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:
- Kenyan Christians Provide Safe Water and Famine Relief
- Tanzanian Church Helps Famine Victims
- Reducing Substance Abuse in Kenya
- Rwandan Widows Earn a Living
- Center Serves Needy Egyptians
- Training Church Leaders in Sudan
- Micro loans for Indians in Slums
- Bible Studies for Egyptian Youth
- Holistic Ministry Center Serves Rural Pakistanis
- Bolstering Christian Missions in Kenya
- Rescuing Starving Burundians
- Churches Reach Out to Help Poor, Pregnant Brazilian Women
- Raising Up Lay Leaders From Throughout India
- Tanzanian Farmers Earn Income
- AIDS Education for Ugandans
- Drought-Prone Tanzanians Receive Needed Water and Food Relief
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.