Some weeks there's an obvious thread that ties together the stories about the ministry and work of the congregations of the Episcopal Church. Some weeks it's more of a potpourri of stories. This is one of those weeks, but the three stories that we have this week are so compelling that they don't need a meta-narrative to be featured.
So here are accounts of congregations bouncing back from adversity with new growth and expansion, cooking warm food to care for their neighbors who are caring for others, and a diocese that's stepped up its efforts in Haiti having been working there faithfully for decades:
Bucking the national trends, there's this story about the people of St. Clare’s Episcopal Church in Snoqualmie Washington and their need to expand the building to accommodate the growth they've been experiencing:
"Four years ago, its future was not clear. The church’s pews were sparsely occupied on Sunday mornings and mostly filled with people with gray hair. Many might have expected the parish to fold when its main building had to be bulldozed after being flooded in January 2006.
Instead, the setback gave the congregation new purpose.
‘To a person, we would all love to have that building to worship in, but it’s helped the congregation’s relationship with God,’ said the Rev. Patty Baker, St. Clare’s vicar since 2004.
Today, St. Clare’s is expanding. It has outgrown the community hall it converted into a sanctuary, Sunday school and offices. It is adding two modular buildings to house offices and the church’s new — and popular — Sunday school program."
More here here.
Trinity Church in Bay City Michigan served up bowls of warm chili to members of the church communities of Bay County who participated in the annual Crop Walk:
Those walking - representing 12 area churches - had the option to walk two, six or 10 miles, which represents the number of miles people around the world have to walk for food and fresh water every day.
Although we have walked the 6-mile for the past few years, this year most of us from Westminster opted for the 2-mile this year.
Friend Karen said it best.
"I knew I wasn't up to the 6-mile this year, but I had to do something," she said. "But people are hungry, and I wanted to help."
The story, plus the chili recipe, is here.
And finally this week, while not a story of the ministry of a particular parish, here's a story about how the congregations of the Diocese of Upper South Carolina have come together over the years to make a difference in the lives of Haitians. Their work has developed a certain urgency over the past few years since the devastating earthquake:
When the diocese began its efforts, the group decided to focus on Cange and make its efforts sustainable in order to make the biggest impact. The diocese and executive committee have committed to extending outreach to Cange to at least 2020. But organizer for the trip, Earl Burch, who has been leading groups to Cange for approximately 15 years, said the diocese hopes to extend its mission to 2030.
This commitment to a long–term, focused outreach to Cange has been key to the mission’s success, said Burch. But the diocese also respects the importance of allowing local priests set the priorities for Cange. The diocese and its volunteers have helped fund projects and provide logistical support therefore over the years, but the villagers complete the building projects, which Burch said makes more sense in a region where unemployment runs amok.
Other building projects have included a church, a school where students are provided lunch, and a hospital with an eye center. Nearly fifty miles away from Port Au Prince, the hospital in Cange was a haven for medical care following Haiti’s earthquake earlier this year.
The diocese is also funding a building project for a vocational school approximately 10 miles outside of Cange in the city, Corporant. “The real key for the future of Haiti is education,” said Burch.