Message from the Rector
Last week, November 8-10, Episcopalians from all corners of the Diocese of Georgia gathered for our 197th Diocesan Convention. This year's convention was in Albany, Georgia. Thank you to the Christ Church delegation who joined with me for this larger family gathering: Becky Cheatham, Timothy Hall, Stephen Hooten, Samantha McKean, Rod Davis and Deacon Patti Davis. (M.J. Harris from Christ Church was also present in her role on the Diocesan Staff.) Thank you also to the Episcopalians of Albany who hosted us even as they continue recovering from damage brought by Hurricane Michael earlier this fall.
The convention is always grounded in worship and prayer. During the business portions of the convention, we discussed and approved the Diocesan Budget for 2019. We discussed and approved a few changes to the Diocesan Canons (rules of governance). Some of these changes related to guidelines for congregations with endowments and the formula for calculating the number of delegates representing each congregation at convention. Also, now that the Honey Creek Camp and Conference Center is on a firm administrative foundation and has not taken on any new debt in the last eight years, a plan was approved for each congregation to share in a program of debt retirement over the next four years. On Friday evening, Samantha McKean was part of the leadership team for an evening lock-in where middle and high school students from around the diocese gathered for a time of faith, food, fun, and fellowship, and then this group led our morning worship on Saturday.
The final moment of the convention was the announcement by Bishop Benhase that in response to some significant health issues which no longer allow him to serve and function at the high level that the role of Bishop demands, he will retire when his successor is selected and ordained as Bishop. The next months will include the Diocesan Standing Committee (which is sort of like a vestry for the Diocese) leading a study of the hopes, dreams, and challenges for the next chapter of our common life. They will also appoint a Search Committee to gather nominees for our next Bishop, interview these candidates, and narrow down a smaller list of proposed candidates. The Standing Committee will select the final slate of candidates and present them to the larger diocesan community for election at our Diocesan Convention in November of 2019. The months that follow the election will involve the Bishop-elect saying farewell to his or her previous calling and then building relationships with the Diocesan Staff and the larger diocese. The Bishop-elect will likely be ordained Bishop during May of 2020. Please pray for health and wellness for Bishop Benhase (and his family) and for the Diocese of Georgia during this time of transition. We are thankful for the gifts that Bishop Benhase has brought to the Diocese of Georgia; we pray that God will bless him during these days, and that the Holy Spirit will lead the selection process for the eleventh Bishop of Georgia.