Anna Ellison Butler Alexander, born the year the Civil War ended, became the first black deaconess in the Episcopal Church. In a calling of more than 60 years, her indomitable spirit and fierce devotion to God still illuminates our understanding of ministry.
Her call was to serve the people of Pennick and Darien, Georgia. In Pennick she planted a church, Good Shepherd, and built a school next door. Generations of schoolchildren learned to read and write in her two-room school. In addition to Good Shepherd, she she traveled on foot for 15 miles and rowed a small boat on the Altamaha River to serve St. Cyprian's in Darien. She taught her pupils about the world and Christian responsibility to all peoples. Proportionately, Good Shepherd gave more support to needy folk throughout the world than any church in the Diocese. When more than 200,000 people died during an earthquake that devastated Tokyo-Yokohama Japan in 1923, Deaconess Alexander's mission diverted building funds to aid the victims. Sunday school pupils regularly contributed their pennies and nickels to victims of hunger and hardship.
In 1998, she was named a Saint of Georgia by the Diocese of Georgia with a feast day of September 24. In 2015, the Episcopal Church voted to include Deaconess Alexander in Holy Women, Holy Men at its General Convention in Salt Lake City, adding national recognition for this Saint of Georgia. For a longer narrative on the life of Deaconess Alexander, go here.
A SAINT IN THE DIOCESE OF GEORGIA
JOIN IN A CELEBRATION OF HER LIFE AND LEGACY
On Saturday, January 20th, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, the Very Rev. Michael Curry, will preach at 9:30 AM Eucharist with Bishop Benhase officiating. The service is to be held at the Church of the Good Shepherd, Pennick, the home church of Deaconess Anna Ellison Butler Alexander.
For more than 60 years, Deaconess Anna Alexander ministered to the people of Pennick and Darien. On the morning of the Revival, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the U.S., the Most Rev. Michael Curry, will visit Good Shepherd, the church she planted and ministered and the schoolhouse that she built and where she taught generations of students.