Photograph Courtesy of Nicola Britton
WAYNE EUGENE BRITTON, SR. (AUGUST 13, 1930-APRIL 22, 2012)
Gene Britton was born at LaGrange, Georgia, to Wayne Prather Britton and Willie Ruth Smith Britton. Our saint, a member of the Moultrie High School, Moultrie, Georgia, Class of 1949, graduated from The University of Georgia with a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism in 1954.
Before Britton graduated, however, he stood up for what was merely right and politically unpopular. In 1953 he and the rest of the editorial staff of The Red and Black, the campus newspaper, published a series of editorials condemning racial segregation. Roy V. Harris, a member of the state Board of Regents and a staunch segregationist, censured the journalists—Britton; Walter Lundy, Editor-in-Chief; Bill Shipp, Managing Editor; and Priscilla Arnold—and arranged for the Board of Regents to withhold funding for The Red and Black unless or until the editorial board backed down. The University imposed editorial veto power on the publication. Then the journalists resigned.
Britton’s immediate post-University life consisted of a series of milestones and a journalistic career. He married Laurie Lindebaugh in 1954. For two years he served in the United States Army Signal Corps before writing for the Atlanta Constitution then running the Atlanta bureau of the Macon Telegraph and News then, from 1963 to 1965, serving as the Director of Information and Research Services of the Georgia Education Association.
Our saint’s ultimate vocation, however, was religious. In 1968 he graduated from Virginia Theological Seminary with his Master of Divinity. He served at the Cathedral of St. Philip, Atlanta, as a transitional deacon and young priest before serving St. Margaret’s Church, Carrollton, from 1970 to 1976. In 1977 Bennett J. Sims, Bishop of Atlanta, appointed him to St. Clement’s Church, Canton. Two years later Britton began his tenure as the Rector of the Church of the Resurrection, East Point. Seven years later he moved to Athens to become the Rector of St. Gregory the Great Church. There, in 1988, Laurie, his first wife died. From there he retired in 1995. And there our saint remarried (to Nicola Joy Wolstenholme) toward the end of his tenure.
Britton contributed to the Diocese of Atlanta in various ways. From 1982 to 1984 he served as the Co-chairperson of the new Commission of Racism. He also served on the Executive Committee, the Commission on Ministry, and the Task Force on Discernment and the Formation of Vocations. And he chaired the Board of Governors of Mikell Camp and Conference Center.
Our saint continued to serve during retirement. He was the Interim Rector of St. Alban’s, Elberton, and St. Andrew’s, Hartwell. He also assisted at Emmanuel Church, Athens, and worked as a chaplain for the state Department of Corrections at the I. W. Davis Probation Detention Center, Jefferson.
Britton’s survivors include Nicola Britton, his wife of sixteen years; two sons, Wayne Eugene Britton, Jr., and Edward B. Britton; Edward’s wife, Cathy Parker; a stepson, Wayne’s daughter, Evey Britton; Andrew Spencer; a stepdaughter, Emily Spencer.
Our saint pursued his passions, from the Enneagram Model of Human Personality to photography to The University of Georgia Bulldogs. And he influenced people positively, leaving his corners of the world better than he found them. Much tangible and intangible evidence of that continues to be easy to find at St. Gregory the Great Church, Athens, from the outdoor cross and altar (a memorial to Laurie) to the lives of parishioners from his time there.
Britton insisted correctly, as I have read in his history of the church, that The Episcopal Church is Catholic, not Protesant. Protestants, he wrote, do not have priests.
My only regret in relation to Gene Britton is that I never had the opportunity to get to know him. I met him a few times, occasions which left me with a favorable opinion of him. But knowing him would have enriched me life much more.
KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR
SEPTEMBER 3, 2013 COMMON ERA
THE FEAST OF ARTHUR CARL LICHTENBERGER, PRESIDING BISHOP OF THE EPISCOPAL CHURCH
THE FEAST OF J. R. R. TOLKIEN, NOVELIST
THE FEAST OF JIMMY LAWRENCE, EPISCOPAL PRIEST
THE FEAST OF PRUDENCE CRANDALL, EDUCATOR
Amended on September 4 and 7, 2013
O God, your Son came among us to serve and not to be served,
and to give his life for the life of the world.
Lead us by his love to serve all those to whom the world offers no comfort and little help.
Through us give hope to the hopeless,
love to the unloved,
peace to the troubled,
and rest to the weary,
through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord, who reigns with
you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
—Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60