December 14, 2016
Volume 7, Number 15
In This Issue

This Sunday's Lections
Fourth Sunday of
Isaiah 7:10-16
Romans 1:1-7
Matthew 1:18-25
Psalm 80:1-7, 16-18
here for the full text.
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St. John and St. Mark's 
Community St. Nicholas Party 
For the fourth year in a row, The Episcopal church of St. John and St. Mark in Albany held its St. Nicholas Block Party for neighborhood children and parents. The now annual event began as an outreach ministry of one of the congregation's Cursillo Reunion groups, but was quickly adopted by the entire community.
Working through a growing partnership with Radium Springs Elementary School, (a Title 1 school within walking distance of the parish) flyers are sent through each child's weekly parent packet, inviting them to join the congregation in an introduction to St. Nicholas on the Saturday nearest December 6th.

More than 75 children, along with parents or older siblings gathered with a large contingent of parishioners for this celebration. Parents and students enjoy hot chocolate and cookies in the Parish Hall. From there, the kids are escorted to special place, where each child gets to choose two to three gifts for Mom, Grandmother,  Dad, or other significant people. 

A wide assortment of possibilities... from jewelry to tools... are on display. All items are free, donations made by the congregation. After selections are made, the children then are assisted - as needed - in wrapping their selections.

Upon completing their Christmas shopping, they rejoin their parents in Primo Hall where ornament kits are available for each child. St. Nicholas is present, handing out Chocolate Gold Coins and hugs.

The Rev. Johnny Tuttle, in speaking about this neighborhood ministry said, "The remarkable thing to me is that this congregation is so engaged in its conviction to be involved in the life of Radium Springs. I had a commitment to be a Spiritual Director at New Beginnings that Saturday, and they never blinked. In fact, to me their direct involvement in ministry is an icon of who they are. During the time between the retirement of the previous clergy and my entry as a future priest, they had no full time Interim, but the engagement in the community never missed a beat. The entire congregation takes ownership of its life together and its ministry in the neighborhood. I could have been here, and sat in a lawn chair outside enjoying a book... and people would still have been welcomed, loved, and nourished. It's part of why Nicki and I are here."

Inside Our Young Adult Ministries
Ministry to young adults, which is supported by the Campaign for Congregational Development, was highlighted in this video shown at the 2016 Convention. To support programs like this, please go here.  Thank you!
Project Resource
Two Stewardship Resources You Need Now
As the year comes to an end, there are two important steps your congregation can take to engage with those who financially support the ministry: a hand-written thank you to pledgers and a request to consider year-end giving. Templates for both of these are offered by Project Resource, the trove of stewardship resources the College of Bishops pulled together for the Episcopal Church. 

Hand-Written Thank You Notes
In this age of increasing electronic communication, a short, hand-written thank you note speaks volumes. Members of your stewardship committee can take on the task, or find volunteers who want to serve their congregation in a meaningful way through this task. The sample note offered by Project Resource is online here: Sample Thank You

Year-End Giving
Some people find that at the end of the year, they would like to give a special gift to the mission of the church. For some it is a celebration of having ...well... lived another great year! For others there was a year-end bonus to share, and for still others it simply makes sense to give a little extra money away simply because they can--and enjoy doing so. And for some, using a planned giving tool such as a charitable remainder trust makes it possible to make a large gift while also benefiting from the tax and living advantages of various planned gift mechanisms. The sample article for your bulletin or newsletter is online here: Year End Giving Article
The Loose Canon
A Few Steps to Prepare Your Christmas Welcome
Prepare the way of the Lord by taking steps now to make sure your congregation is ready to welcome visitors this Christmas. A little attention to these Invite-Welcome-Connect concerns will have you ready to greet newcomers:

Website and Facebook
List any special Advent and Christmas liturgies on your website. Also add this schedule to your Facebook page and then "pin the post" so that that schedule information stays at the top of your Facebook feed. Do this by first creating and posting the information, then click on the downward V in the top right hand corner of the post and select "Pin to Top of Page." That will keep the information at the top even when you add new Facebook posts. After Christmas, click on the same V and select to unpin the post. To make the Facebook information more eye-catching, you can use the free video I created with Acts 8: Free Christmas invitation video for Episcopal churches.

Answering Machine and Phone
Add the Christmas liturgies to your answering machine message now through Christmas Day. Then on Christmas Eve, best practice is to have someone answering the phone from a couple of hours before the service until the liturgy begins in case someone calls at the last minute looking for directions or to confirm the time.

Christmas Eve, 2015 at St. Patrick's, Albany
Clean up any bulletin boards and tables with printed information. Make sure that everything offered is current in case a visitor wants to pick up a newsletter or other information. As a parish priest, I might keep out a variety of printed matter, such as free copies of Forward Day by Day, printed information on Happening and New Beginnings, and more. Then at Christmas and Easter, I would declutter, making sure the only things visitors see were a brochure on King of Peace and copies of the latest newsletter. This would make it easier for a newcomer looking for information in the midst of a busy Christmas Eve.

Newsletter and Announcement Reminder
In the remaining Sundays prior to Christmas, list in the newsletter or bulletin a reminder to ask parishioners to recall that we greet guests as if greeting Christ. If people you don't recognize are nearby, after the liturgy, all they have to say is, "Hi, My name is _____. I don't believe we have met." Then just welcome them and if a newcomer, ask them to come back. At Christmas, we can all get so focused on the occasion and family gathered round, that it is easier to think we are being friendly, while failing to welcome the guest.

Looking for more than the basics? See the Welcome Ideas and Resources Page at

The Rev. Canon Frank Logue, Canon to the Ordinary
Church Development Institute (CDI) Dates for 2017 
The Church Development Institute will be held at Honey Creek on January 20-21, March 17-18, and May 19-20.  It will be held in Augusta on January 20-21; March 17-18, May 19-20 and June 23-24 with the location still to be determined.

EQHR will be held at Honey Creek June 5-9 and a redesigned Conflict Management Workshop will be held October 2-5. Also in the works are a refresher on clergy coaching planned for the Spring.

To register for any of these programs contact Vicki Shuster at the Diocesan House, or 912-236-4279. For lodging at Honey Creek Retreat Center go to
Around the Diocese
Sharing the Joy

St. George's parishioners (above and right) welcomed children from the community to enjoy arts and crafts, hear a story, eat pizza and make new friends while their parents had a night out to prepare for Christmas.

Breakfast with St. Nicholas at Christ Church, on St. Simon's Island, included a hot breakfast, games, crafts, and activities. St. Nicholas himself was there and all got to hear the story of St. Nicholas, who was very much a real person and a Christian. 

Diocesan Office Update     
Bishop Benhase will make his visitation to St. Andrew's, Douglas this Sunday. For the Bishop's complete visitation schedule, go  here.

Canon Logue and Canon Willoughby are working on bringing the training you need closer to your church. In early 2017, they will offer vestry, administrator, and treasurer training in four locations around the Diocese to offer this resource within an hour and a half of every congregation. Project Resource stewardship training will also roll out in 2017 as we also support Invite-Welcome-Connect work in congregations. By covering well the basics of administration, while supporting work in stewardship and congregational development, we hope to build up the congregations of the diocese.

The Diocesan Office will be closed December 23rd and 26th as well as December 30th for the holidays.
Bishop's Visitation    

Vicki Green presents a plaque to Bishop Benhase (left) as the Rev. Iane Sastre (right) looks on during the Bishop's visitation to St Athanasius', Brunswick last weekend. The Rev. Frazier Green handcrafted the plaque and included a poem that he had written.
Behind This Week's From the Field Banner    
St. Luke's Rincon held its annual Joy to the World concert last week. To see more photos from this event, go to the church's Facebook page here.
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 December 11 to December 17
In our diocesan cycle of prayer, we pray for our congregation in Woodbine, St. Mark's. We also pray for our ecumenical partners, especially the Catholic congregations of Holy Family in Metter and St. Bernadette in Millen. In our companion diocese of the Dominican Republic, we pray for the congregations in Santo Domingo, especially Santísma Trinidad (Holy Trinity).

Prayers for December 18 to 24
In our diocesan cycle of prayer, we pray for Diocesan Youth Programs, Columba House Savannah, and our Episcopal Campus Ministries at Valdosta State and Georgia Southern Universities. We also pray for our ecumenical partners, especially those in Springfield-St. Paul's Lutheran Church and St. Boniface Catholic Church. In our companion diocese of the Dominican Republic, we pray for Jesús Maestro (Jesus the Master) in Tamboril.
Preparing for their world premiere

The Christ Church Savannah Children's Choir made its world premiere this past Sunday. Their singing in worship followed lots of rehearsal time. Members of the choir rehearse here with Emily Williams Burch.
Church Development Institute (CDI), December 9-10, January 20-21; March 17-18
Honey Creek
Go here for more information.

Happening #98, February 17
Honey Creek
Go here for more information.

Cursillo #123, March 2-4
Honey Creek
Go here for more information.

Clergy Spouses Retreat, March 10-12
Honey Creek
here for more information.

New Beginnings #50, March 24-26
Honey Creek
Go here for more information.
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so we can feature them in upcoming issues of From the Field. Deadline for submissions each week is Monday at 4:30 PM.  
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