National Volunteer Week: Celebrating Congregational Ministry Partners
It all starts with a spark of caring enthusiasm – at an adult forum hosted by Episcopal Relief & Development for their congregation, while reading a story on episcopalrelief.org or throughout the Lenten season while journeying with Episcopal Relief & Development’s Lenten Meditations. Then, it moves to a calling – a priest’s suggestion for ministry, a deep feeling of ‘yes’ and a prayerful discernment.
However Congregational Ministry Partners first connect to the work of Episcopal Relief & Development and answer the call to be a champion of the organization, their compassionate response serves to widen the reach of the organization through connecting their congregations to neighbors near and far.
Congregational Ministry Partners inspire and equip their congregations to work together for lasting change in many different ways, such as:
- Informing their congregations about the work of the organization by making announcements or submitting a bulletin insert.
- Praying for the staff, program partners and program participants of Episcopal Relief & Development during Prayers of the People.
- Hosting an Alternative Gift Market with Gifts for Life.
- Inviting their congregation to observe Episcopal Relief & Development Sunday.
- Encouraging fundraising campaigns in their communities, such as virtual game nights and rummage sales, to support Episcopal Relief & Development.
Hear from two Congregational Ministry Partners on their calling to this role and how they connect their congregation to the work of Episcopal Relief & Development.
Carla Williams, Congregational Ministry Partner, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Cleveland Heights, OH
My experience as a ministry partner began just a couple of years ago, shortly after I joined the vestry at my church, St. Paul’s Cleveland Heights. I had been pretty involved in other church committee work throughout my time but becoming an Episcopal Relief & Development Ministry Partner allowed me to more deeply engage both inside and outside of my parish. We were so excited to have a great adult forum in 2020 kicking off our involvement with the ONE THOUSAND DAYS OF LOVE campaign only to be quickly shifted to the world of online church and endless Zoom meetings. This shift was a challenge; however, I am very proud of my small and mighty group of volunteers who helped us exceed our goal for the first year of the campaign.
Somehow, we still managed to share the love with proceeds from the parish gardeners’ herb sale, YouTube videos and small acts of kindness both in-person and online. I’m looking forward to deepening my connection to this amazing group of Ministry Partners and supporting such vital work in whatever ways we can from here in Cleveland, Ohio.
Mark Landers, Congregational Ministry Partner, Christ Episcopal Church, Charlotte, NC
Believing that we are called to live out our faith by making a difference in the world, coupled with the notion that we all have something to offer, it was not a difficult decision to answer the call to serve as a Congregational Ministry Partner. After all, Episcopal Relief & Development is the compassionate response of The Episcopal Church to human suffering in the world. But this is what I soon discovered – their mission involves appreciably more than a compassionate response. They are connecting on a much deeper level by providing the loving, life-sustaining, integrated and empowering care that many will find nowhere else.
While serving in this role, whether promoting the Moments That Matter program for Early Childhood Development, facilitating economic relief for our neighbors in the aftermath of Hurricane Florence or supporting children through the ONE THOUSAND DAYS OF LOVE campaign, I have certainly sensed God’s pleasure. As an advocate and spokesperson for Episcopal Relief & Development, I am rewarded with the opportunity of providing every parishioner the chance to help create authentic, life-improving results with a trusted, global partner. And for that alone, I know I am appreciated.
Episcopal Relief & Development celebrates the important and valuable volunteer work of our Congregational Ministry Partners during National Volunteer Week (April 18-24), and throughout the year.
If you are interested in becoming a Congregational Ministry Partner or would like to learn more about the role, please join us for an informational meeting via Zoom on Tuesday, April 27 at 5:30 pm EDT. Register here. Contact Kat Milligan, Program Officer, Engagement, with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.