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August 17, 2016
Volume 6, Number 51
In This Issue
 
 




This Sunday's Lections
Fourteenth Sunday after Pentecost
Track 1
Jeremiah 1:4-10
Psalm 71:1-6
Hebrews 12:18-29
Luke 13:10-17
or
Track 2
Isaiah 58:9b-14
Psalm 103:1-8
Hebrews 12:18-29
Luke 13:10-17

Go here for the full text.
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2016 Diocesan Acolyte Festival
The reviews are in for this year's Diocesan Acolyte Festival and it's been declared a great success: Daniel Bloodworth, grade three said: "I learned a lot and made new friends." Parent Stefani Williams said "My girls had a great time!" The Rev. Leigh Hall declared it "the best Acolyte Festival yet!" Adult advisor Jason McNicoll said "I was totally encouraged this weekend!"

More than 75 acolytes from 17 different congregations gathered at St. Thomas' Isle of Hope Church in Savannah for a weekend of workshops that ranged from how to light and swing a thurible filled with incense to how to assist the deacon and priest when serving at the altar; the colors and vestments of the church; how to read and speak in the liturgy, and how to apply skills learned as an acolyte to other areas of life. In addition to the workshops, the acolytes played games, sang songs, and prayed noonday and evening prayers together. There were also Acolyte Olympics and a water slide!  

"Perhaps most important, acolytes from all parts of the diocese got to meet each other, to play and pray together," said the Rev. Joshua Varner, Diocesan Missioner for Youth, "and to go home with a sense of connection to their fellow acolytes."
 
Many thanks go out to St. Thomas' Director of Youth Ministry, Misty Graham who coordinated the event, supported by more than 20 adults from across the diocese  including Maggie Bloodworth, Emily Borchert, Tracy Edgar, Sarah Gibbs, Jody Grant, Mary Haley, the Rev. Leigh Hall, Philip Hodgkins, Courtland Hooper, Stacey Hooper, Deacon Larry Jesion, Allen Lamb, Teresa Martin, Jason McNicoll, Mary Helen Morgan, Deacon Geri Nelson, Cassandra Oliver, the Rev. David Rose, Jeffrey Scott, Roger Speer, the Rev. Charles Todd, Susan Tutan-Gonzales, and Rebecca Woods. Thanks also to the St. Thomas' community!
 
Acolytes attended from the congregations of Christ Church, Cordele; Church of Our Savior, Martinez; Church of the Holy Comforter, Martinez; Good Shepherd, Swainsboro; St. Anne's, Tifton; St. Athanasius, Brunswick; St. Barnabas, Valdosta; St. Luke's, Hawkinsville; St. Luke's, Rincon; St. Matthew's, Savannah; St. Michael & All Angels, Savannah; St. Patrick's, Albany; St. Paul's, Jessup; St. Paul's, Albany; St. Paul's, Savannah; St. Thomas' Isle of Hope, and St. Thomas' Thomasville.
 
Below are some photos from the Acolyte Festival. For more, visit photographer Philip Hodgkins' Flickr page or the Episcopal Diocese of the Georgia Youth's Acolyte Festival 2016 Photo Album.   

Diocese of Louisiana
The Episcopal Church Responds to Flooding

We are moved to prayer and action regarding the devastating flooding in Louisiana. Several clergy in our diocese are developing a response to this tragedy and news on this will be shared as soon as plans are finalized. Episcopal Relief and Development has developed an information and resource page (that includes bulletin inserts) here: and Bishop  Morris K. Thompson, Jr. of Louisiana, who preached at the Diocesan Convention last year, has a pastoral letter here.
(Jeffrey Major photo) 
Diocesan Office Update     
Bishop Benhase returns from sabbatical next week. On Monday, August 22, he will lead a day-long meeting with diocesan staff. 

Canon Logue was in Cincinnati, Ohio, Monday and Tuesday for a meeting of the Episcopal Church's Advisory Group on Church Planting. The group finished its review of the 71 applications received for grants to start new ministries. Charged with the task of distributing 3 million dollars in funds, the group gave grants of up to $100,000 to assist dioceses in planting new churches and starting other new ministries in the Church. Sunday, he will preach at St. Peter's Savannah.
Diocesan Community Update

The Rector and Vestry of Trinity Episcopal Church in Columbus, Georgia announce that they have called the Rev. Dcn. Luke Wetzel to serve as a Curate. Wetzel has been serving as a transitional deacon at All Saints, Thomasville. Luke is married to Natalie, and they have two children, Frances (age 2.5) and Andrew (age 1). Originally from Kansas, he earned a B.A. from Emory University in 2009 and an Master of Divinity from Duke Divinity School magna cum laude in the fall of 2012. Luke entered seminary as a Methodist, then became an Episcopalian during his studies. After receiving his degree from Duke, he went through discernment in the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Georgia.

Bishop Benhase and the Columba House Missioners will commission interns Kyrsha Allen  and  Matthew Yochum on Wednesday, August 24th at 6:30 PM at the Collegiate Church of St. Paul the Apostle, 1806 Abercorn. Join us for the ceremony, a community potluck supper (bring a dish to share), informal tours of Columba House and the opportunity to meet the new interns. For more information, email info@columbahouse.org.
Tithe Letters for 2017 Sent to Each Congregation
Letters to each parish were mailed last week listing the tithe to the Diocese for 2017. Since the canonical change approved by diocesan convention in 2011 each congregation tithes to the diocesan mission and ministry with the amount equal to 10% of the average of the previous three years of normal operating income. That plan reduced the amount assessed for three-quarter of the congregations as the previous system had percentages of 10, 12.5, 15, and 17.5 percent depending on the revenue of the congregation. If you are a Rector, Vicar, or Senior Warden and you have not received a tithe letter for 2017, please contact Gayle Dawson at (912) 236-4279 to have one e-mailed to you.
Administrator's Corner
Lay Defined Contribution Plan

In the last Administrator's Corner, I highlighted clergy pension procedures. This week's highlights lay pension benefits. While it's a similar process, the forms and formulas are different.

The Episcopal Church Lay Employees' Defined Contribution Retirement Plan (the Lay DC Plan) is a 401(a) and 403(b) plan, whose records are kept by Fidelity Investments. All lay employee are eligible for access to the Lay DC Plan. Below are high-level details on eligibility, contributions, and enrollment. For further detailed information for administrators, please review the DC Lay Plan Employers Guide. Find this and all the forms you need at cpg.org

Eligibility
All lay employee are eligible to enroll and make contributions to the Lay DC Plan. For the Lay DC Plan, the maximum eligibility requirement mandated by Resolution A138 is 1,000 hours of service per year to receive employer contributions. (A participating employer may allow lay employees who work less than 1,000 hours annually to receive employer contributions.) This is set by the employer and set in their compensation policy.

Contributions
Resolution A138 established and set the foundation for the Lay DC Plan. If a defined contribution plan is selected, the employer shall contribute not less than 5% of the employee's compensation and match not less than 4% of the employee's compensation. However, the employer can contribute the entire 9% (or more) if desired. The Diocese recommends ensuring 9% is being contributed annually. The Diocese provides a 10% contribution annually to the defined contribution lay pension plan in compliance with 403(b) of the IRS.

Enrollment
Enrollment forms should be sent within 60 days of a start date. The employee submits a DC Plan Employee Application form to their administrator to submit to CPG. The employee selects how much to be deducted from their compensation and remitted to Fidelity. The administrator will receive billing statements from CPG/Fidelity to begin making employee and employer contributions to accounts.

Change in compensation?
In the event there is a change in compensation, please submit a Participant Change Form to CPG via mail as soon as possible.

Next Up: Open Enrollment/ What to expect
Upcoming Gospel
Facelifting an Ugly Orthodoxy
A Reflection on the Gospel, Luke 13: 10-17 for August 21, 2016.
by David Somerville+
Francis Shaeffer
Francis August Schaeffer

Founder of the L'Abri (Shelter) Christian communities in Switzerland, the late Presbyterian scholar, Francis August Schaeffer 1984), was both a theologian and a philosopher. As a theologian, he placed high value on the rigorous discipline of biblical exegesis; and as a philosopher, he wrote extensively on the relationship between what must be accepted through divine revelation, and what can be known through the use of human reason. The first area is about how humankind is saved by accepting the "inerrant" word of God.
The
second endeavor involves the human responsibility to understand the word through the gift of reason which the faithful Christian could use in defense against the atheistic existential philosophies that came into vogue during the 1950's and 60's. God expects his people to be obedient, vulnerable, but not blind in their obedience. From that is born a truly compassionate fellowship that can be the body of Christ.

As far as disciplined seriousness was concerned, Schaeffer was a Presbyterian's Presbyterian! He valued a scripturally-founded orthodoxy, but not without a caveat that has implications for the way the Faith is practiced. Faithful Christians are, in Shaeffer's view, obligated to think intelligently, and then express their commitment to Jesus Christ in ways that would both stand up to the growing secularism of the world and then also bear tangible fruit.
Next week's Gospel is about a woman who came to worship at "one of the synagogues", the same one at which Jesus had apparently been invited to teach. What happened on the sabbath day was not planned, nor was it a coincidence. It was providential.

As I looked at this lesson from Luke even before reviewing some of the commentaries about it, I was struck by a few impressions: This worshipping community was something like a parish we would know in our own time, the kind of place that functions well without, on some occasions of formal worship, having to depend on a full-time, ordained clergy person. The synagogue's leader was well educated and a responsible planner. What we would call the synagogue's "liturgy" or worship structure appeared to have flowed smoothly. The problem, though, with a liturgy that is planned out with orderly detail is that should something unforeseen interrupt it in the way of a human need, the experience can be jarring, and cause for embarrassment and shame.
Prayers for Weekly Liturgies
Our one-year prayer cycle combines prayers for every congregation in the Diocese of Georgia with prayers for our ecumenical partners and for our Companion Diocese of The Dominican Republic. The 52 weekly prayers are available in one document  found here. 

Prayers for August 14-20
In our diocesan cycle of prayer, we pray for our congregation in Sandersville, Grace Church. We also pray for our ecumenical partners in Sandersville, especially St. William Catholic Church. In our companion diocese of the Dominican Republic, we pray for the congregations in San Francisco de Macorís, especially The Good Samartian ( El Buen Samaritano) and Jesus the Nazarene ( Jesús Nazareno).

Prayers for August 21-27
In our diocesan cycle of prayer, we pray for our congregations in Savannah, especially Christ Church, the Mother Church of Georgia. We also pray for our ecumenical partners in Savannah, especially the Catholic Cathedral of St. John the Baptist and Ascension Lutheran Church. In our companion diocese of the Dominican Republic, we pray for the Church of St. Paul and St. Luke ( San Pablo y San Lucas) in San Isidro.

Transformative Crafting

Parishioners at All Saints' Tybee are making sleeping mats for the homeless from plastic bags. These mats are insect resistant, water repellent, and provide good insulation for sleeping on the ground. The finished mats, 5' to 6' long, are lightweight and easy to roll up and carry. It's a great re-use for this material, which is found everywhere and free! They're simple to crochet, and non-crocheters can help by collecting or donating bags. Others can process them into "plarn," or plastic yarn. 
For help distributing the mats, (not making them), contact Fr. Jamie Maury  jamie.maury@gmail.com at the Community of St. Joseph. 
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Sincerely,                                       
            
Diocesan Staff                             
Episcopal Diocese of Georgia