We see the images from Japan of the three fold catastrophe and wonder how we can help. The Japanese government has not called for foreign relief aid except in specific cases. Japan is a wealthy country and largely able to respond to natural disasters itself. Meanwhile, some relief groups are using Japan as a way of raising money.
Beyond those considerations, there we are in the position of having ties within Japan. Through the Anglican Communion and companion dioceses relationships, there are bonds between The Episcopal Church and Anglican Episcopal Church in Japan. The church in Japan has asked for help. We asked Brian Sellers-Petersen of Episcopal Relief & Development for background on how giving to ER-D will make a difference in Japan:
As you know, our primary partner in a disaster of this kind is always the local church, and here we are working in solidarity with the Anglican Episcopal Church in Japan – the Nippon Sei Ko Kai (NSKK). While they are still in the throes of reviewing how clergy and congregations are impacted by the disaster, and struggling with communications in the coastal areas closest to the quake and tsunami, they have indicated they are conducting needs assessments involving survivors in communities that surround their churches.
Our program team is in contact with NSKK. We know that survivors will turn to the Church for both short-term and long-term assistance (particularly in the coming days and weeks as resources are exhausted through other avenues).
As representatives of sister churches, we work in a different manner than the charities mentioned in the Chronicle on Philanthropy article (http://philanthropy.com/article/Response-to-Japan-Disaster/126760/), and our bonds are different. Just as we were grateful during Hurricane Katrina, when the NSKK supported recovery efforts in the impacted dioceses of the Gulf Coast, through Episcopal Relief & Development, we know that they are deeply grateful for all of our help during this time. The resources of the Japanese people are extensive, but still the people to people contacts that we embody will help the local Anglican Church as it reaches out to the vulnerable in its communities.