The Women of St. John’s Turn Wine into Clean Water

For the past couple of years, the women of St. John’s Episcopal Church in Kirkland, Washington have channeled their creativity and energy to raise money in support of Episcopal Relief & Development. This committee of eleven women, known in their church as the Women of the World Committee (WOW), has inspired and challenged the St. John’s congregation to participate in the campaign to heal a hurting world.

Encouraged by last year’s series of fundraising events, during which WOW raised $8,748 – enabling them to purchase 729 nets through NetsforLife®, Episcopal Relief & Development’s program partnership to fight malaria – the group decided to continue their efforts. “After the Net Campaign, we just wanted to keep going,” said Susie Sanders, co-chair of WOW and the St. John’s Network Representative for Episcopal Relief & Development.

This year, the women of WOW decided to pick a gift from Episcopal Relief & Development’s Gifts for Life catalog. “We wanted to focus our energy on a high impact gift,” commented WOW co-chair, Marilyn Robinson. By choosing to raise money to purchase a well, providing clean water and basic sanitation for an entire village, WOW did just that.

Their main fundraising event, “St. John’s After Dark: Changing Wine into Water,” was a huge success. To excite St. John’s congregants and encourage attendance, the ladies of WOW transformed their church into a classy venue for a soiree. The narthex was used to showcase the works of more than a dozen artists, including many St. John’s members. Art was sold, with all proceeds going towards the purchase of the well.

After a leisurely stroll through the makeshift art gallery, guests were invited into the “Wine and Appetizer Lounge” by the sounds of jazz music filling the air. The brightly lit space that normally serves as the church’s great hall – where coffee and cookies are served between church services – was filled instead with the glow and warmth of the new, dim lighting. Throughout the evening, guests were entertained with live music and activities such as a wine trivia game. A presentation was also given about the importance of clean water for a community.

The “Mystery Wine Wall” was another of the night’s major attractions. In addition to being able to purchase individual glasses of wine at the event, guests were invited to pick a bottle from the wall where more than 30 bottles of wine – valued between $10 and $100 per bottle – were available for $25 apiece.

More than 100 guests attended the event and WOW raised more than half of the $5000 needed to purchase a well. The women of St. John’s plan to continue fundraising events over the next few months.

“We’re so grateful to have the support of this enthusiastic group of women who have taken the initiative to think outside the box and get their parish involved in fundraising,” said Brian Sellers-Peterson, Director of Church Engagement Programs for Episcopal Relief & Development. “We have no doubt that they’ll succeed and we can only hope that their efforts inspire others to think of innovative ways to engage their congregation in Episcopal Relief & Development’s programs.”