April 22, 2020
Volume 10, No. 33
Update on In-person Worship
My Sisters & Brothers in Christ,
The Episcopal Diocese of Georgia will not move to in-person worship for the foreseeable future in spite of Governor Kemp's new orders. The CDC and other infectious disease experts agree that before that can happen responsibly, the number of new COVID-19 cases must have declined for at least 14 straight days and rapid diagnostic testing must be readily available in a particular area. We have not yet experienced that decline in new cases within the Diocese's boundaries and Georgia ranks in the bottom fifth of all states in the availability of rapid diagnostic testing. Until we see such a steady decline and until such testing is readily available, it would be irresponsible for me as your Bishop to allow for the reopening of our churches for in-person worship. I know this will come as a disappointment to some, but I took vows when I was consecrated as a Bishop of the Church to "defend those who have no helper" and, as always, I must keep those vows.
Bishop-elect Logue and I are working with the Convocational Deans and the Clericus of the Diocese on how we in the future might responsibly reopen our churches to in-person worship. We must see infection rates going steadily down as well as widespread testing being available before that will happen. Please know all of you remain in my daily prayers.
10th Bishop of Georgia
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Meeting the Needs of the Community
The doors of churches may be temporarily closed, but many parishioners are still working towards meeting the needs of their community.  

The Food Bank at Christ Church in Dublin continues to operate, now with parishioners wearing masks and surgical gloves. Those they serve stay outside the church now and are met at the door with food. They are seeing larger numbers than usual coming to the church for food.

Recovery groups are needed now more than ever and some have shut down meeting. At Holy Nativity on St. Simons Island, the need to have 10 or fewer people meet and to keep everyone at least six feet apart took some adjustments. By adding a second location for a meeting at the same time and adding additional times, the congregation has been able to keep 12-step programs active.

St. Michael & All Angels in Savannah still operates their I AM Food Pantry every Tuesday morning starting at 8:00 until they run out of bags. They've had to simplify the process and lessen the amount they usually give, but they're still open. Volunteers come on Monday afternoons to prepare the bags, but since many of them are in high risk categories, they aren't here when we distribute them. The Revs. Kevin Kelly and Nathan Wilson come on Tuesday mornings and hand out the bags.  "We are committed to remaining open and serving our community throughout the pandemic," said Kelly. 

The Pantry's work is supported by St. Michael's, by the neighborhoods around the church, and by other Episcopal congregations in Savannah.

The Rev. Nathan Wilson (left) preparing to hand out the bags prepared by volunteers (right) Cindy Coward, Roseann Johnson, Judy Berube, and Bonnie Hughes.

The lunch ministry at St. Andrew's and St. Cyprian's in Darien continues to feed their community. Though they moved the program from dining indoors in the Two Saints cafe to offering take out, the ministry is still feeding nearly 100 people each week. On Fridays at 10 a.m., the Food Pantry continues to operate with distribution moved outside and following public health guidelines.

The Community of St. Joseph has also had to make some adjustments. The Coronavirus epidemic has been hard on our friends experiencing homelessness in Savannah. While the city and some of Savannah's  larger organizations have stepped up with additional food service, many of the regular services have been put on hold. The Community of St. Joseph's biggest ministry partner, Emmaus House, has been forced to shut down out of concern for the health of the staff and volunteers. St. Joseph's has also suspended their weekly camp worship out of a concern for the members. 

With all of the changes in the services provided for our homeless friends, food insecurity has become an even bigger problem. In an effort to meet some of those concerns, St. Joseph's is doing a canned food drive.  They are partnering with Epiphany to collect non-perishable canned food items and distributing them twice a week. Donations can be left on the porch of the Diocesan House at 18 E. 34th Street.
The results of an earlier needs drive for the Community of St. Joseph.
Compline on Zoom offers Youth a  Chance to Connect
 In this time when we cannot be together in body, our youth and those who care about them have been gatheri ng on Tuesdays and Thursdays to pray Compline together on Zoom. Youth have reported that this gathering is a high point of their week, offering a chance to see friends from afar and pray, laugh, and sing together! Different youth lead worship each time and both the prayers and the music are on the screen during worship. During worship, participants also have a chance to reflect on the day and share prayer concerns verbally and through the chat feature. We usually end by singing a high energy song, often complete with motions. Youth of all ages and those who care  about them are welcome to join us each Tuesday and Thursday. Last Thursday there were well over 50 people online!

The meeting ID is available on the Diocese of Georgia Youth Facebook page. Please contact Canon Joshua Varner at  jvarner@gaepiscopal.org for the password information.
EYCS College Scholarship Applications Open
Applications for the next round of college scholarships from Episcopal Youth and Children's Services for college students is now open! EYCS began as an orphanage for girls in Savannah in the early 1800's and has morphed an organization supporting children and youth in our diocese by awarding scholarships for summer camp programs at Honey Creek and college scholarships. 

  1. You may apply by going to www.eycs.georgiaepiscopal.org and selecting the Educational Scholarships tab at the top of the page.
  2. Completed applications should be submitted and/or postmarked by May 31, 2020.
  3. All applicants must be Episcopalian, 22 years of age or under, and legal residents of and members in good standing within the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia.  Funds are only available for undergraduate (not graduate) study and are awarded based on family need.
  4. Applicant must be, or intend to become, a full-time undergraduate student taking and passing at least 12 credit hours per grading period. 
  5. Education scholarships are approved for one school year only.  Applicants may reapply in successive years (for a maximum of 4 years).
Bishop's Eastertide Bible Study   
Bishop Benhase will lead a diocesan-wide Bible Study during Eastertide. It will be available on both  the Diocese's Facebook page and our YouTube channel each Wednesday at 11 a.m. Each session will be pre-recorded, so there will not be an opportunity to ask questions in real time, but the Bishop encourages folks to ask questions on the Diocese's Facebook page and he will respond to them following each session. Below is the schedule. Please join us!  
April 22  - Introduction  
Greeting   (1:1-2)  
Paul's Prayer for the Philippians  (1:3-11)  
Paul's Circumstances  as he writes the letter   (1:12-30)  
April 29  -  Our call to  Imitat e  Christ's Humility  (2:1-11)  
We are lights s hining in the World  (2:12-18)  
Paul's Fellow Laborers  (2:19-30)  
May 6  -  Nothing in the  Law  can  save us  (3:1-11 )  
Pressing towards the Goal , which is Christ (3:12-4:1)  
May 13  -  Closing  Exhortations  (4:2-9)  
Acknowledgment of the Philippians' Gift  (4:10-20)  
Benediction  (4:21-23)  

Giving Made Easy
We've  shared  stories of how c hurches and members of your community are working creatively to   stay   connected  through online services, phone calls, and social media .   St. Anne's in Tifton asks  its  parishioners what brings them joy and what they're grateful for  that week. When the  rector, the Rev. Lonnie Lacy leads Compline  online , he's able to share  some of those with the parish.      
It is important to   remember that   your  financial support  to your congregation  spreads  the gospel, serve s  those in need, and keep s  the power on in our buildings.   Now is the time to open our hearts and minds to additional approaches of stewardship While many individuals in your communities will face financial hardships, it can be a time for our congregations to identify how they can participate financially, spiritually, and emotionally to the needs of the church.   C hurches are typically the first place for those in our communities who will need assistance as we move forward. Your giving gets stretched as far as it will go, and now is no different.    
When  vestries and churches are looking to set  up remote giving,  here are 5   potential  options :  
  1. Realm - Realm may already be in place at your parish, which includes an online giving option. Realm uses Vanco to process debit and credit cards, as well as e-check payments. There is a processing and maintenance fee for online payments. The Diocese has partnered with ACS Technologies for a special rate. Visit the site here.
  2.  Tithe.ly - This service is free to sign up and charges a transaction fee, but not a maintenance fee. This can be used online or as an app. 
  3.  PayPal for Non-profits - PayPal is an online payment website that allows you to set up donations through a church website, online link, or text.
  4. Direct bank checks - You may set up a regular monthly check through your financial institution. This can be done through any online banking bill payment feature. 
  5. Mail a paper check - Get those stamps and envelopes out and mail your giving straight to your church office. 
Check with your church to see how you can give remotely.  All of the online giving options have the ability to set up a recurring payment.  If there are any questions about how parishes can institute online giving, contact Canon Easterlin .  
Diocese of Georgia Continues  Livestream
Bishop Benhase will preach this Sunday
The clergy and staff of the diocese are continuing to provide morning prayer on Sunday mornings. 

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.
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:

Transitional diaconate
April 26, 2020 - Ranie Neislar
May 2, 2020 -Victor Moreno

Vocational diaconate
July 24, 2020 - Rita Spalding

May 9, 2020 - the Rev. Kevin Veitinger and the Rev. Nathan Wilson 
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. To view the ordination of Ranie Neisler, click here for St. Paul's Episcopal Church's Facebook page.
Around the Diocese  
At Trinity, Statesboro, parishioner Hollie Ikner secured an old newspaper stand as a local food pantry. If someone has extra  canned food, you can drop it off. If someone needs a couple extra canned goods, it's there for the taking.

Canon Easterlin happily moving boxes from the diocesan storage unit to our office.
When you turn 8 and you're a member of St. Augustine's, you get a surprise Zoom birthday call!
The Christ Church Valdosta Virtual Band performing in their memorial garden.

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

April 19 - 25
In our diocesan cycle of prayer, we pray for our congregation in Fitzgerald, St. Matthew's, and for our ecumenical partners in Fitzgerald, especially St. William's Catholic Church. In our companion diocese of the Dominican Republic, we pray for the congregations in Haina, especially St. John the Evangelist ( San Juan Evangelista) and St. Mark ( San Marcos).

April 26 - May 2
In our diocesan cycle of prayer, we pray for our Grovetown Episcopal-Lutheran Mission, and our ecumenical partners in the Catholic churches in Cuthbert and Donalsonville - St. Luke's and the Church of the Incarnation. In our companion diocese of the Dominican Republic, we pray for Christ the Liberator (Cristo Libertador ) in Hato Mayor.

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.

From Bertice Berry of Christ Church Savannah, " Y'all know I love my church family, but today when my granddaughter heard her name from Rev.  Helen White' s live Children's Church, she felt that she could actually be seen.
Because of all of the work of our leadership, I feel seen, known and connected."
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