The Reverend Ben R. Wells became the rector of St. Francis on January 1, 2013.
Ben is a native Kentuckian and attended the University of Kentucky where he received a BS in Biology and an MS in Toxicology. He spent 25 years as a forensic toxicologist in Lexington, KY and Atlanta, GA. It was in Atlanta in 1992 that Ben met his partner Arthur while both were beginning their journey with the Episcopal Church.
After discerning for the priesthood and being granted postulancy by the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta, Ben and Arthur (with Bishop J. Neil Alexander’s consent) decided that Ben would attend The Church Divinity School of the Pacific (CDSP) in Berkeley, CA, a member of the Graduate Theological Union, an ecumenical consortium of nine seminaries and two houses of study. Ben became a candidate for Holy Orders in 2010. He graduated in May of 2011 with a Master of Divinity emphasizing homiletics and liturgics. Ben was a co-winner of the 2011 CDSP preaching award.
After accepting an offer to relocate to Macon to become the assisting rector at St. Francis, Ben was ordained to the priesthood on August 27, 2011 at St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church in Atlanta, his sponsoring community. At St. Bart’s, Ben had served as the acolyte warden for eight years, Sunday school teacher for ages 12-14, junior warden, and senior warden.
Ben’s interests lie in reading, gardening, cooking, contemplative prayer, and watching zombie, sci-fi, and classic Hollywood films. He enjoys hiking and going to Camp Mikell when he can. He also has a great interest in religious icons after taking a summer “writing icons” class at the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology in Berkeley.
His ministry’s emphasis is on Children’s, Youth, and Adult Christian Formation, and the St. Francis Young Adult community. Since 2006, Ben has traveled to southern Honduras as a member of a medical mission team sponsored by the Episcopal Dioceses of North Carolina and Atlanta. He considers himself both a scientist and a priest, both vocations searching to make the invisible visible.
To contant Fr. Ben, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Rev. Joseph Shippen preaches and presides one Sunday a month and will occasionally teach Christian Formation Classes. Joseph was the interim Rector at St. Francis from December of 2008 until August of 2009. Joseph has done extensive ministry in prisons, specifically with death row inmates. He was rector of St. James and then associate rector of Christ Church. He is now the Episcopal Campus Missioner at Mercer University, and an adjunct professor there. We are grateful to have Fr. Joseph, his wife Suzanne, and his sons Benjamin and Michael as a part of our community.
The Rev. Shirley preaches and presides at St. Francis once per quarter. Shirley works full time at the Georgia Academy for the Blind directly with the children. Before that she was the rector of St. James Episcopal Church here in Macon. Shirley routinely visits St. Francis and is a member of the St. Francis Daughters of the King. Shirley is a great addition to our parish.