The Episcopal Diocese of Georgia announced today that it has received a $100,000 grant for the establishment of a new ministry in Savannah. This grant is part of The Episcopal Church’s initiative to reach so-called “millennials” who yearn for an authentic connection with the Holy Spirit but who are typically averse to the formal structure of the Church and its Sunday service.
The Diocese will assign a priest to meet with these groups in and around the community and nurture their faith through the order and traditions of Jesus’ teachings and the Church.
The Diocese has called the Rev. Kelly Steele to lead this new effort. The Rev. Steele was ordained to the priesthood in May 2016 at Christ Church, Savannah and is a 2015 summa cum laude graduate of Duke Divinity School as well as a 2012 summa cum laude graduate of Duquesne University
The Rt. Rev. Scott A. Benhase, Bishop of Georgia, said “This grant is significant - first and foremost it allows the Diocese of Georgia to continue its growth and reach new generations of Christians and non-Christians alike. In the last several years we have witnessed a hunger among young adults to learn more about and experience Christ’s transformational love, grace, and forgiveness. This grant will allow us to reach those most in need of this Gospel message, especially many young adults who have heretofore shunned organized religion and its institutions."
The Rev. Canon Frank Logue added, “The Episcopal Church has always been a leader in ministering to the most vulnerable in our society. Many of our local parishes are actively engaged in important ministries for these individuals. With this grant, we can now focus more specifically on a subset of the population who may be the most difficult to reach but who desires to included in the fellowship of the Church.”
The Rev. Steele identifies herself as a priest “in the wild” or “an investigator for Jesus” looking for church-avoidant people with whom to connect and from whom to learn. Actively involved in Emergent Savannah, a collective of individuals who desire to build and foster a beloved community, she is also working with Citizens Advocacy under the leadership of Tom Kohler. She plays women’s roller derby as a way to connect with other young women. She is married to the Rev. Guillermo Arboleda who serves as the Priest-In-Charge at St. Matthew’s, Savannah.
“I am overjoyed to be called to this ministry for the Episcopal Church and to use this grant to follow Jesus’ command ‘that we all may be one,’” said Steele. “I’m excited to try to be a new sort of priest. I have no doubt that our path forward will yet unfold as we are guided by ultimate and powerful mission stated in the Book of Common Prayer: to ‘restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ’ as we ‘pray and worship, proclaim the Gospel, and promote justice, peace, and love’.”
“I was not raised in the church, so I identify with those who may feel disconnected to it. In fact, I grew up in an atheist/agnostic family. However, I began to explore the Bible in college after a series of late night discussions with a Christian college student. Eventually, I had a night of surrender to God and had a realization of God’s presence. Oddly enough, all the pent-up resentment about the church was turned inside out and became — miraculously — love and patience toward the church. Even today, I consider my patience and love toward the church’s institutionalisms and inadequacies nothing short of Divine intervention. From that day, my freshman year of college in 2010, I knew I would dedicate my life to the church and to answering God’s call to go forth into the world rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit.”
To partner with Kelly and to receive updates on her work, please contact her via email (firstname.lastname@example.org), phone (912.236.4279) or through her website: www.priestinthewild.com.