I have had the wonderful opportunity to serve as the Episcopal Relief & Development Diocesan Coordinator for the Diocese of Florida for more than 12 years. During this time I have experienced Episcopal Relief & Development helping a hurting world in an efficient and Christ-filled manner. I often think about how lucky we are as Episcopalians to have such a great outreach organization in Episcopal Relief & Development helping the poor, the hungry and others throughout the world who are suffering on a daily basis from natural and man-made disasters.
I also am thankful for the Anglican Communion, which helps Episcopal Relief & Development to care for people in need by providing the network of dioceses through which Episcopal Relief & Development can effectively operate. My personal experiences include helping to build one of five villages in El Salvador that would house families left homeless by a series of earthquakes, and speaking with individuals in Belize about their prospering business made possible through micro-loans given by Episcopal Relief & Development. And then there was the grant given to the Diocese of Florida to help victims of Hurricane Katrina in Mississippi. With that grant we sponsored 53 mission trips by parishes, youth groups and other diocesan organizations to help cleanup and restore homes in the vicinity of Long Beach, Mississippi. And, of course, there is the Nets for Life program that saved the lives of an estimated 112,235 children under the age of five and reduced the number of malaria cases by up to 45 percent in communities where Nets for Life is active. Yes, I have seen Episcopal Relief & Development effectively healing a hurting world.
When I was asked by the Rev. Gay Clark Jennings, president of the House of Deputies, to co-chair with the Rev. Devon Anderson a steering committee to provide a significant financial gift from the House of Deputies to Episcopal Relief & Development to celebrate its 75th anniversary, I was thrilled. What a wonderful statement for the House of Deputies to make in helping our own Episcopal Relief & Development continue its outstanding work. The theme of “Deputies Helping to Heal a Hurting World” was developed and on the Feast of the Epiphany the campaign was launched asking every deputy and alternate deputy to contribute (or raise) $100. The goal was to raise at least $75,000 by the time we came to General Convention. There were many fundraising initiatives that came forth from our deputations. In honor of the late Deputy Terry Star, the Episcopal Diocese of North Dakota has made a $2,500 donation. Deputy Bill Miller offered an “Evening with Bill Miller” at a local pub in Salt Lake City to the deputation that raised the most money in the campaign. Deputy Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows of the Diocese of Chicago headed up a team of runners for the Ragnar Relay which occurred the weekend before General Convention in which pledges to support the runners will be given to the House of Deputies campaign. A generous group of donors from The Cathedral of St. Philip in Atlanta pledged $25,000 in matching funds for the campaign. In the Diocese of Minnesota, the deputation hosted the Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus at St Christopher’s Episcopal Church in Roseville for a concert to benefit our campaign. The Diocese of Florida pledged to add $1000 to the contributions of the Province IV diocese that contributed the most to the deputies’ campaign. In addition, contributions were made at many of the 2015 Provincial Synods.
It has been such an outstanding experience for me to be a part of such a worthy campaign on behalf of the House of Deputies. I thank my fellow steering committee members, Deputy Devon Anderson(Co Chair-Minnesota)), Deputy Rosalie Simmons Ballentine(Virgin Islands), Deputy Baskerville-Burrows (Chicago), Deputy Sam Candler(Atlanta), Deputy Keith Emerson(Southern Virginia), Deputy Evan Garner(Alabama), Deputy Bill Miller (Hawaii), Deputy Richard Miller (Southeast Florida) and Deputy Bonnie Perry (Chicago) for their contributions to this campaign.
Today at General Convention as we officially present the gift of this money to Episcopal Relief & Development let us all remember the good work the Episcopal Church does to bring Christ into the lives of our brothers and sisters throughout the world, and let us be thankful.
Jack Tulll is a deputy from the Diocese of Florida.