Episcopal Relief and Development Sunday is February 10

Episcopal Life Online – NEWS
Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori has declared February 10, 2008 — the First Sunday in Lent — as Episcopal Relief and Development Sunday. The full text of the Presiding Bishop’s declaration follows.

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

As we begin a new church year and congregations plan events and celebrations for the coming months, I write to urge all parishes to observe the First Sunday in Lent — February 10, 2008 — as Episcopal Relief and Development Sunday. I am very pleased to announce that 2008 will mark the first year of what will be an annual celebration of Episcopal Relief and Development’s role in our mission to seek and serve Christ in all persons.

The Episcopal Church’s ongoing commitment to fight poverty and disease around the world is lived out in a variety of ways. Advocacy with our government for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals is one vital way. Another is through the ministry of Episcopal Relief and Development, which works with the worldwide Church to alleviate hunger, fight disease, and strengthen communities.

Episcopal Relief and Development Sunday provides an opportunity for congregations to support ERD’s life-saving work through prayer and a special offering that will help people around the world.

Episcopal Relief and Development plays a significant role in achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Why? Simply put, churches and other faith-based institutions in the developing world are equipped to fight poverty and disease in ways that few other organizations can, because of their deep reach into local communities and their relationships of trust with millions of people. By partnering with the worldwide Church and with ecumenical organizations, Episcopal Relief and Development empowers communities to maximize their resources and develop lasting solutions to poverty, hunger, and disease. To learn more, visit http://www.er-d.org/.

Episcopal Relief and Development gives Episcopalians the special opportunity to partner with the worldwide Church and people around the world who are addressing challenging issues in their communities. This work is worthy of the support of all Episcopalians, and the beginning of Lent is an ideal time for us to renew our collective commitment to it. Almsgiving is one of the traditional disciplines of the season and one of the ways in which we participate with Christ in walking to the foot of the Cross and into the light of Resurrection. “If you offer your food to the hungry and satisfy the needs of the afflicted,” Isaiah writes in a passage traditionally read at the beginning of Lent, “your light will rise in the darkness and your gloom will be like the noonday; you will be called repairer of the breach and restorer of streets to live in.”

On February 10 — Episcopal Relief and Development Sunday — please dedicate a special Lenten offering and prayer for the work of Episcopal Relief and Development. All gifts received will be designated for the Millennium Development Goals Inspiration Fund, which focuses on fighting deadly diseases like malaria and HIV/AIDS and providing basic health care that saves lives every day. For more information on the MDG Inspiration Fund, please see http://www.er-d.org/mdgif.

I urge you also to deepen your advocacy efforts for robust financial commitments from the U.S. government toward achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. Faith-based institutions like Episcopal Relief and Development are proving that poverty can be eradicated if the proper resources and strategies are brought to bear. However, private action alone will not be enough — collective action as a nation is necessary, and our voices are what will inspire our government to act. To get involved, visit http://www.episcopalchurch.org/ONE.

“Faith is not a refuge from reality,” wrote the great Anglican mystic and teacher Evelyn Underhill. “Faith is a demand that we face reality, with all its difficulties, opportunities, and implications.” This Lent, I pray that all Episcopalians will embrace Episcopal Relief and Development Sunday as one way to challenge the reality of a world that sees 30,000 of God’s precious people die each day, simply because they were too poor to continue living.

With prayers for a holy Lent, I remain
Your servant in Christ,
Katharine Jefferts Schori

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