As last year was winding down, Hurricane Sandy ravaged the northeast, especially parts of New Jersey and New York. The shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School happened as we were preparing to celebrate Christmas.
There are many worthy ways to provide aid and comfort. Among them is Episcopal Relief and Development (ERD). Nearly 90% of each donation goes directly to the intended recipients. Costs for administration and for fund raising take up the rest. This is a remarkable ratio in the world of charitable giving.
You may certainly give to ERD as individuals, but let me suggest that you help lead your congregation to become a contributor to ERD. Whether you do this as need arises or you sustain the ongoing work of ERD in our nation and around the world, giving to ERD is a highly effective way to put the Gospel into action.
To learn more about ERD, please click this link: ERD.
Consider designating loose offering, providing a special giving opportunity, or apportioning part of your outreach budget to ERD. Acting as a congregation rather than as an individual is especially valuable in our Christian walk. It reinforces for us that we are parts of a body, the Body of Christ.
Following Jesus is not a solo performance, it is a group project. Christian life is life in community.
I encourage you to make as one of your resolutions this year to ask what we can do: we as a Christ following community. In addition to the tragedies and disasters that grab media attention, consider the ongoing challenges of your town and our state.
For instance, a shocking number of children did not want to take the Christmas break. They would not be fed regularly without the school nutrition program. Those same children need basic school supplies but also everyday things we take for granted like socks and underwear. Consider contacting a school in your town with economically struggling parents and children.
Your congregation can provide support for the poor, the handicapped, and the dying. Contact the St. Luke's Mobile Medical Ministry, Solomon House, the Shepherd Center, or your local hospice to see how your congregation can support the good work being done.
The Gospel is not merely something we think or even believe. The Gospel is something we do. Something we do as the beloved community of Jesus followers.
As I finish writing this reflection, palpable joy is welling up in my heart, and there is a smile on my face, as I think of all of you. The Lord has filled me with love for you all and with enthusiasm for the work he is doing in, through, and among us. What a privilege it is to be your bishop!
In Christ's Love,
The Rt. Rev. Jacob W. Owensby, Ph.D