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Diocese of Atlanta Ordains ‘Harvest Laborers’

Jun 22, 2024

June is a time associated with weddings, but it’s also when The Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta ordains new priests.

And like those joining together to live their lives, the four new priests committed themselves to being touchpoints for grace, forgiveness, and hope to those with whom they live out their ministries.

On Saturday, June 22, 2024, these new priests were ordained at The Cathedral of St. Philip by Bishop of Atlanta, The Rt. Rev Rob Wright who prayed they would focus on being harvest laborers, not plantation owners.

“You see, some of us want you to be a particular kind of Christian so that you can be a particular kind of priest. Some of us will pray that your heart will double in size. And your ability to see will widen and deepen. Some of us will pray that your focus will always be on your vocation and not simply your career.”

“Harvest labor is downward mobility. Down into the foundational things. Harvest labor, Jesus said, not plantation owning. Down into the fingernail dirty corners of the world where the poor live. Who don’t often make it into our sermons, down into the muck of human relationships,” Wright said.

The new priests launched into ministry across three states are:

The Reverend Caroline Mae Carter who will serve as Assistant Priest at St. Paul’s Memorial Church at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville, VA,

The Reverend Kathryn Claire Crewdson who will serve as Middle School Chaplain at Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School in Atlanta,

The Reverend Robert James Farrow who will serve as Priest-in-Charge at St. Nicholas Episcopal Church in Hamilton, GA, and

The Reverend Christopher P. McAbee who will serve as Associate Rector at St. Andrew’s Cathedral in Jackson, MS.

Holy orders have been growing in the Diocese of Atlanta. Last June, 11 priests took their ordination vows in the largest ordination of priests in The Diocese of Atlanta in the past decade.

Bishop Wright said at the time that the number of new priests reflected the growth in Holy Orders in the 8th largest of the 110 dioceses of the Episcopal Church.

Wright said it was also important that those ordained were younger than in The Episcopal Church at large and the 20 Southern dioceses.

“We learned from a recent report from the Church Pension Group that our diocese is outperforming The Episcopal Church at large and even Province Four in two very important metrics: in ordaining younger priests and in that pay parity between male and female priests in the Diocese of Atlanta is closing rapidly,” Wright said.

And new ministries are not confined to the priesthood.

On January 27, 2024, Bishop Wright commissioned 18 lay ministers from 15 parishes.

Bishop Wright said the commissioning of laity to ongoing Diocesan roles stems from baptism.

“Everything we do today. Commissioning of lay folks. Is downstream of baptism. It’s an expression of baptism. By water and the Spirit, Christ Jesus has been revealed to us. Good news of the gospel entrusted to us, and then we live it out, lay or ordained,” Wright said.

To support the expansion of licensed lay ministries, the Diocese in 2022 held the first Formation for All the Baptized (FAB) to prepare people to be licensed lay ministers.

The Diocese has put resources and emphasis on the increase of community and congregations through its Office of Congregational Vitality.

At Saturday’s ordination, Wright asked that ordained clergy and commissioned lay ministers take to heart Jesus’ admonition to join him in the fields.

“Harvest is Jesus’s purpose for those who would call him Lord lay and ordained. Part of this is how Jesus invites us into clarity about whose and what we are in this confusing world, Wright said.

“You know what I’m talking about today. The working poor. The food insecure. Those in jail with no money for bail, the ones without health care. The elderly, the alone and scared. Teenagers who only dream of ending their lives. Jesus looks at them and calls them Harvest. He has compassion for them, so he wants for them a trustworthy shepherd. He sees their needs and wants to mobilize his followers. That’s what today is all about.”

Watch Bishop Wright’s sermon from the ordination below…

View the Photo Album from the Service

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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Phone: 770-695-6260