Register now for Happening

Happening #97 will be held at Honey Creek September 16-18, 2016, and is open to those in grades 10 – 12.

Happening Group PhotoDuring a Happening weekend, participants worship, play, sing, and talk about God’s place in their lives. They make new friends who share similar concerns and questions – a reassuring discovery. A teenager who acts as “rector” leads the weekend with the help of a staff consisting mostly of young people. Some staff members give challenging talks, after which there’s time for discussion and activity. Together, the staff and participants share in an exploration of the impact of Christian faith in their daily lives. Happeners who attend a weekend for their first time are called “Candidates.” To be a Candidate, one must:

  • Have completed the 9th grade and have not begun college.
  • Fill out the application:

Happening costs $101 to attend, and financial assistance is available. For more information, please visit the Diocese of Georgia Happening website.

Happening #97 Rector: Ashley Walker

Click here to register for Happening.


Register now for the Acolyte Festival, August 13-14

Click here to register for the Acolyte Festival, August 13-14,

at St. Thomas’ Isle of Hope, Savannah

The Acolyte & Youth Leadership Festival (AYLF) will take place August 13-14 at St. Thomas Isle of Hope, Savannah. The Festival is open to 3rd through 12th graders. During the Acolyte Festival, participants will enjoy an Acolyte Olympics and can also expect to participate in acolyting and church leadership workshops facilitated by experienced practitioners; to meet other young acolytes and church leaders from across the diocese; to learn about other liturgical practices; to share their own church experience; and to have fun!

Participants should bring their own vestments (marked with a church name or participant’s name) and their home church’s banner, which will be processed during the 10 am Sunday morning Eucharist at St. Thomas Isle of Hope, Savannah, where the festival will be held (2 St. Thomas’ Avenue, Savannah, Georgia 31406.

Check in starts at 10 am on August 13 and acolytes will be ready to pick up after the Sunday Eucharist (about 11:30 am) on the 14th. Those picking up acolytes are encouraged to attend the closing 10 am Eucharist. The cost is $40 and includes three meals, a t-shirt, and other event costs. Scholarships are available on request. Registration launches next week.

For general questions, please contact St. Thomas’ Christian Education and Youth Minister, and the event coordinator, Misty Graham at For scholarship requests, please contact the Diocesan Missioner for Youth, the Rev. Joshua Varner at

Click here to register for the Acolyte Festival, August 13-14, at St. Thomas’ Isle of Hope, Savannah


Apply for New Beginnings Team

New Beginnings is a weekend retreat for teenagers in grades 7-9 led by a team of mostly teenagers, with a few adults, and two clergy spiritual directors. We are now taking applications for team members or NB #49, December 2-4, 2016 at Honey Creek. You are encouraged to apply with friends from your church and to bring an adult who will stay through the weekend. Team is open to all who have been to Happening or NB. Applying doesn’t guarantee a spot on Team. All team members must attend the staff lock-in at St. Anne’s in Tifton, 12 noon October 29 through worship Sunday.

New Beginnings Team Application


One Mission, Two Locations

The 2016 Hometown Missions Youth Event was a great success! For the second year running this mission-oriented event was hosted simultaneously in two separate convocations, spreading our service throughout the state.

Nine youth and seven adults gathered together in Albany to put the finishing touches on a Habitat for Humanity build. Volunteers painted siding, planted shrubs along the house, and built food-garden beds out of salvaged materials with cotton gin-compost donated by Deacon Leeann Culbreath. The youth were able to meet, worship with, and work alongside the family that will be moving into this new house next week. It was a beautiful day full of laughter, dirt, and power-drills!

Twenty-three youth and six adults worked to clear the overgrown Butler Cemetery and lay a brick paver path to the gravesite of Liverpool Hazzard, the last freed slave in McIntosh County, Georgia. Creating the path included relocating dirt by wheelbarrow to even the land out, as well as moving hundreds of brick pavers by hand.

Thanks to all the kids, adults, and to the community of St. Andrew’s and St. Cyprian’s for their support, for providing delicious meals, and for planning water games for a hot afternoon!

All together, youth and adults from around the Diocese completed over 450 hours of service in their communities. Hands-on volunteer service is not only a great way to learn more about your community, it is the best route to understanding God’s call to love and serve ourselves and our communities.

You can find more photos at the Episcopal Diocese of Georgia Youth Facebook page.


New Beginnings Connects Teens with Faith

Fifty participants and team members came together for New Beginnings #48 this past weekend. The weekend offers a time for participants to get real about their faith while away from family and their home church. Teens talking to other teens about living out their faith in Jesus Christ is the heart of a New Beginnings Retreat. While the Spiritual Directors do give talks on “God is Love” and “Who is Jesus” most of the teaching at the retreat for 7-9 graders are given by high school students. The talks on friends, family, peer pressure, and more get at the intersection of faith and our daily lives. The key points of the talk are the same for every weekend, but the teens work with the spiritual directors to shape the talks to bring out life experience and to make the talks more meaningful for all. Nick White of Christ the King, Valdosta, gives his talk in the photo above.

Allie Simpson of St. Andrew’s and St. Cyprian’s Churches in Darien was the Lead Teen for the weekend and she had especially strong support from adults in her church who served as adult participants for the weekend. Under the guidance of diocesan coordinator Maggie Bloodworth, the New Beginnings program continues to thrive. Look for announcements about the next retreat in upcoming issues of From the Field.


Allie Simpson is pictured at left helping lead music during the retreat. A full album of photos is online here: New Beginnings #48 Photos

The procession to the chapel for the closing Eucharist, which was preached by Madison Cook of St. Thomas, Thomasville, and boys try to sing loud on the male parts in a song to match the voices of the female singers. Below are the participants and staff for New Beginnings #48.


Varner to Serve as Youth Missioner

Bishop Benhase announces he is calling the Rev. Joshua Varner to serve as Diocesan Missioner for Youth while continuing part time as Vicar of St. Patrick’s, Pooler. Bishop Benhase said, “Joshua brings the right balance of skills and experience that will assist the Diocesan Youth Programs in making disciples.”

Varner will continue to serve as the Vicar of St. Patrick’s, Pooler. Since his arrival in March of 2012, the congregation has tripled its attendance and giving. While working toward that goal, the mission is not at the point of being able to compensate a full-time priest. Working on Diocesan staff will offer enough flexibility so that the growth of St. Patrick’s can continue under Varner’s leadership.

Varner grew up in Chapel Hill, NC, and is a lifelong Episcopalian. He attended Sewanee-The University of the South, majoring in religion and music, and then earned an M.T.S. from Harvard Divinity School and an M.Div. from Virginia Theological Seminary.

He served three years as Assistant to the Rector at St. Luke’s in Durham, NC. Then he served Holy Trinity in Greensboro, NC, for seven years. In both parishes Joshua had particular responsibility for ministry with children, youth, and their families. In the Diocese of Georgia, Varner has served as a spiritual director to summer camp sessions and led youth mission trips both in the U.S. and to our Companion Diocese of the Dominican Republic.

He met his wife, Elizabeth at Sewanee. Elizabeth grew up at Trinity Episcopal Church in Statesboro, Georgia and was active in the youth programs of the Diocese of Georgia. Married for 15 years, they have two children, Benjamin (11), and Laura (8).

Varner begins his work as Missioner for Youth on April 15, allowing for overlap with Rebekah Stewart, the Interim Missioner for Youth. Bishop Benhase said, “We are grateful to Rebekah for maintaining healthy, forward motion with our youth programs throughout the search process.”

Questions about Youth Programs still go to Rebekah Stewart through April 15th: