Oddly enough, for Easter Week, most of the stories featuring the ministry of the Episcopal Church's congregations seem to focus on our outreach to active duty and retired military personnel. There are stories of congregations taking up special collections for those deployed overseas, supporting their families left here at home and building housing for those living on the street.
The first story is from Factoria Washington (near Seattle) where St. Margaret's Episcopal Church has supplied land for the construction of Andrew's Glen, a complex being created by St. Andrew's Housing group. The complex will consist of 40 living units and parking. According to the story linked below:
"Twenty of the homes will go to veterans, while the remainder serve as traditional affordable housing.
The 2008 One Night Count for King County found 5,808 individuals living in emergency shelters and transitional housing, with eight percent of those people identified as veterans.
'These people served our country so well, and they deserve to have these kinds of services,' said Metropolitan King County Council member Bob Feguson."
Read the full article here.
St. Margaret's sounds like a pretty amazing place which is already supporting a local thrift store on its campus as well as being a founding member of Congregations for the Homeless.
Moving east, the Church of Our Savior in Lakeside Arizona is featured in the local news for its part in a ministry to women and men deployed overseas. Peter and Mary Jane Bish, a former treasurer of the parish and his wife sent off 103 care boxes this past year and it was their personal ministry at first. But now the ministry has spread and is being taken on as a regular part of the work of the congregation and other groups in town:
"We've relied tremendously on other people," he said.
Mary Jane added there is no overhead at all. She said if someone donates $1, that entire dollar will go to the troops.
Peter said their effort is now a part of the Church of Our Saviour's outreach program and that Pastor Susan Wilmot has been "extremely supportive." Mary Jane said the Community Presbyterian Church in Pinetop also helps out, with Rev. Tom Berry doing a lot of baking himself.
Peter said they have also received helped from the Blue Ridge High Leo Club, affiliated with the Lions Club, who contributed by baking cookies. Mary Jane said, "We had about 16 pounds of cookies those kids baked on their snow days."
Staten Island Supports Our Soldiers, a group of people that were providing many services to military families had its work interrupted after vandals destroyed the equipment and the supplies which had been stockpiled:
The marauders took computers, as well as cash and gift certificates intended for deployed troops. They cut up and threw on the floor American, POW and military flags; Bronze Star and Purple Heart Certificates of Valor, as well as letters and photos, were destroyed; statuettes were smashed; stationery, patriotic decorations, miniature flags and a welcome-home banner likewise were destroyed. Then the punks coated everything in foam from fire extinguishers.
"They destroyed everything, they took the phone system and cell phones we were sending overseas and they destroyed and ripped up flags," said Ms. DeLisa. "We had stress balls we give out; they were all taken. It was such a mess."
[...]And the group, which had lacked a permanent meeting place, has been given use of space at St. John's Episcopal Church, Rosebank, on the second Sunday of each month for the sessions that provide support and information to families. It's thanks to the pastor and board members.
The family support meetings are restarting at Canterbury House this week because of the hospitality being offered by St. John's.