. Luke’s in Atlanta; Bobbie Giltner, St. Peter and St. Paul; Pamela Robinson, St. Peter and St. Paul.

Bishop Rob Wright on January 28 commissioned lay ministers from 14 parishes.

Seven were licensed to serve throughout the Diocese of Atlanta as preachers, worship leaders, eucharistic ministers, eucharistic visitors, and catechists. Eight others were commissioned by Bishop Wright to serve as lay pastoral caregivers.

During the commissioning service at the Cathedral of St. Philip in Atlanta, Wright began his sermon by saying “we got something right here today.

“We paused to affirm and lift up – for anybody who is paying attention – lay ministry in the Diocese of Atlanta, Wright said.

“We have been doing [lay ministry] in the Diocese, but today we do something different. We take a next step. We have a formal commissioning service. It is a step that Wright, now in his 11th year as bishop of Atlanta, said he wished he done “on day one.”

Those licensed have completed The Diocese of Atlanta’s FAB (Formation for All the Baptized) School for Ministry launched in April 2022. FAB oversees the formation and licensure process for lay ministries. Licensure allows a person to serve in their sponsoring parish and in other parishes in the Diocese that would benefit from their ministries.

FAB was created to provide consistent training for lay ministers as authorized by the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church, said The Rev. Canon John Thompson-Quartey, Canon for Ministry and Congregational Vitality for the Diocese.

The process for licensing of lay ministers is like the process for preparing deacons and priests for ordination, Thompson-Quartey said. Both begin in the parish with support from that community of faith, the endorsement from the clergy who will exercise oversight, and the vestry.

Lay ministry applicants begin their discernment by identifying their gifts for ministry and identifying their next steps toward a vocational calling. They then meet with the Diocesan Commission on Ministry to share the results of their discernment and continue to formation.

Formation is provided through the FAB School’s partnerships with Bexley Seabury Seminary and Community of Hope International represented in the Southeast by Sarah Roberts, a member of the Diocese at St. Mary & St. Martha’s in Buford.

After completing the formation program participants meet again with the Commission on Ministry to share the results of their formation before being recommended for commissioning by the Bishop as a licensed lay minister during a Diocesan service. See a more detailed explanation of the process.

Speaking directly to those he commissioned, Wright said, “I can’t wait to see the trouble you start in the Diocese of Atlanta!”

Waiting a beat for the laughter to ripple through those at the service, Wright continued.

“And, by trouble, I mean (the late Georgia U.S Representative) John Lewis’ version of trouble – good trouble.”

The next discernment group for lay ministry begins April 26th. Contact Missioner for Congregational Vitality Sally Ulrey for information.

“Besides being a way to support parishes, we also see this as a way to affirm what God is already doing in the lives of the lay ministers in our Diocese,” said Sally Ulrey, Missioner for Congregational Vitality. “By giving them access to excellent training and recognizing their ministries in a Diocesan liturgy, it also increases the impact of their ministries across the whole Diocese,” Ulrey said.

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

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