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Looking Back on 2022

Looking Back on 2022

2022 was a year that brought a return to in-person worship and gatherings, recognition of racial healing work, new ministries, and educational resources in The Diocese of Atlanta.

Innovations launched by The Diocese during COVID – such as Imagine Worship, For People with Bishop Rob Wright, Beloved, and other online offerings – continued to be relevant ways of reaching youth, young adults, and those unaffiliated with a religious tradition.

The following is a sampling of news about The Diocese.

 

Growing in the Wilderness

In February Bishop Wright invited our diocese to keep a Holy Lent in a 5-part video series: Growing in the Wilderness. The pandemic feels like wilderness, but God does amazing things in the wilderness, even when the wilderness stretches on for a while! These are all…

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New School for Lay Ministry

The Office of Congregational Vitality is pleased to announce the School for Lay Ministry! The Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church charge each diocese to “make provision for the affirmation and development of the ministry of all baptized persons, …

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Parish Rallies Community to Buy Tractor for Substance Recovery Center Garden

A HeartBeat Story

“Here it comes!” the excited group called out as they watched the new Kubota garden tractor and attachments roll into the driveway of Victory Home. The tractor’s arrival marked the culmination of a fast and furious…

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Holy Innocents School

Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School New Building

The parking lot at Holy Innocents’ Episcopal School in Sandy Springs overflowed Friday with hundreds of faculty and students. Students grouped from preschool to 12th grade stood shoulder to shoulder shouting school slogans as they waited for the new Lower School…

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Diocese of Atlanta Congregations Go to College

Diocese of Atlanta lay, and clergy enrolled in a new two-year intensive program are learning how to strengthen and grow healthy parishes. Thirty-four parishioners and priests from 11 congregations attended the second annual Diocese of Atlanta…

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New Hispanic Missioner

The Rev. Irma (Mimi) Guerra has been appointed by Bishop Rob Wright as Hispanic Missioner for the Diocese of Atlanta. As Hispanic Missioner, Rev. Guerra will coordinate all Hispanic ministries in the Diocese. She succeeds The Rev. Canon Isaías A. Rodríguez, who will…

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Bishop Rob Wright and Dr. Catherine Meeks

Absalom Jones Episcopal Center for Racial Healing Founder Receives Presidential Award

Dr. Catherine Meeks, founding executive director of the Absalom Jones Episcopal Center for Racial Healing, on August 26, received The President Joseph R. Biden Lifetime Achievement Award and the Presidential Volunteer Service Award. …

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Learning Program Bridges the “Summer Slide” for At-Risk Students

The Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta is celebrating the ongoing impact of its Children’s Defense Fund’s Freedom Schools® summer programs in Atlanta and Macon. Bishop Rob Wright said both programs have proven to close the achievement gap by improving literacy and learning…

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Diocese of Atlanta Youth Clamor to Work At Camp Mikell

Of the seven summer camps at Camp Mikell, Work Camp is unlike any of the other sessions. First, while the other six are gatherings for relaxing, singing, skits, swimming, hiking, and making new friends for life, Work Camp is, well, work. Each year…

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

A to-do list item that had eluded three successive Diocese of Atlanta bishops got checked off as the new Episcopal chapel at the University of Georgia was consecrated. Diocesan Bishop Rob Wright said his and his two…

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For People with Bishop Rob Wright: A Conversation on Suicide Prevention

Suicide is a leading cause of death in the United States, but it’s rarely discussed in a productive and open way. This episode of For People introduces Keep/Watch, a new suicide prevention workbook and training from the…

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Deacons Bring Varied Experiences to Their Assignments

Bishop Rob Wright has assigned five new deacons ordained on October 8th to parishes within the Diocese of Atlanta. The five new deacons will join 16 other permanent deacons in the Diocese of Atlanta. Maddux said she and Archdeacons Juan Sandoval and Janet Tidwell want to add more. …

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Diocese Exhibits Big Welcome at Pride 2022

The Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta seized the opportunity offered by 2022’s resumption of in-person Pride Week to increase its longstanding support with new print ads, videos, and banners.

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Regathering, Adapting, and Experimenting

After two years of pandemic-induced online sessions, Episcopalians from throughout Middle and North Georgia gathered in person on November 11 and 12 for the 116th Annual Council of the Diocese of Atlanta…

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Cedartown Priest Becomes Diocese’s First Coast Guard Chaplain

While there are other Episcopal priests in the Diocese who serve as chaplains to police and fire, hospitals, schools, and retirement homes, Anderson is one of only two focused on the military. …

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Find a complete list of 2022 articles.

Serve Pickens, Holy Family’s Day of Service, Named DDM’s Volunteer of the Year

Serve Pickens, Holy Family’s Day of Service, Named DDM’s Volunteer of the Year

Serve Pickens, Holy Family’s inaugural one day of service for Pickens County nonprofits was honored to be named Volunteer of the Year by the Developmental Disabilities Ministry for its work at its Pickens County group home for men. Parish members Kathy and Richard Hall led a team that painted the exterior of the home.

DDM operates 18 group homes for men and women throughout GA.

Terry Franzen and Leamarie True, Serve Pickens Co-chairs, and Margo Austin, the Jasper First Baptist Church member who recommended DDM to Serve Pickens accepted the award from Ryan Whitmyer, DDM’s CEO, at DDM’s Christmas banquet.

Many residents and staff attended the event where it was very apparent that love for the residents is at the center of DDM’s work.

Beloved | Holle’s Story

Beloved | Holle’s Story

See All Beloved Stories »

To be beloved, is to be loved unconditionally by God. It is both knowing and receiving God. It is openness to the Spirit’s work, which leads to incredible stories worth telling.

Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God.

1 John 4:7

Beloved is a series from The Offices of Communications and Digital Evangelism focused on sharing the stories of God’s beloved. These are stories of love, belonging, and seeing God in the world. It’s testimony of the heart in a broken world.

Holle was raised in another denomination that left her with lots of questions about where a person with mental health sits with God. When it can be a daily struggle to feel God’s love. Her story is one of finding the hope of God through therapy and coming to know that even in the dark, God is with us.

Acworth Parish Draws Nearly 600 to Annual Live Nativity

Acworth Parish Draws Nearly 600 to Annual Live Nativity

St. Teresa’s Episcopal Church’s 12th Annual Live Nativity Celebration on December 17th drew hundreds of visitors from the sprawling northwest Cobb Brookstone development and beyond.

The outdoor presentation has become a must-do Christmas event for families to see and hear the story of the Nativity complete with live animals and a narration of the Biblical story of the birth of Jesus.

It’s an event that sprang from a near tragedy. In 2011, a member of St. Teresa’s suffered a heart attack while swimming at the nearby YMCA. Thanks to the quick reaction and training of the lifeguard on duty, he was saved.  Afterward he and his wife and other parishioners decided God’s divine hand was in the man’s rescue and recovery and wanted to find a way to give back. They came up with the idea of the “Live Nativity Celebration – A Gift to the Community.”

Each year members of the Live Nativity committee volunteer to write the script, figure out the music, make the many costumes, find a way to raise money for the event, and bake cookies to give out, said Nativity director Janie Watson.

“It is a way for us to give back to the community and we love doing it,” she said. “We all put our hearts and our souls into doing it and its our way of showing everybody what Christmas is.”

A few things have changed over the years, but Watson said it remains St. Teresa’s Gift to the Community and the parish’s way of celebrating the birth of Christ.

Many families come every year because it is such an important part of their Christmas tradition. Watson said the Nativity is a great volunteer opportunity for giving back and having fellowship with our community.

Brookstone resident Randy Martin said his family looks forward to the annual event.

“I think for the church it’s a great outreach,” Martin said as he and his wife, daughter and son warmed around the outdoor fire pit. “It gives more insight into the Biblical teachings of the birth of Christ, and I think it’s good for the community,” Martin said.

Hospitality organizer Rositha Blake said she and others who provided hot chocolate and cookies didn’t know what size crowd to expect due to public health concerns over this year’s surging Flu and lingering Covid-19 cases.

“We didn’t know what to expect, but it’s been a good crowd, so I can’t wait to see what the number is,” Blake said as visitors were being served in the church’s parish hall. The crowd, tallied at 580, certainly confirmed Blake’s assessment of the one-night event.

Parishioner Jessica Kirchner who welcomed each of the 580 guests as they arrived said that number doesn’t include “48 volunteers, six shows, two unruly goats, one boisterous camel, and a partridge in a pear tree.”

Learn more about St. Teresa’s at their website.

Cedartown Priest Becomes Diocese’s First Coast Guard Chaplain

Cedartown Priest Becomes Diocese’s First Coast Guard Chaplain

Kemper AndersonThe Rev. Kemper Anderson says becoming a Coast Guard chaplain is a continuation of his path to the ministry and his second Coast Guard tour of duty.

“I had a ball in the Coast Guard for 23 years. And I’m currently a reservist. I joined in ‘89. And I had been a police officer at that point for about seven years. So, all of the 23 years were kind of concurrent with my police career. So, all of that came to an end when I went to seminary in 2012,” Anderson said during a phone interview from Nashville where he and his wife were celebrating their 30th anniversary.

After 9/11 Anderson’s Coast Guard affiliation provided an avenue into the priesthood that he had been seeking since his twenties.

“During Operation Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, I worked the military loadout mostly out of Jacksonville. And so, just about two years, I was on active duty down there. And the cool thing is, is that, you know, the serendipitous part of that earned me the post 9/11 GI Bill, which paid for seminary.”

Anderson, who will continue to serve St. James Episcopal Church in Cedartown where he has been rector since 2015, said he first felt called to ordained ministry in the early 1980s.

“And like a lot of young 20 somethings, the word I got from the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta was sounds promising but wait. ‘We look for folks with a little more life experience, a little more gray around the temples.’ So, you know, maybe get a job, finish school, start a family, see where the call leads.”

Anderson said he took that advice but said the need to make a living took him down an unlikely career path.

“Policing was the most unlikely career path for me to take. If you had asked me to write down the 100 most likely career paths policing would not have been on them. But I needed a job and needed to support my family. So, it worked out. I was good for policing and policing was good for me.”

By 2011, Anderson’s career path had brought him back to exploring the path to ordained ministry.

“Both in policing and in the Coast Guard, the more senior I got, in a very real way, my work became more pastoral. I had a whole lot less to do with the actual down and dirty police work and the actual technical Coast Guard work. My work was with people. I started moving into a more pastoral role very gradually, as I advanced on both my career fronts.

“And so, when I came back, you know, after being told that, you know, the church was looking for folks who had a little more life experience, grayer around the temples, and went back to the diocese, and they said, ‘Well, you know, we’re looking for younger people.’ I said you’re killing me. You’re killing me. But anyway, God had a lot of work to do with me. And I have grown to understand that I’ve been in discernment, really, for a whole lot longer than when I entered the formal process for the diocese. I’ve been in discernment since at least the early 1980s.”

When Anderson left active duty in the Coast Guard, in 2012 he had an encounter with a superior officer that brought Anderson back to the Coast Guard as a chaplain.

“The Chief of Staff in Miami, Vice Admiral Bushman said, ‘Why are you leaving early?’ And I said, well, I’m going to seminary for the Episcopal Church.” And his eyes kind of lit up a little bit. And he mentioned the Coast Guard was starting up a new program, using its volunteer civilian branch, which is the Coast Guard Auxiliary.

“It was just, it was just a gleam in the eye. But Admiral Bushman said, ‘When you get all of your other ministry commitments in order, you might consider circling back around. You might want to see if you can put your clergy and pastoral care stuff to work for the Coast Guard.”

“So, back in May, it just occurred to me to check it out. So, I looked and found that there was this new program called the Auxiliary Chaplain Support Program for the Coast Guard. And it was harder to get into this program than it was into Officer Candidate School. But it was a great bunch of folks and they have now recruited, and I am the 101st Auxiliary Chaplain who has been approved for work in the Coast Guard.”

Anderson said his primary role will be to be “the eyes, ears, hands, and feet” of the chaplain who works out of Charleston, South Carolina.

“Because while there’s only one Coast Guard unit in Atlanta, which is a recruiting office, there are a ton of Coast Guard families in the Atlanta area with loved ones deployed around the globe. And if some bad news should need to be delivered, or if a family, you know, should need some pastoral care, the closest chaplain is 325 miles away. So, I will be here to basically provide pastoral support to Coast Guard members and their families. I’ll be the only one here in the Atlanta area able to do that.”

U.S. Navy Captain Daniel Mode, The Coast Guard’s chief chaplain, said Anderson’s background makes him especially well suited to his new position.

“In your 23 years as a Coast Guard Reserves Officer, retiring as a Commander, and your seven years of civilian ministry, it is clear that you have cared for service members where they are spiritually and emotionally no matter what their faith, belief, gender, or religion may be,” Mode wrote in a December 1 letter confirming Anderson’s new position.  “It is this extensive experience and passion that will help us be the Ministry Team the Commandant expects us to be. Your commitment to continue to serve our great country is most honorable. Welcome aboard!”

While there are other Episcopal priests in the Diocese who serve as chaplains to police and fire, hospitals, schools, and retirement homes, Anderson is one of only two focused on the military.

The Rev. Paul McCabe, rector of Church of the Annunciation in Marietta in 2018 became the first Episcopal Chaplain for the state’s Army National Guard. McCabe previously served in the U.S. Navy and as a police officer and is the disaster planning and response coordinator for the Diocese.

The Rev. Canon Leslie Nuñez Steffensen of the Episcopal Armed Forces and Federal Ministries said Anderson is also the most recent addition to the Episcopal Coast Guard chaplaincy.

“We currently have eight Episcopal Coast Guard Auxiliary chaplains. They serve in Puerto Rico, Maine, East Carolina, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Alaska and now Georgia!”

More information on the Coast Guard Auxiliary chaplain program or on the Episcopal Armed Forces and Federal Ministries is available at these links.