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

Spiritual Life and Cinema   Leave a comment

Above:  A Screen Capture from Bicycle Thieves (1948)

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I am preparing to start my fourth year as the person who chooses films for the Spiritual Life Movie Series at my parish, St. Gregory the Great Episcopal Church, Athens, Georgia.  On the last Friday of each month, from January to October, I screen a film.  Others set up the equipment, arrange the chairs, and bring the refreshments.  My selections range from classics, such as Citizen Kane (1941) and Pier Paolo Pasolini’s revolutionary The Gospel According to St. Matthew (1964), the latter of which Spanish Fascist dictator Francisco Franco banned for its apparently leftist politics, to more recent works, such as Away from Her (2006)Second Best (1994), and Doubt (2008).  I program an occasional documentary, such as The Overnighters (2014).  Quality is of the essence.  Toward that end I avoid openly evangelical films, which hold no appeal to me.  Art, however, fascinates me.  At least one spiritual theme is mandatory, however.  Regardless of my great affection for the 1937 version of The Prisoner of Zenda (the one remade as The Androids of Tara during the Key to Time season (1978-1979) of Doctor Who), I cannot find a spiritual lesson in that classic movie.

That I find myself doing this monthly task (1) makes sense, (2) contributes to the life of the parish, (3) fulfills a need I have to share great movies, and (4) confirms that I am at the right place at the right time.  I recall feeling out-of-place in many of the congregations in which I worshiped prior to August 2005, when I arrived in Athens, Georgia, and transferred to St. Gregory the Great Church.  I cannot imagine screening movies of my liking at any of the previous churches–certainly not in the rural United Methodist churches in which my father served.  Now I rejoice to have become integrated into the parish to which I have belonged for more than 12 years.

The first movie of the 2018 season (my fourth year) will be Bicycle Thieves (1948), a film also known in English as The Bicycle Thief.  The haunting masterpiece, superficially about the search for a stolen bicycle, a vehicle essential for one man to work, and therefore to feed and clothe his family in post-World War II Rome, Italy, is really about what happens to the father and his young son along the way.  This choice is consistent with my appetite for Italian art movies.  A good story can teach a spiritual lesson or a set of lessons without becoming preachy.  Wonderful cinematography accompanying that story adds to one’s experience of art.

As long as I have this opportunity to direct this series of movie screenings, I intend to (1) enjoy doing so and (2) do my best.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 2, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE NINTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS

THE FEAST OF JOHANN KONRAD WILHELM LOEHE, BAVARIAN LUTHERAN MINISTER AND COORDINATOR OF DOMESTIC AND FOREIGN MISSIONS

THE FEAST OF SAINTS NARCISSUS, ARGEUS, AND MARCELLINUS OF TOMI, ROMAN MARTYRS

THE FEAST OF SAINT ODILO OF CLUNY, ROMAN CATHOLIC ABBOT

THE FEAST OF SABINE BARING-GOULD, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

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The Library, St. Gregory the Great Episcopal Church, Athens, Georgia, December 29, 2017   Leave a comment

All Photographs by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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I have been the parish librarian for St. Gregory the Great Episcopal Church, Athens, Georgia, for several years.

I have belonged to a number of churches.  I grew up in a series of congregations (mostly rural United Methodist, in the South Georgia Conference).  Few of these churches had libraries.  Few of those few who did had well-stocked ones.  After I converted to The Episcopal Church in 1991, I found that most of my congregations had libraries, albeit not very impressive ones.  At one parish, in the parish hall, one could find the library–books stuffed into a double-sided bookcase on wheels.  There were books in boxes in a room in a mission church, but that collection was not a feasible congregational library.

When I arrived in Athens in August 2005, I joined St. Gregory the Great Church, on the advice of Henry Irving Louttit, Jr., then the Bishop of Georgia.  He was correct.  Immediately I found the library impressive and well-stocked.  Over the years I borrowed books from it, helped to reorganize it in 2007, and participated in meetings in the space.  Then, a few years ago, I became the librarian.  Since then I have continued to reorganize the library and have curated the collection.

I have also contributed much of my library to the collection.

Along the way I have redecorated, donating much of my iconography and a number of other items, ranging from a globe to crucifixes to sets of pinecone-shaped candles, to the library.  These I have added to decorative objects already present.

The emphasis on Roman Catholic iconography has been deliberate.  I have also added Eastern Orthodox and Jewish items.  The purpose of this redecorating has been to make the library a sacred space, not just a room containing many books.  All this has been for the glory of God and the spiritual benefit of all who enter the space.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 1, 2018 COMMON ERA

THE EIGHTH DAY OF CHRISTMAS:  THE HOLY NAME OF JESUS

THE WORLD DAY OF PEACE

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O, For the Wisdom of the United Methodists!   Leave a comment

I spent much of my youth as a preacher’s kid in the South Georgia Conference of The United Methodist Church.  Thus I became familiar with the mechanics of church polity regarding the process of appointing ministers.  The one-year renewable terms ran from June to June; appointments (of less than a yea) that began in other months were rare.  On mornings in certain Junes my family and I awoke in one parsonage.  By midday we were settling into another one, as my father’s successor was settling into the one we had vacated.  The process was quick, with just a few hours separating pastoral terms.  The process was not without its flaws, though; the terms should have been longer than a year.  (I have concluded that a four-year term would have been better.)  Nevertheless, the appointment system has demonstrated its virtues.

Recent events in my Episcopal parish have caused me to deepen my appreciation for the United Methodist appointment system.  In August 2015 my rector suffered a stroke.  Supply priests filled in while she remained the rector, going on disability in June 2016.  Our third supply priest continued to serve until late 2016, when our interim rector began to serve the parish.  The search process, which will include a survey leading up to the writing of a parish profile, will take at least a year.  I have not seen a survey yet.

Had I been a United Methodist parishioner, the district superintendent would have moved immediately in August 2015 to change the appointment of the pastor who had suffered a stroke to disability leave.  The district superintendent would also have moved quicklty to appoint a new pastor, to serve until at least June 2016.  There would have been no ongoing saga, with its stresses for the parish.  I know this because, a few years ago, when my father, then a retired minister serving in Americus, Georgia, became unable to serve his congregation due to the regrettable progress of dementia, my mother called the district superintendent, who retired my father fully, appointed an interim pastor immediately, and, in short order, appointed a pastor to succeed the interim pastor.

O, for the wisdom of the United Methodists!

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JANUARY 31, 2017 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF CHARLES FREDERICK MACKENZIE, ANGLICAN BISHOP OF CENTRAL AFRICA

THE FEAST OF HENRY TWELLS, ANGLICAN PRIEST AND HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF MARY LUNDIE DUNCAN, SCOTTISH PRESBYTERIAN HYMN WRITER

THE FEAST OF MENNO SIMONS, MENNONITE LEADER

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Reflections on the Twenty-Fifth Anniversary of My Confirmation   Leave a comment

bulletin-december-22-1991

Above:  Cover of the Bulletin, St. Anne’s Episcopal Church, Tifton, Georgia, December 22, 1991

Scan by Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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On the morning of December 22, 1991, the Fourth Sunday of Advent, I became an Episcopalian.  The Right Reverend Harry Woolston Shipps (who died recently), then the Bishop of Georgia, confirmed me.  Officially I retained membership in The United Methodist Church until the following Autumn, on the occasion of the 1992 Charge Conference of the Sumner Charge (four congregations at the time).  Indeed, I remained substantially a Methodist for a long time, but I had begun to think of myself as an Episcopalian prior to my confirmation at St. Anne’s Episcopal Church, Tifton, Georgia.

I have become convinced that I was supposed to become an Episcopalian, for the affiliation is a natural fit for me.  I am, after all, somewhat Roman Catholic while retaining many Protestant influences. Ritual appeals to me strongly also.  Furthermore, The Episcopal Church grants me a wide berth to respect certain traditions, break with other traditions, bring my intellect to bear on my spiritual life, disagree peaceably with many people, and be an introvert without feeling out-of-place.  Evangelicalism, as I have experienced it, is relentlessly extroverted.  That is not an inherently negative characteristic, but the manner in which many extroverts fail to respect the value of introversion and therefore marginalize introverts is unfortunate.  Indeed, personality typing helps to explain why certain denominations and styles of prayer are preferable to some people but not others.  That which feeds one person starves another.

I have never looked back from my choice to become an Episcopalian.  As I have become more liberal in some ways, more conservative in others, and incorporated Lutheran theology into my thought, I have become a different type of Episcopalian than I was in 1991.  My faith life is a work in progress; I wonder how it will proceed as I continue from day to day.  The Episcopalian way of being simply makes sense to me.  Since I moved to Athens, Georgia, in August 2005, I have dwelt spiritually primarily at St. Gregory the Great Episcopal Church, Athens, Georgia.  I have also frequented two university chaplaincies (Episcopalian and Presbyterian U.S.A.), attended services at First Presbyterian Church and Holy Cross Lutheran Church, engaged in community volunteering at one Presbyterian U.S.A. and two United Methodist congregations, participated in a performance of the first part off Handel’s Messiah at Oconee Presbyterian Church (Watkinsville), and attended community functions at four other churches (Disciples of Christ, Unitarian Universalist, Assemblies of God, and non-denominational Charismatic) in the area.  Furthermore, I have attended a diocesan gathering at Emmanuel Episcopal Church, without ever entering a worship space there.  The fact that I seldom want to attend services in another denomination demonstrates the fact that I have found my niche.  Why should I seek another place?  Nevertheless, I am agreeable to ecumenical engagements.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

DECEMBER 22, 2016 COMMON ERA

THE TWENTY-SIXTH DAY OF ADVENT

THE FEAST OF FREDERICK AND WILLIAM TEMPLE, ARCHBISHOPS OF CANTERBURY

THE FEAST OF SAINTS CHAEREMON AND ISCHYRION, ROMAN CATHOLIC MARTYRS

THE FEAST OF HENRY BUDD, FIRST ANGLICAN NATIVE PRIEST IN NORTH AMERICA; MISSIONARY TO THE CREE NATION

THE FEAST OF JAMES PRINCE LEE, BISHOP OF MANCHESTER

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My Easter Triduum 2016   1 comment

Marker March 26, 2016

Above:  My Father’s Grave Marker, Americus, Georgia, Saturday Morning, March 26, 2016

Image Source = Kenneth Randolph Taylor

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Most of my Easter Triduums are meaningful yet similar to each other; they run together in my memory.  The Triduum of 2016 was an exception to that rule.

The Reverend John Dodson Taylor, III, my father, was a minister of The United Methodist Church.  Complications of Alzheimer’s Disease forced his retirement a few years ago.  He died, not quite 71 years old, on October 30, 2014, less than a year after entering a nursing home in Americus, Georgia.  For reasons I choose not to explain in this post the interment of his cremains did not occur until Holy Saturday, March 26, 2016.

I spent part of Maundy Thursday, all of Good Friday, and half of Holy Saturday in Americus.  The Maundy Thursday service at Calvary Episcopal Church was the Prayer Book liturgy with part of the rites for Good Friday tacked on the end.  It was Johannine, for, in the Gospel of John, Jesus died on Thursday, not Friday.  The community-wide service of the Stations of the Cross at Calvary Episcopal Church at Noon on Good Friday was also meaningful.  The lessons I took away from those liturgies were:

  1. Love is evident in the sacrifice, and
  2. We mortals stand at the foot of the cross, not in the position of judgment.

I knew both of those already, but hearing a priest remind me of them was helpful.

The most potent moment of my visit occurred on the morning of Holy Saturday.  My mother and I were among the small group which gathered for the interment of my father’s cremains in a garden spot on the grounds of Fellowship Baptist Church, a congregation of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.  The Reverend Wendy Peacock, the pastor there, used the Service for Committal from The United Methodist Book of Worship (1992), appropriately.  Covering the container for my father’s cremains with soil was an emotional moment.

I had to return to Athens-Clarke County, so I did.  That night I attended the Great Vigil of Easter at my parish, St. Gregory the Great Episcopal Church.  The liturgy was mercifully brief, for there were just four readings, including the Gospel.  The day had already been long for me, so a marathon of a vigil would have been out of the question for me.  The vigil was glorious, as was the 10:30 Holy Eucharist on Easter Sunday, but I remained subdued.  I had, after all, just buried my father.

I have known of my mortality in a visceral way since my junior college days, when I almost died violently, with someone choking me.  Being dead has not terrified me, but thoughts of manners in which I might suffer and die have scared me.  Watching my father’s deterioration did nothing to calm those fears.  My father’s death made my sense of mortality even more real.  Burying him has made my mortality even more concrete in mind.  Burying him has given me much to contemplate solemnly.

Doing so will require as much time as will be necessary and proper.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MARCH 28, 2016 COMMON ERA

MONDAY IN EASTER WEEK

THE FEAST OF SAINT TUTILO, ROMAN CATHOLIC MONK AND COMPOSER

THE FEAST OF SAINT GUNTRAM OF BURGUNDY, KING

THE FEAST OF KATHARINE LEE BATES, U.S. EDUCATOR, POET, AND HYMN WRITER

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A Related Post:

https://taylorfamilypoems.wordpress.com/2016/04/10/grave-marker-of-john-dodson-taylor-iii/

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Feast of Gene Britton (April 22)   1 comment

Gene Britton 02

Photograph Courtesy of Nicola Britton

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WAYNE EUGENE BRITTON, SR. (AUGUST 13, 1930-APRIL 22, 2012)

Episcopal Priest

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

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Amended on September 4 and 7, 2013

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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.

Hosea 2:18-23

Psalm 94:1-15

Romans 12:9-21

Luke 6:20-36

Evangelical Lutheran Worship (2006), page 60

Feast of Henry Thomas Smart (July 3)   Leave a comment

Flag of England

Above:  Flag of England

HENRY THOMAS SMART (OCTOBER 24, 1813-JULY 6, 1879)

English Organist and Composer

Henry Thomas Smart came from a great and illustrious family.  His uncle, Sir George Thomas Smart, was a famous organist and orchestral conductor.  And his father, Henry Smart, was a respected and well-known violinist, music publisher, and orchestral conductor.  So it was natural for our saint to pursue a career in music, although he did so after a brief turn as a practicing attorney.

Smart composed many works.  His cantatas were The Bride of Dunkerron (1864) and King Rene’s Daughter (1871).  He also wrote an oratorio, Jacob (1873).  Bertha (1865) was his opera.  He also composed trios, songs, services, organ music, and hymn tunes.  Among his most famous hymn tunes was Regent Square, to which many people have sung and continue to sing “Christ is Made the Sure Foundation.”  Smart continued to compose after he went blind in 1865.  Ellen, his daughter, took dictation.

Among Smart’s post-blindness compositions were his settings of the Magnificat and the Nunc Dimittis, both of which the choir (to which I belong) at St. Gregory the Great Episcopal Church, Athens, Georgia, performed at an Evensong service on November 4, 2012.  I have been listening (courtesy of Spotify) to those and other compositions by our saint while typing this post.  Now I am listening to the Magnificat again.  It is a piece of some complexity of voice parts.  So I wonder how many details Smart must have kept in his head while giving dictation.  And the work is beautiful and majestic.

Smart’s regular work was a church organist from 1831 to his death in 1879.  He played the organ for Blackburn Parish Church, Lancashire from 1831 to 1836 before moving to London.  There he served as the organist for a sequence of churches:  St. Giles, St. Philip’s, St. Luke’s, and St. Pancras.

Henry Thomas Smart devoted his life to God and to music in that context–a worthwhile endeavor.  I honor him for his good works and great accomplishments in those fields.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 15, 2013 COMMON ERA

THE FEAST OF THE FIRST U.S. PRESBYTERIAN BOOK OF COMMON WORSHIP, 1906

THE FEAST OF CAROLINE CHISHOLM, HUMANITARIAN

THE FEAST OF PIRIPI TAUMATA-A-KURA, ANGLICAN MISSIONARY

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Eternal God, light of the world and Creator of all that is good and lovey:

We bless your name for inspiring Henry Thomas Smart

and all those who with music have filled us with desire and love for you;

through Jesus Christ our Savior, who with you and the Holy Spirit

lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever.  Amen.

1 Chronicles 29:14b-19

Psalm 90:14-17

2 Corinthians 3:1-3

John 21:15-17, 24-25

–Adapted from Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), page 728