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.
Associate rector for Children and families
The Rev. Joseph Shippen is the Associate Rector for Children and Families. Joseph was the Interim Rector at St. Francis from December of 2008 until August of 2009. He has done extensive ministry in prisons, especially with death row inmates and their families. He was the Rector of St. James and then Associate Rector of Christ Church. He has also been the Episcopal Campus Missioner at Mercer University and an adjunct professor there. We are grateful to have Fr. Joseph, his wife Suzanne, and their 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.
The Rev. Pat Henderson has served at St. Francis as deacon since January 2017.
Pat was ordained deacon June 15, 2013 after graduation from the Iona School for Ministry. She holds a BA in Humanities from Thomas Edison State College. She served as deacon at Grace Episcopal Church in Georgetown,TX for 3 years. Pat, as a military wife and later, a clergy spouse, has had the opportunity to serve in many capacities in the church and the community.
Pat is a musician, quilter and gardener. She is a” jack of all trades and a master of none” which she views a gift. Her passion is seeing, aiding and rejoicing in the ways we bring Christ into the world through our manifold gifts.