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:


Youth & Young Adult Events

In the first six months of 2016, the Diocese of Georgia will offer seven events for those in sixth grade through college.

Winter Retreat
January 22-24 (Young Adults)
This winter, college students and young adults from around the Diocese will gather at Honey Creek for a winter retreat on January 22-24. In keeping with our major theme at convention, our primary focus will be on faith sharing and evangelism. This retreat will also enable younger Episcopalians to meet others from around South Georgia, while giving one another the opportunity to enjoy the beauty and peaceful retreat center of the Diocese of Georgia. Scholarships are available. Please contact the Rev. Daniel Shoemake at or (229) 242-5115.

January 29-31 (10th-12th grade)
Happening is a Christian experience presented by teenagers for teenagers. It is designed for youth in grades 10 – 12 and sponsored by the Episcopal Church. Most young people have serious questions about Jesus and the Church. Happening is designed to address these questions. During a Happening weekend, participants experience the love of Christ as shown through prayer, worship, and the ministry of peers, clergy, and lay adults. The Happeners are encouraged to make their renewed faith a part of their everyday lives. Happening shows how Christianity can keep pace with the many changes in our lives and our world. Click here to register for Happening.

New Beginnings
March 4-6 (7th-9th grade)
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. The weekend takes participants through a discovery about ourselves, our friends, our families, our faith, and how to live out our faith in our daily lives.

Confirmation Retreat
April 1-3 (open to youth and adults)
Whether you are preparing for Confirmation or simply want to deepen your understanding of the Episcopal Church, we hope that you will join us for this exciting weekend! The Confirmation Retreat this year is open to both youth and adults. It will be held at Honey Creek from April 1-3, 2016. Topics covered will include Scripture, Creeds, Sacraments, Prayer, Church History, and an Instructed Eucharist. You can contact Maggie Bloodworth of St. Luke’s, Hawkinsville, with questions about this retreat

Click here to register for the Confirmation Retreat.

Hometown Missions
April 22-24 (6th-12th grade)
Hometown Missions is an opportunity to gain a better understanding of mission work on a local level by teaching our youth to give back to our Diocesan Community. This year we will host one event taking place in two locations, with one in Albany and one in Darien. Participant’s will engage in various projects that will engage them in service and conversation about various social issues. The cost for the week is $50, all inclusive. Financial Aid Available. This is a weekend the teens will never forget! Click here to register for Hometown Missions: Albany or Hometown Missions: Darien

Youth Ministry Retreat
May 13-14 (Adults who work with youth)
This is a new event for the Diocese. We invite all adults 18+ who are engaged in youth ministry to join us for this overnight retreat- hosted at Honey Creek. This is an opportunity for us to all come together to begin forming our own community and support system. By taking care of ourselves, we can better care for our youth and youth programs.

Diocesan Youth Mission Trip 
June 21-28, 2016 (9th-12th)
This coming summer, the Diocese of Georgia will sponsor a high school mission trip to the western plains of Nebraska. The trip will be led by the Rev. Joshua Varner, and will be hosted by Christ Episcopal Church in Sidney, Nebraska and their Vicar, the Rev. Tar Drazdowski. We will be working with the people of Christ Church, Sidney to help them maintain their buildings, and to reach out into the community. We will also have time to explore a different part of the U.S. and a different aspect of the Episcopal Church. More details about the trip, including our estimated cost, will be coming soon. If you would like more information, please contact the Rev. Joshua Varner at

Financial Aid is always available upon request. If you plan on seeking financial aid for any of these events, please contact Rebekah Stewart directly at


Fall Gathering: Servant of All

Fall Gathering 2015 registration is now open to all 9th through 12th graders. This event will be held at Honey Creek September 18-20th, 2015.The cost is just $100 to attend, which includes meals, snacks and a t-shirt. Participants will discuss the value of serving each other. Youth and Adult Leaders from around the Diocese will share about ways they serve their communities and how you can get involved too!

During Fall Gathering participants can expect to participate in fun team building games, to meet other young youth and adult leaders from across the diocese; to discuss the true meaning of servitude, humility and grace; to share their own servant experience; and to have fun! The weekend schedule will be a mix of structured programming and free time to forge new friendships. Invite some one from home to come with you!

Note: Though in recent years, our fall event was open for 6-12 grade. With large participation from middle school students at the Acolyte Festival and a New Beginnings, but no Happening, scheduled for this fall, Fall Gathering this year will be a 9-12 grade event.

Register Here


Acolyte Festival on St. Simons Island

The Acolyte & Youth Leadership Festival (AYLF) registration is now open to 3rd through 12th graders.

This year’s festival will be hosted by Christ Church Frederica on St. Simons Island and will be held Saturday and Sunday, August 22 & 23, 2015. The cost is just $50 to attend, which includes meals, snacks and a t-shirt. Priests will work with youth ministers in putting on this fun event. 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 11:15 Sunday morning Eucharist at Christ Church.

During the Acolyte Festival, participants can 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! There may be a possible field trip on Saturday to the beach, so please come prepared with bathing suits and sunscreen!

To register for this event, please follow the link below:

Register for the Acolyte Festival


Honey Creek Summer Camp

“If there’s any place to be, it’s a place where you can constantly feel God’s love. Honey Creek is that place, and will always have a place in my heart.”
Sam, High School Camper

Camp sessions
June 14-20 High School Completed Grades 9-12
June 21-27 St. Joseph & Mary I Completed Grades 3-5
July 5-11 St. Peter I Completed Grades 6-8
July 12-18 St. Joseph & Mary II Completed Grade 3-5
July 19-25 St. Peter II Completed Grades 6-8

Tuition for regular session is $430 per camper.

For more information visit

Click here to register.

New Camp for Children in grades K-2!
June 21-23 Parent & Child I Completed Grades K-2 + Adult
July 12- 14 Parent & Child II Completed Grades K-2 + Adult

The Parent & Child sessions run during the Camp St. Joseph & Mary sessions (Sunday through Tuesday). They serve as an introduction to camp culture for both the parent and the child (k-2nd grade). Parent and child are invited to participate fully in all camp activities as much (or as little) as they are comfortable. Tuition for each session Parent & Child session is $320 for one parent and one child ($85 for each additional child). Tuition covers room and board in a private lodge room, special activities, art supplies, camp photo and camp t-shirt.


Spring Rally – May 1-3

Have you ever wanted to be a hero?  I mean, have you ever wanted to fly or ever dreamed of being a firefighter? Many of us have. Come explore what it takes to be a hero at Spring Rally. During the weekend, we will talk about what it takes to be a hero, what is our hero’s code for following Christ, how to start a movement, and so much more. Participants will also get input into next years youth programs. Spring Rally will be held May 1-3, 2015 at Honey Creek. It is open to those in 6th-12th grade. This will be an awesome event. On the design team for this event are Roger Speer of St. Luke’s Rincon, Father Lonnie Lacy of St. Anne’s, Tifton, serving as Spiritual Director, and Caroline Johnson of St. Luke’s, Hawkinsville, serving as head of music. If you are interested in helping with this event, please contact Elizabeth Burns.

Oh, and the Bishop will be there.

Come enjoy The Creek with singing, games, worship, and more. The cost for participants is $117 for the weekend. Scholarship assistance is available. Register for Spring Rally here!