It's gonna be a quiet week at St. Michael's... (Ha!)

 Tired Angel

Tired Angel

This is what some of our angels may look like after this coming week at St. Michael’s. We have a lot to do, a short time to do it, and we need your help. Here’s what’s happening this week; jump in wherever you are able.

Tomorrow - Saturday - at 8:00am we go into high gear for the Christmas Tree lot build. Charlean Smith is heading up breakfast for the workers; we’re having breakfast casseroles, fruit, juice, and donuts. Contact Charlean if you can help buy, make, serve, or clean up afterwards. As soon as we’re well fed, we head over to Daffin to build the tree lot; there’s lots to do, and we can use you. At some point tomorrow - we’re still trying to pin down a time from the nursery - our trees will be delivered, and we’ve got to get them unloaded, counted, and sorted.

Sunday - we gather all the food to go in the Thanksgiving bags we start giving away on Tuesday. Here is what we still need, in volume: cranberry sauce, stuffing mix, cornbread mix, cake mix/frosting, and especially Thanksgiving-themed reusable grocery bags. We do have the hams we need at this point; we just need more of the list above. We’ll use as much as you can bring. Also, the 2019 Pledge Campaign Celebration takes place between services that morning. What if you haven’t turned in your pledge card yet? Bring it with you!!!!!

Monday - we fill the Thanksgiving bags. We may actually have enough volunteers to accomplish this task by now, thanks to all of you who responded to the SignUp Genius request. Still, things could change, so if you’re around Monday morning, come on by.

Tuesday - we start giving out the bags through the I AM Food Pantry.

Wednesday - 10:00am Healing Eucharist as usual. After that, we should all look pretty much like the Angel above, so we’ll collapse until…

Friday - Christmas Tree Lot opens at 9:00am. Come help sell our trees!

Of course, Thursday is Thanksgiving Day - so eat (but not too, too much), celebrate, and give thanks for all God has done for you.

 

Message from our Bishop at Convention

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Below is the text of an email our Bishop sent out to the diocese today. It mirrors an address he shared at the end of Convention in Albany today. We will certainly talk about this at church tomorrow, so please bring any questions you might have with you.

In the meantime, please keep the diocese, its Standing Committee, and our Bishop in your prayers.

To the Faithful of the Diocese of Georgia:

November 10, 2018

To the Faithful of the Diocese of Georgia:

In the last year I've had some significant health setbacks. In my rehabilitation I've not been able to get back to 100%. My doctors and therapists have recently told me I never will. To be the bishop of a diocese of this size and scope, my experience tells me the bishop needs to be at 100% all the time. And you deserve such a bishop. It has been hard for me to admit this (pride being the worst of all sins), but I can no longer physically do what the bishop of this diocese must do. Thus, I have informed the Standing Committee I intend to resign as the Bishop of Georgia upon the successful election and consecration of my successor. The election will take place next year in Statesboro, on November 15-16. The consecration of the 11th Bishop of Georgia will be, God willing, on May 30, 2020. Your Standing Committee will oversee the discernment and election process. 

When bishops make an announcement such as this, the usual script they follow is to say how wonderfully healthy the diocese now is, how leaving when things are going so well is for the best, and then the bishop subtly works in all sorts of backdoor compliments for all the great things he thinks he's done. I won't insult your intelligence by doing that, nor will I subject you to what we all know to be at best half-truths. The truth is we're facing tremendous headwinds as a Church and, as of yet, we've not done what we need to do to adequately address them. We aren't evangelizing as we must and our stewardship isn't strong enough to be sustaining in the long-term. 

Over the next 18 months I will continue to put my heart and soul into this vocation. My schedule, however, will need some further adjustments due to my ongoing physical challenges. There will be no "lame duck" anything. If I hear: "we'll have to wait until the new bishop is here," then I will say "no" and we'll move forward. God's Mission won't be suspended over the next 18 months.

Nine years ago, you gave me a privilege I didn't deserve and that was to serve as your bishop. Other than my marriage to Kelly and the gift of our three children, your gift to me has been the most precious of my lifetime. I thank you for entrusting this office to my care and oversight. I ask your forgiveness for the many times I failed to be the bishop you needed. In all things, you have shown me grace upon grace and you have honored me in giving me this trust and responsibility. 

Always in Christ,

The Right Reverend Scott Anson Benhase

Bishop of Georgia

The Feast of All Saints

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This Sunday we celebrate The Feast of All Saints, even though the actual feast day is November1. All Saints is the only day in the calendar that the Prayer Book permits us to celebrate twice - once on the actual date and then again on the Sunday following. Without delving into the differences between All Saints and All Souls and thus between the Church Triumphant and the Church Expectant, we will content ourselves with saying that this is when we give thanks for all those faithful servants of God who have gone before, “who rejoice with us, but upon another shore and in a greater light, that multitude which none can number, whose hope was in the Word made flesh, and with whom, in this Lord Jesus, we for evermore are one".”

In keeping with this celebration, I encourage you to be thinking about who those saints might be in your own life. When you come to church on Sunday, you will find at the back of the church alongside the regular Prayers of the People, a list of those names whom we will remember at the altar. Add the names you bring to the list, so we can include all the saints in the lives of our congregation.

Two quick notes about attending this Sunday: it’s Time Change Sunday, so don’t forget to set your clocks back an hour before you go to bed Saturday night, and this is the Rock n Roll 5k this Sunday. When you arrive you will see signs saying you can’t park on Washington Avenue, but that will not be enforced until noon on Sunday. We’ll make sure to have you out of church by then, so park as you normally would. See you on Sunday!

Love in the Time of Elections

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As the upcoming elections draw nearer, our anxiety as a country grows accordingly. This past week several explosive devices were mailed to prominent people but fortunately were intercepted before they could do any harm. Except that they have harmed us. Our President calls for civility and an end to hatred and division but then continues to spread division and anger amongst his most fervent supporters at rallies. The internet is filled with unflattering images of candidates, often accompanied by falsely attributed statements or cruel, cutting comments. I suspect you have seen them. We all say that we have to do better, but it seems to me that comment usually means, “The ‘other side’ needs to be better; ‘my side’ is just fine.’”

There is a solution, of course; it’s just not the one we hear about the most. The solution doesn’t lie in winning elections or changing laws, in appointing judges or demanding Congressional investigations. The solution will not come through persuasive arguments or cutting remarks. We will not bring about a change of heart by changing the minds of those who disagree with us. The solution, as every Christian should know, is only and exactly what Jesus taught - love. Love of God, love of neighbor, love of our enemies, love of those with differing political views - this is the burden that Jesus lays upon his followers. It does not allow for exceptions, conditions, or reservations.

Love is simple in its being, but it is not always easy. It may not make us feel satisfied with the results, justified by its outcome, or even just better because we did it. None of those things is the point. Loving, especially when it requires something of us, reshapes us into the image of God stamped upon us at creation. It makes us more of the person we were created by God to be. It reveals the face of God to those around us. Love is the only power at our disposal that we cannot exhaust or misuse; it is, as Paul reminds us above, the only true debt we have, one which we owe not just to one another, but to the God who created us and taught us the meaning of love.

Our Community Cupboard

 The Blessing of the Community Cupboard, given by our Girl Scout Troop

The Blessing of the Community Cupboard, given by our Girl Scout Troop

Last Sunday afternoon, members of St. Michael’s gathered with the Scouts, leaders, and parents of our Girl Scout Troop to bless the Community Cupboard that some of the girls had built as their Silver Award Project. I’m grateful to those who were able to be present and to those who planned and provided the reception afterwards.

If you usually park and come in from Washington Avenue on Sundays, I hope you’ll walk around the corner and take a look. The Cupboard will be stocked with snacks and other foods that are easy to open and require no preparation. It is always open and accessible to anyone who walks by. As you can imagine, the food inside goes very quickly, and I suppose that some who are not exactly in desperate need are availing themselves of it, and perhaps some others are taking more than they need. We might be tempted to let those be reasons not to offer such a thing, but the Girl Scouts were clear - they didn’t mind. They just wanted it to be there for anyone who was hungry. Sometimes kind innocence and even naivety are not such terrible responses, especially in a time when the supposedly more sophisticated and powerful in the world seem bent towards harshness and even cruelty.

When the Cupboard was first put in place, someone asked if i’d seen it, and with a shy look they said, “It’s not exactly perfect.” I thought about that for a moment and then replied, “Yeah, that’s true, but it really kind of fits with most of what goes on at St. Michael’s - imperfect, but done with love and a desire to help.”

If you want to help with our imperfect Cupboard, there’s always a basket for it at the entrance to the church building - drop off some snacks or other goodies there.

Our Patron Saint

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This Saturday, September 29, is the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels. The Book of Common Prayer permits a congregation to transfer its patronal feast onto the next Sunday, provided it’s not during certain special times of the year. As we are hopelessly in the middle of what’s commonly called “Ordinary Time,” we don’t have to worry.

Depending upon how high your angelology is, Michael is one of either one, three, four, or seven named archangels in our tradition. The Book of Daniel refers to Michael as the protector of Israel, while in Revelation he is portrayed as the leader of the armies of God against the forces of the devil, the “deceiver of the world.” The name Michael comes from Hebrew and means “who is like God.” In other words, our congregation has a pretty serious patron saint. Michael is also the only non-human to be canonized as a saint, but that’s another story.

This Sunday we celebrate our patronal feast with one service at 10:00am, followed by lunch in Patton Hall. Lunch is potluck, so we will be eating whatever you bring. Come be part of the feast!!!!

Let's read the Bible together

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For the last couple of weeks, we’ve been writing about reading the Bible. On Monday, October 1, St. Michael’s is offering a way for us as a congregation to read through the entire Bible over the course of a year. We have a program we will follow that appoints three passages per day: the first is the main section for the day, beginning of course at “In the beginning;” the second and third passages are much shorter and will come from one of Paul’s letters and from the Psalms. The intent is to make this process as much devotional and inspirational as it is informative and educational.

We’re asking folks to sign up for this, so we know how many people are going to participate; there will be a list available in church on Sunday, and you can also call or email the office and sign up that way. You can use any translation or edition of the Bible you prefer. If you’d like some suggestions, you can ask Nathan or me on Sunday, but i highly recommend this one. It’s an excellent study Bible that uses the NRSV translation, the same one we use in church on Sundays.

If you have any questions, please let us know. See you on Sunday, and in the mean time, please keep in your prayers all those affected by Florence. I’m sure in the days to come, we will have opportunities to offer additional help, but until such time we can always offer our prayers.

"The Word of the Lord"

 The Book of Common Prayer opened to p. 853

The Book of Common Prayer opened to p. 853

In last week’s blog post, Fr. Kelly announced that we are planning to read the Bible in a year as a church. We will begin on the Feast of St. Michael and All Angels, which we will celebrate September 30.

As we prepare for this journey, perhaps a good question to ask is “What is the Bible?” It may seem like a basic question, but many have become so familiar with the Bible that we need to take a step back and think about a basic question like this. The Bible is a collection of writings by various and differing authors that have been gathered together and edited over the course of several centuries. Christians do not always agree what books should be included in this collection. However, all of the books considered canonical by various Christian communions come from people of God’s covenant.

In many ways, this collection seems messy. Differing accounts of events are included. The various authors do not always seem to agree. Despite this, after a reading for this collection in a service, the reader says, “The Word of the Lord,” to which we respond, “Thanks be to God.” By saying this, we are affirming that God has been at work through the whole process: the writing, collecting, editing, and reading. We believe that God uses the text to speak to us today. The same Spirit that inspired the ancient authors guides us as we read.

The goal of reading through the Bible is for us to have a more intimate connection with God. We also hope that we will grow closer with each other as we engage one another in discussing what we have read and discovered in Scripture. After all, the Bible is best read in community with others.

"to read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest..."

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As a member of the Standing Committee I regularly meet with and interview Episcopalians who believe themselves called to ordained ministry. The role of the Standing Committee in these cases, along with the Bishop and the Commission on Ministry, is to help discern what sort of vocation might have in mind for these individuals and to oversee their continuing formation for ordination. It's a daunting responsibility. I previously served in a similar capacity in West Virginia for several years, so i've met with a fair number of folks who feel called either to the priesthood or the diaconate. One of the traits that these folks often say they lack is a sufficient knowledge of Holy Scripture. While that might surprise you, maybe it shouldn't. I find that many - maybe even most - Episcopalians simply do not know our Bible as well as we could.

That's a shame, really, and I don't mean that in an emotionally manipulative "you should love Jesus more" kind of way. Immersing ourselves in the stories of our faith is an incredibly effective way for us to deepen not just our knowledge about God but our relationship with God as well. The Holy Scriptures are the Constitution of our faith, but they are also the love story between God and creation. If we undertake the process described in those words from the Book of Common Prayer, "to read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest" the Scriptures, I suspect that more than anything else we will find ourselves falling deeper into love with the God encountered within them.

To that end, this fall St. Michael's will be undertaking a year-long effort, to read the entire Bible over the course of a year. We will begin on Monday, 1 October, the day after we celebrate the Feast of St. Michael. Between now and then, you'll hear lots more about this process: how it works, how to participate, what you will need, etc. Don't be afraid - we can do this! It won't be difficult or tedious, and the process is designed to help us find our way through the more drudgerous and dry parts, like the "begats." In addition, we will be offering a weekly Bible Study at St. Michael's to go along with our year's journey through the Bible.

I hope you'll take part - stay tuned for more details!!

The Book of Common Prayer, again continued

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Recently we have been talking a lot about the Prayer Book both in our blog and around the church. This week is no different.

Last week we shared an article by Calvin Lane on how the liturgical movement shaped the 1979 BCP. This week we offer another article discussing more about the liturgical movement and how key figures of the movement thought about liturgy. A key point in the article is "the Liturgical Movement wasn’t about living in the past, but about the past living with us."

The Book of Common Prayer, continued.

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Earlier this week I was asked by our Bishop to help design the schedule and offerings for our fall Clergy Conference. Unlike recent conferences - which i always enjoyed - this one will not employ an outside speaker to present us with an idea for a new program or something similar. Instead, it's going to be primarily a time for us to worship and pray together and to meet in small groups for discussion and reflection. Each group session will be led by members of our own clergy; I have been asked to lead one on developing and maintaining a Rule of Life.

Some of those conversations, including my own, will involve delving into the richness of our Prayer Book, an exercise I truly enjoy (in case you haven't noticed that). For those of you who may similarly be enamored with or just interested in the Book of Common Prayer, we are discussing it in the rector's forum each Sunday. I wrote some about that last week, and this week i want to offer you this article, the first of two that deals with the centuries-long process that produced the Prayer Book we use now.

The Book of Common Prayer

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The General Convention this year considered several resolutions concerning The Book of Common Prayer; the one drawing the most attention was the call to undertake an entirely new revision to be completed and approved by 2030. The General Convention did not vote for a new Prayer Book but instead called upon the church to examine and study the one we currently have. (This is the shortest explanation of what happened; the full version would take far too long to discuss here.)

First published in 1549, The Book of Common Prayer is far more than just a collection of services that Anglicans follow; it lays out the rhythm of daily, weekly, and yearly prayer cycles; sets forth what we believe and why; and, if we will allow it, helps to pattern our life as faithful and effective disciples of Jesus. The current revision, approved in 1979 and now in use for some 40 years, retains much of the first version but obviously with significant changes.

I am delighted and comforted by the wisdom of The General Convention's decision, and I want us to respond to their call to move more deeply into the richness of our Prayer Book. To that end, we are studying it in our Rector's Forum every Sunday morning at 9:30. We started a couple of weeks ago with the simple question, "What are some of your favorite parts or passages of the Prayer Book?" I hope you'll come be part of that discussion and share with us your favorite parts of The Book of Common Prayer.

Pilate asked Jesus, "What is truth?" - John 18:38

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We seem to have entered a time in our lives where the truth holds little to no meaning. Truth seems to have become whatever we hear that appeals to us or confirms what we want to be true. When confronted with a truth that challenges or discomforts us, we ignore it, brush it aside, or call it "fake." We manufacture a narrative of the world that conforms to "the devices and desires of own hearts," and avoid at all costs any call to self-examination.

As Christians we are not permitted this dubious luxury. We have one Truth - Jesus Christ; if we are uncertain about how that Truth looks or what it says, we turn to the Gospel. If, like me, you find yourself searching for some clarity about the Truth, about what Jesus might say to us in these uncertain times, I offer you the following passages from the Gospels. They are not the whole Truth, but they are a better place for us to seek the Truth than many other options currently before us. We may not like what the Gospel tells us; it may challenge and unsettle us; we are not, however, allowed to ignore or change it.

 

His mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation. 

He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. 

He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly; 

he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
     Luke 1:50-53

 

Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.     Matthew 11:28-30

 

If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.    John 15:10-12

 

Then the king will say to those at his right hand, “Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.” Then the righteous will answer him, “Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?” And the king will answer them, “Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.”     Matthew 25:34-40

The Daily Office

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"Pray without ceasing" (1 Thessalonians 5:17)

This seems like an impossible task at first. There are many ways Christians have tried to pray without ceasing. One way is to set aside different times during the day for prayer. This creates a pattern of going between work and prayer until work and prayer flow seamlessly together. All of our life becomes prayer.

These set times of prayer are known as the Daily Office. In our Prayer Book, there are currently four offices: Morning, Noon, Evening, and Compline. Praying the offices was once considered the job of clergy and monks. However, since the time of the Reformation, the Anglican tradition has encouraged all Christians—clergy, monks, and laity alike—to pray the offices. It is a great way to intentionally meet God throughout your day.

While you can pray the offices by yourself, it is better to pray it with a community. Morning and Evening Prayer is prayed at St. Paul’s on weekdays. If you are not able to come in person, a great way to join is through the Facebook page Morning Prayer in GA. Morning Prayer is streamed live at 9 each morning, so you can join in as the prayers are being prayed (you can also join in praying at a later time if you are not able to at 9).

New Parish Intern

I am Nathan Wilson, the new parish intern. Here are a few facts about me so y’all can get to know me a little better: I am originally from Eagleville, TN. I have three siblings—an older brother and sister as well as a younger sister. I enjoy Star Trek (I am currently re-watching Deep Space 9) and The Lord of the Rings (I recently finished reading Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-Earth). I have been a vegan for the past four years, which began after giving up meat for Lent.

I was raised in the Church of God (Anderson). If you are not familiar with the Church of God, it is sufficient here to say that it is quite different from the Episcopal Church. If you want to know more, ask me. I am happy to talk about it; I love exploring the differences in the various Christian traditions.

 I was baptized on March 12, 2000. When I was in Middle School, I first sensed a call to ministry. It happened one Sunday morning as a missionary couple spoke about their work. My sense of calling has as evolved over time. My current sense of call is to the priesthood. Ultimately, I believe that each of us in our calls to various ministries are being called to God and to live deeper in God’s life.

I attended Mid-America Christian University in Oklahoma City for my undergraduate from 2011-2015; I majored in Bible/Theology/Pastoral Care. While at Mid-America, I began my journey to the Episcopal Church. This academic setting created room for me to explore questions about my own spiritual life. My understanding of faith was broadened as I delved deeper into the Tradition of the Church. I found life in the Sacraments and the Liturgy. In 2014, I joined the United Methodist Church, which proved to be a transitional space for me; however, I never quite felt at home there.

I went to Duke University for my Master of Divinity (MDiv). After my first year, I joined the Episcopal Church. I found that the Episcopal has a greater liturgical and sacramental life. It was also important to me to be a part of a community that offered full inclusion of LGBTQ+ persons. On April 15, 2017, I was confirmed at the Easter Vigil. I graduated from Duke last month.

I am excited about my time at St. Michael’s. I look forward to working with you all and getting to know y’all better.

Danny Hill, requiem aeternam

 Danny and his wife, the Rev'd Deacon Susan Hill

Danny and his wife, the Rev'd Deacon Susan Hill

Dear Angels,

It's with a deep sadness that we share the news of the death of Danny Hill. Danny died Wednesday morning with Susan and their daughters at his side. He had recently been diagnosed with cancer and developed complications from it and from treatment he was receiving for it.

Danny's funeral will be Friday, June 8 at 2:00pm at All Saints' Episcopal Church on Tybee Island. A "visitation" will be held (in typical Tybee fashion, as Susan put it) the following day, Saturday, June 9 from 2-4pm at the American Legion.

I'm sure many of you will want to attend one or both events. If you are planning to go to the funeral, remember that All Saints' is small, and they have even less parking than we do, so you might want to get there early, and you definitely want to carpool if you can. We are waiting to hear if they need help with food for the reception; if so, we will get that word out as soon as we have it, so that our Angels here can contribute.

If you were here when Danny and Susan were, you know what a kind and gentle soul he was, always with a quick smile and a hearty laugh. Please hold Susan and all the Hill family in your prayers in the coming days.

Rest eternal grant to Danny, O Lord, and let light perpetual shine upon him. May he rest in peace and rise in glory. Amen.

Show People Who We Are

 Pentecost 2018, our graduates and, at the bottom of the screen, our newest member Wendell Tanner and his mom, Kim.

Pentecost 2018, our graduates and, at the bottom of the screen, our newest member Wendell Tanner and his mom, Kim.

By now you've probably either seen the most recent royal wedding, or you've at least heard about it. There's quite a lot of buzz about it, not just because of the wedding itself (always a big deal) but because of the preacher, our own Presiding Bishop, The Most Rev'd Michael Curry. If you missed it entirely, here's a link to his sermon at St. George's Chapel.

 

Of course, many of us got to hear him live just a few months ago, when he preached at our own Diocese of Georgia Revival, held at Honey Creek. If you missed that, here's the video from it.

 

While Bishop Curry might not be a typical example of preachers in the Episcopal Church, he does make clear what our approach to "church" is - that we are called above all else to love one another as Jesus loved us. I included the photo of our graduates and their families from this past Sunday because that day showed me again how the congregation of St. Michael's seeks to live out that call. We sure aren't perfect, so we often fall short of the mark of Jesus' love, but this past Sunday showed me again what even imperfect lovers can do when God is in our midst.

While the world is still talking about the wedding of Meghan and Harry and wondering who this preacher was, we can take the opportunity to show them not only who he is but who we are as well. Our little corner of God's Kingdom at Washington and Waters has much to offer the world; it is up to us to make sure they know who we are.

Congratulations, Graduates!!!!!

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Congratulations to all our 2018 St. Michael's graduates and their families!! Below are the names of those whom we know are graduating this year. Please keep them in your prayers as they begin the next part of their journey.

 

St. Michael & All Angel’s 2018 Graduates

 

Colleges and Universities

Matthew Lemley, Southern Polytechnic College of Engineering (Georgia Fogarty)

Ben Smith, The University of Mississippi (Charlean Smith)

Andrew Vassil, Mississippi State University (Georgia Fogarty)

 

High School

Jacob Brown (Jean Brown)

Olivia Heintschel (Jean Brown)

Sophie Horan, Savannah Arts Academy (Rob and Robin Horan)

Jack Kelly, Savannah Arts Academy (Kevin and Christine Kelly)

John Simshauser, Islands High School (John and Kim Simshauser)

Julia Elizabeth Vassil, Blessed Trinity High School (Georgia Fogarty)

 

Middle School

Luke Farmer (Terry and Julia Timmons)

Zachary Farmer (Terry and Julia Timmons)

 

A Blessing for our Graduates

All wise, all loving God, we thank you for all your gifts to us; for making us, for saving us in Christ, for calling us to be your people. Look with love on our graduates and bless them as they complete their years of school.May your Spirit give them many skills and talents, and help them to use these gifts for your glory and for the good of all people. In your kindness, guide them along paths that are level and smooth. We ask these blessings through Christ our Lord. Amen