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This Ship Is About To Sail!

News--Annual Meeting 2024


Miller Annual Address

The Rev. Jeffrey S. Miller addresses the congregation at the parish annual meeting on Sunday, March 3.

When the Rev. Jeffrey S. Miller took the helm as Rector of St. Philip’s in 2016, the church we call home was described to him by a parishioner as a ship run aground—a majestic ship, yes, but one that nonetheless had stalled on its journey.

Over these past eight years, though, the Lord has blessed the ship’s crew—its parishioners, clergy, staff, and Vestry—and used us to get it seaworthy once again, to point its bow back around and push it out into the water.

Evidence of our parish’s growth is in the numbers: the 17 Bible studies that meet on campus each week, the 93 newcomers who noted on their visitors’ cards last year that they were looking for a church home, the 50 people currently enrolled in the Rev. Andrew O’Dell’s Foundations class, and the 38,000 views that our services and classes have garnered on YouTube. Our Rector noted that our online presence is one of the “good” things to have come out of COVID, sharing that he likes to joke, “I would have never dreamed when I was ordained 30 years ago that I would be a televangelist ... because Bill Christian is the only one who’s got the hair for it.”

Updates from Jim Stelling (Finance Committee), Penn Hagood (Senior Warden and member of the Elizabeth Loomis Battle Trust Review Committee), and Maybank Hagood (Shine the Light Campaign Co-Chair) highlighted a strong 2023. During his turn at the podium, Maybank Hagood shared exciting news about the state of our first capital campaign in almost 25 years—over $13.5 million in pledges and donations so far, which our rector clarified is completely separate from the Battle Trust—but he also called our attention to the importance of 100% participation so that we can ready our campus for future generations and for the Gospel work that will be coming out of it, so that it is not a burden––but a blessing. “This ship is about to sail,” he said.


Above: Maybank Hagood gives an update on the Shine the Light Capital Campaign.


Above: The Rev. Andrew O’Dell “blames” Rachel Murphy for the slide that listed “people who heard we offer free coffee” as one of the groups who take Foundations

After the new Vestry class (Joanna Macmurphy, Jeff Rink, Sarah Stuhr, and Ann Hester Willis) was voted in by acclamation, it was time to vote on the Diocesan Convention delegates who will travel to Bluffton this weekend as St. Philip’s representatives. While completed ballots were being collected and tallied, the Rev. Andrew O’Dell took to the stage to offer his unique brand of reporting and entertainment (although there are plenty of folks who would say that all PowerPoint slides should feature pictures of dogs, lemurs, birds of prey, and surprised children).

As we waited, we also thanked our outgoing Vestry class for their three years of faithful service: Jason Ayers, Gantt Folline, Cordes Ford, and Suzanne McCord. Penn Hagood, who served as Senior Warden for 2023-2024, will finish out her Vestry term in the upcoming year as Junior Warden, switching roles with Foster Gaillard, but she nonetheless received a traditional Senior Warden’s parting gift. “Is it a life-sized picture of you?” she asked our Rector out of range of the microphone as he handed her a large, wrapped piece of art. He leaned back over to the microphone to share what she had asked and then joked, “It is.”

With the votes tallied, Ben Hagood and Suzanne McCord were named the convention delegates, with Todd Brown and Joanna Macmurphy serving as alternates, and it was time for our Rector to give the blessing and send us on our way, eager to see our future at St. Philip’s unfold—and blessed with the sure and certain hope of our resurrection and our everlasting future with the Lord our God.