This week's Saturday Collection has stories of cooperation, feeding children, rebuilding and empowerment all happening because of Episcopal congregations around this church putting their faith in Christ into action.
One Episcopal congregation is responding to the needs of another one by sending a work party out to help a growing congregation on the Fort Berthold Reservation. St. Paul's White Shield has been in need of additional space for a while now:
"For one of the Midland men this is his second trip to White Shield this summer. Tom Talbot, the youth minister at Christ Church Midland, was in White Shield in July with a ministry team of high school and college students and adults, running a Bible camp at St. Paul's and other activities in the community. Talbot has led youth volunteer groups to St. Paul's for 12 years the past three years with Christ Church Midland.
[...]The volunteers have various expertise in building. Some of the volunteers have done similar work, including two of them who built a youth center in Guatemala and another who has built homes for Habitat for Humanity.
The 32- by 24-foot addition will be a Guild Hall for St. Paul's an area for meetings and meals, Fox said."
A group of volunteers at St. Paul's, Clay Center Kansas have seen the success of their Kid's Cafe summer meal program for low and moderate income children explode to the point where they need to expand to more locations. They partner with a local church to serve meals to children during the summer when the children are not getting the regular nutrition they depend on in their school lunch programs.
Volunteers cooked hamburgers and pork burgers on the grill for the kids, Long said. Gene and Sandy Ruthstrom donated a hog for Kids Cafe, which Kids Cafe used for pork burgers and pork roasts that were served to the kids.
"Things that kids really like is what we served at Kids Cafe," Long said. "And we were really pleased with the turnout."
The most kids served in one day was 73, all of those were served in one hour's time.
"We picked the time of 2 to 3 in the afternoon because that's when the kids would take their first break at the swimming pool. The pool would be cleared at that point and it was a logical time for them to come and get something to eat at the shelter house."
There's a wonderful essay about St. Thomas' DuPont Circle in D.C. in Newsweek. Like many of the Episcopal Church's urban congregations, St. Thomas' is undergoing a renaissance as the neighborhoods around the church building gentrify. St. Thomas' congregation, whose worship space was destroyed by fire decades ago is trying to think through what it means to rebuild in response to the burgeoning life of their congregation:
The drama isn't the will-they-or-won't-they of the rebuilding, but rather the deeper psychological issues spilling around them as they challenge the 40-year status quo. Having been victimized by the fire, the church has for decades had great sympathy for the wounded of its community: funerals for AIDS victims even if they weren't congregants, a drug rehab center, a thrift store, English lessons for refugee children, advocacy of gay marriage. Would they be this way if the fire hadn't shaken them out of their stodgy history? It used to be FDR's church -- the ushers wore tails in those days -- the church of Maj. Walter Reed's funeral, of Pat Nixon's flower shows, where Eleanor Roosevelt gave the first lay-person homily and where Washington's only Titanic survivor, Col. Archibald Grace, regaled fellow parishioners.
Now, congregants are realizing they don't all share the same views on what a church -- their church -- should look like, should be or should do ("A church should look like the National Cathedral," said one prominent congregant, "not something Mike Brady designed"). The congregation is a motley crew -- former Catholics, Lutherans, Evangelicals, Quakers, families from Silver Spring and Alexandria, African-Americans, Asians, Latinos, and a pride parade's worth of gays ("a He-Man Woman Haters' Club for Jesus," said one, "except we actually do have female members, and they're pretty cool too"). There's enough trusting fellowship that weekly bulletins list, by name, unemployed parishioners seeking prayers and jobs. Still, there are only 150-ish congregants and they're not rich; what does a zero-budgeted church look like? And, as Christians, how do they wrestle with the very act of building -- the selfishness and vanity and audacity of it, so counter to their values?
Peter Stebinger, the Rector of Christ Church, Bethany CT recently traveled to Kenya to be at "Prize Giving Day" at an elementary school that the congregation had a large part in underwriting.
Stebinger and Christ Episcopal Church have been working on the Nambale Magnet School since 2004, with the Women’s Initiative for Knowledge and Survival, also known as WIKS, a Kenyan non-governmental organization, according to Stebinger.
The church started raising money to buy land for the school in 2004, said Stebinger, and in 2008 construction began.
The school opened on Jan. 12, 2009 with 70 students enrolled, the Nambale Magnet school’s website says.
Not a bad week at all for the faithful of this church, not a bad week at all.