Archive for the ‘St. Gregory the Great Episcopal Church Athens Georgia’ Category

Berlin, Georgia   Leave a comment

 

Above:  Berlin United Methodist Church

Late 1980s on the left

February 1987 on the right

Photographer = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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Recently I have been thinking about some places in which I grew up and in which I am glad to have ceased to live.  One such place is Vidette, Georgia, where my family and I lived from June 1980 to June 1982.  Berlin, Georgia, where my parents and I lived from June 1986 to June 1989, is another.

Colquitt County 1951

Above:  Colquitt County in Context, 1951

Scanned from Hammond’s Complete World Atlas (1951)

Berlin (with the stress on the first syllable) is a small town in southern Colquitt County, near the boundary with Brooks County.  I recall it as being a reactionary town of about 400 people.

In the late 1980s Berlin was an openly racist town stuck in a time warp in terms of mindsets.  My father’s letter to the Moultrie Observer, the local newspaper, in support of the then-new Martin Luther King, Jr., federal holiday contributed to our move in 1989.  Old white men and young white people used racial slurs openly, even in the presence of African Americans.  Berlin Baptist Church, with its openly racist, Communist-baiting pastor, was the major cultural institution in town.  (The minister was convinced that liberal columnist Mary McGrory  (1918-2004), who had been close politically to President John Fitzgerald Kennedy and earned a spot on President Richard Nixon’s infamous enemies list, was a Communist, card-carrying or otherwise.)  And, when cable television came to town, opposition to it was vigorous, to the point of one man pointing a loaded gun at the workers laying cable when they came to his property.  The stated reason for opposition was some of the programming on the premium channels, but opposition weakened considerably when news that a country music channel was part of the basic package spread.

Above:  The Parsonage, next to Berlin United Methodist Church, 1986-1987

Photographer = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

My father was the pastor of the Berlin-Wesley Chapel Charge.

Berlin Church Cornerstone

Above:  The Cornerstone of Berlin United Methodist Church

Photographer = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

Berlin United Methodist Church, rebuilt in 1953, was next door to the rundown parsonage, renovated after we moved out.  The Berlin congregation was nearly functionally dead.  It had an adult Sunday School class, but little else.  The congregation had once been so active that it had sponsored a Boy Scouts troop, but those days were long past by 1986.  One Sunday School room was vacant, as if waiting for a class that never gathered there.  The other had become a storage room for boxes my family and I had no room for in the parsonage.

Wesley Chapel Church August 21, 1988

Above:  Wesley Chapel United Methodist Church, Berlin, Georgia, April 21, 1988

Photographer = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

I belonged to Wesley Chapel United Methodist Church, located a few miles outside of town.  My Sunday School class was there.

The two congregations functioned as one in most ways.  On the first and third Sundays one church hosted the morning and evening services; the other one did the same on the second and fourth Sundays.  The congregations also alternated hosting duties on fifth Sundays.  I have never seen that nice arrangement anywhere else.

Berlin United Methodist Church is no more; only Wesley Chapel remains.  The building of the former Berlin Church now hosts a Hispanic ministry within the denomination.

I was 13-16 years old at the time, so 1986-1989 were years replete with adolescent awkwardness.  Nevertheless, the schools in Moultrie were very good, and leaving for the inferior high school in Berrien County was a difficult transition for me.

I wonder if the town has become sufficiently progressive to move into the twentieth century in terms of its collective mindset.  I doubt it.

These memories remind me to thank God that I live in Athens-Clarke County.  I am a person born to live in a college or university town, where I am less likely to feel like an outcast and  am more likely to find people with whom to conduct an intelligent conversation.  In a college or university town I have more opportunities to grow intellectually and spiritually, given my temperament.

I know some of what I have, and thank God for it in the present tense, not in hindsight, with regret for having lost it.  I also thank God, with the benefit of hindsight, for a positive development at Berlin-Wesley Chapel.

There I began to choose how to participate in church activities; I began to say “no.”  For years parishioners at various congregations had been drafting me into church pageants and other activities.  At Wesley Chapel I had no choice but to accept a role in a terrible Christmas play.  The parishioner who had written the play seemed to like exposition and clunky dialogue.  Maybe she imagined herself to be a good playwright.  By the time of the creation of the youth choir, with its woeful musical selections, I had decided to refuse.  This created a diplomatic incident for my father, but, to his credit, he did not force me to participate in it.

Now I carry a strong aversion to people volunteering me for tasks.  Asking me if I will participate is not too difficult, is it?

I am active in my parish, St. Gregory the Great Episcopal Church, Athens, Georgia.  All the roles I fill are ones I want to perform, and enjoy doing.  One function (teacher of the lectionary class) is something I sought.  The others are roles I accepted when someone asked me.  Almost all of my functions (lectionary class teacher, lector scheduler, parish librarian, movie series coordinator) at St. Gregory the Great are those I could not taken on in the Berlin area, if I were to live there today, given the different ecclesiastical cultures.  Certainly I would not feel free, as I do in Athens, to speak my mind freely in Sunday School, lest I face an accusation of heresy, as I would in the Berlin area.

In 2018 I am where I belong.  Thank God for that.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

AUGUST 28, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF AMBROSE OF MILAN, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP; SAINT MONICA OF HIPPO, MOTHER IF SAINT AUGUSTINE OF HIPPO; AND SAINT AUGUSTINE OF HIPPO, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF HIPPO REGIUS

THE FEAST OF DENIS WORTMAN, U.S. DUTCH REFORMED MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF LAURA S. COPERHAVER, U.S. LUTHERAN HYMN WRITER AND MISSIONARY LEADER

THE FEAST OF SAINT MOSES THE BLACK, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK, ABBOT, AND MARTYR

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Thirteen Years in Athens-Clarke County, Georgia   Leave a comment

Above:  The Double-Barreled Cannon, Downtown Athens, Georgia

Image in the Public Domain

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In early August 2005 I moved to Athens-Clarke County, Georgia, to commence a doctoral program in history.  That degree program became a victim of an academic abortion–not the kind of last resort, to save the life of the mother, so to speak.  Or perhaps it was a case of academic euthanasia.  Either way, that was then, not that I have ever excused the nefarious actions of one professor in particular who accidentally did me a favor.  (At least there was grace in the accidental favor.)  My degree program died, but I remained in town and integrated into St. Gregory the Great Episcopal Church.  The professor has destroyed himself, not that I have ever felt the desire to gloat.

I am responsible for the kind of person I am, after all.

As I approach the end of my thirteenth year and the beginning of my fourteenth year in Athens-Clarke County, I stand amazed at my longevity in one place.  I recall my formative years, a portion of which I moved every two years on average.  I can date events from that time in my life according to the house (usually a United Methodist parsonage) in which I lived.  Now I find myself having resided in one town for nearly thirteen years and at one address for nearly eleven years–a substantial proportion of my life so far.  I enjoy having roots.

One day the time to leave Athens-Clarke County might come.  If so, departure will be the correct decision; I will move toward opportunity and not flee from unpleasant memories.  I am in no hurry to depart from Athens-Clarke County, though.  This is home, after all.  It makes me a better person, and I seek to make it a better place.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 22, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT MARY MAGDALENE, EQUAL TO THE APOSTLES

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Time to Switch Gears   Leave a comment

Above:  Spur Gear

Image in the Public Domain

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For more than a month I have focused on blogging about saints with feast days in August and late July.  I have, since I commenced blogging about saints with feast days in July, been writing and publishing hagiographies for more than three months, including some time off, to publish already-drafted lectionary-based devotions at LENTEN AND EASTER DEVOTIONS.

Certain activities edify me spiritually.  Worshiping as a member of my congregation (St. Gregory the Great Episcopal Church, Athens, Georgia) helps to ground me.  Serving (usually two Sundays a month) as a Eucharistic minister is meaningful to me, for I have, since my childhood as a United Methodist in rural southern Georgia (with infrequent Communion), felt closest to God when taking Communion.  Thus partaking of the Eucharist is crucial to my religious life.  Teaching Sunday School is a vocation I enjoy greatly.  Preparing hagiographies deepens my faith, for the lives of saints help me learn how to be a better Christian.  Studying the Bible with my intellect and spirituality fully engaged is also essential.

Above:  My Desk, Saturday, July 7, 2018

Photographer = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

Translations, from left to right:  TANAKH:  The Holy Scriptures (1985), The New American Bible (1991), The New Jerusalem Bible (1985), The New Revised Standard Version (1989), and The Revised English Bible (1989)

Reality requires me to choose my focus on one blogging project at a time.  I choose to focus next on drafting (in a composition book) devotional posts (based on Year A of the four-year lectionary by the Reverend Will Humes) for the Season after Pentecost 2019 at ORDINARY TIME DEVOTIONS.  The process of drafting these twenty-six posts (eleven of them already composed) should require just a few more days to complete, but the methodical and non-continuous process of updating ORDINARY TIME DEVOTIONS, scheduled to commence this summer, will properly end in early December.  Matters of the calendar, as it stands in relation of the post-1969 church calendar in most of Western Christianity, have given me a head start; five posts I have published at ADVENT, CHRISTMAS, AND EPIPHANY DEVOTIONS and one I have published at LENTEN AND EASTER DEVOTIONS can, slightly altered, transfer to ORDINARY TIME DEVOTIONS, bringing the count of new posts to thirty-two, not counting the six monthly guide posts (for June-November) and the new cap post (“Thank You for Visiting This Weblog”), intended to be temporary, deleted after a year or so.  That will be thirty-nine new posts, offset slightly by the deletion of the current cap post and the monthly guide posts for 2018.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I have made plans for renovating the September portion of my Ecumenical Calendar of Saints’ Days and Holy Days.  Stage One, complete, was to edit extant posts, sometimes changing feast days.  Stage Two, also complete, was to prepare a list (in pencil) of people to consider adding to my Ecumenical Calendar, as well as posts to rewrite.  I have decided to write about saints with feast days in September between periods of working on ORDINARY TIME DEVOTIONS and BLOGA THEOLOGICA, on which I work in tandem with the lectionary-based devotional weblogs.

From time to time I will post here at SUNDRY THOUGHTS for other reasons also.

Until later….

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JULY 8, 2018 COMMON ERA

PROPER 9:  THE SEVENTH SUNDAY AFTER PENTECOST

THE FEAST OF GERALD FORD, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA AND AGENT OF NATIONAL HEALING; AND BETTY FORD, FIRST LADY OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA AND ADVOCATE FOR SOCIAL JUSTICE

THE FEAST OF ALBERT RHETT STUART, EPISCOPAL BISHOP OF GEORGIA AND ADVOCATE FOR CIVIL RIGHTS

THE FEAST OF GEORG NEUWARK, GERMAN LUTHERAN POET AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF GIOVANNI BATTISTA BONONCINI AND ANTONIO MARIA BONONCINI, ITALIAN COMPOSERS

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July 12, 2018

Above:  Composition Book

Photographer = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

I have completed the process of drafting new posts for ORDINARY TIME DEVOTIONS.

The drafts, which I plan to publish in installments between this month and early December, fill the space between the bookmarks in the composition book in the photograph above.

KRT

July 12, 2018

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Feast of St. Zacchaeus (August 20)   Leave a comment

Above:  Zacchaeus in the Tree, by William Hole

Image in the Public Domain

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SAINT ZACCHAEUS

Penitent Tax Collector and Roman Collaborator

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Height was not his only shortcoming.

–J. Neil Alexander, Episcopal Bishop of Atlanta, on Zacchaeus, at Saint Gregory the Great Episcopal Church, Athens, Georgia, a Few Years Ago

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The Gospel of Luke, half of Luke-Acts, is a well-organized theological work.  One theme in it is the reversal fortune, as in the Beatitudes and Woes (6:20-26), as well as other passages.  Given the structure of the text, the story of Jesus and St. Zacchaeus (19:1-10) stands in continuity with previous passages, including 18:9-27.  I encourage you, O reader, to reread these passages carefully before reading what I have written in the following paragraphs, for I cannot tell the story better than Luke 19:1-10 does.

The narrative from Luke 19 is quite interesting.  It is an account of a literal tax thief–a man who had purchased the contract to collect taxes from his fellow Jews to finance the Roman occupation, as well as his lavish lifestyle.  Luke 19:1-10 is the story of a man who, having exploited his neighbors, had become prosperous, but recognized his spiritual emptiness and sought a way out of that life.  This is an account of Jesus, who wanted to help him escape to a life that did not entail exploiting people.  This is the story of a man who volunteered to give half his wealth to help the poor (contrast this with the man in Luke 18:18-23) and to pay a restitution rate of 400% when the Biblically mandated rate for restitution for fraud was 120% (Leviticus 6:5).  (400% was the rate of restitution for sheep or a sheep.)

Some dubious traditions regarding St. Zacchaeus exist.  According to one, he became the Bishop of Caesarea.  On the really sketchy end of the spectrum is the story that he married St. Veronica, traveled to Gaul, and became a hermit also known as St. Amator/Amadour, buried at Rocamadour.

I, as a student of the Bible, sometimes wonder what happened next after reading a story.  The narrative continues by following a different character or set of characters, and never again mentions the character or characters really interesting to me.  St. Zacchaeus is one of these characters.  The narrative in Luke moves along into the pivotal events of Holy Week.  I still wonder about the subsequent life of St. Zacchaeus, though.  It suffices that St. Zacchaeus and his community were never the same after that crucial day.  It is enough that shalom came to town.

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Loving God, who rejoices when sinners repent,

we thank you for the good example of your servant Saint Zacchaeus,

who, in turning his back to his sins, found peace with you, his neighbors, and himself.

May we, by grace, erect no barriers between ourselves and you,

erect none between others and you,

and rejoice when you establish shalom.

May we, by grace, be agents of shalom.

In the Name of God:  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Leviticus 6:1-7 (Protestant versification)/5:20-26 (Jewish, Roman Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox versification)

Psalm 15

Philippians 2:1-11

Luke 19:1-10

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 22, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF SAINT ALBAN, FIRST BRITISH MARTYR

THE FEAST OF DESIDERIUS ERASMUS, DUTCH ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST, BIBLICAL AND CLASSICAL SCHOLAR, AND CONTROVERSIALIST; SAINT JOHN FISHER, ENGLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC CLASSICAL SCHOLAR, BISHOP OF ROCHESTER, CARDINAL, AND MARTYR; AND SAINT THOMAS MORE, ENGLISH ROMAN CATHOLIC CLASSICAL SCHOLAR, JURIST, THEOLOGIAN, CONTROVERSIALIST, AND MARTYR

THE FEAST OF GERHARD GIESCHEN, U.S. LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF SAINT PAULINUS OF NOLA, ROMAN CATHOLIC BISHOP OF NOLA

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Natural Beauty for Its Own Sake   Leave a comment

Above:  Sunset, Athens-Clarke County, Georgia, August 16, 2018

Image in the Public Domain

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I am a former news junkie because of events of the last few years.  I choose to be a good person who checks the news occasionally then unplugs rather than one who is perpetually angry.  Trust me, O reader, I have an effective internal editor.  Alone, muttering under my breath, I know how to string together a string of profanities after hearing or reading a news story.  Then I catch myself and regret what I have done.  Therefore I resolve to do better.  This entails avoiding temptation, i.e., the news, most of the time.

Ugliness–literal and otherwise–surrounds us.  I stand in awe of the beauty of nature then notice that someone has dumped garbage.  I pick up some garbage in my neighborhood, but there is always more of it later in the day.  Sometimes I contact the local government about large garbage (such as appliances and a couch) in or near the woods.  Certain local government officials know my name quite well, and are responsive, fortunately.  Much of the content of the Internet is not decent.  Comments sections of websites are notorious for functioning as vehicles of the worst of human nature.  If anyone thinks that come recent elections have been unusually nasty, I point to certain campaign rhetoric of the 1800s, namely in the presidential elections of 1800, 1828, and 1884.  Or one might read Richard Ben Cramer‘s devastating What It Takes, with its memorable final sentence, about the presidential election of 1988.  But yes, I do recall 2015 and 2016 as being worse than what came immediately previously.

I cannot take the ugliness away, but I can choose to offer beauty instead.  So, with this post, I share my most recent photograph, from Saturday evening.  Beauty surrounds us.  If we dare to take the time to notice it, we will benefit greatly.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 18, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF ADOLPHUS NELSON, SWEDISH-AMERICAN LUTHERAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JOHANN FRANCK, HEINRICH HELD, AND SIMON DACH, GERMAN LUTHERAN HYMN WRITERS

THE FEAST OF RICHARD MASSIE, HYMN TRANSLATOR

THE FEAST OF WILLIAM BINGHAM TAPPAN, U.S. CONGREGATIONALIST MINISTER, POET, AND HYMN WRITER

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Spiritual Life Movie Series of 2018   Leave a comment

Above:  Church Sign, Saint Gregory the Great Episcopal Church, Athens, Georgia, April 22, 2018

Photographer = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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In late 2014 the Spiritual Life Committee of my parish asked me to revive the dormant movie series at church.  I accepted, obviously, and relaunched it in January 2015.   Serving as director of this series has entailed showing ten movies each year, usually on the last Friday of each month from January to October.  Twice I have had to screen the movie for March on the penultimate Friday, for the last Friday has been Good Friday.  During the last two years I have dug deeply into the classics.

The selections for the 2018 series follow:

  1. January–Bicycle Thieves (1948),
  2. February–Casablanca (1942),
  3. March–The Navigator:  The Medieval Odyssey (1988),
  4. April–The Outlaw Josey Wales (1976),
  5. May–The Maltese Falcon (1941),
  6. June–Regarding Henry (1991),
  7. July–The Natural (1984),
  8. August–The Magnificent Seven (1960),
  9. September–The Verdict (1982), and
  10. October–Driving Miss Daisy (1989).

I choose not to screen a movie on the last Friday of November or December, due to Thanksgiving in November and the Christmas-New Year time in December.

If you, O reader, are of a mind to watch quality movies in search of spiritual lessons, I suggest these selections for your consideration.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 16, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF GEORGE BERKELEY, IRISH ANGLICAN BISHOP AND PHILOSOPHER; AND JOSEPH BUTLER, ANGLICAN BISHOP AND THEOLOGIAN

THE FEAST OF JOHN FRANCIS REGIS, ROMAN CATHOLIC PRIEST

THE FEAST OF NORMAN MACLEOD, SCOTTISH PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER AND HYMN WRITER; AND HIS COUSIN, JOHN MACLEOD, SCOTTISH PRESBYTERIAN MINISTER, LITURGIST, AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF RUFUS JONES, U.S. QUAKER THEOLOGIAN AND COFOUNDER OF THE AMERICAN FRIENDS SERVICE COMMITTEE

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Beauty for the Sake of Beauty   Leave a comment

Above:  From the Grounds of Saint Gregory the Great Episcopal Church, Athens, Georgia, April 29, 2018

Photograph by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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One needs no excuse to share a photograph of natural beauty.  Daily one might witness much political and cultural ugliness, much of it consisting of self-inflicted injuries.  Nevertheless, natural beauty surrounds us constantly.  We should notice it, thank God for it, and perhaps even take some occasional pictures of it.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

APRIL 30, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF JAMES MONTGOMERY, ANGLICAN AND MORAVIAN HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF JAMES EDWARD WALSH, ROMAN CATHOLIC MISSIONARY BISHOP AND POLITICAL PRISONER IN CHINA

THE FEAST OF JOHN ROSS MACDUFF AND GEORGE MATHESON, SCOTTISH PRESBYTERIAN MINISTERS AND AUTHORS

THE FEAST OF SARAH JOSEPHA BUELL HALE, POET, AUTHOR, EDITOR, AND PROPHETIC WITNESS

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