About a year ago I started attending the Episcopal Church about two blocks from the apartment where I live. I had never taken much notice of the Episcopal Church before, but since joining I’ve enjoyed the company of people and have taken to reading what I can of the church and its history. Stephen Rockwell had a good post on some of the Episcopal Church’s sermons and goals, along with prayers in the Book of Common prayer specifically for the poor. In researching the Episcopal Church’s ministry to help the poor, I did find many Episcopal organizations designed to help the poor at home and abroad (http://www.episcopalchurch.org/8020_59906_ENG_HTM.htm). Among the Episcopalian groups are:
A global group of entrepreneurs dedicated to improving the efficiency of social ecosystems by developing “collective maps,” graphical depictions of the often-complex web of organizations, issues, and gaps associated with key social initiatives. EGR also helps to link together networks in order to aid in more efficient resource-sharing, capital formation and fund-raising.
Ecclesia Ministries and Common Cathedral
A daily street ministry in Boston since 1994, Ecclesia has joined homeless and housed people in worship, pastoral care, street ministry, support and education groups, and other aspects of community.
Episcopal Community Services (San Francisco)
A nonprofit organization started in 1983, ECS helps homeless, disabled and very low-income adult women and men, seniors and families move with dignity toward increased stability and housing. ECS programs include shelters, supportive housing, a skills center (education & vocational training), and senior services.
Challenges corporations to meet a higher standard of justice. They address such issues as the environment, fair lending, equal employment, military contracting, human rights, and board diversity.
Episcopal Network for Economic Justice
This organization serves to strengthen and support those engaged in economic justice ministries and advocate for initiatives within the Episcopal Church.
Episcopal Urban Caucus
A primary commitment of the EUC is to articulate a vision of a Church without racism, a Church for all races. We commit ourselves in all of our worship, programs, and advocacy, to model inclusiveness and embody respect for every person. The primary purpose remains keeping the Church honest on issues of urban ministry and social justice.
Episcopalians for Global Reconciliation
A network of lay and ordained economists, business people, students, social organizers, theologians, attorneys, labor activists, and advocates who commit to giving 0.7% of our personal budgets – and working towards giving 0.7% of our parish, diocesan, Church, and national budgets – to help achieve the Millennium Development Goals overseas.
Five Talents International
An Anglican initiative committed to combating poverty in the developing world by micro-enterprise development. Its vision is to encourage and inspire personal responsibility, wise investment, and service to the community, care for the poor and less fortunate and respect the dignity of all human beings.
A network of Episcopal congregations engaged in mission and ministry among and with poor and oppressed people. Each program comes out of the history of its community. Through Jubilee ministry people are empowered locally and the church lives out its prophetic role in its respective community.
Along with these organizations, I’ve read of individual Episcopalians who’ve helped the poor. One of my favorite books of last year is Take This Bread, by Sara Miles. Sara Miles is a lesbian left-wing journalist and chef, who walked into St. Gregory’s Episcopal Church in San Francisco and decided to become a Christian. In her first year as a Christian, she decided to start a pantry for the poor neighbors who inhabited the area around St. Gregory and hand out groceries so they could make their own meals. In setting up the pantry, Sara Miles learned about the intricacies of donating food to the hungry, and some of the obstacles that are faces by kitchens and local charities. For those interested, you could look up Sara Miles website at www.saramiles.net.
At my own church, there is a ministry to feed the poor in the Sunnyvale area called Our Daily Bread. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, volunteers cook food and serve poor and homeless people in the local neighborhoods. I volunteer once a month, and found it a rewarding experience. I’m not sure how many other Episcopal Churches have services like this, but I’ve found the Episcopal Church very involved in living out the biblical injunction to feed the hungry.