Children’s Formation at St. Paul’s

By Susan Payne, Director of Children’s Ministry
It has been said that the way we pray shapes the way we believe. With that principle in mind, we have designed a new way to do children’s chapel that more closely mirrors the way we pray together on Sunday. By organizing the children’s chapel service much like the service in the nave, we are passing on and entrusting our tradition to some of our youngest. You might be asking “What does this new service look like?” Please join Reverend Kyle and Susan in the Children’s Chapel for Children’s Chapel Shepherd training at 9:45 am on Sunday, February 23rd.  This 15 minute training will be for all parents assigned to volunteer for Children’s Chapel and anyone curious about the new format.  
Children’s Sunday Formation is up and running in our new Children’s Ministry space from 9:30-10:45am on Sunday mornings. Developed by Dr. Jerome Berryman, Godly Play, is a Montessori-based curriculum that includes biblical storytelling, interaction, exploration, and creativity to teach and enliven Bible Stories. In Godly Play (age 4-3rd grade) marvelous things happen as children “work, play and wonder together at the awesomeness of God.” Parents are welcome to observe a Godly Play session. Please send a request to the Children’s Ministry Director if you are interested in observing. 
Building Faith Brick by Brick is a faith based Sunday School Curriculum for 4th and 5th graders that teaches Biblical Stories and allows older Elementary School aged children to express their thoughts and analyze stories through Lego creations.

St. Paul’s Holy Bible

By Bill Tudor

HOLY BIBLE
CONTAINING THE
OLD AND NEW TESTAMENTS
TRANSLATED OUT OF THE ORIGINAL TONGUES, AND WITH THE FORMER TRANSLATIONS DILIGENTLY COMPARED AND REVISED
WITH REFERENCES AND VARIOUS READINGS
PHILADELPHIA
PUBLISHED BY E. H. BUTLER & CO.
1859

The above is extracted from the cover page of this Bible. In early 2019, this Bible was found on a high shelf in what was once the sacristy in the original building, now the Children’s Wing.

The binding was damaged, due to old age. It has now been repaired and restored, due to the generosity of a parishioner, and is on display in the Narthex.

No one seems to know the history of how and when the Bible came to be a part of St. Paul’s history. According to a book on Coweta history, the original “St. Paul’s Episcopal Church was established in Newnan in 1882 with services first held in Thomas Hall, on the west side of the courthouse. Later a small traditional white frame church was erected on Wesley Street at the intersection of Jackson Street… For reasons unknown, services were discontinued, and the property was sold in 1914… In 1954, Charles Van S. Mottola, Jim Hardin, and Beverly Upchurch conferred with Bishop Claiborne, who consented to establish an unorganized mission in Newnan… To maintain continuity with the original church at Wesley and Jackson Streets, permission was requested, and granted, to retain the name St. Paul’s.”

Teach Us To Pray!

By The Rev. Kyle Mackey

It has been said that the way we pray shapes the way we believe. With that principle in mind, we have designed a new way to do children’s chapel that more closely mirrors the way we pray together on Sunday. By organizing the children’s chapel service much like the service in the nave, we are passing on and entrusting our tradition to some of our youngest. You might be asking “What does this new service look like?”

After the children depart the nave on Sunday, they follow the cross, much like our altar party follows the cross into the nave, back to the children’s chapel. The worship begins where we left off in the nave, with singing God’s praises! During the hymn, which the candles on our little altar are lit. Just like in ‘big church’ we have candles on the altar!

After we sing, we pray together. The familiar “The Lord be with you” marks the prayer of the day. The leader prays this prayer over us, much like the presider in the nave prays over and for everyone. These prayers reflect the day’s lesson, often asking for God’s help in living up to Jesus’ way while encouraging us to share God’s love with others.

Then, just like in the nave, we read the day’s lesson from one of the Gospels. This reading is paraphrased to be easily understood and is concluded with the familiar “The Word of the Lord. Thanks be to God!” Readings of scripture, and particularly of the Gospel invite the Word of God, that is Jesus himself, to speak in our midst. Rather than a sermon, we have a time of discussion, a participatory and responsive look at the contents of the reading. If only sermons were so much fun, oh well.

Like our service in the nave, our next thing is an affirmation of faith in the form of a Creed. Our children’s chapel version of the Nicene Creed is simplified, but still hits all the same fundamental points of belief. Take a look:

We believe in God the Father, who made the whole world.

We believe in Jesus the Son, who died on the cross for us, and rose from the dead.

We believe in the Holy Spirit who brings life and love to us all.

We believe that the Church is one family, and that one day we will share in everlasting life with God in the world to come. Amen.

Now we sing another song, led by our own Mrs. Dawn! Then it’s time to pray the prayers of the people. We pass out toys that represent the 6 areas of life the prayer book instructs us to pray for each week on pg 383. A cross for the Church, a flag for the nation, a bell for the welfare of the world, cars and airplanes for those who travel in our community, a teddy bear for the sick and all who suffer, and a butterfly for the departed. We also added a singing cupcake as a thanksgiving for those who celebrate birthdays this week. Other prayers can be named and placed on the altar with these. All answered with “Lord, hear our prayer!”

We then say a short prayer of confession. Then we are reminded of God’s grace and forgiveness. Then we pass the peace with each other. What an adorable sight the passing of the peace is! Little ones giving hugs in peace, a vision of heaven if there ever was one. Then we line back up and follow the cross to join the rest of the community for Eucharist. All in all, it is one continuous liturgy through which we are all connected!

Bill and Dawn Harrison: Living Christ’s Words

By Joan Doggrell

Jesus left guidelines for his followers, many of them in the form of parables. A few are enigmatic, but for the most part, His meaning is quite clear. You don’t have to be a Biblical scholar to catch the drift of this passage:

Then the King will say to those on his right, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.

Then the righteous will answer him, saying, “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And      when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?”

And the King will answer them, “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” Matthew 25, 34-40

In this passage, Christ gives us straightforward instructions of how He wants us to live, but sometimes, following His directions is about as simple as assembling a piece of furniture by the manufacturer’s “easy” steps. It can be a temptation to just give up. However, St. Paul’s is not a parish of quitters. There are lots of folks at St. Paul’s that live out Christ’s love both inside the parish and outside in the Newnan community and the world beyond. Two such people are Bill and Dawn Harrison. I would like you to get to know them.

They both hail from Pittsburgh. They are high school sweethearts who have lived happily ever after for more than fifty years. They raised their four children in towns and cities from Florida to Maine.  Everywhere they lived, they played major roles in the life of their parishes.

The Harrison family in Baca Raton celebrating the fiftieth birthday of their eldest.

Though brought up in different Christian sects, they have this in common: parents committed to their churches and communities.

“A lot of it gets down to upbringing,” said Bill. “Both of our families were heavily involved in church, and so were we from the time we were knee high to a grasshopper. As you go through life, moving different places, having good and bad experiences with churches – we’ve had both – your faith evolves. You realize that Matthew 25 tells us just what we’re supposed to do.”

“Bill’s right,” said Dawn. “I was taken to church every Sunday by my father. My mother was a sporadic attender. She had a lot of medical issues. But my dad went every Sunday. He was Junior Warden of St. Stephen’s for thirty years. (They didn’t change positions back then.) As a child, I built an altar in my bedroom. I had a little table with candles on it and everything.”

“I married into the Episcopal church,” said Bill. “I was raised Presbyterian. One of the jokes we share is, my mother had a hard time getting used to my being an Episcopalian – all that standing up and sitting down, all that kneeling, candles… my favorite saying of hers was ‘Communion once a quarter is plenty.’”

At St. Paul’s, Dawn leads the Bell Choir and the Children’s Choir and sings in the Parish Choir, as does Bill. She also plays the organ and the piano and occasionally subs for our organist and choir director Mason Copeland. So Dawn makes a major contribution to our music program, not only through her own talents but also by passing on our glorious sacred music heritage.

But that’s not all she does. She is there to help anybody who needs support for any reason: post-surgery, emotional, transportation. And she is a steady guide in personal emergencies.

I like lists. They keep me organized. So, to keep track of how Bill and Dawn are meeting their commitment to Christ, let’s organize their contributions under these hearings:

  1. Give food and drink to the hungry and thirsty.
  2. Welcome the stranger.
  3. Visit the sick.
  4. Clothe the naked.
  5. Visit the prisoners.

Give food and drink to the hungry and thirsty

“As we’ve gotten older, we see a lot of need in the church to reach out to people

in the community,” said Dawn. “Bill and I both deliver Meals on Wheels. I did it in Pittsburgh too, when I had four children. I would take all four of them with me. The people loved the kids.”

Welcome the stranger

I know Bill and Dawn welcome strangers. They were the first to greet Don and me when we walked into St. Paul’s. Dawn immediately recruited me for the choir!

“Just greeting a newcomer to church is a big ministry,” said Dawn.

But Dawn goes further. She understands what it means to be a stranger to human contact, to be alone during life’s trials.

“I was parish administrator at Peter and Paul in Marietta,” said Dawn. “The priest and associate would be gone a lot. Strangers would come in the office wanting to speak to one of the clergy. Before I could say, ‘Would you like me to make you an appointment?’ they would be sitting down and unburdening themselves. And I’m thinking, these people are really hurting. They need somebody to listen to them. And I think that was the beginning of my decision to reach out to the stranger in need.”

Visit the sick

My husband Don has been hospitalized several times since we’ve been members of St. Paul’s. Bill and Dawn were two of many St. Paul’s folks who visited him. And Bill’s Lay Eucharist Visitor ministry brings him to the homes of the sick and the nursing homes of the elderly.

But sickness can mean more than physical disease. Two persistent illnesses of modern life are loneliness and depression. Dawn and Bill, with their kind natures and formal training, are well equipped to treat these forms of sickness and have been doing so for years.

If you are involved in any kind of personal emergency, you want Dawn or Bill at your side. They will know what to do. Dawn attributes their skill to training as Stephen Ministers. The purpose of the Stephen Ministry is to provide companionship to a person going through a crisis: a death, a divorce, a job loss. Dawn and Bill took their training at St. Gregory’s in Boca Raton, Florida.

“Six of us were candidates, and we went through fifty hours of training” said Dawn. “We would visit with people in need once a week for an hour or longer. The main thing was just to listen. But the ministry also taught us how to deal with certain issues if we felt that the person was not quite mentally stable. They taught us to get in touch with the proper authority. That, to me, was very rewarding.”

“When we were in Florida, I had three people I ministered to, and Bill had two. My favorite and last one was the mother-in-law of our associate priest. He felt she would be lonely because he and his wife went to Maine in the summer. He asked me if I would be a Stephen Minister to her and visit her once a week, which I did. Usually you minister to someone for two years. But we became such great friends that after two years, I said, ‘Tina, you really don’t need a Stephen Minister. How about I just come as a friend?’ So I continued to visit her every week, and we just enjoyed each other’s company. In fact, when we moved back here to Newnan, I sent her a letter every week. I usually wrote it on Tuesday, the day I would visit her.

“She passed away in January two years ago. It so happened that I was going to be flying down to Boca Raton on the day of her service. I flew in, and my daughter brought me to the Catholic church where she was a member. I walked in at the Gospel reading. Tina’s daughter, when she saw me, just dissolved into tears. She gave me one of Tina’s little angel statues, which Tina used to collect. I have it on the mantel. I look at it all the time and it reminds me of her.

“The Stephen Ministry is really rewarding, and I would like to see something like that get started at St. Paul’s. We have a lot of people who are widowed, divorced, or having other life crises. New babies arrive, and the mothers may be going through post-partum depression and just need to talk to somebody. Bill and I have the skills to do that because we were taught.”

Clothe the naked

I’m giving Dawn and Bill a pass on this one, in the literal sense. With cheap clothing readily available at Goodwill and the Salvation Army, no one needs to be naked. Nevertheless, there are still clothing needs.

“One of my heroes is a fellow we met up in Marietta at St. Peter and St. Paul,” said Dawn. “His name was Dick Hillman. Every winter he would collect socks from people and go to downtown Atlanta and give socks to the homeless. I thought that was a great ministry. I don’t know how he got all the socks.”

“I used to go with him sometimes to the manufacturers and the retailers,” said Bill. “He would say ‘Hey, I’m doing this,’ and they would give him socks.”

But, like sickness, nakedness might be interpreted more broadly. One could be naked of dignity or respect. Bill and Dawn attend the funerals of babies that die under sad circumstances.

“Generally, it’s indigent families who can’t afford to bury their babies for one reason or another,” said Dawn. “Maybe the child has been beaten. Sometimes the families will be at the burials, and sometimes not. We just go to witness, Bill and I, and David Waldron too. The babies are in individual coffins and are prayed over.

“Holy Innocents Episcopal Church in Dunwoody spearheaded this ministry. It really struck a chord with me because I had lost a baby. I was in the hospital and didn’t get to see the child buried. So it just tugged at my heart that these babies would be laid to rest and nobody was going to be there.”

“Fulton County has a fulltime chaplain,” said Bill, “and part of his responsibility is indigent burials, both adults and children. What happens to indigent children and adults in Coweta County? Is there a program that provides a decent burial? It’s important to give them that dignity.”

Another form of nakedness is the lack of a roof over one’s head.

“Bill and I also did a ministry in Boca Raton called Family Promise, which takes in families that are homeless,” said Dawn. “Each church would take several families for a week. Our church had an old rectory where we were able to bring the families in the afternoon. We would greet them, play with the children, help them with homework, feed them dinner, and get them settled for the night. Then a bus would come in the morning and take them back to DelRay where the kids would go to school and the adults were able to do resumes and job applications.”

Visit the prisoners

Has Bill ever asked you for cookies? Dozens of them, six to a baggie? They are for his prison ministry called Kairos.

And what is Kairos?

According to their website, “Kairos Prison Ministry International, Inc. is a lay-led, interdenominational Christian ministry in which men and women volunteers bring Christ’s love and forgiveness to prisoners and their families. The Kairos programs take the participants on a journey that demonstrates the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ. Kairos Prison Ministry is Christian in nature, although no religious affiliation is necessary to be a participant.” For further information see http://www.kairosprisonministry.org/about-kairos-prison-ministry.php

“The first time I heard of Kairos was at St. Paul’s,” said Bill.  “A man named Ron Gillihan told a wonderful story. He had a son that was murdered. He wound up going to a prison to visit and forgive the person who killed his son. His experience led him to join the Kairos prison ministry.

“Once I started hearing about Kairos, it chased me around,” said Bill. “I was in Oklahoma on a consulting assignment for three years by myself pretty much. God just grabbed me by the scruff of the neck. I was in Kairos up there. Then when I moved back here, I was reminded of it at our men’s breakfast. Jeff Lamb came to the breakfast and mentioned the magic word.

“I was at a Kairos Prayer & Share meeting this morning. That’s kind of my heart, just watching those guys and hearing some of their faith stories. It’s the power of teaching people that there are no Lone Rangers in Christianity. You’ve got to have relationships, and you’ve got to have a group of people you can share with, your concerns, joys, sorrows. And that’s what we try to teach these guys.”

“I went to one of the Kairos closing on a Sunday afternoon,” said Dawn, “And to see the change in those men, listen to them speak, would just warm your heart. The Kairos volunteers hug them and give them the assurance that they’re loved. Some of them have never even touched a person before. That’s sad, because touch is very important to people.”

“We used to joke about how some of them come just for the cookies,” said Bill. “No doubt that’s sometimes the case. But they come for curiosity and then get the good stuff. The power comes when you can see guys of different backgrounds getting together like lifelong friends. At one table this morning there were two Hispanics, one Black and one White. Their heads were together and they were talking. That just doesn’t happen very often, even outside. I’m hoping that the relationship continues, and they can talk about really important stuff.

“One of the things we can do as followers of Christ is to get people to realize that there but for the grace of God go I! It’s so important for prisoners to feel they have somebody to talk to, pray with. It’s so easy to get in with the wrong crowd.”

Final Thoughts

“It’s become very important to me that we acknowledge that there are so many different faiths,” said Bill. “Denominations within Christianity is a whole different story, but we must be able to value other world religions. We are all children of God.”

“Many of the things Dawn and I do are religiously oriented, but there are other ways we can do ministry. For example, Meals on Wheels has no overt religious content. We need to value other efforts too, like the GED program. And then this new ministry that’s starting, NEST, that’s going to be important too.  It’s a joint effort led by the Newnan City Church to provide a warm place to sleep for the homeless on freezing nights.”

“The other dimension is – and I firmly believe this –the joy you feel, whether it’s taking communion to somebody or helping somebody with a math problem. I think we need to be more effective in allowing people to have those kinds of experiences. It’s not altruistic. We joke about it in Kairos. We get much more than we give.

“I also think there’s a fellowship dimension to living that’s important. Not necessarily from a spiritual point of view. That comes in different ways for different people. But I think we undervalue the importance of close relationships. It’s like our Tuesday breakfast, and Daughters of the King – the purpose is to have a relationship and know that there are other people who care about the same things you care about. And even care about you. I can’t underestimate how important that is in living.”

“Somebody said once, God wants us to be more Christlike,” said Dawn. “We can do that. It doesn’t cost anything. Just be kind to people.”

Doing all the things that Bill and Dawn do would wear most of us out. But that doesn’t seem to happen to them.

“We persevere,” said Dawn. “It’s important. You have to think, what would this person do if he or she couldn’t call on me?”

So there you have “The Bill and Dawn Story.” Admirable folks, whom I try to emulate, but not unique. There are more like them at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. Come join us and get to know their stories as well.

The Dwight and Kathy Ellison Story: From LaGrange GA to Washington DC and Home Again

By Joan Doggrell

Dwight and Kathy Ellison are active and beloved members of St. Paul’s. Kathy co-chairs the St. Paul’s Altar Guild and is a Daughter of the King. Dwight is a member of the Men’s Club, is an Usher and Verger and, until recently, trained and directed the acolytes. Kathy teaches GED classes at West Georgia Technical College, and Dwight takes care of his grandson while his mother works outside the home.

These “mild mannered” occupations disguise a far more exciting past. For twenty years Dwight was a United States Secret Service Agent. With Kathy’s support at home, he served in Newark, New Jersey, Atlanta, Georgia, Plains, Georgia, and Washington DC, with other temporary assignments all over the country, and, on numerous occasions, overseas.

Then he had a second career as head of security at Turner Broadcasting. More about that later.

According to the USSS Facebook page, the Secret Service was founded on July 5, 1865. This is their Mission Statement:

The mission of the United States Secret Service is to safeguard the nation’s financial infrastructure and payment systems to preserve the integrity of the economy, and to protect national leaders, visiting heads of state and government, designated sites and National Special Security Events.

Dwight Ellison, an innocent young man whose ambition was to teach high school English, wore this badge for twenty years and a day.

While a senior at Clark College in Atlanta, Dwight was approached by four Secret Service recruiters. It seems there was an effort going forth to bring more minorities into the Service. However, Dwight had trained to be a teacher, and he was looking forward to taking a position doing just that. So, he put the application form in his footlocker and forgot about it.

For three years, Dwight pursued a successful career in his hometown of LaGrange teaching high school English, coaching football and Track and Field.

“I enjoyed being home and working to expand my students understanding and use of our language,” said Dwight. “I coached football and was the head track coach, which was my specialty.  I enjoyed that more than anything.”

But then Dwight and his principal had a disagreement.  He loved his job, but just didn’t feel he could stay in it any longer. As fate would have it, he found the Secret Service application where it had lain ever since the agents had attempted to recruit him back in college.

“I called a friend that I’d known for quite a while – I knew his family – who was a Secret Service Agent. He told me there was still an effort afoot to hire minorities.”

Dwight finished his teaching year while applying for a Secret Service position, taking tests and interviewing. In April of 1971, he was notified by letter that he was hired. He reported for duty at the Atlanta Field Office on June 28, 1971. (Dwight has a precise memory for dates.)

“So I went to work,” said Dwight. “After six weeks of Treasury School, I received notice that I was going to be transferred. And I’d only been on the job for four or five months!”

Meanwhile, where was Kathy?

“I was still single,” said Dwight. “but we were dating. I had no idea I was going to be leaving LaGrange. But I was transferred to the Newark Field Office in October of 1971. In December of 1972, Kathy and I were married, and she left college in the middle of her junior year and  moved to New Jersey. I had promised her mom I would make sure she finished school. So she enrolled in Newark State Teachers’ College, completing a semester up there.”

I asked if they had experienced culture shock.

“Well,” said Dwight. “We were both little country kids who moved to New Jersey and made it, in spite of the culture change”

“The agents and their wives always wanted to hear me talk,” added Kathy.  Kathy had a pronounced southern accent.

They spent two years in Newark. “I worked a lot of criminal cases, made a lot of arrests, worked a lot of undercover, and traveled all over the country doing that. Back then, the big deal was counterfeiting and check forgery: Social Security and Veterans’ Administration checks, any check with a Treasury seal on it. We investigated forgery and fraud of those documents.”

“It was hard work involving a lot of all-nighters, a lot of surveillance, and serving arrest warrants. And it was just me and maybe one agent covering me. It was dangerous stuff,” admitted Dwight. “But the good news for me then was that everybody didn’t have four or five guns, and if they had them, they didn’t carry them. We made several arrests where people had firearms in their homes, but there were very few occasions where we had to confront someone who had a gun. Very few. Today it’s commonplace. I wouldn’t want to be an agent today.”

“What did you think, Kathy?” I asked

“It was just normal,” she replied.

Dwight was in Newark until August of 1973, when he was asked to return to the Atlanta Field Office. They needed a minority agent in that office to do undercover work among Black counterfeiters.

“Did you worry about him then?” I asked.

“I never worried about him as an individual,” said Kathy. “One time he came home with tape all over him. I thought something had happened to him. But the tape was from the wire he was wearing. That’s the only time I ever threw a panic. I thought, ‘He’s been shot!’ But I never really worried about him.”

“Most of the time, as long as you remember where you are and what you’re doing and you don’t do something stupid, you’re fine,” said Dwight. “And if you don’t run into someone who is so doggone crazy it doesn’t make a difference.”

“You never really give the suspects money,” Dwight added. “You just examine the counterfeit and then lock them up. You come out of your undercover mode and became a policeman. I was always wearing a wire, and someone was always listening to my conversation.  I wasn’t stranded out there, out of touch. And I had another agent with me.”

His last undercover assignment, however, went beyond his expectations. And not in a good way.

“The last time I worked undercover,” Dwight said, “we were making a counterfeit buy from an old man in southwest Atlanta. He hadn’t manufactured anything, but he had possession of a lot of $20 bills, probably 80 or 90 thousand dollars’ worth. We went to his apartment, Doug James and I, to make the buy. We knocked, and a young lady came to the door. She said she was his intermediary and that we had to conduct the sale thru her. Well, we went inside and made the deal. I said, ‘I need to see the money.’

“She went into the back and returned with a paper bag full of twenty-dollar bills. I opened it. As I was looking inside, she pulled a weapon out of her purse. She said, ‘I want my money now.’ Doug then pulled his revolver and said, ‘Make a choice. Money or your life.’ She dropped the gun, and we made the arrest of her and the old man.

“That was the last undercover assignment I ever worked. I’d never had anyone draw a gun on me before. I said, that’s it.”

Meanwhile, Kathy stayed busy. She went back Clark College in Atlanta, the same one she had left to accompany her husband to Newark – and, still on scholarship, completed her degree in Elementary School Education, graduating with her class and finishing with a 3.9 GPA. She taught for two years full time and then stayed home with their two children.

“I volunteered at their schools. When one of the supervisors found out I was a teacher, he asked me to sub in the children’s school, so I did that. Otherwise I was home with them. Dwight traveled a lot, so somebody needed to be home. We tried to live in neighborhoods where there were other agents with families. Fortunately, all of the guys wouldn’t be gone at the same time.

“When Dawn got sick, Dwight was in West Virginia,” said Kathy. “But a friend of ours, also an agent, was there. We were living up in Upper Marlboro, MD.  The neighboring agent took me to the hospital while his wife kept Kimberly. Dwight was notified and was flown back home within hours.  Usually someone was around who could get in touch with him and let him know what was going on.”

“I doubt seriously that that kind of caring exists anymore,” said Dwight, “primarily because the jurisdiction has expanded so much that agents are in travel status between 60-70 percent of their time. When I retired, we had 45-50 agents in the Atlanta Field Office. Today, they have close to 100. If you were to go into a field office today, you’d be lucky to find 15 people in there. They’re out doing other things: protecting the President, protecting a foreign dignitary, or they’re in school and training. “

Dwight returned to Washington DC in October of 1976. After spending two years in the Intelligence Division, he was transferred to the Presidential Protective Division. Jimmy Carter was President, and Dwight was assigned to his protection. And that led to one of the few times that Kathy worried.

As she tells it, “When Reagan was sworn in and Carter departed to civilian life in Plains, GA, Dwight packed bags. He was traveling with President Carter back to Plains. He said he might not see us for a couple of days. A few days later, while we were watching TV, there he was! In Germany. We didn’t know he was going. Afterwards we learned that as soon as Reagan was sworn in, Dwight was on his way to Germany with President Carter. American hostages, who had been held by leaders of Iran, were released and transferred to Germany. Since these hostages had been taken and held captive during President Carter’s term in office, Carter wanted to bring the hostages home.

“President Reagan had threatened the Iranians with serious consequences if the Americans were still being held hostage the day Reagan was sworn in.  Dwight wasn’t gone very long. But we didn’t know when he was coming home.”

Dwight explained, “At that point, President Carter had left office. I was still on the Presidential Protective Detail, but I was temporarily assigned to escort Former President Carter home to Plains, GA. When word broke that the hostages were going to be released, President Reagan sent an aircraft to pick up Former President Carter. We flew with Carter to Germany.”

Why were the hostages released so quickly after Reagan became President? I have always wanted to know. This is Dwight’s explanation.

“When the hostages were taken, Carter was still in the White House. He had been trying to negotiate their release for close to a year. On his watch, an attempt had been made to rescue them, but the attempt had failed. When Reagan took office, his message to the Ayatollah was, if you don’t release the hostages, I will come over and make where you live a parking lot. The Iranians took his threat seriously because they didn’t hesitate to release the hostages.

“We saw all that up close and personal. We were a part of history,” said Dwight.

Dwight was on the plane that flew the hostages home.

After that, a quiet life away from Washington looked very attractive. Dwight volunteered for the former President’s detail, “And then,” said Dwight, “we left and moved to Albany, Georgia, and set up homestead there. We loved it. We were there for three years.”

But the peaceful life didn’t last. Dwight and Kathy returned to Atlanta where he was promoted to squad supervisor. More promotions followed, and another Presidential Protection assignment.

“In 1984, when Jesse Jackson ran for President, I was in charge of his detail,” said Dwight.

“We had just moved into a house in Lithonia when he got a call,” said Kathy. “We hadn’t been there two weeks. And I knew, when Jesse said he was going to run, I just knew that’s what they had called about. We had just moved in, and Dwight was gone. Within two days.”

“Jesse and I hadn’t met before that,” said Dwight. “He wasn’t used to the agents and did not fully understand our mission.  He was busy doing his own thing. We had to have a couple of come-to-Jesus conversations. But we got to be pretty close after a while.”

“He told me I had the meanest husband he’d ever seen,” said Kathy. “I told him, you do as he says because I want him to come home! And Jackie wants you to come home.“

Because of Jesse, Kathy very nearly made the cover of the National Inquirer.

“We went to meet him for the first time at the Fulton County Airport. I had my back to the press. I spoke to him, and as he hugged me, I could hear a sound like cattle running. It was the press. I was there with two little girls who just kind of appeared, and they had never seen me before. They were looking for a story!”

Dwight’s next promotion was to the Office of Inspection back in DC. Not long thereafter, he was assigned to Secret Service Headquarters with another promotion to the Senior Executive Service. That is as high as you can go in the Secret Service.

“I was Deputy Assistant Director for a little over a year when the position of Special Agent in Charge in the Atlanta office came vacant. My former boss there had retired. He called and told me he was leaving and wanted to know if I was interested in the job. I said, ‘Are you kidding? I want to get home.’ So we went back to Atlanta for the third time, and this time I was the boss. I spent my last year and a half on the job there.”

About six months before he was eligible to retire, Dwight got a call from Turner Broadcasting. “They wanted me to come to work right away,” he said. “I couldn’t do that because I would lose my opportunity to retire outright in twenty years and get an annuity.”

So, one day a week, for about two months, Dwight spent unpaid time at Turner learning his new job. Although he had planned to stay with the Secret Service another two or three years, he retired on June 28, 1991, after twenty years and one day. The Monday following retirement from the Secret Service, he went to work for Turner Broadcasting, where he would spend the next eleven and a half years as Corporate Director of Security.

Now he faced a new set of challenges.

“Security wasn’t exactly at the top of their list of priorities,” he said. “I had to introduce to them the need for security, especially living and working in CNN Center. Everything is wide open: the public entrance to the facility, that whole first floor lobby area, with private vendors, food service, a fitness center, a sports store and the CNN tours. High profile people on television who receive threats every day faced exposure as they were coming and going.”

The women were especially vulnerable and received the most threats. They all wanted their own security escorts. Though that wasn’t possible, Dwight or one of his employees surveyed their homes, screened their mail and calls, recommended specific security measures, and gave advice about their travel habits. They were given prioritized parking where a security officer was stationed and an escort to and from their cars.

So, using what he had learned in the Secret Service and a large dose of common sense, Dwight became the “security guru” for all of Turner, worldwide, and shared his expertise with other corporations in Atlanta. He retired from Turner Broadcasting in January of 2002 after eleven and a half years.

“I started a little private investigative business. I got a few jobs, made a few dollars, but the rewards failed to measure up to the efforts and time required.”

So Dwight accepted full retirement. “Except for taking care of the baby,” said Kathy.

I asked Dwight how the Secret Service today compares with what it was like when he was an Agent.

“The Service was founded to suppress counterfeiting,” said Dwight. “That is still one of the top investigative priorities, but cyber-crime is now on top of everything else. Counterfeiting is probably still in second place. Today, they investigate a lot of computer crime. In fact, the Service heads a number of inter-agency cyber-crime units. They have participation from the local police, the GBI, the FBI, and maybe one other Justice Department inter-agency is involved on those task forces. They do a lot of preventive work. They find out what is going on, such as bank fraud. But more than anything else now is cyber-crime. We didn’t know anything about that in my day. Then the big deal was counterfeiting and check forgery.”

“I wouldn’t do it today. Everybody’s crazy. Everybody has a gun: eighteen, seventeen, sixteen-year-olds have guns, and they think it’s a rite of passage to shoot somebody. To get into these gangs, you have to shoot or rob somebody or break into somebody’s car, home or business. The majority of the car thefts you see on TV are gang initiations, as are local store break-ins. That’s what you have to do to show that you’re ‘worthy’ of being a member of one of these gangs.”

Though it is not generally known among today’s parish family, Dwight is a member of the St Paul’s Security Committee. He comes with an excellent resume!

Kathy and Dwight joined St. Paul’s in 1991. They had attended church in Atlanta until they realized there was a St. Paul’s in Newnan not far from where they lived. They gave it a try. They received such a warm welcome they decided to stay. And, in so many ways, we are glad they did!

A Conversation with Joshua and Sara Wieda: Their Winding Trails to St. Paul’s

A Conversation with Joshua and Sara Wieda: Their Winding Trails to St. Paul’s

By Joan Doggrell

Josh, Sara, Gwen and Tallis Wieda joined Don and me for pizza one evening. We had a wonderful conversation about religion in general, their previous experiences, and St. Paul’s.

Josh and Sara love St. Paul’s and are strongly committed to this parish. But why they love it, and how they came to feel that they were home at last, are two different tales.

Josh arrived having had little experience with organized religion and church in general. Sara had attended the Methodist church as a child, and then as an adult, accompanied her mother on a quest for the “right” church.

Josh likes to say that Sam Kinison was his first confessor. “That was simply the way I was raised,” he said. “Everyone who knows who he is will already be in on the joke.”

Well, I vaguely remember Sam Kinison, but I didn’t get the joke. So I looked him up.

According to Wikipedia, “Kinison played on his former role as a Bible-preaching evangelist, taking satirical and sacrilegious shots at the BibleChristianity and famous Christian evangelist scandals of his day. Kinison’s daring comedy helped shoot him to stardom . . . On several videos of his stand-up routines, a shot of his personalized license plate reveals the words ‘EX REV.’”

Kinison died in an automobile accident on April 10, 1992. His epitaph reads “In another time and place he would have been called prophet.”

OK, I think I get it now.

When you see him in church with his beautiful family, it’s hard to associate Josh with a raunchy comedian. But St. Paul’s does things to people….

Over pizza, with their girls exploring our house and yard, Josh and Sara told their stories. What follows is an almost word-for-word rendition of what they had to say.

Josh: We knew about St. Paul’s when I was going with the Girl Scout troop that meets there. I’ve got pictures going back several years of our daughter Gwen playing on the playground. Even then, I was moved enough by the sanctuary that I took pictures. I’d never seen anything like it. It’s such an unusual space – it has such a life to it. Most of the churches I’ve been to have this clinical sterility to them..

Sara: That applies to the Methodist church that I left, probably when I was twelve. I was confirmed in the Methodist church. And then after my parents split, my mother started taking me to Baptist churches, which led me to not going to churches at all for many years.

Joan: Why was that?

Sara: She thought it would be fun to bring me to a “cool” church, that I would buy into it more, because I didn’t really like the Baptist thing. The purity movement was the thing in the nineties. I thought it was creepy, bizarre and weird, and I hated it. So the church Mom brought me to had a skateboard park behind it. The Youth Minister referred to the crucifixion of our Lord as “Jesus’s big wipeout.”

Years pass and we have the girls – my mother has bugged us forever. She told us we were setting a bad example. I would go to her churches for just Easter and Christmas. But she finally wore me down. She said I could pick any church I wanted to go to – as long as it wasn’t a cult.

Josh: So the first thing we did was go on line and look up churches that were cults. We found the only church in the region that didn’t have a support group for its own survival – and that was us poor Episcopalians. Though I guess there is coffee hour!

Sara: Kidding aside, I did a lot of research – she was not going to let up. She had a point. I was worried that if the girls didn’t get enough exposure to something, then the first bozo who walked up could just tell them anything. I wanted the narrative to come from us. I wanted to find churches that were more liturgy-based. That was important to me. The Methodist church was liturgy-based, but at the Baptist churches my Mom tried to drag me to, members of the congregation would eat Kentucky Fried Chicken in church, and bags of chips – to me it was really bizarre – I hated it. I wanted to find something more closely aligned with “out-of-church morals,” like affirming to people in general.

Josh: They don’t talk about there being a “religious left.” That’s a compliment, as opposed to the religious right. I’m kind of tickled by how much my experience is so different but so much like Sara’s. Both my parents came from Catholic families – traditionally Catholic – immigrant families both – Polish and Hungarian and Catholic-German. But I never had any exposure to the Catholic Church – never saw the liturgy, no one ever talked about it. I think my father left the church at a very early age. He was pretty cynical about all religion. And I think all the children in our family inherited that.

My mother did the window-shopping Protestant thing. She would hop from church to church – I was young, so I didn’t know what she was looking for. But it was so strange going to St. Paul’s not knowing what to expect. I know enough about the people – we have a lot of cradle Episcopalians, but we also have a lot of refugees from the Baptists, the Catholics, the odd Methodist or Presbyterian. But to be somebody completely unchurched is kind of a treat. And there was something about walking into St. Paul’s and experiencing – the only analogy I can think of to use is what my father used to tell me about. Aunt Janice’s smoking habit. She started smoking when she was 17 years old. She said after her first drag, “This is what I’ve been missing all my life.” I wish I had a better analogy. It’s almost like 1500 years of Catholic generations going back to Clovis – it’s in the blood. The liturgy spoke to me. I’d never experienced anything like it in my life.

And the Communion – I’d seen it done in churches before. They have the little blister packs, a tiny cup, a little piece of bread in a zip-lock bag – that is so sanitary it has no meaning whatsoever. It’s the ritual of it that is just so powerful. You use your imagination – you can participate in what people have been doing all this time. Two thousand years of people breaking bread and sharing wine together goes back to the first table. And I’ve been hooked ever since.

I’ve had the occasion to talk to Hazel about it several times. The feeling I explained to her that it was a feeling of coming home, of recognizing a place you’ve never been before.

There are people who are hungry for something substantive, and they’re not finding it.

I fell in love with the people at St. Paul’s first. Our person was Wendy Llosa. I don’t think we were there ninety minutes before we heard, “Welcome! Want a job?” I think that’s important – not merely the welcoming – and I’ve heard the horror stories – but if you invite someone to be a part of something – to do the work.  That is what the difference is between church and family – in family you do the dishes.

It’s authenticity – that’s the buzz word. I think the secret ingredient is authenticity.

Joan: People who are living out their faith. That’s what we found. Especially when Don got so sick. They were right there. Bill Tudor and Lee Daniel…

Josh: We’ve only been at St. Paul’s a couple of years now, and Sara has her story about people showing up and offering themselves – when your car broke down . . .

Sara: Oh yeah.

Josh: Inside of 15 minutes after she posted the picture on Facebook – so from breakdown to post, three parishioners asked her if she needed help, and said they were on their way.

Sara: Sarah Crow came to rescue me. The tow truck beat her. Jane Huskison called me – I feel there were others – they said, I hear you broke down – I’ll come and get you.  It was not a “Please come and rescue me” post. It was several cuss words long. They called me right away when they saw it. Can I help you? Sarah Crow got about halfway there when the tow truck arrived.

Josh: And the critical thing – you can get that other places – but no one told them to do it. It wasn’t, “The pastor called me and now I’m on my way.” It was so sincere.

Joan: The church is supposed to do something for you? But wait a minute. We are the church.

Sara: Sure, that kind of caring is in other places. I’ve just never felt it. I think in all the other churches I went to – some of it was probably my own bad attitude – including Mom’s cool surfer church – but those people never had a reason to make a connection to me because I thought they were all weird. I wasn’t about to pop open a bag of chips in church. That wasn’t my place, and for some people, that makes them happy. It didn’t make me happy.

Josh: We are called to be all things to all people – I just don’t feel called to be the person who eats KFC in church!

Josh: My mother’s family all converted to Jehovah Witnesses – but she was the only one who didn’t go for it. She was a very talented debater. She would get a visit from the Jehovah Witnesses and invite them into the house and ambush them. Jehovah’s Witnesses are taught that if you’re talking to someone that you can’t win an argument with, you are talking with the Devil. It’s a side of her that I wish I had gotten to see more of.

Josh: I am in my first year of education for the ministry, the EFM curriculum. It’s my first church experience getting to know the scripture without treating it as literal and unassailable – just this thing you have to handle with kid gloves. I never knew what I found so off-putting – it’s idol worship. You have people almost literally rubbing the doorpost of their houses with the Bible. It anyone invokes the Bible in this way, it’s always a closed Bible, as if the book itself has magical power. I think Kyle articulated it very well when he said it is the story of an experience. And the thing I find most critically important about the Bible is – the Israelites didn’t have one. There is logic trapped.

Joan: They did have the Torah.

Josh: Some were writing it, and some were living it. In Jesus’s case, I like to think he was breaking it open. One of the things we are discussing in EFM – you have the Law that was for the people of Israel. And if you are of and in Israel, it’s a wonderful way to live. But maybe you can open this up and give it to the whole world.

It seems to me that good people and bad people can never identify each other because good and evil both want the same thing, but evil only wants it for itself. Good people want it for everyone. I think that’s really the message of the Gospel, that whatever it is that affirms life has to do so for everyone. Not just your own, not just for yours. I think is especially true these days, while we’re learning that the hard way, where I see so many people digging their heels in, very clearly separating us from them. The Episcopal church is the only place I’ve seen a Jesus that actually walked his talk. Because I could never follow how so many of the other people I met had arrived at the conclusions they did based on the same narrative, the same record, For example, I don’t understand the politics of a lot of evangelicals. But I think the critical thing is, I don’t think it matters as much what we do as why. If you get to the point where you understand that somebody is acting out of love, love for their neighbor or family, the conversation becomes how best to live that love. The conversation breaks down when you decide who you have to love. Who is my neighbor?

Joan: That question is central, I think, to the whole Christian belief.

Josh: There is a wrong reason to build a bridge and a right reason to build a wall. You can tell who is on the right side of that issue by who is doing it for everyone.

Speaking truth to power is a concept I was acquainted with. I have a persistent experience of discovering the divine in things that are mundane or even profane. I have a theory that prophets, philosophers, and stand-up comedians occupy the same ecological niche in history. I think they are all, in their given time and place, people who speak truth to power. What is the 20th century equivalent of running alongside of the chariot? Maybe Lennie Bruce was on to something. Who knows?  So I am trying to find these things in this interesting upbringing of mine where maybe there’s a wrong way to say the right thing.

That’s another thing. I was used to thinking of the church as almost a cult of personality, like a house where a pastor delivers a message and people come to hear it and then they go. I don’t know if “empowerment” is the right word. The word they use is “commission.” I think it’s the best word to use. We have a call, a commission to actually go out and do the things we’re told, that we are shown how to love other people.

Of all the places to hear somebody articulating what the problem in our society is … I got to see Eddie Izard recently, another stand-up comedian, speaking of the state of the world. Take an event like World War Two. Sixty million people showed up to fight that war. How many gods showed up? I’m listening to this, and I finally get it. God did show up – 60 million times. Every time somebody stepped in front of a bullet, every time somebody went out there and did what was called for, put themselves out there in the name of love. And of course the Devil showed up too because there were people out there for that also. The way it becomes real – this isn’t just lip service, just a Sunday morning mood. This is something you’re supposed to . . .

Joan: Live out. I think you have discovered something profound.

Josh: For somebody who took the nonexistence of God for granted for most of his adult life, it’s almost – there’s really no way to articulate it. It’s a deep sense of being ready. It’s the willingness to acknowledge the unknowable. Most of the atheists I’ve known were so certain of everything. That was the basis of their unwillingness to depart from what they could see and hear and touch. You don’t have to deny your senses. You need to be prepared to acknowledge that maybe there’s something behind them, deeper. The way I heard it put, that I thought was the best, is that other places have unquestioning answers, and we have unanswered questions. I think that’s going to be the door that lets people experience this again. So many people are sick of being told what to think and how they’re supposed to live, and they’re judged and stepped on. They’re told, “Get the hell out of here if you don’t want to do it our way” But I think you have to look for God everywhere because it’s the only place big enough to find her.

It would definitely be a hard thing to leave now.

Joan: Sara? Do you have anything to add?

Sara: Sounds like Josh went over both our feelings about the church.

Josh: Well it’s an interview . . . she can do the follow-up.

Sara: The liturgy, the serious approach. The worship is important to me, but not to take yourself so seriously. It seems like it was the reverse in my previous experience. Don’t take yourself seriously in church – we’re going to Six Flags over Jesus. When you go out, God forbid you drink beer. I just didn’t enjoy it. I had several reasons why I didn’t go to church for several years. Before I came to St. Paul’s, the last time I remember enjoying church was at my dad’s church — the big Methodist church in Opelika – this big castle-like church. It has this big belfry. In the back of the church was an old unused choir loft. My favorite thing to do was go up there after Sunday School and throw grapes at the ladies. I tried to get them in the hats. I was probably six. That’s the only time I remember enjoying church.

Josh: That’s why Tallis isn’t allowed in the choir loft!

Joan: Grape-throwing might be hereditary!

Sara: Church wasn’t my thing. But now I’ve found something I can participate in because everyone participates in the liturgy. You’re not just sitting there with someone speaking at you, which was important to me.

It’s also important to me that the girls have Hazel as a role model. It’s amazing to me, because my mom comes from a long line of Baptists where women couldn’t speak in church. They could only hold women’s Sunday Schools.

Josh: I was privileged to overhear the kids arguing – usually it’s over something silly – but Gwen was explaining heatedly, “Tallis, don’t be dumb! Boys can’t be priests!”

Sara: It’s so wonderful they get to have that experience.

Sara: There are so many things people do that you don’t have to do. For instance, not everybody makes the sign of the cross or genuflects. You can make God gender neutral. Even in the service, there are shades of gray, what people feel comfortable participating in. I swear, if I ever saw my Mom make the sign of the cross, I might fall over dead.

Josh: Sara has adopted a head covering.

Sara: Well, Mary Rose was doing it, and I read a book by a woman who was raised evangelical and converted to Episcopalianism later. But she had written a book about how she wanted to try to live a year based on literal Biblical principles. She wanted to see what experiences changed her for the better and what didn’t. A lot of the time, she wrote, this is just crap! But two things stuck out: she started covering her hair all the time because they mention it in the Bible. She said the thing she liked about it was almost a tangible, visible reminder to her while she was out, just to be respectful and gracious. She said it changed her mindset. She became less coarse in her interactions with other people. So I said, I’m going to try it too. I do feel it works for me. I feel people are seeing me differently, and it makes me more mindful when I’m out. It’s kind of a tangible reminder for me.

Joan: I guess my Daughters of the King cross serves that function for me.

Sara: I don’t wear the head covering at home. But I’ve really enjoyed wearing it while I’m out. I started at the beginning of summer, and I’ve done it since. They haven’t really asked me about it at school yet. Mary Rose pointed me in some directions. It’s more to be gracious to other people.

And then it was time to say goodbye – to a wonderful evening and inspiring people!

Anne Graner’s Story

By Joan Doggrell

I’d heard that the Launch Pad Library at Ruth Hill Elementary School is an awesome place, and when I visited it, I wanted to be a kid again. The large, colorfully decorated room is organized so that books, STEAM activities, and community connections are grouped together by common themes. They are organized in six learning portals: Travel the World & Beyond; Learn from the Past; Stay Fit & Healthy; Investigate Nature; Express Yourself; and Discover a Solution. And it all looks attractive and inviting.

Kids can experiment with a sewing machine, a 3-D printer, and musical instruments. They can also make movies and audio recordings in the recording studio.  They are involved with career exploration, are taught soft skills focused on professionalism, and are encouraged to create projects that impact others.

The learning portals are sponsored by community partners who supply materials and expertise. If students have a project calling for outside help, the partners are ready to supply it. For example, the Newnan Times Herald carried a story on June 9 about students making weighted lap pads that are used to help autistic children focus on learning.  The Coweta Community Foundation stepped in to help them purchase useful, quality products.

Obviously, the Launch Pad Library is a far cry from traditional school libraries. Its conception and creation are the work of St. Paul’s own Anne Graner. Anne is on a mission to empower the Ruth Hill students, 85% of which are on free and reduced lunch.  She believes that every child has the potential to succeed. With the collaboration of other teachers and community partners, the Launch Pad Library constantly strives to improve its offerings to close the opportunity gap so many of the students have.

“We don’t stop when the school year ends,” said Anne.  “For three summers, we’ve had a weekly bookmobile that reaches some of our neediest students so they can have free books over the summer.”

I met Anne at a St. Paul’s women’s retreat at Banning Mills a few years back. She took us on a “prayer hike” where we stopped and prayed at inspiring natural sights, and then she led a free-form dance that encouraged us to worship with our bodies. I knew then that this woman had a creative gift, one that could inspire others.

My own involvement with the Launch Pad Library occurred every Tuesday afternoon while students Christian and De’ Angelo filmed and interviewed me about my prosthesis. This video project ended up winning first place at the Coweta County Technology Competition.

I usually arrived just before dismissal. I watched Mrs. Graner bring her busy fifth graders, who were working on various projects throughout the library, to a halt with very few words – spoken softly. They all stopped in their tracks. They sat down together to debrief about their activities, and then were quietly dismissed. I was speechless in admiration.

How does a person become an Anne Graner? Where does that creative leadership come from?

I had a chance to ask her on June 13, when she and husband Lou Graner (more about Lou in another post) agreed to be interviewed. We began with a question:

Joan: What is in your background, or what inspired you, to develop that wonderful Launch Pad Library at Ruth Hill?

Anne: I have to go back to my parents. They were creative educators and missionaries. My mom started out teaching kindergarten and later became an elementary school principal. My dad was an Episcopal priest. Soon after they married, they went to Liberia, West Africa, as missionaries for the Episcopal Church. Mom co-founded a school there. Along with leading worship services, Dad taught courses at Cuttington College –the oldest private and coeducation university in Africa — and also served as its interim president.  I was born into this way of being: following a call, serving God and others with the gifts you’ve been given, finding creative ways to solve problems, and making the most out of being alive.

Later in life, I became a classroom teacher and noticed how much my parents’ philosophy of education and living fully influenced the type of teacher I became. That early childhood influence was a key foundation to leading me to create the Launch Pad Library.  I have found that when you observe kids and listen to them, you can get a better sense of what excites them, what they are curious about. Then you build a space and bring in resources to help them explore and become.

Mom and Dad passed away before the creation of the Launch Pad Library, but their essence permeates so much of what occurs there. I am also blessed to have the support of my husband Lou who has scrubbed floors, worked the book fair, moved bookcases and has been a sounding board for ideas and an extra hand when needed.  Our two daughters, Jessica and Lindsay, have witnessed the birth and development of the Launch Pad Library, and are excited to see how the legacy of their grandparents lives on.

Joan: Anne, any other passions that drive you?

Anne:  Yes!  I have a passion for story- for discovering other people’s stories, for documenting others’ stories with video, and for expressing my story through free-form dancing.  And I’ve always had this desire for deeper spirituality. I’ve been to the Kripalu Holistic Health Center in Massachusetts where I’ve taken workshops and trained as a yoga dance teacher. All of it was about how to access and bring alive deeper, sacred parts of me, and to learn how to invite and lead others in spiritual experiences.  It’s been a blessing to lead workshops, sacred dance experiences, and now currently, to be a healing intercessor at our church.

My passion for story led me to explore documentary filmmaking.  The training I received was very hands-on and entrenched me in the life of another. What an experience!  For someone to allow you to film them in their ordinariness and in their self-discovery was so sacred.

After the training, I was able to film other videos and created a website for these videos: http://snowpicnicfilms.com/  One of the videos features church member Billy Newman and his creative photography.  The website’s name, Snow Picnic Films, is in honor of my dad because he used to take us on picnics in the snow when we were living in New York state.

What it all boils down to is I just want to be true to my callings, to use the gifts I’ve been given, to embrace different kinds of people, and to live life fully.  Life has not always been easy.  I’ve experienced a lot of heartache.  But I continue to try to navigate all of this alongside taking time to listen, to pray, to be in nature, to create, and to just be.

How the Doggrells got to St. Paul’s

Joan’s birthday dinner, November 2017

For all of our lives, Don and I have belonged to an Anglican or Episcopal church. However, until we came to St. Paul’s, neither of us could claim a profound commitment to the Christianity that the church represents. The people of St. Paul’s have changed all that.

We were born, baptized, confirmed, and married in the Anglican Church of Canada. We immigrated to the USA in 1962, and brought our first child back to Canada to be baptized in the same church we were married in. But thereafter we became Episcopalians.

Over the years and in different cities, we have stayed connected to the Episcopal Church. We made sure each of our four boys was baptized and confirmed. However, getting them to church clean, dressed and on time was a challenge we did not always meet. I sang in choirs whenever I could. Don served on the vestry at All Saints in Las Vegas, Nevada where I taught Sunday School. We tried, but I can’t say our commitment went very deep. I was getting the college education I had missed. Don was busy with hockey and Cub Scouts and eventually went back to school himself. So for those and other reasons, church took a back seat in our lives.

In Huntsville, Alabama, where Don took a new job in 1985, we attended the Nativity Episcopal Church for awhile. They had a great choir, but no one in the congregation bothered to speak to Don. Thus we joined St. Matthew’s, a small storefront church in Madison, a Huntsville suburb. Shortly thereafter, Don went off to Saudi Arabia for four years, not an ideal place to practice Christianity – at least not openly. I stayed in Madison and donated “sweat equity” toward the construction of St. Matthew’s church building.

After Don’s return from Saudi Arabia, we landed in Dallas, Texas, where we ran smack into the gay controversy. The congregation of St. Nicholas had made it their mission to oppose the national church for ordaining a gay bishop. For the first and only time, we formally resigned from a parish. Sadly, in the Dallas diocese, there was no Episcopal church that did not espouse the same views, so for awhile we were unchurched. But not for long, as we were transferred to Atlanta within months.

In Atlanta, I joined the choir of St, Martin’s-in-the-Field, and Don attended there too. After two years, I was laid off, Don retired, and we decided to make our home in Newnan. This, at last, brings us to St. Paul’s, where we hope to stay for the rest of our lives.

We were met at the door by Dawn and Bill Harrison. I jokingly say “accosted” because Dawn tried to drag me downstairs to sing with the choir that very day. It felt good to be wanted.

Choir didn’t start off so well. The director took an hour and a half to tell the sad saga of why he was resigning. But I was not deterred. Every Wednesday and Sunday, I stood beside Dawn and followed her perfectly pitched alto notes and knew I was there to stay.

We found everyone at St. Paul’s friendly and welcoming, made several friends, and at last felt a true sense of belonging. But we didn’t know just what a treasure we had stumbled upon until Don got sick. Really sick. His illness became obvious on Christmas Eve of 2015. He was Vestry member of the day. Trying to lock up, he realized he could hardly stand. Son Jim and I helped him to the car. Fast forward to the ER. I called Lee Daniel, who called Bill Tudor, who called Father Allen. He prayed, and we all laid hands on Don. Lee and Bill stayed until Allen told them to leave.

On arrival, Don had been given an EKG. It seemed that when they found out he was not having a heart attack, medical personnel became very scarce. Allen sat with us for hours. Finally he had to leave to be able to conduct the service Christmas morning.

The wee hours got larger and larger. At last Don was admitted, and Jim drove the two of us home in a violent rain storm.

Don was diagnosed with a huge abscess in his abdominal wall. He was septic and spent the next fifteen days in the hospital on heavy antibiotics. This was a scary time for us both. But we weren’t alone. Don had loads of visitors, including the entire Vestry who left their retreat to drop in unannounced.

When Don was finally released, he was ordered to go every day to an infusion center for more antibiotics. I was teaching full time at West Georgia Technical College. I couldn’t get him there without quitting my job. So Linda Tudor organized a group to take turns driving him. Lee Daniel, Bill Tudor, John Abbey, Bill Harrison, Ron Wilson … these are names I remember. And frequent visitors appeared at our home bearing hot meals and flowers.

Don recovered, but the abscess formed again a year later. I found him helpless on the bathroom floor. He’d been there for five hours. When the ambulance arrived at the hospital, Lee Daniel and Bill Tudor were waiting. This time the abscess was removed surgically, and it hasn’t returned. The eight-inch incision took many months to heal. But heal it did.

I can’t possibly express the gratitude I feel for all that these wonderful people did for us. All I can say is that Jesus is no longer an abstraction for me. He lives at St. Paul’s.