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Churches Unite for Episcopal Relief & Development Sunday

February 5, 2013

Congregations and dioceses across the Episcopal Church are invited to commemorate Episcopal Relief & Development Sunday on February 17, the first Sunday in Lent, by incorporating the theme of global concern and partnership into their worship and community activities. Episcopal Relief & Development’s Lenten focus this year is on alleviating hunger while preparing ourselves for spiritual healing.

At the 2009 General Convention, Lent was officially designated as a time to encourage dioceses, congregations and individuals to remember and support the life-saving work of Episcopal Relief & Development. Although the first Sunday in Lent was specifically marked as the day of observance, congregations are welcome to commemorate Episcopal Relief & Development on any Sunday during the Lenten season.

“Lent is a time of spiritual renewal, a time to reflect and strive toward living in right relationship with God, our neighbors and the world,” said Rob Radtke, President of Episcopal Relief & Development. “This year our focus is on hunger. Those who engage in the spiritual practice of fasting may find that it helps them focus on what’s important during this season, but fasting also allows us to experience in a limited way the hunger that 870 million people worldwide struggle with every day. Episcopal Relief & Development’s integrated development programs work with local communities to create sustainable solutions that alleviate hunger, enabling millions of people to live more abundant and productive lives.”

A downloadable checklist is available on Episcopal Relief & Development’s website to help participating churches plan for this special Sunday. Stories, photos and videos can be used to illustrate the organization’s work, and other resources can be ordered through Episcopal Marketplace to help highlight the organization’s mission of healing a hurting world. Congregations are encouraged to designate an offering for Episcopal Relief & Development’s Global Needs Fund, which enables the agency to reach those most in need worldwide.

New this year is a Facebook event that churches and interested individuals can join to share ideas and post photos and feedback. Recent examples of how congregations have engaged creatively with issues of poverty and sustainable development during Lent and on Episcopal Relief & Development Sunday can be found in the following “Friends of Episcopal Relief & Development” features:

Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, February 13. Since 2004, Episcopal Relief & Development has published an annual booklet of Lenten Meditations that provide meaningful enrichment for families, individuals and congregations. Printed booklets are available in English and Spanish from Episcopal Marketplace, and PDF booklets can be downloaded from www.episcopalrelief.org/Lent. Individuals are also welcome to sign up online for daily email devotionals.

“We are very pleased to be able to offer these popular Lenten resources again this year, and feel that the 2013 devotional wonderfully upholds our tradition of bringing insight from a diverse group of Episcopal leaders to congregations and homes throughout the Church,” said Pamela Penn, Episcopal Relief & Development’s Program Officer for Engagement. “Ash Wednesday does come early this year, so I would encourage anyone who would like to take advantage of our free Lenten resources to order soon.”

Lenten Meditations booklets can be ordered from Episcopal Marketplace online or by calling 1.866.937.2772. Resources for Episcopal Relief & Development Sunday and the whole Lenten season are available at www.episcopalrelief.org/Lent. Please contact the Engagement team at 1.855.312.HEAL (4325) with any questions.

Episcopal Relief & Development is the international relief and development agency of the Episcopal Church and an independent 501(c)(3) organization. The agency takes its mandate from Jesus’ words found in Matthew 25. Its programs work towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals. Episcopal Relief & Development works closely with the worldwide Church and ecumenical partners to help rebuild after disasters and to empower local communities to find lasting solutions that fight poverty, hunger and disease, including HIV/AIDS and malaria.