We join with the people of God in fervent prayer that our country will honor those murdered and wounded in Las Vegas by joining in acts of repentance, healing, and public conversation about the gun violence that has ripped us apart, yet again.
Composed after the events in Las Vegas, NV on October 1, 2017. An appeal to allow our prayers to lead us to actions that heal.
Be well. Do good. Pay attention. Keep learning.
- Statement from Bishops United Against Gun Violence Following the Las Vegas Shooting
- Bishops United Against Gun Violence is a group of more than 70 Episcopal Church bishops working to curtail the epidemic of gun violence in the United States.
Episcopal Relief & Development is providing critical emergency supplies to the British Virgin Islands in collaboration with Convoy of Hope and the Episcopal Diocese of the Virgin Islands…
Episcopal Relief & Development Provides Emergency Assistance to the British Virgin Islands after the Hurricanes
Episcopal Relief & Development is providing critical emergency supplies to the British Virgin Islands in collaboration with Convoy of Hope and the Episcopal Diocese of the Virgin Islands following the devastating impact of Hurricanes Irma and Maria. Convoy of Hope is a faith-based humanitarian organization located in Missouri. The Episcopal Diocese of the Virgin Islands is present on St. Thomas, St. Croix and St. John in the US Virgin Islands and Tortola and Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands.
Critical supplies, including food, two portable kitchens, two refrigeration containers, 350,000 gallons of drinking water, 9,900 gallons of gasoline and diesel fuel, tarps, plywood and nails as well as hygiene and infant care kits, arrived in Tortola on September 28th. Clergy and lay leaders of the diocese collaborated with Convoy of Hope staff to gather and allocate supplies and ensure that necessary items were shared with vulnerable families with the greatest needs.
“Distributions continue being coordinated with our church partners,” noted Abagail Nelson, Episcopal Relief & Development’s Senior Vice President for Programs. “The damage is catastrophic throughout the Virgin Islands and people are greatly in need of the most basic necessities. Getting supplies to people on Tortola and Virgin Gorda has been a particular challenge and working with Convoy of Hope together with the Episcopal leadership has been a blessing.”
Many residents are still without electricity, running water and telephone service, leaving them isolated after both hurricanes devastated the Virgin Islands. Homes, hospitals and other buildings were destroyed, roads damaged beyond repair, trees uprooted, and essential services wiped out by the ferocity of these storms. After Hurricane Irma made landfall in early September, Episcopal Relief & Development has been working closely with the Diocese of the Virgin Islands to provide immediate assistance where the Church has a presence. The islands rely heavily on tourism and with restaurants, docks and resorts destroyed, the path to recovery is expected to be a long one.
“Through our partnerships with the diocese and Convoy of Hope, we are offering emergency support to communities that have lost almost everything,” Nelson said. “There’s so much more work that needs to be done, and we are deeply committed to accompanying our partners on the long road ahead.”
Contributions to Episcopal Relief & Development’s Hurricane Relief Fund will help support church and other local partners as they provide critical emergency assistance to those most in need.
Be well. Do good. Pay attention. Keep learning.
Remember and honor those whose works are a blessing in your life.
For those of us observing [Hurricane Harvey and every disaster] and praying from afar, it’s important to remember that [our response] is a marathon and not a sprint. In addition, the tricky part is responding in a way that is timely and appropriate. Understanding the phases of a disaster can be useful in determining how you can help.
This originally appeared as an ERD blog post by Rob Radtke, President of Episcopal Relief & Development, August 2017.
Starting on Sunday, as the scope and devastation of Hurricane Harvey became apparent, my email box began to fill with some version of: “What can I do to help?” I praise God for these emails.
When we see images of people suffering, we want to do something. That’s understandable. As Christians, we are called to seek and serve Christ in all people and never more so than in times of crisis.
For those still in the midst of the disaster, please follow the advice of your local authorities. Take care of yourself and your loved ones. Otherwise, you won’t be able to help anyone else later on.
For those of us observing and praying from afar, it’s important to remember that this is a marathon and not a sprint. In addition, the tricky part is responding in a way that is timely and appropriate. Understanding the phases of a disaster can be useful in determining how you can help.
Most disasters have three distinct, if sometimes overlapping phases: Rescue, Relief and Recovery.
Phase 1 – Rescue
The Rescue phase is focused on saving lives and securing property, and is most acute in those parts of a region that are directly flooded. Police, fire departments and other government agencies are best able to do this work. They have equipment that can clear roads and debris and find people. The Rescue phase can take one to two weeks, sometimes longer.
In the case of Harvey, the disaster hasn’t yet stopped and so the Rescue phase is taking place in the midst of the crisis. It can be heartbreaking to watch, I know. However, I urge all of us to be patient. Please pray for those who are suffering as a result of this tragedy and for the professionals who are risking their lives to save others.
Phase 2 – Relief
The next is the Relief phase. We and our partners began preparing for this phase as soon as it was clear how massive Harvey was going to be. During this phase, the local church will be one of the first places people go to seek assistance and shelter. Because they are prepared and experienced in disaster response, we know that our partners in Texas and elsewhere will be active in the Relief phase. This is where Episcopal Relief & Development is focusing its resources right now.
Phase 3 – Recovery
Eventually, we get to the third and final phase: Recovery. During this period, the emphasis shifts to restoring services, repairing houses and buildings, returning individuals to self-sufficiency and rebuilding communities. The challenge of the Recovery phase is that most of the television cameras have moved on, but the human suffering has grown. It is a chronic state, not a crisis. However, it is the phase that the Church excels in, because we are part of the communities that have been impacted and can best identify needs and work with the community to address them efficiently.
So, in light of the above, let me offer the following advice about how you can help:
Now is the time to offer financial support. Contributing to Episcopal Relief & Development will ensure that we have enough resources to support the work of our church partners as they serve the most vulnerable in their communities. They are best positioned to assess needs and timing for response efforts.
One of the immediate ways Episcopal Relief & Development and our partners help individuals is by handing out gift cards to local stores so that people can choose what they need the most. It not only affords people dignity it also helps stimulate the local economy, which needs to recover post-disaster. Learn about the other ways we assist during the three R’s of disaster here.
The best approach is to wait until those affected have indicated what kind of support is most needed and whether they are ready to house and utilize volunteers. Inserting ourselves at the appropriate time alleviates additional stress and complications that can actually make things worse. If you think you would like to volunteer please register with Episcopal Relief & Development’s Ready to Serve database. This list of volunteers will be shared with the impacted dioceses once they are ready to use and support volunteers. They will contact you if and when they need help.
My firm recommendation is DON’T DO IT. I can’t tell you how many piles of discarded clothing I saw in parking lots throughout the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina. After major disasters, diocesan staff have limited capacity to receive, store or distribute donated goods. Here’s a great article about the challenges of communities receiving donated goods: http://www.npr.org/2013/01/09/168946170/thanks-but-no-thanks-when-post-disaster-donations-overwhelm
An effective response requires us to discern what is most helpful and appropriate at any given time. Let’s continue to hold those directly impacted in our hearts and prayers throughout their recovery, long after the media images fade.
Donate to our Hurricane Harvey Response FundYour generous support will supply critical necessities for communities immediately and for the long-term as they recover and rebuild.
Rob Radtke is the President of Episcopal Relief & Development.
Feature Image: Home submerged in floods. Photo by Tara Quick in the original blog post.
Here is the August 29th letter from Bishop Katharine inviting our response to those in need after Hurricane Harvey and flooding …
August 29, 2017
My sisters and brothers in the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego, A wise person once noted that the most significant prayers are “Help!” and “Thank you!” The people of Texas and Louisiana are praying for help amid the deluge, and giving thanks for the smallest blessings – even a pair of dry socks. We can answer those prayers, both by remembering their plight in our prayers, and by donating to Episcopal Relief & Development, which is poised to steer funds to the dioceses in the region right away. In coming weeks and months there will be abundant opportunity to assist in cleanup and rebuilding. Remember Katrina (and Wilma and Rita, which added to the disaster)? The aftermath of Harvey will be a similarly extended season of opportunity to demonstrate our love for neighbors.
Pray without ceasing, give what you can, and start thinking about how we in this diocese might offer our labor for healing and restoration.
The Rt. Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori Assisting Bishop
Click here to contribute to the efforts of ERD to respond to and help with recovery and rebuilding in the areas most affected by Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath.
Episcopal Relief & Development: helping with immediate response, recovery in the short-term, and rebuilding in the long-term