The importance of being prepared for (the inevitable) emergencies

flooding 2 Greetings, Friends!

I’ve been doing some thinking (always dangerous, right?!) as I’ve listened to the news of the flooding in Louisiana. So many people have lost so much; it’s hard for me to fathom how one recovers from such a tragedy. The reports that I continue to hear project that the clean-up and recovery process will take years but, in the meantime, what do people do?  Where does one go? What about all the piles of paper that fill our filing cabinets demanding attention and storage? What about the photos and heirlooms that can’t be replaced?  I imagine myself in the situation and wonder where I would begin. Now, I know that God doesn’t give grace to face tragedies in advance so I’m sure that, should this happen, God’s grace would be more than sufficient to guide me through whatever “deep waters” I was facing. However, God has not left us powerless and without the brains to prepare for the consequences of life in uncertain times.

That leads me to this week’s two-part theme: 1. A discussion of how we might support the relief efforts in Louisiana and 2. How we might be prepared for the time a disaster happens within our diocese.  So, let’s begin –

flooding

The record 30 inches of rain which fell in Louisiana resulting in massive flooding has affected more than 40,000 homes in both the Diocese of Louisiana and that of Western Louisiana.  On August 15, I read a Pastoral Letter by The Rt. Rev. Morris Thompson, Jr, Bishop of the Diocese of Louisiana addressing the flooding:.  He wrote:


Dear friends,

In the wake of the flooding in the Baton Rouge area, I wanted to touch base with you to let you know where we stand as a diocese.  Over the weekend, I was in regular contact with many of our congregations and clergy.  As you know, the severity and speed of this storm caught all of us by surprise.

On Saturday, we sent out an alert on our new Alert Media network through Episcopal Relief and Development. We are one of the “test dioceses” for this system.  Through this, we were able to quickly ascertain if anyone was in immediate flooding danger.  We also used it as an opportunity to gather all of the clergy in a conference call that was conducted this morning.  We were very pleased with the effectiveness of this system and had almost 100% participation of our clergy/parishes across the diocese.

As far as flooding, this is where we stand: St. Francis, Denham Springs received 2-4 feet of water. Robert Bishop, the senior warden, emailed us this morning to report that they were able to get to the church to assess the damage.  The other affected property is Episcopal High School. This morning I received an email stating that Hugh McIntosh was taking a boat to the property. As of yesterday, there was water in the gym, the Lower School and possibly the Penniman building.  We will have further details after his visit.  We are still unsure of the status of the former Holy Spirit property. Amazingly, neither St. Augustine’s, Baton Rouge or St. Patrick’s, Zachary flooded.  The Senior Warden in Zachary reported that the water rose to within an inch of the front door and then receded. Several of our clergy had to evacuate their homes. The extent of flooding is still being evaluated.  I have assigned a clergy contact to each of them to coordinate and assist with their needs.

Canon Manning and Deacon Elaine Clements are working alongside me to coordinate relief efforts through ERD as well as communicating with the parishes to match need with relief assistance.  We have verbal assurance of immediate short-term funding from ERD for $20,000.  This will be a significant help to meet the needs of some of the most vulnerable victims. I have also asked Fr. Mark Holland to serve as a relief coordinator for the Baton Rouge area.  In the days and weeks to come we will be moving from emergency relief to long-term disaster recovery and assistance. I will be in touch with you as we move through this process. Our friends in other dioceses have already reached out to offer their assistance.

At the bottom of this letter I have included important contact information for donations, relief and assistance.

Please contact the diocese if you need any other assistance.

I leave you with a prayer from Holy Women, Holy Men (Church Publishing, 2009):

Compassionate God, whose Son Jesus wept at the grave his friend Lazarus:  Draw near to us in this time of sorrow and anguish, comfort those who mourn, strengthen those who are weary, encourage those in despair, and lead us all to fullnesss of life; through the same Jesus Christ, our Savor and Redeemer, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever. Amen.

Peace,

The Rt. Rev. Morris K. Thompson, Jr.
Bishop of the Diocese of LouisianaFlood-damage


Bishop Thompson included links to helpful resources which highlighted where to send financial donations (Bishop’s Discretionary Fund: please make checks payable to The Bishop’s Professional Fund earmarked 2016 Flood Relief at Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana, 1623 Seventh St., New Orleans, LA 70115) as well as suggested items that individuals and families need:

  • Gift cards to local stores
  • Unopened toiletries and hygiene products
  • diapers and other baby supplies, individually packaged
  • bedding-new, preferably packaged
  • phone chargers-all types
  • First Aid supplies

Donations can also be made to the following agencies to assist those in shelters:

In the time since the letter from Bishop Thompson was shared, Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD) has set up a link to receive donations on their website: http://www.episcopalrelief.org/   Episcopal News Service reported:

“The Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana has many strong lay and clergy leaders at both the congregational and diocesan level with extensive disaster response experience and connections,” said Katie Mears, director of Episcopal Relief & Development’s U.S. Disaster Program. “This experience allows for streamlined processes and wisdom about how to best serve the needs of their neighbors, both in the short-term, but especially in the weeks, months and years to come.”

Which leads me right to my next topic:  Are we ready as individuals, congregations, and diocese should a disaster strike in our area?  The Rev. Deacon Glenn Morrison, our diocesan Disaster Preparedness and Response Coordinator, has been working for the last three years to motivate us to complete disaster preparedness plans and our asset map information.  When I spoke to Glenn yesterday, he reported that fewer than 10 congregations have filed their disaster plan with him.  Glenn finds that when he speaks to congregations everyone seems motivated to work on their plan initially but the distractions of our busy lives and the seemingly remote possibility of a disaster get in the way as soon as he leaves.  Let’s encourage one another to make preparedness a priority for our families and congregations! disaster-planning-are-you-ready

Glenn shared the Preparedness Planning Guide for Congregations and Parishes (comprehensive version) which you can access here – (insert link for guide)  Episcopal Relief and Development has a library of helpful resources for assistance in completing the guide and Glenn will also be happy to help any congregation that asks.  You can find ERD’s resources here – http://www.episcopalrelief.org/press-and-resources/resource-library

Asset Mapping is also an important resource should a disaster strike.  A quick search on the map for congregations and ministries that are prepared to meet specific needs can save valuable time in the midst of a crisis.  Our Household has been encouraging every congregation to participate in this Church-wide project.  Has your congregation completed your part?  You can read more about our diocese’s asset mapping here – http://www.edomi.org/share-your-churchs-resources-with-the-episcopal-asset-map/

Let’s work together to prepare EDOMI using our God-given gifts and abilities for whatever comes our way!

Let us pray –

O God, our times are in your hand.  In the midst of uncertainty lead us by your never-failing grace as we seek to be agents of healing and hope.  Walk with us through difficult times; watch over us in danger; and give to us a spirit of love and compassion for those who suffer and mourn.  And finally remind us that you have promised never to leave us so that even in the valley of the shadow of death your love may be felt, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  AMEN.

— The Rev. Lyndon Harris, from the Episcopal Diocese of New York disaster preparedness plan

~ The Rev. Judith Schellhammer, chair, Resolution Review Committee

The Scouting experience: An incredible learning opportunity

Inkster-Breakfast-300x225

A community breakfast at St. Clement’s, Inkster.

Greetings, friends!

Some of my favorite memories from my childhood center on my experiences in Scouting.  I loved being part of the group and relished working on badges together.  I was proud of my uniform and the values it represented.  And I loved the enthusiastic volunteers who served as leaders for our troop.  I believe I developed some of my leadership and service skills through their modeling and example.  Well, there must be many others like me who found their scouting experiences to be worthwhile because we passed a resolution at General Convention last summer congratulating the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) for 100 years of work with American youth:


C037: Sponsoring and Supporting Scouting Units

Resolved, That the 78th General Convention congratulate the Boy Scouts of America (BSA) for over 100 years of fine work with American youth, teaching leadership, cooperation, teamwork, and ethics in a non-sectarian program emphasizing outdoor and life skills, a program which has reached millions of boys; and be it further

Resolved, That the 78th General Convention commend the BSA for its recent change to a non-discriminatory membership policy, welcoming all youth to be scouts, irrespective of their sexual orientation, a change consistent with Resolution C031 adopted by the 73rd General Convention; and be it further

Resolved, That the 78th General Convention recommend that vestries and clergy in charge of congregations sponsor or continue to sponsor scouting units (packs, troops, posts and crews), especially those units recently displaced by decisions from other denominations to cease sponsoring scouting units as a consequence of the BSA’s recent change to a non­discriminatory membership policy concerning sexual orientation; and be it further

Resolved, That the 78th General Convention urge that parishes strongly consider, at the time they charter or renew the registration of their Boy Scout unit, communicating to the Boy Scout Council and to the public that The Episcopal Church strongly disagrees with the BSA’s policy of discriminating against qualified adult leaders based on sexual orientation; and be it further

Resolved, That the 78th General Convention encourage qualified adults to volunteer as leaders, and otherwise to support the BSA work with youth in their communities; and engage in educational programs within their churches to inform members and others about these nondiscrimination issues; and be it further

Resolved, That insofar as the 77th General Convention affirmed our full inclusion, support, and love for our brothers and sisters in the transgender community at all levels of church leadership and membership, the Episcopal Church is eager to work with the BSA in hopes of making the great benefits and life-long lessons of scouting available to all; and be it further

Resolved, That the 78th General Convention directs that the Office of General Convention send a copy of this resolution to the BSA’s National Office and the National Executive Board of the Boys Scouts, and to seek discussions to alter its membership policy for adult leaders which discriminates against qualified adults based on sexual orientation or gender identity/expression.


boy scouts inkster 3But the resolution isn’t merely about applauding their success.  There is more to be done!  Personally, I didn’t know of any congregations that still sponsored scouting units but Canon Jo Ann Hardy did.  Last year, the Rev. Ellis Clifton of St Clement’s, Inkster, worked with others in the community to establish a partnership between the City of Inkster and the Boy Scouts to foster life and leadership skills for the youth in their neighborhoods.  Here’s an article written in September, 2015, by Jacqueline Wright that appeared on the BSA Michigan Crossroads Council webpage:

On September 3rd, the City of Inkster and the Boy Scouts of America solidified a partnership to re-engage the community with our mission: to prepare young people for life. The cultivation breakfast took place at St. Clements’s Episcopal Church in Inkster, and was attended by prominent community leaders dedicated to making a difference.

“The opportunity for Boy Scouts of America to partner with the City of Inkster will be the spark to change urban communities and act as a solution to end youth and gang violence, said Brandon Brice of the Boy Scouts of America.

Building a better relationship with community leaders allows the Boy Scouts the ability to introduce more kids in the Inkster community to our Boy Scout programming that focuses on character development, leadership skills, and helps to instill lifelong values.

No stranger to Boy Scouts, newly appointed Police Chief William Riley, who is also a Boy Scout Alumnus, understands the values the Boy Scout doctrine brings to the city and he believes this partnership will encourage more young people to become civically mined adults. The Rev. Ellis Clifton of St. Clement’s Church said, “Scouting will help save lives and be a catalyst for bringing fathers and sons together.”

We are looking forward to maximizing this partnership to its fullest potential as every child deserves to experience Scouting regardless of their economic condition.

And here’s a follow-up report published on their website in April, 2016:

Scouting teaches young men and women life skills that they can’t get anywhere. A bold statement, but a big impact. Aside from life-long friendships developed from peer to peer camaraderie, it is the preparedness for life that yields to be the greatest influence Scouting can bring to a young child. These character building attributes are what the Police Chief of Inkster, William Riley aspired to bring back to Inkster!

Boy Scouts of America has been absent from the city of Inkster for more than 30 years. But, for the past six months, Inkster’s Police Chief William Riley and newly-elected board member for Great Lakes Field Service Council has been laying the foundation to bring back the Scouting program. A program he believes positively shaped his early childhood and the youth in Selma, Alabama while he served as Police Chief prior to his current position. Engaging youth in their impressionable years will help to reduce the rising tension between the police department and the community it serves. We are proud to have Troop 1717 chartered by St Clement’s Episcopal Church as part of the Boy Scout organization that holds a Pack, Troop and Venturing crew!

I asked Rev. Clifton to tell me a bit about his experience with this endeavor and this is some of his reply:


St Clement's boy scouts reps with bishopScouting re-emerged in Inkster and at St. Clement’s after a 24 year absence.  It was a welcomed return to see troop 1717 restart.  (In 1967, I was a scout at St. Clement’s troop 1717.)

We started out recruiting for a Cub Scout pack and discovered that the older boys wanted scouting too.  The girls soon felt left out so now we have a CREW (female boy scouts) group too. This coming year, we hope to expand into the Westwood Public Schools to offer scouting activities at Daly, Thorne, and Tomlinson Schools, too.

The scouts made their public debut at a public safety forum co-sponsored by the Police Chief William Riley and our judge, the Honorable Sabrina Johnson.  Since then, our Boy Scouts have participated in 2 Inkster clean-up days (organized by Councilwoman Sandra Watley), distributed “get out to vote” information to the community, and helped to build the St. Clement’s float in the Memorial Day Parade (we won first prize!!).  Our Cub Scouts marched in that same parade.

We have somewhat incorporated the scouts into our RISE Initiative as the values promoted by scouting are compatible with those taught in the Rising Star Initiative (RISE), The Episcopal Church’s program designed to break the school-to-prison pipeline” by providing a wholesome, positive environment for learning.   (http://www.episcopalchurch.org/library/document/rising-stars-experience-rise-positive-alternative-school-prison-pipeline )  For that reason, seven of the scouts accompanied our representatives to the Mid-West Regional meeting of the Union of Black Episcopalians (UBE) in April 2016.  They were an outstanding presence and their participation was noteworthy.

Where we are now:

Twelve members of our Boy Scouts/Crew attended the week long residential camp from July 24th through July 30th.  This camping experience was held at the historic D-Bar-A Scout Ranch in Metamora, Michigan.  Some came back with merit badges for archery, sharp-shooting, as well as badges in other areas.  We have approximately 70 elementary school age children (both boys and girls) registered for the three-day summer day camp from August 16-18.  These camping experiences come from the vision of Police Chief Riley and are very similar to the scout/police/city/community collaboration he had while he was Chief of Police in Selma, Alabama.  Our efforts are a collaborative effort of the Scouting Council, the Inkster police, and St. Clement’s church.

Growing edges:  We have not had the adult volunteer response for which we had hoped. Recently, we met with the Mayor, the Honorable Byron Nolan, to discuss the possibility of getting other civic groups to assist with our efforts.   At our recent Summer Youth Explosion (another collaboration between St. Clement’s and Brothers and Sisters United), we were introduced to the adopt-a-grandparent organization that has expressed an interest in assisting with the Cub Scouts and Crew.  We desperately seek the involvement of the community so that this is not solely perceived as a St. Clement’s “thing” but rather a community effort to save our young people.


Hats off to Rev. Clifton and the fine, collaborative work the people of St Clement’s are doing with the community for the benefit of all their youth!!  I had the pleasure of speaking with Rev. Clifton as I prepared this post and heard the pride in his voice as he told me of one young scout who has successfully returned to school, another who has participated in the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council and one more who, despite some learning challenges, regularly serves as an acolyte for St. Clement’s.

Sponsoring a scout troop is one way to respond to this resolution from General Convention and certainly within reach of most of our congregations but there are others, too.  Last July, the Boy Scouts Executive Committee voted to lift a ban on openly gay adults in scouting leadership (http://www.wsj.com/articles/boy-scouts-to-vote-on-ending-ban-on-gay-adults-1438016457 )  As one might expect, this controversial decision on their part was met with both support and criticism (much of it coming from religious organizations that sponsor scout troops).  We must continue to speak out in support of full-inclusion without discrimination so that all youth and adults can experience the benefits of the scouting experience.

Let us pray –

A Prayer for Young Persons

God our Father, you see your children growing up in an unsteady and confusing world: Show them that your ways give more life than ways of the world and following you is better than chasing after selfish goals. Help them to take failure not as a measure of their worth, but as a chance for a new start. Give them strength to hold their faith in you, and to keep alive their joy in your creation; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

(from Rising Stars Experience, a Rites of Passage Initiative for Young People http://www.episcopalchurch.org/files/rise_rising_stars_experience.pdf )

~ The Rev. Judith Schellhammer, chair, Resolution Review Committee

Important facts, plus a call to action, regarding refugees

Greetings, Friends!

Since writing last week’s blog addressing food security in our diocese, I’ve heard from others whose congregations are participating in some form of action to meet the needs of their community.  I’d love to highlight these congregations so I will need some information from you about what’s happening: the program, how it started, your goals, and how it’s going.  Also, please send a few photos that we can share.  Sometimes all it takes to get others involved is to see what someone else is doing.  Please, let me hear from you!

I’d like to begin this week’s blog with a big “thank you” to Allison Duvall of Episcopal Migration Ministries (EMM) for keeping us well-informed about refugee resettlement and how we can make a difference!  She recently shared a call to participate in a webinar on July 29th sponsored by the Refugee Council USA (RCUSA) designed to bring all of us up-to-date on refugee resettlement in the US now and prepare us for what’s coming in the future.  Here’s a link to the audio of that webinar so you can listen, as well – https://recordings.join.me/uvvxL0PhUUytQBIkY-YxPQ


RefugeesI learned that there are 2 important events coming up.  The first is the UN Refugee Summit on September 19th which will be followed on September 20th by the President’s Refugee Summit on September 20th.   The UN Summit is the first time that the General Assembly is hosting a program for Heads of State and government leadership addressing the movement of refugees and migrants.  Their goal is to bring countries together in a more humane and coordinated plan.

President Obama, in cooperation with co-hosts from Germany, Canada, Ethiopia, Jordan, Mexico, Sweden and the UN Secretary General, has pledged to work to advance the objectives of the summit through direct action as well as through encouraging robust action by other UN member states.  Key impact areas to be addressed include education, employment and endorsement.  To address these, the President’s Summit has three main goals:

  • To generate a 30% increase in financing for global humanitarian appeals going from $10 billion in 2015 to $13 billion for 2016
  • To double the number of resettlement slots and alternative legal pathways available to refugees and to increase the number of countries accepting refugees
  • To increase the number of refugees in schools worldwide by one million and the number of refugees granted the legal right to work by one million.

Refugee Development CenterOn June 30th, the White House issued a Call to Action for the private sector to make new, measurable and significant commitments that will have a durable impact on refugees.  You can find the Call to Action here – https://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2016/06/30/fact-sheet-white-house-launches-call-action-private-sector-engagement  The Call to Action also identifies private sector partners that have already committed to humanitarian support for refugees including Accenture Federal Services, AIRBNB, Chobani, Coursera, Goldman Sachs, Google, HP, IBM, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Linkedin, Mastercard, Microsoft, TripAdvisor, UPS, and Western Union.  You can read the specifics of each company’s involvement on the Call to Action page.

The webinar presented 3 action items for us before the President’s Summit:

  1. An Advocacy Postcard to be delivered to each member of Congress on their first day back in session. As soon as the cards are available, perhaps one person from your congregation can print them, have them signed and returned to 110 Maryland Ave, NE, Suite 110, Washington DC, 20002 by August 31st.
  2. A faith leaders sign-on letter on refugees to be sent by August 31sthttps://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeYAoNFTgKNn76PUcHgCmGMH80AFBIXKQ-u4m6Zk4qs0vwtNw/viewform
  3. An on-line petition created by World Relief for any individual to sign in support of refugees – http://www.worldrelief.org/refugee-summit

refugees 2Between now and September, Congress is considering funding measures for the next fiscal year (2017) which would keep money for refugees at the 2016 level.  President Obama has promised to raise the number of refugees being resettled next year to 100,000 from the 85,000 in 2016.  To meet this goal and adequately welcome and support those arriving, the budget will have to be increased.  Without raising these funds, refugee families will suffer as well as the communities that welcome them.  Call your Members of Congress and go in to visit them while they are at home in their districts to ask for this increased support.  Episcopal Public Policy Network has posted a shout out for our calls to Congress on this issue.  Please take a moment and offer your support here – http://advocacy.episcopalchurch.org/episcopal/RefugeeAdvocacy?platform=hootsuite

To help in your calls and visits, RCUSA has prepared a Toolkit to make the task easier – http://www.rcusa.org/uploads/images/RCUSA%20FY17%20Appropriations%20Toolkit_07.28.16.pdf

refugee funding


Before I close, I want to share a link to a segment I heard on Michigan Radio’s program “State of Opportunity” this morning.  Reporter April Van Buren spoke of refugee resettlement in Michigan – especially in Ingham County where more refugees are resettled than in any other county in Michigan.  Lansing’s Refugee Development Center (http://www.refugeedevelopmentcenter.org/) provides year-round services including English classes, after-school programs and access to a social worker.  They also host a summer camp called GLOBE (Gaining Learning Opportunities through Better English).  Some of the young adults in the camp participated in the Newcomers New Ideas Youth Pitch Competition where they presented their entrepreneurial prowess.  Michigan’s refugees are ex cited to become vital members of their communities.  Please take a few moments to listen to the broadcast – http://stateofopportunity.michiganradio.org/post/why-investing-refugees-pays

As I learn more, I will certainly keep you informed.  Here are some other helpful sites that have resources and other up-to-date information –

http://dcrally4refugees.org/

http://www.refugeesarewelcome.org/about-us/

http://www.rcusa.org/

Let us pray –

Gracious and loving Lord, you have, indeed, made of one blood all the peoples of this world.  Forgive us for the many times we forget this and act selfishly and unjustly toward those we don’t know.  Help us to remain focused on the building of your Kingdom by loving all our neighbors as we love you.  Give us the grace we need to welcome newcomers to our shores and see them as our brothers and sisters also made in your image, and give us courage to speak out in their support to those who have power.  All this we ask in the precious name of Jesus, our Lord.  Amen.

~ The Rev. Judith Schellhammer, chair, Resolution Review Committee

How several of our congregations are tackling the issue of food security

Greetings, Friends!

St. David's, Southfield is one of many churches in our diocese offering an impressive garden.

St. David’s, Southfield is one of many churches in our diocese offering an impressive garden.

With all the tragic news that has filled our lives lately, I am sorely tempted to post photos of cute kittens and puppies this week.  I think we all need a break.  However, while we might rest and hide for a while, life continues to go on and our neighbors still have needs to which we must respond.

Food security is an issue that needs to be addressed in every community.  As I begin writing on this topic, the words from James 2:15 & 16 ring through my head:  “If a brother or sister is naked and lacks daily food, and one of you says to them, ‘Go in peace; keep warm and eat your fill,’ and yet you do not supply their bodily needs, what is the good of that?”  We are called to bring hope and reconciliation to those around us but if we are not providing for their physical needs, our words fall on deaf ears.  Many of our congregations are already responding to the call to provide healthy food to our communities through food pantries, church gardens and community suppers.  And, not surprisingly, we have a resolution that speaks to this need:


A091: Affirm Work for Food Ministries and Food Security

Resolved, That the 78th General Convention affirm the work and projects being carried out across the Church in food ministry, including food pantries, feeding programs, community gardens, educational programs, and advocacy for programs that provide healthy, culturally appropriate food; and be it further

Resolved, that the 78th General Convention encourages the further development of Native and Indigenous community food programs, such as the program in Navajoland Area Mission that maintains and teaches traditional growing methods and food preparation techniques; and be it further

Resolved, that the 78th General Convention call on dioceses, congregations, and all the baptized to deepen our understanding of the moral, cultural, and environmental relationships associated with food systems, through educational programs focused on: sustainability, equity, cultural diversity, and accessibility of all people to healthy food; and be it further

Resolved, that this Convention call on dioceses, congregations, and all the baptized to deepen our commitments as Christian communities to address food insecurity, food-related health issues, and food-related environmental effects in our communities and nations, through new and creative community, regional, and ecumenical projects, such as school and community gardens, church garden tithing to food banks, involvement with migrant worker and farm worker ministries, and food-worker organizing; and be it further

Resolved, that this Convention call on dioceses, congregations, and all the baptized to increase our involvement in advocacy for the development and maintenance of sustainable; equitable; culturally appropriate; and accessible food systems.


Since this is such a foundational concern, I thought I might highlight just a few of the ministries around our diocese that are responding to food security.

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St John’s in Royal Oak has recently put in a garden which supplies mostly greens, herbs and tomatoes to their local food pantry, Open Hands Food Pantry. The Rev. Beth Taylor shared that their garden is managed by a committee of six members who divide up the task: “They then supervise ‘drop in volunteers’ from the church and community who sign up for one or more Tuesday evening, Thursday evening or Saturday morning shifts – May thru September. You can’t believe how much we grow in 8 beds!”

I didn’t know about this food pantry so I went to the St John’s website and learned about this outreach to the community: “Open Hands Food Pantry was founded in 1982 and has been housed in the lower level of the St. John’s Episcopal Church since that time, providing emergency food, toiletries and other items to residents of Oakland County. The food pantry is staffed entirely by volunteers and is supported by donations and grants from outside agencies, as well as in kind donations from various local businesses and individuals.”  You can get more information about this great community resource at their website – http://www.openhandspantry.org/


St Peters 1 st Peters 2Ten years ago, the small congregation of St Peter’s in Hillsdale started hosting a free community supper on the third Friday of every month.  The first year, they fed approximately 35 guests a month.  The next year, three other ministries in Hillsdale came on board to provide a free meal every Friday from September through May.  Attendance went up to an average of 70 guests each week.  The churches that are currently joining in this work are First Presbyterian Church of Hillsdale, One Step Ministries, and St Anthony’s Roman Catholic Church.  At St Peter’s, the guests are treated to a variety of homemade soups, bread, desserts, fruit and plenty of good, hot coffee.  Volunteers come from each congregation as well as from Hillsdale College and members of the community.  It has been a great time of good food and fellowship for all that serve and attend.


12823462_1151442128201565_2607693894240843399_oAll Saints, Brooklyn, also hosts a community supper once a month.  John Messimer of All Saints explains:

The community dinners are a response to the many we saw as underemployed, unemployed and the homeless in the Brooklyn area. We felt that a home cooked dinner would be a welcome event, even though we might only offer it monthly. We began advertising a free meal but got a very limited response. Thinking that people might want to pay something, we settled on a $2 donation….At first we had too much of a response: 180-200 people and we collected $800-$900 at the first few dinners. Since we can only seat about 90, we needed to “turn the tables” as they say at Outback.  We found that people wanted to remain to talk and fellowship.  In the last two years, we are reaching our “target” people, those with families, grandchildren and retired couples on limited income.

John told me that the money they have collected has helped pay for some much needed repairs to their building and has also gone to support the Brooklyn Food Pantry.


St Stephen's Food-PantryToday, I had lunch with my friend, the Rev. Andrea Morrow from St Stephen’s in Wyandotte. I learned that her congregation is involved in five different food ministries in the community: a food pantry, a summer food program for children, Blessings in a Backpack collections, Christmas baskets and a St Stephen’s Day meal.  Andrea told me that their goal is to provide one bag of groceries (more for families with kids) including bathroom tissue and personal care items to help tide people over till they can get to a larger, better stocked agency. She reported:

Since March, the member churches of the Wyandotte Ministerial Association has been referring people to us on days when the Downriver Food Pantry is not open, which has increased our visibility.  Just since the beginning of July, we’ve given 240 pounds of food to 13 families. Members of the congregation are asked to bring specific items in particular each week, though extra items are always welcome.  We are working on partnering with other local organizations to increase our level of donations to meet the need. The pantry is open Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday from 9 am – 2 pm and by appointment.

For more information, people can call 734-284-8777.

St Stephen’s summer food program for children runs in conjunction with the Wyandotte Ministerial Association.  They have worked with two federally-funded food programs.  From mid-June through late, volunteers pack and distribute sack lunches on Wednesdays to children participating in the city recreational programs in the parks.  Members of the congregation also serve at the Presbyterian Church to serve a hot lunch from mid-June through mid-August.

The Blessings in a Backpack program (http://www.blessingsinabackpackmi.org/) provides a backpack full of food to elementary and some junior high kids so that they have nutritious food on the weekend. Over 900 kids get food from this program. Families receiving this assistance must qualify for free or reduced price lunch to be eligible.


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In 2007, St Barnabas Episcopal Church in Chelsea dug up their front lawn to plant a garden that might raise awareness to the food needs of the wider community participating in the “Plant a Row for the Hungry Program.”  Their hope was that as they “planted their garden, they would also plant an idea” for others to emulate in their own yards or those of their churches. According to their website, they donated over 1200 pounds of produce to Food Gatherers (foodgatherers.org) during their first season!!  Since then, they’ve “grown vegetables, collected produce from local gardeners, gathered canned and dry goods and staples, and donated over three tons of food to Food Gatherers, Hearts Community Service and Faith In Action.”  One of their priests, the Rev. David Glaser, shared with me that they have also planted a Peace Garden with native plantings to help the pollinators and they have installed a rain collection system as a model of good stewardship of all creation.

I know that there are other congregations in our Household that are actively involved in providing food security to our neighbors and friends.  I will be pleased to tell your stories in future blogs if you share them with me at jschellhammer@hillsdale.edu. Tell me what your church family is doing and send photos, too!


Writing the blog this week has been a delight because I’ve had the opportunity to hear the excitement in each voice as my friends have told their stories.  Expressing love to those around us by sharing our abundance is life-giving for both the recipient and the giver!  This is one more perfect example of how we can demonstrate love for our neighbors and in so doing express our love for God.

Let us pray –

Sharing the loaves and fishes,
you gave us an image of solidarity with the hungry, O Lord.

 

Sharing yourself in the Bread and Wine,
you called all to the table, O Lord.

 

Give me the hunger to be a part of the feeding
and the healing of this world.

 

Nourish me with your grace,
so I may work with joy to serve your children.

 

Open my eyes and my heart
to recognize those in poverty.
Help me to help those who are struggling
to feed your children in need.

 

Increase my awareness
of the structures and systems

that need to be changed

and give me a voice to speak for the silent
so that hunger everywhere can end and
we may all break bread together.

 

We ask these things in your Holy Name because we know you love it when we pray.  Amen.

~ The Rev. Judith Schellhammer, chair, Resolution Review Committee

Striving “to be living signs of a love that can bridge all divisions and heal all wounds”

Greetings, Friends!reconciliation

I read this quote from Henri Nouwen on Diana Bass’s Facebook page last night and find it expresses my hope in these troubling days: “In a world so torn apart by rivalry, anger, and hatred, we have the privileged vocation to be living signs of a love that can bridge all divisions and heal all wounds.”  In the spirit of these words, let me share with you some resources for living this out in our congregations and communities.

With all the rhetoric about closing borders and building walls, I thought it might be time to take another look at how we might support refugee resettlement.  I received a letter from Episcopal Migration Ministries last week inviting us to share in an upcoming webinar sponsored by Refugee Council USA (RCUSA) which will provide updates on the status of refugee legislation in Washington DC, upcoming opportunities for outreach and information specific to each state’s participation in refugee resettlement. The webinar will take place on Friday, July 29 at noon EST. To register, go to:  https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSefy44jdv6Ar80CegtZxBLFIUeyz3MDhswGVgoejoIsWZ6s0g/viewform

Episcopal Migration Ministries is a partnering agency with RCUSA.

Our presiding Bishop’s staff on Racial Reconciliation and Justice has been hard at work compiling resources that will engage all of us in conversation and action to bring healing and foster unity.  I think it’s painfully obvious that this is a priority in our congregations and communities right now.  Here’s a link to the TEC page – http://www.episcopalchurch.org/page/resources-racial-reconciliation-and-justice  One of the resources I read about last evening comes from the Diocese of Atlanta’s work building the Beloved Community.  This essay was written by Dr Catherine Meeks:


Our shared work to dismantle racism is thriving. There is new life and energy as together we imagine the way forward. Our work has become far more visible throughout the diocese, and local parishes are creatively making it part of their ongoing spiritual formation.

Love-One-AnotherThis is crucial. Building Beloved Community requires that we dismantle racism. This work must be done daily by the sisters and brothers who make up the worshiping communities of the Episcopal Diocese of Atlanta.

Together we are creating the space for the Beloved Community to come into being. Our new mission statement makes it clear that we firmly stand on our Baptismal Covenant to love and respect the dignity of every person. Our intention is to act in ways that will not allow racism to live among us. This is the work of God’s church — and it needs to be firmly rooted on the same foundation that holds the church.

While our work is flourishing, this has not always been the case. In 2000, our General Convention established a structure for the formation of anti-racism commissions. Commissions were charged with making sure that every leader in the Episcopal Church participated in anti-racism training. Our diocese stepped up to the plate, formed a commission and began training.

The training was not very popular. Across the diocese — after about a decade of work — many voices declared that both the commission’s name and the training were offensive to them. The commission involved itself in few activities beyond training, and its visibility was low.

When I joined the group in 2009, there was a clear need to transform our approach. We crafted a new mission statement, scheduled retreats and read together Bishop Desmond Tutu’s powerful book, Made For Goodness. The training came to a halt.

In 2010, I agreed to lead the task of restarting it. After exploring ways to make the training more appropriate for the needs of participants, we made a major change — one that has borne wonderful fruit for our diocese. We added the celebration of Holy Communion to the training day, and we centered the training in spiritual formation.

We now offer Eucharist-centered Dismantling Racism Training. It helps participants see the day as a part of their ongoing spiritual formation, and it encourages them to replicate what they learn in their daily lives and in parish life.

We changed our name to Beloved Community: Commission for Dismantling Racism. We moved our cathedral-based meetings out into the diocese. Six parishes now host the trainings and we have invited parishioners to actively participate. This has made a tremendous difference. The parishes extend amazing hospitality, and parishioners find it is a wonderful opportunity to learn more and to engage. We begin each meeting with spiritual formation led by one of our members.

We aim to make the commission the people’s commission — your commission.    Can you openly imagine what your role might be in building our Beloved Community? Can you envision how you might help dismantle racism?

We are grateful for our transformation and for the enthusiasm that is growing across our diocese. The national church community is excited about our work, too.

We invite your prayers and active participation. Join us as we walk on the path with Jesus to create Beloved Community. Anyone with thoughts or ideas about the work of the Beloved Community: Commission for Dismantling Racism, and who would like to share them, is invited to send them to me at kayma53@att.net. To read more about the work of the commission, visit here.


Their Mission Statement reads:

Because racism works against our baptismal call to love others in the power of the spirit and to strive for justice and peace among all people, we seek to heal this chronic illness in our faith community through education, developing greater awareness of its existence in our ongoing spiritual formation. We will use prayer, intentional action, continued dialogue and the sharing of our personal and collective stories to help in facilitating the healing, transformation and reconciliation that will make it possible for us to truly see the face of God in all others.

On the subject of racial reconciliation, our Household’s Race Relations and Diversity Task Force has prepared a summer reading list for you:


Church:

  • Barnot, Joseph. 2007. Understanding & Dismantling Racism: The Twenty-First Century Challenge to White America (paperback – text by Crossroads founder and Executive Director.)
  • Campolo, Tony and Michael Battle. 2005. The Church Enslaved

Race/Racism – Popular and Scholarly:

  • Alexander, Michelle. The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindess
  • Bonilla-Silva, Eduardo. 2013 (paperback).Racism without Racists: Color-Blind Racism and the Persistence of Racial Inequality in America, 4th Edition. Rowen and Littlefield.
  • Coates, Ta-Nehisi. Between the World and Me
  • Doane, Ashley W. & Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, ed. White Out: The Continuing Significance of Racism
  • Feagin, Joe. 2013 (paperback, 2nd).The White Racial Frame: Centuries of Racial Framing and Counter-Framing.
  • Lareau, Annette. 2003.Unequal Childhoods: Class, Race, and Family Life. Berkeley: Univ. of California Press.
  • Loewen, James W. 1995.Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong. New York: New Press.
  • Tim. 2012. Dear White America: Letter to a New Minority
  • Wise, Tim. 2009. Between Barack and a Hard Place: Racism and White Denial in the Age of Obama
  • Wise, Tim. 2008. Speaking Treason Fluently: Anti-Racist Reflections from an Angry White Male

Race/Racism – Popular:

  • Ball, Edward. 2014 [1999].Slaves in the Family. (Reissued paperback – National Book Award for NonfictionAmbassador Book Award for American Studies)
  • Cose, Ellis. 1993.The Rage of a Privileged Class. New York: Harper Perennial.
  • Wilkerson, Isabel. 2011. The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration (Pulitzer Prize–winning author, National Book Critics Circle Award Winner.)
  • Wiencek, Henry. 2000. The Hairstons: An American Family in Black and White  (Paperback – February 19, 2000 — National Book Critics Circle Award Winner)

sspellers

Stephanie Spellers

Before I close for another week, let me also recommend the upcoming speaker series Epiphanies.  Our diocese will be blessed to have Stephanie Spellers (check out last week’s blog to see a brief video that she has prepared for TEC), Cynthia Crysdale and Diana Butler Bass share their insights and wisdom on topics of radical welcome, racial reconciliation, ethics, and atonement theology, contemporary ecclesiology and the church today.  You can learn more here – http://epiphaniesspeakers.wix.com/epiphanies

In this season of elections, I thought this prayer most appropriate to close:

Let us pray –

Give us, O God,
leaders whose hearts are large enough
to match the breadth of our own souls
and give us souls strong enough
to follow leaders of vision and wisdom.

 

In seeking a leader, let us seek
more than development for ourselves—
though development we hope for—
more than security for our own land—
though security we need—
more than satisfaction for our wants—
though many things we desire.

 

Give us the hearts to choose the leader
who will work with other leaders
to bring safety
to the whole world.

 

Give us leaders
who lead this nation to virtue
without seeking to impose our kind of virtue
on the virtue of others.

 

Give us a government
that provides for the advancement
of this country
without taking resources from others
to achieve it.

 

Give us insight enough ourselves
to choose as leaders those who can tell
strength from power,
growth from greed,
leadership from dominance,
and real greatness from the trappings of grandiosity.

 

We trust you, Great God,
to open our hearts to learn from those
to whom you speak in different tongues
and to respect the life and words
of those to whom you entrusted
the good of other parts of this globe.

 

We beg you, Great God,
give us the vision as a people
to know where global leadership truly lies,
to pursue it diligently,
to require it to protect human rights
for everyone everywhere.

 

We ask these things, Great God,
with minds open to your word
and hearts that trust in your eternal care.

Amen.

(Sister Joan Chittister, OSB)

~ The Rev. Judith Schellhammer, chair, Resolution Review Committee

A closer look at the need to support a growing ministry

latinx ministry 5Greetings, Friends!

After the events of last week, I have to admit that I am finding it difficult to regain focus on some of the tasks at hand.  My heart is heavy and the tears still come easily.  I don’t want to be dismissive and say “life must go on” but at some point I have to put aside social media and turn off NPR and get back to work although I will continue to share pertinent details as I learn of them.  We still have many important resolutions to address…

This week I’d like us to consider two resolutions:


A033: Support Latinas in Ordained Ministry

Resolved, That the 78th General Convention direct the Missioner for Hispanic/Latino Ministries to work with the Justice and Advocacy Ministries office, and diocesan and provincial multicultural missioners, to discern and recommend steps to empower Latinas for ordained leadership in the Church; and be it further

Resolved, That the 78th General Convention direct the Missioner for Hispanic/Latino Ministries to work with the Office of Transition Ministries, the Office of Justice and Advocacy Ministries, and diocesan and provincial multicultural missioners to review canons, policies, and practices related to the formation and ordination processes and to eliminate gender and cultural biases that mitigate against the ordination of Latinas; and be it further

Resolved, That the 78th General Convention request the Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance to allocate $10,000 for the triennium to seed the development of ordained Latina leadership.

A034: Support Latinas in Lay Ministry 

Resolved, That the 78th General Convention direct the Missioner for Hispanic/Latino Ministries to work with the Office of Justice and Advocacy Ministries, and with diocesan and provincial multicultural missioners, in supporting programs to develop leadership skills for Latina youth and young adults; and be it further

Resolved, That the 78th General Convention request the Joint Standing Committee on Program, Budget and Finance to allocate $10,000 for the triennium to seed the development of Latina lay leadership.


latinx ministry 2Since these resolutions deal with issues about which I am unfamiliar, I went to our diocesan Latinx missioner, the Rev. Juan Perez.  Padre Juan explained that these resolutions likely grew out of the 2009 document: “The Episcopal Church’s Strategic Vision for Reaching Latinos/Hispanics.”  The introduction to their report states that “the dramatic increase in the numbers of Latinos/Hispanics in communities throughout the country should be seen as an evangelistic opportunity and hope for the church” and that “as the report by the 20/20 task force put it in 2001, ‘Such radically changing demographics should encourage the church to be courageous, resourceful, passionate, and enthusiastic in its response to these new circumstances.’”  You can read the full document here – http://www.episcopalchurch.org/files/strategic_vision_7-09.pdf

The Episcopal Diocese of Michigan is blessed to have begun work in the Latinx communities of Detroit with the birth of Santa Teresa y San Juan under the care of Padre Juan.  But equipping individuals for Latinx ministry is not easy.  Juan explained that there are many obstacles to navigate:

  • There are currently very few priests and deacons that can provide culturally appropriate pastoral care in Spanish.
  • Hispanic Ministry is not part of the core curriculum in seminaries.
  • There are also very few liturgical resources to aid in the development of Latinx ministry.  It was just recently that a Gospel book in Spanish was created as well a book with the lectionary in Spanish.
  • The Spanish Hymnal currently is not in print and there is hardly any training for Spanish Music Ministry.
  • There is also a lack of spiritual resources in Spanish available to help in providing for the spiritual development of Latinx.

Juan told me that the lack of resources makes it particularly difficult to encourage others to begin looking at a call to Latinx ministry.  Currently, Latinx missioners are in conversation with one another about these challenges: “It is difficult to develop lay leadership – let alone a thriving worshiping community – without basic resources.  Then, when lay leadership starts to develop it is hard to promote their growth due to a lack of courses or trainings available in Spanish.”  latinx ministry 3

And that’s not all.  Juan continued: “Often when a Latinx is discerning a call to ordained ministry, going away to seminary is out of the question – especially in families where everyone shares in financial support – so, often many choose not to move forward with discerning a call.  That is why there is a church-wide need to create and support alternative ways for individuals to fully discern their call to ordained ministry that would allow for them to meet family obligations.”

You probably noticed that the resolutions above specifically asked for help in supporting the call of women to Latinx ministry and lay leadership.  This addresses another challenge since the prevailing culture has been historically male-dominated.  Gender biases and expectations of gender-based roles continue that can make it difficult for women to respond to this call. Changing the dominant paradigm of a culture is exceedingly hard.latinx ministry

Generally, when I am sharing these resolutions with you, I can find a long list of actions that you might consider in response to the selected resolution.  This week, I’m at a loss.  There’s no easy formula for success here.  I can suggest that we begin by becoming informed about the Latinx ministry at Santa Teresa y San Juan and Padre Juan’s ministry.  “Like”: their Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/IglesiaDetroit/?fref=nf  Check out their webpage – http://teresayjuan.org/  And talk to Padre Juan.


The Episcopal Church has prepared a short video with the Rev. Canon Stephanie Spellers, Canon to the Presiding bishop for Evangelism and Reconciliation (who is coming to our diocese to speak in September for Epiphanies!)  that speaks to the exciting work that TEC is planning.- http://www.episcopalchurch.org/library/video/stephanie-spellers-church-planting-and-latino-ministries

As with so much of what I write in Nuts and Bolts, the work is not done.  I will continue to bring you information from Padre Juan about ways we can specifically help his ministry and the people of his community.  And, of course, we can pray.

Let us pray –

Almighty and everlasting God, by whose Spirit the whole

body of your faithful people is governed and sanctified:

Receive our supplications and prayers, which we offer before you for all members of your holy Church, that in their vocation and ministry they may truly and devoutly serve you.  We ask that you might open the hearts of those you call to minister in the Latinx communities and that we hear your call to support and encourage them through the gifts that you have given each of us, that together we can share the Good News of Christ to all.  We ask all this through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ because we know you love it when we pray.

Amen.

~ The Rev. Judith Schellhammer, chair, Resolution Review Committee

Recent events remind us black lives (still) matter; also, a look at Episcopal Relief & Development

black lives matter 2Greetings, Friends!

I started writing this blog post a couple of days ago when the news seemed reasonably quiet and I thought perhaps this week I might take this opportunity to share a beautiful story of a ministry that for 75 years has responded with care and compassion to needs around the world. And, I will get to that in a few minutes but the events of the last few days prompt me to begin along a different theme.

As you, dear readers, are all probably aware by now, the Resolution Review Committee is charged with addressing the many resolutions that come to us from various conventions and councils. Sometimes over the last few years, events in the news have taken priority of place even when they might not relate to any resolution in the books. This is one of those times. The tragic deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile cannot go unnoticed this week. I have no resolution before me that addresses police shootings and so I feel at a loss as to what I might say. A dear friend from the Diocese of Massachusetts posted earlier today on social media –

Almost two years after Ferguson, the ravages of white police violence against black men continue unabated. Watching the video footage of the last two days–of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile being killed, of their loved ones grieving their murder–has broken my heart. No, offering tears and prayers is not enough, though neither, for that matter, is action for its own sake. I am honestly at a loss for what “enough” is. But these tragedies are one more call to the white community. A call to end our own terrible, too long silence about what the armed power of the law does on our behalf, unwittingly or not, in this country. I pray, for myself as well as anyone else, that we hear it, let it sink in, and come awake. Ending this horror must be our work too.

Our prayers are definitely in order but so is our action – though like my friend, I, too, am at a loss. Where do we begin? Perhaps we can take a cue from the Gospel message for this Sunday, the story of the Good Samaritan. We are Alton Sterling and Philando Castile’s neighbors. Let us demonstrate our love for these men and all the others we have mourned over the last few years by not allowing these events to be quickly forgotten. As opportunities to speak out in response become more available, I will keep you informed. And, I ask that you keep me abreast of your local endeavors to change the culture that permits these tragedies to continue.

Before I move on, let me share a link to an article in The Huffington Post, “Willful Whiteness: The Real Reason for the Police Killings of African Americans,” written by Dr. Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite, Professor of Theology at Chicago theological Seminary – http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rev-dr-susan-brooks-thistlethwaite/willful-whiteness-the-rea_b_10864784.html


ERD 2There is a ministry among us that has faithfully demonstrated their love for our neighbors for three-quarters of a century. Last summer when your deputies were in Salt Lake City for General Convention, we celebrated Episcopal Relief and Development’s (ERD) 75th year of bringing hope and healing to a hurting world. And, we passed a resolution commending their work:

A014: Celebrate Episcopal Relief & Development’s 75 Years of Healing a Hurting World

Resolved, That the 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church commend Episcopal Relief & Development for strengthening the bonds of Anglican unity by partnering with The Episcopal Church’s Anglican and Episcopal counterparts in nearly 40 countries worldwide, and for utilizing local assets to best steward resources and encourage long-term, holistic, and sustainable change to help heal a hurting world; and be it further

Resolved, That the 78th General Convention of The Episcopal Church encourages dioceses, congregations, and individuals to celebrate and support the life-saving work of Episcopal Relief & Development during this, their 75th year, and in years to come.

I’m guessing that most of you know of this fine organization and, hopefully, have supported their mission through the years but, for those of you who may know them from name only, one way we can celebrate their work is by getting to know them better. From their website I learned that their mission statement reads:

  • Episcopal Relief & Development is the compassionate response of The Episcopal Church to human suffering in the world. Hearing God’s call to seek and serve Christ in all persons and to respect the dignity of every human being, Episcopal Relief & Development serves to bring together the generosity of Episcopalians and others with the needs of the world.
  • Episcopal Relief & Development faithfully administers the funds that are received from the Church and raised from other sources. It provides relief in times of disaster and promotes sustainable development by identifying and addressing the root causes of suffering.
  • Episcopal Relief & Development cherishes its partnerships within the Anglican Communion, with ecumenical bodies and with others who share a common vision for justice and peace among all people.

And they take their mandate from Jesus’ words in Matthew’s Gospel:

Lord, when was it that 

We saw you hungry and gave you food?
We saw you thirsty and gave you something to drink?
We saw you a stranger and welcomed you?
We saw you sick and took care of you?
We saw you in prison and visited you?

‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’

(Matthew 25:37-40, NRSV)

 

relief-_-developmentERD began its ministry as The Presiding Bishop’s Fund in 1940 with its initial mission to assist refugees fleeing Europe during World War II. During the 1960s and 70s, the plight of people around the world suffering from diseases and disasters broadened the scope of their work. In 2000, the name was changed to Episcopal Relief and Development to acknowledge the emphasis on disaster relief and integrated community development. Their website states that “Today, all of Episcopal Relief & Development’s programs follow an integrated model, implemented through a network of partnerships to support initiatives that:

  • Alleviate hunger and improve food supply
  • Create economic opportunities and strengthen communities
  • Promote health and fight disease
  • Respond to disasters and rebuild communities
  • Realigned and expanded program focus areas to address cross-cutting themes such as gender equality, micro-finance, disaster risk reduction and climate change”

 

ERD reaches over 3 million people annually with partners in approximately 40 countries.ERD

We are, indeed, pleased to share in their celebration of these last 75 years! If you want to know how you can get involved, ERD has many suggestions:

We invite you to connect with Episcopal Relief & Development and do your part to help us heal a hurting world. Whether you would like to pray for our work and partner communities, make a donation or stay informed with the latest news, we offer a host of ways to get involved. Take the first step and learn more about your opportunities by clicking the links below.

  • Gifts for Life – Give an entire community the opportunity to not only survive, but thrive with Gifts for Life. Make a lasting impact with symbolic gifts ranging from medicine for children in need to farming tools that help families earn an income and improve their nutrition. Honor loved ones for Christmas, birthdays and other special occasions.
  • Donate Now – Empower individuals and communities by contributing to the fund of your choice. Our donation process is easy to use, quick and secure.
  • Monthly Giving – Partner with us monthly. Select the fund of your choice to make a long-term impact in an area that is close to your heart.
  • Other Giving Opportunities – Make a memorial gift or gift of stock, or participate in a corporate matching campaign. These are just a few of the additional ways you can make a contribution. Learn more here.
  • Act – Find out how you can take action and get involved with Episcopal Relief & Development efforts on a local, national and global level.
  • Stay Informed – Get updates on the latest Episcopal Relief & Development news by reading our blog, following our social media channels and signing up to receive our newsletters.
  • Careers – Join in our mission to transform communities and empower people to create lasting solutions that fight poverty, hunger and disease. Learn how you can apply here.

 

You can find more information about Episcopal Relief and Development at their website – http://www.episcopalrelief.org/

 

Let us pray for Episcopal Relief and development –

Loving and merciful God, you bestow your grace on all of your children: Remember our sisters and brothers throughout the world who, in partnership with Episcopal Relief & Development, strengthen communities, empower the poor, nourish the hungry, restore the sick and uplift those affected by disaster; and uphold Episcopal Relief & Development for the next seventy-five years, so that your Kingdom might be known to all people; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

 

And, let us also pray for forgiveness in these days of tragedy –

 

In the midst of the ever present stream of injustices

inflicted upon the weak, the poor, and the marginalized,

we confess our complicity in nurturing the status quo

through silence and inaction.

Unlike past and present day prophets,

we stood by while our sisters and brothers suffered

at the hands of the privileged and powerful.

So often, we turned a blind eye to the sufferings of those

who were looked down upon

because of powerlessness, poverty, or the hue of their skin.

We confess our commitment to being the church

where “all are one” and “all are welcome”

so we ask you to make us into the church that intercedes

on behalf of those who are cast aside for the sake of the establishment.

We ask your comfort on all those who mourn that they would know your peace which passes understanding.

All these we ask in the Name of your Son, our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. Amen.

(adapted from The United Church of Christ http://www.ucc.org/justice_racism)

 

~ The Rev. Judith Schellhammer, chair, Resolution Review Committee