St. John’s Episcopal welcomes new priest

Published 4:30 pm Friday, September 15, 2017

St. John’s Episcopal Church’s newest priest is the Rev. Frederick A. Buechner, who hails originally from St. Louis, Missouri. He was born in 1952, the eldest of three siblings. The family moved to Savannah, Ga. in 1964, where he was encouraged by his high school principle to apply to the University of Virginia. He graduated with a BA in US History in 1974.

Following graduation he returned to Savannah and dabbled in banking and selling life insurance, but always felt the need to do something different. With the help and encouragement of the late Rev. William H. Ralston, Rector of St. John’s, Savannah, his dearest teacher and friend, he thought he might be sensing a call to the Priesthood. He entered the Virginia Theological Seminary in 1977, receiving his Master of Divinity Degree in 1980.

He was ordained a Deacon by the Right Rev. G. Paul Reeves on the Feast of St. Mark, April 15, 1980, and was placed under the guidance of The Rev. Tom Fitzgerald, Rector of Christ Church, Frederica, Saint Simons Island, where Bishop Reeves ordained him to the priesthood on January 27, 1981, on the Feast of St. John Chrysostom. In September of that year he was called to be Fr. Ralston’s Curate at St. John’s Savannah, where he remained for five years.

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In January 1986, he was called to be Rector of Christ Episcopal Church in Dublin, Ga.

He remained in that position until November 1988, when he answered the call from the newly formed All Saints Church in Thomasville. He remained as Rector at All Saints until his resignation in April, 2012.

He began to occasionally supply for local churches, then St. George’s Anglican Church in Venice, Italy, needed a priest for Christmas and Epiphany. He and his daughter Caroline spent Christmas and New Years 2012-2013, in Venice. On Christmas Eve, they attended the Midnight Mass at St. Mark’s Basilica, then on Christmas Day assisted the Bishop of Europe with his visitation at St. George’s.

In February, 2013, he began a two-year, nine month call as Interim Rector of Calvary Episcopal Church in Americus before returning to Venice in February, 2016 and serving St. George’s from Ash Wednesday throughout the Easter season, returning again for October and November.

Father Buechner has served as part-time supply priest for St. John’s, Bainbridge, since July 2016, and began to serve each Sunday in January, 2017. He was asked to become Priest in Charge in August of this year.

His current schedule, in addition to Sunday mornings, finds him in the Bainbridge office on Tuesdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Wednesdays from 1 to 6:30 p.m.

He and his wife Kathy, an elementary music teacher, are residents of Thomasville.

His children Will and Caroline have followed in their mother’s footsteps, each employed as a music teacher. Will teaches chorus at Thomas County Middle School and Caroline is chorus director at Navarre High School in Florida.

Ft. Buechner has been an avid golfer since seventh grade, but has since given up the game due to back problems. He spends his spare time reading, listening to classical and jazz music, swimming and taking long walks with his German Short Hair Pointer Greta, who is always at his side.

In addition to several articles published in The Anglican Digest, he was asked to contribute to a compendium in praise of the music of Richard Wagner, titled Wagner Moments.

He is currently working on a collection of his sermons and articles having to do with the correlation of religion and the humanities, titled Grace Goes to the Opera.