Here is our weekly collection plate of a few of the good things that Episcopalians and their congregations have done that made the news this past week. And other news fit to print.
Bruce Neumann is a member of St. John's Episcopal Church in Hagerstown. He's leading a team of nine that will spend a week getting the health outpost up and running.__________
A 2004 trip by the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland to Ghana to share a Christian leadership program called Cursillo was the start of the partnership. Neumann was a member of that team.
Debi Frock of Westminster was so moved by the need of Akramaman that in 2005, she started Ghanaian Mothers' Hope Inc. (GMH), a nonprofit foundation. Neumann and his wife, the Rev. Rebekah Neumann, are on the GMH board of directors.
Frock said she got involved because of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, which aim to reduce poverty and related issues.
"As a community, we can do a lot," Frock said. "As individuals, it's way too hard."
Efforts range from collecting pennies to offering storage space for donated items to be shipped, Frock said.
She pointed out that children in one parish collected $800 in pennies. Combined with pennies from other churches, the Maryland Diocese raised $15,000.
Frock said the dollar goes a long way in Ghana, with $200 covering the treatment of 45 malaria cases in children. AIDS is another significant health issue.
"We just want people to know we're here, that there's a group in the area doing that kind of work," Frock said.
Mercia Laryea can't say enough good things about the improvements in her home of Akramaman since a group of Western Marylanders "adopted" it.
Normally, the nonprofit church-based thrift shop “The Mustard Seed” in Woodstock accepts donated athletic shoes, and resells them to frugal shoppers seeking bargains — amidst the trove of used clothes, books, dishes and other household items that the volunteer-run store sells.__________
The thrift store’s proceeds benefit missionary and other programs of All Saints’ Episcopal Church.
...The Mustard Seed is accepting donations of used athletic and tennis shoes and — instead of reselling them — is giving them back to Nike for recycling into Nike Grind.
Nike Grind is the scrap material produced after old athletic shoes are machine-shredded. The resulting lightweight plastic pebbles are then re-used — by melting them to make new athletic shoes, or to create a resilient material for paving playgrounds and sports fields.
Locally, Nike used Nike Grind when it installed a new surface for Westmoreland Park’s outdoor basketball court a few years ago.
Now, All Saints’ has joined Nike’s Reuse-A-Shoe Program, as Mustard Seed Manager Dorothy Pierce demonstrates when she holds up a large bag -- empty now but, she hopes, destined to hold hundreds of donated athletic shoes.t
Tom and Ann Tibbatts picked cucumbers and Swiss chard from rows in the Judea Garden to give to people in the community unable to afford fresh produce.__________
The Tibbattses, a retired couple who live just a mile away from the half-acre garden, are part of a group growing vegetables for families and seniors whose budgets are stretched to the limit.
On Thursday, the volunteers harvested what was ripe and took it to the Washington Senior Center for distribution. This process will continue through the fall as the garden matures.
"It's a real blessing,'' said Tom Tibbatts, a retired airline pilot, as he filled a box. His wife calls the garden "holy ground."
Ann Burton and Marlene Smith, parishioners at St. John's Episcopal Church in Washington, started brainstorming last winter about planting a community garden.
In June, Denise Arturi, a longtime gardener tapped as organizer, and people from local churches and other civic organizations set to work to transform a meadow on Christian Street loaned by the Steep Rock Association into a garden suitable for a variety of crops.
On Thursday, Arturi and two of her sisters, Diane Stevens and Dona Yasser, one from the area, one visiting from New Jersey, were busy weeding and harvesting the ready crops in the garden, which is decorated with a large handmade scarecrow.
For St. Luke's Episcopal Church in Bethesda, Maryland, ... gardening has become a way to spread the congregation's ministry and feed some hungry mouths.__________
Launched in late 2008, the Luke's Organic Vegetable Enterprise, or L.O.V.E., as church members call it —a 1,000-square-foot garden at the church on Grosvenor Lane —has become a bustling patch full of radishes, lettuce, beans and a half dozen other crops. After the vegetables are picked, they are donated to organizations across the county, including the Bethesda Men's Shelter, Community Base Shelter in Rockville and St. Luke's House in Bethesda.
"At first it was ‘How do we become a more sustainable congregation'," said Rev. Stephanie Nagley. "But then it became a way to connect to people who otherwise we might not have."
Congregation members planted the crops late last year, according to parishioner Maggie Pearson. The garden is tended by more than 20 members of the church, plus Montgomery County Public School students looking for community service hours and students from Identity, a county nonprofit that provides positive programs for Latino youth.