Episcopal Diocese to meet in Augusta next week

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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