75th Anniversary History



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For 75 years, Episcopal Relief & Development has responded compassionately to suffering around the world by strengthening local churches and empowering communities to find lasting solutions to poverty, hunger and disease.

Originally called the Presiding Bishop’s Fund for World Relief, the organization was established in 1940 by The Episcopal Church. Its initial mission was to assist refugees fleeing Europe during World War II. Later, the agency’s efforts expanded to include additional humanitarian assistance, including disaster relief and longer-term development projects.
In 2000, the Fund was renamed Episcopal Relief & Development to emphasize a growing programmatic focus on integrated community development. Two years later, Episcopal Relief & Development was incorporated as an independent, 501(c)(3) organization. In 2003, the Board of Directors decided to shift from administering small grants for domestic and overseas projects to implementing sustainable programs and partnerships worldwide.

Today, all of Episcopal Relief & Development’s programs follow an integrated model, implemented through a network of partnerships to support initiatives that:

  • Alleviate hunger and improve food supply
  • Create economic opportunities and strengthen communities
  • Promote health and fight disease
  • Respond to disasters and rebuild communities

Over the last few years, Episcopal Relief & Development’s programmatic reach has extended dramatically. In 2004, we worked in 21 countries, reaching nearly 250,000 people. As of 2013, we are working in approximately 40 countries and have touched the lives of close to 3 million people each year.

Explore our history through this beautiful commemorative book: 


Follow the timeline to learn more about our growth, our relationship with the Church and our work to healing a hurting world.