May 13, 2014

ERD Network Meeting

I returned home Sunday from the Episcopal Relief & Development 2014 Network Meeting, which took place in Atlanta, Georgia. This annual meeting brings together diocesan and provincial coördinators for ERD, who are briefed on the work of the church agency and discuss methods of increasing the visibility of ERD and gathering support for its work.

ERD logo
I attended the meeting primarily to support Diane Duntley, the diocesan coördinator for the Diocese of Pittsburgh, who has mobility issues. I participated fully in the event, however, and was impressed by the work ERD is doing. I enjoyed meeting the participants and even met a Facebook friend I had never encountered in person.

I won’t try to give a full accounting of the three-day event, but I do want to mention a few things that struck me as interesting:
  • Episcopal Relief & Development is not well known throughout The Episcopal Church. Many parishes are largely unaware of ERD and provide no support for it. Not all bishops are enthusiastic about ERD, apparently because they are more interested in other fund-raising  efforts.
  • ERD will soon be 75 years old. It was started in 1940 as the Presiding Bishop’s Fund for World Relief. It has continued under its current name for nearly 15 years.
  • The mission of ERD has changed over the years. It began as a refugee settlement effort. It is now involved in improving the food supply, economic improvement, improving health and fighting disease, and responding to disasters. It is best known for disaster relief and the NetsForLife® program.
  • Approximately 90% of contributions to ERD go directly to program. This is the result of low administrative and fund-raising costs and the availability of earnings from endowment.
While listening to a presentation about the work of Episcopal Relief & Development, I was struck that my hymn “O Lord the Invisible” is an appropriate one for ERD. I mentioned this and was asked to read or sing the hymn for the final Morning Prayer service. I chose not to sing. (The service was in the hotel, and no instrument was available for accompaniment.) Instead, I read the hymn and played the tune in the background from my tablet. Since the hymn has a refrain, I wrote it on a flip chart, and we read it together at the end of each verse as an antiphon. This worked well.

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