of the Incarnation is the third oldest
worshipping community of Episcopalians in Atlanta, Georgia. In October of1882, Mrs. Nellie Peters Black requested a meeting of all Episcopal ladies in
West End. The meeting was held in the home of Mrs. Benjamin Conley, wife
of the former Governor of Georgia. The residence was located where Brown
High School now stands. Those present were Mrs. Conley, Mrs. Charles
Goodman, Mrs. Mary J. Van Dyke, Mrs. Joe Hunnicutt and Mrs. E.M. Haunson.
Between 1882 and 1892 regular
services were held in the Masonic Hall on the corner of Gordon and Lee
Street. Later, services were held in the Presbyterian Chapel on Ashby
Street which later became West End Presbyterian Church. In 1880 the Diocese
of Georgia established a Board of Missions with responsibility for all
missionary operations of the Diocese. Until 1885 the clergy who served
Incarnation were City Missionaries in charge of several small missions.
In Atlanta, only St. Philip's and St. Luke's had achieved Parish status.
Through the generosity of Mrs.
Van Dyke, a lot on Lee Street was donated and accepted as the building
site. Mr. C. Walter Smith prepared plans for the structure of the
Church. On January 13, 1896, there was a gathering for the ground
breaking, followed two weeks later by the laying of the cornerstone.
Despite a monthly Treasurer's report that indicated 3.00 in income, canceled by
$3.00 in expenses, the congregation boldly borrowed funds and the Church was built
On April 30, 1896, Rt. Reverend
C.K. Nelson, Bishop of Georgia opened the Church for worship services.
The Church received parish status on May 6, 1896 at the Diocesan Council at St.
Paul's in August, Georgia. Seventy-three communicants began work as a
religious and spiritual factor in West End. In 1907, Incarnation became a
part of the newly formed Diocese of Atlanta.
In 1927, Dr. G. Wallace Gasque
filled the pulpit of Incarnation "temporarily". By his
preaching and teaching ability, he made such an impression upon the
congregation that the Vestry extended him a call to a rectorship, which was to
last eleven years. He originated the idea for Camp Mikell at Toccoa.
In 1945, The Reverend Cecil L.
Alligood accepted the call to stay a few months. He remained eighteen
years. The congregation grew rapidly, reflecting the general post World
War II boom in Church membership throughout the country. As West End
became commercial and Cascade Heights developed into a prospering community,
plans were made to consider moving. This became a reality, and the Church
relocated in the Cascade Heights area which at that time was low density and
suburban before completion of the expressway system. The first services
were held in the new Church of the Incarnation on August 24, 1958.
Rev. Alligood was succeeded by
the Reverend Harry Harper who came to us in 1963 from the mission field of New
Zealand. The community was changing socially and racially, presenting the need
for a different outreach. Rev Harper tried to prepare the congregation,
and especially the Vestry, for this challenge. There was frustration,
fear, guilt and anxiety, which many could not face. The decline in
membership began. In spite of the fear and other factors, Incarnation
began reaching out to the community. Although pressure grew to relocate,
this was resisted and the Church successfully integrated. A Bargain Shop
(originally called Harper's Bazaar) in the West End was successfully operated
by the Women of the Church. Shepherd's Gate, a community center, opened
as a Church School program for "latch-key" children, then expanded to
include a youth group, tutoring, arts and crafts, adult instruction, but most
of all a second "home" where neglected children could find attention
On July 21, 1968, The Reverend
Carlisle J. Ramcharan began his rectorship. The courtyard was completed
during this period as a memorial gift from Miss Louise Hames. Father
Ramcharan resigned in June 1972.
In March of 1973, the Reverend
Albert R. Dreisbach, Jr. was called as rector. As the former advisor to
the Bishop of Delaware intergroup relations and last Executive Director of the
Episcopal Society of Cultural and Racial Unit (ESCRU), Father Dreisbach came
with full credentials to meet the challenge of this time and place in the
history of Incarnation.
Upon his arrival the parish
became active on many fronts. A new two-story educational building was
constructed. The parish was also fortunate enough to acquire some beautiful
40-year old silks and appliqués from the National Cathedral Altar Guild, which
have been transformed into stunning vestments, altar hangings and a pall.
Seasonal banners, Stations of the Cross, and the back lighting of the stained
glass windows from the Lee Street Church have also added to the beauty and
meaning of the sanctuary.
In the late 1970's, Rev.
Dreisbach became founder of the Atlanta Center of the Continuing Study of the
Shroud of Turin, and dissolved his relationship with the Church of the
Incarnation effective May 31, 1985, to assume its full-time directorship.
The Reverend Richard A.
Williams was instituted as rector in 1986 and remained for two years. He
held weekly service for residents of Epworth Towers, a senior citizen's residence.
The Reverend Dreisbach served as an interim priest and pastor until the next
rector was called to the parish.
The Reverend Richard C.
Britton, Jr. was instituted on May 5, 1990. Under his leadership, the
parish developed a viable mission statement and entered into a strategy for
mission planning. The articles of incorporation and by-laws were
revised. A Bible Study Group was re-established and for the very first
time, a Youth Eucharistic Ministry Program.
In January of 1999, The Rev.
Jim Williams began his ministry at Incarnation. He came from Emmanuel Church,
Athens, where he'd served for three years as Associate Rector. In November
2004, The Rev Jim Williams began a new ministry at Grace Episcopal Church
in Birmingham, AL. Under his leadership the following
was established: Foyers Program, a Respite Ministry for Care Givers of
Alzheimer's victims, and weekly healing services.
In February 2005, The Rev.
Canon Dr. A. Gordon Okunsanya began his ministry at The Church of the
Incarnation as the Interim Rector, after working with our House
of Bishops as the Missioner to Nigeria and other African Expatriates, stationed
in Atlanta, GA. In February of 2007, Incarnation celebrated Fr. Gordon's new
ministry as Rector of Incarnation, and his continuing emphasis on a renewed
focus on outreach and community, until his retirement in December of 2011.
The parish continues to seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit to strengthen its life together as a Church family, to guide its mission in the name of Jesus Christ, and to renew itself as a people of God.
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