2/05/2008

Giving for the World's needs: No strings attached.

For some time I have maintained that the hurting of the world do not need the additional misery of having to put up with the infighting that is going on in the Anglican Communion.

Episcopal Relief and Development, working with various dioceses and provinces of the Communion, and in cooperation (sometimes in complete conjunction) with ecumenical and civic relief agencies, has been a highly competent agent of direct relief in times of crisis. It offers assistance where ever in the world it was requested and if possible through Anglican Communion agencies.

In the past few years some Provinces have loudly proclaimed that they would not accept monies from any agency of The Episcopal Church since communion was broken with TEC and our money was tainted and given with real or supposed "strings attached."

The virtue in not accepting money from TEC is an odd virtue. It would sort of be like the man by the side of the road deciding he could not accept help from the Samaritan since either the Samaritan or his money was unclean. And where would be the virtue in that? The man would not have gotten help and Jesus would not have had a parable to tell.

But there it is: some out there believe that ERD is too much identified with the Episcopal Church and they will have none of it.

Episcopal Relief and Development maintains its independence as a granting agency and did so in its previous form as the Presiding Bishop's Fund for World Relief. There is no question that ERD is an expression of Episcopalians and their desire to provide relief in a hurting world, but the fear that receiving relief monies would require agreement with Episcopal Church actions is unfounded.

Relief funding is a response to the immediate hurting needs in the world. Development monies on some occasions (not all) reflects longer range commitments to particular interests and goals (Mosquito nets as a preventative aid in combating malaria, for example). There are conceivably times when such aid will reflect development priorities of the Episcopal Church. But even then I know of no instances where money has been refused a program in the Anglican Communion because of differences of the sort that have plagued us all and give rise to statements of broken communion.


In the ongoing problems in Kenya I have written hoping that people will give for the relief of the people of Kenya by whatever means necessary. I particularly pointed to ERD and to the agency of the Network of Anglican Communion Dioceses and Parishes (aka the Network) called the Anglican Relief and Development Fund (ARDF). It seemed to me it didn't make much difference to those in need what sort of contortions we had to go through as givers to get funding there.

Out of the dissident camp, however, there has arrived on the web a particularly unfortunate piece titled, "ERD Sunday is this coming Sunday—and my hope is that you will consider giving elsewhere." After taking on the Presiding Bishop's call that we set apart a special offering on the First Sunday in Lent for ERD and the Millennium Goals, and a letter written several years ago by Louie Crew, the author writes this -

"It seems clear that the ERD and UTO are inextricably intertwined in the bullying politics of the national Episcopal church offices -- especially since Louie Crew was a member of the church's Executive Council when he penned this letter. At one time, it was possible, I suppose, to donate to the ERD and UTO and believe that that money was not mixed up in the power-plays or manipulation of 815. But it has probably not been possible since at least 2003, and perhaps earlier.

My hope is that reasserting Episcopalians will consider making out a check to the Anglican Relief and Development Fund, a non-profit organization that cuts the Episcopal church out of the money games it has played with other provinces. Here is their board of directors -- and here is a list of recently approved projects."

The first of these paragraphs is an insult and a shame. The second is, well, just a plea to do good however you can do it.

It is quite interesting, however, to look at the recently approved projects. Here they are:
The discerning eye will note that most of these grants seem to go to dioceses and provinces that are friends of the dissenters - Uganda, Tanzania, Burundi, Recife (the group in the Southern Cone), Kenya, Egypt, Rwanda, India and the Sudan. The united churches in India and the Church in the Sudan and the Church in Burundi are possible exceptions, but the others are all areas that have in one way or another decided that monies from the Episcopal Church are unclean.

If one wanders over to the ERD list of grants the picture looks quite different. The list is far too long to post here, but you can look HERE.

I step in to the land of Stand Firm every day or two because it is often a source of interesting information about life in Anglican Land. On this occasion I stepped in and wished I hadn't.

The folks over at ARDF seem to be using their funds in ways they belief are appropriate. Fine. When they made a plea for help for Kenya I thought it a good idea to include them as possible agents for support. But if friends of ARDF are represented by the writer of the Stand Firm piece that is both sad and unfortunate.

It turns out that the Samaritan's help was OK. So is ours, so is yours. Doing good has no limits, receiving good has no constraint.

11 comments:

  1. It seems to me> Jesus stretching out his loving arms that we all might come within the reach of his saving embrase< says it all.

    BCP 1979 page 101

    It could be they have found another Scroll in the Nag Hadami or in yet another cave by the dead sea with the Gospel Luke that has four or five extra verse between Luke 10:35 and Luke 10:36 where the man who was beaten actually complains to the inn keeper as your image has him complaining to the Samaritan?

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  2. Well done, Mark! Thanks for this ...

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  3. It was, to say the least, disheartening to see one person write in the comments that she was "indifferent to whether ERD's work continues." I certainly think that to be "indifferent" to the work of any of these organizations' charitable work - be it ERD, ARDF, Five Talents or any similar group - is to be indifferent to the very lives that depend on, and are saved by, their care.

    Thanks for drawing attention to this, and pointing out that we should focus on doing whatever good we can, by whatever means we can.

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  4. I also saw the article on the Stand Firm site, and am just completely unable to understand why they would undermine any giving so needed in other locales of the world. Now I see that they also limit their giving to the areas of the world in agreement with their philosophy. Where is the Christianity in all this? Haven't they lost sight of some important Christian principles?
    I stop in at Stand Firm and other such sites occasionally, just to stay aware of what are they are saying, and I find myself wanting to ask them if they ever really look at the long list of mean spirited and disrespectful comments that follow the articles, that are mostly without substance or reason. It is a visit to an unpleasant environment and I never want to tarry long.

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  5. The Good Samaritan can be pressed a little further.

    It seems to me that the parable is giving the answer to the Question "Who is my neighbour" as "The person you would least like to touch you even if you were dead." A Samaritan was regarded as so unclean he would pollute even a corpse. "Menstruants from the womb" is one Rabbinic assessment of Samaritans, male and female.

    So the parable poses an issue for those who refuse aid even from the immoral and apostate (as they see it) Episcopal Church. Have they in their quest for purity in doctrine and morals actaully lost sight of what the Gospel is saying? So the real apostasy, the real moral degradation lies in the hearts of those saying "You are not my neigbour". Jesus rules no-one out of that role.

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  6. greentriptaker6/2/08 7:49 AM

    When I look at this cartoon, what strikes me is the difficulty of being on the receiving end. It can be perceived as a one down position. Was it Dorothy Day or Mother Teresa who said, be careful that in giving to the poor they don't hate you? The point is, receiving, except from Christ, can feel degrading, and maybe the injured person is just trying to feel some dignity or equalize the power.

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  7. The cartoon sums it up perfectly.

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  8. One question: if doing good has no limits, why did Louie Crew's letter sound like a threat to cut off funding? Because to this reader, it sounded very much like a threat.

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  9. yawner...let's see... the letter from Louie Crew may or may not have been a threat. It might have sounded threatening. I don't know. But I do know that funding from ERD and UTO is not based on the receiving diocese agreeing with TEC or doing what TEC wants them to do. And I do know that if money from TEC is tainted, then so is money from ERD and UTO.

    Louie was asking about the logic of their position. Since none of them was receiving much in the way of regular funding from the Episcopal Church budget, but only funding from UTO and ERD, then it was a matter of cheap grace on the part of those dioceses and provinces to claim that they would not receive funds from TEC unless they also meant UTO and ERD.

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  10. Louie Crew has always been VERY explicit about the fact that he thinks using money as a weapon is unChristian.

    If you have read any of his writings over the years, he consistently says the money is God's, not ours, and we have no right to withhold it because we don't agree with the politics or theology of those who might receive it.

    I know this, because his writing has shamed me (appropriately, I might add), when I have uttered things like "Well, fine! Let's see how you do without the money we give you!"

    Louie is one of the finest Christians I have ever encountered (though I've never met him personally). He lives and breathes the love of Christ, and is a model for acceptance and forgiveness. Lord knows, he's had more than his fair share to forgive...

    Pax,
    Doxy

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