Episcopal Diocese to meet in Augusta next week

  • Follow Your Faith

More than 300 Episcopal church leaders from across southern and coastal Georgia will gather in Augusta next week for The Episcopal Diocese of Georgia’s 191st convention.



Delegates of the church will elect officers, approve a 2012 budget and pursue a new capital and congregational development campaign called A New Era of Mission.

The program aims to reverse the declines in membership the Episcopal Church has experienced over the past 40 years, said the Rev. Frank Logue, the assistant to the bishop of the Diocese of Georgia.

“It focuses on nine areas of funding, nine priorities for us,” he said.

The initiatives aim to increase the membership of congregations throughout the diocese by 5 percent in five years. Churches are also tasked with promoting outreach so that each congregation has at least one signature ministry.

While in Augusta, the delegates will meet for two worship services that are open to the public.

Evensong, the traditional Anglican office of evening prayers, will open the convention at 6 p.m. Feb. 2 at Saint Paul’s Church, 605 Reynolds St. The service features music sung by the Saint Paul’s Choir under the direction of Keith Shafer. The Rev. Billy Alford, of St. Alban’s Episcopal Church in Augusta, will be the preacher. The Rev. Scott Benhase, the 10th bishop of Georgia, will be the celebrant.

The Holy Eucharist will be celebrated with a service at 5 p.m. Feb. 3 at Saint Paul’s. The choir will be joined by a brass quintet and percussionists.

The church is the site of the founding of the Diocese of Georgia. Three churches – Saint Paul’s in Augusta, Christ Church in Savannah and Christ Church, Frederica on St. Simons Island – were called together for the Diocese of Georgia’s first convention in 1823.

Today, the diocese includes 71 churches across 33,000 square miles in the southeastern portion of the state.

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Dixieman
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Dixieman 01/25/12 - 01:13 pm
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This is a church that has

This is a church that has lost its way. Its leaders are responsible for something between a tragedy and a crime. They have strayed from scripture in a vain attempt to curry favor with political liberals. The Episcopal Church will continue to lose members until it sees the error of its ways and repents.

Fiat_Lux
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Fiat_Lux 01/25/12 - 02:26 pm
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You put that very well,

You put that very well, Dixieman, as usual. I believe, however, that the straying took place when people of alternative moral beliefs and standing began to show up as delegates to the national triennial conventions. They were not trying to curry favor with political liberals; they WERE the political liberals, and they believed then as now that they have the ability and a right to determine theology and cosmology by popular vote. As if.

Homosexuality was not the issue that first pushed the Episcopal Church off the rails. That was enabled by a couple of decades of moral slackness in other areas, pretty much across the board. And heretics have been made bishops for more than half a century. It's just a lot more common now than it was 50 years ago.

God bless and rest Bp. Stuart. I'd wager he's twirling in his grave.

Little Lamb
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Little Lamb 01/25/12 - 03:47 pm
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Kelly Jasper wrote: Delegates

Kelly Jasper wrote:

Delegates of the church will . . . pursue a new capital and congregational development campaign called A New Era of Mission. The program aims to reverse the declines in membership the Episcopal Church has experienced over the past 40 years.

Wow! Isn't 40 years a little late to begin thinking of a program to reverse the trend?

It's kind of like Obama waiting until 2012 to begin thinking of a way to have the economy improve.

commonsense09
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commonsense09 01/25/12 - 06:59 pm
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Dixieman said: "They have

Dixieman said: "They have strayed from scripture in a vain attempt to curry favor with political liberals." Haven't almost all churches 'strayed from Scripture' to curry favor with their members?
Proverbs 6: 16 - 19:
These six things doth the LORD hate:
yea, seven are an abomination unto him:
A proud look, a lying tongue,
and hands that shed innocent blood,
An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations,
feet that be swift in running to mischief,
A false witness that speaketh lies,
and he that soweth discord among brethren.

Churches are full of people who do the above who aren't cast out or asked to refrain from this behavior. How many fornicators or adulterers are in church and not disciplined?

How many divorced people who have remarried? Matthew 19:9 "And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.”

The reason why churches don't kick out all the men who divorced for any reason other than sexual immorality, is that the churches would be empty. Same for the other 'abominations' listed above.

And for those who say, we can all make mistakes and be forgiven, but gay people want to continue in an immoral lifestyle, why shouldn't the remarried man (for other reasons than sexual immorality) who wants to go to church, be told that he is an adulterer until he leaves the second spouse and live single or go back to his first wife? He's continuing in an immoral lifestyle.

So, if the Episcopal Church is currying favor with certain groups, they certainly aren't alone.

howcanweknow
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howcanweknow 01/25/12 - 09:55 pm
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Is Bishop Spong invited?

Is Bishop Spong invited?

Dixieman
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Dixieman 01/25/12 - 11:58 pm
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Spong: If not present in

Spong: If not present in person, certainly in spirit.

commonsense09: 1. What makes you think I am talking only about homosexuality? The Episcopal Church started losing its way back in the 1960's when it went over to political liberalism and started meddling in politics as it still does to the present day.

2. On your quotes from the Bible, Shakespeare said it best:

"ANTONIO: Mark you this, Bassanio, the devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.
An evil soul producing holy witness
Is like a villain with a smiling cheek,
A goodly apple rotten at the heart:
O, what a goodly outside falsehood hath!"

The Merchant of Venice, Act 1, Scene III

howcanweknow
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howcanweknow 01/26/12 - 09:01 am
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So we admit that the

So we admit that the Episcopal Church has fallen away from the truth, yet that's OK because all churches have done so?

Seems like a poorly reasoned defense.

Yes, the church is a hospital for spiritually-sick folks, and we all qualify as a patient. All have fallen short of the perfection required. It just seems like some churches have openly rejected the truth and are proud of doing so. "Open minds and open hearts" cannot ever become more important that open scripture.

Bruce Garner
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Bruce Garner 01/26/12 - 09:19 am
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There is a sadness about

There is a sadness about listening to people who claim to follow Jesus being so critical of other believers. There are literally hundreds of rules, laws and regulations in both the Hebrew Scriptures and the Christian Testament that believers do not follow. There is a reason for that. When asked about it, Jesus responded with "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul and mind and strength. This is the first and great commandment. The second is like unto it. Love your neighbor as yourself. On these two hand all the law and the prophets." Jesus' spent His ministry with the outcasts and the downtrodden. He constantly criticized the religious leaders of the day for being so legalistic that they missed the spirit of the law knowing only the letter of the law. Jesus even noted that some things were actually too difficult to accept. But He did not condemn those who could not accept them.

When the Holy Spirit touches us, we are changed. We don't become perfect. We don't become sinless. We do receive the grace of God that we could never earn.

Church membership has declined in large part due to successive generations growing weary of hypocrisy. They yearn to hear the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, yet all they hear is judgment about others and the language of rigidity that was never used even by Jesus.

Opened hearts, minds, eyes, ears and arms is what will draw people back to God. Constant battering with piece-mealed Scripture quotations taken out of context will continue to keep them away.

commonsense09
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commonsense09 01/26/12 - 10:17 am
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I'm not defending anything,

I'm not defending anything, just saying tit for tat. Lots of people pick out one or two verses to defend their views, mainly about gays.
I've sat in Methodist and Baptist churches and heard a conservative political agenda preached from the pulpit. Isn't that 'getting involved in politics'? Fiat Lux or Dixeman, do you comment criticizing the Baptists for losing their way when there's a story about them? Bruce Garner, your comment was right on and said it better than I could. That's why I included the quote about divorce. IF you want to be the kind of person who says 'every word in the Bible is true' then you will both condemn gays and the divorced and remarried. You can't have it both ways.

InChristLove
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InChristLove 01/26/12 - 12:39 pm
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commonsense09, you are partly

commonsense09, you are partly true, there are many churches who have fallen into the pit of trying to pacify the world and not standing on the truth of His Word and holding our fellow brothers and sisters accountable without comdenation. You mention divorce, remarriage, and homosexuality. There are still some churches who welcome all sinners and although all is unpleasing to the Lord, thankfully we have His mercy and forgiveness to help us overlook each other's faults.

As for the subject of divorce and remarriage, you peeked my interest because my spouse is a divorcee but we are both committed to God. I have done some scriptural study on the subject and some may not agree but this is my opinion on what I have read and studied. Scripture so often quoted in Matthew concerning divorce needs to be studied closer. Many times the Greek and Hebrew word “divorce” has been translated in scripture when the word should be “put away”, which are not the same and have different meanings. For a husband to write a wife a bill of divorcement was acceptable and the wife was free to remarry without the condemnation of adultery, but a wife who had been “put or sent away” (considered separation) by her husband was not free to remarry. Even God Himself put away Israel and gave her a bill of divorce. In Jeremiah 3:8, God said, “And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce”

God never intended for a man and a wife to divorce but because of men’s hard hearts (Matthew 19:8) that God , through Moses, allowed a bill of divorcement. Men were putting or sending away their wives without just cause, without a bill of divorcement and causing sin (adultery).

The Greek word “apoluo” is translated “divorced” instead of “put away” in the verse Matthew 5:32 “..that whosoever marries her that is divorced (greek word should read “put away or separated”) commits adultery”.

So although it is not pleasing to the Lord, and His desire is for a man and woman to be in a committed and loving relationship called marriage, I see no reason to compare divorced and remarried members to those of homosexual members. One group, although not what was intended from the beginng, under biblical law is not living in sin. The other group, according to scripture is liviing in sin, but thankfully with repentance can experience forgiveness from our Lord.

That being said, no one should ever be "kicked out" of a church for their sin, but loved and corrected through the guidance of the Holy Spirit and His Word.

howcanweknow
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howcanweknow 01/26/12 - 01:22 pm
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"the language of rigidity

"the language of rigidity that was never used even by Jesus." OK. Well, looking at the entire picture (which I agree we should do), Jesus said he was THE way, truth, and life and no one comes to God except through Him. That sounds pretty rigid to me. No much room for open minds and open hearts there, huh?

He also said that if you were not for Him, then you were against Him. Yep. Really tolerant and accepting there too. Lots of gray areas to debate there.

He forgave the woman caught in adultery, but also gave her a stern warning not to sin again. He did not call sexual promiscuity or deviance an "alternative lifestyle". He called sin, sin -- and stated if people remained in their sin they would never see heaven.

I could go on and on, but I think you get the point.

Balance. We need to balance the love of God with the righteous judgment of God. There is a divine forgiveness, but also a divine rigidity against any and all disobedience to God's law. You blatantly disregard God's law, and you will pay the penalty. Jesus emphasized that over and over. Fact is, Jesus spoke far more about eternal punishment than he did about heaven. Balance. Don't take Jesus piecemeal. Take him as a whole. You can't throw out what you don't like and accept only what you do like. It's the entire Gospel or none at all.

howcanweknow
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howcanweknow 01/26/12 - 01:37 pm
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I did not mean to imply that

I did not mean to imply that "open hearts" was not important. Accepting everyone as a sinner in need of Christ is always the right thing to do. We're all there. None of us is perfect.

The point I felt needed to be made is that when you emphasize "open minds" above what is very clearly spelled out in God's word, then you have a problem. When God says something clearly and with authority, you do not negotiate with Him, or say, "Well, God can't really mean that." Yes, He does. The matter is not open for discussion. You have the right to disagree with God (as many, or most, do), but you do not have the right to twist His words. That's not "openness" -- that's deceit.

jic
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jic 01/27/12 - 10:11 am
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Thank you Bruce and
Unpublished

Thank you Bruce and Commonsense. The fact that the Episcopal Church and St. Paul's in particular is filled with intelligent and spiritual people, constantly engaged in community outreach and love, and has done so for 250 years, is humbling. It's not the constant "us vs. them" Christianity dominated by politicians. Never content to say something nice, it is telling that the usual righteous tripe above always comes from the same posters and makes me wonder if they even have a church to call home.

howcanweknow
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howcanweknow 01/27/12 - 03:51 pm
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JIC, I'd be happy to more

JIC, I'd be happy to more thoroughly discuss the "righteous tripe" you refer to, if you'd be kind enough to specify.

In my humble opinion, just saying that any church has done good things for the community is a smoke screen. Secular groups do good things for the community. Anyone can do good things. If that is your primary focus, then why be a part of a church? Instead, join the Elks, Lions, Rotary Club, or some other civic-minded organization.

That's great and we all need to aspire to such good works of service. However, as I'm sure you know, the primary purpose of the church is to spread the truth of the Gospel and help people toward a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. He's what it's all about. Good works flow from that relationship. They do not replace it.

I'm no expert on the Episcopal Church, and have no ax to grind against it. But, I do grind axes against any organization -- especially a "church" -- that seems to exalt man's works above God's work of salvation through Christ. Not saying that is what the E.C. is doing. But, your last post is somewhat telling. You brag about human intelligence, spiritual people, community outreach, etc. Not once did you mention THE most important thing about Christianity -- Jesus. He is righteous, but is not tripe.

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