February 27, 2019
Volume 9, No. 27
St. Peter's Missioners to Dominican Republic Return

The 26 members of the optical mission team sponsored by St. Peter's Episcopal Church (shown above with their Dominican Republic hosts) returned home on Saturday, February 23, after conducting five days of optical clinics in the Dominican Episcopal health center in the city of San Pedro de MacorĂ­s. Remaining in the Dominican Republic until March 2 are nine additional members of a ophthalmic surgical team from the Georgia Eye Institute in Savannah who are carrying out cataract and other procedures for patients identified during the optical clinics. Missioner James Toedtman, one of the team leaders, had this jubilant report about the success of the first cataract procedure for a 90-year-old man, Longino Blanco Perez, (above, at right) who had not been able to see his wife for the past ten years: "His cataracts were well-established, thick and a challenge for the surgeon. But when Perez awoke, he was alert and thrilled at the outcome. He was wheeled to the waiting area to the open arms of his wife. It is hard to imagine he ever had a wider smile than at that moment." 

Missioner Kirsten Toedtman brought her guitar to entertain waiting patients.
Over the course of the five-day optical clinic, the team examined the eyes and the eyesight of 910 patients, dispensed 425 prescription eyeglasses, 511 readers, and 573 sunglasses, and made referrals to the surgical team for cataract cases. 2019 marks the sixth consecutive year that St. Peter's has sponsored this team, which this year thanks to contributions from the Rowland Foundation, the Croci Family Foundation and Dr. Bill Degenhart was able to put into use $140,000 worth of new and recycled instruments - an autoclave, a Phaco-emulsifier, and an operating microscope. With the coordinating help of the Dominican Development Group , a consortium of the Episcopal dioceses sponsoring mission teams in the Dominican Republic, they shipped the heavy equipment and several dozen boxes of surgical equipment and clothing in a 5-ton container that was loaded onto a ship in the port of Miami on January 25 and arrived in the port of Santo Domingo on January 29.

Two more mission teams from churches in the Diocese of Georgia are scheduled to work in our companion Diocese of the Dominican Republic later this year: St. Anne's Tifton, in the village of Las Carreras sometime this summer; and Christ Church Valdosta, in the village of El Pedregal from June 17-24. For more information on the diocese's mission work in the Dominican Republic, click here.
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The Last Sunday After Epiphany
Exodus 34:29-35
2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2
Luke 9:28-36 [37-43a]
Psalm 99

Go  here for the full text.
Update from the Search Committee

The next meeting of the Search Committee for the XI Bishop of the Diocese of Georgia will be Saturday, March 16 at 10 AM at Trinity, Statesboro.

Listening Sessions continue throughout the diocese during February and March: three have been held so far: one in the Southwestern Deanery, one with the Bishop and Kelly Benhase, and one with Diocesan Staff. See the times, dates and locations of upcoming sessions in the Events section below. 

At the March 8-9 meeting of the Standing Committee, the Search Committee will present a recommendation for the nomination and petition processes for their approval.

The Committee continues to work on parts of the diocesan profile such as history of the diocese, current demographics, financial information--information that can be gathered and assembled while the Listening Sessions are taking place.

To contact members of the Search Committee, send an email to bishopsearch@gaepiscopal.org
Have You Taken the Survey?
The Search Committee has designed a survey for the XI Bishop Search that includes the questions that are also asked at the Diocesan Listening Sessions. See the times, dates and locations of upcoming sessions in the Events section below. 

Whether or not you attend a Listening Session, please take the time to complete this brief survey. Go  here  to get started! 
Welcome Back to the Creek
Counselor, Parent, Camp Nurse Karen Bell to Lead Camp
Those returning to camp at Honey Creek this year will see a familiar face as the new Summer Camp Director--Karen Bell of Valdosta.

A former counselor, camp nurse, parent to three campers (two  counselors) and longtime diocesan youth event supporter, Bell takes the reins from Dr. Savannah S. Young who leaves Honey Creek on Friday.

"I did not go to Honey Creek as a child," said Bell, "but in college I got involved in New Beginnings and loved it. A lot of my friends at church were raised going to Honey Creek and their stories enthralled me. All spots were filled the year I applied to be a counselor, but at the last minute someone had to drop out and I took the position. I've been in love with HC ever since!"

After serving as a camp counselor, (see photo, upper right), she returned to Honey Creek to drop off her own three children, Andrew, Grace and Jake Diamond, at camp. Andrew and Grace have both worked as counselors at Honey Creek. Bell has served as the camp nurse for the past several years.

This year she marks her 25th year of teaching for Lowndes County, right now for kindergarteners. 

"I've had the pleasure of knowing Karen Bell for a long time," said Dade Brantley, Executive Director, "she's relaxed and comfortable to be around which works well at Honey Creek. We're looking forward to a fantastic summer under her leadership."

Karen Bell, right, with her children, from left, Grace, Andrew and Jake Diamond.
The Bishop Knocks on the Door
Holy Cross Church, Thompson
Holy Cross Episcopal Church was formed in 1959 when five families in Thomson came together and started holding weekly services at Thomson Elementary School. That same year, the church was built and consecrated across the street from the school. The first priest to serve, Fr. Manning, also lived in the church.

In 1992, after a ten-year campaign, led by the Rev. Forest Ethridge, a 150-seat sanctuary was built adjacent to the original structure which in turn became the parish hall.

According to the Rev. Ray Whiting, the bi-vocational priest who serves at Holy Cross, it has always been a mission of the Diocese of Georgia. "It's gone through periods of strong growth and decline," he said. "We are now focused on working so that the parish becomes a sanctuary, a respite from the anger that seems to exist in the world."

Mary Lynn and David Evans
To that end, politics are left at the door. "It can be so divisive in society, instead we concentrate on the Gospel message. That is our primary mission," he said. "We want Holy Cross to be a place of rest and thanksgiving." Today there's a sense of ownership among the congregants.

At Christmas they put together a collection of gifts for senior citizens who had no family connections and delivered a gift to each. Parishioners collect food and deliver it to Manna, the local food pantry.

Holy Cross is host to the oldest non-Metropolitan Alcoholics Anonymous Group in the State of Georgia.

A large cross stands outside the sanctuary. "Within the parish there is a huge emphasis on that cross and what it represents. The first thing confirmands did following the service is take photos in front of the cross."

Family and friends gather with Mary Lynn Evans and David Evans after Bishop Benhase received and confirmed them, respectively. Front row, from left: Brian Barmore and Lynn Barmore, grandparents; Blakesley Ann Moyer, Butch Evans, Eleanor Colvin, Mary Lynn Evans, received; David Evans, confirmed; Kelly Evans, Frankie Hill, grandmother; Mary Spence, Jimmy Spence; back row, from left: the Rev. Sandy Turner, Archdeacon; the Rt. Rev. Scott Anson Benhase, and the Rev. Ray Whiting, Priest in Charge.
The Loose Canon
Move from never enough to it is sufficient
I am not thin enough, fit enough, handsome enough, smart enough, rich enough. Everything around me tells me I am not enough. And anyone who lived through middle school has been told this in many ways by others. Worse, this can be something we tell ourselves. I was reminded of this while reading BrenĂ© Brown's book  Daring Greatly as I serve on the team planning the next Clergy Spouse Conference.
This reminded me of the summer when I served as an intern in the Anglican Church in Tanzania. While there, I did not have the problem of having enough food to eat, but the opposite. I was always the guest, relying on the hospitality of others in a very hospitable society. Many times I would sit down to a meal to be told that the family did not always eat like this but it was a special meal as they had a guest. I found out soon enough that the guest had to have seconds or the hosts would be offended. This was not an option. I did adjust to get little on the first pass, so that I could get seconds or even thirds without having eaten too much. I could come away having eaten less food, but my hosts would feel better about it. I also learned the secret word to get me out of being begged to take more food. After having seconds, and when being pressed to take more, I would say in Swahili, "inatosha" which means, "it is sufficient." The hosts would beam. They had given me enough. All was right in the world.
It dawned on me that "it is sufficient" is theological as well. God tells us, "My grace is sufficient for you" (2 Corinthians 12:9). We try our best, but we still fall short of the glory of God, which is a fancy way of saying, we sin. We hurt others. We hurt ourselves. We mess up, sometimes quite badly, tragically. And yet, God offers the opportunity to turn around, to walk back to God and ask for forgiveness. And that prayer uttered out of a real desire to change, that prayer is enough, because God's grace is sufficient.
While in and of ourselves, we are not good enough to earn God's favor and love, God loves us. This is the gift that I cannot earn and neither can you, but we both so desperately need. This is the message our friends, family, co-workers, and the person who just got on our last nerve first need to hear. They are not enough either. They too know the way they have hurt others and the ways they have disappointed themselves.
In worship, we enter sacred space in which we are fully known and fully loved, as we are now, in the tender compassion of a creator who wants better for us, but for whom we are enough. When we invite someone we know to join us in worship, we are offering the gift of a sacred time and space in which they are fully known and fully loved. It may seem we are offering them little, but God can use that worship to let those you love know that his grace is more than enough to make them whole.
"Just Mercy" Study Guide Now Available!
The Diocese of Georgia encourages individuals and congregations to read the book
Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson during Lent. A study guide to go along with the book is available to download here. 
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. 
The Bishop Knocks on the Door
St. John's and St. Mark's, Albany
On July 5, 1994, Albany suffered the devastation of a major flood, damaging homes, schools, businesses, and churches. St. Mark's, a parish in the Radium Springs community, was heavily flooded, but it was salvageable. St. John's, the first African-American Episcopal Church in Albany, was damaged beyond repair. Attending St. Patrick's in the immediate aftermath of the flood, Bishop Henry Loutitt met with the parish to determine a more permanent future home.
            The congregation met with Bishop Louttit in 1995 to discern future possibilities, and they expressed a desire to continue meeting as a congregation. So, in September, Bishop Louttit offered a plan to merge St. John's with St. Mark's parish in Radium Springs. On Christmas Eve, 1995, St. John's and St. Mark's had their first service together. The congregations continued to meet together, and on January 5 th, 1997, St. John's and St. Mark's officially became one congregation.
            In 1998, the Diocese sent funds from the insurance at St. John's to be used for a new parish hall on the church property. On April 2, 2000, The Rt. Rev. Harry S. Shipps, the first Rector of St. Mark's parish, celebrated Mass and presided over the dedication of the new parish hall. The parish hall was named after the Rev. Quintin E. Primo, who was priest at St. John's and their first Rector.
            The parish continues to be a racially diverse congregation serving the Radium Springs neighborhood and enjoys weekly lunches together after Eucharist on Sunday. The parish is well supported through a strong culture of lay ministry, taking ownership of its outreach and identity as a place of rest and recreation for the neighborhood.
            The parish offers a number of neighborhood events each year, welcoming the Radium Springs community to its space for a teacher's breakfast, Trunk or Treat, our St. Nicholas party ( right), and an end-of- the-school-year block party. The parish is a partner in Excellence with Radium Elementary, and it is a consistent supporter of the Southwest Georgia branch of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).
*The historical details provided by Ms. Lila Isom, a member of the parish since before the merger, who serves faithfully as a member of the altar guild.

Gathered after the service on Sunday, starting from the top left: Jeremy Miles (confirmed), David Bassey (baptized), Bishop Benhase: middle row: Blake Thornhill (confirmed), Traci Carter (confirmed), Jeaunice Burnette (confirmed); front row: Taylor Thornhill (confirmed), Michael Bassey (baptized).
Around the Diocese

Above: Grace Cafe, an outreach ministry of Christ Church, Valdosta that provides supper for students at nearby Valdosta State, was featured in an article by Episcopal News Service about food insecurity among college attendees. Read the article here:  http://bit.ly/ENSfoodinsecurityamongcollegestudents

Members of the youth groups at St. Thomas' Isle of Hope and St. Peter's Savannah gather for a photo during their ski trip to North Carolina.

Trinity (Statesboro) Trotters at the 7th Annual Chocolate Run 5K: Micah D'Arcangelo, back row, third from right, came in first place overall!
These three children are ready to make dog biscuits at King of Peace, Kingsland.

Working on the parable of the seeds and soil at St. John's Church, Savannah, above. Planting an orchard at the community garden at St. Barnabas' Valdosta, below.
Registration for New Beginnings #54 is now open!
Cost: $115 until March 8th
For Youth in Grades 7-9
New Beginnings #54, a weekend retreat for youth in grades 7-9, is now open for registration! The weekend takes place March 22-24 at Honey Creek. Young people from across the Diocese will gather at Honey Creek for a time of worship, reflection, joy, and laughter. New Beginnings is primarily led by high school youth whose experiences at New Beginnings, at Happening, and at other youth events have led them to want to offer their experiences of unconditional love to younger teenagers.

The Lead Teen for New Beginnings #54 is Sera Davidson, (at left in blue) and the Shadow, who will be the Lead Teen for New Beginnings #55 in the fall, is Waverly Brown (at left in red). Early Registration is open through March 8. After that, the cost of the weekend goes up, so register early! Online registration is available at http://bit.ly/NB54SignUp.
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. 

February 24-March 2
In our diocesan cycle of prayer, we pray for our congregation in Blakely, Holy Trinity, and for our ecumenical partners in Blakely, especially Holy Family Catholic Church. In our companion diocese of the Dominican Republic, we pray for St. Cornelius ( San Cornelio) in Cabarete.

March 3-9
In our diocesan cycle of prayer, we pray for our congregations in Brunswick, Good Shepherd, St. Athanasius', and St. Mark's. We also pray for our ecumenical partners in Brunswick, especially St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church and St. James Lutheran Church. In our companion diocese of the Dominican Republic, we pray for Church of the Holy Name (El Santo Nombre) in Catalina.

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
On Sunday, March 3, Bishop Scott Anson Benhase  will make his annual visitation to St. Patrick's Pooler at 10:30 AM, Sunday, March 3. The Bishop's full schedule is available here. 

Bishop Benhase and the Rev. Canon Frank Logue will gather with teams from the Diocese of Georgia and the Diocese of the Central Gulf Coast at Louttit Hall at Christ Church Valdosta to complete training on using DataStory Demographic data through funding made possible by a grant from the Episcopal Church's Province IV.

Canon Logue will preach at St. Peter's Savannah on Sunday, March 3.

The Rev. Kevin Kelly, Rector of St. Michael's and All Angels, Savannah, will serve at the noon, Thursday Eucharist at Diocesan House this week.
It's Official
The Presiding Bishop, Michael Curry signed the parish registry signifying that he had preached last January during the revival weekend at Good Shepherd, Pennick. The registry went on quite a journey, just missing being added to Canon Logue's suitcase, it was overnighted to Oklahoma (but took two nights) to be shared with the Presiding Bishop while they gathered for the Executive Council meeting. 
2018 Parochial Reports Due to Diocese
Friday, March 1 

Listening Session for XI Bishop Search, Central Convocation
10 AM, Saturday, March 2
Annunciation, Vidalia

Commission on Ministry and Standing Committee Weekend
March 8-9
Diocesan House, Savannah

Listening Session for XI Bishop Search, Southeast Convocation
2:30 PM, Sunday March 10
St. Mark's, Brunswick

Listening Session for XI Bishop Search, Augusta Convocation
2:30 PM Sunday, March 10
Good Shepherd, Augusta

Search Committee Meeting
10 AM, March 16
Trinity Statesboro

New Beginnings #54
For Youth in Grades 7-9 
March 22-24
Honey Creek
To register, go here. 

Listening Session for XI Bishop Search, Youth
Time TBA, Saturday, March 23
Honey Creek Conference Center

Listening Session for XI Bishop Search, Albany Convocation
3 PM, Sunday, March 24
St. Patrick's Albany

Listening Session for XI Bishop Search, Clergy
10 AM Tuesday, March 26
St. Anne's Tifton 

Clergy Spouses Retreat
March 29-31
Honey Creek
A Listening Session for XI Bishop Search led by the Search Committee for clergy spouses will be scheduled during the retreat.

Listening Session for XI Bishop Search, Savannah Convocation
3 PM, Sunday, March 31
St. Paul's Savannah

Weekend Retreat for Youth Summer Mission Trip
April 5-7
Honey Creek Retreat Center
Parish Hall Dedication
St. Cyprian's and St. Andrew's Darien
5 PM, Saturday, April 13

Holy Week Chrism Mass
11 AM Monday, April 15
Christ Church Valdosta

Holy Week Chrism Mass
11 AM Tuesday, April 16Trinity Statesboro

Diocese of Georgia Episcopal Church Women Annual Retreat
Daughters of the King Spring Assembly
April 26-27
St. Augustine's  and  the Church of Our Savior, Augusta
For information: fayrelight@aol.com or psolom@aol.com

Spring Clergy Conference
April 29 at 5:30 PM to May 1 at 1 PM
Honey Creek
here .

Dedication of Saint Anna Alexander Chapel
11 AM, May 3
Diocesan House
18 E. 34th Street, Savannah

Toil 'N Sweat
May 3-5
Honey Creek
Register by going here: http://bit.ly/ToilNSweat2019

Diocesan Council
May 17-18

Nominations for XI Bishop Close
Friday, May 31

Diocesan Youth Mission Trip
July 13-20
To register: 
Thursday, August 2 through Sunday, August 4; staff arrives August 1
Honey Creek Retreat Center

Diocesan Council
September 13-14
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