The Archbishop of Canterbury Helps Launch the NetsforLife® Inspiration Fund

January 26, 2010

On January 26, 2010, Episcopal Relief & Development hosted a luncheon in New York City in honor of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. Rowan Williams. 

Among the 75 guests in attendance were friends and supporters of Episcopal Relief & Development and the NetsforLife® program partnership; members of Episcopal Relief & Development’s Board of Directors; and many NetsforLife® corporate partners, including Chris Flowers of the White Flowers Foundation, Florence Davis of the Starr International Foundation and Steven Phillips of ExxonMobil.

After briefly welcoming the guests and blessing the meal, Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori introduced the Rt. Rev. Robert O’Neill, Chair of the agency’s Board of Directors.

Bishop O’Neill spoke about the importance of the life-saving work of Episcopal Relief & Development, from responding to the recent crisis in Haiti to the ongoing mission of promoting health and fighting disease through NetsforLife®.

“Long after the television crews have left and the cameras have stopped rolling, I am grateful to say that Episcopal Relief & Development will still be on the ground in Haiti, still be on the ground working with our partners, still be engaged in the same mission, not only in Haiti, but globally,” said Bishop O’Neill.

A brief film was then shown about NetsforLife®, highlighting the program’s success in fighting malaria through the distribution of insecticide-treated nets in over 17 African countries.

“This film illustrates what can be achieved when partners from different contexts and different arenas do indeed come together, each willing to offer their various gifts and strengths,” O’Neill continued. “They come together and put them to work thoughtfully, intentionally and creatively to bring hope and healing to the poorest among us.”

Bishop O’Neill reminded guests that this past summer, the General Convention of the Episcopal Church renewed not only its commitment to achieving the Millennium Development Goals, but also specifically committed to raising $5 million through Episcopal Relief & Development forNetsforLife®. He concluded his remarks by proudly stating, “Today, we are officially launching theNetsforLife® Inspiration Fund of Episcopal Relief & Development.”

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. Williams, acknowledged the importance of the vision of the Presiding Bishop, Bishop O’Neill and Rob Radtke and thanked Chris Flowers for his leadership in building the success of NetsforLife®.

Reminiscing on his days at school, the Archbishop stated, “One of the greatest achievements, we were told, of modern science and medicine was removing the scourge of malaria. That means that in the course of my lifetime, we’ve seen that progress reversed. Progress is not irresistible, one-directional – things can get worse.”

“If we forget our responsibility for one another, then what we shall see is more of the tragedies malaria has created in Africa and elsewhere in the recent years. NetsforLife® is aptly and crucially about saving lives. It is more crucially a reminder to all of us that vigilance is a part of our responsibility.”

He continued by asking, “Who is being forgotten? Which crises have slipped off the edge of our vision? And where does our responsibility call us next?”

“Christian churches are supposed to live in watchfulness. ‘Watch therefore, stay awake,’ when Jesus said that to his disciples… I think he was saying ‘Walk around with your eyes open so that you see something of what God sees in the world.’ You see the pain that there is. You see the need that there is. Keep your eyes and your ears open for that. You do not know in whose suffering face, in the face of what dying child in Africa the Son of Man comes to you. Our responsibility for one another is a gift, not just a burden.”

“One of the things that impresses me so hugely about NetsforLife® is that it is a very simple program. It is a low-cost, low-intensity, high-delivery response to need and suffering.”

The Archbishop then spoke about the tendency to attempt solving problems in a complicated world with over-complicated solutions. He continued by saying that one of the strengths of NetsforLife® is that it has “the appropriate level of effectiveness and sophistication that is needed in this context, not imposing solutions from outside, but working within local situations to make things different.”

“The churches have a reach, an embeddedness, a rootedness in communities that allows them to deliver change – locally and simply. An aid agency or development agency that knows its business is one that can work with those embedded resources to make the difference.”

To make a contribution to NetsforLife® or for more information, visit or call 1-800-334-7626, ext. 5129. Gifts can also be mailed to Episcopal Relief & Development, PO Box 7058, Merrifield, VA 22116-7058. Please write “NetsforLife®” in the memo line of all checks.

Episcopal Relief & Development is the international relief and development agency of the Episcopal Church of the United States 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. Together with the worldwide Church and ecumenical partners, Episcopal Relief & Development strengthens communities today to meet tomorrow’s challenges. We rebuild after disasters and empower people by offering lasting solutions that fight poverty, hunger and disease, including HIV/AIDS and malaria.