June 10, 2020
Volume 10, No. 40
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Diocese Offers Digital Vacation Bible School
Beginning on June 22, the diocese will offer a digital Vacation Bible School experience.  VBS will begin on Monday, June 22 and end on Friday, June 26.  Our theme for the week is "Who is My Neighbor?" Each day participants will watch a video interpretation of  a story from the Bible. We will begin with Jesus' commandment to Love God and Love Neighbor, and the rest of the stories will help us explore what that looks like, even if being a good neighbor isn't always the easier choice. 

Our video resources, including Bible stories and Art Responses, have been created for this VBS by different youth leaders and clergy across the Diocese. E ach day will begin with an opening Zoom session with music and worship, led by the Rev. Joshua Varner, Canon for Children and Youth. Then we will have our story time, an art activity, and end with more music and worship. Each video will be available on our Diocesan Youtube Channel and will be linked from our  VBS website. Everyone is welcome to go at their own pace, or join the Zoom calls as we stream the story videos together and then talk about them. If Tuesday's lesson looks more doable on Monday, then feel free to switch it up! 

VBS will begin at 9:30am on Monday, June 22, led by Canon Varner. If you plan for your child to attend VBS, we ask that you register in advance if possible. Your registration helps us make sure we know the ages of the children participating and that we're creating age appropriate content. In addition, it allows us to communicate directly with you with appropriate reminders and opportunities.  To register for the week, click here. 

For additional questions, contact the Rev. Canon Joshua Varner at  jvarner@gaepiscopal.org .

Racial Justice and Healing - Two Ways to Learn
 If you have a group within your congregation that wants to learn together about how we can work toward racial justice and healing, here are two suggestions:

Read and Discuss Just Mercy 
This book by Bryan Stevenson was the Diocese of Georgia's book for Lent 2019, but you likely have people who did not take part in those discussions who would enjoy the opportunity to do so now. Bishop Logue created study this guide to go along with the book. It is available to download  here  Just Mercy Discussion Guide .   

In this coming of age memoir, Stevenson recounts his early career and the cases that led him to found the Equal Justice Initiative. He worked through the United States Supreme Court to prohibit sentencing children under 18 to death or to life imprisonment without parole.  Stevenson has assisted in cases that have saved dozens of prisoners from the death penalty, advocated for poor people, and developed community-based reform litigation aimed at improving the administration of criminal justice.  The book is available in paperback and as an audio-book read by the author. 

Sacred Ground - a film-based dialogue series on race and faith
This discussion series created for the Episcopal Church uses films and books to offer an opportunity to weave in threads of family story, economic class, and regional identity, as you explore issues of race and faith. The 10-part series is built around a powerful online curriculum of documentary films and readings that focus on Indigenous, Black, Latino, and Asian/Pacific American histories as they intersect with European American histories. The mix of films to watch with two books to read offers a way to prepare for the discussions that include personal story-sharing. 

While others would benefit, this makes an excellent summer-time option for Education for Ministry (EfM) groups where there is already a good bit of trust and participants are accustomed to personal sharing. This series, framed as a spiritual journey, is grounded in the Christian faith - in the example of Jesus Christ and the power of scripture, prayer, God's grace, and the Holy Spirit to help us step closer to the dream of beloved community. To learn more, go to the Sacred Ground webpages at the Episcopal Church website and  click here to learn about organizing a group

Additional Resources
The Episcopal Church offers a resource page of links with ways you can learn, pray, and act in responding to race-based violence.
Online Yoga Keeps Community Together

For over 15 years, Fred Richter has led weekly yoga sessions at Trinity Episcopal Church in Statesboro. The classes meet on Mondays at 4:30 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. in the parish hall, and they are free and open to the public. Fred puts out a basket for donations, and attendees can make whatever donations they wish, or none at all. All donations received are returned to our community to help those in need. The Trinity Yoga Ministry has provided assistance to The Food Bank; Rebecca's Café; various local school projects, including covering field trip costs; Ferst Readers; Statesboro-Bulloch County Humane Society; Trinity clergy discretionary funds; direct assistance to a local family who lost everything in a house fire; and too many more to list here. Fred estimates that the fund has contributed over $35,000.00 to local outreach projects in last the 15 years.
Over the years, Fred has attracted quite a following in the Statesboro yoga community: there are regularly 15-20 people in each class. Many of those who attend yoga at Trinity are not members of our parish. But they come to Trinity regularly for fellowship and renewal, and Fred is always there for them. Late last year when Fred had surgery for ankle tendonitis, he asked fellow parishioner Jessica Keeley to take over leading the classes until he was able to return, and a Tag Team was born. When Trinity closed its doors earlier this spring due to the COVID-19 health crisis, many called upon Fred to find a way to continue his yoga ministry.
Answering that call, Fred and Jessica meet each Monday at 4:30 p.m. at Trinity, and, attempting to maintain appropriate social distancing, provide a one-hour yoga class via Facebook Live (Trinity Episcopal Church Statesboro). The response has been tremendous. So many regular attendees have contacted us to express their appreciation for this spot of relative normalcy in these abnormal times, and, as the videos are archived on our Facebook page, we hope that many others access them at times that are convenient to them. And our community of yogis and yoginis have not stopped supporting our outreach, either. Through our virtual donations basket, our funds have remained steady over the first month of on-line yoga, with friends sending checks to the church or giving via text. In this time of crisis, the Yoga Ministry is focusing primarily on food insecurity issues in our community.
We hope you will join our community on Mondays for your own physical and spiritual renewal, and to help us help others. It is our joy and privilege to keep community and share the love of Christ through this ministry of mindfulness and self-care. If you would like more information about Trinity's yoga ministry, or wish to make a donation, please email the church office at office@trinitystatesboro.org. Namaste.
Subscribe to our new YouTube Channel
The current Diocese of Georgia YouTube Channel will become an archive of videos of Bishop Benhase's episcopacy. To subscribe now to the new Diocese of Georgia YouTube Channel click this link at then select "subscribe"
A Note on In-Person Worship
As parts of the state re-open for business, the Diocese of Georgia will continue to restrict in-person worship for the month of June. Churches following later than others in reopening is based on information from epidemiologists. With any respiratory-based sickness, sharing the same air for long periods of time increases risk of infection, so that attending a church service carries a different risk than grocery shopping. Bishop Logue is in constant communication with the Rt. Rev. Rob Wright, Bishop of the Diocese of Atlanta, to make sure that all precautions are taken before opening up our churches for any in-person services in the state. The two dioceses are currently working on guidelines for a process that will be more like turning a dimmer switch with a phased approach rather than a light switch with everything as it was before the pandemic started. 
Ministries Still Going Strong
As we continue to move forward in the time when some things are still uncertain, churches are still finding ways to serve the community. 

The Rev. Sandy Turner reports that the local food ministry in Augusta continues to grow. Between 4 local churches, food was provided for over 93 households.

The StoryBox Ministry at St. Augustine's, Augusta donated 212 new books to students at W.S. Hornsby Middle School. Parishioner Amanda Peacock was glad to hand out the books saying, "We try to support literacy in our community, and we give out as many books as we can."

Volunteers packing up the meals at Holy Comforter (left). Completed stacks of books to hand out from St. Augustine's (right).
COVID-19 Resources Available
As a reminder, on the diocesan website is a list of resources pertaining to COVID-19. You will find guidance on the Paycheck Protection Program, livestream calendar of services throughout the diocese, and more. 

As we move forward, Bishop Logue and Bishop Wright of the Diocese of Atlanta are working together to create a coherent plan for Episcopal in-person worship across the state of Georgia, including how and when to re-open for in-person worship. Both are in agreement that all worship will remain online at least through the month of June.

For more resources on COVID-19, click here.
Honey Creek is My Happy Place

Worship with the Diocese of Georgia tonight and Sunday
Tonight, the Diocese will offer Evening Prayer again online at 6 p.m. with the sermon given by Bishop Logue. This Sunday, we will stream Morning Prayer at 10 a.m. from St. Luke's, Hawkinsville.

These liturgies are stored on both 

Find Livestream Worship 
There are a lot of options each day for Episcopalians in the Diocese of Georgia to worship online and now they are listed in one place. The Livestream Services calendar tells the time, location, and which liturgy the congregation offers for the whole Diocese. Click the image above or this link: Livestream Services Calendar.
Summertime Calls for Audit Season
The Diocese is currently preparing for its 2020 audit, with the auditors reviewing files next week. Additionally, it is time for congregations to pull together resources and plan for its financial review. Audits are an annual canonical requirement. 

The Diocesan Canons require audits/financial review of congregation financial operations. If the annual operating budget is greater than $500,000, a full 3rd party audit is required. If less than $500,000, the Diocese has a 36-question internal control checklist that parishes can use for individuals, not associated with financial procedures, to review records and procedures. 

All audits are submitted for final report to the Diocesan office by September 1st. Many congregations partner each year to review and conduct checklists for submission. You can find the checklist here:

It can be a daunting task each year for administrators, clergy, and volunteers to get themselves organized for a review. Especially now under special restrictions. The following are some best practices to consider when preparing: 

1. Keep detailed records- Each year, a vestry should review the record keeping practices of its parish/organization. Whether it is paper or electronic, detailed records of accounts payables, receivables, endowments, assets, and other detailed financial transactions should be kept in a well-organized and effectively searched method 

2. Maintain security- Many records hold sensitive information. Please ensure that files are either password protected, on a secure network, or kept in lockable file cabinet 

3. Make a checklist- Many professional audit firms will provide a detailed checklist of items to gather and review. Checklists are a great way to organize yourself for record pulling and review. Review the internal controls checklist to determine what files and reports help answer audit questions. Your checklist can also help administrators and volunteers divvy up tasks and take ownership or reporting information 

4. Determine recommendations- Each year should result in recommendations for improvement of procedures, policies, and reporting -- even if it is small improvements and determining best practices for financial controls 

5. Report and communicate- Once an audit is complete, make sure to supply reports to vestry members and communicate impacts of reports to congregations. This helps to support budget and annual stewardship campaigns 

Many of these task can be handle online or electronically. Audits are designed to help churches manage its resources. It is also a great opportunity for vestries to learn detailed administrative requirements. Many people get nervous around this time-period, but it can be a wonderful learning opportunity for your leadership and community. 

For any questions, please reach out to Canon Easterlin at Diocesan house at keasterlin@gaepiscopal.org.
Upcoming Ordinations
As we have seen across the board, despite changes in how we worship, the Church remains one.
In that spirit, we announce the following ordinations:

Vocational diaconate
July 24, 2020 - Rita Spalding

June 27, 2020 - the Rev. Leeann Culbreath

All ordinations will comply with the guidelines and recommendations of public officials and healthcare professionals. You can still participate in each service by watching the livestream through each respective Facebook page. 
Around the Diocese

The Rev. Kit Brinson celebrated 9 years at Grace Episcopal Church in Waycross on Pentecost (top). 
Members of Grace surprised her with a parade (bottom).


Seminarians Gabriel Perkins-Lawrence and Susan Gage (top two on the right) attended the Episcopal Preaching Foundation's Preaching Excellence Connection Conference with Presiding Bishop Michael Curry.
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 2020 one year prayer cycle is now online here:  2020 Prayer Cycle

June 7 - 13
In our diocesan cycle of prayer, we pray for our congregations in Martinez, Holy Comforter and Our Savior. We also pray for our ecumenical partners, especially St. Teresa of Avila Catholic Church in Grovetown. In our companion diocese of the Dominican Republic, we pray for Christ Resurrected (
Cristo Resucitado ) in La Vega.

June 14 - 20
In our diocesan cycle of prayer, we pray for our congregation in Moultrie, St. Margaret of Scotland.
We also pray for our ecumenical partners in Moultrie, especially Immaculate Conception Catholic Church. In our companion diocese of the Dominican Republic, we pray for Holy Spirit ( Espíritu Santo ) in Las Carreras.

Additional Prayer Cycles
We also offer 30-day prayer cycles for those who wish to pray daily for the clergy and clergy spouses:  Diocesan Prayer Cycle and  Clergy Spouses Prayer Cycle .
Diocesan Office Update and News

In order to prevent the spread of COVID-19,  Diocesan staff will be working remotely until further notice. Email will be the quickest way to get in touch with the staff, although you are still welcome to call us on the phone! Staff e-mails can be found here.
Let Us Know!

What are you doing to keep community right now? Are you gathering for virtual coffee hours, delivering groceries to your neighbors - let us know! Send any updates or photos to our Communications Manager Liz Williams at lwilliams@gaepiscopal.org. We want to hear from you!
Valdosta's Newest  Music Superstars
Christ Episcopal Church | The Patterson Street Boys | Knocking on Heaven's Door
Christ Episcopal Church, Valdosta's newest headliner: The Patterson Street Boys! 
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